Monday, 30 April 2012

Wallpaper of the Month

Now that I'm playing with Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin), I've been playing with some new desktop wallpapers. Trouble is, I can't decide which I like best...

This is one of the wallpapers that ship with 12.04 and I kind of like it! However, every now and again, the National Geographic Photo of the Day page delivers one of those wow moments.

A quick change of theme (to Radiance) and I ended up with this stunning desktop for May.

Sources & References:

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Wifi on 6400

12.04 has been successfully installed on the DELL Inspiron 6400!

For the Broadcom card, I had to install the firmware installer. No real problem, just open a terminal and type:

sudo apt-get install firmware-b43-installer

First impressions are that 12.04 is a little quicker but that's about the only difference I've noticed.

Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick, Slow!

With the release of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, it's time to test Canonical's brand new superfast OS!

However, the Ubuntu servers must be getting hammered because the download is taking forever. Let's hope 12.04 really is quicker than it's predecessor!

Sources & References:

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Ta Ta 10.10

Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat) end-of-life reached on April 10, 2012

"This note is just to confirm that the support period for Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat) formally ends on April 10, 2012 and Ubuntu Security Notices no longer includes information or updated packages for Ubuntu 10.10."

The good news is that I can defer making a decision on Unity (or it's replacement) until next year as 10.04 continues to be supported.

Sources & References:

Monday, 9 April 2012

Desktop of the Month - 8400 The Glyderau

It's been a while since I've posted my current desktop (actually, it's been a while since I posted anything!)

I'm in the process of organizing two teams in this year's Oggie 8 Challenge and this picture was taken on one of our training runs. In the foreground is yours truly (on the left) and one of the team members and, in the background is Llyn Ogwen, Tryfan (to the top left) and the Glyderau (top centre).

Feel free to sponsor us for this serious mountain challenge, but, if you can't spare the coin, your best wishes for the day would be just as good!

The Grifters' Handbook

Kevin Mitnick, it seems, has a tenuous grasp of morality: he argues (p.xii & p.83) that it's OK to steal someone else's property if you're motivated by curiosity and your intentions are benign. I confess that I'm less comfortable with the idea of breaking in to someone's computer system and "snaring copies of files" or "searching emails for passwords" and, I suppose, that's why I think Mitnick's claim to be "a changed person" lacks credibility.

That's not to say that there's nothing to learn from The Art of Deception - far from it - only that the reality is that the book is almost certainly of more use to grifters and conmen rather than "governments, businesses, and individuals" (p.xiii). Throughout, Mitnick provides society's dishonest with templates for deceiving the unwary and his advice for preventing, detecting, and responding to information-security threats never really exceeds a, remain vigilant at all times message. Of course, security awareness among employees and individuals is a good thing, but it hardly needs 352 pages to convey such a message. Given Mitnick's rather childish style, endlessly recycled scenarios, unworkable procedures, and simplistic message, The Art of Deception is probably two-hundred pages too long!

If you really must revel in the gullibility of the masses, I suppose that you might enjoy this book. However, if you're serious about security, try Bruce Schneier's, Schneier On Security or Secrets and Lies.

Home Networking - Again

I'll be moving home shortly and my attention has turned to planning my (new) home network. Over recent years I've been relying on a Weston Digital network attached storage device - it runs on Windows-based software and that makes file sharing on a (predominantly) Linux network problematic at times: file permissions are constantly screwed up and, even a minor glitch can make access to directories impossible. It's time to create a Linux based server, that will allow me to access files from all of my machines without loosing ownership or permissions.

For my new network, I want a file server that is always available: i.e. always on. This means that I'd prefer a low-power option and I've been looking at Aleutia's D2 Pro Fanless Mini Atom PC. At a rating of just 18 watts, it should cost less than £50/year to run and be virtually silent in operation. I won't bother hooking up a monitor (that will also help to keep running costs to a minimum), but access the desktop (for maintenance purposes) using Gnome's Remote Desktop Viewer, Vinagre. That only leaves the selection of the server software and, as I happen to have an old (and not particularly energy-friendly) desktop hanging around, I've been playing around with a couple of options over the Easter weekend.

My first choice was FreeNAS: it's file sharing software that you access via a web browser. It took me a while to figure out that the operating software is designed to run from a USB stick or memory card as the files can't reside on the same disk as the OS. Partitioning the hdd didn't seem to help, so I installed the OS on a 4GB USB and got the system running without any real difficulty. However, creating and accessing storage proved impossible for my meagre skills and, after a few hours of toying with the system, I gave up!

Next stop, Ubuntu Server. Once again, I had no difficulty in installing the software and I opted for the Samba Server option during the initial configuration. However, despite having a reasonable grasp of smb, I still had difficulty creating, accessing, and using shares on the server. A couple of hours later I realised that I had another requirement - ease of use! I abandoned the server software and went to plan C.

A quick install of Ubuntu 11.10, updated with Samba, smbfs, and winbind and I had a perfectly usable solution. Creating shared directories can be achieved easily using the file manager (no need for the terminal) and you only have to remember to create a user to access Samba. When I'm ready to set up the new network on a more permanent basis, I'll mount the share at boot on each of the machines allowing me to dump all my files on one disk drive (with an appropriate backup protocol, of course!).