Tuesday, 26 June 2012

No More Network Nightmare!

It seems that my recent server problem was caused by my router: installing my old D-Link DSL-2740r was all that was needed to get my NoMachine client to connect to freeNX over the WAN.

What's more, I've even managed to change the ssh port for a bit of added security - although key management is still problematic. Once I've got it all fixed, I'll post the setup (promise).

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Monday, 25 June 2012

Advancing in Full Retreat

One of the problems that I've been having with my server setup is accessing my network from the WAN-side of my new router. My original (default) setup worked superbly, but once I started to tweak the settings to improve security, the wheels came off quickly! My early investigation pointed toward a port forwarding issue, so I made the appropriate adjustments - no joy! Even restoring the default settings have had no effect. It seems that the router supplied by my new ISP is not immune from problems and port forwarding doesn't work.

Having spent several more hours on the problem again today, I finally decided to install my old router to see what, if any, effect it would have on my problem. Of course, I can't test the connection until I can get on a different network (and that will be tomorrow); but one unexpected and very welcome consequence is that I managed to connect my iPAQ to the network for the first time since moving house!

I know; the iPAQ is a relic, a legacy device that surely can't have much useful life left in it - but I'm still very fond of it, nonetheless!

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Sunday, 24 June 2012

Site Update

Apropos nothing at all, I've updated the Karmic Kit Page to reflect my recent acquisition.

Sources & References:

Skype 4.0

Skype has released a new version of its software for the Linux platform - Skype 4.0

There are a few changes worth noting:

  1. A new Conversations View where you can track all of your chats in a unified window.
  2. A new Call View.
  3. Improved call quality (about time!)
  4. Improved video call support

You should remove previous versions of Skype before installing the latest release:

sudo apt-get remove skype

The last kernel update nuked my preferences and I couldn't get Skype to use my webcam as the default sound input device. This latest version won't allow me to change my sound device from Pulse Audio either, but changing the input device in the sound menu seems to pick up the webcam automatically. This problem is widely discussed on the Internet and there is a fix, but it didn't work for me: implementing the steps killed all of my sound output and I had to reverse them to regain my system sounds!

To download the latest version of Skype, go to the Skype Downloads page or click on the link in the Sources & References section, below.

Sources & References:

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Linus In the News

Linux creator Linus Torvalds has won the Millennium Technology Prize and an accompanying cheque for 600,000 euros ($756,000; £486,000) from the Technology Academy of Finland. Source: BBC News - Technology

A nice write up on Linus' recent escapades!

Nearly Headless Nick

Headless system: a computer system or device that has been configured to operate without a monitor, keyboard and mouse. Source: Wikipedia - Headless System

After some initial problems, my new Aleutia D2 Pro is up and running!

It's sporting a stock install of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise) and I'm using smb for sharing files across the network. So far, so good - but I could have used any old box as a file server; so why spend £500 on a new PC?

Well, the D2 is frugal in its power consumption which means that it can be left running without destroying the planet (or my bank balance). In fact, in sleep mode it consumes just 2.6 watts and under load, a paltry 18.0 watts! Moreover, this thing isn't just quiet - it's absolutely silent. Of course, these performance figures don't include a monitor which leaves one with the problem of managing the system blind.

Ubuntu does come with a default VNC client (Vinagre) which is fine for helping a friend over the Internet, but if you don't have a monitor or don't have physical access to the machine, typing in passwords and accepting the connection can be problematic. However, I did try Vinagre for a while and connected a keyboard and mouse (hence the cryptic title for this post) to access the machine, but the lag was excruciatingly slow; slow enough to make the solution unworkable. Fortunately (and, as you would expect) there is an opensource solution: FreeNX. I'm still trying to figure out some WAN issues since changing my port number, but over the next few days, I'll post details of how to connect from both sides of your network.

Sources & References:

Monday, 11 June 2012


So, I've moved into the bachelor pad and finally got my network up and running. I've also learned a few hard lessons in the process:

  • UK-based ISPs are universally awful and none of them grasp the concept of customer service.
  • Always be wary when things seem to be going too well!

After several abortive attempts to move my old ISP to my new address, I simply gave up and went back to BT (British Telecom, for my American friends). BT and I have a bit of history - none of it good! It is, without doubt, one of the most arrogant companies in the UK, but it has the distinct advantage of owning most of the infrastructure through its subsidiary company, Openreach. All other ISP simply rent space and sell it on to schmucks like me. I'll spare you the details, but BT are prone to randomly cancelling orders or changing appointments without warning: the short version - it took twenty-five days to get a telephone line installed!

On the other hand, I finally treated myself to my Aleutia D2 Pro!

Aleutia D2 Pro Mini-Atom

Aleutia quote a fourteen day lead time for their PCs, so I was pretty psyched when mine turned up in seven! I could hardly contain myself as I plugged in a keyboard, mouse and monitor. However, it was only when I came to add power, that I found that the DC jack didn't fit! Again, I'll keep it short: several phone calls and emails later and Aleutia sent me a replacement power pack and I finally managed to get my new file server up-and-running seven days later.

I suppose that I can't complain too much: it was only fourteen days from the order date.

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