A way to get Rigo working again in Sabayon

After having Sabayon running on a PC until it came to pieces after an attempted version upgrade, I went away from the Linux distro for a while and Linux Mint now runs on the aforementioned machine. It only was a certain curiosity that got me installing it into a virtual machine on VirtualBox to see if my command line method of keeping the system up to date was the cause or whether rolling or partially-rolling distros have a certain fragility that is not seen in their discrete release counterparts.

Recently that ran into a hitch, the Sabayon package manager Rigo failed to start up for me. After waiting to see if it sorted itself on its own, I looked into returning to those command line ways and that line of enquiry led me to a method of restoring Rigo’s functionality from Sabayon’s wiki page on the underlying Entropy. The first step was to issue a command to become root:

su

That needed the appropriate password and the next command issued updated Sabayon’s repositories:

equo update

Once that had done its thing, it was time to install new versions of Entropy and Rigo:

equo install entropy rigo

With that complete, it was time to exit the root session with the exit command. Then, it was time to try running Rigo and it worked as expected. Any thoughts of adding in the superseded Sulfur (Rigo’s predecessor) were banished on seeing that success.

Creating a test web server using Ubuntu Server 13.04 and VirtualBox

Having seen Linux Format cover tools like Vagrant and Puppet that manage virtual machines, I have been attracted by the prospect of a virtual web server running on my own PC. Certainly, having the LAMP software stack in a VM means that the corresponding tools don’t need adding to a host system should its operating system need a fresh installation.

As intriguing as tools like Vagrant, I decided that I needed to learn a bit more of getting server instances set up in VirtualBox anyway. Thus, I went and downloaded the latest version of Ubuntu Server and gave that a go. One lesson that I learned was that Bridged Networking needs to be added to the VM before installation of the operating system unless you fancy overcoming the challenge of getting Ubuntu Server to recognise an altered or additional network interface. In my case, I added an extra adapter for the Bridged Networking and left the original in place as NAT. The reason for having Bridged Networking set up is that it allows access to the virtual web server from the host once you know the IP address and that information can be obtained by executing the ifconfig command on the virtual machine.

With the networking sorted, the next step was to install the 64 bit edition of Ubuntu Server. Unlike its desktop counterpart, this is all driven by text menus but remains fairly intuitive and there is hardly anything there that you wouldn’t see with another Linux distribution. A useful addition is the addition of a menu to selecting the type of server services that you’d like to see installed. From this, I chose the web server and SSH options and I seem to remember that there was a database server one too. If there was an FTP server option, I would have chosen that too but it was no ordeal to add ProFTPd later on anyway.

AllĀ  of this set was done through the VirtualBox GUI just to keep life more straightforward. Even so, I only selected 12 MB of video memory and was tempted to cut the overall memory back from 512 MB but leaving things be for now. However, what I have begun to do is start and stop the virtual machine from the command line since servers are headless operations anyway. With SSH enabled, there is little need to have the VirtualBox GUI going. The command for starting the server is below:

VBoxManage startvm “Ubuntu Server” --type=headless

There is a VBoxHeadless command for the same end too but VBoxManage does what I need. The startvm option is what tells VBoxManage is start the server and the virtual machine’s name is enclosed in quotes. The --type=headless ensures that no window pops up. To stop the virtual web server cleanly, a command like the following is needed:

VBoxManage controlvm “Ubuntu Server” acpipowerbutton

Again, the VBoxManage command gets used and the acpipowerbutton option ensures that a clean shut down is performed. Not doing so results in the server not fully starting up according to my experiences thus far. Getting the virtual web server to start and stop with the host machine itself starting and stopping but this looks more complex so I plan to leave things a while before trying that experiment.

A little look at Debian 7.0

Having a virtual machine with Debian 6 on there, I was interested to hear that Debian 7.0 is out. In another VM, I decided to give it a go. Installing it on there using the Net Install CD image took a little while but proved fairly standard with my choice of the GUI-based option. GNOME was the desktop environment with which I went and all started up without any real fuss after the installation was complete; it even disconnnected the CD image from the VM before rebooting, a common failing in many Linux operating installations that lands into the installation cycle again unless you kill the virtual machine.

Though the GNOME desktop looked familiar, a certain amount of conservatism reigned too since the version was 3.4.2. That was no bad thing since raiding the GNOME Extension site for a set of mature extensions was made all the more easy. In fact, a certain number of these was included in the standard installation anyway and the omission of a power off entry on the user menu was corrected as a matter of course without needing any intervention from this user. Adding to what already was there made for a more friendly desktop experience in a short period of time.

Debian’s variant of Firefox , Iceweasel, is version 10 so a bit of tweaking is needed to get the latest version. LibreOffice is there now too and it’s version 3.5 rather than 4. Shotwell too is the older 0.12 and not the 0.14 that is found in the likes of Ubuntu 13.04. As it happens, GIMP is about the only software with a current version and that is 2.8; a slower release cycle may be the cause of that though. All in all, the general sense is that older versions of current software are being included for the sake of stability and that is sensible too so I am not complaining very much about this at all.

The reason for not complaining is that the very reason for having a virtual machine with Debian 6 on there is to have Zinio and Dropbox available too. Adobe’s curtailment of support for Linux means that any application needing Adobe Air may not work on a more current Linux distribution. That affects Zinio so I’ll be retaining a Debian 6 instance for a while yet unless a bout of testing reveals that a move to the newer version is possible. As for Dropbox, I am sure that I can recall why I moved it onto Debian but it’s working well on there so I am in no hurry to move it over either. There are times when slower software development cycles are better…

Using a variant of Debian’s Iceweasel that keeps pace with Firefox

Left to its own devices, Debian will leave you with an ever ageing re-branded version of Firefox that was installed at the same time as the rest of the operating system. From what I have found, the main cause of this was that Mozilla’s wanting to retain control of its branding and trademarks in a manner not in keeping with Debian’s Free Software rules. This didn’t affect just Firefox but also Thunderbird, Sunbird and Seamonkey with Debian’s equivalents for these being IceDove, IceOwl and IceApe, respectively.

While you can download a tarball of Firefox from the web and use that, it’d be nice to get a variant that updated through Debian’s normal apt-get channels. In fact, IceWeasel does get updated whenever there is a new release of Firefox even if these updates never find their way into the usual repositories. While I have been know to take advantage of the more frozen state of Debian compared with other Linux distributions, I don’t mind getting IceWeasel updated so it isn’t a security worry.

The first step in so doing is to add the following lines to /etc/apt/sources.list using root access (using sudo, gksu or su to assume root privileges) since the file normally cannot be edited by normal users:

deb http://backports.debian.org/debian-backports squeeze-backports main
deb http://mozilla.debian.net/ squeeze-backports iceweasel-release

With the file updated and saved, the next step is to update the repositories on your machine using the following command:

sudo apt-get update

With the above complete, it is time to overwrite the existing IceWeasel installation with the latest one using an apt-get command that specifies the squeeze-backports repository as its source using the -t switch. While IceWeasel is installed from the iceweasel-release squeeze-backports repository, there dependencies that need to be satisfied and these come from the main squeeze-backports one. The actual command used is below:

sudo apt-get install -t squeeze-backports iceweasel

While that was all that I needed to do to get IceWeasel 18.0.1 in place, some may need the pkg-mozilla-archive-keyring package installed too. For those needing more information that what’s here, there’s always the Debian Mozilla team.

Getting rid of a Dropbox error message on a Linux-powered PC

One of my PC’s has ended up becoming a testing ground for a number of Linux distributions. The list has included openSUSE, Fedora, Arch and LMDE with Sabayon being the latest incumbent. From Arch onwards in that list though, a message has appeared on loading the desktop with every one of these when I have Dropbox’s client set up on there:

Unable to monitor entire Dropbox folder hierarchy. Please run “echo 100000 | sudo tee /proc/sys/fs/inotify/max_user_watches” and restart Dropbox to correct the problem.

Even applying the remedy that the message suggests won’t permanently fix the problem. For that, you need to edit /etc/sysctl.conf with superuser access and add the following line to it:

fs.inotify.max_user_watches = 100000

With that in place, you can issue the following command to fix the problem in the current session (assuming your user account is listed in /etc/sudoers):

sudo sysctl -p & dropbox stop & dropbox start

A reboot should demonstrate that the messages no longer appear again. For a good while, I had ignored it but curiosity eventually got me to find out how it could be stopped and led to what you find above.