Archive Page 2

05
Sep
11

Migrating to Linux pt.2: Annoyances

SuSE logo

Image via Wikipedia

It’s been a while since the first part of this series, but my plans have drastically changed. In two months I have changed my OS three times: I tried Ubuntu, Kubuntu and settled down to OpenSuse for the time being. Last night, I was trying to restrain myself from installing Fedora and then it became crystal clear that I am in no position to write such a series of posts. Following me, not only you will not migrate to Linux, you face the danger of not migrating to anything! So I decided there will be no part three, I will sum it up and move to writing something of more essence.

As soon as the installation of OpenSuse finished, I noticed a couple of things I didn’t like. I understand that Ubuntu and Suse are different, probably there’s a whole different philosophy behind each, but we are talking about my home PC, where only I have access. I am willing to sacrifice some security for comfort and if you chose to follow the solutions presented here, so should you.

First thing I noticed, was that /sbin was not in  the user path. So, in order to run ifconfig for example, I had to type:

sudo /sbin/ifconfig eth0

One could argue that this is supposed to be this way, because a user does not need to execute commands in sbin. While this might be true, I am not a user on my machine and I am perfectly capable of running whatever command I wish! I did not want to run everything as root (ie, using sudo su), so I found this simple solution:

In your home folder there’s a file named .profile which should be edited to include the following line: export PATH=$PATH:/sbin:

Now, every time you log in, the export path command will be executed and you will have the sbin commands at your disposal. Note, that this affects only your user, so it is relatively safe.

Next item on my list was some very weird behavior when mounting an internal HDD. I was required to give the administrator’s password every time I wanted to access an internal drive (in ext4 format). My external drives (formatted in NTFS) had no problem whatsoever and I was really really annoyed. A little bit of digging in the OpenSuse forums yielded a solution:

Open and edit the following file: /var/lib/polkit-1/localauthority/10-vendor.d/org.freedesktop.udisks.filesystem-mount-system-internal.pkla

Locate this line:  ResultActive=auth_admin_keep and change it to this: ResultActive=yes

That’s it.

I still have some way to go, before my installation is what I want it to be, there are things to tweak, things to fix and things to get used to. I am not entirely sure I will stick with OpenSuse for long, but KDE 4 is quite fun.

 

29
Jul
11

PDF Complete messes up Office 2003

Many of you have come across the need to convert a Word document to pdf. There are many approaches to this, both free and paid, one of which is

PDF Complete (paid). Some of our HP computers at work, came with PDF Complete pre-installed, but it was actually a trial version. At some point it expired, but no user complained about pop ups to buy the full version, or anything at all in fact (as you guessed they never needed to make a pdf).

A few days ago, one user came to me with a very strange problem: She wanted to write an email, but when she switched the keyboard language to Greek, she could not write. Between you and me I did not believe her, until I saw it with my own eyes. In every Office component, you could only write in English. As soon as you change the language, you could not write anything unless you typed a symbol first! Then after a couple of characters, it would stop and you had to type another symbol.

Having forgotten all about PDF Complete, my mind started going to a corrupted Office installation. Thankfully a colleague noticed that PDF Complete had expired and uninstalled it. Then as if by magic, everything worked fine.

Major fail…

24
Jul
11

Share Files Between Mint 11 and Windows 7

Logo Linux Mint

Image via Wikipedia

While what I got today is nothing serious, nothing that has not been extensively documented elsewhere, I thought I’d sum up all the necessary steps in one place to save somebody the trouble of looking into many different websites to accomplice a relatively simple task.

The Story: I have three external drives on my PC (now running Linux Mint 11) that I needed to be able to access from a Windows 7 machine, serving the role of my Media Center. You can read why I chose Win7 for Media Center here.

The problem: I could not activate File Sharing on Mint. The option under “Preferences”, “Personal File Sharing” was grayed out.

The Solution: For some reason, completely unknown to me, you need to install a couple of Apache packages first. Insane, I know, but that’s what Jeffrey Charles suggested over at Beyond Technically Correct and I had no reason to doubt him. So open a terminal and type:

sudo apt-get install apache2.2-bin libapache2-mod-dnssd

After installation was finished, I rebooted my machine (not sure whether I needed to do that or not) and finally I was able to enable Personal File sharing. I went to my three disks, I created the shares and then I went to my Windows machine and tried to add them as network drives. Guess what? No luck. Fortunately, I remembered that the last time I had set up a Samba server, I needed to make a couple of changes in a file somewhere. In case you are wondering, when you check the checkbox to enable file sharing, what you really do is set up a Samba server on your machine.

You need to edit the following file to reflect your own network: /etc/samba/smb.conf

Locate the line bellow and change WORKGROUP to the name of your workgroup. If you never changed that, you do not need to do anything here.

# Change this to the workgroup/NT-domain name your Samba server will part of
   workgroup = WORKGROUP
What I did next, was to scroll a bit down and locate the authentication section. Then, I uncommented the security = user line. Remember, if you do that, you need to make additional user accounts on your machine, for every other user you want to allow to access your shared folders.
# "security = user" is always a good idea. This will require a Unix account
# in this server for every user accessing the server. See
# /usr/share/doc/samba-doc/htmldocs/Samba3-HOWTO/ServerType.html
# in the samba-doc package for details.
   security = user

The last step you need to take, is add the allowed users to Samba. Open a terminal and type:

sudo smbpasswd -a [username]

Please note that in case you enabled the security = user option above, you will have to provide a username that can also log on to your machine. I added myself for example.

Edit: I forgot to mention that after you change the configuration file you need to restart Samba, for the changes to take effect. you can do that by typing in a terminal “sudo service smbd restart” or by restarting your machine.

That’s it. I was then able to access my drives from Windows and mount them as Network drives.

22
Jul
11

How To Import Bookmarks from Firefox to Chrome

Image representing Google Chrome as depicted i...

Image via CrunchBase

“That’s easy, right? All you need to do is find the option in the menu and it should be done automatically! Why would anyone need to read your post?”

Well, you’re right. Sometimes, it is that easy. You would normally go to Options, Personal Stuff and click on Import Data From Another Browser. Chrome would suggest your default web browser and with another extra click, you would have all your bookmarks where they were. Normally. If you were not using version 4 or 5 of Firefox that is…

I was clicking and clicking and clicking but no bookmarks were to be found. At first I thought it had something to do with Windows Vista (I always suspect Vista on any problem that comes up…) but as it proved later, Windows was not the issue here.

This is a known problem with Chrome developers. They will probably fix it in some future version, but in the mean time, we need to find a workaround don’t we? What I chose to do, was to downgrade Firefox to version 3.6.19 and then Chrome was able to import my bookmarks, browsing history and saved passwords. In order to do that, you can go to Mozilla’s FTP and download the latest 3.6 version. After installation is complete, you will be able to import everything normally.

There might be other ways to achieve the same result, without messing with your Firefox installation. One thing that comes to mind, is through X-Marks, but you need to make an account with them in order to do that.

21
Jul
11

Google Chrome won this round.

Google Chrome Icon

Image via Wikipedia

I seem to be a creature of habit. At least to some extent, especially with the tools I am used to working with, and I happen to consider a web browser a tool. The Chrome vs Firefox thing has been on my mind for quite a long time and so far I’ve written two posts about it. The first one being almost three years ago, followed by another one last year. Now, a year later, I come back to the subject. The time between these three posts, proves my initial sentence. I don’t really like to switch tools unless I have to, or unless a new tool is much better than the old one.

The story: My Intel Classmate, after many OS installations, now runs on Mint 11. I know that those of you who follow me regularly do not believe that Mint will be staying for long, but I intend to keep it, really! Mint 11 comes with Firefox 5, a really nice version in my opinion. It has all the improvements 4 did plus the app tabs feature (among others) that I found really really useful. One thing however the guys and gals at Mozilla have not been able to control, is memory usage. At work, I use a 4 core machine with 4 GB RAM, so spending a couple of GB on Firefox, is no big deal. My dual core with 4 GB RAM at home, also running Mint 11, does not seem to mind much either. But the poor little Classmate was having a pretty rough time. At any time, I have Gmail, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter open, while browsing other sites and that proved to be too much for little Chiby. But I want my No Script, remember? I don’t think I can use the web without it…

And then came NotScripts. It does basically what No Script for Firefox does. Blocks java script, plug ins and i-frames. It has white and black lists and allows you to temporarily allow scripts too.

My Classmate is happier than ever. And for the record, I also installed Chrome on the eeePC (that runs Mint 10) with NotScripts and the results there were amazing. I am starting to feel I am owned by Google, but hey, that’s not that bad 😛

PS: I’ve said it before and I will say it again here, I know that there are other browsers as well. I had been a Firefox fan for many years and I would not switch now if it weren’t for memory usage and speed.

04
Jul
11

Migrating to Linux pt.1: The basics

Tux, as originally drawn by Larry Ewing

Image via Wikipedia

I have been using Linux for many years. I have tried many flavours, many distributions and I have written some of my experiences down, in this very blog. I am especially proud about managing to run my Intel Classmate on Linux, I have installed Mint on my eeePC and Peppermint on a VIA Epia ML, mini itx motherboard. However, my main PC would always run on Windows. Most of my work and pleasure (i.e. games and porn) would be under Windows and I have been somewhat sceptical about switching. Many years ago, I had tried the dual boot approach, but as it usually happens, one gets to constantly boot on Windows and soon the Linux installation becomes nothing more than wasted space on the HD.

Since my PC needed either some serious clean up and maintenance or a format for some time now, the thought of moving on to Linux was on my mind, but I guess I needed something to push me the right way. That something was a new machine that found it’s way to my house. Nothing out of the ordinary, an Intel E7400 sitting on a Foxconn motherboard. Still, it was a bit better than what I’ve been using, an Athlon XP 3800+, so I immediately decided I would be using the newcomer. Without much thought, I did a quick installation of Windows 7 and then I downloaded and installed Linux Mint 11. I know what you are thinking, I do have two OS’s on my PC, but this time, Linux boots first.

Reasons I still need Windows: I like games. I would not call my self a hardcore gamer, I get dizzy while playing an FPS, but I do like to play. I really like RPGs and one of my all time favourites was Baldur’s Gate. So, not being able to enjoy a good game was not an option. I have also purchased games from Steam and while I have read some articles about using Steam with Wine on Linux, I chose to keep it on Windows. I also do some video editing from time to time. Not professionally but still. I have heard about Linux solutions, such as Cinefx and I do intent to try that, but just to be safe I want to have something I know how to work with.

Despite the fact that I have installed Linux many many times, many different distributions on a number of machines, I still don’t call myself an advanced user. There are many things I have not encountered, things that to some of you might seem like a piece of cake, but none the less I decided to document my progress on using Linux for every day work here, hoping that I might be able to offer some help to those who face similar problems. Leaving all this mumbling aside, let’s see what was the first problem I had to solve:

The Printer. When you are a Windows user, things are quite simple. After finishing the OS installation, you are to install all drivers for the devices you have. Graphic cards, printers, scanners, in most cases, you just have to pop in the CD that came with the device and you are good to go. I had no idea how things were with Linux, since I never had to use a printer while on Linux. So when I turned my HP Laserjet 1020 on and a pop up message informed me that it was successfully installed and configured, I was more than happy.

That is until I tried to print something and although everything seemed normal, nothing would come out of the printer. No noise, no lights flashing, nothing. I imagined that the printer was not properly installed, so I started searching on line for help. I read a lot of things, mostly on how to go to HP’s website and download Linux drivers, but the problem was solved quite easily. I just opened a terminal window and typed:

sudo apt-get install hp-plugin

That downloaded and installed the print head firmware and my PC was able to communicate properly with the printer. So, in case you are facing something similar with an HP printer, give this a shot. Next time I will tell you how I set up my 5.1 surround sound.

20
Jun
11

How To Save Multiple PDF Attachments And Batch Print Them

Imagine the following scenario: You have a couple of thousand emails, each containing a pdf file and you have to print all of them. Nightmare, I know. Most people would select each email, open the attachment and print it, right?

Today I will show you how to save multiple Outlook attachments and how to batch print them, provided they are pdfs. There are other solutions too, for other type of files and perhaps someone might have a better approach. If so, I would like to hear about it in the comments.

You will need the following programs:

  • OutllokAttachView. This is an excellent freeware program that scans your PST file for attachments and allows you to save them in a specified folder, or delete them. Works with Outlook 2003/2007/2010
  • Adobe Acrobat. Mind you, I am not talking about Reader! This is the Adobe solution for creating pdfs, it is rather expensive and I am sure there might be alternatives to that. However, I happened to have it available, so I used it. Again, I am interested in other approaches in the comments.

After you download OutlookAttachView, extract the contents of the zip file into a folder and run the exe. It does not need installation, it just runs as is. You will be prompted to restrict the search parameters. As you can see in the following picture, I wanted to search only for pdfs:

A few seconds later, you will be shown a list of the attachments that were found.

Select all the pdfs you want to save and press the second icon from the toolbar (or F4).

Select the folder where you want them to be saved and press OK. Note that there are quite a few naming options in case you want to include time of creation, date etc, but for most of you, selecting the folder and pressing OK should be sufficient. All of your attachments should now be in the folder you chose. Time to open Acrobat.

Go to “Advanced –> Document Processing –> Batch Processing…”

Select “Print All” and click on “Run Sequence”. You will be prompted to select the files to be processed, so point Acrobat to the folder where you saved your pdfs, select all of them (ctrl+A) and press OK. The files will start printing on your default printer. Please note that you will not be able to change any print parameters, so you might want to check them before.

That’s it!

PS: You might want to try something else before resolving to a program such as Acrobat. Go to the folder where you saved your pfd files, select those you want to print (or all of them), right click and select “Print”. In my case some files would not print properly, so I decided to go with the Acrobat solution.




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