Dave Duncan

"Eat Well, Stay Fit, Die Anyway"

Archive for the 'Linux' Category

Sudo apt get “Vista”

Well, after a good run with Ubuntu Linux, I’ve rejoined the world of Windows users after Danielle and I got a new computer.  That means I now have to learn Vista and unlearn Ubuntu.  I’d briefly considered running a dual-boot system, but figured there was no point.

Ubuntu was a very good choice given my computer situation.  I was able to continue using an older computer without feeling as many limitations as I did with Windows on that slower machine.  For anyone with a lagging computer, I’d highly recommend trying it out.

Now comes that awkward phase where I slowly transfer all my files and I have to remember which computer everything is on.  I also have to learn how to use all the bells and whistles that are standard with Vista, which should be fun.  So far, I’m a fan of how quickly everything works, but I’m not a huge fan of the image viewer.  I’ll probably have a more full review in the coming weeks.

Also, wireless networks are cool.  Very cool.  I can’t believe there are so many near my house, nor can I believe how many of them are completely unsecured and just plugged in out of the box.  Ridiculous.

Any tips for Vista?  Any “need to have” software or little configuration tips?


“Press ‘Power’… the Button Marked ‘Power’… No, Not Like on Clothes”

Looking for a new place to live is one of the most exciting and defeating experiences in life.  You can find the perfect place and start imagining where all your furniture will go, only to find that someone else beat you to the punch with a deposit cheque.  In that vein, Danielle and I probably found the perfect apartment last night but the decision isn’t ours to make.  We’re trying to stay cool about it, rather than get our hopes up only to have them dashed on the rocks like some poor, ill-fated ship caught in a storm which is dashed up on the rocks… like our hopes (this is getting cyclical).

I may have discovered what caused my computer to go kaput back in May, and it turns out the solution may have been more simple than anyone had planned.  When I figured this out, I almost kicked myself… but the experience of trouble-shooting and reinstalling everything actually turned out to be quite educational, and I’m much happier with how everything is set up now.

The power went out at our place last night so my computer had a forced shutdown.  I noticed my iPod was docked and on, and with the computer powered off, I didn’t want my battery to drain before heading up to the cottage tonight, so I pulled the iPod out of the dock.

After my shower, I decided to boot up my computer to check the weather.  ERROR!  I got the same terrible error I had when my computer pooched itself last time.  I freaked out.  Then I figured that I should re-dock my iPod and reboot to see if that would fix it.  Thankfully, it booted fine with the iPod docked.  Phew.

I’ve now learned the first lesson of IT; if it doesn’t work, try turning it off and on again.


Installing “David’s Batch Processor” for GIMP in Ubuntu Linux

David’s Batch Processor is a simple GUI based plug-in for GIMP that allows you to perform a number of processing tasks (like resizing, changing orientation, batch file renaming) to a large number (or small number) of pictures at once. If you upload photos to the web, you do this all the time. If you don’t have millions of dollars to buy PhotoShop (or ethical problems with ‘borrowing’ it), then GIMP is a pretty good solution.

I had some trouble finding (clear) instructions on how to install the plug-in, so after some trial and error (and a lot of help from my own personal tech support guru, Steve) it’s now up and running. Here are some simple instructions to get it installed in one quick run.

I did the following in Ubuntu Linux (both in Edgy Eft and Fesity Fawn) and it worked just fine.

1. Download the tgz file to your desktop.
2. Open a terminal, and run the following:

sudo apt-get install libgimp2.0-dev gcc cpp g++

3. You may be prompted for a Yes/No answer here (confirming the use of hard drive space). Just type ‘y’ and hit enter. Then, enter the following:

cd /usr/src/

4. In the next command, substitute “[username]” with your username. Then continue, entering the following commands in turn each time you get a fresh command prompt.

sudo tar -xvzf /home/[username]/Desktop/dbpSrc-1-1-5.tgz
cd dbp-1.1.5
make install

5. Once all that is done, open up GIMP and go to [UPDATE Jan.2012: Filters>>Batch Process] . From the dropdown, select Batch Process and the world is your oyster!

Let me know if this works well for you.


Cheers and Jeers

I’m getting a little tired of all the Harry Potter hype (probably about as much as you’re tired of regular Linux posts).  I can understand kids getting excited, but the number of adults who are tearing their hair out and peeing their pants about seeing Harry defeat evil on a flying Quinch broom is just embarrassing.

On the other hand, I have to say I’m really impressed with the producers of the upcoming Simpsons movie.  Aside from a few promotions, they’ve kept the hype on this film to the bare minimum, and it’s brilliant.  After a few seasons of mediocre episodes, fans would be hard-pressed to get excited after umpteen thousand commercials about a movie they’ll likely see anyways.  It would be a recipe for disaster on the scale of Star Wars, Episode One.  Keep the expectations nice and low, and people will be a lot happier with the end product.  That’s my new mantra.

Speaking of expectations, I really hope that someone falls for my nerd test in this post.

And while we’re talking about nerd tests, I’m pretty excited about something right now.  After spending a bit of time fiddling with Batch Image Processor for GIMP in Linux (it lets you resize and edit a large group of pictures) and trying to install it (with Steve’s help), I’m writing up a ‘how to’ that I’ll post in here and link to the Ubuntu user forums.  All the documentation out there for installing the Processor is pretty bad, and it’s not really that hard to do.

You may be asking “what does this have to do with me?”, and here’s your answer… my gallery hasn’t been updated because it’s too labour intensive to individually resize each of my massive photos to post on the web.  I have a few batches of photos from various events (going back to early May) that I’m dying to get up online, and that I can link in here.  Frankly, the blog has been a little too text heavy for my taste lately.

Yeah for photos, yeah for Simpsons, meh for Harry Potter.


sudo apt-get boring_linux_blog_post

I find that the first time I do something, I do it haphazardly and I tend to cut corners (without knowing I’m cutting corners). By the time I get a second chance at it, I’ve learned a lot of lessons and can do it that much better. Well, I’m really happy with how my second install of Ubuntu Linux has been going, and that’s saying a lot because I was pretty happy the first time around too.

Things are much smoother, and I actually know what’s going on when I update packages and install things. I can see how Linux works now, and it’s pretty exciting. I guess this is why real Linux nerds are so outspoken and adamant.

All that being said, Linux isn’t for everyone. I’m lucky to have a few friends who can guide me through the really complicated bits (of which there are a few), and online documentation is user-generated, so it’s rarely well-written, simple or concise. The whole thing is an exercise in patience, but it’s free and there are no ethical, legal or moral implications with not spending money for software. That’s become a key point for me.

I believe I’ve found the perfect tools to manage my music and my iPod (Amarok), photo manipulation (GIMP), FTP, Web design and Torrent management.  Next up?  Remote access and finance management software.  At some point I might install some third party file management software to tag and organize my photos and writing, but that sounds like a lot of work up front.

In summary, despite having an upgrade to the operating system go sour on me, I’m still pretty sold on the whole Linux experience.  When I finally get around to buying a new computer (hopefully a laptop with lots of hard drive space), I’ll probably install Ubuntu as well as Windows Vista and see which one I find less frustrating.

Don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about it.

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Today we leave for Tennessee, and I’m looking forward to a vacation (even if most of it will be spent in a car). However, in order to get to 5pm and my freedom, I have a day of pure work insanity. All morning, I’ve been humming the tune to “Five O’clock World” and I’m checking the clock just a little too often for my own good.

Some of you may remember that I unhooked from the world of Windows a few months back and started running Ubuntu Linux at home. My experience with Linux has been great (mostly thanks to help from Steve and other people who actually understand it), and I was looking forward to upgrading to the newest version. I started the ‘simple’ upgrade last night, and I think something went wrong… horribly, horribly wrong. My OS doesn’t seem to want to boot. Eek. I have photos and emails on that computer that I need to recover, but after that, I’ll probably scrub ‘er clean and start over.

Just to clarify, I’m quite sure this isn’t a Linux problem, and is more of a “Dave doesn’t understand Linux” problem. I’m still sold on Linux and I’ll continue to encourage people to go open-source if for no other reason than the joy that comes from installing legal software at no cost. It’s guilt-free and FUN!

You know what will make all these problems disappear? Some American Dr.Pepper and some tasty Combos snacks. USA, here I come!

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I’m a Ramblin’ Man

So after much labouring and gnashing of teeth, I’m back on Ubuntu (with Gnome) for my operating system. I reinstalled from scratch last night and installed all my necessary programs (email, FTP, bit torrent, web dev, image processing and iPod & music) and codecs (for video). Now I just need to fiddle with all those little settings that make an OS your own (Desktop image, resolution, font sizes, installed fonts, screensaver, etc).

Once I’m back up and running, I can get back to working with pictures and maybe we’ll have some more in here… maybe. There’s rumour of a x-country skiing or snowshoeing trip on sunday that would result in some pretty awesome pictures if this cold weather holds out.

Speaking of cold weather, I’m as happy as, well… you know. Once it gets below -10 and the air gets sharp and clear, for some inexplicable reason I feel very alive. I should move further north, or at least away from the lake.

In other news, I got sick of getting invitations to Facebook that I couldn’t access, so I joined up. I didn’t bother putting up any photos or postings (since I have this fancy-dancy site, and all) so I just point people here. Anyways, I’ve noticed an increase in traffic here since I put the link up there and I’m wondering if Facebook is the reason. Let me know if that’s how you ended up here, either in the comments below or by email.

I’ll let the more judgmental of you decide if I’m pandering for comments or not, but I’m pretty curious at how my readership here seems to be evolving, and yet so many of you choose to remain silent. Perhaps it’s time for a poll… or maybe you fear being roped into writing for SilentTalkie (a very appropriate fear) or being converted to Linux (not a real fear… it’s not for everyone).

Speaking of good times


Hopin’ Source

So, you’re probably wondering where that review of Linux is that I promised a few weeks back. In response, I’m going to encourage you to learn a little patience. Seriously though, I don’t really think I can write a review yet, since I’m still not up and running at full speed.

A few things I can say are that it takes some time and skill to get things working the way you’d like (two things I have very little of) and be sure that your hardware will all work with your particular build of Linux. I had to switch from Ubuntu to Xubuntu (which is a sort of lightweight version of Ubuntu) and it’s running much better.

I still have yet to install my media codecs, Bit Torrent software, FTP software and functioning CD burning software (the default burner doesn’t finish discs). I have a media player that works with my iPod, but I haven’t had the time to configure it yet… there are bigger fish to fry right now… like how come my keyboard is screwed up?

In non-Linux news (now that I’ve scared away the non-nerds), a midday dentist appointment means that I get some quality reading time on the TTC (it’s quite a commute to the dentist’s office). I’m also hoping to jot some notes on a few ideas for the re-launch of SilentTalkie (coming in less than a month!).


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