Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'ubuntu desktop'

caribou

For historical reasons, I have been installing my Ubuntu laptop on a fully encrypted disk for years.  Up until now, I needed to use the alternate CD since this was the only possibility to install with full disk encryption.

This is no longer the case.  If you want to use full disk encryption with Quantal Quetzal, you can use the standard installation CD and will be presented with the following options :

You can then select the « Encrypt the new Ubuntu installation for security » option to request full disk encryption. Alternatively, you can elect to use LVM as I did, but this is not a requirement in order to get full disk encryption.

Kudos to the Ubuntu development team for making this option so simple now !

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caribou

One nice thing about Banshee was the seemless integration of the Amazon MP3 store. Since I reinstalled my laptop on Precise, I know have Rhythmbox instead of Banshee which does not seems to offer the same kind of integration.

Luckily for me, I found a nice little hack that will help me get my favorite non-DRMed MP3 files on Ubuntu :

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1955149

In short, install clamz that will allow you to read & download the .amz files that the Amazon music store sends when you buy music. 

Hope this helps

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caribou

One year ago, I had done my last day after thirteen years with Digital Equipment Corp which became Compaq, then HP.  After starting on Digital Unix/Tru64, I had evolved to a second level support position in the Linux Global Competency Center.

In a few days, on the 18th, I will have completed my first full year as a Canonical employee. I think it is time to take a few minutes to look back at that year.

Coming from a RHEL/SLES environment with a bit of Debian, my main asset was the fact that I  had been an Ubuntu user since 5.04, using it as my sole operating system on my corporate laptop. The first week in the new job was also a peculiar experience, as it brought me back to my native country and to Montréal, a city that I love and where I lived for three years.  So I was not totally lost in my new environment. I also had the chance of ramping up my knowledge of Ubuntu Server, which was an easy task.  What was more surprizing and became one of the most exciting part of the new job is to work in a completely dedicated opensource environment from day one.

Rapidly I became aware of the fact that, participating in the Ubuntu community was not only possible, but it was expected.  That if I were to find a bug, I needed to report it and, if possible find ways to fix it.  In my previous job I was looking for existing solutions, or bringing in enough elements to my L3 counterpart that they would be able to request a fix to Red Hat or Novell.  Here if I was able to identify the problem and suggest a solution, I was encouraged to propose it as the final fix.  I also rapidly found out that the developpers were no longer the remote engineers in some changelog file, but IRC nicks that I could chat with and eventually meet.

Then came about Openstack in the summer : a full week of work with colleagues aimed at getting to know the technology, trying to master concepts that were very vague back then and making things work.  Getting Swift Object Store up and running and trying to figure out how best this could be used.  Here I was asked to do one of the think I like best : learning by getting things to work. This lead to a better understanding of what a cloud architecture was all about and really made me understand how useful and interesting a cloud infrastructure can be. Oh, and I did get to build my first openstack cloud.

This was another of this past year’s great experience : UDS-P. I had heard of UDS-O when I joined but it was too early for me to attend.  But after six months around it was time for UDS-P and, this time, I would be there.  Not only I had time to meet a good chunk of developpers, but I also got a lot of work done.  Like helping Michael Terry fix a bug on Deja-Dup that would only appear on localized systems, get advices on fixing kdump with the kernel team and some of the foundation engineers and a whole lot more.

Then came back the normal work for our customers, fixing their issues, trying to help improve their support experience and get better at what we do. And also seeing some of my fixes make it into our upcoming distribution and also back to the existing ones.  This was a great thrill and an objective that I did not think would come by so fast.

Being part of the Ubuntu community has been a great addition to my career. This makes me want to do even more and get the best out of our collective efforts.

This was a great year. Sure hope that the next one will be even better.

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caribou

Recently, I have realized a major difference in how customer support is done on Ubuntu.

As you know, Canonical provides official customer support for Ubuntu both on server and desktop. This is the work I do : provice customer with the best level of support on the Ubuntu distribution.  This is also what I was doing on my previous job, but for the Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SuSE Linux Enterprise Server distributions.

The major difference that I recently realized is that, unlike my previous work with RHEL & SLES, the result of my work is now available to the whole Ubuntu community, not just to the customers that may for our support.

Here is an example. Recently one of our customer identified a bug with vm-builder in a very specific case.  The work that I did on this bug resulted in a patch that I submitted to the developers who accepted its inclusion in the code. In my previous life, this fix would have been made available only to customers paying a subscription to the vendors through their official update or service pack services.

With Ubuntu, through Launchpad and the regular community activity, this fix will become available to the whole community through the standard -updates channel of our public archives.

This is true for the vast majority of the fixes that are provided to our customers. As a matter of fact, the public archives are almost the only channel that we have to provide fixes to our customers, hence making them available to the whole Ubuntu community at the same time.  This is different behavior and something that makes me a bit prouder of the work I’m doing.

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caribou

While testing Oneiric on a separate disk, I wanted to get some files off my laptop’s hard drive which is hosting my normal Natty’s install.  Keeping with a previous setup, I had installed my laptop with a fully encrypted hard disk, using the alternate CD, so I needed a procedure to do this manually.

Previously, I had tested booting the Natty LiveCD and, to my enlightened surprise, the Livce CD did see the encrypted HD and proceeded to ask for the passphrase in order to mount it.  But this time, I’m not running off the LiveCD, but from a complete install which is on a separate hard drive.  Since it took me a while to locate the proper procedure, I thought that I would help google a bit so it is not so deep in the pagerank for others next time.  But first, thanks to UbuntuGeek’s article Rescue and encrypted LUKS LVM volume for providing the solution.

Since creating an encrypted Home directory is easily achieved with standard installation methods, there are many references to how to achieve it for encrypted private directory. Dustin Kirkland’s blog is a very good source of information on those topics. But dealing with an encrypted partition requires a different approach. Here it is (at least for an encrypted partition done using the Ubuntu alternate DVD) :

First of all, you need to make sure that lvm2 and cryptsetup packages are installed. If not, go ahead and install them

 # sudo aptitude install cryptsetup lvm2

Then verify if the dm-crypt module is loaded and load it if it is not

 # sudo modprobe dm-crypt

Once this is done, open  the LUKS partition (using your own encrypted partition name) :

 # sudo cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/sda3 crypt1

You should have to provide the passphrase that is used to unlock your crypted partition here.

Once this is done, you must scan for the LVM volume groups :

 # sudo vgscan –mknodes
 # sudo vgchange -ay

There, you should get the name of the volume group that will be needed to mount the encrypted partition (which happens to be configured as an LVM volume). You can now procede to mount your partition (changing {volumegroup} with the name that you collected in the previous command ) :

# sudo mount /dev/{volumegroup}/root /mnt

Your encrypted data should now be available in the /mnt directory :-)

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caribou

Oneiric first drive

Ok, I finally got a few minutes to start testing Oneiric Beta 1 on my HP Elitebook 8440p.  Since it is the computer that I use on my daily job, I preferred to launch it using a USB key and not to jeopardize my Natty’s working installation.

It is not by lack of faith toward my fellow developers, but rather because I would hate to be unable to serve our customers following known bugs being applied to my gear. So here are my first thought. I will follow up by visiting the “known bug” section to see if the things that I encountered have already been fixed.

And since I’m using a live USB setup, my first test is on the packages found on the Beta1 DVD image. I didn’t get to run an update to get fresher packages yet.

Video

My first great pleasure is to realize that I no longer have to rely on the Nvidia proprietary drivers to get started. Of course, I only get access to Unity 2D, but at least I have an environment that is very similar to the 3D version (I really can’t see the difference). But I’m not a big user of animations and things like that. Another great thing is that I only had to go to the “Display” section, activate my second 19″ screen, put the appropriate screen definition and the second display started to work.

One thing though : the Dash menu which used to appear on the far left of the leftmost screen in Natty (normal behavior) now appears on the left of the laptop’s screen (my 2nd screen is at the left of the laptop) so the Dash selection area is in the middle of my workspace.

Peripherals

Wireless works out of the box, but this is nothing new. Same with the built-in webcam. As I already indicated, Dual-screen is also working out of the box, but apparently without the 3D acceleration.

User Interface

The first thing I noticed after typing the “Super” key and typing “term” to get a CLI environment is that, after hitting <TAB> to select the terminal Icon, I no longer have a graphical return (i.e. the icon doesn’t get highlighted). It still seems to work as if I hit <Return>, the terminal does get launched. Maybe a side effect of using Unity 2D.

As with the Dash menu, the lens do appear on the right screen (laptop screen) unlike with Natty. One thing that is no longer working is the workspace switcher. Clicking on it in the Dash does display all four workspaces, but when I select any workspace, it always brings me back to the first one. Might be some wrong setup.

Software

So far, I have had a few crashes (software library, Compiz manager) but most things seem to work. The software library crashes have forced me to drop back to CLI to get things installed. UbuntuOne works flawlessly

It is now time to go back to my daytime job, which is fixing our customer’s  problems. Hopefully, I’ll have some more time to explore Oneiric before it ships out. But I really like my first impression.

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caribou

Having a linux based distribution as the operating system on my laptop has many advantages.  One of them is to be able to easily run an apache instance and use my laptop as a local webserver.  This has allowed me to run my very own private mediawiki instance on my laptop and to use it as a note keeping engine.  So the landing page on my web browser looks like this :

Two main advantages of this is that, if I intend to publish some of my notes as a public wiki page, there is minimal effort involved in migrating the data to a public Wiki. Otherwise, I can use the search function to find information on a specific topic, see if I have done things on that subject, etc.

It has been a very useful tool to me and I thought I’d share that experience.

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caribou

In my job as a support engineer, I spend my day trying to fix problem. So it is refreshing when, sometimes, the technology that we’re providing simply works.

Like this morning when I decided to test a total autonomous laptop setup. By that I mean that I will on the road tonight and might need internet access for m y laptop.  So I went ahead and configured my Android HTC Desire to act as a WiFi Hotspot.  Then I switched my laptop’s Wireless connection to the SSID that was broadcast by my phone; it connected right away.

Now since I’ll be in a car, I need to have some kind of headset to avoid street noises. So I powered my bluetooth  earphone that I had previously configured to be recognized by my laptop. I went in the notification area and selected the Bluetooth applet & saw that my earphone was been seen. So I connected it.  Now the only thing that doesn’t totally work as I would expect is that I needed to change the whole sound setup of my laptop to send all input and output to my earphone. I’m expecting to use Twinkle for phone calls, and it is the only way I found to have the earphone work properly. If someone knows how to be more selective and have Twinkle use the Bluetooth earphone, I’m a taker.

But this is not a show stopper.  So I fired up Twinkle, connected to my SIP account and dialed my home phone : Drriiiinngg!!!

So I’m there, with my Android phone connecting me to the Internet, my laptop acting as a telephone, while I still have full laptop functionality. I must say that I’m impressed. Don’t get me wrong : I’ve been using Ubuntu since Hoary, and Debian before that.  But nowaday, with all the great work done on those tools, it make rather complex setups work smoothly.

Bravo !

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