OpenVZ Ubuntu 12.04 Upgrade to 14.04 Logging Problems

I recently ran do-release-upgrade on an OpenVZ VPS running Ubuntu 12.04. The process was surprisingly smooth, and I ended up with a functional install of Ubuntu 14.04. However, after a couple days, I realized that nothing was getting logged (auth.log, mail.log, syslog, etc.). Nginx logs continued working just fine. Upon further review of what was installed, upgraded, and removed, I realized that sysklogd was uninstalled, but nothing was installed to replace it. I ran:

aptitude install rsyslog

and now everything appears to be logging as expected.

I’m not sure if this was a problem because of Ubuntu, OpenVZ, or my hosting company. Regardless, it’s fixed now.

Dell Latitute D620 Laptop and NVIDIA Drivers for Ubuntu

After a recent update to Ubuntu 12.04, my Dell Latitude D620 Laptop quit mirroring the display across the laptop screen and the television connected to the dock’s S-Video port. I had previously chosen not to upgrade to Ubuntu 12.10 because of this issue, and 12.04 had worked correctly until today. It seems that the driver installed quit supporting some of the options I needed:

root@ishta:~# nvidia-xconfig --twinview
nvidia-xconfig: unrecognized option: "--twinview"

Invalid commandline, please run `nvidia-xconfig --help` for usage information.

It appears that installing an older version of the NVIDIA drivers:

aptitude install nvidia-173

and removing the current version of the drivers:

aptitude purge nvidia-current

solves the problem. Hopefully this will work for future versions of Ubuntu as well.

Upstart Job to Send Email During Boot

Since Ubuntu makes use of Upstart, I decided to take some time to figure out how to write a job to send a notification email every time one of my servers reboots. The Upstart job is below and is stored in /etc/init/boot-notify.conf.

# boot-notify - sends an email notification upon boot

description "sends an email notification upon boot"

start on started rc-sysinit

exec echo "$( hostname -f ) booted on $( date )" | mail -s "$( hostname -f ) booted" root

Here’s a brief explanation: The line start on started rc-sysinit says this job can’t run until after rc-sysinit has completed. I use Postfix, which still uses the init daemon. Therefore, it was easiest to send an email after the init daemon gets done running its jobs including starting Postfix. The task line simply says this is a short running process that doesn’t continue running the way a service would. The last line is the command to run identified by exec.

Dell Latitute D620 Laptop Wireless and Ubuntu 11.10

After installing Ubuntu 11.04 on my Dell D620, I began noticing some wireless connectivity issues. This included delays or problems connecting to my home wireless network, increased latencies particularly when transferring files, and occasional disconnects. After upgrading to Ubuntu 11.10, the problems got worse. Doing some searching online revealed some possible solutions.

Installing the “b43-fwcutter” and “firmware-b43-installer” packages and rebooting the laptop is what ultimately worked for me.

aptitude install --quiet --assume-yes b43-fwcutter firmware-b43-installer

EVGA 680i SLI Motherboard and Ubuntu

A couple years ago, I built two servers and used EVGA 680i SLI motherboards. I chose that particular board because it had two Ethernet jacks and six SATA ports. At the time, I also purchased three SATA hard drives and a SATA optical drive. I plugged the four devices, installed Ubuntu 8.04 LTS and thought nothing of it. When I updated one of my servers to 8.10, I noticed that one of the newer kernel versions didn’t seem compatible with the drive configuration. I used an older kernel version, and eventually, I replaced SATA cables and switched the active SATA ports around. Eventually, it began working correctly on the latest kernel. I upgraded to 10.04 LTS, and things continued without incident.

However, a couple days ago when I decided to install a fourth hard drive, I again ran into the same problem. I did some searching and discovered some possible bugs. One of the solutions is to build a custom kernel. I opted to simply shuffle the SATA cables around again and moved all four hard drives to the four ports facing upward (ports 3-6) on the motherboard. I moved the optical drive to one of the two ports facing outward (port 1) on the motherboard.

EVGA 680i SATA Ports

Since the problem occurs during the boot process, and only seems to affect ports 1-2, all four hard drives function properly, and I can still boot from an optical disc or mount a disc once the computer has finished booting. Unfortunately, this solution makes adding a fifth (or sixth) hard drive impossible, but it’s a solution I am willing to live with until the problem is resolved (if it is resolved).

Spawn a Styled xterm into Home and Disown It

First, I set up the styling (no scrollbar, font, font size, background, and foreground colors):

xterm +sb -fa monaco -fs 10 -bg black -fg white

Next, I redirected the output and backgrounded the process:

xterm +sb -fa monaco -fs 10 -bg black -fg white > /dev/null 2>&1 &

This worked well for quite a while, but when I spawn a shell in an arbitrary directory, I wanted my shell to start in home so I added:

eval $( cd ; xterm +sb -fa monaco -fs 10 -bg black -fg white > /dev/null 2>&1 & )

Finally, I wanted to fully disown the new xterm from the shell I spawned it from. Therefore, my .bash_aliases file now has:

alias term='eval $( cd ; xterm +sb -fa monaco -fs 10 -bg black -fg white > /dev/null 2>&1 & disown %1 )'

Now I can cleanly spawn a new terminal that sends no output to the existing shell.

How Nvidia Took the Fun Out of Dual Screen Xorg Configuration

Dual screen configuration used to be quite the hassle on Linux. However, Nvidia has made it incredibly easy with their nvidia-xconfig command. The “–no-logo” argument eliminates the Nvidia logo when X starts, and “–twinview” enables the second display.

nvidia-xconfig --no-logo --twinview

Now I can configure my systems for dual displays during an Ubuntu installation without the need for reinstalling an old hacked together xorg.conf file.

Adobe Flash 10 for 64-bit Ubuntu Linux

Since Ubuntu Hardy Heron, it has become much easier to install Flash on Ubuntu, but the included restricted packages always leave me a bit disappointed. Luckily, Adobe provides a proper 64-bit version of Flash for Linux called “Square”. Since I tend to automate my installations, I wrote a script to install the latest version of Flash on my computer:

#! /bin/bash

# Remove any installed Flash packages
aptitude remove --quiet --assume-yes flashplugin-installer flashplugin-nonfree

cd /tmp/
tar xzvf $FLASH
mv /usr/lib64/mozilla/plugins/

Now Flash runs properly, and with the switch to “Square,” it even seems to consume fewer resources on my machine.

FreeNX on Ubuntu

I have been using FreeNX on Ubuntu Linux as a terminal server for remote graphical access. (It’s similar to Remote Desktop on Windows.) It’s fast and works quite well on slow Internet connections. NoMachine provides clients for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux, which means I can connect to my machine from anywhere.

Most of the instructions are available in Ubuntu’s documentation for FreeNX. First, add the repository, update the package listings, and install the FreeNX package:

add-apt-repository ppa:freenx-team
aptitude update
aptitude install --quiet --assume-yes freenx

Finally, set up FreeNX. I opt to use the default SSH key pairs (“–setup-nomachine-key”) because it doesn’t require additional configuration for the client to connect. I added the “–clean –purge” to fix authentication errors that I began having after I upgraded to Ubuntu 9.10.

/usr/lib/nx/nxsetup --install --setup-nomachine-key --clean --purge

After I install a client, I can connect to my computer from anywhere and use it as though I were sitting in front of it.

Simple Scan on Ubuntu

I have an HP ScanJet 5300C scanner and have had no luck getting it to run on Mac OS X after 10.3 Panther, Windows Server 2003, and Ubuntu Hardy Heron. After I upgraded to Ubuntu Karmic Koala, the XSane Image Scanner applications would scan a preview but would not actually save the image. (That’s more progress than I have had for a few years.) Next, I installed Simple Scan, which scanned and saved the image nicely. The program is a little simpler than I would like, but it beats the complexity of XSane. More importantly, it worked.