Running Macbuntu on Ubuntu 10.10

Macbuntu DesktopI was having a chat to some people on Friday on why some devices were successful and some were… not.

Essentially what it came down to was the user experience and, while the hardware plays a part in this experience, the interface was the major driver of intuitive and efficient use.

To that end, I decided to have a bit of fun with some fan boys and, over the weekend I installed a Mac theme/overlay for Ubuntu called ‘Macbuntu

It’s a surprisingly simple process, for Ubuntu 10.10 users it’s 4 simple lines in terminal as follows (thanks Lifehacker):

wget -O /tmp/Macbuntu-10.10.tar.gz
tar xzvf /tmp/Macbuntu-10.10.tar.gz -C /tmp
cd /tmp/Macbuntu-10.10/

Choosing the default options all the way through will leave you (after a reboot) with a desktop which is fairly close to that of Mac OSX.

On my EEE netbook the eye candy costs me ~20% more CPU but it served its purpose today when I put it in front of a couple of Steve Jobs diciples and saw them bug out that an open OS could indeed deliver an experience close to that of their beloved Macs.

Organizing, Getting Things Done, (N)Evernote…

With a recent move to a new working environment, I’ve needed to re-address how I’m working to compensate for the loss of an ability to leave my workspace setup ready for action each day.

Part of this change has been to start using (then consolidate) ‘To Do’ lists. As as assistant for this – I’m returning to ‘Evernote‘ to help keep track of things across the platforms I use in both my professional and personal life.

Evernote / NevernoteThe basic premise of Evernote is “Capture Anything > Access Anywhere > Find Things Fast” and, while that is true for the popular platforms such as Windows, Mac, iPhone, Blackberry and Android – it’s sadly lacking in two of my every day devices. Continue reading “Organizing, Getting Things Done, (N)Evernote…”

Getting an XT USB Modem working in Ubuntu

Given that I’m rocking Ubuntu 10.04 on my beloved ASUS EEE 1005PE, I had a need to be able to use my Telecom XT T-Stick (a.k.a. ‘ZTE Corporation MF636 HSUPA USB Modem’) via Ubuntu.

The issue with these particular devices is that they respond to the system by default as a CD drive or USB hub so Ubuntu (with the stick in it’s native form) doesn’t see it as a modem device.

To turn off the function, and make the device a nice simple USB modem, you can do some jiggery pokery using ‘usb_modeswitch’ to switch off the autorun feature…


you can send the AT command “AT+ZCDRUN=8” to the modem.

I chose option two and used a windows machine with a terminal client, but for anyone wanting to avoid using windows, you can achieve the same result* using minicom (sudo apt-get install minicom)

*let me know if you choose to do this as it’d be nice to include the command lines used for completeness of this guide.

Continue reading “Getting an XT USB Modem working in Ubuntu”

Setting up the EEE 1005PE

This post has been far too long in coming – mainly because some miscrent broke into my car and stole a bunch of my gear – including the charger for my 6 hour old ASUS EEE 1005PE. The replacment charger took over 40 days to source (that’s what you get for living in New Zealand).

Anyway, this georgous wee netbook replaced my vintage EEE 701 4G and came pre loaded with Windows 7 Starter – and a bunch of trialware which took an absolute age to purge from the drive. It’s now dual-booting Win7 and Ubuntu 10.04 (which is my primary OS of choice).

As a side note – under Ubuntu 10.04, the Atheros AR2427 wireless card fails to be detected due a different hardware device ID of 002c which the ath9k wifi driver in the current (~ June 2010) kernel does not understand. However, all is not lost – simply follow the HOWTO written by James Little to add the patched driver to your current kernal and, 5 minutes later, you’ll have a wireless Ubuntu netbook once again (Thanks James!!)

A PC for the Kids: Introduction

With my wife adopting a new notebook we’ve found ourselves with an additional, usable machine which we’ve earmarked for our boys use.

The unit in question is a rather dated IBM Thinkpad R51 which ran fine with Windows XP, but given that our boys are now of an age where they are being more inquisitive, I’ve decided that something a little more robust would better fit the bill than the aging Windows OS.

As a keen open source OS user myself, I’m planning to drop Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (Lucid Lynx) onto the notebook and then lock down the configuration to allow the boys to experiment, but not break the environment.

So, looking at the task list ahead of me, I’ll be looking to run through the following:

  1. Install the OS (release date is 29/04/2010)
  2. Install and configure parental control on the boys user accounts
  3. Lock down the rest of the system on the boys accounts
  4. Let the boys at the notebook and observe what usability issues crop up
  5. Tweak

The next few articles getting posted to the blog will be following through this list so I’ll be making extensive use of search engines, forums and any other resources I can leverage to get the best info to make this happen as painlessly as possible. Suggestions in the comments please 🙂

What is this “Android” thing that people are talking about?

The first week of April 2010 saw the announcement of Telecoms first Android handset, with the exclusive launch for the XT network of the LG GW620.

Telecom is not alone in the New Zealand market with Android handsets. Vodafone have been selling the HTC Magic since the end of June 2009 and independent device importers also have a range of Android phones.

Globally, the industry is expecting big things from the handset manufacturers as well as the Android platform in 2010. At the Mobile World Congress (the world’s premier mobile event) in February, it was announced that 60,000 Android handsets are shipped every day (though what ‘shipped’ means was not clarified).

Continue reading “What is this “Android” thing that people are talking about?”

Installing VMware Server 2.0.1 on Ubuntu Server 9.10

Seriously, this was simple – and even better, it’s STABLE!

Instructions for this install are basically the same as those for my previous post using Ubuntu 9.04 and VM Svr 2.0.1 – except, now we need new patch files and the good folk at Ubuntu Geek have already written a great HOWTO Guide which steps through everything you need to do – so I’ll just summarise the changes in case you want to follow my guide with the changes 🙂

New Patch Files:

Get them


Unpack them

tar xvzf vmware-server.2.0.1_x64-modules-

Use them


Remove the old unpatched files

sudo rm -rf /usr/lib/vmware/modules/binary

Run the VMWare installer


If anything goes wrong and you need to start again:

Delete the vmware modules using the following command

rm -rf /usr/lib/vmware/modules/
rm -rf /lib/modules/2.6.31-13-server/misc/vm*

Now kill all vmware processes manually

kill -9 $( ps -ef | awk ‘/vm/ { print $2 }’ )

Now run file


at the time of installation where you see the following message type no and press enter

Before running VMware Server for the first time, you need to configure it by
invoking the following command: “/usr/bin/”.

 Do you want this
 program to invoke the command for you now? [yes] no

Now you need to run the patch script file using the following command


After completing this you should run

sudo /usr/bin/

Good luck! (and thanks again Ubuntu Geek)

Adding more functionality to Kubuntu 9.10 NBR

In a previous article, I covered off the installation of Kubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) onto an aging, but much loved and reliable ASUS 701 EEE Netbook. In this entry, I will detail a few of the additional bits of functionality I’ve added to the already awesome Netbook Remix (NBR) of this latest OS drop.

Topics Covered

As always, if there are things you think I should be including, or better ways of doing stuff, let me know in the comments 🙂

Pairing Bluetooth to a Nokia E71

Using an inexpensive bluetooth adapter allows you to get online without having to drag out cables etc when you’re on the bus, in the car – wherever.

The adapter detected fine – but then came the job of setting up the pairing with my Nokia E71:

On the EEE

  • From the Home Screen, open the ‘Internet’ group, then open up ‘kbluetooth’
  • You should see a bluetooth icon appear on your toolbar
  • Right-click the bluetooth icon, and select ‘Settings’ > ‘Bluetooth Adapters’ from the dropdown menu.
  • From the ‘Bluetooth Adapter’ dialogue box, set:
    • Adapter Name: ‘[WhateverYouWant]’
    • Mode: ‘Discoverable’

NOTE: Your Netbook is now being all promiscuous and stuff to the world, long-term, this isn’t good.

  • Click OK

On the Nokia E71

  • Select ‘Menu’ > ‘Connectivity’ > ‘Bluetooth’ and set:
    • Bluetooth ‘On’
    • Visibility ‘Shown to all’ (the same promiscuous warnings apply)
    • My Phones Name ‘[WhateverYouWant]’
    • Remote SIM ‘Off’ (not sure what it does, didn’t need it on)
  • Now, scroll/tab to the right and you’ll see the ‘Paired Devices’ list.
    • Select ‘Options’ > ‘New Paired Device’

Your phone should now scan for any bluetooth devices in range (if your workplace is anything like mine you’ll see a heap of devices)

  • ‘Select’ the device with the name you set in the EEE steps above.
  • The phone will now prompt for a passcode – Enter a passcode (numeric) into your phone.

On the EEE

  • You should now be prompted to enter a passcode on the EEE, enter the same numeric code

On the E71

  • You will be asked to ‘Authorise device [the EEE] to make connections automatically’, select ‘Yes’
  • Your connection should now appear in the phone


  • Select ‘Options’ > ‘Assign short name’ and change the name of the device to something more friendly if you wish.

On the EEE

  • Right-click the bluetooth icon, and select ‘Settings’ > ‘Bluetooth Device Manager’ from the dropdown menu.
  • Your E71 should appear in the list, select the device and click ‘Set Trusted’

Congratulations, your devices are now paired… now to do something useful with the connection!

Installing EEE Control (EEE PC Tray)

EEE Control is a utility written to allow easy management of the ASUS EEE embedded devices such as en/disable the Webcam, SDCard, Wifi as well as setting power and performance schemes.

To set it up under Kubuntu NBR, simply open a terminal window and enter the following:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kubuntu-ppa/backports
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install eeepc-tray

You should see an icon appear on your taskbar which allows you to access the functionality supported by your model of EEE netbook.

Installing UbuntuONE

Ubuntu One is your personal cloud. You can use it to back up, store, sync and share your data with other Ubuntu One users.”

…it’s just not in the Kubuntu NBR by default. To fix this, simply open a terminal window and enter the following:

sudo apt-get install ubuntuone-client-gnome

You will then find a UbuntuOne cloud icon in your ‘Internet’ applications group, and from there you are only a simple configuration away from your 2GB of free storage out in the interwebs somewhere.

Installing Skype

Skype is a VoIP client, if you haven’t heard of it in the last 5 years, you’ve probably been living under a rock – it works, the voice quality is acceptable and while the video capability can be variable, it’s got a huge number of subscribers so, give it a crack – you’ll probably find a number of your friends are already on there. My Current Skype Status is:

To get things running on your netbook, see below:

Remember, those of us with low resolution screens may need to invoke the <Alt> + <Mouse Click & Drag> trick to see the bottom of some dialogue boxes.

Hope this helps those of you out there wanting to squeeze a little more life out of your beloved Netbooks

Installing Karmic Koala (9.10) on an ASUS EEE 701 netbook


So – Karmic is out, and for those who are looking to upgrade to the new goodness, there’s a few simple tricks to make the process pretty much painless.

If you’re already running (K)Ubuntu 9.04, simply open up a terminal window and type:

update-manager -d

For those installing from scratch (and to be honest – it’s what I tend to still do, hang up from the Windows days?) things are almost as simple.

Getting the Files

  1. Grab a 2GB or larger USB stick
  2. Hit the web for your ISO files

Once the files are downloading (and they’ll take awhile as everyone hits the servers initially (trying a torrent may help), head on to the next step…
Making your USB bootable

  • Grab Unetbootin for your OS for a really easy way to create a bootable USB drive
  • Insert your USB stick, double check where it’s loaded then create!

On your EEE 701

  • Because of the native resolution of the original EEE, a number of dialogue boxes don’t fit so well on the screen. This is mostly only a hassle during the installation as, afterward, you should be able to hold down the <Alt> key while click-dragging the window you want to see the bottom of.
  • If you have an external monitor available, connect it and change the screen settings to display a more reasonable resolution, larger than the crippling 800×400 of the native 701 🙂
  • If you do not have an external monitor available, don’t panic – we can simply use the keystroke navigation as detailed below
    • Ubuntu Install (First Screen)
      • Press <Alt> + <F> (Forward)
    • Welcome Screen
      • Choose your language then <Alt> + <F>
    • TimeZone / Where are you
      • Select your location
      • <Alt> + <F>
    • Keyboard Layout
      • This should detect fine so…
      • <Alt> + <F>
    • Prepare Disk Space
      • To install to 4GB SSD (This will delete EVERYTHING ON THE DISK and install from a blank partition)
        • <Alt> + <E>
        • <Alt> + <F>
        • Partitions will calculate
      • For a Custom Install (to use SDHC card in a EEE for instance)
        • <Alt> + <S> (to Specify partitions)
        • <Alt> + <F>
        • Setup partitions as you wish
          • I chose to use /dev/sdc (the SDHC card) creating a Primary partition of [Full Size of Storage minus Amount of installed RAM (for swap) ]
          • Set mount point to ‘/’ and use the ext4 file system
          • Create a logical partition using the rest of available disk as swap (which should be size as the amount of RAM in your system)
          • <Alt> + <F>
        • Partitions will calculate
    • Who are you- Obvious really:
      • Your Name <Tab>
      • Login/Username <Tab>
      • Password <Tab>
      • Password Verify <Tab>
      • Device Name<Tab>
      • Choose your Login type
        • “Require My password” <Alt> + <M> – Default
        • “Login Automatically” <Alt> + <L> or
        • “Require my password to login and Decrypt Home folder” <Alt> + <R>
      • <Alt> + <F>
    • Summary
      • Last chance to check all your selections
      • Alt + I (to Install)
    • And now the installation will start…

At the end of the installation process, you will be prompted to remove the install media (USB drive) and reboot the machine.

You’re done!

Installing VMware Server 2.0.1 on Ubuntu Server 9.04

The following guide will take you through installing VMWare Server 2 on a minimal install headless Ubuntu v9.04 (Jaunty) Server. For a step by step on setting up the minimal server, read the article I posted here.

Getting the Pre-requisite Packages

First up, you will need to SSH into your server, and paste in the following command to install some additional packages which allow for the changes required to the kernel and the building of the VMWare server.

sudo apt-get install linux-headers-`uname -r` build-essential xinetd

Getting the VMware Server TAR ball

Once the extra packages are installed, you will need to grab the TAR ball from the VMWare site, and drop it into the directory where you wish to run your VMs from. For me, I’ve chosen to keep them under my users home directory in a directory called (imaginativly) ‘VM’. The following commands will make the directory ‘VM’ under your users root directory, then change to that directory:

mkdir ~/VM
cd ~/VM

From the PC you are using to SSH to the server, open a browser and visit the VMWare Server page from here you will need to download the server which will require you to create a VMware account, and login so that a licence key can be emailed to you.

Once logged in, you will be directed to the download page containing all the binaries for VMware Server.

Download the relevant TAR image for your architecture and linux version to your local machine, and do an MD5 checksum to make sure it arrived intact.

There is also a patch which you will require, you will need a login to the Ubuntu Forums however, to access the file below:

From here, transfer the TAR and the patch file in whatever way works best for you. If you followed my server build guide and installed the optional SAMBA extensions, you should be able to easily open the home directory on your server via a Windows network share – or similar for you particular operating system.

Running the Installer

Back to our SSH session now, unpack the patch into your “~/VM/” directory, then extract the VMware Server TAR ball and run the installer:

tar xvfz VMware-server-*.tar.gz
cd vmware-server-distrib
sudo patch ./bin/ ~/VM/
sudo ./

Accept the default options (there are a LOT of them) throughout the installation and allow the installer to build any modules or kernels it needs to during the setup.

Choose the Administrative User

When prompted for the name of the current administrative user, select YES and type in YOUR user name (otherwise it’ll use root)

Select the Directory to Store the Virtual Machines

When prompted for the directory to store your virtual machine files, type in /home/[YourUsername]/VM/Virtual Machines and allow the installer to create the directory

Entering the Serial Number

Next you will be prompted for the serial number which should have been emailed to you for your VM Server installation, simply copy out of your email and paste into the SSH window.

Back to selecting the default values now until you are returned to the prompt.

Just in case things didn’t go well

If you think you may have made a mistake in the configuration, you can easily re-run the configuration tool by typing:

sudo /usr/bin/

If you REALLY made a hash of it, you can always remove the installation by typing:

sudo /usr/bin/

and start again 🙂

Accessing the VMServer Console

After you installation sucessfully completes you will be returned to the prompt in your SSH session. That’s it – you’re done. All you need to do now, is attach to the VM Server console via your browser by typing in the address of your server box which will look something like this:


Read the documentation, and start setting up some Virtual Machines, or download any useful looking Virtual Appliances that catch your eye from the appliance marketplace.

Note: If you experience issues with the web console appearing to ‘hang’ ensure that you have loaded the lastest Java Runtime Environment (JRE) – get it here.