Ubuntu Edgy Eft Knot 3 on VMWare Server

More and more people are turning to virtualization these days. One of the main reasons is in order to test pre-release, beta, or alpha software. When it comes to Linux, the operating systems are in a state of constant flux so there’s always something new to test. People routinely want to test beta versions of KDE and Gnome and other desktops before comitting, or simply want to see what features are in development.

We’d previously written an article about installing Ubuntu 6.10 Edgy Eft Knot 2 (it IS a long name) on a Mac Mini, so to do the same would be batty. Instead, this guide covers testing the newest Ubuntu 6.10 Edgy Eft Knot 3 on Windows XP using free (as in beer) virtualization. This guide would also apply to anyone testing on various flavours as well, as long as they can run our free virtualization software: VMWare Server 1.01.

Setting up the Ubuntu virtual machine in VMWare server is very easy (click the pictures for larger versions):

Connect to your local VMWare Server installation if you run it locally, or connect to your remote VMWare Server.

We’ll select “typical” for this virtual machine as VMWare Server includes a configuration for Ubuntu already.

And, speaking of which, here it is! Make sure to select the plain “Ubuntu” option, unless you are running a 64bit host, and downloaded the 64bit version of Edgy Eft knot 3.

Name your virtual machine and select the location. The defaults should be fine here but feel free to tinker.

I typically use bridged networking, but for added obfuscation you can use NAT (which creates a virtual network based on your host’s network connection). You could also select host-only if you only want to be able to contact the host operating system. In fact, if you really wanted to make sure the machine is isolated from the wiki wikid web, don it with a nice tinfoil hat and disable networking completely. Ubuntu won’t be happy, but it looks pretty nice in a tinfoil hat.

8 GB of diskspace is fine for testing.You’re not going to be leeching full seasons of Lost… at least we hope so.

Since we opted to allocate diskspace now, VMWare Server will start creating the 8GB file. This can take some time depending on your computer’s hardware. In my case this took a few minutes – I use SATA2 NCQ hard drives and have 2GB of RAM. Your mileage may vary.

You now have a default virtual machine set up, but it will need some slight tweaking in order to install Edgy Eft Knot 3 as fast as possible. Click on “edit virtual machine settings” and remove the floppy drive – we don’t need it. Set the memory to at least 512MB, but it really depends on your total amount. Since I have 2GB total RAM on my host I select 1GB normally. Edit the CDROM settings and point it at your Ubuntu Edgy Eft Knot 3 CD image. Click “OK” – we’re set for lift off.

Press start and drool over the new llivecd boot screen. Note the reflection on the logo. How original.

Now we’re at another original boot screen – the progress loader. Note the gradient progressbar, and the Crystal-esque Ubuntu logo. Reminds us of 3 years ago, doesn’t it precious? Yes, yes it does.

We’ve landed at the desktop. You may stop here if all you wanted was a secure browsing solution with no cookies and passwords to worry about. Should we wish to continue, our mission involves double-clicking that obvious “install” icon. Let’s go for it.

This is an easy 6 step process. Step 1 – select your language.

Step 2 – Select your location or timezone.

Step 3 – Select your keyboard layout. I normally recommend you test the layout just in case. We’ve typed in “blandname” here for demonstration purposes. You may wish to try typing “Ubuntu”, but nothing else lest ye be stricken down.

Step 4 – Identify yourself. This information will be used later in life to incriminate you. Be choosy with naming and passwords. Harry MacDonald that means you! Try typing in something other than your real name here – it works, I promise.

Step 5 – We’ve pre-allocated our diskpace, so no need to worry about this one. Just click the “forward” button.

Step 6 – There really isn’t a step 6. The Ubuntu team has decided to waste our time by confirming the already tedious and easy task. Onward, ho!

Installing – took me 30 minutes. It may take you an eternity, but with hardware prices where thet are, I seriously doubt it will take you long to be rolling with a virtual Edgy Eft install.

The eternity has passed, and we’re going to reboot. Don’t forget to disable or otherwise change the CDROM settings so you don’t end up installing again – that would be embarassing, right?

There you have it – the pretty login screen. Note those options. XDMCP looks very intriguing doesn’t it? We’ll get to that later…

And presto! What have we got here? Firefox 2.0b1 – Bon Echo Beta 1! Try it out and see what you think, I’m impressed so far to be honest.

So that’s it, you now have a working Ubuntu 6.10 Edgy Eft Knot 3 test virtual machine (edit: let’s make the name longer). And it weren’t hard neither! When Knot 4 comes out you’ll be able to do it in your sleep. If not, well we’ll see you searching for it again.

Copy Files From a Mac to Windows Using SCP

Whenever you start adding funny-flavored operating systems to a network, you eventually run into filesharing problems. Even if you only have a few machines, coming to a consensus on how to get files from point A to B can be quite taxing – especially if there’s work to be done.

Over the years I’ve tried FTP, Samba, NFS and a host of others. When configured well they work like a charm. However, when a new node joins the network (that shiny new Mac Pro of yours), things need to be reconfigured and can generally be a royal pain that´s why i always chose the best web hosting.

That has changed, though. We now have an acceptable solution that is free, easy to use and above all, secure. Introducing… SCP.

SCP has been around for a while now, and is gaining quite a bit of traction in the hosting world where it is (albeit slowly) starting to replace FTP for upload and download tasks. SCP stand for Secure Copy (CP being Copy on *nix variants). SCP works a lot like FTP in that you require an address to connect to, a username (login) and a password (we won’t get into stored keys today).

Now that we’ve decided what to try in our ad hoc network, how do we set it up? If you’re blessed with any variant of Linux or Unix, the work has been done for you already – the tools come with the operating system, and are generally found under the network tools in your fancy menus.

Fugu on OS X Server

It’s a different story on Apple Macs and PCs, though. For example, Tiger comes with an SCP server, but no client. Right, about the Mac server. In order to activate it in Panther, Tiger and even Leopard, head on over to the System Preferences pane, and choose the Sharing applet (the folder with the caution sign on it). Once it has opened, check the Remote Login checkbox. This will enable SSH, and in turn, SCP. We’re halfway there. You can connect to an SCP server by using the Terminal on a Mac, but from what I can tell most Mac users are frightfully scared of it. But that gives me the oppurtunity to tell you about one of my favorite applications – Fugu (japanese for blowfish – and sporting a suitably cute icon to boot). Fugu allows you to connect to an SCP server to both download and upload files. Fugu is quite easy to use, so we won’t get into that, but will save it for another time if need be (just like stored keys). Oh, and as the screenshot shows you, it works with Mac OS X Server 10.4.7 too! (as well as Leopard)

WinSCP Screenshot

In the PC world, WinSCP is Fugu’s sibling. You get an extremly easy to use interface, complete with drag and drop. Installation is a breeze, and best of all it’s free as in both beer and speech. Just like those soapbox ramblers. Getting a Windows SCP server is a bit more difficult, but currently exists in the form of BitVise WinSSHD. WinSSHD is slightly complicated, but most of the configuration is done during the installation procedure. They supply you with the needed variables, and one you have finished you will have set up an account you can use to test from your other workstations. The screenshot above was taken with the wonderful WinSnap – it comes highly recommended.
Let the cross-platform filesharing begin!

If you have any questions, or would like to suggest a topic for a future article, head on over to the blandname contact page and we’ll see what we can do!

Oh, and by the way, since you’ve noticed I always talk about virtualization, this certainly applies to getting files to and fro from your virtual machines in VMWare Server, Virtual Server (Virtual PC if need be) and Parallels – I have even found it to be faster than any other technique!

Quick Tip: Eject your CD on an Apple Mac

If you don’t have an Apple Macintosh keyboard, you miss out on the “eject button”. This is a shame really. The easiest way to eject the CD is to drag it to the recycle bin, or if you have a Windows mouse as well you can right-click and select eject. Should you have a Macintosh mouse, option-click and select eject. If all else fails, reboot the computer and hold down the left mouse button (or only mouse button), and the CD will eject for you. If this STILL doesn’t work, you can go into OpenFirmware and tell the Apple computer to eject using the command:

0 > eject cd

Hope that helps!

Where’s my Mac BIOS? (How to get into OpenFirmware Easily)

A lot of people these days appear to be under the impression that Macs have a BIOS, which is unfortunate because they actually have something much better – Macs have OpenFirmware. This is true for G4 Mac Minis, PowerBooks, iBooks, iMacs, eMacs, and Dual G5s… I could go on and on.
I got most of this info from experience and the Apple Developper Connection – if you’re not a member yet, sign up, it’s free.

You can get into OpenFirmware using this key sequence:

CMD-OPT-O-F

In detail, this means using two hands, holding “command”, “option” and “f” on the left and “o” with your right hand. Do this while booting your computer and you well hear two chimes. At the end of the chimes you will be greeted with an

On my G4 Mac Mini, for example, I can hold down the power button for roughly 10 seconds and I will hear the chimes – this should work for iMacs as well.

The OpenFirmware prompt that looks like this:

ok

0>

Congratulations, you’ve accessed your “BIOS” you switcher!

Now that we’ve passed this glorious milestone, we have some work to do. After all you came here for a reason right? (and not just to click on the ads, wink-wink nudge-nudge)

Some useful commands that save me time and time again, and enable reparation of the G4 Mac Mini:

Boot your Apple computer using the default boot device:

0 > mac-boot

Boot your Mac using the inserted CDROM at the yaboot directory for linux CDs:

0 > boot cd:,\install\yaboot

To eject a CDROM from your Mac:

0 > eject cd

If you have any other OpenFirmware tips to share, feel free to comment!

How to Rip CDs on a Mac

This quick guide will get you started backing up your CDs on you PowerPC Mac, or even your spanking new Intel MacBook Pro!

I recently downloaded and installed a wonderful application called Max from Sbooth software. Max is absolutely free, and not only that, but it’s also open source (OSS) and a universal binary.

Max reminds me quite a bit of EAC which is my favorite audio CD backup program when running Windows. In fact, one of the few things I had always longed to do on my G4 Mac Mini was backup some of my audio CDs for use with my iPod Mini.

Now I know that iTunes will rip CDs to MP3, but it doesn’t offer too much in terms in functionality. For exmaple, if you have a scratched CD, iTunes will often have problems with the file. iTunes also only converts one file at a time, making the process quite slow. Of course, Max can both copy from scratched audio CDs, as well as rip multiple tracks at once if you have multiple cores or processors such as the Mac Pro or the dual G4 and G5 workstations. With these computers iTunes is simply wasting your time and giving you bad quality files. Did I mention Max supports lossless formats? I could go on and on. Let’s get ripping!
First you’ll want to download the files from SourceForge (SourceForge is a great source of Open Source programs). Click on this link to download the latest Max release for OS X

Getting Started

Once you’ve downloaded the Max archive, installation is a snap (like most other Mac software). If you used Safari, FireFox or Opera, the file will have decompressed (expanded) to your desktop already. Even on Leopard it does the same thing. Double click on the Max folder and drag the Max application file (the one that looks like a blank CD with “Max” written on it with a red marker). We’re going to drag this file into the applications folder on your main hardware for easy access later. Once you’ve done this, you may also want to drag the file from there to your toolbar for later use.

OK, time to run Max for the first time. Are you liking the name “Max” yet? It reminds me of “Macs”.

Double-click on the icon for Max in your application folder, or single-click on the dock icon. Max will start up magically at your command and is now ready to backup your CDs in multitudinous formats. Huzzah.

To select which output formats will be generated:
1. Open the Formats section of the Preferences and double-click the desired format from the list of available formats
2. Edit the encoder settings, if desired

To create audio files from compact discs:
1. Insert the compact disc
2. Select the correct album information from that retrieved, if prompted to do so
3. If desired, download album art by selecting Download Album Art… from the Compact Disc menu
4. Click the Select All button
5. Click the Encode icon in the toolbar
6. The encoded files will be placed in your Music folder

To convert existing audio files to other formats:
1. Drag the files you would like to convert to the Converter window
⁃ Alternatively, select Convert Files… from the File menu
2. The converted files will be placed in your Music folder

Access Your Computer’s BIOS

UPDATE – Many people have asked me to write an article about accessing a Macintosh BIOS, so here it is!

I helped a friend out today who wanted to reinstall Windows on his Dell laptop. When he inserted the CD into the drive and rebooted, the computer still booted into Windows and would not boot from the CDROM drive for him. Having seen this many times before, I told him to change the boot order so that he could boot from the Windows installation CD. Since he was unsure of how to do this, I have a feeling that most people would be stuck were they in the same situation. Here are the most common keystrokes that will get you into your BIOS. Once you are there, change the “boot order” or “boot sequence”, so that the CDROM is the first item. Once that has completed, save the changes and exit. Presto! you can now start the installation and proceed with glee.

Phoenix BIOS (older)

  • Ctrl+Alt+Esc
  • Ctrl+Alt+F1
  • Ctrl+Alt+S
  • Ctrl+Alt+Enter
  • Ctrl+Alt+F11
  • Ctrl+Alt+Ins

Award BIOS

  • Ctrl+Alt+Esc
  • Esc
  • Del

AMI BIOS (most common)

  • Del

IBM BIOS

  • Ctrl+Alt+Ins F1

Compaq BIOS

  • F10

Dell BIOS

  • F2

Publish a Remote App Using Longhorn Server

A thumbnail of the result

First you will need to add the Terminal Services Role to your Longhorn installation either through the Roles Wizard or by using the Software Manager. You may also wish to install the Web TS Role while you are there to allow users to connect to a website, authenticate, and run a remote app easily. Once this has been completed, restart the system as required and head to the Administrative Tools Control Panel. Here you will find the Remote Programs applet. From here we can browse to an application to publish, and export it as an RDP file compatible with both Vista and current versions of Windows. You may also wish to add authentication to the file, but remember that if the file will be used on another system the authentication settings will be lost. In my case I used Word 2007 Beta – so I log in, and the window goes full screen with only Word loaded! This is a great way to securely publish apps with the right config, and I can’t wait to see what happens in the final version. This is very similar to what Citrix does, but presumably (keeping fingers crossed).