Computers Gadgets Linux

No wireless on Acer Aspire One using OneLinux

Acer Aspire One is a cool little device but out of the box it is somewhat crippled. I have tried to install the standard Ubuntu and Xubuntu 8.4.1 distributions with the help from the information on the Ubuntu community pages. For some reason, the system started behaving erratically – the trackpad worked only intermittently, the computer could sometimes appear to hang for a few seconds etc. I then restored the system using the CD that came with it and noticed that everything was working as normal. Clearly, all my problems were software related.

I started looking for an alternative OS and found OneLinux, a distribution based on Ubuntu specifically targeted for the Acer Aspire One. Perfect! Only problem is that the wireless network doesn’t work. The hardware driver dialog shows the following (my AAO model is 110-Ab, using an Atheros AR5BXB63):

OneLinux beta 1 wireless hardware issue

While I am writing this I am downloading (all too slowly) the updated beta of OneLinux. Hopefully it will correct the wireless issue. Stay tuned.

Computers Linux

File permission error with bind on Ubuntu 8.04

Starting with Ubuntu 8.04 slave zones under bind9 may not work as well as you may think – depending on where you believe you should save your zone files. The syslog shows permission error when bind tries to write to any folder under /etc/bind. That is where I had kept such files before – I realise now that this was a mistake – or at least not in line with common best practice.

This is the error you may see:

dumping master file: /etc/bind/slave/tmp-31s25Singg: open: permission denied
transfer of '' from failed while receiving responses: permission denied
transfer of '' from end of transfer

Starting with Ubuntu 8.04, apparmor is included by default in the installation. This was a new feature for me. In short, apparmor prevents unauthorised file activities and the reason for my file permission problem with bind was that I tried to write slave zone files to /etc/bind/slave. But, by definition, the local host does not hold the master copy of a slave zone. Such data should instead be saved in /var/cache/bind. Once I changed my zone definition and restarted bind it went well.

Computers Linux

Re-disabling the root password

Sometimes it doesn’t help to think twice. The other night I was changing my password on an Ubuntu system and realised too late that I was right then root after having run ‘sudo su’. So, instead of changing my own password I changed the password of the root account. By default it is not possible to log onto the system by using the root account but by changing the password I immediately lowered that bar.

So how to fix this?

Some sources say that ‘sudo passwd -l root’ is the way to go but this just locks the account. Others point to ‘sudo passwd -d root’ but that just removes the password completely. While this means that it will not be possible to log onto the system remotely since ssh prevents logons using blank passwords, it does mean that the system is wide open to anyone who can gain access to a console.

The correct method is ‘sudo usermod -p ! root’. This inserts an exclamation point in the password hash for the root account. This means that no entered password will ever match the stored hash.

Computers Linux Mac Windows

Clearing the local DNS cache

On Mac OS X
Type “sudo nslookupd -flushcache”

On Linux
DNS records are not cached locally unless you have installed a local DNS server. Intead DNS records are cached in the upstream DNS servers.

On Windows
Type “ipconfig /flushdns”

Computers Linux Mac Windows

Getting out of Sharepoint

I have been using Sharepoint at work for a number of years now. In theory, it is a good product that takes away some of the anarchy that usually is the result of a just using a file share to exchange documents. In practice the benefits are less stellar, especially in a mixed environment.

Since starting to use a Mac in what is otherwise a Windows shop, it has become painfully obvious how much one ties oneself into the Microsoft world by using Sharepoint. People might be concerned about being locked in to Office but that is nothing to Sharepoint. Unless you run the combination of Windows, Office and Internet Explorer you are in for a rocky ride indeed.

So, trying to get out of Sharepoint, what do you do? You may still have a lot of documents saved there that you don’t want to lose.

I tried using wget but it wouldn’t download everything. I then tried httrack but it wouldn’t follow links into subfolders in document libraries (I did keep a copy downloaded by httrack though since it managed to keep most of the contents). I also tried to map UNC paths to the document libraries to be able to copy the documents that way. Didn’t work. I tried various freewares that were supposedly able to archive documents from Sharepoint. Not so.

Then I tried Sharepoint Documents Exporter by Brennan Stehling and that did the trick. Finally, I got a complete set of files directly from the MSSQL server, including files saved on the users’ private pages.

Thanks Brennan!

Now the big question remains: Should I head back to the file share or is there some open source Sharepoint wannabee solution with support for multiple client platforms, full browser compatibility and support for both Office and OpenOffice? Drop a comment if you have a suggestion.