Tag Archives: Linux

OLPC for Birmingham, Alabama?

I just submitted this to Slashdot, as I think it’s interesting what the end result will be? Will the OLPC get squeezed out? Will US kids like ’em (I think they will).

bettlebrox writes Birmingham, Albama, may be the first US city to purchase the OLPC, per the Boston Herald:

‘The City Council has approved a $3.5 million plan to provide Birmingham schoolchildren with 15,000 computers produced by the nonprofit One Laptop per Child Foundation, which is putting low-cost laptops in the hands of poor children in developing countries. The city School Board still must agree to the deal, and some members have reservations. They want proof that computers designed for the remote African bush or the mountains of South America operate properly in an American city already laced with computer networks.

“Third World countries just don’t have some of the issues that we have to deal with, like liability and networking,” ‘

Other concerns they have include training for teachers and kids, and responsibility if OLPC’s are lost or stolen from a child.

Personally, I think it’s a great idea, they’re easy to use (even for teachers), it’s a great way encourage kids to be more computer (and maybe programming) savvy, and it allows for easy online social networking. Also, kids and families can easily pool wireless connections using the OLPC, and it should work seamlessly with any existing networks.

What can we tell the School Board (if they read Slashdot) to address their concerns? And how soon do you think it’ll be before some major US software company offers them free computers running a different OS instead? Also, is it me or does the attitude of the article seem to imply that as this is for poor foreign children that’s it not good enough for Amerikan kids?”

Eclipse 3.3.2 and Debian

So I wanted to install Eclipse at home, the version that comes with Debian is 3.2.2-5 and I wanted to try 3.3.x and install WTP and some other plugins that aren’t packaged with Debian (anyone know why?).

After downloading and installing Eclipse the welcome screen would appear with an error message saying:

Error creating the view.


This is because the default jvm or java executable on my system was one provided by gcj and for some reason Eclipse’s eclipse doesn’t seem to work properly with gcj (or I had a too old version), Debian’s 3.2.2 Eclipse packages seem to work fine with gcj. Gcj is an Open Source Java compiler provided by GNU.

Using Sun’s JVM solved this. To install Sun’s JVM, if you don’t already have it, issue the following command:

aptitude install sun-java5-bin

Debian uses what’s called alternatives, this means that the java executable /usr/bin/java is actually a symbolic link to /etc/alternatives/java which itself is a symbolic link to the real java executable. You can manually change the links in /etc/alternatives or run:

update-alternatives –all

And change all the java tools to point to the ones that come with the Sun JVM. Alternatively, you can install galternatives which is an easy to use GUI tool to manage alternatives.

Updated March 2008: Corrected misspellings, and grammatical mistakes.

Boston Linux Installfest XXVII

Boston Linux Installfest XXVIII
When: Saturday, March 1, 2008 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Where: MIT Building E-51, Room 061, 2 Amherst St, Cambridge

What you need to bring: Your computer, monitor, power strips and yourLinux distributions. We do have copies of some distributions. In general we have expertise with most distros, but if you need special expertise, please email the BLU discussion list in advance.

COST: It’s free! However, we DO have expenses, and contributions arewelcome. Please consider contributing $25 per machine.

Our volunteers will help you to install Linux on your own system. While Linux runs on most systems, some systems do have configurations and hardware that may not be supported. Please consult the following web pages for hardware compatibility.

Linux.ORG: http://www.linux.org/hardware/index.html
Hardware HOWTO: http://www.linuxdoc.org/HOWTO/Hardware-HOWTO.html
Linux Frequently Asked Questions: http://www.linuxdoc.org/

Generally our volunteers have sets of the latest Fedora, SuSE and Ubuntu distributions:
* Fedora – http://fedora.redhat.com (Fedora 7)
* Open SuSE – http://opensuse.org (OpenSuSE 10.3)
* Ubuntu – http://www.ubuntu.com (Gutsy Gibbon 7.10)

Please refer to the BLU website (http://www.blu.org) for further information and directions. Parking is available in front of the building on Amherst St. Enter the building, and take the elevator to your left down 1 floor. Room 061 is opposite the elevator.

Adobe Air for Linux?

A friend forwarded the e-mail below to me. It looks like there is a beta or prerelease of the Linux version of Adobe Air available. However, poking around Adobe’s site I can’t any references to this release and Googling hasn’t turned up anything useful (except for doc from last year saying Air for Linux will be here in the 1.2 release). And the first Q/A in the e-mail say there isn’t a public announcement, yet. If anyone knows what procedure there is get access to a version, please leave a comment.

Wouldn’t you think they’d include a few links in the e-mail! I’m guessing that it’s somewhere on http://labs.adobe.com, maybe all I have to do is register? Nor is there anything on the Air Forums?

The announcement is below, the only changes I’ve made is masking any e-mail addresses (to help prevent unnecessary spam), and some minor formatting to improve the legibility. BTW Adobe, good job on working on providing Linux support. However, I’d suggest that if you provide support for Ubuntu, that you also consider providing packages for Debian which is what Ubuntu is based on.

Update: See Ashutosh‘s comment below.

Also, see Arstechnica’s Air Review.

Continue reading Adobe Air for Linux?

Gnome-screensaver is a bit of a pain in it simplicity

One of Gnome’s main philosphy is simplicity but in this endeavour, some things are a pain! For instance, Gnome’s pictures screensaver doesn’t let you specify what directory to look for pictures or photo’s to display (nor has the neat zooming and paning features of Xscreensaver’s Glslideshow). It expects all your pictures to be in a directory named Pictures in your home directory and this isn’t an easily configurable option, and it seems to not look for pictures in any sub-directories of the Pictures directory (all the pics need to be in one directory).

But you can use the xscreensaver’s screensaver with gnome-screensaver:


So once again I can use the Glslideshow screensaver without having to disable Gnome’s screensaver and configuring xscreensaver to auto start when I login. The only problem with this is I need to use the xscreensaver-demo command to configure xscreensaver’s screensaver. If you do this make sure you don’t start the xscreensaver daemon.


Make your Linux Gnome Desktop look like a Mac:


Instructions here:


This is what my desktop like before:

Desktop Theme Before Mac4Lin

And I got this far and gave up:


I’m all praise to the folk who put all the work into this. But, having a Apple logos on my Gnome desktop just seems odd. If you want to get a desktop that looks like a Mac go for it, but at least for me I don’t see the point in making my Linux desktop look just like a Mac. If I want a Mac I’ll get a Mac (and probably run Linux on it).

Ubuntu Linux, T-Mobile, & Nokia N73 as a Bluetooth Modem.

If bluetooth works on your computer, then getting your system to talk to your N73 isn’t hard and I’m not going to cover it here. See this posting for what packages I needed to install to get bluetooth working in my Dell 700M laptop running Ubuntu Linux:


If you have T-Mobile T-Zones Internet service for your phone in the US you should be able to use the following procedure to surf the web on your computer using your N73.

First find your Phone’s bluetooth device address (or ID), by typing


into your phone.

You should see a sequence of numbers and letters that look something like this on the screen:


Write it down in this format, (with a colon after every 2nd character):


Next make a backup copy of this file


For example:

sudo cp  /etc/bluetooth/rfcomm.conf /etc/bluetooth/rfcomm.conf.org

I’m going to presume you’ve never edited this file before, and you can change it to look like this (using the bluetooth device number you discovered):

# RFCOMM configuration file.
rfcomm0 {
 #      # Automatically bind the device at startup
 	bind yes;
 #      # Bluetooth address of the device
 	device 00:0A:BC:22:BC:33;
 #      # RFCOMM channel for the connection
	channel 2;
 #      # Description of the connection
	comment "Nokia N73";

If you have edited this file before and are already using rfcomm0, then create a new entry named rcomm1 and replace rcomm1 with any other references I make to rcomm0. Also, make sure you get all the semi-colons after each entry in the file.

Next copy the gprs-connect-chat and the gprs-disconnect-chat files from:


In the gprs-connect-chat replace line 47:

OK              'AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP","internet2.voicestream.com","",0,0'

With this:

OK              'AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP","wap.voicestream.com","",0,0'

Move the 2 files to /etc/ppp/peers:

sudo mv  gprs-connect-chat /etc/ppp/peers
sudo mv  gprs-disconnect-chat  /etc/ppp/peers

Next create a new file in /etc/peers named gprs and copy’n’paste the following (the gprs script that davesource.com uses didn’t work for me):

# GPRS for T-Mobile USA
/dev/rfcomm0 # device bound to T610 phone
230400 # speed
defaultroute # use the network for the default route
usepeerdns # use the DNS servers from the remote network
nodetach # keep pppd in the foreground
crtscts # hardware flow control
lock # lock the serial port
noauth # don’t expect modem to authenticate itself
local # don’t use Carrier Detect or Data Terminal Ready
connect /etc/ppp/peers/gprs-connect-chat
disconnect /etc/ppp/peers/gprs-disconnect-chat

Now your ready to test the connection. First stop networking:

sudo /etc/init.d/networking stop

Next, turn on bluetooth on your phone and connect to it. Once your connect issue the following commands:

rfcomm bind all
 pppd call gprs

When your done, control-c will stop the ppp connection, then run this command:

 rfcomm release all

If you’ve more than one entry defined in your rfcomm.conf file, try using:

frcomm bind rfcomm0

And replace rfcomm0 with rfcomm1 or rfcomm2 …

To web-surf you will need to set your browser to use the following proxy:

But, ssh & VPN won’t work, just web-browsing at dial-up speed! However, it might be possible to tunnel ssh and other services.

The following links were a lot of help in aiding me in getting this to work:



I used the scripts from here to get the laptop to connect (with minor changes):


I need to clean-up/rewrite this posting, and put in proper references to sites that helped me get this working.

Copies of the configuration files are here:


gprs, gprs-connect-chat, gprs-disconnect-chat