Posts filed under ‘Guide’

Setup for the Modern Virtual Workspace

Breaking Barriers

Breaking Barriers

Do you tire of reformatting your computer so that it can be set up with the prescribed environment determined by your superior or client? How about the hassle of making sure that there is a backup copy of your past project? Is quality assurance testing a pain because you have to reset your environment over and over again?

Well I did tire of that hassle. And I also tired of having to run my computer on a specific OS, just because that was what the task prescribed. So I went out and used a few proven tools to remedy the situation, which will be what this guide will be all about.

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August 14, 2008 at 8:30 pm 2 comments

Playing Warcraft III and DOTA in Linux

Don\'t Celebrate YetAre you one of those people who would almost like to switch over to Ubuntu but just couldn’t because you don’t quite like great open source games such as Glest, Sauerbraten and Tremulous? In today’s post, here’s one more reason for you to do so: Now you can play Warcraft III, Frozen Throne, and also Defense of the Ancients, or more commonly known as DOTA! Ok, so that’s 3 reasons…but since DOTA is just a custom map for Frozen Throne maybe 2 and a half…anyway…let’s get started.

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June 24, 2008 at 8:45 am 20 comments

Linux Photo Tools

I went to my brother’s wedding last week. During the reception was a slide show of their pictures, coupled with music. It was a great presentation. But what I noticed was that I could do this as well. The music wasn’t attached to the slide show, it was a separately playing live music. F-Spot TransitionAnd the slide show, which was run on a Mac laptop, was the built-in Mac slide show utility. F-Spot, GThumb, or the image viewer, which are all built into Ubuntu, can do the same thing that that Mac was doing–fading in and out picture after consecutive picture. And with RhythmBox, XMMS, or your favorite media player playing in the background, you got yourself a whole Linux roadshow. Of course, getting great pictures to show is another matter altogether, but a matter out of the scope of this post.

During that trip as well, I visited an old friend that now runs Photo Story Creations, a shop that puts your pictures on mugs, pillows, even tiles, as a mosaic or just a straightforward picture. Imagination’s the limit to what you can do with their products, you just need to tell them what you want to be done with your pictures. Having previously used trialware mosaic programs during my Windows days, I poked around in Synaptics Package Manager to see if I can find a mosaic application for Linux.

Sure enough, there was a fast, little program called Metapixel. It´s actually two small programs: metapixel-prepare and the main metapixel program. Sample Metapixel OutputThe metapixel-prepare program lets you choose a source directory of pictures and a target directory to use as a picture library for metapixel. Creating a mosaic takes around 3 1/2 minutes, which is already comparatively faster to other mosaic programs. But this speed advantage really comes in handy when you´re making mosaics using the library, since only half a minute is used for the actual creation of the mosaic. The other 3 minutes is used for preparing the library, which is a one time deal in this case.

One thing that might turn off some users is that Metapixel is a command-line program. But it’s not really that hard to use. To prepare the library, you use the following command: metapixel-prepare Desktop/sourcepictures Desktop/librarydir Afterwards, just type in
metapixel --metapixel input.jpg output.png --library Desktop/librarydir --cheat=30 The input file is the target image that you want your mosaic will look like and the output is, of course, the final image that will be produced. Notice that I put in a –cheat=30. What that actually does is overlay a 30%-opaque final image on to the mosaic, similar to the flower mosaic above. Unless you have a really vast library of pictures with all possible colors and you’re going to create a pretty big mosaic, this option can come in pretty handy. There are also other options, like the collage option. The difference between a collage and a classic mosaic is that the classic mosaic lays out your pictures in a perfect grid, while pictures in a collage can overlap each other.

Another cool tool that should be in the toolbox of the Linux photographer is Hugin Panorama Photo Stitcher. It features tools for correcting perspective, and of course, stitching tools for creating panoramas.

Hugin Panorama

To stitch photos, all you need to do is create points in your pictures to help the program automatically stitch your photos. In the example above, Hugin automatically adjusted for the perspective distortion effect of my camera, stitching three photos seamlessly. You may also want to check out the official Hugin stitching online tutorial.

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June 13, 2007 at 10:16 am 1 comment

Ubuntu OEM Install

OEM Install updatesIf you’ve ever bought a laptop or a branded desktop, the first thing that you’ll see from the Windows installed is a welcome screen, which offers to guide you in setting up your system, asking you such questions as what user name you prefer and some network information.

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I had downloaded an Alternative Install Ubuntu Edgy and burned it to CD, because one of my computers had really low memory, thus making use of the graphical install utility was a nightmare, so I used the Alternative Install disc for the old ASCII-interface installer. But only quite recently did I try the OEM install option that came with the CD, just out of curiosity. It’s basically the same as the ASCII installer, with the exception that instead of prompting you for the desired username, it provides an oem account and you are just prompted for the password. After installation and reboot, you log on to your system using the oem account as you would a normal install.

From here, you can configure your system as you please; install all available updates, configure the repositories, install multimedia codecs, and if you’re a computer company, set the desktop background to your company logo.

When you feel that your system is ready for the end user, open up a terminal and type sudo oem-config-prepare. On next reboot, which the end user will be doing, he or she will be prompted for a new user name, keyboard layout, etc. Voila!

WARNING: As pointed out by Chrys, the OEM account is not supposed to be used as a regular account as it is only meant to perform a few preparations before use for the end-user. After oem-prepare-config is executed, the oem user, and its associated home folder, will disappear by next reboot.

Of course this isn’t anything new, but since no one I know knows about this (relatively few know about the Windows OEMs either), might as well put out more information for everyone’s perusal.

And since Dell is starting offering Ubuntu on some of their models, it would be advantageous to other retailers and computer manufacturers to start giving their customers a choice, instead of just assuming they want to pay for a Windows bundle.

May 29, 2007 at 6:28 pm 7 comments

Remote Control

I know this is an old idea and it’s been done several times over, but what would be a cool tech blog without my own tutorial on this? We’ll be making a server that you can connect to from just about anywhere.

Setting Up the Server

Fire up Synaptic Package Manager and search for “ssh”, or if you prefer faster way and willing to get your hands dirty, open up a terminal window and type: sudo apt-get install ssh

After installing SSH, we need to put it in just enough security to help us sleep more soundly at night. Configure SSH by typing: sudo vi /etc/ssh/sshd_config
Look for the following lines and set their options as so:
PermitRootLogin no
PermitEmptyPasswords no
ChallengeResponseNotification no
PasswordAuthentication no

Ok, we have to restart SSH for these settings to take effect. Type in: sudo /etc/init.d/ssh restart

At this point, you can already connect to your computer from another computer. Just type in the remote computer (for Linux computers) ssh user@domain.com OR user@192.168.0.5

(for Windows computers) Install Putty and use that to connect.

You should try it out at this point to get yourself familiar with the login process.

User corresponds to one of the server’s users, including root. Although, we already disabled root login.

Next, we setup Remote Desktop. System > Administration > Remote DesktopCheck “Allow other users to view your desktop” and “Allow other users to control your desktop” Uncheck “Ask for confirmation” and check “Require password” and set a nice, secure password (You could also opt to uncheck this as well, since you’ll be tunneling VNC through SSH).

Setting up the Client Computer

For Windows, install Putty or your favorite SSH client.

For Linux, if it’s not already installed, search for SSH in Synaptics or type sudo apt-get install ssh

Also, install your favorite VNC client, such as WinVNC or TightVNC. (This is not necessary for Linux computers since it is usually built in).

Setting up Putty for TunnelingNext up, we set up Putty for tunneling. We don’t need to set anything in Linux and shortly you’ll know why.

  1. Start up putty.
  2. Expand “Connection”
  3. Expand “SSH”
  4. Go to Tunnels
  5. Enter the source port you’ll be using
  6. Enter <destination address>:<destination port>

Source port is the port number for your client machine (the one you’re using to connect). You can set this to any port available at your disposal. Notice here one of the tunnels L8080 helium.kicks-ass.org:5900 I used 8080 as the source port since the other ports were being blocked by our corporate firewall.

Destination port is the port number for your server machine (the one you want to connect to). The default port for VNC is 5900, so we’ll use that.

Go back to “Session” menu and type in a name in “Saved Sessions” and click on Save, unless you want to set your Putty everytime you run it.

Finally, Connecting

  1. Ok, the Windows method first. Start up Putty, click on your saved session, then click Open.
  2. Login to the server.
  3. Fire up VNC
  4. The TightVNC Connection Details DialogYou’ll be shown a dialog box, enter your destination IP or domain and port with the format <destination IP>:<display>:<port> Since we’ll be using the default display, we can just omit that but we still have to leave the colons behind. Click OK

  5. If you set a password in the Remote Desktop settings, you’ll need to enter that next, as well.

That’s it. Now for the Linux way.

  1. Connect to SSH sudo ssh -L 8080:domain.com:5900 user@domain.com
  2. Connect to VNC vncviewer domain.com -listen 8080

Done.

Don’t forget to open up the SSH port (22 by default) in your router/firewall as well.

Dynapic IP Address

Not all of us are so lucky to have their own domain name or a permanent IP address. Usually, the Internet service you get from your provider automatically assigns you an IP address, and that address rotates from time to time, like in the case of PLDT MyDSL. So if you’re far away from home, how do you determine what your home’s IP address is? You can get a free host name to alias your dynamic IP by registering one in http://www.dyndns.org or other dynamic IP host name providers.

Transferring Files Between Computers

In Windows, just install WinSCP, enter the IP or domain of your server as well as the password, and you’re good to go.

For Linux users, type in scp -r folderOrFile user@192.168.0.5:/home/user/

To transfer files from your server, just interchange the parameters.

Using just these, you can have Azureus or your favorite Bittorrent client, set it so that it checks for new torrents now and then, and just SCP the torrent files into your server.

We’re Done Here

So there you have it, a basic remote-controlled computer. It’s up to you, though, to beef up the security as you see fit, or add other applications or features to this set up. Enjoy!

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March 29, 2007 at 9:02 am 2 comments


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