tech

Anything technological (soft or hardware). This includes all topics open source: Apache web-serving, Drupal, Ubuntu.

Awesome Music server = Your existing Ubuntu 8.10 Desktop + Ampache + Rhythmbox, Oh My!

One of the problems we were running into in our home was the distribution of media files, specifically music. My desktop has a nice 300+ Gigs of hdd space on it, so it's fairly easy for me to host all of the music on separate partitions (pretty useful when the smaller systems in the house need to update, or fresh install), but the transferring of files over the lan got tiresome, and my wife likes quite a bit of my music collection, and is really out of room on her laptop. Likewise, my daughter's desktop is in serious need of hdd space, and she has a growing musical "habit". Also, I want my music in places other than the room my desktop is in, other than the apartment my computer is in, and I don't have an mp3 player large enough for all of my files.

The solution was to find a way to host all of the files on my desktop, and to allow access to them in a nice streaming sort of way. I didn't want to just open up lan access to my partitions, I only share out one small folder for samba, and like to keep it that way. So I went out and found me some Ampache! And it was good...Ampache is a PHP based music server that uses a MySql database to store its information. It allows users to browse online music collections, build playlists, stream content to a desktop music player, or even download the tracks. There is quite a bit of flexibility with Ampache, it's theme-able, providing a nice user interface, has album art support and all the bells and whistles you could want. You can add users through the web interface and set access levels, so security is a no-brainer. There's a working demo here to get a feel for how it plays.

I simply installed the "AMP" portion of the LAMP stack on top of my existing Ubuntu desktop installation (this is easily done using the tasksel command from the terminal), installed and told Ampache to catalog all of the files in my music partition, and ran it from there. Then the hits kept on coming, I found a nice plugin for Rhythmbox that connects to the Ampache backend and loads your Ampache catalog right in your music browser! Happy, if you like Rhythmbox. Also, in Amarok2 there is built in support for subscribing to Ampache servers. Neat. So, after enabling the plugin on all of the client computers, all they have to do is fire up Rhythmbox, and they all have seamless access to my entire music collection. They get thier music fix, I look like a wizard!

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Hello Planet Ubuntu Users!

Well, hello there wonderful world of Ubuntu Weblogs! I'm happy to announce that I have taken another step forward in my journey as a growing part of the Ubuntu community! This is my first post to the planet, and thank you gouki for opening the door for me, so allow me the pleasure to introduce myself:

My name is Josh Panter, and you can see some bit of my handiwork at the Ubuntu Forums and on freenode (usually in #ubuntu-us-mi), both under the moniker of alienseer23. I'm on launchpad as josh.p, and am a happy member of the US-MI (Michigan) Loco team. I recently got way too excited to sign the code of conduct and become an "Ubunturo", and I find myself as happy as a clam to promote, advocate and spread the Ubuntu Love as often as I can. As a matter of fact, I'm trying to fit in to my time the organization of a computer recycling/donation program featuring the Ubuntu OS, which I will post more on at a later date.

I have a passion for documentation when the spirit takes me, I enjoy to run my own server and soaking up all the knowledge I can fixing my system after I destroy it, am training a 12 year old future Ubuntu activist, and I am happy to say that I am completely taken back by the amazing community that IS Ubuntu, and the truely great people I keep meeting that makes it up (that's all you people!). In that, I have quite a bit of respect for the Canonically appointed community-guy Jono, and am really looking forward to his forthcoming book: The Art of Community.

Well, that's just a quick bit about me, and I look forward to even more Ubuntu-activision, activism, action-eering and all around general goodness.

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Quake 3 mods gone rogue! - "Smoking Guns" Stand Alone v1.0! (torrent here)

One of my favorite Open source games to play on my Ubuntu box is World of Padman, it's a FPS (first person shooter) that began it's life as a little Quake3 mod, and about a year prior to this post took to the wing as it's own stand alone game. It's easy to install, easy to learn, fun to play, and there's always a host of running servers and new maps and mods. You're a little blue cracked out smurf-like critter shooting your bubble-gum machine-gun, water cannon, and water-balloon bombs (among others) at your opponents. What else could you ask for?

Well, trusting the good judgment of my favorite game development team, I'm going to echo the announcement to the world about yet another Open Source Quake3 mod gone all rogue and stand-alone: Smoking Guns!. It's a wild west ho-down of mayhem and madness that comes directly endorsed by the Pad World crew. Check out this snappy preview

 

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Microblog-purple (Identi.ca/Twitter-Pidgin Integration)

So I had a difficult time trying to understand "Why Twitter", even after I began using it. I like integration. Why have yet another method to stay connected, when we have blogging, social network sites, instant message networks up the wazoo, irc, etc and etc...?

So, I integrated twitter into my Drupal site using the aptly named module Twitter so that every time I post something new, it tweets out. Well this is a nice excuse as to "why use it", but isn't that just another way to do what is basically rss?

I continued on my Twitter adventure by installing a few basic desktop twitter clients, Twitux and gtwitter, but didn't like the idea of running yet another little app to stay abreast of my news, friends and family. Seems like Pidgin does this fine already..OH WAIT!

So what is the point? In my neurotic need to simplify and centralize everything I went out looking and found me some Microblog-purple , aka: mbpurple. This is a great little plugin for Pidgin that integrates Twitter (and beta support for identi.ca and so forth) with my favorite multi-protocol instant-messaging/chat client! Yay! Another reason to play with Twitter. And seeing Twitter in action in the same context of instant messaging and chat protocols suddenly brought Twitter into the whole "sense making" world for me.

It's a simple plugin, you get a new buddy-list category called "Twitter" with a new buddy called "Twitter" who's incoming messages are any tweets that hit your account prepended with the name of the tweeter, and all of your tweets from other clients. You post to Twitter by sending a message through Pidgin. It even has a 140 character counter for you so that you don't post over the limit. Simple!

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NousTweeting!

Just a quick note to say that I have gone and got myself a Twitter account, and added a wee little Twitter feed to my site (over on the right, there), and that there Twitter feed will have not only my Tweets, but will also have new posts from NousEssece, so if you don't want to RSS, you can follow mah Tweets :)

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New Site Feature: Gravatar!

Today finds this site Gravatar enabled. What is Gravatar you ask? From the site: "A gravatar, or globally recognized avatar, is quite simply an avatar image that follows you from blog to blog appearing beside your name when you comment on gravatar enabled sites. Avatars help identify your posts on web forums, so why not on blogs?" So this is a good thing. Keeping identities unified across several different sites can be a tough job, OpenID helps with that with the login (which is why I run an albeit seldom used id server using Clamshell, and here's my OpenID endpoint), and gravatar comes in to help with the image.

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What I like and why I like it - sqlitebrowser

Here is the start of a new series on NousEssence: What I like and Why I Like it. It basically works like this: Anything I happen upon that sparks a little light in my eye, or causes a wee spring in me step gets put in here. In time, this will be an additional component to my about me page, which is lacking. This amazing new series is not limited to Technology reviews, but here we start off the new tradition with a happy little application I found sqlitebrowser!!
 

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Migration Season

Soooooo I migrated servers over the last few days. I got me a fairly inexpensive box, threw Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex on it, and migrated all of my assets over to it. There should not have been any down time, the actual switch over should have taken about 2 seconds even though the process ended up taking about 16 hours longer than I thought it would. Why did I do this? a few reasons:

1) Experience! I am always trying to tinker in new ways on my Linux system(s)/networks. I enjoy the growth of knowledge in gaining experience, and it's pretty darn satisfying in the end! I have never migrated servers, so that was interesting, and also I wanted more experience with a headless installation (I was hosting on my desktop machine before).

2) An excuse to install Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex. It was recently released, and now I have at least one instance of it running. I wanted to be able to install it to my desktop as well, but while it was hosting my site, I could not do that; now I can.

3) The ability to tinker on my desktop hardware. Now I can tinker away with some noise-reduction techniques I have been reading about, I can do things like reboot without killing my hosted site/services. This also means I plan on doing some Drupal testing/module porting and getting my name active in the drupal community, yippie!

4) Share the load! Yes, now my desktop is just a tiny bit less stressed out. That's a nice warm fuzzy feeling.

Performance note: there seems to be some issue with my new Gallery2 installation, please be patient while I iron out some bugs.

So in keeping with the spirit of documentation, and documenting everything major I do here, I'll be posting my notes. The series of steps I took will be posted in one or more posts detailing the harrowing journey.

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New Site Feature!! Comment Notify!

Just a quick note to commemorate the addition of a nifty new feature from the module Comment Notify. Now you can receive email notifications when someone adds a comment to a post that you have commented on...and the best parts: 1. You don't need an account to sign up for these notifications, 2. you can remain anonymous, and 3. you can unsubscribe at any time.

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"OMG! Help!" or "How to Regain Access to Your Ubuntu Computer Once You Have Lost Your User Name and Password!"

So, have you ever lost a password? Ever forgot your user name after coming up with something pretty nifty that is so unique you could never possibly forget it? Ever bought a used computer off Craigslist with Ubuntu installed and forgot to ask the user name and password? Yeah, well rather than going through the headache of reinstalling the entire operating system and loosing all of your data, here is an easy 3 step procedure you can use for Ubuntu password recovery!

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Anti-SPAM! or How I secured NousEssence

SPAM! Why should I have to worry about spam, right? This is a pretty low traffic site (sigh) and who's going to spam on me? I had a post a bit ago about passing a spam right of passage and enabling a bit of security to get around it. Well, the spam dude was not done with me yet! No sir, I kept getting hit, kept having traffic eaten by spam-spewing robo-jerks, and it was getting pretty tiring having to isolate every ip, and then ban them one...at...a...time. So, I overhauled my security and thought I would actually spell out here exactly how I set it up...
 

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PSPP - Open Source Statistics (Moving Towards an Open Educational Experience)

Anybody out there who has ever had to analyze any statistical data in any serious way or take a class on stats has been introduced to the mighty SPSS , or Statistical Package for the Social Sciences in long form. This is software which was designed for, is standardized by, and expected for your use by the scientific community at large for statistical data analysis. It is required for use at many universities at both the undergraduate (poor college kid) level and the graduate (even poorer college young adult) level, and is not cheap in any way.

There is, however, a slightly crippled down version of the software offered to students, which is quite a bit cheaper than it's "full" version counterpart, and can typically be found for about $80 or $90. This can be a serious crunch to the hungry students budget, at least it is for mine. So I looked, and I found the wonderful PSPP, a very functional free and open source alternative for SPSS. It is good to see that the good people over at the Free Software Foundation understand that scientific knowledge should be free and open, and that educational tools should be as well. (Knowledge cannot be licensed out, nor can it be owned...ever.)

I have to pay for school, and then the wildly overpriced books (that the authors make very little on, despite the high price), and then again a piece of closed source software (the actual opposite to the ideal of the sharing of knowledge) as well. The educational experience needs to be based on the basic principal that knowledge is beyond ownership, that it is the right and requirement of every individual in a functioning society to have free and open access to the accumulated wisdom of the human race, and that any restriction of that based off of social or economic standing is simply saying that the poor of wallet are not worthy of this knowledge, that only the opulent or affluent are worthy or capable of doing anything worthwhile with this knowledge (to humanities benefit) in any way. This is not the case, we know this on an intuitive level, yet we cling to forced payment for knowledge, culture, paying for and restricting the use of basic scientific tools, and the tools used to manage knowledge and information. This seems backwards to me in the most fundamental way.

So, we have the organizations like the Free Software Foundation promoting and creating free and open software, like PSPP, and the good folks over at Creative Commons fighting for, developing and promoting the use of a sane copyright culture, and the good people at FreeCulture.org - Students For For Free Culture and on and on. Please pay attention to, and support these movements, they are the flagships of sanity in an insane copyright and knowledge-restriction based culture.

Now...back to PSPP...Briefly, it works very well, handling SPSS's native .sav files, and it does all you need to do for your familiar SPSS data analysis. It can be installed in Linux (I am currently running it on my Ubuntu machines, even on the tiny EeePc), on MacOS, and on Windows (from what I gather, anyway). One limitation I have found, it doesn't seem to put out the nice graphs that the latest SPSS version does, but it spits out all of the information you need quite nicely none the less. It also requires a little bit more to get installed, so...if you are running Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron, and would like a nice SPSS replacement WITH A GRAPHICAL INTERFACE, then read on. If you want command line only, just install through apt or synaptic.

EDIT: PSPP with front end has been included in the Ubuntu Software Center since 12.04, and is currently on version 0.7.9 (under Ubuntu 14.04), whereas the GNU repository is currently showing version 0.8.5 as the latest.

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Ubuntu 8.04 - Hardy Heron (with Netbook remix) on the EeePC 701 4G Surf (with touch screen)

So, as promised, here are the steps I took to get Ubuntu 8.04 - hardy Heron installed on my Asus EeePc 701 4G Surf. I will include BOTH the steps I took and, when applicable, popular alternate steps available. Also, I will include the steps required to get the "Kiddshop touchscreen (from Kiddshopp on ebay) working.

This is not a definitive How-To, it is just what I did, what I found to work. I encourage anyone who finds better ways, or finds a glaring mistake in to PLEASE LET ME KNOW!!!
The contents of this post are pretty long, so use the "read more" link to go to the instructions.
That said...Here we go!

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