debian

An Easy and Inexpensive Quad-Core System for Debian or Ubuntu GNU/Linux

My son's hand-me-down motherboard recently gave up the ghost, and I decided that was a good excuse for an upgrade. Shopping around, I found that multi-core CPUs were finally in my price range, so I decided to build him a quad-core system. This build worked out extremely well, with almost no configuration problems, not even for accelerated 3D graphics or ALSA sound -- all using the latest Debian GNU/Linux (which means it'll also work with Ubuntu or other derivatives). This one has that "classic" feel -- everything just clicked into place. So I wanted to document it here. This also serves as a technology update to my earlier article on selecting hardware for a free-software-friendly system.

Make your own Wayback Machine or Time Machine in GNU/Linux with rsnapshot

A good backup system can help you recover from a lot of different kinds of situations: a botched upgrade (requiring re-installation), a hard drive crash, or even thumb-fingered users deleting the wrong file. In practice, though I've experienced all of these, it's the last sort of problem that causes me the most pain. Sometimes you just wish you could go back a few days in time and grab that file. What you want is something like the Internet Archive's "Wayback Machine", but for your own system. Here's how to set one up using the rsnapshot package (included in the Debian and Ubuntu distributions).

Debian: contempt for "end user" values has to stop!

Three recent problems with packages in the last stable release of Debian GNU/Linux ("Lenny"), brought me face-to-face with what is still a major obstacle for acceptance of free software on the desktop: contempt for the values of the people who use it. Despite all the accusations of unfair trade practices or other excuses, this remains as one solid reason why free software is still perceived as "geeks only" territory. If we want to progress further, we've got to improve our attitudes.

Debian adopts time-based releases -- somebody check the temperature in hell

You may have seen that the Debian project (my particular GNU/Linux distribution of choice) has decided to schedule fixed time-based releases in future. This has come as a surprise to many -- including possibly some Debian developers -- largely because of Debian's long-standing "we ship when it's ready" policy. So what caused this change of heart and is it a good idea.

Rule #3: Divide and Conquer

A constant pattern in the corporate environment is the gathering of resources, but with the free exchange of information inherent in commons-based projects, the pattern of choice is the dispersal of resources. This presents certain design challenges, which manifest themselves in the Unix-style "small sharp tools" approach to specialization; encourage "bottom-up design"; and most importantly require easy-to-obtain, shared, free standards for data interchange between programs. When every train car is to be made by a separate builder, it is essential that the rail gauge is constant and known.

Spam prevention with Exim and greylistd - Part 1

Traditional methods of spam protection involve using Bayesian detection rules (usually via SpamAssassin) on messages after they have been accepted by your server. Most mail sysadmins may have encountered the constant cries from their users asking "can't you stop them sending it?". Of course you can't stop somebody sending a message but you can stop accepting them in the first place. Enter greylisting.

These two articles are kind of follow-ons to my previous article on spam prevention in exim mail servers. Think of it as an appendix. If you are starting from scratch you might find is useful to go and read that first.

Installing an all-in-one printer device in Debian

Recently I had cause to buy a scanner. Being in a reasonably small home I was eager to save on desk-space, and so decided to upgrade my ageing inkjet printer at the same time. Having looked around I eventually went for an HP Photosmart C5180 device. This is my experience of installing it on Debian Lenny.

How to find .debs (even if you think they don't exist)

One of the biggest strengths of Debian (and derivatives like Ubuntu) is support for the .deb package. After all, it provides a one-click method of easily installing programs. Best of all, these programs are automatically updated via the official Debian repositories. Unfortunately, the official repositories aren’t always the best. Some programs aren’t always up to date (the latest version of Thunderbird is 2.0. However, the latest version in the repositories is 1.5).

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