I've been using Linux/Unix for many years. I've always had a strong interest in technology in general and computing specifically.

These are my opinions. Opinions are like noses, everyone has one, and they all smell.

Enjoy your visit.
January 2021
« Dec    

Upgrading from Debian Etch to Lenny

I recently decided it was time to upgrade my workstation from Etch to Lenny. Several of the applications were showing bugs and it looked like Lenny had stabilized enough to use it. I’m alway reluctant to upgrade. In my experience something always breaks, and I spend an inordinate amount of time figuring out how to repair the broken system.

So I found the instruction Chapter 4: Upgrading from previous releases. I followed the instructions, except for recording the session. Next time I’ll probably consider doing this too. Everything seemed to go well. I managed to do the entire upgrade, while logged into the machine, and reading the web page in the browser running on that same machine. I was pretty impressed, I have to say. I was even able to chat on IRC with my friends while I did the upgrade.

Nothing ever works perfectly. For some reason, every time I upgrade even the kernel, it messes up my /boot/grub/menu.lst My boot drive is /dev/sda2 but it keeps getting set to /dev/sdb2, go figure. After repeatedly having this problem, it really doesn’t bother me that much anymore. It’s just a minor annoyance.

I have a samba share where I store all my Windows data files. I don’t trust Windows to keep my data safe, so I store it on my Linux machine. I use ldap for authentication. So after my upgrade I tripped over <a href=”″ bug #495954</a> I found it interesting that this bug seemed to have been reported and verified by several people, but no one seemed to want to report a work around. Either my Google foo is weak, or no one has reported how to work around this. I’m in the process of reconstructing my authentication system from scratch. I also notice there is no samba3 schema file. I’m still trying to track this down.

More later ………………………………..


Amarok fails to rescan collection

I’ve been using Amarok for months to manage and listen to my digital music collection. I really like the interface. And I like the ability to manage my collection, add and manage tags and import music into my collection. Yesterday however, it lost my collection. My music is still all there.

I was importing some music into my collection and the entire collection disappeared from the left panel. I could still view the files and I could still play, but the collection panel was empty. I ran Rescan Collection, it progressed to about 82% and then quit. I searched all over and this appears to be a common problem. And it doesn’t seem to matter if you’re using MySql as I am or sqlite. I tried all the suggestions posted to the amarok forums, nothing worked. I basically wiped out all my amarok configuration files and started over, with the same result.

So I checked around and found there is an IRC channel #amarok. I thought I would give that a try. Although there were a lot of people in the channel, no one responded to my questions. Finally a smart-ass posted and said that I should try something else since Amarok was bad software. Although I wasn’t quite ready to accept this at face value, I was somewhat surprised that someone would make a statement like this on a support channel.

I continued to search for a solution, to no avail. It seems there is a bug in Amarok that causes it to fail to manage the collection list once it gets to a certain size, or if it encounters a file with some kind of error. I even ran amarokcollectionscanner manually to see if I could spot an error. Nothing appeared, though it seems to not complete scanning the entire collection.

I checked and it appears that my MySQL database is intact. It looks like, for whatever reason, Amarok can’t or won’t access it.

Finally out of frustration, I started looking at other applications. So far Rhythmbox seems to be working well. It does most all the things that Amarok does. It doesn’t seem to have the tagging capabilities that Amarok has, but it sees and displays my entire collection, so that’s a start. I’ll continue to look at other applications to replace Amarok. I’ll write about it when I have time.

Update: I went from Etch to Lenny and tried Amarok again. This time it scanned my collection and rebuilt everything just fine. Probably a bug in the old version that’s been fixed. I’m happy.


Review of manDVD

Posted a review of manDVD, a program for creating slideshows and dvds. Review


EnGarde 3.0.22 Review released

Just completed my review of the EnGarde 3.0.22 Community Firewall.

I would use and recommend this product. I think this is one of the better open source firewalls I’ve looked at. With the default install, less a few packages, it looks to be a very secure system. The WebTools seem to work well enough. It’s a small footprint, so it would be easy to repurpose a previous generation workstation to run as a firewall, if you’re on a tight budget.


New firewall review Untangle 6.02

Spent yesterday grabbing screenshots and preparing a review of the Untangle firewall.  A little later I intend to look at it again, this time in bridge, instead of gateway mode.



Linux as a vmware server

I’ve been taking a Linux course at National City Adult Education Center. It’s a basic course and I’m taking it because the school imposed a 20 student minimum to hold the class. Without the class, the Kernel-Panic Linux User Group Installfests, would have to find a new venue. I’m also taking the class because I like learning.

One of the benefits I enjoy, is that I’m required to have a hard drive and removable carrier for the class. Each computer in the classroom has 2 carriers and no hard drives. Students bring their own drives and learn to install and configure everything on their own hard drive. If the install the bay into another computer they own, they can carry their “computer” back and forth and do their “homework” on the system their home system.

This is a class about Linux and networking. Since the school doesn’t have the resources to provide each student with three computers, the instructor provides instructions for installing Vmware server and SuSE and Ubuntu distributions. This allows them to create a virtual network for exploring and learning.

I took it further and am installing multiple distributions, including Debian and Mandriva as well as several firewall distributions. So I can boot up a virtual machine, look at and test the installed distribution. It’s a great help when I want to do reviews of various firewalls. Watch for more reviews and comments here in the future.


Untangle tangled me up

I’ve decided to take a look at various open source firewalls, as part of preparation for a upcoming presentation I want to do for my user group Kernel Panic Linux User Group. I want to talk about open source alternatives to proprietary firewalls from companies like Sonicwall , Cisco, Linksys, Watchguard, Netgear, Fortinet, Juniper Networks, Lucent and others.

The first I tried downloading and installing was Untangle. I read somewhere that it was comparable to the NSA2400 by Sonicwall. I tried on about three different pieces of hardware and ran into various problems. On a PIII Dell server I attempted to install, it simply hung with the splash screen. On a generic white box AMD Athlon on a Abit Motherboard with 1GB of RAM and 20Gb hard drive, it complained and failed to install. On a Dell P4 and 2 Gb of RAM the opening screen was too big to “click” to move forward.

So I decided since there were a lot of open source firewalls out there, I had wasted enough time trying to get this one to run. From the List of Linux router or firewall distributions on Wikipedia, I chose a few to look at and review. As I look at each, I’ll post a short review, and possibly some screen shots.


Multi wan router

I’ve been asked by a customer to investigate multi wan routers. The customer uses a lot of bandwidth for their applications and so need to get the most bandwidth for the minimum price.

I’ve been looking at the Syswan SW88. It’s competitively priced, reportedly has very good tech support, and it will use up to eight cable/dsl/router connections. Syswan says it can do load balancing and routing based upon bytes, packets, sessions established, ip address, auto learning, fastest, priority, round robin, weighted round robin. If it does everything the manufacturer says it will, it’s a pretty amazing device. Imagine using eight 6Mb cable/dsl connection to achieve 48 Mb connectivity. So instead of paying $2,000+ for a ds3 connection, you can get the equivalent bandwidth for a little over 25% of that.

Another manufacturer is Peplink. Their 710 can handle up to 7 connections. However the price for the Peplink is more than four times what the Syswan costs. The Peplink does have 3 gigabit interfaces, and may use more robust hardware. I’m not sure that the hardware is 4 times as good.

The customer will be making a decision shortly and I will have the task of installing it. We’ll see if it meets expectations.



Well there’s a new look here at I decided to join the next step in internet evolution and create a blog. I don’t know how well I’ll do at blogging. First I need to get all my old content over here, then I can start writing.

If you’ve been here before then you know this is my hobby site. I’ve been using Unix/Linux since 1988. Linux is my primary OS and I rarely touch Windows unless I have to.

I’m the president of the local Linux User Group Kernel Panic Linux User Group I participate in local installfests, TechFests and of course our monthly meetings, where I and other members of the group give presentations on Linux topics.

I also do Computer consulting, including network security, network design and integration, system administration and of course my specialty is Linux . The name of my company is Pacific Rim Computer Products. Feel free to contact me, if you need some help.