Using VMware player for testing Internet Explorer on Ubuntu

One disadvantage of developing websites/web applications on Unix (in my case Ubuntu) is that it’s hard to test things on Internet Explorer. Yes, you have IEs4Linux but that’s just not the same thing.

For real testing with the different versions of Internet Explorer Microsoft makes images available so you can test your websites/web applications in Microsoft Virtual PC. Unfortunately it’s not easy to use them when you develop on Unix.

So I wanted to see if I could convert these images into VMware images, since VMware player can run on Ubuntu. And it seems this is possible. Even though I’m not entirely sure I don’t break any EULA’s with this… To get it all working you need a Windows machine (with administrator rights) on which you need to unpack and convert the images. This conversion is not needed when you use VMware workstation. This conversion needs to be done every 6 months or so, since the windows version on the VPD has an expiry date.

Installing VMware player
Download VMware player tar.gz unpack it and run the installer as root.

When you are installing it you might get the following error (if you have a newer kernel):

include/asm/bitops_32.h:9:2: error: #error only <linux/bitops.h> can be included directly

But long live people who blog about their experiences, here is the solution for this problem. The writer forgot to put sudo before some of the commands and he assumes you came on his site after it failed and you didn’t try to remove the partially installed VMware player. Here are the steps with all the sudo’s:

  1. cd /usr/lib/vmware/modules/source
  2. sudo cp vmmon.tar vmmon.tar.orig (if you want to be able to undo your changes)
  3. sudo tar xvf vmmon.tar
  4. sudo vi vmmon-only/include/vcpuset.h
  5. change line 74 from: #include "asm/bitops.h" to: #include "linux/bitops.h"
  6. sudo rm vmmon.tar
  7. sudo tar cvf vmmon.tar vmmon-only/
  8. sudo rm -rf vmmon-only/
  9. sudo

Then you have a working VMware player.

Getting the Virtual PC Images
Microsoft makes VPC images available for IE6 and IE7, and now also the IE8 beta 1. Just download them and unpack them on a windows machine.

Converting the Virtual PC images
Get VMware converter to convert the free Virtual PC images to VMware images. Before you can convert them you first need to make a VPC image for the VHD. This can be done by running Virtual PC 2007. After that you can put the image in VMware converter and convert it into a VMware virtual machine. This is the part where I’m not sure if it’s legal or not. When converting the image, don’t forget to set the checkbox for the VMware tools.

Using the Virtual PC images
Because we use VMware player, we don’t have the VMware tools package. Lucky for us you can download the VMware workstation evaluation copy and unpack it. Then you need to copy the iso images in there to make sure that the VMware tools can get installed (you might get a message about inserting the windows xp sp2 cdrom, but if you just cancel those, the virtual machine still works good enough to test IE). You might wonder if this is legal, but according to this thread it should be ok. The following command I used to copy them, but you need to be in the directory below the one where you unpacked the workstation evaluation copy.

sudo cp -r vmware-distrib/lib/isoimages /usr/lib/vmware/

After that you are ready to use the Virtual PC images with VMware tools.

Other nice things to do

Using your existing windows partition
Other thing you can do is use your dual boot windows partition. For now no blog post about that, since I didn’t try that out myself. But here are some links about it:

When you use the same windows install from disk and from VMware, you will run into problems with the Windows hardware based activation. But also for that problem a a solution exists and is blogged about. It’s pretty simple, if you know it. It seems that windows activation creates two files that contain the activation information. If you just keep both versions of the activation information available and copy them into the right place at the right time, all should work well ;-)

Running things outside the VMware scope
If you want the Internet Explorer in a window outside your virtual machine, you can do that using rdesktop. Some information about that can be found on the following sites.

A side note
Unfortunately, while writing this post I encountered one problem with referring to other articles which contain the HOWTO for your problem. When you google for Run Existing Windows Installation on Ubuntu with Vmware Player you will find a lot of referrals to one specific article, which is no longer available. This is the main reason why I copy/pasted the steps to install VMWare player, in stead of only linking to them.

Debian Etch Samba printing from Windows XP

For a while I was not able to print from Windows XP via Samba with my Brother HL 2030 laser printer which is connected to one of my servers. I’m running debian Etch there and had upgraded some packages, including samba. The printer was listed in my SWAT samba status, but on windows I couldn’t find it.

In the end it seems that I was missing one statement in my smb.conf:

comment = All Printers
path = /var/spool/samba
create mask = 0700
guest ok = Yes
printable = Yes
read only = No

The odd thing is, that when I look at the documentation, setting printable = Yes should have been enough. At least, that’s how I read it. But I guess I’m wrong since the read only = No helps (although you can’t set this parameter for a printer share using SWAT).

SVN merge changes from a deleted branch

Today I had a problem with a merge. I thought I had merged all changes from a branch into the trunk, so I deleted the branch. But somehow (probably forgetting to remove a --dry-run) not all got merged. So I had to merge the changes again. I thought I could do that with just a:

svn merge -r 3173:3246 $SVN/project/branches/MY_BRANCH .

Where 3173 is the revision in which the branch was created and 3246 is one revision before I deleted the branch.

But this gave me a svn error:

svn: '/svn/project/!svn/bc/3251/branches/MY_BRANCH' path not found

That 3251 is the HEAD revision number. So even though I’m specifying the revisions I want to merge, SVN first checks the given path using the HEAD revision. So in stead of the above command I had to specify the revision in the SVN URL as well:

svn merge -r 3173:3246 $SVN/project/branches/MY_BRANCH@3246 .

This worked perfectly. So if you know you have to specify the revision just before the deletion twice, it’s not that hard to merge changes from a deleted branch. I was already thinking about a checkout of the deleted branch and lots of copy’s. But fortunately for me that wasn’t necessary.

WordPress … I really need to change my blogging software

Today I accidentally found a bug in a version of a wordpress stats plugin. I searched for a word with a “‘” in it (foto’s) and as a result I got the following error on some blog:

WordPress database error: [You have an error in your SQL syntax; check the manual that corresponds to your MySQL server version for the right syntax to use near 's','nl','Linux','Firefox','Google','','')' at line 1]
INSERT INTO turbostatpress (date, time, ip, urlrequested, agent, referrer, search,nation,os,browser,searchengine,spider,feed) VALUES ('20080222','16:41:43','MY-IP-HERE','','Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux x86_64; en-US; rv: Gecko/20061201 Firefox/ (Ubuntu-feisty)', 'LONG-REFERER', 'foto's', 'nl', 'Linux', 'Firefox', 'Google', '', '')

I’m wondering… Will this bug also appear if I change my browser identify string into something with a single quote in it? Seems that this idea has already been tested + fixed in the latest version of StatPress. ‘Unfortunately’ the $_SERVER['HTTP_REFERER'] string is escaped automagicly. Which seems to be done by wordpress itself, since if I try to echo $_SERVER['HTTP_REFERER'] within the StatPress plugin the ‘ in my referrer is escaped with a \, while this is not the case in a normal PHP script. I say unfortunately since the StatPress plugin writer doesn’t escape the referrer himself.

Most striking though was that I just read a post from Tom Kyte about bad practice on SQL. The quote “… apostrophe is often mistaken for a piece of computer code, corrupting the system. …” was nice. So don’t use apostrophes please, they corrupt computer systems ;-)

P.s. True this bug is not related to wordpress itself, since it was just a plugin writer who screwed-up…

P.s.2. I think spelling checking software should add HTTP_REFERER to their word lists, since it’s a RFC approved spelling error ;) .

AMD64 and 32 bits applications

I wanted Skype on my laptop, stupid me thought it was nice to have 64 bit linux. Many applications don’t seem to be 64 bit ready, one of them is Skype. Good thing there is a –force-architecture flag in dpkg, but still not all applications work that way. Skype is one of them. But I found a good script called getlibs that helps installing the required libraries, once more on the ubuntu forums.

But even though these type of scripts can be found, I’m still going to switch my Desktop back to 32 bits. The support for 64 bits is not good enough, yet. And well, since I’m not using > 4 Gb’s of memory, I don’t really need 64 bits.

Debian Etch Postfix + Sasl2

Some time ago I had some problems sending mail to one of our clients, something with their primary mailserver not accepting connections and a non-existent secondary mailserver. So I wanted to enable authenticated mail sending on my own mailserver.

It was quite easy to get it working, after finding some articles which I could use. The biggest problem was the jail Postfix was in so it couldn’t talk with saslauthd direcly.

I added the following in my

#SMTP Auth
smtpd_sasl_auth_enable = yes
smtpd_sasl_security_options = noanonymous
smtpd_sasl_authenticated_header = yes
smtpd_sasl_path = smtpd
smtpd_sasl_local_domain =
broken_sasl_auth_clients = yes

smtpd_recipient_restrictions = permit_mynetworks, permit_sasl_authenticated, reject_unauth_destination, reject_unknown_recipient_domain

And I created directory sasl and placed a smtpd.conf in there containing:

pwcheck_method: saslauthd
mech_list: plain login

And I changed /etc/default/saslauthd to use the suggested option (suggested in comment in the file itself):

OPTIONS="-c -m /var/spool/postfix/var/run/saslauthd"

Used articles:

Update 2008-05-15:
Today I ran into a problem after I did a package upgrade. I got the warning:

SASL authentication failure: cannot connect to saslauthd server: Permission denied

Seems some permissions where incorrect. I did a:

sudo chgrp sasl /var/spool/postfix/var/run/saslauthd
sudo passwd postfix sasl
sudo /etc/init.d/postfix restart

and that solved it. Why I didn’t get this before I don’t know, but well, this fixed it. Thanks to Jimmy who blogged about Debian and SASL as well.

Dual screen with docking station using xrandr

A colleague of mine uses the same laptop as I’ve. But he didn’t like the fact that the build-in display is not used when it’s docked in the docking station. He wants to use his laptop LCD as secondary display when he’s at work.

Unfortunately I’m still on Feisty, but once more Prevu came to the rescue. I found a post about the order in which to build the packages to get xrandr 1.2 (the required version to get the thing to work properly).

And then I used this ubuntu forum post to configure my xorg.conf.

I added:

Viewport 1680 0
Virtual 3360 1050

to the “Screen” Section of my xorg.conf (SubSection “Display”), restarted X and could use the following command to get my display to be a second display and not just a clone:

xrandr --output TMDS-1 --right-of LVDS --mode 1680x1050

To switch back to the clone I use:

xrandr --output TMDS-1 --same-as LVDS --mode 1680x1050

Or you can just restart X again.

This was all.

P.s. If anyone knows how you can dock the D830 on Ubuntu while running, please drop a comment. It kinda hangs when I try to do that and the only thing left for me to do is a hard reset.

Creating your own debian package for non-source applications

For magproductions I needed a debian package of our “own version” of Eclipse (latest Eclipse with certain plugins pre-installed).

At first I was told to look at checkinstall, but since I didn’t have a makefile, that was not the answer. In the end I used the debian-administration guide to create my own package.

I changed the install into a few mkdir -p and cp -r commando’s and the clean into a rm -r command. That’s basically it. I didn’t think it would be that simple.

Nokia E65 VOIP

I’ve bought a Nokia E65 because I wanted a navigation system (I spend 30 minutes looking for directions in Hilversum, after I found the correct one-way road..) and a TomTom on a phone seemed the best idea. I was up for a phone-subscription renewal anyways and thought that buying a TomTom capable phone would be the cheapest solution. This was not true in the end, but well… I’m happy anyways. The TomTom works and the phone, even though it’s a Nokia, is a nice one.

One of the nice features of this phone is that it’s able to use my XS4ALL VOIP account when I’m connected to a WLAN. This is quite useful, for example for free calls from the wife at home, and being able to be reachable on a dutch number even when I’m in, for example, Germany.

But it has one problem. I’ve selected Internet calling as default and when there is no WLAN in reach, it gives me an annoying message about making a mobile call, but only when I’m voice dialing. And well, I do voice dialing in the car, so I don’t want to have to answer yes every time…

I tried to disable that message with the setting “Internet call alert”, but that has as result that I could not be called on my Internet number. If someone called me, it only said: 1 missed call. Which is quite annoying, if you don’t know what causes it.
Just had to get that off my chest :-)

Dell Latitude D830 and Ubuntu Feisty (64 bit)

I recently got a Dell Latitude D830 to work on, since I’ll be travelling quite a lot and for that it’s useful to have your development environment with you on the road. The disadvantage is that you can have your development environment with you all the time.

To get Ubuntu, the development environment we use at magproductions, working on it I had to use the Alternative install, since the Feisty live CD didn’t work. The new Gutsy live CD does work though. Only with that one there is a sound issue, see this ubuntu wiki page for a way to solve that. And well, I’ll wait till Gusty is used in the wild a bit longer before I’m going to upgrade.

Anyway, finally I’ve got it working with my docking station. There was an annoying bug in the intel linux driver which made it impossible for me to work with Ubuntu using the docking station. But a while ago that was fixed in the Gutsy version of the xserver-xorg-video-intel package.
I had to use Prevu to get the display working properly. Good thing the ubuntu forums have a lot of information. I just wish information would be placed together, that’s why I’m making this post now.

For Prevu I first had to understand how that worked. If you get an python exception while tying to build a package you need to look for dependencies. And then you need to build the dependency using Prevu first, before you continue. After building the dependency I had to run prevu-update, so Prevu knew that the dependency was available.

In the end I’ve the following Prevu packages installed:


I also tweaked the touchpad a bit, for example I don’t like it to respond on my thumb when I’m typing. And the default speed is just horrible. For that I used the defaults from another ubuntu forums post. I ended up with

Section "InputDevice"
Identifier      "Synaptics Touchpad"
Driver          "synaptics"
Option          "SendCoreEvents"        "true"
Option          "Device"                "/dev/psaux"
Option          "Protocol"              "auto-dev"
Option          "HorizScrollDelta"      "0"
Option          "SHMConfig"             "1"
Option          "FingerLow"             "30"
Option          "FingerHigh"            "40"
Option          "MaxTapMove"            "100"
Option          "TapButton1"            "1"
Option          "TapButton2"            "3"
Option          "TapButton3"            "2"
Option          "MinSpeed"              "0.15"
Option          "MaxSpeed"              "0.90"
Option          "AccelFactor"           "0.10"
Option          "VertScrollDelta"       "25"
Option          "HorizScrollDelta"      "30"

Another problem was that the CDRom drive was not detected. I used yet another site to fix that. Update, that site doesn’t really show that information (anymore?), but this site describes the fix.

Now a list of helpful sites: