Tag Archives: Ubuntu

Bluetooth using the gui in Ubuntu

Bluetooth is of course a well-known mechanism for connecting mobile phones and pda’s to computers and laptops. It is low-power, easy to setup, and works out of the box on most systems. Until recently setting up serial over bluetooth in ubuntu/debian wasn’t a trivial task. I was by all means doable, but for many people meant creating and copying, downloading and tailoring some command-line scripts. This difficulty is mostly still noticeable when looking at the sheer amount of blogposts and articles and wiki’s about this setup. The tools are there (bluez has been in development for years) and work great, but setup is not for Joe / Jane Average.

When I revisited using my mobile phone’s GPRS modem on my netbook via bluetooth (an Acer Aspire One, running Ubuntu Intrepid, 8.10), I found hundreds of articles detailing the aforementioned edits… and a couple about achieving the same with a gui. The sysadmin-side of me prefers console solutions as these can be used over ssh (so I can set this up for others), my advocate-, user-and blogging-sides wanted a gui.

I found Blueman (http://blueman-project.org/). I first read about it last november (at version 0.6) and was impressed, at time of this writing it is now at 1.02 and working even easier than before, thumbs up!

In this article I’ll have a look at setting up Blueman “the easy ubuntu way”, i.e. mostly from a gui, with package signatures and without using a terminal (I will have to cheat though :-( ).
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Lightweight & fast webmail client

My main home server is a measly pentium II class machine running (now) on Debian Etch. Not the fastest machine but it works, uses little power and is cheap while setup from left-overs. Among other things it serves me my email when not at home using RoundCube Webmail. With the low-end hardware I am using it is key to keep it as fast and lightweight as possible. The server is behind a DSL connection at home so compression comes in handy as well.
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Backup an entire disk to another (larger) disk

After some troubles with my desktop computer it’s going to be replaced with a new one. The desktop originally only had 1 disk, and that was going to be replaced as well, so I needed a backup. But I did not want to backup just my files, I wanted a total backup, so I could continue to work on the system, while I was wiping the original disk (don’t want mr dell to look at my private stuff).

So I bought myself a new disk, ofcourse it’s larger then the original, so I was not sure if a disk => disk copy would work. I found the program ddrescue, which did the job well. True, resuming windows after this caused a BSOD, but well, what else could you expect, the hardware changed while the system was “running”… After another reboot the system worked fine, as if nothing had changed. Resizing the disk was not possible, probably because of the dell restore partition behind the main ntfs partition, but well, it’s only temporary and I didn’t need the extra disk space in the first place. Copying a 250Gb disk took about 1 1/2 hours, not bad, IMHO.

After this doing a dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/MYOLDDISK took a way longer time. This is done with an average speed of 2.2Mb/sec, so the entire process of a 250Gb disk takes approximately 34 hours! At least, on my system. So if you need to wipe your data, take your time.


Perhaps I should have read the comments on the page with ddrescue, the copy speed could be faster if I used another tool. For example CloneZilla. ddrescue did the job for me, but there might be better alternatives for it available.

Ubuntu .local domain resolving issue’s and iptables prerouting

In the past few days I’ve been helping a new colleague at my current job with getting his development area setup in Ubuntu. Most of us work with Windows, including myself since I’m not working on my laptop but on a provided desktop, so helping someone with Ubuntu is nice for a change.

But  we ran into a problem that I couldn’t explain right away, if we tried to “ssh” to our svn repository it didn’t resolve the hostname, while “normal” host lookup programs had no trouble with resolving it at all. So I posted the problem on the Ubuntu forums. Unfortunately the first response was a bit disappointing: “does it work when you try to ssh via ip?”… So I thought lets call a friend who helps me out more often in cases like these. And indeed he knew the answer. It seems that avahi is causing this problem. I’ve not yet found out why avahi is doing this, but I guess it’s a bad idea to use avahi while you need to work with a “.local” domain.

I wanted to know why avahi did this, so I thought lets join the Ubuntu IRC channel. Unfortunately I didn’t get an explanation. But I got to see something about iptables that I didn’t know about before, prerouting. Someone asked the following question:

2008-11-11 21:53:48 < deus> It is possible to use the iptables to redirect http traffic to a proxy server, for example by using iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -p tcp -i br0 –dport 80 -j DNAT
–to-destination <ip proxy>:3128 But how does the proxy server know which site he has to lookup since the destination is changed to its own address?

I didn’t know the answer to that, guess it works via the HTTP protocol itself, but well, perhaps I’ll find this out some other time. But while I was looking into this prerouting thingy I found a nice blog post about using prerouting for flash remoting. I’ve no use for this information yet, but you never know.

Followup on the Belkin F5D8053 and Ubuntu

Seems my previous blog post about the Belkin is found quite often when people search for how to get it to work on Ubuntu in general, also with ndiswrapper. Please note, my post is not about getting it to work with ndiswrapper (that worked fine in my case, but I’m on 32-bit Ubuntu, and didn’t try it on 64-bit). There are quite some posts about getting it to work with ndiswrapper (also posts about it not working, will drop him a comment). This one also explains how to unpack the windows driver if you don’t have a windows installation.

Anyway, so far about using ndiswrapper. Recently ralink released a new version of it’s native linux driver, which can be found on their linux support page, and with this one I got the Belkin F5D8053 working. It doesn’t see the 5Ghz network I’ve over here, but well I don’t want to do normal Wireless over that network anyways, since that will decrease the speed of the Wireless to Wireless bridge I setup. I’m still blaming incompatibility between the Belkin USB stick and the Apple Airport routers for the Belkin not being able to find the 5Ghz network.

What I had to do to get it working.

1. make sure you can build kernel modules: sudo apt-get install build-essential linux-headers-generic
2. check if your Belkin USB id is listed in the driver: lsusb | grep Belkin | awk '{print $6}';, which returns 050d:815c in my case. Then use the id found in grep -i '0x050d,0x815c' include/rt2870.h if that returns a result, then skip step 3 since your device is already supported by the driver (please note the '0x' added before the 2 parts and the ',' in stead of the ':').
3. If it’s not there add it: edit include/rt2870.h Search for Belkin; Copy/Paste that line and change the usb id of your device to that you found in step 2.
4. Edit os/linux/config.mk and change the HAS_WPA_SUPPLICANT=n HAS_NATIVE_WPA_SUPPLICANT_SUPPORT=n to =y.
5. Edit Makefile and remove any line containing /tftpboot (still don’t know why they are in there, and running make as normal user fails if they are in there)
6. make && sudo make install
7. Edit (as root) /etc/modules and add rt2870sta to it (remove ndiswrapper if you used that before to get it working).
8. Either reboot or do modprobe rt2870sta to get it working (if you used ndiswrapper before you first need to run modprobe -r ndiswrapper). You will also need a /etc/init.d/networking restart if you won’t reboot.

That was all I needed to do.

Trying to get the Belkin F5D8053 v3 to work on Ubuntu Hardy without ndiswrapper

Update: I got it working now, see my new post about it.

If I look at the Windows driver for my new Belkin F5D8053 it is based on the RT2870 chipset. There is a native driver available for this chipset. Unfortunately so far I’m not able to get it to work. This version is already linux 2.6.24 ready so I don’t need to apply these patches. But even though I’m able to compile it, I’m not able to use it, yet. Side note: the warning in the Ubuntu forums about backing up any existing configurations in /etc/Wireless/RT2870STA is useful, since you need to put your configuration in there and it’s removed by the make install.

One strange thing in the make process is that it wants to copy the result to /tftpboot. I’m not sure why it wants to do that, and I’m almost certain it shouldn’t be a part of the make process…

The first problem I ran into was the fact that the USB Device id for my Belkin, 050D:815C, is missing in the driver (that could be a big hint about it not being able to work for it …) so I added that to the include/rt2870.h (I copied the line for the other Belkin device and changed the device id into mine).

With that added, my Belkin is detected by the driver as ra0. But even when I compile it with:


I’m not getting my device visible in the gnome network manager, so I tried the command line configuration options.

First I tried only configuring the /etc/Wireless/RT2870STA/RT2870STA.dat. But if I had only that file configured, the activity light was turned off on an ifup ra0. So I guess that’s not right.

Then I tried to configure it in the /etc/network/interfaces as described on the Ubuntu forums. The light staid on when I did ifup ra0 but no DHCP lease. So finally I tried the “iwpriv” way described here. But still no DHCP lease.

So I guess I’ll have to contact ralink, to see if they are able to help me out here.