Thursday, December 18, 2008

Repairing a corrupted XFS file system

I have been testing out the XFS file system. When 8.10 came out I did a fresh install with XFS as the partition for the root directory. Everything was working fine until one day I was having trouble running programs like Firefox and mplayer. Nothing seemed to be working very well. Programs would load but then all of the sudden they would quit. Finally I tried to log out but all I got was a whitescreen and the computer would not shut off. I did the unthinkable and pressed the power button until it turned off.

Two days later I tried to start up my laptop only to be greeted with an error message about the root filesystem not being able to load. I tried the alternate kernel, but that would not load either. It seemed like the drive had not mechanically failed because the bootloader would come up and it would try to mount the root file system. I tried putting in the install CD and using rescue mode but that was not any help. All it did was tell me that it could not load the root filesystem. After doing a few searches I found that running xfs_repair was my best option but the only way to do that was to take the drive out and connect it to my desktop computer through a USB to ATA-66 adapter.

Once connected to my desktop all that was needed was to figure out which /dev/??? it was. A quick check in dmesg showed it to be /dev/sdb3. I then ran:
xfs_repair -L /dev/sdb3
When that finished I was able to mount the drive and get any files I wanted off of it.

I put the drive back in the laptop and it was able to boot, but it was still having problems with some programs. Right now it is getting a fresh install of Ubuntu 8.10! (but this time I am sticking with ext3)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Installing LiVES

Another good video editor out there is called LiVES. I wanted to test out the latest version so I went to GetDeb for the download. The website is maintained by a volunteer group that makes fresh .deb packages featuring some of the most used software in Ubuntu. Sometimes the Ubuntu repos can get behind and not have the latest and greatest, so this website is a great companion when you need or want to have the latest version of certain software. So here are the steps:
  1. Download the .deb file from
  2. Double-click on the file to start up the GDebi package installer.
  3. First it will tell you that you should install the one in the official channel. Nevermind the message because you are installing the latest.
  4. The package installer will most likely tell you that it needs to download some other packages for dependencies.
  5. Click on Install package and when the installer finishes you can find LiVES under Applications>Sound & Video

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Installing Cinelerra

Recently I have needed to do some video editing and wanted to check out some of the best video editors for Linux. It looked like Cinelerra had the best options but it was not clear how to install it easily. I did not want to install from source so after some careful searching around I found the easy way. You can also view these instructions here (I made some additions as they did not work for me as they were written).
  1. Install a repository using this link. After you download the package make sure you install it with the GDebi package installer.
  2. Open a terminal and type this command: sudo apt-get update
  3. Now decide which package you need; cinelerra (x86 and x86_64 without opengl 2.0 video card) cinelerra-generic (x86 and x86_64 with opengl 2.0 video card). You can see the other versions on the page I mentioned earlier under the installation instructions for Hardy
  4. Install your package using apt-get: sudo apt-get install cinelerra-generic
  5. Once installation completes you should be able to find Cinelerra under Applications>Sound & Video.
So far I found the program quite useful and powerful. There are some good articles out there about using it to author DVDs if you do a quick search. One of the articles I read was on and it was quite helpful to give me a good start on using Cinelerra for editing video. You can find that article here.

Dual Monitors with Nvidia GeForce 8600 GT

Once you install the restricted hardware drivers and you have your Nvidia card working you can then proceed to set up dual monitors. Open up System>Administration>Nvidia X Server Settings. This will open up a dialog box like so...
This nice GUI will allow us to set up our dual monitor interface. I will say that the program can be quite fickle at times and sometimes it will not work even though it should work. Just keep trying with the options until you get a working combination. I wanted my second monitor, which happens to be a regular 15" CRT, to simply be an extension of my desktop. This is done using the TwinView configuration option as seen in the next photo.

And the options for my second monitor...
Once you get the right settings made make sure you click the Save to X Configuration File. If you don't click that then next time you start up all of your custom settings will be gone and you will have to play around with it again.

Setting up the dual monitors was fairly quick for me. Took approx. 10 minutess of playing with various settings to get it to display just like I wanted it too. If you have an Nvidia card you should be able to set these up without too much hassle using similar options like I did. Of course if you want to do a separate X screen you could choose that as well instead of the TwinView.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How to install a minimal Ubuntu

Sometimes you do not want to install anything more than a working command-line Ubuntu Linux system. Maybe you want to use another Desktop environment than GNOME, KDE, or XFCE. I have been trying out Openbox recently, but I wanted to get a completely fresh install of Ubuntu to work with. When I first started searching the net to find how to install a minimal Ubuntu system I came to dead ends. After digging deeper into search reults and forum posts I was able to find the answer. Here are the steps to get a minimal system from Ubuntu.
  1. Download the Alternate install ISO.
  2. Burn this to a disc and pop it into your computer to boot from it (unless you are doing this virtually, then you just need to make the virtual computer see the ISO).
  3. When you get to the initial boot screen do not press enter right away. Instead press F4 to bring up a menu where you can select "Install a Command-Line System".
  4. Now you press enter and follow the install process like normal.
Once you reboot you will be greeted by a friendly text prompt login. From here you can customize your system however you want it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Installing VMware Tools in 8.10 Beta

Following the advice of a couple of different posts I was able to install VMware Tools in Intrepid Ibex. Make sure you have the virtual machine up and running. Click on Install VMware Tools... in the VM menu. This will mount an iso that contains the VMware Tools package. Go ahead and close the Nautilus window that popped up and open a terminal. Execute the next lines of code to install VMware Tools on your 8.10 guest. Please note that the * is a placeholder for your version of VMware Tools.

sudo aptitude isntall build-essential linux-headers
cp -a /media/cdrom/VMwareTools-* /tmp/
cd /tmp/
tar -vxzf VMwareTools*
cd vmare-tools-distrib/
sudo ./

Make sure you pick the resolution that you want the virtual machine to run in. When I ran these lines it did not compile the network and file sharing driver. When I am able to get those two parts of VMware tools working then I will edit this post with the method. At least for now I have a better display driver.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Test Driving Ubuntu 8.10 Beta

There are many great features available in the next release of Ubuntu. Since I have been using 8.04 since its release I wanted to check out the next release. I chose to do this through the virtual interface of VMware. I know there other solutions available such as Virtualbox, Parallels, etc. I already had VMware Server installed and I didn't want to install another solution.

The features are listed on this page. I tested out the tabs feature and the eject button of nautilus. I also set up encrypted private directories which work very well. All of the features can be read on that page mentioned above. I can't wait for the release of Intrepid Ibex. I will certainly be downloading this release on the day that it is released.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Beginning

There is always a first time for everything. This is going to be the first post in a long series of posts about the Linux distribution Ubuntu. I personally have used many of the Linux distros, but I have recently switched to using Ubuntu. Obviously this website is in no way official documentation from Ubuntu. I will post different types of set-ups and various technologies that I will try out along the way. Hopefully someone will find this site useful in their dealings with Ubuntu.
I have found with my dealings of other distros that documentation and even web searches yield little results to help. My only purpose is to help every day users make the most out of Ubuntu. I want to contribute as much as I can back to the community that has helped me out as well.