Icedove and Enigmail

A tip for any Debian user trying to get PGP to work in Icedove, Debian’s re-branded version of the Thunderbird Mail client: All the tutorials and forums on the internet telling you to install Enigmail from Thunderbird’s Add-on menu won’t work. It’s not there. Enigmail isn’t compatible with your version of Thunderbird, which is… Icedove. The solution is simple but not obvious; Enigmail needs to be installed from the package manager, a simple

aptitude install enigmail

should do the trick! 😉

Finding photos of a known size

Recently I did a friend a favour and installed Linux Mint on her laptop as she was a bit frustrated with Windows. Unfortunately I assumed she’d backed up everything before handing it over to me, so I re-partitioned the whole drive to ext4. She hadn’t.

On the bright side the computer was quite new and the only thing she wanted from the disk were some photos she’d taken. Well, that just made it my lucky day because there just happens to be a tool specifically for recovering photos (and a myriad of other filetypes) from disks that have been written over: TestDisk! Continue reading

Tab button in GIMP

Status

I just realised that in the GIMP you can press Tab to toggle hide/show the two windows showing layers, tools and so on. Wow! Am I the only person who didn’t know this?! Surely this wins any argument with someone complaining that the GIMP feels more complicated than Adobe Photoshop because it has 3 windows.

Renaming USB Devices in Linux

Sometimes you want to change the name of a USB device, for example because it has no name or because it has a new purpose. I usually give my USB flash drives my own name so that if I lose them, people will know who to return them to.

Modern desktop environments make it easy to rename your device by simply clicking it and selecting ‘rename’ from the context menu. However, sometimes you might want to do this from the command line 8) perhaps because you have no desktop environment, or your desktop environment does not allow you to easily rename your device, or because you feel you could do it faster this way. Continue reading

Namibian Mobile Broadband Settings in Linux

I originally posted this as a Note in the Linux Namibia Facebook group when I still had a Facebook account but I’ve decided to cross-post it here because not everyone uses Facebook and because I still see people having trouble with this. After a few lessons in XML in my Internet Technology course, I contacted local networks and with the cooperation of network staff, I was able to add a little code so that the recent (10 August 2011) update to the mobile-broadband-provider-info package in Ubuntu adds support for Namibian providers MTC, Leo and Telecom. Namibians often seem to have trouble using their cellphones or dongles to get connected on Linux, and the network staff, being unfamiliar with Linux, usually aren’t much help either. This should solve that.
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Checking Computer Specs With No Operating System

After my previous post about checking computer specs in Linux somebody asked an interesting question: how do you check your computer’s specifications if you don’t actually have any operating system to check them with?

In my opinion the easiest way to do this would be to download a disk image of a live CD for a lightweight Linux distribution, such as my favourite: ArchLinux. Once you’ve burned it to a disc you can put it in your computer and boot directly from the disc. ArchLinux is light and fast and will allow you to log in as root with command line access, where you will be able to run the commands I talked about in my other post to find your computer specs even for a computer with no OS or in other cases, for example where you don’t have permission to check with the current OS. If you’re not familiar with Linux don’t worry, follow the on-screen instructions and just type the commands I described. When you’re done checking you can turn off the computer and take out the CD and things will be just as they were before.

The End of a Great Blog

To my great dismay, K. Mandla has decided to discontinue K.Mandla’s blog of Linux experiences.

K.Mandla's blog of Linux experiencesI first came across it when it was mentioned in a post on another blog I was looking at, which challenged readers to try to use their computers without the Graphical User Interface for just a day! I accepted the challenge and after using Arch Linux for the first time and reading around on K. Mandla’s blog for a while I learned a lot about powerful and efficient ways of using the computer and giving use to low-end hardware. K. Mandla talked about things like  lessism vs minimalism and maximalism, a word that might better describe his idea of minimalism, and I agree.

His blog was a great resource for people who keep things light and get the most out of the technology they have. It has a huge list of software and a wiki too. He used to post very regularly, about once a day, but although the site is still online, he won’t be making any more additions. This was without a doubt my favourite blog, probably the only blog I actually read. I’m not sure I’ll ever write that much on here, I haven’t even written anything for the last 4 months or so, but I somehow hope I can carry on what K. Mandla started and share my useful ideas and information with you.

“Be kind to one another. We’re all we’ve got.” —K.Mandla

Checking Computer Specs in Linux

❗ Note: automated script downloadable at the bottom of this post!

Something you always want to do on a computer, even if only once, is to check its hardware specifications, that is:

  • how much RAM do I have?
  • how much hard disk space do I have?
  • how “fast” is my CPU?
  • how much RAM does my graphics card have?

Of course most modern GNU/Linux desktop environments like Ubuntu usually come with some kind of graphical tool to find this information. GNOME’s System Monitor program should provide at least some of what you’re looking for. The information here is more for when you’re staring at a blinking cursor on a black screen trying to remember what the command was to show information about the CPU, RAM or Graphics Card.

This is the third time I’ve had to go on an internet search quest to remind myself how to do this in a Linux terminal. To save myself the trouble in the future, I’m writing down the commands here and if anyone else finds it useful then that’s great, and a second bird is figuratively killed!
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Installing Ubuntu

A tutorial on how to install Ubuntu on your computer is completely redundantbecause it’s really that easy. I’ve installed Windows 7 for people and I’ve installed Ubuntu, as well as several other things. Based on my observation Ubuntu’s installer is the easier of the two.This is what you have to do: Download the disk image from the Ubuntu Website, burn it to a CD, put the CD in your computer and restart the computer. Welcome to Ubuntu!

Edit: Based on some feedback there are some things I would like to add:

  • The last step of the installation is to set a good password for your account
  • There’s a countdown to the next Ubuntu release; Ubuntu Natty Narwhal
  • If you’re looking for a reason to install Ubuntu you can find some there too
  • You can download an Ubuntu install disk from their downloads page
  • You can download it in 64 or 32 bit, Intel or AMD and other stuff
  • You can download it directly or torrent it (legally of course; Ubuntu is free software)
  • You can choose between a desktop, netbook or server edition
  • There’s an alternate installer with no graphics that uses less resources

Continue reading