More from: openssh


EdUbuntu 12.04: Configuring to get work done

Last night we installed the new Ubuntu 12.04 Precise on our HP 6910p business class notebook from a USB memory stick. The installation went about as quick and painless as any we have done. We also installed Blue Fish, FileZilla, Chromium, Compiz configuration manager, and SSH Server, and did some configuring of the Launcher bar.

Today we paid attention to the details with some fine tuning so we could get down to work. All in all it went splendidly. Far better than we anticipated — we probably were unduly cynical when the Unity Desktop was introduced last year, due mostly to the absence of choice at that time. There is a lesson in that. With Microsoft preparing the very same scenario at the introduction of their Windows 8 later this year, the Microsoft stockholders could be spared some loss by using an appropriate approach to the customer: providing choice to try something new rather than issuing a unilateral dictation that we like it or lump it.

We installed the EdUbuntu edition for two reasons, first we provide training to a diverse demographic in our lab with ages from kindergarten up to 105 years old. EdUbuntu has a lot of nice K-12 learning material in it for students and for teachers. Also, EdUbuntu comes with the Gnome desktop in case we don’t want Unity. As it turns out, we are using Unity now because the compiz desktop Zoom comes closer to working in Unity than in Gnome.

From last night, first we did a “sudo passwd root” to set the root password to something we can control, then we ran

# apt-get install chromium-browser
# apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager
# apt-get install openssh-server
# apt-get dist-upgrade

We found FileZilla, Blue Fish and VLC Media Player in the “Ubuntu Software Center” (the shopping bag on the Unity Launcher) so we installed them from there. Then we compressed our .thunderbird and .fillezilla folders on our desktop in preparation for copying them to our laptop. We had a bit of a run around looking for the “Connect to Server” menu item, but eventually a tip lead us to open the FILE menu (top of screen) for the “Home Folder” and that allowed us to connect to our desktop with SSH and copy various files we use. We extracted both the .thunderbird and .filezilla archives to our desktop and test ThunderBird and FileZilla: all our mail and web site logins were correct and ready for us to begin work.

As you know, the way you choose which desktop you want is by clicking the little dot in the upper right corner of the password box at login time. You pick Unity or Gnome and then enter your password. We started with Gnome, moved the bar to the bottom of the screen, changed its height to 35 px, turned on the Show Hide Buttons, and added the launchers we use to the gnome task bar — you must hold down the ALT key while you right click on the task bar to get the pop up menu and click properties to configure the bar but you can drag and drop icons from the menus to the task bar as usual. We also changed the WorkPlace Switcher to use two rows and hold eight workplaces.

We also programmed the compiz Enhanced Zoom Desktop

Zoom in: Button4
Zoom out: Button5
Zoom box:Button2

Sadly, it didn’t work in Gnome…. But it did sort of work in Unity: the desktop itself does zoom, but the launcher bar does not. Of course it didn’t before either. So we are currently using Unity. It is nice to have a choice.

To configure the launcher in Unity is easy enough also, but a bit different than Gnome. To change the position of an icon on the Launcher you grab it and drag it up or down to where you want it. To add a program to the Unity Launcher, you can drag the icon right off the Dash Home (search results) onto the Launcher or run the program from Dash Home which causes an icon representing the program to appear on the Launcher at the bottom. Either way, then right click that icon and click “Lock to Launcher”. To remove an icon from the Launcher you right click the icon and then click “Unlock from Launcher”. We added Chromium, Blue Fish, FileZilla, and Text Editor to our Launcher as we use those daily, and removed FireFox and the Ubuntu Software Store from the Launcher to save space: we can always run them using the Dash Home (round red circle at the top of the launcher) when we need it.

When we opened the Chromium Browser to add it to the Launcher it asked if it could sync with Google to restore our browser settings. We said yes. It worked wonderfully. Nice to not need to retype all our bookmarks or figure out all our web site passwords. It does this for Android in our Nook Color and HP TouchPad also, but the form factors there are different and it was not quite as nice.

The real change for us is that the Launcher stayed put! It didn’t play the hide and seek game on us — jumping around as we opened or closed windows. This greatly enhanced the usability of the Unity desktop because we no longer had to fight with the Launcher to get it out of our way — the prior behavior often had the launcher jumping out from the side to cover up parts of the left side of the window that we were trying to use, especially when we were trying to click on mail folders in Thunderbird.

Configuring the Unity Launcher is also better now: Open the System Settings (bottom of Launcher, a Wrench over a Gear) and choose the first icon, Appearance. The size of the icons on the launcher is now controllable at the bottom of the window: we set ours to 35 px. There are also two tabs at the top of this screen — “Look” and “Behavior”. We never noticed “Behavior” before. But this is where you can turn the AutoHide feature for the Unity Launcher ON or OFF. You can also specify where to point to unhide the launcher and choose how sensitive it will be to your pointing. This simple control makes a huge difference in usability.

The thing we always forget to do until we get sufficiently annoyed is to change the time delay for the Grub boot loader. The ten seconds default setting is not enough — in the lab for our students who must read the boot screen to figure it out, or for us as we become distracted waiting for the system to reboot. Sixty seconds works much better for us.

To set the GRUB delay, do not edit the /boot/grub/grub.conf directly — the next time your system receives an updated kernel your changes will revert back to the default. Instead go to the /etc/default folder and edit the file named grub: for example by typing “nano grub”. Change the grub_timeout parameter to a number bigger than ten. I used 90 today: I can always press ENTER to get booted: we do not need to wait for the timeout: but when we are busy, having a wider time frame in which to specify which system we want booted seems to help. After you edit grub then run update-grub to change the /boot/grub/grub.conf file.

The next item we adjusted in the System Settings was the Brightness and Lock. We let the screen dim when unused, but not turn off into locking mode — that just annoys us. We also went to the Power Settings and adjusted the When Lid is Closed options so the notebook Does Nothing when the lid is closed. If we start a long job on the notebook, or plug it into a keyboard and monitor, we often close the lid. The default is to put the notebook to sleep when the lid is closed, which is not what works best for us.

The last thing we did there was to install a printer. And that is about a wrap for this posting. We installed EdUbuntu 12.04 on our desktop too, and it went about the same as our install on this notebook. We added the FireWall Configuration, VirtualBox, Samba, the Arduino IDE (bonus!!!), Eagle (PCB Design) We did try encryption on our home folder on the desktop, and we will report how that works later.


Configuring Ubuntu 12.04 Precise (beta) to get work done

In Ubuntu 12.04 Precise (Beta) we installed the basic OS. Now we will configure so we can actually get work done. First we need to know what the root password is so that we can shell to root. Otherwise we are stuck every command typing sudo and our password — which gets old very fast.

Open a text box with Control-Alt-T

$ sudo passwd root
[sudo] password for jdnash: <enter password>
Enter new UNIX password: <enter new password for root>
Retype new UNIX password: <enter new password for root again>

In case we would like to do the remaining steps remotely, install the openssh-server package.

$ su –
Password: <enter password for root>
# apt-get install openssh-server

And then run the update. I use ‘apt-get dist-upgrade’ as it seems to overcome some of the intermittent problems ‘apt-get update’ encounters.

# apt-get dist-upgrade
Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information… Done
Calculating upgrade… Done
The following NEW packages will be installed:
linux-headers-3.2.0-19 linux-headers-3.2.0-19-generic linux-image-3.2.0-19-generic
The following packages will be upgraded:
linux-generic linux-headers-generic linux-image-generic ufw
4 upgraded, 3 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 50.5 MB/50.6 MB of archives.
After this operation, 216 MB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]? Y
Get:1 http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ precise/main linux-image-3.2.0-19-generic amd64 3.2.0-19.30 [38.1 MB]
4% [1 linux-image-3.2.0-19-generic 2,224 kB/38.1 MB 6%] 93.1 kB/s 8min 38s

(and so it continues for a bit…)

run-parts: executing /etc/kernel/postinst.d/zz-update-grub 3.2.0-19-generic /boot/vmlinuz-3.2.0-19-generic
Generating grub.cfg …
Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-3.2.0-19-generic
Found initrd image: /boot/initrd.img-3.2.0-19-generic
Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-3.2.0-18-generic
Found initrd image: /boot/initrd.img-3.2.0-18-generic
Found memtest86+ image: /boot/memtest86+.bin
done
Setting up ufw (0.31.1-0ubuntu1) …
Setting up linux-image-generic (3.2.0.19.21) …
Setting up linux-generic (3.2.0.19.21) …
Setting up linux-headers-3.2.0-19 (3.2.0-19.30) …
Setting up linux-headers-3.2.0-19-generic (3.2.0-19.30) …
Setting up linux-headers-generic (3.2.0.19.21) …
#

We have done these next steps before in Ubuntu 11.10, in Practical Ubuntu Part 2 of 2, so we will abbreviate here, repeating the steps but omitting the photos. We want to install the Google Chromium Web Browser, the Compiz Zoom feature so we can magnify any section of the screen in class for demonstration purposes, and the GNOME Desktop in case Unity is not wanted for some reason.

# apt-get install chromium-browser
# apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager
# apt-get install gnome-session-fallback

To make Compiz work, you must enter the command CCSM in terminal or in the ‘Dashboard’ circle at the top of the launcher bar — the place where all the programs NOT on the launcher bar can be found. Click the icon in Compiz labeled Enhanced Zoom Desktop. The settings I used are:

Zoom in: Button4
Zoom out: Button5
Zoom box:Button2

To start Chromium the first time, go to the ‘Dashboard’ black circle at the top of the launcher bar and start to type ‘chromium’ in the search box. By the time you have ‘chr’ typed in you should see the Chromium icon below the search box. Click it. You will see an icon for Chromium appear in the launcher bar — at the bottom. Right click it and check the box ‘Keep in Launcher’. Now to move Chromium to the top of the launcher bar click and drag it up to the top of the launcher bar — the other icons will move out of your way to make room — then let go. To remove FireFox from the launcher (if you so desire) right click FireFox and click the line ‘Remove from Launcher’.

The last piece is to install the VMWare Tools software so you can cut/paste and such from the VM. If you are not using a VM then you wouldn’t do this. First, while logged into the VM, in the menu at the top of the VM window frame, click Install VMWare Tools. This will open a CD Drive with an archive named VMWare-Tools-<something>.tar.gz.  Copy this archive to your Downloads folder and Extract it there (right click on the archive, click on Extract Here). Open a Terminal Window with CTL-ALT-T, shell to root with ‘su -‘,  and cd to your /home/username/Downloads folder. Confirm you are in the right place by typing ls — you should see the extracted archive there. Run chmod +X vmware-install.pl to make the install script executable, then type ./vmware-install.pl to run it. After that follow the prompts and just take the defaults by pressing ENTER each time it stops and asks for your input.

If you are installing to a host machine and want to install VMWare Player, download Player from VMWare.com, extract it from the archive, make the install script executable, and run it — very much like installing the VMWare tools.

The OS responded quite well — our host was a six-core 3ghz AMD with 16gb RAM. We allocated two cores and two gig of RAM to the VM. There was no noticeable lag.

Hope this helps!


Practical Ubuntu — Part 2 of 2

 

In “Practical Ubuntu — Part 1 of 2” we installed Ubuntu Oneiric Ocelot on an HP 6910p notebook alongside the existing Microsoft Windows Vista, set the administrator “root” login to a password we know, added openssh-server so we can work on it remotely instead of needing to stand right there beside the computer while updating it, and ran the automagic update routine “apt-get dist-upgrade” to update all the software to the current versions.

In this module we want to install the Google Chromium Web Browser, the Compiz Zoom feature so we can magnify any section of the screen in class for demonstration purposes, the GNOME Desktop in case Unity is not wanted for some reason, and the VMWare Player module so we can teach multiple OSs without needing to reboot every time. We will also create a simple Virtual Machine (VM) using an open source DOS-like Operating System: follow the same steps to install whatever system is needed on each VM. Pay attention to license terms if you use proprietary software.

Chromium Web Browser

Google Chrome (and the related Ubuntu version Chromium) are currently the leading competitor to Microsoft Internet Explorer. It has certain very nice features, such as all the most popular codecs and flash are included already thus you don’t need to install or maintain them as an extra step. This means that after installing Chromium you can simply browse to web sites that use flash and it will work and it will never need “a newer version of flash that is available”. Chromium also has a very nice method of protecting the user from cross-site scripting attacks by leaving javascript off for unknown sites and turning it on when desired by clicking a single icon that appears in the URL address bar.

The easiest way to install “Ubuntu supported” software is to just use the Ubuntu Software Center and click.

Click to see full picture

The other way to do this is to know in advance that the package name for the chromium browser is “chromium-browser” and install it from the command line with “apt-get install chromium-browser”. Either works.

root@dad:~# apt-get install chromium-browser
Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information… Done
The following packages were automatically installed and are no longer required:
linux-headers-3.0.0-15 linux-headers-3.0.0-15-generic
Use ‘apt-get autoremove’ to remove them.
The following extra packages will be installed:
chromium-browser-l10n chromium-codecs-ffmpeg libnss3-1d libxss1
The following NEW packages will be installed:
chromium-browser chromium-browser-l10n chromium-codecs-ffmpeg libnss3-1d
libxss1
0 upgraded, 5 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 21.7 MB of archives.
After this operation, 86.8 MB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]?

Install Compiz

One of the problems we reported after installing Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narwhal” is that the Zoom feature stopped working. We use zoom daily in teaching as it allows us to magnify content on the five foot monitors at the front of our classroom so that students can see the small items, such as menu selections, and follow what we are instructing them to do. The loss of the ability to zoom would mean the students would have to get up out of their seats and walk to the front of the room. We discussed this for Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narwhal” in a previous article.

The easiest way to install compiz is to use the Ubuntu Software Center, type compiz in the search box, and click the package when it comes up.

Click to see larger picture

Alternatively you can install from the command line with “apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager”

root@dad:~# apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager
Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information… Done
The following packages were automatically installed and are no longer required:
linux-headers-3.0.0-15 linux-headers-3.0.0-15-generic
Use ‘apt-get autoremove’ to remove them.
The following extra packages will be installed:
compiz-plugins compiz-plugins-main python-central python-compizconfig
The following NEW packages will be installed:
compiz-plugins compiz-plugins-main compizconfig-settings-manager
python-central python-compizconfig
0 upgraded, 5 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 2,862 kB of archives.
After this operation, 12.2 MB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]?

To make this work, you must enter the command CCSM in terminal or in the little catchall area at the top of the launcher bar — the place where all the programs NOT on the launcher bar can be found. The settings I used are:

Zoom in: <Super>Button4
Zoom out: <Super>Button5
Zoom box: <Super>Button2

Click each image to see larger picture.

For more information on this feature you can browse the askubuntu.com library at http://askubuntu.com/questions/36751/how-to-activate-superscroll-to-zoom. You can get most of the Zoom functionality in Unity. Go to the on/off symbol at top right, click System settings, then click CompizConfigSettings Manager. Under Accessibility find Enhanced Zoom Desktop, enable it, and set the Zoom In and Out as stated above. Zoom now works everywhere except the launcher bar on the left. Zoom will not work in the Unity 2D session — it must be a full Unity session.

I have seen cases where, even though this worked for us here, it still didn’t work. The best suggestion I can offer is to be sure you have updated all packages to their latest version as I also noted this did not work initially, and it magically started working after a few months (and updates).

Some notes on using the Unity launcher bar.

To put a program, such a Chromium, on it run the program, and while it is still running you will see an icon representing it in the Unity launcher bar. Right Click that icon and from the pop-up menu select “Keep in Launcher”. After that there will be a button in the launcher which you can click to start the program.

To re-arrange the order of icons on the launcher bar is easy but non-intuitive. Click and hold the icon that you want to move, then 1. drag it off the launcher bar to the right but don’t let go, 2. drag it up or down to where you want it, 3. drag it left back onto the launcher bar, and then 4. let go. You can’t just drag straight up or down — that moves the bar. Drag the icon off to the right, up to where you want it, and back onto the bar.

In Case Unity brings Division…

You can install the classical GNOME session interface if you so desire and select it at the time you are loging in. There is a gear or star icon next to the login name box: you click that gear and then click the kind of session that you want. To install the GNOME session run the command “apt-get install gnome-session-fallback”.

root@dad:~# apt-get install gnome-session-fallback
Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information… Done
The following packages were automatically installed and are no longer required:
linux-headers-3.0.0-15 linux-headers-3.0.0-15-generic
Use ‘apt-get autoremove’ to remove them.
The following extra packages will be installed:
alacarte gir1.2-panelapplet-4.0 gnome-applets gnome-applets-data gnome-panel
gnome-panel-data libpanel-applet-4-0 python-gmenu
Suggested packages:
gnome-netstatus-applet deskbar-applet cpufrequtils evolution
epiphany-browser desktop-base
The following NEW packages will be installed:
alacarte gir1.2-panelapplet-4.0 gnome-applets gnome-applets-data gnome-panel
gnome-panel-data gnome-session-fallback libpanel-applet-4-0 python-gmenu
0 upgraded, 9 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 9,486 kB of archives.
After this operation, 40.3 MB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]?

A reboot is required before it will take effect. You can also install “apt-get install gnome-shell” for another session format, which I personally feel is rather nice. Another good article on this is available at http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/easily-install-gnome-shell-ubuntu-1110-newer-linux/. Another tip on the session interface: using the Gnome task bar at top of the screen you use ALT-right click now to move things.

 VMWare Player

The steps above solved most of our issues for Oneiric Oscelot. The only remaining significant issue is installing VMWare Player so that we can quickly demonstrate the same job skill / principal across several popular environments. In our case we buy volume licensing for several Microsoft products, including Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7. We demonstrate using these in class together with Ubuntu Linux because any of these systems could be encountered by a job applicant seeking work. To do this effectively we install one of our licenses in each virtual machine and we can then use that VM  under Linux to demo the skill in Windows. This is not quite as nice as having three separate computers all hooked up to the projector, but it is a very good compromise, and together with the Zoom feature it seems to get the job done.

To get the VMWare Player software, you must go to the VMWare.com web site and log in. Player is free but they require you to agree to terms. On vmware.com go to Products, then Desktop Virtualization Products, then on the right vertical nav bar click VMWare Player. At the top left, click the big blue DOWNLOAD button. There will be a table with the links to click to download: you may need to scroll down to see it. Click Download again, login to your VMWare account or create an account, and on the next page click on the link to download the binary for the VMWare Player version that fits your computer. The download on my notebook if a FiOS 5/2 (5MHz download, 2MHz upload) connection required on the order of ten (10) minutes.

In your download folder, find the file: it will be one big script. It was 129.7MB when I downloaded it. Make the file executable (right click, permissions, check the execute box). Open a terminal window with CTRL-ALT-T and shell to root. Run that script to install the VMWare Player.

Welcome to Ubuntu 11.10 (GNU/Linux 3.0.0-16-generic x86_64)

* Documentation: https://help.ubuntu.com/

Last login: Sat Feb 18 18:23:43 2012 from pops.local
jdnash@dad:~$ su –
Password:
root@dad:~# cd /home/jdnash/Downloads/
root@dad:/home/jdnash/Downloads# ls
VMware-Player-4.0.2-591240.x86_64.txt
root@dad:/home/jdnash/Downloads# ./VMware-Player-4.0.2-591240.x86_64.txt

You must agree to their EULA to install, so answer the prompts in terminal as they appear, and eventually it will be installed. Items in [brackets] at the prompts indicate that is the default answer — you just press ENTER to accept it. For the EULA you must type “yes” but otherwise ENTER will do. If you don’t know, you run a script such as this by typing “./” followed by the file name. You may press the tab key to help — if you start off the name of the file and press the TAB key, then Linux will try to figure out which file you want and type the rest of the file name for you. For example, in the terminal windows shown below I only needed to type “./VM” and then I pressed TAB: the system could see only one executable file which started with the letters “VM” so it typed the rest of the name for me “ware-Player-4.0.2-591240.x86_64.txt”. Very convenient.

root@dad:/home/jdnash/Downloads# ./VMware-Player-4.0.2-591240.x86_64.txt
Extracting VMware Installer…done.
You must accept the VMware OVF Tool component for Linux End User
License Agreement to continue. Press Enter to proceed.
VMWARE
…….

Do you agree? [yes/no]: yes

Would you like to check for product updates on startup? [yes]:

Would you like to help make VMware software better by sending
anonymous system data and usage statistics to VMware? [yes]:

The product is ready to be installed. Press Enter to begin
installation or Ctrl-C to cancel.

Installing VMware Player 4.0.2
Configuring…
[######################################################################] 100%
Installation was successful.
root@dad:/home/jdnash/Downloads#

To run VMWare Player, use the little black square at the top of the floating launcher bar (Dash Home) and type VM into the search box. You will see VMWare Player under the Installed Apps. Click it, accept the EULA (again), and the main VMWare Player screen is before you with no virtual machines in it (yet). Next we will create a VM. You can keep an icon for VMWare Player in the Unity launcher bar by right clicking its icon now and checking “Keep in Launcher”. In the old (GNOME) menu it used to be under Applications / System Tools.

Click image for larger picture

Making a Virtual Machine under VMWare Player

Before we make a VM, we need to install CD or DVD, or an .iso file which contains the install. In this document we will use the open source program Free DOS which is a Linux based DOS clone. You can download it from http://www.freedos.org/. It is a small file, under 40MB and downloaded in 1-2 seconds. The filename when I downloaded it for this document was “fd11src.iso”. If you are installing VMs from other CDs, you can insert the CD or DVD into your Linux computer’s CD/DVD reader and when the drive opens up close the window, then right click on the associated icon on your desktop and select “Copy Disk”. Copy it to an image file instead of to another CD/DVD. You now have the necessary electronic .iso file to use for installation. You can install from a physical CD, but electronic is much faster. I made the statement before, but I will repeat it again here: be sure you have proper proof of the right to use the software if you are installing proprietary software. This is not a problem for Open Source.

There are many pre-made VMWare “appliances” available for download from the VMWare.com web site. To use one of them, download it, then in VMWare Player click File, Open Virtual Machine and browse to the VM Appliance. In the following exercise we will make our own Free DOS VM.

Start the VMWare Player. Click Create a New Virtual Machine. Click the Radio Button for Installer Disk Image File and browse to the file. Follow the rest of the prompts. Done.

Click image for larger picture

Click “Play virtual machine” to run the VM and watch it install your OS.

Click image to see larger picture.