Archive for the ‘Ubuntu at work’ Category

Host your domain with Google Apps –

October 3, 2010 2 comments

For those who have never done it, and those who are paying too much for it, there is an easy and inexpensive way to get your own registered domain name hosted for email so that you have an email address like

The trick to this is to use Google Apps and a domain registrar (I use as registrar in this example as it’s cheap and they’re one of the biggest on the internet).

First things first.  You need to decide on a domain name you want.

Go to, search for the domain name you want and follow the prompts to checkout and purchase. There should be sufficient instruction on their website on how to purchase.

Once that has been accomplished, you will be able to login and configure the domain so that email is hosted by Google Apps. This allows you to access your email from anywhere without any further concern for backups or uptime.

Sound good?  Then let’s get started.

In the godaddy interface, you login so that you can see your account (link to “My Account” in top right of screen on their current website layout).  This will show you your newly registered domain in a list.  Click on the “Advanced details” next to your domain name e.g.

On this screen, it is the “Total DNS” section you need to change.  Click on “Total DNS Control” to bring up the screen to edit these values.

There will be two settings shown under the MX section. These relate to email and need to be deleted by clicking on the red cross to the right.  Then we add three new ones in this MX section to point us to Google Apps email.

Click on “Add New MX Record” and enter these values (Note there is a period/fullstop after each of the names below.  TTL value is left at default of 1 hour)

Host Name – Goes to Address – Priority

@ – – 10

@ – – 20

@ – – 30

@ – – 40

@ – – 50

Next we want to alter the CNAMES section so that points to the Google Apps email website.  To do this we, delete the current CNAME Alias called “mail” and create a new one of the same name with these settings…

Alias Name – Points to Hostname

mail –

This should be it for setting up the domain, now we need to configure the Google Apps side to accept these emails for us.

Click on

Click on the “Apps Editions” and choose the “Standard” which is free and allows up to 50 email addresses to be created.

Click on the “Get Started” button.

Now you can enter an existing domain name (bought from godaddy above) e.g. “”.

Choose Administrator, as you control the domain, and then “Get Started”.

Next complete the screens with your personal details to register with Google Apps and you will eventually get to a page that talks about how you can confirm to Google Apps that you really own the domain.  You have 7 days to confirm this or this Google Apps account will be deleted.

To confirm ownership,  login to Google Apps and it will prompt you to verify ownership.

Choose  the first option “Add a DNS record to your domain’s configuration” and choose (assuming that’s who you registered with) from the drop down list .

Step-by-step instructions will be displayed on what is required.  You will need to login to and go to the “Domain Manager” (from the left-hand menu) and create a TXT record for the domain by clicking on “Total DNS Control”.

There is a button half-way down the screen on the right hand side called “Add New TXT Record”.  Click that and add the details that Google Apps indicated for the TXT Value and leave the TXT Name blank.

Finally, click on the “Verify” button at the bottom of the Google Apps page and you’re done!!!

There are options to create user email accounts but that is outside the scope of this little setup exercise and should hopefully be self-explanatory if you follow the on-screen instructions.

Also, it is worth noting that any editing of the domain settings through the site takes some time to be replicated around the internet. Don’t be dismayed immediately if you cannot see the fruits of your labour. If it is still not working a couple of days later, you have my permission to be dismayed.

NOTE: Once you are configuring your Google Apps account, you should enable the SSL checkbox under “Domain Settings”.  This makes your email communications encrypted even if you use

Good Luck 🙂

Webmin on a server running Ubuntu 10.04 “Lucid Lynx”

August 15, 2010 Leave a comment

If you have an old PC lying around, why not put it to good use as a server?

Download Ubuntu 10.04 Server edition in 64-bit or 32-bit versions depending on how old your server is.  64-bit is recommended if the PC will accept it.

Once downloaded, you use .iso file to burn a CD.  Then boot from the CD to install Ubuntu Server on your machine.

This is an install that does not have the usual graphical user interface which can scare people off but it has its benefits.  You use the power of the machine only for its intended purpose e.g. acting as a file server, a DHCP or a DNS server.

Once it has been installed successfully and the network connection is verified to be working, it is quite feasible to remove the display monitor and to deal with the server across your network from now on.  A key tool in this approach is Webmin.

To install run the following command line

sudo apt-get install webmin

Once that completes, you will be able to install updates, configure the machine, add extra server components, get alerts when things are going awry on the server etc

To harness all this incredible power, point your browser (Firefox, Chrome etc) at …


As an example, once you have installed it, go to the menu on the left hand side, choose “Webmin Configuration” and then the “Upgrade Webmin” icon.

This will upgrade you up to the latest version available from the webmin site.

Then try this to keep track of all software updates that are available for your server…

On the same “Webmin Configuration” Screen, choose “Webmin Modules” icon and then the button to the right of ““.

Select “package-updates” from the list and follow the instruction to install it. (It may be already installed but this shows you how to get other modules should you be interested in adding new functionality to webmin).

It is also necessary to install another package which is not installed by default in order for the list of packages to work as expected.  Run this command line.

sudo apt-get install apt-show-versions

Now, you can have Webmin check for updates every hour and let you know via email if your server has important updates ready to be applied.  This is better than automatically configuring the server to apply updates blindly in case something breaks. You can then choose a suitable occasion to perform the updates when you have time to rectify any issues that may occur.

Click on the System menu on left-hand-side of Webmin screen and choose “Software Package Updates”. In there you can set your schedule for checking updates and where to send the email.

I recommend to check every hour and “Just notify” of available updates.  This screen is fairly self-explanatory.

Webmin has everything you need to remotely control your server and circumvents the need to run a graphical user desktop environment on that machine saving precious processing time particularly on older machines. It also makes the configuration,  monitoring and management of that server easier to perform remotely so it can be hidden away in some dark recess of your home or office.  This is a good thing if the machine is an ugly beast from the last century with a noisy fan and a hideous disfigurement like my server, “quasimodo”.

Installing Evolution 2.29.3 with mapi plugin under Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic

December 11, 2009 37 comments

UPDATE: 2.29.5 is available.

Just change the version number in the wget lines below in Step 2 and follow the remaining steps as below taking care to update the new version number where appropriate.

You should not need to uninstall anything in advance.

Download, compile and install the following 4 files…





ALERT: This posting relates to an “unstable release” of Evolution.  Although you may improve functionality against an Exchange 2007 server, you may also suffer from degraded performance. Install at your own risk.

These are the steps I followed to install the very latest unstable development version of Gnome Evolution.  It requires you to upgrade a few components over what is included in Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala by default.

1. Run Applications menu-> Accessories-> terminal

2. Get the latest code tarballs by typing the following commands into the terminal window (note that we get two versions of the evolution code as the newest one appears to be missing a required file)

mkdir ~/evolution

cd ~/evolution






3. Get prereqs for building each of the packages by typing the following commands into the terminal window

sudo apt-get install libdb-dev libnspr4-dev libnss3-dev libical-dev libsqlite3-dev

sudo apt-get install bison intltool gnome-core-devel evolution-data-server-dev libcanberra-gtk-dev

sudo apt-get install libgtkhtml3.8-dev network-manager-dev libunique-dev libhal-dev

sudo apt-get install libgtkimageview-dev libpst-dev libnotify-dev

sudo apt-get install libmapi-dev samba4-dev libglib2.0-dev

4. Extract the source code from the tarballs with the following commands

tar xjvf gtkhtml-3.29.3.tar.bz2

tar xjvf evolution-data-server-2.29.3.tar.bz2

tar xjvf evolution-2.29.3.tar.bz2

tar xjvf evolution-

tar xjvf evolution-mapi-0.29.3.tar.bz2

5. Now we should have a folder for each of the components under our ~/evolution folder, so we visit each folder in turn and build and install. Check for the screen for any errors, particularly after each install command, to see if the individual component built ok.  If you experience any errors, leave a comment here so that we can determine if a prerequisite is missing from your environment.

cd ~/evolution/gtkhtml-3.29.3



sudo make install

cd ~/evolution/gtkhtml-3.29.3



sudo make install

cd ~/evolution/evolution-data-server-2.29.3



sudo make install

cd ~/evolution/evolution-2.29.3



sudo make install

cd ~/evolution/evolution-



sudo make install

cd ~/evolution/evolution-mapi-0.29.3



sudo make install

6. If everything built alright, you should now be able to launch Evolution and check in the Help menu -> About to confirm that you are running now.  You should also have improved (but still buggy) calendar functionality if you have an Exchange 2007 email server  As stated at the top of this posting, this is an unstable release of code under very active development at the moment. Only try these steps if you can cope with Evolution not working or working intermittently.

If you are dependent on Evolution to work and it does not currently meet your requirements with the version you have already installed, then try the steps shown here.

Gnome Evolution Updates for Karmic

December 1, 2009 8 comments

The latest unstable release of Gnome Evolution 2.29.3 was released yesterday with an updated 0.29.3 mapi plugin and provides a marked improvement over the current stable release in Ubuntu Karmic 9.10 (i.e. Evolution 2.28.1 and evolution-mapi 0.28.0).

The roadmap for releases of the latest Gnome components is shown here

I have tested the 2.29.3 release for Evolution against the Exchange 2007 server and can report that the Global Address List is fully functional and the email part of Evolution works well with the mapi plugin.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the calendar functionality which had a caniption and froze on any attempt to access.

So the good news is, you can use Evolution cleanly to talk to an Exchange 2007 server now as long as you only want to use email.

I will document the steps required for anyone adventurous enough and prepared to deal with what is code under active development.

Creating Pareto Charts in OpenOffice – Ireland in a deep hole

November 14, 2009 2 comments

If you would like to create a Pareto chart with free software that looks something like the one below, then read on. If not, and you are only interested in the data, it can be found here

Final Pareto Chart

Creating a Pareto chart is simple in OpenOffice

This is a short tutorial on how to produce the chart in an OpenOffice 3.1.1 spreadsheet (using Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala).

Step 1. Select your data In the spreadsheet.

(I moved my columns beside each other first and only selected 40 rows to simplify this charting example – columns B, C and D of the .ods spreadsheet file)


External debt per capita data



Step 2. Click on the chart icon on the toolbar (small red pie chart icon) and choose “Column and Line” chart type from the window that pops up.  Click “Finish”.

Step 3. Now we want to add another axis for the accumulative percentage so make sure you are in Chart edit mode by right-clicking the chart and choose “Edit”, then right click the graphed line in the chart and choose “Object Properties”.

Select the “Options” tab from the window that pops up and select the radio button to align the data series to the “Secondary Y axis”. Click OK, to close that window.

Align line data to 2nd Y axis on right

We want the line data to be scaled with the Secondary Y axis

Step 4. Format the Y-axis that has just appeared on the right hand side of the chart.

(You may need to right-click the chart again to go into “Edit” mode)

Right click the new Y axis and choose “Object Properties”.

Under the “Scale” tab deselect the Automatic radio buttons and set values as shown here

Scaling 2nd Y axis

Scaling the new Secondary Y axis

Now place the line of the axis where you can see (from the data) that the 80% mark has been crossed

Positioning 2nd Y Axis

Positioning the Secondary Y Axis

Now a final formatting to display the secondary Y axis values as percentages

Format 2nd Y Axis

Format Secondary Y Axis

Then click OK for these changes to be reflected in the chart.

Step 5. Format the X-axis to rotate the labels by 90 degrees.

Right-click on the X-axis and choose “Object Properties”, then the “Label” tab and set the rotation to 90 degrees.

Rotate Label X Axis

Rotate the label of the X Axis for clarity

Step 6. Move the Legend (to make room for the graph data to the right, you may not need this)

While in edit mode (double-click the chart if required), then go to the menu “Insert” and “Legend”.

Place the legend at the bottom.

Move Legend dialog Screenshot

Moving the Legend to bottom of chart

Step 7. Finish off with labelling the title and axes

Double click the chart again to enter edit mode and from the menus, choose Insert, Title.

Complete the values for Title and the axes in the window that pops up and then close it to see the results.


Name the chart and its axes as appropriate

Voila! A neat looking Pareto chart with completely free (as in speech) software

Given that this data is prior to the Global Financial Crisis, it doesn’t look like the good times are coming back to Ireland any time soon.

Note the complete absence of Iceland from the data also.

Using Evolution with Exchange 2007

November 3, 2009 57 comments

Having just upgraded to Karmic Koala Ubuntu 9.10, I tried connecting to an MS Exchange 2007 Server in the office with the default email reader, Gnome Evolution (version 2.28.1), using its MAPI plugin (version 0.28.0).

Not sure if this worked with previous versions but it certainly doesn’t now.

There are two issues I noticed, one relates to a crash when trying to view certain emails (could not detect the pattern) and another crash after waiting for Evolution to retrieve the message-ids from my Inbox.

The good news is, there is a fix available.

You will need to download and manually install an updated MAPI plugin (version 0.28.1).

Here are the steps

1. Run Applications menu-> Accessories-> terminal

2. Uninstall the existing plugin if you have it installed by typing into the terminal window…

sudo apt-get remove evolution-mapi

3. Get some pre-requisite packages

sudo apt-get install evolution-data-server-dev libedataserverui1.2-dev libebackend1.2-dev libecal1.2-dev libedata-cal1.2-dev libedata-book1.2-dev libcamel1.2-dev

sudo apt-get install evolution-dev libmapi-dev samba4-dev intltool

4. Get the latest version of that MAPI plugin and build it

(UPDATED: 21st Dec 2009 There is now an updated version 0.28.2, so just substitute the version number in the instructions below)

cd ~


tar xvjf evolution-mapi-0.28.1.tar.bz2

cd evolution-mapi-0.28.1/



sudo make install

5. Bathe in the glory of Exchange 2007 connectivity 😀

NOTE: This circumvents the Ubuntu repositories for this particular plugin.  Once the updated version is available in the repositories, it would be prudent to revert to using the Ubuntu-provided version so you continue to get updates in future.

TODO: Our setup involves an Exchange Hub Transport which is what MS Outlook email client talks to, with separate server for Global Address List (GAL) and another server for the mailbox which I am using.  I assume this arrangement is what makes the GAL inaccessible as I have configured the settings for my mailbox server.  There does not appear to be anywhere I can set which server the GAL is on.