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Using a USB modem for wireless 3G internet with Ubuntu 10.04 “Lucid Lynx”

October 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Many of these devices contain their own software to work with Windows.
If you use them with a Windows machine, they act like a USB flash key containing the software and will install the necessary drivers.
Once this is done, they switch into a different mode of operation and act like a modem from then on.
This is not required in Ubuntu so we just need to make sure the modem skips that first stage. It’s a very simple fix actually but will involve getting an internet connection through another means first i.e. home internet, wifi at a cafe, a friend’s place etc

Open a Terminal window (under the Applications menu, Accessories).
Type the following to install what you need

sudo apt-get install usb-modeswitch

This will ask you for your password in order to install the software.
Once it is completed, you can just insert the USB modem again and connect using the Network Manager applet near the top right hand corner of the screen.
From here it depends on the internet provider that the USB modem relates to but it should get you a good deal closer to getting it working.

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 “www.webmin.com“.

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”.

Inexpensive 802.11n Wifi USB with Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx

June 18, 2010 6 comments

UPDATE: it may be possible to get this working with two simple lines. Tested as working under Ubuntu 10.10 “Maverick Meerkat”.

In a terminal window try the following and then reinsert the USB wireless N adapter.

cd /lib/firmware
ln -s RTL8192SE RTL8192SU



I bought this relatively cheap USB wireless N adapter online but it did not work when initially inserted using Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx.

Now I cannot determine the speed as my Wireless Access point is actually on Wireless g (54Mbps) but this is what I did to get it working.

From the CD that came with the adapter, I copied off the file containing the Linux driver and then copied only the firmware to the appropriate location for Ubuntu to be able to utilise it.

(Assuming the CD is visible at /media/WLAN_6.58/)

Open a terminal window (from the Applications menu, Accessories), then type each line as shown below followed by Enter key each time.

mkdir ~/tmpwifidriver

cd ~/tmpwifidriver

cp /media/WLAN_6.58/USB-11N_RTL8191\&8188/Linux/rtl8192su_linux_2.6.0002.0708.2009.tar.gz ~/tmpwifidriver/

tar xvf rtl8192su_linux_2.6.0002.0708.2009.tar.gz

sudo cp -r ./rtl8192su_linux_2.6.0002.0708.2009/firmware/RTL8192SU/ /lib/firmware/

Just delete the temporary folder now to cleanup

rm -rf /home/tony/tmpwifidriver/

Then just insert the wifi USB adapter and click on the icon for Network Manager in the top right of the screen.  You should be able to see any nearby wireless hotspots.

For the record, my wifi adapter looks like this when queried with lsusb

Bus 001 Device 010: ID 0bda:8172 Realtek Semiconductor Corp.

A bargain for only $16!!

Problem with running Logitech webcam working in Skype on Ubuntu 10.04 “Lucid Lynx”

May 30, 2010 17 comments

Here is a pretty simple fix that I found when using the Logitech QuickCam Communicate STX under Ubuntu 10.04 “Lucid Lynx” that may also apply to older versions of Ubuntu.

If the webcam does not show your video, the trick is to force it to use an older V4l library

Under Lucid Lynx, right click on the menus in the top corner and choose “Edit Menus”

Then go to “Internet”, select “Skype” and then “Properties” button.

You have an option of using one of the following as the Command


or for a 32-bit system

bash -c ‘export LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/libv4l/v4l1compat.so; skype’

or for a 64-bit system

bash -c ‘export LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib32/libv4l/v4l1compat.so; skype’

Then close Skype and restart with the shortcut under “Applications” menu, “Internet”, “Skype”.

To test if the change worked, choose “Options” from the menu in Skype, then “Video Devices”, and then the “Test” button. You should see yourself in the test window.

To find out what camera you are using, run the following command in a terminal window…

Go to the “Applications” Menu, “Accessories”, and “Terminal”.

Type the following command and then hit Enter to see all of the USB devices connected to your PC, one of which will be the USB webcam.


Mine shows

Bus 003 Device 004: ID 046d:08d7 Logitech, Inc. QuickCam Communicate STX

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

wget http://ftp.gnome.org/pub/GNOME/sources/gtkhtml/3.29/gtkhtml-3.29.3.tar.bz2

wget http://ftp.gnome.org/pub/GNOME/sources/evolution-data-server/2.29/evolution-data-server-2.29.3.tar.bz2

wget http://ftp.gnome.org/pub/GNOME/sources/evolution/2.29/evolution-2.29.3.tar.bz2

wget http://ftp.gnome.org/pub/GNOME/sources/evolution/2.29/evolution-

wget http://ftp.gnome.org/pub/GNOME/sources/evolution-mapi/0.29/evolution-mapi-0.29.3.tar.bz2

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.