KeePass Version 2 on Ubuntu

EDIT: As of Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) this is now much easier as KeePass 2 has finally made it into the repositories

apt-get install keepass2

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If you need to read KeepPass 2 data files (.kdbx) on Ubuntu (as well as from other platforms such as Windows or Android) you need to run the Portable Version under Mono (.NET Runtime). Make sure you download the Portable Version 2.x from http://keepass.info/download.html

The default Mono Distribution on Ubuntu (V11 Natty) is missing a few dependencies required for KeePassX

apt-get install libmono-accessibility2.0-cil libmono-addins-gui0.2-cil libmono-addins0.2-cil libmono-cairo2.0-cil libmono-corlib2.0-cil libmono-data-tds2.0-cil libmono-i18n-west2.0-cil libmono-management2.0-cil libmono-messaging2.0-cil libmono-posix2.0-cil libmono-security2.0-cil libmono-sharpzip2.84-cil libmono-sqlite2.0-cil libmono-system-data2.0-cil libmono-system-messaging2.0-cil libmono-system-runtime2.0-cil libmono-system-web2.0-cil libmono-system2.0-cil libmono-wcf3.0-cil libmono-webbrowser0.5-cil libmono-winforms2.0-cil libmono2.0-cil mono-2.0-gac mono-csharp-shell mono-gac mono-gmcs mono-runtime ubuntu-mono

You should be able to start by:

mono KeePass.exe

Further info: http://keepass.info/help/v2/setup.html#mono

Revert Ubuntu Netbook UI

If you upgrade you Ubuntu Netbook release to 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat) you will notice a change to the new ¨Unity¨ user interface.

Personally I think the new interface is absolutely horrible (from a usability perspective) and I wanted to revert to the previous Netbook-Launcher.

HOWTO

Install the required components via terminal:

sudo apt-get install netbook-launcher-efl

After install just change the “Login Settings”

Log out and after the next login: voila – the laucher interface:

However in the end I changed to the desktop interface which I found the most useful for my type of usage.

VoIP client for Ubuntu

Having used IP Telephony for a number of years I need a workable SIP client for all of the devices I use. I have found a very capable client for my Android phones (SipDroid) and on Windows/MacOSX I generally use X-Lite (as well as it’s paid version EyePhone) from Counterpath.

Having tried several different Linux SIP clients (Ekiga, Twinkle, …) but all discarded them because of weird UI’s and/or problems with stability I noticed that there is a Linux version of XLite available. Unfortunately on current versions of Ubuntu (10.04) it needs a deprecated version of a library.

Download XLite Linux: http://www.counterpath.com/x-lite-3.0-for-linux-download.html

Dowload libstdc++.so.5: http://packages.debian.org/lenny/i386/libstdc++5/download

[you will need root permissions for all of the below]

dpkg -i libstdc++5_3.3.6-18_i386.deb
tar -xzf X-Lite_Install.tar.gz
cd xten-xlite
cp xtensoftphone /usr/sbin
chmod +x /usr/sbin/xtensoftphone
Now you should be able to run:
xtensoftphone

Enjoy calling from your Ubuntu machine !

EDIT: Since upgrading to Ubuntu 11 (Natty) I have switched to QuteCom

Huawei K3765 on Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid)

Since I have switched my 3G data network from Hutchinson Three to Vodafone AU recently I also upgraded the USB modem from a Huwaei E220 (which used to work fine on recent Ubuntu NBR releases on my trusty old ASUS EEE 900)

Unfortunately the new Huawei K3765 would not be recognised as a valid modem by the network manager. After a fair bit of searching it turns out that you only need to install one additional package (usb-modeswitch) to make this modem work (be recognised) on the current stable 10.04 release:

sudo apt-get install usb-modeswitch

For the command-line challenged here is a quick screenshot on how to do it using Synaptic Package Manager:

Synaptic usb-modswitch - screenshot

Hope this might save some time for people trying to make this modem work on Lucid.

Happy roaming !

Ubuntu – Google Mail (GoogleApps) as default mail client

Since Ubuntu 9.10 NetbookRemix has been released I am again finding myself using my trusty old ASUS EEE when on the road.  And  finally it seems I have found a vanilla Linux distribution that is reasonably responsive and works ‘out of the box’.

One thing I don’t need on the road (as a matter of fact on none of my equipment) is having to install & maintain some client/server mail client. Here is a workable solution to have your browser default ‘mailto:’ links to Google Apps.

Howto

System –> Preferences –> Preferred Applications

Ubuntu Preferences Screenshot

Chrome:

perl -MURI::Escape -e '$to = shift;$to =~ s/^mailto://i;exec("chromium-browser", "https://mail.google.com/a/yourdomain.tld/?view=cm&fs=1&tf=1&cmid=22&to=".URI::Escape::uri_escape($to) );' '%s'

Firefox:

perl -MURI::Escape -e '$to = shift;$to =~ s/^mailto://i;exec("firefox", "https://mail.google.com/a/yourdomain.tld/?view=cm&fs=1&tf=1&cmid=22&to=".URI::Escape::uri_escape($to) );' '%s'

Note: do not forget to replace ‘yourdomain.tld’ with your actual Google Apps domain

Here is the link to the original blog entry by David Davis (xantus77): http://xantus.vox.com/library/post/howto-use-gmail-for-mailto-links-linuxubuntu.html (Kudos !)

Ubuntu – the ‘old man’ experiment

Recently my father, who has so far not wanted to have anything to do with computers, decided to change all of this with age 67. While initially surprised (and remembering the comments I got when sitting in front of computers as a teenager instead of working on the family farm), I quite liked the idea. It’s a great to see him still wanting to explore and learn new things.

Unfortunately since there is approximately 17.000km between us, there was a limited amount I could do to help him get set up. So my eldest sister (as she always has to do) ended up having to help out instead. Finding hardware was the easy part and very cheap these days (and since it was bought online I could help with the technical aspects). However the machines in that particular shop came as white-boxes without an Operating System (which is a good thing in my book).

So rather than forking out another 90 or so Euro for Windows Vista, which I personally dislike with a passion, I suggested her to download Ubuntu and give it a try. If things did not work out you could always get it later. While I personally have a very pragmatic approach to OS selection and no particular ‘religious’ views when it comes to Linux, I do generally choose an Open Source alternative over a Proprietary system all other things being equal. I was a bit worried about people not being familiar with it, but in the case of my father he has never had any experience with computers so did not have any Windows ‘baggage’. And his usage would mainly be for Internet access, e-mail and maybe some comms (Skype and similar).

But the ease of setting up the whole system surprised even myself. My sister only had one problem with the whole install. She burned the downloaded ISO file to CD (as .iso) rather than using some burning software to convert the ISO to a CD image. The rest was smooth sailing and did not even involve any intercontinental phone calls to myself. When it came to connecting the machine to the Internet I got a call asking me what she needed to do to access the net. When I replied if she had already tried to open the browser I was told ‘no’. When she opened Firefox everything was already working.

As a result of this she is now converting her old computer (which she has unsuccessfully tried to re-install WindowsXP for months because of driver problems) to Ubuntu

The 90 Euros saved on the Operating System will go to a webcam and some peripherals so the grandkids in Australia can hopefully see Opa more often.

Finding the ideal OS for (my) EEE PC

I have been a user of an EEE PC 900 for over 10 months now and in general very happy with the form-factor and it’s portability. I has been very useful in public transport, waiting rooms, coffee shops,…

However – in terms of Operating Systems I am now on my 3rd OS (despite initially telling myself that I will stick with the default and avoid tinkering) and it looks like I still have not found what I am looking for.

With the XP version of the EEEPC not even on the list of choices because of the sluggish performance on models I tried I survived on the default Xandros install for about 1 month until it’s ‘Easy Interface’ just got too painful in the number of clicks it took to get anywhere.

So I changed the Xandros install to ‘Advanced Mode’ which made some things easier, however the lack of any locking mechanism and the fact that installing nearly anything that was not officially supported (via other Debian packages) broke something else, forced me to look for a more standard Linux distro.

Eventually I chose Ubuntu for EEE (now called Easy Peasy – ???) As I have started to use Ubuntu on my VMWare desktops for some cloud-app development. The thought of having the same OS on the desktop and netbook had a lot of appeal. Next to CentOS (our Server platform of choice) I don’t want to deal with more distros than absolutely necessary. However in hindsight this turned out to be missing the key differences between both platforms. They are after all very different animals. While it was nice to have the same interface on both Desktop and Netbook, running Ubuntu on the EEE ended up being painfully slow and the WIFI support was pretty ordinary (which is not something I could say about Xandros). Another issue for me was that the support Huawei USB Wireless Modem E220 was sometimes unreliable and took ages to get working. I often had to reboot the machine to get the Wireless modem working again. And time is a very valuable commodity for me these days.

Eventually (after some research) I ended up with PuppyLinux and at first glance I have to say it was the fastest user interface I have ever seen on the EEE. There are a few oddities, such as running everything as a privileged user (same as Xandros) and as having Seamonkey as it’s browser instead of Firefox (which is a bit annoying for me as I have a few very useful Firefox add-ons I like on the netbook as well). But at first I thought I have found what I had been looking for.

Puppy Linux 4.12
Puppy Linux 4.12

If it wouldn’t be for the problems with network drivers (and how much use is the fastest UI, best functionality without Internet access on a Netbook) I would have dumped all others and stayed with PuppyLinux. Its startup time, speed, no-frills UI is exactly what I need while ‘on the run’. But after a number of hours of tinkering with drivers and various patches reported to work on other EEE versions I gave up. Getting WPA encryption on the WLAN side and the Huawei E220 to work was just too time consuming. Note: I tried to get Puppy 4.12 working. There are some ‘Puplets‘ specificly for EEE’s but mainly for 700 series using and much older codebase .

Currently I am (reluctantly) back with Xandros (although the XEPC version of it) and using PuppyLinux as a ‘secondary choice’ from the internal storage drive in the hope the wireless driver problems will be resolved at some stage. I would love to hear from somebody that has it working on the EEE 900 as I really like this puppy. And I’d be even quite happy to donate some dollars for this purpose.

Conclusions

  • There is not yet an ideal distro for me :(
  • PuppyLinux without the networking issues would be the distro of choice
  • If you don’t have much time – stick with the default – the amount of time you burn finding something that works will by FAR outweigh the time savings in a fast UI (if you can actually find it)
  • And (just in case if Asus is listening and wants some advice) – look at what these guys are doing with Puppy – this is what an alternative Netbook OS should be like – FAST boot, FAST UI, No-frills ….
  • If you want to be as close to your desktop with ‘Windows-like ‘ UI – stick with the Original – at least then you can take the slow UI as a fact of life ;-)

Update: just found this link to an excellent article in the recent Linux Magazine on alternative OS´s for netbooks