A Random Pattern

August 12, 2006

Update on past week, new web home (finally!)

Filed under: blogging,computers,linux,personal — randomstep @ 5:12 pm

I haven’t posted much this week, but a lot’s happened in the background. Here’s a quick summary, and you can expect me to return to a more normal posting schedule.

The Ubuntu box is back up – I ran a memory test, then rebooted a few times and it started up fine. During the memory test I discovered my RAM is bad, so that’s probably the reason for all the startup issues with that computer.

I also had a little trouble getting Remote Desktop working again, until I remembered to check my configuration for Firestarter (the firewall). Sure enough, I had momentarily lost power, so my laptop had a new IP address. I learned how to allow access to a whole range of IP’s through firestarter’s help site (though it was a little hard to understand). Here’s the short version: IP address/netmask. So if you want everything on 192.168.0.x to have access, add to Firestarter’s “allow” list.

The frequent (brief) losses of power here probably don’t help any of my computers, so time to look into a UPS. Any recommendations for home use?

Today I finally got my own domain: ransomedhome.com. It’s a little raw right now, but I’ll be cleaning it up over the next few weeks, and moving everything there. In fact, I’m already importing my posts from here, and this may be my last post here (so update your bookmarks / feeds!) I will post a few more times to remind everyone of the move…

If you’re curious about string theory, or what in the world 10 dimensions mean, here’s a really nice graphical demonstration to confuse you explain everything.

That’s it, folks.  More to follow soon.

August 10, 2006

Computer not booting

Filed under: computers,Ubuntu — randomstep @ 9:52 am

uh oh.  I came back from a trip to D.C. and Pittsburgh to discover my old PC, the one with Ubuntu installed, wasn’t on.  When I tried to turn it on, it gives me a boot manager with a choice of 2 kernels, plus recovery mode for each, as well as my Win XP installation.  The first time,  I wasn’t even paying attention, until I saw a blue Kubuntu boot up screen.  It’s supposed to boot into regular Ubuntu, though I had switched sessions temporarily to a KDE session.  Anyways, trying any of the 4 kernel options results in weird display followed by restarting.  I guess I really am going to have to fix what’s wrong with this pc.  😉  Only I have no idea what that is, at the moment.

August 7, 2006

Remote Desktop: quick update

Filed under: computers,linux,Ubuntu — randomstep @ 9:34 pm

I’m away from home currently, so haven’t been able to play with Remote Desktop into Ubuntu. i’m going to list out things I’ve done so far, and what I still want to setup, for reference later.

1. Changed the IP address from Dynamic (DHCP) to static (typed in a specific address, i.e. This actually was extremely easy, and I didn’t have to restart anything. I have a linksys router, and when I changed the ip address it went live.

1. I set up VNC by installing VNC4Server using Synaptics. This was probably unnecessary, though I haven’t fully verified that.

2. I used this (with TightVNC viewer on the Win XP laptop) to view an Ubuntu X-session across my home network, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. It gave me a grey window with a terminal section. I was able to launch a few games, but of course performance was terrible.

3. I found “Remote Desktop” already available under Ubuntu’s [System | Preference] menu. There’s only a few options, and they’re not hard to get right. Make sure to require a password, but you probably don’t want to require acceptance at the computer you are setting up for remote use – unless this is to help a friend or family member without having to go over to their computer :).

4. Run TightVNC again, but this time remember that you need to give the ip address AND display (i.e. is default).

Things left to do:

1. Get Remote Desktop (Sharing?) working on KDE – or verify that it won’t work?

2. Figure out sessions, how to change session numbers (why does my alternate KDE session start at 20? How can I make it easier to choose whether to log in to Gnome or KDE?).

3. Try to get Remote Desktop working not just on intranet, but when I’m not at home. Probably a pre-cursor to this is getting a domain name (or two).

4. enough Remote Desktop, move on to “Backing up”. 🙂  Oh, and I need to write a post on partitions.
Any advice, links, et cetera is quite welcome.  I will be sure to post what I learn.

August 6, 2006

Remote Desktop, KDE install

Filed under: computers,linux,Ubuntu,web technologies — randomstep @ 12:33 am

I got Kubuntu installed. I first made the mistake of just installing KDE-desktop and some other important-looking KDE packages. Then, once I figured out how to log into a KDE session (log off, go to “Options” in the lower left corner, select “Session” then “KDE”) I got into IRC chat and learned that the easy way would have been to install Kubuntu-desktop. I did that, and KDE looked much better, had things in the right place, etc.

However, I still couldn’t get Remote Desktop working. For one thing, it was called “Sharing” instead of “Remote Desktop” (as it is under Gnome). For another, as I eventually discovered, I had left the firewall (Firestarter) running. Even though it hadn’t blocked my other PC the night previously, once I disconnected it started blocking that incoming connection (makes sense since I hadn’t made it an exception). For a third, I finally discovered my KDE session was 20, so trying “ipaddress:0” or “:1” or without colon obviously wasn’t going to work.

I still don’t have desktop sharing / remote desktop working for KDE, but I can remote into Gnome anytime I please. I think the VNC viewer and/or server might not allow sharing up to 20, maybe it only allows the first 5 or something. I haven’t looked into it yet, so if you know please tell me. I also don’t know why KDE starts at 20, instead of something much lower (the Gnome session is 0). One thing left to try is making KDE default – so far I’ve kept Gnome as default and just temporarily logged into KDE. This whole ‘session’ concept is still a little foggy for me. There are workspaces, displays, screens, sessions….I know there are differences, I just haven’t figured them all quite out yet. I’ll probably blog more on this.

One other item that was frustrating me until someone on the Kubuntu IRC channel pointed out the obvious: My display was just a few pixels wider than my actual monitor’s screen, and it was bugging me. I was looking for a software adjustment, when someone suggested I use the buttons on my monitor. Duh! The guys on #Ubuntu and on #Kubuntu have helped me out a few times, and I appreciate the community support. Sometimes the only solution is to figure it out yourself, but at least they’ll give you moral support. 🙂

August 4, 2006

Followup: Ubuntu and Remote Desktop

Filed under: computers,linux — randomstep @ 4:41 pm

Well, I made that harder than it had to be. Instead of installing VNC stuff, I could have just looked in the System Menu, for the “Remote Desktop” option under “Preferences”. (By the way, I’m using it now to verify the wording of everything.)

Then I just use a VNC Viewer, and there we go, I’m seeing and using my Ubuntu desktop from my Win XP laptop. Of course, quality’s a little low, but I think that’s b/c my wireless signal is weak this far from my router. I need to get the ethernet run and set back up, and this will give me the motivation to do that. I’ll report on how it looks after that.

Also, I found “ALE”, the Atlanta Linux Enthusiasts. Lucky me, there are other geeks around!

August 3, 2006

Remote Desktop Control and Ubuntu

Filed under: computers,linux,web technologies — randomstep @ 11:33 am

I set up VNC from my work PC to my Ubuntu box last night.  It was actually really easy, went much smoother than I had expected.  For one thing, Ubuntu gave me no hassle about changing to a static IP, and neither did my Linksys router.  I did have to look around for a minute or two to find how to set it up, but that’s no different than in Windows.  Not to mention it was actually easier than Windows, no rebooting or anything.

It did take a while to figure out how what to use to do remote desktop.  I just want to go over my intranet for now, I’m not (yet) trying to open it up to access from the internet.  I decided to just pick VNC and go with it, since I’m somewhat familiar with that on Windows boxes.  From there, I just used the package manager to find vnc4server, and a few quick downloads, installs, and command-line checks later I thought I might have it setup.

The longest part of the setup was actually picking which VNC viewer I wanted on my Win XP installation.  Someone I respect (Tony A) had recommended UltraVNC, but when I looked at it it wasn’t what I remembered.  I’d also seen TightVNC referred to a lot, and decided to go with that as it looked open-source and ‘linux-friendly’.  The install was again quick.

One tricky part was that I needed to not just specify the server ip address, but also the x-display (like this:  That’s an example using default numbers, btw, which no one should ever use (but most people do).  Once I figured that out, BAM!  I was in!

Now for the surprise – it wasn’t quite what I expected.  I didn’t get my whole linux graphical desktop, instead I got a terminal (or command line).  I could type in and run some graphical programs (somewhat slowly), but definitely not what I expected.

Things left to do:

1. See if I can put TightVNC server on Ubuntu, which might give me more what I want.

2. See if VNC is the right path, or if there’s some other type of Remote Desktop option.

3. Start looking into configuring my Ubuntu box as a server, with all the attendant benefits.

4. Help my dad get his old HP (running Win 98!) updated to Ubuntu.  Hopefully this goes well.

Anyone with questions on how I did what I did, or looking for more information / screenshots on what was accomplished?

Anyone have more information on how to set up some sort of Remote Desktop thing?  I’d love to learn, and I’ll point at any blog or resource you send me that is helpful.

July 29, 2006

UbunTU! UbunTU! UbunTU!

Filed under: computers,personal,philosophy — randomstep @ 3:19 pm

You can see I’m really excited. That’s because I finally got around to sticking my Ubuntu CD in and trying it out.

Awesome! These guys are really doing something cool for Linux. I’ve been following Linux news for at least a few years, lurking but never actually getting it on one of my computers. Today, I’ve finally broken through the wall thanks to a number of factors, and there are even more things that make it look like I’ll stay happy with Linux.

Contributing factors:

1. Ubuntu will send you a CD with the OS FOR FREE. Really, honest to goodness, FREE.

2. Something called “Live CD” – you don’t have to install it, uninstall Windows, or do anything (other than maybe get a friend to help you boot from CD). Just start your computer with the CD in the drive.

3. I have an old PC that I built (a monster), that hasn’t been run in a year or two. It’s got Win XP Pro, but won’t start up anymore. I don’t know why, it just hangs on the Win XP screen. So I figured, why not? Guess what…Unbuntu started right up!

4. Lots of hype, people, lots of hype. I already get frustrated by Windows daily. The Linux hype convinced me (with a little help from myself) that Linux could save me. It’s probably not completely true, but I’m willing to buy the story. Especially since…

It’s FREE! (Well, minus an hour or so, but then again I’m a geek so that’s how I like to spend my time).

End result – the computer I couldn’t boot up for the last month is now up and running, on the internet, and I’m really excited.

One other nice touch: the Ubuntu guys have taken some criticism here and there for the brown theme when everyone else is doing blue. After about 5 minutes, it suddenly dawned on me that I was so glad not to be staring at another blue screen (no pun intended). The brown is calm, if not peaceful then surely not turbulent. In fact, one might say it is background, where blue is more in your face. Not to mention it’s different. Brilliant move, guys. I didn’t fully appreciate the genius of that little touch until a few minutes ago.

There’s a lot of other cool things, and some weird things (my PC does still have some sort of hardware problem). I’ll get into those in another article, though. Ubuntu lovers, leave me some advice!


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