Showing posts from February, 2010

Full Circle Magazine #34 Available!

Issue 34 is on the horizon! This month marks the 34th issue of Full Circle, along with the new and improved companion Full Circle Podcast !  Now, along with your magazine, you’ve got an extra 40 minutes of auditory Full Circle goodness. Direct download link:

Mount ISO images without the command line

Or, 'how to check your newly mastered DVD-iso image is good before you burn it and waste your blank media.' Everybody knows I hate typing hieroglyphics at the command line. Any opportunity to avoid the terminal session, I take it....

Full Circle Podcast Episode #1 is up

Full Circle is a free, independent, magazine dedicated to the Ubuntu family of Linux operating systems. Each month, it contains helpful how-to articles and reader submitted stories. The resurrected companion podcast is now available featuring yours truly, Ed Hewitt and Dave Wilkins. Episode #1: Stop Wine-ing and Go Native! Hosted at:

Partition Magician

If you've waded through the previous post, Scouting the Upgrade Trail , this is the coda to the flippant one-liner about choosing a partitioning scheme. Decide what disk partitions you actually need; my main reason is to separate programs from data, within that, separate my documents from the music collection from video. It makes backing up easier and searching for content a breeze. None of this is gospel, but it is the scheme I've adopted since Hardy Heron...

Scouting the Upgrade Trail

It's upgrade time. We all know the sensible way to do this is to upgrade sequentially through the version numbers (yawn). However, Ubuntu 9.10 will only perform the in-place upgrade over 9.04 and nothing earlier. If you're still an Ubuntu Badger, Heron or Ibex, you have little choice but to clean-install. Maybe, like me, the time has come to upgrade the hard drive and start-over from scratch with a new file-system and software stack. The in-place upgrade is one thing, a clean install something else. True, there are lots of “Top Ten things to do after installing Operating-System-X” articles around; many give good advice on exactly which repositories to update, recommended programs, codecs, UI tweaks. This list aims to go back to first principles; what to do before you start, during and after...

What Makes a Digital Messiah?

Expectations were high in January, when a guy called Steve stood up in San Francisco and announced a new kind of sanitary towel (according the product name). Expectations worthy of a new digital messiah; after almost two years of hype and speculation, it seems we'd be satisfied with nothing less. Just one look at the shiny-shiny tablet (cue heavenly choir) and the pundits declared we're in the future. We're in Star Trek. Uh-oh.

How-to: Preserve Your Anonymity using TOR

Recently Google CEO Eric Schmidt declared the death of privacy on the internet and dismissed concerns saying “...if you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.” [CNBC: “Inside the Mind of Google” special ]. So now we know. Private equals secret equals bad. Like the pro-surveillance advocates say, privacy's only function is to obscure lawbreaking: “if you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to worry about.” Right? Wrong...

Review: Linux Mint 7 ‘Gloria’ (re-post)

Original article: 13/09/2009 appeared in Full Circle Magazine #31 Derivatives have gotten a bad name since the financial credit-crunch and banking meltdown. There is one derivative, however that looks rather a good investment: Linux Mint 7, codenamed Gloria. Mint 7 is a Linux distribution derived from Debian via Ubuntu – in this release Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty...

Review: WebHTTrack website copier and offline browser (re-post)

Original article: 02/09/2008 appeared in Full Circle Magazine #26 It was a simple job, creating a website using the tools and free hosting on Google Sites. Trouble is, there's no site backup tool and I don't like leaving the only copy of my precious pages sitting in 'the cloud.' Now imagine you're taking over a website project, or migrating to a new ISP or server; maybe you need to manage rising web-traffic by creating a 'mirror' of you main site. Maybe you're going out and about with no web connection, but need to take some content with you. All the tools I know are commercial, 'industrial strength' or non-Linux. Which is where the WebHTTrack utility comes in...

Opinion: The Lure of Instant-On (re-post)

Original article: 28/08/2008 In this instalment, the Professor and Alter cross swords over the necessity of windows or indeed, worktops. Sorry, Splashback. Err, Splashtop . Alter was sat in front of a Google page, tutting. "What are you looking for, Alter?" "A firm release date for Vista-2, Professor." "I shouldn't worry. Most people don't need Windows."

Opinion: How many distros is too many? (re-post)

Original article: 09/08/08 appeared in Full circle Magazine #18 In this installment, the Professor re-educates the young Padewan, Alter , in answer of the question 'how many distros is too many?'

My Opinion: Is this the Year...? (re-post)

Original article: 09/08/08 appeared in Full Circle Magazine #17 Bios: check Memory: check Reality: check? Is this the year...?

Review: Google Sites (free option)

Original Article: 30/08/08 Web 2.0 must be maturing; there's a plethora of on-line tools for building web-sites. Since the dial-up FTP connection to one of my free webspaces finally expired, I thought I would give one of them a try: Google Sites. We're not exactly  overwhelmed with web-page building tools for Linux and those we have go way too technical (Quanta Plus) or flaky (Anjuta). Now this isn't an exhaustive test of every Google Sites facility and it's just the free option.

Review: Asus Eee PC 701 mini-notebook (re-post)

Original Article 20/06/08 appeared on Everything Express It's the machine that's responsible for opening up a new market segment betwen the business notebook and the ultra-portable One-Laptop-Per-Child (OLPC) at a price-point that makes it attractive for education and business and the casual user. We've had ten of them on test to use and abuse, break, build and reconfigure. This is how we got on...

Review: Linux Mint 5 - 'Elyssa' gets better (re-post)

Original Article: 26/08/2008 appeared in Full Circle Magazine #17 Although it's not one of the core 'Buntu distributions, we've given Mint a fair share of coverage in the magazine this year; Linux Mint 4.0 'Daryna' was Flavour of the Month in Issue #10 , with the follow-up comparison to Unbuntu in Issue #11 , both favourable write-ups by Mr Clipsham that we won't repeat here. But now release 5.0 is out named 'Elyssa'

Linux How-to: Create a Separate Home Partition (re-post)

Original Article 06/04/2008: Cover:  Full Circle Magazine Issue #15 If you ran the default installation of Ubuntu, using the 'guided' partitioning option, you probably have two partitions on your hard drive; an Ubuntu system partition and a swap partition. Which is fine until you get into running regular backups. Then the Ubuntu 8.04 upgrade. Or a disaster to recover. Suddenly, having  all your data and programs living on one partition seems like a bad idea.

Opinion: What is Web 2.0? (re-post)

'Two-point-oh! or Two-point-less?' Original Article: 06/04/2008 appeared in Full Circle Magazine Issue #13 Some of you might be thinking it's a little late to ask that question. Web 2.0 has been around as a concept since the dot-com bust around 2001 and a practical reality for around two years. It's been hyped, dismissed, delivered, condemned, rejected, re-launched, branded, marketed and abused in all the media. Several times over. Now you're thinking 'what an ass, it's far longer than/less than that.' So which 'web 2.0' are we talking about, using and developing? Can we agree a definition? Is it working? Is it worth it?

How-to: Switch from IE to Firefox

Original Article: 06/04/2008 appeared on Everything Express If you've never used Internet Explorer , all I can say is 'go in peace, my friend, you live a charmed life...' If, however, good old 'IE,' is the only browser you've ever known, you may need a little encouragement to get to grips with Firefox , a web-browser so good, it forced the boys-from-Redmond to play catch-up on features like tabbed browsing and produce the decent,  but still inferior version which is IE version 7.

How to: Understand IP addresses (re-post)

Original Article: 03/04/2008 You've got Ubuntu; you've got broadband and a router; you've got at least one PC on-line. Congratulations. Now change whatever Ubuntu set up for you and hey -  you're now a network administrator! On top of that surprise, you need to know some things about networks and addresses, otherwise getting and staying on-line becomes a hit-and-miss affair. Put a machine on any network using TCP/IP and it will need an IP address, otherwise it can't send or receive network traffic. There goes the first alert – too many acronyms...

Linux How to: Configure Firestarter firewall front-end (re-post)

Original Article: 17/03/08 Call me a heretic, but I happen to believe that if Tux had intended man to type, he wouldn't have given us Gnome and KDE! I don't think that disqualifies me as a hardcore Linux user, I just have better things to do than endlessly type command strings (badly). My reluctance to use a terminal applies especially to my firewall... One of the great features included in Linux by default is the IPtables software firewall which does a good job of protecting the PC from unwanted intrusions whilst on-line. Sadly, its' command-lines are complex and even experienced Linux users can struggle to configure it. So I looked around for a friendly graphical interface as a front-end to configure the built-in IPtables/IPchains utilities for me. There are good ones around - FireHOL, Firestarter, Firewall Builder, KMyFirewall, Guarddog, Shorewall - and much debate as to which is best, but I chose Firestarter. Please remember throughout this, Firestarter is the

Linux How-to: Incremental Backups using Tar (re-post)

Original Article: 27/03/2008 I won't go through the catalogue of computer disasters I've had to recover, but lets just say there's no substitute for a sound backup strategy. Let's assume you've created a full system backup as your baseline, using a tool such as Partimage to create a snapshot of your Ubuntu installation. You need to go incremental... Wait - You have created a baseline backup, haven't you? Good. Just checking.

Linux How to: Backup Ubuntu using Partimage (re-post)

Original Article: 20/03/2008 First, some words of advice: never underestimate the need for a backup copy of your system and data. You never know when you'll lose a hard drive, whether it's electrical spike or failure, fire, flood, burglary, or just some idiot dropping a heavy object on the computer case while the hard drive is writing -  who, me?

Review: Wiki on a Stick (re-post)

Original article: 06/04/2008  appeared in Full circle Magazine #12 It's time to confess; I'm a PC junkie. I travel around the country a lot between  clients, friends, family. I usually take one of the three laptops, or I get stuck using various nasty client machines. There's a regular chunk of material I regularly use, not to mention a stack of bookmarked url's. I also maintain several web-sites for myself and others that I'm migrating away from Dreamweaver templates... I decided a while ago that what I need is a cross between a content management system, electronic post-it notes and web-page editor. Something portable, compact, cross-platform, free to run client-side, publish to web and structure how I like. Or put another way, a Joomla-Tomboy-Quanta-Evolution hybrid. Hmm...

Linux How-to: Configure a Dial-up Modem (Re-post)

Original Article 27/02/08 What to do when you need to get on-line, but wireless broadband isn't available or isn't allowed? Having one web space only accessible via verified dial up link, not to mention the lack of broadband at my parents place, I had to dust off the dial-up modem in the laptop. Then I remembered that Linux has never been great with dial-up modems; they are an ancient, diverse and unfashionable category of hardware, built on perverse layers of software, chipsets, hardware abstractions and drivers.

JVC Mini Reloaded (re-post)

or 'what we used before the Asus Eee PC' Original post 15/02/08 appeared in Full Circle Magazine Issue #14 Around December 2005, I decided I had to take action before the heavy Dell 5150 laptop I lugged around did permanent damage to my spine. My final candidate for an ultra-lightweight, fully functional mini notebook was the JVC MP-XV841. Extremely compact at 9.2 by 7.0 by 1.5 inches, it’s not much bigger than a hardback book and lightweight at 3.2 pounds. The delivery spec (bottom) was better than the laptop I was using daily.

The Catling Pages Return

Getting with the 21st century; a new blog on a decent platform, no hand-crafting HTML, code, forms and DIV tags! We're on Blogspot care of Google. A full review will follow later.