Ubuntuforums : changes on accounts permissions.

For a very long time, we did not want to take away from new users the possibility to customize their profiles. Fact is several of us in the forums Staff team had to spend at least one hour a day cleaning after spammers. Spammers tactic: fill profile fields with spam links, upload spam pics as avatar, even create user albums with the pics, comment on other regular users profiles, send PMs or emails etc. All of these are sneaky as we need to examine each profile to find them out.

Starting today, users with post counts < 50 will not be able anymore to customize their profile. It’s been a difficult decision we agonized over a for a long time. We believe 50 posts is a good comprise between annoying spammers and annoying genuine users. Oh well.

For more details if you are interested, please read the link below.

Reference

Notification thread on UF

Ubuntu Membership through ubuntuforums contributions.

The Forums Council has decided to move to rolling membership applications rather than specific application timing. The Membership Application Forum is thus opened and will remain open. The application reviews will take place about once a month.

References

First announce
Membership Application Forum
Application recommendations
Wiki link
Ubuntu Forums Members Team on Launchpad

Five little tips and tricks using Google Plus

  • Update your mini-profile, the one that shows up hovering over your name next to your picture in a post. > Edit Profile > Fill the info in the Current Job line
  • You can create custom circles to place people in, then share with this circle only. Sharing a post with a single person boosts the email one step further, as you can include videos, images or links within the message
  • To tag a person in a post or sharing line, use +Name. One interesting feature is you can use any part of their name (or lastname) to find them.
  • The Chrome Start G+ extension in addition to Usability Boost for Google Plus
  • All in all, feel free to not add people you do not know. Even if you do not want to be rude.

References

Update mini-profile and other random readings on Google Plus :)

Moving from Firefox to Chrome

There is no special reason, I like Firefox and it served me well. I may as well move the other way around in the future. I needed some change, and had the use for a specific Chrome extension.

I currently work on four machines. One big iMac and a MacBook from work, a laptop and a netbook I own, both running on Ubuntu. Moving was the only solution as it is too difficult not to rely on browser automatism as I already have to adjust OS automatism across the machines.
I’m using quite a lot of userscripts that work right out of the box on Chrome

Bookmarks

xmarks-logo

First thing I did was share the bookmarks with xmarks. I uploaded the most complete and satisfying set from my Ubuntu laptop Firefox and downloaded everywhere else. Xmarks works on most popular browsers.

Passwords

I did not want to use LastPass, the online password facility, so I choose KeePassX. KeepassX encrypts the databases (it can use several which is convenient) securely enough for me and is cross platform. I share the databases across the computers with an USB stick I formated in HFS where both MacOS and Linux can read/write without hassle.

Now the real reason for the move: I’ve started to use Google Plus. At first it was just to have a look at this yet-another probably-deja-vu social network. Then I found myself using it way more than I had been using Facebook. I have been forwarding my work mail to a Gmail account for a long time (mailboxes are very small at work and get filled pretty fast) and I have had another account for my Linux stuff since they opened or so. Gmail is opened all day long, my Android phone is connected to both accounts, Google calendar is synced all across the machines. G+ got on me even before I knew it.

The real reason

The Chrome extension I’m using, Start Google + allows to feed G+ posts into Facebook and Twitter. I think it slows down quite a bit my browser experience, I may disable it at some point or look for another plugin. If I do that, you will be able to say “why stay with Chrome?”

Well, we’ll see ;-)

Edit

I’m using the BetterPrivacy add-on to Firefox. Chrome can clear flash cookies without the need of an extension. Wrench > Tools > Under the Hood > Clear Browsing Data > Delete cookies and other site and plug-in data. All set!

Burn CD in Lucid

So I was hit by this brasero bug. No way to burn a CD on any of my Lucid computers. gnomebaker is not working either. Hmm.

If found a workaround in andrew.46′s tutorial on ubuntuforums:

  1. Get your CD drive(s) information:

    $ sudo cdrdao scanbus
    Cdrdao version 1.2.2 - (C) Andreas Mueller <andreas@daneb.de>
      SCSI interface library - (C) Joerg Schilling
      Paranoia DAE library - (C) Monty
    
    Check http://cdrdao.sourceforge.net/drives.html#dt for current driver tables.
    
    Using libscg version 'ubuntu-0.8ubuntu1'
    
    0,1,0 : PIONEER , DVD-RW DVR-K16RS, 1.35

    Please read Andrew’s tutorial for the details.

  2. Create a /etc/cdrdao.conf file
    $ sudo touch /etc/cdrdao.conf
  3. Edit the file to place the following:
    #---- cdrdao.conf ----#
    write_buffers: 128
    write_device: "0,1,0"
    write_driver: "generic-mmc"
    read_device: "0,1,0"
    read_driver: "generic-mmc"
    read_paranoia_mode: 3
    write_speed: 8

    The write_device and read_device lines should match your own drive(s) specification(s). I only have one. The other parameters are explained in Adrew’s post.

  4. Start copying and burning the CD
    $ sudo cdrdao copy

    When necessary, cdrdao will prompt you to remove the original CD and insert a blank one in the drive.

  5. All done!

I do not know when this bug will be fixed, when the appropriate packages will hit the repositories, but in the mean time, I’m not left without any burning option.. Many thanks Andrew :)

Reference

Howto: Duplicate Audio CDs using cdrdao

Scenari – A powerful application to create and publish documents

Overview

This application is most probably going to be of interest to people working in the education field, as I am, but not only.

I discovered scenari when one of the developers came for a 3 days workshop at my university.
I create resources and teach online and have been so far doing very poorly regarding online multimedia documents. Mainly out of ignorance and poor taste for multimedia techy stuff, I have given .pdf online and that was about it..

scenari is making it easy, understand take care of most of the tech stuff and I can concentrate on the course content, the outline, the exercises or tests I wish student to perform etc. On the teaching method and pedagogy, basically.

I’ve been testing and using only a small portion of what scenari has to offer. Additionally, scenari can help you write resume, reports, create a web site or web radio, a slide show or training modules.

So, why a special post about this application ?

Ubuntu Lucid install procedure

scenari comes under different licences, including gpl, and is supported on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. Their linux install page is not translated in English, yet, (in French here) so here is what I’ve done to get it to run on Ubuntu Lucid:

  • Install sun-java6-jre from the Canonical Partner repository
  • Get their pgp repository key

    wget -O- http://scenari-platform.org/deb/scenari.asc | sudo apt-key add -
  • Add their repository to the /etc/apt/sources.list, by either editing the file itself or adding the repo in synaptic for example.
    deb http://scenari-platform.org/deb lucid main

    Note: to use the latest and most bleeding edge version (currently scenarichain3.7), add nightly ad the end of the line for it to look like

    deb http://scenari-platform.org/deb lucid main nightly
  • Reload the sources.list, install scenarichain3.7
  • Once scenarichain is installed, you first need to install a model (a wsppack). You can find some here : http://scenari-platform.org/projects/opale/files/latestTesting/wsppack/. I installed opalesup which is better suited for university work. You can tweak and make your own wsppack, provided you know css and other things, which I do not. Some knowledgeable people at my univ do and will skin scenari to match our visual identity.


scenarichain is a whole suite of applications, opalesup being one of them. The models can be edited and adapted to your own web environment or corporate styling. Opalesup is also distributed as a standalone application, working out of the box without the need to install scenarichain or scenaribuilder. Searching for “scenari” with any package manager will allow you to browse all the applications the suite offers.

Export

One of scenari very interesting features is the export of your work into a variety of formats, including web to browse the class in a web browser with all the interactions working (quiz etc.), SCORM (compatible with moodle. Other LMS are also supported), paper (.odp) and slide presentation (still experimental).

The extremely positive point is scenari is a TIME SAVER. The work is done in one place, and then a click away from all sorts of presentations.

Create a two hours class, including extra exercises if you wish, package it for moodle and make it a SCORM activity on the online univ teaching site, hand out a simplified paper version to the students once you get into the room, teach with a video presentation.

I’m sold. I’m really sold.

Reference

Scenari official site

Tutorial of the Month – June 2010

June 2010 – Apparmor

What a subject.. We’ll step out of the T&T section this month to visit the Security Discussions area.
bodhi.zazen spends a lot of time in this section, educating and providing support.
apparmor (Application Armor) does what its name suggests, it helps protecting the system if an application gets compromised. apparmor works with specific application profiles that regulate and define the applications access in addition to the usual system permissions (which apparmor can only restrict).

By default, Ubuntu comes with apparmor profiles for CUPS, evince, dhclient3, firefox (which is not enabled) and the guest session.

The first thread to read is Introduction to AppArmor which is closed for posting. Two other threads are open for discussion:
Share your AppArmor Profiles and AppArmor Support Thread.

Enjoy the readings, test it out and report back in the threads!

References

UF ToM thread
Introduction to AppArmor
Share your AppArmor Profiles
AppArmor Support Thread

Known Lucid Lynx issues/bugs with workarounds : UF post

For every release, the ubuntuforums Staff pulls together a thread to keep all in one place most common upgrade bugs and workarounds.

For Lucid Lynx, here it is: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1469475
Thanks philinux!

You can also Share with the community your Lucid Lynx install/upgrade experience thanks to frodon :)

I had kept a Sony Vaio laptop (VGN-C2S series with intel everything) running on Hardy to test the upgrade to Lucid with update-manager. Worked fine, aside from a flashplugin-nonfree problem that broke apt-get/aptitude.
The workaround is listed at the top of the post, as it can be a real stopper for new users :

sudo rm /var/lib/dpkg/info/flashplugin-nonfree.prerm
sudo dpkg --remove --force-remove-reinstreq flashplugin-nonfree
sudo dpkg --purge --force-remove-reinstreq flashplugin-nonfree

(found in an older bug report).
The bug will not prevent a reboot after the install and can be fixed later on.

Tutorial of the Month – May 2010

Long time no see..

I’ll revive this nice project as a monthly review of tutorials published in the Tutorials & Tips section on ubuntuforums.

For May 2010, we’ll highlight ibuclaw‘s “HowTO: Sudoers Configuration“. Permissions on Linux are sometimes difficult to understand by new users and this guide is a very good way to start. The subject has already been covered extensively by many forums, blogs and wikis, why point out at this particular one?

Well, first because it’s ibuclaw’s, formerly known as tinivole (you will always be tinivole to me, no matter what ;)).
Second, it’s built on user cases dedicated to walking new users through the sudoers file.
Third, it gets into some fine permissions and aliases, which make the sudoers file quite powerful.
Last but not least, even if the thread can be seen as a little old, tiniv.. ibuclaw will be happy to give you support.

Have fun reading, and please do not break anything :)

Reference

UF ToM thread
HowTO: Sudoers Configuration