Webconverger Customisations

I need to write up the top of this post about Webconverger, but have been busy figuring out all the useful options for it. In simple terms, its a locked down bootable kiosk. Very clever, works on 486 and 686-pae machines. Also here so I can browse this whilst booted into webconverger ūüėČ

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Prevent: Waiting for Network Configuration Delays on cli boot

This is a dirty hack that tidies things up a bit, depending on how your cli system is set up. I was too lazy to hand configure my wireless card, so I used wicd-curses. However, this doesn’t kick in until I am booted up. So I get the waiting for network delays of @ 1.5 minutes on the plymouth screen. To remove these, I had to edit a file:

and then comment out the two sleep commands related to these messages, and comment out the resultant message about booting with no network. The segment in question should end up looking like this:

Just remember you have done this if you decide to change your networking approach!

Asus EB1012U Nettop with 128GB SSD, 4GB ram and W7/Xubuntu Dual Boot

I saw I could upgrade my Asus EB1012U to an SSD and 4GB ram, so dashed out and bought a Crucial M4 128 gb SSD and the required sticks. Hardware installation was straight forward. (Note the EB1012 is not compatible with SSD’s according to Crucial, you need the “U” at the end.)

I then shoved a W7 DVD in the drive and started the install. Had to do a telephone activation due to changes in hardware (or not using an OEM DVD) but that all went well and installation of W7 went sweetly enough. rebooted a couple of times and did the updates, and then resized the W7 partition. I should have done partitioning first as W7 would only shrink down to 60gb which was a pita, I was hoping for 35/40gb. Anyway, can easily use the spare space for some data storage.

Next I booted up with Xubuntu Desktop 12.04, partitioned the rest of the sapce for the install and storage, and left that to run. Grub installed then rebooted and tested that both Xubuntu and W7 would boot up. Fine, no problems.

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Xubuntu User “Face” or Avatar on GDM login screen

There doesn’t appear to be a way within settings to add a user image to the gdm user login screen, but this can be resolved in a simple way:

Get your image or avatar, make sure its a sensible size e.g. 96×96 pixels.

Copy it to your home directory

Rename it .face

Logout and then see your new avatar on the login in screen.

The same icon also shows up when you go into Users and Groups.

Simples :)

SLim Struggle ! SLiM Simple Login Manager on Minimal Xubuntu 10.04 LTS

A couple of ancient PCs came into my possession, so I thought I would have a go at setting them up for passing on to new PC users / first timers. The “better” of the two an Athlon XP 1500 with 768mb ram handled full Xubuntu 10.04 LTS just fine, but the Dell Dimension 4100, PIII 833mhz with 256mb ram needed a different approach. So out with the ALT-CD and a command line install ensued, followed by an openbox window manager setup. The majority of packages I installed were done with the no-install-recommends switch.

As this machine was for a new user, I had to make things simple, so thought they might benefit from a login manager, and as usual I turned to SLiM. After installing build-essential, I downloaded the source for SLiM and set about compiling it.

wget http://download.berlios.de/slim/slim-1.3.2.tar.gz

tar xzvf slim-1.3.2.tar.gz

cd slim-1.3.2

Blocker number 1:

needed some dev dependencies. Tracked them down, and then the compile completed.

sudo apt-get install libxmu-dev libpng-dev libjpeg-dev g++ libxft-dev

make (still in directory slim-1.3.2)

sudo make install

Blocker number 2:

rebooted to find that SLiM had not fired up (which it had with every install I have ever done.) So stuck /usr/bin/slim into rc.local (above exit 0), and rebooted again. Success SLiM popped up

Blocker number 3:

SLiM would not log me in. So I dived into /etc/slim.conf and edited the login_cmd section to point to an openbox session. Rebooted again and I was finally in. The command below is all on one line.

login_cmd           exec /bin/bash -login /etc/X11/Xsession openbox-session

I’ll put this down to the minimal install and the use of –no-install-recommends switch

Grub Menu not Visible after attaching new widescreen Monitor! Solved!

Was time to treat myself to an early Christmas present, so splashed out on the ridiculously cheap HannsG HH241 24″, 1980×1080 WUXGA monitor @ ¬£140. Comes with a VGA-VGAcable abd a DVI-HDMI cable (monitor has an HDMI port)

Plugged it in, powered up.

Nvidia Geoforce 6200 Graphics card with DVI/VGA output
HannsG HH241 24″ widescreen 1980×1080 WUXGA, HDMI 1.3 compatible
Multibooting @ 5 OS’s

PC booted up fine with post/bios screen viewable, then a blank screen for a few seconds (where grub menu usually is, then usual starting up for Xubuntu 9.04 (the default OS in my grub menu (grub legacy)

Once X was running everything fine.

Tried all sorts, reinstalling grub to mbr, reconfiguring X, checked for settings in bios (none obvious), but nothing changed.

So switched to VGA-VGA cable, and grub menu was back. So I am kind of sorted, but wavy lines and distorted image during post and splash, and was getting a better picture and all round performance using the hdmi connection.

Previous monitor, an Iiyama 17″ LCD worked fine on a DVI-DVI cable.

Also, Xubuntu Progess screen during boot up was not centred, off to the right a bit.

After hours and hours and hours of googling, finally found a post about toshiba laptop owners not getting grub on a cold reboot. The recommendation was to install grub2
To install grub2 on Jaunty or below

sudo apt-get install grub2

Test it by loading grub2 as chainloader (this option is offered on installation)
You’ll need to “e” “e” and change root to uuid to get the chainloader to work

If you are happy run

sudo upgrade-from-grub-legacy

and grub2 will take over, And lo and behold, the grub menu is back! New things to learn in order to customise grub2 menu, and set up a splash image for it.  Xubuntu progress splash also nicely centred.

Best place to go for just about everything grub2 is here

Dual Booting Karmic and Jaunty and then using grub-legacy

What a palava. Grub2 will become the defacto standard in time, but right now I am not quite ready to switch over. Having installed Karmic to a separate partition, and chosen to install grub2 to the local root (not mbr) I could not chainload boot to karmic from grub legacy.

So, bootedup the live cd again and installed Grub2 to the mbr. Instructions on how to do this can be found here.

OK, good. Boot up Karmic now, and run “sudo update-grub” in order to load up all the other OS’s into Grub2 menu.

While you are in Karmic, open up the grub.cfg file and copy out the boot menu info for Karmic (you will need this later to put into your grub-legacy menu.lst) Should look something like this:

“sudo nano /boot/grub/grub.cfg”

menuentry “Ubuntu, Linux 2.6.31-14-generic” {
if [ -n ${have_grubenv} ]; then save_env recordfail; fi
set quiet=1
insmod ext2
set root=(hd0,10)
search –no-floppy –fs-uuid –set b50237f3-c90c-4af6-a275-892a09165ea3
linux    /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.31-14-generic root=UUID=b50237f3-c90c-4af6-a275-892a09165ea3 ro   quiet splash
initrd    /boot/initrd.img-2.6.31-14-generic

Now reboot, and you should be OK to boot back into Jaunty.

In Jaunty, open up menu.lst, and add the following entry to your “Other Operating Systems” section

title       Xubuntu Karmic Koala
uuid       b50237f3-c90c-4af6-a275-892a09165ea3
kernel    /vmlinuz root=UUID=b50237f3-c90c-4af6-a275-892a09165ea3 ro  quiet splash
initrd    /initrd.img

You’ll see why you needed the info from grub.cfg to insert the UUID information. This layout, I believe also has the benefit of coping with kernal updates to Karmic.

Save your menu.lst file, and reboot. You should now have an entry for Karmic and it should boot.  :)

Acer Aspire One – Xubuntu 9.04, XP and Linpus Triple Boot – My Way

A bit late on the bandwagon, but shelled out for an 8GB SSD Aspire One the other day (factory refurb). A nice blue one. On arrival it refused to charge, so required a bios upgrade to 3309. Told the supplier they need to be aware of this problem. They said thanks.

Linpus Lite….hmmm, I guess it does what it says on the tin, and I like the way it adds the SD card onto your home directory. ButI needed more freedom, and wasn’t in the mood to learn how to yum. So out with the Gparted CD and the SSD was reshaped with a 2GB, a 3GB, and a 2.5GB partition and no swap. I kept the Linpus installation for reference, but it will probably go when things move on, I have the recovery CD after all.

So the1st partition, 2GB is for a Windows XP Pro install, to install from USB, it has to be the first partition.

The 2nd parition, 3GB is Linpus

The third partition, 2.5GB will be for Xubuntu 9.04, not a remix distro, but my own.


Making up the USB XP drive was fun, requiring an XPSP3 disc and some other softs. Instructions said i could do it with multiple partitions but that was just laying down a challenge! If I remember rightly (I didn’t take notes) this is how it was done.

I used, in the main, this tut for creation of the USB drive and installation. Just had to be careful when picking the right partition to format and install.


and this one


Windows will boot quite happily while the USB drive is still in place, but take it out and it borks. I needed to edit the boot.ini file so that it was looking at the right partition, not the one on the USB drive, but the one on the hard drive. After that things were fine.

At this point all I can do it boot into Windows having overwritten the mbr. I’ll get grub back on board and be multi-booting once Xubuntu is installed.

Xubuntu 9.04

To be honest, I went for arch-linux first, but struggled with some of the packages I needed to run on the cli, so gave up and went for good old faithful xubuntu.

Alternate CD, F4, Command Line Install. Openbox, Xorg, Wicd to manage being wired or wireless, vga=788 for framebuffer (won’t go any higher than 800×600) in grub on the kernel line. I didn’t want an xfce desktop environment, as I was seeking to have a mainly CLI setup but to be able to run Openbox with startx if needed.

CLI apps that cut the mustard here were: (link provided where not in the repos)

moc                       music player
mc                         file manager
directvnc               graphical remote control
dvtm                      multiple console windows
screen                   multiple console sessions
fbi                          view images and pdfs
calcurse                 calendar/to do
elinks                     text browser
links2                     text and graphical browser
cmatrix                  matrix like screen
pydf                       colourful df
htop                       colourful top
mplayer                 video player
gpm                       console mouse

For Openbox I installed:

thunar                   file manager
wicd                      network manager
firefox                   browser
xfce4-terminal      terminal
obmenu                menu builder
obconf                  appearance manager
vinagre                 graphical vnc viewer

I needed to add some fixes, drawn mainly from the ubuntu community page for the Aspire One . I followed the SSD life extending suggestions, added the backport modules to get the wireless LED working, made the pciehp entry to help with SD card mounting, and added the acerhdf module to control the fan speed, and some of the tweaks for improving SSD performance. Automounting of USB drives failed due to the bug with hal, so I applied this fix.

Yet to try out skype and webcam under this setup, although I know that the webcam works with cheese, and must do some more research to get all the function (Fn) buttons working, although I know this is a general issue.

My favourite toy is directvnc. Working in the framebuffer is clever enough given that you can run a graphical browser (links2), view images (fbi) and watch video (mplayer) but to be able to run remote graphical sessions from other PCs in the framebuffer knocks me over. I had to resize my remote PCs resolution to 800×600 to get it working right.

Next steps, probably to drop the linpus install, expand the size of XP so I can get Office on it (or Word/Excel/PPoint), and test out battery life – don’t know what happens when the power runs out when I am at the cli :)