Category Archives: tech tips

Downgrade grub2 to grub

There was this weird issue that I’ve been facing for some time with both ubuntu 12.10 and 12.04, what happens is that my Acer Aspire One 722 netbook doesn’t boot into linux at times. The first couple of times I dismissed it as a one off but that didn’t stop the problem from recurring. Then I blamed my exotic grub2 setup wherein I had installed grub2 to /dev/sda5 and then was using the windows 7 bootloader to chainload it.
Continue reading Downgrade grub2 to grub

Keep Windows and Linux time in sync

Every time I log into windows after having used linux on my netbook there is a problem with the system time. It is because linux treats the time set in your BIOS clock to use the UTC clock, this is a problem as windows treats it to be set to your local time. If you’re using only one OS then both of these choices are acceptable design choices but when you use it becomes a problem. When I’m online it’s not a problem as both windows and linux sync their times with the internet but when offline it’s irritating to look at the clock and see a time that makes no sense.

Fortunately you can tell linux to follows the convention that windows follows, telling windows to behave like linux on the other hand is significantly harder. The best thing about linux is that it makes it’s assumptions and lets you change them to suit your preference. We need to edit this file /etc/default/rcS for ubuntu 12.10


# assume that the BIOS clock is set to UTC time (recommended)
UTC=no

By default the option is yes but we need to change it to no and from the next reboot the problem is solved!

Reliance Netconnect+ Settings for Ubuntu

I had written a post on how we can easily get MTS Mblaze to work under linux and as it turns out, the Reliance Netconnect+ is equally easy to set up and use. Instead of repeating the entire procedure which I have already mentioned here, I’ll just post the relevant wvdial configuration file. You need to add the following snippet to your /etc/wvdial.conf

[Dialer netconnect] 
New PPPD = yes 
Init1 = ATZ 
Init2 = ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0 
Modem Type = USB Modem
Baud = 460800 
New PPPD = yes 
Modem = /dev/ttyUSB0 
ISDN = 0 
Username = 9388****** 
Password = 9388****** 
Phone = #777 
Stupid Mode = 1 

It goes without saying that you need to replace the username and password with your netconnect phone no. To connect simply type this in a terminal

sudo wvdial netconnect

Here’s what I get

 ➜  ~  sudo wvdial netconnect 
--> WvDial: Internet dialer version 1.61 
--> Initializing modem. --> Sending: ATZ OK 
--> Sending: ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0 ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0 OK 
--> Modem initialized. 
--> Sending: ATDT#777 
--> Waiting for carrier. ATDT#777 CONNECT 3100000 
--> Carrier detected.  Starting PPP immediately. 
--> Starting pppd at Mon Dec  3 15:45:39 2012 
--> Pid of pppd: 3981 
--> Using interface ppp0 
--> local  IP address 115.242.128.198 
--> remote IP address 220.224.141.145 
--> primary   DNS address 220.226.6.104 
--> secondary DNS address 220.226.100.40
 

Happy browsing with Reliance Netconnect+, I suspect that the MTS device and the Reliance device are actually identical, the only difference being the firmware. As usual let me know in the comments if this helped or if you have some clarifications.

Using the Windows 7/8 bootloader to dual boot linux

In the past whenever I had to install linux along with windows I would install grub and it works flawlessly most of the time. Sometimes however when you’re experimenting with something unusual, it is handy to know how to load linux using the windows bootloader. I used it when I was transferring my ubuntu installation from my laptop to my netbook.
Continue reading Using the Windows 7/8 bootloader to dual boot linux

gprs and wvdial over bluetooth

I must say that the network manager handles ppp connections rather poorly, sometimes they work but most of the times they don’t. The situation is worse still with mobile phones, I have a nokia series 40 mobile phone and when my mts subscription expires, I need to use it for a couple of days. I’ll walk you through the steps that allowed me to connect to the internet using my tata docomo gprs connection over bluetooth.

Continue reading gprs and wvdial over bluetooth

Fixing the keyboard on a hackintosh

I installed iAtkos L2 on my Acer 5742G laptop and it works really well, there was one thing that has been bugging me. I couldn’t press ~ on the keyboard and using the terminal was painful when it came to specifying paths relative to my home directory.

After some looking around I found this application KeyRemap4MacBook. As the name suggests it allows us to remap keys on the keyboard and assign them different functions. The problem I had was that I got § instead of the usual backquote(`). Here’s the relevant xml snippet that performs the desired conversion


<?xml version="1.0"?>
<root>
<item>
<name>Fix Tilde</name>
<identifier>private.fix_tilde</identifier>
<autogen>--KeyToKey-- KeyCode::UK_SECTION, KeyCode::BACKQUOTE</autogen>
</item>
</root>

 

The best part about this is that it’s an open source project. I didn’t know about the keycodes and had problem finding the ones that I needed, so I asked by opening an issue on github and the author took the time out to help me. I absolutely love the open source community. Hopefully this will help someone else who had a similar issue. This application can also be useful for those who have keyboards with multimedia keys that don’t work out of the box for hackintoshes.

Changing your DNS for MTS Mblaze

For the last few days, the news of Monday being the internet doomsday have been doing the rounds. But there are trivial fixes that can help you avoid meeting with that fate if your system is infected. You can change your DNS servers and you’re good to go, to put it simply DNS is the mechanism that translates the ip addresses that the computer understands from the human readable domain names.
Now the real reason that I wanted to change my DNS servers is because of the problems that I encounter with MTS’s servers, many times you can access most of the websites but inexplicably a few just wouldn’t open up at other times,  it’d show that I’m connected to the internet but no websites would open. So here is how you can use google’s public DNS with MTS.

 

The picture is worth a thousand words, after making the changes be sure to save your settings.

If you don’t like google for some reason or the other, then there are also other providers that you can use. All of you should check to see if your computer is infected with the DNS Changer virus, it should be noted that it affects only Windows and Mac OS so if you’re on linux like you should be then you’re good to go.

Churning out ruby gems

If you didn’t already know then let me tell you that I’m a huge fan of the ruby programming language. I have dabbed with a few imperative languages and none can come close to ruby, it’s syntax is like sugar and libraries like alcohol. You get addicted to them once you start. I use gems (that’s the fancy name for ruby libraries) from time to time. They can be used in both programs that you write and some also provide a standalone binary. But that is hardly the fascinating part, what is fascinating is that how easy it is to create them. I just created one and will mention the steps briefly so that you are also inspired to try your hand at it. Continue reading Churning out ruby gems

Installing ubuntu to a usb drive using vmware

In this post I’m going to walk you through installing ubuntu on a usb drive using vmware, that can boot any system not only virtual machines also we’ll create an ntfs/fat32 partition so that we can use it with windows computers as an ordinary pen drive too.

The first step is to partition the pendrive, I have a 16 GB device and I’ll use half of it for the linux installation and the other half for data. We can use either gparted or cfdisk from the live cd to do this. Another important thing to note is that for any usb storage device, it’s life is affected more by the number of writes that reads. So we’ll also tune a few parameters after the installation to maximize the life of the usb drive.

Partitioned USB drive - VMware Player_2012-06-25_16-10-56

Once the device is partitioned correctly we can install ubuntu as we would on an ordinary hard drive be sure to install the boot loader to the usb drive too. Don’t create any swap partition during the installation that will literally kill your usb drive because it continuously writes data to and from the swap.
Also, having a swap partition on a usb drive doesn’t make too much sense. There is no way you can compare the performance of the RAM to a cheap usb disk.

Once you are done with it, you have successfully installed ubuntu to a usb drive, you can use this to boot any computer. Your OS form now will be in your pocket but I’ll mention a few tips that will make your performance slightly better by using the usb drive more efficiently. Linux keeps a track of the timestamps when files are accessed, this involves writing data to the disk whenever a file is used on a usb drive this is something we don’t need. You can disable this using the noatime option in /etc/fstab. Also we shouldn’t keep update the systemeach time a tiny update is released and ther is no benefit of caching the packages or letting ubuntu install multiple kernels. It may also help to use cinnamon, I have described how that can be used in an earlier blog post. Another thing is that you shouldn’t install restricted drivers or vmware tools as they will create a problem when you boot on machines where that specific piece of hardware isn’t present.

To summarize, keep the usb install lean and mean, you can install the gcc compilers and configure vim and you now have a world class OS in your pocket to use anywhere you want. Let me know how your install went and feel free to ask if you have any doubts in the comments.