Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mobile Broadband Auto Connect on Ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS

Ubuntu broke the auto-connect for a mobile broadband modem in 12.04.1 Apparently this is considered to be a bug, so it will get fixed one day. For now the instructions on this excellently written web page work:

In short they have written a shell script which turns your broadband on as soon as possible

You put it in


Make it executable:
sudo chmod +x /etc/init.d/mobile-broadband-connect

And run update-rc.d

sudo update-rc.d mobile-broadband-connect defaults

after which it can be controlled with:

sudo service mobile-broadband-connect status/start/stop

And should run at startup to connect your modem.

I found this works a treat, but in case you want to remove it I found that a combination of these commands seems to do it:

sudo service mobile-broadband-connect stop

sudo rm /etc/init.d/mobile-broadband-connect
sudo update-rc.d mobile-broadband-connect remove

Friday, December 21, 2012

epson scanners ubuntu 12.04.1

Amongst the commands I ran in order to get my Mother's Epson SX425W printer/scanner to work on Ubuntu 12.04.1 were:

(you can get the three .deb files from the epson or possible website)

   19  apt-get install xsltproc
   20  dpkg -i iscan-data_1.13.0-1_all.deb
   21  dpkg -i iscan_2.28.1-3.ltdl7_i386.deb
   22  dpkg -i iscan-network-nt_1.1.0-2_i386.deb

At that point the SX425W will scan nicely from simple-scan, but the older perfection 2480 still doesn't work, even though simple-scan lists it as an EPSON EPSON, so it obviously knows something about it.

Next I tried:

sudo apt-get install xsane sane libsane-extras

That didn't help but installed a much more complicated scanner app called xsane.

Xsane claims it can do OCR, but won't actually unless you also install

sudo apt-get install gocr

Here are some instructions for getting the 2480 working:

They amount to editing:


so that the firmware line reads:

firmware /usr/share/sane/snapscan/esfw41.bin

And then putting the esfw41.bin file that you can download from there in the right place and 
getting the permissions right so that any user can read it.

sudo mkdir -p /usr/share/sane/snapscan

sudo cp esfw41.bin /usr/share/sane/snapscan/esfw41.bin

sudo chmod 444 /usr/share/sane/snapscan/esfw41.bin

Having done this I seem to have disabled the other one though. sigh..

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ubuntu Hibernate

In their mightiness and wisdom, the same twerps who mandated the appalling Unity interface have turned off hibernate in recent versions of Ubuntu. Because obviously no-one ever uses it.

You can cause hibernate manually

$ sudo pm-hibernate

In 12.04.1, at least, you can put it back on various menus by creating the file:


which should contain the lines:

[Re-enable hibernate by default]

This information came from:

I really am starting to think that Ubuntu, which used to be a nice orange and brown version of Debian with proprietary drivers on the install disk and sensible choices of what to install, has jumped the shark.

Google's going the same way with all its hideous new ultra-slow and buggy javascript interfaces to things.

Can anyone think of a nice simple Linux (like, say Ubuntu 8 but with latest versions of things and up to date drivers) and a nice simple webmail now that Ubuntu and Gmail are rubbish?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I really like the image viewer feh.

Install with:

$ sudo apt-get install feh

And then use:

$ feh --auto-zoom --no-jump-on-resort --recursive --randomize --fullscreen --slideshow-delay 30 .

in your home directory to get a slideshow of every image you have.

Cryptically but more typably:

$ feh -FZzrD 30 --no-jump-on-resort .

Ubuntu Install (12.04.1 LTS Precise Pangolin)

I've just made a new install of Ubuntu 12.04.1 on my two dell minis (a 10v and a 1018)

The installation goes a lot more smoothly now than it used to do, since all relevant drivers are already on the install CD, so Ubuntu just deals with it.

Unfortunately I hate the new Unity Interface, because it runs exceedingly slowly on these little machines. However that's easily solved by installing the xubuntu-desktop and logging into that instead, which provides a nice traditional desktop which runs fast.

Once the base system is installed, fix the boot process so that the kernel can explain what it's doing as it boots:

$ sudo vi /etc/default/grub

then run 
$ sudo update-grub

Enable the root account

$ sudo passwd root

Add the medibuntu repository, instructions here:

Roughly, what they say to do is:

$ sudo wget --output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list$(lsb_release -cs).list && sudo apt-get --quiet update && sudo apt-get --yes --quiet --allow-unauthenticated install medibuntu-keyring

Also Damien Cassou's emacs24 repository:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:cassou/emacs

Make sure that you've got the latest versions of everything:

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get upgrade

Install the restricted extras:

$ sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras

which is a huge metapackage that adds all sorts of non-free goodies. At one point it asks to agree to some sort of microsoft font licence. Sigh....

Then do:
$ sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/
to give your new system DVD reading abilities.

Here's a list of packages that I always end up installing: might as well get them all at once. You can make a cup of tea while this is happening. It takes about ten minutes.

$ sudo apt-get install w32codecs gitk mplayer smplayer epiphany-browser chromium-browser maven2 xxdiff tree git-gui mercurial rlwrap vim-gnome nautilus-open-terminal loop-aes-utils xclip filelight htop gparted idle3 unison build-essential gparted imagemagick fail2ban kate vlc openjdk-6-jdk xine-ui arandr xubuntu-desktop feh xscreensaver xscreensaver-data xscreensaver-gl gnome-shell app-install-data-medibuntu apport-hooks-medibuntu emacs24 emacs24-el emacs24-common-non-dfsg aptitude emacs-goodies-el tig ack-grep

Turn the firewall on:
$ sudo ufw enable

to check:
$ sudo ufw status

Change the default umask so that files are private for all users

$ sudo vi /etc/login.defs
change umask from 022 to 077

(This used to be in /etc/profile. I'm not at all sure that it still works like it used to. In my user account I'm seeing a umask of 0007, and if I create files then they're group readable, so I think it's getting set somewhere else now.).

Encrypt the swap partition:
$ sudo vi /etc/fstab
Change /dev/sda5 none swap sw 0 0 to:
 /dev/sda2 none swap sw,loop=/dev/loop7,encryption=AES256 0 0

and add cryptoloop to /etc/modules

If you want to run an ssh server (client is already installed)

$ sudo apt-get install ssh

Then go fix the config file
$ sudo vi /etc/ssh/sshd_config
Change UsePAM, PasswordAuthentication, PermitRootLogin to no
Also allow Port 443 for login over https port through captive portals

Then allow it through the firewall:

$ sudo ufw allow 22
(also 443, also fix the router to forward appropriately)

This completes system setup

Tweaks to a new user account 

In firefox install adblock plus, xmarks, and video download helper

Clone your repository from github:

$ ssh-keygen -t rsa -C ""
$ cat ~/.ssh/ | xclip -sel clip
$ git clone

Make links to .bashrc etc

$ ~/hobby-code/makelinks.bash 

(I used to do these under gnome, not sure what the equivalents are in xfcd/xubuntu-desktop):

System/Preferences/Keyboard/Typing Break to turn on typing break
System/Preferences/Keyboard/Layouts/Options/Ctrl key position/Make CapsLock an additional Ctrl
Use United Kingdom keyboard, with United Kingdom International with dead keys to type foreign.
Disable all the Ctrl-Alt- shortcuts in GNOME using System/Preferences/Keyboard Shortcuts
Make Alt+F11 mean 'toggle fullscreen mode'

Clojure/EMACS setup

Install leiningen (version 2, the packaged version is only 1.7 at present)

M-x package-list-packages then i to mark packages, and x to do it.

to install clojure-mode, nrepl, and htmlize, undo-tree, ack

(Used to be slime, slime-repl for clojure, but nrepl seems to have won recently)

Monday, November 26, 2012