Category Archives: linux

Blogposts on about Linux; Ubuntu, Debian, VPS-servers, a few howto’s and some small quick hacks (bash- & php scripts mostly).

What does a webtech addict do when in a Tesla?

Tesla Model S infotainment panelWell, checking out the browser, off course!

I had the opportunity to ride along with a friend in his brand new Tesla yesterday. Great ride, but you know that already, so I checked out the browser and data connectivity obviously. I visited my own little “ip check” page and saw this in the logfile: – – [05/Feb/2015:12:17:24 +0100] “GET /check_ip.php HTTP/1.1” 200 132 “-” “Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux) AppleWebKit/534.34 (KHTML, like Gecko) QtCarBrowser Safari/534.34”

Breaking it down:

  • The free mobile data connectivity is provided by KPN (Base) in Belgium (and Holland, probably).
  • As per the useragent the car display runs on Linux (that little OS that could is really everywhere these days)
  • The browser is QtCarBrowser, which would obviously be built with QT and WebKit. Based on the WebKit version, one can deduct that the version of QT uses is 4.8. As such, QTCarBrowser seems very similar to QTWeb and might indeed be based on it. rates QTWeb with 204/555, but Tesla’s QTCarBrowser result might still be different off couse.
  • The WebKit-version, 534.34, is pretty old and as such dates from mid 2011 (QT 4.8 was released in December 2011). This is close to the version that was used in Safari 5.1 (534.48.3).

I sure hope there are not too many vulnerabilities in those old version of of QT and WebKit, but one does not drive a Tesla to browse the internet, does one? ;-)

Feeling the Ubuntu-upgrade pain

I upgraded my Samsung n135 netbook to Ubuntu 11.10 today and encountered some … issues:

  • The upgrade process didn’t disable the powersave schedule, which suspended my computer and the ongoing upgrade
  • After the upgrade (which took hours to complete), the screen flicker problem I already knew proved to have become worse, to the extend it rendered my system unusable. A blunt “rmmod samsung_laptop” stopped the flicker (actually powersaving trying to change the screen brightness).
  • While trying to install the “Linux On My Samsung” deb’s from the ppa:voria/ppa repository (which amongst ohter things contains the samsung_backlight kernel module that solves the flickering) I encountered serious networking issues which eventually proved not to be caused by the upgrade, but by dns-problems at my ISP. After changing my network config to use Google’s public DNS instead, I was able to install “Linux on My Samsung”-debs.

So here we are, working on what seems to be a stable, usable  “Oneiric Ocelot”, having learned some new stuff and having a couple of new gray hairs to prove it. And now: sleep!

Firefox 6 on Ubuntu Linux swapping like crazy

Firefox 6 got pushed on my Ubuntu 11.04 netbook as an update a couple of days ago and things were badly broken; memory usage was skyrocketing, the kswapd was eating almost all CPU and the system was pretty much in a continuous wait-state.

After some cursing and a lot of Scroogling, I finally stumbled across this blogpost which described the exact same problem and advised to set  “layers.acceleration.force-enabled” (which tries to force hardware acceleration, which isn’t supported on Linux by default) back to “false” in about:config. And indeed this small rollback solved my memory-woes. Guess I shouldn’t have dismissed that silly about:config warning message after all.

And while we’re on the subject; Firefox 7 should see substantial improvements in memory usage, yay!

Follow-up Friday: Ubuntu Unity, Android security & WordPress Stats

Just a couple of small updates on previous stories to keep you posted really.

We’ll start of with Ubuntu Natty Narwhal; beta 2 has been released earlier today. I’ve downloaded a lot of updated packages over the last few days, so I guess I’m on the second beta as well. The Unity launcher now comes out of hiding perfectly and it scrolls down automatically to show items at the bottom as well. There also was a bug with the menu-items of some applications (e.g. Firefox 4) disappearing which seems fixed. Hope they can get the launcher to behave with Java apps (e.g. my favorite mindmapping application) soon.

On another note: Lookout, the Android app that allows you to locate your handset and -if you have the paying version- remotely wipe it, seems to be getting some serious competition from …. Google. Enterprises who have Google Apps for Business can now locate, encrypt and wipe their Android devices. Especially the encryption is important news, but it really should be available and configurable in the Android OS itself

To finish off with some news about WordPress Stats secretive inclusion of Quantcast behavioral tracking: it seems like WordPress Stats plugin will be replaced by Automattics Jetpack, which according to the site:

supercharges your self‑hosted WordPress site with the awesome cloud power of

Jetpack actually is a “super-plugin” that offers functionality from Stats, Sharedaddy, After the deadline and other previously separately available Automattic plugins. The Jetpack stats module does still include the Quantcast “spyware”, doesn’t disclose this feature and doesn’t provide functionality that warrants Quantcast inclusion (in spite of Matt Mullenweg claiming “We’ve been using Quantcast to get some additional information on uniques that it’s hard for us to calculate”). But there is (some) good news in the Jetpack Stats source code though, because on line 145 it reads:

‘do_not_track’ => true, // @todo

This could mean that blog-owners will one day be able to opt out of 3rd party tracking or it might be that Stats will take e.g. Firefox DNT-header into account for your blog’s visitors. Having both would off course be what I will be rooting for!

Happy conception-day Linux!

Although Linux 0.1 got released on August 26th 1991, Mashable already ran an anniversary-story yesterday. According to Wikipedia’s entry on the Linux kernel, Linus Torvalds did start coding in April 1991, so one could argue today is as good a day as any to celebrate our favorite kernel’s conception!

My first memories of Linux date from 1995, when a friend introduced me to mp3’s, the Internet and Linux in one session of what seemed ûber-geekiness at that time. Although I bought the Infomagic 5-CD Linux Developer Resource some time after that, I didn’t do a lot of Linux (probably because I was too busy discovering the Internet) until 1996. That year, while working at a PC shop, I started co-administrating the Linux-server for the ISP-service the owner offered his customers. I learned a lot on that box, especially when “rm -rf”-ing /bin instead of ~/bin and later when the server got hacked because it was running an old vulnerable version of sshd. Good times!

In the late nineties I switched to Linux-based distributions for my personal desktop-pleasure, running Knoppix at first and installing Suse and Red Hat later on. When the Belgonet-server got decommissioned, I installed Gentoo on a spare desktop-machine at work and hooked it onto the internet as, hosting a couple of personal sites.

Nowadays I use Ubuntu on my netbook and Debian on my VPS-server. I’m not a hardcore sysadmin by any measure, but I know my way around a Linux-based system well enough to keep it up to date, secure and stable. And although Linux for the masses did not become a reality on the desktop (yet), Linux is a part of almost everyone’s life, with smartphones, wifi-routers and televisions running on the Linux kernel. So I guess 20 years of Linux does call for a celebration, even if “it is just a kernel“, no?

Unity launcher auto-hides in Natty Narwal

I just upgraded my Samsung n135 from Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition to Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narwal” beta 1 and I’m a happy man:

  • the Unity launcher now auto-hides, which is no luxury on a 1024X600 screen.
  • Mutter has been replace by Compiz, so no more crashes when adding an external monitor.
  • Compiz replacing Mutter also seems to have a (very) positive impact on windowing performance.

But this is beta 1, there are bound to be some bugs and especially the launcher isn’t perfect yet;

  • sometimes only half of Unity launcher appears when it comes out of hiding.
  • I couldn’t make the it scroll down to see the icons at the bottom.
  • And non Unity launcher-related: the screen sometimes flickers while the brightness seem to be auto-adjusting (which shouldn’t happen as there’s no light sensor in my netbook) UPDATE: this got even worse after upgrading to Ubuntu 11.10, but there is a solution

Anyway, beta 2 is expected April 14th and the final release should hit the web on the 28th. Looking forward to a Ubuntu that’s perfect for my teeny weeny netbook. I’m curious to see how Gnome3”s Shell will do in comparison!

Blij met oude brol en een toetsenbord

Aangezien ook dit jaar blijkbaar enkel de brave kindjes speelgoed van Sinterklaas kregen, heb ik mezelf afgelopen weekend dan maar een cadeautje gekocht; een n135 netbook van Samsung. Een beetje tegen de tablet-stroom in, ik weet het, maar ik ben zo tekst-georiënteerd. Geef mij een toetsenbord en ge hoort mij niet meer. En dan is er de kwestie van de prijs natuurlijk. Een 5 maand oud netbookje voor nog geen 200 Euro (met dank aan, daar hebt ge niet veel tablet voor, toch?

Soit, zondagnamiddag thuisgekomen pakte ik blij verrast mijn cadeautje uit om dan 5 minuten schaapachtig naar Windows 7 Starter te kijken. 2 minuten hadden kunnen volstaan, maar Windows 7 op een netbook, echt snel is dat toch niet. Maar zo wist ik dat ik Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition met een gerust hart kon installeren, die Windows zou ik niet missen. Over die installatie valt weinig spannends te vertellen, behalve misschien dat ik een beetje heb getwijfeld over de partitionering van de harde schijf. Uiteindelijk heb ik sda1 en sda2 laten staan, dat lijken de recovery-partities van Samsung (met oa de Windows 7 installatie-bestanden). Voor de rest: smooth sailing!

En op die manier zit ik nu op de trein met m’n netbookje (6 uur autonomie, geen schrik van vertragingen); stukje bloggen, m’n presentatie over website-performantie bijwerken, een eerste versie van een nieuwe WordPress-plugin (DoNotTrack) tweaken … Straks nog een mailtje naar Sinterklaas, beloven dat ik braaf zal zijn en of ik in Juli dan een HTC Desire Z (met toetsenbord) krijg.