Ubuntu Lucid Lynx 10.04 Beta Announced

The Register has a great short article introducing you to the delights of Ubuntu Lucid Lynx first Beta announced today.  You can grab the Beta version here.

The release sees new rebranding which has gotten rid of Human Theme in favour of a more professional looking desktop in an attempt to make Linux desktops look less Linux-like.  The release also ventures into the world of online music with the imminent launch of Ubuntu’s U1 music store which ties up Rythmbox to MP3 purchases.

Try it out.

I gave it a go on VirtualBox and the video drivers from the guest additions kept stack tracing and given my current stable Karmic Koala setup I don’t particularly want to run this Beta just yet on real hardware.

Ubuntu Karmic Koala 64, VirtualBox + Windows 7 64

I have an Intel Core i7, 8Gb DDR3 laptop which essentialy means I’ve 8 cores at my disposal. To take advantage of this and the ample memory available, like many servers these days, virtualisation is the way to go.

I do have a preference for running Linux on the desktop, which stems from familiarity and flexibility rather than a hate of Microsoft, but there are tools and reasons why Windows is the only way forward. As a middle ground, running Windows as a VM guest strikes a good balance.

VirtualBox is Oracle’s desktop virtualisation offering and is more akin to VMware Server 1.x but with modern hardware virtualisation support. Why. VBox over VMware Server 2.x? It’s far simpler to set up and run, and far simpler to install under Ubuntu. Ubuntu’s repos are populated with VirtualBox OSE, which stands for Open Source Edition.

To install do the following:

apt-get install virtualbox-ose

At the time of writing the OSE version in Karmic Stable is 3.0.8, whereas the latest version is 3.1.4.  I mention this because I ran into the following problems with running Windows 7 64-Bit and VirtualBox-OSE 3.0.8 64-Bit:

  • Intermittent slowness in the guest
  • Locking up of the Guest + VirtualBox

To alleviate these problems I did the following

  • Installed the RealTime (RT) kernel in Ubuntu Karmic
    apt-get install install linux-image-rt linux-headers-rt
  • Reduced the number of vCPUs from 4, to 2, to 1

This did seem to fix the issue of locking up, and gave me a Windows 7 desktop, but I had 8 cores to play with – going to 1vCPU just caused me problems running applications within the guest that needed a little more processing power that I had available.

I’ve now resorted to installing the version found at http://www.sun.com/software/products/virtualbox/get.jsp. This is 3.1.4 r57640 at the time of this posting.

As I already had Windows 7 up and running under OSE 3.0.8 I did the following

apt-get remove virtual-box-ose

(Which removes certain libqt4 dependencies – but I’ll show the complete steps to install Virtual Box 3.1.4 from sun.com below:

apt-get install libqt4-network libqt4-opengl libqtcore4 libqtgui4
dpkg -i /tmp/virtualbox-3.1_3.1.4-57640_Ubuntu_karmic_amd64.deb

This will ask you to compile new updated kernel modules, so answer yes to the question of doing so.
It also says you must add your user to the vboxusers group so do this:

sudo usermod -G vboxusers -a username

Log back out and back in again to activate your user in the vboxusers group.

Fire up Windows 7 and things appear more stable.  Currently running 2vCPU with 4Gb Ram.  If you had Windows 7 previously running under an older version of VirtualBox then don’t forget to update Guest Additions to that of the running VirtualBox version.

Syncing your iPhone in Ubuntu + RhythmBox

So you’ve got your shiny new iPhone. You’ve attached it to your Ubuntu Karmic enabled PC and all you can see is some USB storage. This is fine if you want to use your iPhone as a £450 USB drive, but if you want to manage your tunes in RhythmBox then follow this guide below:


It goes into detail of removing packages, setting up new repositories, etc. but in reality I did the following:

add-apt-repository ppa:pmcenery/ppa
apt-get update
apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo apt-get install gvfs gvfs-backends gvfs-bin gvfs-fuse libgvfscommon0 ifuse libgpod-dev libgpod-common libimobiledevice-utils libimobiledevice0 libimobiledevice-dev libplist++1 libplist-utils python-plist libusb-1.0-0 libusb-1.0-0-dev libusbmuxd1 usbmuxd

I then added my user to the ‘fuse’ group. Log out and then back in again and voila – your iPhone should be recognised as an iPhone. Loading up RhythmBox and enabling the Portable Players – iPod plugin (Edit… Plugins) should allow you to control your iPhone through RhythmBox and copy music to it.

Don’t forget to include MP3 (gstreamer-ugly) support to RhythmBox too – although, helpfully this prompts you when trying to run proprietary codecs.

Qnap TS-210: Home NAS

I recently purchased a home network storage device after consolidating the myriad of external hard drives I had. After a good few hours of googling and asking for recommendations I took delivery of a Qnap TS-210 – a 2 drive bay SATA-2 NAS enclosure. This device is awesome! After populating it with a couple of fast, quiet Western Digital Blue drives I now have RAID1 shared storage connected to my wireless hub so my data is available across all my home machines.

This is all well and good but what sets this apart from the rest of the NAS devices out there for under £250 is that this device is not just great for serving my photos over NFS…

The Qnap TS-210 sports the following:

iSCSI target
Apache with PHP, SSL and WebDAV
MySQL Server
TwonkyServer uPNP multimedia server
BitTorrent Client
Web Cam Surveillance server


And the list doesn’t stop there. The device runs Linux and it doesn’t hide access to it’s internals. Enable the Optware plugin and you get access to an apt/yum like repository. From here you can install a wide range of tools and services such as Squid.

Administration of the NAS is through a polished Ajax interface.
Setup is straightforward although there are a couple of gotchas which I came across in the 3.2 version firmware:

Do not run EXT4 if you expect a stable NFS server. It’s not production ready and after a frustrating few days of copying data from hard drive to hard drive, EXT3 is rock solid stable.

If, like me, you start with a single drive expecting to easily mirror it later on then you’re wrong. Copying data off again and back after setting up a new mirror is the only option on this device.

More positives though come in the shape of power management and green features. The device consumes only 14W when in use and 7W when idle. Hard drives are powered down when not in use after a set period and you can set times when you want the device off and when to power up again. Handy for a device for home or small that doesn’t need it on 24 hours a day yet at the same time want the hassle of remembering to power it on each day.