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.

Google Wave

So I got invited to join the new internet phenomenon – Google Wave and with only 3 contacts I don’t see the point. Guess this one is for the viral developers to make some use of it before it gets released to the masses.
I think I get the point of it – its about integration and collaboration. I can see it replacing my email interface @ Google Mail which makes sense – for chatting? I’m not so sure. For status updates? Still not sure. For sharing documents? Possibly but outside of the workplace… we’ll see.
So far its as useful as a chocolate fireguard.

Acer Aspire One + Ubuntu UNR Karmic Koala 9.10

Karmic Koala UNR on AA1
Be warned! All is not good in the upgrade camp this early on… that said on an HP nc6400 no issues and on my Acer Aspire One UNR upgraded fine – apart from breaking my tmpfs mount /tmp area.

This is fixed by following the instructions here.

/tmp as tmpfs
As tmpfs no longer supports mounting of /var/tmp under Karmic Koala do these workarounds in /etc/fstab:

tmpfs /tmp tmpfs defaults,noatime,mode=1777 0 0
none /var/tmp aufs noatime,br:/tmp=rw:/var/tmp=ro 0 0
none /var/log aufs noatime,br:/tmp=rw:/var/log=ro 0 0
none /var/cache aufs noatime,br:/tmp=rw:/var/cache=ro 0 0

Reboot and things are back the way they where when you optimised your AA1 under UNR 9.04.
There are other tips in that posting – I encourage you to visit it.

L33t new 5k1LL5!

I have to admit to something – I’ve bought a book. The book in question is Gray Hat Hacking, Second Edition: The Ethical Hacker’s Handbook. This book covers a wide range of skills and tools and is undoubtedly a brilliant book covering penetration testing and tools used by those script kiddies. This subject is not taboo in this day and age and for someone working for a large website I’m surprised we’re not more of a target. With me learning these tools such as Metasploit, learning about buffer overflows, XSS, remote auditing will help stay close to those pesky script kiddies and the easily accessible tools they have available for causing havoc on other people’s bits of kit. Plus its fun just seeing how easy it is to gain access to other people’s computers! 😉

Wii, Homebrew, Bannerbomb, DVD and Media

Hacking the Wii
So I took the plunge and installed Homebrew on my Wii so I could play DVDs on it in an attempt to cut down on the devices under my TV. I followed the instructions here and essentially just downloaded and unpacked the required files onto an SD card, clicked on the SD icon on my Wii and followed the instructions one by one onscreen. Simples!
I then stuck Mplayer on there by unpacking the Mplayer download into an /apps folder on the SD card and from there, Homebrew can launch Mplayer.

DVD Playback via DVDX
Unfortunately DVD playback doesn’t work because of the latest Wii Update (4.2) which was Nintendo’s way of removing “unauthorised” apps from the Wii by looking for specific TitleIDs. Homebrew was updated to fix this so it worked, unfortunately the developers for DVDX haven’t caught up yet.

Media Playback
The next most obvious use of the Wii is to turn it into a Media Centre. GeeXBox seems promising as something on top of Mplayer that can do what I want it to do, but the interface is cumbersome. Wiimiidia sounds the best but is it vapourware?

Homebrew Apps
More Homebrew Apps can be found here. Just download them to your /apps folder on your SD card and fire up the Homebrew channel to launch them.

Linux, USB pen drive + persistent storage available to Windows and Linux

Just a short set of notes to get a bootable Linux pen drive and have it available for read and write persistent storage under Linux and Windows.
Normally, Linux Live ISOs can easily be written to a FAT32 formatted USB pen drives these days allowing you to use the drive as a Linux boot device as well as storing files from within Windows. But what happens when you want to boot your USB Linux and edit that file, or from within your USB booted Linux write to an area of your USB stick that can be read from Windows?


To achieve this in an elegant way – hiding your bootable Linux partition from Windows, but still having your USB stick work as a data device too follow these instructions ubder Linux. I am using a Freecom 8Gb USB Pen Drive split up as follows

/dev/sdb1 (Removable Drive Under Windows) 5.3Gb Data
/dev/sdb2 (Not visible under Windows) 2.6Gb Bootable Linux

1. Re-partition your USB Stick. Under Windows this can’t be done natively. There are hacks to replace the USB sticks driver in your Windows reg to be that of a removable hard drive but I stayed away from them, instead opting to boot into Linux and using Fdisk:

fdisk /dev/sdb
Delete all partitions (d)
Create a new partition (n)
Partition (1)
Make it as big as you can spare after taking just over 2Gb from it
Change the type (l) to Win95/FAT32 (LBA) (c)
Create a new partition (n)
Partition (2)
Make this just over 2Gb in size
Change the type (l) to Win95/FAT32 (LBA) (c)
Write your changes and exit (w)

2. Format the partitions using mkfs.vfat

mkfs.vfat /dev/sdb1
mkfs.vfat /dev/sdb2

3. Download and run unetbootin, selecting your Linux of choice – selecting the second partition (/dev/sdb2). This is because Windows will only read the first partition (/dev/sdb1) so that will be the place you’ll be storing your data.

4. The end result is a bootable pen drive running Linux, which has access to /dev/sdb1 and if you plug the drive into a Windows PC you’ll just see your data.

HTC Snap

HTC Snap

The HTC Snap is a nippy little business phone based on Windows Mobile 6. With a decent 3G connection, useful apps and it using Wi-Fi when available its a useful little thing. What would make it more useful though would be to get the VPN working, install VMware Mobile Client, install a working SSH client and that would make this a very decent support tool for where I work.

I’ll be documenting my triumphs and misses here on what I can and can’t do with the HTC Snap!

Cisco VPN + HTC Snap
So far I’ve not had any joy with getting the device talking to the Cisco VPN that is in use at work… but to be fair I’ve not tried too hard. Guess I’m waiting for Cisco to produce a client instead of the one of many potentials that don’t seem to offer the same settings I need to connect to Cisco!

Linux and HTC Snap
There doesn’t seem to be a problem here. Pop in a microSD card and the device is easily set up as storage that Linux sees. Turn on internet connection sharing via USB and you’ve got a modem at gprs speeds that Linux sees as a standard ethernet device, which is great out and about with a netbook or laptop! Given that I’ve just enabled this and in 1 minute had an internet connection – getting a bpan (Bluetoon Personal Area Network) setup means I can surf the internet from anywhere providing the HTC Snap is close by to my Bluetooth enabled laptop.

Ubuntu: Karmic Koala Alpha 4

Ubuntu: Karmic Koala Alpha 4
I’ve taken the liberty to download Karmic Koala Alpha 4 from as I was a little impatient and can’t wait for the end of October 2009! So far I’ve been impressed! For an alpha release, it is surprisingly polished and complete. Sure, there are some annoyances – but its incredibly stable. Once they’ve ironed out some networking type issues which aren’t show stoppers then this will be a very polished desktop to upgrade to come October 29th!

Get your paws on this over at and give it a whirl!

Oh and people have been making noise over gnome-shell… don’t know why! 😉


sudo apt-get install gnome-shell

then run

gnome-shell --replace

on your Koala to find out why if you like fancy desktops!

Ubuntu: UNR + Acer Aspire One A110L

The Acer Aspire AAO (A110L) Netbook is a great little device, although given its nearly 1 year old now, is rather archaic in terms of what you can get these days. It was a steal at around £160, has a 1.6GHz Intel Atom, the Linux version I have has an 8Gb SSD and after a lot of faffing about and watching how to install an extra 1Gb of Ram in the little device you end up with a pretty decent 1.5Gb Ram. It also has an SD slot that you can expand the disk space whilst leaving a further multi-function card slot free.
The AAO comes pre-installed with Linpus Lite, of which you can see it here. This is ok for most people, but you wouldn’t want to buy a good car and only be able to put your foot down half way, so out comes Ubuntu Netbook Remix.

Ubuntu: UNR
The latest UNR is based on Jaunty Jackalope 9.04 and is highly recommended this get installed. There are countless blogs on how to do this so I’ve listed what you need here. Note if you’re doing this I assume you’re pretty au fait with Linux. And do I need to tell you, as part of the installation you will be wiping your existing hard drive/ssd partitions!

Get Ubuntu UNR from here and follow the guide referenced on that page on how to put the image onto a USB stick that you will use to boot.

Now follow the instructions on this forum to ensure you’ve got your set up working as expected – especially watch out for right multi-function card reader and how to get that going. Note some things don’t work – there is no pciehp module to get the card reader working, so you must add the following to your grub’s menu.lst file:

defoptions: pciehp.pciehp_force=1

And add it to your kernel line. Reboot and you’ll have hot-swap again for the card reader on the right.

Apart from that, everything else is pretty much working out of the box. Watch out for suspend/resume though – suspending the netbook, or even letting it power save, will screw up the SD card – meaning you’ll need to reboot to get it working again. People have reported this corrupting their SD card – I’ve had no such issues – it does become garbled until you reboot. My SD is an 8Gb card formatted with FAT32.

I’ll update this blog to collate all the required info to get UNR working as expected on the AAO, but all in all there is minimal issues running UNR.

: UNR + xD cards currently do not work. The JMicron Technologies xD card reader code hasn’t made it to the Linux Kernel – Acer have patched their kernel to make this work – so if you have an xD card and expect to get the date from UNR, you will be disappointed!