Definetly the weirdest LDAP management tool

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Its called ldapvi, and its just about what you’d expect with that name :-). The author would like you to think about it as vipw for your LDAP based authentication, and in addition to a few command line option it really isn’t much more then that (UI-wise):

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LDAP authentication on Fedora 16 (and why it sucks)

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

In my company we (still) use an Active Directory domain controller to manage central authentication(1), which is not set up very well – no SSL and the Kreberos setup is not done properly. This makes gives much trouble to modern Linuxes (e.g. not Ubuntu. yes – I’m looking at you Shuttleworth.)  such as Fedora, as Fedora have done away with NSS/PAM based LDAP authentication and instead relies on SSS – which I have yet managed to get working or even find a tutorial on how to set it up properly.

So if you still want to authentication your Fedora installation against the company’s Active Directory – and can’t/won’t rely on Winbind’s notably flaky behaviour, you can always install NSS/PAM ldap authentication manually. Unfortunately its not as easy as it sounds, and as I learned the hard way – one must pay careful attention to SELinux. So here’s the recipe:

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  1. there are a lot of MS-Windows workstation, so it kinds of makes sense – but we are planning to phase it out in favour of OpenLDAP, so don’t worry about it []

Installing Consolas TrueType Font for Linux

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

This is a short “how to” article on how to get and install the new Microsoft Consolas Monotype font – this is a very nice programmer font and as described in Dan Benjamin’s “Top 10 Programming Fonts” it is highly recommended for use in your programmer’s editor or IDE (As a side note, his top selection, Inconsolata is also very nice and I highly recommend it if you don’t feel like using Microsoft created software and/or aren’t interested in performing the steps below which may or may not be legally problematic).

The main problem with using Consolas on your Linux workstation, is that this font is provided by Microsoft, and while if you are running MS-Windows (or even Mac OS-X) it may already be installed – as it is bundled with many Microsoft products, us in the Linux world have no easy (and legal) way to get to use Consolas in our code editing. Unlike Microsoft Core Fonts for the Web Consolas is not available for download – probably for the same reason the core fonts packages were pulled. But as Consolas is bundled with many Microsoft products, some are available for free download for anyone, we can use that to get us some nifty Consolas prettiness in our day to day Linux computing.

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How much space to put in your root partition?

Friday, July 8th, 2011

When installing a Linux computer, this is a question I’ve been asked/asked myself many times, and it shall keep on being asked because things are not static and newer operating systems need more and more room as the basic software collection that you expect to get out of the box gets larger.

And the answer? Well – it depends 🙂 Specifically here I’m going to tackle the issue of desktop installs (i.e. the workstation for a single user), and specifically for Fedora – though it shouldn’t be much different for other operating systems in the same class – such as Ubuntu or SuSE.

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Using Evolution under KDE – GNOME Keyring issues

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Lets face it – Kontact is a nice application but its not really a contender if you want integration with your corporate address book and calendar in your PIM application(1) and Evolution is the only solution for the feature set one would expect from a corporate friendly PIM solution.

Evolution works great when running under GNOME, but if you hate GNOME 3 as much as I do(2), then you are likely to try to run Evolution under a recent KDE 4. And then problems start mounting – there’s the file dialogs which look completely different and don’t inter-operate with KDE’s virtual file system layer (KIO), but the most annoying problem is saving the passwords for your email, address book and calendar services.

Evolution relies on GNOME’s keyring service to store passwords for remote services, and that service is not running when you start KDE. Without the keyring, Evolution will keep asking you for passwords to all your email services when you start up, and for all your address book services when you try to compose an email. Which wouldn’t have been that bad if not for the fact that before popping up the password dialog, Evolution spends minutes (!!) trying to contact the GNOME keyring service. Only after being frozen for a couple of minutes you get asked for the first password, and if you have more then one service then please wait two more minutes while Evolution tries fruitlessly to contact GNOME keyring again!

The solution is simple – have GNOME keyring launch automatically when you log in to KDE, just like it does for GNOME. There are several ways to do this – for example using KDE’s “startup applications” system or writing custom profile scripts (I’ve tried both), but the more elegant solution I found in fedorahosted.org where someone committed a simple script that generates GNOME keyring startup and shutdown scripts for KDE. I’m guessing this is used in the KDE live CD spins for Fedora.

Anyway, this script can easily adapted to generate GNOME keyring integration scripts for your local KDE installation. Just start Konsole, and paste this into the command line:


cat > $HOME/.kde/env/start-custom.sh <<EOF
#!/bin/sh
eval \`gnome-keyring-daemon\`
export GNOME_KEYRING_PID
export GNOME_KEYRING_SOCKET
EOF
chmod 755 $HOME/.kde/env/start-custom.sh
cat > $HOME/.kde/shutdown/stop-custom.sh <<EOF
#/bin/sh
if [-n "\$GNOME_KEYRING_PID"]; then
kill \$GNOME_KEYRING_PID
fi
EOF
chmod 755 $HOME/.kde/shutdown/stop-custom.sh

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  1. also – contrary to popular belief in hacker circles, rich text editing is useful – and Kontact really sucks at that []
  2. if you are a GNOME user and weren’t exposed to GNOME 3 yet, then don’t worry – soon coming to a distro near your, and you’re likely not going to like it []

A New Fedora Release – Worse Than Ever?

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

[Regarding the title – well, probably not]
I’ve migrated from Ubuntu 10.04 to Fedora 13 on my laptop (because Ubuntu 10.04 was released to the public, so its not interesting to run it anymore 😉 ) and I’ve just finished listening to The Linux Action Show review of Fedora 13 and I wanted to relate to that and to my experience of using Fedora.

The Linux Action Show review is useful, and good, but its not really fair – Chris and Bryan ranted on a lot of things that do not work well for Fedora, such as not a lot of applications pre-installed and some new and immature applications being introduced, Flash being hard to install, codecs missing and obscure instructions on Fedora’s wiki pages on how to address these issues, and more.

The thing is, is that all those comments are fair when looking at an operating system that is geared towards the general public – like Ubuntu – but Bryan and Chris themselves mentioned that Fedora is not aimed at that crowd but is meant for power users and developers (the debate about what is the target audience for Fedora is raging – I think the best description I heard so far, is from Máirín Duffy – heading Fedora’s design team – where in an interview she said “Fedora is aimed at people who want to work on Fedora).

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Upgrading CentOS 5 to Fedora 12

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Its time to update an old post about updates: Fedora 7 is again rather old, with the current Fedora being at 12, and 13 is right around the corner, but We’re still with CentOS 5 (I hear that RedHat is deep into beta with their next version – 6 but when it comes out is anyone’s guess).

In the mean time, if you want to run something a bit more modern maybe you’d want to upgrade your CentOS installation to Fedora 12 which can be considered pretty stable after a few months on the market. The reasons for the change may be numerous – maybe you need to run the latest subversion (with better merge tracking) or a new version of Ruby. Either way, if upgrading from CentOS 5 to Fedora 7 was a pain, guess how it is more the two years later?

Before we get to the action itself, I would be remiss if I would not recommend you to reconsider what you are about to do – this is a challenging exercise for many system admins and can sometimes end badly. I do not guarantee anything and if it breaks you get to keep both parts. Often its much faster and easier to just go to the server, stick a Fedora 12 DVD in the slot, reboot and let the DVD upgrade your system(1). That being said, this is fun if you’re into that sort of thing, so if you’re still with me, lets dive in!

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  1. another safer options would be to upgrade to Fedora 7 using the instruction in the previous article linked above, and then use Fedora’s preupgrade tool to upgrade to Fedora 8, then to fedora 10, and from there to Fedora 12, though this procedure will also require physical access to the machine and multiple reboots and multiple long downloads []

15 years in the making

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

One of the most annoying issues with Linux’s graphical system (and any UN*X), is that if you have some keys setup for switching the keyboard layout – when using two or more keyboard layouts, such as for writing English and Hebrew – then that key combination cannot be used in any other keyboard shortcut.

Its most annoyingly present when setting the keyboard layout switching command to ALT+SHIFT (like in MS-Windows), then you can’t do any keyboard shortcut that has ALT+SHIFT in it – such as ALT+SHIFT+TAB to move to the previous window.

Well, finally there is a solution! As detailed in FreeDesktop.org’s Bugzilla and Ubuntu’s Launchpad , and thanks to Ilya Murav’jov we now have a patch to solve this ancient X11 problem.

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