How much space to put in your root partition?

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.


Easiest Android Rooting In 3 Simple Steps

One of the neatest features of carrying a small Linux computer in your pocket, is that you have a machine to hack everywhere you go 😉

After getting a terminal application installed, you find that most stuff that you want to do require “root access” on your android phone – it appears that on Android they don’t really use “user permissions” but instead each app is its own user id with its own set of permissions (an ingenious way to handle different permissions per application).

To do most interesting things you need to make sure you can get root access. As a normal phone user you aren’t expected to need this so this feature is disabled on phones and to enable access to the root account you need to crack the phone’s security model. (more…)

Supports Windows Linux

Those funny Chinese are at it again: An acquaintance got a new netbook device from a brandless Chinese manufacturer (the brand label on the device is “Excel”, which is anyone’s guess what its supposed to represent) and the device comes with a bright sticker on the base, in front of the keyboard, with the list of features this devices offers: CPU, memory and support for operating systems:

Yes, this device runs better with all kinds of logo MS-Windows operating systems: you can choose either XP, 7 or Linux 😉

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How to build a chroot jail environment for CentOS

A chroot environment is simply a directory – inside which you can find a file system hierarchy exactly like your original operating system. You can then use the UNIX chroot command to open a shell in that directory so that command running under that shell see only the chroot environment and can’t mess up your system. This is very useful for many different reasons – for example if you want to build some software packages and you don’t want their build dependencies to pollute your real system.

Building a chroot environment is not difficult at all using the right tools, and YUM – the CentOS installation tool – has what you need.


Another Mac-styled update for Ubuntu – Window buttons to the left!

As we’ve know for quite a long time now, Ubuntu is aiming to look and behave as much like Mac as possible1 – we’ve already seen the Growl-like on screen notifications (which are rather cool) and here is the next major user interface change:

In Ubuntu 10.04 – due to be released on late April of this year – the window buttons (close, maximize,minimize) will be on the left side of the window! See here for the branding screenshots.


  1. within 2 years Mark Shuttleworth said in 2008, so he’s clearly running out of time []

Upgrading CentOS 5 to Fedora 12

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 system1. That being said, this is fun if you’re into that sort of thing, so if you’re still with me, lets dive in!


  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 []

Microsoft Windows 7 – Another Mac rip-off

I installed a pre-release version of Windows 7 to play with – I’m actually supposed to know what I’m talking about when I dis the next version of Windows ;-), and the second impression is what the title is about: it just behaves and looks more like Mac OS-X then all previous Windows releases.


Another April, Another Linux release

Its that time of the year again, and we are back in Linux release season. The usual suspects are all here again except for openSUSE who moved to a funky 8-month~year release cycle (I’m not sure they know what release schedule they’re using).

I’ve been testing the pre-releases of Fedora 11 and Ubuntu 9.04 (haven’t had a chance to test Mandriva 2009.1 which is a shame because I used to really like Mandriva) and my impressions are as follows:


Cloning VirtualBox VM Snapshots

This is another “how to” tech article, anyone who is not interested in such things may stop reading now.

VirtualBox is a great virtualization software (hypervisor as the lingo currently goes) – I believe it matches up nicely against the current VMWare Workstation line and they offer both an open source version which is free for any use as well as a commercial version (with some added features such as SATA support) that is free for personal use.

VirtualBox allows you to take snapshots of the current VM state so that you can safely return to a previous state of your VM if you messed something up (for example – installed too much software on your Windows XP VM). Unfortunately, unlike what the VirtualBox UI will have you think, the snapshot features allows you to take progressive snapshots but you can’t fork your snapshot tree – you can’t create branches off old snapshots. Snapshots which are not current can be either discarded (have their state merged into another state) or reverted too (discard all the newest data and return to the old state).
old state

Additionally, you can’t copy (clone) VMs with snapshots except copying the oldest state1.


  1. which is most often not what you want. If you don’t mind discarding all of the old snapshots, you can clone the current VMs state using the method described in this VirtualBox forum thread []

Live upgrade of Fedora 8 to Fedora 9

As noted below, Fedora 9 came out recently, and I think its time my work computer would get a “brain transplant”. I can’t have a lot of downtime on this machine – its the one I do most of my work on, so this upgrade needs to be a “live updated” – I can’t afford the time to shut it down, load an installation of even a live CD (that doesn’t have my environment) and wait until it installs.


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