Archive for March, 2010

Removable drive does not get assigned a drive letter in Windows

You may see this issue if you plug in a removable device (such as a flash drive or external hard drive) and:

  1. Windows recognizes the device and installs necessary drivers
  2. Windows reports the device is ready to use
  3. Windows does NOT show an icon for the device in “My Computer”
  4. The device works fine in another computer

Assuming that device drivers are not the issue (see #1 above), you may have a situation where Windows is not assigning a drive letter because the previous drive letter is in use by something else (such as a mapped network drive, etc) or not automatically assigned / configured. In this case, you have to manually assign the device an unused drive letter.

  1. Click Start > Control Panel
  2. Double-Click Administrative Tools
  3. Double-Click Computer Management
  4. On the left pane, expand Storage if not already, and select Disk Management
  5. On the top pane, under the Volume column, locate the device with no drive letter assigned to it and right-click in the space where the drive letter should appear.
  6. Select Change Drive Letter & Paths
  7. Click Add then Assign the following drive letter (select a drive letter) and Ok

Once the device has been assigned a drive letter it should resume normal operation.

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Getting your Dell Service Tag number from the command line in Ubuntu Linux

The original post has been updated and reposted as

How to get your Dell service tag from the command line in Windows and Linux.

Please see the new post. Thank you.



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Automounting an additional internal hard drive at boot time in Ubuntu Linux

Mounting an extra internal hard drive typically requires manual effort by the superuser, but there is a way to configure it to be done (rather easily) at boot time through a handy utility called pysdm.

The first thing you want to do is install pysdm from either synaptic or the command line. The command-line way is:

sudo apt-get install pysdm

Now that pysdm is installed, you’ll find it under System > Administration > Storage Device Manager

Starting it, you’ll see your list of drives on the left pane. Select the drive and partition you want (this assumes you know how to do that already) and click Assistant.

In assistant choose at least The file system is mounted at boot time along with any other options you might want.

Apply and reboot to verify it’s working.

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How to : Configuring remote desktop in Ubuntu / Gnome

On the computer that will be sharing the desktop, go to System > Preferences > Remote Desktop

If you want others to just see your desktop, but not be able to make changes, enable Allow other users to view your desktop only. If they should be able to change settings (e.g. repair your system if there are problems), enable Allow other users to control your desktop as well.

If someone connects to your desktop and you want to be prompted to block or allow that connection, enable Ask you for confirmation. This makes sense only if someone is actually sitting in front of the system. If you want to connect to your office desktop or any other system that only you have access to, then don’t enable this option

However, with Ask you for confirmation off, what you certainly want to do is set a password for your remote desktop (without a password anyone who happens to find out your system’s address – e.g. by scanning the network – can access your desktop)

If you’re behind a router or firewall, you may need to allow or forward port 5900 to that computer.

Sourced from March 28th 2010


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Do it for your users : Single Sign-On (SSO) / OpenID

I’m going off on this tangent because of what I saw at a website today, that has become all-too common (and all-too frustrating). Websites that handle multiple services will make you create a seperate username and password for each of them.

Want an account to do this? Create one.

Want to do something else here? Create an account on our other server.

Want to post on our forums? Create another account.

Want to manage everything in one place? Create an account at this completely different website.

Want to have an affiliate account? Create another account.

Come on folks, let’s focus a minute. The reason you need me to create all these different accounts is that you weren’t thinking user-friendly from the beginning. You started out with one thing and just kept adding different services on, without ever thinking single-sign-on.

For those of you that don’t know, Single Sign-On (or SSO) is a technology that allows you to have one account and multiple different services at a single website (or even a group of websites) all use a common login and a shared user database. You create a sign-on at one service, you use that same username and password for every service that they, and their partners, provide.

It’s user-friendly from the beginning.

When I’m adding content to my other site I try hard to make sure that I can integrate it in a manner that allows SSO. The only notable exception to this is the chat, but that can’t be helped as long as I use IRC (perhaps someday…).

I really think other websites should be promoting the use and adoption of SSO more heavily.

Now, there are some serious strides towards SSO adoption. A few prominent examples are the Sign on using your Facebook account and Sign On using OpenID.

I really urge more website developers to consider and adopt services that integrate some type of SSO sign-on into their site. Do it for your users. I know that I think twice before signing up if I know I’m going to have to juggle different IDs for the same site.

Consider some type of internal SSO, or consider OpenID.

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Disabling the “Recent Documents” menu in Ubuntu / Gnome

Originally retrieved from this thread March 27th 2010.

Gnome stores your “recent documents” in a file called .recently-used.xbel. To disable the menu, we simply delete the file and then create a directory with the same name, effectively breaking Gnome’s ability to store anything in the file.

The fix is performed by executing the following commands at a terminal:

rm ~/.recently-used.xbel
mkdir ~/.recently-used.xbel

Then go to Places > Recent Documents and select Clear Recent Documents.

The menu item should now grey out.

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My rant on Blackberry

So there’s a lot of things the Blackberry does RIGHT:

  • Good-sized full-QWERTY keyboard, without having to slide/rotate the phone.
  • Easy navigation via the trackball/trackpad (depending on model)
  • Fully multitasking OS
  • Quality speakerphone / microphone without echo
  • Durable hardware and great battery life

Now here’s where my rant begins:

For one, the Blackberry has a distinctive LACK of available “fun” software. There are a fair amount of games, but not nearly the selection of other mobiles. WinMo, Palm, and the iPhone especially have a wider variety of games, and other “fun” software.

For two, the Blackberry apps are quite a bit more expensive. From $2.99 per app on the cheap side all the way up to $50 for the priciest apps.

And for my biggest gripe, the distinct LACK of good IMAP support for BIS users. While the “push” email is great and all (email delivered to the phone when it’s delivered to the mailbox; no having to “poll” the mailbox), the inablility to use IMAP folders other than Inbox is a serious setback. More so, you’re only able to get new messages on the device, rather than being able to download mail that’s already in your box.

The IMAP issue is something that WinMo, Palm, and iPhone and some other phones already do quite nicely. this puts the Blackberry at a distinct disadvantage compared to other devices.

While this issue seems generally solved for Gmail users (through the “Enhanced Gmail plugin for Blackberry”), this is only for the single provider.

In my opinion this is something that RIM needs to get on with a quickness. This lack of proper IMAP support has me looking at other phones for the future.

If I could find a phone with a good QWERTY keypad with features like the Blackberry (along with proper IMAP) I’d definately consider switching when my times comes due.

Of course, if they enabled proper IMAP support in BIS, I think I’d be pretty happy indeed.

Time will tell. Maybe I’ll just learn to live with it.

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Seagate Barracuda SATA Hard Drive Hangs After Power Cycle

Some Seagate Barracuda drives have been found to have buggy firmware which causes the drve to hang or become unresponsive after a power-cycle event (such as the computer going to sleep or standby) and the drive need a full power-cycle (power off then back on) event to become operable again.

Information obtained from two of Dell’s webpages (here and here) [March 25th, 2010] indicates a known issue, as well as a download to fix the issue.

Please note that you may not experience this issue when running the drive with the latest drivers in Windows, but may experience it in Linux-based OSes, such as Ubuntu Linux. This is because the issue is covered up by Windows drivers. If you experience the issue in Linux, then you likely have a drive with faulty firmware. Note that this is supplied from Seagate to Dell, so the fault lies in the firmware developed by Seagate, not by Dell.

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Ubuntu / Firefox / Incorrect font display (wrong style, no bold, no underline, etc)

Users of Ubuntu and Firefox may notice after installing some applications that fonts no longer appear correctly in Firefox (though they may appear correctly in some Java, etc, apps). Such issues include:

  • No bold
  • No other styles (italics, etc)
  • Wrong font / size

This seems to happen when the packages ttf-symbol-replacement and ttf-tahoma-replacement are installed. Simply uninstalling these two packages should resolve the issue.


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CrashPlan : Troubleshooting real-time file backup on linux

CrashPlan on Linux depends on the inotify kernel module to know when files update in real-time.

Inotify was merged into the 2.6.13 Linux kernel, so if you’re running a kernel equal to or newer than this, it’s already installed. If not, you’ll have to install it yourself.┬áIf inotify is installed, you may need to increase the number of watches that can be created.

The inotify module is govered by a property called max_user_watches. If you attempt to exceed the max number you’ll get the following error in the engine_error.log (but the process lives on).

inotify_add_watch: No space left on device

Any file not covered by a watch does not have real-time backup protection.

The default on my Ubuntu 11.04 box is 524288, which seems plenty sufficient for me. I have not experienced any issues, but if you find that you are, you may want to increase the watch value.

Updating the Watch Value

You can temporarily update the value with:

echo 1048576 > /proc/sys/fs/inotify/max_user_watches

You can update the value permanently by putting the following value in /etc/sysctl.conf and restarting:


For more information, see CrashPlan’s Forums.

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