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  • MD1032 2:26 pm on August 5, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Linux on ALDI / Medion LT 9888 

    The Medion LT 9888 laptop was sold at ALDI Germany in 1998. I’ve been using it as a Linux Server for more than 10 continous years now and it just refuses to die. In order to boot Linux on it, I’m using the following kernel command line options:

    vga=0x305 pci=irqmask=0x8fff

  • MD1032 12:21 pm on July 7, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    T-Mobile USA Prepaid & iPhone & unlimited data for $1.49/day 

    Since the folks in the T-Mobile store were clueless, I had to figure out myself how to get mobile internet on my iPhone using a T-Mobile prepaid SIM (or pay-as-you-go, as they call it here).

    • Ensure your iPhone is not locked to a provider
    • Buy a $10 T-Mobile pay as you go SIM. I could only find them at T-Mobile shops, Radioshack and CVS didn’t have them. It comes with around $3 worth of credit. You need to top it up with at least another $10 in store, so the total cost of the SIM will be at least $20 plus tax.
    • Have the store clerk use a SIM stapler to convert your SIM card into a microSIM (in case you use iPhone 4 or iPad)
    • If they don’t have a SIM stapler, just use scissors to cut it into shape
    • Insert the SIM into your iPhone and enter Settings – General – Network. Disable 3G to save battery power, since T-Mobile will only allow your iPhone on their 2G EDGE network. Cellular Data needs to be on, Data Roaming should be off (even though the store clerk insisted it needs to be on).
    • In the Cellular Data Network menu, Reset Settings at the bottom. Then enter the “” into the APN field on the top
    • You should see the EDGE “E” or a circle “o” on the top left next to the word “T-Mobile”. If you don’t see it, enable and disable airplane mode, or reboot the phone.
    • Open Safari and go to “”, then choose “My Account”
    • Subscribe to the daily web pass for $1.49 per 24h
    Update: The Web Pass has been discontinued. There is now a daily plan for unlimited talk, text and 2G web browsing for $2 per day. It’s an ongoing subscription but can be canceled on a daily basis.
    • LK 2:25 am on July 23, 2011 Permalink

      I recently got an unlocked iPhone 4. I had been using AT&T plan but I am no longer interested in using them if I can get a cheaper plan from T-Mobile. 3G is not a big concern for me since I will be mostly on WIFI connection anyway.

      I’ve never used T-Mobile / Prepaid service before, so if you can explain a bit about this, I would be greatly appreciated.

      Specifically, I’d like to know if I can get cheap talk / text as well on top to this 1.49/day DATA plan.

      Thanks in advance and feel free to contact me through the email.

  • MD1032 2:25 pm on May 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Shairport: Pop, crackle and other noise 

    I’m using the C version of Shairport on 64bit Ubuntu Natty to receive streaming audio from iTunes and iDevices. It’s working well, but there was a problem with the sound quality: popping and crackling noise made my music sound like it’s coming from a vinyl record.

    dmesg was reporting that the HPET timer had to be adjusted several times during the playback. Turning off HPET forced the kernel to pick a different timing source, which fixed the audio quality problems. In /etc/default/grub I added hpet=disable to the GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT option, then ran update-grub and rebooted the host.

    Another problem was that Shairport refused to play with IPv6. Disabling IPv6 via /etc/sysctl.conf fixed that issue.

  • MD1032 2:16 pm on May 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Rebooting a Virtouzzo/OpenVZ container 

    If you want to reboot from inside the container, do a touch /reboot before you shutdown -r now. This will mark the container for reboot, and a cron job on the container host will power it back on after it shut down. Only when both commands are run the container will reboot correctly.

  • MD1032 2:33 pm on May 3, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Ubuntu 11.04: grub fails after setting up RAID6 

    I tried to install Ubuntu natty 64bit server on a machine with 4 HDDs. During the setup I partitioned them and assembled a RAID6 array. The very last step of the Ubuntu installation failed. Grub basically said it cannot read the filesystem on any of the HDDs and it could not install itself into the MBR since there is no MBR. This is because natty apparently uses GPT (GUID Partition Table) as the standard partition table format now, instead of the old msdos format. GPT has no MBR, and this is where grub fails.

    A workaround for this problem is to boot from CD or USB into Ubuntu Live and use gparted to create an empty msdos partition table on each disk. After that, re-run the Ubuntu server installer and partition the disks (be sure not to recreate the partition table) and after the installation is done, grub will install itself into the MBR of each HDD without complaints.

    Another approach would be to create a small separate partition for the grub bootloader code and set the “BIOS Boot Partition” flag on it using gparted or parted. I haven’t tested this myself.

  • MD1032 2:26 pm on May 3, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Mounting CIFS/SMB in fstab fails with “CIFS VFS: No username specified” in syslog 

    So you have a line in your /etc/fstab like:

    //  /mnt/nsbackup  cifs  credentials=/root/.smbcredentials,noauto  0  0

    and /root/.smbcredentials contains


    and you see the error above in your syslog? Try installing the package cifs-utils!

    • frankiejr 3:18 pm on July 15, 2011 Permalink

      I don’t think I can count how many times I’m saying “Thank You” out loud over and over again right now. I’m fairly new to the Linux thing and have been trying to learn something new on Natty every day. Tonight I was trying to get a network drive auto-mounted for future use, and none of the documentation anywhere was helping. Your suggestion did the trick.

      So I’ll say it again: Thank You!

    • dasarne 5:06 am on July 17, 2012 Permalink

      You helped me, too.

    • Chris 1:26 pm on November 4, 2012 Permalink

      Nailed it! Thanks cifs-utils was my problem too

    • Gregory O 4:52 pm on November 12, 2012 Permalink

      Spot on, thank you. I don’t even need the ‘user=’ line, since I’m mounting using the same username as my login on the client computer.

    • Paul 10:42 am on December 8, 2012 Permalink

      OMG – that was all, must have just simply forgotten it, but THANK YOU!!

    • Bob Roberts 12:21 pm on December 16, 2012 Permalink

      Hey thanks pal.

    • Ermir 6:12 pm on February 1, 2013 Permalink

      Thanks a lot. I was also facing the same problem.

    • Fons D. 8:20 pm on March 7, 2013 Permalink

      This did the trick!

      Thank you!!

    • Emmanuel 7:47 am on November 25, 2013 Permalink

      Thank you!

    • Ken 8:44 pm on October 26, 2014 Permalink

      Thanks! Last week I had a little accident and removed the cifs-utils package from the server because I was typing in the wrong terminal. I thought I had reinstalled it, but I hadn’t really. Thanks again.

  • MD1032 6:00 pm on March 30, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Embedding R graphs in Redmine wiki pages 

    R is a language for statistical computing and graphics. It is capable of generating graphs and charts in publication quality. I’ve created a plugin for Redmine that allows the user to place R snippets within Redmine wiki pages and automatically embed the generated graphs:

    The above pie chart was generated from the following Redmine wiki entry:

    bars <- c(1, 3, 5)
    pie(bars, main="Pie Chart: Favourite Bars", col=rainbow(length(bars)),labels=c("Mars","Twix","KitKat"))

    To install the plugin on your Redmine site, check out the code and instructions in my Github.

  • MD1032 12:09 am on March 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    WordPress 3.0.5 & Debian & blank screen when inserting objects 

    When I try to insert an image into a blog post, all I get is a white blank page. The source code of that page reveals some javascript, and the FF error console reports “win.send_to_editor is not a function”. I’ve found countless postings on the web from other users who had this problem, none of their solutions helped me.

    In the end it came down to the fact that I was using the wordpress 3.0.5 Debian sid package. According to the Debian guidelines, Debian packages should not ship software that has already been packaged for Debian. This is why the wordpress package depends on some PHP libraries and also tinyMCE and symlinks to them from inside the /usr/share/wordpress directory. Apparently there were some incompatibilities between some external libraries and wordpress 3.0.5 which prevented me from inserting objects into the editor.

    Long story short, I’ve removed the Debian package and am now running wordpress from source, which works like a charm.

  • MD1032 11:51 pm on February 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Drobo Dashboard: cannot add Drobo IP address manually 

    I’m using two DroboPro FS units, and the only way to manage them is to use Drobo Dashboard for Windows or OSX. There is no web interface like other NAS have, and there is no way to configure it from Linux natively.

    The DroboPro FS itself is quite impressive, good performance and easy to set up. However I find the dashboard is lacking some essential features. Drobo Dashboard uses a broadcast mechanism to detect Drobo units in the local subnet. If the Drobo is in a different subnet, it simply won’t find it. There is no way to add it manually to the dashboard by entering an IP address or hostname manually. This is really annoying, especially considering the $3K DroboPro FS is marketed for business users. Many companies split their network into subnets, and if you happen to be in a different subnet from the Drobo, you can’t manage it. You can mount its shares, and you can even configure it as a DroboSync target by manually entering its IP address in the DroboSync settings. Yes, there it is possible! Why not in the administration part?

    I’ve contacted the Drobo support, and they suggested to either put myself into the Drobo subnet or putting the Drobo into my subnet. Yeah, I know this would solve the problem, but what if I have no choice or control over my local and/or remote subnet? Why do I have to change my network configuration to work around a shortcoming in their software?

    • Lol 4:24 am on March 24, 2011 Permalink

      I just found this too. I’m all for making things simple but at least give us techies the power to access some advanced settings page so we can point it at a remote IP for management. Come on Drobo. HOw hard would it be to have this setting in Drobo Dashboard?

    • Riley 7:47 am on August 17, 2011 Permalink

      Just bit me too. It’s really not a business app with that subnet limit. Bites you using a vpn too, and can’t port map it. It is trivial to modify so as to enter an IP.

    • Jonathan 12:28 am on September 28, 2011 Permalink

      We were able to put a Drobo in our CoLo facility by reverse-engineering the broadcast mechanism.

      Long story short, you need to use a program like Netcat or the Simple UDP Proxy/Pipe (from running on a computer on the same subnet as the computer running the Drobo Dashboard to redirect UDP traffic on port 5002 to the Drobo’s IP. Once the Dashboard and Drobo have established communications, the redirection is no longer necessary. So far it’s worked for two months without any problems.

      Also…a little birdy told me that we might see something useful baked into the Dashboard in the not-so-distant future….

    • Christoph 1:19 pm on September 28, 2011 Permalink

      Yeah, we thought about the tunnelling solution too, but you still need a separate machine as a tunnel endpoint in your remote network. If you do that, you might as well run Windows there with a Drobo Dashboard.

    • Jonathan 9:05 am on November 11, 2011 Permalink


      What I described is not really a tunnel; it’s more of a packet redirect. As long as you can access the remote IP of the Drobo, the technique I described does not require a computer on the remote network. The Drobo itself is the endpoint. The only computer required is the one running Drobo Dashboard on the local net.

    • Jonathan 9:17 am on November 11, 2011 Permalink

      I realized my original description is too vague, so here’s a second attempt:

      When it starts up, the Drobo Dashboard sends out a broadcast UDP packet on port 5002 at five second intervals, alerting any Drobos that receive the packet that it is running. Since it is a broadcast packet, most routers will not resend that packet to other subnets (unless the routers have been configured in a bizarre way). If your Drobo is on another subnet, it will never see this broadcast packet, so it will never respond to the Dashboard. Weeping and gnashing of teeth ensues.

      If, on the same computer that’s running the Drobo Dashboard, you run some software that detects that UDP broadcast packet on port 5002 and echos that packet to the Drobo’s IP address, the echoed packet is no longer a broadcast packet, the routers will route it properly, and the Drobo will respond to the Dashboard. At this point, the software that was doing the echoing is no longer needed: all further communication is direct. If you close and reopen the Dashboard software, you’ll need to restart the echoing software until the Drobo and the Dashboard have seen each other.

      It should be simple to write a shell script that opens both the Dashboard and the echoing software, waits for a specified period of time chosen to be long enough for communication to be established between the Drobo and the Dashboard, and then quits the echoing software. Then you have a point-and-click solution that any user could use.

    • Christoph 5:59 pm on November 11, 2011 Permalink


      thanks for pointing out the solution using the Simple UDP Proxy/Pipe. I’ve downloaded that tool and compiled it on my Mac (gcc -o suddpipe sudppipe.c) and set up UDP forwarding of port 5002 to my remote drobo (./suddpipe x.x.x.x 5002 5002). Now the dashboard detects both drobos. It even seems to remember the remote drobo, after stopping the pipe and restarting the dashboard I can still access both.

      The very latest Drobo models come with a Dashboard that has the feature I was asking for. They allow you to manually enter a Drobo IP address. However the Dashboard for the DroboPro FS does not have this feature (yet?).

    • Sankar 1:14 pm on February 8, 2012 Permalink

      Hi interesting to see how DROBO can be remotely accessed. I own a DROBO FS and tried using the net cat under MAC OSX LION. I have two different network 192.168.1.x ( where the DROBO is connected) and I have 192.168.5.x with the WAN port connected to the 192.168.1.x. When my MAcbookpro is connected to the 192.168.5.x network I tried the following : nc -lvu 5002 | nc 192.168.1.x(Drobo ip) and I get the response “Connection Succeeded” but the DROBO Dashboard does not detect the DROBO at all. But I can use the AFP protocol and mount the share afp://Drobo-fs /backup. I tested to see if the broadcast is coming out of the 5002 port on my Mabook pro and I see the broadcast stream from the Drobodashboard. Could you please help with any missing steps or trouble shoot the issue. By the way I am using the Dashboard 2.1.2 version for the Drobo FS. I tried connecting the DROBO from a remote location through VPN and I am able to connect to the DROBO shares by AFP protocol but no luck in Dashboard detecting the DROBO.

    • Christoph 7:38 pm on February 23, 2012 Permalink

      I’m happy to report that version 2.1.2 of the Drobo Dashboard lets me add Drobos manually by IP address! I guess they were listening 🙂

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  • MD1032 2:58 pm on January 6, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Toshiba NB300 + Ubuntu Maverick = freezing during install 

    This brand new Toshiba NB300 netbook refuses to install Ubuntu 10.10. There seem to be some problems with interrupts and CPU frequency scaling, according to . I worked around the freezing installation routine by passing “nohz=off” to the kernel at the PXE prompt. The latest maverick kernel doesn’t seem to have this problem, only the one that ships with the installation media.

    After installation, the “nohz=off” will be in the grub configuration, so the system will keep using it. However since this option slows down the system, I recommend to either upgrade the kernel to 2.6.37 or to upgrade to the 11.04 (natty) prerelease. On the newer kernel, there are no more freezes and the nohz parameter is not required anymore.

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