Wi-fi USB in Ubuntu

Three times I’ve run into the same issue with getting someone’s wireless USB fob to work, and each time I’m pretty sure it’s the same thing.

No, not the drivers, or any wrappers needed, not the obvious stuff.

It’s the /etc/network/interfaces settings.

Every fricking time!

Here’s how it tends to go:

I look up what’s needed (in this case it’s a Dlink-g122 version A2), install everything and the computer plays clueless.

lsusb says the USB wireless fob is there, everywhere else plays dumb.

I go into ndisgtk and it says the drivers are fine but the hardware isn’t present.
(Sidenote: I just dump all three driver files into a folder – the .bin, the .sys and the .inf; it refuses to work with just the .inf)

Round and round I go, until I found my old thread about this THREE YEARS AGO and I finally see the problem.

No setting for wlan0 in the /etc/network/interfaces … yes, it’s that STUPIDLY simple.

Here’s the ideal /etc/network/interfaces:
# beginning
auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet dhcp

auto eth1
iface eth1 inet dhcp

auto eth2
iface eth2 inet dhcp

auto ath0
iface ath0 inet dhcp

auto wlan0
iface wlan0 inet dhcp

# end

See how the bit after the auto matches the bit after the iface? Yeah…. I had the latter without the 0.
Or nothing about wlan0 at all.

Stupid ‘Manda.


Two glitches upon upgrading Ubuntu

I tend to put off updates to official versions of things I use (beta software I freely update)… Mostly because I find glitches in both and delaying the official updates means they’ve hopefully been addressed.

I ran into two things that I didn’t like upon upgrading to the newest version of Ubuntu.

  1. The minimize / maximize / close buttons were on the LEFT (a la Mac OS)
  2. It’d spontaneously restart back to the login screen

The first was an easy fix:

  1. Alt+F2 to bring up the Terminal
  2. type in gconf-editor
  3. Navigate to apps > metacity > general
  4. Look for an option called button_layout
  5. If they’re on the Left they’ll be: close,maximize,minimize:menu
    If you want them on the right: menu:minimize,maximize,close

The later is detailed in hackademix but the command given is faulty:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bryceharrington/purple && apt-get update && apt-get upgrade

should be:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bryceharrington/purple && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

This forces all three commands to be at sudo (root aka superuser) level.

(Edited after posting b/c of a copy / paste issue, ended up repeating the top part of the article)

Disable Slow Keys in Ubuntu

For whatever reason (long story involving a keyboard not working right) I had assistive technologies installed on my machine – you know, the ones that help the physically / mentally challenged use a computer?

Well, one of them was hindering my ability to play one of my games. Dangerous territory there, don’t get in the way of my games. Anyway… the pain in my arse is called Slow Keys.
(Edited the above to make it clearer)

If I held down the shift key for more than 8 seconds, it would ask me if I would like to enable Slow Keys.

Unfortunately, this dialog box makes anything you type not work / appear until it’s dealt with.

Annoying? Oh yes, and even more so as it tended to pop up UNDER the main window, so half the time I thought I was lagging / having technical issues.

The solution? To go into the settings for the assistive technologies:
System > Preferences > Keyboard > /Accessability/ > [ ] Accessability Features can be Toggled with Keyboard Shortcuts

I tried Googling it, nothing came close, so here it is.

Update – As Kevin pointed out in the comments, they’ve moved it in an update:
Kevin Says:

In Ubuntu 11.10 the procedure has changed to:
System Settings> > Universal Access > Typing > Toggle Slow Keys”

Thanks Kevin!

And hello linuxquestion.org users ^_^

Yahoo! and Open Source … and Richard Stallman?

I nearly fainted and then turned bright red when I got this email:

Hello –

I’m assisting Richard M Stallman of the GNU project. He has asked me to find the email address of the author of
Because there was no address posted on the blog itself, I looked on the web and found this address (my email address here) in an Ubuntu forum post. Are you the author of the blog?

If you are not the author, I apologize for taking your time.

Michael Hannon

Ok, perhaps a bit of background… I know who Richard Stallman is, I read a very interesting ebook about him and I’ve admired him ever since. (it’s odd that I didn’t blog about that, but I must have been busy) The very, very short version? He started the GNU project. That’s huge!

I did a bit of checking, and this looks legit, so it should be interesting to see where this goes!

I replied with the very short:

Hi Michael, yep, I’m the author of that post. What are you looking for?

To which I got a quick reply of:

Hi –


I was just asked to find your address; I think RMS wants to know more about what happened when your post was deleted. He’ll probably be in touch in the next few days.

Michael Hannon

I… well, at the risk of sounding like a teenager… I think this is sooo fucking cool!

[Edit] Ok, update time:

This is the email I got from RMS (Richard M. Stallman):

I saw your blog about the censored Yahoo post, and I get the
impression that you appreciate the freedom aspect of free software.
Would you perhaps like to support the free software movement publicly?

Well, as my friends know, I tend to get ticked off at limits, so duh I’m a supporter of free and open source software.

I replied with:

Quite true, what did you have in mind? Most of the people I talk to on a regular basis (both online and locally) have been persuaded to switch to various open source programs; usually Firefox and GNU/Linux.
I’m wondering about the scope / scale of what you have in mind,

The message I got back was an auto-reply (I’ll include it if anyone’s interested), then:

The easiest thing that you could do, that would help us substantially,
is simply to say “free software”. Often our movement is hidden and
forgotten behind the very different idea of “open source”.

See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/open-source-misses-the-point.html
for more explanation of the difference.

It’s useful occasionally to add a little text to clarify that it’s
free as in freedom, not gratis. For instance, to say “free
(freedom-respecting) software”, “free/libre software”, etc. You might
do this for the first mention of “free software” in any article or

If you want to help more, you could do things such as join the FSF,
start a GNU/Linux User Group, start a Free Software Activist Group,
organize anti-DRM protests for DefectiveByDesign.org, become a free
software movement speaker, etc.

Up until this point I had read about the free software / open source debate, but didn’t really grasp the difference. I had assumed that they had a huge amount of overlap (they do, right now), and it was a purple / indigo kind of debate.

After reading the linked article, I see the difference, and I’ll more than willingly go on record to state I’m in favour of free (freedom respecting) software.

Here’s the difference: It’s possible to create an open source version of a limiting technology (activex, drm, etc), but it’s against what free (freedom respecting) software is focused on.

The similarities between the two camps are too numerous to list at the moment, but the underlying values are different. Open source is, as RMS says in his article, purely practical. There are no values, no right or wrong, in open source. The focus is to get software that works. Right, wrong or sideways, if it works, anyone can look at the source, contribute to it, etc it’s open source.

Free (freedom respecting) software ventures into the “is this a good idea” or “is this limiting” areas – to some it’s essentially “is this being written for the right reasons”.

I believe in the radical (apparently) idea that each person is responsible for his / her actions, and that putting limits that are illegal to break only stops the people who have good intentions from doing it – and just succeeds in taking away their rights. People who are determined to do what they want, will do it.

This is why DRM on music is very short sighted – it only limits those who don’t have the interest to get around it, which admittedly is a lot of people. It doesn’t stop the official target – people that want to go around DRM will. But then we get into the next question: is DRM really for the people who “steal” music?

I see us being marched towards a Microsoft version of music – you don’t ever get to buy it, you rent it. You “license” it. You get to “rent” a song for each type of media player you want to play it on, which always has a “renewal” date – when you pay again to be able to play the same music as before. You don’t pay? You lose the music.

Am I the only person who sees something wrong with this? (They’re already doing it by the way, it’s just not systematic right now.)

Yahoo! Answers and the Deleted Answer, a resurgence of interest

Ok, there seems to be a renewal of interest over my posts regarding a deleted answer from Yahoo! Answers I blogged about over half a year ago.

As far as I can see this whole thing was a domino effect of:

  1. Someone didn’t like my answer and flagged it. Either someone with a high rank, or several people with medium ranks. Or it could have been the person who asked the question.
  2. Someone at Yahoo (who is probably ignorant about open source) made a quick decision and moved on.
  3. Someone got an e-mail reply from me regarding the letter saying my answer was deleted, but they didn’t respond immediately.
  4. Someone found out about my blog posts and contacted me, further explaining Yahoo’s reasoning.
  5. Someone got my official dispute and forwarded it onto the person in #4, who restated the same reasoning.
  6. Someone from #3 looked over the situation and decided to reverse the deduction of points.

All in all, do I think it’s a systematic bias against open source? No, I don’t see firm proof of this. Do I think it was malevolent / a conspiracy? No.

[edit] But, do I think that Yahoo’s without it’s biases? No, it’s guaranteed to have it’s priorities in some areas that would lend it to being biased. It’s logically impossible to not be biased in some way.

I think it was a culmination of a few people with not enough info and not enough time. It happens.

So why did I blog about this? Like I’ve said before, I wanted to see if this was a one-off or if it was a systematic policy that no one talked about. I also wanted to see if making a small fuss about something I disagree with would make a difference. It did, but not in the ways I was aiming for – I wanted to provoke a change in Yahoo, not be a tipping point for people to boycott Yahoo.

Don’t get me wrong, Yahoo’s got a lot of issues; for example their chat has a nasty habit of kicking people off for no reason or just not working properly. I personally object to the blending of the Yahoo and MSN chat networks, but they’re not my companies, not my choice. I’d just use Pidgin for this “problem”.

Looking back, I think the things that still annoy me are:

  1. The person who originally asked the question didn’t get to see my answer, even after the decision about it’s “violating the rules” was overturned
  2. I didn’t get an apology from anyone
  3. The person in #5 came across as quite abrupt and dismissive
  4. Nothing changed, except a few people’s perception of Yahoo

So what’s the result? A few people are ticked off at Yahoo, a few people are ticked off at me. People are now discussing whether open source should be censored, people are talking about whether open source is a viable replacement for Windows. I got my little bit of time in the spotlight.

Beyond that, I can’t see the ripples that my pebble caused in the lake of the world, but I flatter myself that the ripples will continue in their own way for a while.

On a tangent: a few people have said I’m too patient, too idealistic and too forgiving. What do you think?

How To: Move Wine

Ok, I don’t know about you, but I find when I use wine to play games, they play much better if they’re in the same directory as wine… but… the games can take a lot of room.

The solution? Move wine and the games to another hard drive / partition.

Here’s how to:

You’ll need wine installed normally, and you’ll need to have the new partition mounted.

Make sure the partition is writeable as well as readable (easy way: start nautilus under superuser mode and right-click on the directory and change it’s properties).

Go into your home directory and make all files visible

Find and *cut* .wine

Go into your home directory and make all files visible, then paste .wine

Right-click on the wine directory (in it’s new home) and choose “Make Link”Cut and paste the link (it looks like a folder, but has an arrow in it’s icon) into your home directory, then rename it “.wine”

That should be it – test that it’s all working fine by double-clicking a random setup.exe (cancel it after it show it works)

I highly recommend you do this *before* you install any games.

Round Two: Appealing the revokation of Yahoo Answers points

A very helpful person posted a link in the comments that posted to a place where people can appeal “You have violated… and your post has been deleted” type occurances.

I wrote the following:

Please explain how I am in violation of the rules?
I put off the appeal until I had all the information to present in one submission.

“My company is getting rid of old PCs and I’m considering buying one. They have completely wiped out the hard drive, so there is no OS installed at all. Previously it had Windows Me or 2000 on it (not sure which). Is it going to be foolish of me to think I can buy Windows XP and install it myself? What kind of problems can I expect to run into?”

“If you buy the XP disks you just get that – XP. No MS office, no other programs other than the very basics.
If you’re starting over anyways, grab a blank CD and use imgburn ( http://imgburn.com/ ) to burn an Ubuntu ( http://ubuntu.com/ ) or Kubuntu ( http://kubuntu.com/ ) .iso on there.
Put the burned CD in the CD tray and restart the computer. It doesn’t need a hard drive at all to run – it loads into the computer’s RAM (temporary memory).
K/ubuntu comes fully loaded and thousands of other programs are just a few clicks away – you just look them up in a built in installer, it grabs the stuff needed and installs it all. It’s free in both senses of the word – free of cost and free of obligations.”

I believe my answer was relevant – it addressed the “problems s/he could expect to run into”, it even gave him/her details on how to get, burn and use a very easy way to test drive an OS that would solve his/her needs.
The other Answers people gave covered the “buying and installing of XP”

This is my first and only “violation” and I would like to avoid any future issues. Please explain how my answer is in error.
Thank you for your time,

And left it to be replied to. I expected to get e-mail notices when someone replied to my thread. I didn’t get any official notices of any replies. (They should change that, hint hint Yahoo)

What I did get was this:

I posted this on the Message Board, but in case it’s deleted before you check there again, I thought I’d send you a copy.


I think you should pursue this further.

Jane F. says your post “was not an attempt to answer the question about installing a certain operating system” However, the actual question consisted of two parts. “Is it going to be foolish of me to think I can buy Windows XP and install it myself? What kind of problems can I expect to run into?”

In other words, the asker did not want to know just the specifics of the XP installation process, but rather wanted to know: should they buy and install XP? what problems will they have? The question is not focused solely on the install process itself, it’s really a question about the advantages and disadvantages of buying the XP operating system disks.

You answered that if a person buys Windows XP they only get the operating system, they don’t get MS office or programs other than the very basics. That would clearly be a problem for the average home user who will need a word processing program, at the very least. The only reasonable view is that this an answer to the question. Since only an “attempt” at an answer is necessary, this violation should be overturned.

I think you should ask Jane to reconsider, or find out what the next highest level of appeal is.

[Jean Clemens]

Needless to say, when I checked my thread (which I bookmarked), her answer was not there.

What was there was this:

As discussed earlier, while your post is on a related topic, it was not an attempt to answer the question about installing a certain operating system and was removed for this reason. If you’d like to share what you know on related topics rather than on this question, use the advanced search to find more questions you’re interested in.

Jane F.

So I returned to reading my Yahoo Mail in Thunderbird while mulling over what the answer was to my appeal. I then read an email from Yahoo returning my points, which I included in my reply to Jane F.:

So… to clarify Yahoo’s stance:
There is only one question per Question posted; regardless of other semi-statements ending in a question mark.

Answering any question asked except the main question will have the Answer removed, the points revoked and a negative mark on the Answerer’s record will be issued.

And yet… I’ve had my points returned:
Subject: Yahoo! Answers Points Restored (KMM52219628V58956L0KM)
Message: Hello,

We have reviewed your request, and have restored your points on Yahoo!
Answers. We apologize for any inconvenience.


Yahoo! Customer Care

I logged in today and got 32 points – 3 best answers and the revoked 2.

My next two questions are:
Why wasn’t the reinstatement of the points in question not stated in this thread?
Is there still a negative mark in my records?

It should be interesting if / when there is a reply. That I have all this documented in a place that Yahoo can’t go into and arbitrarily delete… puts my mind a bit more at ease.

Oh, and to those who have been in the appeal boards at least once:

Yes, I know there are times when the answer to an appeal is punative (the account is deleted). No worries… I have all my emails stored on my computer. My 360 blog will be backed up shortly.

No… I don’t trust these [profanity] the distance I could pick up Canada and throw it. I’ve seen too much to be that naive.