Archive for Technology

Dec
21

Merry Christmas!

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Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!

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Dec
26

Happy New Year!

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Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas or whatever holiday you choose to personally adhere to! Hope you all have a Happy New Year!

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Jul
19

Raspberry Pi Order Limit Removed

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According to Slashdot the Raspberry Pi, the small $35 ARM-based computer system capable of running Linux has removed its order limit which was one unit per order. Full story can be found at the following link: Slashdot Raspberry Pi story

Below is a pic of mine I just got. Currently doing some testing. I’m using a Linux Debian flavor (Squeeze) and I’ll probably end up putting twonky media server on it and use my dream plug solely as my web server. Still not a bad product for only $35. I still need to get a case for it. Currently I have it in an old iPhone case and it fits perfectly.

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May
30

RaspberryPi Update!

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So I finally got to order my RasberryPi today look for a write up in about 6 weeks. Not to shabby piece of hardware for only $35.

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http://www.raspberrypi.com/

I was pretty excited to hear about Raspberry Pi being released. My eventual plan is to replace consoles using them to hook up my media server to the TV. As soon as I finally get through the ordering queue I plan on giving a write up on the process to hook them up to the TV etc.

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Dreamplugs are generally inexpensive small computers that use an ARM processor similar to your smart cell phone and about the same size as one too. They cost $159 + tax and shipping. What you spend buying the device will actually save you in the long run because it uses far less power than an old PC that you turned into a media server. You can purchase one at the following site:

Not only does it have a few options as far as the kind of hard drives you can attach ie USB hard drives but you also have an eSATA port as well. I prefer to use my Home Openfiler NAS box myself so I’m going to go through the process of setting up open-iscsi as well in this tutorial. A Dreamplug also has its own wireless network option as well so you can connect to that instead of hooking it up to your own wired/wireless network. Or you can hook it up and use it as a wireless AP for your network as well. I also recommend you getting a JTAG also found on the above site in-case you have to do any kind of trouble shooting.

The Dreamplug comes with a preloaded Debian Lenny Linux flavor. It uses a 4Gb mini-SDHC card embedded in the plug and whether or not you want to you can replace it with something bigger that’s up to you. You will void your warranty but since the warranty is only 90 days that’s pretty much up to you. It also has 512Mb RAM as well.

Anyways after you get the plug here’s what you do to be able to use open-iscsi. I had to put a new install of debian on the internal SD and its similar to what you will find in the downloads section from switching to ubuntu to debian on official website found here:

http://code.google.com/p/dreamplug/downloads/list

Download the rootfs files named: dreamplug_debian_v0.2.zip.001 and dreamplug_debian_v0.2.zip.002

Basically instead of using the uImage found there though you will want to download a couple files from the following site:

http://sheeva.with-linux.com/sheeva/2.6/2.6.39/2.6.39.4/

You want to download dream-2.6.39.4-uImage, sheeva-2.6.39.4-KernelHeaders.tar.gz, sheeva-2.6.39.4-Modules.tar.gz,

Now use the following document to put these files on the internal mini sd card:
http://code.google.com/p/dreamplug/downloads/detail?name=DreamPlug%20-%20Change%20OS%20from%20Ubuntu%20to%20Debian-20110617.pdf&can=2&q=

Make sure to put the headers and the modules from the sheeva-2.6.39.4-KernelHeaders.tar.gz and sheeva-2.6.39.4-Modules.tar.gz into the /lib/modules directory. and tar xf sheeva-2.6.39.4-KernelHeaders.tar.gz etc so they ended up in the correct directories. They should have been dumped into /lib/modules/2.6.39.4/ and /usr/ You need to check /lib/modules/2.6.39.4/kernel/drivers/scsi to make sure the following modules are in place : scsi_transport_iscsi.ko libiscsi_tcp.ko iscsi_tcp.ko are there.
Once that’s done make sure you do the following: depmod -a

Once its back up and running do the following:

Follow the following link to set connect and set up your Dreamplug:

http://www.spinifex.com.au/plugs/dplugintro.html#first

Ok now to get open-iscsi running:
Go to the following both work I found the first one easier to read but use apt-get portion for Debian. Don’t sudo as of yet because you don’t need to.

http://www.cyberciti.biz/tips/rhel-centos-fedora-linux-iscsi-howto.html
http://wiki.debian.org/SAN/iSCSI/open-iscsi

Now to get twonkymedia server up and running. You can find all the steps at the following link. It works great as I’ve already tested it of course! Most people hate buying software when there are free options that said Twonky is one of the most popular and the license only costs around $15 bucks. Plus you get an evaluation period to try it out.

http://www.twonkyforum.com/mediawiki/index.php?title=Sheevaplug/GuruPlug

I know this all sounds pretty overwhelming but actually its not all that hard once you actually do it.
Eventually I plan to make this process a little bit easier on people but I digress. The above is also a reason to get the JTAG in case you have to do some troubleshooting when networking is down. Another option is just open up the case and get the mini-SD card out and use the above on the actual card so you don’t have to get a JTAG or do the extra work but again it will void your warranty on the device.

I also want to give the people at http://www.newit.co.uk a shout out for the help they provided me as well.

Hope this is helpful please feel free to comment below with any questions.

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Dec
01

Setting up a home server closet

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Recently I’ve been working on a handful of at home projects and plan on doing a full write up on all of them but today I want to discuss my latest project I just completed. A home server closet! The following photos illustrate what I actually installed.

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Basically with a $150 I bought a low power quiet bathroom exhaust fan, 25 ft of electrical cable, 3 electrical cabling boxes, 1 power outlet, 1 cable outlet, an attic fan thermostat so the fan only turns on when needed. After reading all the documentation I tripped the breaker and installed the various equipment cut the holes in the drywall etc. After about 4 hours everything was up and running like a charm. My loving spouse no longer hears the humming of fans from my equipment and I don’t have to worry about my equipment overheating. A couple quick notes make sure you vacuum up all the drywall dust and give it a day to settle before moving in your equipment. Drywall dust plays havoc on your system’s fans. Another thing when wiring your power make sure you are wiring it up to code.

This was a fun little project please feel free to shoot me any questions you my have.

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Nov
05

Dreamplug

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I got a Dreamplug in the mail yesterday! I have been doing some initial testing and will do a full write up later on.

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I set up my own media server to stream movies around the house.  That way I could watch a movie in my living room while my son could watch one of his movies in another room in the house.  Currently I’ve been using XBOX 360’s to stream to but you can use other game consoles as well as other hardware on the market today instead of a gaming console along with every single one of your computers on the network.  I like to do things on the cheap because I’m defiantely not made of money so keep that in mind.

 There are costs to this set up which I will touch on all of them in this article, but it is cheaper than you probably think.

The following are things you will need to acquire to make this work:

  • Old Desktop/Laptop computer. 
  • You don’t need some kind of huge media center specifically designed for sharing your music and movies throughout your household.  Why because its expensive and you can basically get the same thing using old hardware.  I took an 10 year old desktop and installed CENTOS on it.
  • You can download CENTOS at: http://www.centos.org/
  • Media Server Software.
  • Twonky Server Costs $19.99.  I know some of you only like free/open source software.  Fact of the matter is I tried 2 other peices of software before Twonky Server and they just never matched up at their current stages to Twonky Server.
  • You can find Twonky Server at: http://www.twonky.com/store/index.aspx
  • Get the free trial first, lasts for 30 days that way you can test it out.  Handles large amounts of movies without a problem.
  • The following are other Media Server Software I tried to get running.  For a linux novice your best bet would be to just try out, at least for the 30 day trial period, Twonky Server because it was far easier to set up and implement and make your own judgement call.  I also tried out the following first:
  • You can find an entire list here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_UPnP_AV_media_servers_and_clients
  • I tried the following because they were free before finally using Twonky Server:
  • uShare – Spent a week trying to get it to work.  Worked fine until you had a lot of movies stored on your media server then kept freezing while streaming movies to my Xbox 360 console.
  • MediaTomb – Never got it to be fully functional before I decided to try Twonky Server.
  • Hard drive space.
  • Be it external hard drives or an internal hard drives you have to have somewhere to store your plethora of movies that you rip into MP4 formate.
  • DVDFab or Handbrake (software you’ll install on your main computer not on the server you are currently building.
  • Handbrake is Opensource free software for ripping movies from DvD to MP4 format.
  • http://handbrake.fr/
  • DVDFab is a pay to use software.  I found it worked better than Handbrake but you only get a trial period before you have to pay.
  • http://www.dvdfab.com/dvd-ripper.htm
  • There’s plenty of other software packages that do the same thing you’ll just have to make your own judgement on what type of software you want to use.  Just do a google search for DvD ripping software.  (Disclamer) Remember you should only be doing this with your own movies you have purchased, otherwise you will run into software piracy issues.

Basic Install Notes:

  • Install Hard Drive Space onto your old system.  IE. plug in your External Hard Drive via USB or install your internal hard drives
  • Install the Linux OS (CentOS) ISO on your old platform.
  • Make sure you install SAMBA (SMB) during installation.  You will want to create a SAMBA share so you can move MP4s from where you ripped them (IE your main computer) to your media server.
  • Make sure you dont install the OS on your External Hard Drive either if using one.
  • Setup SAMBA How to guide can be found here all depends on your Linux OS so make sure to google your type of Linux OS type when trying to figure out how to set up SAMBA.  http://www.samba.org/samba/docs/man/Samba-HOWTO-Collection/install.html
  • Make sure your external hard drive is found.  (If you are using one that is.)
  • Use the following commands:
  • fdisk -l
  • as a root user on the computer, it should show something like /dev/sda
  • NOTE: the “a” maybe another letter, and this will be the device, it will then list the partitions underneath it as a regular hard disk ie /dev/sda1 etc.
  • Make sure you vi /etc/fstab next so it auto-mounts this hard drive on start up (powering on your machine)
  • Tutorial Found here:  http://www.tuxfiles.org/linuxhelp/fstab.html
  • Install Twonky Server (Or your chosen Media Server Software.)
  • Twonky Server Installation Guide: http://twonky.com/upfiles/TwonkyServerInstallationGuide-v6-EN.pdf

Once this is all set up you should be able to browse your media via your brand new media server!  If you have any questions or I need to explain something in a little more detail let me know.

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WordPress is a great tool for building up-to-date websites.  While the installation is mostly painless there is an issue that I have found after installation when setting up your website…  The Dreaded 404 “page can not be displayed”, when Custom Permalinks  is enabled.

There can be a couple causes.  If the .htaccess file in your server’s web directory isn’t getting updated when enabling Permalinks then its a file permissions/ownership issue.

The other issue is a bit more complex.  From all the google searches I have done for the past several days researching I have found only 1 website on page 10 of the google searches that actually help rectify this other issue.

Basically if you host your own sites on a linux server and are using apache then you have to make sure a couple options are corrected.  By default, WordPress uses URL with question mark and its post ID.  After enabling Permalinks in Settings, all the posts give is an 404 error page cannot be displayed.  At first, I thought it’s .htaccess problem, however this file was updated automatically after I applied the changes.  After searching Wordpress documents, I found that it also requires FollowSymLinks option along with AllowOverride FileInfo directives in the Apache configuration file. I never knew this since shared hosting servers generally have those options enabled by default. On a Linux server, you will have to configure this file yourself.

vi /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf  (Redhat, Fedora, CENTOS)

Change the exiting file from whatever it has for OptionsFollowSymLinks to the following.

AllowOverride None

Change this line to:

AllowOverride All

# Each directory to which Apache has access can be configured with respect
# to which services and features are allowed and/or disabled in that
# directory (and its subdirectories).

<Directory “/path/to/wordpress”>
Options FollowSymLinks
AllowOverride FileInfo
Order allow,deny
Allow from all
</Directory>
Exit and save the file.  Don’t forget to restart apache after making changes.
service httpd restart
The rest you should be able to figure out for yourself.  However if you have any issues please feel free to leave a comment or post on our Community Discussion for troubleshooting related issues.
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