SecureBoot Database

Since I can see which way the wind is blowing with SecureBoot, I thought it prudent to create a database much reminiscent of the Linux hardware compatibility lists of yesteryear.

After some pointing and clicking in Drupal, the site is ready, for "beta" values of ready. You can access it at

If you have a moment, please sign up and add your hardware to the system.

Integrating Aegir with Linux and FTP

Due to the insane cost of bandwidth (compared to the rest of the developed world) in Australia, I've recently decided to move some of our hosting clients to Linode. This means they can move more data more cheaply and I don't need to come up with (and administer) a bandwidth accounting system for my Australian based web VM.

We pretty much exclusively use Drupal for hosting clients, so to make management a bit easier I decided to use Ægir on the new Linode. Installation was a relative breeze, after a quick google to find out how to specify that I didn't want to use Apache and wanted to use a separate server as dedicated MySQL host.

The problem (there is always a problem) arose when I needed to give a hosting client access to their Drupal installation, so they could manage themes and site-specific modules. Just adding an account and providing SSH access was out of the question, as all sites are stored under a single system user. Anyone logging in with permissions to edit their own Drupal can then also edit all other sites and even the Ægir installation itself.

FTP would be a solution, as FTP accounts can be chrooted (locked into a specific directory) quite easily, but I didn't want to have to manage a list of FTP accounts separate from the Drupals in Ægir. That isn't the lazysysadmin way.

After a bit of thought I remembered that on an older web host, I had happily used libnss-mysql and libpam-mysql, which integrate accounts defined in a (any) MySQL database with the Linux system. The trick is to get MySQL to cough up the account information in the correct format, so the system can parse it as if these accounts were normal system users.

Linux multifunction printy thing

Back in 1998 our old trusty HP LaserJet MP5 broke and we replaced it with an HP LaserJet MP6. Over the decades it has provided its humans with reliable Mac OS and Linux printing joy and one of the cats with a warm place to sit in winter and - once - an emergency litter tray.

The cat wee didn't kill it though and after a clean up it provided close to another decade's worth of (slightly smelly) prints.

Sadly it's now running low on toner and it would seem that obtaining new toner cartridges for it is no longer  a matter of simply popping down to OfficeWorks. Time then to go shopping for printers.

Redmine with MariaDB

Cherries!I'm in the process of setting up Redmine (version 1.0-stable) on an Ubuntu 8.04 virtual machine. Getting a recent enough gem and rails is less fun than you might imagine, but the big issue I came across was a bug in the database model, which makes MySQL 5.1 (MariaDB 5.1 in my case) barf on installation.

There is a fix, but I am running from a git clone didn't want to download and apply a diff file to that repository. A quick google found what I need: the git cherry-pick command. It allows you to grab a single commit and apply its changes to your branch. In my case:

git cherry-pick a628b0f186cf4d182ce5cee1a497ad42c5246406

Because all commits have a unique label, when 1.0.1 is released and I update my git clone, I won't suffer merge conflicts from this already-applied change. Lovely :-)

More MythTV Meddling

For a long time everyone has suffered shocking TV reception at the units where I live. Sometimes it's crystal clear, then channels randomly disappear for a week or so. We've put it down to being in a black spot, the antenna being crap, the wiring being crap, trams and various other causes (maybe the piano interferes...!?)


Kattekrab has been fiddling around with recordmydesktop for a while, working on screencasts.

ScreenshotShe was told about the key-status-monitor utility by heathenx, who already does Inkscape screencasts. This utility monitors and displays mouse button and key press status by reading /dev/input/eventX files and displays key presses and mouse clicks in a little window, which can be part of the screencast.

my long awaited hardware upgrade

In part of my line of work - web application development - you tend to develop software that needs to work (properly) on an awful lot of different web browsers. If these all adhered to web standards, a simple run through the W3C Validator would suffice. Unfortunately life sucks, and as such there is a need to test all sites on as many browsers as possible.

I use virtualisation to run a bunch of windows browsers in their native environment. However, testing this way took an awfully long time, as my desktop computer had a "mere" 1.5Gb of ram and only a single (Athlon64) CPU core. By the time you add GNome, Evolution or Thunderbird and Firefox to this, not a great deal is left for virtual machines.

What with DDR2 ram prices being pretty much at an all-time low and CPUs not being far behind in cheapity (wrong, but sounds nice) I decided it was time for some new tools of the trade.