Tag Archives: Debian

Joining Debian 8 to Active Directory

Joining a GNU/Linux machine to a Microsoft Active Directory has been possible for years, but it’s always been a bit of a science project that involved touching half-a-dozen obscure config files and usually resulted in me getting completely locked out of the machine. Various commercial packages such as Likewise and Centrify aimed to smooth out the process, but they weren’t universally accessible across distros, and often produced inconsistent results.

After upgrading a system to Debian 8, I noticed a new option for joining the domain, courtesy of the folks at RedHat: realmd. Realmd puports to make joining an Active Directory domain dead simple. How does it do?


Reviving your old PC with Linux, Part VI: Building your own lightweight remix

In the previous article of this series, I covered a variety of “remix” distributions of Linux aimed at older computers, and posed the question “why not build our own”? In this article, we’ll look at doing exactly that.

Our goal will be to set up a basic desktop system, using only the necessary components, such that it will run reasonably well on a roughly ten-year-old computer.


Building a Linux system for a Child, part2: Distros and software

The last article in this series described some of the more general realities of running Linux on a child’s computer. Now that I’ve (surely) convinced you to go ahead an put GNU/Linux on your child’s computer, it’s time to get down to nuts and bolts: which distribution, and what software?


Backporting with apt-src

So often with Linux distributions, the choice is between running a bleeding-edge system, or sticking with stable (and sometimes stale) software.  Most of us settle in to a distro that balances both to our liking, but there are times when you just have to have a little newer version of a package than the default repositories offer.  While it’s great to find a backport repo or PPA that offers newer stuff, sometimes that’s not possible.

So for times like that, I’m going to describe a method by which Debian or Ubuntu users can backport their own software using handy little tool called “apt-src”.


Debian for Ubuntu people

It’s no secret that many people’s first Linux experience these days is on Ubuntu; yet as they — for one reason or another — find themselves needing to branch out into the wider Free OS world, Debian is often the next stop along the road.  Having introduced a few Ubuntu users (in real life or online) to Debian, I’ve noticed a few common stumbling blocks, and thought it might be nice to offer a little guide for those making the transition (or expansion) to Ubuntu’s parent distro.

It’s also no secret that there tends to be a bit of friction between the Debian and Ubuntu communities, both users and developers, for a variety of reasons.  For the record, I appreciate and use both distributions quite a bit, so I hope that this article will help users from both camps have a healthy appreciation for the other.


The Debian Administrators Handbook arrives, free!

The big news in the Debian world this week is the liberation of the The Debian Administrators Handbook, which, thanks to donations from a crowdfunding campaign, has now been released under free-as-in-speech licenses.  It’s even been packaged up and placed in the Debian repositories, so it’s a quick “aptitude install” away.

I spent some time browsing through the manual online today, and thought I’d share my reactions.

How to install Debian offline

When tinkering with old computers, there is little about an operating system quite as endearing as flexibility at install time.  The “Universal Operating System” is no slouch in this regard; the Debian installer will work quite happily from CD, DVD, USB drive,  PXE boot (my personal fav), and even a Windows executable.

But what if none of those is an option?  Suppose you’re stuck with a system with no optical media, no USB boot, no PXE boot, and no OS?  Can we get Debian on such a machine?

You bet we can!   (more…)

Creating a kiosk with Linux and X11: 2011 edition

Back around 2006 our public library was in need of a cheap way for patrons to browse its web-based INNOPAC catalog. Thin clients running Windows CE had been purchased for this purpose, but they turned out to be buggy and limited. I was tasked with finding a solution to the problem “on the cheap”, and being a fairly new Linux fanatic at the time, I figured I’d see what I could do using free software. This led to my first kiosk project.

Since then, I’ve refined my approach time and again, deploying kiosks throughout my organization just about anywhere a web-browser kiosk can be put to use. The original library system has been completely rebuilt with newer hardware and software, but is fundamentally the same system I set up five years ago.

I often see people asking about how to set up a kiosk system with Linux, and like me they usually start out going about it the wrong way; so I thought I’d write this tutorial based on my years of experience to help those getting started.


Reviving your old PC with Linux, Part V: the Remixes

In part III of this series, I told you that lightweight Linux distributions can be classified as either “fully lightweight” or “remixes”; and in part IV, we took a look at several “fully lightweight” distributions. Naturally, in this article, we’re going to talk about remixes.

Unlike the last article, however, I’m not just going to go through a bunch of remix distros and blather on with my half-formed impressions of them; not only would that would be unbearably dull for both you and for me, but selecting a three or four remix distros from the zillion-and-a-half out there in the world is an impossible choice. Instead, we’re going to understand what really distinguishes one remix from another with the aim of helping you select one that fits your needs; after which I’ll go through a few example distributions and talk about what makes them different.


Lighttpd to the rescue!

Our home server — we call him Rupert — is a real trooper.  Beneath his yellowing beige exterior, a first-gen Pentium 4 works its 224 MB of RAM night and day delivering a variety of services to our home network.  On top of storing our files, caching our DNS requests, filtering the Web for little eyes, and providing me a handy back-door into the network via SSH, rupert’s most important job is delivering a selection of web applications to our home network.

One of the most important — and unfortunately the bulkiest — is Moodle.  Moodle is a CMS designed for schools that deliver online classes and content, and it’s proven quite valuable over the last couple years as an aid in our homeschooling.  Sadly, though, poor Rupert has a tough time dishing out the Moodles. (more…)

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