Showing posts from September, 2008

Samba: passwords

Samba drove me nuts until I figured out that it keeps its own database of passwords. In other words, for each user that you intend to permit access for in Samba, you must also create a password. It's easy enough to do:

sudo smbpasswd -a <username>

but if no one tells you this, you will go nuts trying to figure it out. Not even the official Samba HOW-TO gives you a decent clue about this.

Apparently, you can set Debian Etch up to sync Samba and user passwords, but I haven't gone there yet.

Music Playing Daemon: setup

I've been having way too much fun with MPD lately. It is now my default tool for music listening at home. I am using Music Player Minion, Ario, and QMPDClient on my Windows laptop to control the server, gmpc as a Linux GUI client (Etch doesn't have Ario or QMPDClient), mpc for terminal one-offs, and ncmpc for SSH sessions. Phew. I haven't gotten around to trying Bluetooth devices, etc. It's all quite cool.

As with many things Linux, setting up MPD can be a bit confusing. Below I describe my current setup, which was designed for a reasonable but not paranoid amount of security. It's all quite geeky. If you are not capable of this level of geek, you might want to stay away from MPD until you are.

I will assume that you have already installed MPD and (optionally) Samba. You can point MPD at any directory for it's source of music. Since it's a server and gets launched at system startup (at least in Debian Etch and therefore SkinnyDebbie), I decided the best place…

Oldschool wireless

There's a really good guide to setting up WiFi without using NetworkManager at

Why would you want to do this? Because when you do, the wireless LAN connection comes up automatically when you boot the machine. This is a really good idea if you are running any servers (e.g., the outrageously fun MPD). Of course it's a really bad idea to run a server off a wireless connection whether it comes up automatically or not, but sometimes you just can't snake cables where you want your machine to be. And if you're not running any servers, it spares you the bother of having to type in connection authorization at login. If you do a lot of roaming, then giving up NetworkManager (or the similar netapplet) may not be such a great idea; but if you don't, this approach may save you from some bother.

The only things I would add to what is posted in the Ubuntu forum are:
You can include more that one interface in the /etc/network/interface…

MadWifi and SkinnyDebbie

My main SkinnyDebbie test machine is an Acer TravelMate 508T laptop. It has no built-in Ethernet. I don't think I need to say that it has no built-in WiFi. It has one PCMCIA slot.

I use a 3Com OfficeConnect 10/100 LAN adapter card (PCMCIA) for Ethernet connectivity. I've never had to do anything special to make the lappy's networking go with any Linux distribution I have tried. It just works "out of the box." I also have a D-Link DWL-G630 WiFi card (also PCMCIA). It works "out of the box" in Xubuntu, but not in SkinnyDebbie. This is a summary of how I got it to work.

I bought the D-Link card because it was listed as Linux compatible at (and because of favorable comments at Newegg). The site says that my card is compatible with MadWifi drivers--drivers that have been developed to support Atheros chipsets. The process below is adapted from MadWifi's own newbie installation guide; however, I had to do some extra stuff and no…

SkinnyDebbie and the Macintosh PowerPC

I tried loading SkinnyDebbie onto an old Macintosh Cube.

"Linux on PowerPC?" you ask? And at 450 MHz? Debian is one of the few distributions that officially supports the PowerPC architecture. And SkinnyDebbie on i386 at 500Mhz works just fine. So it seemed natural to try.

It worked. In fact, I am really happy not just that it works but also with how well it works. So far I have found only four gotchas--two having to do with SkinnyDebbie and two having to do with Larger Issues. The SkinnyDebbie ones are easy to fix. The Larger Issues are not.

First the SkinnyDebbie stuff:

IceWM's network traffic monitor doesn't work. This is caused by the fact that (at least on my Cube), eth0 gets assigned to FireWire networking and eth1 to Ethernet. The fix is easy: open ~/.icewm/preferences and add eth1 to the list of monitored network devices in the NetworkStatusDevice field. When you restart IceWM, you should now see the network traffic monitor. (Make the same change as root to the co…