N.B. If you're looking for my main blog, it lives at: http://bjkeefe.blogspot.com/


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Updating Firefox More Easily

I don't know why it didn't occur to me to try this before, but you can enable the Help -> Check for Updates menu option by launching Firefox through sudo. For example, open a terminal window and type:

$ sudo /usr/bin/firefox

Don't put it in the background with a trailing ampersand, as is probably the usual way to launch most GUI apps from the command line, or else you won't be able to type in the sudo password.

It turned out for me when I wanted to get the update (from that the patch wouldn't install properly, for reasons beyond my understanding, so I had to click the option to get the whole program. At least the rest was automatic -- no need to download and unpack a tarball.

Next issue: how to prevent Ubuntu's Update Manager from offering the download the updates for v1.5.0.11? Probably I have to remove it from the list of packages somehow, but I'm too tired to fiddle with that right now. Let me know, or I'll try to remember to post an update.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Ubuntu Desktop: Change Icon Size

I've been looking, off and on, for a way to shrink the size of the desktop icons. Not available through toolbar menus, as far as I can see.

Turns out there's a more direct way to do it: right-click on the icon and choose "Stretch Icon" from the context menu. You'll get a little box around the icon, with prominent corners. Grab one of the corners with the mouse, and while holding the left button down, move the corner (inward, to shrink, obviously). Release when you like the new size.


Comment: One minor drawback to this GUI design decision: it means you have to resize all icons individually. On the other hand, I could see wanting icons to be different sizes by default. Matter of taste.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Firefox - sudden "Personal Security Manager" problem

This is correlated with, but not for sure caused by, upgrade to Firefox v1.5.0.10 (via GUI Update Manager):

I suddenly had a problem with visiting secure sites; e.g., login page for many web mail accounts. Got error page from Firefox saying there was some kind of server/config error, and something to do with "Personal Security Manager." Only other thing recent possibly related was addition of a Windows box to home network, but seems crazy to think that is at fault. Nonetheless, probably have done more than one upgrade to Linux box since last tried accessing any https sites, so unsure.

A bit of Googling suggested that missing package "mozilla-psm" was at root. Couldn't find this package directly through GUI package manager or via apt-get. Came across it as an evident download page, on Ubuntu site I think, but install info lacking. Nothing glaringly obvious on a few Linux forums that I looked at.

Decided to download and install Firefox v2.0.0.2 (the lazy way out). Downloaded tarball, killed current instance of Firefox, then did:

$ sudo cp ~/Desktop/firefox- /usr/lib/.
$ cd /usr/lib
$ sudo mv firefox firefox-v1.5
$ sudo tar zxvf firefox-
$ sudo rm firefox-

Note the "mv" command refers to the directory firefox, and note that every line beginning with a $ should be entered as a single line.

Existing symlink (from v1.5) has /usr/bin/firefox pointing to /usrlib/firefox/firefox, so launch mechanisms preserved.

Everything worked after that: Add-ons updated properly on initial launch, can now access secure sites, etc.

Probably also worth noting that Upgrade Manager may not handle new version of Firefox properly, since v1.5.0.10 is what's current as an Ubuntu package. AFAIK: Firefox v2 hasn't been packaged for Ubuntu nice and easy upgrade/install yet; they're still on v1.5.x. FWIW: Update Manager thinks my system is up to date when force check; i.e., at least doesn't complain about new version. I'll have to try to remember to note what happens the next time an upgrade for either version is available.

+ + + + +


2007-03-14 08:11 EDT

There are some more comments about this on a related post on my other blog.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

test post

Just testing out some cross-posting business.

Monday, October 09, 2006

How to Burn an Ubuntu ISO image using Mac OSX v10.2.8 (Jaguar)

After I'd done this a few times, I'd forgotten how, so this time I decided to make notes. I found that following instructions elsewhere, for example, on the Ubuntu site, didn't quite work for me. This procedure does:

0. Download the desired .iso image from Ubuntu's web site.

1. Launch Disk Copy (Applications > Utilities > Disk Copy).

2. Ignore Disk Copy's pop-up window that invites you to drop an image on it. Instead, from the menu bar, do File > Burn Image and select the your .iso file from within the Finder dialog window.

3. When prompted, insert a blank CD. My system opens the CD tray automatically at this point. You'll note a new dialog box with the Burn button diabled.

4. After inserting the CD, a few seconds will pass, and then the Burn button becomes active. Click it.

5. After burning completes, Disk Copy will perform a verification step, and after that, the disk will be ready. On my system, the CD tray pops open.

You can quit Disk Copy, re-insert the CD, and double-click its icon to verify that it contains a number of files and folders. Also, the disk seems to get automatically named as part of the burning process.

NB: The (recommended) verification step, after burning, runs automatically for me. I don't know if this is the default setting for Disk Copy, or whether I had earlier turned it on by hand. Check Disk Copy > Preferences prior to burning, if you like. Sorry that I don't know enough about Macs to give more details here.

Also, the Ubuntu web site indicates that for later versions of Mac OS X, you should use Disk Utility instead of Disk Copy to burn an ISO image to a CD. I have a Mac running OS X v 10.4 (Tiger), and it presents as though the Ubuntu site's instructions would work in this case. I don't have a burner on the Tiger machine, so I can't say for sure.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

PATH problems

Status: unresolved

I need to figure out a way to get my PATH set upon login -- sys default is mostly okay, but I'd like to add ~/bin to it. Modifying .bash_profile didn't seem to do the trick. Is it another file that needs it, like .bashrc, say? Or do I need an "export" command or something similar? Or should the properties of the terminal be set so that it runs a login process?

See http://www.debian.org/doc/manuals/reference/examples/_bashrc for a starting point.

Emacs toolbar, cursor control

Status: resolved (but not yet written up)

I managed to suppress the stupid toolbar in Emacs. Need to add the notes here.

Also, came across a nice trick that makes the cursor move out of the way when the point approaches it, and then move back when the point moves past that area. Need to add the notes here.

Emacs fonts

Status: unresolved

The initial appearance of Emacs was pretty horrid. After fiddling around for way too long, I managed to get it to use a font that is tolerable. I'd like it to use the same font as is used in the terminal window.

In general, the fonts on Ubuntu are not so great. The default serif font in Firefox, for example , is UG LEE. Whatever was set by the template for this blog presents as a pretty appealing sans-serif font when viewing it from my Ubuntu machine, but it looks like the same (default) serif font when viewing it from my Mac or PC.

resolv.conf rebuilt on reboot

Status: unresolved

The file resolv.conf, as originally appearing on the system, is somewhat broken. Contents:

search domain.invalid nameserver nameserver

I have a little script that fixes this by writing a new resolv.conf file that specifies the nameservers used by my ISP and which eliminates the "search" line. However, upon every restart of the system, the original file reappears. I'm guessing it's something to do with the fact that I have DHCP set up -- all my machines go through an ISP-supplied gateway/router/modem, and they all run DHCP, and I think Ubuntu detected this during installation. There are some scripts in /etc/dhcp3/ that seem to have something to do with the creation of resolv.conf, but I haven't grokked them fully yet.


  1. How do I prevent my new resolv.conf file from being overwritten on reboot?
  2. What's the deal with "domain.invalid"? This seems like an issue from some other config file that I need to address.
  3. How would I go about fixing things so that the DHCP config scripts do their thing, but create a proper resolv.conf file?

P.S. Why is the above list not numbered? I used an <ol> tag. Must be something in the template.

Evolution launched by Firefox

Status: unresolved

When pressing CTRL-m while Firefox is active, an email composition window is launched. Currently, Evolution launches, when I want Thunderbird to launch. I thought I had specified that Thunderbird was to be the default mail client. What's going on?

New Blog

Hi, everybody.

This is an experimental blog that I've started, in part to test out Google's beta version of their new Blogger/Blogspot services. It will focus on my trials and tribulations encountered while coming up to speed with Ubuntu Linux.

I expect that this blog will start off as a dialog with self. At the beginning, a lot of posts will be mostly of the form: "How do I do this?" As time progresses, I'll be posting the answers that I have found. Or so it is to be hoped.

If you're looking for my thoughts on other matters, please see bjkeefe.blogspot.com.

Your input, here and there, is most welcome.