Sunday, July 31, 2011

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Running Linux from a Flash Drive

USB Flash Drive
One of my friends at work was talking about running Linux from a USB drive and I thought to myself, "Self, I've never done that.  I wonder what's involved."  As it turns out, creating a bootable USB Flash Drive with Ubuntu Linux is pretty easy.  This post shows you how to do it.

If you already have Ubuntu Linux (v.11.04) installed then simply boot up your computer and from the main menu (of the Classic Desktop) select System -> Administration -> Startup Disk Creator.  If you don't have Linux installed, then insert the Ubuntu Linux DVD, restart your computer and run Ubuntu from the DVD (don't install Linux, just "try Linux").  Once Linux has booted then select Startup Disk Creator by clicking on the Ubuntu icon in the

Friday, July 29, 2011

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Cron and SSH: No Password Required

Tux: The Linux Penguin
Setting up cron jobs with ssh can sometimes be useful.  The problem is that ssh requires a password.  Well, not really.  In this post, I'll walk through how you can set up ssh so that you don't need a password and how you can put an ssh command into a cron job to transfer files from one machine to another on a schedule.

Before we get started, allow me to briefly explain cron for those of who don't know.  Cron is a daemon (a program that runs in the background and is not controlled by a user) that kicks off periodically as defined by your crontab settings.  Each user has

Thursday, July 28, 2011

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Replacing Your Windows Desktop with Linux: Pidgin and Evolution

Logo from
I use Exchange for my work email.  But I like to use Ubuntu Linux for my OS at work.  Historically, the two do not mix.  I actually know some people who gave up trying to make them mix and just run Windows inside a virtual on Linux for checking their mail and communicating over Office Communicator.  For me, this would not do.  So, armed with Evolution and Pidgin, I decided to find a way to make my Linux desktop work with Exchange.

First, you'll notice that Pidgin does not hook into Office Communicator out of the box.  You need a third party extension for this to happen.  Meet the Sipe project (  You simply install Sipe, start up Pidgin and add your Office Communicator account and credentials.  It's as simple as that.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

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exFAT (FAT64) on Linux

Hard Drive Platter and Arm
I have a Mac for my home computer and I use Linux and Windows at work.  One of the biggest problems I have is that there is really only one file system that works between all 3: FAT32.  FAT32 is old and clunky but it is compatible across all major operating systems, so it is the defacto choice for formatting  external drives.  The only problem with FAT32... um... it's FAT32; you can't have files larger than 4GB in FAT32.

The solution: FAT64 or exFAT.  exFAT is Microsoft's solution to large flash drives, USB sticks and the like.  It works well with Mac

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

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Java vs. .Net

Well, it was only a matter of time before I had to post something about Java vs. .Net.  I have worked with both platforms and admittedly I have my own opinions.  But, unlike many who have strong opinions one way or the other, I have actually worked with both platforms.  Here's my take.

(1) If you are a Microsoft fan, if all you want to do is work with the Microsoft platform then .Net is for you.  Microsoft has integrated .Net pretty tightly into Windows and if you are 100% Microsoft then you do get some nice benefits out of the box with .Net.  However, if you work in a mixed environment or if you are developing a product that may have to run or inter-operate with other non-Microsoft platforms then Java has the edge.  Everything about Java is platform agnostic.  From the JVM's available to the multi-vendor support.  Java is about crossing boundaries. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

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Virtualize Your Desktop

Microsoft Windows Logo
Do you have a Windows desktop?  Would you rather have a Linux desktop?  Would you like to run Linux as your primary OS but keep your Windows desktop on hand as a virtual desktop?  This is the situation I found myself in.

My employer issued me a 32-bit Windows 7 OS on a 64-bit i5 laptop with 8Gig of RAM.  Not only is that extremely wasteful (32-bit OS's can only address 4Gig of physical memory), it was also not my OS of choice.  So, I decided to virtualize my Windows 7 install and run it inside a 64-bit Linux OS.  My goal was to keep all my corporate standard programs and settings (including Windows domain registration) and just simply run Windows as a virtual desktop instead of my primary OS.