Ubuntu Icons Directory Routing

I had the weirdest problem the other day so I thought I'd write it down! I uploaded a toy script for someone, but it had images in it and they wouldn't load. The image files existed, and I could request everything around them, files in other subdirectories were okay; the same files in other subdirectories also served correctly. Yet in my error logs I just had lots of:

File does not exist: /usr/share/apache2/icons/ ...

Which was really odd, because my webroot is somewhere else completely!

Eventually I spotted a /icons entry in the configuration for mod_alias in apache, which intercepts all requests to /icons on any virtual host, and rewrites it. Err, thanks? Renaming the directory to "images" solved the problem in this instance, and I hope if you googled for an error message, you will find this page and be able to fix it equally quickly :)

Managing PHP 5.4 Extensions on Ubuntu

My shiny new VPS* runs Ubuntu 12.10 (official subtitle: Quantal Queztal. Local nickname: Quirky Kestrel) and therefore has PHP 5.4 installed. It's very new so every command I type is missing, and today I realised that included a PECL module (pecl_http, of course). So I aptitude install php5-pear and then get tangled in dev packages (clue: look which libcurl you have already installed to figure out which of a long list of -dev packages to choose), managing finally to emerge with a pecl install http that completes successfully with the words:

configuration option "php_ini" is not set to php.ini location
You should add "extension=http.so" to php.ini

I've been using Ubuntu for some time however, and we don't put settings straight into php.ini, there's a directory called /etc/php5/conf.d/ where all the various module configurations live, or you can enable things just for when PHP is called by apache or from the CLI. However today I hopped into /etc/php5/ and saw this:

.
├── apache2
├── cli
├── conf.d
└── mods-available

Hmmm ... mods-available ? Continue reading

Downloading Files from Faspex

This week, someone sent me a very large file using something called faspex. To begin with, it sent me a link to click on to download my file, but then started telling me "for best results, install a plugin". And apparently "for best results" means "to download this file in any way".
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Movable Type Fonts and Ubuntu

Since relaunching this site, with actual design rather than several shades of pink thrown together, I've become more aware of being consistent in presentation. With this in mind, I wanted add the same fonts to Ubuntu that are used here.
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First Steps with GraphViz

This year I moved my whole presentations toolchain over to LaTeX and PDF, and where I added diagrams (which doesn't happen a lot!) I used graphviz to generate them. Graphviz is a way of describing items and their relationships in a textual manner, and rendering them into a graph - and the results can be saved as an image, or included in LaTeX documents.

I found graphviz frustrating at times but on the whole it draws clean, symmetrical graphs far beyond anything else I can manage, even if I do use a mouse or tablet. Since I'm not able to use a pointing device on a regular basis, and I'm marking up my presentations in text also, it turned out to be a really good fit. I thought I'd share how I got on with it and some of my own graphs - as much to remind me next time conference season comes around as anything.

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Apache on Ubuntu/Debian

Apache on Debian. Ubuntu

When I first started using Ubuntu, I was coming from a distro journey that started with FreeBSD and took in Mandrake and Gentoo along the way; I hadn't worked with any Debian-based systems before and was new to the way that Apache is configured on those platforms.

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Installing Gearman for PHP and Ubuntu

I've been using Gearman lately in a project that I'm working on, and of course a month later when I came to deploy the code, I had to look up all over again what was required for a gearman server in order to put it on the new platform. Here is the short version for my future reference (and yours, if you like)

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Using gnome-keybinding-properties

ubuntu netbook logoLast week I reinstalled my aspireone, which I've had for quite a while but which is really excellent for events. I put the latest Ubuntu Netbook Remix onto it and it installed like a dream, with peripherals and powersaving all working correctly. It says something about the positive experiences I've had with *buntu installs lately that I even did this over the wifi!

The weird thing was that I don't really use Gnome on other machines as I prefer KDE, and I hadn't seen the Unity desktop before (as I understand it, this is a lightweight gnome replacement - it still looks and smells like gnome to me), so there were a few things that were "missing" as far as I was concerned. Easily the most annoying is the Alt+F2 shortcut, I don't really care what GUI I'm using, I mostly just run things from that! I also realised that I now had workspaces, but that there was no keyboard shortcut to switch between them (I don't use a mouse, so it's keyboard or nothing for me).

Enter a wonderful utility called gnome-keybinding-properties.
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Missing pcre.h when installing pecl_oauth

I was playing with pecl_oauth last week (more about that in a later post) and when I tried to install from PECL, it grabbed the files, ran the configure step but stopped with an error status during make. This is bad news for those of us who are ubuntu users rather than compile-happy linux users! Closer inspection showed this line around the point things started to go wrong:

Error: /usr/include/php5/ext/pcre/php_pcre.h:29:18: error: pcre.h: No such file or directory

I didn't have the header files for pcre installed - in ubuntu the headers are in the -dev packages so I just installed what I needed:

sudo aptitude install libpcre3-dev

Re-attempting the pecl install, everything worked as expected. This is on Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx, and from reading around you'd want to install the same package in response to this error message, regardless of what you were doing to cause it. Hope this helps someone.

Thoughts on OggCamp in Liverpool

Last weekend I went to Liverpool (my first visit there!) to attend OggCamp for the second year in a row. This isn't a part of the software community I normally interact with, but I accidentally went to a LUGRadio event once a couple of years ago and have been hooked ever since!! OggCamp went to 2 days for the first time this year and was a triumph of organisation, with a great venue and a wonderful feel to the whole event. I was particularly impressed (as an event organiser myself) that for an event with no registration, they had the right number of chairs, the venue was the right size, but in fact they didn't have that information so a very well done to whoever made that call :)

I spoke again this year, it seemed to me like since there was voting on the talks, if my talk wouldn't be a good fit then I wouldn't get a slot! So I did put in a talk about source control; a topic that I'll be speaking on in a couple of weeks at TEK-X in Chicago and one that I still feel a little bit wobbly about. Taking the main stage to give a hastily-reduced version of the talk to such a well qualified audience and coming off the stage to feel like it went OK was an excellent preparation for my next speaking event and I got chatting to all sorts of people while I was there. I'm not really a linux nut but I do have ubuntu or kubuntu installed on everything, and it was great to hear a bit more about so many aspects of technology that I use but don't know much about.

The event ended in the traditional live podcast with all the presenters of Linux Outlaws and the Ubuntu UK Podcast all on stage at once. This is always good fun and there were some laughs from the crowd as always.

OggCamp Live Podcast

All in all, a great event, and I'm very much looking forward to next year's!