Matt’s list of useful Linux Commands

Here is a list of commands that I find useful on a Linux command line.

  • du -sh $dir – find the size of a directory
  • grep -H -r “$string” /path/to/files – search through all files in a directory for a specific string. pipe through grep again to search through the list.

To be continued.

Standard Ubuntu build commands

So if you’re fairly geeky and re-install your copy of Ubuntu/Mint on a regular basis it’s often quite nice to have a list of standard stuff that doesn’t seem to be installed with the main distro (little things like, Emacs, MySQL, Apache etc etc) anymore. So the following might be a good idea:

apt-get update && apt-get upgrade && apt-get install emacs konversation k3b python mysql-server apache2 vlc build-essential php5 ruby git-core cvs subversion virtualbox inkscape skype wine

If you just want the geek stuff (i.e. no Konversation etc):

apt-get update && apt-get upgrade && apt-get install emacs python mysql-server apache2 build-essential php5 ruby git-core cvs subversion virtualbox inkscape

Obviously the proper way to do things would be to keep a list of all the packages you have installed and just reload them.

Playstation 3

In an attempt to drag this blog back to it’s slightly geekier roots, I’m going to give a few pros and cons of mine and the Wife’s latest gaming purchase, the Sony Playstation 3.  The Wife is rabidly anti-Sony which is why we’ve held off getting one.  However the PS3 is a good Bluray player, so we decided to bite the bullet.  I’ve also been fancying a decent console for a while.  Anyway, without further ado:


  • Great feature set, iplayer, plays most audio and video files
  • Quiet, you really can’t hear it at all, there’s no noise.  Looks ok as well.
  • Good range of games eg Fallout 3, Gran Turismo 5, Assassins Creed series, about the only major series it’s lacking is Fable
  • It’s dead easy to upgrade the hard drive, well done Sony


  • It’s made by Sony
  • Sony are evil gits who love locking you into a wierd and wonderful Sony only format
  • The number of updates for games reminds me of playing games on a PC, I buy a dedicated games console so I don’t have to spend hours updating the OS and patching the game…
  • You can’t run Linux on it any more cause Sony are cocks
  • When you buy the console you have to agree to a bunch of EULAs, I’m sure somewhere in those EULAs I’m agreeing for Sony to watch my every move, anal probe me and generally record everything I do
  • Also they monitor everything, so if you break some random rule, I’m quite sure they’d ban you from stuff…

The pros just about out weigh the cons.  Now, I’m off to play some more Gran Turismo 5.

New PC

My current PC had been getting a bit elderly, also the case wasn’t in the greatest of conditions. Due to the age it still uses AGP graphics and DDR RAM. So upgrading it wasn’t really very worth while. So I got the following:

Motherboard – Gigabyte GA-M57SLI-S4

CPU – AMD 3800+ X2

RAM – 1gb Crucial PC6400

Graphics – Asus EN7300GT

Case – Antec P182

PSU – Tagan 480w

I already had the PSU and the CPU was very cheap from a mate. So it didn’t really cost much and it means I’ll be able to upgrade the graphics fairly soon.

The build was quite straightforward really. I was able to route quite a few of the cables along the backplate, so the main compartment is quite tidy really. I only put two of the hard drives back in, the SATA ones. I’m planning on using the IDE drives for backups, so I’ll be putting them in caddies soon.

Here are a few lovely pictures:

AMD 3800+ X2

Crucial RAM

Gigabyte Motherboard

Gigabyte GA-M57SLI-S4

Otherside of the case

Finished PC
The only part of the build that has really worried me is the clearance between the graphics card and the northbridge. Here’s a nice close up from my shiny new camera:

Macro shot of Graphics Card
As I’ve got two drives, I was planning on going for a dual boot machine. One with some flavour of linux and another with XP. This didn’t quite work out as I’d planned. I installed Ubuntu with out any problems. However so far I’ve not been able to install XP. But as I can do most things I want to on Ubuntu, then I’m not that fussed. Pretty much all the games I want to play work really well. I’ve tried EvE and WoW so far and both are fine.

The Ubuntu install has been fairly plain sailing. The main problem with the installation has been graphics related. Firstly X was sending at a high refresh rate, which my monitor couldn’t cope with. This meant I was flying blind till I could change the resolution. I managed to do this after a while. But it would put most people off. I was then stuck with 640*480 for a while. But I got the proper nvidia drivers installed easily enough. Synaptic is very user friendly. A few X restarts and a bit more fiddling and I had the right resolution, 1024*768. It is just a pity that didn’t hold after a reboot.

Anyway after this, I moved on to sound, which worked fine out of the box and then the printer, which was fine. I didn’t have many problems with setting up the printer for network printing, so my better half can print. It didn’t seem to hold the setting after the reboot, so that is a bit more work.

I’m obviously happy with the new PC. The build has been painless and so far my experience with Ubuntu very good. I’ve used Linux for quite a while now, but so far I’ve never had it as my sole operating system. I currently use Gentoo for my webserver and previously, I’ve used Slackware, Debian and FreeBSD. I’ve been able to do everything I want to with it easily so far. Including WoW and EvE, which is great. There have been a few niggles, but they’ve been easily fixed.

IBM Model M Keyboard

Well the other day I fullfilled a long hope of mine.  I got a IBM Model M keyboard in the post.  I’ve been searching on and off for a nice keyboard and generally failing to find one that I like.  My most recent Apple keyboard is pretty crap and doesn’t really feel nice.  This board is a step in the right direction, but probably a step too far.
IBM Model M Keyboard

IBM keyboard use a two-stage mechanical keyswitch.  A buckling spring switch.  This is a totally mechanical switch, unlike the low quality membrane switches used in most cheapo keyboards.  If you can take the very strong feedback you get with a Model M, they are great.  Well built, reasonably priced, one can be had off ebay quite cheaply.  Or a store like clickykeyboards has a good range in stock.  They will last an awfully long time and are quite repairable.

Sun ultra 60

I’ve got a bit of a hankering for a Sun Ultra 60, as well as my desk hankering. Much cheaper than my wish for a iBook of some description. unixnerd sells Sun and HP workstations second hand. There is some very nice kit on there, wish I actually had some cash atm to buy one.

Wow, this is old. I’m doubting I’ll ever buy one of these, despite the niceness of them. If I was single, I probably would. But then I’d have a few more PCs than I currently have. I’ve got 2 as it stands. 3 when I build a mythTV box. I’m pretty much sticking with Windows these days, because it is the only platform voice recognition works on and familiarity. Lame I know, but it seems to be going that way.

Upgraded to 2.0

I have upgraded this blog to WordPress 2.0, which was a rather painless process. It is now a bit more inline with the other blog on this site, I am quite liking some features of the latest WordPress, but the formatting of the HTML needs a little work.

Now to get to skinning both of these…

Nothing to see here

Move along people. Move along.

On the upside now works. I’m also installing slackware on my machine atm. With the intention of getting enlightenment working.

*crosses fingers*

Bikes, lack of fitness and hughblog

Well. Today has been fun. TG and I went into town with the intention of sorting out the road tax, only to find that we were 4 days early. Which sucks arse. TG tried to find some comfy work shoes that fit. She failed. Rather unfortunate that. I’m lucky I bought a pair in clarks ages ago. Trainery shoe. Nice comfy sole.

After this I dropped TG off at work. She drove there which is good. I then mooched around on the web and on eve for a few hours before finally going off out on a bike ride. This was rather tiring. That bit was quite depressing. The hill I went up and over was so big I had to push most of the way up. The downs were good fun tho. I need to get better brakes on this bike. Infact the list of new kit is quite large.

New backpack
New tyre/inner tubes/slime guards (pretty essential)
Lightweight windproof top (howies sell some nice ones)
Base layer of some kind
Better brakes (discs, which will mean a new frame)

The better brakes quest has led me to look on ebay for a pace frame of some kind. I found on the fast descents I couldn’t scrub speed quickly when I wanted to. The rear V brake was clogged with mud, and due to its age the front disc is worthless. That will require a new wheel because you can’t get discs for the current hub anymore. I’m happy going fast, when I know I can a) stop quickly b) get to the right speed for corners/obsticales.

Last item – is now, finally live. Ugh. Took me 45 minutes as well. I’d forgotten the right syntax for a few commands. Mainly the one to GRANT ALL PRIVS and how to unzip a tar.gz properly. Bit crap that really. I appreciate the power of the command line, but I need to work with it more to get good with it. I work so much with GUIs that I find it hard to break out of the GUI mould.