Sunday, 24 February 2013

Helping a friend (counselling service in North Wales)

There are few greater joys in life than helping a friend.  Recently, a friend of mine has started a counselling practice and, though I see less of him now, because he is so busy, I am happy for his success.  With that in mind, however, I must also help him to greater success, if I am able to do so.

His name is Karl Pegg, and he runs a counselling service from - by phone, email, instant messaging or in person.  He is very good at what he does.  Actually, the adage that a stranger is a friend you just haven't met yet is appropriate here.  My friend can help people, and I am also helping, indirectly, by publicising his service.

That's my good deed for the day.  I feel a warm glow now, and it's not just because I've had the heating on for too long.


I had the idea of increasing my (already impressive) knowledge of operating systems by using virtual machines.  Unfortunately, the version of Virtualbox that comes as standard on the Debian edition of Linux Mint will not allow me to get past this stage...
In both cases, the GRUB boot loader obviously works fine, but the virtual machine freezes when it should load the Linux kernel.  Yes, I'm familiar with Linux already, but I thought it would be a great way to test the technology first.  If I were to have problems installing NetBSD or OpenBSD, for example, I might believe that it was due to my inexperience with those operating systems.

I also tried Debian and CentOS because, if I were to use Linux in a business setting, my choice would be between those two distributions.  Those of you in the know will notice that I was testing Debian wheezy.  Well, it is currently in "feature freeze", so is pretty close to release right now.  When learning about operating systems, it is best to stay ahead of the curve, as it were.

As for not being able to get past the boot loader, I'll figure it out.  I always figure it out.

Update: I figured it out.  My CPU does not have the Intel virtualisation extensions, so Virtualbox will not allow me to virtualise 64-bit operating systems.  32-bit OS images should work fine.  I'll try this out when I have more time.

Here is the i386 version of FreeBSD installing ...

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Thought for the day: acquired wisdom

 I saw a set of five personal guidelines, written by someone else and, given my own experience, I rewrote them as the following...
  1. Bring something of yourself to what you do - make it your own
  2. Recognise opportunities and take them
  3. No matter how busy your life, find some quiet time for yourself 
  4. It is okay not to know everything
  5. Don't put things off until later
 They are not a million miles from what was originally written, but I modified them in accordance with guideline number 1.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

LMDE and printers

After a regrettable moment of madness, which involved installing xubuntu on my laptop, I had to reinstall Linux Mint Debian Edition.  To my horror, my Brother laser printer would no longer print.  According to the GUI configuration program, my printer was recognised, but any job sent to the printer, though listed as completed, never actually printed onto paper.

Searching the forums led nowhere.  Many people had experienced the problem, but no one was offering a solution, except to say that the problem was an "upstream" bug (i.e. from the testing branch of Debian).  Having used Debian testing for a long period of time, I didn't accept that explanation.  I reasoned that the bug had probably been fixed in the testing branch since the LMDE update pack was released.  So I made some additions to /etc/apt/sources.list...

#default LMDE repos
deb debian main upstream import
deb testing main contrib non-free
deb testing/updates main contrib non-free
deb testing main non-free

#Debian repos
deb stable main contrib non-free
deb-src stable main contrib non-free
deb stable-updates main contrib non-free
deb-src stable-updates main contrib non-free
deb stable/updates main contrib non-free
deb-src stable/updates main contrib non-free

Why did I point my sources.list towards debian stable?  Unbelievable as it may sound, some core packages of debian stable are more recent than in LMDE, and possibly newer than debian testing packages.  After making the changes, I did sudo apt-get update, sudo apt-get upgrade and sudo apt-get dist-upgrade.  After all the upgrades to the base packages from the stable branch, it was time to edit my sources.list to point to debian testing...

#Debian repos
deb testing main contrib non-free
deb-src testing main contrib non-free
deb testing-updates main contrib non-free
deb-src testing-updates main contrib non-free
deb testing/updates main contrib non-free
deb-src testing/updates main contrib non-free

After that, the same old apt-get routine.  If you don't want the LMDE repositories to clash with debian testing repos, comment out the debian lines with a hash at the start of each line, or delete them altogether.  I'm pretty sure that the next update pack won't be arriving for quite a while, so obtaining upgrades from debian is pretty safe right now.  More importantly, my printer now works as it should.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Why all the hatred towards England?

"Anyone but England" seems to be the cry.  In any sporting fixture (it's a rugby tournament between England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy right now), the people of other nations of the United Kingdom will seemingly support any team that is playing against England.

Maybe there are historical reasons for this.  The problem I have is that, if it were practically any other nation on Earth, it would be labelled as unacceptable.  Certainly, I have seen a worrying attitude towards anyone English in Ireland and Scotland; in Wales, thankfully, it is at a much lower level.

The effect it has is probably the reverse of what is intended.  Though I live in Wales, I am English by birth.  Over the course of my life, I have faced a torrent of abuse, simply for being English - mainly during my time in Ireland, but also in my adopted home of Wales.  The problem is that, if you draw the attention of the perpetrators to the problem, the attitude is "If you don't like it, **** off back to where you came from."  Welsh, Scottish and Irish inhabitants of England are not subject to the same bigotry.

I don't know the reason for this, but the effect of it all, as I was saying, is to make me steadfastly proud to be English.  You see, all that hatred causes a reaction which makes me identify more closely with the country of my birth.  I am, have always been, and will always be, English.