Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tip: Fetch and password-protected web pages

In order to make fetch (the FreeBSD downloading tool) ask for username/password when it encounters a password-protected web page, you can set the environment variable HTTP_AUTH to 'basic:*'.

Users of t/csh shells can temporarily set the environment variable like so:
% setenv HTTP_AUTH='basic:*'
To set it permanetly we need to add it to .cshrc:
% vim ~/.cshrc
setenv HTTP_AUTH 'basic:*'
And that's it.

HowTo: Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG on Debian

I've recently dabbled with Debian Lenny on my Dell D620 and found myself needing to access my wireless network.

These are the required steps to activate the Intel PRO/Wireless 3945 ABG device on Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 Lenny:
  1. $ su
  2. # aptitude install firmware-iwlwifi
  3. # modprobe -r iwl3945 && modprobe iwl3945
  4. point to the Network Manager icon on Gnome's top panel and enter the details of your wireless network
Do notice that firmware-iwlwifi is a non-free firmware so you need to enable the non-free repositories. To do so point to System -> Administration -> Software Sources -> Debian Software and enable the non-free and contrib repositories.

I found the whole process of enabling and using 3945ABG on Debian very simple and straightforward which was a welcome change from the days of the old ipw driver ;)

Tip: FreshPorts search plugin for Firefox

There are several ways to find software available for FreeBSD.

The FreshPorts website tracks changes to the third party applications in the ports tree as they occur. Users of the Firefox web browser can install a search engine to be able to search through http://www.freshports.org/ and find software available for FreeBSD on a friendly manner.

To do so point to http://www.searchplugins.net/pluginlist.aspx?q=freshports&mode=title and click to install the search engine. After installing it go to Firefox's search box where Google's engine usually sits and choose the newly installed FreshPorts search engine.

By doing so you can search for applications to install on FreeBSD from the comfort of Firefox.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Book Review: X Power Tools

Short and to the point books.

That's the trend you'll notice after reading stuff like The Book of PF, Building a Server with FreeBSD 7 and BSD Unix Toolbox. X Power Tools happily joins the mentioned groups... with distinction.

The book is divided in 15 sections which are further organized into articles going over subjects such as the history of the Xorg server, configuration (how to build a xorg.conf), advanced configuration (including multiple displays) and troubleshooting in the book's Part I.

Client oriented subjects are brought in with Part II, which covers many of the rather unknown applications that are part of Xorg, e.g. xmag, xset, xdpyinfo, xfontsel and many others.

Part III exposes the reader to color, fonts and keyboard configuration.

Using X remotely is covered to a reasonable extent in the book's Part III. Here X tunneling with SSH and VNC are discussed alongside XDMCP and xauth.

In a rather unexpected way, the author chose to wrap-up the book by going over the details of configuring X for a kiosk.

As a side note it was nice to see that the author didn't focus only on Linux but also took into account FreeBSD when writing the book (moused settings are analysed).

It should be pointed out that the book was printed in late 2007, so HAL device configuration of keyboard, mouse and displays aren't discussed. However, in my opinion anyone wanting to read this book has already dealt with the situation and is looking into expanding his knowledge of Xorg into less focused things such as fonts, raw X terminal, xinit, etc.

X Power Tools is very handy and well structured making it a good alternative to those that avoid reading Xorg's extensive man page (such as yours truly).

If the Xorg subject appeals to you buy the book. Though a bit expensive, the book is a must have if you want to dwell on Xorg from a very hands-on approach.