Ubuntu 13.10 – Saucy Salamander Upgrade

saucyLast week, Ubuntu started pestering me about upgrading from 13.04 to 13.10.  While I should have know better, I elected to go ahead and perform the upgrade.  Not that it’s out of the question for me to run on the bloody, razor’s edge, I just made a couple errors in judgement that cost me a few hours of shop time.

My first mistake was not having a backup.  I use Ubuntu One and Dropbox to store off my important data so if the OS tanks, oh well.  It would be a pain in the ass, but I could get through it.  What I didn’t expect was that this would actually happen since the upgrade from 12.04 to 13.04 was flawless.  So, no system-wide, disaster recovery, monkeys ARE flying out of your butt backups.

The second error was basing this upgrade success on the last upgrade.  While it’s only been a few months, a secret squirrel is capable of jacking up a build within one cycle.  I’m a software engineer.  I know these things.  Hell, I’ve DONE these things.  Bah… what could go wrong, aye?

So, I started out getting the notice to upgrade which I eagerly confirmed.  I got the normal, mentions about breaking your stuff, back up your stuff, the moon is made of cheese disclaimers.  Blah…. waving them off with a deft click of the mouse, I continued into Saucy Nerdvana…

Just as a matter of conversion, when an upgrade notice tells you NOT to turn off your machine, they mean it.  No foolin, here.  It’s going to cause problems.  The moon will become a ball of Nachos!

About half way through the multi-hour upgrade, my machine started twitching.  Error in Judgement #3.  I should have found another machine to work on while the upgrade finished.  But I was being a little lazy and about to be paid for sloth.  The OS suddenly twitched, pitched, then switched.  Finally it locked up then shut off.  Technically, I did not turn off the power but I probably pissed it off somehow.

I attempted to boot it back up and got to my Grub menu but not much further.  The boot process ended with a black screen and a fully functional mouse.  This would have been cool in 1972 but it just sucked for 2013.  I tried some vain attempts at repair but nothing worked.  It was dead, Jim.

My hope was that I could install a fresh copy of 13.10 on top and everything would be fine.  So I downloaded the latest version and burned it to a DVD.  I then booted off it and started the install process.  I was warned that all my programs would be going to heaven by everything under my home directory would be fine.  So, when prompted, I put in my username and password, then sent the install off to do it’s thing.

After a while, it finished and I rebooted.  I added my username and password into the login form and…. nothing… Whaaaa?

It turns out that Ubuntu assigned a new ID to my user account.  So, even though the username and password were the same, I was not allowed access.  Luckily, I was able to switch into the terminal (CTRL + ALT + F6).  I was able to log in here and then via sudo, chown my home directory to my new user account.

Then I spent about 4 hours reinstalling the apps that I really, really needed.  Had I not put in my actual username and password, I suspect that my creds would still have worked without issue (since I was able to log in with my secret squirrel account).

So, in the end, I got to keep all my important stuff and do a little Fall cleaning of crap that has been accumulating.  But it should have been easier that that.  No fault of Ubuntu’s.  I simply got lazy and didn’t follow my own rules.

So, now I have had my 5-year computer epic fail moment, which usually gets me back on the straight and narrow.  I’ll probably be waiting for v14.10 before I upgrade again, staying on version behind, like usual and running backups like I should.

But then again, where would the fun be in that…

Linux Noobie – App Installation (Java Install Redux)

penguin-ubuntuSince burning my ship and switching between Mac and Linux (for work… At home, it’s straight-up Linux), I have found a much easier way of making software manageable for me.  This means its manageable BY me but that’s ok because with some apps, I need to control versioning.  This works with apps that are downloadable, don’t have a million and one dependencies and meant to run independently.

Previously, as most Linux users should, I used the package management system.  This is still a good practice, making installation and removal easy, not to mention patching/updates/upgrades/etc.  However, my local Ubuntu as a deathgrip on Java v7.  I don’t have anything against JDK7 and would prefer to use it.  However, my primary CMS is locked into JDK6, and JDK7 makes it very sad.

What I generally do for things like the JDK, Maven, MySQL, etc. is to put it through the Noobie Initializer of Dooooom:

  1. Unpack the tar/zip/suitcase to my /opt folder
  2. rename the folder to “<appname>-<version number>
  3. create a symbolic link to the app-version folder of my choosing
  4. add “export <app short name>_HOME=/opt/<symlink>” to my .bashrc
  5. add “…:$<app short name>_HOME/bin” to my path in .bashrc

This allows me the flexibility to swap out different versions so that I can evaluate new releases with my software easily without wrestling with the package mangler.  So far, I haven’t had any adverse issues with this process and the only caveat would be that I need to proactively seek out updates that may occur.  Since my current production/prod-like apps use the current version, I am slow to move to the next version without compelling, motivating factors like death, dismemberment or hunger.  However, I still check to see where I am at at least once a month or sooner if the mood strikes me.

Here’s a list of what I run with this method:

  • maven
  • vault
  • java
  • Sublime
  • groovy
  • grails
  • idea
  • jmeter
  • mysql
  • mongo


Blogging with a Mac Part 2 – Blogo

So, last night, I started out looking for a great blog editor for use on my Mac. My first attempt was a bust but the second attempt was not bad. I wasn’t doing back flips for having to pay for an editor I’m not crazy about but the editor got the job done with minimal fuss. Tonight, I am giving my next candidate, Blogo from DrinkBrainJuice.com

Download and setup was pretty straightforward. The initial startup of the app helps you get your blog configured or will help you create a new one. You can also setup your YouTube, Flikr, and other accounts for easy import to your blog.

Basic blog entry is easy enough. The editor is a WYSIWYG with a button to toggle back and forth between html markup and rich text. Pre-configured categories can be easily added as well as adding new ones ad-hoc. Media can be easily added by dragging it to a drop box. A nice feature is that you can do simple editing on pictures that you add. Nice touch. Finally, all the buttons have tool tips making using the application incredibly intuitive.

This is really an easy application to use and I am very happy with it. With a 21 day evaluation period, you have plenty of time to kick the tires before plunking down $25 for the unnagged version.

Give them a try. Go to http://www.DrinkBrainJuice.com/blogo and check out all the features (most not mentioned here)l.

This blog was written using Blogo.

UPDATE: After posting, I had a little trouble aligning the picture at the top of the this blog. The picture edit feature didn’t really help me much. Instead of trying to fix it, I left it the way the app put it up. meh.

Blogging with a Mac Part 1 – MarsEdit

MarsEditIcon128.jpgWell, as many of you know, I accepted a new position with Bright House Networks. I was blessed with a new MacBook Pro and it is hands down the most powerful, versatile laptop that I have ever used or owned.

It is a big challenge getting used to a Mac again. Having owned one for a couple of years, one would think that I’d have it down. Well, the wife stole it for her business and I haven’t touched it since.

So, I really wanted to start blogging about some of my projects and things that I have been working on. A couple years ago I started using Microsoft’s Live Writer and loved it. So recently I have been looking for an equivalent editor for the Mac.

My first attempt was an app called Qumana. I won’t spend much time on this because it simply didn’t work. At least not with WordPress so I moved on. Maybe I’ll try it again another time.

This blog entry is written using MarsEdit from Red Sweater Software. My first impression is that it’s simple. Not in a bad way, it’s just simple to use. Adding my WordPress account was painless. Including graphics was a snap. Click the media menu item, drag your picture into the target area, and publish. Shake and bake.

The editor is pretty simple too. Not much mark up to start with and definitely not an in-line WYSIWYG editor but there is a preview window that pops um next to the editor to get that job done. Adding markup is easy to do for both the novice and expert alike. The only thing that could be an issue for the uninitiated would be that when formatting the text or adding a graphic, the markup is added right into the edit and might cause some confusion but not a problem for me. Adding Categories is easy. You just type the name of the category and click the Add button. It’s also easy to save drafts and publish the blog.

Finally, updating a published blog was easy. Also, once I registered my blog, all my existing posts populated in the main window along with date and categories.

A few things that cause me to keep looking. If this app were free, it would probably be fine. However, for an application that costs $29.95, I’m a little disappointed. It’s not a lot of money but there are plenty of Blog editors out there that do more for less (some for free).

If you are comfortable with working with HTML and prefer working in a text-based editor, you might find this app right up your alley. However, if you prefer to have an integrated WYSIWYG editor or you enjoy keeping your money in your pocket (or used to buy Mountain Dew), then you might want to check back for my next review — Blogo by BrainJuice

Site Theme

I have been playing around with my blog theme and I’m not yet satisfied.  There are lots of templates to choose from but the ones that I have selected so far haven’t really expressed what I am looking for.  So, if the theme changes over the next week or two, do be alarmed, It’s just me rearranging the furnature.