LHS Show Notes #043


  • Russ, Richard and Bill discuss the 2010 Dayton Hamvention.
  • Thanks to Rob of the Ohio Linux Fest who provided 100 copies of the Ubuntu Live CD to give away to anyone interested.
  • Some of the new equipment shown at Dayton:
  • Russ and Cheryl recorded some audio at Dayton.  Several fans of the show stopped by, including Bill KA9WKA, Rich KD0BJT and Brady KD0BJS from the Low SWR Podcast, and Matt KC8BEW.  An avid listener, G3ZTB from Leeds, England, chatted with us a few times, as well as several others from around the world.
  • Aluma Towers
  • DX Engineering
  • Luso Towers
  • Begali keys
  • Elecraft P3 Panadapter
  • LHS Dayton Raffle winners:
    • Linux in the Ham Shack caps: KC9OLI and W8PJW
    • Linux in the Ham Shack T-shirts: K9LNX and WD8E
    • Grand prize, an Alinco DJ-175T 2m HT: N4KMC


  • Hal left a voice mail after his visit to the booth at Dayton and asks about installing Ubuntu to a flash drive. Russ describes the process. Also see: Ubuntu Installatoin to USB Stick or from Windows, see UNetbootin.
  • Randall, KC4WZE, writes to Russ that appreciates that Richard now has a noise gate, but says it needs adjusting, because he can still hear Richard rant and rave. 🙂
  • LHS got a mention on Episode 57 of The Linux Basement. Thanks, Claudio! Claudio was our guest on Episode 39.
  • LHS was also mentioned in the Gear Diary blog post about SouthEast LinuxFest 2010.
  • Eldon, WA0UWH, mentions us on his blog.
  • Stephen Spector, a member of the Xen project team, mentions LHS in his blog at NetworkWorld.com.
  • Don, WS4E, comments on the web site: what happened to LHS episodes on ustream.tv? Not all get recorded over there.
  • Scott, AD7MI, mentions us on his blog entry about his visit to Dayton.
  • Randall, KC4WZE, also asks Richard about FSK on HF... what are the tones or the frequency shift of FSK? Richard discusses.
  • Randall asks Russ about the relative sizes of one distribution over another, in terms of disk space and memory. He can see there would be differences if all the drivers were statically linked, but believes they are now dynamically loaded. What makes one distro different from another? He then lists a bunch of services he'd like to have running. Russ responds.
  • Randall, again, writes about yanking Richard's badger.

Contact Info:

  • Contact Richard at kb5jbv@gmail.com, Russ at k5tux@lhspodcast.info, or both at the same time at info@lhspodcast.info.
  • Leave us a voice mail at 888-455-0305 or 417-200-4811, or record an introduction to the podcast.
  • Sign up for the LHS mailing list.
  • Thanks, too, to Dave from Gamma Leonis for the theme music and promo.
  • Bill is looking for a job as an IT manager in the NE Illinois area. Please send leads to billgrzanich@gmail.com. Thanks!
  • Next time, SouthEast LinuxFest, Field Day, and more.


LHS Episode #041: Deep Thoughts

Deep ThoughtsIf life would stop conspiring to halt production of Linux in the Ham Shack, everything would be just fine. Instead, because of problems in both our lives, the Dayton Hamvention and the Southeast Linux Fest, everything has been pushed back so far we feel like we're going back in time.

Richard was unable to record for Episode #039, but luckily I was able to find a worthy surrogate for this particular show. Chris and Bryan over at The Linux Action Show had prior obligations and didn't respond quick enough, respectively, but we hope to have them on a future episode. However, ClaudioM decided he didn't have anything better to do and was able to swing by and offer his thoughts on a couple of intriquing concepts suggested by visitors to the Dayton Hamvention: 1) How do we promote Linux and Open Source and should it be promoted, and 2) Why does the perception that Linux is harder to use than Windows persist?

I found this to be a rather insightful episode and I hope you do as well. Thank you to everyone who visited Linux in the Ham Shack in Dayton and in Spartanburg, and please enjoy this latest installment of the program.

73 de The LHS Guys (and ClaudioM)

Linux Mint 7 – Refreshing!

Let me start with a few disclaimers: I like Red Hat and it's various derivatives. I've never much cared for Debian, and I still think Ubuntu is a bit over-rated. And, I'm not a Gnome fan; I like KDE. I know why I have these preferences: Red Hat 4.2 was the first version of Linux I had running, and KDE was the first desktop environment I used on Linux, so these are what I'm comfortable with. Besides, that default brown Ubuntu theme is just ugly. (Yes, I know you can change it.)

When Gnome first came out, it was noticeably slower on my machine (at that time) than KDE, so I stayed with KDE. I also tried some of the other, lighter, window managers, but being lazy, I stuck mostly with KDE and Red Hat for years, even through a few early versions of Fedora. I became disenchanted with Fedora primarily because of it's rapid release cycle. I don't have time to install a new version every six months, or whatever. I like to find a stable version of a distribution and run it for a few years, hopefully with updates. That's why I ended up using CentOS on my home server, and on a couple of desktops. It's stable and gets updates for a good long time. Having said all that...

I started listening to "Linux in the Ham Shack", "Resonant Frequency", and "Linux Outlaws", and decided it was time to look at something else. My CentOS 4.7 desktop machine that I used at work, an old Dell Dimension 4100 with a 900 MHz processor and 256 MB of memory, ran fine. But I wanted to try the newer version of Firefox, which would require updating a bunch of libraries and these were not forthcoming. Security patches had dwindled, too, so it was time for a change. Maybe I should give one of the Debian-based distros another chance.

I'd heard good things about Linux Mint, and downloaded the live CD (https://ftp.heanet.ie/pub/linuxmint.com/stable/7/LinuxMint-7.iso). I dug up a Dell OptiPlex GX240 that was mouldering in a back room. It has a 1.5GHz processor, so that would be a nice update in speed, but only had 256 MB of memory. Well, that was good enough for my current CentOS box, so maybe it would be enough here, too. I plugged in a spare monitor, keyboard and mouse, and booted the live CD. All the hardware was recognized, the network configured itself, and I was off and running. Naturally, running off the CD was a bit slow, but that's to be expected. Since everything seemed to work, I then installed Mint on the hard disk. For those of you that still think Linux is hard to install, give any of the popular distributions a try. Basic installation on reasonably recent hardware (within the last 5 or 6 years) is a breeze. Much easier than Windows, and usually only one reboot at the end. I did have to change from the ALSA sound drivers to the OSS drivers in the Control Center to get sound working. This is no doubt due to the age of this machine.

With the install completed, it was time to move my files, bookmarks and email from the old box to the newer one. Again, not a big deal. I just exported the Firefox bookmarks to a file, and copied the file to a flash drive, along with my Thunderbird default profile directory and various other files I wanted to keep. Then I inserted the flash drive in the Mint box and copied the files to their equivalent places on the new box. I was ready to use it as my main Internet computer at work.

It is pretty! I like the green Mint them, and Gnome has improved a lot since I last played with it. Next, I replaced the old PS/2 mechanical mouse I was using for testing with my preferred Logitech Trackman Wheel. Uh-oh. From the moment X started, if I spun the ball, the cursor would jump around wildly, randomly issuing click events. Not good.

I tried a USB version of the TrackMan Wheel, and it worked perfectly. Evidently, there's something about the PS/2 mouse driver that just isn't right for the PS/2 version of the TrackMan. I found a few suggestions online, but none worked. So, I ended up replacing the PS/2 trackball with a USB version. Sometimes, it's just easier to replace a bit of hardware than spend hours trying to fix software.

I then found that, by default, clicking a link within a message in Thunderbird would not launch Firefox. A bit more Googling revealed that you must create a users.js file within your .mozilla-thunderbird/.default directory containing these lines:

user_pref("network.protocol-handler.app.http", "/usr/bin/firefox");
user_pref("network.protocol-handler.app.https", "/usr/bin/firefox");
user_pref("network.protocol-handler.app.ftp", "/usr/bin/firefox");

After creating that file, and changing the permissions to 700, that issue was fixed.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Firefox 3.5 available as a package from the repositories within days of the Mozilla release. So far, it has been very stable, and perhaps a bit faster than Firefox 3.0.11. However, for whatever reason, it's still considered "beta" by the repository, so it doesn't install as the default browser, or replace Firefox 3.0.11.

Over the next week or so, it seemed that this machine, though ostensibly 80% faster, didn't feel as fast as the old one. And it seemed to be beating up the hard drive quite a bit. I'm guessing there are several possible causes:

1. Gnome may be more resource hungry than KDE. Just an opinion, not necessarily fact.
2. 256MB, while adequate for CentOS 4.7 and KDE3, isn't enough here.
3. The default setting in MintUpdate to check for updates every 5 minutes (!) is ridiculous.

I changed the MintUpdate setting to check for updates every 4 hours, and maxed out the memory in the machine at 1GB. That did help the performance issues quite a bit. The hard disk has calmed down, and the system feels about as responsive as my older CentOS box.

Then a strange thing happened. I had the screensaver configured to "random", and the Molecule screensaver activated. The screen was blanked, except for the words Constructing Molecules, and the system froze! Nothing would wake it up, and I could not switch to another virtual console to shut it down. I either had to kill the power, or issue the incantation:


to sync the disk, unmount the disk, and boot, respectively.

After some more research, it turns out this bug is old and tenacious. It's been around in the Ubuntu (maybe Debian?) world for at least two years, and is still not fixed. From the bug reports I've read, it seems to be related to the driver for the ATI 128 Rage Pro Ultra video that's installed on this machine, and MANY other Dell products. I did find instructions for de-activating the Molecule screensaver:

Open a Terminal from the menu Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal and type:


The Gnome configuration editor opens. From the hierarchy tree on the left side expand "apps" and then choose "gnome-screensaver". On the right side, you should see the configuration of the screensaver. Look for a property called "themes" and double click it. A window for configuring the themes opens. From the list of values, mark all entries (there should be only one) and click on remove. Then, leave the window by clicking "OK".

Now, open the screensaver configuration by clicking System -> Preferences -> Screensaver. Choose "Blank Screen" and leave the window.

That will revert to just a blank screen screensaver, but at least it won't hang the machine.

Installing applications from the repositories is easy, and I appreciate having access to the amateur radio packages. Other than the few speed bumps described above, I haven't had any other problems. I plan on keeping it.

-Bill Grzanich, KA9WKA

LHS Show Notes #015


  • Pat on Twitter said "Yes VK's can have 2x4 call signs" and Russ explains
  • Joe NE3R likes Xastir for APRS. Joe is a Windows free Microsoft consultant
  • Some Windows bashing ensued
  • Bill KA9WKA Just found the program and is really enjoying it. Got Xastir running on his EEE PC. and tells us about www.pendrivelinux.com
  • Reminder that we record the show live. Go to www.lhsinfo.org for more information on dates and time
  • Hal W4OE is having problems with his Signal Link USB and KAM packet controllers
  • W9ZEB Just found the podcast and said Thanks for doing it. He even left a nice write up on his blog about us at
  • Joe NE3R Left us some nice words on his blog too at cryptojoe.blogspot.com Russ jumped in and squeezed all the goodness out of the post
  • Kent VE4KEH Made the very first donation ever to Linux in the HAM Shack and wants a show on Pulse Audio


  • Monsterb at Linux Cranks said he likes the show the other night on IRC. Go visit Linux Cranks. WARNING! They're show is not family friendly and it is OGG only. you can find them at www.linuxcranks.info
  • I found some other useful programs. the first one is The MintCast.  MintCast is a beginner level Linux podcast. You can find them over at www.mintcast.org
  • The second is Productive Linux. This one is more about getting stuff done on the desktop.

Links and Notes:

  • This install was done on an AMD 1.0 Ghz. Processor with 512 Megs of memory
  • A Jackalope is a critter native to west Texas.
  • Normal upgrade ordeal. clicking the upgrade button never works for me.
  • Downloaded the Ubuntu Live CD and it worked fine except Nautilus did not work for me.
  • Kubuntu live cd loaded and ran just fine with no issues
  • Time to install
  • Installer worked just like it was supposed to.
  • Ran fine after install
  • After install from machine off to desktop ready took 63 seconds to boot.
  • Plenty of good tools Firefox, Gimp, Compiz, Open Office, etc.
  • Default media player is Rhythmbox
  • No animal on the desktop (Thank God)
  • Wireless networking worked with no issues
  • Did not try the EXT4 file system
  • First Richard gave us a description of SSH
  • With towel in hand Russ began to speak about SSH
  • you can use SSH for remote to your machines over the internet or your network
  • SSH uses Port 22
  • You need your port 22 open on your firewall if logging in from out side the local net work
  • you need to install the SSH client and SSH server as needed
  • Russ is so smart
  • Type SSH -y username and remote machines address and you are off to the races
  • you will be ask for a password. then you are in.
  • Now you have a terminal connection to the remote machine matching the user you sign as
  • Forwarding X-Windows is possible but beyond the scope of this episode
  • Russ says that running Firefox over SSH may end in tears
  • Try YFKlog via SSH
  • SCP uses SSH to copy files from a local to remote machine
  • Russ suggest PUTTY for SSH in Windows, Richard suggest CygWin for SSH in Windows
  • In the wrap up Russ suggest Checking the MAN pages and playing with SSH and you will find it to be a great tool
  • We will talk about Debian in a few weeks
  • We are looking to have another round table episode. Let us know if you are interested in being involved
  • Russ finds life between the peaks very lovely