Backup Linux Laptop with USB Hard-disk Enclosure: a Lightweight Solution

Most of Linux laptop users have done some customizations on the system so it works the way we wanted. Now we want to save the fruit of our hard labor in case bad things happen. We want to backup not just the /home directory, but the whole / directory, minus some runtime generated files. In the past I have used some heavy-weight applications such as unison and backuppc. These worked well, but they required setting up servers that run all the time.

Use Vim to read manual page

Command line manual page is an indispensable tool for working with Linux system.If you forget how to use a command, just type man followed by the name of the command. One thing I don't like about the manual system on my Debian sid is that it uses most to display the manual. The key bindings of most feel awkward for me since I am used to vim. Of course, there are many "vimers" like me, and they've found ways to fix this.

Annoying when moving Java program from Windows to Linux

These day I write Java programs on my local machine and then move them to a Linux server to run experiments. This routine works fine so far. However, when I ran one of the progams, which involves coping one file from one directory to another, I kept on the following error message:

Running Windows Vista on Debian Linux with VirtualBox

All of my laptops are now running Debian based Linux. It works great. Linux handles all my daily works well. However, there are occasions where I need a Windows machine. For example, I recently need to deliver a lecture on a system that runs only on Windows. Also, in the past, we developed a system that works only on Windows, and I still need to demonstrate it from time to time. Of course, the solution is to run Windows on a virtual machine on top of Linux. In the last couple of years, I have been using VMware for this purpose. However, I was not very impressed by its performance. I remember last year during a presentation, the virtual machine was so slow that my demonstration was negatively impacted by it.

Open source edition

电脑病毒, Linux和中国

昨天我的从中国来的访问学生说他的电脑中病毒了,然后很形象的给我合掌鞠躬,说,熊猫烧香。这个病毒我听说过,没想到在美国还有人中招,很吃惊。来美国以后,我很有一些年没被电脑病毒所困扰了。唯一的一次病毒事件,还是中了那个有名的‘爱情信’病毒。 Continue reading »

Compiz-Fusion on KDE:

Introduction Continue reading »

A Thinkpad X61 Hotkeys Solution on Debian Linux

On my old Thinkpad X31, there is a nice little program called tpb that makes all Thinkpad hotkeys work on Linux. However, that project hasn't been updated for two years, and tpb does not work with the newer Thinkpad models. On my new X61, notably, the sound volume controls are broken: volume UP and volume Down keys produce the same effect - bring the volume to the half level. It seems that piece of hardware called nvram, on which tpb relies, now produces different values than older models. So, I have to ditch tpb. Continue reading »

Use XRandR 1.2 to Swtich on External Display for Thinkpad Laptop

Thinkpad X61 has an VGA output port, so it supports dual-head display. However, with the Intel GMA965 graphics chipset in X61, the thinkpad_acpi (used to be called ibm_acpi) kernel module does not seem to support switching on or off this VGA port any more. The traditionally used commands, such as "echo crt_enable > /proc/acpi/ibm/video", no longer work.
Fortunately, the xserver-xorg-video-intel display driver supports xrandr 1.2. extension in recent versions of Xorg X server. So we can use xrandr to dynamically switch on or off the external VGA display, and much more. Continue reading »

Install MEPIS Linux on X61

I got a brand new Thinkpad X61 laptop last Saturday. Unfortunately, the factory loaded Vista Home Basic was too bloated and ate up 700MB memory from a fresh boot without launching any application! If you know me, you know what I will do - remove Windows and load up Linux! Continue reading »

Dual Head with Xorg on Thinkpad X31

My Thinkpad X31 got a small 12.1 inch screen, so I decide to increase the screen real estate by adding an extra monitor. The idea is that the LCD and the CRT monitor will display different part of the same desktop. This dual head solution is sometimes called 'Xinerama' in X terminology.
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