Category Archives: technology

Linux Mint on an Acer em350 netbook

A quick note on installing Linux Mint on an Acer eMachines netbook (em350) for anyone going down the same path.

mintThis netbook is a few years old and the installed OS  (Windows 7 starter) had slowed almost to a crawl. After some painful session trying to work out what was causing excessive load under Windows I decided that installing Linux was the best option.

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Upgrading Debian 5 to 6

Debian_logoIt’s never much fun upgrading major versions of operating systems and I always get slightly uncomfortable during the process. Knowing you have a good backup is always handy (thanks linode). In this case I was going from Debian 5 to 6 and as usual, the Debian folks have made it smooth sailing.

This guide on the linode pages was very useful:

All went smoothly when I upgraded my linode from Lenny to Squeeze except that mysql would not start.

This post had the answer I needed.

In short, I had to comment out the ‘skip-bdb’ entry in /etc/mysql/my.cnf and then issue:

apt-get -f install mysql-server

Hosting at Linode

I’ve started hosting all my personal sites at linode. I have root access to my own Virtual machine and I have installed Debian 5.0, lighttpd, mysql, and a bunch of Drupal and WordPress sites. I have found an incredible performance boost compared to shared hosting and it only costs slightly more. I’d highly recommend this for anyone with some knowledge of linux administration. The only downside is backups, but I solved that using backup-manager and creating an Amazon S3 account where the backups get stored (all very easy).

Check out the details at

EDIT: Linode now has a backup solution that is simple and automatic – just what you want!

nswsphere streamed

There’s a lot of talk about the carbon footprint of attending conferences these days and on Friday I attended my first virtual conference. NSWsphere provided a live stream of the conference. The job they did was excellent (numerous cameras, direct mic etc.) and I was able to watch easily without getting frustrated.

The second important factor was the live twitter stream. This allowed me to tap into some of the intangibles that you get from going to a conference – the important chit-chat on what everyone thought of the presentations. The advantage of twitter was that it was happening as the presenters were talking, so I didn’t have to wait until the session ended to get people’s views.

The last advantage was that I could tune in to just the presenters I was interested in. I simply printed out the agenda and switched over when they were on.

So despite being in another state, I was still able to get something out if this conference without traveling, without spewing out tonnes of carbon and while keeping up with most of my real job. Obviously face-to-face meetings with colleagues are better and I would choose that if I could, but especially for conferences where you might just have a peripherally interest and can’t justify the cost of attending in person, it might be worth giving this a try.