Category Archives: Computers

New Apple Store in Waikiki Opens September 27th

Well, the Apple store in Waikiki has been hiring for some time but the official opening has now been set for September 27th at 10:00 am. As usual, the first 1,000 people will get special Apple t-shirts. If similar to past openings, the t-shirts will have the name of the store on them and quickly become collector’s items.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make the opening but I’m sure local guys like Ryan Ozawa will be there!

Aloha!

Xerox 4110 Printer Driver Under Ubuntu 8.04 LTS

Insert disclaimer here. YMMV. These instructions are provided “as is” without any warranty whatsoever. Proceed at your own risk. You have been warned.

Configuring devices in Linux is, many times, not as easy as it is in Windows because device manufacturers tend to create the drivers Windows needs, but do not do so for other operating systems.

I came across this, in kind of a reverse sort of way, when I recently replaced the hard drive in my PC at work because it was running out of space. Rather than try to clone the Windows and Xandros partitions, which I think I could of done with PartitionMagic, I decided to install everything from scratch (replacing Xandros with Ubuntu). I won’t go into detail why I decided to do things that way but, essentially, Windows seems to run faster when you do a clean install.

In any case, as part of re-doing things, I needed to install the printer driver for our Xerox 4110. This is a network connected copier/scanner. I couldn’t remember for sure how I installed the Windows software but I thought I just used the “Add Printer” wizard, chose a network connected install, typed in the IP address, and pointed Windows at the drivers. But, I guess not because that didn’t work this time. I tried various variations but just could not get connected to the Xerox machine. I could ping it, but the Wizard could not connect to it. I even tried adding the default port (9100) to the IP address but that didn’t work. As a last resort, I tried shutting down the Windows firewall but that didn’t make a difference. So I gave up and decided to try to connect via Ubuntu Linux.

Once booted in Ubuntu, I clicked on System/Administration/Printing and then clicked on the “New Printer” button. Up popped a dialog box that required two actions: choose the connection type and enter the IP address. The selections for connection type included: LPT #1, AppSocket/HP JetDirect, Internet Printing Protocol (ipp), LPD/LPR Host or Printer, Windows Printer via SAMBA, and Other. What you see and which you need to choose is dependent on how your system is set-up. For me, I chose “LPD/LPR Host or Printer” because this is the default set-up for the 4110. I then typed in the IP address and clicked on the “Probe” button. I have no idea what the Probe button is supposed to do and as far as I could see, it didn’t do anything. I then clicked on the “Forward” button.

Select Connection and Location.

Select Connection and Location

At this point, I should note that if you don’t already have the PostScript driver for the 4110, you will need to download that from Xerox here. I chose the Windows XP version, saved the zipped file to a directory, and extracted the files. The specific file you will need is the one with the .ppd extension located in /your directory/4110_WHQL_PS_Eng_Driver/PrinterDriver/Win2K_XP.

To continue with the installation, after you click on the “Forward” button, Ubuntu will search for a default driver. It will, of course, fail as the driver you need is not part of the default database. A new dialogue box will then pop up asking you to either choose a driver from the database or provide a PPD file. I chose the PPD file option and pointed Ubuntu to the file by navigating to where I had downloaded and unzipped the file.

Provide PPD file

Provide PPD file

Once I had selected the file and clicked on the forward button, I came to a new screen that asks if there are any of several options that may be installed on the 4110. I left the defaults but you may need to change some things.

Installed Options

Installed Options

Click on “Forward” and the next screen asks you fill in a printer name (I used Xerox 4110), description (Xerox 4110), and Location (copier room).

Printer Name, Description, and Location

Printer Name, Description, and Location

Clicking on “Forward” should bring you to the last screen where you can print a test page and, if you wish, make this your default printer (mine is an HP LaserJet 2200D so I didn’t choose the Xerox as the default). If all went well, a test page should be waiting for you at the Xerox machine. If not, I guess you’ll have to try some troubleshooting.

Aloha!

Final screen

Final screen

UPDATE

If, like me, you weren’t able to get printing working under Windows, you may wish to try the procedure below. As before, YMMV, insert disclaimer here, if you don’t know what you are doing, don’t
do this.

In Windows, start the printer wizard and click the “Next” button.

Add printer wizard.

Add printer wizard.

At this screen, keep the default “Local printer attached to this computer.” Yes, I know, the Xerox 4110 is not connected to your PC through a regular port but this is the way to get to configure a new port. So, ensure local printer is chosen and click the “Next” button.

Local printer attached to this computer.

Local printer attached to this computer.

The next screen will show Windows searching for a new Plug and Play printer. Since the 4110 is not a Plug and Play printer, Windows won’t find it. Click “Next”

Install printer manually.

Install printer manually.

Here you choose “Create a new port:” with the type of port being “Standard TCP/IP Port”.

Click “Next”

Standard TCP/IP Port.

Create a new port: Standard TCP/IP Port.


Add port welcome screen.

Add port welcome screen.

At the Add Port screen you will need to enter the “Printer Name or IP Address” of the 4110. As you fill in the address, Windows will automatically create a Port Name, which I left as is.

Printer IP Address.

Printer IP Address.

Windows does not have the driver for a 4110, so you will need to click on the “Have Disk…” button.

Have Disk button.

Have Disk button.

Now you navigate to where you have the 4110 printer driver stored. I will assume you’ve already downloaded the driver from Xerox and unzipped it into a directory. Where ever that directory is, is where you “Browse…” to and select the applicable .inf file.

Install from disk.

Install from disk.

The rest of the screen captures are self explanatory.

Click \"Next\"

Do not make this your default printer unless it is your default.

Do not make this your default printer unless it is your default.


Print test page.

Print test page.


Done.

Done.

Xandros Out, Ubuntu In

I’ve used Xandros Linux at work (dual booting with Windows XP Pro) for several years now but am testing Ubuntu as a replacement. Here’s why.

Since the version of Xandros Desktop 4 that I use is based on the stable version of Debian, I couldn’t expect much in the way of updates to the underlying operating system nor applications. But I could and do expect timely bug or security fixes. But very few have been released for Xandros. In fact, the last Xandros Desktop update was about a year ago. Given that bugs and security flaws are fixed on an ongoing basis and given that many of these bug and security fixes mitigate problems that include bad guys having the ability to gain root access, any distribution that ignores these updates is asking a lot of its customers.

In addition, the lack of updates to the underlying operating system means, in some cases, that updated applications will not install due to unmet dependencies. For example, I’ve talked about how Firefox 3 will not install due to unmet dependencies regarding the GTK+ package. There is presently no way to install the required version of GTK+ because of unmet dependencies. Hence, Firefox 3 cannot be installed. There are other examples, the number of which grow by the day.

So if I were to switch to something else, what process did I use to choose the distribution I eventually chose? First, I wanted something that I was at least a little familiar with. That means Linux Mint, Kubuntu, or Ubuntu because that’s what I have at home. All three of these are Debian based so that is also a consideration.

Secondly, it would need to be something that has security and bug fixes updated on an ongoing basis. All three distributions are pretty good at doing that with almost daily updates. But since Ubuntu seems to be the base system that the other two work off of, it has been my experience that Ubuntu tends to gets updated first with the other two following (usually in a matter of a few days).

There were other considerations but these tended to cross all distributions. Namely, I needed something that would integrate with our Novell Netware 4.x servers, log into our Windows-based web servers, and access our Lotus Notes mail server.

Access to Netware servers is covered via the NCPFS package. I’ve posted before on the installation and use of this package so I won’t re-do that here (follow the link here)(Note: there is one correction to the instructions on that page. It should read ipx_configure –auto_interface=on –auto_primary=on where the correction is the addition of “=on” to the auto_interface switch).

Accessing our web server is relatively easy on Ubuntu via the already installed /Places /Connect to Server utility so I won’t go into here. I would guess, but do not know for sure, that the other distributions would probably have a way of logging in.

Accessing Lotus Notes is a little harder. You would think that since Novell is involved in the development of the Evolution email application that they might include acess to Lotus Notes. But as far as I know, that isn’t true. Although there was (is?) a Linux-based Notes client, I’m not sure how hard it is to install on a non-Red Hat distribution. If you want to give that a try, you could start here or here.

What I did was buy Codeweavers CrossOver for Linux. This is a superset of Wine and emulates a Windows environment. With this installed, I just ran the Windows Notes 6.5.1 client install and I had access to our Notes server.

The only problem I’ve had with CrossOver is that I can’t yet get Microsoft Office Professional 2000 to install. I don’t know what the problem is but I hope to have it done Real Soon Now.

Other than that, I seem to be up and running and am not missing Xandros, at all.

Aloha!

Eight Million Two-Hundred-Ninety Thousand Five Hundred Fourty-Five (and counting)

Firefox 3 Download Day Certificate

Link to download counter

Xandros 4.1 and Firefox 3 Don’t Play Well Together

For those of you running Xandros Linux Desktop Professional 4.1, you may want to pause and reflect before installing the new Firefox 3 browser.

I downloaded the new Firefox this afternoon and began the install. However, the install ran until it halted with an error saying GTK+ 2.1 was required but only an earlier version was installed. After searching the Xandros support forums, it appears you have to install and compile the source code for GTK+ 2.1 because Xandros does not have an update for it. But, now wait for it, you first have to overcome dependencies by installing and compiling several other files. But, now wait for it, well, you know the drill. You are in dependency hell with no way out. Even if you get GTK+ 2.1 installed, you run the chance of breaking other applications. If that occurs, you are pretty much on your own, up that certain creek without a paddle.

What’s even worse is that the install program killed my existing version of firefox (2.0.0.14). I don’t know what the install did but my old version refused to run and I couldn’t find a download to re-install for this version. What I ended up doing was I uninstalled the Xandros Firefox (2.0.0.6), an old version I had long ago abandoned by downloading newer versions directly from Firefox, and then re-installing that from Xandros Networks. Once that was done, both 2.0.0.6 and 2.0.0.14 started working again.

I don’t know why that worked, but it did. For me, anyway. YMMV. Insert disclaimer here.

In any case, unless someone creates a binary for Xandros, backports GTK+ 2.1, or another solution is found, you should probably avoid Firefox 3 on Xandros Desktop Professional 4.1.

Aloha!

Seto.org Down This Morning

The host of my old site, pair.com, seems to be having problems keeping the server up and running. For those who pass through that site on the way to this, well, you probably aren’t reading this. Sigh.

Although pair has a notice that they reset the server earlier this morning and it only took 10 minutes, I still can’t get to my site (several hours later).

This is just another disappointment about what seems to be the decaying level of service from this company. I pay hundreds of dollars per year to them to keep things running yet things seem to have been getting slower and less reliable each month. YMMV. Insert disclaimer here.

[Jun 16, 2008, 5:06 AM] ciot Downtime

ciot (www161) encountered an error and was reset. Downtime was about 10 minutes.

Aloha!

Spyware Doctor Beware

Recently, the anti-spyware software (Spybot Search & Destroy, Spyware Blaster, and Ad-Aware) I use began updating to new versions. I don’t know if it came as a result of the Service Pack 3 for Windows XP or something else. All I know is everyone seemed to be updating.

Since such a mass update is rather time consuming, I decided to take a look at what else was out there. It so happened that PC Magazine has done a review of various anti-spyware software packages. The Editor’s Choice is something called PC Tools Spyware Doctor. They have a version you can download to test its capabilities so I did so.

Before I get into how it worked, a little about my configuration. I’m running a Dell OptiPlex GX260 with an Intel Pentium IV 2.66GHz CPU, 2 GB of RAM, Windows XP Pro SP3, and Trend Micro anti-virus software.

Before installing Spyware Doctor I uninstalled Spybot/Blaster/Ad-Aware. Once Spyware Doctor was installed I rebooted. That’s when I noticed that my PC was taking much longer to come back up. Usually, it takes about two to three minutes to get to a point where I can actually launch a program. But now, it was running past five minutes and my PC was still non-responsive. Even doing a control-alt-delete didn’t seem to be doing anything. After about six minutes, control began to return, but in fits and starts.

For example, minimizing a window took two and a half minutes. Maximizing that same window took three minutes.

I was eventually able to get a task list going and switched to the performance graph view. There I found the CPU pegging at 100% with some intermittent sections were it dropped somewhat. It was during those segments I was actually able to do something. Those segments where two to three minutes apart and lasted sometimes for a few seconds, sometimes longer. Otherwise, the CPU was busy running Spyware Doctor, which was not actively scanning during this time.

This could not stand because I need to use my PC for work, not sit there while Spyware Doctor, at idle, takes 100 percent of the available CPU cycles. I took a look at the PC Tools support forum and found an 11-page thread talking about speed problems exactly like I was experiencing, starting with the introduction early last year of their version 5 software.

Using about all the patience I had, I eventually got Spyware Doctor to actually run a full scan. However, it never completed the scan because my PC would lock up so tight I had to do a hardware reset.

Obviously, the reason you use this kind of software is to keep the bad guys from taking over our PC and keeping you from doing your work. Unfortunately, it seems Spyware Doctor does something similar in that I can’t use my PC. Fortunately, I was eventually able to uninstall it and re-installed the latest versions of Spybot/Blaster/Ad-Aware.

I don’t know why it didn’t work with my configuration but regardless of why, you should be careful about using this software. YMMV. Insert disclaimer here.

Aloha!

Dell OptiPlex GX260 RAM Upgrade

I finally got around to doing the RAM upgrade that I posted about earlier. To recap, I have a Dell OptiPlex GX260 with only 512MB of RAM dual booting Windows XP Pro and Xanrdos Desktop Pro 4.x. Although the GX260 was never blazing fast, it had seemed to become slower, over time regardless of whatever disk optimization I tried. So, I decided to increase performance by removing the 512 and replacing it with the maximum, for this model, of 2GB.

The Dell easy open case opened, well, easily. I was pleasantly surprised to see a single 512MB chip rather than a pair of 256s. Thus, I can use the 512 to upgrade one of the other Dells in the office from 512 to 1MB, total.

In any case (no pun intended), the 512 popped out and the two 1GB chips went in without problem. I closed the case and rebooted. Note to Windows users. I had unplugged all the USB devices (scanner, mouse, and keyboard) prior to opening the case so I could move the case to where I had more room to work. All devices were plugged back in prior to booting. When Windows came up, it went through this long period of finding new hardware, even though none of the hardware was new (without, at first, letting you know what it was doing). During that time, Windows did not recognize any of the USB devices. This was of some concern because the keyboard and mouse didn’t work. However, after Windows had finished detecting and loading the correct drivers, everything did (work, that is). I mention this here in case someone sees the same behavior and wonders if something went wrong or was not plugged in.

Although I don’t have any numbers, running Windows XP Pro seems to be faster with the extra RAM. Linux, not so much. I guess XP Pro was hogging so much RAM, and Linux so much less, that adding more RAM helps XP more than it does Linux.

Still, it was worth the $80 to try to speed things up. At least, it was to me. YMMV. Insert disclaimer here.

Aloha!

Dell OptiPlex GX260 RAM Upgrade

Dell OptiPlex GC260Even when I specified them in June of 2003, the Dell OptiPlex GX260s that we use at work were not leading edge. This is because I’ve tried to keep costs down while getting the most for tax payer’s dollars (pats self on back). Hence, I usually buy at the “sweet spot” rather than the bleeding edge. At that time, the sweet spot was a 2.66GHz P-IV, 512MB of DDR266 RAM, and a Maxtor 40GB hard drive.

But although they are kind of getting long in the tooth, as it were what with dual/quad/eight/sixteen/core processors becoming available, our budget is getting eaten up by escalating energy and other unbudgeted costs. Hence, even though the PCs are almost five years old, it may be awhile until we can get new ones. So, I’m doing what I can and adding more RAM (follow this link for instructions on opening the case).

Although you can use the configurators at Kingston or Crucial to find what is presently compatible, since no one makes DDR266 memory anymore, you can just as easily look for DDR PC2700 184-pin DIMM DDR333 non-ECC RAM. Whichever works for you. For me, it didn’t seem to make much of a price difference but I ended up buying two 1GB sticks of Crucial RAM from Amazon, with free shipping. You may be able to get better deals on the continental US because more companies will ship free there than will do so to Hawaii.

In any case, 2GB of RAM is as much as the OptiPlex GX260 will hold so 2GB is what I’m ordering. I hope the additional RAM will speed things up a bit since it sure feels slow when I compare it to my Dell XPS M1330 at home with its dual core CPU and 4GB of RAM.

Aloha!

Getting NASty

Recently, I’ve been trying to decide whether to put together a PC to act as a home file server or to get a network attached storage device (NAS).

Although it is possible to setup a really cheap PC for the price of an entry-level NAS, I think it’s more trouble to setup and has functions that are not needed, which could act as vectors for evil doers. So, I’m about to order a NAS and a couple of Seagate 250GB drives to be used as a RAID 1 array.

I’ll let you know how things go when the items come in sometime next week. Until then, my criteria for choosing a particular NAS is that it needed to be able to do a RAID 1 array. I don’t think I need nor do I have the money for the kind of redundancy that a higher level RAID array might have. But a RAID one requires two matched drives. Hence, the NAS must be able to hold two drives and have the other software and hardware to run them as an array.

Secondly, I prefer something based on Linux because of the added security. I realize Linux is not the easiest operating system to use, but the Windows vulnerability trade-off is too high for me. In addition, I need to setup specific folders with different users rights. Linux shines here.

Third, I want something that is sturdy. The Seagate FreeAgent 500GB housing that I already have is built, in large part, out of plastic. Although this has not yet cause me any problems (cables coming out have), I would prefer something with a metal structure.

Speaking of the FreeAgent, I will continue to use it as a backup, but once the NAS is installed, it will backup the NAS rather than the individual PCs, as it does now.

So, as things progress, or don’t, I will let you know.

Aloha!