Howto: Backup your data files

I can never overemphasize the importance of this enough.

Back up your important data files. Daily.

This is a very simple procedure. It takes approximately five minutes. It will save your files.

1) Insert a thumb or flash drive into any USB port on your computer.
2) For Windows copy your “My Documents” folder contents to the the thumb drive. If you use any flavor of Linux, copy the contents of your “home” directory.
3) Right click on the safely remove tray icon, then click on safely remove for the thumb drive.
4) Place your thumb drive in a safe place.

The outcome is that you have your important files in case of virus infection, hard drive failure, or any other form of system failure.
The average cost for recovering files from a failed hard drive is $1000 and yields less than optimum results. Even with expert recovery services, 20-80% of your files can be recovered for a failed hard drive. The method of backup suggested is 100% effective.

If you have information of a sensitive nature, secure your thumb drive in a fire safe or other suitable container.

If you have data that would potentially make or break your business, I highly recommend you send a copy of the files to a friend or relative you trust implicitly on a weekly basis.

There are also numerous web based backup services that provide a complete solution for modest price point, such as which charges $59 per YEAR.

Howto: Install Fedora from a LiveUSB flash drive or CD.

When you have a liveUSB flash drive or liveUSB CD the installation of Fedora is fairly straight forward.

1. Install the LiveUSB flash drive or CD.

2. Reboot your computer.

3. Press F8 to acquire the boot menu of your computer.  Some systems may require a different F key such as F2 or F5.

4. Select the LiveUSB drive or CD to boot.

5.  Partition the hard drive you wish to install to.  I typically reserve a 25GB partition for the Linux installation and a 5GB partition for the Linux swap file.   You may want to create a separate partition for your /home directories also.   A fairly well outfitted install of Fedora occupies approximately 8Gb of drive space.

6.  Follow the prompts for the installation.  Be sure to install the Grub boot loader if you are dual booting.

Howto: create a local repository for Fedora.

Creating a local Fedora repository is a great way to conserve bandwidth. You can update all of the computers on your local network from one repository.

1)  Install a web server.  I use apache.
su -c yum install httpd -y

2)  Create the directories that become the local repository.
su -c mkdir -p /var/www/html/yum/F15/releases
su -c mkdir -p /var/www/html/yum/F15/updates

3) Install the remote synchronization tool rsync.
su -c yum install rsync -y

4) Use rsync to populate your repository.
/usr/bin/rsync -avrt rsync:// –exclude=debug/ /var/www/html/yum/F15/updates
/usr/bin/rsync -avrt rsync:// /var/www/html/yum/F15/everything

I create a cron job for the rsync process. The following synchronizes daily.
su -c touch /etc/cron.daily/rsyncfedora15.cron
su – gedit /etc/cron.daily/rsyncfedora15.cron

Paste the 3 lines of code below into the rsyncfedora15.cron file.
/usr/bin/rsync -avrt rsync:// --exclude=debug/ /var/www/html/yum/F15/updates >> /var/log/rsync15updates.log
/usr/bin/rsync -avrt rsync:// /var/www/html/yum/F15/everything >> /var/log/rsync15.log

Then save the file.
This also creates and appends two log files rsync15update.log and rsync15.log in the /var/log directory.

The first time the repository synchronizes it may take considerable time and bandwidth.  Be patient for the process to complete.

If you do NOT plan to make a full mirror of an existing Fedora repository you should use the createrepo tool to create and populate the data files and directories correctly.
su -c yum install createrepo

createrepo -v -p -d –deltas /var/www/html/yum/F15/everything

Now you have created the repository for Fedora 15.

Next I create files in my  /etc/yum.repos.d/  called local.repo and localupdates.repo

local.repo has the following in it:

name=Fedora $releasever – $basearch


name=Fedora $releasever – $basearch – Updates

Then I copy those two files to all of my systems.

Howto: fix Gconf error from Firefox

An error occurred while loading or saving configuration information for firefox. Some of your configuration settings may not work properly.

If you click on details of that error you may see:

Failed to contact configuration server; some possible causes are that you need to enable TCP/IP networking for ORBit, or you have stale NFS locks due to a system crash. See for information. (Details –  1: Server ping error:
The fix for this issue may be:

1.  CTRL+ALT+Backspace to log out of the current desktop session.

2. Open a terminal. CTRL+ALT+F1

3. login as root

4.  cd to /tmp/

5. rm -rf  X0-lock

The cause may be that you deleted the contents, or some program or installer deleted the contents of your system’s tmp folder.

Howto: create a custom spin of Fedora 13

Much of the documentation I read on the World Wide Web suggests using revisor to create a custom Spin of Fedora. I find that revisor is not well suited to my needs. I use LiveCD Creator. To install it:
yum install livecd-tools -y

I suggest you install the fedora-kickstarts and spin-kickstarts packages as well.
yum install spin-kickstarts* -y

Another tool I use is liveUSB-Creator.
yum install liveusb-creator -y

Once you have those installed you can use your favorite text editor to modify the existing Kickstart files to suiit your needs.
The files are installed by default to the /usr/share/spin-kickstarts/ directory. Be sure to save the files as different file names once you have edited them to suit your needs.
I save them as fedora-custom-base.ks and fedora-custom-kde.ks

Once that is completed you can run the liveCD Creator to create the custom spin in the directory you wish to save the .iso image to.
setenforce 0

If that command completes successfully, you will have a F13x64-Custom.iso in the directory. If it does not, the kickstart file has an error.

Next you can use the LiveUSB-Creator tool to burn that custom image to a USB drive. Be sure to create an overlay when doing so. I use 1024M as my overlay size.

For a more detailed article on creating a LiveUSB drive visit the following:
Howto LiveUSB

Howto: Fedora® LiveUSB

What is a LiveUSB?

It is a condensed (Live image) version of Fedora® you can install to a flash drive. You can then boot to Fedora from the flash drive on any computer. You can also install Fedora to any system from the LiveUSB.

There is an easy to implement option. This may be a great way for you to try Fedora without installing it to your computer.

I even carry Fedora in my pocket on a LiveUSB. It weighs a lot less than my laptop. When you boot a LiveUSB stick it does not install any files on the computer’s hard drive(s).

You will need the following:

A flash drive. Preferably an 8G or larger unit but a 4G unit will work. 2G and smaller not recommended.
The LiveUSB utility from the Fedora web site.
A Live image of the version of Fedora you wish to use.

1) Determine whether you would prefer the 32 bit version or the 64 bit version. If you are going to use the LiveUSB as your OS in your pocket the 32 bit version is a better choice. You can use the 32 bit version on just about any computer on the planet. The 64 bit version will not work on older computers.

2) Determine which Desktop manager you would prefer. KDE and Gnome are the standard desktop managers and I prefer KDE.

3) Download the appropriate Live image. Save it to a hard drive.

4) Download and install the LiveUSB creator tool.

5) Use the LiveUSB creator tool to install the live image to your flash drive. Be sure to include a 1024MB or larger overlay.

Here are the various downloads:

Fedora KDE Live Images

Fedora KDE 32 bit Live Image
Fedora KDE 64 bit Live Image

Fedora Gnome Live Images

Fedora Gnome 32 bit Live Image
Fedora Gnome 64 bit Live Image

LiveUSB creator

LiveUSB Creator for Windows
LiveUSB Creator for Fedora – Use yum or yumex to install the liveusb-creator package.

Howto: install Fedora® 13

This is a  simple walk through on how to install Fedora® 13.
I presume that you already have Windows installed on your system.   This is not intended for laptops.  If you find that this procedure works for your laptop,  great.  Laptops have a wide variety of wireless devices that can be difficult to configure and are beyond the scope of this walk through.

1) First determine whether you would prefer the 32 bit or 64 bit version. If you are uncertain, select the 32 bit version.  If your system is less than 2 years old, you could install the 64 bit version for added performance.  If your system does not have an AMD or Intel Core 2 Duo or newer processor, use the 32 bit version.

2) Download the .iso file for the installation:

Download for 32 bit version

Download for 64 bit version

3) Once you have downloaded the .iso file you will need to burn the .iso to a DVD.
You can not use a CD burner for this. You must have a DVD burner, and a DVD burner program, such as Nero, Roxio Easy CD and DVD creator, or Nero Lite.

4) Next you need to boot your system using the DVD you created in step 3. Most systems allow you to press F8 (some use F2 and some systems require changing the default boot devices in the BIOS) during boot for the boot menu options. Then select your DVD drive from the menu. Next you will be prompted to either check the DVD for errors or skip forward to begin installation. It is always a good idea to check the media of the DVD the first time you use it.  This will verify the DVD was burned correctly and has the necessary files for the installation. If the DVD integrity check fails toss it in the trash. Repeat step 3.

5) After you have verified the DVD successfully, you will be prompted for the language you prefer, a root password and your time zone selections.  If you are planning to dual boot between Windows and Fedora, be sure to deselect the system uses NTC time box.

6) Next up you will be presented with a choice of which drive types. Standard is the default choice. Next a menu will offer various partitioning schemes.   I always choose CUSTOM.  Then the partitioning menu will be presented. A standard SATA or IDE drive can have 4 primary partitions maximum. Your system may have 2 partitions already.  One for Windows and one for a recovery partition. DO NOT modify the recovery partition.  Select the custom layout and then re-size your OS partition to a smaller size. This is done to create the room for a new partition for the Fedora installation. I use EXT4 to format the new partition and create a separate swap file partition.  Fedora requires a lot less hard drive space than Windows does.
I create a  Fedora EXT4 partition between 20G- 100G. Your swap partition needs to be roughly the size of the amount of ram of your computer. When in doubt make the swap partition 8G. There is very limited value in making a swap partition larger than 8G unless you have 16G of RAM.  A typical Fedora 13 installation will only occupy about 4-8G of hard drive space.

7) After you have set up your partitions, you will be prompted for the installation type. If you accept the defaults, gnome will be installed as your desktop manager.  I prefer KDE as my desktop manager. I often leave gnome installed in case KDE has a problem.

8) The installation should begin and may take approximately 45 minutes.  You will not be prompted again, until the installation is complete.

9) Once the install is done there will be a reboot now button.  Press it.

10) When your system reboots after the installation, you will boot directly to Fedora the first time and be prompted to create a user name and password and select your time zone and send system hardware data to Fedora.  After you reboot again, you should see a prompt saying booting to, then either Fedora or Other or Windows. You can press the up and down arrows at that point to select which Operating system to boot into.

Congratulations you now have a system that will dual boot Windows and Fedora.

Howto: Securely remove data from a drive.

Many purported security experts believe that reformatting a computer will remove all traces of data. That is just not accurate. Drives can be formatted and reformatted and will still have files that can be easily recovered with the right tools.

There are 2 primary ways to permanently remove data from a hard drive. One is destructive and the other is not destructive.

1) Use a degausser ( powerful electron magnet ) on the drive. This renders the drive completely useless and destroys the drive permanently. This will remove the data permanently. I highly recommend method 2) instead of method 1)

2) If you have Windows XP Pro, Vista Pro, or Windows 7 Pro or higher you can wipe the data from the free spaces on a drive. The first step is to delete the files. Deleting a file does not actually remove it. It merely removes the file entry in the File Allocation Table and removes the first letter of the file name. It also frees the block or blocks of drive space that the file occupied for rewrite. Next up you would open a command prompt and type in cipher /w:C: then press enter. This process will perform a government level wipe of the free space of your C: Drive. It can take several hours for the process to complete. What this does, is overwrite all free space of the drive with 0s, then 1s, then a random hex bit. This does permanantly remove any file that has been deleted. You can also remove individual files explicitly using cipher /w:C:directorynameoffile. Once a file has been wiped using the cipher utility there is no chance that it can ever be recovered by any means. Use with caution.

Howto: Intel HD Video for Fedora 12

There is a way to install Fedora 12 on a computer that uses an Intel High Definition Video card.   This applies to most i5 and i7 processors using the integrated Intel HD video.   If you have a PCI express video card or an AMD processor, this does not apply.

Book mark this page in case you need to reverse the procedure.

You will need the full install Fedora 12 DVD.  I use the x64 version, the 32bit version works as well.  LiveCD or LiveDVD or LiveUSB will not work.

1.  Boot the system using the Fedora 12 installation DVD.

2.  When prompted select the “install system with basic video driver” installation method.

3.  Proceed and install as usual.

4. Reboot.

5. Update all packages with yum.   Be sure that the xorg-x11-drv-intel package is installed or install it.

6. Reboot again.

7. Open xorg.conf with your favorite editor   /etc/X11/xorg.conf and modify the line that indicates “vesa” to “intel”.

8.. Save xorg.conf.

9. Open menu.lst with your favorite editor  /boot/grub/menu.lst   Create a new stanza based on the top stanza without the “nomodeset” option.  The nomodeset is typically set on the same line as the kernel information.

10. Save menu.lst

11. Reboot.

You should now have the full benefit of the Intel HD Video driver for your Fedora 12 system.  You may want to add compiz and mesa libraries as an enhancement.

If this workaround does not work, add  “vesa”  back to xorg.conf and use the “nomodeset” switch in the menu.lst file.

Howto: Secure passwords

An article published in the New York Times January 22, 2010, written by Ashlee Vance, indicates that far too many people use simple passwords.

There is an easy solution for this issue. Roboform2GO can be installed on a USB flash drive.  It can store the URL and passwords for 10 websites for free, and unlimited websites once you pay for and register the software.   The application works well with all versions of Windows that use either Firefox or Internet Explorer browsers.   I happened upon this very useful program while servicing a client system.    I have been a proponent ever since.  You can use a “master password” to secure your passwords. You remember ONE password, Roboform stores the rest for you, in an encrypted format.   The software can also generate extremely secure passwords in real time with adjustable criterion. Need a 12 digit pass phrase with 2 numerals and one special character? No problem.  It encrypts all of your passwords on the USB Flash drive.  You can also install the software directly to your computer.    For $59+shipping you can have all your passwords secured on one USB flash drive.  It’s a small price to pay for serious password security.    It also prevents key loggers from stealing your passwords.

Email jaguar07 at Evanscomputers DOT com or call 714-458-0190 to order today!