May 2008

After a recent update I found that I no longer had sound from programs which used the gstreamer backend (Rhythmbox, Exaile, etc) yet Amarok worked fine.

After a cursory search of the Fedora boards it was brought to my attention that some of the sound preferences had been reset. I went into System -> Preferences -> Hardware -> Sound and set the first three fields to be autodetect.

Sound Preferences

Once these were set I had sound again, yet Rhythmbox keeps crashing now. Exaile seems OK though. More as it comes.

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The install of FERRET on both linux and OS X was fairly painless, although there were a couple of things that I had to do.

The default setup for the tarballed OS X version was to use the csh, and there was a path file that was set accordingly. Since I use the bash shell I needed to change a couple of things. Basically what I did was to take the /usr/local/ferret/ferret_paths_bash_template file and copy it to /usr/local/ferret_paths. Once there I had to edit the file to include these lines:
export FER_DIR=/usr/local/ferret
export FER_DSETS="$FER_DIR/fer_dsets"

Then in my .bashrc file I added the lines
if [ -f /usr/local/ferret_paths ]; then
. /usr/local/ferret_paths

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I’m starting a new project at work where I need to work with some rather large data files in NetCDF format. There are several ways to deal with the data, most involving an OpenDAP interface such as Matlab or Python. One such way is to use the Ferret analysis package.

As the title suggests, I tend to use two computers for these types of analysis, a CentOS system at work and an OS X based system at home. The installation of Ferret was failrly straightforward on the linux side using the installation guide provided by PMEL. OS X was a little trickier, but there was a third party tarballed version put together for an older version available.

So far so good. Now to climb the ferret mountain (after I go home to download the ~1GB files as the work connection is barely at 56Kbps!)

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I updated the MacBook Pro to 10.5.3 last night. As this was a roughly 420 MB download I actually used a hardwired connection. This actually only took about 30 minutes to update start to finish, including the obligatory “filevault compress” which preceded the update.

As of now the only thing I notice immediately is a faster and more reliable airport connection, which is nice. To be honest, I hardly use the OS X “niceties” such as spaces… Go figure.

On another note, I acquired a monitor at work so I am able to dock the ‘Book at work, and actually get some work done on it. Wookah!

After the latest problems with Debian based systems, I figured it was finally time to move my home server over to an RPM based system. It was time to make a move anyway as I was running the server version of Edgy Eft and support was about to disappear for that release. In all fairness, my stint with the Edgy server was great, with no problems and quick upgrades. It’s an old beast, a Gateway 500 Mhz PIII with 384 MB of ram. Not much under the hood, but it works and without a GUI or DE it’s just fine.

So, onward to CentOS 5.1! I was already familiar with CentOS as I use 5.1 as my main OS at work and love it for it’s stability. The only problem I had was that I really didn’t want to download an entire DVD for a base install (4.7 GB for <1 GB install), so I decided to try the network install instead. This was a fairly painless procedure, with the only difference that I had to point the installer to a stage 2 image. I used the image at After the regular install steps I was up and running.

The first thing that I did was to add a user and get the right permissions on the home directory. I kept the same partitioning scheme as before, and formatted everything except for my /home partition. Once I got that settled I then did a

chown -R /home/username

to get my home directory permissions set as the Ubuntu server had used a different UID/GID. Everything seemed peachy, but then the network speed bump hit.

I want a static IP address for the server so that I can SSH in from the road to bounce into my work computer. As per usual, I began by refreshing myself with the usually excellent How-To Forge guide on CentOS 5.1. The main problem that I had was that my /etc/resolv.conf was blank and that the guide didn’t add in a space for the default gateway (here my router). Small fixes, but a small hitch until I added in the router as the gateway and the nameserver. At this point I could SSH in from the outside and yum-date! but first, the yum plugins.

I immediately installed two yum plugins, yum-protectbase and yum-fastestmirror.

1. yum install yum-protectbase

Then follow the instructions to set up the plug in. What this does is to protect the repos you designate as “base” from third party repos. I added the protect=1 to all sections of the CentOS-Base.repo file.

I also set up the Yum fastestmirror plugin as described in the CentOS wiki. This chooses, you guessed it, the fastest mirror. After these were configured I did a yum update and continued with the guide to get http, MySQL, PHP and PHPMyAdmin up and running.