Archive for November, 2007

Fingerprint security

Ben Goldacre has a very interesting post about the security, or lack thereof, of the most popular biometric ID technique.

every time you touch something, if your security systems rely on biometric ID, then you’re essentially leaving your pin number on a post-it note.


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gnuplot and fonts

I can’t seem to make gnuplot print png’s with the text in fonts other than the default. The png terminal uses libgd for its fonts, and apparently I need to set the gdfontpath environment variable to… some value.

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netCDF in Octave

I’m following the instructions at
the ocg wiki
– it appears that the 2.9 package supported by ubuntu feisty doesn’t include the netCDF tools.

They worked like a charm.

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External HDD

Picked up a 160 GB WD external HD, to make my paranoid backing of everything easier.

FAT32 is widely recognised, and still the best file system for interoperability. (Well, arguably FAT16 is more widely supported). So 30GB stays in the FAT32 the drive came formatted as.

NTFS is safer, fasters and more secure than FAT32, and now that Gutsy supports writing to it out of the box, it’s my filesystem of choice for sharing between windows and ubuntu. 30GB for you.

ext3 natively supports permissions, so for backing up my home directories from various machines in all their glory, there’s not substitute. Yup, a whopping 100GB of ext3 storage.

Turns out there’s an unmounting (ejecting) bug when you have multiple partitions.

The ubuntu community guidelines for renaming volumes have also come in handy.

It’s a security thing – if I know my data is safely backup up, I’m not afraid to ruthlessly trash things that are taking up space, write scripts to compress vast tracts, and hit the upgrade to gutsy button.

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Set up gutsy box for remote gui sessions

First thing I did was to install xfce, a lightweight gui. I just used synaptic, and chose the recommended beginner package.

Then I downloaded xming. Putty is already installed – you need to get this if you don’t already have it.

More to come.


Doh! When I messsed with my graphics settings, X stopped loading. I have an ATI video card, which apparently are very very buggy. So I’ve done a reinstall. More on this when I get the box actually doing something.

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Gutsy upgrade

Looking to upgrade the notebook to gutsy this weekend – backing everything up first.

Testing it out on the second desktop machine first. I’m keeping a record of everything I need to do to get a working system up and running:

  1. Set it up to accept remote X connections
  2. Install fortran compiler – gfortran using apt-get
  3. Install most recent gnuplot – again just with apt-get
  4. Install splash
  5. Set up a cvs/svn repository for all my code/tex
  6. Make sense of the massive archive/backup collection
  7. Install most recent Octave
  8. Install IDL clone
  9. Check opengl code, and if it’s broken, set up opengl drivers, etc

I’m working in a new job at the moment, so I want to see how much of this I can do remotely with an X session. I’m going to make seperate posts for each item, and link to them from here. I’ve been lazy configuring the laptop, and a lot of my apps are just installed in my home directory.

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