Breaking the Apple lock-in: Time Machine

While I have been avoiding Apple products¬†personally because of their tendency to only work well together with other Apple products, I’m asked for advice on Mac-specific problems from time to time. This time a friend of mine is leaving the Apple ecosystem but still has his data backed up on an external hard drive with Time Machine and wanted to be able to copy his last backup to an NTFS filesystem.

What sounds like something easy to do, the way Time Machine and HFS+ work make it something you really have to wrap your head around first. You can’t just copy it to an NTFS drive with your Mac, because there’s no (freely availiable) write-support for NTFS. You can mount a HFS+ drive with a contemporary flavour of Linux, but Time Machine makes heavy usage of the Directory Hard Linking feature of HFS+ to implement the incremental backups. That means, if you have two distinct backups in which a specific folder didn’t change, instead of copying the data again, it is just linked to an older version of the same folder and therefore doesn’t need additional hard disk space.

While this is a smart trick, it is only supported by OSX so far. Linux systems don’t support Directory Hard Linking which makes it useless for this case. But luckily Alexandre Bique wrote a quick workaround for this: Time Machine Filesystem¬†(thanks so much!). I’m doing a quick tutorial here to show how to use this.

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Remote Control X10 (Pollin) and LIRC

I bought the Remote Control X10 from Pollin, because it is radio-controlled (not infrared), really cheap and seems to work for lots of people with LIRC on an Ubuntu machine. There are really a lot of tutorials out there, but must of them for older versions of ubuntu/lirc and for another version of the rc. Mine has a “Medion” label and a scroll wheel.

Because all configuration files by others didn’t work for my setup, here is what I did to make it work. This tutorial assumes, you are using Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat and lirc 0.8.7.

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make lm-sensors work with kernel 2.6.31 // ubuntu 9.10

i recently tried to get some information about the temperature of my cpu and the speeds of the fans in my pc. the programm of choice to do this with ubuntu is lm-sensors. but due to a well known bug with kernel 3.6.31 (which is part of current ubuntu karmic), lm-sensors doesn’t work flawlessly with my mainboard, an asus m3a – and it seems that other mainboards (especially asus) are also affected.
the most reliable way to fix this, is to install the most recent version of lm-sensors from the sources. it took me some time, to get all needed information to do that, so here’s a step-by-step tutorial.
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using the tor-network with ubuntu 9.10 (karmic koala)

the onion router a.k.a. tor is no longer part of the ubuntu repositories due to the inability of the tor-project to ensure multiple years of support. actually, that’s not so bad, because the tor developers provide an additional repository for different ubuntu versions on their own. here is the easy way to install it.

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controlling media players with your cellphone via bluetooth

this sounds not to be superficial, but under linux, it’s quite easy to archieve. there are several projects which make you control a broader or more narrow set of functions from anywhere around your linux machine with your cellphone. for all of these helpfull packets of software, you only need a bluetooth-enabled cellphone and a bluetooth-device in your computer, that is supported by linux drivers (shouldn’t be too hard to find). you can get an overview of programms for connecting your mobile via bluetooth to your computer over at tuxmobile.org.

after reading this helpful article on the subject, i tried different solutions (i.e. bluepad) and got stuck to remuco. It is a small tool to interact with all mainstream mediaplayers for linux. the list of already supported players is quite impressive:

  • Amarok
  • Audacious
  • Banshee
  • Exaile
  • MPD
  • MPlayer
  • Rythmbox
  • Songbird
  • Totem
  • TVTime
  • VLC
  • XMMS

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shortcut to arduino IDE on a linux system

i’m currently running ubuntu 9.10 as my main os and the Arduino IDE (v017) works on it like a charm after following the instructions over at arduino.cc. in short it was just the following two commands in the terminal:

sudo apt-get install sun-java6-jre gcc-avr avr-libc
sudo apt-get remove brltty

after installing these dependencies and removing the conflict with brltty, it was no problem to run the arduino IDE. just downloading and double-clicking the file arduino (a batch script) did the job.

the only inconvenience about it was, that it was not possible to set up a shortcut on the desktop or the menu to start the programm.you always have to navigate to the program folder via terminal or a file manager and click the original batch script to start the IDE. starting a shortcut to it always ended with the following error message:

Exception in thread "main" java.lang.NoClassDefFoundError: processing/app/Base
Caused by: java.lang.ClassNotFoundException: processing.app.Base
at java.net.URLClassLoader$1.run(URLClassLoader.java:217)
at java.security.AccessController.doPrivileged(Native Method)
at java.net.URLClassLoader.findClass(URLClassLoader.java:205)
at java.lang.ClassLoader.loadClass(ClassLoader.java:319)
at sun.misc.Launcher$AppClassLoader.loadClass(Launcher.java:294)
at java.lang.ClassLoader.loadClass(ClassLoader.java:264)
at java.lang.ClassLoader.loadClassInternal(ClassLoader.java:332)
Could not find the main class: processing.app.Base. Program will exit.

this is a known issue and already documented over at the arduino-site on googlecode. luckily p.d.oliver already posted a fix for the bash-script, that will do the trick. if you are too lazy, to do the changes on your own, you can just download the edited scipt and replace the original one with the new one.

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