The Boot Process

The boot process is the magic that makes your hardware come alive. You may not dwell on it, the process by which your cold, static, inanimate box kicks in, is a wonder of modern science.

The process begins when you press the power button.

Here's how it works:

Booting is a multi-stage process:

Stage I

Read the BIOS ROM.

o Power Up

The first stage when switch on your machine is the surge of electricity to the power supply. This needs to be regulated so a steady stream can be pumped to the computer. Once the supply is regulated, a reset signal is sent to the CPU.


Processor checks the end of system memory (the BIOS ROM) for a boot program it can load. This always resides at the same location in every BIOS: 0xF0000 to 0xFFFFF. The BIOS ROM always resides at the and of system memory.


Next the system runs POST to check all is healthy and A-OK. If it gets the all clear, it continues with the boot. If its a minor fault it beeps.

o Video BIOS

Next it reads and runs the video cards BIOS. This is located at: 0xC000 in memory.


Next it looks for other BIOS on the system and reads them. This is normally the ATA disk drive BIOS located at: 0xC800.

o BIOS Display

The system then displays the familiar BIOS screen.

o Memory Check

BIOS now checks system memory and displays a total count.

System Check

Now BIOS performs system check to see what hardware is on the system.

o PnP Check

Now BIOS checks for Plug n Play devices on the system, and echos a message on screen for each one it finds

o BIOS Summary

BIOS displays a summary of system config. This includes serial ports and their I/O port addresses. The ports are:

  0x3F8/IRQ4 (COM1)
  0x2F8/IRQ3 (COM2)
  0x3E8/IRQ4 (COM3)
  0x2E8/IRQ3 (COM4)

Parallel ports, normally only one:

  0x378/IRQ7 (LPT1)
  0x278/IRQ5 (LPT2)

o Boot Device

The BIOS searches for a device to boot.

o Target Device

After identifying the target boot device, the BIOS now searches hard disk for cylinder 0, head 0, sector 1. (The first sector on the disk).

Stage II

o Bootable Device

If the BIOS finds a bootable device at cylinder 0, head 0, sector 1. It loads the code into memory to move to stage two of the boot sequence. This is boot0, a simple program it lists the available slices you can boot from, if you have multi-OS on your system. If not this jumps straight to boot1

Next it reads and executes boot1. Boot1 is only 512 bytes, and stores information about the slice to find and execute boot2.

Boot2 understands the filesystem enough to find files on it, and choose the kernel or loader to run.

At this point you can boot into single user mode (boot -s), load and unload kernel or modules, load config scripts.


MBR layout always follow a standard format independent of the OS. The first 446 bytes are reserved for program code. The next 64 bytes hold space for a partition table up to four partitions. Without a partition table the disk could not be read. The last two bytes contain a special magic number (AA55).

o NoBootable Device

If it cannot find a bootable device, it diplays an error message and halts.

o Warm Boot, Cold Boot

The above process applies to a cold boot. A warm boot is the same except the POST is skipped and the boot process continues from step 8.

Stage III

o Kernel

Once the kernel has finished booting, it passes control to init the last stage of the boot process, Init checks file systems for inconsistencies, if it finds any, it runs fsck to correct errors. If these are corrected the boot continues, if not it drops to single-use mode for sys admin to correct.

If the filesystems are found to be okay, the system enters multi-user mode, and runs resource configuration of the system. The system reads defaults from /etc/defaults/rc.conf and system specifics from /etc/rc.conf. It mounts the filesystems in /etc/fstab, starts networking services, various daemons, and finally the startup scripts of locally installed packages. See rc(8) for further reference.

o Shutdown

If the shutdown command is run, init will attempt to run /etc/rc.shutdown, and send all process the TERM signal, if they don't respond, it will issue KILL signal.

At this point the machine powers down and its systems off.


Permanently Delete Files From Hard Disk Drive

You've probably read stories of someone getting an old computer and finding megabytes of sensitive or personal data stored on the hard disk drive. Simply deleting a file does not remove the data from the disk.

When you delete a file, the Operating System does not remove the data itself, it only deletes a reference to the data for that file. It erases details about the location of the data stored on disk. An table entry is deleted. The data itself is not touched. It continues to sit there on disk. Over time and with usage, some data is overwritten, as the Operating Systems uses more disk space. But this in itself is no guarantee that sensitive or personal data on disk, cannot be recovered.

There are stacks of free utilities to recover or undelete files. Google undelete utility and see how many free utils exist for download.

Even running a format will not delete the data residing on disk. A normal format (a high-level format) only lays out the disk with sectors and writes up a table for the new layout. Its still possible to recover old data after a format.

To permanently remove data from disk, you need to overwrite every binary digit (bit) of every sector on disk with zeros or random garbage.

There are a number of ways to achieve this:

Zero Fill Disk Drive

Zero filling a disk drive overwrites the existing data with a zero. All data on disk is represented by 1's and 0's. Overwriting every digit with a zero effectively fills the disk with... err zero. There will be nothing useful on disk.

To zero the first partition on an EIDE drive use the following command:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda bs=1M

For a the second partition use:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hdb bs=1M

For the third partition use:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hdc bs=1M

As you can see you increment the letter (hda, hdb, hdc) for the next partition.

If its a SCSI disk or a SATA drive use:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=1M

For a the second partition use:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdb bs=1M

Etc, etc, etc.

DBAN - Darik's Boot And Nuke

Download and burn a copy of DBAN - Darik's Boot And Nuke

This utility will permanently wipe any existing from your disk by overwriting it, so no data can be undeleted or recovered. DBAN overwrites the whole disk with zeros or randam garbage. DBAN also overwrites the partition table, making data recovery virtually impossible.

DBAN is fairly easy to use. After downloading, and burning to compact disk. Place CD in drive and reboot. (You may need to change the boot order in the BIOS). DBAN gets to work, re-arranging those bits. On older, slower hardware, it can take some time to wipe clean. Consider running overnight. DBAN runs unattended and is useful for wiping several disks.

DBAN is a Linux derived product.

Wipe Utility

A nice utility is Wipe. Its available in the main repository Debian or Ubuntu repositories for download.

aptitude install wipe

You have an easy to use utility to securely wipe and permanently erase data from your disk drives. From the man page:

wipe -rcf /home/bark/text/

Wipe every file under /home/bark/text/ including /home/bark/text/. Recursive wipe (-r) and don't ask for confirmation (-f). Files without correct permission will be chmod'd (-c).

wipe -kq /dev/sdb1

Wipes all data from the first partition on the second SCSI/SATA disk drive, using the quick option (-q). Before starting it will ask you to confirm.

On a fast multicore machine, an 18GB SCSI disk took 7 mins to wipe with four passes. A 72GB SCSI disk took 26 mins with four passes. For large size disks you probably want to run the Wipe utility overnight.


Firefox 4 In 4 Easy Steps - Debian

Quick 'n' Easy

Due to a trademark dispute, Firefox under Debian is re-branded as Iceweasel.

If you try to upgrade to the latest version, Firefox 4, you may have some difficulty.

Here's a fast easy method to install Firefox 4 on Debian:

1. Step One

Add the following entry in /etc/apt/sources.list (or a new file in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/:)

deb squeeze-backports-4.0 iceweasel

2. Step Two

Run update

apt-get update

3. Step Three

Install with apt-get

apt-get install-t squeeze-backports iceweasel

4. Step Four

Launch and enjoy.



Mystique Of The Debian Swirl

Magic Smoke

The Debian Swirl logo is known to many Linux users. Some have queried what it represents, with many theories offered for its symbolism.

In fact there are two Debian logos, the Swirl comprises the top part of a larger image, showing the smoke emanating from a bottle, as a magic genie would in a Hollywood animation.

The Debian Official Use Logo
The Debian Official Use Logo is the red swirl coming out the genie’s bottle and may only be used for official parts of the Debian project, or by Debian developers. 

Debian Official Use Logo

The Debian Open Use Logo
The Debian OS may be referred to using just the swirl which is called The Debian Open Use Logo. The logos exist to protect Debian’s property from mis-use, which could harm its reputation.

Debian Open Use Logo

The logos were designed by Raul M. Silva in 1999, as part of a Debian logo contest. The designer, Raul Silva, never made any public statements about the logo's symbolism.

The logo's can be found on the Debian web site and are available for download.

Some of the theories for the logo's meaning:
  • The bottle represents the Debian community's collective effort, producing the magic swirl - the Debian OS.
  • Bruce Perens, famous advocate of free software and former Debian Project Leader suggests:

    The swirl is “magic smoke”. Electrical engineer lore has it that when you burn out an electronic component, you cause the “magic smoke” that makes it work to be released. Once the magic smoke is gone, the component doesn’t work any longer. Debian is supposed to be the magic smoke that makes your computer work.
  • In Pixar’s 1995 animation Toy Story, Buzz Lightyear had a red swirl on his chin. The movie may have been an inspiration for the logo. Bruce Perens worked at Pixar for 12 years. 
I guess nobody knows for sure, but I like Perens offering.

Yeah. I'll go with the "Magic Smoke".

ArchLinux Install Problem

Won't Install

When attempting to do a Net install of Arch Linux on CD, I got the following error message:

"Error boot device didn't show up after 30 secsonds..."
"Falling back to interactive prompt"
"You can try to fix the problem manually, logout when you are finished"
ramfs #

If appears the problem is a symlink was not created. The symlink should point to /dev/archiso, from the device /dev/sr0. If you have SATA devices this can happen. It does not happen if you have ATA.

The fix is to create a symbolic link from /dev/sr0 (DVD ROM) to the ArchLinux ISO at /dev/archiso.

When you drop down to a prompt do:

ramfs # cd /dev
ramfs # ln -fs /dev/sr0 /dev/archiso
ramfs # exit

Another solution to the problem is to run the code that creates the symlink:

ramfs # udevadm trigger
ramfs # exit

That should fix it.


Aptosid - Debian Hot 'n' Spicy!

Meet Sid
Debian's Sid repo is the place to find the latest, greatest and sometimes buggiest software. Alpha, Beta and anything after, is held in Sid until it is tested extensively and found not to break very often.

From there it travels to testing, where it lives until the Debian maintainers are satisfied about its stability and its security. Only then does it progress to the stable repository. But that journey can take a couple of years. In the meantime, if you run stable, you live with what feels like 'stale' software. Sure its rock solid and err... old.

If you want more up-to-date software options, you can go 'Testing', where things don't break that often, or if you want to live on the edge, you can go 'Sid', where things don't break that often. Was that an echo?

No. Its right. 'Sid' may have a reputation for buggy and untried post-alpha software, but that reputation is not wholly accurate. A lot of software in 'Sid' is stable and secure.

If you want to try 'Sid', take a look at 'Aptosid', a distro based on the Debian Sid repository. It doesn't bother with stable or testing. Go straight to Sid, if you pass go, collect $200.

Aptosid is a full-blown distro running KDE 4. Its lean, fast with the latest software. Aptosid comes as a LiveCD, so you can try before you buy.

I've been running Aptosid for a while now, and nothing has broken yet. Its usable, solid, light, fast and fun. What more could ya want?

If you want to try the Debian OS, but want an easy path into the Swirl, go download Aptosid and give it a shot.

You might like it.


Anamorphic Format Explained - Video

Size Matters
Anamorphic Video sounds complex, but its fairly simple to understand, once you grasp a few key ideas.

The anamorphic format is all about size. The Anamorphic problem is essentially about fitting a cinema sized image (which is wide and narrow. An oblong shape) on to a domestic sized TV screen (which is square and boxy) while maintaining the aspect ratio of the original image. Along with the cutting and cropping that ensues in order to achieve this.

Aspect ratio is the relationship between image width and image height

A little history first. Anamorphic was first introduced in 1955 by 20th Century Fox in an effort to counter the loss of cinema audiences to the new medium of television. People were staying home and watching TV instead of going to movie theatres. To spice things up and entice audiences back to movie theatres, 20th Century Fox introduced something novel CinemaScope, a wide screen format which replaced the existing format of 1.34 to 1.

CinemaScope produced an image that was much wider. Nearly twice as wide as the old studio format. CinemaScope had an aspect ratio of 2.55 to 1 compared to the old standard studio format of 1.34 to 1.

In order to capture a very wide image, when shooting a movie a special anamorphic lens was used. The anamorphic lens distorted, captured and squeezed a very wide image onto standard 35mm film. Using regular 35mm film meant they could keep costs down. No special film needed. The anamorphic process allowed far more data to be caught on 35mm film stock. To project the image in movie theatres, a reverse anamorphic lens was used to correct the distortion and create the wide screen effect. 

Here's a dictionary entry for anamorphic:

anamorphic –adjective
1. Optics . having or producing unequal magnifications along two axes perpendicular to each other.
2. of, pertaining to, or created by anamorphosis or anamorphism.

The dictionary agrees that the image is unequal along its axis, width v height.

ie its wider than it is high.

An image captured with an Anamorphic lens, its image is almost 2.5 times wider than it is high. That's fine when the image is projected in a movie theatre where the screen's are huge and the dimensions are right for anamorphic film, but when you need to display the same film on a TV screen, which does not have the same correct dimensions, you have a problem.

Anamorphic on a 4x3 TV

Lets look at an anamorphic image on an old CRT TV set with 4x3 ratio. Some people still use these old TV sets. I'll use simple measurements so its easily grasped.

The old standard TV screen had a ratio of 4x3. That's 4 across and 3 down. If the TV was 40 inches across, its vertical edge would be 30 inches high. (See image). That's a 4x3 ratio.

4x3 Standard TV Dimensions

Anamorphic cinema screens have a ratio of 2.39 to 1. If we have a small cinema screen made for anamorphic movies and it was 40 inches wide, its height on the vertical edge would be 17 inches. That's the correct ratio of 2.39 to 1.

Punch it into your calculator and see. Multiply 17 by 2.39. The answer will be just under 40. Thats our correct ratio for watching anamorphic video.

Anamorphic TV Dimensions

As you can see the width for the two screens is the same at 40 inches, but the vertical height  differs greatly. The anamorphic is about half the height of the old 4x3 standard TV screen.

Here's an anamorphic image displayed on a 4x3 TV with a standard 4x3 ratio. If your TV screen is 40 inches across with a vertical edge, 30 inches high. It will display an image like this.

4x3 Standard TV Dimensions

The image is vertically stretched.

Here's the same image displayed on an anamorphic screen with a ratio of 2.35:1.

Anamorphic TV Dimensions

The image appears correct, more natural. The 4x3 image appears squished.

The anamorphic image has a 'width' of 40 inches, and a 'height' of 17 inches.

Cinematic projectors have lenses allowing them to produce a wide image to fill the cinema screen. The anamorphic original movie's ratio 2.351 means it is 235 across and 100 down. Its dimensions are very different from those of a standard 4x3 TV.

When the image is transferred to DVD or for TV broadcast, the image has to be squeezed from its original large wide frame format into a much smaller square frame so it fits the TV screen.

If we place the anamorphic image on a standard 4x3 TV, it won't fit. Its just too big. If we make the anamorphic image 30 inches high to fill the vertical edge, it will have a horizontal width of 70.5 inches. (Do the math, 30 x 2.35 = 70.5). Its too wide for the standard 4x3 TV by 30.5 inches.

If we keep the anamorphic horizontal width to 40 inches, the 2.35 ratio will only create an image that's 17 inches high. The image will not fill the TV screen completely. Its too short, way too short. At 17 inches its just over half the height. To get around this problem, engineers place the image centrally on a 30 inch high TV screen, and leave a gap of 13 inches. 6.5 inches at the top and 6.5 inches at the bottom. You get what is known as a letterbox effect, with black bars top and bottom to fill the gap.

This what it looks like (keeping the same image and TV size: 40" wide and 30" high).

Anamorphic Image displayed on 4x3 TV Letterbox Effect

Cut Chop Dice

To fit an anamorphic image on a standard TV it will be 40" wide but only 17" high.

When the anamorphic image is displayed at 40" width, it has a height of 17". This leaves a gap at the top or bottom of the TV screen. The gap is normally filled with black bars.

If we want to display the full height of the anamorphic image on the TV, namely at 30" high, the anamophic image is too wide for the square TV and spills over on both sides.

If we set the width of the 16x9 to 30" high, its width is 50". That's 10" wider than our standard TV.

If we set the width of the anamorphic image to 30" (the height of the TV) the anamorphic image is 66" wide. Thats 26" wider than our standard TV.

Hopefully you now see the problem and understand the solution TV / Video engineers have come up with.

The solutions that have been worked in the past normally include reducing the height of the image so the width fits. This means you get black bars across the top and bottom of your TV screen.

Now lets look at the anamorphic image displayed on one the new generation widescreen TVs.

Anamorphic on a 16x9 TV

Digital HD TV has an aspect ration of 16x9 (1.78:1)

The latest/new generation widescreen TVs have a ratio of 16x9. That's 16 across and 9 down.
To fit a 16x9 TV image into a standard 4x3 40" TV, the image when centered on screen will be 40 " wide and 22.5" high. (40 inches x 1.78 = 22.5 inches).

Here's the anamorphic image displayed at 16:9 (ratio 1.78 to 1) to fill the 16:9 screen. The image is vertically stretched.

16x9 Widescreen TV - Vertical Stretch 

Here the same anamorphic image displayed on 40 inch widescreen TV 16:9 (ratio 1.78 to 1), with no vertical stretch. But we have the letterbox effect. The image appears more natural with the correct dimensions. The face does not appear distorted.

16x9 Widescreen TV - No Vertical Stretch

As the image is only 22.5 inches high it creates a letterbox effect once more. We end up with  a total gap of 7.5 inches. 3.25 inches top and 3.25 inches bottom. Its not as bad as the old 4x3 TVs.

Hopefully you now understand of anamorphic video and why you get the letterbox effect.


Debian Gnome Minimal Install

Elf Like

Aminimal install of Debian with Gnome for the desktop.

First, download a copy of latest Debian testing Net Install ISO for AMD64.

Burn the image to disk using Brasero, K3B or similar burning application.

Reboot your machine using the CD. If your machine won't boot off CD you'll need to go into your BIOS and change the boot settings to make the CD/DVD the first boot device.

After booting, hit enter to load Debian and start the install.

1.   Select your language
2.   Select country
3.   Select keyboard
4.   Enter machine hostname
5.   Enter domain name
6.   Partition disk/s
7.   Enter root password
8.   Create user account
9.   Enter user password
10. Select base install. Deselect desktop option. We don't want it
11. Select country mirror
12. Say yes to participate in popularity contest
13. Select GRUB boot loader
14. Install finished. Remove CD and reboot

You now have a minimal install of Debian without Gnome.

Lets go graphical and add X.

# aptitude install xorg

After Xorg completes we run

Xorg -configure

To generate our xorg.conf file

Using Debian, I tend to run the testing release. I find its more up-to-date than stable. Although stable is well... stable, the apps are a little out-of-date. Running testing, you get software more in-line with current releases.

I use emacs for most editing work, but as its not installed yet use 'vi'.

Now edit /etc/apt/sources.list and add following:

# emacs /etc/apt/sources.list

# Debian Repository Sources List

# Debian Main Repository
deb testing main contrib non-free
deb-src testing main contrib non-free

# Debian Security Repository
deb testing/updates main
deb-src testing/updates main

# Google Chrome Repository
deb stable main non-free
deb testing main non-free

# Christian Marillats Unofficial Debian Repository
deb testing main non-free

Save amended sources.list file, and run update.

Time to update

# aptitude update

After aptitude finishes, lets install Gnome. We don't want the full-blown Gnome and all it entails, so lets have Gnome-Core, a cut-down version.

# aptitude install gnome-core

Add christian merrilats gpg-key to our keyring

# aptitude install debian-archive-keyring
# gpg --keyserver hkp:// --recv-keys 07DC563D1F41B907

We have Xorg and a desktop. We need some apps and things to play with:

  • Emacs
  • Screen
  • Copy across dot.emacs config file
  • Copy dot.bashrc
  • Copy dot.xmodmap
  • Copy dot.bash_profile
  • Copy dot.Xresources
  • Copy dot.xinitrc
  • Chrome-Stable
  • Install Adblock-Plus
  • Install Flashbock
  • MS-TT-Corefonts
  • Copy extra fonts to ~/.fonts dir
  • Install evince - pdf reader
  • Transmission - Bit Torrent Client
  • Xmms - Audio Player
  • Gimp - Graphic Editor

If you have any fancy fonts you can easily add them to the hidden ./fonts directory in your home dir. By doing so, they will be detected automatically.

Time to tidy and smarten things up a little.

Change Desktop Background

Black solid colour

Customise Theme

Controls: Clearlooks
Colours: Default
Window Border: Clearlooks2-squared
Icons: Gion
Pointer: DMZ Black

Change gnome fonts settings

Application font; Tahoma 10
Document font: Tahoma 10
Desktop font: Tahoma 10
Window title font: Trebuchet MS Bold 10
Fixed width font: Courier New 10

Google Chrome Flash Plugin

Google Chrome now comes with in-built Flash Player, so you don't need to install a plug-in. Previously you had to do a manual install, which included the following steps.

Download Flash Player 10 64-bit Plugin from Adobe
Unzip tar file. Extract
Make Chrome Plugins directory
# mkdir /opt/google/chrome/plugins
cp /opt/google/chrome/plugins

Restart Chrome

Visit to test Flash Player is working

But you shouldn't need to do anything if you use Chrome. Flash Player should just work out-of-the-box!

Time to install more toys:

- Screen
# aptitude install screen

- SBCL lisp
# aptitude install cl-clx-sbcl sbcl sbcl-doc sbcl-fasl-loader-78

- Gnu Clisp
# aptitude install clisp

- fortune
# aptitude install fortune

- mplayer media player
# aptitude install mplayer

- Irssi chat client
# aptitude install irssi

- Install gedit
# aptitude install gedit

- Install StumpWM
# apt-get install sbcl sbcl-doc cl-clx-sbcl cl-ppcre autoconf

- Install Conkeror
# aptitude install conkeror conkeror-spawn-process-helper

- Brasero
# aptitude install brasero

If you want a mail client or Open Office, for word processor, spreadsheet, etc, install as needed. There's enough here to get you going.

Installing software in Debian is childs play, as you can see.

If there's anything else you need, use aptitude.

First go search the package name, then use aptitude install. Its that easy.

If you don't find the app your looking for or don't know the package-name, try:

# aptitude search package-name

You can search for packages on Debian's website or try:

google package-name debian

See what you get.


Xorg Config

The Beauty Of X

Running X is fairly painless now, compared to a few years back. If you had to manually edit xorg.conf and get it wrong. Aaaaaargh.

Anyhow, when you install X today, it auto-configures itself.

Sometimes you find you have no xorg.conf file. It normally resides in /etc/X11/xorg.conf.

If your xorg.conf file has disappeared, here's how to generate another.

First you need to kill X. Switch to the console by pressing Ctrl-Alt-F1 or Ctrl-Alt-F2 or Ctrl-Alt-F3.

As root user, stop your display manager, if your using one.

# /etc/init.d/kdm stop
# /etc/init.d/gdm stop
# /etc/init.d/xdm stop

Next change to X11 directory

# cd /etc/X11

Reconfigure Xorg

# Xorg -configure

Follow the on-screen instructions, which create your new xorg.conf.

On completion, restart X.

# startx


VX 1000 No Sound


If you have a MS VX 1000 Webcam running under Linux/Debian you may experience 'no sound'.

The problem is down to the way the driver assigns bandwidth to the video, which ultimately hogs all that's available and sound gets none.

I read the developers have a patch thats been applied and included in all drivers included in kernel from 2.6.38 onwards.

If you are running a kernel version older than 2.6.36, upgrade your kernel.

This should fix your sound problems.


Conkeror Keys


Here are a few key bindings for Conkeror Web browser

Conkeror is case sensitive.

Command Binding
Go to url or Webjump g
Follow link f
Forward F
Back b (or) l
Reload page r
Reload page, bypass cach C-u r
Reload image i r
Edit url C-x C-v (or) G
Copy current url c 0
Copy link url c
Copy image url i c
Copy url for anchor # c
Copy text of any DOM node * * T c
Save link s
Save image i s
Save media (heuristic search video/audio) e s
Focus link n ;
Focus DOM node * * ;
Next Page (heuristic) ] ]
Previous Page (heuristic) [ [
Submit Form C-c C-c
Zoom In +
Zoom Out -
Zoom Reset =
Text Enlarge C-+
Text Reduce C--
Text Reset C-=

That's about it!

Debian Module-Assistant

Module Easy

Module Assistant is a powerful Debian package for the download and installation of kernal modules. It makes using modules less painful.

Here's a quick run through for Module Assistant.

The Module Assistant package is normally abbreviated to m-a.

First check 'contrib non-free' have been added to /etc/apt/sources.list

cat /etc/apt/sources.list

If not, add them. Your sources list needs to look like this:

# Debian Main Repository
deb wheezy main contrib non-free
deb-src wheezy main contrib non-free

I'm running Wheezy, which is the current testing release. You may be running a different release. Just add 'contrib non-free' to the end of your repository URLs.

Update our sources list, then install Module Assistant.

# aptitude update

# aptitude install module-assistant

Now use Module Assistant to download headers for the kernel

# m-a prepare

Update list of kernel modules

# m-a update

Lets see what we got

# m-a list

We want the nvidia module, so lets build it

# m-a a-i nvidia-kernel-source

a-i is short for auto-install

Check the module is installed

# modprobe nvidia

Check it was loaded

# lsmod | grep nvidia

To auto-load the module at boot, add 'nvidia' entry in /etc/modules

Module Assistant has an interactive mode you can use. To start interactive mode, do:


Interactive mode is self explanatory.

Your done!

Drop Cap First Letter

Big Alpha

If you blog or add content to your website, you may want to spice things up a bit with a big first letter. Its quite easy. All you need is a little html. Have a look at these. Use it if you like.

Here's the letter in a dark color...


Here's the code for a dark color...

<span style="color: #808080; float: left; font-family: Times, serif, Georgia; font-size: 100px; line-height: 70px; padding:2px 2px 0px 0px;">W</span>

Here's the letter in a another dark color...


Here's the code for a dark color...

<span style="color: #888888; float: left; font-family: Times, serif, Georgia; font-size: 100px; line-height: 70px; padding:2px 2px 0px 0px;">W</span>

Here's the letter in a light color...


Here's the code for a light color...

<span style="color: #d4d4c7; float: left; font-family: Times, serif, Georgia; font-size: 100px; line-height: 70px; padding:2px 2px 0px 0px;">W</span>

Here's the letter in a dark red...


Here's the code for a dark red...

<span style="color: #880000; float: left; font-family: Times, serif, Georgia; font-size: 100px; line-height: 70px; padding:2px 2px 0px 0px;">W</span>

Hirens BootCD

Problem Solver

If you have problems with your computer, and the machine is reluctant to co-operate, where do you turn for first help? Google. Okay. Whats your next stop? Try Hirens BootCD. Its completely free and packed with utils to check out various problems of the kind that brings your machine to its knees.

If you haven't had a problem yet, be grateful, then go download and burn yourself a copy. Just like insurance, you never know when you need it. When you do, you sure are glad you got it.

Keep a copy with your favourite books, CDs, DVDs.

Hirens BootCD contains:
  • Partition Tools
  • Backup and Recovery
  • Antivirus Tools
  • Testing Tools
  • Password Tools
  • Mini Windows XP
All useful utils for checking and reviving that dead machine.

When the gremlins strike, make it your second call.


Flash Player Plug-in - Firefox On Debian

Easy Install

To install the Flash Player plug-in for Firefox on Debian Linux is really so easy. Its a matter of running aptitude install as root user.

Here's how to.

Ensure you have the non-free repositories added to your apt-get sources list.

# cat /etc/apt/sources.list

# Debian Main Repository
deb wheezy main contrib non-free
deb-src wheezy main contrib non-free

I run wheezy, which is the current testing release

Notice I added 'contrib non-free' to the repository.

First run a search to find the Flash Player Plug-in and get the name:

# aptitude search flashplugin
p  flashplugin-nonfree    - Adobe Flash Player - browser plugin

Now aptitude will install:

# aptitude install flashplugin-nonfree

Launch Firefox/Iceweasel. If its already running, then close and restart.

Your done.