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Run PHP as FastCGI and resolve Apache permission errors under Plesk

For some reason, changing the PHP execution mode to FastCGI on Plesk control panel does not get written into a domain's Apache configuration file. This HOWTO describes how to manually set things up properly.

Note: Replace "domainuser" and "example.com" below as applicable.

Note
For issues after a Plesk 11.5 upgrade, the Knowledgebase article at http://kb.parallels.com/en/114753 may also be relevant

1. Log into Plesk and enable CGI/FastCGI support for your domain.

Seting up 'controluser' in phpMyAdmin - to get cPanel's 'No Privilege' setting for hosted domains

Taken from http://www.phpmyadmin.net/documentation/

For 'HTTP' and 'cookie' modes, phpMyAdmin needs a controluser that has only the SELECT privilege on the `mysql`.`user` (all columns except `Password`), `mysql`.`db` (all columns), `mysql`.`host` (all columns) and `mysql`.`tables_priv` (all columns except `Grantor` and `Timestamp`) tables.

You must specify the details for the controluser in the config.inc.php file under the $cfg['Servers'][$i]['controluser'] and $cfg['Servers'][$i]['controlpass'] settings.

Plesk open_basedir workaround

Login to your server as root
Put the following into /var/www/vhosts/<domain>/conf/vhost.conf (and the vhost_ssl.conf file if you're using ssl)

< Directory /path/to/domain/httpdocs >
< IfModule sapi_apache2.c >
php_admin_value open_basedir none
< /IfModule >
< IfModule mod_php5.c >
php_admin_value open_basedir none
< /IfModule >
< /Directory >

Run the following to re-create Plesk's Apache configuration files and restart Apache:

/usr/local/psa/admin/sbin/websrvmng websrvmng --reconfigure-all

Getting the Epson TX550W Multifunction Scanner to work wirelessly with Linux

Getting the print function of this Multifunction device to work wirelessly with Fedora is very easy - the printer setup utility system-config-printer will detect it.  However the scanner function is another matter. 
For that, I had to download the iscan application and its supporting drivers from http://linux.avasys.jp/drivers. 

CPanel to Virtualmin domain migration

Command line:
virtualmin migrate-domain --source filename --type cpanel --user cpaneluser --pass cpanelpass
Note: For some reason, virtualmin seems to insist on the sourec file being an full path name, i.e., something like /path/to/backup/file.tar.zg, otherwise the command returns with an error that says "Source file does not exist"
 
The migrate-domain command is documented here: http://www.virtualmin.com/documentation/developer/cli/migrate_domain

Microsoft gives company US$400,000 "marketing expenses" to put Windows on Nigerian government computers!

November 12, 2007 by muyiwa

According to this story, a Linux company, Mandriva, had sold computers with a customisable, open source operating system to the Nigerian government at a very low price. According to the head of Mandriva, the reason the Nigerian government chose their solution was because it could be customised to suit the customer's needs. The machines were tested, the government signed for a consignment of 17,000 computers, and the company started delivering. Suddenly, TSC, the company handling the contract on behalf of the government said to Mandriva, "we will pay you for your software, but after you supply the computers with it installed, we will delete it and install Microsoft Windows".

Now, Windows is not customisable, and there are several undocumented little programs that can send information back to Microsoft if you don't take steps to stop them. Fortunately, someone at the government funding agency in Nigeria, Nigeria's Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF), seems to have their head screwed on right, saw through the scam that the arrangement is, and stepped in to shut it down. Did I hear you say "Hooray!"? Well, it's not quite as simple as that.

It turns out that "Microsoft is still negotiating an agreement that would give TSC US$400,000 (£190,323) for marketing activities around the Classmate PCs when those computers are converted to Windows" according to Microsoft's Nigeria Country Manager, Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu (see here). Mandriva's François Bancilhon, in a sarcasm-laden letter to Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, says the deal got "more competitive". Others might say it got dirty. Others may even say that Microsoft is bribing TSC. Or what would you call a situation where someone is paid to replace a perfectly good operating system with a bloated, buggy, and insecure one?

The Nigerian government, or its anti-corruption agency, the EFCC, must investigate who has been offered and obviously agreed to take money in exchange for compromising not only the security of Nigeria's IT infrastructure, but perhaps more importantly, potentially lock in the next generation of Nigerians into an operating system that other countries are rejecting in their national IT infrastructure. Anybody found guilty should be charged with nothing less than treason.

Of Christopher Columbus, Trojan horses and the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)

October 25, 2007 by muyiwa

The One Laptop Per Child (laptop.org) is a US$100 laptop that promises to revolutionise education and development among some of the world's poorest children. According to the OLPC Foundation, "starting November 12, One Laptop Per Child will be offering a Give 1 Get 1 Program for a brief window of time in North America. For $399, you will be purchasing two XO laptops—one that will be sent to empower a child to learn in a developing nation, and one that will be sent to your child at home." In other words, $400 gets your child a laptop, and another one is sent to a needy child in the developing world. And, your child gets a pen-pal in that child, since they can stay in touch via e-mail. You can donate here.

As they say, touch a child's life and you never know what other lives might be touched in turn. Read more about the OLPC and the "Get 1 Give 1" program in this New York Times article.

There has been a lot of negative comments about what's wrong with the laptop — no hard drive, no CD/DVD drive, etc. But until you see one in operation, you have no idea what a powerful idea this rabbit-eared laptop represents, and about its potential to change the world. This YouTube video review by David Pogue of the New York Times also shows what a powerful kid-magnet the OLPC is.

According to Nicholas Negroponte, OLPC founder and former chairman of MIT's Media Lab, complaining about the perceived shortcomings of the laptop is "as if people spent all of their attention focusing on Columbus’s boat and not on where he was going". Walter Bender, a computer researcher who served as director of the Media Laboratory after Mr. Negroponte and now heads software development for the laptop project, likens the XO to a Trojan Horse — “the soldiers inside this Trojan horse are children with laptops.”

Logitech Bluetooth Travel Mouse

Note: I'm assuming that you've already paired your mouse to your computer

FC6 has two startup scripts in /etc/init.d which make the Bluetooth mouse work — bluetooth and hidd — and these are both enabled by default. hidd is the daemon / program that's really responsible for connecting to the mouse — type man hidd for available options and commands — and the startup script of the same name simply wraps the command to fit into the usual command <start | stop | restart> format. It uses an environment variable HIDDARGS located in /etc/sysconfig/hidd.

HIDDARGS is set by default to "--server". However, this only serves to start the server (duh) and does nothing to actually locate and connect to the mouse. This requires either the hidd --search or hidd --connect XX:XX:XX:XX:XX:XX command (XX:XX:XX:XX:XX:XX is the address of the Bluetooth mouse. [I prefer to use the --connect command, as I don't want to connect to any random device that is found with the --search command.]

However, it seems that these commands cannot be passed to hidd simultaneously with the --server command.

Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.0.8

With the upgrade from FC5 to FC6, I decided to also upgrade Adobe Acrobat Reader from version 7.0.5 to version 7.0.8. However, I found that when I start this package from the menu, it appears as if nothing happens. I use KDE, but as far as I know, the behaviour is the same under GNOME.

Starting the program from the command line gives an endless output of

syntax error
syntax error
syntax error

I found the fix on Remi Collet's website. The posting is in French, so for the sake of those who don't understand French, simply login as root, and type the commands below.

cd /tmp 
wget http://remi.collet.free.fr/files/acroread.patch 
cd /usr/local/Adobe/Acrobat7.0/bin 
patch -b < /tmp/acroread.patch

Don't expect praise without envy until you're dead

— Joan Rivers

Reclaim your computer!

A personal computer is called a personal computer because it's yours. Anything that runs on that computer, you should have control over.
— Andrew Moss, Microsoft's senior director of technical policy, 2005

The most serious impediment to a lasting archive is the evolution of media, platforms, formats, and the applications that create them. Unique, proprietary, and constantly evolving data formats such as Acrobat-4, MPEG-4, Oracle 8, Quicken 2001, Real G2, and Word 2000 suggest or even guarantee obsolescence.
— Gordon Bell, Senior Researcher in Microsoft's Media Presence Research Group.

LIMITATION ON AND EXCLUSION OF DAMAGES. You can recover from Microsoft and its suppliers only direct damages up to the amount you paid for the software. You cannot recover any other damages, including consequential, lost profits, special, indirect or incidental damages.
— Clause 26 of the Windows 7 License.

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