All posts by JamesIsIn

Date Display in Ubuntu

Don’t like the normal date display in Ubuntu?  It can be slightly modified using the usual methods, but if you want full customization you can do so with a tool called the dconf Editor.  It’s a part of the dconf-tools package:

sudo apt install dconf-tools

Once you have it installed you can then run the dconf Editor.  To create your own custom display for the time and date, dig down to this location:

Com –> Canonical –> Indicator –> Datetime

Change the time-format to “custom” and enter your desired pattern.  I used this:

%a %d %b %H:%M

or

| %a %d %b %Y | %H:%M |

or

| %Y-%m-%d %a | %H:%M |

Feel free to experiment with other variables.  This first configuration gives me day date month 24-hour:time.

Have fun with that.

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Import into Automatic Pool in VMware Horizon

Importantly there are two kinds of pools in Horizon: automatic and manual.  Automatic pools are pointed to a specific template and spawn new machines based on that template, and manual pools will accept the importation of, really, any viable virtual machine.

But what if you find that you need to move a machine from one location into an automatic pool.  There is no intended functionality for doing this.  However, we are humans and we are clever.

I will lay out for you the procedures I used.  We have a domain and our machines are all domain joined.  You may want to make adjustments for your specific situation, but the essentials here should guide you nicely.

Before you begin, let your user know that there machine will be unavailable for half an hour to an hour and that you will want them to test access once you have made the changes.

  1. Remove the entitlement for that user from the machine and the pool.
  2. Remove the machine from the domain and shut it down.
  3. Delete the machine object from Active Directory.
  4. Use the Clone to Template function in vSphere to clone the machine to a safe template location.
  5. (You may at this point delete the original VM.)
  6. In Horizon, point the destination pool at your newly cloned template.
  7. Add a new machine to the automatic pool from the template you just cloned.
  8. Point the destination pool back to its preferred template.
  9. (You may at this point delete the cloned intermediary template.)
  10. Power on the newly added virtual machine and add back to the domain.
  11. (Move it to the correct OU in AD.)
  12. Entitle the user for the destination pool and newly cloned machine.

It’s a bit of a hassle but it has worked dozens of times for me.

Have fun!

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Store Blocked in Win10 after Upgrade

I updated many (near 50) virtual Win10 machines to the latest release build.  Took about two hours per machine.  At least some of those machines no longer were able to access the Store.

The Store Is Blocked
The Store Is Blocked

I love reading “Check with your IT or system administrator” because that’s me.

Google has a lot of results for 0x80070EC, but including Win10 and Store helped me track down a Registry key location.  Since we have no Group Policy in place concerning the Store, I went ahead and remove the restriction.  You can find the key in question at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE –> SOFTWARE –> Policies –> Microsoft –> WindowsStore and it’s called RemoveWindowsStore.

Edit the Registry
Edit the Registry

You want to change that 1 to a 0.

Edit Dword
Edit Dword

No reboot required.  Go Store all you want.

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Clementine DB Error (crashes)

I was having some trouble starting Clementine this morning.  This came after I initiated a reboot.  Reboots and further attempts to start Clementine all ended in Clementine crashing.  Something was seriously misaligned.

I started it from the command line (by typing clementine and hitting Enter).  This also resulted in a crash but did give some interesting output in the Terminal.  Near the end I found this information in an error:

CREATE TABLE directories (  path TEXT NOT NULL,  subdirs INTEGER NOT NULL)

A quick search found this article which did have a viable solution.  It is a rather heavy-handed solution and I do not recommend it unless nothing else works.

Instead I modified that solution into one which didn’t delete all of my playlists and configuration changes for Clementine.  First I simply moved the entire Clementine configuration folder (similar to their deletion except I still have the files):

mv ~/.config/Clementine ~/.config/Clementine_old

Starting Clementine in the usual manner now worked.  So the theory was sound.  Now I wanted to see if I could get my database back.  I closed Clementine and ran this command:

mv ~/.config/Clemetine_old/clementine.db ~/.config/Clementine/clementine.db

When I launched Clementine again I had my database back (including all of my playlists).  Next I wanted to see if I could keep my old configuration file so I again closed Clementine and ran this command:

mv ~/.config/Clementine_old/Clementine.conf ~/.config/Clementine_old/Clementine.conf

This also worked.  So it would appear that it was perhaps not file corruption (as the article linked above suggests) but rather something more subtle and complex.  Regardless, at this point I was satisfied with the success of my fix, but my scientific curiosity was wondering about the other files.  Altogether there were six files in the Clementine configuration folder:

Clementine.conf
clementine.db
clementine.db-journal
clementine.db.bak
clementine-scope-backup.db
jamendo.db

(The clementine.db-journal file may not be present on all systems.)

I have no idea what those other four files do (well, except the jamendo.db folder which is presumably the database if one uses Jamendo through Clementine), but I tried moving each one back into the main folder one at a time (restarting Clementine between each one).  None of them had any effect.  This further supports the thought that it was a problem with file corruption.

I’m still not clear what caused the issue, but this is as far as I am willing to investigate at this time.  Hope this helps you.

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USB Drives Mount as Read-Only

Today Nautilus decided it just didn’t like my mounted USB devices.  At first it was a brand new 64 GB FAT32 drive, and so I figured I would just reformat it.  This didn’t change anything; Nautilus (the file browser in Ubuntu 14.04) was insisting that I had read-only permissions on the drive and would not allow me to write to it.

Apparently there is a bug (not necessarily in Nautilus because I am told this will work with other file browsers) that is pretty easily fixed.

Open your terminal and run these two commands:

mv ~/.config/nautilus ~/.config/nautilus-bak
sudo killall nautilus

The first one moves the configuration file for Nautilus (modify if you are using a different file browser) to a backup copy.  The second kills (stops, terminates) the running Nautilus session.  You will need to launch a file browser window to get Nautilus (or other) running again, but that should return your USB drives to writable.

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Random Spamdom

You know what’s fun?  Spam!

I think this one was from a politician-bot.

In this awesome scheme of things you’ll get an A just for hard work. Where exactly you lost everybody was on the details. You know, they say, the devil is in the details… And that couldn’t be much more true right here. Having said that, let me inform you precisely what did give good results. Your writing is actually rather convincing and that is most likely the reason why I am taking the effort in order to comment. I do not really make it a regular habit of doing that. Second, even though I can see the jumps in reason you come up with, I am definitely not certain of just how you appear to connect the details which inturn produce the final result. For the moment I will, no doubt subscribe to your point however wish in the near future you connect your dots better.

Any horse lovers out there?

If you offer him $10,000 for your horse, he’ll almost certainly probably market it
to you. Other factors, for instance pedigree,
trainer and jockey riding the horse and whether or not the horse
performs well about the turn or on dirt can also be carefully considered
by handicappers of their quest for that win. The one’s which do
win, have reached such short prices, you won’t
ever recover your losses.

Not clear why I would offer someone else money for my horse, but I’m getting pretty excited nonetheless.

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Last Gasp of a Dying Breed?

Remember when Sony tapes were relevant?  I had friends, even after the advent of the CD, who would live an die trading tapes.  They would even claim tapes where the only legitimate medium.  I miss those guys.

Oh, wait.  No, I still hang out with them.  One friend in particular still has a massive collection of tapes.  Go figure.

Sony has apparently introduced a new tape technology that makes an impressive expansion in what tapes can hold.  The number 185 TB is being passed around (though it is not clear to me which particular tape is in reference there).

Check it out:

R.I.P. iPod: Sony unveils cassette tape that can hold 64,750,000 songs

Never mind the silly title (iPod = portable digital music player just like Walkman = personal tape player) and the grandiose claims, this is an interesting change in tape storage capacity.  Even if the personal tape player never returns (and why would it?), this will have compelling implications for IT professionals doing backups.

And in case you are wondering why the personal tape players will not return, I offer this gem from them Interwebz:

Ultimate Demotivator
Ultimate Demotivator

Find more here.

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Skype Lacks Win10 Love

Building out new Win10 machines on our network, specifically a master of masters in VMware’s esxi.  Probably this can happen in a bare-metal Win10 installation as well.  I haven’t tested it much beyond what you find here.

I tried installing Skype from the Web.  I suppose there are those who will whine I’m supposed to install it from the Windows Store (or however they have branded their store in Windows 10).  Regardless, since I want to ensure I am getting the full version (and not some stripped down Metro-we-don’t-call-it-that-anymore-and-besides-we-don’t-use-it-but-we-do version) I downloaded and installed from the usual executable.

I tried this and it failed.  I found myself caught in an installer loop.

12-10-2015_[1]
So exciting to get started…
12-10-2015_[2]
Fuck Skype Click to Call. Seriously, who does this?
12-10-2015_[3]
Oh, yes. Just what the doctor ordered. Not!
12-10-2015_[4]
The Moment of Truth
12-10-2015_[5]
This looks like the same installer?
12-10-2015_[6]
Yeah, every time…
Since I have not yet installed using the regular installer successfully, I cannot say whether this is by design.  Which is to say, perhaps Microsoft is attempting to force users to use the installer found in their store.  If this is the case, they are doing a lousy job of communicating this fact.  Regardless I was able to get an installer that worked.

Go get this one instead:  http://www.skype.com/go/getskype-msi

That will work.

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How the Application Experience Service Fux Firefox

I have been having this problem on a VM pool replica master.  Don’t worry about what that means if you are not familiar with machine pools (VMware); it’s not important.  The important part is that I was not able to save certain files I was downloading with Firefox to the Desktop.

The download process would proceed as expected up until the end of the download.  Then when Firefox would merge the two files of the download into the single file which was the actual downloaded file, it would fail.  Every time.

I tried running Firefox in its safe mode (no extensions).  Nada.

I tried using Revo Uninstaller to utterly remove all traces of Firefox (as IE, Chrome, and Opera did not have this issue) from the machine.  After rebooting and re-installing Firefox the problem persisted.

Eventually I found an obscure mention of a service called Application Experience.  If that service is disabled, this sort of thing can happen.  I checked my personal VM and found that this service was set to Manual.

So I changed that replica master to Manual and rebooted it.

No problem saving the 64 bit Java installer downloaded through Firefox to the Desktop.

It’s an odd connection.  Hope this helps you too.

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The New Disk Utility in El Capitan

Two steps forward, one step back.  Often in computing it’s a way of life.

There are a lot of new features in El Capitan and its related hardware.  If you want to learn about them you can find hordes of information in them Interwebz.  But if you are thinking something might be amiss, you’ll have difficulty slogging through the praises to locate the deficiencies.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Apple and Macs.  Well, I dislike them only as much as I dislike all computers and operating systems.  Same thing.  It’s just that Mac fans, greater than any other group of technology adherents, have the awesomest rose-colored glasses.

If you gander at this article on the latest version of Disk Utility, you will find much praise.

It made sense that repairing permissions on files for which OS X knew precisely what settings should be in place could fix random faults…. Even so, from all reports, permissions repairs had little real effect for years—it just made us feel better.

So here at work we support more than 200 Macs.  I can assure you that at least some of the time Repair Permissions does actually fix permissions and thus fix issues facing real users.  Yes, that gives me all the feels; but it does that by actually fixing problems.  It is not praiseworthy to remove such functionality.

Have the new security measures introduced in El Capitan removed the need for future permissions repairs?  This remains to be seen.  Nonetheless, it was doing good work.  Whether that work is now unnecessary is yet an open question.

What about Disk Repair?

Select a drive or a partition and click First Aid, and a seemingly much-changed repair operation proceeds.

It doesn’t just seem different.  It works differently and in at least one scenario fails utterly to repair the disk (presumably the partition table).

I used dd to copy a drive from an ssd to a thumb-drive of smaller capacity.  After dd finished it’s copy operation I checked the drive in GParted which reported no partitions.  This was likely due to the partition table including a partition-end beyond the end of the drive.  This is expected.  Just need to repair the partition table.  The drive booted as expected; all the data was good.

I attached that drive to an El Capitan machine and discovered the new Disk Utility.  Being that all the usual repair options were missing I ran First Aid.  That completed successfully.  Nothing was changed: GParted still reported no partitions.

I then attached the drive to a Yosemite machine and ran the old Disk Repair.  This also completed successfully.  The difference of course is that when I checked again using GParted the partitions were listed correctly.

In short, the Disk Utility on Yosemite was able to make the necessary repairs while the new Disk Utility on El Capitan was not.

I don’t know that the new Disk Utility will be of any use to IT professionals.  I recommend you keep a bootable Yosemite around in case you have need for these useful tools.

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