Conky config page updated

I think I’ve done enough with my conky configuration and installation for now. I successfully installed and configured conky on two Peppermint 7 Linux installations, on a virtual machine on my main desktop and on a PC I’d built a few years ago. I did have to do a little editing of the .conkyrc file on each. In the VM installation, I had to comment out the line for the second CPU core since there was only one core. It displayed an error about trying to access a core that didn’t exist. On the PC, I had to edit the Network section because the system saw the network interface as enp2s6 rather than eth0. The card was a Netgear FA311 Fast Ethernet card. I don’t know if the device name is a peculiarity with the card or with Peppermint.

Another thing I notice with my script in Peppermint was that the time was slightly to the left of center. In my installations with Ubuntu and Mint, it was always perfectly centered. I was able to fix the problem by changing the ${alignc 35} at the beginning of the penultimate line of the script to ${alignc}. I suspect that the 35 was some sort of an offset of some sort. Removing the 35 from the line on a Mint installation moved the time to a bit right of center. That’s something to be aware of, I guess.

I had installed conky on the VM yesterday and when I started the VM today, conky displayed as expected so adding the conky.desktop file to ~/.config/autostart/ is all that’s needed to launch it at boot-up. After installing it on the PC today, I opened the Autostart GUI and confirmed that conky was listed.

Satisfied that the installation commands were correct, I restructured the My Conky Configuration page. Under the Installation heading, I listed the steps to install conky from the command line. I put the commands in bold text. You can highlight and copy to the clipboard. To paste them in the terminal use the Crtl+Shift+v key combination. Before the actual installation steps, I include commands to check for battery, CPU, and network interface information.

I kept some of the old installation information in case anyone wants to do it that way. Be aware that menus may be different depending on the distro you’re using.

After the script itself, I created a Notes heading that includes the notes I’ve made for each update. It’s kind of a changelog, I guess.

I’ve abandoned the idea of creating a bash script for the installation. There are only three commands and it’s easy enough to copy and paste them into the terminal.

In my instructions, I used gedit but you can use whatever editor you feel comfortable with. A graphical editor such as gedit works well if you need to do much cutting and pasting like when you need to change eth0 to something else on several lines. I like to use nano from the command line for small changes.

Trying VirtualBox

I’d installed VirtualBox on my HP a few days ago and today I decided to check it out. A friend had told about Peppermint Linux so I figured that might be a good to try on a virtual machine. One of the first things I noticed when setting up the VM was that all of my OS options were 32-bit. When I selected my 64-bit Peppermint ISO and try to install it, the VM would just hang.

I did some research and found the processor needed to support Intel’s VT-x or AMD’s AMD-V hardware extensions in order to support 64-bit operating systems. Further research indicated that my processor, an AMD Pheom II X3 B75 supported AMD-V so it probably needed to be enabled in the BIOS settings. In my HP’s BIOS settings, it wasn’t immediately obvious where to find it. I finally located it under Security -> System Security -> Visualization Technology. It was disabled so I enabled it.

I restarted the computer, opened VirtualBox and my 64-bit OS options were available. I successfully created a Peppermint Linux virtual machine. While in the VM, I installed conky and successfully tested the wget commands to download the .conkyrc and conky.desktop files where I needed them.

I noticed that in the VM I was able to see all the computers on my network but I was only able to access files on Windows shares. On the Linux machines, I could only see the printer shares. I need to look into that. I would think that I should be able to see files on at least the host machine. There was probably a setting I missed in VirtualBox. It’s a learning process and virtual machines are relatively uncharted territory for me.

Latest conky update

I spent several hours working on my conky script, bouncing between three machines to make sure it was displaying everything right. I think I finally have it the way I want it. I did make a new comment to conky modifications but that was before I finished for the day.

I added a line to the script to display the processor make and model information, placing it at the top of the PROCESSOR section. It uses grep, sed, and cut to get a string out of the /proc/cpuinfo file. The line will probably needed to be edited to get a string of the proper length for your processor name.  You’ll need to view the cpuinfo file to see how many characters you’ll need to adjust the ‘cat -c 1-xx’ at the end of the line. Or you can run the full command in a terminal, trying different values. You can open it in gedit and copy the command to the clipboard and paste into your terminal using Ctrl-Shift-V.

I also added a few lines to give a numerical and bar graph display of battery power remaining. In the script I have on the web page and the conkyrc.txt file, these lines are commented out. If you’re running the script on a laptop, just remove the hashtags from the appropriate lines.  I wasn’t able to find a reliable way for the script to determine if a battery existed.

I cleaned up the NETWORK section so that the LAN and WLAN displays were consistent and to generally clean things up. I’ve noticed that if my Internet connection is down, the Public IP line will just drop from the display when conky refreshes. For wireless connections my online script had lines to display SSID and Connection quality but they were missing from the actual script I was running on my laptop. I was endeavoring for consistency among my own systems as well.

As always, I updated My Conky Configuration page with the revised script along with the updated conkyrc.txt file and a new screen shot. Below are the conky displays for my laptop and my main desktop PC. This should give you some idea of how it looks.

Keeping the number

The journey to keep the land-line phone number we’ve had for over 20 years was arduous and tumultuous. I had changed my Internet provider from AT&T’s Uverse to Spectrum cable and had set up a new number through Google Voice. Everything was working quite well and I was very happy with it.

But there was pressure to maintain the old number and I discovered that it was possible to also have telephone service through my cable provider and port the number over, so I looked into it. My savings over my old provider would not be as great as they could have been with my original set up after converting back to cable but if it would keep peace, I’d do it.

I changed the plan, picked up the provider’s cable modem that supported the telephone, and installed it. I had to reconfigure my network, changing static IP addresses and default gateway settings but I got everything up and running. The new modem/router/gateway had wireless capability but once I had my WAP configured, I turned off the gateway’s wireless to avoid any potential conflicts. Plus, I didn’t really need wireless coverage in my neighbor’s house. The gateway’s wireless didn’t reach to the other end of my own house.

After waiting a few days for the number to be ported to the new provider, I hooked up a phone to the equipment and got nothing. After spending too much time with tech support and rebooting and resetting the gateway a few times, they scheduled a tech to come out the next day. After doing the hard reset, I had to reconfigure the gateway.

It took a while for the tech to get everything working again. He finally got the phone portion working but I had no Internet access. Then I had Internet access again but no phone. Finally, he closed the work order saying that it might tell the system work properly. After a few minutes, both phone and Internet were up and running.

I also spent quite a bit of time tinkering with the wiring in the phone box on the outside to adapt the house wiring. At this time I don’t know if that’s working since I’m using a set of wireless phones. The main unit is connected to the gateway and the satellite units are on her desk and mine. I’m thinking about moving the VoIP box to my room and connecting the corded phone I have there to it, using the Google Voice number.

Was it worth the trouble and effort? Only time will tell.

502 – Bad Gateway

While working on my blogs earlier today, I suddenly couldn’t connect to anything on my domains, not even my cPanel. I tried to connect on another browser and another computer and got a “502 Error Bad Gateway” message. I put in a ticket with my host and a while later got an email from them stating “We have found that your IP was previously blocked by our server firewall, but for now it is unblocked.” There’s something about the wording that has me a little confused. The IP address was my public IP from my new Internet provider. I’m wondering about the “previously blocked” and “but for now it is unblocked”.

Is this something I need to be concerned about in the future?

Changed Provider

The tech arrived an hour ahead of schedule, good thing. I was able to use the old cable that I’d used for my cable modem years ago so there were no new holes in the way. Also a good thing. The tech hooked it up, called in the modem’s MAC address to register it, and we waited for over an hour to get connected. He said he’d never had to wait so long for it. Just a few minutes after he departed for his next job, the Welcome screen we’d been waiting for finally appeared.

I connected the router to the modem and the USFF Linux box and restarted the modem to get a good public address. I was able to connect to the Internet and everything looked good. I’ll switch everything else over later on today at a time when no one needs access. All I need to do is connect the router to the Cisco switch and patch the switch in my office to the router. I only have two devices with static IPs where I need to change the default gateway setting (the WAP and the NAS).

I should have the VoIP box by next weekend and once I have that set up, I can cut the umbilical cord to AT&T Uverse.

Penultimate Day 2016

Today is December 30, 2016, the penultimate day of the year, a day I review and contemplate the events of the year and, hopefully, set goals and intentions for the coming year.

After AME lost their contract with Premier Health at the end of October last year, I had very little desire to reenter the job market so I really didn’t put much effort into looking. I did enough to collect my unemployment benefits. In late January a former AME colleague reached out and asked me if I knew anyone who might be interested in doing a short-term refresh project. I told him that I’d be interested. What I had expected to be a four to six week project, stretched into about three months. It helped me got through the interim until my retirement officially began.

The work wasn’t difficult though there were some challenges. Working the project did renew an interest in upgrading my own computers and network. Most of the upgrades were simple things like adding memory or updating operating systems.

My wife’s computer, a Dell Optiplex 780, was having a number of issues. I had planned to use the Lenovo M91p I’d purchased from AME as my own PC but decided to use it to replace her Dell. I put Windows 7 on it and brought it up to 24GB of memory. I added more memory to the Dell and used that as my Windows 7 PC. I put Mint on the Ultra Small Form Factor Optiplex and put it in the network corner. Finally, I brought my HP up to 16GB.

I had been using using my Linksys router as a wireless access point for quite a while. I thought about and researched the idea of using a Linux-based PC as an access point until I found a good deal on a refurbished D-Link access point. That’s been working quite well. I thought about setting up the Linksys router behind the AT&T gateway device as a guest WiFi on a separate network. I haven’t done it but I’m sure I will eventually unless I switch back to cable for my Internet access. If I do switch providers, I’ll set it back to defaults, turn off the wireless, and use it as my primary router.

I modified the conky script that I run on my Linux desktop to display network information only for connections that were active. Now I don’t have have separate configurations for desktop PCs and laptops. See conky modifications for details. Installation and configuration is fairly simple but I might try to write a Bash script for it.

I did do a major cleanup this year and donated my excess computers and computer parts to Project Access. I probably still have too many computers. I guess some of them still have some sentimental attachment.

Over the course of the year, there were a number of issues with hosted email. While I have resolved the issues with the host, I still haven’t resolved the problems with my email client. I’m working on getting as much moved over to my Gmail account as I can. I keep thinking about dropping the domain entirely. I’ve also been reevaluating my need for a hosted site but that’s still very much undecided. I should look at what content I have on and and purge some things. The blogs can be moved to WordPress.

During my brief period of employment, I took it upon myself to learn the basics of Bash scripting. I’m not nearly as proficient with them as I am with DOS batch files but I created a few useful scripts that I use regularly.

Looking to the new year, I’d like to my current computers with more up to date equipment. My HP desktop has a few little quirks and something faster with more memory would be nice. I’d like to play around with virtual machines. A better laptop would be nice too. The Dell is a bit heavy and a memory upgrade for it really isn’t very economical. If I could find a powerful enough laptop with a dock, perhaps I could eliminate the need for a desktop machine. Of course, I would need money to do these upgrades. As much as I loathe the idea of reentering the world of OPCP, I may find myself doing that, at least on a part-time basis.

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