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External monitor on Thinkpad X41 running Xubuntu Gutsy

December 20th, 2007

To get my Thinkpad X41 (Intel Mobile 915GM/GMS/910GML Express Graphics Controller) to project to an external monitor, I used this very nicely written information. This works great. Specifically:

Project to external monitor:

xrandr --output VGA --auto

Project to external monitor with a specific resolution:

xrandr --output VGA --mode 1280x1024

Turn off projecting to external monitor:

xrandr --output LVDS --auto --output VGA --off

One big virtual screen across both monitors:

xrandr --output VGA --right-of LVDS --mode 1280x1024

I’ll try to bind that to my Thinkpad “Fn+F7” hotkey combination in some way at some point. Currently, those keys do nothing.

Compiz on Xubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy)

December 18th, 2007

While outsourcing my memory to this blog is handy, it’s even better when I can outsource the blog’s task by just pointing to other blogs. xubuntu blog has a very nice writeup of installing Compiz on Xubuntu Gutsy.

It works without problems on the Dell Inspiron desktop (nVidia Corporation GeForce 8300 GS graphics card). I cannot get it to work on the Thinkpad X41 (Intel 915 graphics card; possibly a bug).

It is much more useful than I thought it would be. I always thought the rotating desktop cube was just a cool gadget – it turns out that it is very handy for orienting myself in my four-desktop space. It’s really impressive how much easier it is to remember where a program is with an extra dimension (“It’s at the back of the cube”) than without (“It’s two workspaces to the right” or “It’s on workspace 3”).

Get dropbear on OpenWRT to listen on alternate port

December 6th, 2007

I was looking for a way to get dropbear, the SSH server on the Linksys (running OpenWRT), to listen on an alternate port, but wasn’t able to find a configuration file.

This tip solved the problem, and another one I didn’t know I had (how to disable password authentication for remote access, but allow it for local access).

The short version, just edit


to start dropbear with the desired options (dropbear --help), and for the remote vs local access, start two instances on different ports, then set your firewall to only allow outside access to the dropbear instance that disallows password access.

And since this is my outsourced memory and I have to edit files on OpenWRT using vi, here’s a quick list of commands:

  • i before you insert anything
  • esc to get back into command mode.
  • yy from command mode, to copy the current line,
  • p to insert the copied line after the cursor.
  • :wq to write changes and quit
  • :q! to quit without writing changes, if you’ve screwed up.

How to make permanent changes to Slax on a usb drive

November 19th, 2007

There are several ways to do this, see the Slax documentation.

Here is an example; I wanted to make the symlink mentioned in the last post permanent (linking a directory slax_webfiles from the larger data partition to the webroot directory).

  1. Don’t boot off the USB drive, just mount it on a running system.
  2. Navigate to the Slax drive and create whatever you want to create in the folder rootcopy:
    cd rootcopy
    mkdir -p home/user
  3. I created a shell script that contains:
    # link to dir "slax_files" on second partition to be available here:
    ln -s /mnt/sdb2_removable/slax_files
    # link to dir "slax_webfiles" from htdocs:
    ln -s /mnt/sdb2_removable/slax_webfiles /opt/lampp/htdocs/

Now, when I boot Slax off the USB drive, I have a directory /home/user, and if I cd there,


will set up the a symbolic link.

How to run a web server off a usb flash drive

November 19th, 2007

Actually, turns out to be really easy:

  1. Install Slax on the USB flash drive. Here’s how I did it.
  2. Download the Xampp module for Slax. I got version 1.6.2 from here.
  3. Copy the Xampp_1_* file that you downloaded to the modules folder on your USB flash drive.
  4. Boot off the USB flash drive.
  5. Open a terminal and type:
    /opt/lampp/lampp start
  6. Open Konqueror and navigate to the URL You should see the Xampp info screen.
  7. To see what your webroot directory is, look at /opt/lampp/etc/httpd.conf. Here, it is /opt/lampp/htdocs.
  8. I added a symlink in opt/lampp/htdocs to a directory called slax_files on the larger data partition on the usb drive (I had partitioned the drive and put Slax on the smaller partition). I can now access files in that folder at (This symlink does not survive a reboot. See the next post on how to make it permanent.)