VPN access on Mint using rdesktop

This post was going to begin with one of my occasional bulletins on the fortunes of Luton Town, beloved club of my mate, Simon. However, the man himself has been bitten by the blogging bug and the resultant musings on all things Teradata ( and various other topics) can be seen here.
So instead, I’d invite you to consider the Nordic majesty that is Milford Sound. Nestled in the heart of Fjordland in New Zealand’s South Island, this watery expanse evokes awe and wonder, even in a land where jaw-dropping scenery is always just around the next bend.
Milford Sound was itself named after the equally picturesque sounding Milford Haven. Yes, Milford Haven in Wales, site of one of the largest oil terminals in Europe.
I should note at this point that the Welsh Ambassador has demanded that I point out that Milford Haven does have some nice bits.

Moving swiftly on, in the vain hope of avoiding domestic disharmony, my point is, the fact that two things share common characteristics doesn’t mean that they are necessarily identical.

All of which provides a somewhat tortuous link to the subject of this post, namely, setting up remote desktop access via a VPN on Mint.

Now, you’d think this was pretty much the same as on Ubuntu, and it is…up to a point. Continue reading

Upgrading to APEX 4.1 on XE 11g

It’s that time of year. Slay bells ringing, children singing…and the UKOUG Conference.
This year, I was lucky to get along to attend the last day in the company of my good friend Alan.

I love going to the Conference. You get the chance to see lots of great presentations about all sorts of things in the Oracle world.
Takeaways from this year? Well, apart from the stress-ball and the cuddly Rhino ( yes, we did have a wander through the exhibition hall as well), I learned quite a bit about Application Express.

Just in case they’re struggling for an angle for APEX in the Oracle marketing department, how about :
“Application Express – Forms 3.0 for the Internet Age”

I suppose I’d better do some explaining fairly quickly before I am taken to task by any APEX aficionados who happen to be reading.

Back in the good old days, when I still had hair, Forms 3 was the character based interface for the Oracle database. A major advance on Forms 2.3, you were able to code actual PL/SQL right into the triggers. Of course, everything ran on the server back then. Forms, the database ( we don’t talk about SQL*Reportwriter…ever !)

APEX has certain similarities to it’s ancestor. The code is stored in the database itself and you can write PL/SQL in it. Of course, it is also “web-aware”. It could easily be thought of as a UI for SQL and PL/SQL…without all that mucking about with Java.

Enough of this Oracle Tech naval gazing. The point of this post is that, if you’ve downloaded Oracle 11g XE, you will have APEX4.0 included. Due to the tiresome reluctance of software vendors to use major release numbers, you may have been under the misapprehension that APEX 4.1 was just a minor tweak. The truth is a rather different.

APEX is maturing rapidly. So, if you’re running XE 11g on a Debian OS ( or even 10g XE), you may very well be interested in getting the latest version of APEX to have a play with…

NOTE – I ran this installation on 11g XE running on Mint.
I’ve tried to highlight any differences you may get when installing on 10gXE, but I haven’t actually done the installation on this database version. Continue reading

Installing Oracle 11gXE on Mint and Ubuntu

Things have been a bit hectic lately. What with putting in a new kitchen, being insanely busy at work, and trying not to come out with embarrassing sheep jokes, I’ve ended up with quite a long list of things to do blog-wise.
Top of the list, until now, was installing the long-awaited Oracle 11gXE Release 2 onto one of my Linux machines.
Yes, the free version of Oracle’s RDBMS has finally had an upgrade from 10g and I really want to get my hands on it and have a good nose around.
As well as being based on the latest release of the RDBMS, the Express Edition has had one or two other improvements added. Maybe the most significant of these is that the limit for the amount of user data that XE can hold has been increased from 4GB to 11GB.
What I’m going to do here is :

  • Go through the package conversion process
  • Install the database using steps applicable both to Mint and Ubuntu ( and any other Debian based distro)
  • Apply some finishing touches so that the menu items work as intended
  • Along the way, we’ll find out just why Oracle can’t speak English (and lots of other languages), where Mint has hidden the .bashrc, and how Aliens can be friendly.

Because I’m trying to cover both distros in this post, the installation process will be done entirely on the command line. Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds.

But first…a small morsel of Linux history. Debian, the distro upon which both Mint and Ubuntu are based, was named after a Deb. I had to mention that as this will cause my beloved to think that I’m writing about her ( again), and thus give me enough time to finish writing this !

What are we waiting for then ? Let’s get going. Continue reading

Converting ogg file to mp3 format with Sound Converter

It’s the holiday season. The English summer rain serves only to sharpen the anticipation of the foreign sun that you will be enjoying in the not too distant future.
There is only one problem. How do you take your music collection with you when it’s all in ogg format and you don’t have a handy Android device to transfer it onto.

Step forward Sound Converter – another in the seemingly endless supply of really useful open source utilities for Linux.

NOTE – I’ve tried this on both Ubuntu and Mint and, as you’d expect, the steps are the same. The screenshots in this post are taken from Mint because the novelty still hasn’t worn off yet :-) Continue reading

Minty Freshness

“Oohh, you’re all minty”, is just the sort of thing I’d like Deb to say to me just after I’ve brushed my teeth in the morning. Most of the time though, I have to content myself with some muffled threats and demands for coffee. My beloved is definitely not a morning person.

I’m typing this in a shiny new version of Libre Office and my eyes are slowly becoming accustomed to the lack of brown and purple and the preponderance of green on the desktop.

Yes, I’ve decided to give Linux Mint a try… Continue reading

Oracle XE – Speeding up Startup and getting Nofications on the Desktop in Ubuntu

Oh the tension. 2-0 up at half-time. Visions of last-day drama and an eleventh-hour escape floating tantilisingly before my eyes. Then, grim reality. A second-half collapse and the prize is snatched away once more. So, this is what it must be like to be an Arsenal fan.
I know that they say misery loves company, but it’s not really any consolation. Yes, my beloved West Ham have been relegated from the Premiership.

In an effort to rouse myself from the resultant depression, I decided to have a look at addressing one of those minor annoyances that I’m always intending to get around to but somehow never quite do. In this case, it’s how to get confirmation that my Oracle XE database has started before trying to connect to it ( and that it’s shut down before I turn off my computer). Continue reading

Android Phone as a Wireless Hot-Spot

I have finally got around to having a proper play with my new(ish) Android Phone.
In doing so, I’ve discovered that :

  • it can read music files in ogg format ( good old Linux)
  • yes, Angry Birds IS addictive
  • it works very nicely as a Wireless Hot-Spot.

A quick tour through the toys I’m using for this particular exercise.
The Emachines E350 netbook running good old Ubuntu 10.04.2 is the computer. Yes, this should work on Windows as well, if your that way inclined.
The phone in question is an HTC Desire S running Android 2.3.3
Continue reading