Anything can go here, in any language... except my native language Sinhala. Be cool... anybody is warmly welcomed! :)

Gentoo Installation Screencast - ep 1

As a FOSS enthusiast and a penguin lover I thought of writing more on Linux. For a Linux beginner I would say just use Ubuntu and have some practice with basic idea. But, if you really want to dig deeper, Ubuntu is not the one. For that purpose, to get our hands dirty, what our lecturers have recommended for us is Gentoo. Yes, most online resources say the same thing. If you just install Gentoo using the command line, you'll get to know a whole lot of things. Gentoo is not easy, and it's a good choice for wannabe GNU/ Linux hackers.

If you need a good guide for installation of Gentoo, just refer one of these links:

Actually installing Gentoo is not a big thing, just know what you do. I thought of preparing some kind of video screencast of how I did it, and it's available for download [21.5 MB] at Actually this video is just booting, partitioning disks and mounting. The first part of a series of videos. If you have any critiques, feel free to discuss here. Due to limitations with my Internet connectivity I can't upload a bigger video which contains the whole thing. I will put subsequent episodes for download as soon as possible.

I did the recording with recordmydesktop (can be seen on the video) which uses the Theora codec, and VirtualBox for as the hardware emulator.

What did I forget to say..? Mhh... yes, the video is copyleft. Download, use it for any purpose. :)

Thanks for reading!

EDIT (01-Oct-2009)

Now I feel like my attempt is quite unsuccessful. However I would neither delete the video nor this post. Without narration and a properly written guide this is unsuccessful. I have a target of preparing some video tutorials with no involvement of propritary software. Till then I may have to learn more about open source video production.

A Childish Attempt Made to Hijack my Gmail Account

Today, I've received an email from Google ( subjecting Google Password Assistance. Google sends this email when somebody has made an attempt to reset the particular Gmail account's password. But, this request is not initiated by me.

Google password reset process works as follows:
  1. User enters the Gmail address into the password reset form.
  2. Using CAPTCHA, Google verifies that the request is not made by truly a human.
  3. Google uses either of the following methods to verify the account ownership.
  • If the Gmail account was inactive during the past 24 hours, Gmail asks for the security question which the account owner has provided during sign up.
  • If the Gmail account was not inactive, it sends an email to the secondary address that is provided during sign up.
  1. After the verification of account ownership, it enables the user to choose a new password.
In my case, somebody has made the attempt, and Google has sent me the password reset email. Well, I have reset my password -- I periodically do so. :) So thanks to the poor guy who made the attempt. :P

Anyway, how do we prevent such vulnerabilities? Here's what I think:
  • Use at least two email accounts. Use each other to receive password reset emails. Eg: set your Yahoo! address as your Google account's secondary address and set your Gmail address as your Yahoo! account's secondary address.
  • Try to access those accounts frequently.
  • Use ambiguous Q/A pair as the security question and answer. Use your own tunes with creativity. I know, this can go INSANE!!! Eg: Q - Where did you spend your honeymoon? A - Cloud #9

OK. Anything else does not come to my mind this time. May be later I might add more. By the way,....... who might want to hijack my Gmail account? I still don't have an answer. :-?

Well, there might be several bloggers who want to do this adventure. :D

Thank for reading!

Disk Maintenance with Ubuntu Live

Well, I thought of writing about some disk management which you can do with just using an Ubuntu Live CD.

First thing is, we don't need the GUI. Forget it. The text mode works considerably faster. After loading the initial screen of the Ubuntu Live CD, select the language, then press F6. You get a line that can be edited, and ends with the following parameters:

initrd=/casper/initrd.gz quiet splash --

Replace quiet splash with this:

ro single

And press Enter. Now the system boots into the single user mode. In other words, you are taken into the text mode. In later versions of Ubuntu, you get a menu. Just select root and you'll become root user! You can backup your disks, partition disks, file system check and many more!

Partitioning disks:
Just use either parted or fdisk. Personally I would prefer fdisk.
# fdisk -l (to list all filesystems)
# fdisk /dev/sda (to partition the first disk which is SCSI)
# parted /dev/sda (to partition the first disk which is SCSI)

Dont panic! Help is provided inside these commands. You just need to know plain English and the way that a partition table is structured (theory). :)

Format disks:
# mke2fs /dev/sda1 (format the partition as ext-2)
# mke2fs -j /dev/sda1 (format the partition as ext-3)
# mkntfs /dev/sda1 (format the partition as ntfs)
# mkdosfs /dev/sda1 (format the partition as FAT12/ FAT16 or FAT32)
# mkswap (format as swap)

Filesystem check:
# fsck /dev/sda1 (check and repair Linux filesystem on the drive, the partition should be unmounted first!!!)
# dosfsck /dev/sda1 (check FAT12/16/32 filesystem)

Tune Filesystem:
# tune2fs /dev/sda1 (tune adjustable parameters on a Linux filesystem)
Linux filesystems are periodically checked for  consistency during boot. You can adjust that time period with this tool.
# tune2fs -c 60 /dev/sda1 (set fsck to be executed on /dev/sda1 once a two months)

Backup your data into another drive:
Just execute the following commands one by one. Please refer this thread for a broader discussion.
# mkdir /source
# mount /dev/sda1 /source; mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt
# cd /mnt
# tar cvpzf backup.tgz --exclude=/source/lost+found --exclude=/mnt /source

To restore later (assume the backup archive is located at /dev/sdb1),
# mkdir /mnt/backup /mnt/restore
# mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/restore; mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt/backup
# cd /backup
# tar xvpfz backup.tgz -C /restore

Repair GRUB bootloader:
I got to know about this from here. Not everybody can access that site, so I'll put the whole thing here. Enter the following commands one by one.
# grub
/find/grub/stage1 (find the corresponding values for x and y for the next step)

Execute binaries on an existing Linux installation:
# mount /dev/sda1 /mnt; chroot /mnt
You can change the root password too!!! :-O

Wanna see how NTFS is supported on Ubuntu?
Just type ntfs at the root shell prompt and press the Tab twice. I'm not gonna put it here.

If you think I might have forgotten anything to put here, don't hesitate to share it here... Thanks for reading!

Kottu and Feedburner Email Delivery

Well, after a long long silance, Shaakunthala is back here, with a new domain name, Today what I'm gonna talk about is, does Kottu need a feedburner email subscription box?

Kottu, no need to explain what it is,.. it's the most famous Sri Lankan blog aggrigator. When I first started blogging in 2006, I didn't know anything. So I gave up. After two years, while googling for something, I saw something interesting.... whoa.. Sinhala blogs. Yes, I got interested, and came back to the stage again. Because of the Sinhala blog aggregator, which uses the same technology that in Kottu, I was able to address a large number of readers. After some time, through Sinhala bloggers I got to know about Kottu. With the help of Kottu, I have been able to address even larger audience. That's nice of course!

After few months, I started this blog. Kottu was the only aggregator that helped me to get readers' attention this time because posts are written in English. Although what I write here are not much interesting, regular bloggers at Kottu were kind enought to put some comments too. But, sadly I often forget to check the Kottu feed so I couldn't comment some interesting blog posts. This normally happens because of my busy and geeky life.

Not only Kottu but also I often forget to check Sinhala blog reader regularly. But, there's an email subscription box on the Sinhala blog aggregator. So using that I've subscribed via email. Every day around 7.30 pm I'm getting an email digest so no need to check the feed. Within an hour I finish reading and commenting all the interesting posts.

Most of the time I miss interesting blog posts going on Kottu. Well, honestly I don't want to miss them. What I would suggest is an email subscription option, like the one that Sinhala Blog Reader has. So interested people can enter their email address, verify and get updats, and others can do the regular way.

I hope indi would pay some attention ;) . Actually it's not a big thing to handle a feedburner email list. After the initial setup you can keep your hands off. I'm also managing a small email delivery list at feedburner for my Sinhala blog. I have around 25 active subscribers there and actually I even dont look at it.

This is just an idea, according to my point of view. I don't want to miss anything that I should read; are you too?  Please share your ideas if you have any...

Thanks for reading. :)


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