Check Out Linux Mint

Linux Mint Operating SystemI have to share something with everyone now. Anybody and everybody that knows me, knows that I am a die hard UNIX and Linux fan. I made the majority of my career managing UNIX and Linux boxes, with a server to admin ratio of sometimes 100 to 1. Everyone also knows that I am a die hard Debian fan, my distro of choice for my servers and my desktops is Debian, hands down. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t use or like other distributions, I mean every one has it’s place and purpose. I really dig Ubuntu and SuSE and I cut my teeth on Red Hat and CentOS just as an example.

That being said, the purpose of this post is to tell you about another distro that I just recently checked out called Linux Mint. I know a lot of people have found it since it is in the number one slot over at distrowatch. On the recommendation of my friend Steve, I tried it out and I have to tell you that I was absolutely blown away by it. It’s based on Ubuntu which itself based on Debian so right there is a plus in my book, it has a solid core and foundation, but that’s not what blew me away.

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Get Your Internet IP Address Fast And Free!

Network Connection InformationJust in case you need to know your Internet facing IP address, I have setup a new page just for the purpose of showing you that information and more, right down to your longitude and latitude just in case any of you are hiding some ICBM’s in your backyard and want to reach out and touch someone! So check it out, go to and see what it has to say about you, and before you say it, I know this has already been done. There are other sights on the net that show you what your IP address is, but I wanted one that wasn’t going to display ads or have any ulterior motives, just quickly and cleanly providing a good service!

Command Line Encryption And Decryption Of Files Made Easy!

Encryption iconHey folks, here’s a fun little tidbit for you. Did you know that you can easily and quickly encrypt and decrypt files using one tiny little command on your super cool Linux or UNIX (Yes, OSX counts) and even Windows command line? For those that haven’t yet heard of it, it’s a command called ‘ccrypt‘. Check it out …

First we need to install ccrypt on on your system. For Debian and Ubuntu (which is based on Debian), you can simply use the apt package manager to do this. Remember that you can use the -s flag to test or simulate the install before you actually go through with it in order to make sure there are no surprises waiting for you. Logged in as your un-privileged account, the command would look like this:

sudo apt-get -s install ccrypt

Assuming everything went off as planned, you could then run the real thing:

sudo apt-get install ccrypt

For Redhat (CentOS, and others based on Redhat), they have RPM packages available for download. Along with those they have Debian, Solaris (SPARC and i386), OS/2, SuSE, OpenBSD, and FreeBSD packages as well as pre-compiled binaries for lots of platforms and OS’s, so go crazy people!!

OK, now that you have the package installed, you can have some fun whiling away the afternoon encrypting and decrypting files like mad!

To encrypt a file, run this command:

ccrypt file_name

It’s just that easy.

Naturally, you would replace ‘file_name’ with your real file information. You will be asked to enter a key or password two times. Once complete, the encrypted file will have an extension of ‘.cpt’, and the original un-encrypted file will be replaced by the encrypted file.

To decrypt the file, run the same command the same way and simply add the -d flag.

ccrypt -d file_name

You will be asked for the encryption key or password that you gave it when you encrypted it in the first place, so don’t lose it! As always you can use the ‘–help’ flag or hit up the man pages for more detailed information. Hope you enjoy it!

**Danger, Will Robinson!**
Cheesy I know, but I hope it’s working. One more time – please note that when you run the command to encrypt a file, the original source file, the un-encrypted file gets replaced by the newly encrypted file. So if you are simply making an encrypted copy for example, the original is gone. If you lose or forget the encryption key or password you will be out of luck. I’m sure it can be cracked by someone, but boy that would be a pain in the arse! So, keep that in mind when you encrypt a file, the file you are encrypting goes bye, bye! It works the same way when un-encrypting, but that’s not as potentially dangerous.

Cool Tools – Take Command: The Best Tool For Command Line Warriors

TCC_screenshot2-bigOK gang, this is a nice one that I have to share with you. If you are a command line junkie like me and are stuck not only in a Windows GUI infested world, but in a world where the Linux distro’s seems to be more and more inclined to head that way too, you might just love this tool. Now, this is Windows only but may run on WINE as well, I haven’t tried it yet but I will do that and report back later.

Anyway, the software is called Take Command, and the beauty of it is that it allows you to run a very sweet console window that is built in, with all kinds of built in variable and functions that makes this thing seem kinda like bash for Windows on crack or something. However, even better is that you can run other console windows of your choosing, right along side the original one all in a nice tabbed interface! What does that mean exactly? You may be asking. Well, check this out: all in one interface I myself have the standard Windows Command Prompt, a BASH shell from Git, a Windows Powershell window, a CYGWIN window, and the customized TCC prompt!!! And I can add more, up to 25 console windows! You just point to the executable to run in that console and away you go, it’s awesome. Now I don’t have to have a bunch of separate windows open, I just have one, that re-sizable, adds copy and paste, and more! One more thing, the way that this software hosts the command console executables (think cmd.exe), it runs it way faster than when running natively! The I/O is awesome! I’m not sure what kind of voodoo the author came up with to make Windows faster but I don’t care, I dig it!

Take Command Screenshot

Click to watch the video

For even more goodness, I mentioned earlier that the app adds more commands (140) and more functions and variables (450) and literally thousands of additional features to the Windows Command Prompt. So, if you are a Windows admin, this tool will really shine for you with their advanced bath file and scripting capabilities, additional features, speed and more. I highly encourage you to watch this video here on the left, it’s short but gives you a quick rundown of the high points of this software. It can do so much and has so much in it, I cannot possible talk about it all.

Now for the bad side, and that is that the tool is expensive, it’s not cheap. We are talking about $99.95 for a license, which isn’t the end of the world but it can be a lot for a sysadmin’s budget. However, it is worth it, and further more, if you are patient, you can find a good deal on it at Bits du Jour. If my memory serves me correctly, I think got my copy for about half price. All in all though, like I said, if you are a command like junkie or warrior, this tool will not only save you time and effort, it will look way cool in your kit too! I use this tool every day and I love it.

One last this, this little gem of a tool will be listed along with all of the other Cool Tools in the list, so when you are done checking this tool out, why don’t you go see the list and check out the rest of the Cool Tools!

*As usual, I want to remind everyone that I am not affiliated with jpsoftware in any way and I get nothing from recommending this or if you buy it, I am telling you about this because I like it, and I think it will be beneficial to other IT warriors out there like me!

Cool Tools: Trello – Organize Anything

Trello LogoI have found one of the coolest apps ever for making lists, using a virtual whiteboard, taking and re-arranging notes, outlining and even more stuff I haven’t even figure out yet. It’s an app called ‘Trello‘ and I originally found it on my iPhone for iOS. A few days later I was sitting here at my computer wishing I had it to use on my computer too. Low and behold I went to their website and it’s a web app as well that you can use on any PC/Maz/UNIX/Linux box that has a web browser and an Internet connection! Imagine my surprise!

So, finding that I could use it on my PC and my iPhone (you can use it on Android too, BTW), I just had to share this so everyone could get the benefits of this amazing application too. Now, before you get started, just one thing to share because this irks me when I run into it most of the time, and that is that you will be asked to create an account or log in with Google. Normally, I don’t like this because I figure why do I need to create an account just to use an app, right? Then when I realized I could use it in a browser on my PC the reason became clear. That’s how I can have all of my data in both places. So, YES you can indeed work on the same set of lists, the same data, all the same stuff between your mobile device and your PC at home. Cool, huh?

I highly recommend this app and service, it’s really cool and very productive, it really does a great job of organizing my data. You can create these lists and then move the data elements around by clicking and dragging, and etc. Plus you can drill down to and within each individual element and add more data to each one. It is just amazing what it can do, and therefore what you can do with it. So go try it out … NOW!!

Check out Trello today, you will thank me!

iOS7 is ready to install!

20130919-095455.jpgOK, iOS7 is finally here after much hype and banter from all sides of the park. I went ahead and took the plunge on my iPhone 5 and installed the new OS last night. This is a bit different from my normal way of doings because usually I wait a bit to see how it all shakes out. That way if there are major issues with the launch, or the OS itself, or whatever, I can wait until all the issues are resolved before jumping in.

OK, now I have already been hearing a lot of talk from folk on the ‘net about the new OS. I have been hearing grumblings from iDevice users that installed the upgrade (mostly about the way 7 looks), from Android fanbois that just want to trash anything Apple they can, and even users that like the upgrade and have positive things to say. I’m in the latter category, although you never know, things may change as time goes on, we’ll see.

I am going to continue to learn more about iOS7 (all I can really) and I will report back with everything that I can. From my impressions and advice, to tips and tricks, and whatever else I can think of.

Now, make no mistake, this upgrade is huge, and very different in how things look, how they work and how your device does things and responds to you the user. However, after having spent a few hours with the upgrade, I like it a lot and I plan on going into why that is in more detail in subsequent posts here soon.

For now, if you feel adventurous try it out, otherwise it sure as heck won’t hurt to wait a few days or more to see what things are like after it’s been out for more than one night. Stay tuned, more to come!