Tag Archives: linux

Boot failure ending with initramfs prompt

This has happen on my Dell laptop much more than I’d like:

http://bernaerts.dyndns.org/linux/232-ubuntu-boot-failure-initramfs

mount: mounting /dev on /root/dev failed: No such file or directory
mount: mounting /proc on /root/proc failed: No such file or directory
Target filesystem doesn’t have /sbin/init.
No init found. Try passing init=bootarg.

BusyBox v1.18.5 (Ubuntu 1:1.18.5-1ubuntu4) built-in shell (ash)
Enter ‘help’ for a list of built-in commands.
(initramfs)

Ham Radio Deluxe vs fldigi

I’ve recently re-established my station here in Kansas. The majority of all the components of my station I was using previously in Korea: Elecraft K3 rig, a Dell Zino PC, using the MicroHam USB III as an interface between the radio and computer. The Dell Zino PC is configured for dual-boot: Windows 7 and Ubuntu. Last year I spent a good deal of time configuring fldigi, under Ubuntu, to fulfill the majority of my amateur radio automation requirements (rig control, logging, digital modes). After a bit of trial and error, I had fldigi working quite well.

Once I was back here in Kansas, I had a problem configuring the K3 – CW, as a mode, wasn’t working. Figuring I had messed up a setting, I reset the K3… which ended up not being the smartest move. Up to this point, I had never updated the K3′s firmware or backed up the settings. I (incorrectly) believed that Elecraft’s configuration software was for Windows only. An email to Elecraft generated a quick response with a copy of the software configuration file for my specific rig.

Weeks past as I avoided getting the hamshack into proper order. The hamshack became the default location for stashing half unpacked boxes. Once I finally made serious progress in sorting through and organizing everything, I was able to get to the K3 and PC. I booted up Windows 7, connected the PC to the K3, updated the firmware, and reloaded the original factory software settings. Things were looking up.

I decided to see if Ham Radio Deluxe under Windows 7 was easier to use than fldigi. I updated Ham Radio Deluxe to the current version and then attempted to get the MicroHam USB III to work. Frankly it was a pretty kludgey process. An additional program had to be installed to create a virtual com port in order to allow the MicroHam USB III to work. Configuring the soundcard, resident in the USB III, was also not very successful. Then I tried Ham Radio Deluxe, which had been my software of choice a little over a year ago. Bottom line, I was not pleased with Ham Radio Deluxe and decided to switch back to fldigi.

Booting into Ubuntu, fldigi worked from the get go…. rig control, log, and digital modes. For now, I’ll be sticking with Ubuntu and fldigi.

NOTE: Here is a list of settings that I use:

Fldigi config:
Rig control
- RigCAT
- /dev/tty/USB0
- Baud rate: 38400
- Toggle DTR for PTT

Ubuntu Sound Preferences
- Hardware: USB Audio CODEC, Analog Stereo Duplex
- Input: Internal Audio Analog Stereo [this confuses me, because I would expect the input would be associated with the USB Audio device (aka the Microham)
- Output: USB Audio CODEC Analog Stereo
- Application: No application

Ham radio and my year in Korea

Here is a a re-cap of my amateur radio activities during my past twelve months in Korea:

(1) DX – I enjoyed working a good bit of DX, enjoying most QSOs with stateside contacts as well as Pacific exotics. The greatest limitation I had was my operation location and resulting inability to ideally situate an HF antenna. Living in the barracks (the ultimate in CC&R) restricted any type of permanent antenna installation, further limiting my options. I solely used a Buddipole (which after many additional accessory purchases, became two Buddipoles). Despite the antennas being positioned next to a three story building, I was able to make contacts to North America, South America, Europe, and even Africa. I credit this to improved band conditions over the past months and also the Buddipole… it’s a keeper.


(2) EchoIRLP node – I brought my embedded EchoIRLP node to Korea and interfaced it with a Kenwood VHF/UHF rig. Again, with my poor location and inability, I could not have an antenna installed outdoors. Instead, I kept the Kenwood rig at its minimum wattage setting and used a roll-up J-Pole made from ladder line. With my HT also set on minimum power, I was able to make effective use of the EchoIRLP node. My primary contacts via the node were with the XYL back in Kansas. She has a mobile VHF rig, to include APRS. I could check to see when she was on the road for her morning or afternoon commutes, connect through my EchoIRLP node here in Korea to our EchoIRLP node back in Kansas. With the XYL’s rig set to the frequency of the Kansas node, I could frequently ride along with the XYL and harmonics as they moved about. Additionally, the Echolink capability of the embedded node allowed me to regularly talk to my dad, KD6EUG, while he connected to my node via an app on his cell phone. Another great enjoyment was the ability to monitor the different IRLP reflectors and sometimes participate in ongoing nets. I am sold on the flexability of the embedded EchoIRLP node and will take it with me again when I get deployed for a long duration.


(3) D-STAR – starting with a D-STAR Dongle, I moved to a DV Access Point and got an ICOM D-STAR HT. I enjoyed playing with D-STAR and the ease of having the Access Point as well as the IC-92AD (http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/ht/5092.html) made using D-STAR pretty straight forward. There is no aruging that the audio quality for D-STARS is poor. The complicated nature of setting up a rig at home for the XYL would also make D-STAR a poor choice to replace the EchoIRLP node. However, I enjoyed having the flexibility of having the ability of getting on D-STAR.


(4) Linux – all my radio operations here were supported by using the Ubuntu distrobution of Linux. After toying with CQRlog, I have settled on fldigi as my primary interface to my HF rig.


(5) APRS – although my APRS operations here were limited to the internet (Korea has virtually no APRS traffic), I used xastir (www.xastir.org) to show where my operating location was and also advertised my EchoIRLP node.


(6) WX station – never happen. I could not find a good location to place the collector, so it is still in the box. More importantly, wgoohat I didn’t get the opportunity to learn was how to interface a weather station to the APRS application xastir.


(7) Stars & Stripes article – I was able to discuss my amateur radio experiences with a reporter from Stars & Stripes.

D-Star, DV Dongle, and Ubuntu


Yet again, more success with Ubuntu and ham radio. I purchased a D-Star DV Dongle earlier this year and never had much time to play with it. I do not own an actual D-Star radio and the only time I have really ever seen D-Stars in action was at this year’s Hamvention. I am a fan of Echolink and IRLP – the DV Dongle seemed like a good way to dip my toe in the D-Stars pool without a big cash investment. Additionally, I haven’t been living near any existing D-Star repeaters (either back in Kansas or here in Korea).

Installing the DV Dongle on the hamputer went smoothly. Great instructions are located here or here. For support, there is a Yahoo Group which is active and brings quick response in troubleshooting problems.

Once I had the DV Dongle up and running, NJ6N has a webpage that provides a live look at who is active on which D-Star repeaters and reflectors.

There are plenty of resources out there, which could indicate the growing popularity of D-Stars.

If you are interested in having a D-Stars QSO, let me know.

For the record…

Here are details for my Ubuntu hamputer installation:

(1) Install the 32-bit version of Ubuntu 10.04DO NOT INSTALL THE 64-BIT VERSION!
(2) Run Update Manager and reboot
(3) From the terminal sudo apt-get install: libssl-dev, libhamlib2 and libhsmlin-utild
(4) Download CQRLOG (my version was cqrlog_0.9.6_install.tar.gz)
(5) Extract file and you get cqrlog_install.sh – run the script in the terminal
(6) After the install is complete, you should be able to start and run CQRLOG
(7) Now you need Fldigi… this takes a bit more work to get the latest version
(8) From the Synaptic Package Manager, install: g++, libfltk1.1, and libfltk1.1-dev
(9) Find via Google (or use the supplied links), download, extract, configure, make and install: libsamplerate-0.1.7.tar.gz, pa_snapshot.tgz (v19), libpng-1.2.9beta11, and hamlib-1.2.7
(10) Then download fldigi-3.20.29, configure, make, and install
(11) That is it – everything should be good to go.
(12) For bonus points, download and install Flrig

For more on CQRLOG – listen to Episode 47: CQRLOG Revisited of Linux in the Ham Shack… the best (and only) amateur radio/linux podcast out there.

Linux is finally in the Ham Shack

Back in February I talked about my plans to piece together a portable station based around the iPORTABLE enclosures, an IC-7000, and a Dell Zino HD computer. In one iPORTABLE I installed an LDG AT-200pro and the IC-7000. The other iPORTABLE contains an Alinco DM-330MV power supply and the Dell Zino.

The iPORTABLE enclosures keep everything contained and compact. I’ve set them up, one stacked upon the other on my desk near the window in my quarters here in Korea… which makes it easy to connect to the antenna feedline.

When I recently received my Buddipole and subsequently got on the air, I looked to an Ubuntu solution for managing my log, digital modes, as well as rig control. Fldigi, by itself, was great for digital modes… but was difficult to get working with my Dell Zino’s sound card and my West Mountain Radio’s (not so) Plug & Play RIGBlaster. Using Grig for rig control was unsatisfying. Logging with Xlog worked, but it wasn’t integrated with either rig control or Fldigi. I was looking for a similar experience that I got from Ham Radio Deluxe.

Many of the Linux crowd bash Ham Radio Deluxe – and I am not fully sure why. First off – it is free… doesn’t cost a dime. The two primary gripes are that HRD doesn’t offer a linux version and that the overall software package is bloated. I’ll be the first to say that I used HRD for quite a while and found all its features quite useful. The integration of its digital modes software package with HRD made HRD that much better. I used HRD as my primary logging/digital modes suite when I was operating from Iraq and the software never let me down.

That being said… I still wanted to find the Linux solution, if for no other reason than to just do it. I tried shackbox. shackbox was on the right path, but installation was a bit wonky and then the developer stopped supporting it. Linux In The Ham Shack taunted me with the elusive vision of a amateur radio station seamlessly powered by Linux. Using WINE to run HRD under Ubuntu seemed ridiculous… using WINE, to me, seems to defeat the purpose of having Linux.

Fldigi has long been a linux ham radio star. Featured in the January 2010 issue of Linux Journal, it is a favorite. But for me, it wasn’t a replacement for HRD. It lacked full rig control and the logging was pretty basic. CQRLOG offered a solution. It claimed to integrate Fldigi and provide top-notch logging along with rig control. Was this the solution I was looking for?

For hardware, I selected the Dell Zino HD. It has a small form factor – just fitting into one of the two shelves in the iPORTABLE enclosure. The computer ended up being easy to configure as a dual boot – Windows 7 and Ubuntu. I tried using Fldigi, but kept running into problems. Thinking it was a problem with the Zino’s soundcard, I ordered one of those USB stick soundcards from Startech.com… which I got and stuck in the drawer, still in its blister-pak.

The arrival of the Buddipole spurred a renewed sense of urgency to achieve a Linux-ham solution. I tried to install CQRLOG… it looked like it installed fine but when it I tried to start it – nothing happen. Caught between a decision to get on the air and participate in CQ WW DX Contest or dork around with Linux, I defaulted to using Windows 7 and HRD.

Now that the big contest is over – I decided to tackle this issue of ham and linux. The problem, as I’d left it, was that CQRLOG wasn’t working and I had a questionable soundcard. After researching, Googling, peeking, and poking I figured out that the problem was that CQRLOG does not play well with 64-bit distributions of Ubuntu. I reinstalled Ubuntu using a 32-bit distribution, installed all the required libraries, configured, make’d, sudo’ed make install…. and then…. it WORKED! After more tweaking with the rig control, Fldigi worked along side CQRLOG. Flrig as well – which is a great rig control app.

The final nail in the coffin for Windows and HRD was when I exported my log and then imported into CQRLOG… without issue. Now I am truly Spinning and Grinning in a 100% Linux Nirvana.

On a radio safari


Today was a real adventure on the airwaves. I only made 12 contacts, but there were a few that are quite memorable. My location here in South Korea affords me the ability to make contact with exotic locations even with my modest Buddipole antenna. The first contact wasn’t actually a contact – tuning around 20M, I stumbled across 9W6HLM and 9W6BOB operating from Borneo (yes, 9W6BOB is Borneo Bob… how cool is that?). Both stations were on the air, leisurely trolling for contacts… although they couldn’t hear me. I was able to hear them work Denis, WA5TYJ, in New Mexico. Fortunately, the noise level for me was very low and I could just hear Denis.

The next two contacts were with JA’s – a completely unremarkable accomplishment from the QTH here in HL-land. However, they were made using my newly basedlined Linux Ubuntu hamputer using CQRLOG, Fldigi, and Flrig. Again, an unremarkable accomplishment on the face of it… until you hear about my trials and tribulations of getting it working.

Then I worked ZS6CCY, a South African station, on 20M phone! That was pretty exciting. I switched to Fldigi to give PSK31 a try and was able to work a few Russian stations. Then booming down the waterfall came Kim, HL2DYS. I had yet to work another station here in South Korea… but I had to be patient. Kim was working the South Pacific and Europe. When there was a hole, a jumped in and we had a great QSO. Hopefully I will be able to meet Kim soon for an eyeball QSO.

There was a major JA phone contest underway, so I decided to head up to 17M and see if I could scare up another phone contact. While spinning and grinning I fell upon V73RS… Rob on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Wow!! He was just above the noise level and I was his first contact before the spotters got him and the pile-up hit. Rob stuck with me, which is saying something. First – because my callsign here is HL2/AD7MI…. which is horrendously difficult to pass across less than desirable band conditions. Second – Rob wanted the name of my city, which is Uijeongbu (I spell: Uniform India Juliet Echo Oscar November Golf Bravo Uniform). It is quite a mouthful. The pileup kept building, but Rob stayed with the QSO and told me he was there on Kwajalein and that I should look for him on 10M, as conditions generally more favorable for a 2-way exchange.

Back to 20M where I worked another Russian station. Then I snagged JT1DN, a station for Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. It is hard to get more exotic than Ulaanbaatar. Mongolia is not actually far from Korea, but it was my first contact ever with the country and I won’t soon forget it.

Maintaining the exotic theme – my next contact was with YC9ETJ – Bali Island, Indonesia. Agung had quite a pile up and I was glad to get picked up by him.

Sunset and the grayline approached and I was successful in working Poland and Norway. All in all – I was quite excited with the contacts for the day.

Sunday Snowy Sunday

Lots of snow here on the eastern edge of Kansas. We got a good dump of slush on Friday but with the temp too high none of it stuck. Then Saturday afternoon the temp dropped below 32d F and decided to stay around 29d F. Saturday night the snow started coming down and has not stopped since.
The snow has been a big hit with Sarah:

My trusty Toyota Tundra (no recalls yet… keeping my fingers crossed) is wearing a nice, thick coat of snowy goodness:

I’ve rekindled my interest in EchoLink and now have a full blown EchoIRLP node (EchoLink Node #496698 and IRLP Node #3370) and am using a TM-D710A to run the node as well as my APRS weather station. What I have been enjoying most so far about IRLP is the ability to tweak and play with the linux software via a (or multiple) terminal session(s). It is helping me improve my linux skills.

Speaking of linux, I have been piecing together my iPORTABLE-mounted station. Each box comfortably fits two components. Box #1 has an IC-7000 and an LDG AT-200pro tuner. Box #2 has a Dell Zino HD and an Alinco DM-330MV power supply. Box #3 will have an embedded EchoIRLP node and a TM-D710A. Box#1 and #2 are already assembled and it makes for a nice, portable working station. Back to linux… it has long been a desire of mine to switch as much of my computing to Ubuntu as possible. Currently the Dell Zino has a dual boot configuration of Vista (which was already installed) and Ubuntu 9.10. I have been trying to put together a nice amateur radio software collection on the Zino and have had mixed results. For rig control, it is hard to beat the Windows program Ham Radio Deluxe. The closest linux version I’ve been able to find is an application called Grig. Not quite what I want to take advantage of all the bells and whistles that the IC-7000 has. I’ve been listening to the excellent podcast Linux in the Ham Shack for recommendations (episode #13 is dedicated to rig control), perusing the January 2010 issue of Linux Journal (the issue is dedicated to Amateur Radio and Linux), and am also looking at shackbox, which is a linux distribution designed with amateur radio in mind. I think I am going to give shackbox a try and see how it goes.

… all of this on a snowy Sunday.

If you get a chance, connect to my EchoIRLP node (EchoLink Node #496698 and IRLP Node #3370) and say hello. You’ll help me procrastinate in finishing my paper on the Army Amateur Radio System.

Grub… more than just a tasty treat

With a dual boot (Windows and Ubuntu linux) system, Ubuntu installs GRUB (GRand Unified Bootloader) which allows you to select which OS you want to boot with. The default is Ubuntu. However, sometimes you’ll have a system that you’d like to have default to Windows (like my wx-aprs computer).

The latest distribution of Ubuntu (9.10) has changed the way GRUB works and the Ubuntu wiki explains what you need to do if you want to change the default OS GRUB will select when going through the boot process.

How To Remove Ubuntu’s Password Keyring

An issue than has creeped up in some of the more recent distributions of Ubuntu is the use of the Password Keyring. While a great idea for security, it makes it a bit more difficult to remotely reboot an Ubuntu computer if it is using a wireless connection. Fortunately a solution was available…

From Dave’s Tech Blog:

I would have made the title of this post “How to remove the Keyring password manager in Ubuntu Linux” but that’s kinda long… Anyway, you might be wondering what the keyring password manager is. It is a built in feature of Ubuntu that remembers passwords for things like FTP account logins, Evolution Email accounts, your wireless network authentication passwords, etc., and locks them all behind a kind of Master Password of sorts. So for example, lets pretend that the password for your wireless network was 64 characters long and was just a bunch of random numbers and letters that you’d only be able to remember if you were some kind of freak savant mathematician. The keyring password manager would remember this for you, but will only allow the system to access and use that long password after you grant it access to the keyring.

As nice and handy as this might sound to security buffs, it’s struck me as a minor inconvenience. For starts, if I were to configure Ubuntu to automatically login to my account after I turn the computer on, I would then also be asked to type in my keyring password so it would connect to my wireless network. This becomes a bigger problem if, for instance, I were to connect to my computer remotely and had to reset it for some reason, like applying a recent kernel update. The snag there would be that after restarting, my computer would boot up, but since I’m not physically sitting in front of it, it would sit there waiting for me to enter a keyring password before it would reconnect to my wireless network, and I’d have to go home or ask someone else to type in the password for me.

So what I’ve always wanted to have happen is this:

* I start or restart the computer by remote (such as through SSH or VNC).
* After booting it automatically logs into my account and connects to my wireless network without asking for any passwords along the way so I can VNC right back into the system with no further trouble.

I’ve finally learned how to do this, and it’s stupid easy to do.

There is of course a few security drawbacks about doing this. For starts, if any person were to gain physical access to my machine they’d be able to connect to my wireless network without needing to enter a password. Then again, if someone I don’t trust has somehow gained physical access to my machine I might as well go ahead and consider it to be compromised.

Now, if the PC were in an office with a bunch of random co-workers always around, I’d be a lot more concerned. If that were the case, I’d have that puppy locked down with a power on password, disable booting from the CD-ROM/Ethernet/USB in the BIOS, perhaps have a GRUB password and be working with an encrypted HD partition, and of course auto-login would be disabled so I would be required to enter anywhere from 2 to 3 different passwords just to login to the system. But this thing is in my house behind two large dogs and a dead-bolt locked door, functioning as a server that requires a password for me to access it by via SSH or VNC anyway. So for this particular PC, I see little harm in opting out of using this security feature.

So here’s how you get rid of the keyring manager. Please note this will erase saved passwords you have so be sure you know or remember them before you make your computer forget them:

1. Open up your Home Folder by clicking Places>Home Folder
2. Press CTRL-H (or click View>Show Hidden Files)
3. Find a folder called .gnome2 (it has a period at the beginning of the name) and open it by double clicking on it
4. In side of the .gnome2 folder, there is another folder called keyrings. Open it up.
5. Delete any files you find within the keyrings folder
6. Restart the computer

After you restart and login (if you’re automatically logging in) you’ll probably be asked to enter your wireless networks WPA/WEP encryption key. After you type that password in, the keyring manager will appear to let you know that it would like to handle the storage of that password and lock it away with a new keyring password. The box looks like this:

Instead of typing in a new password, leave both boxes completely empty and click Create.

You’ll then be asked if you know what the hell you’re doing:

Go ahead and click Use Unsafe Storage.

WARNING: Doing this creates a new file in your ~/.gnome2/keyrings/ folder called default.keyring and it will now house passwords IN CLEAR TEXT and not in an encrypted form. So it is imperative that you are certain no untrustworthy persons can access your user account (either physically or by remote) or they will be able to easily open and read this file and obtain many passwords (for things such as FTP accounts, SSH, e-mail accounts, etc). Proceed with caution.

From here on all keyring stored passwords you enter will not safeguarded behind a master password or encryption. Whether or not you want to do this is entirely up to you. I personally have had enough of the keyring manager and consider it kind of annoying. But as I said before, you may have certain environmental factors that make having a master password over the rest of your passwords a good idea. Keep in mind that the keyring password manager has absolutely nothing to do with your administrative/root privilages password that has to be entered any time you want to apply updates, or add/remove software. You will still have to type your account password in for these actions, and that is something I am quite comfortable with. I’m just happy I don’t have to have to ask my girlfriend to type in a keyring password every time I want to restart the computer while I’m away from home.

Thanks Dave!