IE 7 on Linux

October 28th, 2006

When I'm making a web page at home on my laptop (a Linux machine), I test it on Firefox and IE 7. (I only test on IE7 now, because it will be distributed to Windows users as a high-priority update.) Unfortunately, IE 7 will not install under Wine, which is annoying because that's how I run Windows programs on my Linux machine. However, there is a way to get the layout engine of IE 7 working under Wine -- and that's all I need.

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Turn off domain guessing and keyword search in Firefox

September 1st, 2006

For security and ease of troubleshooting, turn off Firefox's automatic keyword search and domain guessing features.

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Bypass web filters through encryption

August 31st, 2006

Use the Tor network to hide your communications. Incidentally, this is particularily useful when certain file types have been blocked, such as torrent files. The following instructions are written for Windows XP and Ubuntu Linux users. Tips for other systems are welcome.

Edit: Be extremely careful when surfing over Tor. There are rogue Tor exit nodes that will attempt to steal your information (credit card number, password, etc.), so when using Tor you should enable and heed all of your browser's security warnings. When using Tor, only submit personal information from a secure page to a secure page. Remember that a page is not secure if your browser couldn't completely verify the security certificate. This is a very real threat. In summary, try to only use Tor for reading unless you're sure you know what you're doing.

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Use your home computer from work (VNC over SSH)

August 21st, 2006

I've got a handy tip for folks who have a desk job: Keep your personal and professional life separate by securely controlling your home computer from work (VNC over SSH). As long as you're aware of the advantages and disadvantages of this technique, it's very convenient and useful.

Edit 2006-10-8: I flubbed the ssh installation instructions. There is no "openssh" package. There is "openssh-client" and "openssh-server", both of which are necessary. You can install them both by installing the package "ssh".

Edit 2008-2-17: Changed local VNC listening port to 5901 to avoid port conflicts.

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Getting a software modem to work under Ubuntu Linux on an Acer Aspire 3500

May 17th, 2006
Problem
I have an Acer Aspire 3500 running Ubuntu Linux, and I occasionally need to use the modem. Unfortunately, the Acer uses a winmodem (softmodem), which is not well supported by linux (because it isn't a true modem).
Solution
  1. To locate the appropriate software, I needed to know what chipset my modem used. I used linmodems.org's scanModem utility.
    1. Download scanModem.gz to a working directory.
    2. Extract the gzipped file.
    3. On the command line, change the permissions to allow execution of the script: chmod +x scanModem
    4. I don't know what this does, but you have to do it: sudo modprobe snd-intel8x0m
    5. Run the script: ./scanModem
    6. Don't worry about all the output, just go to the newly created Modem folder. Open ModemData.txt, and scan through for information like "Your modem supports the _____ codec" or "Use a _____ driver". In my case, some text halfway through the ModemData.txt file instructed me to get the hsfmodem driver from linuxant.com. There was also an additional file called Conexant.txt detailing HSF modems. If you can't figure it out, subscribe to the linmodems discussion list and send them ModemData.txt and a very nice request for help.
  2. If, like myself, you have a Conexant chipset modem, the following instructions may be of some use.

    Conexant is a manufacturer of softmodems. Linuxant has a contract allowing them access to Conexant's source code and technical information, so they can write software to support the modems under Linux.

    If you have a working ethernet or wireless connection on the machine that needs the modem drivers, use Conexant's online installer. Otherwise, you'll need to download and install the drivers manually.

    • If you are using the online installation:
      1. If you agree to the terms of the license, download the HSF softmodem driver.
      2. Run the cnxtinstall.run file and follow the instructions.
    • If you are installing manually:
      1. Don't bother with the version-specific downloads -- get the generic package with source from the Linuxant HSF downloads page. I use Debian, so I picked the DPKG version.
      2. Download and extract the zip file.
      3. Go to the command line and navigate to the extracted folder.
      4. Before you can install the package, you need to have installed linux-headers-386: sudo apt-get install linux-headers-386
      5. Install the package: sudo dpkg -i hsfmodem_7.47.00.01full_i386.deb
      6. You will be prompted for some configuration information. I just hit enter at each prompt to accpet the default, except for the email address prompt, where I entered my actual email address. They won't spam you.