Monday, 30 March 2015


Not having a smartphone is apparently a thing.

And of course I'm well known as a luddite when it comes to phones, but I recently bought myself a new phone. Not exactly a smartphone but a bin-end unlocked Nokia Asha 302.

Not as my main phone, but as a phone to use when travelling overseas.

You see, I have one of these travel sims that allow you to make low cost calls and send texts for pennies when overseas without incurring punitive roaming charges. It also doesn't come with a data bundle, although I could add one, but in practice you can get everything you need over wi-fi.

So, the Nokia has:

  • wifi
  • basic browser capability
  • excellent battery life
  • keyboard for ease of texting (like in German to a taxi company)
  • good sound quality
  • lightweight
all in all a very good phone.

It should have email, but Nokia had this system where they collected your mail, stripped, textified, and compressed it for you and then downloaded it to your phone, and Microsoft closed this service when they bought Nokia's phone division.

Tant pis! - the browser still works and is good enough to find an email and get that phone number you're looking for out of an email - and I've got wifi.

It's also got a reasonable camera and bluetooth, so it doesn't lack connectivity. And of course it was considerably cheaper than a smartphone.

The next thing is to see how it works out in practice I guess ...

Friday, 20 March 2015

Upgrading to Omeka 2.3 via the command line

Having got a nicely working omeka install I thought I'd see if I could break it by upgrading to the latest version. I'm glad to say it didn't, here's what I did:
  1. Make sure your system is fully patched

    sudo apt-get upgrade
  2. Backup your mysql database

    mysqldump -h localhost -u db_username -p omeka_db_name > omeka_backup_file.sql
  3. Deactivate any plugins you are using as per the official upgrade instructions

  4. copy db.ini somewhere safe (my omeka install is in /var/www)

    cd /var/www
    mkdir /home/username/omeka_backup
    sudo cp db.ini /home/username/omeka_backup/.
    if you've added any extra plugins you'll also need to back them up. It's a good idea to take a screenshot of the files listings so you remember the permissions.

  5. backup your omeka install just in case

    sudo tar -zcvf /home/username/omeka_backup/omeka_2.gz /var/www

  6. download the updated version of omeka

    cd /home/username

  7. delete the old install - you only need to get rid of the subdirectories, in practice you will overwrite any existing files in the top level directory. Do not remove your files directory - this contains your content. If you have custom plugins or themes you may wish to leave these in place as well.

    cd /var/www
    sudo rm -rf install
    sudo rm -rf plugins
    sudo rm -rf themes
    sudo rm -rf admin
    sudo rm -rf application

  8. then copy the new release in place

    cd /home/username
    sudo mv omkea-2.3/* /var/www/
    sudo mv omeka-2.3/.htaccess /var/www/

  9. make sure that all the permissions are correct

    cd /var/www 
    sudo find . -type d | xargs sudo chmod 775
    sudo find . -type f | xargs sudo chmod 664
    sudo find files -type d | xargs sudo chmod 777
    sudo find files -type f | xargs sudo chmod 666

  10. copy back your db.ini file (and any extras you'd installed)

    cd /var/wwww
    sudo cp /home/username/omeka_backup/db.ini .

  11. restart apache
    sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart
Now point your web browser at your site. You may well get a message about the site being unavailable while the upgrade completes. Go to the admin page and click on the database upgrade button.

Once complete, your site should just work. As always your mileage may vary, but this procedure worked well on my test install.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Nixnote 1.6 and an OAuth error

When we go to Europe this winter I'll be taking my newly Xubuntu-ized netbook with me, as well as the usual tablet etc.

Now I've stored copies of the various plane and train dockets in Evernote, so I thought it would make sense to install Nixnote, the third party linux Evernote client that I've reviewed previously.

As always I thought I'd test it by upgrading the version on my work linux machine first to the latest version, version 1.6.

And it broke.

But fortunately there's an easy fix. The summary of what you need to do goes like this:

Download the latest 1.6 stable release from the SourceForge repository.

Install it with the command

sudo dpkg -i ~/Downloads/nixnote-1.6_something.deb

(replace the something with the version for your architecture eg i386)

Then, following the instructions, download the fixed nixnote.jar

Update the nixnote install as follows:

cd /usr/share/nixnote
sudo cp nixnote.jar nixnote.jar.old
sudo cp ~/Downloads/nixnote.jar .
nixnote &

Nixnote should start up and you should be prompted to authenticate against Evernote and authorise the Nixnote app to access your data.

As always your mileage may vary and the location of files, including the download folder may differ on your system.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Shiny things update

We had a power outage at lunchtime today that took out most of campus, and meant that all the buildings were evacuated while it was fixed.

However, the wifi network, being protected by a UPS kept going with the result that all the students who'd been ejected could keep on working by sitting on a bench, under a tree, or what have you.

So, as is my wont, I took a walk to make an informal count of what students are using.

And the answer's Apple.

A lot of Macbook Airs and quite a few Macbook pro's. There were a reasonable number of Windows laptops as well, which I'll guess were mostly windows 8 purely because they all looked reasonably new - I'd no way of sorting out the Windows 7 machines from the Windows 8. Most of the windows machines were 15" screen models.

Few if any students were using a tablet - I guess if you have to carry one device, you'd carry a laptop rather than a tablet.

In contrast, quite a few of the staff members who'd had the presence of mind to grab a device on the way out had grabbed older, and quite often well used looking, laptops (Mostly windows, rather than Macs, although there were some Mac users). Again, not a lot of tablets in view, and no small format computers.

Of the students I'd guess 60-65% were Mac users, as opposed to 25% of staff.

Long term this might have implications for the future of Windows - if a lot of people who potentially will become significant users of computing have migrated away from Windows it suggests that that revenue stream may diminish.

But then of course, there's always Office, which is still seeming to retain its stranglehold on the wordprocessor and spreadsheet market ...

Bodhi Linux

Ever since the demise of Crunchbang I've been on the lookout for an alternative distro for the Eee in case I ever need to do a sidegrade.

Hopefully I won't, it's currently working well for me, but as we all know, it's the unknowns that get you, not the knowns.

So I thought I'd take a gander at Bodhi Linux which is a lightweight distribution that uses Enlightenment as a window manager. I'd never used enlightenment, so even though Bodhi is based on Ubuntu, I thought it might be an interesting experience.

As always with these tests, I used a virtual machine. This time around though, rather than build me own I used the virtual box image available from OSBoxes to save build time.

The image comes compressed with 7zip, and needs to be decompressed first but it loads and runs first time.

Bodhi Linux is however a little less impressive. The application set (or at least that that comes with the pre-rolled image) is sparse to say the least and the performance of the window manager is slow. Bear in mind that this is being run on a virtual machine, and that the virtual machine has been configured as per OSBoxes instructions - as always your mileage may vary.

In comparison I can build a debian vm on the same virtual box installation and get considerably sharper performance.

Just for fun (and I probably should get out more) I installed an old fluxbuntu image from and that also gave considerably sharper performance even if the repositories etc were in severe need of an update, which leads me to think that perhaps bodhi isn't quite as lightweight as I'm looking for and some other distro with either fluxbox or openbox as window managers might do the job ...

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

easy three step guide to building omeka on debian

Following my success with building omeka on a debian vm I thought I'd write down how I did it before I forget.

It's not rocket science, all I did was follow the bouncing ball ...
  1. Obtain the debian net install iso – I used the 7.8.30 version
    1. this assumes that the device you are installing to has a network connection
    2. this install will download software from the internet
  2. Build debian on the machine of your choice. You will need administrative access
    1. you will need to decide during the install process whether to be command line only or to install a desktop. You do not need a desktop to install omeka
    2. some of the utilities required may already be installed
    3. remember to do sudo apt-get update followed by sudo apt-get upgrade at the end of the build process to ensure that all repositories and updates are in place. Using the netinstall iso should mean that you have few, if any, updates
  3. Follow the omeka command line install script at
    1. the latest version of omeka is omeka 2.2.2 – replace all references to omeka-2.0 with omeka-2.2.2 throughout the install script - for example the wget command should read wget

It should just work, but as always, your mileage may vary ...

Friday, 6 March 2015

Omeka revisited

I don't know how you spend your Fridays, but I spent mine building Omeka.

A long time ago (2012) I built an Omeka 1.5 test instance. I looked at it, played with it, and in truth did very little with it.

This week I thought I'd take another look, so I fired it up. It still seemed to work, but it said there was a new version available, so I upgraded.

Bad mistake. Somehow the combination of the various system updates on my machine over the intervening years and the omeka upgrade conspired to break my install such that I could display existing content but not add content – which was a a trifle annoying.

So I decided to cut my losses, an install it on a lovely shiny new Ubuntu 14.04 vm, an exercise that showed me that I don't actually understand the default configuration of apache on ubuntu. Basically it installed but didn't run because I'd stuffed up my virtual web server.

Rather than fight this I scrapped the vm and built a debian instance – something which I should have done first off. Debian installed beautifully, so beautifully that I was tempted to run home and wipe Windows off of my home laptop in favour of debian – or at least I was until I remembered that I needed Office to work on some documents which had a weird template that caused LibreOffice to sit in the corner and mutter to itself …

Omeka itself just installed. Everything just worked out of the box. I built a quick demo collection by raiding the wikipedia page on les Merveilleuses just to prove I could, and while adding content is always laborious, the process was intuitive, in fact more intuitive than I remembered.

I also played with adding a couple of other collections, private items, and moving content about, and it was all pretty slick - I was quietly impressed by how much it had improved in the intervening years.

And why would we use omeka? Well the first use that comes to mind is a portfolio server to showcase content. The second, potentially more interesting is as a way to allow people to build collections of resources, such as scanned images (think pages from nineteenth century diaries) that people annotate and build up into a collection of supporting collateral ...

{update december 2016}

Library Luther has left a new comment on your post "Omeka revisited":

Hello and Happy Holidays (if it applies). I know this post is old but it's the most recent Omeka on Linux that I could find.

Been trying to get the latest Omeka installed, strictly for testing purposes and can not get out of the gate. I've got an old Dell Optiplex 755 that I've blown up a couple of times now following the horribly dated instructions on the website. Latest effort was with Ubuntu Server 16.04 but alas, no go.

When you say, "built a debian instance..." do you have any outlined steps and/or guide that you'd be willing to share?

I'm sorry, I don't have a guide as such, basically  what I did was a 'follow the bouncing ball exercise': install virtualbox, download the debian network install iso and build myself a debian virtual machine by doing a standard debian build.

No tricky stuff involved ...