gumstix Update

After chasing software issues for a couple of months, the problem with the audio on the gumstix was with the hardware.  Gumstix issued an RMA and I have returned it to them for repair or replacement.

In the meantime, I’ve added Perl and nano to the gumstix and OpenSSH server to the Ubuntu machine.  I have written a couple of Perl scripts and shell scripts and late yesterday I got the public/private key authentication set up between the gumstix and Ubuntu so I can run scripted secure file transfers.

I am discovering first hand what my older son means when he says that “Linux is only free if your time is worth nothing.”  This is especially true for a newb trying to learn it from reading books and online.  I don’t really know anyone who has experience in Linux except my older son who is 1) not here and 2) is busy with his own work and life.  The key authentication is a case in point.  The procedure is clear enough.  Log on to the client account, generate the key pair, put the public key in the ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file on the user account on the server machine.  I think it would have been that simple on two standard Linux computers.  The gumstix uses dropbear instead of OpenSSH.  I thought that was causing the problem.  In the end it turned out that dropbearkey, the program that generates the key pair was not in the standard user path.  I tried generating keys as root but (I now realize) that doesn’t work.  While I could have changed the $PATH variable, I just specified the entire path when I ran dropbearkey.  Then you need to specify the private key file when you log on…that isn’t standard in OpenSSH.  Two days to figure that out.  I’m learning…

If you live in a Linux world you can be very productive because of its power…much more so than Windows in many things.  It takes a long time to get to that point though.  Windows chews up a lot of horsepower 1) making things look good and 2) being helpful to the user and shielding them from the computer’s power to screw things up (preferring instead to screw things up itself).  Item 1 appeals to business people for whom looking good is more important than actual results.  Item 2 …I’m not sure who item 2 appeals to.  It seems to get in most peoples way.  I like the idea and the power of Linux…even if I’m not very productive with it right now.

3 thoughts on “gumstix Update

  1. Wow, my thoughts exactly. My problem is I don’t have much time to devote to learning Linux since clients tend to want me to fix things as quickly as possible without messing around with Linux…

    I am installing XUbuntu on one of my old desktops in my office so I can have Linux sitting around to play with when I want to.

    PS Do you twitter? cglickmiller if you do.

  2. Hi Craig,

    It is really hard to know where to start learning Linux. Ethan loaned me a small stack of books that help a lot. The gumstix have been a good platform because I can go in and try things…if I really mess it up I can load a brand new filesystem in about an hour and start over. I also set up a non-privileged user on Ubuntu where I can try things out there.

    I have the AMD64 version of Ubuntu running on our Dell that shipped with Vista. During the day I run Linux and run Vista in the early morning and evening for Leah to use. It has its own issues but right now they seem more tolerable than Vista’s.

    Thanks for leaving a comment…keep me posted on your impressions of XUbuntu…


  3. xubuntu is very nice. I have it on an old laptop and 8 machines at work that are setup as a MOSIX cluster.

    Linux is meant to be broken. It’s just like being a kid all over again. Sometimes, you just have to break things to understand how they work. Windows, on the other hand, breaks but doesn’t give you enough information or (inclusive or) access to make it better. The Mac behaves similarly to Windows, except it breaks far less often…

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