Archive for December, 2010

What is Apache?

This piece was written after many requests from our community asking what exactly the term “Apache” means. Read below if you are curious.

The term “Apache” refers to a server software. This software is used to run websites on the internet, which in turn can be accessed from all around the world. Apache software may also be used in the construction of what is known as an “Intranet”.


An Intranet is in a way the internet, although it is accessible only to select people. This is commonly used in a corporation such as a bank. An intranet may also be used in a home environment. For example I am running an intranet at my home. The intranet has four devices running from it. There are two desktop computers, a laptop and a Nintendo Wii. These are all interconnected through an MSI router and the Apache server is running on one of the desktop computers. The other desktop computer acts as a network security type system, which will watch my intranet for intrusions and on sight of an intrusion will lockdown my network and prevent all incoming traffic. Upon the lockdown I am notified by a serious of loud beeps from a stereo connected to the network watch system and I can then react on the intrusion as I will be able to probe the computer and in turn receive their IP (internet protocol) address and their current operating system.


The above example is a common example of an intranet, although most commercial intranets will be colossal in size in comparison to this. For example a bank or similar corporation may have hundreds or even thousands of computers may be interconnected, potentially over many kilometres. Although the longer the stretch of the intranet can prove more risk in terms of security as it may provide an opening for a cracker or information thief to cut a cable and intercept network traffic.


So in general Apache is a server software which can run through command line, also a GUI is available. Apache is also available on practically every operating system. The most commonly used operating system for servers running Apache is a Linux distribution because of its open source nature providing much more opportunity in the way of customization as well as security, speed and reliability.


This tutorial was written to show all Windows XP users how they can add a shortcut of their most commonly used programs to the left pane of their “start” menu. Read below to find out how you can increase the capacity of the “Recently used programs” pane on the left of the “start” menu.

The first step you must take towards increasing the capacity of the “Recently used programs” pane on the left of the “start” menu, you must first single-right click the “start” button, which will open a small context menu like so:

Right clicking the start button


You will notice in the screenshot above contains a red circle, which encapsulates the text “Properties”. You must click the text “Properties”, which will open the “Taskbar and start menu properties” window, which will appear like so:

Taskbar and start menu properties - customize


Within the window that you are presented with you will have access to a button marked “Customize”. You must click the button circled in red marked with the text “Customize”. Once you click the “Customize” button, you will be presented with the “Customize start menu” window like so:

Customize start menu


Now as you can see in the screenshot of the “Customize Start Menu” window depicted above there is a red circle around a box filled with the number six. The number six can be replaced by using the up and down arrows in order to alter the number of most recently used programs that appear in the left pane of your “start” menu. The maximum you can set this to is thirty.

Congratulations! You have just changed the amount of recent programs in your “start” menu. Enjoy your newfound Microsoft Windows customization knowledge.

This tutorial was written for all Windows XP users out there who are tired of coming to their computer to find that their screen is somewhat “distorted”. There is a simple way to fix this and it can be completed in just minutes. Read below to find out how you can stop your screen from becoming distorted at times in just minutes.

The first step you must take is one of which will determine whether the source of the distortion is your computer’s display settings or the settings on your monitor itself. To do so we must first try the display settings.


In order to change the display settings you must first open the “Control Panel”, which can be done by clicking the “start” button in the lower left corner of your screen and then clicking the text “Control Panel” like so:

Clicking the start menu - control panel


As you can see in the screenshot of my start menu above, the text “Control Panel” is circled in red. You must click this text, which in turn will make your computer present you with the “Control Panel”, which will appear like so:

Control Panel - display


In the screenshot above is the “Control Panel” window, within is the icon leading to the “Display Properties” window, the “Display” icon is circled in red. You must double-left click the “Display” icon. Once you have double-left clicked the “Display” icon you will be presented with the “Display Properties” window, which will appear like so:

Display properties - settings


Also in the above screenshot is a red circle, which encapsulates the “Settings” tab. You must click the “Settings” tab in order to alter the display settings of your computer. Once you have single-left clicked the “Settings” tab, you will be presented with the window shown below:

Display properties - troubleshoot


In the screenshot above is the “Settings” tab of the “Display Properties” window, which you must now use to access the “Advanced” section. To do so you must click the button marked “Advanced”, which is circled in red. Once you have clicked the “Advanced” button, you will be presented with the window shown below:

Display properties - advanced


You must now click the “Troubleshoot” tab, which is circled in red in the above screenshot. Once you have clicked this tab you will enter the window shown below:

Display properties - troubleshooting


You will notice that the screenshot above depicts the “Plug and Play” window. With this window you must use the slider circled in red in order to attempt to disable particular features on your display options in order to restore a non-distorted state. You will notice a couple lines of text beneath the slider on the right of the text “Hardware acceleration”. You must drag the slider towards the left, towards the text “None” in order to disable certain features. I will shown you in the screenshot below that the text changes depending on how far you slide the slider like so:

Plug and play


As you can see in the screenshot above I have slid the slider one notch to the left and in turn the text below the slider has changed and is now displaying the features that will be disabled when the “Apply” button is clicked. You must slide the slider to the left one notch at a time and click the “Apply” button after each movement. After each movement you must click the “Apply” button and then run a few programs that you would normally experience distortion with and see if the distortion remains. If the distortion remains then slide the slider one more notch to the left, click “Apply” and then retest the programs that would usually cause distortion again. If the distortion persists then slide the slider to the left once more and click the “Apply” button and then retest the program once more. If the problem is fixed then congratulations, you now have no distortion, although if it is not then you may continue to slide the slider to the desired position and click the “Apply” button, or you may proceed to the next method, which is explained below. Additionally you may wish to try checking or removing the check in the checkbox marked “Enable write combining”. Disabling or enabling this feature will deal a different result on every computer, although if you have tried altering the hardware acceleration and you are still experiencing distortion then you may use this at your own risk.


Now on to the other method, which is altering the settings on your monitor in itself. The instructions on how to do so will vary depending on your model, thus I cannot describe here how to change the settings on your monitor as you must refer to the user manual that came with your computer or perhaps another monitor’s manual assuming it is the same model or a similar model to your own. The best I can do in the way of describing how you are to change settings on your monitor is that there should be a series of buttons on the front, top or sides of your monitor that can be used to adjust the settings on your screen. If you are using an older monitor these buttons may be push buttons or more rarely rotating knobs.


You should finally check that the power and video cable connected to the back of your monitor and the back of your computer are connected at both ends properly. Upon checking you must connect all cables at all ends sufficiently.

Congratulations! You have just removed the distortion from your computer’s monitor. Enjoy your newfound hardware troubleshooting knowledge.

I was gazing into the distance this morning when I happened to notice a computer running the Microsoft Windows 98 operating system and then I turned around to notice one of my Linux boxes. Thus, this drawing was destined to be created. I hope that it will give Linux users a laugh and Windows users an insight as to what more they could achieve say they were running a Linux operating system.


You may click the picture to enlarge it if you are having difficulty viewing it.

Windows VS Linux - by Dillon Chaffey

This post was sparked earlier this evening as I once again pictured myself handing out donated and purchased computers. This has been what seemed to be a pipedream for what seems to be several years. As hard as it may be to believe, I am 16 years of age at the time of writing this post and the original concept of this project I devised when I was newly 13 years old.

Now, I am a computer enthusiast and I also know a good bargain when I see one, thus I understand the sceptics out there would no doubt be rather hostile towards believing my proposition. As hard as it is to believe a person on the internet offering something completely free without the classy little “*” (asterisk) after the word “free” I do sincerely hope that you read to the end of this piece of writing and leave a comment stating what you think and any tips or motivation that may be inherent within.


I will now proceed to explain the general outline of my current situation within life as a whole, which will hopefully contribute towards your insight and overall understanding of what it is I wish to achieve and how I am hoping to do so. Your concentration is important to me and potentially yourself if in fact the times comes when you need a computer but have little or no money for any such thing.


I will begin by stating that I am 16 years of age at the time of writing this post and will turn 17 in mid April of next year. I have just completed year 11 in a high school in the Adelaide area. Unfortunately for myself and a few other students interested in the beautiful and historic world of Information Technology, the Information Technology will be running for the school year of 2011 for all students except those who will be in year 12 in the year of 2011. To be honest I was not far shy of shattered when I was informed of this event of which I would refer to as nothing but ridiculous. The supposed reason for this is a “Lack of staff”, as I was informed by a staff member of my school (I choose not to name names as this could agitate my schooling environment and perhaps influence their grading schemes towards me in a negative manner). I believe that it is not a “Lack of staff” but instead a lack of professional training amongst them. The most common attribute of our Information Technology sector that made me sway my beliefs in such a direction was the fact that they can run a Year 10 and Year 11 class, yet for some reason the teachers running these classes have mysterious “meetings” in place of the lesson in Information Technology I would most graciously accept.


As much as it pains me to suppress the name of my school and the “upholders” of the Information Technology department at my school who seem to enjoy their sadistic ignorance of those who are technically minded and preventing them by all means necessary from roaming their environment as a playpen of which could otherwise incorporate much potential for learning. I have recently began studying the Python programming language under both the Ubuntu and Windows platform, which has yielded some rather satisfying results in the way of the construction of several useful programs, of which have provided very practical use for myself and those who have used them.


Moving right along from my current state on this Earth and on to something much more important, which of course is my new project. The project of which I have contributed increasingly toward over the last year has finally come together and now the only thing holding me back is the lack of generosity inherent in the world of computer retail today, alongside my current lack of funds. My intent is to acquire a source of income, from which I intend to order a commercial shipment of Ubuntu 10.04LTS/10.10 installation discs in order for me to package them with computers that I will deal to the needy members of the public. These computers can be anything ranging from an old IBM to one of the newest Toshiba’s because in actual fact a computer is only as good as its user. As I will be acquiring my provisional license soon and I currently own a station wagon, it seemed apparent to me that I would more than happily be able to collect any computers that are unwanted, unnecessary or owned by a person who understands how a person can need something that they simply can not have and how they can apply empathy towards helping these people in the best way they can.


Once I receive my provisional license I intend to mail out flyers, which will state on them that I would be more than happy to collect these computers at a time that was convenient to the owner assuming that time at my end permitted such. Once I have acquired the computers I will then perform any hardware upgrades that seemed necessary, clean the entire computer including within all intricate components in order to provide a clean computer appearing as if it is new. I will also install the Ubuntu operating system onto it and install a few additional programs that the user may be interested in. Upon completion of the system upgrades and repairs I would hold them until an applicant who was in need of a computer either for education purposes or perhaps a small business they are starting or even a person such as myself who would love to have any addition to their network they could get in order to add to their knowledge of computing in general.


Hopefully once I get this project running I will acquire a sponsor of some kind who could perhaps contribute towards me renting a small commercial building or a shed that I could store and distribute the machines from upon completion.


I am extremely grateful of the fact that you have taken the time out of your day to focus on the dreams of one person in this world of billions, your empathy has not gone unnoticed.


If you have any thoughts, opinions, tips, advice, unwanted computers or hardware or even a contact you have who may have one or many of these things then I would greatly appreciate you leaving a comment below this post and sharing it on your favourite site sharing service. Also if you feel that you have a contact or information that may be too sensitive for the public then feel free to send me an E-mail at the E-mail address highlighted below.


I hope to hear from you soon. Good night.

This tutorial is aimed at all regular users of Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Xubuntu who commonly log in to a non-root account and perform administrative tasks via the “Terminal” (command prompt). Read below to find out how you can perform administrative tasks from a “Terminal” (command prompt) running on a regular account.

The first thing I must make you aware of before you proceed with this tutorial is that you must know the password of an administrative user on the computer you are logging into as a regular user in order for this method to work.


Okay, now we may proceed with the tutorial. The first step is of course to open the “Terminal”, which can be done by using the “Alt + F2” key combination as highlighted below:

Press and hold the “Alt” key and then press the “F2” key, now release both keys


Once you have performed the key combination as highlighted above, you will be presented with a small rectangular window at the top centre of your screen. This small window is the command launcher. In this window you will have a small text box, of which you must enter the text highlighted below into and then hit the “Enter” key:



Once you have entered the text above into the text box and hit the “Enter” key, your “Terminal” (command prompt) will appear.


Now that your “Terminal” is open you can perform your administrative tasks. But first you must decide which administrative task you wish to commit. In this example I will be moving a text file from my personal documents to the root of my HDD, which will require administrative privileges by default. This can be done by using the command you would normally use to move a file from your documents to the root of your HDD, although you will add the command “sudo” at the beginning like so:

sudo mv /home/dillon/Desktop/Documents/thisismyfile.txt /


By entering the command above into your “Terminal” window and then hitting the “Enter” key, you will be asked for the administrator password. You must type the password and then hit the “Enter” key, please note: the password will be invisible as you are typing it, for security reasons.


Now that you have entered the command with the “sudo” at the start and then entered your password, the “sudo” command will search a special file on your HDD in order to verify whether or not the particular user you entered the password for as well as your current user login is authorized to run the command of which you have entered. This file is the “sudoers” file, which is located at the directory highlighted below:



You will notice that after using the “sudo” command, you will be able to run select applications as administrator for a certain amount of time. This is due to the “sudo” command, which will generate a special file that will allow you to use select commands for a set period of time. This file is, in a way a “ticket”, which allows you to enter the administrative functions of select features as often as you want until your “ticket” expires.


You may insert the “sudo” before and command you would like to run that requires administrative privileges wherever you see fit. The “sudo” command will work on any command that requires an administrator to run it, so next time you are stuck without an administrative login don’t fret because help is one word away.


Note: This tutorial will work on the Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Xubuntu platform.

Congratulations! You have just used “sudo” to emulate admin on your system. Enjoy your newfound Linux administration knowledge.

Quite simply a “runlevel” is a state in Ubuntu, which is neither “On” or “Off” but a state in between the two.

A “runlevel” exists in Ubuntu because, unlike other operating systems, Ubuntu allows for different states of operation. These “runlevels” influence which processes are loaded at bootup on a Ubuntu system. These processes being controlled are usually very important processes, such as mounting HDDs on boot or sending output to the input of your monitor.


By default all boot processes will be run automatically at boot, although by editing the file that controls the “runlevels” you are able to decide exactly which processes start and in which order.


There are several “runlevels” in Ubuntu. They are listed below:

Runlevel Number Runlevel Function
Runlevel 0 This runlevel is also known as “halt” in that it is used to shutdown Ubuntu.
Runlevel 1 This runlevel is unique in that it boots to a shell prompt which will allow a login, although this login must be to the root account only as no other account logins are accepted. This is used for root changes to the system when a graphical interface must not be used, such as installing graphics drivers or updating some system files.
Runlevel 2 This is the regular runlevel for Ubuntu and is used by default.
Runlevel 3 This particular runlevel is not used in Ubuntu, although it is used in an array of other Linux distributions.
Runlevel 4 This particular runlevel is not used in Ubuntu, although it is used in an array of other Linux distributions.
Runlevel 5 This particular runlevel is not used in Ubuntu, although it is used in an array of other Linux distributions.
Runlevel 6 This runlevel is used to restart the Ubuntu system.

I hope that this piece has informed you on the uses of runlevels on Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Xubuntu. Enjoy your newfound Linux knowledge.

This tutorial is designed to show all of you Ubuntu and Kubuntu users out there how to end the bland cycle of waiting for a non responsive program to close or for that big “X” to respond to your click. Read below to find out how you can kill a program in a few easy steps and teach your computer who is boss.

The first step you must take is to find the “Process ID” or ”PID” for the process of which you wish to kill. The short 20 second tutorial for how to find the “Process ID” in Ubuntu and Kubuntu via cmd is linked below:


Now if you already know how to find the “PID” or have followed my tutorial linked above on how to find the “PID” then you may proceed to the next step, which is to type the text below directly into a “Terminal” window and then hit the “Enter” key (which should now be opened assuming you have just found the “PID” via the cmd):

kill xxxx                                         <— The “xxxx” I have typed must be replaced by the PID


As the highlighted text above shows, you must type the text “kill” follows by a single space and then the “PID” you have found for the process of which you wish to close.


For example, say I wished to closed the open program “Gedit” which has a “PID” of “6172”. I would type the text below and then hit the “Enter” key:

kill 6172


Note: If you are attempting to close a process being ran by another user, a select system process or any program that would otherwise require root permission to kill then you can try forcing a kill by using the “-9” addition on the “Kill” command like so:

kill -9 6172


Now that you have used the “Kill” or “Kill -9”  commands successfully and your program has closed or you have been presented with a message telling you that you do not have sufficient rights to perform the action, you might be wondering what the whole “-9” addition to the “Kill” command is right? Well that’s simple, the “-9” is telling the “Kill” command to send a special kill signal, which is known as the “SIGKILL” signal. The “SIGKILL” signal can be used as a fallback in the event that a regular “Kill” command does not work.

Congratulations! You have just killed a process via cmd in Ubuntu or Kubuntu. Enjoy your newfound Linux system administration knowledge.

This tutorial will explain to any new or experienced user of the Ubuntu/Kubuntu operating system how they can open their command prompt and quickly have a list of currently running processes in one simple command. Read below to find out how you can optimize your productivity and system control as a Ubuntu/Kubuntu system administrator in just a few seconds.

The first step is of course to open your command prompt, which can be done by using the command launcher. The command launcher must be opened by using the “Alt + F2” key combination like so:

Press and hold the “Alt” key and then press the “F2” key once and now release the “Alt” key


Once you have performed the key combination highlighted above the command launcher should appear at the top center of your screen. It will appear as a small box with a text box to enter your command into. In this box you must type the text highlighted below and then hit the “Enter” key:



Once you type the text highlighted above into the command launcher and hit the “Enter” key, you will be presented with the “Terminal” window. This window may have a different name depending on whether you are running Ubuntu or Kubuntu so do not fear, if it is a black box with a blinking cursor then you are at your “Terminal”.


Inside this “Terminal” is where the magic happens. By which I mean you are about to see all of your running processes, their “Process ID” (or PID in shorter terms) and also which user is running that particular process as well as a few others depending on your account privileges.


In order to create and view the list of currently running processes you must type the text highlighted below into the “Terminal” and then hit the “Enter” key:



The information will be in a format similar to below:

6183 pts/0    00:00:00 bash


The highlighted text above is an example of the “Bash” process running on my computer, which is the “Terminal” in this case. The “6183” will be the “Process ID”/”PID” of the “Bash”/”Terminal” process.


The “ps” command can also be used in order to find the “PID” of a process that you wish to end. This is very convenient when it comes to quitting a program that is not responding and slowing down your system. The tutorial on how to kill processes via the cmd in Ubuntu and Kubuntu is linked below:

Congratulations! You have just created a personalized list of all the processes currently running on your computer. Enjoy your newfound Linux system administration knowledge.

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