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How To Backup Your Ubuntu System With Remastersys

After countless hours of configuring, tweaking, installing new applications onto your Ubuntu system, the last thing that you want to do is to reformat and start everything all over again. Remastersys is here to save you all this trouble. Remastersys is a simple and easy to use application that allows you to easily clone and backup your Ubuntu system so that you can quickly restore your computer to its previous state in the event that it crashes.

There are two thing that Remastersys can do:

  1. To do a full system backup, including all installed applications, their settings and your personal data, to a live CD or DVD. You can use this live CD or DVD to restore your system or to install it in another computer. You can also bring it around and use it everywhere as a Live CD.
  2. To create a custom distributable copy of your current Ubuntu system and share it with your friends.

Remastersys comes with a GUI to guide you through the process. There is little or no configuration to do. In as little as one step, you will be backing up your Ubuntu (or creating custom distributable iso) in no time. Remastersys works only in Ubuntu and its derivative such as Linux Mint.

Installing Remastersys

In your terminal,

gksu gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

Add the following line to the end of the file.

For Gutsy and Earlier

# Remastersys
deb http://www.geekconnection.org/remastersys/repository remastersys/

For Hardy and Newer with original grub

# Remastersys
deb http://www.geekconnection.org/remastersys/repository ubuntu/

For Karmic and Newer with grub2

# Remastersys
deb http://www.geekconnection.org/remastersys/repository karmic/

Save and exit.

Update the repositories and install Remastersys

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install remastersys

Once the installation has finished, go to System -> Administration -> Remastersys Backup

If you have any other windows or applications running, close them all. Click OK to continue.


Select the action that you want to do. If you want to create a backup of your system, including all the personal data, highlight Backup and click OK. If you want to create a distributable copy of your current system, select Dist and click OK.


Remastersys will proceed to do the task that you have specified. This will take a long time, depending on the number of applications and files in your system.


You will receive a prompt when the backup process is done. The backup cd filesystem and iso can be found at /home/remastersys/remastersys folder.


If you have Virtualbox or VMware installed, you can test the iso file by loading it in a virtual machine.



Remastersys is a powerful, yet simple to use application. There is no technical knowledge involved. You simply load it up, select the option and off it goes. It is ideal for backing up your system so that you can restore it in the event your system crashes. I like the feature where it allows you to create a custom distribution of Ubuntu. Over the time, I have received many queries from friends on how to install the various applications. With Remastersys, I can now create my own distro with all the applications pre-installed and distribute them to my friends.

Turn Your Ubuntu Lucid to Mac OS X

lucid-mac-logoWe have previously done so with Ubuntu Hardy and Intrepid. Now, we are back again, this time with Ubuntu Lucid.

Being a long term release, Ubuntu Lucid comes with plenty of design changes that make all our previous Ubuntu to Mac OS X tutorial obsolete. Nevertheless, with a modified Mac4Lin theme and the maturity of the Global Menu, I am now able to make this tutorial a much simpler, quicker and easier one than all its previous iteration. If you are looking to transform your Ubuntu Lucid to Mac OS X, this is also the most complete one around. Continue after the break.

Installing Mac4Lin theme

Download the modified Mac4Lin theme (the original Mac4Lin theme is outdated).

Extract it to your Home folder.

Open the MacLin_Install_Mod folder and double click “Mac4Lin_Mod_installer.sh“. When prompted, select “Run in Terminal“.



It will then proceed to change your theme. When it prompts you if you want to install the components that require root access, type ‘y‘ (without the quote)


When it asks you for a choice to select the bootup screen, type ’0′ (without the quote).


When you see the message “Type any key to continue…“, you should have transformed 80% of your system interface to Mac OS X.

Configuring the Global Menu

Open a terminal and type the following:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:globalmenu-team
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install gnome-globalmenu
killall gnome-panel

Once done, remove all stuffs from top left panel (Right click on the panel and select “Remove from Panel”).

Right click on the top panel and select Add to Panel. Select Main Menu, follow by the global menu panel applet.

Close the window. Now move the two items (right click and select Move) to the left hand corner and make sure they are side by side.

You should see something like the screenshot below:


Configuring the Dock

There are several dock applications that you can use, but personally I prefer to use Cairo Dock as it is easy to install and configure.

sudo apt-get install cairo-dock

Before you launch the Cairo dock application, remove the bottom panel (right click at the bottom panel and select Delete This Panel).

Cairo dock needs a compositing manager to work, so make sure that your system support Compiz before launching the app.

(Only if your system does not support Compiz: You can activate the in-built metacity compositing manager with the command:

gconftool-2 --type boolean --set /apps/metacity/general/compositing_manager TRUE


Launch Cairo dock (Menu -> Accessories -> Cairo Dock). Make sure to set it to launch everytime you startup your computer.

Configuring the Login screen

To change the background of the login screen, simply follow the instruction at the change Ubuntu Lucid login screen tutorial or use Gdm2Setup.

Other optional tweaks


Expo effect is part of the feature in Compiz. You can easily enable the feature in Compiz Config Settings Manager (if you have not installed, click here to install).


Once you have activated the Expo feature, you can press Win + e button to bring up the expo window.


The Dashboard effect can be emulated using Screenlets and Compiz Widget layer.

Install Screenlets and the Compiz Widget layer plugin

sudo apt-get install screenlets compiz-fusion-plugins-extra

Open CompizConfig Settings Manager and activate the Widget layer feature.


Launch Screenlets (Menu -> Applications -> Accessories -> Screenlets) and start the widgets that you want to use. Right click on the widget and select Properties. Go to the Options tab and check the box “Treat as widget”


You can now press F9 to see your widgets in the dashboard.






To uninstall the Mac4Lin theme, simply run the uninstaller in the Mac4Lin_Install_Mod folder.

Double click the Mac4Lin_Mod_Uninstaller.sh. When prompted, select “Run in Terminal”.

You will be asked to log out and login again for the uninstallation to be completed.

Image credit: louisvolant

Using the /proc Filesystem to Examine Your Linux Inner Working

Quick – answer me this: How much swap space is in use on your system right now? How big is the cache on your CPU? What kernel modules are currently loaded? How many total drives and partitions are you running? If you’re running Linux, all these questions (and a whole lot more) can be answered one easy way: take a look in /proc. It’s a goldmine of system information, just waiting to be retrieved by users, administrators, and scripts. In this guide we’ll take a trip through /proc to see just what valuable system information you’ve been missing out on.

About /proc

Probably the most important thing to understand about /proc is that it’s not a normal directory with normal files. It’s more like a viewscreen into the system internals. Files in this directory are not read and saved to the hard drive like your average document or MP3, they’re generated by the Linux kernel on the fly. Accessing the file /proc/meminfo will likely give you different results each time, because memory usage is nearly always fluctuating.

By putting this kind of system information into a virtual filesystem like proc, the developers adhere to the UNIX philosophy “everything is a file”. They do this so that it can be easily read by any person or software as easily as a normal text file, no special libraries or languages necessary. For us, this means that up-to-date system information is always easily available.

Note: The files mentioned here should all open cleanly in any text editor of your choice. The examples here are showing the contents using the standard cat command from within a terminal.


If you’ve spent any time at all in proc, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with this file. Displaying the contents of cpuinfo will give you a detailed picture of exactly what CPU you have and what features it supports.



The other most well known file in proc, meminfo is an extremely handy file to keep around. It shows you information about memory and swap usage, and is one way that scripts and programs can find out what’s available.



This file shows the options that were used to start the kernel. This can be handy when troubleshooting boot problems, or if you need to verify exactly which kernel file was used for boot.



A lesser known but still useful file is filesystems. From here you can read the (somewhat extensive) list of filesystems currently supported by your kernel. Not all of these are the type of filesystems you’d use to store your data, some are like proc itself and have special-purpose uses.



In this case, PID is the process ID of a running program. Each process has a unique number that the system uses to identify that particular instance of that particular program. For example, when you run the program top from the command line, you see a list of running processes and their PIDs. Each process has its own subdirectory in proc, which you can browse for information about that particular process.



One of the most vital of the files in proc, modules contains a complete list of the currently active kernel modules. If you’ve ever had to work through video driver issues, you likely know how useful this can be. While likely not something you’d use every day, this file can be a lifesaver for troubleshooting.



You can quickly and easily check all your mounted devices by opening the mounts file. Once again, many of the items here are not necessarily mounts points that a user need be aware of. Most of the sections relevant to you will be found toward the bottom.



There’s certainly more to proc than can be covered here, so I’d greatly encourage anyone reading this to do some poking around in proc to find the bits of information that could be really useful to you. While many of the files you’ll find there are intended to be used by the OS itself, they can all provide a valuable look into Linux’s operations.

Beginner’s Guide to Grep

There is a classic bit of computer wisdom that states “If you’ve got a problem, and decide to solve it with regular expressions, now you’ve got two problems.” This of course stems from the perception that regular expressions are a complicated mix of magic characters and Voodoo. Regular expressions can allow you to achieve elegant and concise program logic quickly and easily, but only once you’ve learned to understand how they work and why. Just about any Linux or Mac system comes with a powerful regex tool call grep and learning grep is an essential task for any power user or system administrator. Today, we’ll explore some of what you can do with grep and how it can be one of the most powerful tools in your geek arsenal.

How It Works

In short, grep’s job is to search through a block of input. That’s pretty vague, so it’s best described by example. Let’s say you’ve got a text file called distros.txt that has a list of Linux distributions, such as the one below.

Debian – Stable server distribution
Ubuntu – Desktop distro originally based on Debian
Kubuntu – Uses KDE desktop instead of Gnome
Fedora – Continuation of the free Red Hat desktop system
Gentoo – A fast, source-based Linux system for pro users
SuSE – Commercial Linux owned by Novell
Mint – Ubuntu-derived distro with additional restricted software

Grep can be used to read through the text and filter it to show only the parts you want. If you wanted to see only the lines that contain the word “Ubuntu”, you’d run the following command:

grep Ubuntu distros.txt


(Your version of grep may or may not include color highlighting like in the example above)

Case Sensitivity

You may have noticed that our last search did not return Kubuntu. Unless told otherwise, grep will assume that you entered your expression exactly the way you wanted it, and this applies to upper and lower case. If you search for “ubuntu” but your text file contains “Ubuntu”, your search will find nothing. To make your search case-insensitive, use the -i switch, as in

grep -i ubuntu distros.txt


Whole Word

With the previous search, you included all capitalization variants of the word “Ubuntu”. It included Kubuntu because it contains the word you searched for. You may want to only include the standard version, not Kubuntu or Edubuntu, etc. If that’s the case, you can tell grep to match the whole word only by passing the -w option.

grep -i ubuntu distros.txt



Much as you can use grep to show only matching entries, you can also use it to show everything BUT the matching entries. To expand on our previous searches, we can now use the -v option to reverse our results and only show the lines that don’t match.



Grep has full support for wildcards when matching patterns. When using wildcards and other special characters, you want to make sure your search pattern is in quotes, so the Linux shell doesn’t try to interpret them before grep can. Common wildcards include * for groups of characters and . to represent a single unknown character.



If the wildcards are a little too broad for you, you can specify individual characters or a range to include in your search. Characters within square brackets will be included in your search pattern. For example, if you had a file with a list such as

Item 1 - apples
Item 2 - bananas
Item 3 - coconuts
Item 4 - peaches
Item 5 - Grapes
Item 6 - Apricot

You can choose a particular range by using something like

grep "Item [2-4]" items.txt

Grep is an immensely powerful tool, and learning it thoroughly can pay off in all kinds of ways. Understanding grep is also makes it much simpler to move on to other powerful console tools like sed and awk. Between those three tools, an amazing amount of console and script magic can be done with far less effort than seems possible. If you’re a fan of grep, or would like to see other tools like sed and awk covered here, please drop a note in the comments.

Spotify for Linux…..about time :)


This is a preview build of Spotify for Linux. As a preview release this version is still unsupported, but spotify will try to make sure it keeps pace with its Mac and Windows siblings, there are issues regarding decoding of local music on the Linux platform so we haven’t included support for local files in this version. As Spotify haven’t found a reliable way to display ads yet, this version is only available to Spotify Premium & Unlimited subscribers.

So how do you get it? We’ve packaged the first release as a Debian Squeeze/Ubuntu 10.04 package.

# 1. Add this line to your list of repositories by 
#    editing your /etc/apt/sources.list
deb http://repository.spotify.com stable non-free

# 2. Run apt-get update
# 3. (optional) If you want to verify the downloaded packages,
#    you will need to add our public key

gpg --keyserver wwwkeys.de.pgp.net --recv-keys 4E9CFF4E
gpg --export 4E9CFF4E |sudo apt-key add -

# 4. Run apt-get install spotify-client-qt spotify-client-gnome-support
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