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So if you read earlier in my posts you would have realized how sweet and versatile Pidgin is. Well I have discovered yet another nifty trick for Pidgin – running multiple instances of the program (with different profiles). I have found this useful simply because I have been in environments where it has its own messaging system but blocks all the ports to the to “outside” IM servers, so maybe you use a proxy server noted in the earlier post about PuTTY to get to the outside IM servers and then run a normally connected instance for the local messaging server.

For Windows:

  1. go to start-run, and enter “cmd” – this will open the command windows
  2. in the command windows browse to “c:\program files\pidgin”
  3. now enter in the command window “set PIDGIN_MULTI_INST=1”
  4. create a second profile by entering this into the command window “pidgin -mc <path of where you want to keep that new profile>”
  5. another instance of pidgin is opened with its own profile settings
  6. enjoy your two instances of pidgin

A common error seen within Windows XP, 2003, and 2000 occurs when connecting to a network shared drive or other network resources. The common error you could get when connecting to a shared network resource such as a networked is a permission denied error even though you know full well you have access to that drive and you have inputted your user name and password correctly. You may also see the error that the TCP/IP stack size is full in other programs.

To correct this all you need to do i s make a simple registry change to increase the stack size. Simply go to “Start-Run” and type “regedit” Once in the registry browse to “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\ LanmanServer\Parameters” Then add a DWORD value and name it “IRPStackSize” exactly as you see it, since the value is case sensitive. Then right click on the value and select edit. Then put in a DECIMAL value form 11 to 50. Generally I use 25 its a nice number halfway to the max which gives me room to move up or down if need be. And now you should be set. For more info about the IRPStackSize visit Microsoft’s support page: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/285089

Now if you continue to get these errors and you have increased the stack size to about 30 and its still getting full or if you still cant connect to you shared network resource then you may want to explore the possibility of a malicious program running on your system, or that the service for the network resource is setup properly, and all the common stuff like firewalls and other permission settings.

    For those who don’t know Thunderbird is a mail/RSS, news and blog client.  I use it for maintaining all of my email accounts that I have including ones from my ISP, School, and even gmail.  I like it for much the same reason why I like Pidgin.  It allows me to put everything mail and RSS wise in one convenient location.  And much like Pidgin, Thunderbird has a wide range of features and plug-ins for you to utilize.  For instance when setting up you mail accounts you can have them all be separated into its own separate account folder or you can have all your mail go to one folder, the local folders group.  For some people the latter works but for me I like to keep everything separate since I use certain mail accounts for certain things.  I pretty much have a mail account for everything, from shopping to school.  Then I break down these mail folders into more sub-folders, all in a effort to keep myself organized.  Can’t say exactly how much this really helps me, but I do it anyways.

Another great feature which is starting to be implemented into most webmail clients like gmail is a search function.  Thunderbird employs the same functionality by being able to search for a sender or subject (defualt) or you can search the entire message.  Neat little feature if you inbox gets flooded with many messages from your friends and you need to find exactly what that professor said about that assignment thats due the next day.  So yeah very useful function and one that I use frequently.  Also makes use of the fact that I can hang on to quite a few messages, which brings me to another point at how good Thunderbird is a dealing with HUGE mail files.  Most clients like Lotus Notes and Outlook die if your mail file gets too big, not Thunderbird.  It just keeps on trucking along as if nothing is happening…though it does get a bit slower once the mail filer gets larger, no worries though you can archive your mail by compacting the folders (under the file menu) and still be able to retain all of your mail.  Outlook crashes once your mail file exceeds 2GB and Lotus Notes starts acting funny around 5GB though it can handle larger mail files.  I have seen Lotus Notes mail files in excess of 18GB.  Now thats crazy.  Naturally I dont really like those who don’t delete their mail that they don’t need, but with Thunderbird and how stable it runs, I kinda let it go.  So I guess I don’t practice what I preach, but I do have rules in place to delete old messages from the mail server.  It’s just Thunderbird that take on the additional mail file load.

An additional list of Thunderbird features include tagging, junk mail filter, custom message filters, scam and spam detection, image blocking (for possible virus intrusion), send mail in either plain text or HTML or both, import mail form other clients like Outlook, LDAP address books, and more.  To view more of the features that Thunderbird has to offer click here.

One little thing to point out if you are like me and use separate account folders for each mail account you have is that there is no way within Thunderbird the program itself to manipulate which order the accounts appear in your all folders pane.  However you can change what order they are in.  Here is how to do it.  First take note of the account name your wish to move and then the account name of the one you want to come after the the  account you want to move.  Then close Thunderbird and browse to your profile folder.  For Windows XP users that would be “C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\<profile name>” (be sure you are showing hidden files and folders) and for Linux users it would be “~/.thunderbird/<profile name>
/”  This may change for Linux users depending on third party builds.  Once in there you want to open a file called “prefs.js” in the text editor of your choice.  Then search for your account name.  Once found take note of the account number.  Do the same for the one to appear after the account you wish to move.  Then look for the parameter <user_pref(“mail.accountmanager.accounts”>  here you will see a list of those account numbers.  The order listed in is the order they appear in.  Then just cut the account you want to  move and paste it before the account you want to appear after the account you want to move.  Double check and make sure all the commas are in the right place and that there are not too many or you are missing one.  Save the changes a viola you moved your account.  Open up Thunderbird and it now will appear in the location you specified.  For more information about the files within the profile folder click here.

LIGHTNING:

One great add-on for Thunderbird that I use frequently and just completely obliterates the need or even the compulsion to use Outlook again is Lightning.  Lightning is an integrated calendar for Thunderbird.  It is really great and I use it frequently to keep track of my appointments and tasks.  It has a pane in Thunderbird to remind you of things coming up today, tomorrow or soon (as in later in the week or in a few days).  Perfect for remembering those birthdays or anniversaries you keep forgetting.  Then you can set it to be yearly on that date and you will never miss another important date again.  Plus you will see it every time you check your mail so you won’t have an excuse any more.  Again overall just a great and versatile add-on.  Worried about updates…no worries Thunderbird automatically checks for updates of your add-ons each time you start Thunderbird, and Thunderbird will update itself as well every time it opens if need be.  So what you end up with is worry free super secure mail client, with a long list of add-ons and endless customization.  To learn more about Lightning click here.

Download Thunderbird here

Download Lightning here

Alright most of you Linux savvy folks out there probably already know this, but I am gonna post it here as my reminder and maybe for those who don’t know. Nifty little program for converting rpm to dpkg is Alien. This is useful for OS’s that use dpkg’s such as Ubuntu, which utilizes the greatest command ever “apt-get” which references its repositories for whatever software you are searching for. Well Alien allows you to convert these rpm’s into the dpks’s to be able to utilizes this functionality with OS’s like Ubuntu. This also helps with those dependency issues from trying to cross over using rpm’s with the dpkg, which as I learned just doesn’t work no matter how hard you try. So a fiend of mine recommended to me “Alien” to convert the rpm’s into dpkg’s, making them friendly within Ubuntu’s environment. I give this program two thumbs up.

Link: http://www.icewalkers.com/Linux/Software/57020/Alien.html

Alien’s home page: http://kitenet.net/~joey/code/alien/

PuTTY is an excellent network utility. It is a free open source telnet/ssh client that is extremely versatile. It offers a GUI environment that is easy to navigate with loads of options such as port forwarding. With port forwarding I have also found a great tool in Putty, in that I can use to act like a SOCKS5 proxy server. This is truly useful especially when connecting to a unsecured wireless hot-spot such as in a coffee shop. What better way to encrypt you connection than using SSH with a SOCKS5 proxy server. The setup is quite simple really. Just put in your normal session information like your host name/IP address with your SSH port number generally 22. Then you going to want to go to “Connection-SSH-Tunnels” Here you just have to put some random port number in the source port, lets say 5555. Then click the dynamic radio button and then click add.

putty.gif

Then click open to open the connection and when prompted input your user name and password to the box you have setup for SSH. Once that is done all you need to do is input the proxy information into your web browser or IM client, or whatever you have connecting to the internet that you want to be encrypted. Just simply open up the connection properties of you web browser for instance and put in the proxy server as “localhost” and the port number as whatever you chose as that dynamic port in this case “5555.” And viola you now have a secured, encrypted web browser environment even though you are on an unsecured wireless network. Again this just shows how useful and versatile Putty is.

Of course you can still do traditional port forwarding. One useful port forwarding technique is to get onto you home machine no mater were you are, no mater if you are behind a firewall or not. generally everywhere you go port 22 for SSH will be open as it is commonly used to manage servers and such. So it is very unlikely that this port will be blocked. You could also setup you SSH sever to listen on the https port (443) as well which is guaranteed never to be blocked. So you will use putty to SSH into you box but with certain port forwarding parameters set. For this example I will consider Windows XP using a default RDP connection. Once we have all of our session info in for Putty we will go to “Connection-SSH-Tunnels” again. Here in the source port put in some random port again but NOT 3389, as this is the standard RDP port. Then in the destination box put in the local IP address of the machine you wish to RDP into, the colon and the port number 3389. Make sure that the Local radio button is active in this case Much like the example below. Then click add, and then open to open your SSH connection.

putty1.gif

The run “mstsc” by using the “Start-Run” command or just open remote desktop from the all programs menu in Windows XP. When inputting the computer you want to connect to simply put in “localhost” colon and then the random port number you chose, in this case 4444. So the computer you want to connect to box would look like “localhost:4444” Then just click connect and away you go, remote desktop-ing to your computer from anywhere, and best of all its on an encrypted tunnel.

For more information on PuTTY and other various tools they have such as pagent and pscp visit http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/

more to come on other tools from that site as well.

Pidgin, if any of you have used it before you definitely know how great this instant messaging client is. I have been on the Pidgin kick for quite while a now and I am absolutely loving it. If offers a wide range of plug-ins, with tons of very cool and customizable features. Pidgin is capable of handling a wide range of IM protocols including:

  • AIM
  • Bonjour
  • Gadu-Gadu
  • Google Talk
  • Groupwise
  • ICQ
  • IRC
  • MSN
  • MySpaceIM
  • QQ
  • SILC
  • SIMPLE
  • Sametime
  • XMPP
  • Yahoo!
  • Zephyr

This in my opinion makes pidgin one of the most versatile IM clients I have ever used. It offers quite a few of common IM client feature like file transfer and typing notifications. It also offers a feature called buddy pounce which will notify you by doing various actions, given a buddy does certain actions. Want to learn more? Visit Pidgin’s About page. Granted the actual provider’s clients offer more specific features according to the services those providers offer. But if you are like me and just need something simple that allows you to organize all of you friends from multiple networks in one place then this is the application for you. Truly a nice open source program to handle most if not all of your instant messaging needs.

The windows installation is pretty simple, just run it and have fun. The Linux installation is a little more involved as you have to compile Pidgin yourself. Not to difficult of a task, but there are some libraries you need to install. I will just discuss the ones needed when I installed Pidgin on Ubuntu, being that it is the only Linux distro I have installed it on.

Bonjour: Howl or Avahi’s Howl. In Ubuntu you can use ‘apt-get’ so you can just type “apt-get install libavahi-compat-howl0 libavahi-compat-howl-dev”

Sametime: libmeanwhile. In Ubuntu you can use ‘apt-get’ so you can just type “apt-get install libmeanwhile1 libmeanwhile-dev”

These are the only specific ones that you will need. To get the remaining libraries needed such as the GTK library can be obtained by typin “apt-get install libgtk2.0-dev libxml2-dev gettext libnss-dev libnspr-dev” Thats about it. For more info on how to install Pidgin on Ubuntu visit this great post in Taufan Lubis Linux Blog.

Pidgin home page: http://pidgin.im/

Lets face it Windows XP is not really the best at managing and cleaning up installer information on its own unless the program you are using cleans it up itself…which most don’t really do. This could lead to problems when you are uninstalling and reinstalling software. For instance old settings from the previous installation could still be there that you may not want and could cause issues, even if you delete the programs contents under the ‘program files’ folder. The painful way to handle this is to browse around and look for all of the *.msi and *.dll files that relate to that installer. And you better be showing all files, and not hiding operating system files. This process is painful, plus you have to check the author of each *.msi by checking its properties. secondly you would also have to check registry keys. This is not how I want to spend my day. I need something faster and something that gives me less of a headache.

Fortunately Microsoft has created a utility to handle this. Once you install this utility it will show up under your start menu programs. Then just run and all of the installers are listed, with the author and program and everything. Its really neat and helpful. Then just select a program from the list, and click remove. Viola installer clean. Now re-install your software and you are good to go.

Link to Microsoft’s Installer CleanUp Utility: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/290301

The purpose for which this blog has been created is to inform people about various tip or tricks that I have found will working in or around the IT profession. This includes things like little registry fixes I have found to kill annoying things within Windows XP, to programs that make the day in a life of computing easier and more powerful. This blog will also contain fixes and tips for various other OS’s such multiple distros of Linux. The ones that I work most frequently with are openSuSE, Ubuntu, and Fedora Core.

So as I find more tricks or fixes with these OS’s I will post them here for the world to see. Truth be told this site is mainly for me to remember different fixes I have employed (just getting to be too many of them, and I forgotten quite a few of them) . So as I remember or encounter different issues I will post their fixes here as well as any new tips or tricks I discover along the way.

ENJOY! 😉