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View web pages on a local web server from a virtual machine on Fedora 17

These instructions will allow you to view web pages that are served by your local web development server from within a virtual machine.

Example scenario: you run a local web server on Fedora for development, and you want to test your local site pages from within another operating system which is running in a virtual machine, e.g. to test compatibility with Internet Explorer 9. The below method saves you from having to upload your development files somewhere remote – you can keep all your development local and also try out your pages on all platforms.

1. Install VirtualBox from https://www.virtualbox.org/. Download the .rpm and install it via GUI or commandline

Note: Using either Virtual Machine Manager, or VirtualBox from the rpmfusion repositories does not work.

2. Install and boot your desired OS in VirtualBox (I’ll assume that this is Windows)

3. Edit and save the hosts file of the guest OS to include entries for each of the local websites that you wish to access from the virtual machine. The site names should be identical to the ones in your Fedora /etc/hosts file: local.mysite example.devsite

Note: on Windows saving the hosts file takes effect immediately. On Windows the file is located at c:windowssystem32driversetchosts

Note: Windows 7 requires an additional step to edit the hosts file

4. Start Apache on your host machine, if it isn’t already running

5. On the virtual machine visit example.devsite in a web browser

UPDATE: If you encounter problems when starting your virtual machine relating to kernel modules, try the following:

yum install gcc kernel-devel kernel-headers kernel-PAE-devel

/etc/init.d/vboxdrv setup

Install GTimeLog time tracker on Fedora GNU/Linux

GTimeLog is a simple and effective time tracking application for GNU/Linux. It is the preferred tool of top FSFE staff. It is not currently available in official Fedora repositories however, so in order to use it you must manually install it using Python. Fortunately this is simple to do. These instructions were originally written for Fedora 16, but should also work on 17.

Download GTimeLog from the official website:


Extract the downloaded file from the command line:

tar -xzf gtimelog-0.7.1.tar.gz

Enter the newly extracted directory from the command line:

cd gtimelog-0.7.1

Install dependencies from the command line:

sudo yum install python2 pygtk2

Install GTimeLog from the command line:

sudo python setup.py install

GTimeLog should now be installed. You can run it by pressing Alt+F2 and typing gtimelog [enter] in Gnome and KDE.


By default GTimeLog is unable to generate reports of weekly and monthly statistics etc. due to a dependency on the command line mail client Mutt. Mutt isn’t for everybody, and most likely it won’t be installed on your system either. To access generated reports in Gedit text editor, edit the GTimeLog config file using nano:

nano ~/.gtimelog/gtimelogrc

and set “mailer” to Gedit:

mailer = gedit %s

Alternatively you can set the mailer to Kmail, if you’re using Kontact or Kmail, and wish to send your reports as emails (don’t forget to change [email address] and [name] to your own values):

mailer = kmail --subject "Weekly report for [name]" --msg %s [recipient email address]

UPDATE 14.03.13

Version 0.8.1 was released last month. You can upgrade by simply following the original installation instructions again with a fresh copy of 0.8.1. Fedora users who recently upgraded to Fedora 18 from an older version will need to perform this update to use GTimeLog again.

Set up a local web development server on Fedora 16 with Apache

The following procedure allows you to run your own webserver on Fedora 16, so that you can develop web scripts and applications and test them locally without an Internet connection. I assume that you’re using Gnome 3. Run the stated commands in a terminal – accessible via alt+F2, enter: gnome-terminal [press enter]

Login as root:


Install the Apache webserver:

yum install httpd

Configure Apache to handle requests to your local website:

nano /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf

Navigate to the end of that file using your arrow keys, or the page down button, and add the following text at the bottom. Replace the text in {} with whatever suits your setup

<VirtualHost *:80>

The actual text that you add might look like this:

<VirtualHost *:80>
DocumentRoot /var/www/mysite
ServerName local.mysite

Save and close the file:

ctrl+x [enter]

y [enter]

Configure your hosts file to route requests for your website to Apache:

nano /etc/hosts

Add to the end of this file the following text:   {ADDRESS TO ACCESS YOUR WEBSITE IN A BROWSER BY, E.G.: local.mysite}

The actual text that you add might look like this:    local.mysite

Save and close the file:

ctrl+x [enter]

y [enter]

Restart Apache:

service httpd restart

Your website should now be accessible in a website via whatever address you specified above, e.g. local.mysite (note not www.local.mysite).

(Optional) Configure file permissions:

If your website is still not accessible, you may have a file permissions issue. You can temporarily disable selinux to see if that is causing the problem. If that doesn’t help, you can use a permissions debugging tool to find problems with your UNIX file permissions.

Document Freedom Day posters have arrived

Two thousand A2 posters of Stephen Fry advertising Open Standards and Document Freedom Day have arrived!

DFD poster boxes

Posters ready to be sent out

I will send these posters on to people who can use them all over Europe. Only 1.5 weeks remain before the big day – please let me know right away if you can receive some posters! Contact samtuke () fsfe dot org .

Where to put them:

  • In your office or workplace
  • In your school or college
  • In your university campus or halls
  • In your local library
  • In your local community centre
  • Anywhere else that you can think of!
Stephen Fry DFD poster

Where will you put yours?

Install zip module php-zip on Fedora 16

Due to an issue with the packaging of zip functionality within Fedora’s PHP package, the yum package php-zip, which was available for Fedora 15, is not available in Fedora 16. This is actually a “feature”, not a “bug”, but either way, getting zip support in PHP now takes a few extra steps.

1. Install dependencies as root or using sudo:

yum install pcre-devel gcc zlib zlib-devel

2. Install zip module using PECL (PEAR‘s sister):

pecl install zip

3. Edit the main PHP configuration file to register the new module. Add this text:


a few lines before this:

Module Settings

in /etc/php.ini, as root or using sudo, like this:

nano /etc/php.ini

4. Restart your web server as root or using sudo:

service httpd restart

5. Check that support is enabled using phpinfo(). You should have a section on your phpinfo() page that looks like the image below.

Screenshot of zip support shown on phpinfo() page

Zip support confirmed by phpinfo()

That’s it, good luck 🙂

Like candy from a baby: PS Vita takes freedom from new generation

SONY’s new hand-held console is riddled with Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). Both hardware and software are built to control what consumers can do, requiring large and frequent payments to SONY in order to experience the features the PS Vita advertises. As the SONY marketing machine focuses its powers on children and young adults in their homes and schools through the usual multi-million dollar advertising onslaught, I thought I’d highlight the ways in which a new generation of gamers will have their freedoms taken from them. Will PS Vita owners grow up to assume digital media will only ever work on a single device? Will they come to see cross-platform, cross-device compatibility of applications and protocols as a historical ideal?

Some of the restrictions below are well established in SONY products. Disproportionately priced, product-specific removable flash memory with inbuilt DRM has been a company staple for more than a decade. Some of the measures are new however, like the various systems which enforce a strict single user per device policy. This initiative is eerliy familiar to anyone who has read Richard Stallman’s short dystopian story from 1997 ‘The Right to Read‘. Furthermore it is amazing to me that on top of these restrictions, SONY still hasn’t added support for Free formats and standards like OGG and HTML5 video – these are well established within the industry, and free of both copyright and patent concerns for companies like SONY. The combination of willful product restrictions, and the lack of Free and Open elements results in a consumer product that is as anti-consumer as anything SONY has produced.

Anti-freedom components of the SONY PS Vita:

  • New proprietary operating system
  • App store purchases / prices restricted by region via ‘PlayStation®Network’ (PSN) ID
  • Games and media only work with the single PSN ID account with which they were purchased, prohibiting sharing
  • Only one PSN ID per machine, enforcing single user devices
  • App store (‘Playstation store’) purchases only via sony
  • Built in chat systems (text, voice) only compatible with PSN – no communication with non-SONY social networks
  • ‘PS Vita cards’ are proprietary physical form and format (purchased games and movies come on these)
  • ‘PS Vita memory cards’ are proprietary physical form and format (saved games and downloaded apps are stored on these)
  • All existing memory types of memory cards (micro-SD, MMC etc.) are unsupported
  • ‘PS Vita memory cards’ are currently ten times more expensive than Micro-SD
  • Games which support the use of alternative firmware are removed from distribution by SONY
  • Incompatible with iTunes movies and TV shows
  • Incompatible with blu-ray movies
  • Video player only accepts a single patent encumbered video format (MPEG4)
  • Open media Standards are not supported (Ogg, Theora, WebM); no HTML5 video support
  • Advertised backwards compatibility with Playstation games only available via redownload from SONY (versions may be different, old purchases are no longer anonymous)
  • Using an alternative firmware to protect your freedom or privacy would void device warrantee
  • Using an alternative firmware which does not enforce DRM and region-blocking may be illegal
  • Official website uses proprietary Adobe Flash
  • Games more expensive than ever RRP £35 – £45 (consumers pay for all that DRM)

Car: 1, me: 0

So, I got hit by a car on Monday while cycling home.

Sam's face after the crash on Monday

Me at A&E on Monday

It was dark and raining, and I was in the cycle lane about to go straight over a junction when a car turned left into my lane and into me. I went over the handle bars, possibly over the bonnet, and landed on my knee, shortly followed by my face.

Sam after being stitched up in hospital

Me after being stitched up at hospital

I was on the tarmac for about an hour; a small crowd, three teams of medics and a GP helped to check me out, cut off my clothing, and get me onto a stretcher and into hospital. I came out several hours later with nine stitches in two wounds, crutches, bandages, and 0.5 less of a tooth than I went in with.

I’m returning to work gradually and may take longer to reply to emails for a week or so. The whole experience was rather a shock, but things are slowly returning to normal.

Document Freedom Day sprint in Berlin

Last week I travelled from Liverpool to Berlin for three days to step up preparations for Document Freedom Day 2012. I arrived on Tuesday afternoon and went straight to the FSFE offices. Over the next two days I had meetings with other Document Freedom Day organisers, added a new web page, two new features, and fixed several other bugs.

DFD 2012 Team members

DFD 2012 Team members (excluding me!)

Summary of changes made to documentfreedom.org:

  • Added page listing all DFD 2012 partners
  • Added identi.ca feed to contact page
  • Added new print css file meaning website pages, including articles and events lists, can be easily printed
  • Fixed broken news links
  • Added link to city sponsorship page from sponsors page
  • Added new testimonials
  • Numerous other bug comments and closures
Advert for GB on billboard in Berlin

Facing Shonefeld airport is this advert encouraging UK tourism

Letter supporting Manchester hackerspace funding application

Sent to the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA)in support of a funding application made by MadLab Manchester Hackerspace.

Dear AGMA,

I am writing in support MadLab in their request for AGMA funding. I have been running Free Software Foundation Europe events at MadLab since January2011, and have made use of their facilities on both a monthly basis for regular community meetings, and also on weekends for special local and national events.

Software Freedom Day 2011 (SFD), for example, was a major event at MadLab. SFD involved 437 teams around the world, from Sweden to Nigeria, for the purpose of introducing the public to powerful and freely available computer software. At MadLab approximately 50 people visited during the day (despite heavy rain) to view demonstrations, booths, and presentations. A mapping party gathered downstairs and organised an afternoon of amateur cartography, contributing to a global map, under public ownership, which is used extensively in GPS and governmental systems. [Pictures]

The Gnome 3 launch event, which I also co-organised at MadLab, drew people from as far as London and Scotland to come on a Saturday afternoon last April to see new  accessible computer desktop technology demonstrated by experts,and discussed by attendees. The event drew corporate sponsorship from Codethink, and generated hours of discussion. [Pictures]

I attend several other community group meetings at Madlab which are run by other societies. In particular, I attend groups which meet to develop technical skills relating to computer science, such as the Python programming language monthly meetings.

MadLab has exhibited creative work in the past, and I enjoyed taking a partyof friends to see the artwork and literature on display at ’38° of Separation,Korea’. This was purely for my own interest, and introduced me to a culture which I had previously known very little about. [Pictures]

MadLab is non-profit making, is open to all for free and over 75% of attendees are Manchester residents.  MadLab encourages the uptake of ICT skills in surprising and effective ways, which has led to job creation and skills enhancement in the region.

The fact that MadLab existed in the city of Manchester was one of my primary reasons for moving to live in the North West when I emigrated from Berlin early last year. MadLab’s existence here is a very visible sign of a growing community of digital innovators in the region. MadLab’s free services to community groups, especially ones of an educational and technical nature,undeniably fosters innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurial activity in the area.

I support their appeal for funding.

Sincerely etc.