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The Linux Chronicles – Day 2


Today was spent mostly on getting Agent to run under Wine.  This is an Agent problem and not a Linux one.  Agent installs itself in different places and in different ways, depending on whether you have done a virgin install or have upgraded.  I’ve been with Agent for years so the install architecture on my Windows system is totally different than the virgin install on Ubuntu.

I spent hours installing, copying, uninstalling, reinstalling, selectively copying, etc.  I finally punted, installed a virgin copy, imported my address book set up from scratch.  If you decide to bring Agent (or any other windows mail agent) over, be SURE to write down all your setup info before you exit windows.  Your mail host, password, userid, ports, type of connection, etc.  That will save you having to go back to windows to collect that info.

I also spent some time with the Evolution mail agent that comes with Ubuntu.  After several hours, my conclusion is that it’s an excellent mail agent but a sucky newsreader.  Among the newsreader faults:

A huge positive for Evolution is the spell-as-I-type feature.  That is 100X better than Agent’s clunky old spell check after completing the article.   I am on the verge of deciding to do a split system.  Agent for news and Evolution for mail.  Not a grand unified solution but one that uses each program’s best features.

I ran into some other problems that centered around Agent.  Agent could not see Linux’s default browser and thought that no browser was installed.  I had to go into the options menu and do that (see log below.)  It’s still not perfect – Agent bitched that it cant’ execute “firefox” (instead of firefox.exe) but it still does.  Strange.

Portable Apps

A suite of programs that I rely on heavily is Portable Apps.  This is a suite of productivity tools that are designed to be independent of the system they’re running on.  No registry use and no tmp files on the host system.  I keep an instance on my thumb drive and also used them on my Windows system.  I figured that they’d be useful on Linux too (running under WINE, of course).  “Installing” was just a matter of copying them to “C_drive” under Wine.  Again, see the log below.


For the rest of this series I’m going to use the format seen here.  The top part will be a discussion of events that happened.  The bottom part will be the entries from my log for that period.  I’ve always kept a log on the Unix systems that I’ve worked on.  Just too many things to keep up with otherwise.  A paper log in the beginning; now an electronic one.

Some of the stuff in the log may not make sense right now.  Don’t worry.  It will as we move along.  I just don’t want to pile too much on you in the beginning so I won’t be explaining everything in each log.  I will deal with everything that matters toward bringing up a new system.

————- Start Log Entry ——————

01/16/09 0915

Have installed agent but cannot get it to find files copied over from windows.  Sent support request.

Installed Portable Apps by simply copying it over.  Ran fine.  KeePass works fine.  Got access to passwords

Found out that vi will not run under GNOME.  Have to get the VI-GNOME package.
Presently trying to figure out how to get it using Synaptic package manager
Found out that I have it.  Now how to access it.

Was not installed.  Using Synaptic package manager to fetch and install it.  Package is known as Gvim.  Figured out how to install it as the default application for .txt files.  Similar to windows.  Right click on the .txt file, choose properties and select Open with.

* first serious problem is that font sizes are all over the place.  Many are too small even though I’ve set my screen resolution down.  Need to find out how to change the screen font sizes.

Next task – Port over Firefox environment.

Copied the plugins directory, the Taboo directory and bookmarks.html file.  That seems to have most everything moved over except Scrapbook.  Need to figure a new location for it.  Probably on the Segate drive.

Next Task – Get Evolution set up for news.

I had created the folder previously but had used the wrong password.  I found out that I had to go to folders->subscriptions to download the latest list of newsgroups.  That is underway now.

OK, subscribed to RORT, AEH and MR.  Evolution has no way to sample newsgroups so it is going to download the whole mess.  *sigh*.

Linux is doing a much better job of sharing bandwidth.  With the massive newsgroup download going on in the background, I can still use Firefox with reasonable responsiveness.

Next Task – Move Scrapbook into permanent location.  I decided to put it on the seagate drive.  About 2.5 gig.  I enable multi-scrapbooking so that I can have more than one location.  I’m going to keep the default location too so that I can save stuff when the big drive isn’t available.  This will be temporary until I get a larger laptop drive or convert the winders drive.  Copy speed is amazing – 5 MB/sec right now.


Discovered that this version of firefox is a beta which disabled most of my plugins.  I’m using the about:config technique to disable checking until this comes out of beta.  Instructions:

1. In your address bar, type “about:config” (remember, no quotes). You’ll receive a warning box that says anything you do here might void your warranty. Click the button that says you’ll promise to behave.
2. Once the configuration page loads, right click anywhere within the configuration options list and select “New” and then select “Boolean” from the 3 choices given (Boolean is a “true” or “false” type statement for those that don’t know).
3. The next box that pops will ask you to “Enter the preference name”. Enter the following statement: “extensions.checkCompatibility”.
4. Another box will pop up asking you to choose the Boolean value. Select “False” and click OK. You’re new statement should now appear in the list of configuration options.
5. Restart your browser and you can try out those extensions you’ve been wanting to install.


Installed RAR and unRAR command line versions using

sudo apt-get install rar
sudo apt-get install unrar
sudo apt-get install -roller


After many tries, a return to windows and no word from Forte, I decided to uninstall everything with Agent and start over.  I did a virgin install and set up all the servers from scratch.  I did a print screen from windows for each server to show me what to do.

Major time waster is that in windows, the incoming POP connection requires a SSL connection while in WINE it does not.  Pissed off an hour on that one.

Agent could not detect a default browser so that has to be set up manually.  Under tools->options, go to “URL Types”.  De-select the default “use windows registry” and select “customize”  Enter Z:\usr\bin\firefox and select “all files” so that an .exe doesn’t get tacked on.  Then go to the MIME types and do the same thing for MIME type HTML.


Imported my address book from windows.  I exported it earlier as an XML file (only option) and imported into the WINE version.  No problems.

Configured folder properties, configured astraweb as my usenet server and am downloading groups.


Edited /boot/grub/menu.lst to fix the error that the installed made in assigning drives.  I want to boot from hd0.0 instead of hd1.0.

Posted by neonjohn on January 17th, 2009 under Computing

2 Responses to “The Linux Chronicles – Day 2”

  1. John Says:

    Im a big Agent user as well John. Its my MOST used app…. so Im watching with interest how it works under WINE for you as Im on verge of dumping Windows and going Ubuntu as well.

    Got to have my Agent!!

  2. neonjohn Says:


    With one exception, my Agent install is finished and is running fine. That one exception is with what I mentioned above with clicking on links and firing off the browser. (is that OLE? I can’t remember all of M$’s slang.)

    As it stands now, clicking on a link works but agent tosses up a little error box. Meanwhile the Linux version of Firefox is merrily opening the page. I think that I can fix that by creating a symbolic link named firefox.exe and point it at the executable “firefox”. I just haven’t gotten a round tuit.

    That said, I’m using Agent only for news reading and only then because of the superior killfile facility. Evolution has a MUCH nicer and more elegant user interface, especially for reading and replying. It’s killfile filtering facility is so lame that I’m staying with Agent as long as necessary. Since Evolution is published by Novell, maybe they’ll fix it.

    Evolution’s spell-as-you-write feature is work changing user agents. Frankly I was stunned that Forte left this out of V5 upgrade. I feel like I got ripped on the “upgrade” which really should have been just a service pack.

    WINE continues to run whatever I toss at it. It’s best with stand-alone programs that don’t interact with others via OLE or whatever.

    This is important and is a lead-in to tomorrow’s post. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THAT YOU CAN DO after installing Ubuntu is to allow the update manager to do its thing. Most all my problems have been solved by the updates. Apparently they just shoveled whatever they had laying around onto the Live CD and are relying on the updater to make things right.

    Firefox was the frigging 3.0 beta, fer crying out loud! It broke about 3/4 of my extensions including critical ones like fireFTP. As a lame defense, the update took over 24 hours over dial-up. No way I’d have let my computer just sit there inert for a day! If I ever do another virgin install, it’ll be connected to broadband.

    The time has never been more right to Boot Bill. Plenty of XP software is still available which runs fine under WINE. As Vista versions get out there, problems will arise. Meanwhile, for most of the stuff I’ve looked at, there are Linux versions that do just as good. There are a few exceptions and for those I’ll continue under WINE while hammering on the publishers to give me a Linux version.

    Just Do It!!!


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