Automating Ubuntu Installs Via WDS + Active Directory Authentication

Table of Contents

Introduction

If you don’t already know, I work at a small Racine County school district in Wisconsin as the sole IT sysadmin. I started there about a year ago, and ever since I’ve been trying to figure out how to make my job easier while providing the necessary equipment to students and staff. One of the biggest things I’ve noticed is students rarely use Windows for anything other than accessing Google Apps via Chrome (and games, but that’s a story for another time). I started thinking to myself how we might be able to better utilize our existing hardware without spending a dime, and that’s when I came up with the idea to install Ubuntu on a limited number of machines. If you want to read on how I think that things like Ubuntu can get students more interested in technology, I’ve created a separate post here. Continue reading Automating Ubuntu Installs Via WDS + Active Directory Authentication

The PS3 Controller and Ubuntu

I found that one thing I’ve always wanted to do with a media center is run some sweet emulators for some classic gaming action whenever I felt like it. One of the big problems is input. You can’t really play SNES or NES games on a wireless keyboard or IR remote can you? Well no, of course not, it just wouldn’t feel like a game then. I was going through a box in my brother’s room looking for a cable when I saw a PS3 Sixaxis controller. Apparently he had no use for it anymore since he got a Dualshock so I thought “Hey, this thing is bluetooth, what better way to play some classic games than with a real controller?” It turns out that the process is pretty simple.
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Automated Ripping to FLAC (Linux)

I realized recently that I still had 650GB or so left on my 2TB hard drive in my media center, so I decided that in order to use up some of that space I could rip my CD collection to FLAC. For those who don’t know, FLAC stands for the Free Lossless Audio Codec. It’s basically saying, “Hey, we’re going to copy the music files off the CD at the highest quality possible, and then give it the ability to store metadata”. Normally if you use something such as iTunes to rip your CD’s it compresses it using a lossy codec. I previously ripped my collection at 320kbps M4A, which is absolutely indistinguishable to the human ear compared to a lossless codec that usually has a bit rate of 900kbps or higher. But for the people that know me, it doesn’t matter if it’s indistinguishable, I will make something big and complex just for the fun of it. Besides, imagine if one of my discs were damaged or lost, now I can just go on my computer and convert it to any format I want!
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Run Boot Camp Within OS X

Recently a friend of mine, Josh Betz, has been trying to get his Boot Camp partition to run as a virtual machine (VM) from OS X. It’s a great idea and I would recommend, but there are a couple of disadvantages. Let’s look at the pros and cons:

Pros

  • Able to access all of your existing files
  • Saves hard drive space by not requiring a virtual disk
  • Allows you to run Windows without restarting your Mac
  • Completely free (I will outline how to do this free with VirtualBox, but VMware can do this natively, but it costs $$$ and we don’t like that!)

Cons

  • Usually pretty slow at booting up
  • Must install Windows 7, and in a certain way (Only Windows 7 is proven to work, I haven’t tried Vista, but if you’re running Vista… well I’m sorry I just won’t help you.)
  • A few hacks need to be applied

Obviously the pros outweigh the cons, but hey, everything has some trade-offs. Anyway, this process isn’t very hard and should take the average Terminal junkie ~5 minutes. Now there are two ways we can go about this…
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