Category Archives: Misc

Add Time To Your Terminal

As those of you who follow my little slice of the net know, I have a severely autistic adult son. I run a couple of scripts remotely via secure shell, to keep an eye on what he is doing on his Linux laptop, which lets me make sure he’s not getting into mischief!

I found that one of my scripts would die every now and then, usually because my son would reboot his machine, or lose his WiFi connection briefly.

Wanting to know when the script stopped running, I decided it was time to add a time stamp to my terminal.

This is very easy to do. Just navigate to your home directory, and edit the .bashrc file, which holds your terminal configuration options.

Simply add the following line anywhere in the file:

PROMPT_COMMAND="echo -n \[\$(date +%F-%T)\]\ "

After you save the file, open a new terminal window and you’ll be greeted with a lovely time stamp!


Now we have the time in terminal.

Now we have the time in terminal.

The .bashrc config file has many other settings you can change, like the colors of the background and text, text size and lots of other goodies. Back up your original .bashrc file to another location, and experiment!

Expand Your OwnCloud Server Usefulness

The Following instructions are no longer valid in ownCloud 9+

We love our ownCloud server here on the farm. As we’ve discussed before, it keeps the farm and family well organized and secure.

With ownCloud running on a LAMP stack, let’s take advantage of that server by adding other useful goodies to it!

The root of your www server directory will contain a directory called owncloud, and there is nothing to keep you from adding other handy web-type resources to it. Here on the farm, we  use our server to also store all of our equipment manuals that we may need to view quickly.

In today’s example, I have a rather extensive web page I built up years ago for my antique Wheel Horse tractor. The page contains dozens of charts, manual sheets, parts lists etcetera. Having all that information available anywhere on my network is really handy!

As seen in this example, my www root has an OwnCloud directory, and the index.html file just does a quick redirect to the ownCloud instance. I do it this way so I can easily add new resources, like the tractor directory as shown.

Root www directory

Root www directory

Once you have your new web resource uploaded to your server, you will then go to the ownCloud Admin panel to add the external link to your ownCloud software. Note that you need to link using a secure connection, so don’t forget the https://

OwnCloud Configuration

OwnCloud Configuration

Once you’ve told ownCloud about your new page, you will find that page in the ownCloud main menu! In this example, Tractor.

New Menu Item Called Tractor

New Menu Item Called Tractor

Clicking on my new Tractor menu item, takes me to an embedded page of my tractor information, with the ownCloud menu still handy at the top, so you can check your calendar or start making your parts list for repairs.

Tractor manuals, I've collected for my old Wheel Horse.

Tractor manuals, I’ve collected for my old Wheel Horse.

I’ve got separate web pages on my ownCloud install for most of the equipment I’ve collected manuals for. All equipment manuals we get are scanned, saved as a PDF and then stored as web pages on our ownCloud server.

ownCloud and LAMP, what can’t it do!


Taking A Brief Break

As mentioned in our About page, I’m a multiple sclerosis patient, and the next couple of weeks are going to be filled with my annual testing and evaluations. Also, when not doing that, it’s officially spring, and there is much to do on the farm to prepare for our spring plantings.

I’ll be back April 13th. Thanks for your understanding.


Hardware: Setting Up A New Laptop

My autistic adult son finally killed his 5 years old Dell laptop, so for Christmas, it’s time to get him a new one. His old machine was Windows 7, and because of the WiFi port not being compatible with Linux I’d left Win7 on the machine. The new machine however, does not have that problem.

The laptop we chose is the Dell Inspiron i3531-1200BK which was at the time of purchase, only $219 for a dual core Intel Celeron processor.

 Dell Inspiron i3531-1200BK

Dell Inspiron i3531-1200BK

The Amazon reviews of the unit clearly show a lack of power to run the included Windows 8.1 software, but since Linux is our OS of choice, I went ahead and got the unit, planning on installing Mint 17 MATE on the unit.

Installation was a breeze! At first boot-up, you want to hit F-12 to bring up the boot menu. From the boot menu, select the option to enable Legacy booting.

After that’s done, (and it will complain!) then insert your thumb drive witha Mint 17 disk image and reboot again, once again pressing F-12 to access the boot menu. Once there, tell the machine to boot to the thumb drive.

Once booted into Linux, setup your WiFi network and then select the Install Linux Mint shortcut on the desktop.

The install took only about 10 minutes, then another 30 to do the software updates and install my son’s favorite programs that he uses on his Mint desktop computer.

Of course I setup Caja with shortcuts to his desktop home folder so he can share files back and forth.

The Dell Inspiron i3531-1200BK is screaming fast with Mint installed, and I’m sure it will give him another 5 years of dependable service.

So don’t overlook the lower end laptops by Dell or other companies. With Linux, they will be first class machines!