I was speaking with a friend, InfoSec peer, and former colleague/direct report today. He mentioned that he found my blog while looking for multi-head displays with Ubuntu info.

That made my day.

Thanks, Tom!

New Adventures in Life, the Universe, and Everything

NOTE: For those of you who came here because of my running Ubuntu 12.04 on T430s series, that is at an end. The laptop was my work machine. I’ll try to help point people to more information but I can’t provide configs or verify settings any more.

This past Tuesday I was “let go” from Magna, the company where I worked for well over a decade. Upper management’s move came out of nowhere, and a number of my now former colleagues did not see the change coming either. It was really hard to experience, it’s not something I’ve ever been through before, and I’ve no interest in experiencing it again.

I’ve got good things to say about my time at Magna. I value my time and work there. I will miss the people. I will especially miss my team.

After Tuesday’s kick in the gut I took Wednesday off to let things settle emotionally. Thursday I kicked off the job hunt.

My plan as of now on is to write about the job hunt, what I’m doing for it, and what kinds of things I should have planned for while I was gainfully employed. Looking at this change as an opportunity I will also catch up on my InfoSec and IT reading backlog, so you’ll likely see write-ups. I’ll dig into privacy issues, politics and IT, and other topics as I’m moved to write.

My personal plans and journey you will find over on Harmony Pirate.

Verizon Wireless/Sierra Wireless MC7750 on Lenovo T430s with Ubuntu

The Lenovo T430s I have for work comes with a Verizon Wireless 4G card built-in. It took weeks to get it working on Windows 7. Turned out that I had a bad SIM card.

Once I was able to get it to work in Windows, it was time to get it working in Ubuntu.

The USB ID for the MC7750 is 114F:68A2. It is also listed in Windows as “Gobi 4000 HS-USB Modem”.

Ubuntu didn’t recognize the 4G modem out of the box. I found a driver here. Here is more information. This modem wasn’t in there, but I went ahead and modified the source to add in the USB ID. Here are my diffs:

sierra.patch and sierra_net.patch

Save these to the folder where you downloaded the driver. Then

tar xvf v3.2_1740_kernel-3.0.directIP.tar
cd v3.2_1740_kernel-3.0.directIP
patch  -p0 < ../sierra.patch
patch -p0 < ../sierra_net.patch
sudo make install

and then reboot.

Success! Or sort of. It showed up as registered on Verizon. I could see the signal strength. Finding the right settings for NetworkManager is the next step.

There are three options for the number:


The username should be the [email protected] and the password is vzw.

I’m still working on this. It isn’t dialing, but I’m having a hard time finding the right combination.

My Firefox Extensions & Tweaks

I’ve had/wanted to rebuild my work laptop several times over the past few months. Sometimes I have another machine nearby to validate what I’m adding. Lately that case is the exception. To help me remember and to share with all of the ones of you, here are my must have Firefox Add-Ons/Extensions:

Several of the above are from my Widescreen Firefox post (signified by a *). The others are primarily for security & privacy (signified by a !) or convenience (signified by a ^).

Since I’m away from my main machine I might have missed an extension, but t These are the mainstays of my Firefox experience.

In the Customize Toolbar dialog I enable “Use Small Icons” and remove the search bar, the home button, and the bookmarks button.

There are more customizations, but this is enough for now. I will post additional tweaks to this later.

The other todo is coming up with a good mechanism for distributing the various add-ons’ configurations to other systems. Dropbox may be the obvious solution, but check back here for updates.

Has this been helpful to you? What are your must have extensions or tweaks to Firefox? I didn’t even get into my about:config adjustments. Those will be updated here, too.

Using tmpfs to mount /tmp in RAM

On a Unix/Linux/BSD device /tmp tends to see heavy usage. I’ve moved mine into RAM to ever-so-slightly improve performance and more significantly reduce SSD I/O.

To do this I edited


as root with my favourite editor. I added the following line at the end:

tmpfs           /tmp            tmpfs   defaults,noatime  0       0
tmpfs           /var/tmp        tmpfs   defaults,noatime  0       0

You can reboot at this point and you’re all set. You could manually mount this but it could cause problems with your system.

UPDATE: Ubuntu and Lotus Notes for Linux don’t like mounting /tmp as nosuid and noexec.

Let me know if you do this and how it works for you.

Fix Backspace to go Back one Page in Firefox 2 and Above

I’m a big fan of using the keyboard for tasks instead of always relying on the mouse. In Ubuntu, Firefox wasn’t honouring the use of backspace to take me back a page. I found a fix here that surprisingly still works.

In short, open a new tab and type


Search for backspace. Double click on “browser.backspace_action” and change the value to 0.

xclip and mrxvt

Mrxvt is a great Unix/Linux/BSD terminal client. It is light weight and supports tabs. I’m still waiting for Unicode & UTF-8 support. If non-Latin support is more important than tabs check out rxvt-unicode/urxvt. These are both based off of a beta of the wonderful but languishing rxvt terminal.

Anyway, one of the things I’m trying to do is make my various systems as keyboard consistent as possible. Mrxvt doesn’t support keyboard copy and paste out of the box. I found a post that details how to set it up.

This tip makes use of my newest favorite CLI tool: xclip. Here’s how.

On Ubuntu 12.04, install xclip:

sudo apt-get install xclip

Then using your favorite editor edit (or create) the file


Add the following lines at the end of your file:

Mrxvt.macro.Ctrl+Shift+v:            Paste CLIPBOARD
Mrxvt.macro.Ctrl+Shift+c:            Exec !/usr/bin/xclip -o | /usr/bin/xclip -selection clipboard

Save the file and restart your Mrxvt.


Let me know if this works for you. If you get this working under rxvt or urxvt, let me know!

Ubuntu 12.04 Hybrid Suspend on Lenovo T430s

I hadn’t heard about hybrid suspend until reading this article at I’d used the standard sleep mode most of the time. I enabled hibernate on my laptop as I mentioned here.

This hybrid sleep is pretty great. I put the laptop to sleep normally, either by command or closing the lid while unplugged from power. After 15 minutes by default the laptop will go into hibernation, saving battery power.

Some comments on the original post have mentioned there could be a risk if you have a traditional hard drive versus SSD. This could indeed cause an issue if your laptop is moving (in a bad, under an arm, etc.) while it transitions into hibernation mode. Use at your own risk.

Also, you must have a swap partition of sufficient size. If you followed the default at install you’re probably safe. If you opted for no swap (a mistake in my opinion) this will not work.

Here are the steps, paraphrased from

From the CLI, execute:

sudo pm-is-supported --suspend-hybrid && echo "hybrid suspend is supported" || echo "your system doesn't support hybrid suspend"

Depending on how the command returns you can proceed.

You need to create a file as root called


Here’s what you need to put in it:

# Always use suspend_hybrid instead of suspend
if [ "$METHOD" = "suspend" ]; then
# time in seconds until hibernate (suspend to disk) occurs; 900 means 15 minutes
# Edit this value to your preferred delay

And that’s it! If your laptop doesn’t support hibernation at all this will not work.

Some folks in the comments thread mentioned a risk of overheating, but I’m skeptical that there is any real concern there.

Let me know how it goes for you!

Ubuntu 12, Thunderbird Email, and Google Integration

I like desktop email clients. Mozilla Thunderbird is a great open source cross-platform option.

Here’s how I integrated Thunderbird on Ubuntu with my Google Calendar.

Go here for setting up Thunderbird. Then go here. This could work on other platforms.

Fix for Pidgin Meanwhile for a SameTime IM environment

I use Pidgin for IM. I really like that it has an IBM/Lotus SameTime integration plugin called “MeanWhile”.

It’s not perfect. Pidgin’s MeanWhile doesn’t handle logged in users properly.

To fix that on Ubuntu, go here, and download the package for your install – 32-bit or 64-bit. Then execute

sudo dpkg -i libmeanwhile1-1.0.2-3*

… and restart Pidgin. You may need to hold or lock the libmeanwhile package from an update.

There’s an outstanding issue about file transfers that still requires a solution.