Colin Harrington


Notes for Jailbreaking iOS 5 for iPhone 4S + iPad2

by on Feb.17, 2012, under General, Linux, Logo

Actually doing the Jailbreak is easy:

  1. Download and run the jailbreak app called Absinthe
  2. Read the install instructions
  3. Follow the installation instructions
  4. Be patient.

When you are done you’ll have the Cydia App installed.

“This is where the fun begins” – Anakin Skywalker

Cydia Icon

My shortlist of apps:

  • Activator (Control over gestures)
  • SBSettings + Toggles & Themes
  • Custom BootLoaders: animate + animate fix (Boot Logos)
  • FakeCarrier (or removal for space!)
  • Firebreak (Enabling the hidden Panorama Camera feature)
  • Five Icon { Dock, Folder, Switcher }
  • Five Column Springboard.
  • Sound/Ringtone themes.
  • Winterboard Themes
  • Veency (VNC)
  • MXTube
  • My{Wi,3G} (Paid$$)
  • SSH (only if you know what you are doing)
  • Mobible Terminal


Mobile Terminal:

The one in the Cydia store is *old* and won’t work on iOS4 or iOS5.  I’m not sure why, but it seems like the contributor abandoned this package.

You can install it by other means.


Animated BootLogos:

Back in the early days you could use an app called LogoMe to update a custom boot logo. Then came animate which let you animate your boot logo (Like the Windows 98+ startup logo screens) You’ll need the animate fix to get them to work now.

I ended up making my own Boot Animation of my AppleTux logo with the help of a couple blogposts

The process is simple: basically create a series of PNGs {0.png, 1.png, 2.png, ... n.png} and place them in a named folder inside of /Library/BootLogos/

/Library/BootLogos/AppleTux/ looks like this:

And can be downloaded here:

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SSH without passwords (Public/Private Keys)

by on Oct.03, 2011, under Linux, Ubuntu

Secure Public/Private Key Cryptography isn’t exactly new stuff in the world of Computing. It makes our world go round. It is the basis for secure communication in today’s world. HTTPS, SSL, TLS, SSH are all cryptographic protocols that use Public/Private key infrastructures. Without these protocols, we would think twice about using credit card, banking or any other sensitive information on the Internet.

We all know that passwords aren’t very secure. If you choose a password that is easy to remember then its easier to guess via brute force. If you choose a password that is random or hard to remember then you are more likely to write it down. Any well-versed digital community member already has many username/password credentials to remember so we are less likely to remember extremely difficult random passwords. This is the password paradox, which leads me to look into managing access via public/private key pairs instead.

Generate a public/private key pair (if you don’t have one already)

Github has an excellent tutorial with good illustrations on how to generate ssh keys with ssh-keygen, but here is an overview:

  • *Backup your existing keys* — if they exists so that you don’t overwrite them.
  • generate a new key with ssh-keygen

Definitely setup a passphrase! – Its like a password for your private key. The passphrase is a second line of defence if anyone were to acquire your private key.

The .pub is your public key, you can safely share this anywhere, whereas the private key is entirely private! DO NOT show anyone, don’t copy it anywhere and only securely back it up.. This is your new password and large liability if it fell into the wrong hands.

Some folks like to generate and manage keypairs for each location, or at least manage certain levels of keys, but I’m not going to dive into that topic.

Configure the Server (if needed)

Make sure that the server has Public key authentication enabled (most do). for OpenSSH it would be the following in the sshd_config:

RSAAuthentication yes
PubkeyAuthentication yes
AuthorizedKeysFile .ssh/authorized_keys

Then all you have to do is:

  • Put your public key (the one ending in .pub) as a line in the ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file (create it if it doesn’t exist)
  • Restart your SSH server
  • Log in without being prompted for a password

This is really handy for managing servers especially on Amazon’s EC2, local access between machines, SFTP, SSH tunneling, or even getting access to a jailbroken iPhone or any other device with OpenSSH installed on it.

The guys over at wrote a good guide to Password-less logins with OpenSSH that is worth looking into if you have issues or want to dive deeper.

Passwords aren’t very secure, you already know this. If you use one that’s easy to remember, it’s easier to guess or brute-force (try many options until one works). If you use one that’s random it’s hard to remember, and thus you’re more inclined to write the password down. Both of these are Very Bad Things™. This is why you’re using ssh keys.
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Synergy key-mappings between Linux and OSX

by on Mar.22, 2011, under General, Linux

I’ve been a fan of Synergy for years. If you aren’t familiar with Synergy, It basically allows me to control multiple computers using only one mouse and keyboard on the host machine.

Synergy2 comes with a GUI on Windows, but for Linux or Apple/Mac OSX there isn’t a GUI packaged with synergy itself. I’ve since found the Quick Synergy GUI to work fairly well between Windows and Linux since the key mappings are very similar.

Installing it on Linux was a breeze: sudo apt-get install quicksynergy


When I went to use OSX from a Linux Host, I found that Quick Synergy wasn’t able to configure the key mapping options that are needed to achieve keyboard zen. “No Problem”, I thought, “I’ll just edit the settings file that QuickSynergy Uses” – but it turns out that the changes are overwritten and my GUI dreams died with that issue.

I ended up finding the right key modifiers from Linux to OSX and reverted back to launching Synergy manually from the command line. synergys -f --config /path/to/synergy-config.conf

Its easy to setup aliases or other shortcuts but here is the magic sauce complete with key modifiers:

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Which process has that port open? (Linux / netstat -anp)

by on Dec.21, 2010, under General, Linux

Occasionally, I’ll have an application that I’m working on die spectacularly and still hold on to the open sockets / ports.  in Java you would see the Address already in use for an open port much like: Address already in use
at Method)

It took me a second to figure out how locate the process, but it turned out to be a really easy task using the netstat command by executing ‘netstat -anp | grep 8080‘ (a = all interfaces, n = numeric, p = show pid)  This isn’t perfect since it will still show you anything with a pid of 8080 (the port number I was looking for), but its a great quick-and dirtry way to identify the process.  and once I’ve found it I can kill it with a ‘kill -9 <pid>

user@machine:~/$ netstat -anp | grep 8080
tcp6       0      0 :::8080                 :::*                    LISTEN      19884/java
user@machine:~/$ kill -9 19884

Which reminds me of this classic (please excuse the profanity):

Windows => netstat -ano
OSX => lsof -i -P

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Arduino + Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat :: no rxtxSerial in java.library.path

by on Nov.19, 2010, under General, Ubuntu

I’m just getting into the Arduino, and have an awesome project that I’m working on with some friends.

Playing with a multi-color LED

Playing with a multi-color LED

I found the Arduino IDE in package manager, and went to install it
sudo apt-get install arduino

Or Via Synaptic:Arduino via Synaptic

When I went to run it died with the following exception:

A little googling turned up the this bug. It basically describes that there is an issue with Ubuntu 10.10 + sun-java not including the jni directory in the classpath. There are several solutions, but basically this comment sums it up the best:

1) don’t use sun-java but default-jre instead. This bug is actually a known bug in sun-java. (bug #325506)
2) add export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/lib/jni to your .bashrc, the .deskop file (in /usr/share/desktop), or on the command line before starting arduino
3) add the new package (instructions are above).

I opted for #2 so far…  The idea flow for potential projects are unending.  I should try some CI build Lights/lamps next :-)

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Hulu Desktop for Linux! 32 & 64bit versions for Ubuntu & Fedora

by on Oct.08, 2009, under General, Linux, Streaming, Ubuntu, Video

Hulu Desktop (currently Beta) is now available on Linux!  A friend tipped me off to an article on TechCrunch about it. 

Wohoo Hulu Desktop on Linux

Downloading it and setting it up was pretty easy.  I went to Hulu Desktop and selected download for linux.  From there It gave me choices for Fedora and Ubuntu (both 32 & 64bit versions!)  Since I run Ubuntu I downloaded and installed the deb – easy enough.

When you first launch it it asks you to accept the EULA.


The first time I launched Hulu Desktop I got an error, that "Hulu Desktop could not locate the Flash plugin.  If you do not have it installed, please modify ~/.huludesktop with the correct location of" (remember the beta sticker?)

Hulu Desktop error : Flash Plugin

I had to edit the ~/.huludesktop file to use the wrapped version of the Flash plugin /var/lib/flashplugin-installer/ and it worked like a charm!


Playback worked great, probably better than the in-browser experience.  The interface is slick, better than the web-interface and more along the lines of Boxee.  Fullscreen worked well for me.

Hulu Desktop -> Heroes menu

Props to Hulu for providing a Linux version.  The Linux desktop is a first class citizen.  Skype has a Beta version that rocks on Linux.  Google Chrome, Firefox, etc. Who is next? Adobe?  CS5?  I’d pay for Adobe CS5 on Linux.

So far its been pretty good stuff for Beta Software!  I’ll definitely be using Hulu more now. 

Here is a shot of the opening screen:

Opening Image

And another of the Menu (while watching media):

Popular menu

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Grails Growl-like notifications in Linux (Ubuntu, 9.04)

by on May.24, 2009, under General, Groovy-Grails, Linux, Ubuntu

When I was developing on OSX, a fellow developer Ted Naleid tipped me off to a script that does Growl notifications for Grails events that Marc Palmer had written.   The Growl notifications were handy, but now that I’ve been working on Linux, I’ve definitely missed them.

I first used a tool called Mumbles, which attempted to be a clone of Growl, but I later realized that the built in notification system is probably the way to go.  After I learned of Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope) had some major visualization enhancements to the notifications, I thought that it was definitely the way to go. 

This is what I currently have with Ubuntu 9.04:

Jaunty Grails notification Plugins

Jaunty Grails notification final

Implementing this is very simple, you simply create an _Events.groovy file in your ~/.grails/scripts  directory (create it if it doesn’t exist) with the following contents (modified from the Growl Script):

eventStatusFinal = { msg ->
    libNotify('Final status', msg)
eventStatusUpdate = { msg ->
    libNotify('Status', msg)
eventCreatedFile = { fileName ->
    //libNotify('Created file', fileName)
eventStatusError = { message ->
    libNotify('Error', message)
eventExiting = { code ->
    libNotify('Exit', "Return code $code")
eventCreatedArtefact = { type, file ->
    libNotify('Created artefct', "$type with name $file")
eventCompileStart = { kind ->
    //libNotify('Compiling', "Compiling $kind")
eventCompileEnd = { kind ->
    //libNotify('Compilation complete', "Compiled $kind")
eventPluginInstalled = { pluginName ->
    libNotify('Plugin installed', pluginName)
// Do the notification
void libNotify(title, message) {
    def cmd = [

It is simply using Groovy to execute "notify-send $title $message -i grails".   if you don’t have notify-send, it is part of libnotify so sudo apt-get install libnotify-bin will get you what you need.  If I get some time I’d like to find a way to take advantage of a Java Dbus implementation to talk to the notification system without having to go through libnotify.

If you want mumbles notifications just do something like this:

void mumblesNotify(title, message) {
    def cmd = [

Occasionally I’ll get a failure that there are too many files open (using .execute() in Groovy) and that should be cleared up by using a Java implementation of the DBus notifications.

Let me know what you think.  Anything that could be done better?


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Customizing rEFIt (an EFI Bootloader – Intel Macs) Slick!

by on May.05, 2009, under General, Linux, Logo, Ubuntu

I recently installed Ubuntu 9.04(Jaunty Jackalope) on a 17" Macbook pro and as a part of that process, I had to install a bootloader called rEFIt.  You could think of EFI is just a next-gen BIOS.

Even though the bootloader looks decent, I don’t like the look of silver/grey color, so I decided to customize it.  The process to customize rEFIt was relatively straight forward and the result is beautiful.

This is what I came up with:


This is what it looks like with a Windows Partition:

boot screen with 3 icons

I love the simplicity of it!!

Here is a closeup of the icons / OS Choices:


I don’t really know where the icons came from, but they look tasty :-)  On Linux there is a decent package for working with mac icons (.icns) or sudo apt-get install icnsutils  which will get you some useful tools (png2icns and icns2png)

I did have to make a few modifications to the Tux icon [os_linux.icns] to give him a ‘glow’ so that he doesn’t fade into the black on black:

Tux Crystal Modified by Colin

This windows Icon [os_win.icns] is the stock version I think (send me a link to the author if you know):


I did add a slight ‘glow’ to the apple icon [os_mac.icns] (send me a link to the author if you know):

I tried a number of custom ‘selected’ themes but gradients didn’t look right, so I went with the simple plan.  The selection bitmap can be found here:



the process is simple once rEFIt is installed:  modify the refit.conf with the icons in place, and you are done!

Here is what I came up with for my refit.conf (comments removed):

timeout 5
banner hostname.bmp
selection_big   selection-big-ring.bmp
hideui tools shell funcs hdbadges label

The original comments in the refit.conf file are helpful!  Its straight forward if you can read :-)

  • timeout = the number of seconds before it automatically chooses for you
  • banner = the bitmap of the upper part of the screen (top left pixel = background color)
  • selection_big = the grey ‘ring’ that indicated the selection
  • hideui = Hide elements of rEFIt so we can get a clean interface
  • legacyfirst = Legacy OS first (Linux)

Use at your own risk!!

If I had the time, it would be fun to build/enhance rEFIt to have an all-black fill instead of the grey/silver.

I’ve had a good experience with Ubuntu 9.04 on a 17" Macbook Pro, and I’ll Blog about it – and see what I can do to help update the documentation – look for an upcoming post.


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Ubuntu Logo

by on May.03, 2009, under Linux, Logo, Ubuntu

I spent a little bit of time customizing rEFIt, which is an EFI Bootloader that  can be used on intel macs.  So far I like it.  Its not 100% feature complete (imho), but its open source :-) 

I found myself looking for a good logo for Ubuntu that it shows after you make your OS Choice in rEFIt.  There was plenty of good artwork on, but I decided to make my own :-)

So this is what I came up with based on one of the official logos:

Ubuntu Logo

Click to enlarge (668×668)

ps, I also have a post coming on customizing rEFIt (it looks juicy)

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Customizing the Gnome Clock Panel (Ubuntu 8.10)

by on Dec.18, 2008, under Linux, Ubuntu

UbuntuOne of the incredible benefits of running an open source operating system is the fact that you can customize just about everything.

I ran across a posting on Lifehacker about how to Customize your Linux Panel Clock.  The Lifehacker article referenced another article that gives an example of how to customize it with some simple HTML tags and pretty standard time formatter values.  The article isn’t exact for Ubuntu 8.10, but its there if you look for it (/apps/panel/applets/clock_screen0/prefs)  I wasn’t able to get it to do the span tags in Ubuntu 8.10, but it might be more flexible in the near future according to this post.

* Note to self, play around with gconf-editor some more…

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