How To: Write Custom Basic Authentication Plugin for Squid in Python


To write a Python program which can be used to authenticate for Squid proxy server. This is useful when you don’t want to configure complex systems like LDAP, ntlm etc.

Use Cases

  1. When you want to authenticate clients using mysql database.
  2. When you want to authenticate clients using flat files or /etc/passwd file or some custom service on your network.

How to proceed

From auth_param section in squid.conf file:

Specify the command for the external authenticator. Such a program reads a line containing "username password" and replies "OK" or "ERR" in an endless loop. "ERR" responses may optionally be followed by a error description available as %m in the returned error page.

By default, the basic authentication scheme is not used unless a program is specified.

That clearly states that our python program should read a line from standard input (stdin) and write the appropriate response to the standard output (stdout). But there are some issues with I/O. The output should be unbuffered and should be flushed to standard output immediately after the response is known.

So, lets see a small program where we authenticate using a function ‘matchpassword()‘. This function returns True when username, password pair matches and returns False when they mismatch.

import sys
import socket
"""USAGE:The function returns True if the user and passwd match False otherwise"""
def matchpasswd(login,passwd):
    # Write your own function definition. 
    # Use mysql, files, /etc/passwd or some service or whatever you want
while True:
    # read a line from stdin
    line = sys.stdin.readline()
    # remove '\n' from line
    line = line.strip()
    # extract username and password from line
    username = line[:line.find(' ')]
    password = line[line.find(' ')+1:]
    if matchpasswd(username, password):
    # Flush the output to stdout.

Save the above file somewhere. We save this example file in /etc/squid/ .Now, we have the function for authenticating clients. We need to configure squid to use . Below is the squid configuration for telling squid to use the above program as basic authenticator.

# you need to specify /usr/bin/python if your file is not executable and needs an interpreter to be invoked.
# Replace /usr/bin/python with /usr/bin/php , if you write auth program in php.
auth_param basic program /usr/bin/python /etc/squid/
# how many instances of the above program should run concurrently
auth_param basic children 5
# display some message to clients when they are asked for username, password
auth_param basic realm Please enter your proxy server username and password
# for how much time the authentication should be valid
auth_param basic credentialsttl 2 hours
# whether username, password should be case sensitive or not
auth_param basic casesensitive on

Now, to force clients to authenticate, configure the acls as follow. Below we assume, you want to force all clients on your lan to authenticate for using proxy server.

# acl to force proxy authentication
acl authenticated proxy_auth REQUIRED
# acl to define IPs from your lan
acl lan src
# acl to force clients on your lan to authenticate
http_access allow lan authenticated

Now, reload/restart squid. That’s all we need to write and use a custom authentication plugin for squid.


Username can’t contain spaces. Otherwise program will not be able to parse/extract username, password from standard input.


How To: Configure Hierarchicy of Proxy Servers (Squid)

Yesterday I came across this idea of caching all the data that I browse on my hard disk so that the average load time of a website decreases. Actually the idea is I’ll cache all the static data that I browse like images, static html pages, CSS files and similar things which does not change frequently and can be served from the cache. But while setting up the proxy server on my machine, I faced the problem that my machine which is going to act as a proxy server is behind my institute’s proxy. So, a simple caching proxy server can’t serve my needs and I have to really figure out how to setup a hierarchical proxy server. Below we’ll see how to setup a hierarchical proxy server.


When I thought of setting up a caching proxy server, squid immediately struck my mind. Actually I don’t know about any other proxy servers. I never setup proxy server before this ( I tried a lot of time, but in vain). So, I started googling about squid setup. There were a lot of tutorials, but either they were too small to get things going or they were too verbose that I couldn’t manage to read them. So, I directly jump into squid configuration file squid.conf . And with references from here and there, I managed to setup the proxy server successfully.

Note: The configurations below worked on Fedora 7 with squid 2.6STABLE16. The same configurations may work with other squid versions and on other operating systems as well, but try them at your own risk.

Part 1 : Setting up simple proxy server with squid

Setting up a very simple and usable proxy server is really easy. You need to add/edit only 2-3 lines /etc/squid/squid.conf to get started.

Add your ip to the access list.

acl myip src #<your_ip_which_will_use_the_proxy_server> (e.g. )
http_access allow myip
http_port 8080 #<http_proxy_port> (this is 3128 by default. you can set it to anything you like. e.g. 8080)

Save the squid.conf file. Then issue these commands.

[root@localhost squid]# squid -z [Enter] (as root) (This needs to be executed only once.)
[root@localhost squid]# service squid start [Enter] (as root)

If you want to start the squid server on boot, issue this command.

[root@localhost squid]# chkconfig --level 345 squid on [Enter] (as root)

Now, your machine is a proxy server. You can setup your browser to use the machine as a proxy server.


The proxy server will work only if your machine has a public IP and is directly connected to internet.

Part 2: Setting up a hierarchical caching proxy server with squid

The above setup works fine if a machine is directly connected to internet. But my machine itself is behind a proxy, so setting up a proxy on my machine is of no use unless the proxy on my machine uses the institute proxy for connecting to internet. So, here we jump into squid.conf again and this time we have to really do some brain storming. If you are a newbie to Linux and don’t know how to make a system work when nothing seems to help, you will probably be better off by using institute’s proxy.

Here is the scenario.

1. Your browser sends a content request to proxy on your machine.
2. Check: if a cache HIT from institute proxy cache (HIT means content was found in cache)
	2a. Check: if content is older than the original upstream content
		2aa. Fetch content from upstream and serve the client
	2b. else
		2ba. Serve the content from the cache
3. Check: if cache HIT from proxy on your machine
	3a. Check: if content is older than the original upstream content
		3aa. Fetch content from upstream and serve the client
	3b. else
		3ba. Serve the content from the cache
4. Cache MISS from both the proxies
	4a. Fetch the content from upstream and serve the client

The above method of operation is very basic and is my understanding of squid. It may not be the exact squid behavior.

Now, lets see the configurations needed for setting up the hierarchical caching proxy server with squid.


I assume that we already have squid setup at institute’s proxy whether in caching mode or not. The best way to add/edit the following lines in your squid.conf is to search for particular parameter and then edit the value to set as given.

I also assume that you have simple proxy server setup on your machine and now we want to make it act as child proxy of the institute’s proxy.


# Your local machine will act as a sibling proxy
cache_peer sibling 3128 3130 no-query weight=10
# The institute's proxy server will act as a parent proxy
# 'default' mean the last-resort
cache_peer parent 8080 3130 no-query proxy-only no-digest default
# allow accessing peer cache for access list 'myip'
cache_peer_access allow myip
# Don't cache dynamic content
hierarchy_stoplist cgi-bin ?
acl QUERY urlpath_regex cgi-bin \?
cache deny QUERY
# Size of main memory to be used for caching
cache_mem 200 MB
# max size of content to be stored in main memory
maximum_object_size_in_memory 7000 KB
# policy for cache replacement if memory is full
cache_replacement_policy heap LFUDA
# the directory to be used for storing cache on your hdd
cache_dir aufs /var/spool/squid 200 16 256
# max file descriptor open at a time .. 0(unlimited)
max_open_disk_fds 0
# min object size to cache on hdd
minimum_object_size 0 KB
# max object size to cache on hdd
maximum_object_size 16384 KB
# access log
access_log /var/log/squid/access.log squid
refresh_pattern ^ftp:           1440    20%     10080
refresh_pattern ^gopher:        1440    0%      1440
refresh_pattern .               0       20%     4320
store_avg_object_size 20 KB
acl apache rep_header Server ^Apache
broken_vary_encoding allow apache
refresh_stale_hit 5 seconds
acl SSL_ports port 443 563 1863 5190 5222 5050 6667
# Allow AIM protocols
acl AIM_ports port 5190 9898 6667
acl AIM_domains dstdomain
acl AIM_domains dstdomain
acl AIM_hosts dstdomain
acl AIM_nets dst
acl AIM_methods method CONNECT
http_access allow AIM_methods AIM_ports AIM_nets
http_access allow AIM_methods AIM_ports AIM_hosts
http_access allow AIM_methods AIM_ports AIM_domains
# Allow Yahoo Messenger
acl YIM_ports port 5050
acl YIM_domains dstdomain
acl YIM_hosts dstdomain
acl YIM_methods method CONNECT
http_access allow YIM_methods YIM_ports YIM_hosts
http_access allow YIM_methods YIM_ports YIM_domains
# Allow GTalk
acl GTALK_ports port 5222 5050
acl GTALK_domains dstdomain
acl GTALK_hosts dstdomain
acl GTALK_methods method CONNECT
http_access allow GTALK_methods GTALK_ports GTALK_hosts
http_access allow GTALK_methods GTALK_ports GTALK_domains
# Allow MSN
acl MSN_ports port 1863 443 1503
acl MSN_domains dstdomain
acl MSN_hosts dstdomain
acl MSN_nets dst
acl MSN_methods method CONNECT
http_access allow MSN_methods MSN_ports MSN_hosts
# Turn this off if hierarchical behavior is needed
nonhierarchical_direct off
never_direct deny myip
hosts_file /etc/hosts
coredump_dir /var/spool/squid

That’s the minimal configuration you need for running squid in hierarchical way. Save the squid.conf file and start/restart/reload the squid service. Setup your browser to use your machine as proxy and while using it’ll cache all the static content. You should experience some reduction in average page load time.


I am currently using squid in above configuration. And its turning out to be nice for me. I am browsing websites faster and saving a chunk of bandwidth for my institute.


Introduction of another proxy server increases the latency for dynamic content.


The above configurations and views are a result of my understanding of squid. If you feel this may break your system or it may have adverse effects, don’t use them. At least don’t use these on a production system.


Review: KDE4 – Is it worth upgrading?

KDE4 was released on Jan 11, 2008. I noticed the rpms for Fedora on on Jan 13. It was a big trouble to get packages one by one keeping in mind the dependencies. I tried Yum with rpmfind repo but it didn’t work out. Then I used the server where my domain is hosted. I have 15GB bandwidth per month and the download speed on the server is awesome (average 400kbps). So, I just ftp to and downloaded all the rpms on the server hosting my site. And then I downloaded the packages from my domain to my local machine ( No effort for searching now and I can do parallel downloading now). So, lets see how to install KDE4 on Fedora.

Step 1:

Get the KDE4 rpms from . Here is the list of all the kde4 rpms that you need to download from

Step 2:

Enable the fedora development repository. In '/etc/yum.repos.d/fedora-development.repo' file check if enabled is equal to 1 for development repo. If its zero, then change it to 1.

Step 3:

Use yum to install the kde rpms that you have downloaded.

[root@bordeaux KDE4_RPMS]# yum install *.rpm [Enter]  (do as root)

Note: After the KDE4 rpms are up in the fedora repos, then you can skip the step 1 and directly install kde by issuing the command

[root@bordeaux saini]# yum install kde* [Enter] (do as root)

My Experience

I was expecting a lot from KDE4. But a lot of things went wrong. When I logged into KDE4 for the first time, everything was looking awesome and very sharp. But then I faced the first crash while editing the settings for a widget and I realized that its not possible to have a crash free KDE application. After upgrade ( which cost me around 1GB of downloading via yum) and spending a lot of time manually downloading the packages, all I got was a desktop environment which will crash frequently to remind that you just wasted 1GB of bandwidth.

After upgrading, Kopete stopped working due to some conflict in ssl libraries, xchat is also not working due to some other library conflicts, dolphin the new file manager for KDE doesn’t even start and flush all kind of errors and faults when launched from command line. After the first crash the panel disappeared and I couldn’t get it back. Launching kicker returns the kde3 panel.

KDE4 is awesome when you just sit back and look at it. But when you want to work with some apps, its miserable. One of my friend had this status message on gtalk ‘ KDE4 : KDE3.5.8 :: Vista : XP ‘. KDE4 is as good as Vista when it comes to looks but its equally bad as Vista as compared to XP when it comes to work with it.

Conclusion: Don’t upgrade to KDE4 and wait till May, 2008 when KDE4 will be shipped with Fedora 9. I hope that KDE4 will not crash frequently when it’ll be embedded natively.

Here are some screen shots if you wanna have a look :)

KDE4 Desktop KDE4 Menus KDE4 Konqueror KDE4 Logout Screen


How To: Install FFMPEG and FFMPEG-PHP

I was randomly browsing the internet and reading about making a website look better and I encountered ffmpeg-php. ffmpeg is a very powerful tool to record, convert and stream audio and video. Its a very rich tool almost supporting every format out there in the world. It can convert any format to any other format provided the codec. ffmpeg-php is an extension for PHP that provides a rich library to access info about audio and video files. The good thing about ffmpeg-php is that it can retrieve all info about any audio/video file subjected to the condition that the particular audio/video format is supported by your ffmpeg installation. So, now you have a clear idea that you can do wonders with audio/videos while showing them on your site :)

I tried some of the functionalities and they worked out of the box. Here’s is complete how to on installing ffmpeg and ffmpeg-php.


I tried installing ffmpeg from rpms provided by several Fedora repositories but after installation ffmpeg doesn’t seem to work. After several tries, I installed ffmpeg from source rpms and it worked. Below, I will describe how to install ffmpeg from source rpm.

Step 1:

Make sure that you have ‘rpmbuild’ installed by issuing

[root@bordeaux saini]# rpm -q rpmbuild [Enter]

command. If the above says that rpmbuild is not installed, then install it using yum as given below

[root@bordeaux saini]# yum install rpmbuild [Enter] (do as root)

Step 2:

Download the latest src rpm of ffmpeg from Issue the command given below

[root@bordeaux saini]# rpm -hiv ffmpeg-x.x.x.xx-xxx.src.rpm [Enter] (do as root)

Step 3:

Go to ‘/usr/src/redhat/SPECS/’ directory and issue the command given below

[root@bordeaux saini]# cd /usr/src/redhat/SPECS/ [Enter]
[root@bordeaux SPECS]# rpmbuild -ba ffmpeg.spec [Enter] (do as root)

If it gives an error like package ‘xyz’ is need by ffmpeg. Then install the package ‘xyz’ using yum as

[root@bordeaux SPECS]# yum install xyz [Enter] (do as root)

After installing the dependencies, issue the rpmbuild command ‘rpmbuild -ba ffmpeg.spec’. Now ffmpeg rpms will be build and they will be stored in ‘/usr/src/redhat/RPMS/i386/’.

Step 4:

Go the ‘/usr/src/redhat/RPMS/i386/’ (x86_64 instead of i386 if your OS is 64 bit). Install all the rpms that were built by rpmbuild.

[root@bordeaux saini]# rpm -hiv *.rpm [Enter] (do as root)

Thats it. ffmpeg is now successfully installed on your computer. Half the job is done. Now lets proceed with ffmpeg-php installation.


We will install ffmpeg-php from source bundle.

Step 1:

Make sure that ‘php-devel’ installed on your machine by issuing

[root@bordeaux saini]# rpm -q php-devel [Enter]

command. If the above command says the ‘php-devel’ is not installed, then install it using the following command.

[root@bordeaux saini]# yum install php-devel [Enter] (do as root)

Step 2:

Download the latest version of ffmpeg-php from here. Unpack the file you have downloaded.

[root@bordeaux saini]# bunzip2 -d ffmpeg-php-0.5.1.tbz2 [Enter]
[root@bordeaux saini]# tar -xvf ffmpeg-php-0.5.1.tar [Enter]

Step 3:

Issue the following command in sequence if everything goes fine.

[root@bordeaux saini]# cd ffmpeg-php-0.5.1 [Enter]
[root@bordeaux ffmpeg-php-0.5.1]# phpize [Enter]
[root@bordeaux ffmpeg-php-0.5.1]# ./configure [Enter]
[root@bordeaux ffmpeg-php-0.5.1]# make [Enter]
[root@bordeaux ffmpeg-php-0.5.1]# make install [Enter] (do as root)

Step 4:

Open ‘/etc/php.ini’ and add a line ‘’ in the category ‘Dynamic Extensions’. For help see the image below.

Step 5:

Restart apache web server aka ‘httpd’ service by issuing the command.

[root@bordeaux saini]# service httpd restart [Enter] (do as root)

Step 6:

Write a test php file and test your ffmpeg-php installation.


Save the above code in ‘info.php’ and save the file in ‘/var/www/html/’ and browse http://localhost/info.php . If you see something like this.
Then the ffmpeg-php is successfully installed on your machine. Now you can jump into the world of video manipulation via your website.


How To: Configure VNC Server

Vncserver is just another application available in almost all the available Linux based distros. Configuring vncserver is very easy. But the default desktop view in vncviewer is gray scale desktop with very pathetic GUI. To view normal Gnome or KDE desktop in vncviewer, assigning a custom port for usage, user configuration and to adjust the resolution of the vncviewer window, some files need to be configured properly. Here are the required configuration in any version of Fedora/Fedora Core. But with minor modifications these can be applied to other distros like Ubuntu, SuSE, Gentoo etc.

Step 1: Installing Vncviewer, Vncserver

As root do this

[root@bordeaux saini]# yum install vnc [Enter]

Step 2: Configuring resolution, port & user

The default location of server configuration file for vncserver is ‘/etc/sysconfig/’. To configure the resolution, user and port open ‘/etc/sysconfig/vncservers’ in you favorite editor and add two lines per user configuration shown ..

VNCSERVERARGS[]="-geometry x x"

Example :

VNCSERVERARGS[3]="-geometry 1000x700"

You can choose any display port, but it should not be in use by another X server. Window height and width can be anything (not in fraction of course). But keep in mind that the system on which you are going to view the desktop using vncviewer should have greater resolution than what you specify here, otherwise scrollbars will appear.

Step 3: Configuring Desktop Environment

The user specific configuration files of vncviewer resides in ‘.vnc’ directory in user’s home directory. (e.g. ‘/home/saini/.vnc/’). Open ‘.vnc/xstartup’ in your favorite editor and edit as below

  • For Gnome

The ‘xstartup’ file shout look like this

# Uncomment the following two lines for normal desktop:
exec /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc
[ -x /etc/vnc/xstartup ] &amp;&amp; exec /etc/vnc/xstartup
[ -r $HOME/.Xresources ] &amp;&amp; xrdb $HOME/.Xresources
#xsetroot -solid grey
#vncconfig -iconic &amp;
#xterm -geometry 80x24+10+10 -ls -title "$VNCDESKTOP Desktop" &amp;
#twm &amp;
startx &amp;
  • For KDE

The ‘xstartup’ file should look like this

# Uncomment the following two lines for normal desktop:
#exec /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc
[ -x /etc/vnc/xstartup ] &amp;&amp; exec /etc/vnc/xstartup
[ -r $HOME/.Xresources ] &amp;&amp; xrdb $HOME/.Xresources
#xsetroot -solid grey
#vncconfig -iconic &amp;
#xterm -geometry 80x24+10+10 -ls -title "$VNCDESKTOP Desktop" &amp;
#twm &amp;
startkde &amp;

Step 4: Configuring password

For setting up vncviewer password for user ‘xyz’, login as user ‘xyz’ and issue ‘vncpasswd’ command on a terminal/konsole (or whatever). Enter password twice and you are done with password setting.

Step 5: Starting Vncserver

To start vncserver, login as root and issue ‘service vncserver start’ command. If service started successfully, you are ready to use vncviewer on a remote/local machine.

Step 6: Accessing through Vncviewer

  • From Linux based machines
[saini@bordeaux saini]# vncviewer IP_Address:displayPort [Enter] #(IP Address is for the machine where you set up vncserver)
  • From Windows

On windows there is a software called RealVnc. Install it and enter <IPAddress>:<displayPort> in the dialog box.
[I explained how to connect via windows because it may help someone get a bit of relief.]


  • Vncviewer with Gnome as Desktop environment

VNC Server VNC Viewer Screenshot GNOME

  • Vncviewer with KDE as Desktop environment

VNC Server VNC Viewer Screenshot KDE

Vnc is nice tool if you want to avoid using windows. I use it all the time. While I am forced to work on windows system, I install vncviewer and use it in full screen mode 😛 It also helps when you want to run some gui based application and monitor is remotely. Because if you close vncviewer window and use vncviewer again, you will be given the desktop session where you left it (all windows open and applications running).


How To: Install PHP-Ming

Yesterday, I came across a library called ming for php which can do wonders while converting videos to .swf (flash), images to .swf and much more. The best thing is that ming provides wrappers in C/C++/PHP/Python/Perl/Tcl etc. So, can be used within any one of these languages. But, the damn thing drove me crazy while installing. It was very tough experience installing it as the available howtos didn’t help much. But finally I somehow managed with the installation and it worked :) So, I thought of writing this how to, so that anyone having the same problem can find it helpful.

Here is a complete howto on installing php-ming in Fedora. (I installed it on Fedora 7 and with php5, but howto is supposed to work with other versions as well.) Though there are rpms available for earlier versions of ming, but I wanted the latest, so installed from source.

libming :

Step 1

First of all make sure that you have php-devel package, otherwise you will not be able to install ming at all. Do the following as root.

[root@bordeaux root]# rpm -q php-devel [Enter]

If the above command says php-devel is not installed, then fetch php-devel for your php version from here and install as given below, else proceed to step 2.

[root@bordeaux root]# rpm -hiv php-devel-5.2.2-3.i386.rpm [Enter]

Step 2

Download latest version of ming from here.

Step 3

Untar the downloaded package.

[saini@bordeaux saini]# tar -xvzf ming-0.4.0.beta5.tar.gz [Enter]

Step 4

Change directory to ‘./ming-0.4.0.beta5′ and issue ./configure and make as given below

[saini@bordeaux saini]# cd ming-0.4.0.beta5 [Enter]
[saini@bordeaux ming-0.4.0.beta5]# ./configure --enable-cXX --enable-php [Enter]
[saini@bordeaux ming-0.4.0.beta5]# make [Enter]
[root@bordeaux ming-0.4.0.beta5]# make install [Enter] (as root)

Step 5

Go to ‘./php_ext’ directory and issue ‘make’ and ‘make install’.

[saini@bordeaux ming-0.4.0.beta5]# cd php_ext [Enter]
[saini@bordeaux php_ext]# make [Enter]
[root@bordeaux php_ext]# make install [Enter] (as root)

Step 6

Open in your favorite editor and uncomment the line ‘make install’ and run

[root@bordeaux php_ext]# bash [Enter] (as root)

Step 7

Go to ‘./tmp/modules/’ directory and copy to ‘/usr/lib/php/modules/’

[root@bordeaux php_ext]# cd tmp/modules/ [Enter]
[root@bordeaux modules]# cp /usr/lib/php/modules/ [Enter] (as root)

If is not found in ‘php_ext/tmp/modules/, then update your db using ‘updatedb’ and locate and if found on locate, then copy it to ‘/usr/lib/php/modules/’. If not found at all, try recompiling or issue some random commands related to make.

Step 8

Go to ‘/usr/local/lib/’ and check if, etc. are present there. If yes proceed else I don’t know what to do :(

Step 9(a)

Go to ‘/usr/lib/php/modules/’ and issue these commands.

[root@bordeaux modules]# ln -s /usr/local/lib/ (as root)
[root@bordeaux modules]# ln -s /usr/local/lib/ (as root)
[root@bordeaux modules]# ln -s /usr/local/lib/ (as root)
[root@bordeaux modules]# ln -s /usr/local/lib/ (as root)

Step 9(b)

Go to ‘/usr/lib/’ and issue these commands.

[root@bordeaux lib]# ln -s /usr/local/lib/ (as root)
[root@bordeaux lib]# ln -s /usr/local/lib/ (as root)
[root@bordeaux lib]# ln -s /usr/local/lib/ (as root)
[root@bordeaux lib]# ln -s /usr/local/lib/ (as root)

Step 10

Restart the httpd service by issuing the command below

[root@bordeaux root]# service httpd restart [Enter] (as root)

Step 11

Write a file ‘/var/www/html/info.php’ with following contents


and point your web browser to http://localhost/info.php . Now search for ‘ming’ and check whether its enabled or not.

PHP Ming in Fedora

If enabled, yes you have successfully installed php-ming :) Hope this helps.


Review: Firefox 3 Beta 1

Firefox 3 Beta 1 is available now. I downloaded the package yesterday morning and started using it right away. While using, I figured out some of the good things and at the same time there are some bad things about this test release. Here is what I feel about Firefox 3 Beta 1.

BTW, you can get beta 1 for Firefox 3 here. I am not going to tell, how to install firefox :)


1.Nice Default Font:

Well someone may argue that you can configure any font in any version of Firefox, so whats the good thing about this default font in Firefox 3 Beta1. Well, I’ll say that configuration is always available but nobody gives a damn to configure the font in browser. I am liking this default font in FF3 Beta1 and everything now seems interesting to read. I have Read more than 40 wiki pages since last two days.

2.New FTP Listing Style:

The FTP listings in Firefox 3 Beta 1 has got new stylesheet. Its not dirty any more. It feels good while browsing ftp now. See the screen-shot below.

FTP Listing In Firefox

3.Website Identity:

This is new feature, but I couldn’t find it useful. When you click on favicon in the location bar, a pop-up kinda thing comes up, which tells about the identity of the site you are visiting. Check out the snapshot below.

Website Identity in Firefox

4.Drag n Drop:

You can now hold any thing in Firefox 3 Beta 1 and drag it anywhere you want. Though I could not drop the images to gimp or anywhere else, it looks good. I think its in the development stage right now.

Drag and Drop in Firefox Drag and Drop in Firefox


Bookmarking a website or editing your bookmarks is far easier now. You can edit a bookmarked site while its loading or can bookmark the site by just clicking a button. A new star-shaped button has been added in the location bar before the go button. If a site is not bookmarked, clicking the button will just bookmark it without asking for anything. If you again click on the button, now you can edit or delete the site you just bookmarked.

Bookmark Editing in Firefox

6.Adding Search Engine:

In firefox 3 beta 1, you can add the site you are browsing in you search engine list just like google, imdb, wikipedia, yahoo or whatever. But this is not valid for every website. Every website in this world can’t be a search engine 😛 Checkout the snapshot or KDE.

Adding Search Engine in Firefox

7.Link sorting/searching in location bar:

Firefox 3 beta 1 implements a new searching/sorting mechanism for links in location bar. As you type some letters, those are now searched in the link as well as the title of the page and then the links are sorted and displayed as list. In drop down list, you can also see the sites on your bookmarks.

8.Places Folder:

A new bookmark folder named ‘Places’ has been added. It has 6 sub-folders which contains links to different site based on a particular criterion. Some of them are ‘Recently Starred Pages’, ‘Recently Visited Starred Pages’, ‘Most Visited Starred Pages’ etc. I was looking for something like this since a long time. Because every time I login into my PC and fire up my firefox, first of all, I visit 8-10 sites (students mail, slashdot, iiit blogroll, yahoo mail, gmail, forum, orkut etc.). Now, I can open all of them in just one click. I click on ‘Most Visited Starred Pages’ and done.

9.Low Memory:

Well, a review of Firefox 3 Beta 1 on zdnet, say that Firefox 3 beta 1 is consuming low memory than Firefox 2 and IE 7. That review is for Firefox in windows. But in Fedora 7, I didn’t experience any reduction in memory usage.


I don’t know how to justify this, but Firefox 3 Beta 1 seems to load pages faster. What I could think was that, when you click go, it loads the page in the background for some-time and then suddenly flushes the page to the screen and it appears that the entire page has been loaded in one go. I may be wrong though.

11.Improved GUI:

The rendering of buttons, input fields, images in the pages have improved a lot and buttons and drop down menus look better now.



Life is a bit or I should say a byte difficult with Firefox extensions. Now, I am too much used to use these extensions that I can’t live without them. I’ll crash if I don’t have ‘Undo Closed Tab’ extension. I keep making stupid mistakes. All the extensions are not yet available for Firefox 3, so its a problem.

2.Multiple Tabs:

Firefox 3 Beta 1 immediately dies if I open more than 20 tabs. I opened my wiki saved session (39 tabs) and after sometime I was searching for Firefox. Where the hell firefox window has gone?


I don’t know what exactly is the problem, but I think Firefox 3 revolts against Yahoo Mail and GMail. Whenever I open Yahoo Mail or GMail, Firefox 3 Beta 1 crashes. Either there is some problem with the heavily loaded mail pages or it doesn’t want me to use GMail or Yahoo.

Well, there may be lot more positives and negatives. These are the things I noticed about Firefox 3 Beta 1 in last two days. As the positives list is ruling the negatives, I am using Firefox 3 Beta 1 full time these days.

PS : @Paresh I think FF3 is better than FF2 in many ways. But you may want to wait for all the extensions to be compatible with FF3.


How To: Install and Configure Shoutcast Radio

Shoutcast is a mp3 broadcasting/streaming media server software provided by NullSoft. One can setup a server on any system, GNU/Linux / Windows/ MacOS and can stream mp3 over the network, internet/intranet. I setup shoutcast on my system a long back and found it very useful. Here is a step by step how to on how you can setup shoutcast on a GNU/Linux system.

Shoutcast can be installed even if you don’t have root privileges. But in that case you can’t use port less than 1024 for broadcasting. Below, I’ll explain how to install it for a non-root user.

Shoutcast server depends on a tool shoutcast DNAS for audio input in Linux. So, here we go

Step 1

Download the latest version of shoutcast from here. Download the one for Linux (glibc).

Step 2

Let us assume we want to install shoutcast in a directory named ‘shoutcast’ in user’s home directory and we want to broadcast punjabi songs.

[saini@bordeaux shoutcast]# tar -xvzf sc_serv_1.9.8_Linux.tar.gz [Enter]
[saini@bordeaux shoutcast]# mkdir punjabi [Enter]
[saini@bordeaux shoutcast]# mv sc_serv.conf punjabi/sc_serv_punjabi.conf [Enter]

Step 3

Open sc_serv_punjabi.conf in your favorite editor and modify certain parameters as per you requirements. The essentials are below.

PortBase=8300 #(Confirm that this port and the port PortBase+1 is not being used)
TitleFormat=%s [IIIT Radio]

etc. My sc_serv.conf can be accessed here. That was all for installing the shoutcast server.

Now, the installation of DNAS tool is still pending. Here is a step by step procedure to install DNAS tool.

Step 1

Download the latest version of DNAS tool from here.

Step 2

[saini@bordeaux shoutcast]# tar -xvzf sc_trans_posix_040.tgz [Enter]
[saini@bordeaux shoutcast]# cd sc_trans_040/ [Enter]
[saini@bordeaux sc_trans_040]# mv sc_trans_linux ../ [Enter]
[saini@bordeaux sc_trans_040]# mv sc_trans.conf ../punjabi/sc_trans_punjabi.conf [Enter]

Step 3

Go to punjabi directory and open sc_trans_punjabi.conf in your favorite editor and make changes according to your needs. Here are some

 # 8300 in this case
 # yourPassword in this case
StreamTitle= %s
Shuffle=1 # (1 for random songs)

etc. My sc_trans.conf can be accessed here.

Step 4

Generate a list of all the songs (mp3) you have and put it in punjabi.lst in punjabi directory.

[saini@bordeaux punjabi]# find /pathToPunjabiDir/ -type f -name "*.mp3" > punjabi.lst [Enter]

My dummy punjabi.lst can be accessed here.

The configuration part of shoutcast server with audio input is complete. Now we have to run the server so that we can listen to music.

Go to the shoutcast directory and run the sc_serv first and then run the sc_trans_linux. Here is way to do that.

[saini@bordeaux shoutcast]# ./sc_serv punjabi/sc_serv_punjabi.conf > /dev/null 2> /dev/null &
[saini@bordeaux shoutcast]# ./sc_trans_linux punjabi/sc_trans_punjabi.conf > /dev/null 2> /dev/null &

Now your system is a shoutcast server. Any client can use mplayer, vlc, amarok or any other multimedia player that support streaming media to listen to the music being played on your server.

[saini@bordeaux saini]# mplayer http://yourIp:port [Enter]
[saini@bordeaux saini]# mplayer http://localhost:8300 [Enter] # (in the above case).

If you want shoutcast to start every time your system boots. Put these lines in /etc/rc.local

/home/saini/shoutcast/sc_serv /home/saini/shoutcast/punjabi/sc_serv_punjabi.conf > /dev/null 2> /dev/null &
/home/saini/shoutcast/sc_trans_linux /home/saini/shoutcast/punjabi/sc_trans_punjabi.conf > /dev/null 2> /dev/null &

Shoutcast is fun and its more fun when everyone listens to what you are listening to :)


How To: Install WordPress on LAMP

Recently, I bought this domain name and shifted all my blogs here on . As I chose wordpress as the software to blog. So, just installed it and started using it right away. Installing wordpress is one of the most easiest things that you’ll ever do. Below is a step by step howto on installing wordpress and importing your current blog to your domain.

Step 1:

Download latest version of wordpress from here.

Step 2:

Go to the directory where you want to install it. Here I am taking as reference website where we want to install the wordpress and ~/htdocs/ as the web directory for . Modify above details in accordance with your needs.

If you downloaded .zip format then do this

[saini@bordeaux htdocs]# unzip [Enter]

If you download .tar.gz format then do this

[saini@bordeaux htdocs]# tar -xvzf [Enter]

Step 3:

[saini@bordeaux htdocs]# mv wordpress/* . [Enter]

If you visit now, you’ll get an error as shown in the image below …

Wordpress Error Without wp-config

Step 4:

Open the file wp-config-sample.php in your favorite text editor and edit the things shown in the image below.

Sample wp-config

Enter your database name, database username, database password and the table prefix for the wordpress database. e.g. one can use linux_ as table prefix. If you have the database on the same system, then there is no need to change the database host otherwise change it accordingly.

Step 5:

[saini@bordeaux htdocs]# mv wp-config-sample.php wp-config.php [Enter]

Step 6:

Go to and you’ll see a welcome page if you gave correct setting in wp-config.php . The page is like in the image below.

Wordpress Blog Config

Fill the settings properly. Anyway you can change them afterwards. Fill the blog name and email id and click Install WordPress.

Step 7:

You’ll see a web-page like in the image below, if everything goes fine. Copy the password on the page and paste at some temporary place and click login.

Wordpress Copy Password

Step 8:

You’ll be presented with a login page. Enter ‘admin’ as username and the password you copied from the previous page.

Wordpress Admin Login

Step 9:

Congratulations ! You have successfully installed wordpress and created the admin login. Go to Users -> Authors & Users and click Edit in the row with admin as author. Change the password on the next page as below ..

Wordpress Change Password

This is all you have to do to install wordpress. Below is how you import blog to your domain.

Step 1:

Login as admin on you blog and go to Manage -> Export and download the exported blog to your system as show in the image below.

Wordpress Export Blog

Step 2:

Create directory named ‘uploads’ in ~/htdocs/wp-content/ and change permissions to 777 so that wordpress can upload your blog there.

[saini@bordeaux htdocs]# cd wp-content [Enter]
[saini@bordeaux wp-content]# mkdir uploads [Enter]
[saini@bordeaux wp-content]# chmod 777 uploads [Enter]

Step 3:

Go to Manager -> Import section and click on ‘wordpress’ . Upload the .xml file that you download from your blog in step 1 on the page as shown in the image below ..

Wordpress Import Blog

Step 4:

If uploading goes successful, then all your posts will be imported from your blog and will be stored in the database as . Now it will ask you for the author of the new blog posts at as show below …

Choose New Author

Step 5:

Change the permission of uploads back to normal as show below

[saini@bordeaux wp-content]# chmod 744 uploads [Enter]

Everything is done. Now you blog has been shifted to your domain and you can go on with the new blog. But keep in the mind the the images you used in blog posts are not stored in your local database, they are still linked back to your blog images. So, don’t just go and delete your blog. That would be fatal.

The steps for installing wordpress on a windows system are the same, but you have to use some notepads and whatever to edit files :)

Enjoy blogging at your domain. Hope the above howto helps.


Review: Fedora 8 – Warewolf

I installed Fedora 8 32 bit from a leaky mirror on Nov 7th and I just had a very bad experience with it. Nothing seemed to be working. But I can’t accept that. As I am a hardcore fan of Fedora, I just can’t sit back and say “ah, Fedora 8 sucks, i am not gonna use that”. I fetched Fedora 8 x86_64 (64bit) from a mirror yesterday, after the release. I installed it and everything worked out of the box. I can’t believe that I wrote something wrong about Fedora. How could I do that ?

First of all, I would like to say that The artwork team at Fedora has done a very fantastic job. The graphics right from installation up to the desktop are just awesome. Especially the default background is very nice. Here is shot of the default Gnome Fedora 8 Desktop.

GNOME Fedora 8 Desktop

Right after the installation, I fetched the nVidia proprietary drivers from here and installed them. And those were installed successfully without giving any errors or problems. [ If you want a complete howto on installing nvidia drivers. Its here.] A reboot after the installation and compiz worked out of the box. Here is shot.

Compiz Fusion

Ok, graphics done. What now ? I just realized that there is no mp3 support. No worries. Codeina aka Codec Buddy is there. Just issue ‘codeina’ command from command line and a window like this will appear.

Codeina Audio Codec Fetcher

Check Fluendo MP3 Audio Decoder and click get selected, accept the license conditions and you’ll see that codeina is fetching the codecs. [If codeina does not fetch codecs or give error like timeout or some other network error. Try checking your proxy setting in System -> Preferences -> Internet And Network -> Network Proxy . It may help. ]

Codeina Installing MP3 Support

Ok. Now, codeina has done the job. Lets play some mp3. Note that amarok still can’t play mp3 files because it uses xine engine. So, you can choose either Totem or Rhythmbox to play your mp3 files. Here is a shot of Rhythmbox. So, Codeina also works out of the box.

Rhythmbox Playing MP3

Another major improvement in Fedora 8 in audio section is introduction or pulseaudio. Issue command ‘pulseaudio’ from command line and you will see a window like this.

Pulseaudio Device and Application Control

You can control the sound stream from different players or whatever. You can mute individual streams and can even set the default devices for certain streams through this fantastic gui.

Another good thing in Fedora 8 is Eclipse. Eclipse 3.3 is back in Fedora 8. They excluded it from Fedora 7. I am happy to see it back here in Fedora 8.

Eclipse In Fedora 8

Another utility that I found helpful is Remote Desktop utility. Launch System -> Preferences -> Internet And Network -> Remote Desktop and you’ll see a window like this.

Remote Desktop Utility

Set your preferences and now you can browse your desktop from anywhere using ‘vncviewer <yourIP>:0′. Though one call always configure vncserver to get that done. But for newbies it’ll be a great help.

Also, My wireless lan card, Ralink rt2500 WNC-0301 is detected successfully in Fedora 8. But I am not sure whether it works or not, because there is not wifi environment in my lab and I can’t check it without that. [ Anyway if your wifi card doesn’t work, here is a howto on installing Ralink rt2500 WNC-0301 using drivers from serailmonkey. ]

Another improvement is that cursor was never invisible. Up to Fedora 7, I suffered cursor invisible problem on first login. [ If you are facing the same problem, add line

Options "HWCursor" off

to “screens” section in your /etc/X11/xorg.conf file and issue ‘gdm-restart’ command. It’ll be fine afterwards. ]

The boot time has also improved significantly. My Fedora 8 boots in just 45 seconds.

These Fedora 8 Screenshots and other related to Fedora 8 can be reached here.