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The word "Linux" encompasses my favorite OS flavors like Debian and Ubuntu.

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2010 October 11 [Monday]

Extract msi archive format on Ubuntu

I was googling for some information which was only available in a .msi archive format which I could not extract directly on ubuntu. Since I didnt have windows on the machine, I could not extract it there and just copy the files over to linux.

On ubuntu, installing WINE (and trying to extract with msiexec) didnt work -- wine kept whining about it not being an executable (on linux? *g*), the source being from an untrusted source, etc...

Next, I tried p7zip -- install it with

sudo apt-get install p7zip-full

Then, change directories, and type:

7z x filename.msi

While this extracts all the files, it will still not be easily viewable nor is it usable -- windows executable dlls, bitmaps, windows installer package, microsoft cabinet archive, some icons, and other useless cruft compressed in the folder. Other than manually digging out text files for the information, there was no easy option.

The data was locked inside the database (hint, extract the cabinet archive) in the .mbd (MS Access) format. Google threw some perl modules to convert a .mbd file to .txt. BUT there was a gnome mbd-reader tool which you can easily install with

sudo apt-get install mdbtools

sudo apt-get install mdbtools-gmdb

Then, click on Applications>Office>MDB Viewer.

In Ubuntu, mdbtools includes command line tools such as mdb-export and mdb-schema and to export data from the MS Access .mdb files, extract contents from each table from each .mdb file through the shell --for which one needs to determine table names before using:

mdbtools <filename.mdb> <table name> <output_filename.txt>

mdb-export filename.mdb tblfoo

The compressed archice included among other things, files with .ocx and .tlb extensions. More googling (yay!)

TLB, a Visual Basic OLE Type Library, is a binary file containing all the type information for using procedures or classes in DLLs.


o. mdb-tools and postgresql script

2010 September 8 [Wednesday]

Postgresql packaging bug in Lucid

Postgresql-8.4 is the packaged version for Ubuntu 10.04 (aka lucid) but earlier today I purged and reinstalled it and found a packaging bug -- sudo aptitude purge postgresql does not cleanly remove the conf files from the filesystem if they had been edited. All the older edits I had made to /etc/postgresql/8.4/main/pg_hba.conf and /etc/postgresql/8.4/main/pg_ident.conf files were intact after the reinstallation. So the new re-installation would throw weird errors.

Ideally aptitude/apt-get 'purge' is the cleanest way to uninstall software but if you have customized the configuration settings in a DB you would not like to lose those changes (especially because you may have installed the database a long time ago and may not remember each change for different apps that use the DB.

Sounds good but in theory a 'purge' littering your filesystem with edited files makes it hard for folks to hunt out which file was leftover and whether re-editing "foo.conf" would get "foo-application" running smoothly.  For smaller single packages its probably easy to script a list of files from the original package and check the filesystem against that list but what if you had an installation that had 80+ odd installation steps for multiple packages that depend on each other ...that is a lot of retracing -- the installation and purging of 80+ installation steps is scriptable but a clean reinstallation of your OS is far less time-consuming, not to mention the resource savings.

2010 May 5 [Wednesday]

Not so Lucid

Last weekend I upgraded to Lucid (Ubuntu 10.04) and these changes dont bother me at all, albeit the GUI changes were shocking at first-- buttons to close/maximize/minimize your application window are now on the left hand side and each new tab you open pushes the first ones to your right-- but being a forced right handed person has its advantages..... moi does adapt quickly...to the extent that 2-3 days into it, I like this quirky change.

I've always secretly wished a left-alignment over the years, especially when the gui window or browser overshot the screen visibility limits with no way to close the application. The left hand side of the frame is fixed. Its left me wondering why the UI was not developed with left-uppermost in mind --its the way we read and its just seems natural to let the left take over. Pun (un)intended. I might even be tempted to buy a left-handed mouse if the scroll buttons moved over to the left :) YMMV.

However, my personal break point from lucid was for divergent reasons. Its twofold- One, ssh. Although the server I tunnel into had issues with the ISP, the strange weirdness occurs after I tunnel in. Any key I type (even space bar or page down) after ssh'ing into the server throws gibberish :

debug3: Wrote 48 bytes for a total of 61063
debug3: Wrote 48 bytes for a total of 61111
debug3: Wrote 48 bytes for a total of 61159
debug3: Wrote 48 bytes for a total of 61207
debug3: Wrote 48 bytes for a total of 61255
debug3: Wrote 48 bytes for a total of 61303

These debug errors are not much fun when I cant see anything that I type on screen and since the screen scrolls, I am forced to copy paste from a text editor. Ssh just sucks atm.  Other server users dont have the same issue so I am wondering if this is lucid not handling ssh properly. I am not sure and dont have the time to experiment as I need stability ATM, which is tied to the second reason for not using lucid-- development takes place on 8.04 LTS, and I can safely revert  to 9.10 for personal use and not miss much.

UPDATE: No solutions came forth on IRC, except for a 'hald' suggestion which I need to read. Meanwhile, to cross check I tried logging in via another partition that runs 8.04LTS with the same -v (that is the verbose debug option) option that I used on 9.10 and on 10.04. It works like a charm everywhere except on the ubuntu 10.04 partition. On the face of it, it seems like a lucid bug but since I dont have much to go on, i cant file a bug. Arghh..

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