From the Canyon Edge -- :-Dustin

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Win a Hardback Copy of Daemon, by Daniel Suarez!

In September, I blogged a review about the best crypto-cyber-punk-thriller I have read in some time, Daemon by Daniel Suarez. At the time, the first-run paperback was already out of print, and a new re-print in hardback had not yet hit bookstore shelves. This book is a must-read by anyone interested in modern science fiction and techno-writing.

Courtesy of Dutton Press, I now have in my possession 3 copies of the hardback, hot off the press...

And I'm giving them away!!!

The Contest

If you haven't read the book yet, you're really in for a treat! I'm presenting 3 challenges, something like of a crypto-scavenger hunt, reminiscent of the Daemon itself.

The Prizes
  • A total of 3 hardback copies of Daemon will be awarded as Grand Prizes to the winner of each challenge. No more than one book will be awarded per person.
  • The first person to successfully complete a particular challenge will be named the winner of that challenge.
  • Any additional successful submissions before March 1, 2009 will earn fame and notoriety by being mentioned here in my blog, with your name and a timestamp of your completion date ;-)
  • And hopefully everyone who competes will learn at least something about Daemon, Ubuntu, eCryptfs, free and open source software, and cryptography.
  • Kees Cook has independently solved each of these challenges and has graciously volunteered to serve as an independent judge in the event of any tie or controversy. His decision is final.
The Schedule

The challenges (increasing in difficulty) will be published here in my blog as follows:
In the meantime, you might want to brush up on:
  • Ubuntu, livecd's, virtual machines, encryption, encrypted private directories, eCryptfs, gnupg, md5, sha, john, shell scripting

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Jaunty Manpages

A new version of the Ubuntu Manpage Repository has just rolled out to production! Thanks Lamont ;-)
This version includes a number of bug-fixes, a few new features, and the complete collection of manpages in Jaunty.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Linux Inflight Entertainment Boot Sequence Video

On my last flight between Paris and Houston on Continent, I had the privilege of seeing one of the Linux Inflight Entertainment systems in action.

At first, I didn't get to see it boot up, but I did have fun playing with the music and movies on demand. It's something roughly akin to the MythTV I've grown to know and love at home.

A couple of hours into the flight, the lady in front of me rang the flight attendant and complained that her system wasn't functioning properly. The flight attendant said that she'd just "reboot" the system.

I jumped up and yelled, "Oh, mine's not working either...can you reboot mine too?!?" My wife knew what was going on, and she rolled her eyes :-)

I grabbed my camera and videoed the whole boot process. I uploaded all 450MB to YouTube in high quality (while I was onsite at Google for UDS last week):

Your impressions?

Seeing that this is a 4 minute long boot process, I'd say they have some room for improvement! On the other hand, my sarcastic side sees this befitting of all things related to the airline industry and flying...hurry up and wait for arbitrary and no good reasons...

Sorry for the bumps...


Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Ubuntu Server already includes a Window Manager?

The Ubuntu Server has always had a command-line only interface, and has never included a graphical desktop, such as Gnome, KDE, or XFCE. We differ quite a bit from other Linux distributions in this respect.

But did you know that the default Ubuntu Server installation, as of Intrepid Ibex, does include a window manager by default? Expand your mind a bit and check out the venerable GNU screen utility!

screen is simply an incredible program--dare I say that any good Linux/UNIX system administrator really must get to know screen. You can multiplex several tasks, send them to the background, and bring them to the foreground later, and customize task bars with all sorts of interesting information. I've never considered myself a screen expert, but I know enough to know that there's a lot I don't know :-)

The default configuration of screen in Ubuntu is quite functional, but it's lacking, um, pizazz... It's capable of a lot more.

The following is the result of several hallway conversations at last week's Ubuntu Developer Summit in Mountain View, California. Nick Barcet and I decided that the Ubuntu Server could, and should include some more useful profiles for screen, that take advantage of its more advanced features. Dave Walker helped with some early prototyping, adding some code that detects when updates are available and a reboot is required. We kicked around the idea a bit more with Kees Cook, Jamie Strandboge, and Steve Langasek.

So I created a new package this morning, screen-profiles. This package currently includes two screenrc profiles that I created, one for Ubuntu, and one for Debian. It also contains a binary, select-screen-profiles, which provides an interactive method for quickly switching among the available profiles on the system.

I have uploaded packages for Hardy, Intrepid, and Jaunty. To install, add my PPA to your /etc/apt/sources.list. And then:
$ sudo apt-get install screen-profiles
$ select-screen-profile

Here's a sample screen shot.

Notice that the first status bar across the bottom actually contains "tabs" of the open screen sessions. You can use ctrl-a-c to create a new tab, and ctrl-a-0 .. ctrl-a-4 to swtich among the available tabs. The highlighted tab is the currently active one, 1 source.

The second status bar I've reserved for system state information. Currently, this includes the current LSB release and version, Ubuntu 8.10. The blue @ indicates that a system restart is required (it's supposed to look like the Ubuntu restart icon). The red 28! indicates that there are 28 updates available. And, of course the system time follows. Note that an Ubuntu circle-of-friends logo is pretty much impossible with a standard character set, but hopefully the 3-colored \o/ logo approximates the "spirit" of Ubuntu ;-)

And for good measure, I tested this on a Debian and a Fedora system, each with their own logo approximations in the lower left.


Fedora (on a black console, just to show that look too):

So I think I'm just scratching the surface of the possibilities of screen for the Ubuntu Server. I'm really interested your favorite ~/.screenrc profile! If you're doing something interesting or cool with your screen configuration, please post your ~/.screenrc (with a GPLv3 header) and screenshots in your blog, and add a URL here as a comment. I'm hoping to ship this package in the Ubuntu Jaunty Server with a number of interesting profiles.

If you're looking for more information on customizing these screenrc files and the various commands, take an hour and read the screen(1) manpage. It's a long one ;-)


Ubuntu Allstars Bootlegged!

That's right... I bootlegged the Ubuntu Allstars Jam at UDS Jaunty! I mean, we recorded everything else this time, so why not?

Using Audacity -- an excellent open source sound editor in Ubuntu Universe -- I recorded the gig, carved it up into tracks (with fade ins and fade outs), and then exported to both MP3 and OGG formats.

While we had a hell of a lot of fun jamming, I think we'll be keeping our day jobs hacking on Ubuntu ;-)

Available for download at:

The set-list:
  1. Blues Jam
  2. Wonderwall
  3. Brown Sugar
  4. Knocking on Heaven's Door
  5. Whisky in the Jar
  6. Dead Flowers
  7. Hey Joe
  8. Wish You Were Here
  9. You Shook Me
  10. Sweet Home Alabama
  11. Tangled Up in Blue
  12. American Pie
Rock on,

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ubuntu Server: Suspend/Hibernate for Jaunty?

We spent an hour yesterday at the Ubuntu Developer Summit discussing the potential of suspending, hibernating, and resuming an Ubuntu server.

The Ubuntu Desktop has gotten really good at suspend/hibernate/resume. I think I've suspended/resumed my laptop 30 times already at UDS. Woohoo!

With Ubuntu virtual machines, we have a couple of ways to "suspend" or "hibernate" at the hypervisor level, with pausing, and snapshotting.

I'm suggesting that we close the gap and attempt to support hibernate and/or suspend in the Ubuntu Server OS.

Radical? Perhaps... A number of people noted that, "No one hibernates or suspends a server." But that's what's so attractive about it to me.

On the positive side, the frameworks have been established already on the Desktop side. The pm-utils package provides command-line utilities to enter into the lower power states. Most i386 and amd64 server hardware is remarkably similar to laptop/desktop hardware from an ACPI perspective.

On the negative side, much server hardware (think PCI devices) have never been tested for suspend/hibernate and resume. We would additionally need something like wake-on-lan, open-ipmi, or nut to remotely send the "wake up" signal.

Okay so the use cases... We came up for a couple, but I'm certainly looking for more.

Server hibernation might be useful for offline hardware maintenance, migration of installations from real hardware to virtual machines, and migration from virtual machines to real hardware.

Server suspend might be useful for faster power-on and hot spare backup servers.

Either way, such a feature would allow an administrator to bring Ubuntu servers running on real hardware down to low-power states, and resume back to a running system and restore the previous context. We discussed build servers and DNS servers as potential candidates, in that these systems build a cache of valuable data into memory over time--to reboot or shutdown is to clear memory and loose the "optimal performance" state.

I suspect you might have some other server scenarios that could potentially benefit from hibernate/suspend/resume... If so, I would love to hear from you in the comments below. Or, if you would rather, you can join the ranks that are calling me crazy for even proposing this ;-)


Monday, December 8, 2008

Encrypted Home Directory Performance

Thanks very much to Michael Larabel of Phoronix.

He picked up the instructions from my last blog post, Ubuntu Jaunty: Encrypted Home Directories and ran the Phoronix performance suites.

These are very early results, on a nascent Jaunty distribution still undergoing heavy development. But I must say that I'm rather pleased with the performance hit to the majority of the workloads they tested.

There was roughly a 1% hit in most tests (compilation, compression, audio/video encoding, image processing). The hit was a bit more significant when encrypting a file in userspace, on top of eCryptfs (which is really asking the kernel to encrypt already encrypted data, and compress), as well as the huge-file write. We're looking into some optimizations we might be able to make at the kernel level to improve this.

Without further adieu...


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ubuntu Jaunty: Encrypted Home Directories (Beta Available!)

One of the biggest features (in my not-so-objective opinion) of Ubuntu Jaunty Jackalope is rapidly coming together...

Encrypted home directories!

I have two packages available for beta testing in my PPA:
  • adduser
  • ecryptfs-utils
To test this functionality on a Jaunty system, install these two packages and then, as the root user, create a "foo" user with an encrypted home:
  • adduser --encrypt-home foo
This will create the user, generate a mount passphrase, copy the /etc/skel default data into a mounted/encrypted home directory, take the new user password, wrap the mount passphrase, and then unmount the home directory. Subsequent logins by the "foo" user will mount the home directory accordingly.

I've tested this pretty thoroughly with both command-line, server logins, as well as graphical desktop logins. It's working really well, and I'm quite excited about it! This is going to be far easier and more secure than moving bits and pieces of data in ~/Private, and manually symlinking files and directories around.

  • Encrypted filenames have landed in the upstream Linux -mm kernel; but they're not in the Ubuntu Jaunty kernel yet. I think they should make in time for the Jaunty release.
  • Migrating an existing, non-encrypted home directory to an encrypted one is not something that we can do automatically--there's quite simply too much that can go wrong. I will, however, provide a wiki page describing how to do it as the root user, in a recovery shell. Basically, bad things can happen if any other processes running as the user try to read or write data in their home directory during the migration.
Next Steps...

I've released the code necessary to setup the encrypted home directory in ecryptfs-utils-67. As soon as Debian pulls that release into unstable, I'll merge it into Jaunty (and then you can skip the PPA step).

After that, I hope to add "Encrypt Home" as an option to both the graphical and server installers, when creating the administrator user. We should be able to do this in the Server Installer easily by Alpha-2, and the Desktop Installer by Alpha-3.

Also, we need to modify the graphical "User Settings" program as provided in system-tools-backends to support the --encrypt-home option.


Separate, but related to this work item are two other blueprints for Jaunty:

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tux on a Groom's Cake

I read an interesting blog post today, about Ubuntu bread:
It reminds me of the groom's cake at our wedding a few years ago:

The cake designer started with a mold of Buddha for the basic body shape, and added a beak and webbed feet :-) Cool, huh?


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ubuntu Jaunty Jackalope Desktop Wallpaper

I was a little disappointed that Intrepid Ibex didn't get its own desktop wallpaper until really late in the development cycle (2008-09-26).

I run so many Hardy, Intrepid, and Jaunty virtual machines at a time, that the background is usually the easiest way to tell them apart.

So I decided to create my own Jaunty Jackalope background image for this development cycle.

I used a picture I had taken last spring, when a momma rabbit had 4 baby rabbits in our front yard. Using Gimp, I cropped it, tweaked it to a more "human" color scheme, and rendered some little jackalope button horns. The original looks like this:

As such, these 3 little Jackalopes are "under development", and nearly arranged in an Ubuntu "circle of friends" ;-)


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ubuntu Jaunty: updates-available and reboot-required now in /etc/motd!

Any brave souls out there running Ubuntu Jaunty Jackalope yet?

No? Okay, okay, you're right... Perhaps it's a bit early for that. But what about in a virtual machine?

The Ubuntu Developer Summit isn't until December, but we're already busy working on Jaunty!

With some help from Michael Vogt, update-notifier is now able to publish information about available updates, and required system restarts. It uses update-motd to collect and publish a rich, dynamic Message-of-the-Day dialog.

This new functionality hopes to provide an equivalent to the Updates Available and Restart Required icons in the Ubuntu desktop system tray, for the Ubuntu server.

The result looks something like:

Linux dustin-desktop 2.6.27-7-generic #1 SMP Tue Nov 4 19:33:06 UTC 2008 x86_64

The programs included with the Ubuntu system are free software;
the exact distribution terms for each program are described in the
individual files in /usr/share/doc/*/copyright.

Ubuntu comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by
applicable law.

To access official Ubuntu documentation, please visit:

79 packages can be updated.
0 updates are security updates.


And, when a reboot is required, like this:

Linux dustin-desktop 2.6.27-7-generic #1 SMP Tue Nov 4 19:33:06 UTC 2008 x86_64

The programs included with the Ubuntu system are free software;
the exact distribution terms for each program are described in the
individual files in /usr/share/doc/*/copyright.

Ubuntu comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by
applicable law.

To access official Ubuntu documentation, please visit:

0 packages can be updated.
0 updates are security updates.

**** System restart required ****


We still have a few kinks to work out, and a few optimizations coming, but all told, this is good stuff for the Ubuntu Server!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nearest Book (MeMe)

Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the Goverment - Saving Privacy in the Digital Age
by Steven Levy

Page 56, Sentence 5:
"The behavior of the S-boxes in the DES system involved complicated substitutions and permutations that put Rube Goldberg to shame."

Jono's instructions:
  • Grab the nearest book.
  • Open it to page 56.
  • Find the fifth sentence.
  • Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

Friday, November 7, 2008

VP-Elect Joe Biden is Responsible for Open Sourcing Email Encryption?

There are rumors that the Obama campaign used an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution, though further analysis seems to indicate that these images were fakes. It would be great if someone from the Obama campaign would comment publicly and officially on this. I would love to think that there might be room for Ubuntu and Linux in the next administration, perhaps in the new CTO cabinet position. With Warren Buffet being suggested as a potential Treasury Secretary, I fear that his recently-retired friend Bill Gates might have the inside track on the US CTO chair.

On the other half of the ticket, I learned something interesting about VP-elect Joe Biden yesterday. Al Gore invented the Internet, but Joe Biden open sourced email encryption!

I'm currently reading Steven Levy's book, Crypto, about the evolution of cryptography in the United States, overcoming pressure and resistance from the NSA and other areas of the United States government's intelligence interests.

Levy writes that Phil Zimmerman was in the finishing stages of productizing PGP, Pretty Good Privacy, an email encryption mechanism that predates our modern GPG (GNU Privacy Guard), when on January 24, 1991, Senator Joseph Biden added a paragraph to Senate Bill 266:
It is the sense of Congress that providers of electronic communications services and manufactures of electronic communications services shall ensure that communications systems permit the government to obtain the plaintext contents of voice, data, and other communications when appropriately authorized by law.
Such a law would have eliminated PGP, and aborted countless other technologies we take for granted today (HTTPS, SSL, SSH, VPN).

According to Levy, Zimmerman took this as the ultimate deadline, and quickly finishing PGP, and hoping to get it in the hands of as many people as possible as immediately as possible. To do this, he gave up his short-term hopes of financial benefit from PGP in order to further the long term goal of ensuring private email communications. And on May 24, 1991, he effectively open sourced PGP, uploading it to dozens of newsgroup sites on the burgeoning internet. Quite the opposite effect the honorable Senator from Delaware was aiming for...

By June of 1991, a number of civil liberties groups had raised issue with the offending language and (thankfully) it was struck from the bill. And by that time, a few thousand PGP-encrypted emails had been passed around the Internet, and so open source email encryption was born. N.B. Lotus Notes had been doing this for some while, as a proprietary application.

The little things you learn in a Steven Levy book... By the way, I also highly recommend another of his books, Hackers.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ubuntu Open Week

I had the privilege of leading an Ubuntu Open Week discussion yesterday in the #ubuntu-classroom, about eCryptfs and Encrypted Private Directories in Intrepid Ibex.

There was healthy discussion, and a lot of great questions.

You can read the logs here:

Thanks to all who attended!


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Halloween Costume MeMe

Did anyone else dress up for Halloween?

We went with a Battlestar Galactica theme.

Left to right:
  • Dustin - Gaius Baltar
  • Kim - Caprica/6
  • Marie - Sharon/Boomer
  • Josh - Chief Tyrol.

We were going for something like:

Looking forward to the rest of Season 4!


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Intrepid Ibex (Pseudo) Release Party: Austin, Texas

Anyone in the Austin, Texas area with an interest in Ubuntu, Linux, and/or Beer is welcome to join us on Thursday, October 30, 2008 to celebrate the release of Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex (8.10). We will be outside, at the Draught House Pub, from 5:30pm - 7:30pm (map).
You might meet, face-to-face, some people who use your code, and some people whose code you use. If you've never been to the Draught House Pub, it's a unique, neighborhood-style pub, with scores of beer on tap and a great outdoorsy feel.

Note that this isn't associated with the Austin LoCo--I have not seen any formal plans from them for a release party. But there does seem to be another release party hosted by the AustinLUG at 6:30pm on 10th Street. My apologies for "forking" the party, but plans were neither coordinated nor communicated particularly well.

In any case, get out there and celebrate Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex by drinking some beer wherever you are ;-)


Booting Degraded RAID in Hardy: Test Packages in my PPA

We have significantly improved booting on degraded software RAID in Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex.

Numerous Hardy users have requested a backport of this functionality to Ubuntu 8.04 LTS.

I'm pleased to announce that I have some very preliminary, working packages in my PPA, available for testing. See:
A couple of caveats...
  1. Under no circumstances should these packages be used on any production-level, critical, or enterprise system.
  2. These packages are not officially supported by Canonical, Ubuntu, or even really me.
  3. These packages are provided exclusively for the sake of testing and debugging the functionality in advance of an official update being published.
That said, if you have some spare hardware or virtualization at your disposal, and you're willing and able to test these packages on a non-critical development/test system, I would appreciate hearing your experience.

The test case is essentially as follows:
  1. Install Ubuntu 8.04.1 LTS (Hardy Heron) onto a software RAID1 configuration
  2. Update your package list, upgrade all packages, dist-upgrade, and reboot
  3. Add my PPA to your /etc/apt/sources.list, update your package list, and pull my updated Hardy packages
  4. Re-install grub to your RAID device, "grub-install /dev/md0" or whatever might be appropriate
  5. Reboot with both disks (ensure this continues to work)
  6. Reboot, with only the first of the two disks (you should be prompted if you'd like to boot or not; first test answering "No"; reboot and test answering "Yes")
  7. Reboot with only the second of the two disks, and again test both the "No" and "Yes" behavior
  8. Reboot with both disks attached, and one disk should be "missing" from the array since they are now out of sync, having each been booted independently. Add the missing disk back to the array with something like "mdadm /dev/md0 --add /dev/sdb1", and let it re-sync.
If the above succeeded as expected, I'd like to hear about it. If it didn't, I'd also like to hear about it. Please post as comments to this bug report:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ubuntu Fridge Interview

When it rains, it pours...

I was also interviewed by James Westby for the Ubuntu Fridge this week.

This interview was primarily about my work on Encrypted ~/Private Directories in Intrepid, what it is, how it works, my development practices while working on it, and future plans for extension. James also added a few nice screenshots.

You can read the full interview at:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ubuntu Weekly News Interview

I was interviewed by Nick Ali for issue #114 of the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter.

We talked about a bit of my background in Linux, the Ubuntu Manpage Repository, encrypted ~/Private directories, the future of the Ubuntu Server, and my next long distance hike.

You can read the interview here, or read the entire newletter here.

Thanks for the interest, Nick!


Friday, October 24, 2008

Announcing 'musica' for Ubuntu Intrepid

I am proud to announce a new package in Ubuntu Universe: musica.

musica is a web application written in PHP for browsing and streaming your mp3's over HTTP. There are, of course, plenty of alternatives out there--this is my implementation of the rather common idea ;-)

Here's a screen shot:

What I like about musica is that it's basically one self-contained index.php file and it does not use a database to archive and manage your music. It reads everything it needs directly from the file system.

This does, of course, mean that you have to follow a relatively rigid naming scheme in organizing your music. Basically, a music/ directory contains a bunch of artist directories. Each artist directory contains either miscellaneous songs, or one or more album directories. Each album directory contains the songs on that album. That's how my music is organized.

If you organize your music similarly, you can simply (on an Ubuntu Intrepid system):
$ sudo apt-get install musica
$ sudo ln -s /path/to/your/music /usr/share/musica/music
And then point your browser to http://localhost/musica.

I have a package for Hardy in my PPA:

Some features include:
  • Dynamic m3u construction for streaming with your favorite music playing application
  • Dynamic archive construction for downloading a whole album (as a .tar)
  • Dynamic URL's cross-linking to Wikipedia for artist, album, song documentation and cover art
  • Basic search capability for artists/albums/songs
  • A "Random" artist link for those times when you're not quite sure what you want to listen to
Please file bugs, questions, and feature requests in Launchpad under:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mounting a KVM Disk Image

Martin Pitt pinged me in #ubuntu-devel earlier today asking how to mount a KVM/QEMU/Virt-Manager disk. It's occasionally useful crack open a .img disk file, and read/write/modify files there.

For the last couple of years, I've used a rather manual process, involving losetup, fdisk, calculating the byte offset into the image of each partition, losetup again, and then mount.

Many times, it crossed my mind that there must be an easier way. But, meh, it worked ;-)

In the process of answering pitti's question, I stumbled across:
Much cleaner! It amounts to:
# losetup /dev/loop0 foo.img
# kpartx -av /dev/loop0
# mount /dev/mapper/loop0p1 /mnt
# unmount /mnt
# kpartx -dv /dev/loop0
# losetup -d /dev/loop0

Monday, October 13, 2008

IRC Bot for

I'm quite proud of the Ubuntu Manpage Repository, at

And I'm even more proud that other people are extending that work in new and interesting directions.

Specifically the good people over at ##club-ubuntu on have written an IRC bot that interfaces with using supybot. Thanks to henux for making me aware, and emma for giving me the tour ;-)

It accepts two simple commands, "@man" and "@manurl". Quite cool!
kirkland> @man supybot
ubnotu> kirkland: supybot - A robust and user friendly Python IRC bot // Synopsis: supybot [options] configFile // Description: Supybot is a robust, user-friendly, and programmer-friendly Python IRC bot. It aims to be an adequate replacement for most existing IRC bots.

kirkland> @manurl supybot
ubnotu> kirkland:
Cheers to the team doing this, thanks guys! \o/


Friday, October 3, 2008

What's in my Encrypted ~/Private directory?

Ubuntu Intrepid's integration of Per-User Encrypted Private Directories is one of the most important new features to me to be included in the 8.10 release later this month.

I've spent quite a bit of time over the last 5 months developing, testing, documenting, and blogging about this feature.

Some people have asked, "What do you keep in your encrypted ~/Private directory?" So I thought I'd respond here. If there happen to be an other bloggers out there using an Encrypted Private Directory, perhaps this should be our next MeMe :-)
kirkland@t61p:~/Private$ ls -alF
total 40
drwx------ 10 kirkland kirkland 4096 2008-10-03 10:30 ./
drwx------ 95 kirkland kirkland 4096 2008-10-03 10:24 ../
drwx------ 4 kirkland kirkland 4096 2008-10-03 10:23 Documents/
drwx------ 5 kirkland kirkland 4096 2008-10-03 10:30 .evolution/
drwx------ 2 kirkland kirkland 4096 2008-10-03 09:54 .gnupg/
drwx------ 4 kirkland kirkland 4096 2008-02-14 06:59 .mozilla/
drwx------ 6 kirkland kirkland 4096 2008-10-03 10:28 .purple/
drwx------ 2 kirkland kirkland 4096 2008-10-01 13:31 .ssh/
drwx------ 10 kirkland kirkland 4096 2008-10-03 09:03 .xchat2/

To protect your sensitive data, such as documents, mail, calendars, contacts, browser cache, messaging logs, and encryption keys in Intrepid, you can simply do the following:
  • Install ecryptfs-utils
    • $ sudo apt-get install ecryptfs-utils
  • Setup your private directory
    • $ ecryptfs-setup-private
  • Enter your login password, and either choose a mount pass phrase or generate one
    • Record both pass phrases in a safe location!!! They will be required if you ever have to recover your data manually.
  • Logout, and Log back in to establish the mount
  • Make sure that the application whose data you want to protect (e.g. Firefox or Evolution) is not running
    • $ ps -ef | grep evolution
  • Move the application's data directory (e.g. ~/.mozilla or ~/.evolution) into your ~/Private directory
    • mv ~/.evolution ~/Private
  • Establish a symbolic link from the old location to new location
    • ln -s ~/Private/.evolution ~/.evolution
I could provide a script to do this, however, care must be taken that applications are not reading and writing data to these directories while they're being moved, and thus, I recommend that these be handled manually.

Note: If you put all of .ssh in ~/Private, you won't be able to ssh into the system using public key authentication. In this case, you might want to only put your private key in ~/Private, and leave the rest in the clear.

Please open any bugs or ask any questions in Launchpad.


Full Text Search, Language Support for the Ubuntu Manpage Repo

A new release of the Ubuntu Manpage Repository rolled out this week to This is by far the most complete interface yet!

Notable new features include:
If you would be willing and interested to translate the main page into another language, please email me.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ubuntu Server Survey

From the Ubuntu Server Team...

I continue to be impressed by how democratic processes are within the Ubuntu community. The Ubuntu Development Summit for the Jaunty Jackalope development cycle is quickly approaching, scheduled for December 8 - 12, 2008 at Google's Mountain View campus. At this summit, the greater Ubuntu community will discuss and architect the features of the 9.04 release.

In preparation for those discussions, the Ubuntu Server Team is calling for any existing or potential Ubuntu users out there to participate in a 10-20 minute survey to help us better understand the current and future needs of Ubuntu Server administrators.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Hackers Hike Across Scotland

The Sprint in London

I attended a Canonical sprint in London in August 2008, during which I:
Tech talk about my trip :-)

I spent my evenings eating and drinking with some of my Canonical co-workers in London. Of note, I did drink a bottle of Lone Star beer (the National beer of Texas) at the Texas Embassy. I paid 3.50 British Pounds for that bottle. This translates to a cool $7, which is approximately the cost of a 24-pack of Lone Star cans at the gas station closest to my house. I wandered around Parliament and Westminster Abbey, through Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square.


I did take advantage of my proximity on the isle of Great Britain to complete a life-long dream of mine...hiking across Scotland.

The Plan

I suppose I should start out with my plan. My intention was to hike over 5 days the Speyside Way, a 70 mile trek up the Spey River, over some of the most beautiful terrain in Scotland and through its most famous whisky making region. This is the Bordeaux, Napa, or Tuscany of Scotland. I would carry a 45 pound backpack. Sounds excessive, but remember I worked the previous week in London, so this included backpacking irregularities such as my laptop, power supply, UK power converters and accessories. I also brought a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, blow-up pillow, small stove, pot-and-pan, water purification, a sizable first-aid kit. Ideally, I have learned that I'm most comfortable distance hiking with about a 35-38 pound pack. Which is roughly what I had, plus computer.

London to Aberdeen to Buckie

I left early on Saturday morning, August 23, 2008, flying from Gatwick to Aberdeen in Scotland. I caught a bus from Aberdeen Airport to the main bus station down town. I then boarded another bus, which I was taking to the coast town of Buckie.

When I boarded, I asked to bus driver to please let me know when we reached Buckie. He gave me a toothless grin, and in one of the many, varied Scottish accents I was to hear over the next 6 days, said, "Well, laddy, you'll have a differrrrent drrrriverrrrr by then!" I should have been concerned at that point. Although we traveled only about 60 miles, it took nearly 4 hours, stopping at every township and hamlet in between. It appears that I boarded the bus that delivers every little old lady in Scotland to and from the grocery store.


In any case, I made it to Buckie early in the evening. I had plenty of time to check in to the Old Stagecoach Inn, and then wander around the town. Buckie is now a tiny fishing village, but in the 19th and 20th centuries, new ships were constantly under construction in its shipyards. I leeched wireless off of a coffee shop that had closed for the night long enough to send a few emails. I'm sure I looked positively amusing to the few passers-by, sitting on a street curb with a laptop :-) I made it back to the hotel to get some food, beer, and my first taste of Scotch in the motherland. I made an explicit effort to chat it up with the bar tender, to absorb and immerse the culture and language as much as possible. He pointed out that an older couple a few tables away were actually speaking in Gaelic, which is a relative rarity these days. I called it an early night, and retired to my simple little room, and read the first 5 chapters of The Hobbit--deliberately chosen considering the adventure I would embark upon the following morning.

When morning came, I cinched up my pack and headed downstairs for a full Scottish breakfast. Cereal, sausage, a strange looking fried egg (pink yolk?), and an English muffin. Oh, and the freshest milk in the world. This would become a staple of mine for breakfast, over the next few mornings. After a bout with the credit card machine upon checkout (Scottish credit card machines are racist against American credit cards), I set out. From my hotel, it was about a quarter mile hike down to the beach, and then another three quarters of mile to the beginning of the Speyside Way.

The trail started on the northern outskirt of the town. There's a bulletin board at the start with decent maps of the first 20 miles of the trail, or so.

  • Tip to hikers out there... If you're carrying a hi-resolution digital camera, take pictures of any maps or information you find, and then mark it as a "Favorite" so that you can recall them easily later. With 8 megapixels, you can zoom in with great detail. Fewer maps to buy and carry around ;-)

I had a local gentleman take a picture of me at the start, while I held the leashes to his two Scottish Terriers.

The first 5 miles of the trail were quite a nice amble down the beach, from Buckie, through Port-o-Gordon (which the Duke of Gordon built to move the 'ruffians' further away from his estate), and on to Spey Bay. The weather was cool, in the 60's, and overcast. The water was astoundingly cold! I saw 5 seals sunning themselves on an ancient lava outcropping, with a placard talking about local legends of mermaids and men-of-the-sea. I met a really jovial gentleman from Port-o-Gordon who was out for a walk with his two chocolate border collies, beautiful dogs that made me miss my two Australian Shepherds back home. He told me quite a bit about the area, and warned me to mind the 'gypsies', roving nomads living out of RV's and making messes of beaches all across Scotland. I walked by the 'gypsy' park a few minutes later, and it did look like a scene out of Snatch with a pack of wild dogs roaming about. I also passed the 'Lennox' Inn :-)

I strayed off the trail just a bit to walk down on the sandy beach itself. This turned out to be a bad decision, as it forced me to ford a small stream. After looking for a decent place to pass, I took off my boots, put on my flip-flops, and walked knee-deep straight through the icy, icy water. Brrrrrr. I spent about a quarter of a mile slowly catching up to a lady walking down the beach in rubber boots, launching a tennis ball with a plastic thrower for her border collie. Once I caught up, I walked at least a mile with her, and her dog Moss. We had a lovely conversation, about how she lived in California for a bit in the 1960's, and then about Scotland, and specifically about wind energy. She's heard about the wind farms going up in Texas and Oklahoma, and asked what I thought. (Generally, I'm in favor of them, as a supplement to other forms of alternative energy.) It seems, however, that these turbines are going up across Scotland and many of the locals are none-too-happy about it. They say that it ruins the views, the landscapes. Perhaps it's the engineer in me, but I think they look beautiful in their own way.

Spey Bay

The trail followed the coast until it hits the mouth of the Spey River, where there's a town called Spey Bay. There's a visitor center, all about the dolphins that can be seen playing in the bay. Unfortunately, I didn't see any dolphins. But I did drop my pack for a while, and enjoyed a cappuccino and a chocolate pastry.

At this point, the trail turned inland, where I would follow the Spey River upstream for about another 60 miles. The river remained on my right, with fields of barley to my left. I saw a few dozen locals on the trail, walking a dog, or riding mountain bikes. One really pleasant gentleman was attached to 6 woolly daschunds! We spoke for a few minutes. He shook my hand, genuinely honored that I taken the time to travel from Texas to Scotland and hike this trail that he loved so much. I was happy to oblige him.

About two miles inland, I dropped my pack to rest a bit, have a snack and call home. It was finally late enough in the day that Kim would be awake back home on a Sunday morning. She told me how it was 102 degrees back home, while it was 62 degrees in Scotland. As we spoke, a couple of groups of kayakers paddled by, and I briefly wished I were paddling instead of hiking :-)

Thereafter, the trail turned away from the river a bit, and I encountered my first Scotch pine forest. And yes, it smelled like cleaning chemicals are intended to smell :-) The trail itself got a bit softer under foot, being composed more of mud and moss, than of rock. That was a pleasant change around mile 7 of the day. The giant beach trees were incredible too. By the way, Scottish thistles are positively amazing!


Around mile 10 of day 1, I strolled into Fochabers, and directly sought out the nearest watering hole. I suppose the proper word would be "nearer", as there only seemed to be two... It was happy hour at the Gordon Arms, busy and bustling on a Sunday afternoon, with most people watching soccer. I got a lot of funny looks as I hobbled in, dressed in my rain gear (it had been drizzling off and on), and loaded down. It was voted by the locals that I looked like a well-known Scotsman, Mark Beaumount (the second time in a week such a proclamation was made).

At this point, I had covered my required 10 miles of the day. I had the number of the local campground, as well as a couple of inns. But it was still early, and I had some energy, and the next day's hike was set to be longer and cover several serious elevation changes. I opted to push on a bit further. I said 'goodbye' to my rowdy, new Fochaberian friends.

Slorach's Woods

The trail out of Fochabers winded through a few farms, and onto a small, disused asphalt road through Slorach's Woods. I saw plenty of sheep along the way. After walking about 4 miles or so, climbing in elevation along the way, and then I started looking for a place to camp. Within another mile, I found a brilliant spot, maybe 100 feet off of the road, back into the woods, on a centuries old mound of moss. The night air on the side of this little mountain, the Hill of Cairnty, got pretty cold, pretty quickly. And the wind through the trees was almost constant, and creepy... I read about this phenomena a few days later, known as the Old Wives Tongues.

Morning brought a heavy fog, and a distinct smell of rain, and slugs the size of my fist! I ate a couple of potato cakes slathered in Nutlella, a handful of dried fruit, drank a tea, and struck camp. By the time my tent was packed, it started to rain, and I set out loaded down and getting soaked.

Bridgeton Farm

Monday would be my longest, hardest day on the trail by far. The entire morning hike was on asphalt, which tends to be harder on your knees and feet when loaded with a heavy pack. I hiked downhill for the first few miles, until I reached the river again, and the bridge over to the town of Rothes. From there, I turned up hill and hiked through the enormous Bridgeton Farm (in Texas, we'd call it a 'ranch'). As I rounded the perimeter of the farm, I started climbing the ridge heading up the mountain that overlooked the entire valley. This is Ben Aigan. Still raining, the trail got really, really soggy, and my socks and boots were thoroughly soaked. At about mile 3 of the day, I met a pair of day hikers coming the opposite direction. They had parked at the foot of the hill, and took a walk up to one of the scenic overlooks, and were heading back down. I hadn't spoken with another soul all morning and so the conversation was much needed! And they gave me the best advice I think I received all trip--The Highlander Inn in Craigellachie.

Another 3 miles into a practical rain forest, and I met a trio of mountain bikers also coming the opposite direction. They asked about the terrain on the trail that I hiked that morning, as the map had it marked for hiking, and not biking. Considering that most of the mountain biking I've done on the Barton Creek Greenbelt in Austin is far more difficult, I told them that the terrain was quite doable--go for it!

A few minutes later, I came around a very high bend on the mountain that rewarded me with 40-mile views, all the way back to the sea, from where I came the day before. Spectacular! I could see countless pastures and farms, the bridge from earlier in the morning, the town of Rothes, and a couple of distilleries. This was roughly the highest point of elevation on the hike, far above the pastures of sheep and Highland cattle, so the next time I passed a running stream, I filled my water bottle and treated it with iodine. If you've never tasted purified mountain water directly out of a stream, it's a very beautiful thing...


At this point, I started the long, pounding haul down the mountain, and out of the Ben Aigan forest. Upon exiting the forest, I was back on asphalt and my joints and feet were none too happy about it. I could feel the blisters welling up. The outskirts of Craigellachie were positively picturesque, with fly fishermen testing their luck with the famous Scottish salmon beneath ancient, remarkable masonry bridges, and the odd castle or two.

The Highlander Inn

The advice I got from the pair of hikers earlier in the day was not to disappoint... The Highlander Inn delivered! Mind you, I had hiked 11 miles so far that day, climbing and descending a few thousand feet in elevation, in a pretty contant rain with 45 pounds of dripping backpack and blistered, wet feet. When I saw a sign that said:
I thought I had died and gone to heaven!

Now I had every intention on stopping in for a beer, maybe even a steak, but I was planning on camping again that night, and hitting the trail again the next day. Until I stepped into the place. It's quite possibly one of the coolest pub-inns in the world, and for 40 pounds per night, a real deal!

So stumbled in the back door around 4pm, and there were two gentlemen at the bar (who looked at me with sort of wry smiles), and the bar maid. I asked if I could get a bed for the night, and of course one of my new friends-to-be at bar remarked, "Well don't ye alrrrready have one in that pack of yourrrs?" Everyone's a comedian when in a pub in Scotland :-)

As much as I enjoyed a hot shower, I didn't waste much time, I was ready to get back down stairs and start sampling the whisky and these cask conditioned ales!

I took a seat at the bar, eager to get some conversation (I'd only spoken with the 2 hikers, and the 3 cyclists all day long). The best way to do this is clearly to buy a round! I first met Roy, a retired carpenter, and Andy, a sailor in the merchant marine. Between 5pm and 7pm, the whole town poured in, each greated by first name. Joe, an ex-pat from Chicago, sat to my left. The proprietor, Duncan (who looks like a more jolly version of Anthony Hopkins). Countless others whose names have unfortunately already escaped me.

It turns out Roy and I had quite a bit in common. He, too, was a hiker who enjoyed long distance "hill walking" as it's called in Scotland. In fact, we had hiked some of the same routes, including parts of the Grand Canyon and Yosemite. More than that, Roy had grown up right there near Craigellachie and Rothes and Dufftown, and seemed to know just about everything there was to know about the area. He gave me a list about a mile long of the things I could see and do on this hike. Roy seemed to be the second person on this trip who was genuninely honored that I was walking their Speyside trail.

Eventually, it came out that Roy had retired from carpentry and started his own business as a private tour operator, specializing in expertly informative visits to the area's many whisky distilleries. I sheepishly asked what tour would cost me, and Roy responded that he generally took groups, and that it would probably be too pricey to go on my own. Oh well...

So I probably had 7 pints of ale (way more than my share), and thankfully only had to climb one flight of stairs to make it to bed ;-)

Oh, one more thing the Highlander Inn has, besides 300 malt whiskies, and multiple perfect ales, is WIRELESS INTERNET! Yeah, I've been lugging my Thinkpad X61 for nearly 30 miles now, it was nice to be able to use it as something other than ballast. I caught up on email, learned I had be approved as a MOTU (woohoo), started reading the Ruby-on-Rails saga, and caught up with some friends back home.

More importantly, though, I did some research over breakfast, Googling and mapping the area. I had decided to skip a day on the trail, and stay an extra night at The Highlander (this place really is heaven). I would leave my heavy gear, and just take a day pack and hike into Dufftown, the Whisky Capital of the World. Roy had given me some good advice on what I might see and do there. I was dying to see some of the stuff that's just a bit off the trail.

And this is that critical moment in the adventure when the most unexpectedly pleasant thing happens. It's Luke and Obi Wan finding Han and Chewie in Mos Eisley Cantina. Or Bilbo Baggins stumbling upon the Ring of Power (about where I was in The Hobbit at this time).

While I'm just finishing breakfast, in walks Roy, with a proposition... He has group of 3 booked for a full day of touring, and if they're willing, I could join them, and we'd split the bill 4 ways. Win, win! It was perfect! Roy apologized for not thinking of it at all the night before and we mumbled something about too many pints :-)

The Whisky Tour

So took only my camera and jacket and jumped in his van and we drove all over the area. We started at a ruined castle from the 1500s called Auchindoun which is up on a high plateau with 360 degree views. Gorgeous stone construction, absolutely breathtaking. And Roy surprised us with a dram of whisky, a Duncan Taylor 13 year. Then we drove past a couple of scenic overlooks, with views of the river, and the valley, and the mountains, and the distilleries, distilleries, everywhere!

We drove past a number of those, to a little town called Dufftown, proud claiming to be the Whisky Capital of the World. We took a few pictures of the old clock tower where some famous brigands were hung from, and then went over to Kirkton of Mortlach. Cool name huh? It's the 3rd oldest church in all of Scotland. Founded in 556. Yeah, that's 3 digits, 556 :-) Only the foundation exists from that date, most of the rest of it is from the 13th - 15th centuries. And we walked around this ancient graveyard. Most of the tombstones were too old to read, but some were readable. And most people weren't buried in a casket or crypt back then, if you look really closely in some of the gravel you're walking on, you can sometimes make out little bits of bone and teeth. Gross, huh?

Also, in the middle of the graveyard is a "Pictish Standing Stone". It's similar to the types of stones found at Stonehenge, much smaller, but thought to be arranged by the same type of people. It's got carvings on it from 3000 years ago. And it's been documented as having been standing in that very spot since 1010.

Now, another little surprise, a dram of a Duncan Taylor Rarest of the Rare 28 year old single malt. Mmmm. Roy withdraws it out of one of the coolest contraptions I've ever seen, made by Roy himself.

After that, we went to this little old town hall, which is having a charity fundraiser, raising money for cancer. Little old ladies with a handmade crafts (where I picked up something nice for my wife) and homemade local food. So I had a bowl of soup for a pound (soup is usually 3 or 4 pounds in a restaurant), and a giant plate of pasta made from scratch, covered in a creamy basil tomato sauce for about 2.50 pounds (would have been 10 pounds in a restaurant).

So then we drove out to Glenlivet, which is one of the more famous single malt Scotch in the world. We walked around the visitor's center for a few minutes and then took about a half hour tour. The tour was pretty similar to the winery tours we've taken. Small group, they walk you through the process. It was interesting and educational. Then there was a scotch tasting at the end, where I had a nice 18 year old Glenlivet.

So we drove by another ruined castle, called Drummin Castle, from the 1300s, a little less impressive than Auchindoun, but still cool. Roy broke out another bottle of whisky, this time, a 33 year old Glenlivet. It tasted like milk, butter, fire, and honey. Excellent. From the castle, we could actually see a "burial mound" a little ways off on a distant hill, and the remnants of a stone circle. And seeing that, we begged him to drive us by a stone circle or some standing stones. So he did. We literally open a gate into a sheep pasture, stumbled through goat poo, right on up to a mound, with 3 large standing stones. These things have probably been there for 4000 years. Simply amazing.

By this point, we were way over time, and his wife was calling him. So he dropped us off back in Craigellachie, and we went to the "other" hotel to have some more Scotch. Roy was a carpenter before he was a guide, and so he did all of the beautiful handiwork and renovation in this other bar, so that was cool to see.

On the way back to the Highlander, we detoured over to have a look at the Craigellachie Bridge, a marvel of engineering when it was built in the 1800s. I had dinner with the Canadians and talked politics for a while, then called it a night.

At this point, I was behind schedule, and needed to cover almost 30 miles that day. That wasn't really going to happen, as the weather was looking bad and the terrain tough. So I had to cheat a little bit. I hiked an 2.5 easy miles to Aberlour, where I could catch a bus that would drop me about 18 miles down the trail in Grantown-on-Spey, and then I'd cover the rest on foot to Nethy Bridge.


The hike to Aberlour was incredibly scenic. It followed an old railway bed. The bridges, tunnels, and flora, fauna were all really beautiful to see. Numerous fisherman were wading through the Spey, and others just taking in the scenery. Thistles were popping out of every thicket. And heavy clouds moved rapidly across the sky.

I had a couple of hours to kill in Aberlour (home of Walker's Shortbread cookies), so I paid my obligatory visit to the Official Speyside Way Visitor Center, signing the registry. It appeared that there were only about a score or so through-hikers such as myself who had signed the book in 2008. Suprisingly little company ;-) The Visitor Center had a video about the trail, as well as exhibits on the wildlife in the area. It also had a computer technology exhibit that I found most entertaining! The locals directed me to a pub called The Mash Tun for lunch, where I had an excellent plate of potatoes and a good beer.

I caught a bus around 1pm, and a quick 30 minutes later, I was nearly 20 miles down the trail. It reminded me how fast we blow by things traveling by car! There was an elderly gentleman that eerily reminded me of Moonlight Graham from Field of Dreams who volunteered to be my tour guide on the bus. He pointed out and naming each mountain and each distillery, giving me his rating of the whisky. (The locals all seem to love Macallan, for what it's worth...)


I made my way out of Grantown-on-Spey, and opted for an extended detour through the Anagach Woods. Okay, okay...I took a wrong turn, and added a few miles to my day ;-) It was well worth it, though. This heather-cladden glen was simply spectacular. There were red squirrels everywhere, barking at me as I walked. The crumbling bridge across the River Spey was a site to behold too.

Again, the trail joined the disused railway bed, and I was hiking again through pastures and tunnels where trains used to run, perhaps a hundred years ago. Along the way, I did run across a deer, who wondered at me, as much as I at her. And it took me nearly an hour to walk across the sprawling ranch, Balliefurth Farm. On the plains, I saw what my eyes had come to recognize as ancient burial mounds, once Roy pointed them out near Dufftown. And both near the trail, and on the horizon, I could the remains of ancient castles and little ruined homes. I ran across a couple of furry companions (here, and here), as well as couple of really slimy ones!

Nethy Bridge

Eventually, I made my way to Nethy Bridge, where I had camping reservations at the hip and hippie Lazy Duck Hostel. Here, I helped round up ducks and chickens and put them in their own individual homes for the night.

When I checked in, I was told that there was a laptop in the garage with internet access where I could check my mail, and that there was wifi too, if I moved closer to the house. Because of the latter, I didn't pay much mind to the public access laptop. I should have, though ;-)

Later that night, I was sitting around the campfire with Alex the volunteer summer help (a Canadian oceanography graduate student), a couple from the Czech Republic, and another pair from London. The Czech couple shared a flash of some homemade plum liquor. Mmmm. I was talking with the guy from Czech, and it came out that we were both computer programmers, and I mentioned Ubuntu. The hired hand working there at the camp immediately lit up, and mentioned that they have Ubuntu on the laptop in the garage! I could not have been more excited ;-) I immediately went to the garage and snapped pictures of the prize machine. We love seeing Ubuntu in the wild, far corners of the world. +1 Scottish Highlands!

I left the Lazy Duck Hostel bright and early on Thursday morning, as I had a long hike to Aviemore, where I needed to catch a train to Edinburgh that day. My last day on the trail would turn out to be the day of a thousand spectacular views, hiking through the mountain moors, with the Cairngorms always on the horizon. These are the pictures that coffee table books are made of!


I hiked through a field, a forest, and moor (where I saw mushrooms the size of pizzas), and on into Boat of Garten. There's quite a bit of to-do about the ospreys native to the area, but sadly, I didn't see any. I had a late morning cappucino and a stack of shortbread cookies at The Boat, and a great conversation with the Czech bartender. He, along with everyone else that morning, suggested that I take the old steam railway from Boat of Garten into Aviemore. And it took every ounce of my being to say "no"! I really, really wanted to finish the hike on foot.

I was rewarded with 7 miles of picture-perfect vistas, some 360 degrees views (1, 2, 3) of Scotland, Scotland, Scotland. I met a number of day hikers, and even more mountain bikers on this leg of the journey.

My adventure was rapidly drawing to a close, and I could feel it as I entered the outskirts of Aviemore. By this point, I was physically aching from 55 miles of hiking over the previous 5 days. And mentally, I was ready to be back home in Texas, with my wife and my dogs.


But there was still a few surprises left... Right in the middle of a neighborhood in Aviemore, there stands a 4000 year old Pictish stone circle in amazing condition. What little jewel just steps off of the trail. And the 3 hour train ride from Aviemore to Edinburgh was very beautiful too. Extended mountain scenery, and then lakes and coastline.


I got to Edinburgh around 6pm, and checked into my hostel immediately. I didn't think I could walk another inch, and so desperately wanted to just curl up in bed. But that's just not my style ;-) I had but a few hours left in Scotland, and I had never been to Edinburgh, so out I went to walk the Royal Mile, see the castle, and the churches, and the Heart of Midlothian.

And to finish matters off, I settled down to a plate of haggis, neeps, and tatties, a pint of ale, and a dram of whisky ;-)

I have photographs and memories to last a life time!