Tag Archives: OS

Installed Ubuntu Server Beta-2 14.04 Trusty Tahr

Last Saturday I decided to change things up and re-install the distribution on my main server. It is really a small desktop, but serves its function as a lonely server. With the release of Ubuntu 14.04 LTS just days away, I took the plunge and prepared the partition to hold it. I had not installed Ubuntu server in quite a while and was quite pleased with the ease and speed at which I progressed. Finally, after about fifteen minutes or so, Ubuntu was ready to install Grub. Installing Grub2 has usually gone very well for me and I was expecting no less. Even with a final beta, I was confident the install would finish and I would soon be configuring SSH.

That was until the error landed on-screen announcing itself as fatal. But, I was given an option to try again. Why, I am not sure because the fatal error would return and I wasn’t given any new options, nor any other information. Instead you are left with the only option to quit the Grub install and proceed without a boot-loader. There was a slightly helpful hint right before the reboot and gave a quick how to on booting the system. Apparently I am not the only one to see this bug. It happens right after the message ‘Checking for other operating systems.’. My install was not a dual-boot as I have read in the other cases. I know this was a beta, but confidence was high since this was a final beta release. And I sure didn’t expect this to happen, but it did.

Luckily this was hardly an insurmountable error and with a bit of help from Rescatux and chroot, I was happily booting into Ubuntu Server Trusty Tahr for the first time. I really have to hand it to Canonical. They do put out a fine server product and it is definitely getting better and better with each release. I work with servers on a daily basis, but they are nearly all from Redmond. (Not my choice but I do have to provide for the family.) The Grub2 problem aside, total configuration time was less than an hour. This is including setting up SSH and Samba on an Intranet only server. I admit my server needs are not great, but whatever they could be now or in the future, Ubuntu Server 14.04 would most definitely fill the need and then some.


Have You Tried Parted Magic?

In my humble opinion, Parted Magic is simply the best multi-purpose tool-kit anywhere. I know there are competitors if you want to call them that. And they comprise some pretty good tools themselves. But Patrick Verner takes this project to a whole new level. Boot this tool one time and you will see what I mean. The interface is clean, simple and effective. The most used tools are on the desktop and the rest in a simple menu tree categorized by function. Parted Magic will boot on both 32-bit and 64-bit systems. One of my favourite features is its ability to run completely in RAM, but has several other boot options. The ISO can be burned to a CD or run from a USB drive. You will find instructions to do both on the website. One more item I like is that the Linux kernel will be very close to the most current release. This one fact should be a clue to anyone that some real work is behind this project and that the kernel will be providing the latest innovations available.

You might be wondering just how do I get this for myself? It is pretty simple actually, head over to the website and donate $5 and download. But wait, isn’t this open source and free? That is what usually will follow the visit to the download site. Yes it is ‘free’ according to the license under which it is released. I for one do not mind the small fee for such a quality set of tools. I carry Parted Magic everyday on a USB drive and a CD sits in my desk drawer too. Thankfully I don’t use it everyday because when I do it is usually rescuing someone’s computer or data. But when I do, I am glad it is there. Everything I could need to rescue data or a system, test a disk, benchmark a system, clone a disk, remove a virus or just move files and so much more is already there in a small footprint, organized and updated. What more can one ask for? I have thrown a few bucks towards this project in the past, but I could have done more and will from now on. If you still think $5 bucks is too much, then you need to read this from Phoronix.

I am behind Parted Magic 100% and encourage everyone who reads this to do the same. This is a project someone can feel really good about supporting and using.






Penguin Evolution Turns Glacial

Lately I think my evolution with Linux has slowed to a pace somewhat slower than the glaciers of Greenland move towards the ocean. I am not learning anything new. I will admit that I am not giving it a supreme effort. I could do more, but with the programs I use I have hit a comfort zone. Perhaps the workload I am undergoing during the day has an effect. I turn on my laptop, or really I should say, I wake it up from its deep slumber, and everything works as it is supposed to do. I never have to fix anything or so it seems. Using Linux, in this case Linux Mint 14 XFCE, everything works. This does not happen at work. :) I don’t think I need to spell out what OS I primarily spend my entire day working with, do I?

So I ask the question, has this ever happened to you? I know this must happen to others, so how about you? Do you get in a glacial rut?



Linux Mint 14 Nadia Released In XFCE Edition

Hey all you Mint and XFCE fans. This is what you have waited for the Nadia edition of Mint 14. I looked at the RC release and I thought it was a finished product so this must be really good. I am starting my download now. If you can spare a few bits consider using and sharing the torrent for a few days. This is a super simple way to give back in a small but meaningful way. Servers get hit pretty hard during a new release announcement.

I have been using the Cinnamon release of Nadia for a week or more and I really have enjoyed the performance, the new looks and some neat features. XFCE proves to add just as many new features as Cinnamon if not more. Look for better artwork, XFCE version 4.10 and more. If you run this version let us hear about it.



New Laptop, Windows 8 Gone, Installed Linux Mint 14 Nadia

g580Well I finally took the plunge and purchased a new laptop. I got myself a Lenovo G580 with a B980 PDC CPU sporting 4GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive and more goodies. For the longest time, 10 years, I have either used a build it yourself desktop or a second hand laptop. It has been a long time since last buying new. While I did not go all out and get the latest i7 or i anything, the B980 compared rather well on Intel’s site with their newer and last years models. And as a bonus it sits atop the Sandy bridge giving it an extra punch in the graphics arena. All said and done I am happy with the purchase so far.

As you might be guessing from the post’s title, Windows 8 did not last very long on this machine. :) First priority was to disable the secure boot in the BIOS. And I do not give Lenovo much credit in making this intuitive. Perhaps there is industry pressure not to? We’ll never know for sure. Once in the BIOS you have to enable the legacy boot option and other OS options. This disables the secure boot but does not tell you it does. But upon checking you will find it is disabled after doing this. Save the settings and boot normally. At this point you can boot Windows 8 or your favorite OS. I booted the former. I wanted to see it first hand and I knew there would be an app to register the computer.

After a rather lengthy install process and a video or slide to show you Windows 8, one slide and not helpful at all, you are finally logged in to the desktop. What surprised me right off was I was wired to the network and it would only choose wireless as an option. My second thoughts were how clunky the interface was. Once in an application, which was not an issue, getting out was. No instructions, no pop ups, nothing. I managed to get out eventually and did indeed register the laptop with Lenovo. That is as far as I wanted to go with Windows 8. I have had my experience now.

I replaced the 500GB hard drive with mine, Linux already installed, faster spindle speed (7200rpm) and booted. Linux roared to life as expected. But that is not to say there was not any issues to deal with. Apparently this laptop comes with a newer network chip that does not have a module in the kernel yet. My first thoughts were that I was running the Debian edition of Mint and that the drivers were in the non-free category. I had been planning on installing Mint 14 Nadia since its debut but had not yet given in to the task.After all nothing was broken or anything. I fired up my employers laptop and downloaded the ISO burning it to a thumb drive in short time. Once again the install went off without errors and I was running Nadia in no time.

But the wired network was not working nor was it detected. The command lspci did indeed show the chip set, Ather03:00.0 Ethernet controller: Atheros Communications Inc. AR8162 Fast Ethernet (rev 10), but nothing was happening network wise on it. Enter the best Linux trouble shooter Google and I found the answer here in the Ubuntu forums. There were other posts from Google but this one had the crucial step of installing build-essentials. Without it the fix does not work. I had Ethernet in short order once again. Wireless was functioning but where I live there are so many signals that it is degraded all the time for serious connections. So I prefer wired over wireless right now. It should also be mentioned that the wireless is the famous B43cutter and worked right off the bat. The non-free driver was also available if desired.

So far this setup is doing great and there are not any issues that are deal breakers. My only complaint and I do not yet know if it is the OS or the hardware, is when I go the click something the mouse pointer hides itself. Annoying to say the least. Oh well if that is the worst thing then I have done pretty well.

I should also mention that after setup sound was working, video was set to a good resolution and everything just worked as it should. Nice work to the Ubuntu teams and to Clem and the Mint team for putting this together.

Update: I noticed when changing themes the disappearing cursor is gone. I will have to pay attention to which one it was since I had been switching around on them. This is good to know and I will update again if I notice it.


KDE Fan? Linux Mint Fan? RC Release for Fans

Linux Mint 14 ‘Nadia’ was released for testing as a RC in the KDE spin. Fans of KDE will want to give this a run especially if they like Linux Mint. It is featuring the KDE v.4.9 desktop and many more features especially for Mint.

Nadia is one of Mint’s downstream spins of Ubuntu. In this version it is sporting the KDE desktop which is very versatile along with having what I think is the most ‘bling’ in a desktop environment. If you want to impress your friends with how well your desktop looks and performs, this is for you. The KDE environment also has many optional programs written just for the KDE framework. There are so many written just for KDE the list could fill a book describing them all.

Remember that this is a RC (release candidate) and if bugs are found please report them upstream as appropriate. Have fun!

Will Secure Boot Impact You?

Well the time has come for many to replace aging computers or laptops. And the deals could not be more enticing. Prices are seemingly slashed everywhere and Windows 8 logo is on nearly everything too. But beware of Secure Boot being on those Windows 8 stamped machines. This technology is supposedly good for us. That is if we run Windows but I do not. Yes the malware it is supposed to stop from booting is a problem but I think getting the malware in the first place is worse and I have never seen an infection start with the boot process. Hmm, apparently MS has seen this since they have almost threatened, key word almost, manufacturers into installing Secure Boot with of course the keys to MS Windows 8 and nothing more.

Wait but I am not going to run Windows 8 you are saying. It will not impact me right? Well read this account from Jesse Smith on DistroWatch and keep in mind he is a seasoned user well adept at using alternate operating systems of all flavors. He gets through it but I have to agree with him that many users will not or will just get plain frustrated and quit.

So do not buy that new shiny computer without knowing what pitfalls you may have to overcome in order to run a free operating system. As a footnote, the Secure Boot link is from an article on the Linux Foundation’s efforts written on ZDNet’s website all about how Microsoft is delaying the keys for Linux. Hmm, just one more reason to buy new equipment from alternate retailers that put Linux first or buy used.

How Versatile Is Linux? Three Examples

When it comes to versatility, I think Linux wins hands down. You can find it in many things now from cell phones, cars, TVs and many other gadgets. Way too many to be able to name in a small post. But today I want to point out three examples of Linux versatility all having had new releases in the past few days. I am referencing them from the terrific website DistroWatch. In fact their announcements of new releases all were posted on the same day. A quick disclaimer: I have not used these distributions yet but after researching them I think they are good examples for this post.

The first is Redo. A specialty distribution created with a focus for backup and recovery. It is Ubuntu based, a live cd and also can be a disaster recovery tool. Redo contains some simple yet powerful tools for the jobs it was created for, backups/recovery and disaster recovery. Their website follows the simple trend and is easy to navigate as well as informative. This category is filled with many examples of how versatile Linux can be and I like their approach to simplicity. This can be of great help to those who are not as sophisticated with backups but need them nonetheless.

Next up in the line up of versatility is IPFire. Now this is a much less crowded category but you will still find more than one choice if you look. IPFire is a tool to me more than a distribution. A specialty tool for securing a network both big and small. This is one you can get what you take the time to put into. If you want the basics it is there. If you want to fine tune and get complex you can. The emphasis from the dev team is security no matter which approach the end user is taking. Their website is very clean and easy to navigate including many links to the products core support and community.

My last example for the day is Bio-Linux. Bio-Linux sounds like a game but is far from it. Being based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS it is also a full fledged desktop. This is the type of tool(s) professionals will use in scientific research. I dare say that this is an extremely small niche. I personally only know of one other dedicated science distro, (Scientific – Red Hat) but I am sure I could be totally wrong. (Tell us in the comments of those you know about.) Their website is packed with information as would be expected from a set of tools in this category. This is a not for everyone distribution but if this is your field or you are studying, this can be of great value to you.

This is one of the many things I like about Linux as an operating system and as a community. It can appear in many forms and can do many tasks. From simple to the most complex and everything in between. Last comment I want to stress is that this list is most definitely non-inclusive of all that Linux has to offer in the realm of versatility. These three just happened to get an announcement all on the same day and that caught my eye. The Linux kernel is alive and doing very well and you may even be reading this from the palm of your hand on the kernel itself.