Time for an Upgrade

Linux Mint has always been a little temperamental on my HP 6005. It may been that some minor compatibility issues between the OS and the AMD architecture, I don’t know. But over the last few days, it had gotten flakier, locking up more often, and I’d see one or two of my CPU cores hitting 100 percent quite regularly. It was getting very frustrating to say the least and I’d already been flirting with the idea of upgrading my system.

I found a good deal at Micro Center for a refurbished Lenovo M91p with a 3.4GHz i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive with Windows 10 pre-installed. I reserved one the other day and today I drove down and picked it up.

I’d begun a back up of the HP this morning and it was still going when I returned so started getting the new PC set up. My wife’s PC is the same model and I’d already installed 24GB of RAM in it so I took her 8GB modules and put in the 4GB modules from the new computer taking her down to 16GB and raising mine to 16GB.

My original intention had been to wipe the drive clean and install Mint 18.1 Serena but while getting the system data I knew I’d need later, I discovered that I had a 2TB drive in it. With that knowledge, I figured that I had enough room for a dual boot system. I gave 1.5 terabytes to Linux and left the rest for Windows.

I installed Mint as well as some my must have applications and utilities. There are still a few that still need to be installed and the usual tweaking. I don’t know how much use I’ll get out of the Windows 10 partition since I’ve never really liked it much. But maybe I can learn to live with it and eventually eliminate having a separate Windows PC.

After my backup was completed, I decided to go ahead and take the 8GB modules out of the HP and put them into the Lenovo, bringing it to 32GB . Lenovo’s documentation says it will only support 16GB but I’d been running 24GB in my wife’s system for over a year without any problems.

A more powerful laptop would be nice but my Dell Latitude with its Core 2 Duo, 8GB of RAM, and 160GB drive still works well for what I do with it, a little web surfing, email, and some writing.

 

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Scripting again

Often when I download images from my digital camera or my mobile phone, or other files from the Internet, I’ll often find that the file extensions will be in all caps and my preference is to have them lower case.

I came across the rename command a while back and found it quite useful but found the syntax a bit difficult to remember. I’d been thinking about creating a bash script to make using the command a little easier and realized that it would be good if I could apply it to several file extensions I’m likely to encounter. This morning a wrote a simple script taking the file extension I wished to rename as an argument and using case statements to select the appropriate rename syntax. I also included a function to be called if no argument or an incorrect argument was entered.

After successfully testing it on a series of test files, I ran it in some folders in my ~/Pictures directory that had files with the .JPG extension and all the extensions were changed to .jpg. The script works well and at a later time I’ll probably add checks to handle duplicate file names, should they occur. As it is the rename command won’t change the file name if a duplicate will result.

A little scripting

About a month ago I created a little bash script to copy an image file from a temporary folder to my journal folders on my PC and Dropbox. The original script worked well enough but it lacked error checking plus I knew I’d have to eventually make changes to use it with next years folders.

The original script took two arguments from the command line, the file to be copied and moved, and the month which designated the appropriate folder. I added a third argument, the four-digit year used in the parent folder. Since the year would be incorporated with in the folder names and the month at the end, I changed the method used to build the folder names using the += operator.

In creating the tests to check the validity of the file to be manipulated and the existence of the created folders, I found it useful to create a function that would print the proper syntax should any of the tests fail.

I also developed a test that after the copy and the move operations checks for the existence of the file in each of the destination folders and displays the operation’s success or failure.

This was a good scripting exercise for me and the first time I’ve used a function in a utility script. I’d like to improve my scripting skills but the tutorials I have have given an elementary understanding but provide little in the way of practical examples and the usage of functions. I’ll be looking for other tutorials to advance my knowledge.

 

MultiSystem for Linux

The other day, I found about MultiSystem, a utility that is used to create multi-boot USB drives in Linux using as many bootable distributions as will fit on the drive. I’d seen other multi-boot utilities run from Windows but I was looking for one to use in Linux. This seems to fit the bill.

A Bash script can be be downloaded from http://liveusb.info/multisystem/install-depot-multisystem.sh.tar.bz2. Once you extract it, run it with:

sudo ./install-depot-multisystem.sh

I installed it using their PPA repository.

sudo apt-add-repository ‘deb http://liveusb.info/multisystem/depot all main’
wget -q -O – http://liveusb.info/multisystem/depot/multisystem.asc | sudo apt-key add –
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install multisystem

Once it’s installed it will automatically open. Just click the Close button to exit.

To use it, plug in a USB drive and launch MultiSystem. (It should be in the Menu under Accessories).

  • Select the USB drive and click Confirm.
  • If the drive doesn’t have a label you’ll get an error message. Click OK and the utility will give it one.
  • Unplug and reinsert the drive (if you got the error message) and launch the utility again. Select the drive and confirm.
  • Confirm the GRUB2 installation on the USB drive and click OK to continue.
  • Drag and drop the ISO files (one at a time) to the box at the bottom of the MultiSystem window. You can also click the CD icon and search for them.
  • The ISO files are select individually. It may take awhile for the utility to extract them and update GRUB.
  • You can add as many distributions as space on the drive will allow. You can go back later and add more.
  • As each distribution is added you’ll see them listed in the main window.
  • Once it’s done updating the last distribution, it’s ready to use.

There are extra options in the menus. You can also test the new drive using QEMU or VirtualBox.

The official documentation is in French but I found it simple to use. The first time I tried booting to it, I got a GRUB error but after booting again, it came up okay. I booted to it several times to each of the distributions I’d installed on the drive.

More information can be found at:

Bodhi Linux Revisited

I first came across Bodhi Linux five years ago. It looked interesting but after using it for  a while, decided it wasn’t for me. I recently downloaded the latest release, 4.1.0 and decided to take another look at it.

I like that a minimalist distribution, easy on resources, and it fits on a 700MB CD. One of the concepts behind Bodhi is to keep it lean and allow the end user to choose their applications rather than have a lot of pre-installed applications they don’t need. I totally get that and can see how some might be attracted to that level of customization. For the most part, I’m okay with what comes pre-installed with Ubuntu and Mint although I do sometimes install applications that I prefer to the defaults. Perhaps I need to delve into Bodhi a bit deeper and take a good look at what they have to offer.

I found the Bodhi menus a bit confusing but that’s because I’ve been using Mint for quite a while and I’ve gotten used to that. It’s a matter of letting go of expectations and accepting change. Bodhi is not a distribution you just install and run with it. You need to figure out what you want to do with and plan accordingly. I’ll probably be looking at Bodhi again.

My Distro Links

My friend Anthony provided me with a few Linux ISOs that he thought I might be interested in trying out on virtual machines and that got me to thinking about some of the distributions I had lying around. The other day I needed a Live Linux CD to boot an older PC that I couldn’t get to boot from a USB drive. I found copies of old Ubuntu versions (8.04 and 10.04 desktop and server) along with Knoppix v5.0, Damn Small Linux (DSL) 4.4.10, Lucid Puppy, and Bodhi Linux.

I decided to add likes to Absolute Linux, Manjaro, Peppermint Linux, SlitTaz, and Tiny Core LInux to my list. It seemed like a good time to make sure the links I already had were still valid and download the latest ISO files.

I noticed that many of the web sites for the minimalist distributions tended not to be well maintained or kept updated. Some of these sites were more difficult to navigate than they should have been. I know that some of these distributions appeal mainly to developers and techies who think differently than most users.

I also noticed that some of the ISOs dated back to 2013 and beyond. For instance, my DSL live CD that I created in 2013 was the most current ISO. The current Puppy Linux ISO is still based on Ubuntu Trusty (my CD was based on Ubuntu Lucid).

Now I have several distributions to explore on virtual machines. Hopefully, I’ll find a minimal distribution that I really like.  I have plenty to choose from.

Peppemint Linux

A friend had been talking up the Peppermint Linux distro and had given me an ISO for it. The other day, I needed to set up a Linux virtual machine to test out some commands for installing and configuring my conky script so I figured I’d give it a try.

Like most Ubuntu-based distributions, the installation was very straightforward. The ISO was from December so there were about 167 updates which didn’t take long to install. Peppermint has a different look and feel and it took me a while to get familiar with the menus since they are different from those in Mint Linux and I prefer to use an applications dock on my system. But, as I said, the menus in Peppermint are different from I’m used to seeing. Maybe they’re more similar to those used in Ubuntu. It’s been a number of years since I’ve used actual Ubuntu.

I still had the last PC I’d actually built because during my last equipment purge, I keep it around for sentimental reasons. It has an AMD Ahtlon II X2 245 processor (dual core), an ASUS main board, and 4GB of DDR2 RAM. Not much by today’s standards, but pretty good in its day.

Since I wasn’t doing anything with it, I figured it might be good for testing or checking out other operating systems. I put Peppermint 7 on it. Again, the installation went smoothly and it seemed to detect most of the hardware. When I had run Ubuntu on this machine a long time ago there were some on-board devices that didn’t have the right drivers. I know the sound card was one of them.

I checked Additional Drivers under the Software & Updates menu and found one unknown device that was shown as not working. By default the “Do not use this device” radio button was checked. The other radio button gave the option “Using Processor microcode firmware for AMD CPUs from amd64-microcode (proprietary)”. I selected that option, applied it, and rebooted. Now it’s still unknown but that it’s using an alternative driver. I wonder what it was.

Looking at the other tabs under Software and Updates, I saw that Peppermint 7 is based on Ubuntu Xenial, the latest release. That may explain some of the differences from I see in Mint. I’m still on 17.3 which is an LTS supported until April 2019. At this time, I don’t see much point in upgrading. I did download an ISO for 18.1 (xenial based) because I wanted to build a Linux-based USB drive for virus scanning and diagnostics. Should I obtain another system or need to reload one of my current systems, I’ll probably go with 18.1.

One thing I noticed with both Peppermint installations was that the time displayed in my conky script was a bit left of center. I made a slight change to the alignment setting for that line which fixed it. That change on my Mint system moves the time slightly right of center. Just a weird aberration, I guess. On the installation in the Athlon PC, ifconfig showed me that the network interface was called enp2s6 rather than the usual eth0. It seems to be a strange and illogical name for a network interface.

I’ll probably mess around with Peppermint some more but I think I’ll likely stay with Mint as my preferred distribution. I’m used to it and it has worked well for me for a number of years. Since I have VirtualBox and an available computer, I’ll likely explore other distributions and see what they have to offer.

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