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Linux Experiments

E-475mEarlier this week I did an OEM installation of Linux Mint 18.3 on my Gateway laptop. I’d seen an EzeeLinux video on how to do it and I wanted to give a try. I had a friend who’d seen me using Mint on my laptop and expressed interest in it and an OEM installation would enable to him to go through the process of setting up his user name, password, and all that

I did the set up much like my own systems, setting up Timeshift, adding the Chromium browser and the Htop utility. I added scripts to the cron.weekly and cron.monthly folders to run get updates and do a little system cleanup.

HP-110-miniIn another experiment, I found my wife’s old HP 110-Mini Netbook and installed Mint 18.3 XFCE on it With an Intel Atom processor and only 1GB of RAM, I wasn’t expecting much. It runs but it’s incredibly slow. I don’t know if bringing it up to 2GB will help much. The netbook originally ran Windows 7 Starter edition. I pulled that hard drive out and replaced it with a different drive just in case the experiment didn’t work out. I’m considering a more lightweight distribution for this device. Maybe Puppy Linux.


Fun with Samba

After replacing my Dell Optioplex 780 with the HP Elite 8300, I wasn’t sure what to do with the Dell. I kind of figured I’d put Linux on it and use it for something. I recently watched an EzeeLinux video on sharing files with Samba. I figured a simple Samba server might be useful for sharing files and making music and videos available across my network.

I installed Linux Mint 18.3 Cinnamon on the Dell and configured it the way I like it. Then I used sftp to copy my entire music library over. I installed and set up Samba, configured it, and set up the shares – a Music share and a Public share. The Public share is a central location for sharing files on the network.

After some tweaking I got it working pretty well on the Dell and the Windows computers. However, I could not see the shares on the other Linux computers. I did an exhaustive search on Google and various Linux forums and found nothing that helped. My smb.conf file seemed to be okay everything was in the same workgroup..


Then I found a suggestion that looked interesting .Someone suggested opening the file manager (nemo, thunar) in a terminal, pointing it to the share – nemo smb:// . It worked! I had access to the shared folders. On the computers running the Cinnamon desktop, I created a bookmark and on the XCFE desktops, I created a launcher to access the shares. Maybe not the most elegant solution but it works.

When I replied to my comment on the YouTube video I read through the other comments and replies and found that Linux Mint does have problems with smb shares.

How will I use my Samba server? It’s another tool I can use on my network. One of the shares is make my music library available everywhere on the network. The Public share is an alternative to using Dropbox and flash drives. And it was a good learning experience.

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.

Len-M91pI 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, 4GB of RAM, and 160GB drive) still works well for what I do with it — a little web surfing, email, and some writing.


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.

Dropbox Repository Links

I brought my old Gateway laptop with Mint 17 up for the first in about a year. There were a lot of updates, as one would expect. After the updates I noticed that Dropbox wasn’t synchronizing. After searching forums, I tried various fixes. Finally, I “purged” the existing installation and used apt-get to install nautilus-dropbox. That got it running properly again.

Now I’m getting 404 errors when I run apt-get update or run update manager. These 404 errors refer to the old dropbox repositories that no longer exist.  A Google search on the problem has not produced any useful information.

Failed to fetch http://linux.dropbox.com/ubuntu/dists/qiana/main/binary-amd64/Packages 404 Not found [IP: 80]

Failed to fetch http://linux.dropbox.com/ubuntu/dists/qiana/main/binary-i386/Packages 404 Not found [IP: 80]

I’ve not been able to locate these URLs in any of the source.list files under /etc/apt/. Nor can I find  any reference to them in the GUI Software Sources app. Yet when I run Update Manager or apt-get update the URLs are queried, thus producing the aforementioned error messages.

I left a query on the Dropbox support forum so I’m hoping to get a response soon.

Mint on Gateway

Over the weekend, I had planned to copy some files off the Windows partition on my Gateway E-475M but found that it would no longer boot into the Linux partition either. I pulled the drive and copied the data to my Windows 7 PC using a USB adapter. Then, after putting the drive back into the laptop I installed Mint 15 Cinnamon and began getting it set up for use in my yoga room where it will be primarily used to play music, led meditations, YouTube videos and instructional DVDs.

DNS Woes

Yesterday evening I began noticing that Dropbox on my Windows computers was not updating and today I noticed that was was not able to get to web sites that I’d been able to access before and I was not able to update my anti-virus software or get Windows updates.

I ran the network troubleshooting on my Windows 7 machine and it said that it was unable to connect to the DNS server. Strange, I thought. I’ve had no trouble accessing anything on my Linux machines. I did some research and found that the DNS servers on my Uverse gateway are hardwired and cannot be changed. Those particular servers are necessary for the Uverse TV package which I don’t have.

On my Windows 7 box, I manually set the DNS servers to OpenDNS ( and, rebooted and my Internet access was back to normal. Since I don’t want to go through the trouble of setting up a network behind the AT&T gateway, I’ll have to do this on all of my computers.

In the process I discovered that my Mint laptop had had the OpenDNS addresses configured in the /etc/resolv.conf during installation. I went ahead and added it to my main Ubuntu PC.

That’s another strike against the Uverse Internet package. There is no alternative to the the 2-Wire gateway they provide and you can’t change things like the DNS addresses. Time-Warner is starting to look better. At least I’m not tied to their modem/router and I can choose my own DNS servers.

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