Category Archives: My Machines

2017-09-17 Update

This week (and especially this weekend) were not too productive. I was hoping to look at some Clojure libraries for TensorFlow.

But I started out updating one of my laptops to Ubuntu 17, and I was unable to log in. So I downloaded Ubuntu Gnome and spent a lot of time trying to get that right. I hate hate hate the default Gnome window manager (I think it is called “mutter”). I tried to switch to another window manager, locked myself out, and then I tried to install Mint.

For some reason I was not able to burn the iso files, so I re-installed Ubuntu Gnome and figured out how to get compiz t work to make it somewhat usable.

I also thought about working on an nftables firewall, but there are some migration utilities that will be available in the next version of Ubuntu. I think the next version is coming out in a month.

You’re welcome.

Computer Names

I have going through backup CDs and DVDs lately. Some of the files were tar files. The names of the tar files had names of my computers as part of them. I have had a lot of computers over the past decade, desktops and laptops, running Linux and Windows.

Here are some of the computer names that I found:

  • Juarez
  • Freecity
  • Jolene
  • Saigon
  • Washington
  • Duain
  • Finance
  • Rebirth
  • Slick
  • Latitude

You’re welcome.

2017-05-01 Update

Per the advice of Nathan Marz and Dan Vega, I will try to blog more often.

I got a new laptop. At least new to me. My main laptop was starting to use the battery even if the charger was still plugged in. I took it to Discount Electronics, and they couldn’t find anything wrong. But I saw a used Dell for a good price. I asked how much would it cost with more memory and a 500GB hard drive, and it was still a good price. Cheaper than a new one.

From what I understand, UEFI and Secure Boot have made installing Linux a bit trickier than before. It used to be that you could just go to Best Buy, get a random laptop, put in an install DVD, and keep hitting “Next” until you had Linux installed. This seems like a step backwards. Some admins say “all you need to do is hit F$RANDOM_NUMBER, so into the BIOS and disable Secure Boot.” I am tired of going into the BIOS. That reminds me of what installing Linux used to be like.

If I buy a laptop with Linux pre-installed, I will probably go to System 76.

After installing, I locked myself out of my laptop because the GUI would not start. I went with Ubuntu, and usually one of the first things I do is get rid of Unity. I have never liked it. I ran a few commands to get rid of it, but when I rebooted I got a black screen. So I had to re-install and try again.

Now it looks like Ubuntu is dropping Unity. Fine with me.

For future reference, the magic command is:

You’re welcome.

Rebooting Ubuntu After It Goes Read-Only

Sometimes my Ubuntu laptop malfunctions and the file system goes into read-only mode.

This might mean it’s time to upgrade to a new laptop. Which I will probably do in a few months.

But I want to note how I can get back to normal.

The obvious way is just to reboot. But sometimes the system goes into a initramfs prompt.

To solve the issue, I need the location of my drive in the /dev file system, which I can get by running df -h:

The one I want is “/dev/mapper/ubuntu–vg-root”.

So in the initramfs prompt, I run this:

I got this answer from the Ask Ubuntu site (see another answer here). As long as I can access my site from another machine, I should be able to solve this.

I may need to get a new laptop soon because sometimes my laptop does not detect the power chord is plugged in, so it starts using the battery.

You’re welcome.

I Got a New Laptop Running Windows 8

Last week my older laptop running Windows XP died. So I got one running Windows 8. The only reason I run Windows is because my mp3 player will not connect to my Linux laptop.

So far, it is okay. I have not worked with the touch screen. I like the fact that if you hit Windows-X you can have the old XP interface. It is nice that Microsoft is actually giving people some degree of choice. I guess that the newer way of doing things might someday become the standard, so I should probably look at it at some point. Maybe it will be like Intel’s Itanium: Consumers will ignore it and it will just die.

When I was setting up my user account it tried to force me to get a Microsoft account. I did some googling on my other machine, and one of the results pointed out there was a link in fine print that would allow me to log in without a Microsoft account. One thing that I did not like was that Windows 8 tried to call the mothership. I have my router set up to only allow explicit ethernet addresses through. But I could not get the ethernet address without logging in, so I had to disable that on my router. I got the ethernet address, entered it, and re-enabled that feature. I am not a security expert. Maybe the Russians are using my WiFi to plan their next invasion of Estonia. But I do not like doing something that I know for sure will make me less secure.

I then downloaded Firefox, the JDK, and a few other apps that I use, like jEdit and aTunes. For one of those, I downloaded an installer from Sourceforge by mistake that installed a browser add-on called mysearchdial. I got id of it from Firefox. I was only able to disable it in IE. I have not figured out how to delete it. I was a bit surprised that Sourceforge was installing spyware on machines. It is not that hard to avoid doing it, you just have to be careful what you click on.

But so far Windows 8 seems nice.

Upgraded Ubuntu

I did not get as much done today as I hoped I would. I upgraded my laptop to Ubuntu Precise Pangolin.

First off, it took more than two hours, a lot longer than I thought. Then some things did not work. When I tried to get my laptop to wake up when I lifted up the lid, I did not get a login prompt. I saw the background image, but no prompt. So I had to pull out the plug and removed the battery to restart it. Then I tried the “Unity” interface (which I hate) and I had the same problem. I have to use the “Gnome (No Effects)” interface to login. So far no problems anymore.

I was also not getting my regular wireless network at first. Now I am. The login/bootup process is still pretty slow. But so far things seem okay.


Toshiba Wireless Issue On Ubuntu

I run Ubuntu on a Toshiba laptop. As I have stated in the past, I am pretty much done with desktops and going strictly with laptops (see previous entries here). But sometimes the wireless card does not work. The message is that the wireless card is “disabled by hardware switch”.

I did some searching, and here is a solution that I found that worked.

First as root, I ran the command

Then I pressed theĀ  FN-F8 key combination (function key and the F8 key, or whichever one has the wireless icon).


No More Linux Firewall

The machine I was using for my firewall died last week. So I went to Best Buy and got a small wireless router and I am now using that for my firewall. I ran ShieldsUP! on all my systems, and so far everything seems to be running as expected. I paid only $70 for this thing, a lot less than I would pay for a desktop system. Perhaps someday when I have some more money I will go back to being a Real Man and running a firewall on my own system, but for now I think this will do.

And I think I will be sticking to laptops for a while. All three of my desktops have died on me in the past few months. One was still under warrantee so I got that one fixed. The others will just take up space for a while.

I may never buy another desktop ever again

For a while I had four systems. One laptop (which is about four years old) and three desktops. I was using one desktop as my main system, and one as a firewall. A week ago, the main desktop stopped working. Sometimes it would boot up and work for about ten minutes and then stop working, and sometimes it would not detect the hard drive.

I took it into Best Buy, and they had to ship it off to the service center. They said the motherboard had to be replaced.

Then my firewall machine stopped working. It is pretty old, so I am guessing it just needs another power supply. So I am now using my remaining desktop as a firewall. If I run X it freezes after a while, but if I do not run X it will run with no problem.

My laptop is a bit old, and I did not want to use it as my main system. So I went out and got another one. I have had some issues with desktops just about every year. The power supply goes out, or I need to reinstall, or it just dies. My laptop has worked without any issue. Then again, my desktops were HP machines, so maybe they just used some cheap parts.

Anyway, I am thinking about just using laptops from now on. This means that at some point I will need to get a router in case my firewall dies.

This also means that my OpenCms server on my desktop is gone. I will start migrating the static content on this site to the blog.

Firewall issues

The old PC that I am using as my firewall seems to be freezing every couple of hours. The desktop PC that had issues a few months ago is pretty much dead. So it looks like I have to get another system.

Best Buy has a package containing some good HP systems (a desktop, laptop and netbook) with a Netgear router and a monitor. I do not need a monitor. I may just get a router, or perhaps another desktop. Anyway, I need some way to stay connected to the outside world.

I opened up my firewall machine and used the airspray to get some dust out. Hopefully that will do the trick.