Who gets your digital pictures when your gone if nobody can find them? Back up your data.

Who knew FPL would be responsible for my thinking this through.

I take a lot of pictures.  I mean a LOT of pictures.  Anyone who dabbles in Photography does.

The last time I looked, between video I shot, intermediate edits, final edits, pictures, and so forth of things that made it through my hands, there are gigs worth of them.

Just a ludicrous amount.

I like looking at my pictures.   Some of you do out there too.  This blog is photography heavy.

My dog, my family, trees, birds, my engine bay of the Jeep.  Just things I like, just things that caught my eye.

Others may say that they’re boring.  After all, how exciting can it be when my dog even yawns at me.

I know many of you out there are exactly like me.

We have our family pictures.  Birthdays, Weddings, Thanksgiving pictures.

If you’re old.  Well ok, over a Certain Age, if you’re being kind, you even have them on paper.

You know, actual Photographs.

Believe it or not, they will last longer.

Why do I say that?  Think of it this way, there have been house fires where the “Family Album” or the wedding album of Aunt Grace and Uncle Jeremiah back in 1910 in front of their flivver featured prominently on the fireplace, survived.

A Flivver I have been told is a Ford Model T where as a Jalopy is an old car from that era.  Jalopy is still used if my arteries to my brain have not hardened and I am not halucinating due to lack of blood flow.

Oh look!  A Shiny Object!

Ahem.

So what about that wonderful digital thing, the digital camera.

Great things aren’t they?  You can take them anywhere because they’re smaller, a little more sturdy, and even these days fit on the back and front of most cell phones.

Give me a Digital SLR any day, they’re much more flexible, and you can get removable lenses.

No, I mean it if you have a spare…

Never mind.  Some day…. Hmmmm….

Anyway.  You have your beautiful DSLR that took the award winning photograph that went viral.  It’s really a weed but looks like a giant flower.  It could be the dimple in your two year old’s cheeks.  Even could be your dog playing.

All those thousands of pictures.

Remember that fire I was talking about?  It doesn’t have to be that drastic.

I had a friend.  Had.  He passed away.

His pictures won’t be making it back to the family.

They were on a computer because he was as gadget mad as I am.

Half of his pictures were undoubtedly on his phone.  Those pictures that were left on his phone are lost forever.  By now, his iCloud account has been purged along with whatever photographic treasures that he had set aside.

Family may want those, are you sure that picture you took might not better be used as a memory of you once you’re gone?  You’ll need to make sure you put it where they can get to it.

The remainder were splattered between a number of laptops that I maintained for him remotely.

He came up here once and I dropped his pics onto a CD-ROM.  Remember those?

They won’t survive a fire but having one here means that a few of his memories will escape onto facebook for whatever good that may bring.

In my case, I found out that I had a problem.

My power here is shoddy.  Sitting in the living room chair, lights dim, power may surge and hum, relays snap on and off and back on again.

I get up from the chair and turn off the breaker on the air conditioner…

 

Yes, it is October, yes I am in Florida, yes I will be air conditioning my house to 24C/76F in January, it’s part of the deal.

… and wonder what I lost.

This all comes out of a data recovery project.  How I preserve my pictures is to have them on an “external hard drive”.  Since I have an android phone, I can copy them to my server or my laptop with ease.  Specifically that is why I don’t have an iPhone, whether or not it is safer on their iCloud or whatever i’s have been left for access and not poked out with a pointed stick.

Just look to the //router/share/pictures directory and have at them.

Why was it a problem?  Those pops and snaps.  Any time your computer or your hard drive is subject to power irregularities, your data could get ruined.

So why am I suggesting keeping them on a fragile hard drive here at home?

For redundancy of course.

Sure you could get an account at one of dozens of online storage sites, but there’s a certain something about keeping the data close at hand.

Yes, even for my pictures of my dog.

I cleaned out the corrupt files, lost much less than I expected, decided that I really did not need that third copy of a linux operating system I stopped using years ago, and gave “the rug” a good vacuuming in order to get rid of the chaff on the hard drive.

So consider once you’re gone, your family won’t have those little pictures.  I’m beginning to think that history will be at a loss as a result of what made it so much easier to share memories.

Even if the Fotomat is long since turned into a couple extra parking places after the whole Film Photography thing went almost completely away.

I THINK the drug stores still do film processing… maybe not!

 

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wakeonlan – remotely starting another computer

This is something I have been using for literally decades.  Since I have been setting this up in my home office, I am reminded that some people just may not have an idea this exists, and that they almost certainly have it on their computers.  Just a matter of turning it on.

I would have my “big” machine in a room away from where I was seated, then I’d wander off and sit on the couch with the little machine. Then I would need something on the big machine across the network. Since it was typically on my third floor it was impractical to take the laptop upstairs when the TV was on in the downstairs living room. To make it handy I wanted to turn that beast on so I could play music in the kitchen or read a document I have on it on my little machine. This little trick would let me do it.

Wake On Lan” is simple conceptually. You send a “Magic Packet” to another computer on your network, or across the internet. The packet talks to the ethernet card, some wifi cards reportedly work but I have never figured that bit out. When the packet gets there, the computer turns itself on.

Think “Magic Bullet” to wake the computer sleeping at home while you are at work.

Mind you, there are steps to get this to work.:

You have to turn it on in your BIOS.
Ok, better said, you have to find out where it is in the pages of your BIOS, then turn it on.
If you have ever seen your BIOS, and know what’s up in there, you probably are in a small minority of people, but trust me there are good things there.

You look for a prompt that says “Enable Wake On Lan” and make sure it says yes or is turned on or “selected”, then save and reboot the computer.

That computer must be using a wired connection to the internet – an ethernet connection must be used and not Wifi, although I have seen that some people have managed to get this to work on Wifi.

Technically that’s all you need on the “distant” computer you want to wake up, however you do need a few bits of information.

Every network card has a “MAC Address“. Think of it as a telephone number. That network card, and only that network card has that specific number. I have mine, you have yours. Same thing as the phone number on your phone, or your IMEI number on the phone. You and only you have THAT number. It may also be in your BIOS, but every BIOS may vary.

You feed it into a wee little program and it fires off a magic packet to your network. The packet wanders around your network and the ethernet card is listening. If that packet matches the address on the card, the card will wake up the computer from hibernation or turn it on with a “cold boot”.

Then you can get your “stuff”.

The business of across the internet is a bit more complex. You actually would have to punch a hole in your firewall for the purpose, and this is beyond this posting of “Hey look at this cool stuff”.

RaspberryPi users, sorry, you can’t wake a Pi across the network, and I really wish you could! The hardware is built more simply, and the Ethernet port actually sit on the USB Bus.

For Linux users (and BSD) with Debian XFCE, you can find out your MAC Address by looking at the connection information when you right click on the Network Connections icon in the status bar or in the Settings, Network Connections on the applications menu. Right click on the Wired Connection you have hooked up. Look for “Hardware Address:: and you will find a number that looks like 01:23:45:67:89:AB

Windows users, check your hardware manager under My Computer.

Mac, sorry, one isn’t handy to me but the base commands should be there under your network manager.

Look for the Mac Address, again it’s six pairs of Hex numerals that look like 01:23:45:67:89:ab, and write them down.

To test, hibernate or shut “this” distant computer down. Then go to the “other” computer, and launch a Wake On LAN Client. There are many, and they are generally free. Mine is called “wakeonlan” on Linux. It runs at a command line (gasp!) by typing (horrors!) in “wakeonlan 01:23:45:67:89:ab”.  You can easily encapsulate it in a bash shell, of course.

Then after a short pause, the computer turns itself on and presents itself at a login prompt.

Your network shares will be available on that machine, or you can use Remote Desktop or VNC to use it directly from where you sit.

Wake on Lan clients are available:

Linux – called wakeonlan and is available by “apt install wakeonlan” in Debian.

Windows – there are a bunch of them that are available here.

Mac OSX – wakeonlan is available here.

Even if you Backup your computer, it may not be enough.

Have you ever gotten so deep into a project that you got lost?

In my case this was trying to get something called Remote Desktop working on the main computer.

It showed me the errors of my ways.

Hmm, seems like I need an Amen here, doesn’t it?

See, I’m trying to set up a clean environment here. One where I can work for a client without it getting all mixed up with “my” stuff.

My stuff being Web Development, Video Authoring, Audio Authoring, and general nonsense and “futzing” around on the computer.

I have one machine that I use for almost everything “mine” called “moose”.

I have another computer that I will use for the client work called “caribou”.

Yes, everything here is named after moose. Rudolph, Caribou, Moose, and “MoosePi”.

t’s all handmedown stuff. The newest one is a year or two old, and my “big” laptop is older than five years old.

Linux installed on everything runs faster than you would expect.

Now there’s a piece of software called “Remote Desktop” that should help – “xrdp”. The default behavior isn’t what I want. This exists on Linux, as well as Windows, and is a pay for option on the Mac just like everything on the Mac.

If you ever played with a Raspberry Pi, they’re doing it right for what I need on that wee little computer.

The Pi will have something called a VNC Server, and it even has a pleasant blue icon on the desktop control strip. You tell it you want to be able to share the desktop, and you go to your other computer and can control it from the couch. It presents what you were doing “over there” on it.

It’s presenting the “console session” to you.

However while doing support, there’s a different program. xrdp on Linux. It works just like Remote Desktop on Windows. It creates a fresh, clean session for you to work with.

I’m on the trail of figuring all that out. Unfortunately, I bit myself with this one.

I want the “me” computer to present the console session. xrdp doesn’t do that. It can be configured to do that. I did it years ago on other software.

As in back in the 1990s. Yes, I’ve been using Linux since the mid 1990s.

So since the documentation for this product does not tell you how to do this “Remote Assistance” method, I tweaked.

And Tweaked.

And Tweaked “my” laptop.

You get the picture.

Then I realized that I lost track of time. Two and a Half weeks of Tweaks meant that I really should reboot the computer instead of hibernate. See where I was at.

Got to the familiar login screen, hit enter.

Flashed a black screen and was placed at the login screen – again. I was in a login loop. I had tweaked myself out of a working laptop. I Had Killed Moose.

At least I had a good back up from d a half weeks ago.

Just copy “My stuff” from the current laptop drive to the back up and reboot.

Nah. Didn’t work quite right. Other things got in the way, but my library of thousands of pictures, hundreds of which I took this year for my blog and for my own entertainment are safe.

Client work is safe.

Web stuff is safe.

But the machine itself is … wobbly and needs some attention.

Want to know where I will be? Sitting at my desk, grinding my gears, and growling.

Bottom line, folks – always do a back up.

Luckily in my case, the backup is a full clone of the computer. I think I botched it when I copied my “home directory” over and that introduced instability due to permissions.

We will see. Doing a full reload of the computer is an afternoon affair. Faster than you might expect so “fixing” this machine might be harder than starting over from scratch.

Still don’t have Remote Assistancworking, but Remote Desktop does.

Not that I want that, but you take the good with the bad.

*shrug* I guess the gator got my shoe.

Back to the Grind. Stay Tuned. Enough of this Naval Gazing!  I have work to do!

If I ever get things stable, I’ll have to try again with this whole project. Or not. It’s for convenience, not life or death.

Coffee and Backups don’t mix well, or how I broke and rebuilt my Debian Linux install in two hours

Maybe the universe wanted me to slow down.

Maybe I just wanted a second mug of coffee.

Or maybe my fascination with automation went a little too far.

I never used Mac OS for long.  Their walled garden approach of curated software just wasn’t for me.  Too limited.  I don’t care for handcuffs, whether they’re steel or lined with “mink”.

I got away from Windows when the current approach of Microsoft insisting that You Are The Product with Windows 10 and putting in “Telemetry” so they can know how their software is doing.  You agreed to it when you clicked through the user license.

Spyware.  It is offensive.  They watch everything you are doing.

So here I am on Debian Linux.  Happy.

Linux does not hold your hand.  It doesn’t make happy noises at you.  It does the job extremely well if you are a casual user who just wants to surf the web.

It does not advertise at you in exchange for spying on you while you look at news, sports, or weather.  I’m looking at you Windows.

It has its own drawbacks.

Linux isn’t great with cutting edge, absolutely new out of the bleeding edge hardware.  Battery management is a bit lackluster, battery life is reduced on Linux as they work to improve the drivers.

It can run some Windows software if you know what you are doing in WINE, and it can even run Windows in its own box if you want to be fancy.   But to be fair, you can run Linux on a Windows computer using the same sort of software.  It’s called a Virtual Machine, and that’s pretty cool.

Basically “Yo dawg, I heard you like computers, so I put a computer inside your computer, so you can run computers”.

I have done the same with Windows in a Virtual Machine many times but I keep an old machine with Windows 8.1 gathering dust under the furniture for an emergency.  I also have the entire complete environment that I was using on my old Windows XP install back when I started the blog.  I can run it, virtually, on my Linux computer.

But never mind that…

All that software has to be backed up no matter what you run, right?

You are backing things up aren’t you?

You aren’t?  I will let you decide if you are being brave, or just stupid, and leave it at that.

I will put up with the quirks in Debian Linux in exchange for stability, when I don’t break it.  My one computer has been Hibernated 170 times as of last night in a little more than 180 days and is still stable.  I don’t reboot when I don’t have to.

I back things up, about twice a week.  I don’t have to do it so frequently, but I do “Author Content” like this blog, as well as Video and Audio, Graphics, and my laptop does duty as a TV/Radio/Graphics Arts studio on multiple levels.

On Linux, all that software is free.  That also includes my office software, but you go on paying for Microsoft office.

Backing up your computer on Linux is fairly painless.  When I am through, the end result is a complete clone of what I have on the computer.  Remove the hard drive, swap in the external drive, and I am back running with just one file system check “fsck /dev/sda” and a reboot.

Just like on Windows or Mac, you need an external hard drive.  USB 3 for the speed, please, and it has to be at least as large as your internal hard drive.

From that point onwards it is just technique.

Technique was what I was lacking on that Saturday.

You see, I wrote a script for the computer to follow.  The script works if everything is correct and in place.  It backs up my chip where I save my personal writings to the hard drive, then backs up the hard drive.  Then to take it one step further it updates the computer’s software, checks to see if there are any spies lurking on the hard drive by scanning for viruses and root kits.  Finally it plays a chime to tell me that it was finished and you were a good person for running it.

Well maybe not that last bit but it is complete.

I also got a little slick and simply told it to do everything without waiting.  Should not have done that.  It’s a lot to stand on its own with the stack of old hardware that I use on a daily basis.

Oh the hardware works, but the wet-ware doesn’t always.

I set the thing going, stood up and just as it started to run to backup the disk, it barfed.

The clone of the hard disk, the actual backup, failed when I bumped the cable and it fell out of the front of the “Destination” disk.

Then it went ahead and updated the operating system, and did all that other stuff.

Automatically.

When it ended I had a computer that showed me everything that I had done wrong to it over the last couple weeks by not starting up again.

I was presented with a black screen telling me that the boot process had stopped and I should try again.

I did, and it repeated itself.

Linux is one of the last refuges of the computer tinkerer.  If you like to do that sort of thing, you can tweak to your heart’s content.  Mine looks a lot like Windows 7.  I could just as easily make it into something that looks identical to a Mac, but I want speed.  It runs about twice as fast as this same computer runs under Windows, so I have it.

When I went to enable the second video chip inside the computer, I followed an old guide on how to do it and predictably it had failed.  That was what showed when I booted the computer.

So Linux kiddies like myself, don’t go and over-automate.   Step by step.  Sure, your machine CAN do it, but if you’re sitting at a desk, wanting another mug of coffee, be certain not to knock the cable out of your backup drive because if the next step is a full upgrade of your computer, you may just be stuffed.

However annoying as all that is… it’s a fast fix.

I reinstalled the operating system, Debian Linux 9, in about 15 minutes.

Brought it up to date in another 30 minutes.

Copied over my “home directories” in another 90 minutes.  It was massive.

Computer back to normal from a bare bones install in about 2 hours.

A few more tweaks to get file sharing working, and making it able to play DVDs.

Lesson learned, slow down.

Oh and if you’re following along and wondering, the specifics are here since I use this as a scratch pad for my memory.

My computer’s C Drive shows up on /dev/sda with operating system on /dev/sda1, swap on /dev/sda5

The backup D Drive shows up on /dev/sdb and will be a perfect clone of the computer.

The syntax of the clone is one line run as root (administrator for windows people)

dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb conv=noerror,sync status=progress

Just copy the chip to a place on the hard drive manually first.

*sigh*  And don’t get a mug of coffee by putting your hand on your back up drive when you get out of the chair!

If you will excuse me, now, I have a mug of coffee to make.  Some home roasted Guatemala Huehuetenango that I roasted last week.  Should be just perfect this morning.

Ahhhh.

Debian Linux Stretch – Installing the Operating System

This process took me all of 20 minutes.  It will take you longer to read this blog article.

I have made this into a “recipe” format where you can follow things step by step since I wrote this as I was doing it.

It is wordy, but complete – and it worked for me, step by step.

I need a new server.   I had an old netbook that I used for a couple years to move files around.  It’s too slow for me now, I will eventually be updating this new install to include a file server and a web server.

The blog sits on Blogger and WordPress.  Two places.  I need to make the WordPress side look “better”.  I have a client that I had developed a website for and I am not happy with the way it looks.  So I want a playground to see how tough it will be to get it where I think it needs to be.

So why not build a server.   You can skip to the break if you want Just The Steps.

The background is that I use Debian Linux here for almost everything I do.  I have a Windows computer that I almost never use.  Microsoft has turned Windows into an unpleasant operating system where you are sending data back at every turn of what you are doing.  Who ever made the decision to grant themselves that should be fired, mocked, pilloried, set in the stocks, and …

Never mind, there’s Debian.  It’s stable, it is predictable, and because it isn’t spying on you, it runs faster and is much more secure.

Oh and it’s free.

And there is so much information about how to use it that it is insane!

And it’s secure.

And it lets me do everything I want.

And it has a long list of software that has everything I need.

And I can use it for web development, audio and video authoring, file servers, surfing, document processing, …

Get the picture?

Ok.  Surf https://www.debian.org and do a little reading.  Come on back when you’re done.  I’ll be here.

The philosophy is to give you (the user) what you need to get your things done, be stable, and stay out of the way.  It is a bit “spare” or “lightweight”.  The base operating system is familiar but a bit retro or stodgy looking.  It is also intensely configurable.

I mean INTENSELY.  You can change just about anything which is good because I am tailoring this for a moderate speed boost by using a display manager called XFCE.  My choice, you can choose anything else you want.  KDE, Gnome, XFCE, Mate, or Cinnamon.  Others are available and you can end up with something looking like a Mac, Windows 2000, or even just a blank command prompt for slower computers.

Some background info to be aware of:

Debian is a distribution of Linux that does its best to be as open and secure as possible.  The theory is that if you can modify the actual source code, it will be secure because thousands of eyes will be reviewing the program.  That also means that Debian does not include software that is not “open” and is Proprietary and “Non-Free”.  Wifi drivers are the worst offenders, and it is notorious that a Thinkpad will demand a Wifi driver.

The suggestion is that when you move to start the install process, you do so with the computer plugged in, and plugged into an ethernet connection so that it can find whatever drivers it needs.

If the install errors or “fails” it will put up a large notification saying it needs the driver.  That error message will tell you what driver you need, and you can do a search online to find it.  The drivers are always there, I have found, with mainstream hardware.  It means that I have to find the proper package and put it on a second memory stick or chip and let the install program find it.  Since all my computers are Thinkpad laptops, I have the drivers I need on an SDHC chip and an install just grabs it from there.


tl;dr – know your hardware and get the drivers before you start.  Look at Non-Free ISOs first.


Enough blather.  Just the steps.

1) Get the Live DVD Image.  It will allow you to burn the “ISO” to a DVD and boot from it directly or you can use a program to “burn” it to a USB stick and you can boot from that.

Direct Link: https://cdimage.debian.org/images/unofficial/non-free/images-including-firmware/9.1.0-live+nonfree/amd64/iso-hybrid/debian-live-9.1.0-amd64-xfce+nonfree.iso

Link to find “Non Free” versions with many more drivers installed:  https://cdimage.debian.org/images/unofficial/non-free/images-including-firmware/

Link For Other Versions:   https://cdimage.debian.org/debian-cd/current-live/amd64/iso-hybrid/

Select the file that ends in “ISO” that you want.


2) Put the data onto your DVD or Memory Stick:

DVD – use your favorite burner software to write the DVD.

unetbootin – will write the ISO you just downloaded to a memory stick.  Make sure your stick is 2GB or larger.  Follow the specific instructions for your operating system for the program.

DD – for Linux and Mac, you can dd the ISO to the USB stick.  If that usb is on /dev/sdb and the ISO is renamed to debian.iso :

dd if=debian.iso of=/dev/sdb conv=noerror,sync

Once that is done, safely detatch your stick, or dismount your DVD and begin.

3) Boot from your media:

You will probably have to hit a key, typically F2 or F12 or Esc to get into the bios to tell the computer to boot from the external media.  I typically set my medias to prefer to boot from the stick or DVD drive so this happens automatically.  Since everybody has different computers, I’ll tell you to look for a way to set that up, a way to boot from media, or just say go for it.

4) Optional – Test your computer:

A Live DVD or USB Stick is a cool invention.  You basically are booting from the media and are able to run from it.  You have full control, if you know how to do anything in Linux, so you should be able to connect to the network, test your hardware, and even surf to a music site.   While that all sounds like it’s optional, it also makes sure that Linux understands your hardware.  That is not completely optional, but I’ll leave that to you.

5) Graphical Debian Installer:  

You tested the machine, or not and are committed to install.  Select this from the original Main Menu

6) Steps to Install: Steps A to Z will get you where you want to be!

Hit enter on the Graphical Debian Installer prompt.  It will present you with the following questions:

A) Select a Language – English is the default.  Change it to your preferred language

B) Select your Location – United States is the Default.  Change to your preferred area or “other” wherever that is.

C) Keyboard map to use:  Based on your language, American English is the default.

D) Detect and Mount CD Rom:  I don’t have one

E) Load installer components from CD:  Well, I have a stick but it works just the same

F) Configure the Network:  Choose your preferred connection.  Ethernet or Wireless

G) Configure the Network: Select your router if on Wireless, Select protocol (WPA) and give it your wireless passphrase.  It will connect to the internet and configure the network so it can grab software as needed.

H) Host Name.  Name the computer something meaningful like “server” or “debian”.  I always choose a moose related name like moose or rudolph, it doesn’t have to be anything serious.

I) Domain Name: For a home network, this is not needed, leave it blank.

J) Set Up Users and Passwords: Since they changed the way they use Root on debian with this version, leave the root password blank.  You can add the password later once you are up and running from a command prompt.

K) User account:  This will be your main user name.  Typically your own name, however debian will accept anything.  This will also be the only user that will be able to gain Root access because we purposely skipped the last step.  For this install I will be using bill.

L) User Name:  This will be who this person logs in at the login prompt.  Again, you can use anything.  I always have matched it up with the User Account name, so I will use bill again.

M) User Password:  The password you use here will be your user password plus your Root password.  Choose wisely, grasshopper, and do not forget.

N) Configure the Clock: Time Zone (Eastern for me)

O) Partition Disks: You can select “Guided – Use Entire Disk” and not have to calculate anything.  It is a little lazy, and there are other ways to configure it, however this is a basic tutorial and it saves me having to do some math.

P) Partition Disks – Select disk to partition:  You will be presented with a list of drives that are connected to the computer at this moment.  This will include the existing internal hard drive, your USB stick, and any other chips or disks that are connected.  My main hard drive came up called SCSI1.

Q) Partition Disks – Partitioning Scheme: It used to be that every separate tree had to have its own partition.  Then they realized “Math is hard, Barbie” and allowed you to select “All files in one partition”.  I do that.

R) Finish partitioning and write changes to disk:  Like the man says, this will configure the disk via a program behind the scenes and make the changes needed to install to the hard drive.

S) Write the changes to disks: Select Yes to make the changes live.  It will format your hard drive now to the partition scheme you selected before.

Following all that, it will install the system.  Get yourself a drink, it only takes me no more than 20 minutes, on a bad day.  Your mileage may vary.

T) Configure Package Manager: Use a Network Mirror – Yes.  Makes your life easier.

U) Configure Package Manager: Debian Archive Mirror Country: Select your country, United States was my default.

V) Configure the package manager – Debian archive mirror: Select a mirror that “looks” like it is close to where you are.  You can change it within the operating system later.

W) Configure the package manager – Proxy information: if you do not use one, leave blank.  I don’t so if you do, you’ll have to figure it out at this point.

X) Install the GRUB Boot loader on a hard disk: Select yes.  It will allow you to boot from your hard drive.

Y) Install the GRUB boot loader on a hard disk: Select the disk that you will be using to boot from, and that you installed to.  Typically this will be called /dev/sda and be the first disk on the list.


Z) Finish the installation:  You are done.  Remove your USB Stick or your DVD and hit enter.  The next thing you see will be the Debian boot sequence

This trip through the alphabet is brought to you by the number 6 and the letters debian.  Happy computing.  You now have a happily installed computer.

Relax!  And watch the boot process.  Or sip your drink.

When you finally get to the operating system, on XFCE Select “Use Default Configuration” for your desktop.  If you don’t then you have to hand configure everything instead of using the Default as a starting place.

Thinkpad X201 Disassembly and The Flu

I have to ask myself what is this fascination of tearing apart computers when I have “a cold”.  In this case, The Cold turned out to be The Flu.  It wasn’t fun.  I’m at about day 5 and this is the first day that I’m clear enough to sit down and write.

The back story goes that I was handed a wee little laptop.  Thinkpad X201 if you are following along.  It’s a pocket rocket of a machine, i7 processor, 8GB of memory, 500 GB mechanical hard drive.  All of that was crammed into a 12 inch case.  It predates the whole “Ultrabook” computer thing where people started building machines that were thin, light, and powerful.  The Mac Book Air is a prime example of what they tried to emulate.

I think they got the power right.  I was told “I have data on this that I need recovered, then see what you can do with it, it’s got a heat problem”.

What Thinkpad doesn’t?  Lenovo switched to a heat sink compound a while back that has the consistency of Silly Putty or dried tub caulk.   That is to say that it dries out and flakes away.  I found that out later when I opened the machine and had little grey bits of goo fall out onto the table.

What I did was to recover the data, there wasn’t much because the machine was not trusted, and then reload it.  It came with Windows 7 so I reinstalled that, then I made sure that Windows 10 would never get onto the machine by turning Windows Update to manual only and checked each update on the list to make sure it wasn’t rumored to be either Windows 10 Related or Windows Telemetry.  I don’t like what Microsoft is doing to a once very stable operating system and neither should you.

There is also a registry setting that will help keep that horrible pest off your computer, but if you have that little nag box sitting in your task bar you can be guaranteed that you will be “upgraded” to Windows 10 Home.

No.  Not on your best day.  I am not allowing that.

When I was chatting with someone he suggested I put it on a torture test and recommended Prime 95 which calculates prime numbers.  It also turns any given machine into a furnace.  I was typing in chat that it was playing well when “Black Screen”.  The processor hit 100C and turned off.   Yes, as in Boiling Water Temperature.  Processors these days tend to run 50C or cooler.  100C under load is going to shorten the life of the machine.  It needed help.

I found a series of videos, one that showed how to disassemble the machine so that the motherboard could be removed.  The second one showed the reverse order how to reassemble it.  By the time I had fully tore this little machine apart, I had nothing left in the case and a mother board on the table with the heat sink below it with a few random coins for size comparison.

If you are curious, there’s a game token, a penny, a UK Pound and a UK Two Pound coin.

I ran that video in stop motion, and every time that the author removed a screw, I removed the same.  It took me about 20 minutes to tear it down.  The picture at the top is the result.  The blue squares are the processors and the heat sink compound.  They were cleaned with Rubbing Alcohol, and the lot was reassembled with the second video one screw at a time.

So if it was so straightforward, why am I writing about it?  So I have the info for later.  Complete with the videos.

Oh, make sure you have a little cup to put all those little screws into.  There were two sizes and they have to be put back in the same holes.  Luckily the video went “Large Screw” first, “Small Screw” Second.

Good luck, Future Me if you have to tear it down.  But after a week of beating it up, it’s a great little laptop to go onto its owner if I can convince him to take it back!

And if you are not “Future Me”, the Standard Internet Warranty applies – this is at your own risk, if your following these instructions turn your laptop into a dragon that consumes you or starts a fire, or causes any sort of damage, you are on your own because I can’t take any responsibility for that.

Besides, I still have the flu.

The Netbook Server – How to Actually Share Part Of The Hard Drive

First, you installed Linux to a RaspberryPi or a Netbook, or whatever you had on hand.

Second, you made it so you could look into that machine from anywhere on your network.

If all you wanted was a taste of how to run Linux and have fun with all those free goodies there, you could have stopped.  Now I’m going to show you how to take a part of the hard drive (a folder) and share it out to the network.

Why?

So you can copy your pictures/recipes/important crap somewhere else.

So you can back up your computer across the network.

So you can brag to the co-workers that you have a proper Linux Home Server and sound like you know what you’re doing.

Well the deal is that it took me a half hour to do this last night.  I was distracted by what was on the TV so it would have taken less time.

I did this on a RaspberryPi first.

 

Since my instructions were written there I then repeated the steps on my Netbook running Debian, so the instructions work.  It also works on anything derived from Debian Linux, so that if you have found this article using Linux Mint, Ubuntu, or any of the other derivatives from the Debian Family, you SHOULD be able to get this working with very little fuss.

If you are familiar with Linux and the way things work, you’re used to finding instructions that promise to do something, get totally frustrated that the instructions are geeked out, and then realize that while it’s working you don’t actually understand WHY things are done this way.

I’m going to attempt to do it differently.  This way when I have to look at it later, I can look at my own B.S. here and say “Oh yeah, I remember this”.

The information you need:

1) Your sign on name – this will be written assuming you are “bill”.  Just change that to your own name from when you created the machine.

2) Your “root” and regular user (bill) Passwords.  

3) The name you gave the computer when you installed Linux.  It could be pi or rudolph or any other name you came up with.  

I will make assumptions and try to explain it all away.  Don’t worry, I followed these same steps last night and the server now “serves” files out to the network.  As long as your network has a firewall, your stuff is safe.

Get the machine “up to date”:

  1. Start your Terminal from the start menu.
  2. su and hit enter – Get “root” by giving it the root password.
  3. apt-get update – pull down all the headers of new stuff since the last time you got on the machine
  4. apt-get upgrade  – actually get all the upgraded software

Answer yes or Y to the prompt asking if you really want to update things, go make yourself something from the kitchen and come back in a bit.  It may take time.  There are always updates.  But if you never make changes to your “Repositories” on Debian or Raspbian, you are safe and free from any nasty viruses.

 

 

Get the Server Software Installed:

You’ll be shocked how little has to be done here.   The server software is called SAMBA.  You know, like the great music from Brazil?   The current name has been made less fun – CIFS.  People tend to say it as “Siffs”.

Geeks.

One line gets the software.  In terminal from the last part, as root enter the next line:

apt-get install samba samba-common-bin

Configure the Server Software:

You have to roll up your sleeves here.  You are actually going to change a text file, but I’m going to give you the information.  Remember – I am entering it as “bill”.  If you are on RaspberryPi, your regular user will most likely be “pi”.    Change “bill” to what you need it to be.

 

Second, a comment starts with a hash tag.  #

 

1) In terminal where you are signed on as “root”, enter the following line to get into the “Nano” editor:

 

nano /etc/samba/smb.conf  

2) Find the line with “wins support” and change the line to read:

wins support = yes

3) Find “Share Definitions”.  You are going to enter in a block of text.  Remember to change the path from “bill” to match your login name.

 

[Downloads]
comment = Downloads Directory
path = /home/bill/Downloads
browseable = no

    writeable = yes
only guest = no
create mask = 0770
directory mask = 0770
public = no

 

#browseable limits logins to only see this directory and what is created there.  “yes” shares everything.

 

4) ctrl+x to exit, type y to save the file, then enter to get yourself back out to the root terminal prompt.

5) add a Samba user to be able to share that directory.  In terminal enter the following:

smbpasswd -a bill

Enter in a password, then enter it in again.  This is the password you will need to have to be able to get at the files from out on the network on another machine.  You will log in as (bill) and (password) from that other machine when you try to get there using File Manager.  Same thing with Mac or Linux.  They all need that password.

Write down your password.  I recommend using the same as your regular user password.  If you made them all the same as the Root password, well that may be easier.  You can also leave it blank, but I do not recommend that.  In fact, forget I mentioned it (or not…).

6) restart the computer


At this point, the netbook server is now visible on the network.  It is sharing the default login’s “Downloads” directory.

If you go into File Manager in Windows, you will be able to get to the files that are stored in the netbook’s /home/bill/Downloads directory from any other machine on the network as long as you know the default user’s login.  It will ask you for user and password.

If you have followed this, you can use the computer’s name from when you created it.  I now have two servers “rudolph” for the netbook and the raspberryPi.  If computer names aren’t your thing, you can also find them via IP addresses.

But at this point you have a functioning File Server.

You’re done.  Next time it’s getting this machine to serve out files from an external drive that you plugged in.