Linux/Chrome on Chromebook using Crouton

There are many articles about this on the web. This is just a reminder to me as to what I’ve been doing.

Change boot to developer mode

Doing the following deletes all local data on your system. You can always reinstall the Operating System (Chrome seems to do that remotely). But your data is wiped after you do this.

  • Hold down the ESC + ↻ (refresh) key (the refresh key is where F3 would be on a normal keyboard)
  • While holding them down push the ⏽ (power) key (top right corner).
  • Read the rest of this entry »

Date-time missing from menu bar (Ubuntu 16.10)

When I reinstalled Ubuntu 16.10 today, the date and time wasn’t showing up in the menu bar at the top of Unity (I’m going to miss it now that they are planning to stop supporting it in 17.10).

When I clicked on System and Date and Time, everything was correctly set.

The solution comes from here

sudo apt-get install indicator-datetime
sudo dpkg-reconfigure --frontend noninteractive tzdata
sudo killall unity-panel-service

Of these, really only the last was necessary in my case: the dialogue showed that it was up-to-date and when I rant the apt-get install is was clearly already installed.

tags: Read the rest of this entry »


Date-time missing from menu bar (Ubuntu 16.10)

When I reinstalled Ubuntu 16.10 today, the date and time wasn’t showing up in the menu bar at the top of Unity (I’m going to miss it now that they are planning to stop supporting it in 17.10).

When I clicked on System and Date and Time, everything was correctly set.

The solution comes from here

sudo apt-get install indicator-datetime
sudo dpkg-reconfigure --frontend noninteractive tzdata
sudo killall unity-panel-service

Of these, really only the last was necessary in my case: the dialogue showed that it was up-to-date and when I rant the apt-get install is was clearly already installed.

tags: Read the rest of this entry »


Displaylink and Ubuntu 16.10 and 17.04

I have a new supercool three screen setup in my office.

To run this, I am using two cables: A old-style displayport cable to the middle screen, and HDMI cables, via a Dell USB3 Docking station, to the side screens.

Running screens via a USB docking station requires me to use DisplayLink. Fortunately, Displaylink have an Ubuntu driver. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to work with 17.04 and getting it to work well with 16.10 LTS requires a little fiddling. Read the rest of this entry »


Mounting University of Lethbridge “P” and “W” drives under Linux

Here’s how to find the “P” and “W” drives at the University of Lethbridge.

“P” drives

Your “P” drive is the windows share that represents your standard network desktop (i.e. the thing you see if you log into a classroom or other computer on campus).

Read the rest of this entry »

Recovering encrypted drives

I’ve been disappointed in Ubuntu for several years now, since they switched to the Unity desktop. And for a number of years, my notebook has been chewing up processor power for the simplest of tasks, something I believe may have to do with the fact that I encrypted my home drive during the last install.

I have a couple of serious deadlines coming up and I can’t afford to work on a computer that freezes for a minute or so everytime I try to add a new reference to Zotero or access Chrome.

So time to update the system. Here were the tasks I saw before me:

  1. Backup my files on the system (that will be /home, /var/www, and a dump of all the SQL)
  2. Install a new system, reformating /home and /var and copying the files from my backups.

To make the backups, I did two things: I backed the files up using scp to an online repository; and I copied all my /home files to /var/www, with the idea that I could leave this directory unmounted during installation, then mount it and copy all the files back to the new /home.

Of course things went wrong:

  1. Using scp I forgot to set the archive option. This meant that all my original date, ownership, and group metadata was lost (replaced by the current datestamp and the username I used to access the backup directory). This is a serious issue, since the files go back 15+ years, though it is less serious than having them all vaporised. In practice, however, this is best used as a backup backup.
  2. Despite my careful checking of notes, I ended up reformating my original /var drive rather than my original /home. This meant that instead of my backups, I had the original, encrypted drive preserved. So I deleted this second backup, but preserved the originals instead.

Unfortunately, this also meant that the problem that started all this also remained: the files were on an encrypted drive, and, worse, one that was now unmounted and unconnected to any files system. If I couldn’t find the hex passkey, all the data would be lost.

Fortunately, after many years of crashing computers, I have learned to keep passwords and the like when I’m told to. And so a quick look in my online backups found the file encryptionPassKey (this is more secure and less useful than it sounds: the file was in the encrypted file system, which means it would be safe should somebody try to crack my drive, but also useless to me if I needed to find it in order to unlock same drive; this is why it is a good idea to back things up twice!).

Mounting and extracting the information was simple from there on following the instructions here

  1. create a new mount point for your home directory, e.g. sudo mkdir /mnt/oldhome
  2. find and mount the partition with the encrypted drive to this location. This means the file .Private. you do this using ecryptfs-recover-private (which you may need to install first).
    1. if you don’t know where the file is, run sudo ecryptfs-recover-private with no options; it will scan your drives for .Private files.
    2. if you do know where the .Private file is, you can specify it directly (e.g. sudo ecryptfs-recover-private /mnt/oldhome/dan/.ecryptfs/.Private
  3. Follow the instructions. You may or may not be asked for your key. You may or may not be asked for the password you used to log in to the system you are currently working on. In my case, I was asked the second.
  4. The drive is mounted read only.

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Installing Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty) on Aspire One

Ubuntu, one of the more popular and user friendly Linux installations, has an awkward release schedule. They release in late October (the x.10 release) and late April (the x.04 release). In late October I have essays to mark and need to prepare for the annual conference and meeting of the Text Encoding Initiative. In late April, I have final exams and essays to mark, and need to prepare for going to the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo.

A wise and moderate person would wait to install the newest version of an open source operating system if the release came at a period of high professional demands; but I’m neither wise nor moderate; and installing a new operating system gives some thrills that help break up the monotony of marking.

In this case, with the latest release (9.04 Jaunty Jacaklope), the thrill of installing a new operating system, with what used to be its inevitable mess-ups and desperate attempts at recovery is almost completely gone.


Installing Ubuntu (8.10 Intrepid Ibex) on Acer Aspire One Netbook

I was able to buy a new Netbook unexpectedly, the latest fad and fashion accessory in my set. In Lethbridge, at a bricks and mortar retail joint, you can get them for around CAD$500 (I don’t believe in this Internet business, so don’t shop there. Also, when I want to buy something, I want it in my hand now!). After some comparison shopping, review reading, and looking for Ubuntu case studies, I settled on the Acer Aspire One. I like Acer computers, which I think are very good value for the money, and the Acer One looked like a nice compromise between cost and features.
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