Monthly Archives: March 2014

Searching Your Computer

Windows search has a cool setting that lets you search for text strings inside of a file, not just a file name.

Did you know that Linux has the same feature?

Just open your Software Manager from the menu and search for: Searchmonkey

It’s included in most Linux software repositories, or you can download it at the link above.

With Searchmonkey installed, you can now look inside of all your files to find what you are looking for!

 

Information Organization

We’re often asked by other goat owners, what’s the best software  to keep track of their goat herds.

Goats are great animals to have on a small farm. They are intelligent, curious animals that make wonderful companion animals. Goats are great for clearing brush and weeds from your yard too!

Goats are also difficult animals to keep healthy, requiring different immunizations and procedures on an often monthly basis. Keeping track of all that is essential to their well being!

What do we use here on the farm? A simple spreadsheet!

goatsheet

There are many flavors of office software out there. But why purchase something when you can get it for free! Most LInux distributions come with a comprehensive office suite. We use both Open Office and Libre Office here on the farm.

SImply create a new spreadsheet documet, set up your template on how you want your data displayed, and off you go!

 

 

Drive Imaging

Yesterday, we learned how to do a backup. Today, we’ll learn a different way to preserve your computer data.

Drive imaging is another way to bring your computer back from the dead. Unlike a regular backup, drive imaging can restore not only your personal files, but also your entire operating system as well. After restoring a drive image, your computer will look exactly like it did on the day you did the drive image!

The best way to do a drive image, is to use the Linux distribution called CloneZilla

Simply download the Clonezilla distribution, and do an .iso burn to a blank CD-ROM.

Clonezilla is what is called a LiveCD. You boot your computer using the Clonezilla CD-ROM.

Once booted up, you can then follow the on-screen instructions to make a 1 to 1, bit by bit image of your entire hard drive. If you have a dual boot system on your computer (on a single hard drive) then Clonezilla will restore everything, both operating systems and the Grub boot loader will be be imaged.

Clonezille is a great tool to use if you are upgrading your hard drive, say from a small 80 gig unit, to a larger, say 500 gig drive.

It’s important to note that after you image your drive, files added later will not be there, so it’s important to also do a rebular backup like we discussed yesterday!

 

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Do You Back Up?

Linux is a very easy operating system to back up. All of your personal files are found in the Home directory. In a catastrophic crash, like a hard drive failure, if you have backed up the Home directory, getting everything back in working order is very simple and straight forward.

Backing Up:

There are several different software packages that you can use to backup and restore your files. We use Luckyback which can be found in in your Software Manager. Luckybackup has two modes – regular and superuser. Regular will allow you to backup your entire home directory, where your photos, music, documents, etc are located. Superuser mode will allow you to do backups for directories like the /var/www directory where your web server files are located.

After you install Luckybackup, the first thing you will do is create a backup job. This is simply selecting the source and destination for the backup. After this is done, you can do a dry run, without actually moving any files. This will help to make sure that the backup will be successful.

As to the destination, you can use a thumb drive if you  don’t have many files, or better yet, and external USB hard drive. After the backup, put the thumb drive or external hard drive away in a safe place.

Restoring:

When it’s time to restore a crashed computer, simply reinstall your operating system, remembering to also reinstall Luckyback, then open Luckyback and run restore!

Make sure you don’t open any applications, like your mail client or browser until after you do the restore. This will insure that directories and files that are created dynamically when you launch the application aren’t created.

If you a run web server on the machine to be backed up, and it uses a MySQL database, don’t forget to do an export of your database and save it to your backup drive too!

Luckybackup has saved our bacon more than once, and it can save you too!

 

 

Still Running XP?

That old computer isn’t dead yet! You can bring it back to life in less than an hour by installing Linux!

Let’s face it, most people use their computers for 2 things, email and surfing the web. Linux comes ready for those tasks with the Firefox web browser and the Thunderbird email client! (As well as dozens of other programs to sort and play your music, edit your photos, write letters etc.)

Have an Android phone or tablet too? Plug it in, and Mint will give you access to all the files on the device. Makes it easy to move your favorite music and photos to your phone or tablet!

We recommend Linux Mint for that task!

First thing to do is back up your personal files like photos and music. Thumb drives make this an easy process of you don’t have a lot of files. Just copy your files from your computer, to the thumb drive! After that’s done, safely remove the thumb drive and put it aside until it’s time to copy your files back to your computer.

Next, it’s time to try out Mint:

Make sure you are connected to the internet on the machine to be upgraded, then, download Mint to your hard drive. we recommend the Mint 13 distribution for older computers. Further, we recommend you download the MATE 32 bit version of Mint. (It will look the most like XP once installed.)

Once downloaded,  burn a DVD from the .iso image. Your burning software will have an option to burn an iso image.

Once that’s done, leave the disk in the drive and reboot your computer. Mint will boot up to what’s called a live image, where you can play with Mint, and if you like it, Install Mint on your computer!

If you have enough free  space on your hard drive, you can even, by following the on-screen instructions, have both operating systems. Then you can choose which one you wish to use at boot-up!

Need more software? Then open the Software Manager from the menu. There, you will find tons of free software! Keeping your checkbook? Then install GNU Cash. Most any task you require, you can find free software to do it! The best part, you don’t need to surf the web looking for software, it’s all in there Software Manager!

(Keep in mind, that if you wipe your computer to install Mint, that XP will be gone for good, unless you have your factory original XP disks to reinstall it. We’re not responsible for anything you might lose, so proceed at your own risk!)