Category Archives: Software

Kernel 4.4.15 Long Term Support Is Out – It’s Great!

In my  last post I mentioned that I had to downgrade my kernel for Linux Mint 18 because of freezing issues with the 4.4.0 that shipped with Mint 18.tux

With the announcement and release just yesterday of the newest long term support kernel 4.4.15, I decided to bite my lip and give it a try, as I really wanted to have all that is new and improved on my primary computer.

Heading back to the Ubuntu repository, I was able to find, download and install 4.4.15 using the same steps outlined in my last post.

My first impression after running it for 24 hours, it’s great!  Just 1 freeze so far, unlike all the freezing I had with 4.4.0.

Well done to the Linux Kernel team!

Making Mint 18 Work For My Situation: Downgrading The Kernel

I truly love Mint 18 Beta, but as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been having random freezes, 2 or 3 a day when doing general computer work, and 100% of the time if I try to Normalize audio in Audacity. These freezing problems were also occurring in Mint 17.3 after I let a kernel update proceed.

After much experimenting while running Mint 17.3, I found  the 3.16 kernel to be totally stable on my current platform.. Wanting to run Mint 18 Beta for its obvious software upgrades, I decided to attempt to downgrade the kernel.

Because the Update Manager does not offer a way to downgrade kernels using the GUI, I did it manually.

First was to find the kernel I wished to install. The kernel I wanted is in the Ubuntu Trusty kernel repository.

It is extremely important that you download the kernel image for your hardware architecture!

The kernel designed for my machine is the: linux-image-3.16.7-992-generic_3.16.7-992.201604152257_amd64.deb package

Once downloaded, you can simply double click on the package to open the package installer automatically, and once the installer reports that all dependencies are met, go ahead and install it.

Next, reboot your machine, and using the grub menu, select the kernel you wish to boot into. If you don’t see a grub menu at system startup, you can follow these instructions:

To show the grub menu at boot, you need to edit the GRUB config file, as I was booting quietly, not displaying the boot menu. To do that, simply drop to a terminal and edit it with your favorite text editor. I use medit

$ sudo medit /etc/default/grub

will open your text editor in super user mode.

Edit grub

Edit grub

Editing Grub

Editing Grub

You’ll see in the above example, I’ve commented out, using the # symbol, to have the boot process ignore the two commands at lines 7 and 8. Doing this, will now let me see the grub boot menu at startup. Save and close the file, and then, it’s very important that you tell grub that you’ve changed it. Do this by issuing the command:

$ sudo update-grub

Now it’s time to reboot. When you do, at the grub boot window, arrow down to Select previous Linux version, and select that.

 

Since downgrading my kernel, I have had zero, none, nada freezes on this machine. All the applications that are designed for Mint 18 work without issue, and I am one happy goat farmer!

Showing Mint 18 with older kernel

Showing Mint 18 with older kernel

When you’re done, go ahead and uninstall the kernels that were causing you problems.

As new versions of kernel version 4.2+ are released, I will of course give them a try as time allows.

Goat Farmer’s First Impression: Mint 18

I have been so looking forward to Linux Mint 18. As much as I like Mint 17.3, it is based on the older Ubuntu Trusty base files and software that I really wanted to upgrade, I simply couldn’t.

I do a lot with Twitter, so wanted to upgrade to the latest Choqok version, or maybe even try Corebird. I also really wanted to run the newer versions of kdenlive video editing software.

After downloading the Beta version of Mint 18, and burning it to a USB stick. I preceded to install it. My only problem was that after booting to my USB stick, Mint could not see my network adapter. I went ahead and added my wireless network manually, and after that was done, unplugged and then hot plugged the WiFi dongle back in. This let Mint find it, and everything worked fine after.

Installing was as expected. Make sure you check the tick box that you want to install the multimedia codecs, as they are no longer contained in the disk image.

After installation, Mint 18 booted up just fine, and this time the WiFi adapter was working. Next, came doing a cache update and installing all the available updates.

On my Acer Aspire machine that I’m running Mint 18 on, I had previously had problems with the system freezing up at random times. This proved to be a kernel problem, and I’d found that running kernel 3.16 eliminated those freezes. Mint 18 comes packaged with kernel 4.4

Yes, the freezes were back, and unfortunately, there isn’t an easy way to revert to an older kernel with Mint 18. I did find however that the freezes became fewer after I loaded the propitiatory driver for my Intel processors.

Intel Driver

Intel Driver

Further, I find that the system will completely freeze if I attempt to do a Normalize on an audio file when using the Audacity audio editor.

The freezes are down to one a day, with no pattern to them. I find this acceptable for now, and hoping for a patch that fixes it.

Mint 18

My only other head scratch, was that though I installed Mint 18 on an empty drive, it didn’t create and set up a swap partition. Seems unnecessary anyway, as I have 8 gigs of RAM in the machine and even when I had a swap under 17.3, it never got used.

Kdenlive video editing is found to be much faster under Mint 18, with rendering a 5 minute video taking about 18 minutes, where it used to take 35-40 under version 17.3. This is a bonus, as I edit a lot of video!

Final verdict, I’m keeping it!

When Servers Blow Up – Disk Images Save The Day

We rely heavily on our ownCloud server here on the farm. Be it keeping up with our finances or maintaining health records on ourselves and our animals, we couldn’t live without it!

Friday brought severe weather in Florida, and a power outage that occurred during that storm was very hard on some of our electronics. We lost 3 cameras out in the goat pen, plus a computer monitor, and most importantly, our ownCloud server.

Yes, we have house-wide surge suppression, and yes, everything that got blown up was plugged into a further surge suppressor and UPS! Still, lightning goes where it wants, and on Friday, it chose those items.

Enter today’s tale of recovery. You see, while setting up an ownCloud server from scratch isn’t all that hard, it is very time consuming. Getting the Apache web server running just the way you want it, with SSL properly configured can take hours. But, not when you can work with a disk image!

Once our ownCloud server was up and happy many months ago, we used a Linux utility already installed in most Linux platforms, to do a mirror image disk image of our ownCloud boot disk. That disk image sat on an external USB hard drive, just waiting for the day it was needed.

First thing to do was slap a new computer together from our vast stores of often ancient computer hardware. Next, take the drive you want to use for the new server and plug it into a USB drive adapter. Those are handy devices to have around, and are very inexpensive.

Plug your hard drive via the USB cable into a working computer, and then launch the Disks utility

Click on your Menu button, and select Control Center.

Control Center

Control Center

Then select Disks which will launch today’s useful software tool.

Disks Utility

Disks Utility

Here’s where you need to use caution. Make sure that the drive you have selected is the one you wish to write to, and not your current computer’s hard drive!

Select the drive you wish to write to, select the disk image you wish to put on that disk, and let ‘er rip!

Preparing for the restore

Preparing for the restore

Because the new drive was much larger than the original, you’ll notice the warming in the above screen grab. After the disk was written, I then used GParted to resize the Linux partition to use the entire available disk space.

Of course our ownCloud data directory is on an external drive to our ownCloud server, so once the new drive was written and installed into the new computer, all we had to do was boot it up, plug our data drive in and it’s like it never blew up!

So save yourself some grief, make that disk image of your ownCloud or NAS server now, so you have it when you need it!

 

PGA Tour Flash Version Checking Kills Website Access

First things first, Adobe flash should die. It should have died 5 years ago. It’s a terrible, awful plugin that is prone to hacking, memory leaks and a host of other stuff. We all know that!

I watch ONE single sport here on the farm. That sport is golf. Once an avid player, now that I’m in a wheelchair, I can only enjoy the game on TV. Using a standard antenna for television here on the farm, I’m stuck with only watching on the weekends when a match is broadcast on a local network.

When I’ve been interested in watching on a Thursday or Friday, I’ve always relied on the web. PGATourLive has always been my go-to web site for that purpose, until this year.

Wanting to catch up on a couple favourite players this afternoon, I opened the PGA’s video web site and am greeted with a nice new error message.

PGATourLive error message

PGATourLive error message

It seems the webmaster of the PGATourLive website, decided to do version checking for flash, and they refuse to allow you to view their content unless you’re using version 17+

That’s fine, but the version of flash that is used in Linux, always reports as version 11.2.  So even though I’m running the latest version of Flash where Linux is concerned, web sites that do version checking don’t know that!

2 hours of searching the net, trying to find a way to spoof my flash version were unsuccessful, so I guess watching golf via a web browser under Linux is no longer an option. Thanks guys!

Hey PGA Tour, it’s 2016! How about joining the rest of us and use an html5 compliant video format on your sites!