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http://popey.com – Saturday 13th Feb I got the Compaq Evo desktop back to my house and on my desk today. The first thing I did was open up the box and see what we had inside. It’s a 1.7GHz CPU with 512MB RAM (2×128MiB + 1×256MiB), 250GB IDE hard disk, nVidia video card and CD-ROM drive. I had a rummage in my box-o-RAM for some suitable SDRAM and managed to get the box up to 768MiB (3×256MiB), which should help things a bit. I plan to supply the computer with an external USB hard disk for doing incremental backups of data only, just in case. After the chat with Mum yesterday, I decided to hedge my bets and install a dual-boot Windows XP and Ubuntu 9.10 system. That way she’d be all setup for whatever OS she chooses, and we have the ability to switch (in either direction) based on our experiences. Given the disk is 250GB I decided to just split it 50/50, installing Windows XP first. The process for installing XP from the original CD went smoothly as expected. During the installation I told XP to only use 50% of the disk, leaving the rest free for my subsequent Ubuntu installation. The post-install steps of ‘install windows update’, ‘install SP3′, ‘install updates’, ‘install IE8′, ‘activate WGA’, ‘install updates’ interspersed with reboots is painful but fairly predictable, with only one hangup. I then added what I thought might be useful with little planning including Microsoft Security Essentials, Openoffice.org, Firefox 3.6, Thunderbird 3, Adobe Flash and Adobe Acrobat. Once that lot was done I added a few more interesting things. I registered a dynamic hostname with DynDNS so that I could “get to” her machine over the Internet without having to ask her for the IP address. I installed a Windows client (from the same website) which automatically updates the Dynamic DNS entry. I also installed gitso (a remote control app) so I could easily remotely control the Windows desktop. I already have a domain and email configured, so I setup an email address for Mum and setup Thunderbird to access it via IMAP. I received mail and sent a test mail to make sure it all worked okay. The anti-spam features are at the server end, so she shouldn’t have to worry about that at all – not that she’ll even know what spam is to be fair! I created a separate user for Mum and myself, both are admins. Perhaps I should set her account to be a limited one for now, so she can’t do too much damage, or install random things. There’s possibly changes I’ll make to the Windows install, perhaps switching to Google chrome as the browser, maybe add other apps I’ve not considered yet. I should install some backup software for certain. The one that comes on the XP CD will probably be good enough. Next I moved on to install Ubuntu, which by contrast was a breeze I just put an Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic) CD in the drive and booted off it. I went through the installer chosing to install onto the empty (unpartitioned) space on the disk. I set myself up as the first user and selected to encrypt the home folders using ecryptfs (basically a tick box in the installation). I didn’t use the Windows migration assistant, enabled popcon (popularity contest) and finished the install. I booted into Ubuntu, recorded my encryption passphrase and installed the outstanding 223 updates followed by a reboot. Once back in I attempted to install the binary driver for the nVidia Vanta card, however I was scuppered. It turns out that the Vanta cards are not supported any more by the nVidia binary driver. The video performance of the open source nv driver is quite sucky. I suspect that Mum won’t be especially bothered by that, but it’s annoying nonetheless. I had a look around in my box-o-cards for a replacement card but there was nothing suitable, so continued to use the onboard half-height Vanta card. I then installed some extra applications. sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras gramps deja-dup openssh-server ddclient apticron firefox-adblock-plus ubuntu-restricted-extras: Installs Adobe Flash, video/audio codecs, fonts and other evilness. gramps: Family tree software. I already have maintained some of our family tree in gramps, so I can help Mum here. deja-dup: Simple scheduled backup tool to backup data to the USB hard disk. openssh-server: So I can ssh into her Ubuntu machine and remotely adminster/update it. I can also tunnel VNC over this connection. ddclient: DynDNS client to update the dynamic DNS hostname, so I can find her machine on the Internet. apticron: Emails me when updates are available. firefox-adblock-plus: Adblock Plus add-on for Firefox. Finally I created a new user for my Mum. In Ubuntu 9.10 there’s no tickbox in the “Users and Groups” application to enable encrypted home using ecryptfs. This has been fixed in Ubuntu 10.04, but under 9.10 I had to use the following command to create Mums account:- $ sudo adduser <username> --encrypt-home After which I recorded the encryption passphrase as prompted by a pop-up dialog. This is essential if I need to re-install the OS (for example) and restore access to the encrypted files in the user home directory. Hopefully I’ll never have to worry about that, but I just know that if I don’t write down the encryption passphrase, I’ll end up needing it at some point. Sunday 14th Feb I wanted to buy another Acer Aspire Revo as a media playback PC at my house (I already have one). During the order process I toyed with buying an extra one (they’re quite cheap computers) for my Mum instead of the crusty-but-working Compaq Evo I had been using up until now. After a short internal fight of “she doesn’t need this!” vs. “this would be such a sweet PC for her!”, the latter demon won, and I bought two (one for me, one for her). So now Mum is destined to get a Revo instead of an Evo (which seems appropriate somehow). I pondered how I could get the installations of XP and Ubuntu that I’d already done on the Evo into the Revo when it arrives on Monday. The Evo has a desktop size 250GB disk, and the revo has a laptop sized 160GB disk. I discovered Clonezilla which I downloaded and burned onto a CD-R. Clonezilla has some funky options for making a ‘clone’ of disks or partitions and restoring them on another machine/disk. It also has a funky dist-to-local-disk option which sounded interesting. It seems I’m the only one who never knew about Clonezilla, because as soon as I mentioned it, people told me they’ve been raving about it for ages. Booting Clonezilla on the Evo allowed me to follow some basic prompts to mount a samba share on my network (in my case that’s my Drobo with lots of disk space) and backup the 250GB disk over the network to a bunch of files. Even more amazing is that Clonezilla only backed up the data. So I didn’t end up with a monster 250GB file, but a few much smaller ones:- alan@wopr:/media/drobo/images/2010-02-14-17-img$ ls -l total 6347448 -rwxr--r-- 1 alan alan 4 2010-02-14 18:18 disk -rw------- 1 alan alan 2097152000 2010-02-14 17:49 hda1.ntfs-ptcl-img.gz.aa -rw------- 1 alan alan 2097152000 2010-02-14 18:00 hda1.ntfs-ptcl-img.gz.ab -rw------- 1 alan alan 1003519444 2010-02-14 18:06 hda1.ntfs-ptcl-img.gz.ac -rw------- 1 alan alan 1295502304 2010-02-14 18:17 hda5.ext4-ptcl-img.gz.aa -rwxr--r-- 1 alan alan 37 2010-02-14 17:36 hda-chs.sf -rwxr--r-- 1 alan alan 31744 2010-02-14 17:36 hda-hidden-data-after-mbr -rwxr--r-- 1 alan alan 512 2010-02-14 17:36 hda-mbr -rwxr--r-- 1 alan alan 463 2010-02-14 17:36 hda-pt.parted -rwxr--r-- 1 alan alan 361 2010-02-14 17:36 hda-pt.sf -rwxr--r-- 1 alan alan 14359 2010-02-14 18:18 Info-dmi.txt -rwxr--r-- 1 alan alan 11677 2010-02-14 18:18 Info-lshw.txt -rwxr--r-- 1 alan alan 1336 2010-02-14 18:18 Info-lspci.txt -rwxr--r-- 1 alan alan 286 2010-02-14 18:18 Info-packages.txt -rwxr--r-- 1 alan alan 10 2010-02-14 18:18 parts -rwxr--r-- 1 alan alan 53 2010-02-14 18:18 swappt-hda6.info alan@wopr:/media/drobo/images/2010-02-14-17-img$ du -hs . 6.1G . Fantastic! Looking forward to tomorrow when the Revo arrives. Pondering how badly Windows XP is going to react to being moved from the Evo to the Revo. (Distributions)