Category Archives: Linux

Linux

Small is beautiful

Carrying on from ‘Does size matter’ I have decided to test my Raspberry Pi 3 model B as a replacement for a desktop machine.

The black box (2×3 inches) is the Pi

The last time I used the Pi was about 6mths ago for a Python project for use in schools (a part of my former life) and the original SD card had Raspbian wheezy installed. On boot up the OS gui failed to load and eventually loaded a command line with errors.

Using another computer I downloaded the latest version of Raspbian….Buster and tried to reformat the SD card using SD formatter

Quick format didn’t work and I had to resort to full format. I then used Etcher to flash to image file to the SD card

Buster comes with basic desktop software installed and includes Libre office, Chromium browser, Claws mail and VNC viewer plus a host of other software and programming utilities

As mentioned in a previous post (Does size matter?) essential desktop software includes Veracrypt and KeePass, an encryption app and a password safe app.

The following website provides excellent and concise instructions to install Veracrypt version 1.2 on a Raspberry Pi

sudo apt install libfuse-dev libwxbase3.0-dev

wget -L -O veracrypt-1.21-raspbian-setup.tar.bz2 https://sourceforge.net/projects/veracrypt/files/VeraCrypt%201.21/veracrypt-1.21-raspbian-setup.tar.bz2/download

tar xvf veracrypt-1.21-raspbian-setup.tar.bz2

chmod +x veracrypt-1.21-setup-console-armv7

sudo ./veracrypt-1.21-setup-console-armv7

Installation takes a few minutes and is not quick.

Running setup at this point there is a long long process to spacebar through numerous license agreements…..and don’t forget to agree ‘y’ for yes at the end. Do not abort this process by pressing Ctl Z or Ctl X otherwise you will have to re-install from the beginning.

Before installing KeePass I thought it wise to update the OS using the following commands

sudo apt update

Followed by

sudo apt full-upgrade

Unfortunately this crashed the Pi ! although it was fine on re-boot and progressing the full update again.

Rather than installing KeePass I use a portable version of KeePass stored on a USB stick which can be used on a Pi by installing ‘Mono’

sudoapt-get install mono-complete

access your USB stick as follows

cd media/pi/yourUSB/KeePass

mono keepass.exe

It takes a few seconds to load but it is perfectly useable and has the added advantage that it can be used with Windows and other Linux operating systems.

In conclusion this version of the Raspberry Pi makes a passable desktop computer albiet a little slow, but it performs all the necssary desktop functions. e.g. Wordprocessing, Spreadsheets, Browsing the internet and using email. A Raspberry Pi 4 is probably a better option with as much memory as possible……4Gb

Failure to launch….and screen issues

Last week my bargain basement desktop PC died…….it refused to boot except for 3 short beeps and one long. POST (power on self test ) beep code for a memory problem I believe…….after opening up and re-seating the RAM memory modules nothing changed the outcome.

Still beep beep beep beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep. Luckily the 90 day warranty was still active. I rang the help desk at Encore and got an immediate response. Next day the desktop was picked up by courier. 3 days later I got my Thinkcentre back with a new motherboard and 8mg of RAM instead of 4mg…….a great result. Impressed with Encore-PC ………as long as this desktop build lasts longer than 3 months 🙂

Next I recieved an unwanted tv from a family member which could also be used a new monitor for my desktop. Unfortunately the initial result was as follows

And what I really wanted was

After much searching on the internet I have concocted the following script file which gets the screen I want

#!/bin/bash
#
# set screen display
#
xrandr
xrandr --newmode "1920x1080" 173.00  1920 2048 2248 2576  1080 1083 1088 1120 -hsync +vsync
xrandr --addmode VGA-1 1920x1080
xrandr 
echo "note the list starts at zero"
xrandr -s 4

Does size matter?

After long service I decided a couple of months ago to upgrade from my 2009 HP desktop (originally running Windows 7) to something more up to date. Namely something that can run Windows 10. Although an avid Linux fan occasionally there is no other option but to use Windows.

Due to a limited budget I decided to scour the internet for refurbished desktops. The only criteria being the ability to run Windows 10.

For 55 quid I got the following

LENOVO THINKCENTRE M92P – PENTIUM G645T 2.50GHZ – 4GB RAM – 250GB HDD

Hard Drive 250GB HDD

Memory 4GB

Operating System Windows 10 Home

Warranty 90 Day RTB Warranty

The biggest surprise on delivery was its size…….I knew it would be smaller but

Its hard to make out in this picture but its about half the size of an A4 magazine. The company supplying the desktop (Encore PC) was slightly disingenuous in that the Thinkcentre boots up into Windows 7 with the option to upgrade (for free) to Windows 10…….. which for non-technical customer could prove to be a little tricky as the package did not include any instructions.

As a desktop PC for standard use it has proved to be more than adequate. After road testing windows for a day or so I installed my current favourite Linux distro which is Ubuntu Studio 19.10 (Eoan Ermine) . This presented no problems although I have yet to try the more resource intense applications available with this distro.

To any standard desktop configuration I use the following software packages can be added

Veracrypt a free open source disk encryption software for Windows, Mac OSX and Linux

Keepass a free open source light-weight and easy-to-use password manager which includes a portable edition that can be used in both a Windows and Linux environment when installed on a USB stick

Due to painful experience I no longer store any information on internal harddrives, all my data is always stored on separate external disks or USB sticks…….in this way my data is always portable and backed up in various locations……sometimes even in the cloud.

For 55 quid I have a great dual boot desktop system.