Category Archives: computers

Installing Debian Linux

After Rebuilding a Linux System I decided to see if I could add another distribution to it. I was short of space on the hard drive, but I had a 250GB SSD. Unfortunately, on opening up the computer I could not see an easy way to connect the drive internally. I did, nowever, have an external SSD case with a USB 3.0 connection, so I put the drive in there and connected it to a USB 3.0 port on the computer. Then I booted from the netinst iso for Debian 11. I set the root (/) partition on the new USB ssd, but used the same swap and /home partitions I had created for Ubuntu. I could not see any reason not to use the same swap partition and I am guessing that since Ubuntu and Debian are quite similar it will possible to share /home. We will see….
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A Linux System that booted slowly

Rebuilding a Linux System went well, but afterwards I realized that my new system was taking forever to boot. [SOLVED] Slow Boot w/errors suggested some ways to proceed. A first step was to edit /boot/grub/grub.cfg, replacing GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash" by GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="", to show all the messages in the boot process, and also get a quick look at where it might be hung up. Fine with me, I like to see all those messages. Also, the command systemd-analyze blame shows how much time each step was taking. The offender appeared to be on or just after mounting the root (/) partition.

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Rebuilding a Linux System

I meant this to be “Reconfiguring a Linux System,” but that is not how it turned out. I had followed the default Ubuntu installation process when I set up this system. I wanted to change it so that the swap area and /home would be in separate disk partitions, as decribed in these articles in How to Geek and Make Tech Easier. The first step in this process is to create the new partitions using GParted, which I have used before. GParted always gives dire warnings about the need to back up your files before using it. I have always heeded these warnings, but this was the first time the reason for them was brought home to me.

“Failure is always an option.”-Adam Savage

Replacing another hard disk

Following my success in Replacing a hard disk I decided to do the same for a Lenovo ThinkPad X130e, which I had purchased for about $250 (again) from Micro Center. The BIOS on this system dates from 2011, not quite as ancient as the Optiplex I had modified before. This replacement was somewhat more risky, since I had installed Linux on it in addition to the Windows 10 home edition it came with. Would the GRUB dual boot system survive the cloning process? I also used a 512GB SSD to replace the 320GB hard drive, hoping to install an additional Linux distribution or two.

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Replacing a hard disk

I have a Dell Optiplex 780, which I bought used from the Box Shop some years ago for about $250. The date of the BIOS is 2008, so it is quite ancient. However it is a 64 bit system, with 4GB RAM, and virtualization support. It must have been considered a fine machine in its day. It still works. I have installed Windows 10 on it, even that OS is not officially supported on it, and before that two varieties of Linux. It is no longer my primary system, but I am not yet ready to part with it. Hence How to Copy Your Windows Installation to an SSD caught my eye, since replacing a hard drive by an SSD is a good way to speed up an old system.

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WSL: Files and Environment Variables

Continuing from WSL: Directories and Files.

The Ultimate Guide to Windows Subsystem for Linux (Windows WSL) points out that with WSL2 the Linux file system is a virtual disk. In my case

C:\Users\Glenn\AppData\Local\Packages\CanonicalGroupLimited.Ubuntu20.04onWindows_79rhkp1fndgsc\LocalState\ext4.vhdx

I hope there is a way to relocate this file into a directory format that is fit for human consumption.

The Ultimate Guide goes on to consider environment variables. Opening an administrator command prompt as in the example:
“Failure is always an option.”-Adam Savage

The United States-International keyboard layout

I have used the United States-International keyboard layout for years to enter Irish Language accented letters (á,é,í,…) and occasionally German letters with umlauts. I have done this with dead keys: In this layout ‘, `, “, ~, and ^ are dead keys. Nothing happens until you type certain letters following the dead key, at which point the letter appears with the appropriate accent, umlaut, etc. This has worked very well for me. TIL that you can do much more with that layout. How to use the United States-International keyboard layout in Windows 7, in Windows Vista, and in Windows XP explains all of this. Using the Right-Alt key and the Right-Alt-key with the shift key let you enter all sorts of wonderful things, e.g. ß (for German), € (Euro), ¥ (Yen), þ, ð, ø, Ø, ©.

Some of you may know this, but I suspect the vast majority of Windows users, and a lot of Linux users, do not. The link above refers to older versions of Windows, but the layout works on Windows 10 and on Linux. The process of installing the keyboard will depend on your OS. Look for “keyboard layout” in the documentation.