Ubuntu 18.04LTS on the HP boat anchor

Some time ago, we bought three HP laptops. One had a failure we were never able to resolve, and another was replaced by an ASUS desktop. The last was decommissioned back in January. So I decided to try installing the most recent Ubuntu 18.04LTS on one of them. Here’s my notes from the process.

First, re-read this explanation of UEFI Secure Boot and Windows.

download an ISO and verify it

turn the ISO into a bootable USB stick

boot it up and answer lots of questions

wait while everything gets installed

then install Dropbox and Google Chrome

$ apt install ssh # to get the OpenSSH server

$ ssh some-machine # then copy any data not in Dropbox

$ apt install telegram-desktop

$ apt install gnome-tweak-tool  # to enable permanent workspaces

$ apt install colordiff antiword jhead csvtool ffe poppler-utils

$ apt install sqlite3 sqlite3-pcre

$ apt install git curl libreadline-dev

$ apt install vim vim-gtk

$ apt install build-essential

$ apt install libssl-dev zlib1g-dev

$ cd ; git clone git://github.com/sstephenson/rbenv.git .rbenv

$ rbenv -l # to find what version to install

$ rbenv install 2.5.1 # or whatever

Ubuntu Linux on an HP RP5700

I recently had the opportunity to purchase four (4) HP RP5700 systems at $20 each. I’m not entirely sure what I’ll do with the others, but I’m installing Ubuntu Linux on one of them. Here are some notes along the way.

It’s odd how difficult Ubuntu makes it to find the checksums (MD5 hashes) for the ISOs you download. Forget security, how do you know it downloaded properly? It turns out there’s a whole separate page telling you what the checksums are.

Burning CDs is hopeless. Optical discs are such an amazingly useless medium. About one in four works at all, and those suffer from bit rot even quicker than floppy disks used to. The instructions for making a CD are fine, but the Burning ISOs HOWTO is available if you have problems.

I’m so glad we have USB sticks now. The instructions for making a bootable USB stick are somewhat arcane, but I have the computer science background that makes it look easy.

I had problems installing the bootloader. That’s a fatal error, I understand, from an otherwise unhelpful dialog box. A whole bunch of searching around brought this page to my attention, which explains what to do about certain kinds of grub installation failures.