Windows, BIOS, and UEFI — Adios!

I had some trouble with the laptop (an HP x360 13-A113CL) upgrading to Ubuntu 17.04. But something I did along the way gave the Windows an opening to screw me up, and it did. (I have Windows waiting to screw things up, like a Virus you have to pay for and then validate with a license key, sitting there in a dual-boot configuration (unseen and unused since sometime last September). The simplest way to straighten things out was to reinstall Linux. But things keep changing in the hardware-meant-to-run Windows world, so…

The laptop was only half the problem. I was doing some other work on a completely different PC and and wanted watch YouTube videos and look at manuals on the computer next to me. But it was a Windows PC (a Lenovo H535), and it had a weird audio problem where two drivers were contesting over who was in charge of sound output, so I could only get sound with the first video. After fighting that for half an hour, I said, okay, then, time to give this machine a real operating system.

So: here are some notes.

First, the way you get to the “BIOS” options is probably F1. Probably. (HP, Lenovo)

But it’s not BIOS, it’s UEFI and no matter what you do, you’ll wish they’d never come up with Secure Boot, especially if you want Linux.

So you’ll probably want to use Ubuntu Boot Repair.

Ubuntu 16.10 and Zeroconf

I don’t do enough system admin to enjoy it when I do. (Does anyone?)

When you upgrade Ubuntu, you lose a lot of the software you’d installed. There’s a list of system admin tips that I try to remember here. (Which reminds me, I should find a better home for it for when Twitter dies.)

I couldn’t resolve names of Macs in my local network. I should point out what a shame it is that Mac addresses aren’t the same thing as MAC addresses, since Google as my primary system admin resource.

That’s the work of avahi-daemon and friends (a/k/a Zeroconf and Bonjour). For awhile I thought that something had broken there. But eventually, I figured out that was working, i.e., the problem lay elsewhere.

I wondered if they’d added a firewall to 16.10. They did (or, for all I know, they’ve always had one) called ufw (more here), but it’s (still) not enabled by default. If that ever changes, I can learn what to do about it here.

After about an hour, I found out there is something called nss-resolve. Which is actually a pretty clever idea. Except it wasn’t working. Its configuration file is well documented here. Good luck figuring that out.

Finally, I just compared my 16.10 /etc/nss-switch.conf file with the one from a working installation of 16.04.1. HAH!

Not only was there a difference, it gave me a string I could Google. That brought me to this: http://askubuntu.com/questions/837982/how-to-configure-local-dns-lookup-in-ubuntu-16-10

It also brought me to this: https://github.com/systemd/systemd/issues/4157, which (if I read it correctly) says that I should go ahead and use the string from 16.04.1 that works instead of the one from 16.10 that doesn’t.

Tech Tab Sweep

It’s time to upgrade your Ubuntu machines.

8 things to do after installing Ubuntu 15.04. One of the items is to add a tweak tool, which reminded me of Unsettings.

I’m working on a similar list for Windows, except (a) nobody gets to install Windows, you have to buy a PC with it preinstalled, and (b) there are about 300 things you have to do next.

Speaking of Ubuntu…. I barely know what a .deb is, so this article was complete gibberish to me, with all this talk about Snaps and Snappy for future releases of Ubuntu.

Bjarne Stroustrup outlines changes in store for C++ in v17. I can barely remember how awesome I used to think C++ was back in 1986. And compared to C, I guess is was, then. Today—forget about it. Just give me a scripting language.

Finally: During the 1990’s I used to be a DIY system builder, but the past decade or two I’ve been too busy and too impoverished. And there’s a lot to be said for buying something small. Still, I might get around to building something again someday. This sounds like fun:

Ubuntu Tips

How to upgrade to Ubuntu 14.10 from Ubuntu 14.04.

Or, how to get an ISO if that’s your preferred way.

What to do when you finish upgrading to 14.10.

How to watch YouTube on your Ubuntu machine.

Normally, I run Chrome and/or Chromium instead of Firefox, but there’s a new version of Opera too.

Here’s some tools for scanning on Linux.

How to create a UEFI bootable Ubuntu USB drive using Windows.

Or you can just get a Mac and run the all-new butt-ugly Yosemite.

Twitchy Mouse in Ubuntu

I have a love/hate relationship with Wacom tablets. They’re awesome when they work, but that’s rare, because the drivers are crap. And that’s on a Mac, where a lot of people actually use them.

I installed one on my Linux machine, and from that day forward, the mouse just lived a life of its own — jumping around and generally acting stupid.

So today, on a hunch, I decided to uninstall the Wacom drivers. It seems to have calmed the mouse down a little, but it still randomly jumps a couple of hundred pixels away from where it ought to be.

 

Tab Sweep

I’ve always found CSS all but impossible to debug, so I use as little of it as possible. Here’s a tool that can help: csscss.

I’m so out of touch with media formats, I was still using ffmpeg instead of avconv. If you’re a clueless n00b like me, there are tools that just do it for you. One of them is FF Multi Converter.

This is just insanely cool. Watch the video and make a HyperLapse.

For the past several years, I’ve been developing and using (and developing some more) my own digital photography workflow and it kind of stinks. I’m intrigued by the idea of replacing it with something like Darktable. (Kudus: iLoveUbuntu.)

Years ago, I wrote part of what became Smaart. The part I liked best was the audio spectrogram feature. Today, I see there’s Spek, but it appears not to have the feature I was so pleased with myself for putting in Smaart. It makes me wonder if I could actually, for the first time in 2 decades, make a useful contribution to an FOSS project.

And finally, as a treat, watch this interview with Margaret Thatcher that Ann Althouse posted:

XFCE

I quit using Linux (except as a file server) almost 10 years ago, so I completely missed the Desktop wars. Apparently KDE and Gnome won, with Gnome winning the part of the Linuxphere known as Ubuntu. Which leads to all kinds of out of date help pages telling you how you used to administer a Ubuntu system (“From System Administration choose Disk Utilities”). Along with a fair few pages complaining how Gnome 2 was better, or Gnome 3 was bad but 3.6 fixed most of the problems, or whatever.

As may be. I’m a crusty old bearded Unix user, from the era of Window Managers rather than Desktop Environments. (Well, CDE begat KDE, so I guess there were Desktop Environments even back in those days, but I never worried about them.) For me, it was a big deal (with no small amount of editing config files) to move from FVWM to WindowMaker.

So what do I do? I don’t know. But I’m thinking about Xubuntu and XFCE. How’s that for rebellion? You say you want a revolution!