As much as I like playing in the terminal, the jury is still out as to how much I like working with Cisco. To be as objective as possible, I need to tell myself that: 1, I am not familiar with the command set or how they like to do things so I must be open minded; 2, Relax, the command line is a happy place to be and 3, this is new territory, don’t get frustrated, just write it down and enjoy the learning process. Also, my brother in-law, whose career is in network administration just loves this Cisco business so it turned out to be quite educational. The scope of this article is not how to set up a router, just, this is how I was able to get going with it.
The specific Cisco switch I configured was a Catalyst 3560 series PoE-48. I am sure these direction will work with other similar devices. Since I am an openSUSE user, the directions are tailored as such.
My first step was to find a piece of software that would work for me for this and I am sure that there are a ton of solutions but the one that worked the easiest for me was minicom. I am open to other suggestions, of course.
This is in the official repository so you can go into the terminal and type this to install it:
sudo zypper install minicom
I would give the alternative option to do the Direct Installation but since you will be in the terminal anyway, why would you do that?
Before you run minicom you will need to add your user as a member of the groups: dialout, lock and uucp.
In all fairness, I don’t know if you actually need uucp but since I use it for serial transfers to Arduino type devices, I am just assuming.
To do this in YaST, select the Security and Users section, open the User and Group Management module and make the changes required for the user.
Alternatively, you can do this from the command line, enter the following as root:
usermod -a -G dialout,lock,uucp
The terminal method is way cooler, just saying.
Before you can set up Minicom, you will have to determine where the serial port is that is connected to your computer. In my case, I have ttyS0 but if you have a USB serial port device, you may have something like ttyUSB0 or similar.
Now that you have an idea as to the name of your serial port you can begin the setup process. Some adjustments are needed so that you can successfully communicate with the router. In the terminal type:
This will bring you to a ncurses style menu system. Arrow down to Serial port setup entry.
To change the serial device to what you have, select A and adjust it to your particular serial interface. Then select E to set the Bps/Par/Bits
The baud rate (Speed) should be set to 9600 (C) and the Stopbits to 8-N-1 (Q).
That should do it. I must stress that this did indeed work for me and your results may vary. The speed and Stopbits seem to be key. I have seen some variations in Software and Hardware flow control but those settings didn’t seem to affect my results.
To make the connection, type minicom in the terminal and you will hopefully be logged into the smart switch.
Although I have screen captured how I configured the Cisco switch, I don’t think it would necessarily apply directly. I also don’t really know what I am doing and had to rely on an expert so I cannot adequately explain the process itself.
Setting up a smart switch in the terminal requires some real knowledge. The point of this write-up was to close some of those gaps that may exist if you decide to embark on going down the “fancy switch lane.” I don’t know if this will work for similar type devices or other Cisco switches. It is a starting point and something to build from. I hope it provides some use to someone other than me.
Additionally, I am very open to suggestions on other similar terminal applications for communicating over serial in the terminal.
With all the talk of VPN (Virtual Private Network) services to keep you safe and my general lack of interest in the subject, I was talking to Eric Adams, my co-host on the DLN Xtend podcast about the subject. He was telling me that he was hesitant to recommend any service so he gave me some option to try out. The one I chose, after doing a little reading was Windscribe.
I am new to the VPN game so I want to be careful in saying, I am recommending this as the perfect solution but rather demonstrating how I set it up and how I am using it on my openSUSE Tumbleweed system. Much in the same way Eric informed me about it.
It’s a nice looking site and I like they have, front and center a Download Windscribe button. I am always annoyed when you have to go digging around to download anything. I give a resounding, “boo” when I am forced to play a scavenger hunt game to find the download link. Thank you Windscribe for not making this part difficult.
Another well presented download for Linux button. No hunting here either. Although, I did notice that there was a lack of definition of my favorite Linux distribution. They have left out openSUSE and that makes me just a bit frowny faced. No matter, I am not a complete “noob” to the Linux-ing and since Fedora and openSUSE packages are like close cousins (in my experience, but I am often wrong), setting this up for openSUSE was pretty darn straight forward.
These instructions are easily adapted to the fantastic Zypper package manager. This is my adaptation of their instructions for openSUSE and is well tested on Tumbleweed.
And that is all there is to it. You will be connected and ready to be part of the cool-kid VPN club.
If you need further help about how to use the different functions of Windscribe.
If you need further information on how to use these other features, please visit the windscribe.com site as I am just using the basic functionality of it here.
If the windscribe daemon service does not automatically start up, you may have to start it manually as root.
systemctl start windscribe
and if you want to have it enabled at startup
systemctl enable windscribe
Those may or may not be necessary for you, but just in case, there you go and your welcome!
First Run and Impressions
There currently isn’t a graphical tool for using windscribe in Linux, or at least openSUSE. Chances are, if you are using openSUSE and are hyper concerned about protecting your traffic, using the terminal is not exactly going to cause you to have heartburn. Installation to execution is truly as simple as I have outlined above.
You can take it one step further in the cool, fun, I am a hacker-poser-type if you run it in a terminal emulator called Yakuake. This is a drop-down terminal that is invoked, on my machine with Meta+F12. It looks cool and very convenient to drop it down whenever I need it.
For the free account, you are limited to 10 GiB of data. To check the status of your account usage, in the terminal type
That will give you an output, something like this:
——- My Account ——- Username: CubicleNate Data Usage: 80.02 MB / 10 GB Plan: 10 GB Free
There is a paid option, which, in my opinion is very reasonable, if you buy a year at a time and I think, if you travel a lot, this may be of great interest to you to protect your data.
If you buy a one year subscription for $49, you are benefited by Unlimited Data, Access to all their locations which they boast as over 60 countries and 110 cities, a Config Generator for OpenVPN IKEv2 SOCKSS which, to my understanding will allow me to use NetworkManager to access the service, and R.O.B.E.R.T. to block ads, trackers and malware. If that is all up your ally, and you like the free service, it all seems pretty well worth it to me.
What I Like
The installation was simple, using it is simple (so long as you are good with the command line) and the performance is very acceptable. Since I am using this when I am away from home, I don’t expect any break-neck speeds out of it, I just prefer that my traffic is at least somewhat protected. After listening to this episode of Destination Linux, I felt like it was a good idea to intact some sort of VPN when I’m out and about.
What I Don’t Like
There isn’t a graphical interface for the terminal-phobic folks. Not a problem for me or likely most Linux users, but there are some that just won’t use it. That’s just the way it goes.
I don’t like that I am not quite familiar with Windscribe. That is not a fault of the service, just the fact that I know so little about them. I will tell you that every email interaction with Windscribe has been amusing so that bodes well for what I think of them.
I know that my employer requires me to VPN in to do any real work so even they recognize the value of a good VPN, so maybe I should too. How often do I plan to use it? Not all that often, really. Maybe a few times a month, specifically when I am using an internet access point that I do not trust. I will especially use it if the access point is has “xfinity” in the SSID as I have little to no trust for them.
I appreciate how simple this is to use and should I get to the point where I am pushing my 10 GiB per month limit, I will go all in on an annual subscription. It’s not that expensive to put up one extra line of defense, especially one as convenient as this.
Fedora is a Linux distribution that has been around since the beginning of my Linux adventure and for which I have incredible respect. I have reviewed Fedora before, and it was a good experience. Last time I used Fedora, I used Gnome and since I am kind of Gnome fatigued right now, I thought it better to use a different desktop, one that I can easily shape my experience to my needs, clearly, there are only two options but I chose to go with the primer, most easily customized desktop, KDE Plasma, ultimately, I want to compare my Fedora Plasma experience with my openSUSE Tumbleweed Plasma experience. I have no intention of switching distros but I do like to, from time to time, see how other distributions compare. Of all the distributions available outside of openSUSE, Fedora and Debian are the two that interest me the most but for different reasons.
This is my review as a biased openSUSE Tumbleweed user. Bottom Line Up Front. Fedora is a nearly perfect [for me] distribution that is architecturally and fundamentally sound from the base upward. It is themed just enough, out of the box, to not annoy me with any irritating impositions. It really feels like I have been given keys to a fantastic house, albeit a bit spartan, waiting for me to make it my own. Technically speaking, there is nothing I dislike about Fedora. I could get along just fine in Fedora Land but openSUSE Land edges out for me with the Tumbleweed convenience and the broader hardware support.
I want to be careful how I describe my experience here, I do not want to disparage the installer at all and blame any issues I had with it on me. What I appreciate about the installation process, I grateful that I can go right into the installation immediately.
There is something spectacularly simple and clean about the boot screen. No frills, no fluff. Just down to business. If that doesn’t say Fedora, I don’t know what does!
The next step will be to set your language and location. The next screen is an Installation Summary screen. I like this and I also don’t like this. I like it because it allows me to jump around, I don’t like it because I am not used to this layout. You can’t proceed with the installation until you complete all the steps, so that is good.
I started with the Root and User creation settings. This is very straight forward. I like the root options that are presented to lock the root account and whether or not to allow SSH Login with Password.
For the Installation Source, I am less impressed with this section, as compared to the openSUSE installation method. Maybe I don’t understand this part exactly, I was a bit confused. The correct choice would be “On the Network” from here and leave it on “Closest mirror”.
What I like about the openSUSE method is that it uses local and the remote sources together, not a selection of one or the other. This is entirely a preference thing but if the local packages are just as up to date as the remote packages, why not pull from those as well. I will admit, I don’t know whether or not this installer is doing that automatically, but my impression is that it is one location or the other. Again, not a big deal, just a head scratching moment.
The Software Selection tool is blow-me-away fantastic. I love this, it is just super to use and makes perfect intuitive sense. Since I want KDE Plasma Workspace and some of the Software Categories, that is what I selected. I think this is a great feature.
You can do this with the openSUSE Installer and it is a bit more granular but not as approachable as this, in my opinion.
The Installation Destination tool is a nice interface. Select the destination and go with it. I didn’t do any complex partitioning but this interface is pretty great.
I can’t say whether or not this is as feature rich as the openSUSE Partitioner but I do prefer this to many other distributions.
Select to begin the installation, it will go through the process without any propaganda and when complete, select the Reboot System in the lower-right corner and you are ready to fire up Fedora.
First Run and Impressions
Fedora boots up with the stock Plasma Splash screen and a very stock Plasma desktop, beautifully stock desktop. A desktop that says, I am ready to be shaped to your requirements. That is a huge “thank you” to Fedora.
..mostly. The first order of business was to fix my menu. The Application Launcher is not my favorite to work with. That is altered by going to the “Show Alternatives” Where I switched to the Application Menu.
Fedora is running Plasma 5.17.4, same as Tumbleweed Snapshot 20200110 (time of writing). I really don’t know if Fedora keeps this updated or if it will be updated at Fedora 32. Either way, this is something I will keep an eye on.
The next step was to fix the theme. Like many distributions, Fedora goes with the odd Light theme which just looks too “Wonder Bread” to me. I prefer something with a little more awesome factor, so I go with Breeze Dark.
That slight tweak makes Plasma all that I want it and as I’ve said for every other distribution, dark should be default.
I may have missed it but I didn’t see the spot to set up the hostname through the installation process of Fedora. That is not a big deal, really. I did search to see if maybe there was an admin tool for this but nope. There isn’t a graphical tool as you would find in openSUSE but again, not a big deal.
Making the adjustment in the terminal is kind of a fun exercise.
A fun little command you can use to check this is hostnamectl
To change your host name, run in the terminal as root:
Change the hostname there to whatever it is that you want.
To input text in VI, you will have to press “i” write whatever it is you want to make the hostname, press the “esc” key and type :wq to write and quit and you are done.
To verify the change, type hostnamectl in the terminal and make sure you are set.
Edit: Due to some feedback from those better studied than me, you can set the hostname during the installation process. I missed it. So, in case you miss it like me, you can fix your mistake as I have.
Setting up Fedora to do multimedia things is not difficult at all. I have previously demonstrated this and I will put it in here too. It is nice that this process hasn’t changed at all in the last two years.
There is a base recommended multimedia set of packages for the codecs:
This process is easy enough for a novice Linux user do on to set up, so long as they aren’t afraid of working in the terminal. If you want a graphical interface for this you will have to search elsewhere or perhaps not use Fedora.
What I Like
Fedora is a blank slate, an industrial grade system that will do its job and work. It doesn’t have all the wiz-bang tools like YaST that I appreciate and rely upon in openSUSE but that’s okay. There are plenty of resources and guides out there to get you though any of the core system configurations.
Multimedia setup on Fedora is very straight forward. Not any more difficult than openSUSE but is less convenient than how you accomplish this on Ubuntu. I understand and don’t fault why Red Hat and SUSE dictate the separation as they are very concerned about the potential litigious consequences of having it included.
Fedora is a solid, well thought out, well plumbed product that has a very robust installation system. The package manager, DNF, has very easy to understand syntax. The output from its interaction is very well formatted and readable as to what it is doing. It could use a little more color, like Zypper, but I am good with single colored text.
Fedora enables a firewall by default. Firewalld is not only installed by default but the interface is there, ready to be used. I applaud that as it seems like there are many distributions that do NOT have a firewall activated by default and whatever the excuse is for it, I don’t buy it.
What I Don’t Like
As nice as the installation system is on Fedora, there are some User Interface bits that are a little different and therefore takes a bit to understand what needs to be done. It is a nitpick issue as if I were in Fedora for an extended period of time, I would be fine with it. I just don’t like it as much as some others.
When using DNF, I find it isn’t as feature rich as what I accustomed to on Zypper. DNF is good, real good and there are ways to get around what DNF doesn’t have. For example. If I want to see what KDE packages are installed on openSUSE with Zypper, I would run zypper search -i kde. That would only show the installed “KDE” packages. There isn’t an equivalent command with DNF, but you can do it with the RPM command, rpm -qa | grep kde. I admit, I am not as well studied in DNF and there may be a way to do it but it wasn’t completely obvious to me.
Edit: I have been corrected on this point. DNF does have a search ability, although my method of using rpm does work, you can use the DNF method as such: dnf list installed \*kde\* This does indeed work as expected and gives a great resulting list.
Firefox doesn’t have the kfiledialog patch applied to it like you would have on openSUSE. I didn’t realize how much the default file dialog box annoys me until I had to use it on a non-openSUSE Plasma system. This is almost irritating enough to make me choose a different browser. This is not a hyperbolic statement, I am quite sincere. I don’t understand why Fedora and Kubuntu, for that matter, can’t apply this same patch that has been available for as long as I can remember, 10 years, maybe? I don’t know exactly.
Just a little thing, but the sudoer file is empty or rather, set up as such that I can’t “sudo <some command>”. I have to su than run some command as root. Not a huge deal, but just a minor annoyance.
Fedora with KDE Plasma is a great choice. All my issues with Fedora are just nitpicks and not show stoppers, at all. Though, I don’t understand why they can’t copy openSUSE’s use of the Kfiledialog patch. I will concede that perhaps it’s more complicated than I understand. What is absolutely clear to me is how the underpinnings are well orchestrated on Fedora as it is certainly well tested and usable.
I would absolutely recommend anyone try Fedora. Just understand, this is an industrial-grade Linux distribution that is not as heavily focused on the desktop experience. Fedora feels well tested which makes the final product for the user a great, solid and smooth experience. I don’t know if I would recommend Fedora for the “brand new to Linux” user unless they are already technically inclined. You certainly cannot be afraid of the terminal when using it but if you are good with it, it is an incredibly positive experience.
Would I switch from openSUSE Tumbleweed to Fedora? No, I would not. The reasons are very specific too. Number 1, I like the rolling model of Tumbleweed with the safety-net of the BTRFS snapshot system. Fedora doesn’t have this out of the box but I am sure you could incorporate it if you wanted. Fedora’s DNF is decent, has a great syntax but I don’t know if it is at feature parity to Zypper and it would take more time of me using it to determine that. DNF is newer so it is likely to get more features in the future. openSUSE seems to support more hardware than Fedora. I don’t blame Fedora for that as it is a very forward-leaning distribution. Lastly, I think openSUSE just has a more fun logo. I agree that it is a superfluous reason but none the less, I do like that chameleon.
The killer feature of the Plasma Desktop has been the KDE Personal Information Manager, Kontact. I have been using it since 2004 time frame and although we have had a tenuous relationship over the years, specifically the switch to the Akonadi and the pain that came with it in the early years. I actively use Kontact on multiple machines for the feature richness of it and haven’t found anything in existence that I like better. I also exclusively use Kontact on openSUSE Tumbleweed with the Plasma Desktop Environment.
I have decided to publish my reference concerning the maintenance it requires. I could be an edge case since I have five mail accounts and multiple calendar accounts as well. Historically, I have had issues where losing network connection, regaining it, suspending and resuming my machine over a period of time would cause the thing to have fits. So, here are my fixes, whenever the need arises.
One quick caveat, your results may vary and don’t hold me responsible for your data.
Problem 1: Akonadi Gets Stuck and Stops Checking Email
This is rare as of late but 3 or 4 years ago, this was indeed a problem. I think I have used this once in the last month (Jan 2020 at the time of writing) but this is what I do.
In the terminal or even in Krunner type the following
This will stop all the processes. Sometimes they can hang and this will gracefully shut the thing down. At this point, you can start it back up in Kontact or in the terminal or krunner type:
If you do this in the terminal, you can enjoy the scrolling of all the activity going on and gain some appreciation for what it is doing.
After that, you should be good to go.
Problem 2: Clearing out Cached Data
From time to time, I notice that the Akonadi cache under ~/.local/share starts to grow an awful lot. Part of it is that I don’t delete emails, but there is a percentage of that data that is vestigial and can easily be cleared out. This requires two commands and a bit of patience on your end.
Start out by running a “file system check” on the Akonadi database in the terminal.
This takes a bit and will display all found unreferenced external files and such. Once complete, run this:
This process will optimize the tables and you will recover a bit of data. I admit, this doesn’t make a huge change but it will clear things out. The last time I did it, I only freed up a few megabytes of data but but it’s something.
You know those stories of people that have these crazy habits that don’t make sense, things they do that don’t really help or solve a problem like making sure the spoons are organized in just the right fashion? Yeah, well that could be what this whole post is and my obsessive-compulsive tenancies are in full expression. So, take all that into account should you choose to use any of these references.
I am not a “Distro Hopper” but I like to try out other distributions of Linux or operating systems, for that matter. I don’t have much interest in wiping out my main system to find out I prefer openSUSE over something else. The alternative is virtual machines. I have found that QEMU/KVM seems to work better with openSUSE Tumbleweed than Virtualbox. I have previously described this issue here.
The issue I had today was that when starting a Virtual Machine Guest on may system, I received an error without any real hint as to the solution of the problem. A bunch of details that, frankly didn’t make a whole lot of sense so I searched the title of this error:
Error starting domain: Requested operation is not valid: network ‘default’ is not active
I found a reference that fixed the issue and so I made myself a little reference as another gift to future self. For you know, when I break something again.
In my ongoing mission to ensure that I am keeping up on as many wiki pages for openSUSE as I can, I noticed that the information I put in for the terminal installation process for the Budgie Desktop was not right, I didn’t look through the history but I’m sure it was absolutely my fault. Regardless, I decided to test it out in a VM and see that it installs properly and I could play around in it without crashing. Sure enough, it seems to be working well and after switching things up to a dark them, I thought it looked pretty darn good.
A simple command in the terminal makes the magic happen:
sudo zypper install budgie-desktop
After Zypper does its thing, logging out and logging back in will give you a pretty darn decent implementation of the Budgie-Desktop. There isn’t any openSUSE customization with it, as far as I can tell, it runs well and feels clean.
Oddly, instead of a Budgie Logo for the menu it is a GNOME logo. I am not sure if that is the upstream default or not but it just seems odd to me.
Though, I don’t much care for the light theme, that is easily fixed in the Budgie Settings. I went for Breeze-Dark with everything, just because I think that is the best thing going as of today. I must say that the settings are nice, neat and simple which I think works well for this desktop.
I noticed that when I switched the icon theme to Breeze Dark the Plasma logo appeared on the menu icon. I guess if you have Gnome with the Adwaita theme it is only reasonable that you would have the Plasma logo with the Breeze theme. It still seems a bit odd to me.
I hung out here and played around, browsed the web, and tested out a few of the tools. I don’t feel like Budgie is quite right for my “home”. It’s a nice home, very well put together, from what little I experienced hanging out, it is just not one I feel compelled to move into.
The ease of installing other Desktop Environments (DEs) in openSUSE is super simple and I truly appreciate it. It is also nice to see that playing with other DEs doesn’t seem to mess things up at all. They all seem to cohabitate quite nicely on a single installation.
I am quite sure this is the vanilla configuration of Budgie that is just how openSUSE does Desktop Environments. I do, however think the Budgie Logo or the openSUSE logo would be preferred on the menu but that would be the only real change I would make.
Budgie is a nice, crisp Desktop Environment but it just isn’t for me. I think KDE Plasma has spoiled me. I also need to do a better job of keeping on top of the different wikis hosted by openSUSE. It is very easy to neglect them. Thankfully, I can play with it all in VMs for testing while I work on other tasks.
A fine tool for which I recently had some use is this very capable application called SimpleScreenRecorder. I used it to create a couple simple videos mostly to see how well it works but mostly for the purpose of creating something useful as a reference.
To install it on openSUSE use the one-click method here:
Fantastically, it is built using the Qt toolkit so it looks much better in the KDE Plasma Desktop Environment.
I have used it for a couple videos and have plans for more, mostly as notes to myself but in video form.
After installing the software, it will sit in the multimedia subsection on the menu. It can be called up in a search as well, at least on Plasma.
Next you are presented with your Input Settings. You can create different profiles for different purposes. You can also select if you want to record all the screens, a single screen, a fixed rectaning, follow the cursor or to record OpenGL. I have only used the options to record the entire single screen or a fixed rectangle.
You can choose to record the cursor or not and whether or not you want Audio. I have only used PulseAudio and it has seemingly worked just fine.
When you Continue, you will have to select the Output Profile or create your own, set the file name, the video and audio codecs settings. The settings pictured below has worked quite well for me in terms of quality but are a bit excessive in the memory usage.
After all that is set, you can start recording at anytime. It is also not a bad idea to Start the preview if you want to make sure it looks right before beginning the recording. The information frame on the left side of the window is quite nice. It tells you all kinds of useful information about the process. What is especially good to know is the file size. Depending on your available system resources, this could become somewhat of a concern.
Once you have completed the recording, hit Stop Recording along the top of the window and Save Recording if you believe you are satisfied with the results.
And that is it!
How I’ve Used It
I wanted to demonstrate how to set up switching from left-to-right typing to right-to-left typing on LibreOffice
I also did a quick little video just to play with SimpleScreenRecorder and showing how to turn on and off tooltips within KDE Plasma 5.16. I did edit both of these videos with Kdenlive for practice because someday, someday, I might get good at it.
SimpleScreenRecorder is a fantastic example of easy to use software to create simple videos for any number of things. This is great for demonstrating how you accomplish something on the desktop, sometimes video is the best way to present it. This is a fine example of easy to use open source and free software that has an incredible value.
Since I am able to install this application from the official repository with my favorite Linux distribution openSUSE Tumbleweed, it is just another straw on my pile of reasons I use it. Additionally, it requires no fancy configuration to get going, there is nothing peculiar about running it and it has been seemingly quite reliable. I have even thought of other fantastic uses besides providing quick little help videos and really, the limits of this application are at the limits of your imagination with this tool.
openSUSE Linux and all it’s fantastic tools add just a bit of happiness to my life, and I am so incredibly grateful to everyone that has had even the smallest part in making this possible.
This past Monday, 27 May 2019, there was a somewhat severe storm that rolled through Southwestern Michigan that had a disruption on power. I have numerous computers in the house, most of which run some variation of openSUSE. Most of the computers are also battery backed in some form except for one, my Kitchen Command Center. In many ways, I think it is rather crazy computers don’t now have battery backups by default. Since I didn’t take the time and care to have a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) on this computer, it lost power and so my troubles began.
After the storm was cleared from the skies and the likelihood of another power outage had diminished I felt it was safe to power my devices back on. Upon doing so, the machine booted up like it normally would but logging in and all the applications were dreadfully slow. I must emphasis dreadfully in the slowness of the system, I could see that the disk was thrashing but the RAM was hardly being used. Looking at the System Monitor, my I/O was taking up all the CPU bandwidth. This was most certainly not the normal behavior of this machine and I was becoming a sad “Geeko.” RAM usage was less than 2 GiB and Plasma Desktop kept hanging, a behavior with which I am most certainly not familiar. I was starting to worry that there may have been hardware damage.
After doing a little digging, I was able to determine that it was related to a corrupted file system and in my usage of the computer, my estimation was that it was the /home directory partition and not the root directory. When I looked at the System Activity, whatever application I was trying to use had “disk sleep” next to it in the table. My first course of action was to do a file system repair.
I rebooted the machine and instead of logging in to the desktop environment, I dropped down to a terminal (Ctrl + Alt + F2), logged in as root.
I unmounted /home, which, in my case is located at /dev/sda4
Since the terminal didn’t give me any confirmation the drive was unmounted, I checked
Looking through the list (You can omit the -h). I saw that there was indeed nothing mounted at /home so I was able to conduct the repair.
After several minutes. The process completed and seemingly completed without any errors. I rebooted the system and crossed my fingers.
Seemingly everything is back to normal. Whatever was causing the “Disk Sleep” is not happening anymore. I performed another update on the machine,
sudo zypper dup
rebooted it and it is continuing to function just as it had before. I have not lost any data on the computer and I am using like it all never even happened. I don’t know the exact cause and depth of the corruption but I am just glad to be back to normal.
I have had to forcibly shut down systems with XFS before and this is the first time I have had to do a file system repair. I could see that someone without technical expertise could just think their computer was broken and take more intrusive actions. I am also not sure if there was some sort of file system integrity verification that didn’t happen that should have automatically checked and repaired the file system that has normally done so. Regardless, the fix was relatively straight forward and the computer is back to normal. Furthermore, it might also behoove me to gift the machine with a UPS.
After losing a few hours of use out of the computer, I was able to learn another tool in my open source / Linux toolbox. The storm, although inconvenient, has given me further confidence in the technology I have chosen.
I recently became increasingly annoyed using the Touchpad portion of this wireless keyboard. Touchpads just are not as efficient as a real mouse. The touchpad is fine for very simple navigation but for doing anything that requires much traversing around the screen combined with much left and right-mouse button clicking is almost unusable. Maybe if this keyboard had real left and right mouse buttons, this wouldn’t be so bad.
I happened to have an orphaned Logitech receiver doing nothing in one of my many drawers of horded electronics. All I needed was a mouse to pair up with it. Since this one is one of those Logitech Unifying Receivers, all I needed was a Logitech mouse that was compatible with it. I went to my favorite place to buy used electronics, eBay, to get the cheapest thing I could find. I came upon a Logitech M185 Wireless Mouse which I ended up winning for $3.00, so a great deal.
Next, I had to pair this newly acquired mouse with my Unifying Receiver. To do so, I needed to install the Ltunify application.
Like nearly everything on openSUSE, installing software through the official, experimental or community repositories is easy to do. The easiest method is using the one-click installation from here:
Once the application is installed, I just typed ltunify -h in the terminal to see the help and gain some understanding on how to use this.
# ltunify -h
Usage: ltunify [options] cmd [cmd options]
Logitech Unifying tool version
Copyright (C) 2013 Peter Wu <email@example.com>
-d, –device path Bypass detection, specify custom hidraw device.
-D Print debugging information
-h, –help Show this help message
list – show all paired devices
pair [timeout] – Try to pair within “timeout” seconds (1 to 255,
default 0 which is an alias for 30s)
unpair idx – Unpair device
info idx – Show more detailed information for a device
receiver-info – Show information about the receiver
In the above lines, “idx” refers to the device number shown in the
first column of the list command (between 1 and 6). Alternatively, you
can use the following names (case-insensitive):
Keyboard Mouse Numpad Presenter Trackball Touchpad
From here I could see that this was going to be super simple. As root, I ran this
Then turned the mouse on immediately. As soon as the mouse paired the terminal returned to the command prompt. To verify the mouse was paired, I ran the command
To which I was happy to see that the new mouse was now paired along with the broken mouse I once had.
To remove that device no longer being used, that is just as easy as pairing
ltunify unpair 1
Now my receiver is happily paired exclusively with the new mouse for my Kitchen Command Center Computer and I am no longer encumbered by a buttonless touchpad, navigating around a spreadsheet, document or anything of that nature.
Logitech is pretty awesome for having this Unifying Receiver device. It makes losing a dongle to a Logitech mouse or keyboard not such a big deal. It even frees up ports as you can have one receiver paired with 6 devices. That, in my opinion, makes Logitech devices more valuable than others and so long as they keep up with this convenient-for-the-user focus. They will keep my business.
I am working on another project and whilst doing so, I was reintroduced to a kind of irritating problem with Desktop Linux. Nothing huge, just annoying enough. Formatting Removable or USB media. This is one area where I agree with the statement that Linux is not as easy to use as Windows. The Linux solutions work but it seems to lack some elegance.
Method #1: The Terminal
Before you start issuing any Format commands, be sure you know what the device name is. The way I prefer is by inserting the drive into the computer and and run in terminal:
You’ll see a lot of text and toward the end look for something that reads like:
[109951.128820] sd 6:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg3 type 0
[109951.128995] sd 6:0:0:0: [sdc] No Caching mode page found
[109951.128997] sd 6:0:0:0: [sdc] Assuming drive cache: write through
[109951.136745] sd 6:0:0:0: [sdc] Attached SCSI removable disk
That tells me that the device name is sdc and I know that it is mounted under /dev. So this USB drive is /dev/sdc
to verify run:
If your computer mounted the drive you can take a look at the listing. Somewhere you should see the last drive you plugged in along with the Size of the drive, How much is Used, How much Available, Use of drive as a percentage and where if anyplace it is mounted. In my case:
Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sdc 7.5G 946M 6.6G 13% /run/media/cubiclenate/XFER
For the following examples, replace the “X” with your particular drive letter.
Next you need to ask yourself, do you wish to share the contents of this drive with non-Linux machines. If the answer is “yes” than you will need to format in FAT or NTFS.
Format with FAT or in this case VFAT
sudo mkfs.vfat /dev/sdX
Format with NTFS (New Technology File System), more common since Windows XP
sudo mkfs.ntfs /dev/sdX
If this drive is just for you and your Linux buddies, go with a Linux file system. They are “better” in many ways.
Format with EXT4 File System
sudo mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdX
Or, if you are feeling it, go with XFS
sudo mkfs.xfs /dev/sdX
This process isn’t hard just not as straight forward to a new user and if you don’t spend your life in the terminal, these commands can easily be forgotten.
Method #2: Quick USB Formatter
A more graphical, KDE Plasma, friendly feeling option is this USB Format application. This is not in the Official openSUSE repositories.
What is nice about this application is that it is very straight forward. After installation, just typing USB will bring this up in the menu / quick launcher as “USB Format”. The executable is located here:
The interface is very straight forward, you select the device, in this case /dev/sdc and it will NOT allow you to select your system drives so there is no shot at making a mistake here. You can select the file system but XFS is not an option. There is a field to type in a label if you so choose as well.
Downside to this interface is that you can’t manage the partitions should you want to delete or add partitions on this drive. Also note, I am not able to format anything in the build in SD Card reader. If these are not a concern then this may be a fine solution for you.
Method #3: Gparted
Perhaps my preferred method for managing storage medium is Gparted. This is the Gnome Partition Editor and is one of the finest pieces of software I have ever used. It just does everything I need to do in a nice, intuitive, easy to use and extremely powerful tool for managing disks. It is described as an “industrial-strength” application for for creating, destroying, resizing, moving, checking and copying partitions, and the filesystems on them.
Gparted is available for both Tumbleweed and Leap, to install:
sudo zypper in gparted
This “do everything tool” for your disks will require root privileges and rightfully so. You can create space on disk for new operating systems, or even copy the file systems.
This has access to all the drives on the system, mounted or not. Also note that modification to SD Cards, as expected, is also not an issue.
This application is fantastic in how you an resize and move partitions around on a drive. The designers have taken great care in paying attention to the finer details of disk interaction.
After you are satisfied with the disk modifications, you commit to the changes by a check box labeled “Apply All Operations”.
Gparted also removes all ambiguity in what is supported with each file system. There is a great report you can review under View > File System Support.
Managing USB or Removable media isn’t exactly the most straight forward if you are new to Linux. This might not be true for all distributions or desktop interfaces but my experience on KDE Plasma over many years has been as such. Maybe it shouldn’t be a straight forward process as a user should know what they are doing before they start making any changes to any pieces of hardware and maybe it is also a non-issue as most removable media is already formatted and ready to go.
If you have any other thoughts on interacting with removable media. Please share, I am interested in knowing if there are other or better options out there.