Linux adventures


You are on a holiday trip and your windows laptop strikes. Now what?

  • You could use your friends´ new Window$ 10 NSA computer but you don´t like the idea to leave your passwords on a random hard disk which is almost sure to get hacked…
  • You don´t recall that one important password anyway…
  • Moreover the files you were working on and the photos you want to send are all on the crashed device and you don´t know how on earth you can recover them quickly…
  • And of course the alien machine has a different mix of programs so you are strongly handicapped…
  • You have this sked on your ham radio but of course your XYL´s laptop does not have an RTTY program on it… Come to think of it, it also lacks your favorite logbook program and the satellite predictor..

No reason for despair, provided you are prepared for such a catastrophe!

Put Linux on a USB stick and run your OS from the stick!

18238580_1503526646355787_1517543866535038366_oThe procedure is simple:

  • Connect your stick to the computer
  • Switch the computer on
  • While it is booting, push the ESC, or F12 key, depending on the brand of the machine. The boot menu will appear now.
  • Choose the USB device with your portable OS on it and press Enter…

I have prepared an image for a 16 GB USB stick which contains Lubuntu Linux and a ntsf Data partition which can be read on Windows and Linux. Lubuntu Linux has a look similar to Windows XP, so you will not encounter any problems to use it. It contains all the tools you will need for disk maintenance, Internet browsing etc. and you can add your own programs later. For my ham friends I made sure a working copy of FLDIGI 4.0.3 is on board, so you can start using it straight away…

Download at: http://pskmail.org/downloads/lubuntuimage16.img.gz

The image for a 16 GB stick (preferably USB3, as it is faster even when your machine has only USB2).

How to prepare the USB stick? On Linux it is very easy using a terminal:

  • Unzip the image file (´gunzip lubuntuimage16.img.gz´)
  • Make sure which device you want to write (´lsblk´), probably /dev/sdb
  • Write the image to the stick with:
    ´dd if=lubuntuimage16.img of=/dev/sdx bs=4M status=progress´

On Windows you have to do some more work. First you have to install the programs you need to handle the image. They are both .exe files and you get them at:

Once you have installed these 2 programs the rest is easy:

  • Unzip the archive with 7-zip.exe
  • Write the image to the USB stick with win32diskimager.exe.

desktop 3_009

What can you do with it?

The stick contains a complete linux operating system (lubuntu 16.04.2 LTS) which enables you to do everything you are used to do in Windoze. It also includes a 8 GB ntsf partition which you can use to store data for portable use. The programs will NOT use the had disk, which means your data is safe in all circumstances!

You can use it in different modes:

  1. Run linux from the stick in persistent mode, it will remember your data
  2. Run Linux in RAM and write the data to the stick before shutdown
  3. Run linux in RAM without remembering the data
  4. Install lubuntu to your hard drive, dual boot with windows or alone.

I have used the last possibility after having used Windows 10 for 2 full days. I have concluded that it is better for my temper not to get ¨help¨ from Micro$oft all the time, and take decisions myself.

It will make me live longer…

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The first thing to do after breakfast is to start the laptop, to see if the world still exists.  You can never know these days, as most of its population seems to have gone completely crazy.  I normally like to take a rest from the fatigue of a quick breakfast, and efficiently use the occasion for an information session on the net.

Last Monday morning that turned out to be impossible. My (very) old ASUS laptop had decided to go on strike. It showed a short screen blink and refused to boot. I tried to force it into its BIOS, but neither F2 nor ESC worked. I decided it was dead.  Pity I had bought it a brand new battery for Christmas.

First thing to do was to remove the battery and the hard drive. You cannot throw away the hardware with the battery, and you should NEVER throw a computer away containing a hard disk containing all your passwords and information, even if it is encrypted… I have been thinking about also keeping the laptop screen, but decided this was an excellent opportunity to get rid of this modern shaving mirror.

The new laptop came with a nice non-glare screen, 256 GB SSD, USB3 ports and Windows 10. I also bought a USB3-compatible 2,5 inch housing for the old hard disk.

As I did not own a machine with a Windows 10 operating system yet I decided to keep it instead of cleaning the disk and installing Linux. I need at least 1 copy of windows to support and maintain those pieces of equipment which do not have proper LINUX support because their Manufacturers surrendered to Micro$oft and are now constantly trying to catch up with their support software… TomTom is a good example for this (“To update your product, try to borrow a windows computer from a friend or relative”)…

windows

The first run of windows 10 was a revelation… it took 3.5 hours before I could use it, it kept updating… updating… updating… After a reboot it said: ”do not switch off your computer, your windows is updating…”. After that I was able to use Windows 10 for the first time, and it felt like I had ended up in 1979. This is not exactly the software that is going to make me happy!

It took 10 minutes to put Lubuntu 16.04.2 LTS onto the machine using one of my“Linux-on-the-go” USB sticks, including moving all data from the old hard disk to the SSD…

desktop 3_009.png

I can now use the new windows OS to test my new USB Linux image on a windoze 10 OS.

But that’s another story…