Tag Archives: ubuntu

Dropbox and Gnome 42

Now that Gnome 42 has been released and available in most Linux distributions, I started experiencing problems with the Dropbox icon in the system tray.

First of all, I have no problem with Ubuntu 22.04, which comes with the extension “AppIndicator and KStatusNotifierItem Support” https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/615/appindicator-support/. Moreover, I think the problem is not there because, while Ubuntu 22.04 ships Gnome 42, it still ships Nautilus in version 41.

In Fedora and EndeavourOS, I usually install the same extension in the Gnome DE, and it has been working quite well.

Unfortunately, with Gnome 42 (provided by Fedora 36 and currently by EndeavourOS), I started experiencing problems, even with the extension above installed and activated.

If you had already installed Dropbox in your Gnome 41 DE and upgraded to Gnome 42 (e.g., you upgraded Fedora 35 to Fedora 36 after installing Dropbox), the icon is clickable. Still, you get a context menu always saying “Connecting…”

At least you can access “Preferences…”.

However, suppose you had never installed Dropbox in that Gnome 42 environment. In that case, the icon in the system tray appears (again, after installing the above extension), but no matter how you click on that, no context menu appears at all. That’s a disgrace because you cannot access Dropbox preferences, like “selective sync” (you have to use the command line, as I suggested in the previous post).

Instead of the extension “AppIndicator and KStatusNotifierItem Support” (disable it if you had already activated that), you can use the extension “Tray Icons: Reloaded,” https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/2890/tray-icons-reloaded/. Install it, activate it, logout and login, and now the context menu works as expected:

Remember that this extension does not seem to support all system tray icons. For example, Variety does not seem to be supported.

At least you can use this extension to set up Dropbox (e.g., selective sync) and then go back to the previous extension!

How to install Linux on a USB drive with UEFI support using VirtualBox

That’s the third post on installing Linux on a USB drive!

Remember that the idea is to have a USB drive that will work as a portable Linux operating system on any computer.

In the first post, How to install Linux on a USB drive using Virtualbox, the USB drive with Linux installed could be used when booting from a computer with “Legacy boot” enabled: it could not boot if UEFI were the only choice in that computer.

In the second post, How to install Linux on a USB with UEFI support, I showed how to install Linux on the USB drive directly, without using VirtualBox, while creating a UEFI bootable device. However, you had to be careful during the installation to avoid overwriting the UEFI boot loader of your computer.

In this post, I’ll show how to install Linux on a USB drive, with UEFI support, using VirtualBox. In the end, we’ll get a UEFI bootable device, but without being scared of breaking the UEFI boot loader of your computer, since we’ll do that using a virtual machine.

The scenario

First of all, let’s summarize what I want to do. I want to install Linux on a portable external USB SSD. I don’t want a live distribution: a live distribution only allows you a little testing experience, it’s not easily maintainable and upgradable, it’s harder to keep your data in there. On the contrary, installing Linux on a USB drive will give you the whole experience (and if the USB drive is fast, it’s almost like using Linux on a standard computer; that’s undoubtedly the case for an external SSD, which are pretty cheap nowadays).

In the previous post, I described how to create such an installation from VirtualBox. As I said, you can boot the USB drive only in Legacy mode. This time, we’ll be able to boot the USB drive in any UEFI computer.

I’m going to perform this experiment:

  • I’m going to use VirtualBox installed on a Dell XPS 13 where I already have (in multi-boot, UEFI), Windows, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, and Manjaro GNOME
  • I’m going to install Ubuntu 21.10 into an external USB SanDisk SSD (256 Gb)
  • then I’m going to install on the same external USB drive also EndeavourOS (an excellent distribution I’ve just started to enjoy) along with the installed Ubuntu

I have already downloaded the two distributions’ ISOs.

I’ve installed VirtualBox in Ubuntu following this procedure

and then reboot.

By the way, since the second distribution will take precedence over an existing UEFI configuration on the USB, it’s better to start with Ubuntu and then proceed with EndeavourOS (Arch based). While an Arch GRUB configuration has no problem booting other distributions, Ubuntu cannot boot an Arch-based distribution. Of course, the second distribution’s GRUB menu will let you also boot the first one. We could solve the booting problem later, but I prefer to keep things easy and install them in the above order.

In the screenshots of the running virtual machine, the USB SanDisk is /dev/sda.

I will boot a virtual machine where I set the ISO of the current distribution as a LIVE CD. I’m going to use a different virtual machine for each distribution. Maybe that’s not strictly required, but since the two OSes are different (the first one is an Ubuntu OS, while the second one is an Arch Linux), I prefer to keep the two virtual machines separate, just in case.

Create the first virtual machine and install Ubuntu on the USB drive

I’m assuming you’re already familiar with VirtualBox, so I’ll post the main screenshots of the procedure.

Let’s create a virtual machine.

We don’t need a hard disk in the virtual machine since we’ll use it only for installing Linux on a USB drive, so we’ll ignore the warning.

.

Now it’s time to configure a few settings.

The important setting is “Enable EFI” to make our virtual machine aware of UEFI, and the booted Live OS will also be aware of it. As we will see later, the booted Live OS will correctly install GRUB in a UEFI partition.

We also specify to insert the ISO of the distribution (Ubuntu 21.10) so that when the virtual machine starts, it will boot the Live ISO.

Let’s start the virtual machine, and we will see the boot menu of the Live ISO.

We choose to Try Ubuntu, and then we plug the external SanDisk in the computer, and we make the virtual machine aware of that by using the context menu of the USB connection icon and selecting the item corresponding to the USB hard disk (in your case it will be different)

After that, the Ubuntu Live OS should notify about the connected disk. We can start the installation, and when it comes to the disk selection and partition, I chose to erase the entire disk and install Ubuntu:

Of course, you can choose to partition the hard disk manually, but then you’ll have to remember to create a GPT partition table, and you’ll also have to create the FAT32 partition for UEFI manually. By using “Erase disk and install Ubuntu,” I’ll let the installer do all this work.

You can see the summary before actually performing the partition creation. Note that we are doing such operations on the external USB drive, which, as I said above, corresponds to /dev/sda.

Now, we have to wait for the installation to finish. In the end, instead of restarting the virtual machine, we shut it down.

Let’s restart the computer with the USB drive connected. Depending on the computer setup, you’ll have to press some function key (e.g., F2 or, in my Dell XPS 13, F12, to choose to boot from a different device). Here’s the menu in my Dell XPS 13, where we can see that the external USB (SanDisk) is detected as a UEFI bootable device. It’s also detected as a Legacy boot device, but we’re interested in the UEFI one:

We can then verify that we can boot the Ubuntu distribution installed in the USB drive.

By the way, I also verified that, without the USB drive connected, I can always boot my computer: indeed, the existing UEFI Grub configuration is intact (remember, I have Windows, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, and Manjaro GNOME; the grub menu with higher priority is the one of Manjaro):

Create the second virtual machine and install EndeavourOS on the USB drive

Let’s create the second virtual machine to install on the same USB drive EndeavourOS, along with the Ubuntu we have just installed.

To speed up things, instead of creating a brand new machine, we clone the previous one, and we change a few settings (basically the name, the version of Linux, which now is Arch, and finally we change the Live ISO):

Let’s start the virtual machine and land into the EndeavourOS Live system

As before, we have to connect the USB drive to the computer and let the virtual machine detect that (see the procedure already shown in the first installation section).

We start the installer and choose the “Online” version so that we can choose what to install next (including several Desktop Environments). The installer is Calamares (if you used Manjaro before, you already know this installer).

When it comes to the partitioning part, we make sure we select the SanDisk external drive (as usual, /dev/sda). Note that the installer detects the existing Ubuntu installation. This time, we choose to install EndeavourOS alongside:

And we use the slider to specify how much space the new installation should take:

Let’s select a few packages to install (a cool feature of EndeavourOS)

And this is the summary before starting the installation:

Once the installation has finished, we shut down the virtual machine and reboot the computer with the USB drive inserted. This time we see the EndeavourOS grub configuration, including the previously installed Ubuntu. Remember, these are the installations in the USB drive (as usual, note the /dev/sda representing the USB drive):

And now we have a USB drive with two Linux distributions installed that we can use to boot our computers! However, some drivers for some specific computer configurations might not be installed in the Linux installation of the external USB. Also, other configurations like screen resolutions and scaling might depend on the computer you’re booting and might have to be adjusted each time you test the external USB drive in a different computer.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial!

Happy installations and Happy New Year! 🙂

Problems with Linux 5.13 in LG GRAM 16

I recently bought an LG GRAM 16 and I really enjoy that (I’ll blog about that in the near future, hopefully). I had no problems installing Linux, nor with Manjaro Gnome (Phavo) neither with Kubuntu.

However, in Manjaro Gnome I soon started to note some lags, especially with the touchpad and some repainting issues. I had no problems with Kubuntu (it was 21.04). The main difference was that Manjaro was using Linux kernel 5.13, while Kubuntu 21.04 was using Linux kernel 5.11. As soon as I updated to Kubuntu 21.10, which comes with Linux kernel 5.13, I started to have the same problems also in Kubuntu.

Long story short: switching to Linux kernel 5.14 on both systems solved all the problems 🙂

In Manjaro you can use its kernel management system. Alternatively, from the command line, you can run

On (K)ubuntu things are slightly more complicated because the current version 21.10 does not provide a package for kernel 5.14.

However, you can manually download the DEB files of the kernel (and kernel headers) from the mainline repository https://kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/. Then, you run dpkg -i on all such downloaded files. However, I prefer to use a nice GUI for such mainline kernels, mainline, https://github.com/bkw777/mainline. It’s just a matter of adding the corresponding PPA repository and installing it:

The GUI application is called “Ubuntu Mainline Kernel Installer”. You select the kernel you want (in this case I’m choosing the latest version of the stable 5.14 version) and choose Install. Reboot and you’re good to go 🙂

Grub remembers the last choice

In all my computers I have dual boot, Ubuntu and Windows, though I’m using the former 99% of the time 😉 On one of my laptop I started to evaluate also Manjaro (probably a blog post will come in the near future). I let Manjaro install the main efi grub boot loader and I noticed that upon reboots its grub configuration remembers the last choice! That is, if I booted Ubuntu (not the first choice in the menu) and I reboot then “Ubuntu” entry is the one selected by default. The same holds for Windows.

I find this feature really cool and useful:

  • if I had previously used Ubuntu and possibly hibernated the computer, then, even after a few days, when I boot the laptop I know which OS I had booted the last time;
  • if I boot Windows (…once in a month?) I will probably experience many updates which require a few reboots; if I left the computer unattended during rebooting I used to find myself back to Linux (the primary default choice in grub) and I had to reboot and choose Windows so that updates are installed (if Windows updates require a few reboots that’s quite annoying).

I thought that Manjaro had some special tweaks in the installed grub, but then I learned that’s a standard feature of Grub!

You just have to add these two lines in your /etc/default/grub:

Save and run

And that’s all! From then on Grub will remember your last choice 🙂

Enabling Hibernation on Ubuntu 20.04

I have never been able to make hibernation (suspend to disk) work on my laptops (Dell M3800 and Dell XPS 13 9370) on Ubuntu with systemd. The symptom was that running

was making the system shutdown, but then upon restart the system was not restored: it was just like booting the system from scratch.

I had also tried with uswsusp (which is installed if you install the package hibernate), with its program s2disk, but I experienced many problems: it wasn’t working reliably and it was making booting (even standard booting) much longer (several seconds more).

Then, after looking at several blog posts, I found that the solution is rather simple, and I’ll detail the steps here. I’ll also show how to use suspend-then-hibernate.

First, you need to have swap already setup, e.g., a swap partition (though I think a swap file would work as well, but in that case the configuration is slightly more complex). For example in /etc/fstab you should have something like

The UUID is important and you should take note of it.

How big should the swap be? You can find some hints here: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/SwapFaq. I have 16Gb of RAM and my swap partition is 20 Gb.

Then, you must make sure initramfs is “aware” of your swap partition and that it is already able to “resume” from that. This should already be the case but you can try to run

and after some time you should see something like:

The UUID must be the same as your swap UUID in the /etc/fstab.

Now, it’s just a matter of editing your /etc/default/grub and make sure you specify resume in GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT, with the UUID of your swap partition. So it should be something like (remember that <UUID of your swap partition> must be replaced with the UUID):

Save the file and update grub:

Reboot the system and now try to hibernate again (first you might want to start a few applications so that you’re sure that the system is effectively restored to the same state):

Wait for the system to shut down and switch it on again. The splash screen should tell you something about that it is “resuming from <your swap partition>”. If all goes well you’ll have to enter your password to unlock the system which you should find in the state you left it before hibernating! 🙂

suspend-then-hibernate

Another interesting mechanism provided by systemd is suspend-then-hibernate: the system is suspended (to RAM) and after some time it is hibernated (suspended to disk).

The amount of time before hibernating is defined in the file /etc/systemd/sleep.conf. Let’s have a look at the default contents:

By default everything is commented out, but the values, as stated at the beginning of the file, represent the default values. So you can see that suspend-then-hibernate is enabled and that the default delay time before hibernating is 180 minutes. If you’re not happy with that value, uncomment the line and change the value. For example, I set it to 10 minutes:

You can now test this functionality with this command:

The system will suspend to RAM and if you don’t touch the computer after 10 minutes you can hear some sounds: the system will effectively hibernate.

If you want to make this mechanisms the default suspend mechanism, e.g., you close the lid and the system will suspend and then after some time it will hibernate, you CANNOT set the value of SuspendMode in the file above, since that has another meaning. To make suspend-then-hibernate the default suspend mechanism you have to create this symlink:

No need to restart, try to close the lid and the laptop will suspend, after 10 minutes it will hibernate.

Please, keep in mind that the above command will completely replace the behavior of suspend.

If you want to have a finer grain control, you might want to edit the file /etc/systemd/logind.conf, in particular uncomment and set the entries (then you’ll have to restart or restart the systemd-logind.service service):

which should be self-explicative, but I haven’t tested this approach.

Happy hibernating 🙂

Installing KDE on top of Ubuntu

If you like to use KDE you probably install Kubuntu directly, instead of Ubuntu, which has been based on Gnome for a long time now.

However, I like to have several Desktop Environments, and, now and then, I like to switch from Gnome to KDE and then back. Currently, I’m using Gnome for most of the time, that’s why I install Ubuntu (instead of Kubuntu).

In any case, you can still install KDE Plasma on top of Ubuntu. The following has been tested on an Ubuntu Disco 19.04, but I guess it will work also on previous distributions.

For a reduced installation of KDE you might want to install only these packages

In particular, kwin-addons includes some useful things: it contains additional KWin desktop and window switchers shipped in the Plasma 5 addons module.

When installation has finished you may want to reboot and then, on the Login screen, you can use the gear icon for specifying that you want to enter the KDE Plasma environment instead of the default Gnome environment.

The above packages should provide you with enough stuff to enjoy a Plasma experience, but it lacks many (K)ubuntu configurations and addons for KDE.

If you want more Kubuntu stuff, you might want to install the “huge” package:

And then you get a real Kubuntu KDE Plasma experience.

Note that this will replace the classic Ubuntu splash screen when booting the OS: it replaces it with the Kubuntu splash screen. If you want to go back to the original splash screen it’s just a matter of removing the following packages:

Remember that you can also use the Kubuntu Backport PPA for enjoying more recent versions of KDE software.

Enjoy Gnome and KDE! 🙂

Eclipse tested with a few Gnome themes

In this small blog post I’ll show how Eclipse looks like in Linux Gnome (Ubuntu 17.10) with a few Gnome themes.

First of all, the default Ubuntu theme, Ambiance, makes Eclipse look not very nice… see the icons, which are “packed” and “compressed” in the toolbar, not to mention the cut “Filter Files” textbox in the “Git Staging” view:

Numix has similar problems:

Adwaita, (the default Gnome theme) instead makes it look great:

The same holds for alternative themes; the following screenshots are based on Arc, Pop and Matcha, respectively:

So, in the end, stay away from Ubuntu default theme 😉

How to add Eclipse launcher in Gnome dock

In this post I’ll show how to add an Eclipse launcher as a favorite (pinned) application in the Gnome dock (I’m using Ubuntu Artful). This post is inspired by http://blog.ttoine.net/en/2016/06/30/how-to-add-eclipse-neon-launcher-in-gnu-linux-menus-and-launchers/.

First of all, you need to create a .desktop file, where you need to specify the full path of your Eclipse installation:

This is relative to my installation of Eclipse which is in the folder /home/bettini/eclipse/java-latest-released/eclipse, note the executable “eclipse” and the “icon.xpm”. The name “Eclipse Java” is what will appear as the launcher name both in Gnome applications and later in the dock.

Make this file executable.

Copy this file in your home folder in .local/share/applications.

Now in Gnome Activities search for such a launcher and it should appear:

Select it and make sure that Eclipse effectively runs.

Unfortunately, in the dock, there’s no contextual menu for you to add it as a favorite and pin it to the dock:

But you can still add it to the dock favorites (and thus pin it there) by using the corresponding contextual menu that is available when the launcher appears in the Activities:

And there you go: the Eclipse launcher is now on your dock and it’s there to stay 🙂

 

Install Adobe Reader in Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal 64bit

Acrobat Reader used to be available from Ubuntu Partner repository, but it is not available anymore in Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal!

So you have to download the .deb package from adobe.com and install it:

http://ardownload.adobe.com/pub/adobe/reader/unix/9.x/9.5.1/enu/AdbeRdr9.5.1-1_i386linux_enu.deb

However, if you have a 64bit system, do not forget to install also these packages:

Otherwise, acroread will fail

acroread: error while loading shared libraries: libxml2.so.2: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

Accessing your remote Ubuntu machine with VNC and ssh

If you want to access your remote Ubuntu machine with VNC, in particular by tunnelling through ssh, there is already some documentation which can be found here. However, at least for me, the procedure explained there does not work out of the box. So here’s what I had to do to make it work.

First of all you need to install in the machines the following packages:

  • remote machine: xvfb x11vnc openssh-server
  • local machine: xtightvncviewer openssh-client

Then, the script to run on your client machine to access the server has to be slightly modified as follows

where you will have to replace USER with your user on the remote machine, and REMOTEIP with the address of your remote machine.

Basically, the changes I had to make to the original script were to add the -auth command line option specifying the path to the .Xauthority, and the command line option -create to actually start an instance of the X server on the remote machine.