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Puppy and EasyOS used in physics lab

October 14, 2021 — BarryK

Stuart is a professor at Lyon College, Arkansas, USA (lyon.edu). He has been using Puppy Linux, Precise Puppy, until recently, and is now using EasyOS 3.0.

Stuart is 'phdzaps' in the old Puppy Forum, posts back around 2011 - 2013. He has kept me updated via emails since 2018, about progress with using Puppy in a laboratory.

Today he sent me a link to a unit "Physics 241":

Not sure if that is allowed to be made public... Ah, it is OK, as able to reach this link via the physics.lyon.edu front page:

https://logcabinphysics.x10.bz/Courses/FA21/241/index.html

It is great that EasyOS is finding a practical use in a laboratory!     

Tags: linux

Fatdog64 811 works real nice

October 12, 2021 — BarryK

Fatdog64 version 811 is the latest in the Fatdog puppy-derivative distribution. Using it, it seems very much like a puppy, UI, menu-structure, heaps of apps, but there are differences -- most notable is the Gslapt package manager instead of PPM in the pups.

The last time that I reported on a release of FatDog was version 720, in 2017:

https://bkhome.org/news/201712/fatdog64-720-final-released.html

...you might want to read that if interested in the history of FatDog. The developers are forum members kirk, jamesbond, step and SFR.

Version 811 was released on September 10, 2020, here is the announcement thread:

https://forum.puppylinux.com/viewtopic.php?t=746

I did try 811 earlier, when attempting to get it to run in a container in EasyOS. What prompted me to play with it again, is Gcmartin recommended it for my old HP workhorse PC with "new" Nvidia GeForce 210 GT218 video card, for which the 'nouveau' kernel module does not work. I posted about that a few days ago:

https://bkhome.org/news/202110/gt210-nvidia-card-for-old-workhorse-pc.html

Yes, Fatdog is particularly useful for booting up with troublesome video cards. The boot menu includes "disable radeon driver", "disable nouveau driver" and "severe video problems" choices.

The last two both work for me. Choosing to disable the nouveau kernel driver causes a kernel commandline parameter "blacklist:nouveau". Choosing "severe video problems" causes a kernel commandline "nomodeset".

Actually, they have the same effect. In the second case, the nouveau kernel module loads, but with modesetting disabled, which effectively disables it.

So, with no kernel GPU driver loaded, Xorg will start with whatever framebuffer mode is in effect at bootup. Which is interesting. I see that Fatdog has these:

CONFIG_FRAMEBUFFER_CONSOLE=y
CONFIG_FB_EFI=y
CONFIG_FB_UVESA=m
CONFIG_FB_SIMPLE is not set

A significant difference with EasyOS is it has:

CONFIG_FRAMEBUFFER_CONSOLE=y
CONFIG_FB_EFI=y
CONFIG_FB_UVESA is not set
CONFIG_FB_SIMPLE=y
CONFIG_FB_VESA=y

Anyway, back onto Fatdog 811, my impressions are it is pleasant to use, with everything that you would want for configuring. And of course lots of apps, including LibreOffice. Very good, I see also PuppyPhone and TigerVNC in the menu. X11vnc also.

At first, I grumbled that there was no hardinfo or pupsysinfo app, as I am accustomed to one of those in the "System" menu -- but hardinfo is there, you have to go to "Fatdog Control Panel" first.

And definitely can recommend Fatdog for booting on PC with troublesome video hardware!

EDIT 2021-10-18:
Fatdog64 version 812 is due out soon. Right now, there is 812 RC:

https://forum.puppylinux.com/viewtopic.php?t=4262    

Tags: linux

Debian-noroot works great on new Alldocube 7-inch tablet

August 18, 2021 — BarryK

I posted several days ago about installing "DebDroid-ng" on my Huawei tablet:

https://bkhome.org/news/202108/debdroid-ng-works-great.html

...that uses a VNC server in Debian and a VNC viewer in Android, and is launched from termux.

More recently, I tested termux's method of running a Debian desktop:

https://wiki.termux.com/wiki/Graphical_Environment

...and tried both "Xserver XSDL" and "Android Xserver", instead of VNC. Android Xserver is only a partial implementation of X11, and the desktop was badly broken. Xserver XSDL works, but as warned, is unstable -- a few minutes after starting, the mouse pointer froze.

Having a native Android X server is more efficient than going through a VNC connection, so I explored this some more...

Sergii, the guy who developed Xserver XSDL, has also created a complete Debian Buster XFCE desktop, bundled with Xserver XSDL, as an Android APK package. It is simply a matter of install, tap the "debian" icon, and the Debian desktop is up and running.

I thought that as Sergii has modified this Debian specifically to run on his Xserver XSDL, that it should be stable, and yes, it is. Used it for about an hour yesterday, no freeze, no crash. Again today, still stable.

Firstly, here is his Xserver-XSDL project page:

https://github.com/pelya/xserver-xsdl/tree/xsdl-1.20

...it looks like he attempted to go up to SDL 2.x, but has fallen back to using SDL 1.2 -- which I can understand!

There is an Xserver XSDL APK file for Android, that I installed for the termux tests, however the Debian noroot APK has the X server builtin, so it is standalone. So, I uninstalled Xserver XSDL (and Android Xserver), and installed this, from the Google Play Store:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cuntubuntu

For the record, here is the project page:

https://github.com/pelya/debian-noroot

And Sergii has put APKs here:

https://sourceforge.net/projects/libsdl-android/files/apk/XServer-XSDL/

I found the mouse scrollwheel doesn't work. Ah yes, mouse... absolutely essential. Very sluggish.

So definitely there are issues! But, a lot does work. I installed Gimp and Inkscape, they work. Slow, but they do work. A photo showing the Synaptic Package Manager, that I used to install Gimp and Inkscape:

img1

I should mention, I am doing this on my new 7 inch Alldocube tablet, posted about recently:

https://bkhome.org/news/202108/7-inch-tablet-with-4g-lte.html

img2

It arrived a few days ago. Minimal specs, but a surprisingly pleasant experience to use. But, had a storage problem...

I formatted a 128GB SD card as internal storage, and used a USB cable to copy in several hundred MB of videos -- but later on, they just disappeared. The folder that I had created for them still existed, but contents were gone. Huh???

This must be something to do with the SD card being internal storage. So I reformatted it as portable storage, and copied the videos again. This time they have been retained.

However, back to only 16GB internal storage. Have installed a few apps, including a GPS offline mapping app, and of course Debian-noroot and Gimp/Inkscape, and Settings is now showing 10GB used. Need to be careful not to run out of internal storage!

Pare for the course, vendors cheating on device specs. I am treating it as normal now. At least for products from China. Alldocube are honest, which does make it hard for them, as many other vendors of smartphones and tablets on Aliexpress are outright scam artists. However, Alldocube are incorrect with one of the specs, claiming a weight of 224g:

https://www.alldocube.com/en/parm/iplay7t-parm/

...I weighed it at 239g. Which reminded me, I am posting weights on my blog, using a cheap Kmart digital scale. Need to confirm that it is accurate, so have ordered a set of steel calibration weights 5g to 200g.

OK, back onto Debian-noroot, here is some user feedback:

https://www.reddit.com/r/SamsungDex/comments/kvwu98/best_linux_implementation_so_far_for_me_debian/

At first I didn't know how to bring up the virtual keyboard, so used a bluetooth keyboard. But I was reading this, rather old review, it explains how to bring up the keyboard:

https://www.nextpit.com/turn-your-android-device-into-a-linux-pc-without-rooting

...swipe from the right, to expose the three command buttons, and tap on the "back" button, and hey-presto the keyboard appears and can type in the terminal window. Tap again on the "back" button to make the keyboard go away.

Here are videos. The first one was created in 2014, but note that Debian-noroot had a significant upgrade in 2020...

"Use an Android phone like a desktop PC"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFulMBNvjZA

"debian linux on android"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SxJv8KHTPM

"install debian linux on android"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_GqtFsVtgQ

It has been fun getting Debian-noroot running on the tablet. An extremely restricted environment of course, but I can see the usefulness of Gimp and Inkscape to provide superior image editing. Maybe more uses, we shall see.    

Tags: linux

DebDroid-ng works great

August 09, 2021 — BarryK

This post is to give a thumbs-up for DebDroid-ng, created by "marcusz", a method for running Debian in Android phones and tablets, without having to root the phone. I have played with various alternatives, but found DebDroid-ng to be the simplest.

I reported on one of the alternatives a couple of days ago, "Userland":

https://bkhome.org/news/202108/userland-is-a-way-to-add-puppy-or-easyos-to-android.html

...cannot recall what the issue was, but did run into a problem with using UserLand.

I am waiting on arrival of a 7 inch Alldocube tablet, a contender for phone replacement and for hiking (GPS maps, watching videos, FM radio). Would like to experiment with also running Linux on it, even though it is a very low-end device.

While waiting, decided to play with the choices out there for installing Linux, on my Huawei tablet. This is an 8 inch tablet that I bought early 2020, also pretty low-end specs. Never used it much, partly because it doesn't have Google Play Services -- yes, I am hooked on Google Play Services.

Tried a few methods to install Linux on the Huawei tablet. One that looked really great, only supports aarch64 ...that was when I discovered the tablet only has 32-bit Android 10 installed, despite having a 64-bit CPU.

Then discovered DebDroid-ng. The "ng" part is important, because marcusz completely rewrote it early in 2021, and appended the "-ng". Project page:

https://github.com/WMCB-Tech/debdroid-ng

...that page has the instructions, and I just followed them.

It does require the "termux" app, and doesn't say so, but I assume also wants a VNC client app -- I chose "VNC Viewer".

For those who have access to the Google Play Store, do not install termux from there, as it is no longer updated. Instead, install the "F-Droid" app, which is an alternative app store, free apps only, and install termux from there.

I found VNC Viewer in the Huawei AppGallery, but assume it is also in other app stores.

Then all that you do is tap on the "termux" icon, and type in commands as explained in the DebDroid-ng project page.

It defaults to installing Buster release of Debian. You do need fast Internet connection.

So far, have only tested it once. Got a desktop, XFCE, great. What is immediately obvious, is that it needs a mouse to be usable. Without a mouse, extremely painful to use. Haven't tried with mouse yet, but assume if pair a Bluetooth mouse in Android, it will work in Debian.

Just a preliminary post, to report the pleasant install experience.

One thing planning to do next is explore using "Xserver XSDL" app instead of VNC.   

Tags: linux

Is ChromeOS the way to go?

July 20, 2021 — BarryK

I have been wondering about this for some time. My understanding is that ChromeOS was originally designed for a permanently online computer, not really for running off-line. I haven't closely followed development, but apparently that changed, allowing off-line use.

Then in 2016 Google announced that ChromeOS would be supporting Android apps:

https://www.androidauthority.com/android-apps-on-chromebooks-693696/

They haven't stopped there. In 2018, Google announced that ChromeOS would be supporting Linux apps, a project named "Crostini", via a Debian-based virtual machine:

https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2018/5/8/17318340/chrome-os-update-new-features-linux-apps-google-io-2018

That was when I started to pay attention to ChromeOS development. It seems that Linux is a terminal interface, however, GUI apps can, apparently, be installed. Here is one guide, that explains how "Gnome" apps can be added to the ChromeOS package manager:

https://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-to-install-a-gui-for-linux-apps-on-your-chromebook/

But how much of this is hype? What is the reality? This article, published Jan. 11, 2021, has some revealing statements:

https://beebom.com/best-linux-apps-chromebook/

Quoting:

And in the last two years, Linux has improved by leaps and bounds and it’s almost stable to use.

..."almost"!!!

Also, keep in mind currently, Linux on Chrome OS does not support hardware acceleration so the performance is slightly choppy.

...I would have thought that depends on the GPU. Perhaps computers with Intel GPUs would have hardware acceleration? A bit of online reading, it seems GPU acceleration, using openGL, is available, at least for recent Intel GPUs, but a couple of reports it is troublesome. Obviously a work-in-progress, that hopefully will improve.

Gimp, LibreOffice, Inkscape, apparently run OK, and particularly interesting, so do Windows apps, via Wine. I see can even run Windows 10 in a virtual machine.

This certainly is interesting!      

Tags: linux

Grub2config replaces Grub4Dos

July 14, 2021 — BarryK

This is great news! 'shinobar' is an old-timer. He joined the old Murga Puppy Forum in 2009, and has created PETs that have been important components of Puppy, including Grub4dos GUI, and SFS loader. EasyOS has his Grub4dos PET, in the "Setup" menu.

He is a member on the new Puppy Forum, but has kept a low profile. The great news is that he is working on a replacement for his old Grub PETs. Forum thread here:

https://forum.puppylinux.com/viewtopic.php?f=155&t=3360

Quoting:

Grub4Dos does not support GPT/UEFI system, which is new standard of the recent PC's. Grub2Config is a script installs the grub2 boot loader and makes the menu automatically probing intalled systems same way as the old Grub4DosConfig, enabling multiboot with Windows, Ubuntu and etc.. It supports both legacy MBR system and new GPT/UEFI. Also supports UEFI Secure boot thanks to the Gyrog's MOK manager.

It is still under development, but very promising indeed.     

Tags: linux

Attempted to compile Paragon NTFS driver

May 21, 2021 — BarryK

I posted yesterday about a technique to automatically resize the save-file in Puppy Linux:

https://bkhome.org/news/202105/automatic-resizing-of-save-file-for-puppy.html

...the post by 'telcoM' mentions that for automatic shrinking of the save-file, the underlying filesystem must support "hole punching". The ext4 driver does, that's good, however for NTFS it looks like will require the new NTFS driver from Paragon.

Paragon has submitted it for inclusion in the Linux kernel, but it hasn't made it in yet. You can see the submissions from Alexanda and Konstantin:

https://patchwork.kernel.org/project/linux-fsdevel/list/?submitter=194037

...v26 is the latest, and patch number 4 is v14.

The patches applied to both kernel 5.10.38 and 5.12.5, however, most unfortunately, compile fails in both cases. Was tossing up whether to wait for v27, or report the failure to Konstantin now. Hmmm, will probably do the latter.

EDIT 2021-05-24:
Fixed:

https://bkhome.org/news/202105/kernel-51039-compiled-with-paragon-ntfs3-driver.html  

Tags: linux