Converting to Linux...kind of

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VassiliTN
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Converting to Linux...kind of

Post by VassiliTN »

When Windows 10 came out I decided I will hold off upgrading my PC, see how it looks. How right I was...

If Microsoft chose to stay with Windows 7 I would have happily stayed with it to this day. But it was too good and too stable. Seeing and having to fix all the Windows 10 update woes I decided I wanted no part of it. Unfortunately time came when my 11-year old PC running Windows 7 while still working decently has started to become outdated and some programs simply don't support Windows 7 anymore.

So, as I have no use for Apple crap the choice of Linux came up. Plus having to replace the hdd in my laptop gave me a chance to try several distros. Choice was fairly open as what I need from Linux will work in any major distro. Tried 3:

- Ubuntu seems fine, but I don't like Unity. And each time I tried to change the look I ended up crashing the OS, so I guess it's not meant to be.
- Fedora 34 looks and feels great. It's fast, it's solid, it has nice features. Unfortunately for someone coming from Windows background navigating Gnome40 is utter nightmare. Supposedly there is a tweak for earlier versions of Gnome, but not 40. Maybe I'll check out Fedora again later.
- Mint interface seems good to work with, so that's what went onto the laptop, that's what I decided to put on the new desktop. So, farce and comedy begins....

DAY ONE

The chipset on the motherboard was newer than what default kernel of Mint 20 knew about, therefore it detected no NIC or video card and would only boot into compatibility mode. I downloaded deb packages of kernel 5.12 and installed those. Now had NIC, but still no video. Downloaded 5.10, now it was booting normally, but still saying no video driver. Downloaded 5.11, that added the video driver, but 5.11 wouldn't boot outside of compatibility mode. Removed 5.11, driver remained! So then with 5.10 it boots normally, sees both monitors, NIC and the sound card, all hardware and peripherals work!

I guess there is reasoning for distro makers not updating the default kernel version, but I don't know what it is. If I ever reach their technical level maybe I will.
I am very thankful for the ability to download .deb packages. It would be nice if maybe we could update kernel on install or download iso images with higher version of kernel slipstreamed into them

DAY TWO

Was mostly wasted on trying to follow directions on how to move a VM to a different KVM host. What I finally figured out that the directions say move the .qcow2 into the same folder under /etc/libvirt and that simply isn't possible. Qemu can somehow create images in there, but it is a system folder and you as human don't have full access to it and never will. The right way to do it is to put the .qcow2 into some folder that you do have access to, then change the xml to reference that new location.

DAY THREE

Mostly spent fighting Qemu more.

So I wanted to setup 3 VMs: Windows 98 for a really old Dos-based game, Windows 7 for some not so old games and Windows Server 2019 to run business-related Windows programs I can't get away from. Also I wanted to run VPN connections from the Server VM. Well, I discovered PPTP and L2TP VPN connections don't work from inside a VM if the virtual switch is in NAT mode. Well, that seems simple enough, just switch it to bridge mode. Ah, that's where an emoji giving you a finger would be very appropriate.

First of all Qemu can't do bridge. Period. Go figure why
So the answer on the internet is create your own bridge and tie it to the VM. After reading hundreds of pages of instructions, completely breaking the virtual switch and figuring out how to fix it I came to the conclusion that if your system is using Network Manager (which Mint 20 does) it is not possible to make a bridge.

So the final solution was to run SonicWall and Cisco VPN clients from inside the Server 2019 VM as they don't seem to care about NAT mode and configure PPTP and L2TP connections inside Mint.

Qemu actually seems like a very nice thing considering that it's free. I gave Windows 7 and Server 2019 VMs just 2 cores and 4Gb RAM each and their response is excellent. But inability to do a bridge is a serious problem, If I ever do this again I'll have to see what other hypervisors can do, perhaps even use a commercial one.

Day three also was when I discovered a totally unexpected problem. It seems whoever programmed this portion of Mint was poor and couldn't afford a second hard drive. And so they decided if they can't do it it's not going to work well for anyone else either. Mint doesn't want you to have more than one hard drive, doesn't like it when you have more than one hard drive and will fight you over it. Which was a big problem for me as my new computer has 4 hard drives - it's a lot cheaper to buy 4 medium size SSD drives than one gigantic one. Mostly got it to work, but none of the additional drives will automount, have to mount them manually each time the system is rebooted. Qemu really didn't want to put VM images onto the hard drive I dedicated for that purpose, had to run all appropriate commands as sudo to force it to do so and now I cannot just copy those images for backup purposes either, again only via command line as sudo. As a bonus I discovered if you try to install Google Remote Desktop additional hard drives will not mount period. So you can have Google Remote Desktop or multiple hard drives, but not both. Thankfully Server 2019 VM took Google Remote Desktop just fine.

DAY FOUR

Installed Samba. Discovered as MInt doesn't want you to have multiple hard drives it will not share one of them properly no matter what you do. Apparently I am the only one out there that tries to run a hardware configuration like that. What I ended up having to do since it's just me was to enable guest access on the share.

Then I discovered that my scanner only supports SMB1 and Mint 20 by default turns it off. Thankfully on that one I am not the only one to ask that question and directions on how to enable SMB1 were easy for a change.

Another bonus discovery - VNC plugin for Remmina cannot connect to a Mac. Any PC connects just fine, but Mac simply fails to authenticate. RealVNC does exactly the same thing. For now just giving up on that working. Right now there are only 2 Macs I ever need to remotely connect to and what I can do is first connect to a Windows Server on the same network and then run a VNC viewer on it.

Final task was to figure out how to backup the whole mess. That turned out to be the easiest task of all. Take the external hard drives I used for backup on the Windows PC, format them in EXT4 and backup away. A pleasant bonus was that on this new system it works much faster. Don't know if it's because it's a newer type of USB controller or EXT4 is that much faster than NTFS. What I do know it took 6-7 hours for full backup to run on the Windows PC and I had this new one backed up in about an hour.

So what I think so far from running Mint on the laptop for a few months and this experience? Linux Mint is fast and solid. But each time you need to do something you have to jump through hoops trying to figure out what commands to run, what those commands really do and what implications they carry for your specific system. If Microsoft ever releases a normal version of desktop Windows again like Windows 7 or fixes the update woes in Windows 10 I am going back to them. Which means for at least the next few years I am stuck with Mint for sure, he-he. Good thing it seems once you do get something to work in Mint then barring hardware failures it just continues to work.
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Portreve
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Re: Converting to Linux...kind of

Post by Portreve »

Well, welcome to the family, as it were.

Not that I haven't used Windows — I've used Windows from 3.1 through 7 on my own self-built hardware over the years, and Windows 10 on my current HP desktop — but I came to LM from the Mac world.

My experience with remote access probably predates yours by at least a generation, if not two. I used to use TOPS on a trio of Macs in high school back in the 80s, sharing the hard drives over a painfully slow AppleTalk network, and Timbuktu to look at the various desktops. However, all of that honestly was more for playing around purposes (except for being able to share files back and forth) than anything else. I used to have a Debian-based file server in my house, and I used it right up until the Mac mini it ran on gave up the ghost. I've SSH'd in via terminal to run commands and set things up, but as far as doing this with Windows boxen... never. You certainly have the advantage of me there.

I'm (slowly, intermittently) working on getting my Net+ cert because I do want to get back into the tech world. It seems like I'm dragging my feet a lot, which does sort of make me wonder what my hold-up is. Vis a vis Microsoft, if they burned to the ground tomorrow, I wouldn't shed a tear. Nevertheless, I guess supporting their stuff is a necessary evil, so to that end not only do I have a current model Mac (again), but I also run Win 10 alongside LM 20.1. I just want something better than a call center job like I had with Sony for five years supporting Win 95, 98, 98SE, ME, and XP boxes over-the-phone. I really just want to get into infrastructure and stretch my wings and see where I can go.

Other than my quest to learn new things to take me back into tech, my personal needs are perfectly met under LM. The only hardware support issues I've had have to do with the reasoning behind not including WNIC drivers for Broadcom hardware as a directly OOB experience. Beyond that, things work well and always have.

I've worked for a couple companies (including my current one) where a support center remotes into deployed desktop systems and does their work. I'd rather be doing something else, but at least I wouldn't be dealing with members of the general public, and I wouldn't be trying to guide someone over the phone; it'd be nice to be able to see the situation for what it is and get about fixing it.
Your intermittently humble Portreve.

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ajgringo619
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Re: Converting to Linux...kind of

Post by ajgringo619 »

Curious why you picked the hardest of the VM software programs to start off with. I've used the (3) biggies - including QEMU - and have found that VMware is very good and robust; for example, your bridging issue - which I use mainly because of Warpinator - would have been remedied in a couple of clicks.
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Re: Converting to Linux...kind of

Post by AndyMH »

Mint doesn't want you to have more than one hard drive, doesn't like it when you have more than one hard drive and will fight you over it.
What were you trying to do? I have multiple hard drives, no problems.

Why didn't you try virtualbox instead of qemu? You can put the VMs wherever you want.

What are you using for backup?
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Re: Converting to Linux...kind of

Post by deepakdeshp »

If I have helped you solve a problem, please add [SOLVED] to your first post title, it helps other users looking for help, and keeps the forum clean.
Regards,
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VassiliTN
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Re: Converting to Linux...kind of

Post by VassiliTN »

It seems I should have researched hypervisors more thoroughly :) The short I answer why I picked Qemu is because I didn't know any better. The only hypervisor I ever worked with is Hyper-V, which is great, but doesn't apply in the Linux world.

For now I got everything to do what I need. And I really like the performance of Qemu VMs, I wouldn't get performance like that on physical hardware with twice the resources I gave the VMs. But yeah, if I change something in the future seem further research and testing is needed.

On multiple hard drives it seems most of my issues have to do with permissions. Like for example when I try to share one of those drives it says permissions prevent users from accessing it. And it will not connect with username and password, that's why I had to enable guest access. In the Windows world if you as an administrator add and format a new hard drive by default you have full access to it, and apparently in MInt that isn't so. Once again, I got it to do what I need. deepakdeshp, thank you for the link, I will see if adding necessary entries to fstab will do the automount.

For backup I use timeshift to backup the system and simple copy and paste to backup data drive and VM .qcow2 images. When I had a windows machine I used to boot my laptop from ubcd and do a full clone of the hard drive to a windows share. Now I have forced myself to physically turn off the old Windows box to make sure that this new system truly does everything. I may do a full system drive image later just to have it.

Oh, and got VNC connectivity to Macs figured out, ssvnc does work with both PCs and Macs.
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Re: Converting to Linux...kind of

Post by AndyMH »

There are better alternatives to copy/paste for /home. A number of utilities available, I use backintime - in software manager, there are others such as luckybackup. backintime is much like timeshift, uses rsync as a backend, takes snapshots. You can set up multiple profiles, e.g. I backup my VMs monthly, rest of /home daily. These are file level utilities, if you want image backup there is clonezilla (not user friendly) or foxclone or rescuezilla - download the iso, burn to a stick with mint's usb image writer and boot from it.

Format a drive with gparted and any ext4 partitions are owned by root = read only. You have to chown the mount point to you for read-write access. By default, mint will mount other partitions in /media/you. Helps to add labels to partitions as it will then use the label for the mount folder, e.g. /media/you/mylabel. If you don't add a label, it uses the UUID = less user friendly.
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Re: Converting to Linux...kind of

Post by deepakdeshp »

For Cloning the partition Clonezilla is a good option which I use and has saved me many times. Andy here has developed Foxclone and that is another option.
If I have helped you solve a problem, please add [SOLVED] to your first post title, it helps other users looking for help, and keeps the forum clean.
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Deepak

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Re: Converting to Linux...kind of

Post by mikeflan »

@VassiliTN
Excellent summary of initial experience with LM. Day 1 would stop most people trying to make the move from windows.
Mostly got it to work, but none of the additional drives will automount, have to mount them manually each time the system is rebooted.
I mount manually after every reboot. Only takes 10 seconds - maybe even 5 seconds. I reboot maybe once every 2 weeks or so. I like it that way since I have multiple machines, all with different numbers of drives and drive names, and I sometimes use the same imaged OS on those machines. I think I could modify fstab to load them automatically, but I don't do that.

Code: Select all

Filesystem     Type      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1      ext4      469G  245G  201G  55% /
/dev/sdb2      ext4      7.3T  6.7T  254G  97% /media/mike/bu1
/dev/sdc1      ext4       11T  9.6T  755G  93% /media/mike/main1
/dev/sdd2      fuseblk   3.7T  3.4T  330G  92% /media/mike/mapbu1
In the Windows world if you as an administrator add and format a new hard drive by default you have full access to it, and apparently in MInt that isn't so.
This is a serious problem that should be fixed. I just had this problem. They say don't use gparted to format the drive - use Disks instead. OK :roll: Another useless thing I have to remember. Another stumbling block for people migrating from windows.
VassiliTN
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Re: Converting to Linux...kind of

Post by VassiliTN »

Clonezilla is what I used, seems to do well with ext4

I used Disks to add and format the additional drives... Again, permissions is what I really struggle with coming from Windows world where you can set them very easily using GUI.

>>>Day 1 would stop most people trying to make the move from windows.
>>>Another stumbling block for people migrating from windows.

What I think is non-technical person simply will not be able to make such a move. I am used to manage and fix computers, to work through issues, know how to ask the right questions and how to read between the lines when I get answers. Most people simply will not bother.

In the past I have tried to convert to Linux several friends with whom I got tired fixing viruses on their computers. What I have discovered if all they do is browse the internet and do email it actually works great, one of them had the $200 laptop I gave him for 8 years now and hasn't managed to crash it yet. But if they ever need to do anything beyond that it's a showstopper. No one outside of IT is going to try to figure out how to run command lines.

As for me if Windows 10 updates weren't so horrible I would have tried to make that work before converting to anything. But each time an update comes out it's like it knocks out some program, it causes bsod, it knocks out printers, it deletes your profile, the list can go on and on. I just don't want my PC to be a continuous struggle. What's interesting throughout this same time the Windows Server has been getting better and better with each version. I don't recall a single time where an update caused a major problem on that one, in my VM it runs every single program beautifully even though most of them really were not designed to run on a server OS. The only reason I didn't make it the main new OS was I was concerned about driver issues and general multimedia issues.

So we will see how this works long-term. And hey, maybe rather than going back to Microsoft they will come to us. Who would have thought they would release a working version of Skype for Linux? Maybe before long Office for Linux may not be a poor joke anymore, along with other mainstream software. And of course advances in the cloud technology.
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Re: Converting to Linux...kind of

Post by deepakdeshp »

If I have helped you solve a problem, please add [SOLVED] to your first post title, it helps other users looking for help, and keeps the forum clean.
Regards,
Deepak

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Re: Converting to Linux...kind of

Post by AndyMH »

This is a serious problem that should be fixed. I just had this problem. They say don't use gparted to format the drive - use Disks instead. OK :roll: Another useless thing I have to remember. Another stumbling block for people migrating from windows.
It's easily fixed:

Code: Select all

sudo chown -R $USER:$USER /wherever_your_partition_mounts
or you can do it in your file manager as root.

It's part of the linux security model and not something I would wish changed. I prefer gparted to disks, but there is a learning curve.
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Re: Converting to Linux...kind of

Post by mikeflan »

sudo chown -R $USER:$USER /wherever_your_partition_mounts
I find this is not permanent, but does work temporarily.
or you can do it in your file manager as root.
I did that and it appears to be permanent.
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Re: Converting to Linux...kind of

Post by AndyMH »

mikeflan wrote:
Fri Jun 18, 2021 9:22 pm
I find this is not permanent, but does work temporarily.
That's the second time I've seen that (was it you?). It should be permanent, so don't understand why you had a problem (was it an ext4 partition)?
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Re: Converting to Linux...kind of

Post by VassiliTN »

Bumped into a problem today that I expected to bump into. From the beginning I have foreseen 2 possible problems that would require me to keep some kind of physical Windows box around:

1. VPN. Most manufacturers simply don't bother making Linux versions of their VPN clients. For now everything I have works either from LInux or from a Windows VM, but tomorrow a new client may come up with some screwed up VPN cilent.
2. No Rufus. I may need to keep a physical Windows PC just to run that one program. Today I needed to make ubcd usb stick, here is the log:

- dd doesn't make the usb stick bootable
- neither does USB image writer
- etcher outright says it doesn't recognize ubcd as bootable.
- unetbootin did the trick. But that one at first didn't recognize the usb stick, I had to first format it in fat32. Makes me question how it will do with Windows OS iso images. Plus if unetbootin can't format the usb itself that means designating it as gpt or mbr is out of question. And I know on some PCs that does matter.

Does anyone here use Linux to make bootable Windows install usbs? If yes what do you use?
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Re: Converting to Linux...kind of

Post by ajgringo619 »

VassiliTN wrote:
Sun Jun 20, 2021 5:35 pm
Bumped into a problem today that I expected to bump into. From the beginning I have foreseen 2 possible problems that would require me to keep some kind of physical Windows box around:

1. VPN. Most manufacturers simply don't bother making Linux versions of their VPN clients. For now everything I have works either from LInux or from a Windows VM, but tomorrow a new client may come up with some screwed up VPN cilent.
My mom's doctor told me about having the same issue; he's a BSD guy, but is stuck booting Windows for the hospital's VPN.
2. No Rufus. I may need to keep a physical Windows PC just to run that one program. Today I needed to make ubcd usb stick, here is the log:

- dd doesn't make the usb stick bootable
- neither does USB image writer
- etcher outright says it doesn't recognize ubcd as bootable.
- unetbootin did the trick. But that one at first didn't recognize the usb stick, I had to first format it in fat32. Makes me question how it will do with Windows OS iso images. Plus if unetbootin can't format the usb itself that means designating it as gpt or mbr is out of question. And I know on some PCs that does matter.

Does anyone here use Linux to make bootable Windows install usbs? If yes what do you use?
Ventoy will solve this problem: https://www.ventoy.net/en/index.html
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Re: Converting to Linux...kind of

Post by motoryzen »

Most manufacturers simply don't bother making Linux versions of their VPN clients
PIA has a Linux client and from what I've read it's rock solid
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Re: Converting to Linux...kind of

Post by jimallyn »

motoryzen wrote:
Sun Jun 20, 2021 6:43 pm
PIA has a Linux client and from what I've read it's rock solid
I can confirm that. I have used PIA on numerous computers over a period of some years now. No problems at all.
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Re: Converting to Linux...kind of

Post by mikeflan »

That's the second time I've seen that (was it you?). It should be permanent, so don't understand why you had a problem (was it an ext4 partition)?
Yes, I did mention it twice - once in another topic that I started.

It was an external USB Passport that was NTFS and I simply formatted over it with gparted to ext4. I saw the problem. Fixed it with chown, but after unmounting and plugging it in again it was RO again. Then I right clicked and 'Open as root' and changed the permissions tab as LanceM suggested:
viewtopic.php?f=47&t=351007
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Re: Converting to Linux...kind of

Post by VassiliTN »

ajgringo619 Ventoy is brilliant! Does everything that Rufus does, I wonder why when I search for "alternative to Rufus" Ventoy never comes up. That indeed solves that.

In terms of VPN I meant VPN for remote access, not for anonymous browsing. For right now I got everything I need to work, just hope some future client doesn't require a VPN that's Windows only and doesn't work from a VM
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