Guidance Building Up my Mint PC

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Dark Owl
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Guidance Building Up my Mint PC

Post by Dark Owl »

I'm using Coronavirus lock-down time to develop a project that has been on the back-burner for a couple of years: migrate away from Windows while not inconveniencing my general computing activities too much. To that end I have assembled a PC from components separate from my workhorse Win7 notebook, using parts I had available or bought in as required, based on an AMD Ryzen 5 processor with 16GB RAM. Progress so far indicates it would never have got done without the free time created by Coronavirus!

For storage I have 256GB SSD for OS and apps, and four HDDs to use as two mirrored volumes. The drives are 3 x 2TB + 1 x 1.5TB, so there is half a terabyte left over to use for swap and temp.

Mint/Cinnamon 18.2 has been installed from a magazine cover disk I picked up when I first got interested. I got that installed onto the SSD easily enough and started doing things like experimenting with Windows VMs as a means to continue work if necessary. That's when development stopped until now.

I found I could move swap easily using GParted, and expand the SSD partition into the space that was freed. I want to get RAID running and move /home onto it, but I have been wrangling with mdadm (viewtopic.php?f=90&t=320969).

Before I get too much further, I will update Mint to the newest sensible version (19.3?). Reading up, it seems I need to update to 18.3 before updating to 19.

Is it sensible for me to finish wrangling /home onto RAID before I do that, or should I migrate to 19.3 (or whatever) and then work it out afterwards?

On my Win7 PC, I use a utility called RollbackRX to protect the OS. It works as a disk driver, so Windows only sees what Rollback lets it see of the actual disk. If I declare a snapshot, reads continue from disk blocks as before, but writes get directed to new disk blocks (and subsequent reads come from there). This means that if anything goes wrong, I can instantly switch back to a previous state of the disk (and even fork to try out a new installation without committing). I have read Timeshift + BTRFS does something similar in Linux.

Can I use GParted in a live Linux to convert my SSD to BTRFS and will it still boot afterwards? Should I do this before or after updating to 19.3? I can test all this out on a spare 500GB HDD first.
Currently: Linux Mint 20 Cinnamon 64-bit 4.6.6, AMD Ryzen5 + Geforce GT 710
Previously: LM20β, LM18.2

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Dark Owl
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Re: Guidance Building Up my Mint PC

Post by Dark Owl »

No comments at all? It would be nice to know I'm barking up the right tree.
Currently: Linux Mint 20 Cinnamon 64-bit 4.6.6, AMD Ryzen5 + Geforce GT 710
Previously: LM20β, LM18.2

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kato181
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Re: Guidance Building Up my Mint PC

Post by kato181 »

Just my two cents worth on your question.
1. I'd wait a few weeks until the release of Mint 20
2.Why do you want to use BTRFS for when Rsync is the standard, I'm not saying don't use it...
3. Gparted is part of the live usb, I don't know if you can convert Rsync to Btrfs without a format without loosing your data, but I maybe wrong.
4. Do a clean install of 19.3 using btrfs format and try it out.
I go with the flow, and just leave everything standard, I'm too old to start fiddling with things now and then trying to remember what I did... :D

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Dark Owl
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Re: Guidance Building Up my Mint PC

Post by Dark Owl »

kato181 wrote:
Fri Jun 05, 2020 3:32 am
2.Why do you want to use BTRFS for when Rsync is the standard, I'm not saying don't use it...
From what little I have understood, rsync means deliberately committing time to making a physical snapshot (albeit on an automatic schedule). With BTRFS, all you have to do to preserve the existing system state is declare a freeze. Then, to go back to that freeze point, you just do it in almost no time at all without having to restore an image.

That's what I find so very good on Windows using RollbackRX.
kato181 wrote:
Fri Jun 05, 2020 3:32 am
I go with the flow, and just leave everything standard, I'm too old to start fiddling with things now and then trying to remember what I did... :D
I'm sympathetic with that, but I have already hit a brick wall with RAID. And in any case, which particular tweak of Linux would you call "standard"?!
Currently: Linux Mint 20 Cinnamon 64-bit 4.6.6, AMD Ryzen5 + Geforce GT 710
Previously: LM20β, LM18.2

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kato181
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Re: Guidance Building Up my Mint PC

Post by kato181 »

Rysnc is the standard it does come with the option of btrfs, but most of the experts say to stay with rsync. So I go with what they suggest.

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Dark Owl
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Re: Guidance Building Up my Mint PC

Post by Dark Owl »

Right, well, I've done some pondering and come to the conclusion there is no point me fighting problems which might be different or non-existent in LM20. I've waited this long, I might as well wait some more and do a from-scratch install.

Is the beta release likely to be good enough, or should I wait for the fallout?
Currently: Linux Mint 20 Cinnamon 64-bit 4.6.6, AMD Ryzen5 + Geforce GT 710
Previously: LM20β, LM18.2

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Re: Guidance Building Up my Mint PC

Post by majpooper »

Dark Owl wrote:
Fri Jun 05, 2020 12:00 pm
but I have already hit a brick wall with RAID.
There are a few threads from waaaay back on how to set up RAID . . . . well RAID 0 anyway but may work for whatever array you are interested in. This rig is 10 years old and came with Windows ? (ditched Windows without ever running it) two SSDs on a RAID 0 array.
I followed thread linked below to get RAID running then decided I would rather use the second SSD for data because I didn't feel any significant performance increase with RAID 0 in my case.

Keep in mind this is a thread from 2015.
viewtopic.php?f=46&t=210439&p=1098451&h ... 0#p1098451

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Dark Owl
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Re: Guidance Building Up my Mint PC

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Dark Owl wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 7:17 am
Right, well, I've done some pondering and come to the conclusion there is no point me fighting problems which might be different or non-existent in LM20. I've waited this long, I might as well wait some more and do a from-scratch install.

Is the beta release likely to be good enough, or should I wait for the fallout?
Have started the download. At my bit rate, this might take some time (and restarts)...
Currently: Linux Mint 20 Cinnamon 64-bit 4.6.6, AMD Ryzen5 + Geforce GT 710
Previously: LM20β, LM18.2

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Dark Owl
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Re: Guidance Building Up my Mint PC

Post by Dark Owl »

OK, so favourable reports of the LM20 Cinnamon beta prompted me to try it, but it doesn't appear to play nicely with my GT710 graphics card (unless I select Compatibility Mode at boot, in which case it's stuck at 1024x768). I don't know whether it auto-detects my 3840x2160 monitor, but there is no HDMI output at all. This is when booting the iso from DVD.

Note that 18.2 runs fine out of the box at 3840x2160, without loading special drivers.

I found a similar report on GitHub, and added my comments.
Currently: Linux Mint 20 Cinnamon 64-bit 4.6.6, AMD Ryzen5 + Geforce GT 710
Previously: LM20β, LM18.2

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Dark Owl
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Re: Guidance Building Up my Mint PC

Post by Dark Owl »

Well, what do you know. I downloaded LM19.3 and it has exactly the same issue.
Currently: Linux Mint 20 Cinnamon 64-bit 4.6.6, AMD Ryzen5 + Geforce GT 710
Previously: LM20β, LM18.2

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AndyMH
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Re: Guidance Building Up my Mint PC

Post by AndyMH »

It's probably the kernel, had a similar but different problem moving from 18.3 to 19.0. Ultrawide monitor (2560x1080) worked 'out of the box' with LM18.3, with LM19.0 had to get a modeline for 2560x1080 and set the screen res with xrandr. Was running 18.3 with a 4.4 kernel, 19.0 with 4.15, subsequent testing found anything later than 4.5.7 gave me a problem.
Homebrew i5-8400+GTX1080 Cinnamon 19.0, 3 x Thinkpad T430 Cinnamon 19.0, i7-3632 , i5-3320, i5-3210, Thinkpad T60 19.0 Mate

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Re: Guidance Building Up my Mint PC

Post by ZakGordon »

Saw this thread late, and don't have specific advice, but there might be something handy in my sig link tutorial which is for my own Mint/Windows 7 Ryzen 5 dual-boot build?
Laptop overheating? Check link here:itsfoss guide . A move from Cinnamon to XFCE can give a -5 to -10 degrees C change on overheating hardware.

Build a modern dual-boot Ryzen Win7/Linux Mint PC:Tutorial

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Dark Owl
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Re: Guidance Building Up my Mint PC

Post by Dark Owl »

ZakGordon wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 3:20 am
Saw this thread late, and don't have specific advice, but there might be something handy in my sig link tutorial which is for my own Mint/Windows 7 Ryzen 5 dual-boot build?

Build a modern dual-boot Ryzen Win7/Linux Mint PC: Tutorial
Looks like some interesting reading there, thanks. You have a similar philosophy as me.
Currently: Linux Mint 20 Cinnamon 64-bit 4.6.6, AMD Ryzen5 + Geforce GT 710
Previously: LM20β, LM18.2

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Dark Owl
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Re: Guidance Building Up my Mint PC

Post by Dark Owl »

Progress with LM20!

I'm still a bit peeved that 18.2 boots (on my hardware) as a live disk, but 20 beta doesn't. I had to boot the live disk in compatibility mode (low res!), install it, boot the install in compatibility mode, pull in the Nvidia drivers with the driver manager, and finally reboot to glorious 3840x2160... with tiny icons.

There then followed a long battle with the oddities of the display settings. One attractive feature of 20 is the promised fractional zoom (with 18.2 my only choice is tiny or x2 with the Hi-DPI setting). 150% or 175% might be a nice compromise, but anything other than 100% resulted in stretched horizontal scaling of desktop features and exaggerated wallpaper (with my hardware, anyway).

So then I looked at what they call "base interface scaling", which offers normal, double, and 3x. Same thing happened.

And yet, in the Login Window settings, enabling Hi-DPI support produces the correct effect: double size features without them being stretched, on a correctly scaled wallpaper. But only for the login screen.

I reported all this on github, and eventually got told that for Hi-DPI I have to set base interface scaling to 2x and the zoom level to 200%. Weird, right? Especially as zoom 200% explicitly states "1920x1080" resolution. Well, weird or not, it works.

The only thing is, after all that trouble, I have exactly the same as 18.2 with no fractional scaling benefit.

The next job will be working out how to commit that back to a bootable DVD as a rescue disc. The LM20 beta doesn't come with GParted pre-installed, so that needs to go on my rescue disc too.
Currently: Linux Mint 20 Cinnamon 64-bit 4.6.6, AMD Ryzen5 + Geforce GT 710
Previously: LM20β, LM18.2

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Dark Owl
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Re: Guidance Building Up my Mint PC

Post by Dark Owl »

On the basis of a suggestion that the kernel changed between LM19.2 and 19.3, I downloaded 19.2 iso and find it boots fine on my hardware, like 18.2 did. However, now I am making progress with 20 I'll stick with it unless I hit any show-stoppers.
Currently: Linux Mint 20 Cinnamon 64-bit 4.6.6, AMD Ryzen5 + Geforce GT 710
Previously: LM20β, LM18.2

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Re: Guidance Building Up my Mint PC

Post by Dark Owl »

I have got as far as using this tip:

viewtopic.php?f=42&t=255060#top

...to get my RAID arrays mounted at boot in 20β.
Currently: Linux Mint 20 Cinnamon 64-bit 4.6.6, AMD Ryzen5 + Geforce GT 710
Previously: LM20β, LM18.2

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Dark Owl
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Re: Guidance Building Up my Mint PC

Post by Dark Owl »

Now I want to move /home onto the RAID.

I've read:

https://community.linuxmint.com/tutorial/view/1609
viewtopic.php?t=74321
viewtopic.php?t=173334

...all of which seem to be talking about linking or binding one user's home folders into another partition.

Why can't the whole /home tree (all users) be declared/redirected onto another partition/drive?

In fstab I see a line declaring the file system for the /home mount point. Could this not be modified to point at a new place for /home? My RAID mounts are in fstab; if they need to be declared before /home can go there, maybe put the /home line after the RAID lines in fstab?

Discuss please.

Update: I decided to try. I copied /home to a RAID (cp -rp), added a different file to each version so I could tell which was which, then modified fstab (having kept a backup). Rebooted. Can't log in now (I shall have to start a live linux or terminal session and restore the fstab).

Did I do something the wrong way, or can't it work at all?
Currently: Linux Mint 20 Cinnamon 64-bit 4.6.6, AMD Ryzen5 + Geforce GT 710
Previously: LM20β, LM18.2

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Dark Owl
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Re: Guidance Building Up my Mint PC

Post by Dark Owl »

Dark Owl wrote:
Fri Jul 03, 2020 5:57 pm
I shall have to start a live linux or terminal session and restore the fstab
Oh dear, that's embarrassing: I restored the original fstab and it still won't log in!
Currently: Linux Mint 20 Cinnamon 64-bit 4.6.6, AMD Ryzen5 + Geforce GT 710
Previously: LM20β, LM18.2

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Re: Guidance Building Up my Mint PC

Post by AndyMH »

Dark Owl wrote:
Fri Jul 03, 2020 7:00 pm
Oh dear, that's embarrassing:
Can't help, don't use raid and not even sure you can do what you want, but while of little solace, we've all been there and done it in different ways :(. Do you have an image backup?
Homebrew i5-8400+GTX1080 Cinnamon 19.0, 3 x Thinkpad T430 Cinnamon 19.0, i7-3632 , i5-3320, i5-3210, Thinkpad T60 19.0 Mate

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Re: Guidance Building Up my Mint PC

Post by Kadaitcha Man »

Dark Owl wrote:
Tue Jun 02, 2020 1:52 pm
I want to get RAID running and move /home onto it, but I have been wrangling with mdadm (viewtopic.php?f=90&t=320969).
Software RAID is only as good as your backup regime. Anything software is prone to major corruption if, say, the power goes out unexpectedly, hence software RAID shouldn't be relied on without some form of regular backup. I would recommend spending 40 or so US dollars on a hardware RAID card such as the Adaptec 6805T and a pair of suitable SFF-8087 cables (SAS to SATA). Both of these can be bought on eBay and are supported in both Linux and Windows, and since the 6805T provides its own BIOS, the card supports bare-metal booting so it can have the OS installed on the RAID. If you select the appropriate RAID configuration, you can add an extra disk when you can afford it, and the card will bring the additional disk online if something goes awry with one of the disks in the array. With this setup there is absolutely no wrangling, it all works out of the box.

Also, you won't get all that much of a performance boost out of putting just /home on RAID. To get the benefit, you need the OS on RAID. This is why I recommend the hardware RAID 6805T. Installing an OS to software RAID is nothing less than an absolute nightmare of the worst kind.
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