Since the release of Ubuntu 18.04 I’ve been using it a bunch in various VMs. I do love the new minimal install feature. Even though it doesn’t save that much hard disk space it does make things a lot less cluttered, which I absolutely love. Because I work in VMs I’ve been experimenting with migrating OS’s up to 18.04 rather than crushing old VMs, building from scratch, and porting data over. This process has worked almost seamlessly the dozen or so times I’ve done it across many VMs from various different baselines: Mainline 16.04, Mainline 17.10, Ubuntu MATE 16.04. The actual core software itself seems to work perfectly fine out of the box, but as I said it is almost seamless not seamless. There seems to be a bit of a wrinkle with the Ubuntu MATE update with respect to the VirtualBox Guest Additions, specifically with respect to shared folder drives.
I first ran across this in one of my main VMs when I tried the update. Everything went great, I re-applied the guest additions and voilà my shared folder drives mounted and I was in business. The next day when I fired up the VM they were missing. It was a hectic day, so I thought perhaps I had remembered it working so I applied the guest additions again. The drives reappeared. This time I rebooted to confirm it stuck but sadly they did not. I’ve continued to do some experimenting and have come to discover that while they are there the systemd process doesn’t seem to want to start on reboot even though it is set to. So to fix it I just need to do the following command to get them to show up:
sudo systemctl restart vboxadd-service.service
I wasn’t having this problem on Ubuntu 18.04 or Ubuntu MATE 18.04 virgin machines so this was either a problem with the general Ubuntu 16.04 to 18.04 upgrade process or specific to Ubuntu MATE 16.04 to 18.04 upgrade. I therefore went about creating two brand new VMs, one each for mainline Ubuntu 16.04 and one for Ubuntu MATE 16.04 and then went through the upgrade process directly. Those steps are:
- Fresh install OS with 3rd party and upgrades turned on
- Follow https://virtualboxes.org/doc/installing-guest-additions-on-ubuntu/ for installing guest additions
- Shutdown/Power on
- Add user to the vboxsf group (sudo usermod -a -G vboxsf <username>)
- Confirm RW shared folder
- Bring up graphical updater, do any additional updates
- Invoke Upgrade to 18.04 through graphical system:
sudo apt update && sudo apt dist-upgrade
- See if shared folder drive there
- After Update re-apply kernel extensions
- Confirm shared drive
I can repeatably show that mainline Ubuntu 16.04 goes through these updates without this artifact but the MATE version does not. Again, a fresh Ubuntu MATE 18.04 install doesn’t have this behavior at all. I wonder if this write up can shed some light on this problem for the Ubuntu MATE team.
At the beginning of January I decided to try my hand at using a ten year old laptop running Linux Mint MATE as my daily at home machine. While there is certainly some cruft associated with using such an old machine for the most part the experience was perfectly fine. In fact I’m using it right now to write out this article. I wouldn’t recommend running out and buying one solely for the purpose, but the fact remains that Linux Mint MATE, and probably Ubuntu MATE as well, provide a great average user load experience on underpowered hardware.
Continue reading Yes, you can survive with a ten year old laptop running Mint MATE
I was away for a week so couldn’t do my Linux craptop experiment. Sorry, but I refuse to be beholden to a ten year old laptop while on travel. So now, today, is the second day that I’m using this as my primary machine for when I’m browsing the Internet and doing things while I’m watching TV on the couch. Yes that seems like a limited subset, but I spend a good amount of time vegging in that state so it’s not as insignificant as it seems. I’ll have a thorough breakdown of my experiment at some point but by far the biggest nuisance I have that is driving me crazy is the lack of trackpad gestures.
When gestures first came out for laptops I thought they were mostly gimmicky, but once I had my first laptop that really had them I was hooked and didn’t know it. Now that I’m trying to use a laptop without them I’m finding it very cumbersome. It’s not a total loss however because this trackpad has the beginning of gestures in the form of scroll bars on the right and bottom sides. I can simulate the scrolling to some extent which is a big part of my gestures, but it really isn’t the same thing. How did we live without gestures all this time? At least Linux Mint Mate 18 supported these limited gestures out of the box for this ancient laptop.
Sometime in 2016 the Linux Action Show podcast on a yarn decided to run both a modern and then a contemporary version of Linux on ten year old equipment. As luck would have it along with my other eccentric hobbies I also have a classic computer collection. One of the computers in my collection that I ran across recently is a Dell XPS M1530 from late-2007 (specs). I bought it as not too crappy but not so great home laptop suitable for browsing the internet, doing my home finances, et cetera. Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I guess, I have decided to try to use this laptop as a modern browsing computer for a little while. With a 2.6 GHz Intel Core2 Duo and 4 GB of RAM it shouldn’t do too bad, especially with the 4 GB of RAM. I’m going to run Linux Mint MATE18.1 to give it a fighting chance. Ubuntu and Cinnamon require a bit more graphics and CPU horsepower and while the 4GB of memory should allow it to hold its own to some extent, the ten year old processors and graphics cards will suffer. MATE on the other hand is far lighter weight and more streamlined.
Probably the biggest hiccup is going to be the battery. This is the original battery from ten years ago. I doubt that it is going to hold up well to being unplugged. That’s okay though, I’ll be able to leave it plugged in while I’m using it without much inconvenience. I’m not going to make this my primary laptop or anything so if I can only use it while tethered to the couch then so be it.
I’m currently finishing up patching the system, getting printers setup, and doing software installs for things like Chrome. I look forward to playing around with this in the coming weeks and reporting on it. In fact I’m writing this very blog post in FireFox on it right now while the OS patches continue to progress…