Detour rant

I haven’t done much with my owncloud in quite a while. It was merely an experiment.and I eventually switched my file syncing to (then) BitTorrent Sync, now Resilio Sync. It’s the same program yet they created a new company to better market the shit outa that sucker. Which is fine with me, the program is free and you get nice perks for an one-time payment of 39.99$ If you are looking for a great, private and easy Cloud-Storage solution go check it out at https://www.resilio.com/

Since quite some time I use Kodi now, back then it was xbmc but eventualy evolved into Kodi. With the release of Windows 10 Microsoft decided to do an App-Store kinda thing on their own and called it Windows Store? Something like that. Anyhow, Kodi 17 Crypton was in Beta and it was only available through that win store thingy, which kinda sucked since I run my Kodi on a Win7 system. By now you can just download whatever way you want, but about half a year ago it looked like Kodi was only going to be available with win10. Thinking about it now it didn’t even make sense to me back then. But since I wanted to give Kodi 17 a try, I thought to myself why not setting up a linux system on one of my spare harddrives and install all that nice stuff there instead of relying on windows and its walled garden. Welp, it didn’t turn out to well to be honest.

I decided I want to go easy on the installation and choose an ubuntu system. I had good experience with xubuntu on another pc I setup for my family, so I gave it a go. I copied the img onto a bootable usb-drive, unplugged the windows hdd and booted up. It turned out the xubuntu usb-install didn’t like my IDE-HDD for reasons unknown. It just wouldn’t go through with the installation. So I copied an img of Lubuntu on the usb-drive. Same Kernel different desktop-enviroment. No trouble at all with the installation. Weird huh?!

Having the system running, I installed Kodi and whatever else I thought I needed. You know, I have 2 monitors connected to that machine. One is an old laptop LCD with a controller board attached, which I use for maintenance on that machine. The other monitor is a projector hooked up on a surround system via hdmi. Under windows that’s quite a handy solution. Whenever you need, you just fire up the projector and watch a movie. Plug n Play makes this possible and easy. Welp, apparently Plug n Play is still an issue under ubuntu in 2016! FOR FUCK SAKE! ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!!!

It turned out that 2 monitors are no problem for the lubuntu system, but once I turned the projector off, the resolution on the other monitor got borked and I wouldn’t be able to get the projector back to work on the system even when turning it on. I went through quite a bit of try and error. I was able to start a terminal which was not visible on my second monitor so I had to type blind.

xrandr –output HDMI-0 –auto –left-of DVI-I-2

After that the projector and the 2nd monitor would work normal again, but only for so long as I would not turn one of the monitors off. I didn’t dive too deep into the issue since I couldn’t find much information on the interwebs concerning this issue. not many people apparently run a setup like this and then get the same error.

So the whole thing was a dealbreaker. I gave up on the idea of having a ubuntu system with 2 monitors handling my Kodi-needs. But it kinda set me into rant mood about linux and it’s aim to get consumer relevant. When googling most of the information I find is outdated. Usually 2 to 3 yrs old. Usually alot of people don’t have a clue what they are doing, me neither, but aren’t there people out there working on this stuff?! Then there is the problem with usability. I mean Windows can handle this stuff since ages why can’t Linux?! If you really want to reach people, make it work and make it work the easy way. Not everybody wants to tinker with a system before it works and does simple jobs. I mean PLUG AND FUCKIN’ PLAY!!!??

Anyhow, now I am working on something different. Kinda like a future project, future in the sense that I am preparing for the future of my own house with a different media setup. But more on that in another upcoming post.

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The owncloud odyssey – Part 3

This post was in draft and I never published it apparently. I just gonna leave it here, even though I can’t recall where I was going with it.

 

We got our owncloud running. Its working in the LAN network setting. You can connect with the sync client with the http://your_server_ip_here/owncloud and your previous put in login data for your newly setup owncloud user. Its working awesome on the home network. My dad can finally backup and sync all of his childhood pictures and stuff on 3 and more computers at home.
Now I brought up that it would be really easy to setup the server to respond to online requests,…. stupid me. Well, I had used a dyndns provider before and had people connect to my own minecraft server but this is a different ballgame I found out.

What we want and what we need:

1. DynDNS hoster, we gonna go with noip.com, free domain redirect, working linux ip-updater, only have to login once a month to keep the account active.
2. DynamicUpdateClient for linux/Ubuntu provided by noip.com in this case
3. owncloud iOS App
4. Apache working with ssl for https
5. quite some patience

1. We start with the acquisition and setup of the noip.com account cause we need the username and password during the installation of the dynamic-update-client. So go over to http://www.noip.com and make an account. Choose domain name of your liking, we gonna go with example.no-ip.biz – note the – between no and ip which isnt in the usually noip.com domain. This is important cause if you put in the url without the litte “-” you will end up on some other website which is not your own apache-server. The basic setup should suffice, you got some options how the redirect works but the normal method should do. And it will once we got the ssl setup properly.

2. Install the dynamic-update-client for noip.com on your server-machine by following this guide: http://www.noip.com/support/knowledgebase/installing-the-linux-dynamic-update-client/
For me the second method worked, there was no noip2 nor no-ip in the repository apparently. Meh, nevermind, the tar file worked aswell, cant go wrong if you follow the steps.
To have this service start on every boot you need to make some adjustments. Type the following in the terminal:

sudo nano /etc/rc.local

A file opens in the editor and just before the line that says: exit 0 add in /etc/init.d/noip start
CTRL+o to save and CTRL+x to leave the editor again. Reboot your machine and type the following to see if it worked:

sudo ps -aux | grep noip

Result should look like this:

Warning: bad ps syntax, perhaps a bogus '-'? See http://procps.sf.net/faq.html
nobody 1724 0.0 0.0 2380 784 ? Ss 00:57 0:00 /usr/local/bin/noip2
kevdog 2076 0.0 0.0 4448 796 pts/0 S+ 00:57 0:00 grep --color=auto noip

So this means your DUC is installed and running and autostarts after boot. To check if this works go to your browser and type: http://example.no-ip.biz – It propably wont work because we havent opened any ports in your router yet, but you could try anyways.

The owncloud odyssey – Part 2

Ok, lets cut to the core here. This is how I installed and set up the owncloud on my dad’s server pc. I assume you got a running linux os, preferably one that works with owncloud without having slow sync speed!

Open terminal

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Make sure you got a up2date installation.

sudo apt-get install owncloud

BAM! That’s basically it, well at least from an installation point of view. Now you gonna see alot of stuff going on on the screen, including php, mysql and apache2 being installed. Those are required for owncloud to run properly or run at all. You could go through the “hassle” and install the “LAMP-Server” on its own before hand, but why would you if it is this easy anyway?!

You will be asked for a mysql password and that kinda stuff and it might take some additional steps afterwards but if you follow the basic lines of this guide https://help.ubuntu.com/community/ApacheMySQLPHP you should be good to go. It wasn’t that complicated. The apache runs pretty much straight out of the box.
Go open Firefox and type “http://localhost ” in the addressbar, or go check it out on another computer on the network with the IP address of your machine that is running the apache. If you see an “It works” kinda webpage, it’s all cool and the apache is working for now.

Now to go on with the owncloud installation, we need to configure mysql. Well, at least I did that pre-owncloud configuration, don’t know if you really need it.
Still in terminal type the following:

mysql -u root -p

This will enter the mysql console in which the commands from here: http://www.pantz.org/software/mysql/mysqlcommands.html – really help!
To create a new database for your later owncloud installation type:

CREATE DATABASE owncloud;

and

/q

to leave the mysql console and be back at the bash. Basically you are now set to go for the owncloud easy configuration via the webfrontend.
Go to your browser of choice, preferably the one you checked your apache server with, maybe the “It works” page is still open, and append /owncloud to the previous address. It should look something like this:

http://localhost/owncloud

or with an ip (example)

http://192.168.1.27/owncloud

You should see a configuration inputmask. The top segment with the username and the password, and the second segment below for your database configuration and where the owncloud should store the main data which is uploaded. Choose a username and a password of your liking. The folder where owncloud stores the uploaded data will be

/home/username/owncloud/data/

for me, since I configured xubuntu on installation to have the /home/ folder on a seperate harddrive. For me, I had to create the /home/username/owncloud/ folder beforehand and grant rights so owncloud can create files and folders within. To do that simply type the following into the terminal:

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /path/to/your/owncloud/data

In my case:

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /home/username/owncloud/data

Helpful link: http://doc.owncloud.org/server/4.5/admin_manual/installation.html#set-the-directory-permissions

Fill in the database details as you previously created a user and the database:


"dbtype" => "mysql",
"dbname" => "owncloud",
"dbuser" => "username",
"dbpassword" => "password",
"dbhost" => "localhost",

I didn’t create an extra user, which is probably a horrible mistake I heard, but that’s not to matter now.
Click the button and after a couple of seconds you should be able to see the main owncloud file-manager interface with an add which points you to the existence of iOS and Android apps of owncloud, more on that matter later. For now you just successfully installed and configured your own cloud on a private server pc.

Congratulations.

The owncloud odyssey – Part 1

The last couple of weeks have been on and off for me. I was busy doing all sorts of stuff and didnt really get going on the xubuntu laptop of mine to work things out and test things out and so forth.

I tried installing and setting up an email server on my xubuntu system but so far just got it installed but sadly not running,…oh well, maybe it is running but I can’t really access it via a webinterface nor do I know how to access it with a proper email client like Thunderbird or something alike. So the email project has to wait. Instead I had the wonderful idea of introducing my father to owncloud.

There’s nothing wrong with my father but the home network structure is just wack. I had to set that up “properly” couple of weeks ago, still didn’t manage to sketch a blueprint of it for later use and adjustment. So, they got a couple of pcs in the building. Mainly a macbook connected via wifi and three computers on the office LAN, of which 2 are the main pcs we take into the equation. Owncloud would be an awesome solution for this setup to fulfill all my fathers wildest “Data Backup Dreams” – there is a bit of chaos involved in working on a couple of computers on basically the same files but they are never in sync and you have em backuped like 10 times not including the real backup where they are also stored like 10 additional times. So in the spirit of spring house cleaning we set out to breakdown this backup chaos into little bits of merging things together.

To cut all the story, we are now set out with the plan:

1. Get the Macbook data to be cleaned and streamlined, no double files.

2. Get the PC1 data to be cleaned and streamlined, no double files.

3. Setup the owncloud server on PC2 to make the merging and syncing of data easy.

4. Optional goal that developed from working on things: Get the owncloud accessible online via webbrowser and/or iphone app – at best via https (ssl)

Since I am not involved in cleaning my fathers data and because its not really a part of this blog I cut right to the core now. Point 3 and 4 shall be of our interest.

We installed Ubuntu 12.04 LTS on PC2, from now on called “the server”. It’s a pretty old machine, single core, maybe 1.6ghz and 768MB RAM, but it was spare and we have some 250GB HDD + 60GB for the System on it. Installing Ubuntu isn’t really much of a hassle if you got no special plans but we wanted to have the owncloud data stored in the home folder of the main user. I configured the 60GB HDD as ext4 and made it root and added a couple of gigs as swap from the same hdd. The 250GB drive was mounted /home/ (dont know if that makes sense, I am a noob) so the home-folder would have all the space it needed with the owncloud data folder in it. This is the basic setup I made out to work. And it did and does but sadly Ubuntu doesn’t really work well with owncloud it seems. After setting up everything it turned out the sync speed was slow as hell with clients on windows and macosx. This seems to be a common problem since almost over a year now and there is no real solution to the problem it seems. It has to do with a huge amount of small files it seems.

Switching from SQLite to MySql helped resolve this issue for some people. Installing php5-apc has helped some other people resolve the issue. Configuring MySql to have db_host be 127.0.0.1 instead of localhost has helped some other people. Unfortunately nothin of the above helped in our case. Gladly I stumbled upon a thread in which a user hinted that the problem might come from Debian based distros, he switched from Ubuntu to ArchLinux and the sync speed increased tremendously. I checked my own Xubuntu to Windows7 syncspeed and everything seemed to work fine.

So we deleted Ubuntu on the server and installed Xubuntu 12.04.3 LTS on it with the same HDD mounting setup. Turned out this resolved the issue for us. Why, we, I dont know but it works now and I like it to stay that way. The old machine runs way better anyway with lightweight xubuntu instead of Ubuntu. And I even got the cloud being accessible from the internet.

But more on all the details in the next post.

Installation and the basics of terminal use

After the successfull installation of xubuntu 12.04 the laptop finally boots into the xfce desktop enviroment. So what to do next? Do this first in Xubuntu has you covered. I also read through the mentioned “14 bug solutions” and the “10 mistakes you should avoid”. So basically I am all setup for further experiments with xubuntu now. Did all the updating and so forth, decreased swappiness. So I started playing around with customizing my desktop a little, little bit by installing another dock. I choose Docky simply because I dont know, it looked good on some forum post. Simply sudo apt-get install docky and the little thing gets installed right to your system. Configuration is not that hard but remember to enable “display compositing” in the “Window manager tweaks” system settings. It looks better!

I already had some linux experience way back, so I knew some terminal commands but I forgot most of them or didn’t remember them correctly. So I had to google a bit and found this really nice help. It lists the basic terminal commands and explains what they do. So kinda like a man page for terminal use. Also this: How to use linux! Keep this in mind if wanna familiarize yourself with linux. I throw my laptop under the cupboard every now and then simply because it doesn’t help if get to caught up in projects and start yelling at the screen out of my own incompetence.

it starts here,… at least i hope

Short disclaimer at the beginning: I already have some stuff running on my laptop, had the idea with blog while I read through all those documetations, so now for the first few posts I gonna try to recreate what I already have done to the poor machine.

So I got this old laptop from my wife flying around here. It’s an Acer Aspire 1350LM. The only datasheet I found is from this german site.

I had DamnSmallLinux (DSL) running on it a while ago cause I used the laptop as a musicbox in a basement. It did the job but was rather clunky and stiff. At least it was small which was the main concern. So now, what distro to choose? Would ubuntu run on it? Feeding google with “learning linux”, “linux distros” and the such I quickly had a brief idea of which way to go. Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Kubuntu had quite some nice reviews specially suitable for older machines. So I gave it a shot and downloaded Xubuntu 13.10. I followed this guide to make a bootable USB-stick with my mac, I should note that the steps of the tutorial to convert the downloaded .iso file into an .img file are not necessary. You can make a bootable USB with an .iso file!

Gladly the laptop already supports USB-booting but sadly the xubuntu 13.10 build kept crashing. The shell worked but as soon as I wanted to start X it stopped and hang. Alot has changed the last decade. Graphics are now done in the kernel, xorg.conf is not really needed any more. So that was new. There are some drivers out there for the freaky chipset (Via KN4000) this laptop uses as graphicscard but downloading the LTS 12.04 version of xubuntu in this case did the job.

So, onwards to the installation  Xubuntu 12.04!

a documentation of fails,… maybe

Hello world,

with steamOs on the horizon, I thought it might be a good time to take a closer look into linux again. I always liked the idea of a free, opensource, crowd computed, highly customizable, super efficient operating system. So after a buddy of mine started diving into FreeBSD back in the days, now almost 15 years ago, I blindly tried to follow him and kind of failed due to the fact that I was also a bit lazy. Why work on an OS when you have a fine running windows machine on which you can do whatever you want?! Well, it took a couple of years til I gained more understanding of what it means “to do whatever you want” and now with the recent mass-surveilance of innocent citizens of whatever country with the help of proprietary software of tech-monoliths I really like the idea of an open OS which is controlled by the people and doesnt control the people. At least thats the idea.

Wow, I kinda lost track, I started because of games and now make statemenst about surveilance and tech-giants spying on us. I guess it all comes together somehow. I want to learn linux because I was always interested in computer and such stuff, I think Valves decision to build their own OS based on the linux kernel has great potential to change the whole PERSONAL-Computer game. Stating that the computer is personal again might be a nice marketing campaign but yet has to be fullfilled by those claiming it. With linux it was and is always possible. Yet there is the problem of embarking and diving into new things for alot of people. Linux doesnt have a reputation of being easy to learn and use, if you like it or not. Yet I think alot of things have changed in the last 15 years when I first entered the outskirts of linuxtown.

People only need to be able to use an OS, they dont need to program it. Windows, in my opinion, is highly complex yet people dont fear using it cause it makes it easy for them to just scratch the surface of possibilitys. MacOS goes a step further, it strips the main interface of all the complex stuff and presents you a nice sleak user experience, streamlined to be working, easy and enjoyable. Both OS  come preinstalled with a new computer depending on which model you purchase. And thats a big problem for linux marketshare. Accessibility has been highly increased over the last decade. There are distros like ubuntu, opensuse, elemtaryOs (beta), just to name a few, which make it very easy for the normal user to install said OS on their computer. If linux would come preinstalled on computers I guess people would use it, at least for a while. Compatiblity issues and choice of software aside. I know there are companies selling computers with preinstalled linux but it hasn’t reached the big market yet. I cant simply go into a store and chose between Win8, MacOSX and a popular linux-distro.

tldr; The purpose of this blog is mainly a documentation of fails/succes of my linux projects and attempts, but of course theres gonna be alot of attitude and opinion for free with my posts. I do not claim to know shit about linux, I’m a noob so take my opinion as such.