Archive for category Linux

Back to Windows

I’m a little wistful about it … but I’ve returned to Windows for my primary office working environment, after a lengthy experiment with Ubuntu. I really like Ubuntu, but the challenges of using it in a Windows-centric environment (Active Directory, Exchange, etc.) just made the extra effort to adapt hard to justify.  CrossOver with Office 2007 is OK, but just annoying enough; same with Evolution and Exchange.  Dealing with Active directory shares when your OS is “not supported” is frustrating.  And Windows generally has better GUI tools, although it’s hard to say whether those benefits outweigh the vast superiority of the Linux command line.

In any case, now I have to deal again with the problems that made me want to switch to Linux in the first place — principally that it’s a much better environment for open source software development.   I may give Cygwin another try, or run Ubuntu in a VM, we’ll see.  I’m pretty attached to Emacs, and have used it in Windows, so that’s good.

It’s rainy and cold outside today …

Before wrapping this up I’m going to post how I replaced GRUB with the Windows 7 boot loader, since I found a number of variations on how to do this.  I booted to a Win7 DVD, took the repair option, deselected Window 7 from the Windows OS auto-find list (one article I read stressed this deselection; I’m not sure it really matters), clicked Next, then selected the Command Prompt.  The two commands that worked to restore the Win7 boot loader were, in order:

bootrec.exe /fixboot
bootrec.exe /fixmbr

Exit the command prompt and restart from the HD.

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Ubuntu 10.10 upgrade woes, part 2

Feeling that I had been through the worst of it at home, I ventured forth to upgrade the office desktop, also a Win7/Ubuntu10.04-64 dual-boot but with a dual-monitor.  Being so much older and wiser, I sailed through the grub nonsense and all appeared just dandy, until …

Could not install 'fglrx'

The upgrade will continue but the 'fglrx' package may not be in a working state.
Please consider submitting a bug report about it.

subprocess installed post-removal script returned error exit status 2

and

Error during commit

A problem occurred during the clean-up.
Please see the below message for more information. 

installArchives() failed

OK …  Reboot — white screen with nice fine colored pinstripes and a 2cm square of white for a mouse pointer.   Awesome.   Hard power off/on, boot into recovery mode – low graphics mode.  Run “apt-get install -f” as instructed, which results in the removal of the fglrx package:

The following packages will be REMOVED:
  fglrx
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 1 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
1 not fully installed or removed.
After this operation, 108MB disk space will be freed.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]? Y
(Reading database ... 179598 files and directories currently installed.)
Removing fglrx ...
dpkg-divert: mismatch on package
  when removing `diversion of /usr/lib/libGL.so.1.2 to /usr/lib/fglrx/libGL.so.1.2.xlibmesa by fglrx'
  found `diversion of /usr/lib/libGL.so.1.2 to /usr/lib/fglrx/libGL.so.1.2.xlibmesa by xorg-driver-fglrx'
dpkg: error processing fglrx (--remove):
 subprocess installed post-removal script returned error exit status 2
Processing triggers for ureadahead ...
ureadahead will be reprofiled on next reboot
Errors were encountered while processing:
 fglrx
E: Sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1)

Only later did I discover that fglrx was related to my ATI video adapter.  Anyway, rebooted, this time getting a totally blank white screen.  Hard power off/on boot into recovery mode again – repair packages.  This seemed to fix things to a reasonable point.  The ATI packages are still not all installed, or not all installed correctly, but at least I have a functional system that looks OK.

Sheesh.

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Ubuntu 10.10 upgrade woes

There’s a reason for the phrase “bleeding edge”.

I blithely decided to upgrade the Ubuntu side of my Win7/Ubuntu 10.04 dual-boot machine to Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick).  On a Saturday night.  Hey, seemed like as good a time as any, right?  Not working, shouldn’t take much attention, takes a long time, etc.

There are times when one looks back at a decision with uncomprehending horror — not because I decided to upgrade; no, because when I got prompted to make a choice about grub, for some reason I chose something like “upgrade to the package maintainer’s version”.  I thought, maybe I should keep the currently installed version, but this seemed like the right option — I was upgrading, right?  Psych.

Well, the rest of the upgrade seemed to go fine.  Then I rebooted.  And the horror show began: I got dumped into a grub rescue prompt.  WTF.  I happened to have 10.04-32bit boot disk (I’m running the 64-bit version), so I cranked that up and got on the Google.  After sifting through many pages and trying a couple things that didn’t work, I was very worried.  Somehow, I was able to get to sleep last night.

Thank goodness today I discovered the Super Grub2 boot disk — what a life saver!  Instead of having to strain to grok detailed series of commands in order to fix grub, with Super Grub2 I booted into Ubuntu 10.10 on disk and simply ran

 sudo grub-install /dev/sda

That fixed my first and worst problem.

The next problem was that I couldn’t boot into Windows.  Fortunately (sic!), because I had this problem when I upgraded from Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic) to 10.04 (Lucid), I knew the solution.  Since I’d previously installed testdisk, I just had to run through it again.  Presto!

Now, the last problem was a bizarre error message that appeared after selecting the most recent Linux image from the boot menu:

Modprobe: FATAL: Could not load /lib/modules/2.6.35-22-generic/modules.dep:
No such file or directory.

WTF.  After staring at that for ~5 seconds it disappeared and Ubuntu 10.10 came up just fine.  WTF.  Well, thankfully this post contained the solution to my problem.

So, all is well again in meerkat land.  Maverick indeed!

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chntpw saves the day

Of course, I don’t know how it happened … but I “lost” my Windows password.  And of course my account was the only active admin account on the machine (the default admin account was not enabled) — and I did not have a password reset disk.  What I did have, fortunately, was Ubuntu installed as a second OS.  And fortunately, before I gave in and reinstalled Windows, or spent $20 on a password reset tool, I learned about chntpw.  Now, it took some trial and error to get it to do what I needed, even after installing the newer 64-bit Debian package (the Ununtu 10.04/64 package doesn’t work, at least not with Windows 7 at whatever patch level I’m at now).  I found that the only thing that worked was to enable the default admin account (Administrator).  I tried setting my password to blank, resetting my password, and unlocking my account.  All that only succeeded in disabling my account completely.  But whatever, the Administrator account did the trick, nothing was lost, and several hours were saved.  And there was much rejoicing.

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From Windows to Ubuntu: Trial and error

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I guess I finally snapped: I decided to switch my primary desktop environment from Windows to Ubuntu.  So I installed Ubuntu 9.10 64-bit at work and home alongside Windows 7 and started down the new path.  By and large I’m happy with how it’s going so far.  I really like Ubuntu; in many ways it’s a better fit with the way I work.  But there are some pain points, and Windows conveniences that I miss.

Probably the biggest problem initially was the lack of support for 64-bit Linux on our Cisco VPN.  There are supposedly workarounds that involve creating symlinks, but I haven’t tried them yet.  I could have used the 32-bit distribution, but I’m greedy to exploit the capabilities of my hardware.  On Windows I also used RDC when working outside the firewall, so I started working with Ubuntu’s remote options.  Basic VNC wasn’t very good, and my sysadmin tipped me to NX, which seems to work pretty well, so problem more or less solved.

Second issue: Microsoft Exchange.  We had just migrated from Lotus Notes, which I had been bypassing for mail because I hated the client and the web UI was pretty bad, too.  Evolution with MAPI seems to work reasonably well, although I’ve had problems getting an initial connection to Exchange established.  I’m not sure that Evolution is much better than the Exchange web UI — even the “light” version isn’t too bad.  Anyway, I would say that for a general audience who has to use Exchange this is a weak point.

Then of course there’s MS Office.  I have some experience with OpenOffice.org, at least with Writer and Calc (the Word and Excel counterparts, respectively), but have never used the database piece (Base), and I do use Access from time to time for various tasks, including visual query building for complex queries.  This is a good opportunity to expand my OOo knowledge, but you know, sometimes you just want to knock something out using a familiar technique, so it’s a minor setback.

For Subversion I got quite accustomed to Tortoise and it’s explorer integration.  RapidSVN seems pretty good, but again, a bit of an adjustment there.

Those are the main issues I’ve found so far.

Cisco VPN update: The AnyConnect Web VPN install actually worked without resorting to the manual workarounds that many sources report as required to get it work on 64-bit Linux.

Exchange/Office update: CrossOver Linux 9.0 works well for Office 2007, and you can run Outlook instead of Evolution.  You’ll want to apply the Free/Busy time registry fix at http://www.codeweavers.com/compatibility/browse/?app_id=2841;tips=1.

Ubuntu 10.04 upgrade: If you’re dual-booting Windows and you can’t boot into Windows after upgrading to Ubuntu 10.04, this is probably the answer: http://sourceforge.net/apps/mediawiki/bootinfoscript/index.php?title=Boot_Problems:Boot_Sector.  Yikes!  Other annoyances: Emacs “warning spam” (see https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/light-themes/+bug/538499), and default min/max/close window controls on left (see http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/13535/move-window-buttons-back-to-the-right-in-ubuntu-10.04/).

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