Category Archives: ubuntu

Downgrade grub2 to grub

There was this weird issue that I’ve been facing for some time with both ubuntu 12.10 and 12.04, what happens is that my Acer Aspire One 722 netbook doesn’t boot into linux at times. The first couple of times I dismissed it as a one off but that didn’t stop the problem from recurring. Then I blamed my exotic grub2 setup wherein I had installed grub2 to /dev/sda5 and then was using the windows 7 bootloader to chainload it.
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Keep Windows and Linux time in sync

Every time I log into windows after having used linux on my netbook there is a problem with the system time. It is because linux treats the time set in your BIOS clock to use the UTC clock, this is a problem as windows treats it to be set to your local time. If you’re using only one OS then both of these choices are acceptable design choices but when you use it becomes a problem. When I’m online it’s not a problem as both windows and linux sync their times with the internet but when offline it’s irritating to look at the clock and see a time that makes no sense.

Fortunately you can tell linux to follows the convention that windows follows, telling windows to behave like linux on the other hand is significantly harder. The best thing about linux is that it makes it’s assumptions and lets you change them to suit your preference. We need to edit this file /etc/default/rcS for ubuntu 12.10

# assume that the BIOS clock is set to UTC time (recommended)

By default the option is yes but we need to change it to no and from the next reboot the problem is solved!

Reliance Netconnect+ Settings for Ubuntu

I had written a post on how we can easily get MTS Mblaze to work under linux and as it turns out, the Reliance Netconnect+ is equally easy to set up and use. Instead of repeating the entire procedure which I have already mentioned here, I’ll just post the relevant wvdial configuration file. You need to add the following snippet to your /etc/wvdial.conf

[Dialer netconnect] 
New PPPD = yes 
Init1 = ATZ 
Init2 = ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0 
Modem Type = USB Modem
Baud = 460800 
New PPPD = yes 
Modem = /dev/ttyUSB0 
ISDN = 0 
Username = 9388****** 
Password = 9388****** 
Phone = #777 
Stupid Mode = 1 

It goes without saying that you need to replace the username and password with your netconnect phone no. To connect simply type this in a terminal

sudo wvdial netconnect

Here’s what I get

 ➜  ~  sudo wvdial netconnect 
--> WvDial: Internet dialer version 1.61 
--> Initializing modem. --> Sending: ATZ OK 
--> Sending: ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0 ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0 OK 
--> Modem initialized. 
--> Sending: ATDT#777 
--> Waiting for carrier. ATDT#777 CONNECT 3100000 
--> Carrier detected.  Starting PPP immediately. 
--> Starting pppd at Mon Dec  3 15:45:39 2012 
--> Pid of pppd: 3981 
--> Using interface ppp0 
--> local  IP address 
--> remote IP address 
--> primary   DNS address 
--> secondary DNS address

Happy browsing with Reliance Netconnect+, I suspect that the MTS device and the Reliance device are actually identical, the only difference being the firmware. As usual let me know in the comments if this helped or if you have some clarifications.

Using the Windows 7/8 bootloader to dual boot linux

In the past whenever I had to install linux along with windows I would install grub and it works flawlessly most of the time. Sometimes however when you’re experimenting with something unusual, it is handy to know how to load linux using the windows bootloader. I used it when I was transferring my ubuntu installation from my laptop to my netbook.
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Installing ubuntu to a usb drive using vmware

In this post I’m going to walk you through installing ubuntu on a usb drive using vmware, that can boot any system not only virtual machines also we’ll create an ntfs/fat32 partition so that we can use it with windows computers as an ordinary pen drive too.

The first step is to partition the pendrive, I have a 16 GB device and I’ll use half of it for the linux installation and the other half for data. We can use either gparted or cfdisk from the live cd to do this. Another important thing to note is that for any usb storage device, it’s life is affected more by the number of writes that reads. So we’ll also tune a few parameters after the installation to maximize the life of the usb drive.

Partitioned USB drive - VMware Player_2012-06-25_16-10-56

Once the device is partitioned correctly we can install ubuntu as we would on an ordinary hard drive be sure to install the boot loader to the usb drive too. Don’t create any swap partition during the installation that will literally kill your usb drive because it continuously writes data to and from the swap.
Also, having a swap partition on a usb drive doesn’t make too much sense. There is no way you can compare the performance of the RAM to a cheap usb disk.

Once you are done with it, you have successfully installed ubuntu to a usb drive, you can use this to boot any computer. Your OS form now will be in your pocket but I’ll mention a few tips that will make your performance slightly better by using the usb drive more efficiently. Linux keeps a track of the timestamps when files are accessed, this involves writing data to the disk whenever a file is used on a usb drive this is something we don’t need. You can disable this using the noatime option in /etc/fstab. Also we shouldn’t keep update the systemeach time a tiny update is released and ther is no benefit of caching the packages or letting ubuntu install multiple kernels. It may also help to use cinnamon, I have described how that can be used in an earlier blog post. Another thing is that you shouldn’t install restricted drivers or vmware tools as they will create a problem when you boot on machines where that specific piece of hardware isn’t present.

To summarize, keep the usb install lean and mean, you can install the gcc compilers and configure vim and you now have a world class OS in your pocket to use anywhere you want. Let me know how your install went and feel free to ask if you have any doubts in the comments.