Merging your operating systems.

Feb 06

“I run operating system X, I prefer distribution Y, I like desktop interface Y better” I’ve heard the discussions over and over again. Sometimes people stick to their guns and defend their choice, other times people hop around from OS to OS or from Linux distro to Linux distro just because they want thingie X that isn’t available in Distro Y.
The question is : Why do we still need to choose ? If we can train our digital workflows to be operating system independent, why can”t we take it one step further and instead of ‘choosing’ our operating system .. why not design it ourselves ?
The question came up when I got back from a visit to Fossdem this week (Belgians largest open source conference with attendees and speakers from all over the world). Seeing all these pretty Linux distributions and the powerful stuff you can do with them made me all eager to take the plunge once again and go “Full Linux” for a while. I slide from OS to OS (My main workhorse is a Mac, my traveling companion is a Chromebook that has Ubuntu on the side, my desktop runs Linux Mint and I have a Surface Pro running Windows 10). Lately I have been having hours of fun playing around with the Chromebook. Its simple operating system charms me into using it quite often. Its clutter free, not a lot of distractions and I like its simple elegance. However it is limited. Some things just don’t work on Chrome, but luckily for the Chromebook I can just ‘sidestep’ into the Ubuntu version I’ve installed via Crouton.
Hopping from OS to OS at the press of a button is a joy, however, since Ubuntu uses the same Root kernel Chrome OS does .. Some features are missing. (No iPTables means no way to use Sshuttle, my favorite vpn client) The other downsides from working on the Chromebook are its limited storage (16 gigs divided between Ubuntu and Chrome OS) and the low quality screen. I love working with the little machine when i’m on the road .. but it has its limits.
Meanwhile my super powerful Macbook Pro sits by the wayside, waiting patiently until I have a new task for it to do. (I do most of my audio and video production on my Mac and it IS the main machine for my business so tinkering with it is just not done). A bit of a shame really.

Side by side.
As I was once again working on both machines side-by-side this week, I wistfully thought : How cool would it be to have the power and screen size of the mac, the simplicity of the Chrome OS and the power of Linux rolled into one machine while still having the option to “slide” back and forth between the operating systems at a whim…
Sure, I could dual boot my Macbook pro with some flavor of Linux but that would violate one of my basic principles : My Mac is my work machine, my livelihood .. so excessive tinkering that might harm the OS or the data on the machine is NOT done. Furthermore, since the latest upgrade to OSX Yosemite, dual booting has become a lot more complicated. So the alternative was easy : Using a virtual machine. With plenty of Ram and an SSD drive I would have not trouble throwing some Gig’s and a few cores at my Linux distro of choice and run one on top of the other.

Chromixium-initial-screenshot

So what to choose ? Choosing your distro is always hard. And in my case I wanted something very specific. I wanted the distro to have a light graphical user interface (I don’t like clutter + I wanted it to be sharp and snappy so I didn’t get the feeling I was running a VM. On the other side I also wanted it to look like Chrome OS. So what to choose ?
Chromixium : A great distro that I found out there that does just that is Chromixium. Basically its a re-build of Chrome OS but using the open source version of the Chrome browser : Chromium. The Chrome-OS look and feel is done by heavily modifying an E17 interface and adding a plank dock. The operating system is light, elegant and well done. The great thing is : Where Chrome OS Stops, Chromixium go on. Instead of running on a shared Linux Kernel (like the Ubuntu installs in Chrome OS via Crouton) Chromixium is pure Ubuntu under the hood. That means : A terminal and access to the software center. Install whatever you please !

Looks like Chrome, Feels like Linux, Runs on a Mac.
So after I installed my favorite Linux applications (both Command line versions and actual apps) I have “morphed” my Chromixium into something that looks like Chrome OS but has the full power (and applications) of Ubuntu available at my fingertips. So now to get it to play nice with my Mac. In order for the Chromixium VM to be able to use the full resolution of my Retina display I made sure to assign it at least 32 meg of video memory in the Virtualbox control panel. I also assigned 2 cores and 4 gigs of ram. Next up it was time to install the Virtualbox Add ons into the guest operating system (Chromixium) to let it use the full resolution.

Retina Schmetina
The actual resolution of a 15 inc Retina Macbook Pro is 2650 by 1600 and I was puzzled why, no matter how I tried, I could not get my Chromixium VM up to that exact resolution when I put it in full screen mode. Turns out that this is actually impossible. The retina resolution is no longer tied to the actual resolution of your display. So you can “scale” the actual resolution of your desktop to ‘appear’ a certain resolution that is actually being ‘mapped’ on the actual resolution of your display. To make a long story short : I went into my Macs system preferences and set the host resolution of my system to a setting that “looked” like 1920 by 1200 and when I set my VM to fullscreen I saw that THAT was the actual ‘physical’ resolution the VM recognized.

So in the end I’m running an OS that is a mutated version of Chrome OS and that I have pimped out with a lot of “standard” Ubuntu applications ON TOP of my Yosemite install on my Macbook pro. It gives me the best of both worlds. The look and feel of Chrome OS , the power of the cloud (Both Chrome and Chromium can sync with my Google account and all settings, plugins and extensions are carried over between my Chromixium os, my Mac and my Chromebook) To power it all I have my Retina-display I7 Macbook pro and due to the fact this is a VM , I can easily make snapshots I can roll back to should something go wrong. I’ve already cloned the Virtual machine to my home server so I can access it remotely (via RDP) should I need to.
Tie in a couple of SSH connections and applications running on some of my other (remote) virtual machines and pretty soon I am having a hard time keeping track of what OS I’m actually using. And that is the whole point. The operating system needs to become abstract. A software layer that provides a you with the means to get things done. It is not there to be adored, it is not there to be fought over, its not there to make you choose.. its there to help you get stuff done .. regardless of what OS you choose…

Links : Chromixium

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kw806 : Datacenter in a box.

Jul 04


We go deeply technical today and discover the wonders of Virtual machines. What are they and why do we compare them to holographic characters in Star Trek ? We talk about the secret sauce to build a ‘Datacenter in a Box’ for your home. Instead of owning rows of old clunkers to test, or half a server rack to meet your needs, we take a tour of Virtualbox and how you can use it to shove an entire datacenter… under your desk.

You can also watch the Live recording of this show on Youtube.

Shownotes.
– Virtual machines .. What are they.
– How can you use them to work for you.
– Working out your strategy.
– What I use ?
Virtualbox.
Virtualbox extention pack .
Vboxmanage commands.

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Server week : Trust no-one with Owncloud.

Apr 03

Dropbox changed its terms of service so they can give you data to the Feds if they just ask for it, Ubuntu shuts down the online fileservice “Ubuntu One” : Who can you  trust these days ? The great thing with cloud solutions is that they are on a server far far away, most of them are free and you never have to maintain them. The downside is that they are on a server far far away, they are free and you cannot maintain them. We give up a certain level of control for the convenience of the cloud. It would be of course far nicer if you had a service that offered you all the luxury of the products mentioned above .. but gave you full control, absolute privacy and a completely controlled solution. (and free ! It has to be free).

oc5files

Do not fear : Owncloud is here.

Owncloud is a self hosted cloud solution that gives you the luxury of the cloud in the privacy of your own home (or on your own hosted environment). Its a cross platform webservice that gives you the ability to store files in the “cloud” and access them from anywhere, Sync those files with your desktop (like Dropbox) You can share your files with friends and access them using mobile clients on Android and IOS devices or a simple browser window.

Don’t trust the cloud with your Calendar and contacts ? Owncloud takes care of that too. Manage your contacts and calendars straight from Owncloud or sync them up with your mobile devices using open standards like .vcard and caldav. 

Tired of the tracks on Groovebox or spotify ? Would you like to stream your music (and movies) from your own hard drive at home ? Owncloud even has an answer for that. The built in media player lets you access your library from anywhere as long as you sport at least a browser (AND some underwear .. Owncloud is classy like that).

Want to tie all of your different cloud services together ? Owncloud supports connecting external storage to the service (like network and usb drives) but can also connect to Dropbox and Google Docs, offering ALL those files up in one simple interface.

So what does it take ? 

Installing Owncloud is pretty simple. All you need is a linux server and you can choose to install Owncloud either from the repositories (if you are using Ubuntu or Debian) or you can go and download version 6 straight from their website. 

Owncloud is based on a web based server so you can access everything from port 80 and add some security by choosing to go for https to do your authentication (highly recommended).  You can run it on your server at home OR on a webspace you rented somewhere (or if you are really lucking on your own hosted server in some datacenter). You don’t need a lot of power, but Owncloud does need some ram and some cpu power if it is going to manage and index thousands of files for you.

So how do I do it.

Find out more.

In all , Owncloud is a very powerful solution when it comes to hosting stuff yourself. It has come a long way since version 6 and I have been a big fan of the convenience, the cross platform compatible-ness (is that a word ?) and the sheer power of integrating multiple storage locations (usb drives, network drives, cloud storage) to ONE single web interface. Try it .. you’ll be on cloud 9.

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The Knightcast Episode 33 : Virtualisation.

Jul 08
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The Knightcast Episode 33 : Virtualisation

Summary.
In episode 32 we talk about my upcoming wedding, but most importantly look at the power of virtual machines. Learn how to tune tech into your way of life and 'virtualise' your entire computerlab to just one machine. By using free software you can now run XP in Linux, Linux in XP, XP in MacOS and more. 
Shownotes. 
* Part one : Recent Events.
* Busy week / been Sick
wedge Getting married.
* Next podcast : The Wedding cast.
wedge Going on Holiday
* Extensive digital coverage of the holiday coming up.
wedge Member of the latest Techroundtable.
wedge Part 2 : Virtualisation.
wedge So .. you have some extra processor time
* The 1.5 Gigahertz Paradox.
* Perhaps you have to many computers.
wedge Virtualisation : What can you do with virtualisation
* Test systems
* Switchers systems
* Simple Servers (home test server / multiple home servers)
* Networking tests. (virtual networks.)
* Secure Surfing.
* How does Virtualisation work.
* Pro's and Cons of virtualisation.
wedge Virtualisation software.
wedge For Pc :
wedge Vmware.
wedge For Mac :
wedge Parralels
wedge
wedge For Linux :
wedge Vmware Player
wedgeedge Qemu
wedge Xen
wedge Use the free VMware player + easy VM creator.
wedge Part 3 : Installation of the Clients.
* Installation of The client
wedge On Windows
* Download free VMware player.
wedge On Linux
* sudo apt-get install vmware-player
Make sure you enable multiverse — that's where the non-free stuff goes.
wedge Downloading the EasyVm images.
wedge Easyvmware
wedge Vmware site
wedge Build your own
wedge Download Ready and able VM's
* Mac : Virtualisation using Parallels.
wedge Signoff.
wedge Getting married next week.
wedge The wedding cartoon.
wedge Send feedback
wedge Listener Feedback.
wedge Sweet Crystal.
* StickClicks
wedge The Global Geek podcast.
wedge Kevins Mom Dorothy.
* Goodbey !
wedge Music provided by our Talent Scout DJ Infamous
* Track 1 : DJ Moody : ISV.2
* Track 2 : Another Theory : In time.
For more information : Visit www.knightwise.com. 

{mos_sb_discuss:5}

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Virtual insanity : Xp in Linux or Linux in XP.

Jun 21

A whole new deal. 

Very soon we will see a culture shift, A change how people interact on the computer scene. My prophecy is nothing less then the end of the almost relidgious ‘ OS- Wars ‘. From newbie to web-lord, we have all played the paralympic game of ‘ what’s the better OS’ Wether in forums, in chatrooms, in endless slashdot threads or even in the comfort of our own pub : We’ve all been there. Wether Xp is better then 2000, Why Mac Os is better then Windows , and we’ll never forget the face of our local Linux Guru foaming at the mouth after he had to endure your proclamation that Windows ME was the best operating system ever written. ( And he never spoke to you again. ) But very soon the question “What’s your operating system” will be replaced by “ What’s your Primary Os ?”. Any computer with a processor speed over 1.5 gigahertz is quite frankly a waste of money. You don’t see a specific speed increase when you buy a 3 gigahertz or more . Ok , Windows will boot faster , but that does not mean YOU can work any faster. I mean , the processor is not the bottleneck of the system.  The question is : What to do with all this extra operating system power … More eye-candy ? Perhaps Vista will be more then happy to gobble up a few million cycles just for Balmers personal pleasure.  OR .. we can make the cycles pay off by jumping on the virtualisation train.

 All aboard ?

What do you do when you have one OS running , but your computer can carry twice the load ?  Well , lets install ANOTHER operating system. I’m not talking Dual Booting here, I’m talking Virtualisation. Running a second Os , INSIDE the first one. The “Base OS” is the main operating system you are running, The “ Guest OS is a virtual version of an operating system neatly compressed into one file.

 

 

jj

 

 

Why ?

I know what you are saying. But why “ma cher Knightwise” would i do this ? Here is why.

  • Perfect testing : The virtual machine you installed is just ONE FILE. After you install it , make a backup and start fumbling around. Messed up the Guest OS ? Just drag your copy back and you are good to go. You can easily install all kinds of operating systems without having to worry about partitioning.- Space and energy saver : Who said you had to stop with running just one Guest OS . Instead of bricking up your bedroom with countless pc towers you can now have them running as virtual machines on one machine. Needless to say you save money by just owning one pc, you save power cause you only have one power supply to feed and save valuable bedroom time with your space because she doesn’t have to be mad at you all the time for junking up the house with your old ‘test machines”.
  • Switchers trouble : I have seen people by a PC or a Mac just for that one task. I’ve seen people buy an extra pc for their on-line banking. I’ve seen switchers go back because they could not get a certain application working on a certain platform. Well, There is an end to switchers trouble and you have all walked through the gates of Sliders heaven (Sliders = cross platform users). Personally I wanted to switch my main machine to linux because I could not get MSN messenger running webcam sessions. (Microsoft does not want to clear  the code ) So .. I installed Ubuntu, ran Windows XP as a virtual machine and did the impossible, ran the two Os’es at once and did my Webcam stuff without any trouble. I run Xp on my mac for consulting purposes (when i need to get into a Windows network)  and I run Ubuntu in my Xp for testing everything out before I make changes to my ubuntu server.
  • Servers dream :  The crappy thing about running multiple servers at home is the fact that they eat power. Now you can run several ‘virtual’ servers on the same machine and just have one power supply to feed.

And how do i Do that ?
Before we start : Be sure you have enough memory in your Base Operating system. Each guest operating system requires a chunk of ram. The bigger the chunk, the better the speed. Also see that you have enough storagespace. Not only so the Guest OS can grow to its full potential (About 4 gig”s will do) you also want to make  backup copy’s of every clean installed os that you have.  Wether you want to run Linux in Xp or Xp in  Linux , you need the free vmware player . This is a free application that lets you use pre-built images of virtual machines. So you cant ‘build’ your own virtual machine , just use one that has been pre-built. Now this ‘building’ of a virtual machine tells the virtual machine how to act. Luckily I found THIS site where you can download FREE virtual machine configuration files for just about any operating system you wish. All you need are the installation cd’s of that OS and you are on your way.  I’ll be playing with virtual machine more as the week progresses and keep you posted on the results. Meanwhile my “ Piece de resistance “ is a screenshot of an msn webcam session in Windows XP , running as a virtual machine on my Ubuntu (base) workstation.  Sliders .. the end of our troubles is in side and we are virtually saved.

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