From dapper to edgy in a snap.

When a new linux distribution hits the scene its always a little bit like Christmas. As the beta releases taunt you like packages beneath the tree, tempting you to try them out .. The hard part is sitting on your hands untill the website screams FINAL and the fun can begin. Thus here is my little christmas carol about how I updated my good old Ubuntu Linux 6.06 version to the latest in 6.10.

No beta's please.

Every new release of a linux distribution (in this case the new Ubuntu) puts the blender in the rumor pot.  What is new , what is going to change, this and that cool stuff is going to be new, are they gonna drop this and that. The only way to divide fact from fiction is downloading and installing the public beta versions that are released. Now I have never been one for beta's. And that is for two reasons. First of all because a beta never gives you a clear picture of what is going to be the final product. Sure, you might get a glimpse in the general direction, but the difference between the beta and the final release may be as dramatic as the difference between cookie dough and the finished brownie. Secondly : Beta's are mostly far from stable. Unless you are a developer or some genius programmer who can find and fix bugs in this PRE-released version of  a final distro, its not gonna do you much good. Forget using a public beta as a stable system. You are riding an unfinished car to the finish line. If you are masochistic and love to hog unpredictable kernels I would suggest turning to any version of Windows before its service pack one. 

Thus I bide my time till the final comes. And when my curiosity gets the best of my I'll just download the fucker and run it in a virtual machine.  

Why should we care to upgrade ?

Erm.. Good question. In the case of Ubuntu 6.06 it was out of sheer curiosity.

I (finally) got my current version to play nice with my home network, had it all eye-candied out so it looked smooth and more importantly, gotten used to the look-feel and possibilities of this worthy windows-replacing operating system.  Since it was a "decimal" upgrade (from 6.06 to 6.1) there was no rush. (When however they moved from 5. to 6. I was all over the place with joy). The other thing is, Linux distributions evolve differently from windows distributions. In mickey-software they whack in all  the cool toys and worry about security POST RELEASE. In Ubuntu they make sure the system is steam liner-stable and "Fort Knox secure" before they release it. All the "fancy smancies" are developed later by the community. So a Ubuntu distro can be considered "ripe for use" about two weeks after release when the command-line-geeks have had enough of caffeine driven all nighters and coded the crap out of themselves to prep the add-ons. 

But upgrade we shall ! (reinstall / upgrade)

Now, If I had absolutely nothing to do with my life, and installed/reinstalled my system every time there was a kernel fart, a re-installation was something to consider. Wiping ones hard drive clean and installing an OS from scratch is like wearing clean underwear or sleeping in fresh sheets.  But since I had my 6.06 running so smoothly the thought of upgrading crossed my mind. With windows I would never EVER Consider this , and even on my mac i like it better when i can erase/reinstall rather then upgrade. But I decided it was time to test the agility and maturity of Linux by going for the upgrade.. (and just maybe I'm a lazy fuck who did not want to wipe his porn ?) If you have the time go for a clean reinstall , If you don't want to wipe a working system, try the upgrade. You can always reinstall when it goes wrong.

Upgrading a working system.

I could tattoo the following advice into peoples forehead yet they would not listen to me until one day .. they loose everything. " BACKUP BACKUP BACKUP" what ever you do to a working system, make sure you backup everything before you begin. Don''t even try to come over and wine about all the crap you lost. I'll laugh in your face , step on your toe and write "I TOLD YOU SO' on your belly with pink lipstick. Afterwards you can run around naked in shame for all I care. I have no compassion for persistent stupidity. Next up : Be prepared for failure. Don't try elaborate shit like this if you need to get a paper out by next morning. Be prepared for total system fucky-uppie and start working on emergency response scenario's should your "kernel based acrobatics" fail.

The magic command line code

So lets get started. We have  " one cup of Ubuntu 6.06, with the important data and settings skimmed' Next up I found this great website that teaches you how to upgrade using just one line of code. Just pop open your command line window and type :

gksu "update-manager -c"

 

update

 

Next up enter your administrator password. The message will come up a new update is available and you need to click the 'update" button to do so. So what should you do ? … Hit it you twit !. The upgrade process will take quite some time so be prepared to actually spend time with your family and do what "normal' people do. Don't bite your nails awaiting the completion of this process.. Why  ? cause its not nice ! 

After about an hour the whole thing will be done, Reboot your system and say a prayer to "Sint Rita" who is the holy chaperone for lost causes. If Rita can't help you .. you are officially screwed.  

The magic word : Automatix !

If all went well you'll have a completely upgraded system. Otherwise enjoy your horrible " KERNEL PANIC" message heralding the end of your operating system as you have know it thus far. But you backed up all important data anyway .. didn't you ..  So now the trick is to make this fancy new version of Ubuntu into a working operating system. This means, being able to play *wmv files, play dvd's, be able to run Google earth and what have you . In short : All the good stuff. To do this there is the magical script of AUTOMATIX that will help you accomplish what takes geeks months, in mere minutes.  

If you had automatix installed on your old 6.06 system , lets remove it first shall we ? : Open a command line an type :

sudo apt-get remove automatix

enter your admin password and be gone with the old automatix.

Then we prepare to install AUTOMATIX2. So in our command line window we type : sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

this will let you add the following line to the end your sources list ( where your linux gets his good stuff)

deb http://www.getautomatix.com/apt edgy main If you see any simular lines with a # in front of them, remove the # and save the file.

Now we enter some geeky lines in order to make automatix work. (hit ENTER after every line)

wget http://www.getautomatix.com/apt/key.gpg.asc
gpg –import key.gpg.asc
gpg –export –armor 521A9C7C | sudo apt-key add –

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install automatix2 

If all went well you will now have a little AUTOMATIX icon in your
gnome menu ( APPLICATIONS / SYSTEM TOOLS / AUTOMATIX

And then some.

Now the good stuff can start. As you see , in automatix you can choose what good stuff to install , if I where you I would check every little tickbox and then get some more quality time with the family. The installation of programs like , skype , google earth , picasa and more might take some time. But when you are done all the stuff works fine and you are the proud owner of a fully working Ubuntu 6.10. Have fun.

Sources :

Automatix2 

Cup of Tech 

 

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Letting Windows XP do its own maintenance.

I don't know about you .. but i am out of here.

Computer maintenance can be a tedious task, and somehow Windows Pc's can't get enough of it. Wether I open up a computer magazine or listen to a podcast about Windows its always spyware this and scandisk that etc. Now as for spyware and such , I completely understand , there is a lot of crap out there, but standard maintenance tasks on your computer are not something you should worry about. One of the images that shoots to mind is this guy sitting in front of his computer WAITING for the de-fragmentation to complete that he started about an hour ago. Meanwhile he is just sitting there , like its some kind of laundry machine and he has to get his socks back. Not for me No-oh! If I tell my pc to clean up his room ? He better do it all by himself. Here are a few tricks that you can use to have your pc do 'his on thang” on “his own time”.

Step One ! Pick a free spot in your calendar.

Don't do computer maintenance at the peak of your day or while you have five little brothers and sisters waiting in line to play World of Warcraft. Do it at night . And don't stay up for it , let the computer do it. So choose a time when you don't need your computer and dive into the BIOS ( Press delete or F2 when the computer is starting up.) Most BIOS's (is that plural ?) these days have an “automatic power up” option that you can set. This means you can let your computer power up automatically at a certain time without you having to get up and press the button. Set the auto power up to a certain time and day of your choice.

Step Two ! Log in automatically.

tweakuiIts not the best way of doing things securely , but if your computer is just parked in your room you can enable auto-login. One of the programs you can use for this is TWEAK-UI   it will not only give you the option to auto-log-on as a certain user , but also lots of other cool tweaks.Are you afraid somebody is gonna try to access your computer while its unguarded ? No worries , just set the screen-saver to 1 minute and password protect it.

Step three ! Let the games begin.

Once your computer is securely logged in you can let him do its daily chores.Open a text-file and start typing.

at 01:00 /every:M,F defrag c:

The AT command lets you schedule certain tasks at certain times. In the example above it will run the command DEFRAG C: (de-fragment your hard-drive) every monday and friday.

at 02:00 /every:M,F defrag d:

Identical stuff , this time for the D drive, an hour later.

TIP : if you want to save yourself a lot of pain in the but , make a separate partition on your hard-drive where you set your windows swap file. This will greatly increase your de-fragmentation times and speed up your pc.

Next up you might wanna do a little cleaning up of your hard-drive. Its never bad to do a anticipative scandisk before your favorite telletubie pictures get lost on that runt hard-drive cluster.  Now you can't do a scandisk (or check-disk ) on a drive thats currently in use , just like you can't vacuum the rug you are standing on. But again , that is not a problem. When you run the CHKDSK command in Windows and point to a busy drive , Windows will do the operation next time the drive is free ( that is the next time the computer boots up). So once again , take the AT command and type up these little lines of code.

at 01:30 /every:F chkdsk c: /f /r

This means : every friday clean up my drive , repair the data on broken clusters and move on. 

And last but not least , you have to shut the machine down. You don't have to get up to do that , just use the shutdown command as follows.

at 01:45 shutdown -s -f

ShutdownThis means : at a quarter to two , shutdown the computer. (and force close all open programs)A nice tip you might want to remember is that you can enter the shutdown command in the RUN box in your start menu, for example, your computer is burning a cd, its still gonna be an hour before its done. But you wanna go out and grab a burger and don't want your computer running in vain all night. Just type shutdown -t 3600 and hit enter. Here 3600 stands for the number of seconds  the computer waits before shutdown.
And thats it. Just type all the commands in a txt file, save it as maintenance.bat and either drag it to your startup folder so it runs automatically every day , or click on it to run everything manually. You can find more  examples of the AT command  here . Now go outside and play … and let technology work for you !

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