KW1403 – A Slice of DietPi

This week we dive into the wonderfull distro called Dietpi.

We discover its a great way to turn a single board single purpose computer into a multi-function wonder-device.

We take it a step further by showing you what DietPi can do for your Raspberry Pi and your home Linux server. Another raspberry-jam-packed show with hacks tips and tweaks for cross-plaform geeks

Links

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KW1402 – Fighting Your Distractions

On this episode of the Knightwise.com podcast we talk about fighting your online distractions.

Besieged by lolcats, social media, popups and the Google quest to find out which starship captain was both in Star Trek and ‘Murder She Wrote’, we look for a way to get fight distractions and things done.

Another storytime episode to kick back and relax to.

Enjoy!

Music: Vangelis, The Tegos Tapes Part 1 [youtube]

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Mounting remote directories over SSH from Windows, Linux and the mac.

I have a Linux server that I like very much. It’s at the hart of my home network and it houses all the data and projects I’m working on. My music collection, the podcasts I’ve downloaded, textfiles and scripts I’m working on and so forth.

The downside is that I don’t always have access to these files. I work on a variety of operating systems (A Windows laptop for work, A Mac for my creative splurges and a Linux workstation to fool around with). There are several solutions to “dail in” to your home network of course but somewhere I’ve found SSH to be one of the simplest ways to access remote machines, tunnel traffic and … access files.

Sometimes you want remote files to behave like local ones.

The problem is that sometimes you want to have your remote files and folders behave just like your local files and folders, without having to worry about vpn’s, netbios or FQDN names of certain files. You just want the data on your remote machine to act like data on your local one. Enter SSHFS.

SSHFS is based on SSH, a simple elegant and secure protocol that not only lets you connect to a remote server to run commands in a terminal environment, it’s also a pretty good poor-mans VPN you can tunnel all your tcraffic through (via SSHuttle). It’s also good to copy over files via secure ftp (with Filezilla for example). But copying files back and forth isn’t handy. You want real-time access to the juice man. Let’s get you fixed up and mount your remote linux folders, natively into your filesystem on Windows, Mac and Linux.

SSHFS on a Linux client.

SSHFS on Linux
On your Linux client you need to install sshfs
sudo apt instal sshfs

sudo apt instal sshfs

Then you create a directory on your local machine where you want to mound the files
Once installed you connect to your remote machine with the command

sshfs username@remotemachine:/directoryonremotemachine /directoryonlocalmachine

SSHFS from a MacOs client.

SSHFS on Mac
MacOs does not have sshfs capabilities by default but these can easily be installed via Brew
When brew is installed you can install sshfs with the brew command.
To mount your remote directory just use the same command as on Linux/

 brew install sshfs 
sshfs username@remotemachine:/directoryonremotemachine /directoryonlocalmachine

SSHFS from a Windows Machine

That also works but it does require a little more work to get it done AND Windows won’t let you mount to a folder nativey but points you to a driveletter instead.

First off install the following two applications:
sshfs-win
WinFsp

Next all you need to do is open a command line window and enter the following command.
net use .<yourdrive>: \sshfs\yourusename@remotehost….\directorystartingfromroot

 net use x: \sshfs\me@thedeathstar.empire....\deathstarplans R3belsRscumm 

In the end.

At the end of the day using SSHFS is a great way to quickly access files on a remote Linux system while having the files and folders integrated into the filestructure of whatever operating system you use. The additional encryption provided by SSH gives you good security. Both on Linux and on the mac you will be asked to authenticate with your password. If you don’t want to do that you setup ssh key exchange (see here) on how that is done. You can enter the commands in a script that you can just run (like a logon script).


Beware then when you are doing this on Windows your logon script might contain your login and your password for the remote system in clear text. So keep that somewhere safe.

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Helium Linux: When your old machine needs some oxygen.

I have this old iMac lying around that I got off of some guy on Craigslist 2 years ago. It was a little bit of a “pet project” to tinker around with and to see how far I could take this computer from 2009. Swapping out the internal spinning-rust drive with an SSD was a very interesting piece of open-mac surgery and afterwards the machine was a tad faster then before.

Operating system no longer supported.

But the iMac would only upgrade its version of MacOs to a version that was no longer supported (El Capitan I think) so I thought let’s run Linux on it. I’ve had experience in running Linux on Macs for a couple of years now, but the installation of Ubuntu 18.04 was a little disappointing. The system was a little slow (I expected that from a 2009 machine) and got put by the wayside because it just wasn’t up to snuff.

I needed a place to focus.

Lately I’ve been having some issues with productivity. While (trying) to get stuff done (mostly when i’m writing), I’m constantly distracted by eMails, Social Media, Chatmessages and what have you. I had been looking for some ways to block them out (going offline, using apps like Focuswriter) but none of them helped. I needed a computer environment that was simple enough to let me get my writing done while being to slow or simple for anything else. The iMac popped back to mind.

Simplicity is the most complex thing to achieve.

But in order to be realy “functional” the machine needed a lighter and more serene operating system. I remembered a distro called “Crunchbang” from my netbook days. A lightweight and very geeky distro with an Openbox UI. But the distro was disconinued.. or was it?

Get me some Helium

It turns out “Crunchbang” is not dead after all. An organisation called Bunsenlabs has picked up the slack and forked “Helium” as a successor. The distribution is based on Debian 10 (not Ubuntu) and comes with a minimal of applications pre-installed. The graphical installer is sweet and simple and afterwards they run you through a text based post-install script that lets you choose what other options to install.

It’s like ‘less’ with ‘more’

The end result is a super minimalistic destkop interface with the classic openbox bar letting you open some classc apps like Firefox, Libreoffice and more. The developement team has gone out of its way to keep the interface clean and simple and to keep the apps as light as possible. In the end you get a slick, slim and FAST OS for an old machine.

A garden of Zen

I have only been using the OS for a couple of days now but I’ve managed to muddle through some pretty hefty copywriting and getting the stuff I needed done .. done. Aside from using Geany as the default Text editor and Firefox to surf around for research, I’ve resulted to mostly command line apps and scripts to get things done. (For example using MPV to play the “Mission Control” music station on Soma Fm). The end result: A fast system with minimal distractions and the very first time I’ve actually started using one of my ‘resurrected zombies’ in a production environment. If you have an old machine lying around or want to have a distraction free interface? Give it a try.

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KW1301 – Getting iOS and Linux to Play Nicely Together

There are those times in life when you want to do things because you can… and sometimes you can leverage that in getting done all that you need to do.

Links

Code Snippets

  • Download your ‘watch later’ playlist
    youtube-dl -u <yourGmailAddress> -p <yourPassword> -f mp4 --playlist-start 1 https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=WL
  • Download ‘audio only’
    youtube-dl -u <yourGmailAddress> -p <yourPassword> -f m4a --playlist-start 1 https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=<your playlist id>

Credits

Episode produced by Keith Murray
Image courtesy of Blakespot on Flickr

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KW1203 – Stick It

This week Knightwise dives back into a topic to help you make better use of hostile foreign computers. With the proliferation of high-speed high-capacity USB thumb drives it’s easier than ever before to carry your computing workload with you and run your life from a stick.

Links

Credits

Episode produced by Keith Murray
Home screen picture courtesy of MaxPixel

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KW1202 – One Linux to Rule Them All

One Linux

Sometimes the way to achieve “less” is to make more use of the things you already have. If the thing you already have is a fairly powerful old laptop, what you may find is that it makes the perfect home server. This week Knightwise tells us all about the laptop with the new lease on life.

Credits

Episode produced by Keith Murray
Home screen picture courtesy of PixaBay

 

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KW1107 Let the Technology Work for You

Toolbox

We’re back! It’s the first episode of 2017. Knightwise reinforces the sliders ethos by kicking Linux to the curb — well sorta.

Links

Music

  • Lightning Traveler – Summer [Jamendo]

Credits

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The Many Faces of Reddit

On the Internet, we all have our “time sinks”; those big bad dark rabbit holes that suck up our attention for hours on end while real life (and productivity) passes us by.

For some of you that might be Facebook, Google+, Pinterest or even Wikipedia (in which case, bravo!). For me my time sink is Reddit. Yes that strange forum-place that has a “sub” for just about anything and is packed with comments, snarky remarks and all out flame wars. In short: the best and the worst the Internet has to offer.

I have personally selected a set of sub-reddits that interest me, from /r/chernobyl to /r/homeservers and from the intriguing /r/documentaries to the embarrassing /r/tifu. Reddit continues to be a source of entertainment and information for me that can keep me away from the mediocre rivers of sludge that we call Facebook or the “mainstream” media.

I interact with Reddit on a variety of platforms and locations. In short: If it has an Internet connection, I want to be able to check Reddit on it. I seldom stoop so low as to access Reddit via a regular browser (only if I have to) and prefer to use the following clients instead.

iOS: The ‘Official’ Reddit client
On my iPhone (and iPad) I have tried out several apps that let me have digital intercourse with the little alien guy (The Reddit icon) but I have settled on the standard Reddit client. Its not as highly configurable al some of the alternatives but its simplicity has its advantages when you are on the road. Commenting, browsing and searching through subreddits is easy and the apps is pretty fast. 4/5 stars!
Reddit for iOS (App Store)

Windows: Redditting
There are not a lot of cool apps in the Windows store, but Redditing is surely one of them. This great Windows clients lets you browse Reddit easily both on a “standard” desktop interface or on your Surface pro 4 using your stubby cheeto-covered fingers. I love using Redditting to browse through the wallpaper section of Reddit (/r/wallpapers or /r/starshipporn) and downloading all the cool wallpapers using the cool “download” button.
Redditting for Windows (Microsoft Store)

Linux: Rtv
On Linux (On my Raspberry Pi that is) the command line is your friend and RTV is probably one of the coolest and nerdiest applications out there. RTV gives you a nice color coded CLI interface to browse your favorite subs, do posts and make comments. Clicking a link opens a command line browser which makes /r/wallpapers a Sub that is a little … empty.
Rtv for Linux (Github)

MacOS: Reditr
Finally when I cuddle up behind my massive 15″ Macbook Pro I use Reditr to browse through Reddit. When it comes to look and feel its a lot like Redditting, minus the touch-friendly design. The great thing with Reditr is that it is fast and simple to work with, giving you a learning curve that a brain dead hamster could master in under 30 seconds.
RedditR (Mac App Store)

Android: Reddit is Fun
Reddit is Fun ‘makes’ reddit fun on Android tablets and smartphones. A true and capable competitor to the “official” Reddit app with the standard abilities to post, comment and up-vote but which also sports an easy to learn interface that lets you discover NEW reddit subs just by punching in the right search term. Now you can say you stumbled across your favorit /r/bronies completely BY ACCIDENT.
Reddit is Fun (Google Play Store)

Reddit is great and has a lot to offer. Thanks to these cool clients I’m able to get the most out of my time spent on the site. Up-votes, down-votes, comments, replies, fresh posts. I start them on one device and pick up where I left off on another… “Slider Style!”

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Windows on the Dell

A little more then a year ago I bought my very first laptop that came pre-packaged with Linux. My slick, cool, small and light Dell XPS 13 was probably the first laptop I bought that did not have the OEM stickers stuck to the palm rest, removed. Usually I peel off these lame “Windows” or “Intel” stickers, but in this case the shiny orange UBUNTU sticker stayed on as a badge of honor.

I have been using the machine quite frequently over the last year, mostly tinkering with it to get the “pre-installed” version of Ubuntu “just right”. Because quite frankly, as “compatible” as this machine ought to be with Linux, it wasn’t. After several hours spent scrolling through forums, chatting on IRC and posting on Reddit I had rolled back the bios version and edited a bunch of config files just to stop the keyboard from jumping to “aaaaaaaaaaatttttorrrrrrrrrepeat” (very annoying). But like the owner of an Alfa Romeo I enjoyed the process because I love to tinker.

Fast forward about a year and my life is a little bit different. With a full time consultancy gig at one of my clients and quite a few business projects on the side, I don’t have as much free time as I used to have. As a result, the little Dell got started to get left out. Since I needed some business applications like Office, Visio and Outlook (for the gig at the client) I did not get a chance to play around with the Ubuntu sporting Dell as often as I wanted to.

Several times I’ve tried to switch over my workflow to be as “cross platform compatible” as I could, but when you need to send Visio or Word files back and forth, Open Office might be found lacking at times. The other point of sheer frustration was that I could not (neither with my own skills or those of the bluetooth stack developer) get a bluetooth mouse to work under linux. Result ? The XPS started collecting dust in favor of my Surface Pro 4 that went to work with me every day.

So this week I said “no more”. I was fed up with having an expensive laptop just sitting there because it’s OS doesn’t fit into my workflow and I don’t have the time to adjust my workflow. So I wiped it and installed Windows 10 on it gasp!

Have I betrayed my Linux roots? Have I forsaken my sliders promise? No. I have not.

I am still running Linux on it! 🙂 A fast, snappy and dark-themed version of Linux Mint is what i’m using right now, in a VM! Thats right I’ve decided to stop letting hardware issues and workflow incompatibly interfere with my chance to run Linux. Now I just run Linux on all my machines… in Virtual Machines! Along with whatever core OS (Windows, MacOS) sits on top of the hardware.

I’ll write about my experiences more later this week (don’t want to bore you with a mega long post) but suffice to say that thanks to modern day processors and snappy VM apps like VirtualBox, there is no noticeable difference between running Linux in a VM and running Linux natively on the hardware. Aside from the fact that everything just works! And I can just “slide” my mouse across to my second screen and finish up that Visio drawing, using my bluetooth mouse!

In the end everyone wins. I get to have Linux at my fingertips, I still have the power to use “work” related apps whenever I need to and my little Dell XPS 13 is living up to be a good investment because now I finally use it some more. I ended up dual-booting Linux years ago to go native. I’ve not given up running Linux natively; I just want to “slide” from OS to OS and with these VM’s that works just fine.

Image Credit: Pierre Lecourt on Flickr

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