Tags: ubuntu

Giving Debian Stretch a try

Tonight, I have mostly been taking Debian Stretch for a spin. Stretch is currently in full freeze and is due to be the next Debian Stable release, so I was interested to see what it has to offer in terms of providing a LEMP stack.

The biggest change (LEMP related) over previous Debian releases is probably the switch to MariaDB from MySQL. I wasn’t aware this switch had taken place, until I tried to install the ‘mysql-server’ package, which doesn’t exist under Stretch. Doh. So anyway, I did a quick search and discovered details of the change. After that, it only took a few minutes to figure out what I needed to do to get MariaDB installed and set-up. To be honest, with the limited testing that I’ve done, I’ve not noticed any difference, but I guess this is to be expected as MariaDB is described as a drop-in replacement for MySQL.

Other than that, Stretch looks like it’s going to be a solid LEMP platform, providing NGINX 1.10.3 and PHP 7.0. It should make for a good replacement for my current Ubuntu LTS servers, which I’m looking to move away from.

My Ubuntu 16.04 GNOME Setup [↗]

Another prominent Ubuntu Unity user detailing how he’s migrated to GNOME from Unity. It’s well written and thoughtful, with details of all the GNOME extensions used to emulate a Unity desktop. Using GNOME on my own systems, I was aware of most of the extensions, apart from Pixel Saver, which works pretty well on the small screen of my ThinkPad X220. Anyhow, reading this makes me feel kind of sad about the death of Unity, it really is a rather nice desktop environment and it will be missed.

What’s Next for Ubuntu Desktop? Mark Shuttleworth Shares His Plans [↗]

We’re helping the Ubuntu GNOME team, not creating something different or competitive with that effort. While I am passionate about the design ideas in Unity, and hope GNOME may be more open to them now, I think we should respect the GNOME design leadership by delivering GNOME the way GNOME wants it delivered.

Mark is saying all the right things and it’s good to read that he’s respectful of the GNOME team. I’m hoping the Ubuntu devs and release team are listening and taking notes.

Making GNOME Shell Feel Like Unity [↗]

I like the way the Ubuntu Unity desktop works. However, a while ago I switched over to Gnome Shell to see what it was like, and it seemed good so I stuck around. But I’ve added a few extensions to it so it feels a bit more like the parts of the Unity experience that I liked. In light of the news from Canonical that they’ll be shipping the Gnome desktop in the next LTS in 2018, and in light of much hand-wringing from people who like Unity as much as I do about how they don’t want to lose the desktop they prefer, I thought I’d write down what I did, so others can try it too.

I’m hoping that Ubuntu 18.04 LTS ships with a stock GNOME Shell experience, but this post has some good tips for Unity lovers.

Growing Ubuntu for Cloud and IoT, rather than Phone and convergence [↗]

I’m writing to let you know that we will end our investment in Unity8, the phone and convergence shell. We will shift our default Ubuntu desktop back to GNOME for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

Wow! This is a huge announcement from Mark Shuttleworth. Personally, I think it’s the right decision and his reasoning is sound, I’m just a little surprised that it took him this long to come to his senses. I hope all my friends and acquaintances at Canonical come out of this OK.

Anyhow, with all reasoning and difficult decision making aside, Ubuntu with GNOME as its default desktop should be totally awesome, I can’t wait.

From OSX to Ubuntu [↗]

One man’s retrospective after switching from macOS to Ubuntu. I’m not sure why I find these accounts so fascinating, maybe I’m just a geeky voyeur, but I really enjoyed reading this.

Anyway, I thought his switch from Unity to GNOME to Unity was quite interesting. I know Unity catches a fair amount of shit, thrown by the haters, but I think it’s currently the most polished and usable desktop environment. I love it.

Review of My Software and Hardware Choices

Prompted by Chris Coyier’s post, Review of My New Computer Equipment, I thought I’d post a review of my current software and hardware choices. So, six months ago, I wrote:

On reflection, I’ve replaced all but one of the OS X specific applications, and the change was painless. As with the previous post, and if I remember, I’ll take another look at this list in another 6 months. I’m wondering if I’ll still be using desktop Linux? I’m thinking that I probably will.

I thought wrong, well sort of. I’m actually using macOS, Linux and Windows. Yup, I’ve ditched the silly idea that I need to run the same OS on every system and I now use whatever I fancy, or, I choose the best tool for a given job.

My workstation consists of 3 systems and they’re all sharing the same keyboard and mouse via Synergy. Throughout the day, I switch seamlessly between macOS, Ubuntu and Windows 10, across a total of 5 monitors. It’s fucking glorious.

I run macOS on my 2013 MacBook Pro, Ubuntu on a Dell desktop and Windows 10 on my X220 ThinkPad. The machines all vary in age, but they’re all fitted with solid state drives and their performance is more than adequate.

When I’m at home, I also have the same 3 operating systems available. My hackintosh desktop runs Windows 10 (mostly for Steam). I run macOS on my MacBook and both Ubuntu and Windows 10 on my X220 ThinkPad.

It’s quite liberating when you realise that you don’t have to belong to a particular OS camp. Computers and operating systems are just tools and whilst it’s normal to have a favourite or preferred tool, it’s not good to exclude everything else in favour of using it, especially if there’s a better tool for the job.

On reflection, I’m really pleased that I decided to breakout of my comfort zone and I’m really enjoying my current setup. My choice of software and hardware is like a melting pot of the best tools available and it enables me to get stuff done. It also provides for a varied experience and prevents me from getting too bored with one system.

If you’ve found yourself in the position of using just one operating system, whether that’s Windows, macOS, Linux, or some other exotic OS, I’d wholly recommend mixing it up and taking full advantage of what’s out there. OS variety is the spice of life.

The 6 Biggest Ubuntu News Stories of 2016 [↗]

6. Bash on Ubuntu on Windows 10
It happened. Hell froze over and Microsoft wrapped its chilly arms around a cynical Linux community uncertain as to its motives. Is it a gesture of love (like they say) or the cynical embrace of a company trying to regain lost relevance?

That’s for you to decide. But one piece of the ‘Microsoft Loves Linux’ puzzle that slotted in to place this year was the arrival of the Windows Subsystem for Linux in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update (no, really. It happened).

Is it a little bit sad for Ubuntu that one of its biggest stories of 2016 was its involvement in the Window Subsystem for Linux? Don’t get me wrong, I think it was a nifty thing to happen, but I’m not sure how Ubuntu/Linux benefits? It certainly doesn’t appear to help fix Ubuntu’s bug #1.

Microsoft has a majority market share in the new desktop PC marketplace. This is a bug which Ubuntu and other projects are meant to fix. As the philosophy of the Ubuntu Project states, “Our work is driven by a belief that software should be free and accessible to all.”

Anyhow, it’ll be interesting to see if anything happens with this in 2017.

Upgrading to Ubuntu Server 16.04 – Part 2

As mentioned, I’m currently upgrading my Ubuntu 14.04 servers to 16.04, and I’ve just completed upgrading my development server. Actually, I use the term “upgrade” loosely as I opted for a clean install. This took a bit longer, but I’m happier with the end result, knowing that the server will be starting with a clean slate.

The actions I took went a bit like this:

  1. Backup my project files and any related data such as databases.
  2. Backup my crontab.
  3. Backup my dot files.
  4. Backup my bin directory, containing build scripts etc.
  5. Backup the /etc/network/interfaces file.
  6. Backup the /etc/fstab file, the server had a bunch of drives attached.
  7. Backup the /etc/nginx folder containing config files for all development sites.
  8. Create a 16.04 virtual machine.
  9. Restore and test all backups on virtual machine.
  10. Happy that the backups were good, perform a clean install of 16.04 on development server.
  11. Restore and test all backups.
  12. Archive any old (unwanted) project files.

And that’s it. Barring any major malfunctions, my development server should be good for at least a couple more years. Next job, tackle my production servers.

Upgrading to Ubuntu Server 16.04

This weekend it’s going to be wet and rainy, so I’m going to make a start on upgrading my personal servers from Ubuntu 14.04 to 16.04. I was hoping to keep 14.04 in place for ~5 years, but due to this, and this, I’m going to perform the upgrade a little earlier than planned.

I’ve currently got 3 servers running 14.04, a development server, a production server, and a storage server. I’m confident that the upgrade will go smoothly (I’ve been working with 16.04 on several servers at work and I’m pretty familiar with it, so I’m not expecting too many surprises), but if I do experience any issues, I’ll write an update.

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