Nxion's Corner

Enable verbose mode on a Mac
2010/01/15, 5:05 pm
Filed under: Mac OS X, Unix | Tags: , , , ,

So on a Mac when you power on the machine you are presented with a gray screen with a grey apple in the middle of the screen. This is the default boot behavior for all Mac computers. You can if you wanted to, have it start up displaying like Linux does with a detailed output of what is going on. This is good for troubleshooting issue with your Mac as well as software development. You enable it two ways. The first one is from the keyboard on startup. This is good for a one time boot. Meaning it will not stay on, when you restart you will have the grey screen again. When you press the power button on your machine immediately press and hold the Command (Apple) key + v. Contuinun to hold till you have a back screen with text. That’s it.

Now if you wanted to you can have this happen all the time. To do so, open a Terminal and type the following:

sudo nvram boot-args="-v"

Now if you wanted to turn it off do this:

sudo nvram boot-args=

Done. Happy Computing!

The runt of the litter
2010/01/15, 4:39 pm
Filed under: Linux, Ubuntu Desktop, Unix | Tags: , , , , , , ,

So many technical blogs I read today have a post about the the author’s machine and hardware so I figured one more post about hardware wouldn’t hurt. This post is mainly about one of my machines I am particularly proud of. If you want to take a look at all my machines, check out the Machine page on the sidebar. With all the machines I have at home, which range from fairly old to very new, this one is one of my favorites.

This little powerhouse is a Everex Cloudbook.

A friend of mine gave me this machine because he didn’t want it anymore. He knew I had been wanting a netbook for awhile and he figured better go to me then the trash. The Everex Cloudbook came with Windows XP Home Edition on it. Of course, the first thing I wanted to do is free this little guy of its Windows chains and set it free with a nice Linux distribution. I myself am partial to Ubuntu.  I am comfortable with any distro of Linux, but Ubuntu is the first Linux distro I was exposed to. So after much deliberation between Arch Linux, Crux or Ubuntu, I decided to give Arch Linux a try. Arch Linux and Crux were two exciting Linux distros I found from a blog I have been following for awhile. If you have some time you really should check it out. It has a lot of content and is an very exciting read. Anyway, back to the netbook. So the first issue I ran into is there is no internal CD/DVD drive and the external CD/DVD drive I did have was broken. I really should pick up another one; they can be really handy. So what I had to do was actually make a bootable USB drive, which was no big deal since I do have three of them. You can never have to many USB pen drives. So I used UNETBOOTIN to make a bootable pen drive with the Arch iso image I downloaded. UNETBOOTIN is a very nice tool. As long as you have a Linux ISO file, you can make it bootable off a pen drive.

So I started up the netbook and the pen drive did its thing and started to boot into the live version of Arch Linux. It started to load the temp filesystem so it can load the rest of the live environment. This step was taking awhile, so I let it sit a bit.  A few minutes later, it returned an error that says there is a problem with the hardware. That did surprise me as this laptop is brand new. So I figured it was a fluke. I rebooted and had it boot off the pen drive again hoping it will continue on past  the issue and load the live environment.  It failed again on the same part. Could it really be bad? So since it failed on the same part again, at the hard drive detection, I decided to run some test to see what was going on. Since there is no CD/DVD drive, I cracked open the laptop and took the hard drive out and plugged it into my desktop so I can run my hard drive tools. After about an hour of running stress tests, I found no issues with the hardware.

So I chalked it up to an incompatibility with Arch and my hardware. I moved on to Crux and gave it a shot. I made a bootable image, restarted the laptop and booted off the pen drive to the Crux live environment. I was pretty disappointed to see that Crux failed on the same point that Arch did. This was a head-scratcher for sure. One thing I thought it could be was that the netbook was having issues with my pen drive and how I imaged it. I put the Crux install on hold and went back to Arch. The Arch Linux site has a Wiki with many different ways to make a bootable USB drive with an Arch image file. They have guides for a Windows, Linux and a Mac OS X way to make a bootable pen drive. I have not tried using other Linux distros with these guides but maybe you can use for other Linux flavors and not just Arch.

After  trying every way they have listed,  it still will not boot on my Everex Cloudbook. I gave up trying to install Arch or Crux for now. Maybe when I become a little more adept with Linux I can give it another try.  I decided to give Ubuntu a try now. After thinking it over, I really didn’t want to run a GUI on this machine because when it did have Windows on the netbook it really was a turtle. Granted it could be that this machine was just too slow for the Windows GUI but I didn’t want to take that chance, so I decided on a console-only environment.  I was also inspired by a Linux hobbyist that uses a console for everything and I figured I wanted to try it out.

One of the nice things I found with Ubuntu was that there wasn’t a one-size-fits-all image of Ubuntu. Granted, Ubuntu is not the only one to offer multiple versions of the OS in different formats but like I said before I started with Ubuntu.  I didn’t want a GUI, so the desktop version was out. They do have a server version, but I wanted more control over what I installed so the server version is out as well. There was one more version that caught my eye after some looking around on the Ubuntu site. They offer a mini image which is dubbed the Ubuntu Minimal install image. With this image, you have complete control on what is installed and how it is installed. This is like a fine-tuned version of Ubuntu. I downloaded the 12 megabyte image and made my bootable pen drive. The one downside to this image is if you do not have a network connection (or have a really slow one) then this is not the image for you. With this image, everything has to be downloaded from the network to build your Ubuntu system. I fired up the netbook and awaited eagerly to see what happened next and prayed that it did not fail on the detection of the hard drive. To my surprise it didn’t. I was very excited. Finally I can put this little guy to use.

So I started the process: setting up the network, selecting a mirror to use, and partitioning the hard drive. I let Ubuntu do its thing and select the partition map. One thing I did change was the partition it uses. By default in Karmic, it uses the new EXT4 which I have had some issues with on older hardware (mainly my RAID in my Poweredge 2500). Not wanting to start all over, I just selected EXT3. After that, I set users, password, and had it install a very minimal system. The last part of the installation was to install a boot loader. Here I have my choice of either GRUB or LILO. Since I use Ubuntu so much, GRUB is the default, so I chose it. The next thing that happened definitely threw me for a loop. The next screen I see is a big red one saying that the grub install failed. That’s it, no messages saying why, no this is how to fix it, no nothing. So a little discouraged, I rebooted and started over again. A few hours later same thing: fails on the GRUB install. Now I am really starting to wonder if the motherboard is bad or something. I was just about to give up and I gave it another try. Finally on my third attempt, it installed the boot loader and that was it! The final step was to reboot and enjoy my new Linux console netbook.  I rebooted, logged in and off I went. After some tweaking to the console, adding some of my applications and getting wireless working (I will have another post on that coming soon), I was set. I now have a full Ubuntu system minus the GUI that I can use when I don’t want to get out my beast of a laptop. I can browse the web, check mail and even play some games to kill time If I wanted.

I am pretty pleased with my self and this project. If anyone has any questions about this post, please let me know!

To a new beginning
2010/01/09, 11:51 am
Filed under: Random | Tags: , , , ,

This blog will be for all my trials and tribulations as I make my way through to crazy world that is Linux. I decided to create this blog after all the help I have received from the Ubuntu and Arch community. They have helped me through some very strange and interesting issues. I hope to be able to help people with their Linux questions just as others have helped me through mine. So won’t you join me on my journey.  Some of you probably noticed that mt first post was very similar to my about page. Well I really am not the most creative when it come to writing So I thought, what the heck. This post the general message I am trying to convey so why not turn it into a about page.

I hope to have a few guides by Sunday evening for people to use. If anyone has any suggestions please feel free to contact me and I will see what I can do to get them created and up on this site.

Thank you to all that all have helped me over the years, now I hope to help and inspire a few people myself


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.