Linux tips

In my day job I am managing Debian and Ubuntu systems. However dealing with the operating system is just one part. Even more important is knowing your tools. And there is a hell of a lot of open source software packages available that attempt to make your life easier. But each of them works differently and even if you mastered one tool it will often not help you work with another. Whenever I find something interesting I am trying to write an article about it. May they help broaden your mind, too.

Debian packages are so old

Debian comes with tens of thousands of software packages that you can easily install on your system. But Debian only publishes a new “stable” release every 2-3 years. That creates the impression that Debian packages must always be up to 3 years old. And who wants to work with a three year old piece of …

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Updating the BIOS on Lenovo laptops from Linux using a USB flash stick

Aren’t hardware manufacturers funny? They either require an old-fashioned operating system (Windows) or museum hardware (floppy drives) to update a BIOS. Apparently they never learn and are instead busy adding features like DRM and UEFI to make our lives even more miserable. However updating the BIOS on my Lenovo X230 laptop was surprisingly easy once …

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Docking and undocking Linux laptops with nVidia GPUs using disper

Do you have trouble switching the display when docking and undocking your Linux laptop? In this article I will show you how to use disper and keyboard shortcuts to do that reliably if you are using nVidia’s annoyingly broken RandR-incompatible graphics driver. Many companies nowadays give their employees laptops instead of classical PCs under their desks. And …

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Backups with rsnaphot to external USB drives

How long has it been since you last backed up your Linux system? Let me guess – you tried various backup systems and hate all of them? Let me show you how to use rsnapshot and an external inexpensive USB drive to back up precious data easily.

Renaming multiple files

If you need to rename a larger number of files following a certain pattern then you will long for an automated solution. The ‘rename’ command helps you here that is (at least on my Debian installation) part of the Perl installation. All you need to know is the basics of regular expressions to define how the …

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Pipes and redirection

Many system administrators seem to have problems with the concepts of pipes and redirection in a shell. A coworker recently asked me how to deal with log files. How to find the information he was looking for. This article tries to shed some light on it. Input / Output of shell commands Many of the …

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NFS: sec=sys or ruin your day

And once again I was bitten by problems on my Debian laptop mounting directories from the file server via NFS. After a Debian dist-upgrade I couldn’t login to KDE any more. Shell login worked somehow but I quickly found out I could neither read nor write any files there. Apparently an “ls -al” showed me …

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Mounting flash sticks or memory cards on Debian

Usually modern desktop Linux distributions make it easy to automatically mount external storage media like USB flash sticks. But if all else fails this article may help you. Kernel Compile a kernel with SCSI disk support (CONFIG_BLK_DEV_SD), multiple LUN support (CONFIG_SCSI_MULTI_LUN – otherwise the x-in-1 card reader will not work) and USB storage support (CONFIG_USB_STORAGE). Plug …

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