Linux

Miscellaneous tips and articles for mortal Linux users and system administrators.

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.

Zabbix: How escalations work

Zabbix is a very complex software that takes weeks to fully understand. One of the most interesting, most complex and least documented features are escalations. They are used to define a schedule what Zabbix is supposed to do when a certain event occurs. Like waking up the system administrator or do some automatic emergency cleanup …

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Tired of Nagios and Cacti? Try Zabbix.

One of my professional duties in my past ten years was monitoring systems. Even my diploma thesis was dedicated to distributed monitoring (altough my professor sucked badly ). Apart from a few custom-programmed scripts to analyze special situations (e.g. proxy clusters) I used tools that fellow administrators will find familiar: Nagios and Cacti. And another …

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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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Why you should not use Python’s easy_install carelessly on Debian

(Hint: This article talks about the Pylons web framework which is essentially dead. But the warning about easy_install and pip is still valid.) This article tries to make clear why blindly running setuptools/ez_setup on Debian/Ubuntu is dangerous and will happily break your operating system. I loved the Pylons web framework. A significatnt number of developers was using it. …

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