Author Topic: Goodbye Windows, Hello Linux [advice needed for a Linux workstation at home]  (Read 7105 times)

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Offline Mr. Scram

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #150 on: January 22, 2019, 04:32:00 am »
This turned into another OS holy war. Who would have thought?
 
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Offline tggzzz

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #151 on: January 22, 2019, 05:16:46 am »
Just my 2 cents: for over a decade it has been clear to me that you should develop an application cross-platform even if your primary target audience are Windows users. It is very likely a good business opportunity comes along which requires your software to run on Apple or Linux. Porting an application later on will be a costly nightmare or even impossible.

Which drove the interest in Java.  I wonder how much interest there will be next year when the license terms change?  I haven't read through all the details but it seems they want clients to buy the runtime.  I'm sure it will be a nice revenue stream - if anybody cares enough to sign up.

There will be two options: use the open versions, or bend over and pay Oracle.

I'm sure quite a few (but not enough for Oracle's liking!) will pay. Many won't.
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Offline edy

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #152 on: January 22, 2019, 12:00:49 pm »
Even just yesterday I installed Linux for someone....

A friend of ours had an old HP Pavilion a1324n (Pentium 4 machine with 1 GB RAM and 300 GB HD) running Windows XP. The machine is ancient! I popped in an Ubuntu Studio 16.04 LTS DVD and booted it. It asked if I wanted a dual-boot menu (WinXP, Ubuntu Studio). The machine had a Belkin WIFI USB dongle to connect to the internet. It worked no problem, that's how I got internet access to download the latest Chrome, LibreOffice and a few other packages I like to install.

After Ubuntu Studio installed, it wanted to upgrade to 18.04 and proceeded to do so! All smooth and easy!

So now the machine has options to boot WinXP and Ubuntu Studio. I can access WinXP partition from Ubuntu so all the Documents can still be found and worked on. The machine runs fast and on the latest software with more current security patches.

Going this route with Windows would have been impossible... Win7 would not have run on this WinXP machine, and Win10 forget it. While most people would laugh at this old hardware, it is now saved from landfill and this family can enjoy new life out of this computer which they thought was otherwise useless.
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Offline Mr. Scram

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #153 on: January 22, 2019, 12:38:08 pm »
Even just yesterday I installed Linux for someone....

A friend of ours had an old HP Pavilion a1324n (Pentium 4 machine with 1 GB RAM and 300 GB HD) running Windows XP. The machine is ancient! I popped in an Ubuntu Studio 16.04 LTS DVD and booted it. It asked if I wanted a dual-boot menu (WinXP, Ubuntu Studio). The machine had a Belkin WIFI USB dongle to connect to the internet. It worked no problem, that's how I got internet access to download the latest Chrome, LibreOffice and a few other packages I like to install.

After Ubuntu Studio installed, it wanted to upgrade to 18.04 and proceeded to do so! All smooth and easy!

So now the machine has options to boot WinXP and Ubuntu Studio. I can access WinXP partition from Ubuntu so all the Documents can still be found and worked on. The machine runs fast and on the latest software with more current security patches.

Going this route with Windows would have been impossible... Win7 would not have run on this WinXP machine, and Win10 forget it. While most people would laugh at this old hardware, it is now saved from landfill and this family can enjoy new life out of this computer which they thought was otherwise useless.
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Offline thermistor-guy

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #154 on: January 22, 2019, 12:53:20 pm »
... While most people would laugh at this old hardware, it is now saved from landfill and this family can enjoy new life out of this computer which they thought was otherwise useless.

I keep my family's PCs running for as long as possible, by doing simple repairs and cheap h/w upgrades, often using spares from my junk box; then wiping Windows and installing Linux. My everyday home admin PC is a 2007 Dell laptop running a Linux Mint LTS distro. It can't run games, but it can run movies. Older h/w can have a high build quality, well worth preserving. In a jam, when your main machines are down, e.g. because Windows has upchucked over your disk, you have a work-around.

One of our Win7 PCs crashed the other day and wouldn't boot. Windows stalled for hours in a repair attempt. So I booted a Linux Mint live CD, and used GParted to do some partition repairs on one of the drives. The system booted and tested fine after that. My kids saw this; they don't want to use Linux, because their friends don't, but they now think Linux is pretty cool. <Sigh> slowly, slowly ...
 

Offline RoGeorge

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #155 on: January 24, 2019, 01:59:38 am »
Thank you all for sharing your thoughts.  So far it was very helpful for me.

Now, I'm in the process of freeing up the SSD in order to make room for a clean install.  Very time consuming this sorting out of what to keep and what to delete.  Also, keep moving chunks of folders from the SSD to all the other storage places (NAS, USB sticks, external HDDs, internal HDDs, cloud storage, even SD cards) almost made me completely loose track of what I copied and where.

Being the kind of data hoarder I am, it all ended up buying a 8TB disk, and calling it a delayed Santa and not hoarding.  ::)


Questions
- Inside the PC's case, there is a 512GB SSD.  I will ask about this one later.
- The 8TB HDD will most probably stay outside the PC's case (the motherboard has an external SATA connector, with power).

1. Already decided to use GPT, and don't bother with MBR any more.  How to partition an 8TB HDD?  A single partition, or many?  Or just made one reasonable big partition for now, and let the rest for future partitions or resizings?

2. What file system to use?

3. I am planning to drop NTFS completely for the 8TB disk, yet most of the old data that will populate it is coming from NTFS partitions.  On Windows, there was only one user, so I am not concerned with preserving the Windows access rights.  Is there any good reason to still keep using NTFS for the new 8TB?

Later edit:
I would like to preserve the file date, thought, at least the creation date.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2019, 02:41:54 am by RoGeorge »
 

Offline stj

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #156 on: January 24, 2019, 02:31:15 am »
long term computer users learn to keep stuff they want/need in specific named folders.
it makes things a hell of a lot faster for backups or upgrades.

of course Linux helps by having a "home" root-folder.
unlike winshit that scatters everybody's stuff all over the damned place.
my documents? my files? everybody's files????
what satanist came up with that storage plan???
 

Offline radar_macgyver

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #157 on: January 24, 2019, 02:43:05 am »
- The 8TB HDD will most probably stay outside the PC's case (the motherboard has an external SATA connector, with power).
Would suggest not doing this. Over time, I found eSATA connectors' latches get flaky and cause attached disks to generate ATA errors. I prefer to have my drives internally mounted and if I care about the data at all, with a 2-disk mirror (using mdraid or btrfs).

1. Already decided to use GPT, and don't bother with MBR any more.  How to partition an 8TB HDD?  A single partition, or many?  Or just made one reasonable big partition for now, and let the rest for future partitions or resizings?
No partitions necessary. This artificially imposes limits on what you can do, and has no benefit on modern filesystems. When using btrfs, you can instead use subvolumes with quotas so that, for example, you won't end up with a root filesystem with no space left.

2. What file system to use?
btrfs would be my pick. It has its flaws, for example it has bugs in the raid5 code but works very well for a single disk or a mirror. One of the better aspects is how you can 'attach' a mirror to an existing single disk, and detach it later if needed. Another really cool feature is copy-on-write, which lets you snapshot ('freeze') the filesystem while making backups.

I use this to periodically back up my btrfs filesystems to a network drive. Once the initial copy is finished, you only send the changes which can be quite fast. I have a cron job set up to do the incremental backup once an hour. I also maintain snapshots the last 48 backups (on the remote disk) in case I screwed something up and want an older version of a file (similar to Apple's Time Machine).

3. I am planning to drop NTFS completely for the 8TB disk, yet most of the old data that will populate it is coming from NTFS partitions.  On Windows, there was only one user, so I am not concerned with preserving the Windows access rights.  Is there any good reason to still keep using NTFS for the new 8TB?
Nope. NTFS drivers in Linux had to be reverse-engineered, unlike native ext4, btrfs etc. You also lose the ability to store file permissions.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2019, 02:47:33 am by radar_macgyver »
 

Offline HoracioDos

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #158 on: January 24, 2019, 02:55:00 am »
1. Already decided to use GPT, and don't bother with MBR any more.  How to partition an 8TB HDD?  A single partition, or many?  Or just made one reasonable big partition for now, and let the rest for future partitions or resizings?
At least two:
a) OS
b) /home (It allows to update your linux version or distro keeping your personal data files out of trouble)
Some additional:
c) /virtualbox for VMs
d) Swap. I still like a swap partition instead of a swap file.
e) FAT32 for backups

2. What file system to use?
Ext4 should meet your needs

3. I am planning to drop NTFS completely for the 8TB disk, yet most of the old data that will populate it is coming from NTFS partitions.  On Windows, there was only one user, so I am not concerned with preserving the Windows access rights.  Is there any good reason to still keep using NTFS for the new 8TB?
Later edit:
I would like to preserve the file date, thought, at least the creation date.
If there's only one user, it seems there's no reason to keep NTFS. I would make some disk image for your old windows system and I would keep it in a FAT32 Partition.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2019, 03:00:24 am by HoracioDos »
 
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Offline RoGeorge

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #159 on: January 24, 2019, 03:08:58 am »
No partitions necessary. This artificially imposes limits on what you can do, and has no benefit on modern filesystems. When using btrfs, you can instead use subvolumes with quotas so that, for example, you won't end up with a root filesystem with no space left.

I was not aware about the btrfs capabilities.  I thought only ZFS can easily to snapshots and thus have "time back" features.  Will read about btrfs.  Thank you.

About the mirroring, that will come later.  I couldn't afford another 8TB for the moment.  The one I bought is pro-sumer/small-business grade, so there is a big chance it won't let me down.

Until then, I will just avoid storing on it any valuable data, personal photos and projects.  For that kind of things I have a RAID5 NAS, very slow (about 10MB/s at most), but very reliable.  For now, the NAS is filled with lots of junk data that will be moved to the 8TB, and from now on, I'll keep the NAS only for personal data.

Offline RoGeorge

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #160 on: January 24, 2019, 03:14:11 am »
@HoracioDos
The 8TB is for storage only.  The OS will stay on a SSD.

I won't use Windows in the future.  This is for sure.  Even if it would to temporarily need a Windows machine, most probably it will be a VM, or a temporary install on another old external drive.

Offline tggzzz

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #161 on: January 24, 2019, 03:30:32 am »
long term computer users learn to keep stuff they want/need in specific named folders.
it makes things a hell of a lot faster for backups or upgrades.

of course Linux helps by having a "home" root-folder.
unlike winshit that scatters everybody's stuff all over the damned place.
my documents? my files? everybody's files????
what satanist came up with that storage plan???

In the most popular Unix of the 1980s, Microsoft's(!) Xenix, the user foo's home directory was /users/foo.

I believe with Win10 Microsoft has gone full circle and, via a tortuous route, returned to putting much (but far from all) of a user's stuff in /users/foo.

I guess the Windows registry is still the horror story containing whatever anybody wants to put in it this year.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Offline HoracioDos

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #162 on: January 24, 2019, 03:31:36 am »
@HoracioDos
The 8TB is for storage only.  The OS will stay on a SSD.
Upss I'm sorry I missed that! Do you already have a partition for personal data on the SSD?
 

Offline rdl

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #163 on: January 24, 2019, 05:08:07 am »
I got sick and tired of NTFS years ago. More trouble than it's worth. Ran into far too many instances where I couldn't do something because of convoluted permissions. Now use it only on a small boot drive for the OS only and keep everything else on other drives with FAT 32 or XF 64 or on the NAS with ZFS
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #164 on: January 24, 2019, 05:55:23 am »
d) Swap. I still like a swap partition instead of a swap file.
Don't setup a swap partition. It will be too slow before it does you any good. If swap is on an SSD all it will do is trash your SSD sooner. Buying more memory is cheaper. It puzzles me why an OS still sets up a swap partition nowadays. I guess old habbits don't die easely.
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Offline Karel

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #165 on: January 24, 2019, 06:18:55 am »
d) Swap. I still like a swap partition instead of a swap file.
Don't setup a swap partition. It will be too slow before it does you any good. If swap is on an SSD all it will do is trash your SSD sooner. Buying more memory is cheaper. It puzzles me why an OS still sets up a swap partition nowadays. I guess old habbits don't die easely.

If I remember correctly,  hibernating requires a swap partition with a size >= RAM.
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Offline nctnico

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #166 on: January 24, 2019, 08:29:12 am »
d) Swap. I still like a swap partition instead of a swap file.
Don't setup a swap partition. It will be too slow before it does you any good. If swap is on an SSD all it will do is trash your SSD sooner. Buying more memory is cheaper. It puzzles me why an OS still sets up a swap partition nowadays. I guess old habbits don't die easely.
If I remember correctly,  hibernating requires a swap partition with a size >= RAM.
That seems to be the case for Linux but you can disable using the swap space for swapping. However Linux won't touch swap space unless all memory is really in use. Windows always uses the swap space whether there is enough memory or not.
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Offline HoracioDos

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #167 on: January 24, 2019, 09:08:53 am »
Don't setup a swap partition. It will be too slow before it does you any good. If swap is on an SSD all it will do is trash your SSD sooner. Buying more memory is cheaper. It puzzles me why an OS still sets up a swap partition nowadays. I guess old habbits don't die easely.
Thanks for the advice, but I don't care too much. My notebook has 8GB RAM and a low swappiness threshold = 10. It should start swapping when 90% memory is full and it never did.
swapon --show
NAME      TYPE      SIZE USED PRIO
/dev/sda4 partition 3,8G   0B   -2
I guess I could create a 1.6Gb swap file (20% RAM size) and save some disk space.

This is an article from REDHAT blog about swap.
https://www.redhat.com/en/blog/do-we-really-need-swap-modern-systems

PS: Swap and SSD Trim
From Arch docs: "If using an SSD with TRIM support, consider using defaults,discard in the swap line in fstab." but in other Arch document you can read "Note: Continuous TRIM is not the most preferred way to issue TRIM commands among the Linux community. For example, Ubuntu enables periodic TRIM by default [5], Debian does not recommend using continuous TRIM [6] and Red Hat recommends using periodic TRIM over using continuous TRIM if feasible. [7]"
From Debian Docs: "Alternatively, and often not recommended: Set "discard" mount option in /etc/fstab for the ext4 filesystem, swap partition, Btrfs, etc.
The "discard" options is not needed if your SSD has enough overprovisioning (spare space) or you leave (unpartitioned) free space on the SSD."
« Last Edit: January 24, 2019, 09:36:41 am by HoracioDos »
 

Offline NiHaoMike

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #168 on: January 24, 2019, 02:38:58 pm »
There's also the option of swap on zram.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zram
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Offline Karel

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #169 on: January 24, 2019, 06:33:53 pm »
Regarding SSDs and TRIM, I apply manually this command once a week:

Code: [Select]
sudo fstrim -av
It searches and takes care of all your partions on SSDs.
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the difference between theory and practice in practice.
Expensive tools cannot compensate for lack of experience.
 

Offline RoGeorge

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #170 on: January 24, 2019, 09:38:43 pm »
For the external storage file systems, my choice was was between btrfs and ZFS.

Red Hat will discontinue further development for btrfs, while SUSE made btrfs their official choice.  This, and a few extra gimmicks listed as ZFS features made me commit to ZFS.

At first, reading about all ZFS can do, makes it intimidating.  Classical disk arrays can be complicated to setup or to operate.  On the contrary, ZFS was trivially simple to install, setup, and use:
Code: [Select]
# install zfs (Ubuntu)
sudo apt install zfsutils-linux

# create a zfs pool named 'WD8TB' on the disk /dev/sdc, and mount the new pool as /WD8TB
sudo zpool create WD8TB /dev/sdc

# create a new file system named '2019', it will be visible on the file system as /WD8TB/2019
sudo zfs create WD8TB/2019
That's all.  /WD8TB/2019 will be available for use like any other folder on the file system.  Creating a pool does not require disk partitioning and formatting.  All was ready instantly.

After copying the old files from the Windows 10 SSD to the new ZFS pool, I tested to see if I can read the ZFS pool disk on another machine (a Fedora 29).
Code: [Select]
# scan all disks for ZFS pools (scan will complete instantly)
sudo zpool import

# from the listed pools, import (mount) the wanted one in the home folder of user 'abcdef'
sudo zpool import WD8TB -f -R /home/abcdef/

# export (unmount) the pool 'WD8TB'
sudo zpool export WD8TB
And it was all working great, and very fast.
I'm sold for life to ZFS.  ^-^


Offline rdl

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #171 on: January 24, 2019, 10:52:34 pm »
I'm sold for life to ZFS.  ^-^

If you ever need to set up a NAS, take a look at FreeNAS.
It uses ZFS and works pretty good. I've had it running for a couple of years now.
 

Offline radar_macgyver

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #172 on: January 25, 2019, 01:22:33 am »
I'm sold for life to ZFS.  ^-^
I am too, I love it and use it on a couple of 24-disk arrays at work. However it is out-of-tree, and as of kernel 5.0, has been explicitly dropped.

At home, I set up a 4-disk raidZ6 array using FreeNAS, and it works very well . FreeBSD takes a little getting used to for me. Bummer that RHEL dropped support for btrfs.
 

Offline Monkeh

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #173 on: January 25, 2019, 01:35:26 am »
I'm sold for life to ZFS.  ^-^
I am too, I love it and use it on a couple of 24-disk arrays at work. However it is out-of-tree, and as of kernel 5.0, has been explicitly dropped.

Some symbols were changed. That's not the same thing as dropping support for, uh, something never supported to begin with.
 

Offline radar_macgyver

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Re: Ditching Windows at home [Linux advice needed]
« Reply #174 on: January 25, 2019, 01:44:14 am »
Some symbols were changed. That's not the same thing as dropping support for, uh, something never supported to begin with.
True, but gkh and a couple of other kernel developers are actively trying to make life hard for ZFS-on-Linux devs. There's a workaround, but it comes with a significant performance hit.
 


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