Category: Ubuntu

Link and Video: Drastically Speed up your Linux System with Preload (and other speed-ups)

Preload is an “adaptive readahead daemon” that runs in the background of your system, and observes what programs you use most often, caching them in order to speed up application load time. By using Preload, you can put unused RAM to good work, and improve the overall performance of your desktop system.

Most Linux users should install Preload using their distribution’s Software Center or repository, and simply installing the program will be all that is needed.  But this article explains much more about Preload, including various configuration options:

Drastically Speed up your Linux System with Preload (TechThrob)

Preload is also featured in this video:

View on YouTube

If you ever play video using VLC and it is jerky or drops frames, try this

In VLC’s preferences, note the setting for “Use GPU accelerated decoding” — on most systems with modern graphics hardware this should be checked, but is not by default. So, check the box and then click Save. You can always change it back if it makes things worse, or causes videos to not play at all.

VLC Preferences — Input and Codecs settings — use GPU accelerated decoding
VLC Preferences — Input and Codecs settings — use GPU accelerated decoding

This setting does not seem to be available in OS X versions of VLC.

Linux: Bash scripts to switch displays using xrandr (via Reddit)

We love simple solutions to problems, and this falls into that category.

A Reddit user has posted a pair of scripts to switch between two displays (a monitor and a TV) in Ubuntu 12.04, but these should be usable in many other versions of Linux as well. He writes:

I currently have a 40″ TV on HDMI (we’ll call this HDMI) and a 22″ monitor (DVI). I don’t want to dual screen these, I simply want one on at a time.

After a bit of difficulty at the start, this is what he came up with.

To switch the monitor off and the TV on:

xrandr --output DVI --off
xrandr --output HDMI --auto

To switch the TV off and the monitor on:

xrandr --output HDMI --off
xrandr --output DVI --auto

Be sure to make the scripts executable before running them.

Thread watch: Is it possible to use a remote control to navigate the Unity Launcher in Ubuntu?

Although many Ubuntu users seem to hate the Unity Launcher in the most recent versions of Ubuntu, some folks are thinking that it might make a great program launcher for use with a LIRC-compatible remote control, if only the remote could actually navigate the launcher. While no one seems to have brought this idea entirely to fruition, there are apparently ways to make it mostly work:

Thread: Any way to use a remote and LIRC to control Unity Launcher? (Ubuntu forums)

Enabling a SOCKS proxy via SSH tunnel in Ubuntu or Mac OS X at startup

There are two ways to enable a SOCKS5 proxy at startup in Ubuntu. For either to work, you must have previously configured ssh public/private key authentication, so make sure that works and that you can do a “normal” ssh login without entering a password. Note that the second method described below is better because it is persistent – if the connection goes down, it will attempt to reconnect automatically.

Method 1 (Ubuntu and similar versions of Linux only):

I’ll briefly show the first method, but keep in mind that if the ssh connection is lost, it will not automatically reconnect.

First install screen from the standard repository if you have not done so already, and change the permissions of /run/screen to 775.

In Ubuntu’s Startup Applications Preferences, add this command, replacing the italicized parts with the correct values:

screen -dmS tunnel ssh username@server_address -D local_socks_proxy_port

tunnel” can be any word you like, “username” is your account name on the remote server, “server_address” is the address of the remote server, and “local_socks_proxy_port” is the port number your local software will use when connecting to the SOCKS proxy (7777 is a frequently-used choice).

Ubuntu Startup Applications Preferences - adding SOCKS proxy
Ubuntu Startup Applications Preferences – adding SOCKS proxy

Method 2:

Ubuntu users, first go into the Ubuntu Software Center and search for autossh (other Linux users, check your repository for the autossh package):

Ububtu Software Center - autossh

If you click “More Info” you can read the description:

Ubuntu Software Center - autossh - details

Go ahead and install it, and after installation it will show you which programs can be run:

Ubuntu Software Center - autossh - installed

Mac OS X users, there is an autossh package for recent versions of OS X among the Rudix packages. Be sure to select your version of OS X in the left-hand sidebar, then download the autossh package for your version of OS X and then click on the downloaded package to run the installer:

Rudix autossh installer

Click Continue and you will see an “Important Information” screen, the text of which is copied to the bottom of this article in case you want to review it. Note that you do NOT need to do the build procedure shown there; you just continue the installation as you would any other OS X software you have downloaded.

Rudix autossh Important Information screen

Whether you are installing in Linux or OS X, after you complete the installation the next thing to do is open a terminal window and run autossh manually one time. Remember, you must have previously configured ssh public/private key authentication for this to work. The reason for running autossh manually the first time is that a window will pop up asking you to approve the connection and accept the RSA key. So open a terminal window and run a line of this form:

Ubuntu: autossh -f -N username@server_address -D local_socks_proxy_port
Mac OS X: autossh -M 0 username@server_address -D local_socks_proxy_port

As in the first method, “username” is your account name on the remote server, “server_address” is the address of the remote server, and “local_socks_proxy_port” is the port number your local software will use when connecting to the SOCKS proxy (7777 is a frequently-used choice, but it can be any unused port numbered 1080 or above). If the popup appears asking you to approve the connection, answer “yes”, and that should be the last time you see that dialog (unless, perhaps, some drastic changes are made at the server).

Note that under OS X, we could not get the -f option to work, even though it’s supposed to. When we tried to use it, no ssh connection was opened (as determined by watching Activity Monitor). So, unfortunately, you will need to leave a terminal or iTerm window open with autossh running in it, unless you can figure out some way to make backgrounding it work. This was in OS X Lion; perhaps the -f option works in other versions. Feel free to experiment.

After running autossh from a terminal window, open your browser and make sure the SOCKS proxy works. How you configure it will vary by browser. For example, under Firefox you’d open the Preferences pane, select Advanced, click the Network tab, and then click the Settings button. In the window that opens you’d select Manual Proxy Configuration, then for SOCKS Host you can use localhost, and for Port the local_socks_proxy_port number you set when you started autossh. Select SOCKS v5 as the proxy type. In the “No Proxy for:” window, enter some sane values for your network — generally these will include your local machine and other addresses on your local network. For example (assuming your local network addresses are in the 192.168.x.x range):


In Google Chrome you can use an extension such as Proxy SwitchySharp to configure your proxy settings.

After saving those settings, go to a site that will show you the IP address that it thinks you are coming in from, such as – make sure that the address it shows is that of the system you are using for your proxy, and not your local address.

Once you are sure it is working, in Ubuntu you can open Ubuntu’s Startup Applications Preferences and add the same line you typed in the terminal window.

Add autossh to Startup Applications

Under OS X it’s a little more complicated. If you use iTerm, you could create a Profile (similar to a bookmark) and for the command use the same command you used in the terminal window, but specify the full path to autossh, e.g.:

/usr/local/bin/autossh -M 0 username@server_address -D local_socks_proxy_port

iTerm profile setup for autossh

Name your profile something meaningful, and make sure that when you click on the profile in the sidebar to runs autossh and opens the connection. The use the AppleScript Editor to build a script that will start iTerm and open the profile. Your script could look something like this:

tell application "iTerm"
tell the current terminal
launch session "Profile_name"
delay 3
tell the last session
set name to "Profile_name - SOCKS proxy using autossh"
end tell
end tell
end tell

Creating iTerm launcher script in AppleScript Editor

Substitute the name you gave the profile for the two occurrences of Profile_name in the sample script. Compile the AppleScript and when it compiles with no errors, save it as an Application. Make sure it works as intended (starts up iTerm and loads the Profile that runs autossh), then simply set that application to run at startup (Under System Preferences | Users & Groups | (select current user) | Login Items).

Now your SOCKS5 proxy should start up each time you reboot your system, and if the tunnel goes down it should reconnect within a few minutes. To learn more about autossh, open a terminal window and type man autossh, or see any of these articles (note that some of them overly complicate the process of setting up the tunnel):

Permanent SSH Tunnels with autossh (Linuxaria)
Using SSH for IPv6-enabled HTTP Proxying (see comment below main article – The Daily Build)
SSH Socks proxy with Chromium 18 (
Autossh Startup Script for Multiple Tunnels (Surnia Ulula)

Here is the text from the “Important Information” screen in the Rudix autossh installer;

autossh Version 1.4

Building and Installing Autossh

With version 1.4, autossh now uses autoconf. So the build procedure
is now the well-known:

make install

Look at for an example wrapper script.

autossh -M [:echo_port] [-f] [SSH OPTIONS]


autossh is a program to start a copy of ssh and monitor it, restarting
it as necessary should it die or stop passing traffic.

The original idea and the mechanism were from rstunnel (Reliable SSH
Tunnel). With version 1.2 the method changed: autossh now uses ssh to
construct a loop of ssh forwardings (one from local to remote, one
from remote to local), and then sends test data that it expects to get
back. (The idea is thanks to Terrence Martin.)

With version 1.3, a new method is added (thanks to Ron Yorston): a
port may be specified for a remote echo service that will echo back
the test data. This avoids the congestion and the aggravation of
making sure all the port numbers on the remote machine do not
collide. The loop-of -forwardings method remains available for
situations where using an echo service may not be possible.

autossh has only three arguments of its own:

-M [:echo_port], to specify the base monitoring port to use, or
alternatively, to specify the monitoring port and echo service
port to use.

When no echo service port is specified, this port and the port
immediately above it (port# + 1) should be something nothing
else is using. autossh will send test data on the base monitoring
port, and receive it back on the port above. For example, if you
specify "-M 20000", autossh will set up forwards so that it can
send data on port 20000 and receive it back on 20001.

Alternatively a port for a remote echo service may be
specified. This should be port 7 if you wish to use the
standard inetd echo service. When an echo port is specified,
only the specified monitor port is used, and it carries the
monitor message in both directions.

Many people disable the echo service, or even disable inetd,
so check that this service is available on the remote
machine. Some operating systems allow one to specify that the
service only listen on the localhost (loopback interface),
which would suffice for this use.

The echo service may also be something more complicated:
perhaps a daemon that monitors a group of ssh tunnels.

-M 0 will turn the monitoring off, and autossh will only
restart ssh on ssh exit.

For example, if you are using a recent version of OpenSSH, you
may wish to explore using the ServerAliveInterval and
ServerAliveCountMax options to have the SSH client exit if it
finds itself no longer connected to the server. In many ways
this may be a better solution than the monitoring port.

-f Causes autossh to drop to the background before running ssh. The
-f flag is stripped from arguments passed to ssh. Note that there
is a crucial a difference between the -f with autossh, and -f
with ssh: when used with autossh, ssh will be *unable* to ask for
passwords or passphrases. When -f is used, the "starting gate"
time (see AUTOSSH_GATETIME) will be set to 0.

-V to have autossh display its version and exit.

All other arguments are passed to ssh. There are a number of
other settings, but these are all controlled through environment
variables. ssh seems to be appropriating more and more letters for
options, and this seems the easiest way to avoid collisions.

autossh tries to distinguish the manner of death of the ssh process it
is monitoring and act appropriately. The rules are:

- If the ssh process exited normally (for example, someone typed
"exit" in an interactive session), autossh exits rather than
- If autossh itself receives a SIGTERM, SIGINT, or a SIGKILL
signal, it assumes that it was deliberately signalled, and exits
after killing the child ssh process;
- If autossh itself receives a SIGUSR1 signal, it will kill the child
ssh process and start a new one;
- Periodically (by default every 10 minutes), autossh attempts to pass
traffic on the monitor forwarded port. If this fails, autossh will
kill the child ssh process (if it is still running) and start a new
- If the child ssh process dies for any other reason, autossh will
attempt to start a new one.

Startup behaviour:

- If the ssh session fails with an exit status of 1 on the very first
try, autossh will assume that there is some problem with syntax or
the connection setup, and will exit rather than retrying;
- There is now a "starting gate" time. If the first ssh process fails
within the first few seconds of being started, autossh assumes that
it never made it "out of the starting gate", and exits. This is to handle
initial failed authentication, connection, etc. This time is 30 seconds
by default, and can be adjusted (see the AUTOSSH_GATETIME environment
variable below).
- NOTE: If AUTOSSH_GATETIME is set to 0, then BOTH of the above
behaviours are disabled. This is useful for, for example,
having autossh start on boot. The "starting gate" time is
also set to 0 with the -f flag to autossh is used.

Continued failures:

- If the ssh connection fails and attempts to restart it fail in
quick succession, autossh will start delaying its attempts to
restart, gradually backing farther and farther off up to a
maximum interval of the autossh poll time (usually 10 minutes).
autossh can be "prodded" to retry by signalling it, perhaps with
SIGHUP ("kill -HUP").

Connection Setup

As connections must be established unattended, the use of autossh
requires that some form of automatic authentication be set up. The use
of RSAAuthentication with ssh-agent is the recommended method. The
example wrapper script attempts to check if there is an agent running
for the current environment, and to start one if there isn't.

It cannot be stressed enough that you must make sure ssh works on its
own, that you can set up the session you want before you try to
run it under autossh.

If you are tunnelling and using an older version of ssh that does not
support the -N flag, you should upgrade (your version has security
flaws). If you can't upgrade, you may wish to do as rstunnel does, and
give ssh a command to run, such as "sleep 99999999999".

Disabling connection monitoring

A monitor port value of "0" ("autossh -M 0") will disable use of
the monitor ports; autossh will then only react to signals and the
death of the ssh process.

Environment Variables

The following environment variables can be set:

AUTOSSH_DEBUG - sets logging level to LOG_DEBUG, and if
the operating system supports it, sets
syslog to duplicate log entries to stderr.
AUTOSSH_FIRST_POLL - time to initial poll (default is as
AUTOSSH_GATETIME - how long ssh must be up before we consider
it a successful connection. Default is 30
seconds. If set to 0, then this behaviour
is disabled, and as well, autossh will retry
even on failure of first attempt to run ssh.
AUTOSSH_LOGFILE - sets autossh to use the named log file,
rather than syslog.
AUTOSSH_LOGLEVEL - log level, they correspond to the levels
used by syslog; so 0-7 with 7 being the
AUTOSSH_MAXLIFETIME - Sets the maximum number of seconds the process
should live for before killing off the ssh child
and exiting.
AUTOSSH_MAXSTART - specifies how many times ssh should be started.
A negative number means no limit on the number
of times ssh is started. The default value is -1.
AUTOSSH_MESSAGE - append a custom message to the echo string (max 64
AUTOSSH_NTSERVICE - when set to "yes" , setup autossh to run as an
NT service under cygrunsrv. This adds the -N flag
for ssh if not already set, sets the log output
to stdout, and changes the behaviour on ssh exit
so that it will restart even on a normal exit.
AUTOSSH_PATH - path to the ssh executable, in case
it is different than that compiled in.
AUTOSSH_PIDFILE - write autossh pid to specified file.
AUTOSSH_POLL - poll time in seconds; default is 600.
If the poll time is less than twice the
network timeouts (default 15 seconds) the
network timeouts will be adjusted downward
to 1/2 the poll time.
AUTOSSH_PORT - set monitor port. Mostly in case ssh
appropriates -M at some time. But because
of this possible use, AUTOSSH_PORT overrides
the -M flag.

Logging and Syslog

autossh logs to syslog using the LOG_USER facility. Your syslog may
have to be configured to accept messages for this facility. This is
usually done in /etc/syslog.conf.

Kudos and raspberries to harding [at]

Link + notes: Configuration of APC UPS in Ubuntu

The APC PowerChute utility will only run in Windows, but if you are running Ubuntu Linux (or some variation thereof) you can have pretty much the same thing by following the instructions in this article:

Configuration of APC UPS in Ubuntu (Tech-Niche)

The article suggests you install gapcmon but you probably don’t need to do that, because Ubuntu already includes a Power Statistics utility that works well enough for most users.

If you have problems getting it to work, make sure the USB cable is plugged into the correct jack on the UPS (with some models it’s easy to plug it into a network cable jack by mistake). From the command prompt issue the command lsusb and it will tell you what is connected to your USB ports — you should see an entry for “American Power Conversion Uninterruptible Power Supply” if the cable is correctly connected.

Nomachine NX: An alternative to VNC for using a remote Linux desktop


This article includes a small bit of text that originally appeared on a blog called The Michigan Telephone Blog, which was written by a friend before he decided to stop blogging.  It is reposted with his permission.

If you have ever tried to access a Linux system using VNC, and your host computer wasn’t particularly fast, you may have noticed that things slow down considerably – you definitely know you’re accessing the computer remotely, even if the access is via a local network link. And even if you don’t have that issue, you might want to know about this alternative.

You can install the NX Free Edition server and client from Nomachine and it works great!  Note that NX does not work in precisely the same way as VNC – while VNC lets you take control of the current desktop on the target machine, NX lets each login have its own session and desktop. So you could be using your Linux box and let another family member come into it via NX, and each of you would have your own desktop and session.

The best reasonably current instructions I have found are in this article:
Remote Linux Desktops with NoMachine NX

Those instructions are somewhat geared toward users of Debian-based distributions such a Ubuntu, Linux Mint, etc. but there are also packages available for systems that utilize RPM or compressed TAR packages rather than DEB. Most experienced Linux users should have no problem figuring out how to adjust the instructions for their particular distribution.

Installing Linux in place of OS X on an older Mac

Former title: Installing Ubuntu Linux (or Mythbuntu) in place of OS X on a Mac Mini (changed because this article is now less specific to Ubuntu or the Mac Mini).

This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared on a blog called The Michigan Telephone Blog, which was written by a friend before he decided to stop blogging. It is reposted with his permission. Comments dated before the year 2013 were originally posted to his blog.

All computers have their day in the sun, and then something new comes along that makes them less desirable. I have a Mac Mini that I acquired sometime around the time OS X Leopard came out, probably in 2009. As time went by it became slower and slower and I finally replaced it. However, it seemed a bit of a shame to have it just sitting in a closet doing nothing, so I decided to see if I could put Ubuntu Linux 12.04 (at that time the most recent LTS version) on it. I started out by trying to follow the instructions on this page (the Single Boot/MBR option) but ultimately it turned out to be not nearly that complicated. NOTE THAT THIS WILL NOT GIVE YOU A DUAL BOOT SYSTEM; THIS IS REPLACING OS X WITH UBUNTU LINUX, AND ALL YOUR EXISTING DATA ON THE HARD DRIVE WILL BE ERASED!!! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!

Also: THIS IS FOR EXPERIMENTAL AND INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. This is what worked for ME. This MAY or MAY NOT work for you. It may even brick your system (if that should happen, try doing a PRAM reset before you totally panic). It did not do that to me, and I have never heard of anyone having that problem, but your hardware may be a bit different than mine, so I make NO guarantees!!! Here’s all I wound up having to do:

  • Connected a USB keyboard and mouse.
  • Before proceeding I made sure I had the latest firmware upgrade – that is very important since you can’t do it once you have installed Ubuntu, and the rest of this might not work if you have old firmware. Another thing you can’t do is disable the startup chime so if you don’t want that after Linux is installed, find a way to turn it off before proceeding (I wanted it, and it’s used in the instructions that follow, so I didn’t search for a way to disable it, and I don’t recommend you do either).
  • Inserted my old OS X Leopard installation CD (any OS X installation CD that works with the Mac should be fine for this procedure)
  • Rebooted while holding down the “C” key
  • Accepted the default language (English) and pressed Enter
  • From the top menu bar, I selected Utilities | Disk Utility
  • In Disk Utility I selected the internal hard drive in the left hand side panel. You have to select the drive itself (it shows the brand name of your drive), not the partition
  • Clicked the Partition tab, selected 1 Partition under the Volume Scheme (instead of Current)
  • Clicked the Options button and selected “Master Boot Record”
  • Clicked the Continue button (this erases the hard drive)
  • When the above finished, I quit Disk Utility, then quit the installer
  • The Mac rebooted — at that point I clicked and held the leftmost mouse button until the CD ejected
  • Inserted the Ubuntu Install CD, then power cycled the Mac Mini
  • At the startup chime I pressed the “C” key to boot from the CD
  • When the Ubuntu CD boots, you are given the option to install Ubuntu directly, or to try Ubuntu (which takes you to the Ubuntu desktop). As it turns out, I could have simply ran the installer. Instead, I did it from the desktop because I was following some instructions that said you have to type in some things during the install, and you need to have access to a terminal window to do that. But when I tried to type those things in, Ubuntu rejected them with errors, so I just let it complete the install (answering the questions it asked during the install). I did NOT select any special partitioning, etc. – I pretty much did a plain vanilla installation, generally accepting the defaults except where they weren’t appropriate or weren’t what I wanted.
NOTE: If, when you boot into the Ubuntu installation CD, you are greeted with a screen that asks you to “Select CD Rom boot type” but you cannot select anything because neither the keyboard nor the mouse are functional, or if you get a black screen at some point early in the install process, then you may need a special build of Linux intended for use with 64-bit Macs that use a 32-bit EFI. Such models were mostly manufactured in the last half of the 2000’s. In that case you can try the solution offered here, if you can understand the instructions, or you can see if you can find a suitable ready-made .iso file at Matt Gadient’s site (note that even though it says “late 2006 models” in the title, those builds should work with late 2006 and later 64-bit Macs that use a 32-bit EFI).

When the install was finished (after quite some time), I rebooted. The only unusual thing was that after the reboot, the screen remains white for about 20-30 seconds right at the start of the reboot. Then after that delay, it finally decides it will load Ubuntu. That still happens and while it makes the startup take a bit longer, I’ve seen worse. The reason for this (and a possible fix) can be found here: Reducing the 30 second delay when starting 64-bit Ubuntu in BIOS mode on the old 32-bit EFI Macs.

Oh, and the sound was muted by default for some reason, and the volume slider set all the way down. After I unmuted it and turned up the volume slider, the sound worked normally.

The wired network connection worked fine. I don’t use WiFi here so I did not test that. If you have issues with those, or any other issues see GNU/Linux Debian on a Macbook Pro 11-1, which contains some additional hints that may make things run more smoothly (or work at all) after installation. I would use any hints on that page only if you have one of the specific issues that the author had. Another page with possibly useful additional hacks to make this work is Mac book pro 11.3 Linux customization (2): grub and hardware, which may be helpful if you have issues with an unrecognized Intel Iris GPU or Thunderbolt, but again I would only use these if you really need them, since this article is from 2014 and such hacks may no longer be necessary (by the way, this blog has several other pages of rather technical hacks for using Linux on a Mac Book Pro, and while many users will not need any of them, you can search that site for the phrase “Mac book pro 11.3 Linux customization” to find the other articles).

The only real hitch I found was that it wouldn’t boot if I didn’t have a video display connected! I have no idea why that was the case but there is a hardware workaround described on this page. Hope you didn’t misplace your Mac Mini’s DVI to VGA adapter! I had a 100 Ω resistor handy and that seems to work fine (it’s probably about 40 or 50 years old but what the heck, carbon resistors don’t change value that much just sitting in a junk box). If you can’t find the DVI to VGA adapter, I have read that at least one user placed a resistor directly into the DVI port between pins C2 and C5; you can use this pinout diagram to find those pins. However, I have not tried this, so I make no guarantees. Either way, the point is that the resistor goes between the analog green signal output and the analog ground return. If you can’t find the adapter, can’t get this to work, or if you just don’t want to mess around with a resistor, you can try a DVI Emulator/Dummy Plug that includes an EDID chip, that may be available from Amazon or eBay. A DVI 1920×1080 or 1920×1200 model should be sufficient. Such a device fools the Mac Mini into thinking a display is connected.

After I had this running for a year or two I read that Ubuntu doesn’t control the system fan properly. You can do this in some newer versions of Ubuntu (and possibly other Linux builds) to get fan control to work. First, try using your chosen Linux distribution’s Software Center or package manager to search for and install the macfanctld package (after you check for updates). If that doesn’t work, try this (assuming you’re using a Ubuntu or Debian based distribution):

sudo apt install -y macfanctld

On my system at least, it appeared that this did cause the fan to run a bit faster but not enough that I really noticed it. Once it is installed, you can type man macfanctld at a Linux command prompt to get configuration instructions. Changes to temperature limits and minimum fan speed are made in the file /etc/macfanctl.conf.

Also, although I have not personally done this, I have read on a couple of pages that you can enable automatic reboot after a power interruption by adding one line to /etc/rc.local (this may be Ubuntu-specific, but you can always remove it if it doesn’t work):

setpci -s 0:1f.0 0xa4.b=0

If you have smb or samba installed (it is installed by default in many distributions) and find that your samba/smb log files fill up with complaints such as “Unable to connect to CUPS server localhost:631 – Connection refused”, here is a workaround. In the [global] section of /etc/samba/smb.conf add these lines:

printing = bsd
printcap name = /dev/null

Then from a command prompt restart samba:

sudo service smbd restart

Long ago I read a post on Reddit where the author said, “After months of headaches and tinkering I’ve finally found the stupid way to let Linux work properly on Macs. Just add acpi_osi=Darwin as boot parameter.” Unfortunately I did not save a link to that post so I have no idea if still valid advice, and therefore I would only try it if something (particularly Thunderbolt) isn’t working right and you can’t resolve it any other way. If you understand Linux kernel stuff see the final paragraphs of this page for a discussion of this setting, also see Section 2 on this page. If you don’t use the Thunderbolt port then you probably don’t need this, and you may not anyway.

By the way, I had intended to try Linux Mint but they no longer offer a version that fits on a CD, and I still have about a gazillion blank CDs (plus I already had Ubuntu 12.04 burned to CD) and since the Mac Mini doesn’t have a BIOS in the traditional sense, there is no way to install from a USB stick, so Ubuntu it was. For what I plan to do with this, having Mint would be no advantage. Many older Macs have issues booting from a USB memory stick, although one site I read said that they might be able to if you use UNetbootin to transfer the Linux image file to the USB stick. I did not attempt that, so I cannot say whether that works. I got it to work using a CD, but I do realize that CD and DVD burners are becoming somewhat of a scarce item these days.

Note that nowhere above did I mention a program called rEFIt, nor did I mention BootCamp. I didn’t need either of those.

Had this not worked I could have always reinstalled Leopard, but again, for what I was doing with this system (running a Tvheadend backend, for one thing) Linux was probably a better choice, but I still wanted to be able to use this as a backup regular desktop computer, should the need ever arise.

One final note: This is the xorg.conf I used with my “headless” system. It came from this blog post and I did have to save it as /etc/X11/xorg.conf and not the filename shown in the post (in newer versions of Linux I believe this location may have moved yet again, so you may need to search to find the correct location for the xorg configuration for your distro). Note this is only something you might consider using if you have installed a version of Linux that includes a desktop; you don’t need this if you have a server-only version of Linux that has no desktop installed (one where you do everything from a Linux command prompt):

Section "Monitor"
  Identifier "Monitor0"
  Modeline "1920x1080_60.00"  172.80  1920 2040 2248 2576  1080 1081 1084 1118  -HSync +Vsync
  Modeline "1024x768_60.00"  64.11  1024 1080 1184 1344  768 769 772 795  -HSync +Vsync
Section "Screen"
  Identifier "Screen0"
  Device "VGA1"
  Monitor "Monitor0"
  DefaultDepth 24
  SubSection "Display"
    Depth 24
    Modes "1920x1080_60.00" "1024x768_60.00"

Don’t like the new "Unity" users interface in Ubuntu? Try this…


This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared on a blog called The Michigan Telephone Blog, which was written by a friend before he decided to stop blogging. It is reposted with his permission. Comments dated before the year 2013 were originally posted to his blog.
Unity 2D from Ubuntu 11.04
Unity 2D from Ubuntu 11.04 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you hate the Unity interface in the latest version of Ubuntu, try this.  From a terminal prompt, enter:

sudo apt-get install gnome-session-fallback

I’d assume that you could also install gnome-session-fallback from Synaptic if you prefer.  Then, choose “GNOME Classic” at signon.

Credit for this hint goes to this article:

I hate Ubuntu, but my mother-in-law loves it (ZDNet)

EDIT: For another approach that might be more pleasing to some users, see How to install Linux Mint’s Cinnamon Desktop on Ubuntu (Linux Stall)

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