Complete newby with a question or two

ferox

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Hi folks,
I had a good browse around the forum before I joined and was pleasantly surprised by what a friendly, knowledgeable and helpful bunch you all are! If only all forums were like this....

I am a virtual newby. I did flirt for a short time with the Red Hat version that came on a CD with the Linux For Dummies book well over 10 years ago but didn't persevere because of both hardware issues and unavailability of software, but seeing that Linux has come on leaps and bounds since then I have decided to give it another go.

I have just installed Mint 18.3 Sylvia, Cinnamon 64-bit on an old desktop (AMD64bit) alongside Windows 7 and all seems to be going well so far, no problems on the hardware side, everything seems to be running well including wifi. Early days yet, I'm not exactly sure what I will end up using it for. My laptop (running Windows 7) is my primary PC with all the "important stuff" and this one is a kind of backup so I'm not too worried about making potentially fatal mistakes, but if this works out I wouldn't discount the possibility that I could end up migrating everything across to Linux eventually.

Now the questions;

In the startup menu where I can choose to boot either Windows or Linux, the current default is Linux (ie Linux will boot if I don't manually choose within 10 seconds). Is there any way I can change the default? Reason being that my wife may occasionally need to use this computer when I am working away from home and would be freaked out by anything other than Windows.

I have been using this computer with a security camera (composite video through a USB converter) and have been using a software package called iSpy which will display the video in real time and can be configured to start recording on movent detection. There is no Linux version of this package, can anyone recommend an alternative?

Whilst browsing the Software Manager I selected a Tetris lookalike called Tint which hasn't appeared in the Games section of the start menu. From some of the comments in the Reviews I gather this is a command line programme and not accessible via the GUI. Where would it have been saved to and how do I access it via Terminal? I'm not overly bothered about the game, but this looks to me to be a good introductory exercise in finding my way around working with the command line and directory structure.

That's about all I can think of at present but I'm sure I will be back with loads of questions given time!

Thanks in anticipation,
Gordon.
 


wizardfromoz

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@ferox

Gordon, welcome to linux.org

(Australian sense of humour) I’d like to take issue with your thread title, in two parts -

  1. You are not a complete newby, if you have got this far without incident, so pat yourself on the back.
  2. If you only had a question or two, about a subject as large as Linux, then I would be beating a path to your door to be a student or disciple.
If you can follow me, I will quote your post (abridged) and highlight my comments in between, let’s see how we go.

First up, and before we get down to business, if you have not already done so, enable your firewall.

Go to Terminal (Ctrl-Alt-t is a shortcut, or you can find it in Menu) and type the following

Code:
sudo ufw enable
and press Enter. You will be prompted to enter the password you chose on install. Type it in, you will see no movement (security) and Enter.

You will be rewarded with a message saying that the Uncomplicated Fire Wall (UFW) has been enabled (in real time) and that a small startup script has been generated which will run at (re)boot.

OK… coming back with the rest, momentarily.

Chris Turner
wizardfromoz
 

wizardfromoz

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Now...

I had a good browse around the forum before I joined and was pleasantly surprised by what a friendly, knowledgeable and helpful bunch you all are! If only all forums were like this....

We'll lap that up :D:D ... I have only been here since 1st May Oz time/30 April US, and have not found a friendlier crowd, and very knowledgeable into the bargain :p

I did flirt for a short time with the Red Hat version that came on a CD with the Linux For Dummies book well over 10 years ago...

Good start, all rpm-based Distros owe allegiance to Redhat's Package Management ... Fedora and CentOS are two good examples, nowadays

I have just installed Mint 18.3 Sylvia, Cinnamon 64-bit on an old desktop (AMD64bit) alongside Windows 7 and all seems to be going well so far, no problems on the hardware side, everything seems to be running well including wifi.

The 18.3 Sylvia series are the first "Minties" to ship with Timeshift installed by default, see my article on it.

My laptop (running Windows 7) is my primary PC with all the "important stuff" and this one is a kind of backup so I'm not too worried about making potentially fatal mistakes, GOOD but if this works out I wouldn't discount the possibility that I could end up migrating everything across to Linux eventually. YEAYY

Now the questions;

In the startup menu Get used to saying Grub (GRand Unified Bootloader) where I can choose to boot either Windows or Linux, the current default is Linux (ie Linux will boot if I don't manually choose within 10 seconds). Is there any way I can change the default?

Yes and No. There is a program called Grub Customizer you could use, it is old but still works (to change the menu order), or a dangerous path might be to tinker with your file called grub.cfg, but I would not recommend that except for experts, and it will only last as long as it takes to get a new Linux kernel installed/updated and it will overwrite the changes. There are other ways, likely that my friends and colleagues here, whom dual boot (with Windows) might advise (I work from a totally Linux environment).

BUT - the best way IMO is to make a couple of modifications to a file called grub (no extension) which is a text file that works with a couple of scripts and that file I mentioned earlier, grub.cfg, to determine your startup config. We can easily tweak that to

  1. Change the 10-second limit and/or
  2. Save a default for your computer to boot into the last choice used, either Windows or Linux
Think about it?

Reason being that my wife may occasionally need to use this computer when I am working away from home and would be freaked out by anything other than Windows.

Always know which side your bread is buttered on. Look after your spouse, lol.

I have been using this computer with a security camera (composite video through a USB converter) and have been using a software package called iSpy which will display the video in real time and can be configured to start recording on movent detection. There is no Linux version of this package, can anyone recommend an alternative?

Have you made the acquaintance of alternativeto.net? https://alternativeto.net/

If you Google up "(linux) alternative to ispy", you'll find it and it lists 6 or 7 Linux alternatives.


Whilst browsing the Software Manager I selected a Tetris lookalike called Tint which hasn't appeared in the Games section of the start menu. From some of the comments in the Reviews I gather this is a command line programme and not accessible via the GUI. Where would it have been saved to and how do I access it via Terminal? I'm not overly bothered about the game, but this looks to me to be a good introductory exercise in finding my way around working with the command line and directory structure.

A noble ambition, and well-advised. In your SPM (Synaptic Package Manager), you can find a number of Tetris alternatives or else we can likely get Tetris for you. Until you put your first Game on, there is not Games category in your Menu. Once you put your first one on (in my wife's case, Solitaire aka aisleriot) a Games category will appear and you can add to it.

That's about all I can think of at present but I'm sure I will be back with loads of questions given time!

I expect you will :rolleyes:
Gordon, in closing, if you enjoy Linux just a fraction as much as many of us do, you will have a good time.

I will take this opportunity to wish you & yours a Happy and Safe New Year, and we will hopefully "see you around the traps", soon.

Cheers

Chris Turner
wizardfromoz
 

ferox

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Hi Chris,
Many thanks for your very prompt and informative reply!

First off, good call re the Firewall - it's now running and I feel SO much more secure (Scottish sense of humour)!

In my initial poking around I had already found and taken a sneaky peek at the grub.cfg file and respectfully heeded the "DO NOT EDIT THIS FILE" at the top of the page, not that I would have known what to edit anyway. Unless, as you suggested, somebody else comes up with an answer to the boot default question I like your idea about using the grub text file to boot last choice used, that way I only need to make sure the last boot was Windows when I head out on work trips leaving the other half oblivious to the fact that there is an alternative OS on the PC at all. The only problem being that I can't find a file called grub with no extension.

I have just had a look at the AlternativeTo website you recommended and my initial impression is - WOW. I think I might end up spending quite a lot of time there. Good call! Hopefully I will be able to report back once I have tried one or a few of the 41 iSpy alternatives listed, either to brag about how clever I have been getting them to work or more likely to ask you a load of questions about why they won't.
Next up I intend to hunt down an alternative to Microsoft Access since LibreOffice doesn't appear to offer an equivalent. If I'm going to get serious about using Linux I need to be able to migrate EVERYTHING I currently use across from Windows.

I'm not actually really interested in having Tetris and only tried it out of curiosity but it has me intrigued as to where it went as it is shown with a big friendly green tick in the Software Manager but hasn't appeared in the Games folder in the start menu. I am thinking this might be analogous to the old DOS based programmes that had to be run from command line and wouldn't run in Windows? This is good because if I am going to start playing around with the command line it is good to have goals in mind, and the first goal is Hunt the Tetris, I can learn something useful from that.

Thanks again for your advice, and I wish you everything you wish yourself in the New Year

Gordon
 

atanere

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Hey Gordon! Welcome to the site, and Happy New Year!

That wonderful Wizard has gotten you off to a fine start already, so I'll just throw in a comment or two as I am in "holiday mode" (meaning the drinking starts earlier than usual! :D)

If you installed the Tetris-like game called "Tint"... you're right, there is no launcher in the GUI. So you only need to open a terminal and enter:
Code:
tint
If you didn't install it yet, then this will do the trick:
Code:
sudo apt install tint
To exit the game, hit CNTL-C.

Also, the Grub Customizer is a great tool to easily put your Windows first in the boot order. This page is the home of the program, and it needs a special install method using a PPA (Personal Package Archive). This is a handy way to install software not included in the standard repositories, but it is also a little more risk that you could run into something malicious, so you want to use caution. Grub Customizer has been around for awhile though and should be perfectly safe. Run these three commands one after another:

Code:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:danielrichter2007/grub-customizer
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install grub-customizer
This will install a GUI launcher for you... look in the "Administration" menu. When you run it, look in the center tab "General Settings" and then under the "predefined default entry" use the pull-down arrow to show your choices and select Windows. You can also adjust the time delay if you want more or less than the 10-second default. Be sure to Save the settings with the button in the upper left corner and you'll be good to go (or your wife will).

Microsoft Access databases may be a problem. If they are from older Access versions, you may can install MS Office under a special Linux environment called Wine, and that might work. There are a number of high quality database applications for Linux, but that isn't my thing so I don't know how hard it will be for you to migrate. If you use macros in other MS Office products, like Excel, they also may not migrate cleanly to LibreOffice.

Cheers
Stan
 

ferox

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Hi Stan, and Happy New Year to you too whenever it come wherever you are.

Well I have to say that my experiences with Linux have all been very positive so far!

Firstly the Tint thing worked fine from the command line - still don't know where it is stored so far though.

Secondly I had a look at the danielrichter site you linked to and followed your instructions - the whole process from entering the first line and finally rebooting to Windows took about 3 minutes. To say I am impressed is a gross understatement.

Thirdly, I will see if I can find Wine to install, hopefully my old Office 2003 will run in that. I was fully expecting that any other database packages might have trouble with macros from my experience of opening Excel files in Openoffice, but LibreOffice gave me no such problems and all the VBA stuff seems to work fine.

I wonder if Wine might also be a solution for running my security camera software? I feel it's cheating a bit doing that though, and I am pursuing ZoneMinder which appears to be a good Linux alternative - they don't appear to have any packages for installing specifically in Mint but I have asked the questions on their own forum so we'll see and I will report back.

Cheers, I guess you will be well into "holiday mode" by now!

Gordon
 

wizardfromoz

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@ferox - Hi Gordon

I would suggest that you read through all of the following and digest it, rather than straight away following the steps. Ask any questions that spring to mind.

My Grub file looks like this (click Spoiler)

# If you change this file, run 'sudo update-grub' afterwards to update
# /boot/grub/grub.cfg.
# For full documentation of the options in this file, see:
# info -f grub -n 'Simple configuration'

GRUB_DEFAULT=saved
#GRUB_HIDDEN_TIMEOUT=0
GRUB_HIDDEN_TIMEOUT_QUIET=true
GRUB_TIMEOUT=10
GRUB_DISTRIBUTOR=`lsb_release -i -s 2> /dev/null || echo Debian`
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="noquiet nosplash"
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX=""

# Uncomment to enable BadRAM filtering, modify to suit your needs
# This works with Linux (no patch required) and with any kernel that obtains
# the memory map information from GRUB (GNU Mach, kernel of FreeBSD ...)
#GRUB_BADRAM="0x01234567,0xfefefefe,0x89abcdef,0xefefefef"

# Uncomment to disable graphical terminal (grub-pc only)
#GRUB_TERMINAL=console

# The resolution used on graphical terminal
# note that you can use only modes which your graphic card supports via VBE
# you can see them in real GRUB with the command `vbeinfo'
#CRAP obsolete use videoinfo
#GRUB_GFXMODE=640x480

# Uncomment if you don't want GRUB to pass "root=UUID=xxx" parameter to Linux
#GRUB_DISABLE_LINUX_UUID=true

# Uncomment to disable generation of recovery mode menu entries
#GRUB_DISABLE_RECOVERY="true"

# Uncomment to get a beep at grub start
#GRUB_INIT_TUNE="480 440 1"

GRUB_SAVEDEFAULT=true

I have highlighted the lines I have changed, in blue, that are of immediate interest to you. I run usually 65 – 70 Linux spread over three computers and I use this sort of amendment in almost every one.

The hashes (#) indicate a comment, not unlike REM for remarks used by Windows users in batch files and the like.


So if we ask you to comment or uncomment a line, it simply involves placing a hash at the beginning, or removing it and backspacing so that the beginning of the line is left-aligned.

I’ll focus on the two changes you might want to make, and I can explain my other changes,if you are interested, elsewhere and elsewhen.

Time before it boots into the default Distro/OS:

GRUB_TIMEOUT=10

NOT the hidden timeout.

This is the default for many Distros, although some use as few as 5 seconds.

You could change this to 20, 30, 60, 120, whatever, if you wish. I just leave mine at 10 because it suits.

Saving your last-used choice as the default:

Two lines – change one, add the other -

GRUB_DEFAULT=saved

This I have changed from

GRUB_DEFAULT=0

The numbering system within your Grub Menu begins from 0 (zero) for your 1st entry. In your case, that will likely show as something like

Linux Mint 18.3 (18.3)...


If you change the zero to saved, then you must also add another line, after that line. You can add it anywhere, but I choose to put mine at the end of the file, with a carriage return (Enter) between it and the previous line. So

GRUB_SAVEDEFAULT=true


Now, the above situation can be immensely useful to a multibooter or a multi-multi-booter such as myself, that is, a person using 3 or more Linux on the same system, with or without Windows in the picture.

Your situation might just as easily be addressed by simply substituting an even number, perhaps 2, for the zero in that grub_default line. In that case, you do not need to include the extra, grub_savedefault, line.

Grub numbers the lines in its menu starting at zero, and then sequentially for each entry, not necessarily the same as … for each OS/Distro.

So if your Grub Menu looks like, eg:

Linux Mint 18.3
Advanced options for Linux Mint 18.3
Windows something
Windows more something

… then Grub sees those lines as numbered, 0, 1, 2, 3.

So if the line starting “Windows something...” is the line you use to boot into Windows, then when you are in edit mode for Grub, simply replace the 0 (zero) with a 2.

Then the PC will boot into Windows by default, in case you are 100 miles away and left the Missus behind and think “Oh my Gawd, I last booted into Linux, the Missus will kill me!” - this obviates that.

Your call. Your computer. Your (happliy married) life at stake.

Starting those Grub changes.

At Terminal:

Code:
nano
.. is a simple Text Editor, CLI (command line interface)-based, which evolved from an older one called Pico. Its use requires elevated privileges, that is, you preface it with

Code:
sudo
or with more experience, become Root. My comments are preceded by a #. cd is change directory/folder. cp is copy.

Code:
cd /etc/default
sudo cp grub grub.sav #optional, or (whatever)
sudo cp grub grub.bkp #optional, you could use eg grub.bkp1 just be consistent
sudo nano grub #and make your changes

Finishing off those Grub changes.

Exiting nano – you will note the small list of commands at the bottom of the shell. Special characters are for “Control” key. So

Code:
Ctrl-x #then uppercase Y to save
Y #shows file name, then Enter
enter

You are returned to the Terminal prompt and your new Grub file is saved.

BUT

The file is saved, but changes have not been made to your boot configuration yet. For this, we need to update-grub.

Code:
update-grub
.. in Debian-based Distros such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint &c (& also Manjaro, which is based on Arch), is a “stub” for a longer command

Code:
grub-mkconfig -o boot/grub/grub.cfg

… and Gordon you will recognise that last file name.

So it is

Code:
sudo update-grub  #and Enter

You will see output, perhaps interspersed with a pause or more.

This process calls on a package known as os-prober, which identifies operating systems and is also instrumental in any install of a Linux Distro.

For nearly every Distro, os-prober does not spool output on the Distro you are currently using, so you may not see Linux Mint 18.3 referenced. An exception to this Rule is PCLinuxOS, which lists itself.

Once you are returned to the prompt, all is well and good.

You may reboot the machine and the new changes will take effect.

Cheers

Wizard
 

atanere

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Firstly the Tint thing worked fine from the command line - still don't know where it is stored so far though.
Hi Gordon... we'll I've sobered up a bit now. :eek::D Just joking actually... I've spent my 12-hours at work already today, and now have 3 more of these long shifts to go before I get another break.

So, here's a little command line tip to help you find where a program (or its binary executable anyway) is stored after installation. It may not work for all executables, but it usually does. This is the which command:

Code:
which tint
And if yours matches mine, you will find that it is stored in the /usr/games/ folder.

I think MS Office 2003 will install okay with Wine, but I still think that Access is a crapshoot whether it will work there or not. It doesn't hurt to try though, and maybe you will be lucky. Databases seem to be funny critters anyway, and Access seems to be about the funniest of all. Another possible method to get your database work into Linux might be to convert the Access files into something else, like MySQL. This stuff is way over my head, but this page might give you some ideas.

The security camera software is a crapshoot in Wine too, I would guess. But again, it doesn't hurt to try. That's how you learn new things too.

Gotta run... a few more posts to make, I hope, before bedtime.

Cheers
 

ferox

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Hi again Wizard, and Happy New Year!

Many thanks for your last post, I appreciate the time and effort you put into writing it.

I downloaded the Grub Customizer tool as recommended by atanare and this very quickly and easily allowed me to permanently(?) change the boot default to Windows. However, I feel that using a GUI app is cheating a bit and have been studying your post and tentatively working my way through your instructions, treating the whole thing as a tutorial in working with text files, and I feel I have learned a lot from it already.

@atanare

Happy New Year to you too, good to hear one of us at least has sobered up after the festivities.

"which" did exactly as you said it would, the file is in /usr/games/

I will have a go with Wine as being able to use Access would be far more convenient for synchronising files running on our Windows machines (family address book and suchlike). If it actually works then great, otherwise I will have to formulate a Plan B.

Time of year and all that, haven't had as much time to play with it as I might have hoped.....
 


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