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2024-06-03 📌 Project Zebra: The old, familiar symbols and phrases filled his mind

Tags All Linux Personal Tech

This entry is part of my Project Zebra series covering migration to Linux for personal computing use.

Title reference: one of my personal "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra" allegories, which are mostly from 30+ year old fantasy and science fiction such as "Raistlin in the Abyss" or "Elminster and Storm riding Faerun" which is this one. "The old, familiar symbols and phrases filled his mind again as they had so many times before" (Crown of Fire by Ed Greenwood, and I reliably misremember it as being either the Magefair short story or Spellfire instead).

Official advice is to wait until the .1 release of Ubuntu 24.04 in August before upgrading, as Canonical have screwed the pooch.

But I don't particularly want to upgrade due to Canonical removing deb packages for Firefox and Thunderbird, and who knows what else. Something that really rubs me the wrong way with snaps is that they sit outside the normal update processes. And at this point as fun as it'd be to try to frankenstein my existing install from *ubuntu 23.10 to Debian 12 (codename "Bookworm" from Toy Story) I value time and a stable working system more. Incidentally, doesn't the Debian hexagonal sticker look suitably D&D? Like a mage's sigil on a D20. It's cool.

So the plan went: set up separate /home partition, bearing in mind most of my data is on a separate partition already anyway, then install Debian from a live KDE ISO. This equates to the drive being 60/40 system and home from the existing 100 GiB, 20 GiB swap partition, then the rest for other data (which unusually for Linux has a case insensitive file system because I'm stuck in my ways). Time for a software stock take.

Removed as not currently using or duplicating functionality: all Windows apps (Office, ICE, S3 Browser, DVD Shrink, LDD) and games (Wolf Among Us, Worms Armageddon), Document Scanner, yEd, AnyDesk, qBitTorrent, TeamViewer, Cheese, DevedeNG, Qmmp, Calibre, Startup Disk Creator, Thunar, Disks, GPartEd, KSysGuard, ScreenTest, Solaar

Development: Geany, Python
Games: running from data partition apart from Fuse (Arculator, Fuse, DuckStation, PCSX2)
Graphics: Krita (appimage), Skanlite, XnViewMP (manual install)
Internet: Angry IP Scanner, Birdtray+Thunderbird, Filezilla, Firefox, Chrome, JDownloader 2 (manual install), Microsoft Edge, PuTTY, Vivaldi
Multimedia: Audacity, Avidemux (appimage), DeaDBeeF (manual install), freac (appimage), freetube (appimage), Handbrake, K3b, mpv, VLC
Office: LibreOffice, Okular
System: KDE Partition Manager, Nemo+FileRoller, Oracle VM VirtualBox, Synaptic
Utilities: BleachBit, CherryTree, FreeFileSync, KDocker, Okteta, QDirStat, VeraCrypt

Having separated Home, booting from the live media and backing up both the System and Home partitions to files with KDE Partition Manager was the next step. Incidentally, Debian live media have a default username and password of user / live.

The question is, once Debian is installed will software pick up settings and customisations, and how quickly can a minimum viable product system be installed? So email, browsers, text editor, file managers, scripted backup solution, keyboard shortcuts, Win2k blue background, hibernation, etc. And what may be missing from repos? What have I installed over the course of eight years that isn't on an applications menu? At least I've got fairly comprehensive blog notes to refer to.

Other obvious cautions are that it's a good idea to always have a spare laptop or PC available, not just tablets, in case you run into problems with install media or can't get a network connection working. In this case I'm using a power line adapter plus a switch so my machines have a wired network connection.

My first mistake was creating a root password, so had to add my user to the sudoers file in /etc. Something I didn't expect was the install to default to Wayland. Indeed, it wasn't until I realised there was no Custom Shortcuts option in System Settings that I realised. I thought my config just hadn't been stored in the home folder. That right there is a basic loss of key functionality (pun intended) which immediately sent me back to X11 to keep using previous config.

But on the whole it's been successful enough after a few hours that I keep having to remind myself it's not the same system. Follow on actions have been:

Added non-free sources to apt and installed extras recommended here: sudo apt install ttf-mscorefonts-installer rar unrar libavcodec-extra gstreamer1.0-libav gstreamer1.0-plugins-ugly gstreamer1.0-vaapi
Disabled hardware acceleration in VLC to avoid choppiness
Installed Htop, Xdotool and Mplayer (apparently I wasn't using mpv for camera scripts)... and either mpv or mplayer seems to bring along yt-dlp
Installed qt5ct for easier changing of dialog button order for Cancel/Save (I'm used to the GTK layout by now)
Installed printer-driver-brlaser to support a Brother HL-2130 series (don't download from Brother)
Installed the Back Issues BB font for Cherrytree
Removed system load viewer widget + replaced with system monitor sensor
Recreated systemctl timer for backup script
Updated path in backup script for FFS since it's now the latest donation version
Recreated hibernation resume settings in grub
Edited /etc/systemd/sleep.conf so that HibernationMode=shutdown (this hardware has specific issues)
Recompiled Arculator for different library versions
Deleted Filezilla queue db

Allow VC to be run from scripts without escalation:
groupadd veracrypt_group
usermod -aG veracrypt_group your_user
sudo nano /etc/sudoers
%veracrypt_group ALL=(root) NOPASSWD:/usr/bin/veracrypt

I daresay there'll be other bits to add to these notes in the next few weeks.

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