Is Linux Really Worth it?

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yogi
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Is Linux Really Worth it?

Post by yogi » 11 May 2019, 15:18

There is an old saying that claims, "if you think the solution is simple, you do not understand the problem." My recent experiences with Linux are vigorously verifying the truth to that statement.

I've talked often about what I'm doing here, but since I'm on a rant I want to document the entire picture and may repeat things you already know about my adventures in the world of Linux.

Several years ago I was purely a Windows man. Since I dealt with Linux-type machines for a living, I had no real need to get involved with alternatives on my own time. But, circumstances changed and I do have a curious mind after all. l jumped into the Linux pool to see what I could see. Ubuntu caught my eye because it had some visual similarities to Windows so that the learning curve might not be as steep. Over the past decade or so I've looked into many versions of Ubuntu based software but also have some Debian, Fedora, and Open SUSE experience as well. I never did a deep dive into any of them and was more interested in seeing the differences and learning some of the basic techniques of installation. I was a system admin for many years so this was a natural path for me to take.

Currently I have a desktop, a laptop, and a mobile (phone) computer. The mobile is in a class of it's own and I have not experimented with it's innards yet. I may just leave well enough alone into the foreseeable future. The desktop is the one I built from scratch with Windows 7 as it's default OS - that could change come January 14 when it's end of support from Microsoft arrives. I took the advice of my elders and kept Windows isolated on it's own disk. This was to avoid any boot management problems. There are two other HDD's in the tower: one is purely for data storage, and the other has multiple partitions to accommodate at least three versions of Linux. The boot manager for Linux, Grub, is on a different hard drive than is the one for Windows. Thus I have to query BIOS when I want to boot into something other than Windows 7.

Setting up all this separation was quite an accomplishment given that I never did anything like it in the past. It was always one OS and simple to maintain. The greatest challenge was setting up the multiple boot for all my Linux instances. Once I figured out how to keep Grub out of the Windows hard drive, the task became easy. Grub kind of configures itself if you give it the chance.

The original laptop, a Toshiba Satellite, had a single hard drive wherein I had no choice but to co-mingle Windows and Linux if I wanted multiple boot capability. I had to make a concession and allow greedy Grub to manage the whole scheme because it did not play well with the Windows boot management software. Fortunately, I was able to give Windows top priority so that I didn't have to touch the laptop at all in order to boot into Windows. If I wanted one of the other two Linux OS's, I'd have to select which one from the menu shown at power-up time.

That wasn't enough. LOL I discovered that in addition to multi-boot configurations one can also run an OS from a removable hard drive, a flash drive. This involved making the USB drive independently bootable so that it can be put into virtually any machine and will boot if the BIOS will recognize the USB drive in the first place. Every computer I could get my hands on did have this ability so that I was a happy camper being able to multi-boot my desktop, laptop, and use removable media to boot. (yes, that was a pun)

Somewhere along the timeline I spent learning how to do all these things, the industry standard for disk partitions changed as did the firmware for booting up a system. BIOS, the legacy boot firmware, was replaced by EFI. BIOS and MBR's were made obsolete for some very good reasons. They were replaced by the GPT partitioning scheme and a required ESP partition that allows for UEFI booting. Microsoft and Intel were the instigators for this change and thus worked hand in hand creating the implementation. While there were numerous conspiracy theories afloat, there actually was a need to replace BIOS with something more flexible and secure. GPT and UEFI does that.

The problem with all changes of this magnitude is getting people to make the transition. Some welcomed it with open arms and others rejected it altogether. Thus there is a compatibility mode attached to UEFI which allows old legacy BIOS systems to use the new UEFI boot protocol. The other problem with changes of this magnitude is that it's damned near impossible to make the two systems totally compatible. They work using different assumptions which seem to be mutually exclusive. It's a feather in the cap of the powers that be to get these two boot schemes to hold hands at all. Ultimately, it is possible for them to work together.

Linux, not being on the original invitation list, was slow to adopt UEFI. In fact they are still trying to get it down to simple terms in many respects. And that is where my rant comes into play.



Like many other people who ever get involved with the booting methods of a computer, I ignored pure UEFI and simply ran with the compatibility mode. It looked like BIOS, it smelled like BIOS, it felt like BIOS, so dammit, it must be BIOS. I don't have security issues here so I never bothered to learn much about UEFI or GPT partitions. Didn't have to since my fake BIOS worked just fine. But then my Toshiba laptop died. Ironically, it seems as if the BIOS became corrupt and could not be repaired. A new MSI gaming laptop was procured to take the place of the former Toshiba. The MSI laptop, however, came with Windows Home edition installed and configured for secure booting via UEFI. The hard drive is formatted appropriately with five, yes FIVE, separate partitions to make booting up Windows safe and secure. To be fair only two of them are absolutely necessary, and I intended to change all that by replacing the HHD with a new SSD (and double the RAM wlhile I'm at it). The strategy I had in mind was to format the SSD using my tower and then swap it out with the one built into the new MSI laptop. Simple, eh?

Before I attempted to destroy, errr format, the new SSD, I wanted to have some experience with UEFI and GPT before I voided any warranty on the laptop. So, I chose to do what I've done a million times before, i.e. create a flash drive that would prove the concept of UEFI booting. Since I don't have any spare copies of Windows, it was reasonable for me to select a free and open source operating system such as Ubuntu on which to experiment. If I could get the USB stick to work correctly, then it would be simple swapping out the internal hard drive with an SSD. Plug and play. Voila :xclaim:

The first pass at creating a bootable Ubuntu flash drive went normally. I plugged it into the MSI and it ignored what I was trying to do and went directly to Windows. That same USB drive booted fine on my BIOS desktop. Some research was in order after which I learned that you can do one or the other, but not both. GPT does not recognize BIOS nor does BIOS and it's necessary MBR have any function in the GPT world. Thus I was forced to decide what I want on that new MSI lappie. I decided to go full UEFI and learned how to create a properly formatted GPT flash drive suitable for booting in a UEFI system. It involves creating three partitions on the target drive. The first partition must be FAT format and around 300MB in size. This is necessary because that is the partition in which the bootloader(s) are placed and EFI doesn't recognize anything but FAT. Very modern of them, I must say. :rolleyes: After that comes a Linux swap partition, and then a partition in the file system of your choice (ext4 is my choice) in which to install the actual Linux software.

This process of creating a portable boot stick for UEFI already had become a pain compared to the old BIOS method, but it is only one of many pains to follow. I looked into a few forums, including the official Ubuntu one, to learn exactly what was needed to create a bootable USB Linux drive for the UEFI environment. Regardless of how many "expert" opinions I read, they all said pretty much the same thing. I did what they told me, but that USB Ubuntu stick would not boot, nor even be recognized.
  • There is an interesting caveat I can mention at this time. Somewhere along the line the Ubuntu installation software wrote a copy of GRUB to the Windows ESP partition. So, now, instead of GRUB taking over the whole boot process as it does with BIOS and MBR's, it sits side by side with the Windows boot manager. Apparently that was the intent of creating an ESP partition in the first place. You, Microsoft, an OEM, or anybody, could put whatever they like in the boot partition. I discovered this co-residence only after I looked into my BIOS settings and had a choice of what to prioritize as far as boot loaders. It was either GRUB or Microsoft. I switched it to GRUB and sure enough, the next boot gave me a GRUB shell screen. It did that because that version of GRUB had no idea where the hell the Linux OS was located. I tried figuring out how the GRUB shell works, but after wasting a whole day on it I decided it's not possible to boot Linux from the GRUB shell. Well, that's not entirely true, but it involves a list of command lines a mile long. And then, all I would be able to do is boot Linux from that one stick. Windows would not be a choice. I switched back to the Windows bootloader to continue my adventure.
Finally, by pure happenstance, I found an article that explained it all. The first revelation was that all those other articles I've been reading were for "dual boot" off the same hard drive. None of them really explained how to make a USB memory stick that can be moved from machine to machine. I figured it was like BIOS. Well, the presence of that ESP partition changes all the rules. You can't have GRUB on the root drive and expect to automatically boot into a separate drive. That can be fixed with the GRUB shell, in theory. When I thought about it that made sense for security purposes. Thus, the USB memory stick needs to have it's own version of GRUB in it's own ESP partition. I thought that was what I was doing, and it was. But it's not enough.

I want you to look at this article. https://www.dionysopoulos.me/portable-u ... n-usb-hdd/ I don't expect you to read it all, nor do I expect you to understand what is being discussed if you choose to read it. But you can look at it and clearly see how freaking complicated it is, how many obscure steps it takes, to make a portable USB stick that boots into UEFI. It's absolutely insane. The problem is LINUX related, not a specific one related to Ubuntu. Making GRUB work in UEFI is a nightmare. Well, ok. I'll qualify that and say it's it nightmare to make it work on a removable USB drive. It works quite well stand alone. If I want to dump Windows I can replace it with the simple three partitions I mentioned earlier and be done. Linux will boot every time when there is no other operating system involved. So, technically Linux can indeed boot into a secure UEFI environment. But if you want choices, forget it. Wait til next century when somebody over at Canonical has time to come up with a sensible solution.

I paid for that copy of Windows Pro which is now installed in the MSI computer. I have absolutely no regrets about it. It is safe, secure, and boots lightning quick. And ... they made sure no other operating system is going to hijack that Windows installation. As I see it now, the only way to run Linux trouble free is to buy yet another computer where it can do it's thing stand alone. Just like Windows. But do I REALLY want to?

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Kellemora
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Re: Is Linux Really Worth it?

Post by Kellemora » 12 May 2019, 10:53

I think you are making it harder than it needs to be Yogi.

If you want to make a USB Stick with a 64 bit Linux OS on it bootable on a UEFI protected Windows computer, just do this.

In your disk burning program, select the USB stick.
For the USB Stick set the partition type to GPT for UEFI.
Set the File system to FAT32, it should already be set to that.
Set the cluster to 4096 if it appears different than that.
Select Bootable using ISO.
Select which Linux LIVE OS ISO you want burn.

When it is done writing to the USB stick, it should boot on any UEFI protected computer, if you set bios to boot from USB stick first that is.

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yogi
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Re: Is Linux Really Worth it?

Post by yogi » 12 May 2019, 15:04

I can't tell you how many times I've read those same instructions. I've done it several times, before and after UEFI, and it works beautifully. I use different software for the burn, but I can always boot the iso disk no matter how it's created.

Now that the iso is working, what's the next step? Well, I can just use the live CD and be happy with that. I can also add persistence to that live CD, which it normally does not have. It's simply a matter of creating a casper-RW directory. Some folks would be happy with that too. My quandry with Linux is in trying to replicate what I've been able to do freely in BIOS without escalating the difficulty level. I want to use that iso (be it on USB or CD or Network or whatever) to install a working version of Ubunto on a USB memory stick. In BIOS you run the Linux installer and voila. It's done. You can boot that sucker on any PC that recognize a USB port. It's not that simple with GPT and UEFI.

The way UEFI works is that a FAT formatted partition must exist with the esp and boot flags set. This partition is where the bootloaders go: GRUB in the case of Linux, Microsoft Boot Manager for Windows. In the case of Ubuntu Linux, that same storage media must also have swap space and a third partition in which to install the program - ext4 in my case. And, obviously, the storage partition format must be GPT, not BIOS.

If all goes well, UEFI looks into the ESP partition for a bootloader and follows its instructions from there. Back in the pure BIOS days that bootloader was not isolated on its own partition unless you went out of your way to do it. The ESP partition is in fact invisible and cannot be read or written to directly. It can be characterized with such programs as Gparted, but there is no way to actually read the script that is in there. That is intentional and provides the much touted security of UEFI. If there is no bootloader, or no FAT partition with the esp flag, UEFI moves on to the next drive in search of something it can boot into. In the case of my laptop, that next drive is the one with Windows installed.

My Windows disk has all the required partitions and then some. It also has the Micorsoft Boot Manager in the esp partition. And, don't ask me how or why, it also has a copy of GRUB. It's not all that complicated, really. We need an extra partition for UEFI, but everything else should work as it always has. In my situation, where I'm trying to create a USB memory stick that is bootable on any UEFI computer something is missing. The Ubuntu Linux installer is not writing a copy of GRUB to the esp partition. I know this because I set up BIOS boot priority to look at the USB drive first. If something is there, it will boot off of it. If not it moves on to the next drive. Well, nothing is in the Linux esp partition and I have no way other than the Linux installer to put something there ... unless I follow the instructions on that link I provided.

I can only conclude that people do not normally use portable storage media to run Linux via UEFI boot. And that is in fact another option for me. I can trash UEFI and just convert it all to BIOS to clone what I had before. But, supposedly Linux can do this the right way.

Well ... I discovered something overnight. :mrgreen:

I won't get into the details of how Windows 10 shuts down and/or restarts. All I will say for now is that it's different than what it used to be. Unless you do something special, Windows 10 never shuts down totally. It does something like hibernate, although technically it is not hibernation. This allows it to boot real quick the next time you come back to it. In order to get Windows to actually dump all the running processes and not hibernate, you must press the SHIFT key while you click the Shut Down or Restart buttons. When you SHIFT and Restart, something funky happens. At the next boot a troubleshooting menu appears instead of the normal Windows greeting. This menu is used to, well, troubleshoot problems. It is also used to recover a trashed system. AND, it is also used to select from which device you want the system to boot. The menu to select boot devices is not available on MSI, and probably not on any UEFI system. You have to go through the UEFI partition to boot. Period. So, lo and behold, my USB memory stick shows up as an option for booting. When selected I get the GRUB menu stored in the Windows ESP partition (because there is none in the Linux ESP partition) and boot into Ubuntu. The net results is that I now must use Windows in order to boot up Linux.

This would all be funny if it was actually well documented. Linux started this game by taking over the boot process with it's GRUB bootloader. I've lamented to you a few times how I think GRUB is very obnoxious in the way it just takes over the MBR and lets Windows Boot Manager wallow in the dust. Well, now, Microsoft has kicked ass with that. If you want UEFI Linux and Windows on the same hardware, Windows is the only way to boot. Graciously, Windows will offer GRUB if you really want it, but the Windows Boot Loader rules it all now.

To add some irony to my story, while I was able to boot into the USB version of Ubuntu, I could not get past the login screen. This is very likely due to the nVidia video drivers not being installed on the USB memory stick. My laptop uses an nVidia card for graphics and works very well for gaming. The drivers do not exist on the install disk. :facepalm:

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Kellemora
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Re: Is Linux Really Worth it?

Post by Kellemora » 13 May 2019, 12:29

Although I don't like WUBI install methods. Ubuntu has a Microsoft registered Secure Boot KEY, so it should install on any Windows 10 computer with UEFI/GPT Secure Boot enabled.

I've watched a couple of guys, gals too, at writing group meetings boot up their computers, and they get the BLUE Windows screen showing two boxes, one says Windows, the other says Ubuntu. They select one or the other and either go into Windows 10, or into Ubuntu. Both used the WUBI install, which personally I think is a dangerous way to go, but when no other method works with UEFI turned on, it appears to work.

When installing Ubuntu it asks if you have any special drivers like for video cards, sound cards, etc. that need to be installed along with the installation. This is where you would install your Nvidea drivers.

I've been way to busy with other things I'm way behind on to even look at installing Linux on the the new Win10 computer I bought for Debi, that now sits on my desk unused. Well, I shouldn't say unused, because it is plugged in, turned on, and has a keyboard and monitor connected to it. It sometimes gets updates which automatically install and reboot the computer on its own. I've not bothered entering her password to see if the updates have made any difference or not.

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yogi
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Re: Is Linux Really Worth it?

Post by yogi » 13 May 2019, 14:01

Windows and Linux can live side by side on the same hard drive. Those folks who get the choice of devices to boot from are doing exactly that. It's Microsoft's concession to Linux for taking over the boot process that once was relegated to GRUB. It took a while for me to figure out how to do it without wubi because that's one of those things that is not documented well, if documented at all. You know, like the cltrl+scroll making the typeface bigger. Where is the manual entry for that? Anyway, that's not what my rant is all about, although it is part of the problem. I'm trying to boot from USB drives that are detachable. I do that a lot to test out new operating systems without disturbing the existing setup on my computers. It's those external devices that may or may not show up during the secure Windows boot process. And, when they do show up, Linux is very much misbehaved.

I can, and probably will, solve most of the problems I'm talking about by disabling secure boot. I've tried it and some of my Ubuntu memory sticks boot fine that way. I have one system in Debian (I know that's your favorite distro) that prompted me to get in touch with the developer because it's not following the rules. It could be me not knowing the rules, but when I get error messages saying there is a "Watchdog: Bug: soft lockup" error, I know it's not me. I'm probably asking too much from the software. All I want is for it to just work. :mrgreen:

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Kellemora
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Re: Is Linux Really Worth it?

Post by Kellemora » 14 May 2019, 11:42

I would probably like to use Linux Mint over Debian, but for some reason could not get LInux Mint to work on all the machines I use Linux on. Whereas I could get Debian to work on all of them, so could set each one up the same.

I do have an Ubuntu USB Stick and it boots up even from Debi's Windows 10 computer which is definitely UEFI.
I did have to tell Bios to boot from USB 1st, DVD 2nd, and HD 3rd. This did not affect it booting up from the HD if no bootable USB was in the slot and no DVD in the drive.
What I don't know is if when I do boot into Ubuntu from the USB Stick, if UEFI is still active or not, since it is from a Cold Boot. When I made the USB Stick, I downloaded Ubuntu for 64 Bit UEFI/GPT, and used UNetBootin to burn the Stick.
I can also boot this Ubuntu stick from my older computer which does not have UEFI, but I've never done much with it to see if there are any problems using it. I made it to try on Debi's Win10 computer, and even Ubuntu is slow as molasses in the dead of winter on that computer, but running from a USB stick is always a little slower anyhow. Even so, running from the USB stick, it is still faster than Win10 running from the HD. I've just never had time to install Linux on her computer she gave back to me.

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yogi
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Re: Is Linux Really Worth it?

Post by yogi » 14 May 2019, 16:26

I was positive that I'd drop Windows out of the default slot on my computer and move some Linux (probably Mint) into its place. Well, that was before I went to UEFI school and found out exactly how wonderful Linux operates in that environment. :rolleyes:

I really should not be too critical of Linux. For one I'm still learning about what the requirements are for running UEFI and for another a huge factor in the success formula is the hardware and the software that is not Linux related. nVidia, for example, is notorious for not playing well with Linux. On the other hand they play exceptionally well with Windows 10 (et al) so that they aren't in any hurry to try and figure out what problems Linux is having with their hardware. This incompatibility, however, has been around for at least half a dozen years, and I would think Linux would have figured it out by now instead of simply pointing its finger at nVidia. As it turns out, for Ubuntu anyway, I am able to run their latest distro 19.04 on all my computers off a USB stick. This is possible because the good people at Canonical finally got the hint that nVidia doesn't give a damned about Linux. So the developers at Canonical made an install version of Ubuntu that can be done in what they call a "safe video" mode. That's how I got 19.04 to work everywhere.

UEFI is a wonderful idea and will remain so until the hackers figure out how to bust it. There is a secure boot mode attached to it that Linux claims they have conquered. In fact I've read claims by people who are doing it. But, my opinion is that they are just claims and nothing that anybody can actually do yet. While researching the problems I'm running into with Linux on GPT and UEFI nearly every solution includes instructions to turn off secure boot from BIOS. LOL That does in fact fix some problems, but not all. Maybe distributions other than Ubuntu are ahead of the game, but I happen to have a ton of investment in both nVidia and Ubuntu. If it comes down to a choice of the lesser of two evils, I'm going to reconsider my options for shelving Windows.

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Kellemora
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Re: Is Linux Really Worth it?

Post by Kellemora » 15 May 2019, 10:23

Hmm, most of my computers have always had Nvidia for the video, and I've never had a problem on Linux with them.
But then I've always used the on-board video and not an add-on card type.
I'm not sure without looking, but doesn't the Silver Yogi's on-board video use Nvidia? Maybe not, it worked with Debian out of the box so I never had to look for different drivers. Also works great with LInux Mint too.
Been so long since I rebooted, I don't know what other OSs I may have put on here.
I love the fact you no longer have to reboot after upgrading the Kernel. To me that is a major Win!

I think the deal here is, you are just used to using Windows and learned their quirks as new versions came out and were upgraded.
I on the other hand have not looked at Windows much since XP, other than to see why the frau was having problems.
So to me, Linux is like the comfortable old shoe. I may not know much about under the hood, since I'm basically just a user, but at least if I do have a problem, I can usually figure it out fast.
Put me behind a Windows computer and I'm there half a day trying to figure out how to even see what might be going wrong, hi hi.

I know using Virtual Boxes on Linux you can now run almost all other OSs, namely Android.
You can run Android on Windows computers too with a program that works like virtual box.
But on Linux, they now have an Android version that runs with Linux, and not in a virtual box, so you can move data from an Android app to your desktop or to another Linux application. I don't know all the fancy letters for the install program QEME or QUEM something like that, and install Android 8.
It helped that they made an Android app for MACs which use the Linux kernel.
I've not messed with it yet, no time, hi hi.

What I would like is to be able to run Alexa on Linux. Debi's son gave here an Alexa Echo last Christmas. It just sat on our counter hardly used, until I started telling it to play some old songs for me while I had breakfast in the morning.
Then I got a list of Easter Eggs to mess with Alexa with to get funny responses.

I can play music on one computer while working on another, but then if the phone rings, or I need to shut it off, I have to switch to that computer to do so. So I was thinking, if I put Alexa on one of the computers, I could just tell her to shut-up when need be, hi hi.

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yogi
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Re: Is Linux Really Worth it?

Post by yogi » 15 May 2019, 11:36

We can agree fully on the value of prior experiences. We both started our computer life in Windows because there was no Linux to speak of back then. For the most part, today you are a Linux denizen and I am Windows. While all that makes a difference, I have additional UNIX experience from the days when I worked for a living. That was prior to Windows. While I confess to harboring a Microsoft bias, I also would point out that I do a lot of experimenting in both Linux and Windows environments. You, on the other hand, tend to stay inside Linux and do not see the differences to the same extent as I see them.

The concept of free and open source software has always bothered me. LOL Why would something free be a problem? The answer is that I came to a solution for many of the problems I'm having with Ubuntu Linux on USB sticks playing nice in the Windows environment. That's quite a mish-mosh that most people don't even know exists, much less want to be bothered how to do it. One of the major problems with Ubuntu (and others I'll comment on later) is that it abides by the FOSS philosophy religiously. Nothing proprietary gets distributed in any of it's releases. In my case that means I'm given the Xorg's standard nouveau video driver upon installation. It's free and open, not like the proprietary nVidia driver that, well, is proprietary. Thus, if I have an nVidia video card which requires it's own special drivers to work it's magic, chances are I won't be able to run the installed Ubuntu distro unless I disable the nVidia card first or install the nVidia proprietary drivers first. Since I need a working OS to install any drivers, this is a Catch-22 situation.

It's not like Canonical Linux is unaware of this conflict of interests. They will in fact offer the nVidia drivers if you can get into the software update settings, which, of course you cannot do if you don't have the correct video drivers in the first place. Nowhere in the operating manual documentation does it tell you how to get around this issue, but there is a way. Linux, like Windows, offers a Recovery Mode (Safe Mode in Windows) in their Grub menu. How to use that mode might be documented, but I never tried to find out because I ran across one of those "Linux forum experts" who was nice enough to explain how he fixed a problem similar to mine on his computer. To make a long story not so long, start the recovery mode by installing WiFi to provide network access. Then go to settings and and "Additional Software" wherein you will find the option to turn off Xorg's FOSS driver and replace it with ... an nVidia proprietary driver that is not the current driver but one that Canonical happened to have tested and knows works. That fixed that problem.

But you now what ... when I booted up Windows 10 for the first time on this laptop, it just worked. Well yeah, I paid for the license to run Windows, but it didn't take me a week to figure out how to reconcile incompatible driver software. Plus, Microsoft didn't go out of it's way to make things incompatible, but then, they love Linux. LOL

I passed a major roadblock with the above technique but my issues with that laptop are far from over. In order to use the USB stick OS I must first boot into Windows, then SHIFT Restart, then select Use Device, then select which device to boot from. Ubuntu is a default choice, but others may be present, such as when I want to boot from the memory stick. When inserting the stick I get an added choice of <memory_stick_name>, partition 1 (because that is where the ESP for booting is supposed to be but is not because Linux doesn't put it there). If you recall that link I posted way at the beginning of this thread, you will see how complicated it is to change this boot order. No, because Windows 10 is UEFI there is no option in the BIOS to pick the device to boot from. It must be done through Windows secure boot. Well, it remains to be see what MUST be done. I'll get back to you when I figure it out.

As a side note I want to tell you about my similar experiences with Debian booting via EFI. I have a special operating system called Tails for securely surfing the web, and I believe it is written in some version of Debian. When I tried the USB stick boot trick, I got the same type of problem that I encountered with Ubuntu. In the case of Tails there is a way to directly contact the developer with information about bugs. So I did. And after some back and forth, the solution turned out to be to modify the Grub command line for booting. They have a lot of crap in there but nothing about video. In the past adding nomodeset was a good fix, but that has been deprecated. Now the addition to the start up options is: nouveau.modeset=0. Essentially this prevents the built in Xorg driver, nouveau, from loading. nomodeset did the same but also shut down a few other things so that the new command is more direct and to the point.

This is how I know it's not all a Linux problem. If a person wants to use Linux they have to be prepared for the consequences of using proprietary software and hardware. If you are not prepared, you are f**ked.

The Silver Yogi, by the way, did ship with an nVidia video card that apparently broke the PCIE slot it was mounted in. You removed the card if I recall correctly and are using the Intel video chips on the MSI motherboard. Thus no problems with using FOSS video drivers.

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Kellemora
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Re: Is Linux Really Worth it?

Post by Kellemora » 16 May 2019, 12:21

Although you can finally buy computers with Linux already installed and everything in the design of the computer is compatible with the OS used. One really doesn't need to know any more about Linux as they do Windows when buying pre-built machines.

Most hardware vendors are in bed with MIckey$oft and could care less about any other OS.
Although we are beginning to see that change with the popularity of Android.

Separate Nvidia cards designed for Windows computers, is about like trying to use a Ford starter on a Chevy. They don't match up or work the same. This doesn't mean you cannot NOT put a Chevy engine in a Ford car or vice versa. It can be done, but not as easily as using a Ford motor in a Ford, or A Chevy motor in a Chevy.

Folks who do get into Linux, normally only buy Linux compatible hardware.
The exception is if they are trying to convert a Computer designed for Windows ONLY into running Linux.

Although UEFI was developed by Intel first and modified based on a large consortium of vendors, it is still Micro$oft who had the largest pull in getting it implemented, and at first attempted to lock everyone not Micro$oft out.

I remember the thousands of complaints on Linux discussion boards about UEFI information being withheld from Linux developers. Regardless of who invented it, UEFI was considered totally locked up by Micro$oft for years.

In a nutshell, to nearly every Linux user, Secure Boot means boot only Windows and keep everyone else out.
It sorta still looks that way doesn't it!

If you want to use a Windows starter motor on a Linux Distro, the simple thing to do is ditch the Windows starter motor and use a Linux starter motor. Problem solved!

Or use one computer for Windows and another computer for Linux, and both will work great!

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Re: Is Linux Really Worth it?

Post by yogi » 16 May 2019, 16:53

It's an endless discussion, isn't it? Linux or Windows, which is better? LOL

The argument which points the finger at Microsoft for UEFI is flawed. BIOS/MBR was invented in 1975, more or less. It went 40 years without becoming obsolete. I think that is an exceptional run in the high tech computer world. In addition to technology advancing, the guys wearing black hats have become smarter and more prolific. Security is a big issue these days and will only become more critical as time moves on. BIOS just can't deal with today's computers and Intel recognized that early on. Microsoft, of course, being the giant they are had a huge interest in security thus gave all their resources and support to Intel. The Linux crowd watched from the sidelines. All the wailing and gnashing of teeth didn't change the reality. In fact Linux developers in general didn't get concerned about secure boot until the hackers decided they were easier targets than Microsoft's offering. There was no conspiracy to lock out anybody. BIOS is still available through the UEFI firmware for any Linux fan who cares to use it.

While I don't have all the details yet, it looks as if Linux is getting their act together. They have UEFI down pat and secure booting is easy peasey. In fact Linux and Windows can live side by side if you are really really careful how you go about it. That takes care of all the casual desktop users. The nVidia issue is tied into gaming. Ever since I first heard of Linux they have been lamenting how Micrdosoft Windows has the gaming market cornered. Well, Linux has made some great strides in accommodating that crowd, but the fact of the matter is Linux is a minor player. nVidia is a major player and can dictate quite a bit about how things develop, and they have. Linux simply has not kept pace with video processing to the same degree as they have with secure booting.

The jury is still out, but I have a feeling I'm going to take the advice I have read in many Linux support forums. That is, to deal with the problems, or not use Linux until the developers come up with a fix. I may just relegate it to the hacker toy it was intended to be. But, that's just me. :grin:

There are some positive things I can say about Linux. I have succeeded in putting Ubuntu 19.04 on a USB memory stick that will boot on the Windows dominated laptop I've been complaining about. After the right video drivers were installed, things went much better than expected. I noted in the past that any OS I put onto a USB drive tends to be slower than the identical system working off a HDD. When USB 3.0 arrived the performance got noticeably better, but not in every case. I'm not going the USB 3.1 route any time soon even though it's supposedly even better. The way I've been seeing things run off this laptop's USB drive suggests I don't need anything faster. The response time in Ubuntu is remarkable. I haven't put it under any big loads yet, but my favorite app, TweetDeck. which runs multiple instances of Twitter, is noticeably quicker downloading and displaying streams when compared to Windows 10 Insider on the very same computer. I can't explain why USB is performing so well, and it certainly speaks well for Ubuntu Linux. It only took a week to get to this point, and I have yet to prove I can repeat this success.

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Re: Is Linux Really Worth it?

Post by Kellemora » 17 May 2019, 11:33

It the computer makers themselves who are doing the locking of the computer into a single OS.
They also leave numerous parts off the motherboards as well, and only keep those that are necessary to run the OS they designed the computer for, and the programs they expect would be used on them.

This is why it is better to have a computer built-up and use a mobo that wasn't gutted.
It's about the only way you can get what you want, and be upgradable at the same time.

I think LInux has always looked at the more serious computer users, those who need to get serious work done, which is why they are so far behind in the gaming field.
Because there is such a low number of Linux users, those who write the games do so only for Windows computer systems.

Even simple games that play using Flash player, the companies who provide them do not write the start-up module for Linux users, and without it, you cannot play the game on a Linux machine.
I'm talking about on-line downloads, but the game is actually on your own computer, but requires you connect to them to start the game playing. Although this is not true in all cases. Like when the Internet is down, we can play several of the downloaded games, but only if we had already played them long enough to get the player name and options set and perhaps played for a few minutes. After that it will load and run with the Internet down.
I even managed to get a couple of them to work in either Wine or the Gaming Wine (forget the name), by making an iso of a started game and moving it into wine.
Many of the old XP games I have on CD will work in Wine, Play On Linux, or Crossover. Aha brain freeze cured, hi hi.

Most games I play or have played on-line, meaning live on-line games, have worked better on Linux than they do on Windows. I play Farm Town every day, and it works a whole lot better on Linux than it does Windows. For one, we don't get the red waiting to save boxes like Windows users get, on Linux it simply saves right away like it used to on Windows computers. The only time we get a red waiting box is when there is a major net lag, or Slashkey is backlogged on saves. These are very rare instances.

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Re: Is Linux Really Worth it?

Post by yogi » 17 May 2019, 15:39

I think if I were trying to do something simple here we would not be having this conversation. Dual boot is a feature that appeals to a specific audience which is not in the majority of computer users. But, there are enough of us out there, and Microsoft truly has taken a liking for Linux so that the scheme behind dual booting Windows 10 is understandable and manageable. You might not get that impression from reading some of the forums, but judging by what little I know at this point dual boot from one hard drive is well thought out. Or, at least, that is the impression I get. I've not tried it yet. :mrgreen:

My project has more than one goal. I want to replace that old Toshiba laptop, which I'm still not 100% convinced one of Micdrosoft's updates did not destroy. I can only prove it one way or the other if I could get it to boot. So far no such luck. The MSI replacement computer probably was a mistake given the reputation MSI has. However, the motherboard in the Silver Yogi is MSI and the graphics hardware card is identical to what I have in this desktop. I've read the reviews that say it's only for Windows and MSI will not support anything else. But, as is often the case that doesn't stop Linux nerds from corrupting the intent of the system. The only things missing with Linux installed are the special function keys that have macros behind them. I don't need that anyway. I don't need the special gaming software either. I just wanted a computer that has the performance I got with the Toshiba.

I do a lot of fiddling with operating systems and strange software. This pastime is best pursued from a USB stick that is portable and won't corrupt the main computer. Booting from detachable drives, however, is not mainstream computing. In fact it's fairly rare although there seems to be a growing interest. Thus my passions won't be satisfied until I can replicate the functionality I had on the old laptop. That's where the problems begin. The old computer was build around BIOS/MBR's. I had a choice when I set it up and went with the familiar. The new MSI computer is GPT and UEFI all the way. The two are actually mutually exclusive. I understand there is a mode that will allow operation of both, but it is still UEFI firmware. BIOS is dead and buried. So, my project expanded to include an understanding of UEFI. That's where the complications set in.

Clever as I might appear in writing, I really don't know enough about modern computers to independently work through the problems I'm seeing. I must rely on pseudo-experts from both the Linux and Windows support forums. Much of what I do know is learned the hard way by trial and error. I'm certain there is a way or ways to accomplish all my goals. Before that can be done I need to understand more about how Windows and how Linux are using UEFI. But, you know, that kind of information is only learned in a classroom after you pay an exorbitant tuition fee. Those "everybody knows how to do this" features simply are not documented, or not documented well. Both Windows and Linux suffer from this lack of instruction. That's for the simple stuff, but as I said before, I'm not trying to do anything straightforward or simple. Hopefully I'll reach a break trough in my understanding. If not, I'll be looking for a buyer for this MSI laptop and dig a little deeper into the reserves for a custom built one. If that doesn't do it, then it's "Goodbye Linux". It simply isn't worth it.

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Re: Is Linux Really Worth it?

Post by Kellemora » 18 May 2019, 11:20

I have one dual boot, actually quad boot, hi hi, since it is booting up and allowing me to select one of three different hard drives. Like you, I have the original Windows on the untouched disk it came on. Never repartitioned or anything, left it like it came. The second hard drive had Debian and Ubuntu on it, and the third drive has Linux Mint. Grub is placed on the second drive with Debian as the first choice on boot up if I don't hit the down arrow key to stop Grub in it's tracks to let me boot up something else.
It's been a long time ago since I did that set-up, on an old computer with only 2gigs of memory. So I don't remember if there were any special tricks involved. Grub may have written to the Windows MBR to boot Grub from Drive 2, I don't remember for sure, but I guess it had to.

On a different note: With all these computers, I seriously looked into building a Cluster, so I could have the computing power of all the computers at my fingertips. Believe me, it was so far over my head I never got off the ground floor after over a month of study. Besides, you have to be able to program your own system to do what you want, and I don't know programming either. So that ended that!

If you like Windows and how it works, why even bother with Linux?
I simply cannot afford to run Windows with all the programs I need to buy to use.
So when you are poor as a church mouse, LInux is like winning the lottery.
It may not be perfect, and have some difficult things to work around, but Free is Free.
I can look at it this way. Is it worth 6 grand to not have to deal with this current issue I'm having.
When you don't have the 6 grand, the answer is obvious. Deal with the problem and fix it!

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Re: Is Linux Really Worth it?

Post by yogi » 18 May 2019, 15:55

Reality bites! And always wins. :bleh:

To answer your question about why I am still fooling with Linux, I can say that in spite of all the frustrations I love the mental challenge of it all. Tinkering around with high tech is one of the last few things I can do to keep my mind active and dementia at bay. I did it all my working life, so it's only natural for me to continue on as a retiree. I don't get along with most old folks (you being the exception, but then you are not that old) and our interests are at opposite ends of the spectrum. So my computer(s) are my refuge and best friends.

I think I'm getting closer to an understanding of the situation here because I finally found some documentation from people who apparently are well informed: the Ubuntu Wikis. LOL A lot of the questions I have are addressed and documented in those wikis. It would not have done me any good to go there first because I only recently have discovered what questions I should be asking. Reading how UEFI and booting from portable drives work would just be satisfaction of a curiosity without having a need to know that stuff. It wasn't until my old laptop crashed that the need to know arose.

Essentially I have been doing what you are doing. My computers are multi-boot, each with Windows at the root. The requirement for Windows to be rooted on the first drive is the source of all my consternation. Simple as that. But, it took a hell of a lot of effort to figure it out.

Up until recently I had nothing but BIOS computers which is the outgrowth of DOS when it comes right down to it. The world was a lot more simple back in the days DOS and BIOS were invented and my entire home computer experience has been exclusively inside that environment. It was easy to multi-boot off a single drive, and only a tiny bit extra effort to boot off portable drives (USB sticks). They were all interchangeable, which is what cannot be done when EFI is added to the matrix. The two systems, EFI and BIOS cannot live together in the same environment. Those people that claim they are doing it are telling outright lies. The BIOS they are using is actually UEFI emulating BIOS. Some computers, and I expect you have a few, are pure BIOS without the emulation. None of the machines I have are of that vintage.

I'm not ready to say I cannot duplicate the experience I am accustomed to having by making all the drives bootable and interchangeable. That is the final stage of investigation I have yet to explore. However, all the documentation I've seen up to this point talks about dual boot from a single or multiple drives. There was one fellow who claims he has successfully created bootable USB sticks that are truly portable, and he is the guy that tipped me off. The USB sticks that are bootable and portable have GRUB installed on the stick. It takes an enormous amount of effort to do that and I think I can if I really want to put the effort into it. But it has to be done with each stick individually, and I have lots of sticks. LOL

It turns out UEFI GRUB is installed on the root drive by the Ubuntu installer and nowhere else. The installer asks where you want to put it, but that only refers to BIOS systems. That means if I want a copy of GRUB on a UEFI memory stick so that I can boot off it, the normal installer won't do it. It puts GRUB on the root drive, typically /sda, which is where my Windows is installed out of necessity. Windows has to be at the root. Well, Windows recognizes GRUB and sits side by side with it in the EFI partition so that dual booting can be accomplished. This is cool unless you try to do what I've been trying to do, i.e., change that second drive to some other OS. Imagine this: Windows installed on /sda and Ubuntu 18.04 on /sdb. GRUB, which points to Ubuntu, is on the root drive next to the Windows bootloader. So, when I change memory sticks to Ubuntu 19.04, that GRUB holding hands with Windows doesn't know where to find it. I can reinstall Ubuntu 19.04 and put its GRUB next to Windows, but then it doesn't know where to find Ubuntu 18.04. If you know anything about GRUB, you know you can modify it to include any number of OS's. The problem with that is the drive identifiers for each OS is different. If you list an identifier in GRUB that isn't connected to the system at the moment, GRUB pukes. No boot. Thus the solution is to have GRUB installed on each individual stick, which, of course, Ubuntu refuses to do.

The other approach I could take is to scrub UEFI altogether. That's what I did on the old laptop. Windows didn't care. It prefers UEFI, but it could be BIOS if that's what I want to really do. In order to go the BIOS route, that means I'd have to change the format of the disk in the laptop to BIOS/MBR from it's current GPT format. Yes, that means wiping the drive, formatting it, and reinstalling Windows. If I do that, the recovery partition with the factory installed (OEM) version of Windows gets blown away. Normally that would mean I have no way to recover a broken system. In my case I upgraded from the Home edition to the Pro edition and switched over to the Windows Insider Preview edition. Those insider editions can be downloaded should I want to do a clean install. They are always a couple versions behind the current one, but at least I do have a resource for recovery if I needed it.

My last hope is that somebody figured out how to MULTI-boot instead of just dual-boot. I've read some forum posts where people say they have three versions of Windows on one computer. That's encouraging. But these folks are in the forums posting for a reason. They are having problems. I'll be trying to find answers in the Ubuntu Wikis, but so far nobody has even alluded to such a setup. So, at the end of the day, it would not matter if I sold my MSI and got a more expensive Linux friendly machine. I'd have the same problems. UEFI and BIOS are mutually exclusive.

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Re: Is Linux Really Worth it?

Post by yogi » 18 May 2019, 16:53

After explaining my current understanding of the UEFI situation, I found this post on one of the help boards. It's technical but not so complicated that you will not understand it. "Complicated" is the key word here. I love the last comment in the post. I think the author was being sarcastic making it.
Post 4: Explanations
STRATEGY. The standard Ubuntu installer is buggy: if you try to install to usb drive it uses the boot EFI partition of your internal HDD as boot partition. Therefore it overwrites your grub configuration and "breaks your system" -- but in a way that can be easily mended. The main strategy of my procedure is: use the installer, repair the system, then tweak the usb key and do that which the installer should have done. The latter is mainly done by copying several system files to the usb drive EFI partition and adding a basic grub configuration to it.
EFI PARTITION. The EFI partition is the key partition for booting a UEFI system. It is a FAT32 partition that can be placed anywhere on the disk or drive -- it need not sit at the beginning of the disk. Its contents are some directories. When Ubuntu is running, the EFI partition from which it has been booted is mounted in /boot/efi. The naming of the directories within the EFI partition is insane. From your root directory you have e.g. /boot/efi/EFI/Boot, but also /boot/efi/Boot. You have two grub configuration files (one very short, one quite long) that perform entirely different tasks and are both called "grub.cfg". It's like a labyrinth built by a deranged programmer. Let's hope it's just "like" it. Within the EFI partition you find several directories, one for every OS installed on the disk. If you have a multiboot Windows/Linux Ubuntu you will have EFI/ubuntu and EFI/Microsoft.
If you use the standard installer to install to the usb flash drive, the EFI partition in it will be empty at the end. You actually have to create it before the installation and to fill it up after it. Luckily this is no big deal, once you know what to do.

All in all, Linux is better.

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Re: Is Linux Really Worth it?

Post by Kellemora » 19 May 2019, 11:58

I'm usually at my computer from 8am until 10pm only breaking 1/2 hour for lunch and 2 hours for dinner, unless there is a honey-do chore stuck in there somewhere I need to do or get killdecated.

However, I'm simply just using the computer and programs, while you are working with the computer system. For that reason, you probably know a heck of a lot more about computers and OSs than I do.

I'm sure if I ever find the time to do something more with the frau's new computer she dumped in my lap, I'll be facing some of the issues you seem to be facing. Hopefully by then, you'll have it all figured out and I can holler Help Me Yogi, hi hi.

FWIW: On an older computer, I have Windows XP Pro MCE as the primary install on the first partition of course, Windows Demands playing God, hi hi. On the second partition I have Ubuntu, on the third Windows XP, and on the fourth Linux Mint. I don't have Debian on that machine, oh wait yes I do, a very old Debian 8.

From what I hear WUBI is not the disaster it used to be for Ubuntu users anyhow.
Install Ubuntu WUBI and wait for the Windows Program Manager.
Windows takes control of the second install which is Ubuntu.
And apparently maintains control of the system to maintain the position of God, hi hi.

When you boot the computer, you get a screen that says Windows in one box, Ubuntu in another box. Select one and whichever OS you selected, boots you into the log-in screen for that OS.

I don't know if it maintains the UEFI system or if it defaults back down to BIOS.

All in all, Linux is Better!


As an aside, although Windows always has to be first, I'm thinking, because I have two versions of windows on that old computer, I assume it can be placed elsewhere, but this could be because another version of Windows is God, hi hi.

I messed around with Virtual Box for a short time, but I found everything ran much slower, and in some cases, there were things you couldn't do in Virtual Box, such as use programs that must run in root to work.

An OS is basically a program, so why can't it be ported over to run on any machine, side by side with other OSs, as long as only one of them is run at a time, without rebooting into one or the other. Probably more complicated than that, but why?

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Re: Is Linux Really Worth it?

Post by yogi » 19 May 2019, 16:43

First of all I want to apologize for being long winded in this thread. The reasons for that are manifold, but unwittingly you cited the main driving force behind it. I have put a lot of time into investigating the UEFI situation here and picked up a lot of new information. I need to write it out to be certain I understand it clearly enough to progress onto the next level. While you claim to be ignorant on much of it, I know that there is more under the hood than you give yourself credit for. I believe you understand the concepts if not the details well enough to point out when I'm way out of line in my own thinking. Also, having my adventures documented in such detail will indeed help me recall how it all works at some later point in time. So, if you do ask for assistance, I'll probably come back to this thread to refresh my memory if I don't have the direct answer on the tip of my tongue.

As far as Windows needing to be first goes, I've heard and read that from day one. However, that old mostly dead Toshiba laptop that started all this investigation was configured with Linux Ubuntu in the first primary partition on the disk. I had two extended partitions after that. one of which was Windows 10 - the beta software I've been testing. Also, GRUB was the bootloader, not Micrsosoft, and took over the MBR management. The windows bootloader was in the MBR too, but it was being called by GRUB when needed. I had to put Windows at the top of the GRUB list of OS's so that it would boot up unattended for it's updating process, but I also ran it with Windows further down the list where it needed manual selecting. This was all happening in a BIOS environment wherein Windows and two Linux distributions were living happily ever after. Windows did not need to be first, not was it in control of the boot process. Go figure.

Well, Microsoft fixed all that with UEFI. LOL

I avoided using Wubi for reasons I explained elsewhere. Basically I did not want to mix Linux and Windows in the same environment. I proved that mixing OS's works when Linux/Grub is in control, but I had my suspicions about Windows. Besides, Wubi was deprecated by the time I found it and didn't feel any urge to run something Ubuntu gave up on. And, by the way, if you are doing Wubi with Windows XP, you are using BIOS. XP is not capable of running in the UEFI mode. Plus, a disk must be partitioned using BIOS/MBR or using UEFI/GPT. The two formats cannot be mixed together.

You correctly identify an OS as "just a program" but it's not standalone. All OS's need an environment in which to work. That environment always contains a bootloader; in other words there is another program called a bootloader that must be run before the OS is installed. We know about GRUB and the WindowsBootManager, but there are others too. Then, there is the formatting of the media, BIOS or GPT; again, there are others but we don't talk about them here. Given all the parts that go into making an OS work, it's not easy to put them side by side and expect cooperation.

Continuing on with my UEFI investigation, I did something I never did before since I last posted. I am in a bit of a quandary when it comes to a final solution for my mix and match network of computer OS's. I could leave it all the way it is and live a dual life. UEFI on one computer and BIOS on the other. I could also make both computers solely UEFI or solely BIOS. No mix and match problems if everybody is on the same page. Not sure what I'll do yet, but I'm leaning toward leaving things they way they are. UEFI laptop and BIOS desktop - until Windows 7 dies, at which point another decision needs to be made.

The concern I have about multiple booting media/environments likewise has more than one solution. I discovered a new option that I always knew about but never really used it to make portable media that will boot anywhere. We have used those .iso disks to install software quite casually. Their only purpose in life seems to be to install whatever is on the iso image into a live working environment. We use a "live" disk to do a live install. Right? Well, it turns out the live disk normally has no memory. Any changes made while running live are lost when you shut it off. That is, unless you have persistence configured. Persistence is a special partition with a special name, casper-rw for Linux. Most things done on a live disk can be saved for future reference in that persistence partition. So, I could simply make a bunch of live USB thumb drives with persistence. In fact there is some awesome software in Linux that does it all perfectly with minimal intervention. l did it all this morning and all is going as expected.

A disk with persistence was never intended to be fully functional as is the case with a clean install. While many things can be saved, some things cannot. Changes to the system files cannot be made. No kernel upgrades in other words. This makes sense given that the iso is an image. You can't change the image without destroying the structure. Updates are limited and not all software can be installed, although I haven't found anything that cannot be installed yet. The program to do all this is mkusb and is not in a normal Linux repository. It's easy enough to set up if you have a need to do so, but only certain geeks would have that need which is why it's not part of the standard repository software. The really attractive feature in live disks with persistence is that an additional partition can be made solely for storing data from other OS's. Thus, this disk can be booted from a Mac, for example, some files stored from that Mac, and then transported over to a Windows box to boot and retrieve the Mac files. That is an amazing feature, even if I don't have a use for it. But, it does show that this method of creating bootable USB sticks is truly portable. Limited, but portable.

And finally,
All in all, Linux is Better!
In the recent past I have not been able to prove that statement true, but I did give it the benefit of a doubt. Linux may be better, but I need some proof to believe it. My UEFI investigations have provided just the opposite evidence. Linux does not play well with nVidia graphics. It's pointless to argue who is at fault here, but the graphics in Windows is seamless, nVidia notwithstanding. I blame Linux developers for this situation because there is a fix that allows nVidia and Linux to live happily ever after. The Linux crowd won't budge from their rigid stance on FOSS and nVidia is laughing all the way to the bank.

UEFI is another problem directly traceable to failures in the Linux development community. Again, the merits of UEFI and BIOS creates arguments that last ad infinitum. The reality is that UEFI is here to stay and Linux has a problem with it in spite of its protests to the contrary. There is a standard for formatting a disk UEFI style. It must, by definition, contain a small FAT32 partition in which all the boot information for UEFI is stored. For Linux that means GRUB must go into that partition. Ubuntu Linux fails to write GRUB to that partition in multiboot situations which is a known bug. That alone is why I spent all this time trying to make a flawed installation of Linux stable and reliable. This might just be an Ubuntu problem only, but it says the Linux development community isn't serious about working together with other vendors.

That's two strikes against Linux I never had documented proof of previously. I'm sure there are more reasons that quote about Linux is flawed too.

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Re: Is Linux Really Worth it?

Post by Kellemora » 20 May 2019, 13:49

Quite a bit of info there to chew on Yogi. The best part, it is clear enough even for me to understand.

I'm still thinking BIOS and UEFI can still live together in harmony on the same machine, and here is why.

All computers, whether BIOS or UEFI, (here's another place where using the same term is confusing).

So I'll start this way. All computer have BIOS Hardware, followed by the POST Test, followed by the BootStrap Loader and CMOS.

After the above, is when the Bootstrap Loader will either call the BIOS Software and Drivers or the UEFI Software and Drivers, whichever you selected as the Boot Option.

From there, based on your selection, either BIOS will read from the MBR, or UEFI will read from the GPT to start the Operating System.

If you selected the Boot Option for BIOS, then it will look for GRUB on the MBR.
If you selected the Boot Option for UEFI, then it will look for GRUB on the GPT.

The SNAG here is simple. If you booted into UEFI, then you cannot access a disk with MBR. Or if you booted into BIOS then you cannot access a disk with GPT. It's one or the other. Although you can convert a disk to GPT without loss of data if you chose to use a UEFI/GPT system.

I do know some newer computers do not have BIOS Hardware, they are starting to use UEFI Hardware, but will still give you the option to use Legacy BIOS for a few more years.

Tell me where I went wrong in my thoughts mentioned above.

***

You mentioned Live Disks. No you cannot write to a live disk, but it should still let you save to your Hard Drive the output from some program you used from the Live Disk. I've used Word Processors from a live disk and could save my work to the hard drive, or to a USB stick.

***

Once again, Nvidia is like a Ford starter motor, it won't fit on a Chevy.
That doesn't mean someone hasn't made an adapter of some type that would allow the Ford Starter motor to work on a Chevy. After all, they make Bell Housings to use Chevy transmissions on Ford Engines, and vice versa.

Since Nvidia has all of their drivers proprietary for Windows ONLY, I'm sure some 3rd party vendors have figured out how to get most of the Nvidia video cards to work on Linux.
Just as they have sound cards, printers, and other hardware the makers only write for Windows users.

By the same token, there are several manufacturers of COMMERCIAL hardware that only write UNIX/LINUX Drivers and none for Windows. Namely most of your Hospital Diagnostic Equipment and supporting systems.
The O2 sensors, Blood Pressure, and Heart-rate monitors they plug you into in ICU and Operating Rooms, many made by HP, only have Linux drivers, because the monitoring unit they plug into is Linux, and the info shown on the display, plus in some cases sent to the hospitals mainframe. Now at the nurses station you may see Windows computers in use, also made by HP, but they are only receiving and exchanging data with the mainframe, which is UNIX/Linux powered.

Try to get a Windows driver from HP for a hospital system you want to set up at home and see what happens.

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Re: Is Linux Really Worth it?

Post by yogi » 20 May 2019, 17:19

We are accustomed to speaking about BIOS and EFI as software. Well, it's actually firmware that is burned into an EEPROM on the motherboard you buy. Whether you have BIOS or EFI doesn't matter. It all lives on that CMOS EEPROM, for good reason. The reason is that computers are exceptionally stupid. In the off state they are just a pile of electronic components taking up space. When you apply power, then the computer comes to life; but how does it do that? The CPU starts reading instructions from memory (that EEPROM), but how does it know where to begin? Well, address zero, of course, because the power has been off and there is no address data on the bus yet. The memory location #0000 has an address in it which points to the beginning location of the firmware in that PROM. Thus, the second thing the CPU does is start to read the firmware, which in today's world is either BIOS or it is UEFI. The choice of which type of firmware you run is made by the motherboard's EEPROM.

BIOS and UEFI refer to a method by which all the pieces of a computer system work together. MBR and GPT refer to disk formatting. In the BIOS system the format includes a Master Boot Record (MBR) to hold software that, well, boots the computer. On a GPT formatted disk there is no MBR but there is a FAT32 formatted partition known as the EFI System Partition, or the ESP. It is akin to the MBR in that the ESP is where the OS booting software resides. The MBR and the ESP are two different animals in spite of the fact that they perform the same function. You cannot get to the MBR from UEFI and you cannot get to the ESP from BIOS.

To put it succinctly, think of it this way:
BIOS=MBR
or
UEFI=GPT

The introduction of UEFI was a necessary evil to deal with growing technology. It confused the hell out of many people when it was released and to this day many people have no clue about the differences. In order to make things less confusing the UEFI firmware standard includes a section that emulates BIOS firmware. Rest assured that it is an emulation and not the real thing. This emulation allows people to use "BIOS" in a UEFI environment. Good idea, but also the source of a lot of confusion. The pure form of BIOS and UEFI are mutually exclusive. You can only have one or the other, and neither will recognize the other. A common scenario seen in tech forums is that somebody has a BIOS/MBR disk and are trying to boot it from UEFI/GPT. All the disks must be formatted one or the other, MBR or GPT. Many people miss that point because the firmware is interchangeable to some extent.

To be clear about it, GRUB would go into the MBR on an old BIOS computer that was build before GPT was invented. And, a Windows XP bootloader would be right in there with GRUB. GPT partitioned disks do not have an MBR so that GRUB and the Microsoft bootloader are in the ESP partition of a GPT formatted disk.

Any computer you buy today, and that includes the Windows 10 that Debbie has, will be disk formatted to GPT and use UEFI firmware. Microsoft cut off the use of BIOS right after Windows 7. Anything after that must be UEFI/GPT. They do this for security reasons, i.e., to stop any other OS (malware) from booting via their bootloader. This is what gives the Linux fanatics reason to believe Microsoft conspired to lock them out. That's stupid, of course, because all LInux needs is a copy of GRUB in that ESP partition next to Microsoft's loader. You will then need to boot Windows to get a choice of which direction you want to go: continue to Windows or switch to Linux. This booting through Windows can be eliminated by simply (ok, it's not simple, but still) loading GRUB first and putting Windows in the selection list. This would only be necessary in dual or multiboot circumstances, obviously.

I probably just repeated what you described in your last reply. If so forgive me. If not, then hopefully I enlightened you.


Moving on to live disks, I would agree that normally you cannot write to them. However, if you add the right partitions for persistence, you can write just about anything. You cannot change system files, but you can do anything else. I did it last night and it works flawlessly.


On to nVidia and in keeping with your analogy to automobiles, an added video card in a computer is like adding a supercharger to an engine, be it Ford, Chevy, or Maserati. All engines can be supercharged, but that Ford sure as Hell isn't going to pass that Maserati during any road race. Some engine designers will make an engine that doesn't need to be turbocharged, and that's where I put Linux. The problem is that the Linux engine won't even start when the supercharger is present. That is a fatal flaw in my opinion.,

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