Mastering Pandaboard – OS installation and beyond !

Pandaboard is a low-cost, open OMAP 4 based mobile software development platform that can serve as a fast ARM based single board computer from Texas Instruments. In short you can do some awesome stuff’s with it. Amazed? Yes, this small board, weighing less than 100g, is packed with some powerful features like:-

  • The OMAP 4430 application processor consisting of a dual core 1 GHz Cortex A-9 MPcore, 304MHz Power VR SGX540 GPU and a C64x DSP
  • 1 Gb low power DDR2 RAM
  • Display HDMI v1.3 connector (type-a) to drive HD displays and a DVI-D connector
  • 3.5mm audio in/out jack
  • full size SD/MMC card
  • Built in 802.11 and Blutetooth v2.1 + EDR
  • On-board 10/100 ethernet
  • Expansion: 1xusb OTG, 2xusb HS host ports and general purpose expansion header
  • sixe 100 x 110mm

Pandaboard is such a powerful mobile computing platform that one can port various OS’s to it. Already supported are Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Android, Meego, Fedora etc..

Where to buy it?

There are a lot of distributors out there, but I recommend buying it from SVtronics (www.svtronics.com/ecommerce/panda), the manufacturers of PandaBoard. The current cost is $174.

Accessories:-

I would suggest that interested readers buy the following accessories, which I used:-

  • A HDMI/DVI cable to see the output on the monitor
  • A 8/16 Gb SDHC or micro SD card (then use it with converter)
  • A 5V dc power supply
  • A USB hub
  • A serial-to-usb cable
  • A keyboard and mouse
  • A laptop cooler which is optional so that the board does not heat up.

Install image:-

In this article, we will try to install the Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, visit http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/releases/12.04/release

And download the TI OMAP4 (Hard-float) pre-installed desktop image.

Prepare the SD card:-

Now insert your SD card into the desktop, but make sure that it is not mounted. Identify the correct raw device name for the card, not the partition (like /dev/sdb and not /dev/sdb1). You could use the Ubuntu disk utility and select the SD card. In a terminal, navigate to the folder containing the downloaded image and write it to the SD card, run the following commands:

zcat ./ubuntu-12.04-preinstalled-desktop-armhf+omap4.img.gz | sudo dd bs=4M of=/dev/sdb
sudo sync

This will take some time. If the process is successful, you will have a new command prompt, and you can now eject the SD card.

PandaBoard-block-diagram

 

Booting Pandaboard:-

Install minicom or Gtkterm on the desktop — in terminal, run

sudo apt-get install minicom

Launch it for example sudo minicom -s

To configure it, select the correct usb port, set the baud rate to 115200, stop bits to 1 and parity bits, software control and hardware control to “NONE”
Now insert the SD card to the pandaboard, connect the HDMI/DVI cable to the monitor and pandaboard. Attach the USB hub to the pandaboard and connect your mouse and keyboard to the hub. Connect the serial cable to your laptop or dekstop. Now powerup the pandaboard. If all went well, you should see a familiar Ubuntu installtion screen

Installing Ubuntu 12.04 LTS:-

The installation process is quite simple – – just follow the on-screen instructions. Mind you, this process will take a very long time around 1 hour, so be patient.

Speeding up Pandaboard:-

There are few tweaks you can do to increase the performance of Ubuntu on pandaboard. First disable the swap, which is nothing but a virtual RAM. So edit /etc/fstab and put # in front of the line that creates a swap file. Now, for transient data, use the tmpfs filesystem, which uses RAM, and hence provides much faster response compared to the SD card. Edit the /etc/fstab and add the following lines:

tmpfs /tmp          tmpfs nodev,nosuid        0 0
tmpfs /var/log      tmpfs nodev,nosuid        0 0

 

Installing Xubuntu:-

You might find the Ubuntu desktop a bit slow, so we need a lightweight desktop alternative. Now Xubuntu 12.04 LTS is a derivative of Ubuntu and uses the light weight XFCE desktop plus some other applications. Now, let’s install xubuntu on top of ubuntu (which is less time consuming and you can select the desktop environments on the login-screen)

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop

Now, this porcess will take some time, once it’s done restart the system and select the Xubuntu desktop option as mentioned earlier from the login-screen. You can also update xubuntu in free time but you will definately notice performance improvements and the system will be faster on the small but powerful pandaboard.

Troubleshooting:-

It is quite possible that you will face errors while installing Ubuntu or Xubuntu on the pandaboard. In case you face an error that you cannot solve, post your problem on the Pandaboard Google Group

(http://groups.google.com/group/pandaboard) The community is friendly and will help you out – – also reply is very quick

Njoy !

Linux basics – the architecture, kernel and why it’s Virus free !

 

Linux is nothing but a mutiuser and multi-tasking OS which was developed by Linux Torvalds in 1991 with a few loosely knit-team of hackers over the internet. Sometimes Linux is also conceived to be a kernel which is basically the core of the operating system. Unix on the other hand is again for muti-users and multi-tasking which was developed by few employees at AT&T at Bell Labs in 1969. During that time there was no GUI and it was totally on command line interface, something which we call now as virtual consoles or the terminal. Unix was completely recocded in C during 1973 and was split into various branches and was adopted by many commercial startups like SUN(solaris), HP(hp-ux), Darwin(by Apple inc.), BSD (university of california) etc..

Things to remember about Unix/Linux:-

  1. Both are muti-user and muti-tasking operating systems and Linux is not a clone of UNIX but rather a OS completely written from scratch by Linux Torvalds.
  2. It’s case sensitive which means all(or most of it) commands are in small case.
  3. Everything is a file or a process. Here files refers to all the digital media installed on computer from images, videos, folders, drivers, .exe files or whatever and process is nothing but a running application.
  4. It does not bother about filename or file extension.
  5. Inter-process communication (IPC) is the key factor, for example let’s take this command ls -l | less, here listing of the file is directly proportional to less command which is used for piping.

Design:-

As we know, the kernel(which is a mediator between hardware and the OS) is at the core and in order for it to communicate there are system calls which are nothing but software routines for communication. The kernel is protected by a shell(divided into 2 parts CLI and the GUI), above which resides the users which run applications. In Linux/Unix every running program has a process ID known as PID which are in the range from(0-65535). Every process is running under a user and each user has it’s own user id know as UID, and every user has its own group which again has a group id GID which is (2^32).

Why is Linux so secured and Virus free?

There are many reasons for it, few of them are mentioned below:-

  • The market share for Linux desktop is mere 1%, so hardly any one bothers to make a virus or a malacious app for it.
  • There are more then 300+ linux distributions or flavors, so targetting any particular desktop won’t be easy in practical terms.
  • In Linux every thing running in the OS is a command, just like right click is a command, opening a file is a command, so there is lot of headache for malaware writers to consider coding and then for execution you need the root privileges, so authentication is a must.
  • There are about 300 system call in linux, these are nothing but software subroutines for communication from OS to hardware. This number is very less as compared to windows OS which has more then 100000 systems calls. Hence the less no. of system call the more secure is the operating system.
  • As we all know for an attacker or a hacker to invade the Linux system he/she must have the root password or root privileges without this invasion cannot be done, however this is not the case with windows..
  • The other technical point I would like to put forth is that the kernel runs in the high priority level(inner ring 0 of the micro-processor) whereas the applications run on lower priority level (that is ring 2 or 3) hence the kernel is   more secured and also there is shell for protection.

How to become a super-user?

Sudo is nothing but super user-do. The extreme level of privileges for all commands the user can run to do any task. You need to type su – in all the Linux distributions except Ubuntu.

For ubuntu you need to type sudo -i and then the password for authentication.

To logout just type exit or logout or press Ctrl + D.

Types of Linux distributions:-

There are mainly 2 types of linux flavors generally however this may vary if Unix-like OS are taken into considerations like Free BSD, Arch Linux, Manjaro Linux etc.

So the 2 types are Debian know as .deb (file name or extension) most of them use apt (advance packaging kit) as a package manager to install software. The other one is RPM also know as Red Hat Package Manager (.rpm is the file name or file extension) and to install the packages there is package-kit (know as Add-Remove Software) or YUM (Yellow-dog updater modifier) to update and modify the rpm packages.

Some of the Debian based distros or distributions are Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Debian OS, Luninux OS, Lubuntu, Xubuntu etc…

Some of the RPM based flavors are Fedora, RHEL, Fuduntu, Opensuse, Mageia,etc…

The terminal and virtual console:-

We all know that the time when unix and linux were created there were no GUI and hence people used to work on the command line interface which we call the terminal or the virtual console (VC).

To open virtual console which is nothing but black and white screen where we need to enter the commands to get the work done. Just hit Ctrl + Alt + F1 to enter and then to exit hit Ctrl + Alt + F6. Note that generally there are 6 VC’s ranging from F1 to F6 on a Linux desktop OS.

That’s it for now folks !

Njoy !

Google axes support of Google chrome browser on all 32 bit Linux distros !

From March 2016, Google won’t be supporting 32 bit build of Google chrome browsers on any of the Linux distros or there derivatives too. This is due to the fact that Linux as a whole is sharing approximately 1.6% market share in desktop operating systems and the Google chrome users on it are still a percentile, also considering the 32 bit versions which are even low, it seems Google has taken a right decision to axe them on all 32 bit platforms !

Just a note that Chromium, the open source browser (the browser from which Google takes the source code to make Google chrome and adds a flash player + pdf reader etc). won’t get affected for any time soon. Also sad new for Ubuntu 12.04 LTS users is that Google is advising them to upgrade to 64 bit, even though support as from Canonical(the company behind Ubuntu Linux) has promised free security and maintenance updates for 5 years, that is till 2017.

It will be interesting to see whether other browsers which are based on chromium or chrome(Webkit, that is the browser rendering engine) like Opera, midori etc will be providing support after March 2016 or not on 32 bit Linux Operating Systems.

“To provide the best experience for the most-used Linux versions, we will end support for Google Chrome on 32-bit Linux, Ubuntu Precise (12.04), and Debian 7 (wheezy) in early March, 2016,” says Chromium engineer Dirk Pranke.

[via:- omgubuntu.co.uk & reddit.com]

Material Design to Linux – Papyros

scaled_full_papyros

Meet Papyros, formerly know as QuartzOS, then QuantumOS, and finally a new name Papyros is a new and upcoming shiny Linux based operating system which is based on Arch Linux and about to be launched in 2016. As of now its in rough alpha stage and not to be intended for use on production machines. It’s using Google’s new Material design technology UI, as seen on Android 5.0 Lollipop !

Looks to be more like Chrome OS, but can be customized to have a dock like interface and look more sort of mackintosh ! As usual Linux distro’s are heavily customizable and there theme can be changed quite easily. The distro is a rolling release, that means a user dosen’t need to upgrade a fresh copy as soon as  a new version is out, the OS can be updated periodically as a manual update when run through a terminal. As of now the latest version while writing this article is 0.3 and it is yet to hit version 1.0

The operating system, desktop shell, and material design framework is still in active development and is in a pre-alpha state. There aren’t any installer ISOs or stable repositories. To add on Arch Linux follow the steps below:-

First, add the following lines to your /etc/pacman.conf file, above the default repositories:

[papyros]
SigLevel = Never
Server = http://dash.papyros.io/repos/$repo/$arch

Then, run

pacman -Syu
pacman -S papyros-shell

You can test the shell by running it in a new window on top of your desktop:

papyros-session

[via:- papyros.io]

Top 10 Linux distributions of all times !

Howdy, today i will be writing about the top 10 Linux based distributions or “distro’s” of all times according to me. You may refer distrowatch website for all the details, but for now here is my countdown.

Before we start, let me tell you that Linux consists of around 1.5% of market share in desktop arena as compared to Windows which is 92% and for Mac OS X its above 8% on an average. So Linux has less market share, its immune to viruses and other threats as compared to other mainstream operating systems. Also there are more then 300 + distro’s available and as mentioned on distrowatch.

Now first things first, lets go down the descending way and see who has got the guts to make to the mark at the apex.

No. 10 Zorin OS:-

zorin

This OS which is specially designed for newbies and all new comers to Linux from the familiar Windows world has got a Windows 7 type of a GUI. The distro’s origin is from Ireland, and is based on Debian and Ubuntu stable branches. It has a core edition and a lite ediition, which uses LXDE as a default desktop. There are premium and paid options too for gamers and businesses alike. The main USP of the distro is that it can be made to look and feel like Windows 7, Gnome 2 or older Windows xp style. However in the paid and premium packs there are options for Mac OS X and Ubuntu’s Unity interface GUI too.

 

No. 9 LXLE:-

lxle

Based on Debian and Ubuntu again and comes from USA(origin), the distro features a LXDE desktop which is extremely lightweight and uses optimal resources for handling daily tasks.  Its built and based on Ubuntu’s LTS (Long Term Support) for 5 years of service along with updates and guaranteed security patches.

 

No. 8 Linux lite:-

lite

Linux lite or simply known as “lite” comes from New Zealand and is based on Ubuntu LTS and stable Debian packages. It is well know for all the new comers from the Windows world. It features a XFCE default GUI which is fast and stable. It includes out of the box applications such as an office suite and codecs and other media players for ease of use.

No.7 Kali Linux:-

kali

Also known as Backtrack Linux from Switzerland. Based on unstable and testing branch of Debian, used for purposes like data rescue, forensics, security, live medium etc. Also used by hackers and other widely known network security admins and auditors, this distro has a huge collection of forensics software’s as well as security apps. It features timely security updates, support for the ARM architecture, a choice of four popular desktop environments, and seamless upgrades to newer versions.

No.6 Arch:-

arch

Arch Linux, an independent distribution, well known to cater and provide a bleeding edge software along with a rolling release(a release where full upgrade is not necessary, user just needs to update the apps via normal update to get the most recent version). Arch can be installed from a CD image or via an FTP server. The default install provides a solid base that enables users to create a custom installation. There is AUR(Arch User Repository) and ABS for building and maintaining packages. Remember Arch is not for new comers as it requires a little bit of learning curve and knowledge of building and compiling packages and stuff.

 

No. 5 Manjaro Linux:-

manjaro

Its based on Arch and comes from Austria, Germany and France as its origin. It’s fast, user friendly and easy to use distro. The community has taken special interest to make arch linux easy and modified it into manjaro so that new comers can find this distro a breeze to use. It’s again a rolling release, has XFCE as a default GUI, but there are options to install other desktop environments too such as KDE, Enlightenment, fluxbox, Gnome 3, etc. The distro can be installed via CLI based installer or a Graphical installer.

 

No. 4 CentOS:-

centos

Also known as Community Enterprise OS. Built by the community and organisations which do not need any paid software for there daily computing routines. It is 100% compatible with Red hat OS.CentOS is for people who need an enterprise class operating system stability without the cost of certification and support

No. 3 Fedora:-

fedora

Fedora is sponsored and funded by red hat and is 100% free open source software. It has a reputation of being bleeding edge and implementing all the new technologies at a early stage. The default desktop interface is Gnome 3.X and on Gnome shell. It comes in various flavours like mate, KDE, Cinnamon, LXDE, XFCE. However there are other dedicated spins known as fedora spins too which includes subjects of interests for robotics, forensics, security, gaming, scientic computing etc.

 

No. 2 Ubuntu:-

ubuntu

Perhaps this distro needs no introduction at all. Funded and developed by Canonical, a UK based company, founded by Mark Shuttleworth has all the bells and whistles for any new comer coming to Linux from an outside world. It’s infact easier to use than a Mac as per the founder saying in a Ubuntu conference. The Ubuntu community is built on the ideas enshrined in the Ubuntu Manifesto: that software should be available free of charge, that software tools should be usable by people in their local language and despite any disabilities, and that people should have the freedom to customise and alter their software in whatever way they see fit. “Ubuntu” is an ancient African word, meaning “humanity to others”. It comes in various flavors which are not even rated here. They are Lubuntu (lxde desktop), Kubuntu (kde desktop), Edubuntu(unity or gnome fallback mode) etc.

 

No. 1 Mint:-

mint

The only king in the Linux world as per everyone’s liking, its Mint that tops the chart in our distro list.  It’s based on 100% Ubuntu packages and repositories, which work seamlessly and the main USP is that it has all the bells and whistles to make it run any sort of codecs, plugins, flash, media etc straight out of the box. It has Cinnamon as a home grown desktop which is a fork of Gnome shell. It also provides Mate desktop for light weight computing experience. It is being funded by many non profit organizations and the Linux community as well.

 

Well that makes up for all the chart list today, that’s it for now enjoy 2016 !

A Happy new year to all of you.

 

Image courtesy:- distrowatch.

Access Dropbox via CLI (terminal) in Linux !

Dropbox, one of the leading cloud storage provider on the planet has more then 400 million registered users and most of them are free and by default Dropbox provides free 2 Gb space. As of now for every referral the user gets free 500 Mb + the other users too gets this benefit, as of now there are other options too for getting the free space, like linking to the Mailbox and Carousel accounts etc, (note at the time of writing both the apps viz. Mailbox and Carousel are going to shutdown as announced in a blog post by Dropbox).

The popularity of Dropbox has led to a plethora number of official and unofficial Dropbox clients that are available for cross platform users. Here we are going to discuss a basic Dropbox uploader, and a BASH script to access via the CLI(Command Line Interface) in/via the Linux terminal.

First things first:-

Fire up the terminal and paste the below given commands.

$ wget https://raw.github.com/andreafabrizi/Dropbox-Uploader/master/dropbox_uploader.sh
$ chmod +x dropbox_uploader.sh

Make sure that curl is present/installed on your system, if not just type in Ubuntu/Debian,

sudo apt-get install curl

To access the Dropbox, just run the uploader script, for the first time it will ask you for the access of you Dropbox account.

But before you do that please visit www.developers.dropbox.com and create an app with full Dropbox access !

 

Post that run the script as shown below in your terminal,

$ ./dropbox_uploader.sh

Go to your terminal, you will see this,

app-key

Enter the App key and the App secret(note that app secret cannot be copied, it has to be manually typed).

Now go to the URL as mentioned above in the screenshot(pixalated one) and you will be up and running in no time.

 

This successfully completes the required Dropbox uploader requirements and just in order to confirm the authentication, copy paster below:-

$ ./dropbox_uploader.sh info

Dropbox uploader examples:-

To list all contents in the top-level directory:

$ ./dropbox_uploader.sh list

To list all contents in a specific folder:

$ ./dropbox_uploader.sh list Documents/manuals

To upload a local file to a remote Dropbox folder:

$ ./dropbox_uploader.sh upload snort.pdf Documents/manuals

To download a remote file from Dropbox to a local file:

$ ./dropbox_uploader.sh download Documents/manuals/mysql.pdf ./mysql.pdf

To download an entire remote folder from Dropbox to a local folder:

$ ./dropbox_uploader.sh download Documents/manuals ./manuals

To create a new remote folder on Dropbox:

$ ./dropbox_uploader.sh mkdir Documents/whitepapers

To delete an entire remote folder (including all its contents) on Dropbox:

$ ./dropbox_uploader.sh delete Documents/manuals

Thats it, Enjoy !

[via:- xmodulo and askubuntu].