Tag Archives: Ubuntu

How to Backup an Ubuntu Desktop (12.04, 14.04)

Source: http://askubuntu.com/questions/9135/how-to-backup-settings-and-list-of-installed-packages

Warning: Read about caveats in the link above before use


## The backup script
 dpkg --get-selections > ~/Package.list
 sudo cp -R /etc/apt/sources.list* ~/
 sudo apt-key exportall > ~/Repo.keys
 rsync --progress /home/`whoami` /path/to/user/profile/backup/here
## The Restore Script
 rsync --progress /path/to/user/profile/backup/here /home/`whoami`
 sudo apt-key add ~/Repo.keys
 sudo cp -R ~/sources.list* /etc/apt/
 sudo apt-get update
 sudo apt-get install dselect
 sudo dpkg --set-selections < ~/Package.list
 sudo dselect


Who is this for: users that have normal regular use of their computer, that have done minimal or no configuration outside their home folder, did not mess up startup scripts and services. A user that wants to have his software restored to how it was when he installed it with all customizations being done and kept in their home folder.

Who this will not fit for: servers geeks, power users with software installed by source (restoring the package list might break your system), users that have changed the startup script of some application to fit better their needs. Caution: there is a big chance any modifications outside home will be over written.

Adventures with Ubuntu 12.04 and Linux Mint 14 (Nadia)

Over the last week I’ve been playing around with Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) and Linux Mint 14 (Nadia).  Although I can appreciate Linux Mint (it is indeed very elegant), I think I will be sticking with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS for the time being.

My affection for the Unity interface that comes with Ubuntu 12.04 stems from the fact that I’ve been a heavy user of Mac OSX over the last year.  Before that, I was using Ubuntu 9.04, but the UI was heavily modified and stripped down, as I was a heavy user of the Xmonad window manager.

Having that experience with Xmonad, which is essentially a high-productivity, tiling window manager; and later working with the MacBook Pro (Late 2011) OSX environment, I’ve come to appreciate how important it is to have a powerful desktop UI that also gets out of your way.  The Unity interface follows that line of thinking, and is a real treat to work with once you start getting the hang of it.

There are some drawbacks to Unity, especially with regard to how applications are organized within the launcher, however I find that overall it will be a very rewarding environment to work in.

Luckily I have all my Vim and GNU Screen configuration files checked into version control, so it was easy enough for me to get GVim and all my other cross-platform apps up and running in my new desktop environment with minimal fuss.

Some screen shots of my desktop environment below:

The only real problems that I ran into with Ubuntu 12.04 were problems that were really hardware related. I’m running an ASUS S56CM Ultrabook, which has an oddly integrated Nvidia GT635M GPU.   So for now, I need to run my graphics intensive (OpenGL) applications via Bumblebee v3.0, however once that was set up, everything worked fantastically!

Jolicloud is of the Awesome

So if you haven’t heard of Jolicloud http://www.jolicloud.com/, then you need to download and install it now. It’s an Ubuntu based OS (a self-proclaimed “Cloud OS”) specifically designed for Netbooks, and it rocks. I have Jolicloud installed on my Samsung N110 Netbook, and I use it for everything from e-mail to games (snes9x) to work (Perl/Vim/Screen). Now what makes Jolicloud super-awesome is that it treats web applications no differently from desktop applications. Each application gets it’s own icon on the “Home screen”. It’s also socially aware – it can connect to facebook and allow you to search for applications and/or people who’ve used those applications, so that you can ask them questions and get guidance on the tools you’re trying to use.

The interface is very slick – big icons and a clean method of navigation to the lesser used functions of a standard Gnome/Ubuntu desktop. The most-awesomest part is that once you load up a terminal, you have full access to the command-line and all Ubuntu apt repositories.

Jolicloud isn’t just for netbooks! I’ve also installed it on my Acer Veriton (similar to the Acer Revo), and am using it as a media center OS. Jolicloud also comes in an “express” edition, which allows you to install it under windows, where it will come up as a secondary OS option under the windows boot-loader.

If you have a netbook, nettop, or any light-weight PC, then install Jolicloud. Highly recommended.

Configuring X.Org Display Resolutions Under Ubuntu 8.04

Problems with High Resolution Monitors and X.Org

I recently bought a 28′ LCD Monitor, the I-INC iF281D. I bought the monitor to increase my usable desktop workspace on my Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy) Linux workstation. I do a lot of programming, systems administration, log analysis and monitoring – and I usually have three or more X Terminals open at any one time (with some mixture of “top”, “vim”, “tail”, and “screen” open), so the more desktop space I have, the better.

When I first attempted to configure my new monitor using the ‘nvidia-settings’ GUI application that comes with NVIDIA’s Linux driver, I noticed that it didn’t present all the resolutions that the monitor supported.  NVIDIA’s Settings GUI was limiting the available resolutions to a maximum of 1280×800. This was odd, because the monitor supported resolutions up to 1920×1200, and supported DCC, so the GUI should have been able to pick up the monitor specifications and provide configuration options for all supported features (resolutions, refresh rates, etc.)

At first I thought that the problem was with the NVIDIA driver I was using, and so I downloaded the latest driver from NVIDIA’s website, recompiled and tried again.  I still however was not able to get the resolutions that the monitor supported.

My 28 Inch Desktop @ 1920x1200

Solving The Problem

After much more digging and research, I found that the problem was not with the monitor, or the NVIDIA driver, but with the mode settings in ‘xorg.conf’. What I wasn’t aware of was that the Horizontal Sync rate definition within my ‘xorg.conf’ directly reflects the resolutions that will be available to me.

For example, the ‘nvidia-settings’ application set the Horizontal Sync and Vertical Refresh to low (safe) values by default. Therefore the available resolutions were limited. Once I figured out what my maximum HZ Sync and VT Refresh were, I was able to achieve the resolutions that the monitor was capable of.

There are Xfree86 Video Timing HOWTO’s available if you want to get into the gory details of how to calculate the correct xorg.conf settings for your specific monitor. However, if you’re a programmer like me, then you’ll want to skip this step, expecting that someone else out there must have already been through this, and has likely created a tool to make our lives easier.

Lo and behold! Xtiming is a great web tool which helps you calculate your Horizontal Sync and Vertical Refresh Rate settings. Simply enter the resolution that you are trying to achieve, and Xtiming will tell you the settings you’ll need in your ‘xorg.conf’ file to get it.

For example, if you leave empty all the other values that Xtiming asks you for, and simply enter “1600×1200” for Visible Resolution, and “60” for Refresh Rate, then click “Calculate Modeline”; you’ll see that Xtiming returns the Mode Line that you should use, along with (and most importantly!) the Horizontal Sync rate you will need to achieve that resolution at the specified refresh rate:

Modeline "1600x1200@60" 176.70 1600 1632 2296 2328 1200 1224 1236 1261
Horizontal sync frequency: 75.9 kHz

I personally found that I didn’t need to use the “Modeline”, but the Horizontal Sync Frequency was essential. Here’s an excerpt of my ‘xorg.conf’ file using the above settings:


Section "Monitor"

    # HorizSync source: xconfig, VertRefresh source: xconfig
    Identifier     "Monitor0"
    VendorName     "Unknown"
    ModelName      "AUO"
    HorizSync       30.0 - 75.9
    VertRefresh     60.0
    Option         "DPMS"


Section "Screen"
    Identifier     "Screen0"
    Device         "Device0"
    Monitor        "Monitor0"
    DefaultDepth    24
    Option         "TwinViewXineramaInfoOrder" "DFP-0"
    Option         "TwinView" "1"
    Option         "metamodes" "DFP-0: 1440x900 +1600+0, DFP-1: nvidia-auto-select +0+0"
    SubSection     "Display"
        Depth       24

I’m using TwinView because I have a dual monitor setup. However, now that I have a 28′ display, dual displays don’t really seem to be a requirement any more :)