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USB Collection Updates - Most Popular, Fedora, Ubuntu
written May 1, 2024 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: USB Collection Updates;Most Popular;Fedora;Ubuntu    #54

With the release of Ubuntu 24.04 LTS and Fedora 40, we've updated all the Collection USBs that contain these distros.

Both the Ubuntu & Fedora require 64GB USBs to hold the ever-growing size of the releases. In a bold and almost unbelievable move, we have lowered the price on these USBs down to $29.95. How is that for an inflation fighter?! The Most Popular fits on a 32GB USB, but we have had to drop a few distros since it was originally released, and is available at only $24.95

For the current distros on the Most Popular Collection USB, see the Catalog #51006

For the full listing of the distros on the Fedora USB Collection, see the Catalog #51011

For the full listing of the distros on the Ubuntu USB Collection, see the Catalog #51012

Testimonials, Feedback, Input & Updates
written March 27, 2024 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: Testimonials; Feedback; Input; Updates;    #53

We received 2 unsolicited praiseworthy e-mails in the last few weeks, and figured we would share it on the blog. Thank you to all LinuxCollections.com Customers!

March 14, 2024

Great purchase process...

A phone number with a human (who actually answered the call and patiently answered my pre-sales questions) was also an unexpected and pleasant surprise.

well done!

March 26, 2024

This was my third order from LinuxCollections.com & it was the fastest shipping time yet = seven business days from California to Nova Scotia, with no damages to the cardboard box or the contents.

Awesome job, keep up the great work, & THANK YOU for providing this important service to all of those who use it now & in the future!

It is funny how the world changes. The issue with advertising on Facebook has never been resolved, even with a physical snail mail letter sent to a company with thousands of employees. No one could even bother to respond. This is why the LinuxCollections.com What's New page is the preferred Facebook page. Similarly, the Amazon Pay issue seemingly ended with an e-mail saying we will no longer respond to this issue, even though it was not made clear what we could do to satisfy their requirements. Just for kicks, we also wrote them a physical letter. Again, no response at all. We have left the Amazon Pay option on the site in the hopes that one of the thousands of people who work at Amazon will someday look at the letter, and at least take the effort to explain what the exact issue is. Specifically, they say we are in violation of their policies, and point to dozens of items, not clearly identifying what we can do to satisfy their interpretation. We sort of believe it has to do with accepting Debian donations, but are not really sure. It is both frustrating and sad that even common courtesy, and reasonable customer service is lost on these large organizations. But the only constant is change, and perhaps things will change for the better as time marches on.

Also, it still is amusing to us when people on Facebook take the effort to point out people can do what we do at home. It is possible some people may not realize this, but most or all of our customers know this. We like to say to people it is like a restaurant or car wash - sure people can make the food they want to eat at home, or wash their car themselves, but it is also nice to get the convenience of having the work done for you. Also, we have some customers that don't have reliable internet, or want large quantities of discs, etc., etc. Also downloading all of Debian takes awhile, and it sure makes sense to get it all on the Debian USB Complete Collection at a reasonable price, with no headache or frustration and just a few clicks on our website.

Happy New Year 2024!
written January 2, 2024 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: USB; Notes; Price; Amazon Pay; What's happening;    #52

The Free USB Promo is over - thanks to all our hundreds of customers who received a Free USB! Note: The last few Free USBs may not be reflected in your order as a line item.

To reflect changes in the world at large, we have bumped up our prices just a bit starting in 2024.

Amazon Pay has suspended support for the site because we accept Debian donations. We are working with them to see if we can find a solution. We have been doing this for years, but somehow either due to changes in their policies (or actual enforcement), this has raised an issue from their point of view. Hopefully this can get resolved. Please use PayPal or a credit card.

First Steps - How To Boot from USB
written October 30, 2023 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: USB; Booting; Intro; How To;    #51

If you wish to boot from a USB, have powered off your computer, put in the USB, and turned it on, and it starts up and goes to your normal desktop, then your system is not currently configured to boot from USB first. If you wish to boot from a Linux based USB drive, have no idea what a computer's BIOS is, do not know how to configure your system at a low level, then this blog post is for you.
It may be worthwhile to review this blog entry also:
What NOT to do with a Bootable USB Drive or Collection
You can refer to anecdotal configuration options for different systems at our Reference pages here:
Boot From USB
That reference information assumes you know all about the following...

Top level view: The hardware in a computer has a very limited set of what it can do, and is designed to run a full operating system (like Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, etc.). If you power up a motherboard with no hard drive or other media, all you might see is a cryptic message that says something like "DISK BOOT FAILURE, INSERT SYSTEM DISK". Because you can boot from various media, the BIOS (Basic Input / Output System) has a Boot Order - which media to look at first. If it finds an operating system, like a well trained dog, it will always boot the first operating system it finds.

To alleviate this issue, some human will need to configure the settings in the computer to change the boot order. Instead of Boot from Hard drive, Boot from CD/DVD, Boot from Network, etc., the option to Boot from USB must be enabled AND be first (or first among available options). For security purposes, the boot from USB is most likely not going to be first, so knowing how to get into your system configuration options is a requirement.

The good news is that this really isn't that big a deal, and is about on par with putting gas in your car. If you've always had full service, and never put gas in your car, you may be a bit confused if you pull up to a self-serve station. Where is the gas intake? On an old VW bug, the door is front right, and the release is by the glove box. An Acura is back left, and has the gas door release integrated with the trunk release. A Ford has a push to release door on the back right. Some cars have it behind the rear license plate, etc. Similarly, different manufacturer's have different approaches to get to the system configuration. Some require an Esc key during startup, some have F1, or F9, or Del key. Typically there is a brief message that is shown at the very beginning, and you need to watch like a hawk as the system starts from a powered off state, once you turn it on with the power switch. Worst case, you need to check with the manufacturer.

Once you get into the BIOS (a legacy term for the system configuration where you can set the boot order). Today it might be called settings, or configuration, or options, etc. Some systems have a menu option "Select Boot Device" or something like that. On these systems, you can simply select the USB option, and it will faithfully boot that operating system, i.e. your Linux Distro on USB. On others, you have to find something like "Boot order". Some of these system configuration options can be a bit quirky and not necessarily intuitive, so you may need to read the options. Some use F5/F6, or arrow keys, etc. to re-arrange boot options. Once you have put the USB first, refer to any instructions on how to "Save" this - some use an F10 key, some require you to select a "Save these options/confirm", etc. You can always restart, go back into the BIOS, and verify your changes are the now current settings.

It is also very easy to confirm you've configured your system correctly. You will boot from the USB, and NOT go to your normal desktop.

For the vast majority of systems, the above general information is all that is needed to boot from a USB vs. the hard drive. To be clear, however, there are various other settings that may be required. Things like legacy vs. UEFI, or CSM (a compatibility mode), etc. are just enough to confuse new users. This is why checking with the manufacturer, or doing an internet search for your model or motherboard manufacturer, and search for "how to boot USB on Gigabyte" or "how to boot USB on Dell Inspiron" may be the quickest & easiest way to guide you to the solution.

So in summary, configuring your computer is much like putting fuel in your car. Without this critical component, the car is a useless hunk of metal & plastic. Being unable to control your computer, limits what is available to you on modern day systems. So being familiar with configuring your system unlocks its potential, and being in control is much better state of mind than being intimidated by the depth & complexity of modern day computers. Note that there are computers that come pre-installed with Linux, but with a bit of configuration, the "Live" media approach lets you run Linux without affecting the existing operating system on your hard drive. This provides many benefits, and makes your computer even more flexible. It can provide security, anonymity, additional tools, and a myriad of other options available in the vast ecosystem of Linux.

A few notes and happenings…
written September 12, 2023 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: USB; Notes; What's happening;    #50

USB Promo - we are getting to the end of our inventory. We will remove promo info once we get to the last few.

Contact E-Mail - probably the worst situation is when we have a legitimate question from our contact page, and the e-mail bounces. Some can get fixed (like @yahool.com or @gmai.com), but others seem good, but don't get delivered. So we have no way of contacting the person, they think we didn't respond, and it is a lose-lose situation.

Facebook.com - we've created a new page, LinuxCollections.com What's New to address a complete lack of customer service from Facebook. So anyone who liked our original page, please also Like our new page. All boosted ads will come from the What's New page. This is the New/Old Facebook links on home page. We will keep both going for the foreseeable future.

The By Request page. We have had some requests that never got orders, so this will not be a high priority, although we may still try and help out legitimate requests going forward.

Discs and USB media - it is still quite a mix, where some days will have only disc orders go out, and others will be only USB orders being shipped, and sometimes both. No real rhyme or reason, and of course, there are pros and cons to both media, so we will keep the status quo.

Videos, other suggestions, etc. Let us know what you might like to see, or if there are other offerings you'd like with your distros.

Debian 12 Bookworm now available!
written June 16, 2023 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: New; Debian; Bookworm; Debian 12;    #49

A few notes on the recent Debian 12.0.0 "Bookworm" release. The 64-bit is now 21 DVDs, the i386 (i686 required) is now 20 DVDs, and the source is 19 DVDs. Because of the additional data, the USB Complete Collection no longer fits on a 128GB USB drive. So the move to 256GB means we match the Debian USB Developer Collection, and in fact, while everything fits, we will just put the source files on both items (basically we will use 1 master image). However, even at 256GB, there isn't much room. Not sure how this will play out as point releases roll out. So we anticipate at some point in the near future, the Developer Collection will need to roll to a larger drive. So effectively for this release, there is no difference between the 2 items, but once the source ISO no longer fit, it will be like the past, where the source files are only available on the Developer collection.

For the official Debian release notes, see the news here: Debian 12 bookworm released

For Debian 12 Bookworm, you can see:
Debian 12.0.0 USB Complete Collection
Debian 12.0.0 USB Developer Collection
Debian 12.0.0 AMD64

Updates & Info
written May 11, 2023 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: New; Debian; Ubuntu; Kubuntu; OpenMandriva    #48

We've updated the Ubuntu releases to the current 23.03 release, and 2 more of the Ubuntu flavors (Ubuntu/Kubuntu) now no longer fit on a single DVD-R in addition to Ubuntu Studio. We've updated these to be USB only. Because we do automated production & multiple orders, switching to a dual layer for a small number of releases makes no sense. Plus the USB options make more sense in many ways (faster/more flexibility/etc.).

Debian 11.7.0 is now available, and we've also added OpenMandriva 23.03 Rome. Mandriva has a long history, starting from Linux-Mandrake. The community came together to release OpenMandriva, a successor to the Mandriva releases. We've had some interest, so have added OpenMandriva to our catalog & added a dedicated page for the release.

Random Notes, What's Happening…
written February 8, 2023 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: New; UEFI; Debian    #47

USB Promo - we've been able to source 100 additional FREE USB drives, so this promotion will continue for the time being!

We've added the final releases for the 7.x and 10.x Debian releases (7.11.0 and 10.13.0). In general, most people want the most recent release, but for various customers doing certain maintenance tasks or preserving a specific running system, having the final final release of the major point release has been requested. It is somewhat counterintuitive, because for a period of time, the previous release keeps incrementing as well as the current release. Many people don't realize this (and we didn't for quite a few years), so once the final release is done, we will go out and add it to the catalog. At this point, it seems like there will be no more backfilling of the Debian catalog, but we will continue to grab the final release of the major versions going forward.

LinuxMint has joined Ubuntu regarding UEFI boot-ups - if booting on a non-UEFI system (and possibly a system without internet access), the recent LinuxMint releases (20+) will take an incredibly long time to get to the desktop. We recently tested a LinuxMint 19.3 USB for a recent order, and it booted super-fast to the desktop, so this is definitely something they've done in their later releases. If you take the same 21.1 on a UEFI system, it will boot to the desktop quickly - same USB on a non-UEFI system, and it takes quite a while. It is unfortunate that this isn't handled better by these distros. There could be a clearer indication of what the distro expects in terms of hardware, or better support for non-UEFI systems. It sure seems like the typical lazy developer approach of it works for me, ship it! Hopefully customers will be working with newer systems when using these distros…

Facebook Posts - we used to regularly "Boost" posts at Facebook to reach new potential customers. Currently due to changes at Facebook, somehow we've been blocked from continuing this practice, but continue to post on their platform - we just can't pay to boost the posts to reach new customers. Our request for review has been going since July 2022, and the 48 hours to respond has stretched to over 7 months! We actually spoke with a Facebook employee about this (hard to believe, I know), but their solution was to just be patient. It is truly amazing that even with thousands of employees, a simple paying customer request can't be answered.

Debian Complete Collection USB now has hardware .deb packages
written January 5, 2023 by TimeTraveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: Debian; Debian Complete Collection USB; Drivers; Hardware    #46

We've had a couple of requests to include some non-free hardware drivers with the USB. These drivers do not meet the Debian project's requirements to be open source and unencumbered with proprietary licenses, so they are not part of the full Debian release, but for many systems, getting these drivers are helpful and in some cases important. So as a convenience, we've added a folder under the USB/boot folder called hardware, and below is the README.txt included with the USB as of Debian 11.6.0.

The following .deb packages are included with this release of Debian.


The ideal approach would be to use apt (or apt-get) to install from the repositories (Note - need to add non-free to /etc/apt/source.list & run apt update). For those that do not have internet, and are running from the ISOs/packages included with this USB, these are provided as a convenience.

Note that these may not be the most up-to-date, and are not necessarily updated with each point release/minor update to these Debian USBs.

For other packages not included, refer to this list (note bullseye release):


These packages downloaded from this location:


Installing .deb files - 3 options DPKG, APT, GDEBI

Example with firmware-misc-nonfree_20210315-3_all.deb


dpkg -i firmware-misc-nonfree_20210315-3_all.deb

Fix any dependencies

apt-get install -f

dpkg -r firmware-misc-nonfree [Remove Package]
dpkg --purge firmware-misc-nonfree [Remove Package with Configuration Files]


Use local path to bypass repositories

apt install ./firmware-misc-nonfree_20210315-3_all.deb
apt-get install ./firmware-misc-nonfree_20210315-3_all.deb

apt-get remove firmware-misc-nonfree
apt-get purge firmware-misc-nonfree

apt remove firmware-misc-nonfree
apt purge firmware-misc-nonfree


gdebi firmware-misc-nonfree_20210315-3_all.deb

For GUI, use gdebi-gtk


Once installed, the .deb files are located at:


It is not the best approach to use individual .deb files vs. using repositories and the debian package system. However, in instances where that is not an option, the notes here and the included .deb files can be helpful.

USB Promo / Ubuntu 22.10 updates and notes
written October 27, 2022 by TimeTraveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: Ubuntu; Ubuntu Studio; USB Promo    #45

We've updated our LinuxCollections.com Logo to add a USB symbol, and to celebrate, we are doing a Free USB Promotion - the next 100 orders for Collections and any USB orders will receive a Free 4GB USB Drive! Adding any collection or any USB option will add the Free USB to your Order pad. Free is good! Tell a friend!

With the release of Ubuntu 22.10, the Ubuntu Studio release no longer fits on a single DVD, so this option is only available on USB (or as part of our Ubuntu Complete Collection). This is a very cool Ubuntu release that has ready-to-go graphic, audio, and video tools for anyone interested in this type of creative environment. With this release, it also turns out the collection no longer fits on a 32GB drive, so we've moved the full set of Ubuntu flavors to a 64GB USB.

Partitions, setup and configuration of the Debian Complete Collection USB
written September 28, 2022 by TimeTraveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: Debian; USB Partitions; GRUB;    #44

We had a few questions on problems booting a Debian USB Complete Collection USB while working with a multi-boot laptop. The following is a bit more information that may help someone trying to configure another layer of booting prior to the USB. Note that the USB is meant to be the boot device, i.e. instead of booting to a hard drive, you would select the boot device to be the USB, NOT the hard drive. Be sure to refer to this first, and for other links on how to configure a system to boot from USB: What NOT to do with a Bootable USB Drive or Collection. The following info is for people that are trying to work with a different boot option and want more details on what is going on with the USB, its partitions, and its configuration. For the average person, you want to make sure you are booting from the USB, and all will be fine.

If you can't boot the USB due to your mutli-boot setup, then you can't view the details embedded in the grub menu. GRUB (for GRand Unified Boot loader) is the first code that runs when the USB boots. It does some simple things, and displays a menu, providing all the choices that can be loaded from the USB. As part of the grub menu, there are details on the partitions on the USB. Here is that info for reference:

==> Notes on Partitions (Volumes on this USB)
   There are 4 primary partitions
   1) EFI Boot partition (Do Not Use)
   2) USB_Boot (100+ GiB) partition - Boot and ISOs (Do Not Use)
   3) DebianInst partition - install DVD and ISO (Do Not Use)
   4) USB_Storage (2+ GiB) partition - user data/compatible format (DOS/FAT)

So the EFI partition is a FAT32 type format, while the second (USB_Boot) is ext4, and the third (DebianInst) & fourth (USB_Storage) are vfat.

When creating the USB, there is a basic grub setup for i386 and x86_64 EFI on the drive/first partition. This uses a grub menu to select/boot the other items - reference grub.cfg. So assuming the USB is /dev/sdb, grub-install is run with the indicated details. The grub-install for i386 is on /dev/sdb, with the boot-directory option pointing to /dev/sdb2/boot/grub. For the x86_64-efi grub install, the efi-directory is /dev/sdb1 with the same /dev/sdb2/boot/grub for the grub config. You will find grub.cfg in the /dev/sdb2/boot/grub location (e.g. /media/user/USB_Boot/boot/grub/grub.cfg). Theoretically, if you are booting to some other grub or menu setup, you can refer to the menu options in grub.cfg to run what you want to run.

This is a side point, but if you want to access the ISOs or use the ISOs to make bootable media, this blog item might be helpful: How to create a separate bootable USB for specific Live version from Debian USB Complete Collection

Some notes on Debian and Firmware
written April 7, 2022 by TimeTraveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: Debian; Ubuntu; Firmware; non-free;    #43

There are hardware companies that do provide firmware drivers & kernel modules, but because they are not released under a "free" license, the Debian project tags them as non-free (and in fact, they may only be available as compiled binaries, i.e. no source available). So this means after you've installed Debian, you may see some warnings, notices, or errors when starting your system (or in /var/log/messages and /var/log/syslog). To resolve these and get the firmware specific software installed, here are some quick notes on the basic steps.

Note that we covered WiFi specific items previously here: Notes on WiFi Drivers - this also provides some other backgrounds notes and details.

For details on updating the /etc/apt/sources.list, see this item: Debian sources.list notes - be sure all entries match your current distribution, e.g. Stretch, Buster, Bullseye, etc.

Since the Debian releases do not include "non-free" items, and LinuxCollections.com only provides the actual releases from Debian, you will need to do some configuration changes to add these to your system.

If you have a running system, you can add non-free items by making sure non-free is in the /etc/apt/sources.list (e.g. main contrib non-free), then get to the superuser prompt, run "apt update", and use something like:

apt install firmware-misc-nonfree

apt install firmware-realtek

For full list of non-free firmware for Bullseye (links for other releases at top right of page), see:


Read only USB (physical write protect switch)
written January 12, 2022 by TimeTraveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: USB; Physical write protect switch; Read Only    #42
We have had several requests for a "Read only" USB option, so have added a few items to our catalog - the Kanguru brand USB drives have a physical write protect switch, so we have added an 8GB option (available on any distro that has a USB option), and a 32GB add-on. These USB drives feature a small slide switch on the side of the USB, and when in the locked position, the USB cannot be written to. It will be seen as "Read only" media. If needed, you can slide to the unlocked position, and then it acts just like any other USB. These do cost more than a regular USB, so the increased price reflects the additional cost required to obtain these. This is another customer requested option that we are glad to offer - if you need something we don't have, please let us know.

Raspberry Pi: Reducing file system to fit on smaller SD Card
written December 22, 2021 by TimeTraveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: Debian; Raspberry Pi; Raspbian; resize2fs    #41
For various projects, we have done some things on a Raspberry Pi. There are now multiple "flavors" of OSes for the RPi, but this example uses raspbian, a customized version of Debian for the Pi.

These are just loose notes on resizing an SD card to a smaller size for a Raspberry Pi. If moving from a smaller card to a larger card, you just need to manage the partitions - you may still want to use resize2fs, but you don't have to worry about size, like you do if shrinking the file system. There are various options, and your best bet is to review Raspberry Pi Forums, as you may find something more relevant to what your actual situation is. However, there were several commands that are interesting, and documenting the general approach and indicating how to use these commands may be useful for future reference.

As a quick reference, if only enlarging, there are just a few key steps.

  1. Use fdisk to enlarge the partition. Review the exact layout to ensure the correct starting sector/location. Because you need to delete the appropriate partition, then re-create it, so it must start at the same spot as the one you just deleted. Note until you write, you can still reverse back out of fdisk.
  2. Then run e2fsck
  3. Then run resize2fs

So this was a RPi 3 with a 8GB SD card, with no extra 8GB SD card anywhere to be found, but several 2GB cards were available. The files in use for the root filesystem was 1.6GB, so just enough room to make it all work.

Note these examples are working with a standalone PC, not working with the RPi itself - again, if that is all you have, the RPi Forums are a great resource.

Here is an approach that can work if you were using the exact same SD card (i.e. cloning the existing system):

NOTE: All commands done as root (superuser or user with sufficient privileges)

Create the image from the SD Card:

dd if=/dev/8gbsd of=/home/user/pi_images/8gbsd_image.img
-or could be something like-
dd if=/dev/sdb of=/home/user/pi_images/8gbsd_image.img

Restore an image to disk:

dd if=/home/user/pi_images/8gbsd_image.img of=/dev/8gbsd
dd if=/home/user/pi_images/8gbsd_image.img of=/dev/sdb

Now if you try and use a 2GB card, e.g.

dd if=/home/user/pi_images/8gbsd_image.img of=/dev/2gbsd
dd if=/home/user/pi_images/8gbsd_image.img of=/dev/sdb

You will find there will be some warnings during the dd and that the 2GB SD card won't boot (kernel panic or file system issue)

So what to do?

You need some common / readily available utilities - GPartEd (GNOME Partition Editor), fdisk, e2fsck, resize2fs, e4defrag

If not installed/available, these are debian packages for reference:

e2fsprogs (e4defrag resize2fs e2fsck), fdisk package (fdisk), gparted package (gparted)

You need a scratch disk or USB flash drive or other media to do your resize work (theoretically you could use the 8GB card, but this was a working system, and there was no intention of modifying the original working system on the 8GB SD Card - so image it, and then put the working 8GB SD card aside)

For this example, a 16GB USB flash drive was used.

Partition as Linux (fdisk), and then format ext4 (mkfs.ext4)

Make sure it is not mounted, and then duplicate ext4 partition from 8GB card (both SD card and USB inserted, e.g. /dev/sdb and /dev/sdc)

dd if=/dev/sdb2 of=/dev/sdc1 (grab partition 2 from SD card and drop onto the USB drive)

Test USB drive

mount /dev/sdc1 /mnt
ls /mnt

You should see duplicated root file system on USB drive

Now prep the drive - you can delete any files you know aren't needed, then defragment the drive to optimize the layout of the file system, e.g.

/sbin/e4defrag /dev/sdc1

Then do file system check / prep for resize

/sbin/e2fsck -f /dev/sdc1

Now unmount the partition for resize step

umount /dev/sdc1

Finally, use the resize2fs utility to resize the file system

You can use this to see details on minimum size needed:

/sbin/resize2fs -P /dev/sdc1

The -M option minimizes the file system at optimum size:

/sbin/resize2fs -M /dev/sdc1

If this isn't small enough, you need to make sure you can still fit the files onto the 2GB card. If the usage is 1.6 GB used, you can try. If it is 2.6GB, there is no way the 2GB card will work. You can go back to the Test step, mount the USB, and try and delete files, then repeat the steps.

You can force the size with the -f option - note that if the existing files are too large to fit in your specified size, you can run into corrupted files, or it simply won't work.

/sbin/resize2fs -f /dev/sdc1 1820M

So now you've got a reduced ext4 partition that can fit on the 2GB card, but the 2GB card needs to be structured so it will boot on the RPi.

Start with gparted, and document what partitions are on the 8 GB card, note start point, size, and number of sectors per partition.

Now drop the 8GB image onto the 2GB - this will ensure the beginning part of the drive will match the layout of the boot partition.

dd if=/home/user/pi_images/8gbsd_image.img of=/dev/sdb

You can use gparted or fdisk, but you want to reduce the second partition so it will fit on the 2GB SD card. With fdisk, you'd delete partition 2, make a new one, and then select/verify the correct start sector and fit the maximum size for the new second partition. When asked about ext4 signature, you do not want to delete.

Again, you can use gparted to view & compare the 8GB vs. the 2GB - the beginning should be the same, and the second ext4 partition should fit on the card.

Now, you can put the reduced root partition from your USB drive:

dd if=/dev/sdc1 of=/dev/sdb2 (grab the USB drive and drop onto partition 2 from SD card)

Now, if the sizes are all good, and no errors or warnings, you can remove the USB drive, and try and mount partition 2/ext4 root file system:

mount /dev/sdb2 /mnt
ls /mnt

If all looks good, unmount the drive:

umount /dev/sdb2

Now put the SD card into your Raspberry Pi and Boot Away!

Here are a few other notes regarding layout on SD card (for reference):

Clone MBR + BootSector to a new drive:

dd if=/dev/sdb of=/dev/sdc bs=512 count=2

To restore the MBR from a backup image you want to copy only the first 446 bytes:

dd if=mbrbackup.img of=/dev/sdc bs=446 count=1

Clone only MBR from source disk to a new drive:

dd if=/dev/sdb of=/dev/sdc bs=446 count=1

Some notes on Live Linux distros
written December 10, 2021 by TimeTraveler
Category: SupportNote Tags: Debian; Fedora; Ubuntu; Most Popular; USB Collections    #40

When you boot into a Live Linux distro, you are loading a complete, fully functional operating system on your system without affecting the existing installed operating system on the hard drive. This flexibility is truly awesome for certain purposes, such as inspecting a system without having to use the installed OS, grabbing a file without the need for logging into a system (which is why the physical control of the system is an important security issue, and partially why UEFI came to be), and the ability to check out a Linux distro without going through a whole install process. To someone who just uses their computer for work and doesn't have any technical know how or need, this particular capability isn't all that important, but for those technically inclined, it adds an important resource to your toolset, and also is just plain cool.

The LinuxCollections.com USB collections provide all sorts of options - all the Fedora flavors, all the Ubuntu flavors, all the Debian flavors, and the most popular collection. Not only can you explore the different desktops, you can see dedicated versions like Ubuntu Studio (for musicians/graphic artists/etc.), or Fedora Python Classroom, Fedora Robotics, and many others.

When you get booted into the OS, we sometimes get questions about where the ISO files are, or what is the root user (superuser) password. To address these specific items, we list the details below.

Where to find the ISO files, mounted location of the booted USB partition on these distro families:

  • Debian = /run/live/findiso
  • Fedora = /run/initramfs/isoscan
  • Linux-Lite = /isodevice
  • Linuxmint = /isodevice
  • Manjaro = /run/miso/img-dev
  • MX Linux = /live/iso-dev
  • openSuSE = /run/initramfs/isoscan
  • Ubuntu = /isodevice
On most live distros, it is suggested you use sudo to run a superuser/administrator command, e.g. sudo /sbin/fdisk /dev/sda
If you quickly want to get to the root prompt, on just about all live distros you can use sudo su, which is the su command (SuperUser) - normally you would be asked for the root password, but just about all treat it as an authorized command for the current user because of the sudo configuration. So by typing sudo su you get dropped into the root prompt as the root user. At this point, you can use passwd if you want to establish your own (known) password.

Note that some distros do require a root password or a sudo password - on MX Linux, the demo user's password is "demo", and the root user's password is "root". Some other root passwords are blank (empty/none), i.e. just hit return, or "live". On Debian the live user name is user with password "live"

All USB Collections updated!
written November 10, 2021 by TimeTraveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: Debian; Fedora; Ubuntu; Most Popular; USB Collections    #39
With the release of Ubuntu 21.10 and Fedora 35, we've been able to update ALL our USB Collections. Debian seems to release every 2-3 months, while Ubuntu is on a 6 month cycle.

The Most Popular USB Collection-64 bit includes Ubuntu, Kubuntu, LinuxMint, Manjaro, MX Linux, openSUSE, Linux-lite, and Fedora, all on one 32GB USB Flash Drive for only $24.95! For versions and details, see Most Popular Collection

The Ubuntu USB Complete Collection-64 bit includes all flavors of Ubuntu, including Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Server, Budgie, MATE, plus Ubuntu Studio, all on a 32GB USB Flash Drive for only $24.95! For versions and details, see Ubuntu USB Collection

The Fedora USB Complete Collection-64 bit includes all flavors of Fedora, including Workstation, Server, all the Spins (Cinnamon/KDE/XFCE/MATE/etc.), plus the Labs (Astronomy/Python Classroom/Security Lab/Jam/Robotics/etc.) all on a 64GB USB Flash Drive for only $34.95! For versions and details, see Fedora USB Collection

For most recent Debian USB Collections, see Debian USB Complete Collection-64 bit and the 256GB monster with all the source also! Debian USB Developer Collection-64 bit


LinuxCollections.com media production has been green for years
written September 20, 2021 by TimeTraveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: Media Production    #38
We have tried to focus on Linux and our services, but it came up in a conversation, and we figured we should put it down for any interested parties. With a 36 panel solar array / approx. 10kW generation, we have been producing all our media and doing all our operations from a grid-free / solar electric powered office, generating all necessary power without any impact on the environment. We will note that there were impacts on the environment to produce/refine metals/assemble/transport/install the panels, which some people conveniently ignore, but for the past several years and going forward, LinuxCollections.com can be considered "green" for anyone so inclined to ask.

Debian 11.0.0 Release
written August 26, 2021 by TimeTraveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: Debian; Debian 11; Release;    #37
Debian 11 now available! Released August 14, 2021, this is code named "Bullseye". Available on 18 DVDs for AMD64 (64-bit) and i386 (32-bit), as well as the 8 live versions on DVD with Cinnamon, GNOME, KDE, LXDE, LXQt, MATE, Standard (shell), and Xfce. We have assembled these into a single 128GB USB with the AMD64 release and all 8 live version (1 USB = 26 DVDs) - this Debian Complete Collection on USB is only $39.95. There is also the Developer version on a 256GB USB with an additional 17 DVDs of the source code (so 1 USB = 43 DVDs) and this is only $49.95. Although a major release that moves up the Linux kernel to 5.10.0-8, any of the examples for Debian 10 will work as outlined elsewhere on this blog. All USB scripts updated to reflect the change to Bullseye.

Debian 10.10.0 USB Developer Collection
written July 8, 2021 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: New; Updates; Debian;    #36

We have just released the Debian 10.10.0 USB Developer Collection which uses a 256GB USB Flash Drive and includes all 14 DVD ISOs with the Debian Source! So this is a step up from the Debian USB Complete Collection that ALSO includes all the source packages. This USB has 38 DVDs worth of Debian, and has all 8 live versions (Cinnamon, GNOME, KDE, LXDE, LXQt, MATE, Standard, Xfce), as well as the full install and the 16 DVD ISOs for Debian 10.10.0 AMD64 (64-bit).

So what can you do with the source? Well, this is what GNU/Linux and Debian is all about. Even if you aren't an experienced developer, you can do things that can personalize your computing experience. Note that people all over the world create Debian whether as translators, documenters, developers, testers, bug-fixers, etc., etc. As both a fun example, and a functional example, we modify the BASH shell to show you what is involved, how relatively easy it is, and to show off that maybe a user-abusive interface is more in line with how computers should interact with us humans.

This walks through steps to modify bash (shell) on a Debian 10.10.0 / amd64 install.

To watch step-by-step on the LinuxCollections.com How To Video, see Debian Developer Collection on USB

This shows off how to configure/modify/install modified source for use on your system. This is not a disciplined approach for patches or serious development, more of a quick way to have some fun.

Example shows off how to build a more "user-abusive" command prompt…

Example starts with a full install with KDE Desktop and the Debian USB Developer Collection (LinuxCollections.com #51010)

[ ] = comments that cover relevant steps for full example (but not detailed)
( ) = comments about previous command, or options

[Install Debian 10.10.0 with KDE desktop]
[Insert Debian USB Developer Collection, and mount USB_Boot partition]
[Get to root Shell/Terminal/Command prompt (Konsole/use root password entered during install)]
#cd /media/user/USB_Boot/boot/mountusb
(change to mounted folder so you can run mountusb shell script)
(This mounts all ISO as sources, and updates /etc/apt/sources.list to reference ALL packages on all 30 DVDs)
(change to home directory as a working folder)
#apt-get -y install build-essential fakeroot devscripts
(default Yes answer, and install necessary packages to allow building)
#apt-get source bash
(Installs bash source, any error has to do with "loosely handling" code, safe to ignore for this example)
(if desired, install preferred editor, e.g. apt-get install vim (or use nano))
#cd bash-5.0
(change directory to installed source)
#vim execute_cmd.c
(search for "command not found" and modify to your desired error, e.g. "Get it right, Dipbrain!", then save the file)
#apt-get -y build-dep bash
(make sure any build dependencies required by bash are installed, default Yes to install)
#debuild -b -uc -us
(debuild is a front end to build debian packages, uses dkpg-buildpackage, etc. ("man debuild" for more details), the -b is a binary build, -uc unsigned changes, do not sign modifications/changes, -us unsigned source, do not sign source package (example is for fun/personal use))
#cd ..
(up one folder where newly built .deb package is located)
(add /sbin to root path for ldconfig/install tools)
#dpkg -i bash_5.0-4_amd64.deb
(debian package install with our newly build .deb package)

Now run a new terminal window (so new bash process is created, i.e. the bash we just built), and type a bad command…

You too can create a user abusive operating system that tells it like it is…

For other details and examples, see wiki entry: Debian Building Tutorial

Notes on WiFi Drivers
written May 12, 2021 by Time Traveler
Category: Tags: WiFi; Wireless; Drivers; Firmware;    #35

This talks about WiFi options for Debian, but can be helpful for Debian based distros, and a guide for any other non-Debian distros.

First, some background. WiFi or Wireless networks use radio frequencies to communicate data. These occupy specific bands in the radio spectrum, and these bands are controlled in the U.S. by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), and other governmental agencies in other countries. Because of the potential to disrupt other radio frequency devices, there can be concerns with the drivers that can control the hardware. If it was all open source, theoretically on some devices, a skilled programmer could create something that is non-compliant within the FCC regulations. So therefore, companies that produce phones and wireless devices aren't super agreeable to let the average person dink around with the drivers that could turn a little-ole tablet into a radio scrambler. Which means that often the Linux based wireless drivers are proprietary (i.e. not open source), or non-existent for some devices (the company wrote the Windows drivers, got approved, and moved on to a new device).

So if you have a laptop or other device with WiFi capability, just installed Linux, and can't get the WiFi to work, then this info may be for you. There is one guy that comments on our Facebook posts and has complained that his laptop never works with Linux, and it is very possible that some low-cost laptops sold with Windows using certain chipsets will never have working WiFi with Linux (see above). Luckily, the majority don't fall into that category, but be aware that this could be a losing battle - time for a better laptop…

For basic notes on what to do, there is a good spot on Debian's Wiki - check out Debian Wireless Fidelity. If you get a note/details on the missing firmware, you can look at Firmware-iwlwifi file list for Intel WiFi adapters. For more details on these, you can look at Intel WiFi Wiki. Note that most (or all) of these will need you to have non-free option to your sources list (for notes on sources.list, see this blog entry: Debian sources.list example)

What prompted this blog entry was a customer installing Debian on an HP laptop - this was his success story submitted by him: Found firmware drivers here: Unofficial non-free firmware for Buster. Downloaded firmware, unzipped to USB stick which I just left plugged in while going through new install/restart process and software found the right driver immediately when going through install and set up WiFi no problem immediately, and said it was downloading some updates during installation.

As a final note, it is important to understand because these drivers are non-free, the default Debian install will not include these, so some extra work is required. It is hard to figure out which entity is the source of this annoyance. Is it the government for imposing regulations on radio frequency communication? Hard to blame them, since some regulation is needed somewhere. Is it the hardware manufacturer for not open sourcing drivers? As outlined, there are possibly overriding concerns that drive this decision. Is it Debian for not including these drivers in their install? Hard to blame them, since these are not open source, and do not meet Debian's guidelines. Since there is a solution, perhaps it is best to appreciate that simple fact, and realize it is the result of disparate people each selecting the best option available within the scope of their individual situation.

Cloned Drives and UUIDs
written April 28, 2021 by Time Traveler
Category: Tags: UUID; lsblk; fstab;    #34

Let's say you did a hard disk clone and it won't boot. This outlines specific steps to fix a cloned hard drive on /dev/sda that did not boot after cloning. The main issue was a different UUID for the hard drive. If you have the option during cloning to preserve the UUID, all this would not be necessary. So this is a duplicated drive that does not have the UUID of the original. When the system tried to boot, it did not, and this was shown:

Gave up waiting for root device

ALERT! /dev/disk/by-uuid/[UUID] does not exist!

So this is a problem with /etc/fstab and/or GRUB - here are some steps to resolve the problem:

NOTE: All examples assume single hard drive device as /dev/sda and booting rescue from USB or Disc

Get to a Shell with root/superuser prompt
Plug in handy Debian Complete Collection on USB (or suitable boot media with shell access)
Select Live Standard (Shell prompt)
Type sudo su[Enter] to get to root/superuser prompt

Figure out new UUIDs (main boot partition/swap/etc.)
You can use blkid (/sbin/blkid[Enter]) to view current UUID for drives
To save off for use in editing, you can do something like this:
lsblk -l -o +UUID | grep sda1 | cut -b 80-115 > newuuid.txt[Enter]
(List 36 characters for UUID into file)
Now we want to actually make changes to the boot drive (not our USB drive), so mount the root partition (be sure you know correct partition/layout of drive for this step!)
mount /dev/sda1 /mnt[Enter]
cd /mnt/etc[Enter]
nano fstab[Enter]
In nano, use insert key, then enter /home/user/newuuid.txt to insert text for new hard drive UUID - edit as appropriate to replace/update the UUID. Note old UUID that you are updating/replacing, as this may be used in grub.cfg, and also need an update.

You will also need to do a similar process for the swap partition

# /etc/fstab: static file system information.
# Use 'blkid' to print the universally unique identifier for a
# device; this may be used with UUID= as a more robust way to name devices
# that works even if disks are added and removed. See fstab(5).
# / was on /dev/sda1 during installation
UUID=c3447a5c-d4d9-4327-af71-393723761edd / ext4 errors=remount-ro 0 1
# swap was on /dev/sda5 during installation
UUID=75eef9cf-24c1-4b1a-9a3e-8a3c625bd62a none swap sw 0 0
/dev/sr0 /media/cdrom0 udf,iso9660 user,noauto 0 0

At this point, you should remove USB / DVD boot media, and reboot system to boot hard drive. You should at least get to the grub menu (startup menu)

Ideally you will be able to boot the default item or get into the advanced options (if available) and get a rescue mode/option to boot

If this does not work, or there is still boot issue (and you can't use rescue option to boot to hard drive), then, you will have to get to same spot as updating fstab and then update a grub.cfg menu item (change root UUID from original/old UUID to new hard drive UUID (e.g. what was saved in newuuid.txt)) e.g. nano /boot/grub/grub.cfg[Enter] - you will want to find the old/original UUID and replace with new current hard drive UUID - you can do the whole file, but easiest to do the main boot option or use edit option from grub menu. The reason we suggest editing grub.cfg is because you can use newuuid.txt vs. recording/manually entering new UUID.

echo 'Loading Linux 4.19.0-14-amd64 ...'
linux /boot/vmlinuz-4.19.0-14-amd64 root=UUID=c3447a5c-d4d9-4327-af71-393723761edd ro quiet

If you still can't get booted on the actual hard drive (never see GRUB errors or just reboot without starting GRUB), then you may have to do some work to run / fix grub - here is one (simple) approach:
After booting to the rescue prompt:
$>sudo su
#>mount /dev/sda1 /mnt
#>cd /mnt
(Now map rescue system to critical mount points proc/sys/dev on /mnt to prep for chroot)
#>mount -t proc /proc proc/
(if that fails, try rbind), e.g. mount --rbind /proc proc/
#>mount --rbind /sys sys/
#>mount --rbind /dev dev/
(Now chroot to make this root folder)
#>chroot /mnt
(Now fall into fix below, e.g. run update-grub then grub-install /dev/sda)

Once booted, you will want to formally update grub/fix all references to hard drive
get to root/superuser prompt and run
grub-install /dev/sda[Enter]

Then reboot, and your system now is reconfigured for cloned drive!

Delay/Warning: Gave up waiting for suspend/resume device

This can happen if the original drive had a device configured for suspend/resume with a UUID - now that the UUID has changed, it will cause a delay are reboot. Here are some quick notes on where to find / how to resolve this situation.

Once you have your correct UUID, as root/superuser, go to /etc/initramfs-tools/conf.d/ and edit the file resume. Use RESUME=UUID=75eef9cf-24c1-4b1a-9a3e-8a3c625bd62a (where UUID matches correct device). Alternatively, use RESUME=none if this capability is not needed/wanted.
Make sure your root user has /sbin in the path, e.g. PATH=$PATH:/sbin, then run update-initramfs -u to update correct files. Now reboot and this should remove & resolve delay, warning display.

Debian Buster (10) sources.list example
written March 2, 2021 by Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote Tags: Debian; Buster; sources.list; apt; apt-get    #33

So let's say your at the point that you've installed Debian onto a hard drive, and you want to get updates from the internet. Depending on the exact sequence at install, your /etc/apt/sources.list will reference the installation media. Below are some basic examples for modifying your sources.list with notes on why & what. For more details on what goes in sources.list, you can use man sources.list.

The sequence of updating sources.list is to comment out existing entries (unless you also want to use these), and then add the appropriate "new" sources. Once the files sources.list is updated and saved, you run apt-get update to query the sources and get package information. (Watch for any errors or issues during this process). Once you have performed this step, you can then check for upgrade information: apt-get upgrade. These all need to be performed as superuser (login as root or use sudo).

From then on, to check for updates you just need to run:
apt-get update[Enter]
apt-get upgrade[Enter]

The following entries for sources.list use ONLY the Debian sources (main)
deb http://deb.debian.org/debian buster main
deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian buster main

deb http://deb.debian.org/debian-security/ buster/updates main
deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian-security/ buster/updates main

deb http://deb.debian.org/debian buster-updates main
deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian buster-updates main

The following entries for sources.list use Debian sources PLUS contributions and non-free options (main, contrib, non-free) This configuration may be required for certain packages and to access proprietary add-ons.
deb http://deb.debian.org/debian buster main contrib non-free
deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian buster main contrib non-free

deb http://deb.debian.org/debian-security/ buster/updates main contrib non-free
deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian-security/ buster/updates main contrib non-free

deb http://deb.debian.org/debian buster-updates main contrib non-free
deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian buster-updates main contrib non-free

This is an alternate way if you wish to specify server location (example is country code us for United States, list of available servers at debian.org)
deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/ buster main contrib non-free
deb-src http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/ buster main contrib non-free

This is an alternate entry for security (e.g. security updates only)
deb http://security.debian.org/ buster/updates main contrib non-free
deb-src http://security.debian.org/ buster/updates main contrib non-free

Debian 10.8.0 USB Complete Collection
written February 15, 2021 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: New; Updates; Debian;    #32

We have just released the Debian 10.8.0 USB Complete Collection and have done a few updates. A customer asked for the Text based install option, so we have added an Advanced Options submenu that provides the additional options that you would find if booting direct from the DVD. We had originally decided that keeping it simple would be the best (i.e. one option to install), but do recognize that there are special situations where the advanced options are necessary. So we have put these additional options as selections in the Advanced Options submenu. We have also updated the version of GRUB used to master the boot options for the USB itself. Enjoy!

Random Notes, What's New 2021
written January 22, 2021 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: New; Hardware;    #31

LinuxCollections.com is now using Stripe.com to process credit card payments. With the growth of alternative payment options, it made sense to make the transition to a more full service solution for our customers. For repeat customers, please note that the payment approach is slightly different, and you will be taken to stripe.com's servers for processing your secured payment details.

Facebook Posts - we regularly "Boost" posts at Facebook to reach new potential customers. Some Facebook users complain that this is spam, and we should stop spamming their news feed. It seems useless to point out that this is not under the control of LinuxCollections.com, but it is Facebook that determines where these boosted posts go. The disconnect that these Facebook users display seems to match their approach, as some of these pictures and responses are tasteless. We'd just like to state for the record that Facebook is an advertising company that makes its money off of advertisers, and if they don't like the advertising, they may wish to rethink their relationship with Facebook. But we imagine those thoughts would not compute.

Hardware - some of the issues with Linux are due to lack of drivers for certain pieces of hardware (e.g. wireless adapters, printers, etc.) If you run into this, your best bet is to reach out to the hardware manufacturer. Even if they can't help you, by doing this they will know that they may be losing business due to lack of Linux support. The squeaky wheel gets the grease - if enough people talk about Linux, the hardware manufacturers will pay attention.

Chromebooks - there are enough different chromebooks where the manufacturers don't provide the drivers, so it is hard for a general purpose distro to support an arbitrary chromebook. Plus hardware configurations can change rapidly, so the manufacturer is busy just keeping up. The effort to compile all sorts of different drivers, test on all sorts of different chromebooks, and release this is a lot to ask for a "Free" distribution. Always be aware of a market's dynamics when trying to understand what is available and what is not. There are some specific distros out there, but (so far) there has not been enough demand to make an effort to offer these.

New! The By Request page
written December 10, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: New; Requests;    #30

We often get requests for some of the less popular distros, and have to decide if adding a distro makes sense. It does take employee time and there are costs involved to create the web page, download/test/archive the ISO file(s), so if only a small number of customers will ever order a distro, it all may be a less than profitable prospect. Additionally, to keep up-to-date with a distro, also takes time - if there is no revenue generated and there is no interest, then updating/maintaining a distro makes no sense.

However, when you get to the root of it, LinuxCollections.com is a service company, and this is a service some customers would like. So we looked at how we could streamline the process. Downloading and adding a distro to our database is fairly straightforward, but creating the web page, grabbing screen shots, documenting details of the distro, etc. can be time consuming. So we have created a "By Request" page - see the LinuxCollections.com By Request page.

By creating a "catch-all" page that lists requested distros, we can simply do the minimal amount - download the distro, get it in the catalog, and let our customers do their stuff. If there is sufficient demand, we can upgrade a distro to have its own page. So we have created the page, and we shall see how it goes.

How to create a separate bootable USB for specific Live version from Debian USB Complete Collection
written September 2, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote Tags: Debian; USB Complete Collection; Install; Create Live USB;    #29

We had a customer that wanted to create separate bootable USB sticks from the Live versions on the Debian Complete Collection USB provided by LinuxCollections.com. Many distributions have an icon right on the desktop to create a USB drive, but Debian figures you already know how to do this - for those that don't know, this example is for you! As the example, we will say you want the Live Cinnamon (but applies for any of the 8 live ISOs included with the Complete Collection - just use correct ISO name below).

(Note this is the quick & fast, expert approach)
Insert Debian USB Complete Collection, and boot to menu, then select the Live Standard (Shell)
Once at prompt, sudo su[Enter]
Now as super user, insert target USB (e.g. 4GB or 8GB blank/new USB drive)
Use dmesg[Enter] to verify actual device, in this example, sdc (System in use has sda as bootable hard drive, sdb is Debian Complete Collection, and target USB ends up being sdc), so we see final line of dmesg is: [sdc] Attached SCSI removable disk
Once we know correct target device (i.e. /dev/sdc) we can do the dd operation. It turns out the correct partition is already mounted (!) (See note below), so go to iso location:
cd /run/live/findiso/boot/iso
Then run the dd command to create USB with Cinnamon:
dd if=debian-live-10.5.0-amd64-cinnamon.iso of=/dev/sdc[Enter]
(i.e. input file is the iso (plus be sure to use correct version on your USB!), output file is the USB device (dd will drop ISO file onto USB, which will boot on systems that can handle USB booting))
When this completes, you can shutdown system (e.g. systemctl poweroff[Enter]), and remove Debian USB Complete Collection, then boot with newly created target USB inserted (or move to another system, etc.)

In the case where you wanted to find the partition (or where using the USB from an already installed system (vs. booting a live option)), you would need to know which partition to mount.
From the GRUB boot menu when you start up the Debian Complete Collection
Details on this LinuxCollections.com Boot USB
Notes on Partitions (Volumes on this USB)
Item 2) USB Boot - Boot and ISOs
Meaning the USB_Boot volume/partition/mount point is where you can find the ISO
So if you use mount /dev/sdb2 on Live system, you see it is already attached at /run/live/findiso!
On a running system where you just put in the Debian USB Complete Collection, you would use mount /dev/sdb2 /mnt[Enter] to mount the partition at /mnt, so you would find the iso files at /mnt/boot/iso

Debian catalog backfilled a bit
written August 19, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: Debian; Hamm; Slink; Potato; Woody;    #28

We had a request to add Hamm (Debian 2.0), and did some digging and back-filled our catalog to grab Debian releases we did not currently have. As it turned out, Debian 3.1 (Sarge) [June 2005] was the then current version when LinuxCollections.com was created, so we never had any 2.x versions. So these "new" Debian releases are now available in our catalog:

Debian 2.0 (Hamm), released 24 July 1998
Debian 2.1 (Slink), released 9 March 1999
Debian 2.2 (Potato), released 14¿15 August 2000
Debian 3.0 (Woody), released 19 July 2002

Note it is likely an older computer is probably required to correctly boot/run/install these versions. So what started in 1999 as a 1 CD install is now a 16 DVD set of software (buster/10). That is a lot of free software! Enjoy!

Understanding Debian main, contrib, non-free in sources.list
written August 17, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: Debian; sources.list; apt-get; apt; /etc/apt;    #27

We were recently asked by a customer if we had DVDs with non-free packages so they could install an Nvidia driver on a system without internet. Because we only provide the actual release files provided by Debian (and these non-free components come from many different sources), the reality is there are no ISO files that Debian releases that has this software, and hence, these aren't part of the Debian release. For options dealing with this situation, please refer to the notes after the explanation of how Debian manages different software sources.

When looking at sources.list (the /etc/apt file that lists where to look for packages), there are 3 typical categories (components) used by the Debian distribution. These are main, contrib, and non-free. When installing from disc or our USB collection, Debian will only use main and contrib. This is because these are the only ones that adhere to the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG). Below are the details as indicated by Debian at SourcesList.

  • main consists of DFSG-compliant packages, which do not rely on software outside this area to operate. These are the only packages considered part of the Debian distribution.
  • contrib packages contain DFSG-compliant software, but have dependencies not in main (possibly packaged for Debian in non-free).
  • non-free contains software that does not comply with the DFSG.

So if using proprietary drivers, or other non-free software in Debian, you may need to update your sources.list to reflect different repositories and adding the non-free component. Here are some examples:

This is a typical entry (for the buster distribution):

deb http://deb.debian.org/debian buster main
deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian buster main

This is how the lines are broken out:
Archive type - deb (Debian packages) and deb-src (source files)
Repository URL or location - actual URL/location
Distribution - buster (which distribution we want)
component - main, i.e the DFSG software packaged by Debian

Here are typical entries to get updates and security updates:

deb http://deb.debian.org/debian-security/ buster/updates main
deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian-security/ buster/updates main

deb http://deb.debian.org/debian buster-updates main
deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian buster-updates main

If you also need the contrib and non-free components, add contrib non-free after main, e.g.

deb http://deb.debian.org/debian buster main contrib non-free
deb-src http://deb.debian.org/debian buster main contrib non-free

So if you are trying to install a package that can't be found, you will want to determine more details on the package. Some vendors may have a separate repository, and so that line will need to be added to your sources.list, and then you will need to run apt-get update to refresh/update the package lists before performing the install. For other proprietary and non-free packages, the non-free component (category) will need to be added. If you only want to use software that complies with DFSG then you will NOT want to add these options.

So how can you install a third-party or non-free package if you can't access these via the internet on the system itself? Typically you will need to download a .deb file that has the packaged software, and the use dpkg utility to install, purge, etc. This can get involved if there are other dependencies and/or it is an older or newer release than your current Debian version, so this is a more advanced topic. The bare bones approach (that does carry risk if you do an install this way) would be to download the .deb file, copy it to the system, and then run dpkg -i somepackage.deb. You will want to explore details from the actual provider of the .deb. Other options could be downloading the source and compiling it on the system, or testing on non-production system before installing onto a production system.

Most Popular USB Collection now available!
written July 23, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: USB Collections; Fedora; Linux Lite; LinuxMint; Manjaro; MX Linux; openSuSE; Ubuntu; Kubuntu    #26
LinuxCollections.com is pleased to announce the availability of the first mixed distribution collection! So far we've put all the flavors from Debian, Fedora, and Ubuntu onto USB, but now we have created a collection that combines all the most popular distributions on a 32GB USB drive.

Each distro has its own special menu configuration so it can boot from the ISO file located on the USB drive (vs. an ISO image written to its own USB drive), and it took some effort to get each included distribution to properly boot and run in its "live" mode. Each has the option to do a full install once running the live desktop, so any of these can be installed to hard drive.

For current list on this USB, see the collection here - Most Popular USB Collection

Video: Most Popular Collection on USB - Quick look at 11 popular Linux distros on USB - 9:22

How do I learn about all the programs available in the Debian USB Complete Collection (or the Debian all discs option)?
written June 16, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote Tags: Debian Packages, Debian USB Complete Collection, mountusb, ISO, Synaptic, apt    #25

When you have full access to the entire Debian distribution, you have thousands of packages available. So what is the best way to find out what all those programs and applications are?

If you just want to browse, this is the full list from Debian:

Debian Packages

The other option to review/search/read about packages is to use Synaptic. This is the front end user interface to the "apt" package manager.

For technical details and a quick overview, this is from our reference page:

Debian Package Management

Synaptic can be found in different ways based on the desktop environment being run. You may be able to search (type in Synaptic), or look in Applications / System. If it is not available, you can get to a Terminal, login as superuser (su/root), and use apt-get install synaptic

Once in Synaptic, you can search for specific items, or browse by Sections (Categories), Status, Origin, or filter, etc. For the different packages, there are descriptions and details.

You can "Mark for Installation", apply upgrades, and do various other options - Synaptic is a great tool to learn and work with when dealing with your Debian system. If not familiar with it, it is highly recommend to spend the time to learn how it works and what you can do with it.

Just as a reminder/review for those that aren't already aware, here are 2 videos that walk through the Live versions and a full install (as well as using mountusb.sh to access all 16 DVD ISO data):

Debian 10.0.0 Live Desktops (8 different ones) that covers a quick look at all 8 live environments to show you what this USB Collection looks like!
Debian 10.0.0 Installation this does an installation walk through and shows how to mount all 16 USB ISOs from the USB Collection

For details on mountusb.sh, see this blog entry: How to access ALL Debian packages from LinuxCollections.com's Debian Complete Collection on USB

How to access ALL Debian packages from LinuxCollections.com's Debian Complete Collection on USB
written June 4, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote Tags: mountusb, ISO, Debian Packages, Debian USB Complete Collection    #24

There are notes within the menu system when you boot the USB that talks about the mountusb.sh script. This quick blog post provides this info with some additional notes...

Note: The menu options are in menu form, but they are text only. All descriptive menu "entries" are just that, descriptive - they do NOT perform the actions they talk about - that is left up to you! This is indicated in the menus:

Note: These are inactive menu entries, only to provide textual information
via the GRUB menu system (use Esc key to exit / return to Main Menu)
Entries marked with ==> will show more info

==> Notes on using all ISOs from USB (After install)
After install, to mount all 16 isos and make all packages available
Do the following steps:
1) insert USB, and mount USB_Boot (largest 100+ GiB) partition
2) Open terminal as superuser (root)
3) change to the /path/to/usb/boot/mountusb folder
e.g. cd /media/user/USB_Boot/boot/mountusb folder
4) Run ./mountusb.sh

Note: You can see this sequence on the Debian 10 install video starting at 4:25. It starts with trying to install vim and tofrodos (which fail), then the mount process, and then, after all packages available in the /etc/apt/sources.list, voila, these packages are installed!

So you will want to open a terminal, make sure you are root:

You can use su: ~/$su[Enter]
Enter your password (for the root user):
If you use whoami[Enter], the name displayed will be "root"
Now change to mountusb folder, typically /media/[username]/USB_Boot/boot/mountusb, e.g.
#cd /media/cooldude/USB_Boot/boot/mountusb[Enter]
Then run ./mountusb.sh

You can refer to script mountusb.sh for all the details - creates folders and mounts ISOs based on USB structure. Note that if you move the ISO files to your hard drive, you will need to change locations for mounts.

Older Linux Distributions
written May 26, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote Tags: Old distributions, BIOS, UEFI, hd vs. sd    #23

Linux continues to evolve, and has done so its entire existence. Due to major changes in the industry, certain critical hardware interfaces have changed over the years, and if you try to run an older linux distribution on a new machine, you may find it will not operate correctly , or perhaps not at all!

We have tried to put notices in shipments containing older distributions, but do not have a comprehensive way to identify and ensure that this notice is included in all shipments when appropriate. The following outlines the important info in this notice:

Thank you for your purchase! You have purchased an older disc that may not boot or act properly on a newer/modern system. In other words, this may only boot or load correctly if it is run from a system that is contemporary from the release of the disc. For example (but not limited to), it may require an IDE hard drive interface vs. a SATA hard drive interface, or must have older VGA compatibility modes (screen resolution issues). Please do not contact LinuxCollections.com regarding operation of this disc.

To better understand what could happen when you try to boot an older distro on a newer system, reviewing the change from IDE (ATA/ATAPI) hard drive interfaces to SATA (Serial ATA) as the main hard disk interface is illustrative. This interface evolution changed the main hard drive designation in the system from /dev/hda to /dev/sda. So often on a newer system, the CD/DVD drive would be on the SATA bus, and most newer systems do not even have an IDE interface. So the initial portion loading the bootable ISO structured disc will work and load the boot portion (because the new system recognizes and handles the initial loading the same as an older system), but when that boot portion tries to load additional portions via script, it will fail if looking for a /dev/hd? device (because there is no such device on the system, or that device is NOT the bootable disc). If the distro is old enough, it may not even know about or treat the SATA interface correctly at all, meaning it will fail miserably when it uses internal scripts to continue the boot process.

It is in the realm of possibility that there may be an option to specify a different device, or overcome this issue, BUT it is totally distribution dependent, and has more to do with the timeframe when the distro was released. There is simply no way for a distro that was created when the SATA interface wasn't even thought of to bypass its designed boot process. In simple terms, the bootable disc (at the time) safely assumed something like this: OK, I just loaded, and it is from a disc. For Linux (at that point in time), all hardware that can read a disc would be on the IDE interface, which means I just need to search and look at all /dev/hd? (meaning /dev/hda, or /dev/hdb, or /dev/hdc, etc., etc.) devices on the system, and find "me", then load the next portion of the boot process. So what happens with this distro boots from a new system, is it looks at those devices (which may not even be there), can't find "itself", was not designed to look elsewhere, so it can not continue the boot process, and it just simply fails.

As mentioned above, there may be ways to get it to boot and properly load, but it also may be impossible if you have a new system. If you are trying to run a 2006 distro on a computer produced in 2020, there is no guarantee it will work. You best bet is to boot on a 2006 system. Note that the reverse is also true - trying to boot a brand new distro on a 2006 system may fail just as miserably, so being able to buy an older distro is awesome if repurposing older hardware. However, this is where you must be aware of what you are doing. If trying to boot an older distro on a newer system, you can try searching online, or reviewing notes (README type files), to (perhaps) find the configuration information needed to make this work. However, please note that LinuxCollections.com is NOT a support organization - we simply put the ordered distribution onto media, package, and ship it to our customers.

Updates - new LinuxCollections.com Disc case, Facebook Links
written May 6, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: LinuxCollections.com Disc Case, Facebook, Advertising    #22

New LinuxCollections.com Disc Case - life is full of change, and just as happened in 2015, the disc cases we transitioned to back then are no longer available. Some is the natural change in the promotional industry due to the rise of USB media - because the demand for disc cases has dropped, there is no readily available supply in the marketplace. To address this circumstance, we now offer Case Logic cases with our LinuxCollections.com logo. In some ways, these are even better cases, since these can hold 24 discs, which works better for those that purchase a case with a full Debian set (currently 16 DVDs!). It does seem a race between how long there will be a demand for optical media, demand for disc cases, and the transition to USB , SD card, or other non-disc type media.

As an interesting aside, many years ago we were asked when we anticipated moving to BluRay media from DVD media. At the time, we responded it was too far in the future to even say and we had no plans to transition. Now, many years later, how many PCs & Laptops have BluRay players? How many have USB ports? Looks like that ship has sailed. We do anticipate the demand for optical media will continue while the vast majority of systems (especially older systems) use this as a bootable option. Of course, (at the moment), the transition to USB seems to be well under way, and our USB Complete Collections are pretty cool - we think everyone should have one or more, so check out our Videos if you don't yet realize what they offer.

Facebook Links - at some point, Facebook removed the block of LinuxCollections.com links, so if any Facebook user pointed out that we were NOT violating their community standards, thank you. It never made any sense to us, and we are grateful this is no longer an issue - the original post on our blog was back on January 10. There are millions (if not billions) of people that have no idea what Linux is, how powerful it is, and what it can do for them, and as long as our sales justify a marketing budget, Facebook seems like a reasonable platform to put some of those advertising efforts.

Ubuntu 20.04 LTS now available in all flavors on USB!
written April 20, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: Ubuntu; Kubuntu; Lubuntu; Xubuntu; Ubuntu Studio; Ubuntu Budgie; Ubuntu MATE; USB Complete Collection;    #21

With the release of the 20.04 LTS version (Long Term Support), we have expanded our Ubuntu offerings to include the different desktops. In addition to the standard Ubuntu and Kubuntu, we have added Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Budgie, and MATE! Plus, as a handy way to experience and work with these (such as we have done with our Debian USB Complete Collection and our Fedora USB Complete Collection), we have created the Ubuntu USB Complete Collection-64 bit!

This includes all 6 desktop environments, as well as Ubuntu Studio (which uses Xfce, like Xubuntu), and the Ubuntu Server install. You are able to run everything but the Server as a Live desktop, plus you can install any or all of these to a hard drive. If new to Linux, or curious what Ubuntu is all about, this is a great place to start! For further information, you can see the product page for the Ubuntu USB Complete Collection.

Understanding Linux on a USB Flash drive
written April 20, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote Tags: USB Flash Drive; USB Complete Collections    #20

This expands a bit on our previous post: What NOT to do with a Bootable USB Drive or Collection

For single disc options, the ISO (data image of the CD/DVD disc) is transferred onto the USB. So when you boot from the USB drive (as long as supported on the particular computer you are booting from), it is essentially the same as booting from the disc itself. You can do things like test/check media, and for all practical purposes, it will operate just like booting from the disc. The major difference is often speed - reading from USB 3.0 is significantly faster than reading from optical media and quite noticeable.

We do offer the dual USB and disc option for various reasons - if something happens to the USB, you still have the original "data". Since the data on the optical media can't be modified, you will always have the original as a backup. Also, if you have a system that can't boot from the USB drive, you will still be able to boot via the disc option.

As an aside, the term "boot" in this context is the act of loading the operating system. When you start a typical computer, it will initialize its BIOS (from Basic Input Output System), that allows important functions like accessing memory, accessing media, accessing peripherals, and accessing network hardare. Once this initializes, the BIOS then doesn't do much more, but will try to load an operating system (as based on its boot priority). Often this can be a CDROM (which also covers DVD drives), Hard Drive, network, or USB drives. Once it starts loading this, it falls back into a supporting role, letting the operating system run your computer. If it can't load (i.e. can't find a bootable option), it will put a message like "DISK BOOT FAILURE, INSERT SYSTEM DISK AND PRESS ENTER"

It is also important to understand what Linux is. Linux is an Operating System that can run a computer, just like Windows 10 or Mac OS X. So this means you must "boot" from the media (whether CD, DVD or USB). You CAN NOT load or run a bootable Linux distro in Windows, for example. Meaning if you are in Windows, and are trying to figure out how to load or do something with the media, you need to step back, shut down Windows, and then start your computer with the media in the drive. IMPORTANT: Your BIOS may also need settings to allow the correct "boot" order - for example, if you have Hard Disk as primary/first, you will always boot from the hard drive, and your disc or USB will simply be ignored - you must set these as a higher priority than the hard drive.

For details on how to configure a system to Boot from USB, refer to this reference section from our Quick Reference pages - How to Boot from USB

Please be aware that the typical USB is made for storage, and hence, can be written to. This means you should not modify or change the data on the USB if you wish to use it as it was delivered - a bootable version that can run/install the included Linux versions. All Collections USB include a user storage partition (USB_Storage) that can be used to transfer data from different operating systems (e.g. Windows to Linux to Mac, etc.). But all other partitions / files should remain untouched. Also an important note: If performing an install, when actually selecting where to install, be 100% positive you are not selecting the USB device. Typically the size/partitions/name will make it clear which drive is which, but if unsure, take the time to clearly identify and select the drive you wish to install on!

A final note on security - most systems are concerned with protecting you from remote access vs. physical security. For the vast majority of systems, if you have physical access to the system, it is assumed security was in protecting the actual physical access (i.e. keeping system in a locked room), rather than protecting the system now that you can dismantle it or boot from a different device. For a generic version of Windows on a generic system, you can boot from Linux and then mount (access) the hard drive, and see the directory and access files, etc. There are ways to prevent this, but it requires another layer of security (such as encrypting files, UEFI secure boot, etc.).

What NOT to do with a Bootable USB Drive or Collection
written March 31, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote Tags: USB Flash Drive; USB Complete Collections    #19

We just received an e-mail from a customer saying there is only an EFI folder and 1 file visible. When you receive a bootable USB from LinuxCollections.com, the only thing you should do is boot it from a computer with a cold-start. You do NOT want to look at it with Windows or Mac OS X - some partitions may not be accessible, and these operating systems may ask you to format these partitions - which would then destroy the USB data.

The whole intent of the USB drives that we deliver are to be placed into a USB slot, on a computer that is off and configured to Boot from USB before other devices, and then turn on the computer to boot from the USB drive - you will then boot into the Linux distro on the flash drive, or into a menu on a Collection USB. Any other usage could potentially damage or destroy the files/data on the drive

For details on how to configure a system to Boot from USB, refer to this reference section from our Quick Reference pages - How to Boot from USB

Lost or forgot Admin password (root user password)
written March 25, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog    #18

As we have touched on several times already, we are getting support inquiries from people using Linux and trying to find help. For a general coverage of this, see this blog entry

So we received a phone call and asked how to get the Admin password back on Linux. Well, a more accurate term would be the root user or super user password, but losing or forgetting this password is definitely a huge problem. So what are your options?

You will be able to find various options and approaches if you search the internet for solutions to this problem, but (and this is totally dependent on the distro, your security setup, and other configuration options for sudo/sodoers), here is a potentially quick way to fix this.

  • The following assumptions apply and all depend on how your system is configured!
  • You can log in with your user name or some other user
  • That user is configured to use sudo for administrator/super user functions
  • The password, if required, is the password for the user (and not the root password)

Also note that this approach also works for some live distros and will work for any system configured to allow sudo to run as super user for the logged on user.

  • Log on as user with password with sudo privileges
  • Run terminal session (alternate: Ctrl-Alt-F1 or Ctrl-Alt-F2, etc. and log on as user with password)
  • At prompt in terminal, type sudo su[Enter] - if configured, will allow you to run as super user level, if asked for password, use your user's password.
  • If successful (you will be warned if it fails), you will be logged in as root (typically indicated with # prompt)
  • Now type whoami[Enter] - if it shows root, you are almost there!
  • Type passwd[Enter] - Enter your new password, and again to confirm
  • Now type exit[Enter] - this returns to normal user prompt
  • To test, type su[Enter] - and enter your new password - you should be logged on as root (whoami)

For more info on sudo, use man sudo - sudo allows a permitted user to execute a command as the superuser or another user, as specified by the security policy. Note that this must be setup already, and not all distros use this approach (to add created users in the sudoers list). So this process may not work - but it will work on various Linux distros. An interesting aspect of this is that you can change the root password in situations where you really shouldn't - so please be aware that even though you were granted certain privileges, you should not abuse them. You don't need the root password if you can do what you need to do with sudo!!

What to expect from a Linux Disc
written March 24, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog    #17

As noted, we are getting support and inquiries from all sorts of people new to Linux, and their attempts to process the whole concept of a totally different operating system, which is unlike anything that they are used to.

We had an e-mail today asking what to do with the disc and the files on it. We surmised they were running Windows or Mac OS X, and popped in the disc to check it out. We diplomatically pointed out that they are missing the concept entirely. Linux is an operating system - it needs to run on the computer itself, not as a program to run under a different operating system (notwithstanding certain releases that do use this approach).

Virtually all Linux DVDs/CDs and USB drives are meant to be booted. On a DVD, if you see an isolinux folder, you most likely have a bootable DVD. But looking at the disc is not the intent. Linux is an operating system and as software, it truly shines when it is running. The way to do that is to put it in the DVD drive, make sure your BIOS is set to boot from DVD before the Hard drive, and start up your computer - the Linux distro will run & load from the DVD.

Some Linux distros are considered "Live", where you can run & do everything from the DVD, and will not do anything to your hard drive. Others are "Install" which don't provide a full/working environment, but expect to be installed onto a hard drive to turn your system into a Linux system - but all expect to be booted. These are NOT Windows or Mac programs, and there is no real reason to look at the disc. They need to be booted to run the operating system they contain.

Issues with new Debian 10 install - no Desktop / login prompt only
written March 14, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog    #16

We have heard of this with Debian 10 - whether you install 1 or multiple desktop environments, you can get to a point where you don't get a graphical login.

This is assuming Debian is fully installed - you should see a GRUB menu at startup, and see services starting, etc. [ OK ] Starting..., [ OK ] Reached..., etc.

Be sure to be patient if screen goes blank - it may take a long while to get everything loaded depending on system, memory, graphics, etc., etc.

At startup/pre-login on a typical system, you can use Ctrl-Alt-F1, Ctrl-Alt-F2, through Ctrl-Alt-F7 to toggle different screens (tty). Definitely try Ctrl-Alt-F1, Ctrl-Alt-F2, and Ctrl-Alt-F7 to see display differences, and perhaps see what may be going on.

If you only can get to (see) a login prompt (and no sign of a graphics mode), you can do the following commands in Debian to try a different display manager.

Login as root, use
apt-get install lightdm
apt-get install gdm3
apt-get install xdm

(or install all, and/or look up other display managers to add)

You should then get the ability to select the display manager - select something different & save/reboot.

You can also use the dpkg-reconfigure command to modify the available display managers

dpkg-reconfigure sddm
/usr/sbin/dpkg-reconfigure sddm
(or reconfigure gdm3, xdm, lightdm, etc.)

Typically not recommended in Debian to manually edit things, but you can see what is in this file:

e.g. nano /etc/X11/default-display-manager

Solving Problems
written January 28, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog    #15

There is a wide spectrum of conceptual models when it comes to Linux. Some people seem to have a hard time conceiving of a community or the developmental model that allows a fully functional operating system to be available for free. And not just 1, but hundreds of distros. So this reality gets processed differently by different people, who then try to fit this strange reality into the world they perceive. Because we answer the phone and respond to inquiries, we sometimes get contacted for technical support on aspects that have literally absolutely nothing to do with the service LinuxCollections.com provides. We recently received a letter via US post from an individual trying to get their HP OfficeJet scanner working, and that prompted this blog entry…

I'm using Linux, and what can I do to solve a problem that I don't have the knowledge or expertise to even know where to start? Whom do I ask?

The first approach should be to evaluate and try to clearly identify the problem at hand. Is it definitely a software issue or definitely a hardware issue? If software, it is time to Read The Fine Manual (sometimes seen as RTFM). (Aside: If you ask someone for help that the manual addresses, exasperation can set in, and this will sometimes become Read The F^@#!@& Manual - if the answer truly is there, note that you are wasting someone else's precious time asking for something you didn't take your time to find...). If it is hardware, the first attempt should always be the manufacturer. Often this will be fruitless, but it still must be tried, as it may lead to an online forum, or another resource that can get you to a solution. Additionally, there may be updated drivers that address the specific problem you are experiencing (drivers are the glue that tie the physical hardware to the software world, and often there must be a direct match between the actual hardware and the actual software - never assume "any old" driver will work correctly (and don't blindly assume that the correct drivers are always flawless)).

At this point, if unable to figure anything out, or still completely baffled, it is time to understand there is no commercial entity that has any responsibility for your particular issue. With a dose of humility, understand it may be your inexperience or lack of a proper contextual model that is the barrier to finding the solution. File away any frustration and anger, open your mind to new possibilities, and start the quest to find the knowledge you need.

With that in mind, the next step is to reach out to the Linux community. We list several resources on our Quick Reference page, and a good place for a newbie (new person using Linux) is LinuxQuestions.org. You will want to do internet searches on different search engines and try rewording your searches to see if you can find solutions other people have posted in different forums. You may want to search based on a well formed question, specific error wording, what works and what doesn't, etc. You can also look for distro forums, hardware forums, user forums, or any active community that is relevant and has a relevant section for asking your question/posting your problem.

Some other items to consider are typical troubleshooting items. Try to duplicate the problem on a different system. If it is working on one system but not another, identify what is different (configuration, settings, connections, etc.). Refer to system logs (typically in /var/log). Learn some GNU/Linux command line tools for hardware - e.g. lsmod, lspci, lsusb, lsblk, dmesg. If network based, learn command line tools for networks - e.g. ping, ifconfig, nslookup, dig.

Finally, accept that not everything is guaranteed to work in Linux. If possible, find hardware and software that does work in Linux. The true open source approach would be to accept the challenge, and do the engineering to solve the problem, and then report and offer the solution back to the Linux community. Since this can fall outside of the realm of possibility for some, it is understandable that this particular solution is not realistic. So if some program or hardware only has Windows drivers, you may need to use VirtualBox or a commercial solution like VMWare to run a virtual machine and use that "Windows" solution to run the specific program or access the piece of hardware.

The key thing to keep in mind is that any Linux based operating system has been developed with millions of man hours over decades. If new to this environment, you should be respectful of all the work that has gone into the software, and be thankful for everything that does work correctly. Be prepared to share your results/experiences with others to help the whole community. If you have difficulties with hardware, put pressure on the hardware manufacturer to better support Linux.

US Postage rates go up
written January 28, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog    #14
As of January 26, US postage rates have creeped up a bit for various options available for shipping here on LinuxCollections.com. We have updated these rates and they are now in use when selecting shipping options for your order. Because we have customers that buy a single disc and some that buy in bulk, trying to wrap in "free shipping" with media pricing would not be a good deal for the varied type of customers served by LinuxCollections.com. To that end, we decided a long time ago that providing a wide range of shipping options is the best approach for our customers, as it can accurately reflect real costs and ensure that some customers aren't subsidizing others, as well as providing options such as next day delivery when this type of shipping speed is needed. You get exactly what you want, delivered the way you want, at the best price.

Need a different operating system
written January 25, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog    #13

I have DELL desktop, i3, WIN7 Pro. I do not want to pay MS the extortion they are demanding to upgrade to 10.

There are many options - for guidance, you can run 64-bit material, so you can look at distribution platforms tagged AMD64 or x86-64.

I use MS Office 7, for word and excel.
Photoscape for photo editing.
Chrome and Firefox for browsers.

You are in good shape with the browsers. You can explore Libre Office for alternatives to office apps, or look into Wine (which allows Windows executables to run in native Linux). We have a wide ranging set of options at our Quick Reference pages, including OSAlt for Linux alternatives to popular Windows programs. These are all linked right at the top of the page.

I've been doing a lot of reading this past week re Linux. There is an OCEAN of information out there.

Sure - there is a thriving community of people that use Linux, but because there is no company marketing and polishing this for the mass market, there is a lot of specific information and personal opinion, which can make it confusing to people new to Linux. There are some companies that take a commercial approach (e.g. Canonical/Ubuntu), and there are also others taking similar approaches with paid for distros.

So, my question to you is; What Collection do you recommend for my needs? Do you also have instruction videos?

If you read through our FAQ, the recommended collection for someone new to Linux is our Most Popular Collection 64-bit - for a wider selection, you can also check out the Live DVD Collection. What has become quite popular since we released it (but focused solely on the Debian distribution) is our Debian USB Complete Collection. We do have videos (How To Videos) that show off different collections and what different Window Managers look like (KDE, GNOME, Cinnamon, etc.). You can also check out our Quick Reference page for Linux tutorial and other educational information.

Support Stories - Disc Data
written January 15, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog    #12

We've had 3 support events (and 1 personal experience) that we want to document to possibly help resolve customers that feel there is a problem with the disc(s) they've received. Always remember, the physical world (and computers) are not perfection in motion. We are doing pretty dang good, but understand that when it comes to quality, we triple verify downloads/discs, and use professional duplication equipment. In reality, I don't think in the 10+ years we've been doing this, there has been a real issue where the disc had the wrong data, or was unreadable. Not to say we are perfect, but we've had more issues with delivery services than anything related to the service we perform.

Issue #1 - this should go without saying, but it has happened. Be sure to visually inspect the disc for fuzz, hair, fingerprints, food, styrofoam, or anything on the physical disc that can stick on the bottom surface of the disc itself. Remember there is a laser reading a rapidly spinning disc, so if you can see something on the disc, there is a good chance it could affect the reading of the data. Clean the disc and hold up at an angle to carefully inspect and make sure the bottom disc surface is clean. If you see scratches or actual physical damage, it could mean the disc is a frisbee.

Issue #2 - don't believe everything you see. A customer was checking discs from an All Disc Debian purchase, and had several that did not generate the correct ISO MD5 sum (something like this). They insisted the discs were bad. and although we did ask them to try a different system, they were confident they were right. So they shipped all the discs back. We verified them on several systems and had to ship them back, suggesting that possibly their drive was failing. This was a great waste of time and money for everyone involved. It is always a good idea to check/verify discs in a different system, because it is possible that you have a rapidly spinning drive using a high-precision laser that may be wearing out... If the speed is wrong, or there is a wobble (bearings wearing out), you may get errant data from the drive. Moral of the story: Errant data could be a bad disc, but it also could be a bad drive.

Issue #3 - understand what you are looking at. Recently a customer was doing something similar with a Debian All Disc purchase, but copying the DVDs to a drive and doing directory listings to check things. When every disc past disc 2 had the same "files and folders", he figured the discs were not duplicated correctly. It took way too long to get to the point and explain that the packages are all in a pool folder, and the discs are built in an automated way, so if you don't actually compare the sub-folders, you won't see any differences. Luckily everything got resolved without shipping anything, but precious time was wasted. Moral of the story: What you believe and see may not be a correct representation of reality.

Issue #4 - software and hardware quirks. This is something I've seen over the years, and basically it is a disc change event that gets handled incorrectly. So you may swap discs, but the system doesn't think anything happened, so happily reports its cached data, which makes it seem like the new disc is the old disc. Usually you can do an eject or work with the disc to get things synced up again, but if there is a hardware issue, sometimes you have to shut down the system and restart, so there is no cached data anywhere to verify that it truly is a different disc. Moral of the story: Always keep a spare optical drive on your shelf.

The Facebook Link Conundrum
written January 10, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog    #11

At some point, Facebook's algorithms decided that a link to LinuxCollections.com violated "Community Standards" so people trying to jump from Facebook to our site will probably have to enter the domain LinuxCollections.com into their browser. We've reached out to them to try and resolve this, but actually reaching a human (or a human that can accomplish anything) hasn't been a productive use of our time. We continue to advertise on their site because it does help reach people who have no idea what Linux is, don't know all the options available, and it seems to generate new customers.

Still, this is NOT the future that anyone should accept - if you run into this, complain (as the squeaky wheel metaphor hopefully applies). This is a classic case of computer algorithms and unintended consequences. So what do you think is the problem? You can refer to their community standards, but we just squint, shake our heads, and move on. Always realize that even a large organization with lots of employees aren't necessarily effective.

Welcome to the LinuxCollections.com Blog!
written January 6, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog    #10

Welcome to the new decade and welcome to the new LinuxCollections.com Blog! When any endeavour starts you never quite know what the future holds, but after more than a decade of providing Linux distros on CD and DVD (and now USB), the steady growth of LinuxCollections has accelerated, and there are interesting events and information that have led to starting this blog as a way to document and report these items to our customers and interested parties.

If there are any items you'd like covered here, please feel free to reach out and let us know about them. If new to Linux and LinuxCollections.com, be sure to refer to our FAQ and our Quick Reference pages for items that we won't be covering here (but may be what you are looking for). While still waiting for the Year of Linux on the Desktop, we may all be experiencing the Linux decade…

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Blog Information

USB Collection Updates - Most Popular, Fedora, Ubuntu
May 1, 2024
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: USB Collection Updates;Most Popular;Fedora;Ubuntu

Testimonials, Feedback, Input & Updates
March 27, 2024
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: Testimonials; Feedback; Input; Updates;

Happy New Year 2024!
January 2, 2024
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: USB; Notes; Price; Amazon Pay; What's happening;

First Steps - How To Boot from USB
October 30, 2023
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: USB; Booting; Intro; How To;

A few notes and happenings…
September 12, 2023
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: USB; Notes; What's happening;

Debian 12 Bookworm now available!
June 16, 2023
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: New; Debian; Bookworm; Debian 12;

Updates & Info
May 11, 2023
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: New; Debian; Ubuntu; Kubuntu; OpenMandriva

Random Notes, What's Happening…
February 8, 2023
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: New; UEFI; Debian

Debian Complete Collection USB now has hardware .deb packages
January 5, 2023
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: Debian; Debian Complete Collection USB; Drivers; Hardware

USB Promo / Ubuntu 22.10 updates and notes
October 27, 2022
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: Ubuntu; Ubuntu Studio; USB Promo

Partitions, setup and configuration of the Debian Complete Collection USB
September 28, 2022
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: Debian; USB Partitions; GRUB;

Some notes on Debian and Firmware
April 7, 2022
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: Debian; Ubuntu; Firmware; non-free;

Read only USB (physical write protect switch)
January 12, 2022
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: USB; Physical write protect switch; Read Only

Raspberry Pi: Reducing file system to fit on smaller SD Card
December 22, 2021
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: Debian; Raspberry Pi; Raspbian; resize2fs

Some notes on Live Linux distros
December 10, 2021
Category: SupportNote
Tags: Debian; Fedora; Ubuntu; Most Popular; USB Collections

All USB Collections updated!
November 10, 2021
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: Debian; Fedora; Ubuntu; Most Popular; USB Collections

LinuxCollections.com media production has been green for years
September 20, 2021
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: Media Production

Debian 11.0.0 Release
August 26, 2021
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: Debian; Debian 11; Release;

Debian 10.10.0 USB Developer Collection
July 8, 2021
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: New; Updates; Debian;

Notes on WiFi Drivers
May 12, 2021
Time Traveler
Tags: WiFi; Wireless; Drivers; Firmware;

Cloned Drives and UUIDs
April 28, 2021
Time Traveler
Tags: UUID; lsblk; fstab;

Debian Buster (10) sources.list example
March 2, 2021
Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote
Tags: Debian; Buster; sources.list; apt; apt-get

Debian 10.8.0 USB Complete Collection
February 15, 2021
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: New; Updates; Debian;

Random Notes, What's New 2021
January 22, 2021
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: New; Hardware;

New! The By Request page
December 10, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: New; Requests;

How to create a separate bootable USB for specific Live version from Debian USB Complete Collection
September 2, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote
Tags: Debian; USB Complete Collection; Install; Create Live USB;

Debian catalog backfilled a bit
August 19, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: Debian; Hamm; Slink; Potato; Woody;

Understanding Debian main, contrib, non-free in sources.list
August 17, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: Debian; sources.list; apt-get; apt; /etc/apt;

Most Popular USB Collection now available!
July 23, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: USB Collections; Fedora; Linux Lite; LinuxMint; Manjaro; MX Linux; openSuSE; Ubuntu; Kubuntu

How do I learn about all the programs available in the Debian USB Complete Collection (or the Debian all discs option)?
June 16, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote
Tags: Debian Packages, Debian USB Complete Collection, mountusb, ISO, Synaptic, apt

How to access ALL Debian packages from LinuxCollections.com's Debian Complete Collection on USB
June 4, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote
Tags: mountusb, ISO, Debian Packages, Debian USB Complete Collection

Older Linux Distributions
May 26, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote
Tags: Old distributions, BIOS, UEFI, hd vs. sd

Updates - new LinuxCollections.com Disc case, Facebook Links
May 6, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Disc Case, Facebook, Advertising

Ubuntu 20.04 LTS now available in all flavors on USB!
April 20, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: Ubuntu; Kubuntu; Lubuntu; Xubuntu; Ubuntu Studio; Ubuntu Budgie; Ubuntu MATE; USB Complete Collection;

Understanding Linux on a USB Flash drive
April 20, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote
Tags: USB Flash Drive; USB Complete Collections

What NOT to do with a Bootable USB Drive or Collection
March 31, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote
Tags: USB Flash Drive; USB Complete Collections

Lost or forgot Admin password (root user password)
March 25, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog

What to expect from a Linux Disc
March 24, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog

Issues with new Debian 10 install - no Desktop / login prompt only
March 14, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog

Solving Problems
January 28, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog

US Postage rates go up
January 28, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog

Need a different operating system
January 25, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog

Support Stories - Disc Data
January 15, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog

The Facebook Link Conundrum
January 10, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog

Welcome to the LinuxCollections.com Blog!
January 6, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog


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