HowTo: Stop GRUB preventing auto-start of the OS after a previous boot failure

Tutorials
The GRUB boot menu by default will generally show its menu for about ten seconds before automatically booting the OS, but if something goes wrong, or an over-zealous party interrupts the boot process because he thought it had hung, the OS will tell GRUB that. Now that's all well and good, but GRUB's default action in such an instance is to abort the automatic timeout and stay at the GRUB boot menu waiting for a manual action, such as entering recovery mode. On systems that are unattended or without keyboards, this proves to be very annoying and generally you'd like the OS to boot up anyway despite the reported failure. So here's how you can fix it. (more…)
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HowTo: Setup Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN) to automatically erase storage devices via PXE boot

Tutorials
Darik's Boot and Nuke (abbreviated as DBAN) is a popular tool used by many organisations and individuals to securely erase hard-drives prior to disposal, or perhaps just to fix Windows problems ;) . It typically comprises a small 15MB ISO image that you can burn to CD or make a bootable USB stick from so you can boot up a PC on it and set about erasing all detected storage devices. When you're doing a lot of machines, however, booting a CD is tedious, especially when you accidentally scratch the disc and need to burn a new one. Using a USB stick and either misplacing it, or forgetting to remove it before erasing starts means you lose the content of the boot stick too. Wouldn't it be nice to be able…
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HowTo: Rename multiple TV episode files with one command

Tutorials
So, you've procured a number of files that represent a pre-recorded television series and they are typically named something like this: MyTVShow.Original.S01E01-720p.HDTV.x264-ImAwesome.mkv MyTVShow.Original.S01E02-720p.HDTV.x264-ImAwesome.mkv MyTVShow.Original.S01E03-720p.HDTV.x264-ImAwesome.mkv MyTVShow.Original.S01E04-720p.HDTV.x264-ImAwesome.mkv You'd like to rename them to look something like this instead: MyTVShow S01E01.mkv MyTVShow S01E02.mkv MyTVShow S01E03.mkv MyTVShow S01E04.mkv Normally you'd tediously edit each filename and rename them manually, but to do so individually across a large folder will take a long time. Surely there's a way to rename them all in a more convenient manner? There certainly is! And with just one command too... (more…)
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HowTo: Resize an LVM partition on a GPT drive after expanding the underlying array

Tutorials
Scenario: You have an Ubuntu Linux server. The storage system is a large RAID array, partitioned as a GPT disk and it has two partitions on it - a small boot partition and the second partition is setup for use with LVM with one or more Logical Volumes in it. You're starting to run out of space and intend to expand the system by adding one or more disks to the array. Once you've done this, you will obviously need to extend the partition to use the new space, but GPT is a slightly different kettle of fish to regular partitioning, and being a server you don't have a GUI to use traditional tools. So how do you do this? (more…)
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HowTo: Create a Diskless workstation that boots from PXE using Ubuntu

Tutorials
Diskless booting is where a PC starts up purely from a network connection. It does not have a physical hard-drive in it to start from in the traditional manner. Why would you want to do this? Well, say for example you have a MythTV Frontend PC. For the most part, most Frontends are dedicated PC's connected to a TV or projector that are not used for any other purpose, so technically there is really no need to have a hard-drive inside one as nothing new will ever be stored (all the media is streamed from the Backend server). There's also the added bonus of less noise by not having a hard-drive installed. Another good example of using a Diskless boot environment is for performing offline virus scans of Windows based…
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HowTo: Monitor the progress of dd.

Tutorials
The dd command is a tool used to pipe data in from a source to a destination. It has a multitude of uses ranging from creating large dummy files of a specific size to duplicating hard-drives sector by sector to another disk or to a backup file. It's also useful for fixing problems with hard-drives that Windows refuses to deal with. But we're not looking at the virtues of dd here. We're looking at its annoyances and dd has one particularly glaring annoyance - a lack of display of progress. You could tell dd to start imaging your multi-terabyte hard-drive and not have any indication of how far it has gone - you just have to wait until it finishes. The dd command only outputs some information right at the…
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HowTo: Get an Ubuntu Live CD to boot off a PXE server

Tutorials
Following my article about creating your own PXE network boot server, here is the first practical use you can put it to - taking the Ubuntu Live CD and turning it into a network-bootable version! Network booting the Live CD has obvious advantages - aside from booting faster than CD (especially on a gigabit network), it is indispensable as an emergency boot medium in a workplace environment, especially for broken Windows systems, and allows for Ubuntu effortless installations on netbook PC's that don't have optical drives and saves you having to have a USB stick handy. (more…)
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HowTo: Setup your own PXE Boot Server using Ubuntu Server

Tutorials
The Preboot eXecution Environment (PXE) provides a means of starting up a PC using a network adapter instead of the traditional method of hard-drive, USB flash stick, CD or floppy disk. Why would you want to boot a PC from the network? Well, it opens the door to booting diskless workstations, eg: Internet Cafe PC's, or if you regularly install tens or hundreds of PC's, you can start the installer on all those machines at once without needing to have individual boot/install media for each machine. You can even use Linux PXE for starting Microsoft Windows network installers and tools. This article is going to show you how to setup a standard Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx Server (will also work with Ubuntu 12.04 and 14.04) to respond to a PXE…
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Mini-Review: Generic hot-swap eSATA Docking Bay with Ubuntu

Review
I regularly deal with external hard-drives, be it for data backup or if I'm rescuing a client's hard-drive from uncertain death. Since the idea of opening my PC on a regular basis to connect a drive is a bit of a turn off, I used to use an external USB drive enclosure. This works fine, but it's a bit slow (well, at least until USB 3.0 makes its debut). The eSATA standard allows you to connect external drives at full SATA speed, but it's not cost-effective to buy an enclosure for every external drive you have. Enter the Docking Bay. This is a simple weighed base that allows you to connect a hard-drive in a similar way to how you used to plug in game cartridges into a classic game…
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HowTo: Quickly transfer files from an Ubuntu box to another PC over a network without installing Samba, SSH or FTP.

Tutorials
Let's say you have an Ubuntu PC and a second Windows PC or Mac. You need to do a quick transfer of a file or two from the Ubuntu box, but you really don't want to go through the hassle of installing and configuring Samba or FTP just for the sake of transferring a couple of files. Of course you could use a USB flash drive, but it takes twice as long to copy a file that way because you have to copy it to the flash drive and then copy it again from the flash drive to the destination PC. Besides that, what if you don't have a flash drive big enough to transfer the files you want? Is there a quick and dirty way to transfer some files…
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