First steps with a Pixelbook

So, my 2009 MacBook Pro decided to slowly die … and after dithering for about 3 years over what to buy to replace it …. I chose a Google Pixelbook (i7 variant, 500Gb NVME disk etc) (via eBay)…..

So, my 2009 MacBook Pro decided to slowly die … and after dithering for about 3 years over what to buy to replace it …. I chose a Google Pixelbook (i7 variant, 500Gb NVME disk etc) (via eBay).

Here are some findings …

  • Installing Linux within the supported VM environment is straight forward (see docs) but it’s a 4.14 kernel with Debian Stretch. Given it’s using BTRFS I’d prefer a newer kernel (or at least the ability to choose what kernel the VM boots…)
  • I can’t seem to find a way of getting a clipboard manager that works across all applications (so I can copy+paste multiple things between windows). I’ve been using ClipIt for years on my main desktop.
  • Sharing files between the Linux environment and native ChromeOS is kind of annoying (go into the Files app, and drag/drop the file(s) around). The UI hints at there being shared folders, but I’m guessing they’ll be enabled in a future release.
  • Sound from a Linux app doesn’t work (when running vlc within the Linux VM, there is no sound); apparently a known bug so I’ll hope it’ll get fixed soon.
  • It’s fast. Especially browsing the web.
  • It’s not burnt my lap yet (unlike the MBP)
  • It’s possible to get sound to stutter from e.g. Play Music, if you’re doing a reasonable amount of I/O (like PHPStorm rebuilding it’s indexes)
  • Installing PHPStorm (and other Linux apps) was fairly straight forward (either via apt or however I’d normally do it in Linux) and generally works fine …
  • There’s no “right click” for the mouse pad; instead you do a double finger tap. You can ctrl+click or use a two finger tap.
  • Tablet mode is great for Android Apps – I’ve tried a couple of toddler apps and they just worked fine.
  • Not all Android apps work properly – e.g. using Authenticator Plus for 2FA auth codes – doesn’t seem to be able to sync with my Google Drive backup and when opening it, there are always two windows for some reason.
  • Thankfully you can “right click” on the launcher tray and configure it to auto-hide and pin apps you use often.

I’m toying with the idea of replacing ChromeOS with a native Linux install; but I’ve not yet seen enough evidence to suggest that it’ll work well.

Hopefully the Campfire project will have a release soon …. Until then I’ll be watching etc

Using hitch with varnish on Debian Jessie

I ended up needing to install hitch¬†on a server recently, so the https:// traffic could be routed through Varnish (along with the existing ‘http’ stuff) for performance reasons.

The server only runs WordPress sites, so there are WordPress specific things in the Varnish configuration (vcl) file below.

Versions: Varnish 5.2, Hitch 1.4.4, Apache 2.4 and Debian Jessie.

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compiling a vanilla kernel to a .deb

As I keep losing this….

Creating a .deb kernel package from a vanilla kernel :

  1. wget
  2. tar -xf linux-4.4.24.tar.xz
  3. cd linux-4.4.24
  4. cp /boot/config-whatever .config
  5. Optionally: edit and set: CONFIG_DEBUG_INFO=n to stop the *dbg* package being generated
  6. make olddefconfig
  7. make deb-pkg -j6 LOCALVERSION=-dg1

dotdeb – apt package pinning

As of last night, Debian Security released PHP 5.4.44 for Wheezy. Wheezy shipped with PHP 5.4.12 or something like that.

DotDeb is currently on 5.4.43, and if you’ve been using it based on the assumption that it has a newer version of a package over Debian, then an upgrade will leave your PHP install in a mess (e.g. no php5-gearman or php5-imagick).

To fix this, the following in e.g. /etc/apt/preferences.d/dotdeb will help :

Package: *
Pin: origin
Pin-Priority: 1001

This should make apt choose dotdeb packages over Debian, even if Debian contains a newer version.

i.e. stop apt relying on just the package version number, and previously dotdeb always had a higher one.

varnish throttling

I came across the varnish throttle module the other day – which seems quite useful – and certainly gives better control over abusive requests than using fail2ban (in that, only specific URLs/request types can be targeted and blocked with the throttle module, while fail2ban tends to trigger the blocking of any traffic from a client which can be more painful).
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More monitors.

I have an Intel NUC d54250wyk as my work computer (it’s a little dinky thing, which somehow manages to pack a reasonable punch).

On board it has a mini-hdmi port, and a mini-display port – which I used for a dual monitor configuration.

But two monitors is so last year …. and after 5+ years of having two monitors to stare at, I thought it was perhaps time to move up to 3 (or more).
Continue reading “More monitors.”