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Topics - mikep

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Evening all,

I tried my first script a few days ago.

#! /bin/sh
sudo /usr/bin/gpodder start

Needless to say it doesn't work properly. It gives a list of errors, but it does open gpodder.

#! /bin/sh
sudo /usr/bin/gpodder stop

also gives a list of errors, but fails to close gpodder.

The trouble is, every time I boot up I now get  a popup telling me "System program problem detected". It doesn't include a description of the problem.
The system seems to be working ok though.

Any ideas on how to proceed please - with the system problem, that is. I'm not expecting tuition on writing scripts. I'll read up on that later..

General Help & Advice / Managing big data [solved]
« on: January 01, 2020, 08:22:28 pm »
Happy New Year everyone..

I thought I'd start 2020 with a nice new thread.

I have a 1TB external drive and three external backups of it. Although I'm fairly careful about taking backups, I allowed the large amount of space to cause me to get sloppy about organising data. Consequently, there are a lot of duplicate files, plus it's not always obvious where to find things. I need to tidy up.

That's going to involve a lot of deleting and moving files, which is fine, but I need to duplicate the effort on all four drives. Not so easy.

My first thought was to do it on one drive, then just empty the others, one by one, and copy the whole lot across. The problem with that is that if any of the files on the first drive are corrupt, the three backups will also end up corrupt.

My second thought was to set up a raid 1 array which, as I understand it, would mirror any changes I make on the first drive without copying anything from one drive to another. There seem to be problems with that idea though, in that the four drives would cease to be separate entities which I could return to using as incremental backups.

I'm becoming resigned to doing this manually (and over a long period of time) unless anyone can suggest a better idea, (which must include data security as the paramount consideration).

This is your mission, should you choose to accept it..

Thanks in advance.


General Help & Advice / Update problem [solved]
« on: October 20, 2019, 09:58:09 pm »
Hello Folks,

I'm having a problem with system updates. I keep being told not all updates can be installed, and to run a partial upgrade.

Problem is, when I try that, the upgrade threatens to uninstall Virtualbox 6, which I rely on. Therefore I keep cancelling the upgrade.

Any help much appreciated.


Xubuntu 18.04
Virtualbox 6.0

General Help & Advice / Brave browser [solved]
« on: September 29, 2019, 09:26:33 pm »
Evenin' all,

I'm thinking of installing Brave. Anyone tried it/got an opinion please?

It sounds good, but I'm wondering whether it's one of those 'too good to be true' situations.



General Help & Advice / [solved] Wi-Fi cameras
« on: July 26, 2019, 09:13:04 pm »
Evenin' All,

I'm thinking of getting a Kasa camera in order to monitor the house when I'm away.

Some reviews suggest that they're not appropriate for the UK as they require an input of 100-120v, rather than the UK's 240v.

The suggestion is that this involves risk of fire. However, as I understand it, electrical devices draw only as much power as they need, so there should be no problem if too much power is available.

Am I right? I want to monitor the house, not burn it down!



Internet Connectivity / Broadband speed checkers [closed]
« on: May 17, 2019, 11:34:13 pm »
Upgraded our broadband recently, and pretty happy with the results - especially as it got BT out of the equation and costs less than the previous, much slower, deal.

However, I've tried multiple broadband speed checkers and get wildly differing results - from 6mbs to 65mbs. Just wondering whether anyone has any clues..

I'm thinking of creating a large file I can upload and download at will with one eye on the clock. I know someone is offering me 5gb of free cloud space, but I can't remember who. I'd never entrust my real data to the cloud, but a big folder of meaningless test data is a different proposition.

General Help & Advice / Virtualbox machines failing to start [Solved]
« on: March 19, 2019, 08:38:39 pm »
My working installation of Virtualbox has just stopped working. I haven't made any changes, so I assume a recent update broke it.

The error is as follows.
Failed to open a session for the virtual machine Windows XP.

The virtual machine 'Windows XP' has terminated unexpectedly during startup with exit code 1 (0x1).

Result Code: NS_ERROR_FAILURE (0x80004005)
Component: MachineWrap
Interface: IMachine {85cd948e-a71f-4289-281e-0ca7ad48cd89}

Followed by..
Kernel driver not installed (rc=-1908)

The VirtualBox Linux kernel driver (vboxdrv) is either not loaded or
there is a permission problem with /dev/vboxdrv. Please reinstall the
kernel module by executing


as root.

where: suplibOsinit what: 3 VERR_VM_DRIVER_NOT_INSTALLED
(-1908) - The support driver is not installed. On linux, open returned

I've tried running vboxconfig, but that failed as follows,

mike@xubuntu:~$ sudo /sbin/vboxconfig
[sudo] password for mike: Stopping VirtualBox services.
depmod: WARNING: could not open /lib/modules/4.4.0-141-generic/modules.order: No such file or directory
depmod: WARNING: could not open /lib/modules/4.4.0-141-generic/modules.builtin: No such file or directory Starting VirtualBox services. Building VirtualBox kernel modules. failed: Look at /var/log/vbox-setup.log to find out what went wrong.

There were problems setting up VirtualBox.  To re-start the set-up process, run
as root.
mike@xubuntu:~$ sudo /sbin/vboxconfig Stopping VirtualBox services. Starting VirtualBox services. Building VirtualBox kernel modules. failed: Look at /var/log/vbox-setup.log to find out what went wrong.

There were problems setting up VirtualBox.  To re-start the set-up process, run
as root.

Any suggestions much appreciated. Virtualbox keeps telling me a new version is avaiable but so far I haven't upgraded. I'm now thinking that might fix this problem..

General Discussion / Email hacked?
« on: February 18, 2019, 09:35:36 pm »
Just been locked out of my account because of 'unusual activity'.

Having got back in, I found the following.

Time (GMT)                                  Session Type                                                Approximate location
 12/02/2019 19:58                        Automatic Sync                                             United Kingdom

ProtocolIMAP                              Time12/02/2019 19:58
IP:                        Approximate location: United Kingdom

Account alias:                              Type: Unusual activity detected

Trouble is, how do I tell whether it was my phone trying to sync with outlook, or someone else up to no good? An IP lookup suggests that  is in Brighton, Barking or Cardiff, whereas I'm in Norfolk and my ISP is in Scotland, so it looks suspect to my eagle eye.

Also, it appears I sent two messages both to recipients I don't know, but with a subject line referring to a social group I do know. That suggests to me that maybe one of that group got hacked and was used to send fake messages, including to me. Does that sound credible?

Finally, my phone stopped syncing with my outlook account. I haven't set it up again yet because I'm not confident about what's going on.

General Help & Advice / Tumblerd preventing dismount in Truecrypt [solved]
« on: December 30, 2018, 10:18:34 pm »
This is weird. I've just been accessing an encrypted drive, and now I want to unmount it.

However, Truecrypt says "the target is busy". If I try to unmount it in the File Manager I get "Volume is busy" and apparently /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/tumblr-1/tumblerd is the culprit.

The thing is, I wasn't using Tumblr. In fact I never do.

Truecrypt isn't offering to force a dismount, although the file manager does, but I'm worried about losing access to the encrypted drive, so I don't want to risk that.

Any suggestions gratefully received.


General Help & Advice / Truecrypt.Is it safe? [solved]
« on: December 06, 2018, 09:03:47 pm »
I've used TrueCrypt for years on Windows machines and, more recently, in Linux.

Now I'm trying to install it in Xubuntu, but I can't find the installation file, and everywhere I look on the web is either offering version 7.2 which may be unstable, asking me to use a PPA, or getting blocked by Chrome as a potentially dangerous site.

I know TC isn't officially supported since 2014, but all I'm trying to do is protect my data from anyone who might steal, or otherwise access my PC. I figure those people would probably not be able to crack the last stable version of TC, and probably wouldn't even bother trying, since this is just someone's personal computer and unlikely to contain anything particularly valuable to a casual thief.

Any views, anyone?

General Help & Advice / Problems installing virtualbox [solved]
« on: November 16, 2018, 09:00:43 pm »
I'm trying to install virtualbox in a new installation of Xubuntu, by following Mark's advice in a different thread, which I've quoted below (because I don't know how to reference the other thread here).

OK,let's remove any verions of virtualbox that might be installed or partially installed:
Code: [Select]
sudo apt purge virtualbox*
Code: [Select]
sudo apt clean

Make sure you have build-essential, linux-headers-generic, and dkms installed:
Code: [Select]
sudo apt install build-essential linux-headers-generic dkms

add the public key for the oracle virtualbox repo with:
Code: [Select]
wget -q [url][/url] -O- | sudo apt-key add -

Now backup your sources.list:
Code: [Select]
sudo cp -v /etc/apt/sources.list /etc/apt/sources.list.bak

Now open sources.list for editing:
Code: [Select]
sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

and add these 2 NEW LINES at the bottom:
Code: [Select]
###### Oracle VirtualBox repo
deb [url][/url] trusty contrib
SAVE the file and exit gedit.

Back in the terminal update the package cache:
Code: [Select]
sudo apt update

and install virtualbox-4.3 with
Code: [Select]
sudo apt install virtualbox-4.3

Check you're a member of the vboxusers group and add yourself if necessary.

One finished installing (and adding yourself to the vboxusers group if necessary) ..REBOOT.

Download the extensions pack for the correct version of virtualbox from here:
here's a direct download llink for the current version (4.3.14):
and double click it to to install it .. virtualbox will start and offer to install it, click the "Install" button, then scroll to the bottom of the license and click the "I Agree" button, and enter your password when prompted.



Everthing works until sudo apt install virtualbox-4.3, which gives the following errors

mike@xubuntu:~$ sudo apt install virtualbox-4.3
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
Some packages could not be installed. This may mean that you have
requested an impossible situation or if you are using the unstable
distribution that some required packages have not yet been created
or been moved out of Incoming.
The following information may help to resolve the situation:

The following packages have unmet dependencies.
 virtualbox-4.3 : Depends: libvpx1 (>= 1.0.0) but it is not installable
                  Recommends: libsdl-ttf2.0-0 but it is not going to be installed
E: Unable to correct problems, you have held broken packages.

I tried the following, but no luck..
mike@xubuntu:~$ sudo apt-get install libvpx1
[sudo] password for mike:
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
Package libvpx1 is not available, but is referred to by another package.
This may mean that the package is missing, has been obsoleted, or
is only available from another source

E: Package 'libvpx1' has no installation candidate

Where do I go from here, folks?  This worked in Ubuntu 14.04.


General Help & Advice / Locked out of my xubuntu install(s) [Solved]
« on: October 22, 2018, 08:59:40 pm »
I'll abbreviate this or it's going to rival war and peace. Bottom line is as follows..

I bought an ssd, unplugged the hdd containing my dual-boot of Ubuntu and Xubuntu, installed the ssd. There followed some fiddling about because the ssd wasn't recognised and suddenly, neither was the sata DVD drive. So I ended up connecting both the ssd and the hdd and playing with the AHCI settings.

I then installed from a Ubuntu minimal install cd (because my PC won't boot from a DVD). I must have missed the option to choose Xubuntu desktop, because I ended up with just the Ubuntu core - no UI. So I ran sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop.

Whilst testing the new installation (which turned out to be corrupt - various things not working), I set it not to require a password at boot-up. And that's where it all went very wrong. On the next boot, it didn't go straight to the desktop as I expected. It offered me a dialog with my username, but nowhere to give a password. So I can't get back in. No problem - all I need to do is wipe the ssd and start again, right?

Wrong! because for some reason I can't even begin to understand, when I swap the ssd out and the hdd back in (ie: back to 'normal'), the original installation of Xubuntu, which used to go straight to the desktop, now also asks for a username but no password. If I select the 'other' account and type my username and password it keeps telling me the password is wrong, even though I know it's right!

There's data in the original Home folder I'd really rather not lose. Not critical, hence no backups, but a lot of stuff that's hard to replicate. I expected the old installation to remain untouched, and I can't understand how changes on the ssd have apparently affected the hdd.

Heeelp. Please!

General Help & Advice / Running defragfs
« on: October 13, 2018, 11:59:37 pm »
Hello Folks,

I've been trying to run defragfs with no success.

Basically, I downloaded it from sourceforge, unpacked it in filemanager, then copied defragfs to usr/bin in a terminal. When I try to run it (using sudo defragfs...) I get "command not found". Ls shows that defragfs does exist in usr/bin, although it's greyed out, so I'm assuming it's not properly unpacked. I tried "make defragfs" in the terminal but got "make: Nothing to be done for 'defragfs'".

Any suggestions welcome. Thanks.

Security / [solved] S3.amazonaws virus?
« on: September 07, 2018, 10:39:28 pm »
I was searching in Firefox for a legitimate copy/stream of the film 'Mahogany', and suddenly S3.amazonaws is my new best friend/browser hijacker.

It's asking me to install an "important Firefox update". Obviously it's scumware. I daren't click 'Don't allow',so I have no option but to shut down Firefox (I'm typing this in Chrome). When I re-open FF it's still there, surprise surprise.

Any ideas folks?

I'm running Xubuntu.


Ubuntu / Corrupted file or directory [solved]
« on: April 29, 2018, 10:28:20 pm »
Hello folks,

As some of you will know, I have an old XP box which I keep for older software etc, but which isn't connected to the internet anymore.

Recently I've been saving files to an external drive which is encrypted using Truecrypt.

Yesterday, Windows froze whilst accessing that drive, and now freezes every time I re-try, with the message "L is not accessible. The file or directory is corrupted and unreadable".

Xubuntu accesses the drive via Truecrypt with no problem, except that the folder I was using in XP now appears empty. I was thinking of using Gparted to attempt data recovery or create a partition table. However, messing about with partition tables is way above my pay grade and feels like a recipe for disaster..

Any suggestions please?


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