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Messages - Keith

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Ubuntu / Re: Can only boot to command line
« on: Yesterday at 11:14:07 pm »

Root feels like ordinary terminal user access but allows one to do dangerous things, so best left until absolutely necessary. 
If you are changing operating system, I suggest Ubuntu (with Classic View) as it has everything one needs and there is lots of help available. 


Ubuntu / Re: Can only boot to command line
« on: Yesterday at 05:31:17 pm »
It looks like your system has a serious problem.
Your list of outputs mentions "root drop to root shell prompt".  Might be worth trying this.  If it works, it starts a terminal session with root privelidges which will allow you to examine the system, back up files etc. 

Failing that, then yes: using a Live USB looks like the best option.  As for using Puppy: I suggest that you stick with Linux Lite on a Live USB as you are familiar with it and you probably have one lying around.  Your laptop is easily able to cope with the more popular Ubuntu for which there is more expertise available here. 


General Help & Advice / Re: Can't mount external hard drive
« on: Yesterday at 10:52:19 am »
People will need a lot more information about your system in order to advise you.
Please post the output from
Code: [Select]
inxi -Fx
You may need to install inxi:
Code: [Select]
sudo apt-get install inxi
  Then please list all the devices attached to USB ports as you seem to have quite a lot.


General Help & Advice / Re: Can't mount external hard drive
« on: July 06, 2020, 12:27:20 pm »
I'm out of my depth here, but have you tried:
Code: [Select]
sudo blkid
Code: [Select]
sudo fdisk -l
The appearance (or not) of the device in the listings might help someone more knowledgeable than I.

Ubuntu / Re: Can only boot to command line
« on: July 05, 2020, 05:04:24 pm »
Ah, me! 
First of all, the "pipe" symbol (|) is near the bottom left hand corner of your keyboard and is probably Shift+\.  The command I gave you won't work without it.  The "|" symbol "pipes" the output of df to the grep command.  Actually, just df would do - it would just add extra lines to the output and I wanted to keep things simple! 

I take it that your mouse is not controlling the cursor in the terminal.  Are you sure?  That's unusual.  If your keyboard is working I would expect the mouse to work as well.  Please check again.
Anyway;  Now that I know that you are getting
Linux Lite GNU/Linux, with 4.4.0-185 generic
{"          "         "/"          "         "              "   }   (Upstart)
{"          "         "/"          "         "              "   }   (recovery mode)

I suggest that you try them one at a time by using the up/down arrows on your keyboard (and the Enter key, of course) and see what happens.  These are the only likely methods of getting to the desktop that I can think of. 


[EDIT] Are USB sticks recognised by the system?

How much RAM is XFCE running on your old laptops?


Ubuntu / Re: Can only boot to command line
« on: July 04, 2020, 05:03:25 pm »
Using an HDD is good as you probably don't need to worry about running out of space, unless you know that the HDD is already fairly full - I'll assume not. 

Plug in the HDD and wait a bit for it to be registered.
At the command line, enter:
Code: [Select]
df | grep media
In the line that appears double click on "media" to highlight the whole expression and copy it (Ctrl+Shift+C)
Then paste it (Ctrl+Shift+V) into the following command:
Code: [Select]
usb={paste here}/Backup
.... without the {} brackets.
Code: [Select]
mkdir $usb
You've now created a directory called "Backup" on the HDD. 

Now decide on the list of directories/files in your home directory that you want to backup.  Use the ls command to choose.
e.g. Documents Desktop Downloads Music Pictures .thunderbird .mozilla Videos (plus odd files that might be in the home directory).
For this example list you would now back them up as follows:
Code: [Select]
rsync -a Documents Desktop Downloads Music Pictures .thunderbird .mozilla Videos $usb 
...Note there are no commas and only single spaces.
Your files will now transfer and you'll know when it's finished when your user prompt appears.  The -a in the rsync command is important as it preserves all the file metadata.
Don't forget to check that the backup has worked, by looking at a few files and checking their integrity and dates: e.g.
Code: [Select]
ls -l $usb/Documents
[EDIT] When you have finished wiht the HDD you will need to unmount it.  Do:
Code: [Select]
df | grep media
... and double-click on either the /media phrase or the /dev/sdb1 at the start of the line.  Copy it (Ctrl+Shift+C) then paste it into:
Code: [Select]
umount {paste here}
You can now remove the HDD.

If this all looks a bit daunting, don't worry as it will be easier next time.  And, of course, you can rsync -a them back into your new operating system when you've installed it. 
Let us know if you have problems.


Rattleback - Going back to your first post in this topic:
You say: I would like something that I will able to get help with easily if needed but doesn't need to be all sing/dancing. most use would be internet. Least technical to use would be a help too. TIA.
Probably the most popular Linux OS on this Forum is Ubuntu which, like Peppermint, has its own Topic Board here, but many Members swear by Mint and other lite versions.  All my elderly friends (oldest 86) like Ubuntu but not the default Unity Desktop - everyone I've spoken to about it prefers the "Classic View" which can be installed quickly.  The Classic View is particularly intuitive and easy to use and is very configurable. 

Most help is available for the more popular Linux flavours, so to be most confident of getting help I suggest either, Ubuntu, Mint or Peppermint.  Peppermint 10 is popular but this review says:
The default collection is odd. You don't get much really. Peppermint 10 goes for a rather Web-y solution, with Dropbox, Google Calendar and Microsoft Online Office single-site launchers, somewhat similar to Manjaro. This is nice, but an offline capability would be nice, too. The media player does not respect my theme.

Perhaps the best way forward is to create several "Live USBs" that will allow you to try different Linux versions without installing them, and choose the one that appeals most.  When you've backed up your files!  You don't even have to fix your present problems as you need only set the BIOS to boot from a USB. 


Ubuntu / Re: Can only boot to command line
« on: July 03, 2020, 06:03:56 pm »
No problem!  The command line is the best way of backing up files.  Use the rsync -a command.  If you are not familiar with it, do let me know and I'll provide some pointers. 


Ubuntu / Re: Can only boot to command line
« on: July 03, 2020, 02:11:41 pm »
Have you considered re-installing LL?.  If you do, then I suggest that you choose to overwrite/delete the old one or it might use bits of it and put you back where you are now.  In any case, if you can't update/upgrade then you may have to re-install anyway.
Reinstalling is a bit of a pain (because of all the other s/w that you will have installed) but might be worth a go. 


No problem, Rattleback.  The info will help the experts make suggestions. 
I was particularly interested to see that no distro is listed.  Odd, but probably not significant. 

General Discussion / Re: Email Clients
« on: July 02, 2020, 06:15:06 pm »
You're welcome, Harry.

General Discussion / Re: Email Clients
« on: July 02, 2020, 05:06:35 pm »
Hi Harry. 

Email Clients usually offer facilities not available on many web-mail services, notably local storage of emails that one can read off-line.  Thunderbird allows one to automatically download/send emails from/to several email accounts so that they appear all in one place - on your computer.  If your email accounts allow the use of aliases (a good idea) Thunderbird has a good alias management system so that you can receive/send mail under your aliases.  There are many other facilities, too, which is probably why Thunderbird is so popular.

Hotmail is a Microsoft mail provision (I think) and Outlook is a Microsoft client (like Thunderbird).  Unfortunately, Microsoft does not have a good reputation for privacy, especially since Windows 10. 

Web-mail has the advantage of being always available if you can get to any computer with an internet connection and usually has simple facilities for saving emails and addresses.  With the introduction of IMAP (Instant Mail Access Protocol) your emails exist both on the mail server and in your computer Inbox until you delete them. 

Security is especially important with emails and it's worth remembering that most "free" email services are not free - one is paying with one's mail meta-data.  But there are very secure, encrypted and free email services available with limited functionality.  Two that I use are and  The free versions do not allow the use of aliases but that's OK for most people. 

Paid-for email services are usually very cheap and provide good security.  I mainly use and pay about 1Euro/month for encrypted mail and storage and the best customer support I've ever experienced.  The owners are Liz and Dave. 

I hope this helps.

Ubuntu / Re: Can only boot to command line
« on: July 02, 2020, 11:11:47 am »
I note your other post elsewhere related to this issue, to which I have replied.

In the meantime I suggest that you do an update/upgrade:
Code: [Select]
sudo apt-get update
Followed by:
Code: [Select]
sudo apt-get upgrade
Then reboot.  Worth a try , anyway.


Hello Rattleback

It would be very helpful if you would provide some information about your PC.  I note from your other post that you can only boot into the command line, but assuming this is the normal command prompt you may be able to control your PC normally from there, and be able to run Firefox etc.  If this is so, then please enter the following command and post the output here:
Code: [Select]
inxi -Fx
If you don't have inxi installed you can do so as follows:
Code: [Select]
sudo apt-get install inxi

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