tony

WSL 2 or How I Brought my Linux and Windows Installs Together

A while back I bought a mini PC to replace my old, tired and non-functional Linux box. 16G RAM, 512GB SSD, 11th Gen Intel Celeron and it included a license for Windows 11 Pro. Now I haven’t been happy with Windows since Windows 10 would drain my laptop’s battery by deciding it needed to install updates in the middle of the night. I’d pick up my laptop after a few days and the battery would be exhausted! So, I swore off Windows, opting instead for Linux (usually Ubuntu) and Chromebooks. But I got a Windows 11 Pro sitting in front of me on my new PC. Being the packrat that I am, I didn’t wipe the Windows partition but split the SSD into another partition and installed Ubuntu (which happily recognized the bootable Windows partition and set things up so I could boot to either Windows or Linux.

Curiosity eventually got the better of me and I started fooling around with Windows. I recalled messing with Window Subsystem for Linux (WSL) on my Windows 10 machines so I did some searches and found that Microsoft had come up with WSL 2. Futher, there were many distros available from the Windows Store. So I fired up WSL2 and loaded Ubuntu 22.04. Yup, looks pretty nice! Hmmm…I’ve got this external drive that’s formatted at ext4 and holds a bunch of the stuff I was using on my Linux box (media library, precious files and photos, backups, etc). Can I use that on Windows? Well, not without adding some “stuff” to Windows but I CAN attach the drive to my running WSL2 Ubuntu! So I did.

Now I can run some Windows-only services that I’ve been wanting to try out (Channels DVR server, for one) alongside my Linux services (JR Media Center for one, not to mention the Samba server which makes my backups, files and pictures available to my other machines.

The only thing that’s missing is an automated way of attaching that disk to my Linux WSL2 instance and redirecting the appropriate ports to the Linux instance. I managed to get that done with a PowerShell script that I had ChatGPT write for me. That’s right, ChatGPT wrote a PowerShell script for me! For a couple of weeks I had been trying to figure out what I could use ChatGPT for when it occurred to me to give it this task. I don’t know PowerShell. Sure I’m familiar with the basic concepts but the object model and the commands themselves are largely unknown to me. ChatGPT spit out the script in about 10 seconds and, while it wasn’t 100% right, it only took a hour or so of fiddling to get it to work just perfectly! ChatGPT to the rescue! But its not a panacea – I’ll do another blog post about that later.

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Create your own cellular network

Ukama (https://www.ukama.com/) is using the Citizens Broadband Radio Service to let an unlicensed user create their own cellular network. Interesting idea! Read more at Ukama or in this article https://www.androidauthority.com/ukama-cell-service-3216235 or just drop in on their github (https://github.com/ukama/ukama/) and Twitter at https://twitter.com/ukamanetworks

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Firefox Relay vs DuckDuckGo email

I signed up for DuckDuckGo’s privacy relay email service (https://duckduckgo.com/email) as soon as i could. Aside from their little dust up about them sending some of your info to Microsoft (https://thenextweb.com/news/duckduckgo-microsoft-tracking-sparks-backlash) they’ve got a good track record re: privacy. I signed up for some CNet and PCMag newsletters and found that DuckDuckGo removed a few trackers from every email they sent. Yay DuckDuckGo! But one of the things I don’t like is they don’t provide a dashboard – I can’t see what duck aliases I’ve created and used.

So, I signed up for a paid Firefox Relay account cuz they do have a dashboard! What’s more, you can associate each email with the website or service you’ve used it with! Major yay! I signed up new Relay email addresses for CNet and PCMag newsletters and began comparing the duck emails with the relay emails. Relay isn’t removing ANY trackers!?! I emailed Relay support and got a fairly prompt response however it wasn’t terribly satisfying. The relay folks are being very responsible and making sure that the trackers they remove don’t break the email – yay them! I’m continuing to correspond with Relay’s support on this topic. In the meantime, I suggest you go with the free DuckDuckGo email relay service if you want a little more privacy in your newsletter traffic, dashboard notwithstanding.

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Proton has a Google Drive alternative

It’s been in beta since 2020 but they’ve finally made it available to the rest of us. Android app and web app available now, the rest is coming. As with all Proton products it’s open source, privacy focused. 1GB for free, 200GB for $4/month or the whole package (mail, calendar, drive, and VPN) for $10/month. Read about Drive at https://www.howtogeek.com/835660/proton-drive-is-a-privacy-first-google-drive-alternative/

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Buh-bye Google Keep, OneNote, Evernote!

Open source Notesnook (https://github.com/streetwriters/notesnook) aims to be THE replacement for all your note taking needs. Fully encrypted on your device before storing on their cloud service (self-hosted option coming), it’s a zero knowledge service meaning they can’t decrypt your notes. With a web app (https://app.notesnook.com) and apps for iOS, Android, MacOS, Windows, and Linux you’re pretty much guaranteed to be able to use it wherever you need or want with full synchronization across all platforms. It’s still in its relative infancy and updates generally make it to the web app before other platforms. Roadmap at https://notesnook.com/roadmap/

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Google’s AI has achieved sentience? Nonsense!

This has been bouncing around the ether for a week or two now. I found it laughable then and still do. But I’m not an AI guy. Here’s the opinion of someone who is – Gary Marcus (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Marcus). The TLDR? He calls bullsh*t. Read the article https://garymarcus.substack.com/p/nonsense-on-stilts?s=r.

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An SSH tunnel as a system service?

I came across this today and it’s an interesting idea! While I’m not sure I endorse creating and maintaining a tunnel, especially as root, I’m sure there are use cases where it makes sense. If nothing else, defining the config files and their contents to create a service is worth seeing. All the details, including how to make it run after reboot are at https://medium.com/linuxstories/linux-how-to-create-an-ssh-tunnel-as-a-systemd-service-73e6e0fff19b

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More SSH? Yes, please!

My local server died a little over a week ago (more about that in a future post) so I bought a new mini PC (love those little things – got one with an 11th gen Intel Celeron, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD for $280). In setting it up I opted to keep my VNC sessions local to the new machine accessing them via SSH tunnels. In researching various ways to establish and maintain the tunnel I came across https://gist.github.com/scy/6781836 and (re)learned quite a few things but the really interesting bits are in the comments! From the use of -M to establish a “master” mode for connection sharing and how to use it, to some basic scripts to make it easier to use, to autossh (https://www.harding.motd.ca/autossh/), to a nice little script called (in the comments) ssh-fp.sh. I’ve adapted and adopted several for my own use and I recommend the article!

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Tailscale for your Docker containers!

At DockerCon, Tailscale announced and launched their Docker extension. What does this mean? You can put your containers on your Tailscale VPN! Yeah, that’s a BIG deal! The announcement is at https://tailscale.com/blog/docker/ and the instructions to install and use it are at https://tailscale.com/kb/1184/docker-desktop/. While the documentation only addresses Docker Desktop, https://docs.docker.com/desktop/extensions-sdk/dev/cli/build-test-install-extension/ gives instructions for installing extensions through the CLI, and downloads are at https://github.com/docker/extensions-sdk/releases/tag/v0.2.4, which is currently in beta.

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Those Linux apps on your Chromebook …

I mean the ones that appear in the launcher. There are files in your Linux container that specify the icon, the program to launch and a number of other things. Where are they located? Launch your terminal (or your favorite Linux file browser) and navigate to ~/.local/share/applications/ and/or /usr/share/applications/ and there you should find a number of files ending in .desktop. These are text files that contain the specifications for the applications that will be shown in the launcher (it is, in fact, a standard across Linux that is defined in https://specifications.freedesktop.org/desktop-entry-spec/desktop-entry-spec-latest.html). You can modify them, add, or delete them but I find it useful just to look through the files to see what’s executed and the other various parameters associated with launching an program by way of its icon.

Those Linux apps on your Chromebook … Read More »