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Old 07-04-2011, 09:24 AM   #1
dewdrop_world
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Advice on preconfiguring a complex environment to install elsewhere


I need to prepare an Ubuntu 10.04 environment that I will preconfigure with some custom audio software. I don't have routine access to the computer that will run the environment, so I thought I would set everything up on a live USB disk. That's turning into a problem. It's very slow to boot and just now, it actually crashed. No idea how much damage there will be a next time I try to boot from it... worst case, I might have to blow it away and start all over (painful, tons of packages to download etc. etc., probably a good 4-5 hours of configuration work down the toilet... but, maybe it's still okay?).

Is there a better way to handle this?

The main constraint is that I can't get on to that specific machine and have a marathon session to set everything up. I need to have it all ready to go, then go to the machine, plug it in, boot and (hope that) it will work like on my machine.

A specific question -- Suppose I persist with the USB disk approach, and my colleague wants to run from the hard drive. If he boots from the USB and chooses to install, rather than "try Ubuntu," will it install a plain, out-of-the-box Ubuntu or will it have all of the configuration that I already did?

Thanks,
James
 
Old 07-04-2011, 10:18 AM   #2
Larry James
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dewdrop_world View Post
I need to prepare an Ubuntu 10.04 environment that I will preconfigure with some custom audio software. I don't have routine access to the computer that will run the environment, so I thought I would set everything up on a live USB disk. That's turning into a problem. It's very slow to boot and just now, it actually crashed. No idea how much damage there will be a next time I try to boot from it... worst case, I might have to blow it away and start all over (painful, tons of packages to download etc. etc., probably a good 4-5 hours of configuration work down the toilet... but, maybe it's still okay?).

Is there a better way to handle this?

The main constraint is that I can't get on to that specific machine and have a marathon session to set everything up. I need to have it all ready to go, then go to the machine, plug it in, boot and (hope that) it will work like on my machine.

A specific question -- Suppose I persist with the USB disk approach, and my colleague wants to run from the hard drive. If he boots from the USB and chooses to install, rather than "try Ubuntu," will it install a plain, out-of-the-box Ubuntu or will it have all of the configuration that I already did?

Thanks,
James
I don't know which method you used with your USB installation. However, I used a normal installation to a USB stick as if it were a hard drive (sde, sde1, sde2). It boots no different than my regular hard drive. It's a full installation on a 16 gig stick.

I have it partitioned into two partitions. the first partition is a 8 gig ntfs use on Windows machines to transfer files between windows machine. The second partion is ext4, my normal Ubuntu installation.

It's very reliable. As far as I can see, it's just as reliable as all my other installations. I've been using it on quite a few desktops and laptops in various locations without any problems. Again, every time I boot to it on any machine I don't notice any difference between the boot to the usb stick or the hard drive on the local machine.

-- L. James

--
L. D. James
ljames@apollo3.com
www.apollo3.com/~ljames
 
Old 07-04-2011, 10:26 AM   #3
TobiSGD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dewdrop_world View Post
No idea how much damage there will be a next time I try to boot from it... worst case, I might have to blow it away and start all over (painful, tons of packages to download etc. etc., probably a good 4-5 hours of configuration work down the toilet... but, maybe it's still okay?).
Any reason why you don't have a backup?
Anyways, If you want it to run from a USB I would install it to USB, not run from a live session. If you want to install a customized version on that remote computer you can use remastersys for that. Set up a system like you want it to be (you can use Virtualbox for that), then use remastersys to make a live-version from it. This you can use to install the customized version on the remote computer.
 
Old 07-04-2011, 11:19 PM   #4
widget
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Or you could use an external HDD and install the system, set it up and take it with you (as with the usb stick but I use an external).

Take any live CD wit hyou and copy/paste the system to the new box with gparted. You will need to edit the fstab probably to reflect the partitions on the new box. You will need to chroot in and update-grub and grub-install /dev/syx where y is the drive and x the / partion.
 
Old 07-04-2011, 11:32 PM   #5
Larry James
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Quote:
Originally Posted by widget View Post
Or you could use an external HDD and install the system, set it up and take it with you (as with the usb stick but I use an external).

Take any live CD wit hyou and copy/paste the system to the new box with gparted. You will need to edit the fstab probably to reflect the partitions on the new box. You will need to chroot in and update-grub and grub-install /dev/syx where y is the drive and x the / partion.
So far all the external hard drives I've used have been USB drives. Most of my machines treat the usb sticks the same as they tread the external USB hard drives.

To me the advantage over using the pen drives is the convenience of size and durability as far as been carried around. The plus factor of the USB hard drives are generally the size. I'll be getting a 32 gig stick soon. I can't imagine needing more than 32 gigs in a portable drive at this stage.

Actually the 16 gig stick really serves all my portable needs. I'll be upgrading the capacity because of how much the price has recently come down.

-- L. James

--
L. D. James
ljames@apollo3.com
www.apollo3.com/~ljames
 
Old 07-05-2011, 03:50 AM   #6
dewdrop_world
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Thanks for the advice.

The stick does still boot, but the main application I'm trying to configure is crashing (when the same stuff doesn't crash in my main installation). Plus the live USB thing is becoming a real bother. It always boots into the live user, even though I assigned a password and unchecked the "don't ask for password" option. So I logout of the live user and login to a "real user" (which I had to create to get real-time permission). Then when I shut down, I have to authenticate because apparently other users are logged in (even though I ended the live user session). It's become just a complete mess. I can't subject a non-technical instrumentalist to this nonsense

That, and the USB stick is s-l-l-l-o-o-o-o-o-w-w-w-w-w-w-w. So it's probably better at this point to get a small USB disk (an actual disk) that might run faster and do a real install onto it.

The things you wish you knew before starting down the road...

Thanks again!
James
 
Old 07-05-2011, 04:21 AM   #7
Larry James
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dewdrop_world View Post
Thanks for the advice.

The stick does still boot, but the main application I'm trying to configure is crashing (when the same stuff doesn't crash in my main installation). Plus the live USB thing is becoming a real bother. It always boots into the live user, even though I assigned a password and unchecked the "don't ask for password" option. So I logout of the live user and login to a "real user" (which I had to create to get real-time permission). Then when I shut down, I have to authenticate because apparently other users are logged in (even though I ended the live user session). It's become just a complete mess. I can't subject a non-technical instrumentalist to this nonsense

That, and the USB stick is s-l-l-l-o-o-o-o-o-w-w-w-w-w-w-w. So it's probably better at this point to get a small USB disk (an actual disk) that might run faster and do a real install onto it.

The things you wish you knew before starting down the road...

Thanks again!
James
I tested the type of install you're describing. I wouldn't want an install like that. It's called a persistent install. It has many problems. I'm talking about a real install that's no different than installing on my SSD drive.

Again, when I had the type of install that you're describing I had the problems that you're describing and more. I don't have any problems with the normal install on a stick. The persistent install on the stick was slow, just as you describe. However I don't experience the slowness with the normal install on the stick.

Since you have the stick you might consider trying it.

If you were able to perform a persistent install on your internal hard drive it would appear just as slow and be just as annoying. I know I'm repeating a little bit in this message. That's because I'm trying to make it clear that I'm not talking about a persistent install. I thought it was clear since my first message, but apparently it wasn't. Since it wasn't you loose the point of all my messages in this thread.

My full ubuntu install is just as fast and no different from my full install on my internal hard drive. It would be no different than a full install on a usb hard drive. The pen drive is the only usb drive that I have, so I can only compare the install to the type of installs I have on my other computers that are on the internal hard drives.

Booting to live cd is slow. Booting to live usb is slow. Booting to a normal installation isn't slow on a usb drive, a pen drive, or an internal drive. The slowness come when you boot into a live session, even if it's a persistent live session.

Also booting, then changing users would be annoying in any environment.

-- L. James

--
L. D. James
ljames@apollo3.com
www.apollo3.com/~ljames
 
Old 07-05-2011, 04:36 AM   #8
TobiSGD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dewdrop_world View Post
The stick does still boot, but the main application I'm trying to configure is crashing (when the same stuff doesn't crash in my main installation).
If you have an already configured system for that purpose, why do you not simply copy it to the USB and adapt it to run from there?
 
Old 07-05-2011, 11:05 PM   #9
dewdrop_world
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry James View Post
I tested the type of install you're describing. I wouldn't want an install like that. It's called a persistent install. It has many problems. I'm talking about a real install that's no different than installing on my SSD drive.

Again, when I had the type of install that you're describing I had the problems that you're describing and more. I don't have any problems with the normal install on a stick. The persistent install on the stick was slow, just as you describe. However I don't experience the slowness with the normal install on the stick.

Since you have the stick you might consider trying it.
Okay... which leads to the next question... can I do a non-live ("real") installation based on the live USB and preserve all the configuration I already did? Things like...

- Installing git, svn, build-essential, libqt4-dev, libqtwebkit-dev, libjack-dev, libsndfile1-dev, libasound2-dev, libavahi-client-dev, libicu-dev, libreadline6-dev, libfftw3-dev, libxt-dev, pkg-config, cmake, cmake-modules, jack2

- Checking out a couple of git repositories and a few bits from svn

- Building, then configuring an app

When booting from the live USB, the installation option is described with some text like "the contents of this USB," but I don't know if it means the baseline Ubuntu configuration on the USB or everything that's on the USB.

If the answer is, "no, you have to start over," I can live with that but would love to avoid it if at all possible.
 
Old 07-05-2011, 11:06 PM   #10
dewdrop_world
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TobiSGD View Post
If you have an already configured system for that purpose, why do you not simply copy it to the USB and adapt it to run from there?
My main installation is amd64, but the person who will need to run the portable system has an i386-style processor.

(Side note, I found and fixed the crashing problem yesterday... so the only remaining problem is switching to the proper type of installation.)
 
Old 07-08-2011, 09:53 PM   #11
dewdrop_world
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dewdrop_world View Post
Okay... which leads to the next question... can I do a non-live ("real") installation based on the live USB and preserve all the configuration I already did? ...

When booting from the live USB, the installation option is described with some text like "the contents of this USB," but I don't know if it means the baseline Ubuntu configuration on the USB or everything that's on the USB.
Nobody knows?
 
Old 08-06-2011, 09:39 PM   #12
dewdrop_world
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry James View Post
I tested the type of install you're describing. I wouldn't want an install like that. It's called a persistent install. It has many problems. I'm talking about a real install that's no different than installing on my SSD drive.

Again, when I had the type of install that you're describing I had the problems that you're describing and more. I don't have any problems with the normal install on a stick. The persistent install on the stick was slow, just as you describe. However I don't experience the slowness with the normal install on the stick.
Just wanted to let you know - I tried this just now - part of the install process runs "grub-install /dev/sda" which has now COMPLETELY HOSED MY GRUB CONFIGURATION and I can't boot to any system on my HD.

Word of warning to casual readers -- DO NOT TRUST ADVICE ON LINUX FORUMS. Usually it's good, but when it's bad, it'll kill you.
 
Old 08-06-2011, 09:59 PM   #13
Larry James
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dewdrop_world View Post
Just wanted to let you know - I tried this just now - part of the install process runs "grub-install /dev/sda" which has now COMPLETELY HOSED MY GRUB CONFIGURATION and I can't boot to any system on my HD.

Word of warning to casual readers -- DO NOT TRUST ADVICE ON LINUX FORUMS. Usually it's good, but when it's bad, it'll kill you.
You have the option of where to install your grub. Your system isn't hosed. If you performed the steps I gave you they are not destructive.

You have obviously done something different from my suggestion. People often install and OS on other drives. USB hard drives as well as a USB pen drive as I mentioned.

If you give me the exact error message you get, it'd be easy for me to identify where you've gone wrong and how to boot to which ever device you prefer booting to. A host of other users can help you to do the same.

I'm sorry that you're having problems. But it's not from following my suggestion specifically. It from doing something that you didn't understand and thinking you were following my suggestion.

As far as your word of advice, people are going to have issues whether they sharing in the technical experience of other users or just experiment on their own.

Many of us feel are very appreciative of the experience we are able to find in the various user groups.

By the way, if my suggestion weren't sound, many of the other gurus that have been sharing in this discussion would have made a reference to the possible destructiveness of the suggestion.

Again, installing OS' on more than one drive is not destructive. It's very common. People often install OS' on more than one drive and choose at boot time which one to use.

Many people will have an experimental installation where they test things out before then install them into their main OS drive or partition.

-- L. James

--
L. D. James
ljames@apollo3.com
www.apollo3.com/~ljames
 
Old 08-06-2011, 10:34 PM   #14
widget
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I have two internal drives and to drives in a two drive usb enclosure. There are 2 OS' on each internal and 4 on the external. There is no problem.

Your grub problem is from installing grub on sda (or whatever yours is designated). Why did you do this?

This is not hard to change. I do it all the time to make sure that all my installs have a functional grub install.

Run this script and post the entire results here so we can see what we are working with. Just run it on anything that will boot and the results text will be on your desktop.
http://bootinfoscript.sourceforge.net/

Attacking folks that are trying to help you is, if you think about it, not the smartest move in the world.
 
Old 08-07-2011, 09:17 AM   #15
dewdrop_world
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Update... I eventually found Ubuntu community documentation explaining how to restore the grub configuration from the existing Linux partition on the HD. So I'm up and running.

Quote:
Your grub problem is from installing grub on sda (or whatever yours is designated). Why did you do this?
I did not do this of my own volition -- as I said -- "part of the install process runs 'grub-install /dev/sda'" -- so here's what I did:

- Boot from an Ubuntu installer CDR (note, I have to do this because the installation on my HD is amd64, but the system on the USB stick has to be i386).

- Click the button to install.

- Choose the USB stick from the device menu and tell it to use the entire device.

- Answer the remaining installer questions.

- Wait.

- Then, while I'm watching, toward the end, I see "Running grub-install /dev/sda..." There is no "cancel" button in the installer window. There was no pop-up to ask whether I wanted to modify the grub configuration on the main hard drive. If it had asked, I would certainly have declined. It just did it all by itself, with no warning.

- Think to myself, "Oh, cr@p."

So, while I can understand Larry's point about doing things I didn't understand -- it seems to me now this is either a bug in the Ubuntu installer, or a situation that they didn't anticipate and which is handled poorly. I can't fault you guys too much -- nor can I fault myself -- for expecting the installer to behave sensibly and not break stuff.

So... back to the question... if a "normal" install onto the USB stick is the thing to do, what are the EXACT steps? At the end, the USB stick should be a self-sufficient installation that can be transported to other machines. (It seems the Ubuntu installer wants to add an entry into grub to boot from the USB stick -- wrong, I definitely don't want that -- and I don't have the luxury of installing grub on the other guy's computer.)

When listing the steps, by this point, it would be better to err on the side of assuming I'm an idiot.

Thanks --
James
 
  


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