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Getting Started With ZFS Filesystem on Ubuntu 19.10

Monday 11th of November 2019 05:22:59 AM

One of the main features of Ubuntu 19.10 is support for ZFS. Now you can easily install Ubuntu with on ZFS without any extra effort.

Normally, you install Linux with Ext4 filesystem. But if you do a fresh install of Ubuntu 19.10, you’ll see the option to use ZFS on the root. You must not use it on a dual boot system though because it will erase the entire disk.

You can choose ZFS while installing Ubuntu 19.10

Let’s see why ZFS matters and how to take advantage of it on ZFS install of Ubuntu.

How ZFS is different than other filesystems?

ZFS is designed with two major goals in mind: to handle large amounts of storage and prevent data corruption. ZFS can handle up to 256 quadrillion Zettabytes of storage. (Hence the Z in ZFS.) It can also handle files up to 16 exabytes in size.

If you are limited to a single drive laptop, you can still take advantage of the data protection features in ZFS. The copy-on-write feature ensures that data that is in use is not overwritten. Instead, the new information is written to a new block and the filesystem’s metadata is updated to point to the new block. ZFS can easily create snapshots of the filesystem. These snapshots track changes made to the filesystem and share with the filesystem the data that is the same to save space.

ZFS assigned a checksum to each file on the drive. It is constantly checking the state of the file against that checksum. If it detects that the file has become corrupt, it will attempt to automatically repair that file.

I have written a detailed article about what is ZFS and what its features are. Please read it if you are interested in knowing more on this topic.

Note

Keep in mind that the data protection features of ZFS can lead to a reduction in performance.

Using ZFS on Ubuntu [For intermediate to advanced users]

Once you have a clean install of Ubuntu with ZFS on the main disk you can start taking advantage of the features that this filesystem has.

Please note that all setup of ZFS requires the command line. I am not aware of any GUI tools for it.

Creating a ZFS pool

The section only applies if you have a system with more than one drive. If you only have one drive, Ubuntu will automatically create the pool during installation.

Before you create your pool, you need to find out the id of the drives for the pool. You can use the command lsblk to show this information.

To create a basic pool with three drives, use the following command:

sudo zpool create pool-test /dev/sdb /dev/sdc /dev/sdd.

Remember to replace pool-test with the pool name of your choice.

This command will set up “a zero redundancy RAID-0 pool”. This means that if one of the drives becomes damaged or corrupt, you will lose data. If you do use this setup, it is recommended that you do regular backups.

You can alos add another disk to the pool by using this command:

sudo zpool add pool-name /dev/sdx Check the status of your ZFS pool

You can check the status of your new pool using this command:

sudo zpool status pool-test Zpool Status Mirror a ZFS pool

To ensure that your data is safe, you can instead set up mirroring. Mirroring means that each drive contains the same data. With mirroring setup, you could lose two out of three drives and still have all of your information.

To create a mirror, you can use something like this:

sudo zpool create pool-test mirror /dev/sdb /dev/sdc /dev/sdd Create ZFS Snapshots for backup and restore

Snapshots allow you to create a fall-back position in case a file gets deleted or overwritten. For example, let’s create a snapshot, delete some folder in my home directory and restore them.

First, you need to find the dataset you want to snapshot. You can do that with the

zfs list Zfs List

You can see that my home folder is located in rpool/USERDATA/johnblood_uwcjk7.

Let’s create a snapshot named 1910 using this command:

sudo zfs snapshot rpool/USERDATA/johnblood_uwcjk7@1019

The snapshot will be created very quickly. Now, I am going to delete the Downloads and Documents directories.

Now to restore the snapshot, all you have to do is run this command:

sudo zfs rollback rpool/USERDATA/johnblood_uwcjk7@1019.

The length of the rollback depends on how much the information changed. Now, you can check the home folder and the deleted folders (and their content) will be returned to their correct place.

To ZFS or not?

This is just a quick glimpse at what you can do with ZFS on Ubuntu. For more information, check out Ubuntu’s wiki page on ZFS. I also recommend reading this excellent article on ArsTechnica.

This is an experimental feature and if you are not aware of ZFS and you want to have a simple stable system, please go with the standard install on Ext4. If you have a spare machine that you want to experiment with, then only try something like this to learn a thing or two about ZFS. If you are an ‘expert’ and you know what you are doing, you are free to experiment ZFS wherever you like.

Have you ever used ZFS? Please let us know in the comments below. If you found this article interesting, please take a minute to share it on social media, Hacker News or Reddit.

Confirmed! Microsoft Edge Will be Available on Linux

Friday 8th of November 2019 06:28:26 AM

Microsoft is overhauling its Edge web browser and it will be based on the open source Chromium browser. Microsoft is also bringing the new Edge browser to desktop Linux however the Linux release might be a bit delayed.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer once dominated the browser market share, but it lost its dominance in the last decade to Google’s Chrome.

The rise and fall of #opensource web browser Mozilla Firefox. pic.twitter.com/Co5Xj3dKIQ

— Abhishek Prakash (@abhishek_foss) March 22, 2017

Microsoft tried to gain its lost position by creating Edge, a brand new web browser built with EdgeHTML and Chakra engine. It was tightly integrated with Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana and Windows 10.

However, it still could not bring the crown home and as of today, it stands at the fourth position in desktop browser usage share.

Lately, Microsoft decided to give Edge an overhaul by rebasing it on open source Chromium project. Google’s Chrome browser is also based on Chromium. Chromium is also available as a standalone web browser and some Linux distributions use it at as the default web browser.

The new Microsoft Edge web browser on Linux

After initial reluctance and uncertainties, it seems that Microsoft is finally going to bring the new Edge browser to Linux.

In its annual developer conference Microsoft Ignite, the session on Edge Browser mentions that it is coming to Linux in future.

Microsoft confirms that Edge is coming to Linux in future

The new Edge browser will be available on 15th January 2020 but I think that the Linux release will be delayed.

Is Microsoft Edge coming to Linux really a big deal?

What’s the big deal with Microsoft Edge coming to Linux? Don’t we have plenty of web browsers available for Linux already? I think it has to do with the ‘Microsoft Linux rivalry’ (if there is such a thing). If Microsoft does anything for Linux, specially desktop Linux, it becomes a news.

I also think that Edge on Linux has mutual benefits for Microsoft and for Linux users. Here’s why.

What’s in it for Microsoft?

When Google launched its Chrome browser in 2008, no one had thought that it will dominate the market in just a few years. But why would a search engine put so much of energy behind a ‘free web browser’?

The answer is that Google is a search engine and it wants more people using its search engine and other services so that it can earn revenue from the ad services. With Chrome, Google is the default search engine. On other browsers like Firefox and Safari, Google pays hundreds of millions to be kept as the default web browser. Without Chrome, Google would have to rely entirely on the other browsers.

Microsoft too has a search engine named Bing. The Internet Explorer and Edge use Bing as the default search engine. If Edge is used by more users, it improves the chances of bringing more users to Bing. More Bing users is something Microsoft would love to have.

What’s in it for Linux users?

I see a couple of benefits for desktop Linux users. With Edge, you can use some Microsoft specific products on Linux. For example, Microsoft’s streaming gaming service xCloud maybe available on the Edge browser only.

Another benefit is an improved Netflix experience on Linux. Of course, you can use Chrome or Firefox for watching Netflix on Linux but you might not be getting the full HD or ultra HD streaming.

As far as I know, the Full HD and Ultra HD Netflix streaming is only available on Microsoft Edge. This means you can ‘Netflix and chill’ in HD with Edge on Linux.

What do you think?

What’s your feeling about Microsoft Edge coming to Linux? Will you be using it when it is available for Linux? Do share your views in the comment section below.

Budget-friendly Linux Smartphone PinePhone Will be Available to Pre-order Next Week

Thursday 7th of November 2019 07:40:01 AM

Do you remember when It’s FOSS first broke the story that Pine64 was working on a Linux-based smartphone running KDE Plasma (among other distributions) in 2017? It’s been some time since then but the good news is that PinePhone will be available for pre-order from 15th November.

Let me provide you more details on the PinePhone like its specification, pricing and release date.

PinePhone: Linux-based budget smartphone

The PinePhone developer kit is already being tested by some devs and more such kits will be shipped by 15th November. You can check out some of these images by clicking the photo gallery below:

The developer kit is a combo kit of PINE A64 baseboard + SOPine module + 7″ Touch Screen Display + Camera + Wifi/BT + Playbox enclosure + Lithium-Ion battery case + LTE cat 4 USB dongle.

These combo kits allow developers to jump start PinePhone development. The PINE A64 platform already has mainline Linux OS build thanks to the PINE64 community and the support by KDE neon.

Specifications of PinePhone PinePhone Prototype | Image by Martjin Braam
  • Allwinner A64 Quad Core SoC with Mali 400 MP2 GPU
  • 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM
  • 5.95″ LCD 1440×720, 18:9 aspect ratio (hardened glass)
  • Bootable Micro SD
  • 16GB eMMC
  • HD Digital Video Out
  • USB Type C (Power, Data and Video Out)
  • Quectel EG-25G with worldwide bands
  • WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n, single-band, hotspot capable
  • Bluetooth: 4.0, A2DP
  • GNSS: GPS, GPS-A, GLONASS
  • Vibrator
  • RGB status LED
  • Selfie and Main camera (2/5Mpx respectively)
  • Main Camera: Single OV6540, 5MP, 1/4″, LED Flash
  • Selfie Camera: Single GC2035, 2MP, f/2.8, 1/5″
  • Sensors: accelerator, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, ambient light
  • 3 External Switches: up down and power
  • HW switches: LTE/GNSS, WiFi, Microphone, Speaker, USB
  • Samsung J7 form-factor 3000mAh battery
  • Case is matte black finished plastic
  • Headphone Jack
Production, Price & Availability Pinephone Brave Heart Pre Order

PinePhone will cost about $150. The early adapter release has been named ‘Brave Heart’ edition and it will go on sale from November 15, 2019. As you can see in the image above, Pine64’s homepage has included a timer for the first pre-order batch of PinePhone.

You should expect the early adopter ‘Brave Heart’ editions to be shipped and delivered by December 2019 or January 2020.

Mass production will begin only after the Chinese New Year, hinting at early Q2 of 2020 or March 2020 (at the earliest).

The phone hasn’t yet been listed on Pine Store – so make sure to check out Pine64 online store to pre-order the ‘Brave Heart’ edition if you want to be one of the early adopters.

What do you think of PinePhone?

Pine64 has already created a budget laptop called Pinebook and a relatively powerful Pinebook Pro laptop. So, there is definitely hope for PinePhone to succeed, at least in the niche of DIY enthusiasts and hardcore Linux fans. The low pricing is definitely a huge plus here compared to the other Linux smartphone Librem5 that costs over $600.

Another good thing about PinePhone is that you can experiment with the operating system by installing Ubuntu Touch, Plasma Mobile or Aurora OS/Sailfish OS.

These Linux-based smartphones don’t have the features to replace Android or iOS, yet. If you are looking for a fully functional smartphone to replace your Android smartphone, PinePhone is certainly not for you. It’s more for people who like to experiment and are not afraid to troubleshoot.

If you are looking to buy PinePhone, mark the date and set a reminder. There will be limited supply and what I have seen so far, Pine devices go out of stock pretty soon.

Are you going to pre-order a PinePhone? Let us know of your views in the comment section.

How To Update a Fedora Linux System [Beginner’s Tutorial]

Saturday 2nd of November 2019 10:55:31 AM

This quick tutorial shows various ways to update a Fedora Linux install.

So, the other day, I installed the newly released Fedora 31. I’ll be honest with you, it was my first time with a non-Ubuntu distribution.

The first thing I did after installing Fedora was to try and install some software. I opened the software center and found that the software center was ‘broken’. I couldn’t install any application from it.

I wasn’t sure what went wrong with my installation. Discussing within the team, Abhishek advised me to update the system first. I did that and poof! everything was back to normal. After updating the Fedora system, the software center worked as it should.

Sometimes we just ignore the updates and keep troubleshooting the issue we face. No matter how big/small the issue is – to avoid them, you should keep your system up-to-date.

In this article, I’ll show you various possible methods to update your Fedora Linux system.

Keep in mind that updating Fedora means installing the security patches, kernel updates and software updates. If you want to update from one version of Fedora to another, it is called version upgrade and you can read about Fedora version upgrade procedure here.

Updating Fedora From The Software Center Software Center

You will most likely be notified that you have some system updates to look at, you should end up launching the software center when you click on that notification.

All you have to do is – hit ‘Update’ and verify the root password to start updating.

In case you did not get a notification for the available updates, you can simply launch the software center and head to the “Updates” tab. Now, you just need to proceed with the updates listed.

Updating Fedora Using The Terminal

If you cannot load up the software center for some reason, you can always utilize the dnf package managing commands to easily update your system.

Simply launch the terminal and type in the following command to start updating (you should be prompted to verify the root password):

sudo dnf upgrade

dnf update vs dnf upgrade

You’ll find that there are two dnf commands available: dnf update and dnf upgrade.
Both command do the same job and that is to install all the updates provided by Fedora.
Then why there is dnf update and dnf upgrade and which one should you use?
Well, dnf update is basically an alias to dnf upgrade. While dnf update may still work, the good practice is to use dnf upgrade because that is the real command.

Updating Fedora From System Settings

If nothing else works (or if you’re already in the System settings for a reason), navigate your way to the “Details” option at the bottom of your settings.

This should show up the details of your OS and hardware along with a “Check for Updates” button as shown in the image above. You just need to click on it and provide the root/admin password to proceed to install the available updates.

Wrapping Up

As explained above, it is quite easy to update your Fedora installation. You’ve got three available methods to choose from – so you have nothing to worry about.

If you notice any issue in following the instructions mentioned above, feel free to let me know in the comments below.

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