Boise Linux Group November 15th Meeting Report

We had a very attended meeting with 17 in attendance.  Clint Tinsley started the evening with his "Linux as an Alternative" presentation. What follows is the outline of his slide presentation.  Mixed in with the slide presentation was a demo of Linux Mint 18, UbuntuStudio 16.10, and the bootable USB Xtra-PC device which we finished out the evening using.  We finished the evening with member John Bowen showing us how he used a single usb cable to both power, share out his interent and manage a RasberryPiZero all from a Mac!  The report on his presentation is follows Clint's presentation outline.

Linux as an Alternative!
Boise Linux Group 
 November 2016
 Clint Tinsley
What is Linux?
It is an computer operating system like Windows
Windows comes in many flavors
    Windows 3.1, 98, 98SE, Vista, XP, 7, 8, 10
Linux comes in many flavors – Called Distributions
    Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Debian, Fedora, Arch (Over 200 flavors!)
Desktop Environment – Usability Environment
Windows – Limited in choices based on Windows Edition, Windows 10, 7, XP
Linux – Xfce, LXDE, Mate, Cinamon, Unity (Ubuntu), Gnome 2 or 3, Customized 
An operating system runs programs like Office, Graphics
Making the Operating System Choice
Hardware requirements
Security Needs, Vulnerabilities
Ease of Use, Stability, Updates, Upgrading
Total Cost of Using including programs and upgrading
Operating System Comparisons
Windows 10 (Current)
No Longer Free, cost dependent on Version – Home Ed. 119.00, Pro $ 199.99
Current Hardware Required – 64 Bit, UEFI Secure Boot
Programs – Non-Free, $100 and up as a rule per program
Older programs require upgrades which come at a cost
Compatibility issues with older programs – Won’t run, file issues       
    Newer programs also require upgraded hardware – Memory, Graphics
Older Hardware not compatible with Windows 10! - Drivers, Connectivity
MacIntosh – Closed Environment, Limited Program Choices, Cost
Linux – Free for the downloading, User Community Supported
Familiar Desktop Environment
Runs on older hardware, typically 2005 forward, Pentium 4 or better
Upgrading includes upgraded newer program versions at no cost
Programs – Thousands – Freely available for downloading 
Each Linux version has its own set of compatible programs and upgrades 
“There are thousands of people and companies who work on Linux, trying to make it better. They do this for free, and they allow it to be downloaded by ordinary people like yourself, without charge. This is because they use it themselves, and they benefit from having an operating system that’s fast, rarely crashes, and is less at risk of being hacked or infected with a virus.” - Make Use of.
Companies that have contributed to Linux, include Intel, AMD, IBM, HP, Novell, Nokia, Samsung, Google, Fujitsu, and Microsoft.
Linux is so good, it’s used everywhere: from banking systems, to the computers used on military aircraft. From desktop computers, to TV’s, Smartphones and automobiles. Android is Linux.  Even MacOS is related to Linux.  Microsoft uses Linux on its servers!
Choosing A Linux Flavor!
Hardware – Older – Lightweight Desktops
    Xfce, LXDE
Ease of Use – Menu, Desktop, OBE
Out of the Box Experience – What comes preloaded.
A couple of Choices:
Linux Mint 18 Cinamon – Best OBE Linux
UbuntuStudio 16.10 – Kitchen Sink Everything Included
Xtra-PC – Bootable USB ready-to-use Linux
    No Installation
Access your existing Files and Hard Drive
Linux Mint 18 Cinamon 3
“Sarah” - Based on Ubuntu 16.04
Long-Term-Support (LTS) – Supported until 2021
Best Windows like Out-of-Box Experience – Just Works!
Full Multi-Media, Play Commercial DVD Movies
Windows like bottom up “Start” menu system.
Easy Installation – Dual-bootable with Windows
Lightweight Versions – Mate, Xfce
Community – Books on Amazon, B&N
Customizable Desktop and Effects
Linux Mint 18 Cinamon 3 Test Drive
Opening Page – Features, Apps, Documentation, Chat
Features – Xapps, Full Complement of Linux Applications
Move to “Standard” apps – work the same everywhere
Containerized Applications – Download and Use
No Installation required – Krita    
Snap (snapd) Universal Linux Applications - Pencilsheep
Lightweight Versions – Mate, Xfce
Linux Mint 18 Sarah – SurfingTurtle Press – 590 Pages
Customizable Desktop and Effects
Ubuntu Studio 16.10
Everything included: Productivity & Media 
LibreOffice, Video, Audio, Graphic Design, 
Photographic, Publishing
Xfce, low-latency Linux for fastest performance
User Friendly Drop Down Windows like Cascading Menus 
Ubuntu Studio Community Support 
Chatroom, Forums, Mailing List
Dual-bootable with Windows, other Linux versions 
Easy access and installation of 1000’s of programs
Customizable Windows like Desktop – Desktop Program Icons
Wine support for running many Windows programs
Xtra-PC Bootable USB Drive
Billed as New Life for Old-PC’s, Runs Fast
4 Versions, 8 GB to 128 GB
$24.99 Basic up to $79.99 for Pro 128 GB version
30 Day Money-Back Guarantee on Purchase
Multi-Media Support – Play Commercial DVD Movies
Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Based (May have been upgraded)
Updateable, install other software packages
Keep your hard drive intact and files accessible
Linux Test Drive
Most Linux versions offer a “Live DVD” download
Allows for a “Test Drive” without Installing
You can usually install from the Live DVD
Live DVD’s run slower! 
Not indicative of installed performance
Allows access to local hard and your files.
Limited configuration options, changes not saved! 
Stay with Main Stream Versions
LTS – Long-Term Support means you don’t have to upgrade.
LTS Downside – You don’t always get the latest programs.
Best installed to local hard drive or SSD for performance.
Running Windows Programs on Linux
Wine provides the environment for Windows programs to run.
Install Wine and Winetricks from Software Manager.
Play-On-Linux offers additional Windows support.
Run winecfg from “terminal” to Initialize wine.
Windows Programs installation:
Run winetricks and see if program is listed.
Run program “setup” using wine (right click on program)
From Terminal prompt, type wine setup.exe
Play-On-Linux provides installs for programs as well.
Play-On-Linux install programs in “virtual drives”
Crossover Linux (non-free) -
c_tinsley at

After Clint's presentation and still using the Xtra-PC USB device for our Linux (it is very fast on a USB 3 drive) and working from Google Docs, John Bowen showing us how he used a single usb cable to both power, share out his interent and manage a RasberryPiZero all from a Mac!  This is his working document:

RasPi Zero on one USB cable to Mac


Goals and Requirements
Carry a Raspberry Pi with me
Mostly own experiments or one-on-one demos/teaching
Usually limited infrastructure: coffeeshops, library, airport
GUI nice, but would rather practice my command line skills
Earlier minimal setup: power, Ethernet cable - can improve?
Others want a device to work on; I just want a computer
Usable "regular" networking a priority

Bottom Line
For my use case, Raspberry Pi Zero is nearly perfect


Items Needed
Raspberry Pi Zero
USB-A to micro USB cable, shorter might be better (?)
Mac as host (hope to explore other hosts later)
Case (optional)
Old Ziploc bag (optional)


Steps to Perform on Host Computer
Select a distro - Raspian Jessie-Lite (headless)
Transfer to micro SD card, as normal
Edit a couple of files, BEFORE unmounting the SD card

Timeout: Shoulders of Giants, Standing On
Google "raspberry pi with one usb cable" and find tutorials. Looked through several, liked this best:

I followed the steps, and it worked. All of the tutorials warned not to edit incorrectly or I could make my SD card unbootable. I'll be first to admit I'm just following directions from others, learning a little bit at a time.

After transferring the image to the micro SD card, do not unmount it just yet. Look at the device, at the root level, very top.


Using your vi or emacs of choice, make the edits to the two files (see web link above). As noted, cmdline.txt contains parameters separated by exactly one space.

Unmount the micro SD card, insert into the Pi. On the Raspi Zero side, plug the cable into the micro USB port labeled "USB". This port is towards the center of that side of the board. The other port, labeled "PWR", near the corner, transmits power but not data.


Connect via ssh pi@raspberrypi.local

That's it! You should be able to talk with the Pi, issue commands, and transfer data back and forth with scp, Secure Copy. Look at ifconfig; the IP address should be 169.x.x.x indicating a self-assigned address. Part of the reason the ssh connection worked in the first place is that Raspian includes Avahi service for the ".local" network names.


Next Steps: Better Networking
Using 169.x.x.x address with ssh, scp is OK
Hard to do a lot of normal system tasks

The next step (in my use case) was to get a real IP address. Almost all the tutorials dealing with interfaces and dhcp*.conf assumed I wanted to set a static IP address. This would be fine; in fact I tend to run little mini-servers on other Raspberry Pis.

However, I share the Internet connection from the Mac to the Pi. It seems to work best when the Pi is set to use DHCP.

Other Notes

Case I picked was Pimoroni Pi-Bow, about $7


After a round of applause for John's presentation, this concluded our meeting.

As always, thanks to Taos of Boise for facilitating our meeting location and providing pizza, soda, and lots of cookies.

Fedora 25 was suppose to be released yesterday. The release has been pushed back a week to November 22nd. 

For next month, our December meeting, we are planning on a presentation on WordPress by one of our group regulars.  See you then!