Paolo Amoroso's Journal

Linux

My post on why I use a Chromebox was shared on Hacker News and got enough upvotes to receive more than 4,000 views over a day. The feedback in the comments made me realize I didn't explain why I use chromeOS instead of Linux, so here goes.

I did use various Linux distros from the mid 1990s until switching to chromeOS, but I got exasperated with maintenance.

Device driver support was suboptimal. System updates would often break something and throw me to the console, forcing to waste days to troubleshoot and fix whatever broke and restore X. These issues were so frequent I ended up deferring to apply system updates, trading features and fixes for stability.

I had enough with Linux maintenance, realized I was living in Chrome anyway, didn't mind Google, and gave chromeOS a try. Seven years and four chromeOS devices later, I never had a single system update issue. And maintenance simply disappeared.

For years I used also Windows and Mac OS X but I liked Linux — and later chromeOS — much more.

#chromeOS #Linux

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Chrome OS 101 was supposed to prompt to upgrade Crostini, its Linux container subsystem, from Debian Buster to Bullseye. A 9to5Google article on Chrome OS 101 noted:

Linux on Chrome OS now uses Debian 11 (Bullseye) with upgrade prompts available in the Settings app for those on Debian 10 (Buster). You also now get an upgrade log that’s saved in the Downloads folder.

However, when Chrome OS Stable 101.0.4951.59 landed on my ASUS Chromebox 3 with Crostini running Buster, I got no such prompt. A comment by the user Mr. Smith on an About Chromebooks post about upgrading to Bullseye clarified the prompt is hidden behind a flag.

I went through the upgrade process Mr. Smith outlined and it worked, sort of. Here are the steps I took:

  1. enable the flag chrome://flags#crostini-bullseye-upgrade
  2. reboot Chrome OS
  3. accept the prompt to upgrade to Bullseye
  4. open the Terminal app
  5. run the following shell commands:

    $ sudo apt update
    $ sudo apt full-upgrade -y
    $ sudo apt -y autoremove
    

Sure enough, after rebooting the system I got the upgrade prompt, accepted it, and watched a dialog reporting on the upgrade progress. A dozen minutes later the process ended with the following errors:

Failed to connect to bus: No data available
Failed to connect to bus: No data available
invoke-rc.d: initscript sudo, action "restart" failed.
Failed to connect to bus: No data available
dpkg: error processing package sudo (--configure):
 installed sudo package post-installation script subprocess returned error exit status 1
Errors were encountered while processing:
 sudo
E: Sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1)

I'm not sure what triggered the errors. But a few quick checks of Crostini suggested the installed apps work and nothing major seems broken. Therefore, I'm leaving the container upgraded to Bullseye 11.3 as is and monitor it.

#chromeOS #Linux

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Although Linux had been my daily driver for almost two decades, when I switched to Chrome OS I regarded the Crostini Chrome OS Linux container mostly as a curiosity.

Sure, I was eager to have some fun with Linux on my Chromebox. But I already lived fully in the cloud and web apps met all my computing needs. I assumed the main use cases for Crostini were advanced development or DevOps.

To check out Crostini, I installed some astronomical image visualization and processing software for Linux. Next, I used Python preinstalled on Crostini to test the code I was writing with Repl.it and make sure it ran on a different system.

When I began working on Suite8080, a suite of Intel 8080 Assembly cross-development tools in Python, I needed some CP/M emulators and 8080 tools to test the Python programs I was developing, as well as my Assembly code. Again, installing and running such Linux software on Crostini worked well.

I came to love Crostini, now a key component of my Chrome OS toolset. It lets me run all sorts of niche applications and specialized software for my hobby projects and geeky interests.

#chromeOS #Linux

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My work on Suite8080 is making me rediscover the Unix M4 macro processing language.

Suite8080, a suite of Intel 8080 Assembly cross-development tools I'm writing in Python, includes also an assembler. I designed the latter to optionally read from the standard input, a feature that gives for free macro processing via a separate tool like m4. I can feed macro Assembly source to m4 and pipe the expanded output into the assembler.

The M4 language is a good choice thanks to its power and ubiquity on POSIX systems.

However, m4 is an obscure tool with a learning curve made steep by the unintuitive quoting and expansion rules. There are few resources and no books or tutorials. The very few code samples are abstract, short, and formatted with little or no whitespace and indentation, which doesn't help readability.

After extensive online research, I put together a list of the best learning and reference resources:

#Linux #development

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