I need a Linux server that is always available into which I can either ssh into or vnc in to get things done. Also, this would have my (now) 23 year old home directory, that has everything – old source code, emails, documents, etc. The idea is that this is a protected environment, and I use all my other terminals as a means to access this server.
These days I use a Lenovo Ideapad 3, running Linux Mint 21. This is on a local LAN, hard wired and always connected. The reason to use a laptop (and not a blade, although that would be fancy), is because there are times when I might want to take this thing with me on a trip. I’ve used a Dell XPS 13, and prior to that, an HP Elitebook, and much prior to that multiple assembled desktops.
For these needs and setup, I want a familiar Linux desktop environment, since it is getting difficult to deal with all the Compizities that are coming along. Xfce is a bit too bland. Mate has been awesome, gives the Gnome 2 look and feel, and at the same time it is snappy.
- Linux Mint: Burn it to a stick
- Boot up IdeaPad with it and customize the partitions and their mounts
- Always have two simultaneous partitions with different OSes (30G each) – one for current version, and one for the newer install (newer install gets configured as /)
- /home is on a different partition
- /boot on its own
- I’ve stopped mucking with /etc, I let it get stubbed on / by the new install
- Setup the same username that I’ve used for years in my homedir, with the last password that I had for my current setup. This helps with preserving the private key setup with which the home directory is encrypted.
- A random quirk on IdeaPad is that the touchpad stops working randomly. Surprisingly, it just gets disabled in
System Preferences > Hardware > Mouse > Trackpad > Enable Trackpad, so you just go and enable it there (and not really modprobe for kernel mods).
- Install some important (and for some reason not included) pkgs:
# sudo apt install x11vnc screen vim vim-nox exuberant-tags keepassx
- Configure x11vnc:
- Ensure a password is setup:
# x11vnc -storepasswd SOME_PASSWORD_I_WANT_TO_USE /tmp/x11vnc.pwd # sudo cp /tmp/x11vnc.pwd /etc/x11vnc.pwd
- Setup the x11vnc startup script:
# echo -e "[Unit]\nDescription=Start x11vnc at startup.\nAfter=multi-user.target\n\n[Service]\nType=simple\nExecStart=/usr/bin/x11vnc -auth guess -forever -loop -noxdamage -repeat -rfbauth /etc/x11vnc.pwd -rfbport 5900 -shared -o /var/log/x11vnc.log\n\n[Install]\nWantedBy=multi-user.target" > /tmp/x11vnc.service # sudo cp /tmp/x11vnc.service /etc/systemd/system/x11vnc.service # sudo systemctl daemon-reload # sudo systemctl enable x11vnc # sudo systemctl start x11vnc
- Ensure a password is setup:
- Ensure the laptop doesn’t suspend / hibernate on lid closed:
# cp /etc/systemd/logind.conf /tmp/logind.conf # echo -e "# per https://nimdati.com/2021/03/14/ubuntu-20-10-prevent-suspend-on-close-lid/\nHandleLidSwitch=ignore" >> /tmp/logind.conf # sudo mkdir -p /etc/systemd.bak && sudo cp /etc/systemd/logind.conf /etc/systemd.bak/logind.conf.backup.`date +%s` # sudo cp /tmp/logind.conf /etc/systemd/logind.conf
I use VNC Viewer from Real VNC, which has variants on Mac and Android. For everything else, there are ssh clients. Screensaver is configured to blank and locks screen in 2 minutes.