Geek Project: Installing Linux on Your Chromebook with Crostini!

New Chromebook FlipHere’s Geek Project for you, if you have the right version of Chromebook! Our buddy, Stephen J. Vaughn-Nichols has some fun! (By the way, it works on my newer version Chromebook Flip.)

How to add Linux to your Chromebook

ZDNet – By: Stephen J. Vaughn-Nichols – “It’s long been possible to run Linux on a Chromebook. That’s no surprise. After all, Chrome OS is a Linux variant. But, doing it by using either Crouton in a chroot container or Gallium OS, a Xubuntu Chromebook-specific Linux variant, wasn’t easy. Then, Google announced it was bringing a completely integrated Linux desktop to the Chromebook.

Today, with a properly-equipped Chromebook and the bravery to run canary code, you can run Debian Linux on your Chromebook. Here’s how to do it.

This new Chromebook Linux feature is Crostini, the umbrella technology for getting Linux running with Chrome OS. Crostini gets enough Linux running to run KVM, Linux’s built-in virtual machine (VM). On top of this, Crostini starts and runs LXC containers. You won’t see it, unless you look closely, but it’s in those containers that your Debian Linux instances are running.

Eventually, anyone with a newer Chromebook will be able to run Linux. Specifically, if your Chromebook’s operating system is based on the Linux 4.4 kernel, you’ll be supported. But we’re not there yet. It’s also possible that older Chromebooks, running Linux 4.14, will be retrofitted with Crostini support.

Officially, you need a Pixelbook, Google’s top-of-the-line Chromebook, to run Linux. But, users have found a dozen other models can run Crostini with half-a-dozen others expected to be supported soon. Chromebooks that can already use Crostini include newer Intel-powered Chromebooks from Acer, Asus, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung. Dell models will start getting supported later this year.

I used my best-of-breed Pixelbook with its 1.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-7Y75 processor, 512GB SSD, with 16GBs of RAM for my tests. This is the fastest Chromebook on the market. It’s not cheap, at a list price of $1,399, but it’s worth it if you want to push Linux on the Chromebook’s limits.

Once you have the hardware you need, you must switch your Chromebook from the stable update channel to the dev channel. This is alpha software and it updates about once a week. Let me make this absolutely clear: This is not stable software. It will blow up at times. But, faint heart never won fair technology discoveries.

This is a bigger decision than it looks at first. You’ll lose all your local data if you try to go back to the stable, or even beta, channels. With a Chromebook that’s not much of a problem since most of your data and settings are kept on the Google Cloud, it’s still worth keeping in mind.

If you want to wait and be safe, Crostini support is expected to enter the stable channel with Chrome OS 69 in mid-September.

To make the switch to dev, take the following steps:

1) Sign in to your Chromebook with the owner account.

2) Click your account photo.

3) Click Settings.

4) At the top left, click Menu.

5) Scroll down and click About Chrome OS.

6) Click Detailed build information.

7) Next to “Channel” click Change channel.

8) Pick a channel.

9) Click Change Channel.

10) Your Chromebook will download the dev channel update. It will then ask you to restart your Chromebook.

Once that’s done, if you’re not using a Pixelbook you may need to set a Chrome flag to access Linux. You do this by entering: chrome://flags on the Chrome browser’s address line. This command displays all of Chrome’s experimental features. Scroll down the list until you find:

#enable-experimental-crostini-ui

Activate this, and your system may be ready to go. I say ‘may’ because to run Crostini your Chromebook must not only be on the dev channel, but Google must also have enabled the Linux VM for your hardware.

The easiest way to confirm that a particular Chromebook works with Linux is to follow the above steps and then open Chrome OS’s built-in shell, crosh, and run the shell command:

vmc start termina

If you get a message such as ‘ERROR: command ‘vmc’ is not available’, you’re out of luck. But, if you see a terminal, congrats, you’ve just found a new Chromebook that’s Linux-ready.

Next, head to Chrome OS settings (chrome://settings), scroll down to to ‘Linux (Beta)’ and activate it.

Now, open the app switcher by pressing the Search/Launcher key and type ‘Terminal’. This launches the Termina VM, which will start running a Debian 9.0 Stretch Linux container.

Congratulations! You’re now running Debian Linux on your Chromebook.

From here you can install and run programs using Debian’s normal software commands. For example, to update my new Linux system and install the lynx web browser, I’d run:

$ sudo apt-get update

$ sudo apt-get upgrade

$ sudo apt install lynx

While you could install pretty much any program on your new Linux instance, I gave a shell-based program example because accelerated graphics and audio aren’t working yet. So, while you could install Cinnamon, my favorite Linux interface, or Steam for games, it’s not fast enough even on a maxed out Pixelbook to be that enjoyable. Not yet anyway.

In addition, many graphics-based programs, such as the photo-editor Gimp, won’t run yet on Crostini. Give it time to mature before trying to get too fancy with heavy graphics software.

Soon, though, Linux and Chrome will be a matched pair. Come that day, I see high-end Chromebooks becoming the laptops of choice for developers.

In the meantime, if you want to do more with Linux and Chromebook, check out the excellent Reddit Crostini Wiki. For up-to-the-minute hands-on information about Crostini, its parent Reddit forum is the best resource on the web.

Enjoy!”

New Email Scam Alert!

Email Scam Attack!I got an email today that clued me into a new scam that I wanted to report on. Sorry in advance for the long article, but it will be worth it to read this all the way through!

Here’s a question for you. Have you ever been notified that one of your passwords and, say, your email address, have been compromised in some of the recent break-ins to corporate sites? There have been all kinds of these announced in the news over the past year.

Chances are good that your email, and possibly an old password that you used to use have been compromised! In most cases, the companies in question did let you know that you need to change your password on their website; and as long as no credit card information was stolen, you feel like you’ve come out okay.

Well, if you have been a victim of one of these compromised sites, there is a new methodology attempting to extort money from you… even If they have only a small amount of your personal information. Now, keep in mind, this information, once a break-in has occurred, is readily available for sale on the “Dark Web” and anyone can get lists that show a username, a password, and an email address, at minimum. You would think that there is a not lot they can do with that, given that you changed your password long before these lists have gone out.

However, I got an email today that demonstrates that people that buy these lists can come up with VERY interesting methods to attempt to extort money from folks that have had some information exposed in the past.

For instance, I was told some time back that the Linux Mint website had been compromised, and that my email address, my name, and my old password on the site had been derived from the hack. I then, of course, immediately changed my password on the Linux Mint website. And, I thought that all was well!

Until I got the email today. This is a really innovative scam! I have to give them some credit for their attempt. The problem is: A) I am technology savvy, B) I am security savvy, C) I am a tech blogger (bad for them!) and, D) I know what I have, and have not, done online!

Let’s look at the contents of the email that I received today:

“I know ********* (Correct password replaced by asterisks) is your passphrase. Lets get
right to purpose. No one has compensated me to check about you. You may not know me
and you’re probably thinking why you’re getting this mail?

In fact, I setup a malware on the 18+ streaming (sexually graphic) web site and
there’s more, you visited this website to have fun (you know what I mean). When you
were watching video clips, your browser initiated functioning as a RDP with a
keylogger which provided me accessibility to your display and cam. Right after that,
my software collected all your contacts from your Messenger, FB, and email . And
then I created a double video. 1st part shows the video you were watching (you’ve
got a nice taste omg), and next part displays the view of your cam, & its u.

You actually have two different options. We are going to go through these choices in
particulars:

1st choice is to just ignore this e mail. In that case, I am going to send your very
own recorded material to all your your personal contacts and also visualize
concerning the shame you will get. And as a consequence if you happen to be in a
romantic relationship, precisely how it is going to affect?

In the second place choice should be to give me 3000 USD. Lets call it a donation.
In this scenario, I most certainly will without delay discard your video. You could
keep going everyday life like this never happened and you will not ever hear back
again from me.

You will make the payment through Bitcoin (if you don’t know this, search for “how
to buy bitcoin” in Google search engine).

BTC Address: ********************** (Again, replaced with asterisks)
[case-sensitive, copy & paste it]

If you may be thinking of going to the cop, okay, this email cannot be traced back
to me. I have covered my moves. I am also not looking to ask you for money very
much, I wish to be paid for. I have a special pixel in this e mail, and right now I
know that you have read through this email message. You now have one day to pay. If
I don’t get the BitCoins, I will send out your video to all of your contacts
including friends and family, colleagues, and many others. However, if I receive the
payment, I will erase the recording right away. This is the non-negotiable offer
therefore please don’t waste mine time & yours by replying to this email message. If
you want evidence, reply Yup! & I definitely will send out your video recording to
your 5 contacts.”

Now, here’s what’s interesting! (Other than the “Engrish!”) People that know me, know that I don’t visit porn sites. I also don’t have a Messenger account. And, I have never had an open WebCam without doing a recording to do a web video for my Dr. Bill.TV show. I just don’t use WebCams! I keep them turned off, or I cover them, on any machine I have. So, even if I had visited a porn site, which of course I didn’t, then there wouldn’t have been a video of me to use!

Also, I use a mail client that is on-line, and does NOT automatically display graphics, so there is no way, he could register a display of a single bit pixel, even if he had embedded one in the original message!

Now, you might say, “Yeah, but Dr. Bill, aren’t you afraid that somebody could take some video footage from one your shows and splice it together with some porn footage, thereby making it look like you’re watching videos?” Well, yes, I suppose they could, but, they could do that with ANY online personality, or YouTuber! But, think about it, if you fall for the extortion, then you keep the scam going because the person will make money! If you reply to the email, they know that they have a “live one” and might actually make the video! Think these kinds of scams through!

I DO think it is interesting that they don’t demand an extremely large amount of money; an amount that no one could possibly raise, even if they thought they had to, to protect their reputation! When you get right down to it, if you were freaking out about your reputation, then you MIGHT actually scramble around and try to get together $3000 to send to this guy’s Bitcoin account. But if you just think through the process, you’ll see that all they really have is your email address, your name, and an old password. And, the potential victim, in this case me; already knows that this information has been made readily available. Think, folks!

Now the sad thing is, I’m sure a lot of people WILL fall for this, and send the money! And then they will sit around and sweat thinking, “Oh, no, will they release the information anyway?”

I’m sending this out as a lesson not to allow the scam to catch you, and make you panic! Remember, if we feed these guys by trying to “pay them off” then we perpetuate the scam. If enough people will see through this logically and see that there’s nothing to fear, then we can nip this kind of thing in the bud!

So, Internet user, be aware of this new scam, and whatever you do, don’t fall for it! (And, oh by the way, contrary to popular opinion, and what’s propagated by some TV shows… Bitcoin transactions CAN be traced! You’d be better off demanding cold, hard cash as opposed to Bitcoin, because any electronic transaction can be traced! So, how do you know that I’m not after you!?! (GRIN!)

Dr. Bill.TV #440 – Video – “The Old Tech Giveaway Edition!”

Dr. Bill owns up to a BIG ‘oopsy!’ The new Dr. Bill Roku Channel is finally out! Roku’s new wireless speakers, GSotW: Cloudberry Remote Assistant! Amazon Prime Day on Monday came off OK, with issues! Our first ‘Old Tech Giveaway!’ at time stamp 29:02.

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TechPodcasts Network

International Association of Internet Broadcasters

Blubrry Network

Dr. Bill Bailey.NET

Cloudberry Remote Assistant


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Dr. Bill.TV #440 – Audio – “The Old Tech Giveaway Edition!”

Dr. Bill owns up to a BIG ‘oopsy!’ The new Dr. Bill Roku Channel is finally out! Roku’s new wireless speakers, GSotW: Cloudberry Remote Assistant! Amazon Prime Day on Monday came off OK, with issues! Our first ‘Old Tech Giveaway!’ at time stamp 29:02.

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TechPodcasts Network

International Association of Internet Broadcasters

Blubrry Network

Dr. Bill Bailey.NET

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Amazon’s Prime Day Had Issues This Year

Amazon Prime DayAmazon Prime Day on Monday came off okay, but with issues. Apparently, there were points when people couldn’t access the site, and were getting 404 errors! Several people posted the images of their 404 page with the dog looking cute, but embarrassed. And C|NET posted an article saying they got off to a “ruff start!” Cute!

“Prime Day sales in the U.S. so far are bigger than ever – in fact, in the first 10 hours Prime Day grew even faster, year-over-year, than the first 10 hours last year,” the company said early Tuesday in an emailed statement.

Either way, I suspect, overall it was a success for the company. I did notice that a lot of other companies online were getting into the act by having their own sales at the same time as Amazon Prime Day. It’s like having a Black Friday in the middle of July for no other reason than Amazon was doing Prime Day!

At this point, the Internet will start having its own holidays based around sales that giant vendors like Amazon are having!

Most of the Amazon products that were on sale were interesting, and good prices, but nothing grabbed my attention, mainly because I already have most of the products that were on sale that I would of been interested in.

For instance, the Amazon Dot was on sale, and it was a good sale… but already have my quota of those devices!

Geek Software of the Week: Cloudberry Remote Assistant!

Cloudberry Remote AssistantFinally! A Remote Desktop Assistant that is totally FREE! It is Windows only for now, but they have plans to support MacOS and Linux soon!

I have used remote access software the past, only to have the companies that produced it bought out, or management change, and then they became really ugly about pushing their charges to use it. I don’t mind people asking you to pay for their labor, but having been free to then change over to a paid model and then push it really hard is just ugly. Given that, I had dropped back to using VNC software which is okay, but doesn’t have a lot of the features that I liked about the old remote access software. As you know, I really like Cloudberry Labs products, and I’ve mentioned them before here on the blog, and the show. This looks really good! I was kind of jazzed to get word of it today via email!

Cloudberry Remote Assistant

Supported OS:
Windows Server 2003/2008/2012/2016
Windows Server 2008/2012 R2
Windows 7/8/10

System requirements:
Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5.1,
1.4 GHz 64-bit processor,
512 MB RAM, 100 MB minimum disk space,
Gigabit (10/100/1000baseT) Ethernet adapter

Main Features

Unattended Access
Control trusted PC’s all over the world any time

Remote desktop access
Access and control a remote desktop or server computer over Internet

Encrypted connection
All communications with remote desktop and our servers used for license activation and sendings diagnostics go through the SSL-encrypted connection

Text and voice chat
Use CloudBerry software for Windows remote desktop assistance as a free tool for text and voice communication over the Internet

Multi-regional authentication server
Some of our users in several locations were experiencing performance issues, this update is introduced to make sure every connection is as fast and reliable as possible.

File Transfer
Share files during the session, send them seamlessly to the remote PC anywhere in the world.

Roku Introduces New Audio Hardware!

Roku Wireless SpeakersThis actually seems pretty cool!

Roku’s New Wireless Speakers Automatically Turn Loud Commercials Down, Turn Show Audio Up

Slashdot – Posted by BeauHD – ‘Roku announced today that it’s getting into the audio business with the launch of its in-house Roku TV Wireless Speakers. The two HomePod-esque speakers work exclusively (and wirelessly) with Roku TVs, and feature software that will optimize audio from anything connected to the pair Roku TV, including cable boxes, antennas, and Bluetooth devices. The company also announced a new Roku Touch tabletop remote that’s similar to Amazon’s Alexa. Ars Technica reports:

‘Optimized’ in this sense refers to the software-improved audio quality: automatic volume leveling will boost lower audio in quiet scenes and lower audio in loud scenes (and in booming commercials), and dialogue enhancement will improve speech intelligibility. Accompanying the Wireless Speakers is the Roku Touch remote, a unique addition to Roku’s remote family. The company has a standard remote that controls its set-top boxes and smart TVs, and it also has a voice remote that processes voice commands to search for and play specific types of content. The Touch remote is most like the voice remote, but it can be used almost anywhere in your home because it’s wireless and runs on batteries. It has a number of buttons on its top that can play, pause, and skip content playing from your Roku TV, and some of those buttons are customizable so you can program your favorite presets to them. There’s also a press-and-hold talk button that lets you speak commands to your TV, even if you’re not in front of it. Roku’s Wireless Speakers and Touch remote will begin shipping this October, and the company is running a deal leading up to the release. For the first week of presales (July 16 through July 23), a bundle consisting of two Wireless Speakers, a Touch remote, and a Roku voice remote will be available for $149. From the end of that week until October, the price will be $179. When the new devices finally come out, the bundle price will be $199.’

The Roku Channel has Finally Been Updated!

RokuWell, on a happier note, Roku has finally gotten around to approving the new code that I wrote for our Dr. Bill Bailey.NET NETcasts Roku channel! It took them long enough, but they finally put in production!

I thought I would do an overview in the show this week on the Roku channel and its features. So, stay tuned for that! The Dr. Bill Bailey.NET NETcasts Roku channel is your source for all the video shows that I do, as well as the audio programs that I do. It covers my interests in a lot of areas.

If you have a Roku device, and are looking for a source for my content, then go to the Roku channel store and do a search, and you can locate the Dr. Bill Bailey.NET NETcasts Roku channel! Be sure to subscribe, and if you would, give the channel five stars! This will help raise the level of interest in the Roku channel store for the Dr. Bill Bailey.NET NETcasts Roku channel, and help spread the silliness of the Dr. Bill show to the world!

Here’s a direct link to help you subscribe to our channel! Dr. Bill Bailey.NET NETcasts

A Cautionary Tale

Evil HackWell folks, today I’ve got a story I’d rather not tell. I report on a lot of security issues, that have to do with computers and the web, but I haven’t been the subject of a report until now! You say, “Say it ain’t so Dr. Bill!” Sorry, but it’s true, it just goes to show that anybody can be caught up in a security issue if you’re not careful.

Let’s look at what happened, and I’ll explain the situation. I was minding my own business a few days ago checking out things on Facebook, when a friend of mine sent me a Facebook message they told me that they had seen an article in a computer blog that seem to reference one of my websites. I thought to myself, “What’s this about?” I checked out the article, and sure enough, there for all to see was the web address of one of my old websites! The problem with being a webmaster, particularly being one as long as I have been one, is that you can have old sites that are not properly cleaned up, and disposed of.

It’s not enough to decommission a website by simply getting rid of the domain name link and not deleting the old files, the old references, etc. as a webmaster you have to do a more thorough job cleaning up after yourself. And this is where my “mea culpa” comes in. I had a website many years ago and though I cleaned it up to a certain extent, I left the directory, which was actually a subdirectory on another site available to the web. Big mistake!

The article that my friend pointed me to was from a blog called “Bleeping Computer” in which they discussed the hack of the popular VSDC website. Now, VSDC is the video editor that I use for my video programs, and they do a great job of producing the software… which is very popular with a lot of folks around the web. It appears that their site had been hacked such that folks that downloaded the files off of the VSDC website were then infected by means of files that actually came off one of my old websites that had been hacked!

I found myself in the unenviable position of having to own up to the fact that I had allowed one of my old sites to be hacked and used for this exploit. Which I did in a comment on the “Bleeping Computer” article. I have to admit it was hard to swallow my pride and own up to the fact that one of my web old sites had been hacked and used for this exploit.

I’ve since cleaned up the site properly and VSDC has cleaned up their site and they are no longer propagating this exploit from their site downloads as well. The author of the article did point out, and I agree, that VSDC did a great job of just owning up to the fact that they had been hacked, and then took care of the issue quickly. This doesn’t happen very often; most of the time organizations will ignore, or deny, the fact that they been a victim of a hack.

I have much respect for the fact that VSDC did own up to the issue and fixed it. I trust that folks that read the article, and my comment, will also understand that I was a victim as well, and in no way related to any of the knuckleheads that actually perpetrated the attack on VSDC and the folks that downloaded files from that site.

Now, pardon me, as I slink off to lick my wounds and vow to be more careful about the future disposition of all my old websites! By the way, if you are a webmaster, and have old sites that could be commandeered and used as mine was, please take a moment to go clean up your sites as I did mine!

Here’s the article in question: Popular Software Site Hacked to Redirect Users to Keylogger, Infostealer, More

Dr. Bill.TV #439 – Video – “The Your Best WAMP Stack Edition!”

Geek Software of the Week: Uniform Server, the new Dr. Bill Bailey.NET NETcasts Roku channel is on the way, Chromecast outage ends, SD cards with 128TB of storage, TaoTronics TT-BH07 wireless earbuds, Linux Mint 19 is released, new Google game platform.

Links that pertain to this Netcast:

TechPodcasts Network

International Association of Internet Broadcasters

Blubrry Network

Dr. Bill Bailey.NET

Uniform Server Web Site


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