Journal

Mac Mini running Ubuntu server 16.04 LTS

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I’ve got a couple of Mac Mini 2,1 that have been sitting idle and forgotten for what seems like years. The 2.0 Ghz unit has 2Gb of RAM, a 120Gb spinning HDD, and a DVD burner.

First thing is to know that you can’t just get any ISO image and write it to USB and install. You’ll need to go old school DVD burning, plus use a special ISO. You’ll want option two from this page. The most recent mac server version I was able to find was 14.04 LTS.

After you have the ISO, you can burn it on the Mac Mini with:

hdiutil burn ubuntu-14.04.5-desktop-amd64+mac.iso

Next up, boot the disc holding the c key, then run through the install after which you should reboot.

Next, get the system up-to-date with:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

followed by:

sudo reboot

then:

sudo do-release-upgrade

and after about 30 minutes, you should be at Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS 🙂

 

High Sierra Clean Install + Migration Issues

TL/DR: Proceed with extreme caution.

Heads up for anyone wanting to do a macOS High Sierra clean install plus migration. I’ve been unable to successfully use Migration Assistant to restore my Apps/HomeDir/Settings due to it’s ultra slow speeds.

I tried migration using:

  • A HDD backup over USB (created with SuperDuper); and
  • Airport Time Capsule TM backup over Ethernet; and
  • Airport Time Capsule TM backup over Wifi.

With USB I tried different cables, different USB-C ports, different USB to USB-C adapters, but seeing it also happened over Wifi, I assume it’s a High Sierra bug.

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Speed from USB HDD.
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Speed from Airport Time Capsule.

Rolling back to Sierra

Not wanting to do a fresh install plus a piece-meal hand install of all my apps & settings (at this point in time at least), I decided to roll back to Sierra from my USB HDD, but no, that brought about a new set of problems.

Because High Sierra wipes the Sierra Recovery partition, FileVault wont activate. The Recovery Partition is normally created by the Installer, so without going back that five hour step, I ended up using https://davidjb.com/blog/2016/12/creating-a-macos-recovery-partition-without-reinstalling-osx-or-re-running-your-installer/ to successfully rebuild the recovery partition.

And finally, to rebuild the recovery partition, you need the Sierra installer, which Apple in their infinite wisdom have removed from the App Store under Purchased items. Luckily after tearing the house apart, I found a copy on a rogue USB stick.

 

Weather data nerding

It’s nice to know Santa takes orders, so this year I ordered a Fine Offset WH1080 weather station plus a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Beginners Kit. It’s my first Pi, and my first venture into weather data, but I’d done plenty of research before hand to know that combining the two pieces of hardware with the weewx open source weather software would be relatively easy.

Raspberry Pi plus the Fine Offset WH1080 Base Station.

The reason I bought this particular model of weather station was primarily that it’s low cost. I picked mine up for $170 at my local Jaycar. My Pi was purchased as a beginner kit which included the Pi, a power adapter, case and MicroSD preloaded with Raspbarian. As the OS came with a GUI and I wanted the Pi to be headless, I ended up installing Raspbarian Jessie Lite.

Fine Offset WH1080 Weather Station in situ.

There’s a few different open-source weather station software about, but I chose weewx because of it’s ability to skin your own reports. The default ones that come with it are plain ugly. Luckily I got a good starting point by finding Sofaskin, a responsive  skin based on Google’s Material Design.

Weewx report with the Sofaskin and slightly modified charts.

Next up is to dig into into the weewx documentation and create a new customized start screen for the report with just the info I want.

 

On the mobile revolution 

Compared to todays mobile revolution, the original World Wide Web, with pre-broadband connection speeds and clunky desktop computers, was a bit like comparing today’s Channel Tunnel with its original 1802 proposal by French engineer Albert Mathieu:

with illumination from oil lamps, horse-drawn coaches, and an artificial island mid-Channel for changing horses.