Picking a Linux Distro for a Server

An old laptop that is going to be running a home server is going to be limited on computing resources, so it is worth looking into running your server with as little overhead as possible.

I was looking for the server to have less software so upgrading would be less of a hassle. Less software packages means less downloads, less chance of problems, and less dependency issues. Less also means more performance!

I tested out the Ubuntu Server since it seemed to be the most well built of the Linux server distros. I was not impressed.

The Live USB created in Linux Mint did not load. I needed to flash from Windows with USB Pen Drive and with Lili USB Creator. During installation, you need to select the type of server you want to run and the programs you will need, something I was not ready to select. After that, Ubuntu Server was installing GRUB onto the USB flash drive. I forget how I got around that but the installation would hang when creating the ext2 file system. After 1-2 hours to complete the installation, I had a command line. Trying to experiment with just a command line is annoying. I want a GUI to do updates, install software packages, use Google Chrome.

So after all of that, I wanted a normal Linux distro with some overhead of a GUI, a web browser, print drivers, and everything else. So I put Linux Mint on the laptop and installed server software that I needed, when I needed it.


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Raspberry Pi OpenVPN Server

I heard about the Raspberry Pi VPN on the Security Now! Podcast, but I found it a few months later when looking how to set up a VPN on (you guessed it) a Raspberry Pi. The set up is almost super easy. There were prompts for how to configure the Raspberry Pi and what domain I would be using. You do need to have the Pi configured with a Pi OS, along with an Ethernet cable, micro SD card, USB charger, and one-time uses of monitor, HDMI cable, USB mouse, and USB keyboard.

If you do not have a dynamic IP address or a domain name for your home, you will have to redo the setup when your ISP changes your home’s IP address. I opted for using a domain name but the OpenVPN configuration shows my IP address. I will update this post when my IP address changes.

Your VPN’s download speeds will be equal to your home’s upload speed, with added lags due to running through a VPN and other network activity at home.

This is great for getting around public WI-FI blocking of Netflix and Amazon Video, since a paid VPN will be blocked by these providers. Nobody should be blocking your home’s IP Address (if they are using blacklists).


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Mac Flag’s Broken Flags

While Mac Mail is simple and works, it has a problem syncing flags with Microsoft Exchange server. It can add messages as flagged, but when removing the flags, the messages will no longer be shown as flagged but the counter will still continue counting. What is the point of flags if they are always flagged!

The one solution that worked for my from the Apple Discussion Threads is to bounce Spotlight form the terminal:

cd ./
sudo mdutil -i off
sudo mdutil -i on /

This is not ideal and I suggest cleaning out the flagged messages (or remembering what they are) in case all the messages get removed.


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Removing Windows 10 Apps

The apps that come with Windows 10 are neat but they seems to always want to run and they mess with VirtuaWin. So, you can try to

  • Uninstall them from the menu. Right click on an app and select Uninstall.

But that option will be removed for the native apps.

  • Open Powershell
  • Run Get-AppxPackage *windowscommunicationsapps* | Remove-AppxPackage

For more information, please see the sources below.


How to Uninstall Windows 10’s Built-in Apps (and How to Reinstall Them)

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Outlook All Day Events Across Time Zones

If you are an employee of a company that has offices in two different time zones, then Microsoft Outlook is so annoying when it comes to All Day Events.

Say a coworker one hour behind you is out of the office on Wednesday. You will see a calendar event for him spanning two days, even though you know he will just be out from 9-5 his time, not literally his midnight to midnight.

Well, does Microsoft know about this bug and plan to fix it? Yes and no.

Their workaround is comically bad. Just make Out of the Offices for the time you will not be in the office during your working hours.

  1. Nobody wants to do repeating occurrences for 9-5. People want to make one OOO event.
  2. If you share your OOO with others, now their daily calendars will be filled by you.

Come on Microsoft!


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VirtuaWin tray flashing

The VirtuaWin tray icon will flash when a program becomes unresponsive and hangs.

In Windows 10, this happens frequently with all of the Windows 10 apps, like Mail & Calendar, Movies & TV, etc. While removing and uninstalling these apps is one solution, you can do a one time fix using VirtuaWin:

  1. Right click on VirtuaWin tray icon.
  2. Select Setup
  3. Go to the Modules tab
  4. Select WinList
  5. Select Configure
  6. Sort by the “S” column
  7. For all rows tagged with “H”
    1. Select the row
    2. Select Restore


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Install NVidia on Linux Mint

If you have a NVidia graphics card, you will need to install drivers for your Linux Mint OS to use this hardware. If you got it, use it, especially if you are using multiple screens.

Follow the instructions on this website: http://www.binarytides.com/install-nvidia-drivers-linux-mint-16/

Do not install drivers from the NVidia website. The website above is simple and less manual steps. Do it.

  1. Download your driver from the NVidia website. It will be large .run file.
  2. Hold CTRL + ALT + F1 to enter into an a full screen terminal. Log in with your username.
  3. Stop your x server: sudo service mdm stop
  4. Install x-swat: sudo add-apt-repository  ppa:ubuntu-x-swat/x-updates
  5. Refresh your available sources: sudo apt-get update
  6. Install their NVidia-current, which is outdated but sets up many things to avoid errors with installing on your own: sudo apt-get install nvidia-current
  7. Restart machine: sudo reboot
  8. Do Steps 2 and 3 again to get into the full screen terminal.
  9. Run your NVIDIA*.run file: sudo ./NVIDIA*.run
  10. Follow prompts.
  11. Restart: sudo reboot
  12. If Cinnamon crashes, you will need to read this and figure out what is best for you.


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