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Newb's should tread carefully ...

Posted by Phreon 
Newb's should tread carefully ...
December 07, 2010 09:15AM
I would like to thank Jeff and everyone for all of the work they have done, and the help they have provided for everyone working on their Dockstars. This kind of sharing is what makes the web so incredible. (I will also apologize for asking some inane questions in the forum as I discovered how weak my Linux knowledge really is.)

The following is not a complaint, but the reality of hacking a Dockstar that will now use a basic Linux system (Debian-Squeeze).

I would like to place a warning out there to anyone thinking of hacking their Dockstar. Even though Jeff has done the work to produced the relatively easy to use install methods for Debian-Squeeze Linux, (that almost anyone can use), you still need a fair amount of Linux knowledge to make a system usable. Using Jeff's guides I easily made a bootable Debian system from a USB memory stick. I can do all of the basic command line Linux stuff that one would expect through Putty (an SSH program on my Windows laptop.),
but I can't see my Dockstar as a share, or in a web browser, or see any usb drives that I plug into it, or find it using my Ubuntu desktop computer, etc. And this is clearly my fault because of my limited Linux knowledge.

After installing Debian-Squeeze you will still need to find, install and configure (learn):
Samba so you can share its files,
something that automounts any usb disks you plug in,
a program that allows the disks to spin down,
something that allows you to see and administer the Dockstar on a web browser,
the server links for your location to download Linux packages,
something to make your music or video available on your LAN ...

And all that stuff is doable if you know how, or are willing to do the searching necessary. I have a basic knowledge of Linux, I bought a Tonido Plug computer and use it for backups and torrents and music, I was intrigued with Dockstar because it was basically the same hardware as Tonido and Pogo and Sheeva but was $29. I had visions of placing a basic Linux system on it and having another server. That was naive. I have 3 solid days of searching for the stuff to get my Debian Dockstar to show up on my Windows or Linux computers, installing all of the stuff I mention above, and probably missing a simple configuration thing in some parameter, and it is still not usable. If unplug my usb stick it boots to the original Pogo and it is still not usable. And I may never know why.

So; newb's should tread lightly ....
Re: Newb's should tread carefully ...
December 07, 2010 10:06AM
Yes, you are right.

Here is nice wiki guide to help some newbies.


There are different sections for the different plugs, and programs to install that allow mounting drives and installing webmin and samba and other stuff.

Here is link to forum room where help is for both , your tonidoplug and dockstar, it's musicserver and player room, and you can download image of dockstar that has stuff already configured.

Re: Newb's should tread carefully ...
December 07, 2010 04:54PM
When it comes to Linux, the only way to really learn (and to get yourself out of the noob phase) is to ruin (yes, ruin. Not a typo of "run") several installations. Absolutely not kidding about this.

When I first had Linux to install from floppies and CDs, the appeal wasn't quite there. It was still fairly static no matter what I did. When distros had live package installers and an always on internet connection to work with, this made things a lot easier and fun.

When I first got my netbook... It came with Fedora Core 8 based Linpus. Despite being a brand new model that had just been released that month, FC8 was heading towards being unsupported in less than 2 months, so I tried to do what I could to get it to upgrade, failing that... whatever I could do to make it more how I wanted it to be. However, the saving grace was that this distro came with a system recovery DVD (like Windows boxes do) to restore the system to its factory state. So I went to town on it.

First motivation was space. The Netbook only had an 8GB SSD to work with. First thing I did was try to remove all the asian fonts on the system... and that was when I truly learned what dependency hell was. (Removing each font one by one resulted in no issues, removing the same fonts all at the same time resulted in xfce, xwindows, etc... all coming crashing down and an unbootable system once it was done.)

Few trial and errors (and restores from DVD) later, I had a pretty lean setup I was happy with. I also learned a great deal on how to mentally parse dependencies within packages and how to judge what I really needed and what I didn't... the differences between installing "gnome" as a package and "gnome-core gdm" as a smaller install.

Then I went with Ubuntu, breaking that several times over (and by this point I had discovered PING, PartImage Is Not Ghost, which allowed me to make images of my installs before I made changes and to restore to those instead of starting from scratch)... Managing to fix issues that results of the many changes that Canonical makes in between versions that I wasn't happy with.

Despite all this... I still had to format and start over with Debian on my Dockstar after the first try. (Thumbdrive was too slow and installing Gnome the way I did broke a few utilities when I tried to replace it with xfce)

The point to all of this is that last line there. Expect to have to do this at least once if you're still learning. The great thing is that when the Pogoplug partition is hacked to allow for USB booting, you're not breaking anything by pulling out the thumbdrive and putting another in its place to start over with a Debian install.

If you think Linux is easy after using Ubuntu and think it would be about the same because Debian is what Ubuntu is based off of, then you're mistaken. If Ubuntu, warts and all, can be considered understandable, then it is the easy mode to Debian's hard mode.

The only thing you really can do is to master the art of Google-Fu, and when all else fails, ask here.

Nothing is Plug and Play when you use devices beyond their intended purposes... but that's part of the fun and experience of it all.
Re: Newb's should tread carefully ...
December 07, 2010 06:02PM
Thanks Rgtaa , the links were great help.

Thanks also Rat,
I have been "breaking" a lot of stuff with this Dockstar.
I have, thanks to Jeff, a Debian system that boots and loads packages and I am struggling now with configurations.
I also have tried to yank the Debian drive and reboot to Pogo and try to load PlugApps Plugbox Linux and then SqueezePlug.
My biggest problem is that I can't get the Pogo boot to mount my usb hard drive. I can partition it in Pogo and I can see it with
"fdisk -l" but I can't get it to mount. It always says "no such device".
Until I solve the mount problem I can't try new plug distro's on the hard drive.
I really want to boot and run off a hard drive but a second choice may have to be boot off usb stick and share the hard drive.

Any ideas would be appreciated though.

Thanks again
Re: Newb's should tread carefully ...
December 08, 2010 03:23PM
It's worth pointing out that, once you have successfully installed Debian (which worked very well and without any hitches in my case) that you have a fully functional Debian computer.

There is nothing special about the Debian installation you end up with. It runs on a different processor from most computers but that is very rarely even slightly relevant. I am far from a Linux newbie (I've been using it long before any distros existed let alone Debian) but so far, I haven't done anything different with my Debianised DockStar compared to other Debian PCs that I have worked with over the years.

Once the installation is complete, any questions about how to configure your new Debian DockStar are really better directed at a general Debian forum. I'm not trying to dissuade you or anyone else from asking questions here but at a site like forums.debian.net you would find a vast array of Debian expertise that dwarfs anything you will find at a more specialist site like this one.

If you cannot install Debian in the first place or brick your DockStar, this is the place to come. If you want to know about Debian, you won't find a better resource than the dedicated Debian forums.
Re: Newb's should tread carefully ...
December 08, 2010 04:04PM
Lotus49 you make a good point.

If you decide to load Debian on your dockstar, then its probably time to learn Debian Linux from the Debian experts.


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