A non-standard disk-imaging option for Linux users

In a previous post (Backup, backup, backup…), I recommended that owners of Asus T100 hybrid machines use Macrium Reflect Free Edition to create a complete backup of their hard drives prior to attempting to install Linux in a dual-boot format. Macrium is a Windows-based program but this isn’t an issue on the T100 since this computer has Windows as its default operating system. For most Linux users, a Linux-based disk imager would seem to be desirable but, as noted in the previous post, most available programs don’t use a graphical user interface (GUI) and so are not always easy to use and, perhaps more importantly, are not necessarily all that versatile. For users who wish to have more control over their disk imaging, and who don’t mind flirting briefly with Windows (more on this later), it is possible to use Macrium Reflect Free Edition on what would otherwise be a “pure” Linux system.

For Linux users, who don’t run dual-boot systems, it wouldn’t seem possible to run a Windows-based disk imaging program. My brief review of Redo Backup gave me the idea of how to achieve this. The “trick” is to create a bootable Macrium Reflect rescue disk (CD, DVD or USB) which uses Windows PE (Windows Pre-installation Environment ).

Earlier, I mentioned “flirting briefly with Windows”. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, I can’t locate a method to create a Macrium rescue disk without running Macrium under Windows. So, if you are a true dyed-in-the-wool Linux user, you may have to seek out a friend who will provide you with temporary access to a Windows machine so that you can build the rescue disk. Secondly, Macrium have dropped the Linux-based recovery disk option and now only support the Windows PE version. So, if you opt to use Macrium Reflect for disk imaging and recovery, by necessity, you will be using the stripped-down PE version of Windows – albeit only for the duration of the backup/recovery process.

To my mind, the advantages of using Macrium Reflect far outweigh any downsides. The program is really simple to use, yet extremely powerful and very robust. I have been using this package for several years for backing up a number of dual-boot systems. In the early days, it proved very useful in restoring my Linux partition after I had inadvertently stopped it from booting. (I still need this capability on occasion, but I’m getting better!) It provides considerable peace of mind since I make regular full-system backups, and so am reasonably sure that I am protected against disk disasters. Finally, it has the option to mount and browse a disk image, allowing recovery of individual files or folders, which can be invaluable should something be inadvertently deleted.

While the rescue disk is normally used to restore something, Macrium’s rescue disk also allows the disk imaging process to be run from the bootable media. So, even for dedicated Linux users, it is possible to boot into Macrium’s Windows PE desktop and run the disk-imaging software without have Windows loaded on the main hard drive.

References:

Macrium Reflect Free Edition
http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.aspx

Creating rescue media
http://knowledgebase.macrium.com/display/KNOW/Creating+rescue+media

Reflections on Disk Imaging Software
http://opcug.ca/public/Reviews/MacriumReflectFree.htm

“Restoring” a hard-disk image to an SSD
http://opcug.ca/public/Reviews/macrium2.htm

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Re-doing disk imaging

A common question posed in various Linux forums takes the form “…how do I recover..?” The answer should be run your backup software and select restore. However, many users don’t seem to make comprehensive backups, for example by using disk-imaging software. Perhaps the problem is that most Linux-based disk imagers don’t have a pretty graphical user interface and so can be a bit tricky to run.
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Toggling JavaScript on and off in Firefox

As everyone is aware, modern web sites are full of advertisements. I can live with (and pretty well ignore) static adverts. The things that really drive me crazy are video clips – and especially the associated audio tracks – that start up when I am halfway down the page. And, there are also those pop-ups and fly-outs that pop up and fly out whenever I happen to move my mouse somewhere in their vicinity. Has anyone tried reading anything on PC World’s web site? If so, you get the idea! Most of this stuff seems to be controlled by JavaScript so wouldn’t it be nice if you could just turn JavaScript off?
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Free E-books

GitHub has an extensive list of free E-books with a special emphasis on computer programming. There’s everything from A to Z – well, almost everything – the list goes from Ada to xBase (but there are no entries for K, Y and Z.)
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Firefox add-on has been disabled

Today’s issue in Linux Mint – or more specifically in Firefox Version 43.0 running under Linux Mint – is a warning message indicating that an add-on(s) has been disabled.
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Don’t suggest to switch to a local mirror

By default, in its latest release, Linux Mint 17.3 (Rosa) offers to switch the software repositories to a local mirror because “Local mirrors are usually faster than packages.linuxmint.com”. Unfortunately, for me, this is not the case.
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The virtualbox kernel service is not running

After a recent set of updates, booting into Linux Mint produced a (transient) pop-up message box indicating that “The virtualbox kernel service is not running”. My immediate reaction was that there must be some problem that was preventing VirtualBox from starting. Then, I thought about this for a minute. I did have VirtualBox loaded on this machine at one time, but then I uninstalled it. This being the case, there is no reason that the virtualbox kernel service should be running! So, what’s going on?
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