[Live-demo] RE: Fwd: OSGEO Live 5 USB Distribution testing

Hamish hamish_b at yahoo.com
Sun Nov 20 00:58:49 PST 2011

Helena wrote:
> Hamish, I prepared a new
> GRASS Quickstart with a simple dataset - gisdemo_ncspm
> http://courses.ncsu.edu/mea792/common/Assign_GISamodel/a_grass_start_basic.html

could you add that to the "first day documentation" in the grass wiki?

> which is based on a smaller and much simpler data set than nc_spm_08
> GRASS LOCATION NC basic data set: gisdemo_ncspm (47MB)
> http://courses.ncsu.edu/mea792/common/media/gisdemo.zip
> in case there is a need for something simple (ignore the MSWindows
> comments - the pre-formatted text has the commands).
> I still need to update the "Getting started" video for this.

we are always looking for ways to save disk space. A smaller NC GRASS
dataset is one way to do that (especially as we're also shipping some
cloned shapefiles and geotiffs), at the expense of other tutorial and
help page examples continuing to work out-of-the-box.

> I think GRASS should have GRASS6.4.2 included - we have the RC1 out
> and so far it works better than 6.4.1 and has some nice new features
> in wxGUI.

the disc ships with what UbuntuGIS has on offer at time of the final
build (currently the most recent stable release, 6.4.1). I expect 6.4.2
will be released in time for the next live dvd.

Eric wrote:
> I've spent some time playing around with the OSGEO Live system
> this weekend. (learning a lot about Linux)
> I've installed it on my 64 bit Windows server as a virtual drive
> and on my Windows laptop as a dual boot operating system and
> attempted to use the use the USB distribution. I'll be doing my
> homework for this week on it.
> The USB installation has proved too cumbersome for easy use
> alongside my current implementations of Windows and Windows Server
> and needs to be tweaked a bit before it's something that will be
> readily accessible to the normal student.
> Six significant issues of feedback that I've noted so far are:
> 1) Documentation is not well formatted or easy to find if one is
> not already familiar with Linux. I spent much time searching
> online forums this weekend to find answers to basic use questions
> like -> "how does one tweak display settings in XFce?"
> and "how does one connect to a network drive". A good set of
> instructions and a useful FAQ that addresses basic computer
> integration tasks needs to be included on the desktop with the USB
> distribution (and the other ones as well).

It's far far (far) beyond the scope of the project to fully document
how to use linux and the Xfce desktop. But you raise a good point,
we should track down some "getting started" documentation and link to
it front & center from the main live disc help page.
If anyone has suggestions for such reading material please speak up...

Spending weekends searching through web forums is often the way that
much of the moving target that is the ubuntu desktop gets documented
unfortunately. Fortunately those forums are a gold mine of information
and a lot of the learning curve results in reusable knowledge.

filed as ticket #836

> 2) Network drives are not easily supported and the auto-mount
> features don't seem to work without significant tweaking over the
> network. I keep my data and documents on a separate network drive
> (for security and backup purposes) at home just like at the
> University. Setting up the OSGEO Live distribution to work with my
> network seems an almost insurmountable task (to this Linux
> novice/newbie) and I've had to move my documents to a portable USB
> stick to do my homework. a.       What would be great would be to
> have a feature that allows for the installation to remember and
> automatically mount network directories after reboot. Instead all
> I can figure out is how to set them up manually each time I start
> the system...not efficient and somewhat time consuming.

are these Windows Network Neighborhood drives?

we do ship Samba tools (WinNetorhood uses the SMB protocol) which
should allow you to access to those remote drives. ...if you know
the right voodoo incantation... like most of linux, it is trivial
once you know how, but learning how is not trivial.

IIRC think Alex had some problems with samba, but for me it worked
fine, ...?

It might be as simple as typing smb://servername/path/to/files/
into the Thunar file manager GUI.

(ticket #836 continued)

> 3)     Monitors - Monitors - Monitors : Still don't have this one
> figured out...I use multiple monitors with all my computers. I've
> tried to install and use some of the add on packages and have
> followed the directions from OSGEO for this but I still cannot get
> the OSGEO Live distribution to extend my desktop onto a second
> monitor (or resize correctly on one screen). The default seems to
> be for it to mirror to a second monitor which is almost useless
> for someone like me who uses the space on the second monitor for
> other programs. a.       This is probably the most annoying issue
> of all...I can't function without multiple monitors. It's how I
> prefer to work.

depends on your video card. I know for ubuntu on some of our newer
machines the free driver that comes with the basic OS is not dual-
monitor friendly at all.

what you need to do is go to "Applications -> System -> Hardware
Drivers" and hopefully that gives you a list of free-as-in-beer
but not-as-in-speech drivers for your computer which you can
optionally install.

once the proprietary driver is installed at least for nVidia a new
item is added to the Apps -> System menu which lets you set up
which is the left/right monitor, cloned, etc..

we can't legally distribute those drivers preinstalled or prebuilt,
and pretty much everyone here feels your pain. blame the hardware
manufacturers for not releasing better documentation.

> 4)      Among its other problems the USB drive installation is too
> big for the USB drive.

did you grab the 3.2gb mini version? the full version won't have any
free space; that's why the mini version exists.

> Can't update it, add data, or add features
> because its native distribution fills up the USB drive almost
> completely. It's just too cumbersome and bulky for ease of use.
> Not very much use for a class like MEA 792 where we create and use
> a lot of data and often need to add features to software à I've
> given up trying to use the USB installation and have found that
> the both the dual boot and virtual installs work much better.

you should have ~300-500mb to play with initially, but yes, that
fills up quick.

note any changes to the base install are saved to the user space,
so if you run the system package updater you'll likely fill all of
your free space with those.

Perhaps we should promote using an 8gb usb drive if you have one.

> 5)  Installing OSGEO Live to dual boot with Windows is really
> really  really buggy and not easily accomplished without
> significant effort. Documentation is not adequate and it took me
> several attempts and system restores to get it right.

I think my first time installing linux took 8 tries, so as long as
you didn't toast your main Windows install you're par for the course.

Again, documenting all aspects of linux and ubuntu and xfce is beyond
what we can reasonably accomplish, but I'd be more than happy to link
to good documentation, walk-throughs, and youtube videos if such
things exist and have urls suggested. ie this is something we can
and should outsource.

> Now that I have it working, though, it's great.

excellent :)

> a. Primary problem in setup was that the user login is 
> incorrect -> calls for lowercase letters only but the OSGEO
> Live default uses uppercase letters.

where exactly?

Note the graphical login screen typically would show your real
"Firstname Lastname", while your actual user account would typically
be like "firstname". For the live disk it is "User" and "user", so
I understand a bit of the confusion.. for what it's worth, Macs
have the same exact issue and like avoiding spaces in filenames it
a quirk you get used to once you are used to it.

> It gets stuck in a loop and a hard boot is required to interrupt the
> setup process.  i.      Had to install it once, hard boot out of
> the error, then was presented with a user login screen during the
> next attempt that allowed me to create a new user for the install
> with lowercase lettering. That allowed me to finish the
> installation.

suspect confusion which is more obvious if you use "Firstname Lastname"
and a short "login id" instead of "User" and "user" for that.
shrug, perhaps something only visible with the benefit of hindsight.

> b.      Secondary problems included conflicts with
> Windows disk management when trying to manually configure
> partitions (both existing partitions and new ones). i.     
> Solution was to make the entire hard drive a single Windows
> partition in windows then install using the "alongside
> windows" feature that automatically repartitions windows
> space. ii.      This would have been a real BIG issue if I had
> data on another hard drive for example a standard configuration: [
> c:\Install, d:\Data ]. Instead I have a local network that I use
> so I was afforded the luxury of only having a single partition on
> my laptop. However, I usually do multi-partition my drives for
> organization, backup, and security reasons.

again, this is an ubuntu issue we don't really have any control
over. but we can offer better advice and "be careful!" at the
various steps.

> c.       A tertiary
> problem was that the OSGEO installation sets Unbuntu as the
> default OS and I didn't want that. I still plan to use Windows
> first and select the OSGEO drive primarily for doing my homework.
> i.      I used a recovery to restore the MBR to Windows default
> and EasyBCD to configure a second boot option to manually select
> the GRUB menu...now it automatically boots Windows unless I select
> the OSGEO install.

and again an ubuntu thing we can't really do much about beyond
offering advice.

glad you found a work-around; the standard way to change the
default boot selection is to open a Root Terminal and edit the
/etc/default/grub file and change the line at the top:
to the line number in the Grub bootup menu which you would like
to be the default (counting starts at 0 not 1). Then run
`grub-install` to apply the change.

> 6)      Installing OSGEO Live to VirtualBox was super easy with
> both the vmdk and ISO. It works super good as a virtual machine.

glad to hear it.

> ISO installation of a new OS  seems to work better than the vmdk
> as it allows for custom installation from scratch. The only major
> issue was getting the network drives mounted (these include drives
> on the local machine because a virtual drive acts as a separate
> machine) and shares had to be set up. But now I can remote to it
> from my laptop and even from out of my house through my home
> VPN...can even connect to it from campus if I want...just like an
> NCSU VCL installation but hosted at my own house.

sounds like the typical linux experience, things that require custom
setup can be a pain to figure out (at first), but bang your head
against the brick wall long enough and it always gives way to
wonderful green grass on the other side, with the ability to do
whatever your imagination can think up....

the old saying goes "it's a steep learning curve,
but man are there nice views from the top"

and on that glowing note, the main thing to remember is "Don't Panic"


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