jfontana's picture

I am new TKL user (in fact I haven't even installed TKL but I'm about to do so). I have a question that I don't know whether it belongs to the support forum or to a different forum. If this is not the right forum, please tell me where I could post this question.

OK, from what I see TKL is based on Ubuntu. This is in fact one of the things that made me interested in this project since Ubuntu is the Linux distribution I'm more familiar with and I have a couple of machines in my network running Ubuntu. I had been contemplating using FreeNas, which I tested and I liked very much, but the fact that is based on FreeBSD was a bit of an inconvenience for me. My question is, besides the web UI is there any way to access the TKL installation and combine the TKL system with a full blown Ubuntu installation?

Let me explain myself a little better. What I mean is, could I install an X server on my main computer, configure SSH to allow X11 forwarding and then administer my server via remote access?. The main function my server is going to have is that of a home network file and media server. However, I would also like to take advantage of the fact I have a server to take some processing work away from my main computer so that I can run as many processes as I can at the same time. For my work, for instance, I need to process large amounts of text with Python scripts. It would be nice if that could be done by my server while I'm doing other things in my computer and using all its processing power.

Of course I could have a partition in my server's hard disk with a full blown Ubuntu installation and a different one with TKL but then I would have to reboot my computer every time I wanted to change from using Ubuntu to using the file or media server and that is not very convenient. If I were able to make TKL compatible with at least some light GUI that allowed me to access all the functionalities of the operating system without having to log out, this would be my nirvana. I'm also thinking about things like installing MoBlock and have it running while I use the bittorrent appliance or being able to use the server for my work while my son is watching a movie streamed from the server. See what I mean? Is what I envision possible at all?

Anyway, whether it is possible or not I can already appreciate the power and beauty of TKL. Keep up the good work.


Jeremy Davis's picture

But I wouldn't do it personally. I guess it depends on your usage, but the example you give of processing text with a python script - why do you need a GUI for that? The point of a headless server is that you don't have a GUI sucking up RAM and CPU cycles.

OTOH the beauty of Linux is that you can bend it to do pretty much whatever you want (assuming you have the patience and/or tech skills).

TKL Core is the basis for all appliances and is a bare bones Ubuntu Server (10.04/Lucid) setup with a little customisation and tweaking. Each appliance then has pretty much the minimum software required to achieve the desired outcome (appliance).

The only really difference between an Ubuntu server and an Ubuntu desktop is commandline tools vs GUI stuff. Under the hood they are fundamentally the same thing. So there is absolutly nothing stopping you installing whatever you like on top of either! (Eg server software on a desktop, or desktop sofftware on a server). If you want a fulll desktop (with all the apps pretty much like you installed from full Ubuntu CD) then you can do that easily! Flip side is though it will have to download heaps of stuff and will take some time!

For standard Ubuntu (Gnome2) desktop:

apt-get update
apt-get install ubuntu-desktop

Or Kubuntu (KDE) desktop:

apt-get update
apt-get install kubuntu-desktop

Or Lubuntu (LXDE) desktop:

apt-get update
apt-get install lubuntu-desktop

Personally though, I'd be going for a minimalist setup, so something like this is probably a better start IMO:

apt-get update
apt-get install xorg lxde

And then install whatever else individually. Keep in mind that the default apt-get install behaviour is to install 'recommends' as well as dependancies. If you wish to ommit these use the '–no-install-recommends' switch ie:

apt-get -–no-install-recommends install blah blah

LXDE is pretty nice, but E17 is my favourite lightweight desktop env but unfortunately it isn't in the repos. Perhaps there is a PPA?

Jeremy Davis's picture

I just checked using Ubuntu package search (packages.ubuntu.com) and it seems its in multiverse which seems strange to me... And by default I don't think it is enabled by default so you will have to uncomment it from your sources.list

jfontana's picture

Hi again Jeremy,

I didn't express myself very well. You are right that having the full blown GUI for your everyday use of TKL would defeat the purpose of TKL. If I do that, then TKL would no longer be the lightweight and fast NAS it is designed to be.

What I had in mind, though, was not to have the GUI (be it Gnome or LXDE or whatever) runing by default. What I had in mind was to be able to have the Ubuntu GUI appear when needed and being able to use Ubuntu through the GUI in parallel with one or more appliances running in parallel. I haven't experienced enough with TKL so I don't know whether it is possible to run two appliances (say a file server and a media server) at the same time. But if this is possible, running an instance of the GUI would be like running another appliance that you can switch off when you don't need it without interrupting the other processes. For many things, using the command line is enough but some times I find it easier to access some functionality or application via the GUI. It's the interface I'm more familiar with and although I could learn to do many things via the terminal, I would prefer, if it is possible, to interact with Ubuntu via the GUI as much as I can.

As I said, this would not be done most of the time. What I was planning to do is to have the file server appliance running all the time and, if possible, also the Moodle appliance. Then, only when I need it, have the GUI pop up, do whatever I want to do and log out. Would this be possible?

Josep M.

Jeremy Davis's picture

But first thing to consider is that TKL appliances are self contained OS. You can not (easily) conbine the functionality of one appliance into another. As the common denominator is Ubuntu server there is no reason why you couldn't install everything into one server (as you can install different apps into any OS) but it is not really how TKL is designed. So you could theroetically install the media server patch to the file server appliance. But then to add Moodle to it you would have to manually install it yourself (couldn't use the TKL Moodle appliance). As for a GUI, yes you can install it and not have it run until you start it.

But depending on what you actually want to do with your GUI, perhaps a better tack to take would be to install a hypervisor OS and then install the TKL appliances you wish as VMs and install the desktop OS of your choice alongside it. Have a look at a post I wrote earlier today about that scenario (almost) that may be food for thought. Proxmox is a lightweight Debian based hypervisor. At home I run about 20 VMs (including a TKL Fileserver and my son's Minecraft server) on a 5yo (Intel quad core) desktop. The only modification performed to make it a server was boost the RAM up to 8GB. It only serves stuff locally (it's my home server) so it never has many connections - with the exception of my Minecraft and it works well.

jfontana's picture

Hi again,

Unfortunately after my first rush of enthusiasm I got bogged down with work and I haven't started to install my home server infrastructure based on TKL. I really liked the idea you suggested of running TKL appliances as VMs or at least a lightweight version of Linux that I can access if I need to do things in the server that would be easier for me with a full blown version of Linux desktop.

OK, so here's my problem. I started with TKL core. This is supposed to be the base into which all the rest of appliances are embedded, right? If I have understood correctly, I cannot install appliances by themselves. I need TKL core to administer the rest of appliances, right?

Well, so soon in the process and I'm already stumped. I don't know where to go next. If I want to run TKL appliances as VMs, then should I have installed also TKL core as a Proxmox VM? I apologize for my ignorance but it seems to me that if I install TKL core as a VM, then I would have to install all the other appliances within that VM and that doesn't seem very advisable.

How would the architecture you suggested work?

Actually, I've had more problems than that. I tried to install the File Server appliance from Webmin > System > Software Packages but I wasn't able to use any of the methods to install a new appliance. When I go to the page for the File Server appliance (http://www.turnkeylinux.org/fileserver) I don't see any dpkg file which is what the Software Packages module seems to be asking for.

These are very basic questions, I know. But I haven't been able to find good documentation on how to install appliances. Maybe the guide is in a very obvious place but I have searched in http://www.turnkeylinux.org/docs and I have found a wealth of information but nothing as simple as instructions to install appliances with TKL core. I only found a tutorial on how to install appliances with Virtual Box but that wasn't very helpful. If anybody can point me to the relevant manual or tutorial that will be very helpful.

In general any help you can give to this confused first time user will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Josep M.

Jeremy Davis's picture

Ok so to first set you straight on TKL Core. Core is the the lowest common denominator for all TKL appliances. It is the foundation on which all TKL appliances are built by the TKL devs. It is not really of any real use other than to someone who wishes to build their own appliance, but instead of starting with a base vanilla Ubuntu Server they'd rather start with a base TKL server with all the goodies like SSH/SFTP, Webmin, Webshell etc already pre-installed. I would suggest that it will currently be of no use to you...

The scenario I am speaking of is one in which you install Proxmox (PVE) to bare metal. Then you install each appliance which you desire the functionality of as individual separate VM. So from your network they will appear as individual machines, each with their own IP addresses. See my post below on getting started with this.

If you wish to have some sort of GUI to do stuff then like I (think I) said previously you may wish to install Bodhi Linux (or whatever) as a VM also (install from an ISO into a KVM VM is easiest). Personally I think that you will find a GUI fairly useless for adminimg TKL appliances. Mainly because IMO there aren't a ton of great GUI server admin tools (so you'll find yourself using a terminal window lots anyway). Also Webmin is about as good as you'll find and you can use that from any (network connected) webbrowser already anyway.

Depending on your usage scenario, you may be able to connect these separate appliances in different ways so they can communicate between them, but how you go about that will depend on what you want to do. Whilst it may seem like more effort to get them to talk to each other, it's not really. Let me know a bit more about your intentions and we can go from there.

jfontana's picture

Great. Thanks Jeremy for your clear explanation. I guess I had it all wrong. I really thought TKL Core was the "OS" (the mothership, so to speak) where all the appliances were installed and that you basically could manage them via Webmin or the command line. That is, my idea was that TKL Core was a version of Ubuntu server modified to host and manage all the rest of appliances. That's what I understood by Core.

From what you are telling me, every appliance (including TKL Core) is in itself a modified version of Ubuntu server that can run by itself and within which one could in principle install all the apps one can install in the Ubuntu OS. If we wanted, in principle we could even install another appliance within the given appliance (although that would defeat the purpose of the appliance architecture).

OK, this part is clear then. So what I have to do now is delete the TKL Core, since it really serves no purpose for me, and install Proxmox VE to bare metal instead. Once I do that I can create as many VM within it as I want to host the different appliances, instances of different distributions of Linux or anything one usually can install in a VM.

So far so good and understanding this will help me a great deal. What I stil don't understand is the following. What you have told me is how to install TKL appliances in the Proxmox VE. As I said this makes sense to me now. But what is the default way of installing and running TKL appliances, then? If they are not run within something similar to the Proxmox VE, where does one normally install them? In a regular Ubuntu server?

Given what you have told me, I understand that each appliance is an instance of a modified Ubuntu server so it is clear you can install them directly to bare metal as I did with TKL Core. But if you want to have different appliances running at the same time, how do you do it if you don't use something like the Proxmox VE? You install an instance of the Ubuntu server OS and then install other instances of the same OS (albeit modified with the installation of the different software packages each appliance needs) within it? I'll go the Proxmox VE way because that's what I think will be more useful for me but I'm just curious.

The other thing that's not clear to me is why you recommend to install Bodhi Linux or whatever distribution I choose as a KVM VM. If I'm using the Proxmox VE as the basis for all the appliances, why not install Bodhi Linux as another OpenVZ VM just like one does with the appliances?

תודה רבה again for your great help. I hope that at least my posts and your answers might be able to help other confused newbies like me and save you some typing.


Jeremy Davis's picture

Sounds like you've got it now!

As for TKL appliances. They are either installed to bare metal (as you did with Core) or they are virtualised in some other way. They are available in a number of different virtual formats and as such can be installed to pretty much and virtual host. Depending on the usage scenario (eg testing or development) some may even just install to a Desktop virtualisation solution (such as VMware Player or VirtualBox).

That's why I suggest that people use Proxmox. Unless you have limited hardware (either old or low spec) or a server which uses lots of resources and you plan for it to have high usage installing to bare metal is a waste. As I have written elsewhere I have a ~5yo old desktop system which I use as my server at home (PVE installed to bare metal) and it hosts ~30 VMs (although not all running all the time).

As for Bodhi - you could theoretically install Bodhi as OVZm but as it is not available as an OVZ template it's much easier to just install from ISO into a KVM VM. This is because OVZ containers work quite differently to normal virtualisation. This means that they use much less resources than a traditional VM but it also means that they are quite heavily customised. Also FYI only Linux OSs can be run in OVZ containers.

jfontana's picture

Yes! I had not thought about virtualization because usually I think of it in terms of virtualizing a whole OS and then the limitations of your hardware become a problem when you use more than two (at least with the hardware I have). Virtualizing appliances and administer them with Proxmox, though, sounds like a much more promising scenario since appliances are much lighter than whole OSs. The processor of my server is not extremely powerful but I have 8GB of RAM. I think that the solution you propose might work. Thanks!



Jeremy Davis's picture

And because Proxmox itself is very lightweight (it has no GUI only a WebUI) you will find that even more the case (as opposed to virtualising desktops OS on a desktop OS). With Proxmox you can use the TKL OVZ templates which are much less resource intensive than full virtualisation but it also has KVM so you can even run a Win VM if you desire. And seeing as you were planning on connecting remotely anyway the fact that PVE only has a WebUI shouldn't cause you any issue.

One more thing if you want to go lightweight all the way. As a lightweight desktop distro (to run as a VM on PVE) I can highly recommend Bodhi Linux it's a minimal Ubuntu (10.04/Lucid) based distro (same as TKL) but with many updated packages and uses the Enlightenment desktop (which is pretty but resource friendly) - my favourite! :)

jfontana's picture

I guess I am looking in the wrong place. The Software packages section is not for installing appliances but for installing regular linux software packages. Then, how does go about installing a TKL appliance?

Jeremy Davis's picture

And now you want to add TKL appliances (as an OVZ container - ie OVZ VM).

Please note the following applies to PVE v1.x. The TKL channel is included in PVE v2.x by default and the PVE WebUI is quite different. The theory remains the same, but the appearance is quite different.

So what you want to do is add the TKL 'channel' to the downloads section. Have a look at this blog post and that should get you going.

Once you have completed the commandline steps (the code right at the bottom of the blog post) then you will be able to download TKL appliances from the PVE WebUI menu (under VM manager [left hand side] - Appliance templates >> Download tab), scroll down to "Section 'Turnkeylinux'" click the red downward pointing arrow to download the desired appliance. Once download has completed, then create a new VM using the downloaded TKL template: under VM manager [left hand side] -Virtual Machines >> Create tab; select 'Container (OpenVZ)' (from the Type dropdown) then select the downloaded appliance template from the Template dropdown.

The only other thing that may not be completely intuative is you will want to set the 'Virtual Network (venet) IP address that you want for your VM (it is by default). Some services/daemons (such as DHCP and DNS OTTOMH - but probably others too) don't like venet and require Bridged Ethernet (veth) - which can be selected from the dropdown. If you use veth then you will need to configure networking in your newly created appliance, the easiest way to do this IMO is to launch TKL confconsole (type 'confconsole' at the command prompt), otherwise no need for this if using venet.

The first thing you will want to do in your new appliance is run the TKL firstboot scripts. Use the 'turnkey-init' command to do this.

Ric Moore's picture

Guess what happens when you forget to use that command? "turnkey-init" solves ALL my problems. Man, did I feel dumb after wasting a night chasing down all the problems I had. :) Ric

jfontana's picture

OK. I installed the Proxmox VE. I installed version 2.0 rc1 because I saw that it has support for TKL built in.

Everything seems to be fine but ... what I see in my screen does not correspond to the screenshot you have in 'http://www.turnkeylinux.org/blog/openvz-proxmox'. There I can see a lot of options that I don't see when I login into the Proxmox GUI. I must have gotten into the wrong web GUI. I see a folder structure on the left column and a menu where I can change from Folder View to Server View and to Storage View. Not much else. In your screenshot I see more menus ('VM manager', 'configuration' and 'Administration').

Probably that's why I don't see any signal of support for TKL OVZ VMs.

I went to the command line, anyway, and I introduced the commands you list at the end of your post (http://www.turnkeylinux.org/blog/openvz-proxmox). Everything went fine until I dit 'pveam update' where I got the following error message. Probably this was not necessary because the channel is already built in but I thought it wouldn't hurt to try.

root@jfontana:/usr/share/perl5/PVE# pveam update
Can't locate PVE/I18N.pm in @INC (@INC contains: /etc/perl /usr/local/lib/perl/5.10.1 /usr/local/share/perl/5.10.1 /usr/lib/perl5 /usr/share/perl5 /usr/lib/perl/5.10 /usr/share/perl/5.10 /usr/local/lib/site_perl .) at /usr/share/perl5/PVE/APLInfo.pm line 6.
BEGIN failed--compilation aborted at /usr/share/perl5/PVE/APLInfo.pm line 6.
Compilation failed in require at /usr/bin/pveam line 5.
BEGIN failed--compilation aborted at /usr/bin/pveam line 5.

Jeremy Davis's picture

So that's why it looks very different. And AFAIK whilst it is built into PVE v2.0 now, that has been added post release of v2.0rc1 so you will need to update it before it will display the TKL channel.

If you have a look at this announcement on the PVE forums you will see what to do.

I haven't tested this but it should all work. Post back if you continue to have issues and I'll test it out (I still run v1.9).

jfontana's picture

OK. I *am* having issues. As I said, I managed to install the VE apparently without any problems and I was able to access what looks like the new GUI. I turned off the computer and after a while I turned it back on. Now I cannot access the server via the web interface although I continue to be able to access it via ssh. I rebooted the server again in verbose mode and I saw why I'm not able to access via web. I can see the following error messages:

"BEGIN failed -- compilation aborted at /usr/bin/pvedaemon line 13"

and more significantly:

"Starting web server: apache2Action 'start' failed."

The only thing I did before I turned off the computer was to attempt to add the Turnkey channel as per your instructions in http://www.turnkeylinux.org/blog/openvz-proxmox. As I told you, I had the following error when I introduced the instruction 'pveam update'

root@jfontana:/usr/share/perl5/PVE# pveam update
Can't locate PVE/I18N.pm in @INC (@INC contains: /etc/perl /usr/local/lib/perl/5.10.1 /usr/local/share/perl/5.10.1 /usr/lib/perl5 /usr/share/perl5 /usr/lib/perl/5.10 /usr/share/perl/5.10 /usr/local/lib/site_perl .) at /usr/share/perl5/PVE/APLInfo.pm line 6.
BEGIN failed--compilation aborted at /usr/share/perl5/PVE/APLInfo.pm line 6.
Compilation failed in require at /usr/bin/pveam line 5.
BEGIN failed--compilation aborted at /usr/bin/pveam line 5.

Could this have anything to do with the subsequent problems? I have posted a message in the Proxmox forums to see whether they would know why this happened but I guess version 2.0 is still not totally stable.


jfontana's picture

OK, I reinstalled Proxmox and managed to install the TKL File Server appliance. Everything seems fine except that I cannot get in the web based file manager. In the instructions I see the following information:

Credentials (passwords set at first boot):

  • Webmin, Webshell, SSH, Samba: username root
  • Web based file manager (eXtplorer):
    • username admin
    • username guest

So I introduce 'admin' at the 'login' cell and the password I indicated when I installed the virtual appliance. No luck. I get the message "Error. Login failed. Try". I've tried with 'guest' and with 'root' with the same luck. There is no way I can get in.

I have no problem getting in by doing 'ssh root@' and entering the password I chose.

What am I doing wrong?

Jeremy Davis's picture

The firstboot scripts don't run automatically. You need to initiate them manually. To do this you will need to open a terminal window of your appliance (either SSH or from the PVE UI). Then type in the command 'turnkey-init'. This will run the firstboot scripts and allow you to set the relevant passwords. As the firstboot scripts also generate security keys etc, it may disconnect you from the SSH session but I don't recall.

Hopefully that should now have you going!

jfontana's picture

Thanks Jeremy. Searching through documentation and forums I found information about 'turnkey-init'. I got now two appliances installed and I have been able to access them via ssh and via web GUI. One is File Server and the other one is the Torrent Server. Is there any additional documentation for these appliances? Since I'm new to these appliances I am a little lost.

I accessed the File Server via eXtplorer but I don't see much more than a few icons to create folders and download and upload files. That's all the functionality there is via the webGUI? In http://www.turnkeylinux.org/fileserver I see reference to the Webmin to configure Samba. I don't see that anywhere. Should I assume that everything must be done via command line?

When I access the Torrent Server Appliance I just see the regular Webmin interface. So this looks as if it is the same as the TKL Core appliance I had installed before. I don't see any bittorrent clients or MLDonkey. I'm used to run these apps (Transmission) in the Ubuntu desktop but here I'm totally lost as to what to do. How does one use the bittorrent clients in case there is one installed.That's why I ask whether there is any documentation. I hate to bother people asking things that can be found in some manual.

I was trying to install 'moblock' (an IP filter), but when I did 'deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/jre-phoenix/ppa/ubuntu oneiric main', I get a message saying 'deb command not found'. I gues this is not installed in Ubuntu server but then how does one install things that require the debian package manager and cannot simply be installed via apt-get or aptitude?


Jeremy Davis's picture

The fileserver is mostly designed for use via SMB/CIFS file shares (ie Windows shared folders) which as it sounds like you guessed is provided by Samba. Sambe should be configurable via Webmin (IIRC is should be found under Servers in the top menu). Otherwise you can use eXtplorer (as a WebUI for shared files/folders). IMO eXtplorer is not really intuative as it uses it's own user database (not that of either Samba or Linux) and the process runs under the webserver account (www-data) so all files will be owned by www-data AFAIK. It may take a little tweaking but you should be able to access files via both Samba and eXtplorer (but I haven't ever tried it).

Out of interest the Torrent server is built on top of the Fileserver appliance AFAIK, although I don't think it includes eXtplorer too.

As for the Torrent server, you will find some useful info in the docs. Here is initial config when behind a NAT router (pretty common scenario) and there is more info about seeding here. I haven't actually read through it all but at a glance it seems ok. Let me know how you go and we can edit it if there is anything confusing or missing.

As for moblock, firstly that repo is for Ubuntu Oneric/11.10 not for Ubuntu Lucid/10.04 (the basis of TKL v11.x). It may still work, but it is probably preferable to use a Lucid repo if available (you could try substituting 'lucid' for 'oneric' and see what happens).

Secondly the line you are trying to execute needs to go in the repo list (it's not a command to execute at the commandline). Personally I like to make new repo lists for new repos, but if you prefer you can add it to the existing one. To create a new sources list:

nano /etc/apt/sources.list.d/moblock.list

and then paste the complete line into the file, then save and exit (<Ctrl><x>). Now:

apt-get update
apt-get install moblock

jfontana's picture

OK, thanks to the help I'm getting here I'm making progress but I still have some questions. One of the reasons I started this thread is because I wanted to see if there was a way to administer and expand appliances that was more intuitive for me. I'm not afraid of using the command line but there are many things I'm used to do through a GUI and having to relearn them takes time. So I asked if it was possible to have a normal desktop GUI one could use in case it was necessary to administer appliances or for some other reason.

I'm now a bit more familiar with Turnkey appliances and with the WebGUI tools available to administer them. What I have found, though, is that while they do away with the need for a fullblown desktop gui, in some cases their functionality is a bit limited. In some cases, it might very well be because I'm not using them properly. I find it strange, for instance, that when I use the eXtplorer interface to access the file server appliance I cannot access its entire file structure (I only see a folder). In other cases, however, I want to administer some sofwtare I have added to the appliance and I cannot do it via WebGUI. So, I finally managed to install 'moblock' but now I find that administer it via the command-line is a bit of a pain in the ass for me.

So I thought about an alternative which is a compromise between installing the desktop and defeating the very purpose of having lean and mean appliances like Turnkey appliances and doing everything via the command line. I thought that I could install a light window manager such as openbox or fluxbox and I access specific applications such as 'moblock' only when I need it via xterm + 'ssh -X user@server application_name' and that would be sufficient for me. I still

The problem I have is that when I open a window for a particular application, the quality of the image is really poor. I enclose a sample screenshot so that you see what I mean. Does anybody know what can be done to solve this problem?



Jeremy Davis's picture

Personally I do everything on my TKL appliances remotely. But I don't use Webmin much. I use a combination of an SFTP client (for doing filesystem stuff), an SSH client (for accessing the appliance shell) and a text editor (for editing config files). I find Webmin useful for some things such as Samba, but generally find googling for commandline commands that can be pretty much cut and pasted quicker and easier than the learning curve involved in using Webmin.

When I first started with TKL about 3yrs ago I was intimidated by the commandline and started with Webmin, but soon discovered that often commandline is easier. Also I started running Linux on my desktop around the same time and discovered that even on a desktop, you often end up using commandline to do stuff quicker, easier and with more easily reproducable results.

But obviously that's just me...

What exactly are you wanting to do from the GUI? The image you show is a text editor!? You can do that really easily, remotely from your desktop/laptop using an SFTP client (such as Filezilla) and a local text editior (Notepad++ is the one for use in Win, whatever your fancy in Linux). So what other things would you want to do from within a GUI?

PS I never answered your question about the image quality. TBH I'm not sure what is going on there. I am assuming that that is as viewed through the Java applet from PVE? I suspect that it's either a Java thing or something to do with the WM you installed? I usually only use that for initial setup and perhaps occasional tweaking. If I plan to actually use a desktop GUI of a machine running on PVE host I configure Remote Desktop/VNC connection.

jfontana's picture

Hi Jeremy,

Yes, the screenshot I enclosed to show the problems I was having with my xterm rendition was Gedit. This was only for testing purposes since this is the kind of task I don't really need a GUI for. If I only had vi, maybe I'd need it :-) but with emacs or nano I can function. I decided to install Gedit because I wasn't able to get the GUI for Moblock going. I had done 'apt-get install moblock blockcontrol mobloquer' but the GUI (mobloquer) would not start. Gedit was the first thing that occurred to me to test whether the problem was more general.

I agree with you that doing things via the command line is faster and whenever I can I always prefer to do that. So I don't need to call Nautilus if I want to know what files I have in the current directory or to move up or down directory levels since it is much faster to do 'ls' or 'cd'. But if I'm doing lots of copying or moving where I have to constantly change the folders I'm using and these folders are in many different and distant levels or are in different servers, then having the GUI Nautilus or an SFTP client such as Filezilla (which I also use and I love) is much more intuitive and for me much more efficient than having to remember and type the different paths in the command line. There are other cases where I might need or prefer to use a GUI, one of them being moblock, for instance. 

There are many things (use of commands and their syntax) that one can easily find googling but, if they are things that you don't do often enough, you don't wind up learning them and then having to google and cut and paste every time you need them is not very efficient. Let alone when you have problems and you get error messages you don't understand. Then you have to post messages in forums and that takes even more time. I've been using moblock for a long time and I can do everything I need with the GUI very fast.

In the first messages we exchanged we were talking about the possibility of installing a desktop environment and you recommended Bodhi Linux. Doing some research I realized that what I need in most cases is not even a whole desktop environment (although I will also install a separate proxmox VM with Bodhi linux in it). I didn't really know about the difference between a desktop environment and a window manager but now that I know it, I really think a window manager capable of giving me a graphic display just to use the few applications I might install in the appliance every once in a while would be more than sufficient. I am having problems setting up a remote VNC connection to access the window manager in the server, though.

Jeremy Davis's picture

Although VNC seems to be the generally preferred remote protocol for use with Linux, I usually use RPD (Win Remote Desktop Protocol). I just find this easier as Win systems generally have that preinstalled (server and client) so rather than having 2 different remote desktop apps, I just use the xrdp server (Linux RDP server) on my guests which works fine with the default Windows client and I don't recall the Linux client app I have installed, I think it's just called rDesktop.

Bodhi is a great little minimalist distro IMO but may not be that useful for you. LXDE is in the Ubuntu repos and provides a nice lightweight desktop (IIRC it uses OpenBox as WM). That may be a good option as I'm pretty sure I've mentioned previously.

As for MoBlock, the Ubuntu community wiki page looks pretty extensive and actually doesn't mention the GUI (it's all command line) so that may be useful?

And yes I agree having to google for commands can be a pain sometimes. I used to have a TKL MediaWiki appliance which I use to keep track of commands, but it got a bit messy and also was only available while I was at home. So now I have a collection of text documents that I keep in my Dropbox with all my relatively common commands.

jfontana's picture

Hi again, Jeremy.

Well, right after posting my previous message I went back and tried some things out and I finally managed to get the window manager to work. For some reason I cannot understand when I tried to save the config files for the vnc server they would not get saved. I don't remember exactly but there was an error message saying I lacked permissions to save. Which I found strange because I was logged as root. Anyway, this morning I tried again following the instructions in the following link (in case this might be useful to somebody else) and everything is hunky dory now.


Instead of installing ubuntu-desktop which was overkill for me, I just installed openbox and changed the relevant lines but this worked. Ah, by the way, moblock does have a GUI, it's called 'mobloquer'.

I'm still curious about your comment about RPD. When you talk about Win systems, you are referring to MS Windows? I'm asking you this because my other computer is not a Win PC but a Mac. If you think that the RPD protocol might be more convenient for what I want, I'll check how to do that with a Mac but I wanted to make sure I was clear.

Another thing, going back to my comment about not being able to save a file (even logging in as root), I have a question for you. Have you or anybody experienced any similar problems with TKL appliances running in Proxmox? I'm asking this because the problem I had saving the vnc config files is very similar to another problem I'm having with a Proxmox VM. This is not related to a TKL appliance. I installed FreeNas as a kernel VM within the Proxmox VE to test whether some of its functionalities would be useful for me. No matter what I did to change the settings or the default password, however, none of these settings were saved. When I rebooted the VM the settings were back to what they were by default. I don't think this was a problem with FreeNas as I had installed it on bare metal before and I could change settings with no problems. That's why I'm asking if you or anybody else had experienced similar problems with a TKL appliance in Proxmox since the problem seems to be Proxmox... or maybe the way Proxmox and FreeNas (based on Free BSD) play together. Posting a message in the FreeNas forums has not helped since apparently nobody has had this problem with FreeNas running as a VM in other environments.


Jeremy Davis's picture

In my neck of the woods I don't see many Apple computers (not counting iPhones/iPods and the occasional iPad that is). So I'm not sure whether RDP would be a good option for you. Perhaps VNC is better? TBH I haven't used any much Apple other than my sister's Macbook (which while it looked very funky and did some 'cool' things, overall was an overpriced POS IMO).

I have not experienced anything like what you are describing in regards to PVE. I have it running on 2 'servers' (one at work, one at home) and know of a number of other people who also run it and it's not something I've heard of before. If it had just been a once off I suspect that you were acidentally running from a LiveCD (ISO) or something like that, but the fact that you have experienced it with a couple of different systems does seem strange. Out of interest, was the TKL appliance KVM or OVZ? (Obviously FreeNAS was KVM). Also are you using PVE v2 or v1.9? (I'm still using v1.9 although I do have v2 running as a guest, just for the hell of it!)

jfontana's picture

>I haven't used any much Apple other than my sister's Macbook (which while it looked very funky and did >some 'cool' things, overall was an overpriced POS IMO)

:-) Well, I am 51 years old now and I've been working with computers (even if my stupid questions in this forum would make one think otherwise) since 1986. When I bought my first computer I was a grad student in the US and the choice was between a Mac or a PC clone. I felt very tempted to buy a Mac but I could not afford it so I went for a PC clone. I used Unix in the university back then but having your own machine and use Unix was not an option. So the appeal of having your own computer to work without having to go to the computer room (connection by modem was veeery slow back then and not always possible) made me go for an MSDos based machine in the end. B

So I have been using Windows for decades. I've had a Mac for the last 2 years. I can tell you I have never been happier in my life (with a computer, that is). The hardware is superior. You have to see what the high resolution screen of an iMac looks like. OS X is fantastic. Unix underneath, a GUI without rival and lots of very cool software you don't find in other platforms. The OS is rock solid and stable. I have gone through many updates and I have installed and uninstalled countless software programs. It still runs as smoothly as the first day. I have not experienced this with any of the windows machines I have owned (or even with my Linux machines).

It is more expensive, I agree. But I don't think it is overpriced for what you get :-)

I've been using Linux for quite a while and I love it but there is some software I need which is not available in Linux. So, if I have to go for a proprietary platform I don't doubt it for a second: I take Mac. I have the best of both worlds. I have all the software I need and I run Ubuntu in a virtual machine which is faster than it was in my previous PC (which was very close in price to my current Mac and that without having paid for the OS).

OK, enough of this. You'll think I am an Apple fanboy :-)

Answering your question. I am running version 2 of Proxmox. I had FreeNas installed as a KVM everything else (Torrent Server and File Server are OVZ appliances). I would say the instance of FreeNas I have running is not the Live disk since I went through the whole installation process (from an ISO image). Maybe something went wrong in the installation.


Jeremy Davis's picture

I respect everyone's right to choose. And if Apple works for you then good stuff. And I get the software thing (I had a few similar feelings/thoughts when I went from Win to Linux). As I said I haven't used Macs much at all really. They definately look cool and I don't mind the look of the OS etc (I can see it's Unix roots and similarities with Linux).

But I do have 4 Apple experience stories... Back in the day (when I was a boy in the mid 80s) they were THE computer to have, I recall going to a friend's house and playing cool games on his! I wanted one badly!

Fast forward to early 00s and I was at Uni ('mature aged' student) and had my next encounter with a Mac (in the Mac lab - the PC lab was full and I had an assignment to do) and I wrestled with it! The single button mouse seemed stupid to me and OS 8 or 9 or whatever it was seemed clunky compared to Win 2000 IMO. I did what I could that time but after I left, next time the PC lab was full I went to the student bar instead!

Fast forward again, to last year and the 3rd story is my sister's Macbook - which I've alluded to already. She paid $700 (which according to eBay was a fair price) for it second hand and comparing the hardware specs (and as you probably know the hardware is off the shelf Intel/nVidia stuff now rather than custom stuff like it used to be) you could have bought a similar spec 2nd hand PC laptop for a third of that price. Anyway she fell in love with it and I never even touched it, but within 6mths it was getting painfully slow so she asked me to look at it. Having no previous experience (and about the same knowledge) I had a quick look but didn't really know where to start and had no joy getting it to run any better. In fairness to Apple the Vista laptop she had prior to the Mac came to me infected every 2 or 3 months. It also suffered from the notorius nVidia overheating hardware issues and ran like a slug too.

The 4th Mac story is a little different (but still a bit of a fail). A friend of mine has recently asked me to have a look at an old G5 iMac (pre Intel hardware) which she has been given (by her Dad). Everytime you open an app it crashes within a minute or 2. I successfully reinstalled the OS and must admit, considering the lowly hardware specs I was amazed at how nicely it seemed to perform (a similar speced XP machine would have been almost unusable, but the Mac was quite snappy). After a reinstall it all seemed to work fine (other than the fact that you can no longer get any software for it). But upon updating the OS to the latest revision (OSX 10.3.9 IIRC) it does the same 'open app... crash' routine that it did when I first looked at it... :(

And in fairness to Win and/or Linux if they could limit their OS to run on a very limited set of hardware I'm sure that they could get it to run rock solid stable too!

So as you can see my Apple experience has been limited and not that positive, hence my attitude. Not to say that my Win experience has been all rosy either, but considering the vast range of hardware WinXP and Win7 are both quite exceptional OSs IMO, all things considered.

But personally I'm a total Penguin convert! I have been running Linux exclusively on my hardware at home for about ~3 yrs + and while it had some intial teething problems haven't looked back. I tried a few different distros initially but went with Ubuntu (Hardy was the first Linux OS to stay more than a month or 2). I was fairly happy with 8.04 but installed 9.04, 9.10 and then 10.04. And Lucid it was until I discovered Bodhi. That is now my (desktop) distro of choice. I run it on my Netbook (which I'm currently writing on - 1.6GHz single core Atom with 1GB RAM) and it runs sweet. I also have it on both my Core2Duo HTPC (recently repurposed IBM that I scored in my travels) and my Core2Duo desktop. My old Core2Quad desktop (which did have 10.04 on it) has been comandeered by my son and now has Win7.

Anyway... Didn't mean for that to become such a rant... Hope isn't too much of a boring ramble...

Jeremy Davis's picture

Perhaps it's worth searching/posting on the PVE forum/mailing list? I'm still using v1.9 (as I'm pretty sure i said earlier) and haven't ever experienced anything like that. AFAIK  they have a special section for v2.0 on the forums (butonly one mailing list).

Only other thing that springs to mind as a possibility is a (physical) HDD on it's way out. If a Linux FS is damaged then it will sometimes mount as read-only and the fact that you have experienced this anomoly twice on 2 different VMs raises the possibility that the underlaying FS is corrupt?

jfontana's picture

No, this wasn't a rant or a boring ramble. It was the appropriate response to my previous message :-) Your experience is very similar to mine: lusting after a Mac in the 80s and being totally unimpressed with Macs in the early 2000s. Where our experiences differ is after the change from PowerPC to Intel processors and OSX Leopard. The G5 you are mentioning ran on a PowerPC chip and having OSX 10 installed on that was not a good idea :-) Your sister's MacBook Pro was indeed a lemon and this is why I'm weary of buying hardware from EBay. You never know what you are getting and it is hard (if not impossible) to get a replacement or your money back.

I agree with you in everything that has to do with Linux. In quality-functionality/price ration, nothing surpasses Linux. Windows, I can't put up with it anymore. The problem is not only malware and security in general, the problem for me is in the very architecture of the OS. OSX is based on a solid Unix architecture. In Windows you have this stupid register that keeps on getting more and more bloated and unstable and if you install more than the basic group of apps sooner than later your computer starts to slow down and hang more often than not. I hear that Windows 7 is more stable but when I had to go through Vista I decided it was time to try something else.

As I said, I had been using Linux all along because for my work I need a *NIX platform. Windows was more for personal use but also for work because until OpenOffice came along and virtual machines became an option, living only with Linux was very limiting. It is true that with time and above all thanks to Ubuntu and other distros, things have improved a lot and there are considerably fewer reasons to resort to proprietary software. In fact, for the last two years before buying a Mac I was using Ubuntu almost exclusively and only using Windows very rarely. 

But this is a little bit like having an old and reliable car that is more than enough for your everyday needs and having the option to also get a sports car that allows you to be more comfortable and to go to places and do things (say off-track or snow, etc) you cannot do with your good regular car. For me having Linux on a PC and a Mac is similar to that.

Yes, I could do many of the things I do with a Linux machine. True. But I do them more comfortably with a Mac and I have many other advantages or little luxuries, if you want, that I didn't have before. First, having a Mac I can also have Linux and Windows run in the same computer. OK, I agree that not being able to have OSX running on a PC is Apple's fault. I could run a Hackintosh but as I said before, lately Apple's hardware is not equaled by any PC vendor (I'm talking mainly about the last generations of iMacs and Macbook airs) so it is worth paying more. Second, I can do quite a few things that I wouldn't be able to do on a PC just with Linux. OSX has some *really* unique, beautiful and useful software I haven't found in the other platforms. Even though I'm not a professional, I'm really into photography so I want to have access to software like Lightroom or Photoshop and other applications you don't find in Linux. Linux is improving rapidly in this respect and Gimp is becoming more and more useful by the day but it is not quite there and it certainly wasn't there two years ago when I decided to buy a Mac.

I'm not rich by any means but at the time of buying a new computer I had the money to try this little luxury and I don't regret at all I did. The way things are going, chances are I will loose my job or my salary will shrink to the point I won't be able to buy another Mac when this one stops running. OK, I will then use any computer I can afford if I can still afford to pay for an internet connection and for electricity. If that is the situation, probably Linux will be the only software I will use and I will be more than happy with it because I will be able to do all the things I need to do and do them very well. But I will certainly miss the good times when I had the chance to live well and have that nice piece of hardware with that pleasant and useful OS that now I cannot afford :-)

There! I think we have highjacked our own thread in the TKL forums to rant friendly about our OS preferences without realizing that most likely nobody else in the forums cares about what we think :-) But, anyway, I was enjoying the conversation with you and I wasn't really paying attention to how far off-topic we had gone. I think you are part of the TKL forums official moderators, so you can stop me any time you want :-).


Jeremy Davis's picture

I've been a bit slow to reply but I did enjoy reading your thoughts and experiences, and I agree; they are just tools and at the end of the day, it's what works for each of us.

And yes you are right we did hijack your thread and went off on a merry ramble. But that's all good IMO, and in fact I enjoyed it. Yes I am a forum mod, but as far as I'm concerned it's your thread so take it where you please - just glad that you were happy to go along when I took it way off topic with my ramble/rant! I would hate to be acused of abusing my power! :D

Ric Moore's picture

I enjoyed the rambling! Just so you know. I'm at the same starting point the OP was at. So, if someone every has the chance, if there was a handholding setup section for those reasonably computer literate, that would be nice. Me, I'm used to installing .deb packages one on piece of metal. This virtual stuff is new to me.

With regards to the Apple rants, I bought one of the first garage built Apple ]['s in 1978, my first computer. I had several grand invested in it, when two floppy drives went for $995. It was a dream machine, Woz designed it and the OS from the ground up. The man was a genius. <grins>  Ric

Jeremy Davis's picture

If you have any specific quesions feel free to ask away (although probably best to start your own thread). I'm happy to help where I can but if it's specific to PVE then they have great forums and mailing list that are worth a search/browse.

Wow that would've been a ground breaking machine in the day! :)

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