RawTherapee 5.5 is awesome

I’m currently taking some pictures twice, once on film (as I wrote in an earlier blog post, I’m back to film), and for comparison reasons I take some of them digitally as well.

Plus I’m currently checking out the new RawTherapee version 5.5 which I got with upgrading my Debian OS from version 9 (“Stretch”) to the current stable version 10 (“Buster”). And that new version of RawTherapee is again better than its predecessor, I especially like the auto-generated tone curves (which take settings from the embedded jpg in the raw file, pretty much looks like Olympus colours now), and I also like some of the film simulations like Kodak Portra 160VC for colour, or 400TX (“Tri-X”) for black & white.

So here’s one of those images I took twice, and I called this one “Evening Light”:

Evening Light, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019
Evening Light, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

Just the low setting sun shining through the half open shades onto our dining table. I will show the result on real film (Kodak Gold 200) as soon as I’ll have it.

As always, thanks for viewing, and for reading.

A cute little backup disk, and reinstalling grub-efi

At work I requested a new portable drive to which I can backup my notebook’s files – backups are always a good idea. After looking up the available models I opted for a small 500GB SSD from Korean maker (and market leader) Samsung, the T5. And it’s tiny as you can see:

Samsung T5 SSD, image is from their website

And yesterday I installed Debian 10 “Buster” onto it, making use of encryption – I changed that again today since my notebook refused to even “see” it as a vaild and connected USB device, so I reformatted it at work and also made my first backup.

This installing of Debian at my home machine had consequences tho – I somehow managed (like with the latest Windows 10 update as well) to corrupt my grub-efi boot sector so that I was able to still boot into Windows, but not into Linux, my main work system (I keep Windows only for the Olympus and some free (giveaway) music programs, but almost never use these).

So in case you should end up with that

grub>

boot sector message instead of a menu with options to boot one day, here’s what you can do.

First, don’t panic! Your system isn’t severely damaged, and everything can be repaired quite easily. If you want to make sure that everything is still where it belongs, try this:

grub> ls

will give you a list of hard drives and partitions, depending on what is installed in your system. In mine, I have two physical hard drives, the first one with several partitions (like EFI, Windows, Linux, and so on), the second and much bigger one is only for my /home directory. So these are easy to identify. I also know that my Linux system is on partition 6 (in the following, the variable ‘y’ represents it) of hard disk 1 (in the following, the variable ‘x’ stands for that one). So type in the following lines, setting the disk number instead of ‘x’ and the partition number instead of ‘y’:

grub> set root=(hdx,y)
grub> set prefix=(hdx,y)/boot/grub
grub> insmod normal
grub> normal

At this point, you should see something like your normal grub menu from which you can start your system.

Once in it, you can’t repair it from here tho – you need to start it another way to do that, using your installation media (in my case, this was a USB stick) which itself is EFI-formatted, and using a GPT instead of the old legacy MBR boot sector. So don’t throw away that CD or DVD after installation, or make a new USB startup disk with Debian Live on it. You might have to press some keys during startup to get your BIOS to boot from that one, make sure to use it in GPT (EFI) boot mode.

Once that image is up, the by far best and easiest description I have found to go on is the one on askubuntu.com. You may need some program (they mention gparted which isn’t available on a Debian Live image, but another program called ‘disks’ is) to again identify your partitions and device identifiers, which they describe with ‘x’es in the following.

The highest rated of the current 7 answers (with 48 votes as I write this) is the one which works flawlessly. Here it is:

Reinstall the GRUB boot loader to your Ubuntu installation in EFI mode this way …
Boot from the Ubuntu installation medium and select ‘Try Ubuntu without installing’.
(Boot your install medium in EFI mode, select the Ubuntu entry with UEFI in front.)
Once you are on the Live desktop, open a terminal and execute these commands :

sudo mount /dev/sdXXX /mnt
sudo mount /dev/sdXX /mnt/boot/efi
for i in /dev /dev/pts /proc /sys /run; do sudo mount -B $i /mnt$i; done
sudo chroot /mnt
grub-install /dev/sdX
update-grub

Note : sdX = disk | sdXX = efi partition | sdXXX = system partition
To identify the partitions use GParted, the tool is included in the installation medium.
After having run the commands GRUB will be installed in the separate EFI partition.

And that should be it – this solution from user ‘cl-netbox‘ works as described. So should you ever need this, please go and thank him (or her) instead of me.

So I’m typing this from my repaired system. Life is great.

As always, thanks for reading.

Debian Live Buster

So the Debian developers upgraded each and every image from ‘testing’ to ‘stable’ by now, or from ‘Stretch’ to ‘Buster’ to stay with their names. I tried the method of writing such a Debian Live image to my USB stick like mentioned in https://www.debian.org/CD/faq/#write-usb – and it worked. Booted it and selected localization support, and boom – I have German:

In fact I am writing this from Debian Live right now, and so the first thing I learned is that the keyboard is still English. Or American. But a quick and simple reconfiguration – without logoff or anything – changed that:

It even has a very cool picture of the keyboard:

So you could work like this if it has to be (like on a machine borrowed from someone else). Very good job, in fact this is excellence again. Learning new things each minute I’m spending with this. And of course you can still access your local drive(s) if you have any, or install Debian from within this Live image – very cool.

Ok, more about this later…

Welcome Buster

First I didn’t want to do it right away, but then I decided to just upgrade my machine to Debian 10 aka “Buster” (named after a character in Toy Story as always) today. So welcome Buster:

Buster artwork

For those of you who maybe have never done anything like this, you should probably read the chapter about upgrading in its handbook. For me, expecting nothing but excellence from my favourite free software team, I just updated my /etc/apt/sources.list, followed by a ‘sudo apt update’ and ‘sudo apt upgrade’ – and that was it.

Now I have to check what has changed. Of course Gnome and about every other software package is different from before, and of course Wayland looks and feels a bit different from X.Org – but time will tell.

So a big thank you goes to the Debian developers!

Had a fun car for a few days

Last week Thursday evening after the school party our car broke down – the first time after 17 years and 182.000+ km. Turned out that the ignition coils needed to be replaced with new ones, plus a few other things. And as always, our car dealer gave us a replacement while they had ours in their garage, and this time it was a nice blue “Yaris Hybrid Y20 Club”, which looks like this:

Toyota Yaris Hybrid Y20 Club

What a fun car! And more than enough to go to work each and every day, really. Could get used to that one. But I’m still happy that we have ours back by now, and that it’s running like a new one. Best car we ever had.

The hard drive in the computer is ready as well, and I took the 2TB drive out as planned, with no issues at all. Except the Windows 10 feature update 1903 which killed grub, the boot loader of my Debian partition. The thing is that this should have never happened at all – I have an UEFI system, and operating systems aren’t supposed to overwrite each others boot sectors anymore. Seems that someone at Microsoft screwed up big time, and so I had to repair my Linux. Again.

But by now I’m typing this on my normal system again, onto which I also got the possibly last upgrades before the switch from Debian 9 “Stretch” to Debian 10 “Buster”. But I’ll try Buster from USB stick first. Not that I won’t trust it, but I’m too busy at the moment to just mess around with my computer.

Again, as always, thanks for reading. And good night for now.

/etc/fstab

Over at home I’m slowly running into disk space problems – our machines all have 2TB drives for our /home directories, the NAS has two mirrored ones. And for me doing lots of photography since 2009, and music since about two years, and now videos of others making music, I was slowly approaching limits (I have about 1.6TB occupied).

So I checked prices, and SSDs are still a bit too expensive in these sizes – I have a 256GB SSD for the operating systems (Debian Linux and Windows 10), but as a replacement for my 2TB Seagate Barracuda I ordered a 4TB WD Red hard drive which is in the Top Ten of the most searched drives on Geizhals, and which is affordable (got mine for under 100€ including shipping), and according to the guys over at Heise, also nice and cool and silent enough to be built into a typical desktop PC.

It arrived yesterday, so I already formatted it with GPT (instead of MBR which is legacy and which can’t address more than 2TB), and during the night I copied everything from my Barracuda to the new Red drive (a simple one-liner under Linux, easy and reliable as always).

What still has to be done is to mount this as the new /home so that I can take out the old 2TB drive. And there’s a nice article about how to do this with a simple change of entries in the /etc/fstab file over at Linuxconfig.org, just in case you never thought about this. Easy as everything on Linux, let’s see what Windows will think about this new drive 😉

On another note, this upcoming Saturday is the planned release day for the next version of Debian Linux, which will have the name “Buster”. Release parties are planned all over the world already, but I’ll only have a short look and install it on my USB drive first – upcoming holidays, so further changes to my machine(s) have to wait until we’ll be back from a short vacation.

As always, thanks for reading. And if you want more tips like this one with the change of /etc/fstab, consider bookmarking of LXer.com where I find articles like the one mentioned above all of the time. Oh, and in the sense of a full disclosure: I’m still a member of the team over there…

As always, thanks for reading.

Adios Axelito – Alumni Big Band der Prälat Diehl Schule Groß-Gerau

As I wrote during the last days already, I’ve had the pleasure and the honour to be invited to document a three day rehearsal plus one day of concert of different bands and classes of Zuleikha’s high school, so from last Thursday to Sunday I went to Landesmusikakademie Hessen with them.

I took photos and videos using three cameras plus a portable 4 track audio recorder, and collected some 100GB of data – all of which now has to be edited, cut, and so on. And starting from today these photos and videos are to be presented to the participants and of course to their parents and families.

Here’s a first one – a song by German composer / arranger /conductor / band leader Kurt Klose, called “Adios Axelito”:

Adios Axelito – Alumni Big Band der Prälat Diehl Schule Groß-Gerau

My videos and photos aren’t perfect – but what is? I hope you’ll see that we all have had some fun during last week. And now we have something nice to remember 🙂

You can hear these artists again today at their (former, for some) school. Entrance is free.

Thanks for reading / watching / listening.

Recording basics, in 7 minutes: what do you need?

Sanjay explains it better and faster than I could so have a look and a listen:

How to build a home studio 2019 – What do you need?

I’m on Linux, with an i5/16GB/2TB desktop instead of his MacBook Pro, and I also use another DAW (Ardour) and a slightly bigger audio interface (but of the same brand, mine is a Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 2nd gen). Instead of his Beyer Dynamic headphones I’m using Sennheiser, and a condenser mike (Røde NT-1A) instead of his dynamic Shure SM7b. My MIDI keyboard is quite old and has 49 full-sized keys, we also use Zuleikha’s Yamaha Arius piano connected to her notebook via USB. Oh, and my studio monitors are the smallest Genelecs, the 8010 (don’t have more space, but they’re awesome!).

But his biggest and best advice comes at the end, in his last or second last sentence: it’s “Record yourself and share it!”. That alone will improve anything you do faster than anything else, so this is a really good advice. And let me add that for the best possible feedback and tips for your progress, you should consider joining us at Wikiloops.

Hope you liked it as much as I did.

Some interesting decisions…

Don’t know if you have read / heard about this. Or this. Both links are in German, I know, but what they say still is clear: both the South Korean government and the Russian army are about to change from Windows to Linux, contrary to what some German lobbyist pushing did in Munich or in Hannover…

… and the question of course must be about the reasons. Well as a long-term Linux user myself, I know about the advantages of course – but could this also be related to politics? To the recently forced boycott of the biggest Chinese telco through Google?

Lots of comments here in Germany were of the kind: time to get rid of anything American – because some lunatic could decide to take it away, or try to blackmail us with the idea. Imagine if the motto of the day would have been: take away Microsoft from those Germans, just because we don’t agree to a war on Iran for instance…

I’d rather run instead of walk towards free software like Linux… (I did so anyway years ago, but not because of fear or political reasons)

Last Peace, by Zuleikha L

Last night, Zuleikha uploaded her newest composition “Last Peace” to Wikiloops. I had helped her a bit with getting the Addictive Keys Studio Grand into Ardour, so she mentioned me as well on her lovely track. And over the night, she got 11 thumb ups, 5 downloads and 1 remix already as you can see here or on her track:

“Last Peace” by Zuleikha L on Wikiloops

I also like her new avatar there which she drew herself:

And as you can see, she also received a first remix already, which were some jazzy drums & guitar played by João (nickname jjdf) from Portugal. Obrigado!

As always, thanks for reading.