What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas – Fun with an Overlay Filesystem

Every now and then I would like to use the data on a backup drive with a program that modifies the data. Obviously I would not want the backup to be modified. The standard approach would be to copy the data from the backup drive to a temporary location, use the data, and, once done, delete it again. This works well for small amounts of data, but copying the files will take ages for a double digit gigabyte dataset. The solution: An Overlay File System!

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Restoring a Clonezilla Backup in Virtualbox – Mind the EFI

In a previous post, I’ve described how to boot from a real, i.e. physical NVMe drive in a Virtualbox VM rather than using a virtual disk image. Once I figured out how to do this, I started to wonder what other useful crossings between physical and virtual machines would be possible. So here’s another one:

Every few months, I use Clonezilla to take a backup of the EFI- and system partitions of important PCs in my household, so I could restore a system quickly should something happen. So I wondered: Is it possible to restore a Clonezilla backup of a physical Linux installation inside a Virtualbox Guest VM on a virtual disk? The application: Test Ubuntu LTS system upgrades (e.g. from Ubuntu 20.04 to 22.04 to 24.04) on a system that is fully customized and in use, but in a virtual machine instead of on a real notebook?

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SSH Client Fun – Local and Global IP with a Single Hostname

I have an SSH gateway at home that I would like to access directly while I’m at home, and over NAT and a public IP otherwise. The easiest and most convenient way to do this is to have a home network connection that has a public IP and a NAT router that notices that a server with a public domain name is local and redirects traffic to that host locally. If you are unfortunate and have to use a home router that can’t do this (i.e. cheap plastic trash), another option is to set-up your own DNS server and answer DNS requests for servers you have at home from there. A bit complicated to set up, so this solution is not everybody’s darling. If this local/public conundrum only concerns SSH, there is a nifty third way: Let the ssh client check whether to use a local IP address when you are at home, or query a DNS server for the public IP address when you are outside.

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Notebook in a (Virtualbox) Bottle

I’m in the process of changing my backup and restore setup for critical notebooks of the household. Instead of keeping a backup notebook synchronized and use it for other backup tasks in addition, I have moved to a dedicated backup server. To cover the case of a critical notebook or flash drive failing, I now have duplicates of those Linux desktops with all user data ready to go on NVMe drives, which I can insert in a backup notebook when required. The slight catch: Extra work is required to keep those NVMe drives up to date: So far, my approach was to insert the physical drives in a notebook, update them with the latest system patches and user data, and then remove the drive again. This works well but is a bit time consuming. But there is a more easy way to do this!

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An Asus PN-64 Barebone for My Private Cloud

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you are probably aware that I run my own private cloud at home. One server is around 4 years old by now, while the other one, mainly used as a central hub for backups celebrated it’s 11th birthday this year. In other words, it was time for a bit of a refresh. For my private cloud I like to use small NUC servers, as they offer a good size / performance / heat / noise balance for home use. As Intel is no longer producing NUCs, I was looking for an alternative. After a bit of searching, I decided to go for an Asus PN-64 barebone with an Intel i3-1220P processor. While being a pretty recent processor, I didn’t expect to see a massive computing performance increase compared to the 4 year old NUC. When I saw the first performance results, however, I could hardly believe my eyes.

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On-Board Internet over the US with Delta

In the previous post I had a look at Delta Airlines’ on-board Internet connectivity over the Atlantic. On this flight, the company used Intelsat for connectivity and I assumed that the 30 day pass I bought would also give me connectivity during my continental flights with Delta. That was not the case however, and I soon found out the reason for this: Over the US, Delta uses a different system, provided by Viasat. So how did the Viasat system perform in the busy US airspace? The screenshot on the left gives a first indication.

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On-Board Internet over the Atlantic with Delta

When I was recently in North America, I didn’t only have a look at the terrestrial networks there, but I was also looking forward to test Delta Airline’s on-board Internet connectivity over the Atlantic. In the past, I had mixed experiences with on-board Internet, and I had the impression that before Covid, on-board Internet was slowing down over the years. So how would connectivity work this time? The screenshot on the left already gives a first indication.

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‘Allow 2G’ Switch in Android – How About Roaming?

As I tend to be a bit on the security conscious side of the discussion, I like the 2G-Allow switch on my Pixel 6 with LineageOS. By disabling 2G, I’m not prone to fallback attacks by network jamming and my device recovers more quickly from a loss of LTE coverage. For most of my daily usage scenario, returning to LTE more quickly is a significant benefit. But there is one catch one has to be aware of: Roaming!

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Roaming Report – Part 10 – LTE and the Partial Lack of 5G Roaming in Canada

After having had a closer look at the LTE and 5G bands used in the US in previous posts, I traveled on to Canada and obviously also took the time to have a look at how my devices would work in this country. And once again, there were a number of interesting surprises, at least from a European point of view.

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The Story of the Slow Mouse Button

Computer mice can be difficult. Some time ago I wrote about my notebook occasionally behaving strangely, which drove me crazy. I suspected all sorts of issues until I finally realized that the second Bluetooth mouse in my backpack was responsible for the erratic behavior. Now I have another mouse story that was equally baffling: An occasionally slow right mouse button.

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