Archive for April, 2018

B43 Offline installation and other items Linux related.

April 11, 2018

Recently, I had the pleasure or you could say the displeasure of setting up an old netbook for use by a friend of mine.  Upon discovering it had an old Broadcom BCM4312 chipset in it, I had to go scurrying through the net to get it up and running.  I was able to do so using one method but discovered the installed image of Linux was outdated and about to lose support.  So again I went scurrying.  This time to download an updated image of that particular operating system.

Well, low and behold, that installed but had issues with using the first method of installing the B43 drivers offline.  So once again, I had to scurry the web for a new method to install the appropriate drivers on this old netbook so the wireless would work.  I just happened across one method that actually worked with the installation of one Ubuntu package (soon to be gone along with the Trusty Taur repositories as it’s going out of support).  This one file is for NON-FREE firmware drivers.  Once installed all I had to do was issue one command in the terminal and edit the /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist file adding four lines as well as edit the /etc/modules file adding b43 to get it to stick upon reboot.

I’ve since kept the deb package for other older hardware and am going to make it available via my Google Drive to the public who uses this rather ancient driver in case it disappears from Ubuntu servers forever (Ubuntu stopped producing or updating this package due to licensing issues).  The following link is for the deb package and instructions download.

This method works for various Ubuntu based distributions that are based on 14.04 LTS and 16.04 LTS.  I’m currently unsure if this will work with the soon to be released 18.04 LTS based Ubuntu’s and their derivatives.  I’ll assume so since this package contains NO dependencies.

For those that like Mintstick!

There are many who use Linux Mint in it’s various flavors and love the USB image writer and formatting tool in the Mintstick package.  Well, I’ve discovered some things for those that want this on their Ubuntu based distributions other than Mint.  After version 1.3.4 it can NOT be installed with the exception of the Mint distributions.  Beyond 1.3.4 it has hard wired dependencies to Mint distributions (namely Cinnamon).  However, you can still get the Debian package from the Mint repositories.  Once downloaded check for these dependencies within your Ubuntu based distro:


If these dependencies are installed (often times your package installer will pull these in for you) if not, use your package manager to install them.  Once installed, Mintstick 1.3.4 will install on your distribution.  At this time I’m unsure if the source code can be compiled on any other distribution.  Myself, I’ll continue using this to make install only USB drives.  If I want to use the same setup as I have on my laptop, I’ll use the following to generate a new image with all my applications and settings and then write it with mkusb which is a newer application that can do what unetbootin can but better.

UPDATE:  With the recent move to Ubuntu 18.04 base KDE Neon is still able to use Mintstick 1.3.4.  Alas, there are a couple of more steps you have to do to make it function.  First of all, you’ll have to create the menu items in the System Menu on Neon.  This entails you opening up KDE Menu Editor and selecting the System Menu and click on the New Item.  Then you can add the menu items one at a time for both the format command and the image writer command.  The commands are as follows:

For formatting a USB drive:               mintstick -m format

For writing an ISO to USB drive:       mintstick -m iso

As to name, icon, description, comment for these new items, that is up to you.  Myself, I went and loaded up a virtual machine with Mint KDE 18.3 and found the precise items for name, description, and comment.  The icon is your choice.

The last thing you need to do is copy /usr/share/kde4/apps/solid/actions/mintstick-format_action.desktop to /usr/share/solid/actions/mintstick-format_action.desktop.  This will put the appropriate action in your notification area when you insert a USB stick so you can format it from that notification in KDE 5.  Hopefully this update will help others here with KDE Neon and Mintstick.

Alas, upon getting current updates from KDE Neon (KDE destop 5.14 Mintstick no longer works.  I’ll find something out about that in due course.

Remastersys re-emerges!

For those of us who remember the application called Remastersys, I’ve found something new.  We all know that the original developer no longer supports this tool and it has gone the way of the wind in many Ubuntu based distributions.  NO LONGER!

Some developer at Bodhi (another Ubuntu based distribution with custom desktop based on Elementary) has aptly come up with Bodhi Builder, which for the most part is the very same Remastersys with Bodhi badging.  I discovered this while testing Bodhi and other distributions in a virtual machine.

Well I thought to myself, can it be loaded into my favorite Ubuntu based distribution (KDE Neon).  So what I did was load synaptic into the virtual machine to discover it’s dependencies.  Sure enough it CAN be done.  I have it up and running on my system.  And here are it’s dependencies and you can download Bodhi Builder in a Debian package that can be installed on any Ubuntu based distribution as long as you have these dependencies met:

dpkg-dev | genisoimage
discover | discover1

I only found one problem when installing Bodhi Builder on Neon.  Qapt would not install it.  However, Neon’s own Discover would install it as long as the dependencies were met.  You can attempt to do this with your package manager of choice.  If push comes to shove and you have all the dependencies loaded you can issue a dpkg command in a terminal to install it.

UPDATE:  Since the update to Bodhi Builder and Ubuntu 18.04 base, Bodhi Builder still works but opens up a terminal window from your menu that has to stay open while running this application.  I found there is a way around the open terminal window.  In KDE Neon and possibly Kubuntu, you can edit the menu entry to look like the following:

kdesu /usr/bin/bodhibuilder-gtk

This will bring up Bodhi Builder without opening a terminal window which stays open.  It may be possible to do this on other GTK based desktops with the gtksu command prior to the /usr/bin/bohibuilder-gtk.  Your mileage may vary here.

I certainly hope this page is very active as many have had issues with installing the b43 Broadcom drivers for various cards with the supported chipset.  I am also positive that the other items listed here (Bodhi Builder and Mintstick) will be loaded on many other Ubuntu based systems than just Mint distributions even as Mint makes Mintstick dependent upon their distributions (sorry Clem.  Love your distributions but since you dropped KDE I’m gone for now).  Enjoy all.  My contribution to keep older hardware still serviceable.