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Paul M

Ubuntu: Losing my head!

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Sooooo...

My new mini PC thingy arrived yesterday. Preloaded with Ubuntu 20.04. It's purpose is to run Kstars/Ekos et al out at the scope and I VNC in from my lappy or tablet. Easy, innit?

First I needed a Monitor, mouse and Keyboard for initial setting up. Had to go out and buy a cheapo keyboard from ASDA, £8, will this astronomical expenditure ever end?

Right, first boot and I find there is already passworded user called "PC", can't get anywhere without the password. Easy way out, download Ubuntu and burn an installation ISO. Took a bit of time but got to start with a virgin instal. 

Installed RealVNC (because I'm now familiar with it and it's on my other devices already) and soon took over from my laptop. Installed KStars ok. Then I decided to check the machine boots directly to VNC access on my lappy, which it does, but available screen modes are governed by the the HDMI monitor attached to the mini PC. I started getting a funny feeling... I disconnected the monitor and rebboted via VNC. And, nothing!!

Long story short, Ubuntu needs to see a monitor to complete booting. 

Google is your friend. The options are to install a software dummy monitor thingy, all comand line stuff, heiroglyphics :(  I tried that avenue first and ended up having to use the recovery console to remove the dummy monitor thingy. 

A fool proof option is to purchace a dummy monitor HDMI dongle. I don't think I like the idea of needing a dongle to boot into headlessness. It'll ruin the sleek lines of my beautifully cabled set-up. No, really it seems an ugly solution.

Presently my headless mini PC is taking up the whole dining room table and I'm getting that look from the management...

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Posted (edited)

that's odd Paul as I've run Linux headless in the past but it's been quite a while since I ran Ubuntu, v14 or so. Are there any BIOS settings that are preventing passing the POST and therefore not getting as far as the bootloader? Likewise is the bootloader (GRUB or whatever) set to auto-pick a default or does that wait on your input?

I also use VNC here on the woeful one and mobile devices, handy and it just works tho across winwoes systems I mainly use RDP.

 

edit: have you tried to reboot with the screen keyboard and mouse all disconnected?

Edited by DaveL59

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13 minutes ago, DaveL59 said:

that's odd Paul as I've run Linux headless in the past but it's been quite a while since I ran Ubuntu, v14 or so. Are there any BIOS settings that are preventing passing the POST and therefore not getting as far as the bootloader? Likewise is the bootloader (GRUB or whatever) set to auto-pick a default or does that wait on your input?

I also use VNC here on the woeful one and mobile devices, handy and it just works tho across winwoes systems I mainly use RDP.

 

edit: have you tried to reboot with the screen keyboard and mouse all disconnected?

I think I've looked down the BIOS avenue, can't find anything there. It gets past the bootloader, I think? 

The interweb is full conflicting ideas. Is it hardware or software? I think software but the patch I used, it it had worked, prevents a real monitor from working if it should be needed down the line. Anyway, too often I can't get the hieroglyphics right even with cut and paste. Give me spanners, soldering iron, anything but a keyboard and I'm good. 

I read about editing GRUB, some claim the answer is right there but see my last sentence above :(

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14 minutes ago, vlaiv said:

I think I'm already successful so far as the first link goes. I'm fully connected with RealVNC  it seems.

I already read the second link. Unfortunately this bad boy is a system on a chip. No fancy graphics driver with advanced user interface. No options to choose from!

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Posted (edited)

You have to edit the config.txt file, which is in the Boot folder and add these lines

hdmi_force_hotplug=1 # Use HDMI mode even if no HDMI monitor is detected

hdmi_group=2 # the standard typically used by monitors

hdmi_mode=42 # this defines the resolution

 

It’s the same as running it on an raspberry PI with Kstars as I do...
 

check here too as some good info..

https://indilib.org/forum/general/4000-tutorial-how-to-make-sure-your-headless-device-shows-a-desktop.html

should work fine then... 👍😀

 

Edited by Stuart1971
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Posted (edited)

The last one “hdmi mode“, can be set to the correct value to match the resolution of your monitor. So for full HD @ 60Hz you will want number 76

Edited by Stuart1971

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34 minutes ago, Stuart1971 said:

It’s the same as running it on an raspberry PI with Kstars as I do...

Been there, done that! but never had to mess about. Astoberry seemed to do it all for me.

I'll try and find the file you mention, but there seem to be a lot of people out in the headless universe needing much more involved solutions! Watch this space...

 

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Simple gadget fools Linux systems - an 4k HDMI dummy plug like this (note this was the first shown so not a recomendation) https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/HDMI-Display-Emulator-DDC-EDID-Headless-Ghost-Dummy-Plug-Grey/183118481879?hash=item2aa2b649d7:g:zgUAAOSwUYNc5EAU

No need to edit anything Ubuntu should adjust accordingly.

Note you  still have to adjust REALVNC parameters for display resolution.

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8 minutes ago, stash_old said:

Simple gadget fools Linux systems - an 4k HDMI dummy plug like this (note this was the first shown so not a recomendation) https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/HDMI-Display-Emulator-DDC-EDID-Headless-Ghost-Dummy-Plug-Grey/183118481879?hash=item2aa2b649d7:g:zgUAAOSwUYNc5EAU

No need to edit anything Ubuntu should adjust accordingly.

Note you  still have to adjust REALVNC parameters for display resolution.

I've already got one in my basket waiting for me for formally announce I'm fried!

Looking at all the software solutions they are over my head. I'll just spend more time in recovery console.

Realvnc seems to already have a .conf file relating to dummy displays in my boot folder. But...heiroglyphics !!

Ubuntu? I'm looking forward to a time when I can just say "Hey Google, take me some space pictures" 🤣

Actually, I wonder if I can utilise ITTT? 😱

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Of course there are 2 parts to this :-

1. What is the VNC Server on the Mini - presume Realvnc

2. What is the client orig ?  Again is it RealVNC client

3. What is the OS of the VNC client - Windows 10 ? or other

If yes to 1 & 2  then go to Realvnc site and look up local help or post but most answers are there !

As for ugly dummy plug - maybe but it works and what happens when there is a major Ubuntu upgrade and your software/config file gets changed.

Have been using this method for over 4yrs and it seldom fails to work no matter what the OS.

If you already have the Dummy plug try it as you may still have problems due to the wierd graphics driver (even on a chip) or the version of XORG being used which the VNC server relies on and sits above.

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Posted (edited)

1. RealVNC server

2. RealVNC viewer

3. W10

And yes I looked at the RealVNC website. I think it had articles relating to my exact problem, or the exact problem but as already noted, I understand none of it! Like an explosion in a Dutch telephone directory warehouse.

The dongle is, for now, the way to go! It's now ordered.

In further news, KStars/Ekos, PHD2, ASTAP now installed. Just working out Astrometry.net installation.

Edited by Paul M

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I use Linux a lot at work. Linux runs the 21st century world.  However, YMMV but I just find it just too much of a faff for my astro work.  Get yourself a license for windows 10 pro from softwaregeeks or any other legal place that sell licenses for the sake of £20 or so.  That would be my advice, FWIW.

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Shame astroberry don't have a general version. It's probably the easiest thing I've ever used.

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Doesn't the VNC server create a virtual display when you start it?  For some reason I thought it did.  I'm sure there shouldn't be any need to have a display connected to get the system to boot (unless there's something in the BIOS that stops the system booting if it doesn't have certain peripherals connected).

James

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3 minutes ago, JamesF said:

Doesn't the VNC server create a virtual display when you start it?  For some reason I thought it did.  I'm sure there shouldn't be any need to have a display connected to get the system to boot (unless there's something in the BIOS that stops the system booting if it doesn't have certain peripherals connected).

James

From what I gathered online - xserver won't start if it can't detect type of display device being used. There are several work arounds - from dummy display device driver that will report whatever to xserver, manually configuring display device to using hardware dongle that will report dummy device to system.

This means that ubuntu starts normally and one can ssh into it, but can't connect to VNC.

XRDP might be working though as it is a bit different to VNC. VNC expect xserver session to be present - VNC can connect to existing session, while RDP connection opens new session (each new RDP connection is new session while multiple connections via VNC can all observe same session). Not sure what is better for astronomy usage though.

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Ah, it could be that I am confusing the two.  I just remember something someone posted recently about connecting to the desktop of their remote RPi and not seeing apps that were displayed on the RPi monitor.  It turned out that whatever system they were using to connect actually created a virtual desktop.  I thought that was VNC, but it could have been RDP.

James

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1 hour ago, kirkster501 said:

Get yourself a license for windows 10 pro from softwaregeeks or any other legal place that sell licenses for the sake of £20 or so

While I was in the loft looking for a keyboard yesterday I came across an old Windows PC that I bought a license for a few years ago. I could even transfer that if I can handle the faff.

Anyway, it's a big bright moon shining between the gaps in the clouds so nothing better to do right now than cause myself emotional injury trying to get this little fella doing something useful!

I do have my standby capturing set up ready to go if this thing comes to nothing.

 

 

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26 minutes ago, Paul M said:

While I was in the loft looking for a keyboard yesterday I came across an old Windows PC that I bought a license for a few years ago. I could even transfer that if I can handle the faff.

Anyway, it's a big bright moon shining between the gaps in the clouds so nothing better to do right now than cause myself emotional injury trying to get this little fella doing something useful!

I do have my standby capturing set up ready to go if this thing comes to nothing.

 

 

Just get an raspberry PI stick it on the mount with Astroberry installed and let that control everything, and VNC to that from your PC indoors, no need for a fancy PC on the mount at all....👍😀

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16 minutes ago, Stuart1971 said:

Just get an raspberry PI stick it on the mount with Astroberry installed and let that control everything, and VNC to that from your PC indoors, no need for a fancy PC on the mount at all....👍😀

I think that was where Paul started...

James

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18 minutes ago, Stuart1971 said:

Just get an raspberry PI stick it on the mount with Astroberry installed and let that control everything, and VNC to that from your PC indoors, no need for a fancy PC on the mount at all....👍😀

As Jemes says... :(

I did the whole RPI 4 + Astroberry thing and it was so unstable as to be unusable. Got about 2 subs out of it in 3 months. Tried everything except swapping the Pi for a replacement. The thing is, it was fine until I put any amount of USB traffic through it. Guiding was certain to crash it. Even tried hosting the software remotely and have the Pi as just a server. No use.

It's done now. I can't imagine I'll try that combo again. Might find some other project for it...

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, Paul M said:

As Jemes says... :(

I did the whole RPI 4 + Astroberry thing and it was so unstable as to be unusable. Got about 2 subs out of it in 3 months. Tried everything except swapping the Pi for a replacement. The thing is, it was fine until I put any amount of USB traffic through it. Guiding was certain to crash it. Even tried hosting the software remotely and have the Pi as just a server. No use.

It's done now. I can't imagine I'll try that combo again. Might find some other project for it...

Yes that was your error, you should have it all on a powered USB hub and nothing in the rpi unless it has its own power source..also that can also be the issue if the rpi power source itself is not an absolute minimum of 3amps...it’s well reported...

Trust me if you get the power issues sorted you will never look back, mine has run for months with no issues at all, but I do have the Pegasus Ultimate power hub to power all my kit, so the only cable going to the rpi is the USB 3.0 cable from the Pegasus hub...

 

Edited by Stuart1971
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15 minutes ago, Paul M said:

As Jemes says... :(

I did the whole RPI 4 + Astroberry thing and it was so unstable as to be unusable. Got about 2 subs out of it in 3 months. Tried everything except swapping the Pi for a replacement. The thing is, it was fine until I put any amount of USB traffic through it. Guiding was certain to crash it. Even tried hosting the software remotely and have the Pi as just a server. No use.

It's done now. I can't imagine I'll try that combo again. Might find some other project for it...

That sounds like power issue. RPI4 requires quite a bit of juice to power those USB3 ports - I think about 5A or so?

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Just now, vlaiv said:

That sounds like power issue. RPI4 requires quite a bit of juice to power those USB3 ports - I think about 5A or so?

 Best just to use a seperate powered hub....Make life so much easier, and 4amps is enough....👍😀

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