Meta: The State Of Linux Tips #14

I try to do this every month, and this month’s no different, it’s time for a meta article about the state of Linux Tips. This is only the the 14th installation, so I’m obviously not very good at doing this every month. Still, they’re easy enough articles to write and it’s a good night to write one.

So, if you’re interested in what’s going on here at the site, read on! If not, there will be a more informative article in just two days. Well, assuming I keep up the current publication schedule.

Speaking of which, this is the 324th article to be posted at Linux Tips. I’ve had a few helpful articles along the way, but have managed to keep the publication schedule up for this entire time.

I didn’t expect to make it this long. Indeed, it was pretty amazing when I did it for just a year. Here we are, finishing up the second year. Ho hum…

Some Numbers:

Traffic still expanded in December, but the growth was slower than it had been lately. We can be reasonably sure that this has to do with the holidays. Still, it was nice to see the growth. For example, for December:

There were more than 11,600 unique visitors.
They visited more than 18,700 times.
We consumed about 18.5 GB of bandwidth.
Russia was the 2nd most user of my traffic.
96% of my traffic used Linux.
86% of my traffic used a browser that identified as Chrome.
Linux.org provided about 2% of what Google Search provided for visit.
Linux.org provided the most repeat visitors.

As you can see, there’s not much that has changed.

This month, January 2023, looks to be similar with regards to unique visitors – but might actually have slightly fewer people in the ‘visits’ column. Again, it’s likely due to the holidays. Quite a bit of my traffic comes from work-hours in the US. So, the holiday slowdown certainly would explain that.

I’m going to skip the next section and just bring this to a close. The reason I’m skipping the next session is that it literally hasn’t changed. The most popular pages are still the most popular pages.

Also, we’ve captured the number 1 slot at Google for ‘ask a good support question’, which is nice. That doesn’t attract a lot of clicks, but there are some. It’s a nice page to have ranking that well.

Meta Article Closure:

I see no reason to drag this article out. Exactly the same articles are as popular as they were the month before this. You can click back through the Meta Articles if you want. I’ve never had a site this popular, so I’m not sure if that’s normal. It seems to me that it’d be fairly normal.

Until next month…

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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How To: Have A Proper Backup Of Your Data

In today’s article, we’re going to show you how to have a proper backup of your data. I’ve wanted to write this article for a while. Few people have a solid backup strategy and many people have no backup strategy at all. Read on while I try to share how to make a proper backup.

In the world of backups, you have some pretty extreme measures. On one hand, you have people who don’t backup any of their data. On the other hand, you have companies that are spending millions of dollars for constant incremental backups sent to disparate sources.

Somewhere between there is a ‘proper backup’. This is a backup of your data that’s reliable and inexpensive. It’s something you can do without investing a whole lot of money. It’s something you can do by just following a few simple rules.

For this exercise, we’re going to be using the ‘3-2-1 backup‘ method. After much research, and some pretty tragic data losses, I’ve concluded that the ‘3-2-1’ method is probably the best way to make a proper backup.

You can do this with any software you want. We won’t actually even discuss software in this article. You can use cut and paste, if you really want. The software process doesn’t matter for this article, oddly enough.

So then, let’s discuss this…

Decide What Data Is Important:

The first thing you need to do is figure out what data is important to you. 

For example, I don’t really backup any of the system’s files. I don’t do drive images. I never perform a backup of my operating system. Instead, I back up my personal files. (I haven’t hosed my OS in ages and I really don’t worry about doing so.)

I back up some text files that I’ve been working on for years. For example, I back up my pictures of friends, family, and locations. If anything, I back up more than I care to, because I’m kinda lazy in these regards. 

See, all I do is backup my /home/<user> directory, and all the directories and files within that directory. That’s it. That’s all of it. Doing it this way does mean I end up with stuff like my ~/Downloads being backed up needlessly, but disk space is cheap these days.

Why? I want my individual config and data files along with my personal files. So, I keep my home directory backed up. If the operating system fails, it’s just a few minutes to install the OS again – and another few minutes to move my backed up home directory to the fresh installation. That saves me all sorts of time configuring the new installation – which is typically done on a new device.

So, you need to decide what data is worth backing up. When you do that, you now need to learn about making a proper backup.

Decide Your Backup Frequency:

It’s up to you to decide how much data you’re willing to risk losing. You can’t sit there backing things up all the time (realistically, you can – if you’re using software to make constant backups in real time, but that’s computationally expensive and financially expensive).

Be realistic about this. You don’t need to be a hoarder in the physical world, and there’s no really good reason to be a hoarder of digital data. (I’m one to talk, one of the biggest bits of data I back up is my email – some of which is more than 20 years old!) I urge you all to be considerate when deciding what is worth preserving. If you’re never going to use the data again, there’s no reason to preserve it. If it can be easily recreated, you may not want to preserve it.

I would say that, as a general rule, I’m willing to lose a week’s worth of data – but I do have some redundancy. If it’s important, like family pictures, there will be the copy on the camera, a copy on external media, and a copy on the computer I’m using. Otherwise, I tend to do my backups once a week, usually on Sunday.

Everything else? Meh… Once a week is a good frequency for me. That’s been my effective schedule for a long time. Sometimes I’ll backup more frequently, because of a major change. Sometimes I’ll not have any special data and will let my backup schedule lapse a little.

This is a decision you’ll have to make. Which data requires redundancy?

Use 3-2-1 To Make A Proper Backup:

The 3-2-1 backup method is basically saying that you should have 3 backups at any one time. So, at any moment in time, you should have 3 backups.

You should have 2 copies of your data at your physical location. You have the one that is on the computer you’re using and another can be an external drive. (In case of drive failure.)

You should have 1 backup that’s off-site. You might think that a garage is a good spot and, for some people, it is. If it’s a detached garage, it’s unlikely to go up in flames if your house burns. But, what if there’s a flood? If there’s a flood, it’s likely to take out your garage at the same time it takes out your house.

Remember, these are the *important* files we’re concerned with. Think of all the worst eventualities and prepare for them.

If you have a friend that lives a distance away, swap disks with them every week/two-weeks/month. This way, you both have backups in separate locations.

Remember, the goal is redundancy. 

You can also use a safe deposit box at your bank. You can also set it up so that you can send your files to your friend’s house (onto your hardware) over the internet. Additionally, you can also use cloud storage. 

If you’re concerned about your private data being out there, learn to use encryption. Use your favorite search engine and learn how to encrypt your data. These days, it’s pretty easy. You can just compress your whole backup and encrypt that file, meaning it can’t be opened without the password.

Test Your Backup!

You need to verify that your backups are working. It is vital that you properly test your backups. In reality, you absolutely need to verify that your backup strategy is effective.

AN UNTESTED BACKUP IS NOT A BACKUP!

You don’t have to write the data back to your drive every time. After all, you have three copies to work with. But, you should consistently and regularly verify the integrity of your backups AND your recovery strategy.

After all, a backup by itself is nothing. You must also have a recovery strategy. That is, how do you get your data back after a catastrophic loss? How are you going to recover after a fire?

It could be as simple as downloading a disk image from the ‘net, to retrieving your drive from the garage and writing the data back to your new computer/fresh installation. But, if you haven’t tested that to ensure it’s working, it’s the same thing as having no backup at all!

For the umpteenth time:

RAID is NOT a backup!

Be Diligent:

A proper backup regimen requires diligence. Once you start on this path to making proper backups, you need to keep doing it. It’s up to you how often you do this, but you do need to adhere to a schedule – if you actually want the system to be effective.

You have a lot of choices to make. You get to decide all the things from frequency to location, from the data you want to preserve to storage devices you will use. We live in great times, as far as hardware is concerned. You can buy additional storage space for dirt cheap. Software choices abound.

Over time, you may find yourself having more confidence and reducing the types of files you that need redundancy. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. For example, you don’t really need to backup your desktop background image, but you do probably want to back up the last pictures you took before a family member passed away.

IMPORTANT:

You can exceed all of this. You can be more diligent. This can be improved upon, if you want to be even more diligent. Increased redundancy can be a great thing.

Think of this as the *minimal* backup strategy. The least you should have is 3-2-1 backup process listed in this article. It’s perfectly okay to have more than that. It’s perfectly okay to have multiple redundant off-site locations. It is absolutely perfectly okay to use both a buddy’s house and a reputable cloud storage company. You do need to be diligent, doing the backups as often as you’ve decided and doing that consistently. 

You get to make all those decisions. They’re your decisions to make. The value of your data should dictate your level of redundancy. The value of your data should dictate your frequency. Find the software that works for you, the locations that work for you, and the file types that you feel need to be preserved.

Closure:

There you have it. You now know about the 3-2-1 backup method. There are other sites that cover this, but I wanted to share it with my readers here and in my own way. It seems important that my readers know how to have a proper backup strategy.

Also, I’ve been meaning to write this article for a while, but I knew it was going to be pretty long. As you can see, this one is definitely one of the longer articles. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it – but I mostly hope you take this information to create a proper backup process that provides the redundancy you’ll need should you suffer catastrophic data loss.

Hopefully, this is also going to be a useful link for when we see people who have failed to backup their systems and now are facing data loss due to making that decision. Yes, they made a decision to not back up their data. If they didn’t back up their data, they either listened to bad advice or didn’t listen to good advice. Ideally, this link will point ’em back in the right direction.

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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Let’s Have Christmas In The Terminal

Today’s article is just another fun article. In this article, we’re going to learn how to have Christmas in the terminal. You won’t learn much of anything useful, but you may have some mild entertainment. Read on!

As you know, a lot of these articles are things you can do in a terminal. So, what’s better than making a Christmas tree in the terminal? It seems like a reasonable article to write, as today’s article will have been published on Christmas Day.

Not everyone who reads this site will be among those who celebrate Christmas. Personally, I’m an atheist that kinda appreciates the Buddhist philosophies. I celebrate Christmas as an excuse to share good times with friends and family, a chance to give back to those who have enriched my life.

So, if you don’t celebrate Christmas, that’s fine. You don’t have to participate in this article. You could also just call it a Holiday Tree, I suppose. Hopefully you’ll use this opportunity to show your appreciation for those around you, even if you celebrate Festivus!

Alright, that’s enough ‘serious’ stuff for one article. Let’s just get into how to have Christmas in the terminal!

Christmas In The Terminal:

As the title implies, and like so many other articles, you’re gonna need an open terminal in order to have Christmas in the terminal. So, open your terminal of choice. If you don’t know how to open the terminal, you can do so with your keyboard – just press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should open.

With your terminal now open, download a handy script to get started:

Next, we’ll make that file executable:

Now, we’ll run the program/execute the script:

The end result should look a whole lot like this:

That video should not autoplay. You’ll have to press the play button on your own. I too dislike any videos that webmasters deem should be automatically played. I assume you dislike that as well. So… You’re welcome!

Anyhow, there you have it… You have a Christmas tree in your terminal, just as the title suggested you would. Happy Holidays!

Closure and Some Thanks:

When I started this site, I was excited if I got twenty visitors in a single day. Well, the site has grown a whole lot since then. It has become an important part of my life and the thanks goes to you for reading, commenting, encouraging, providing feedback, etc… Without all that, I’d have never kept it up this long. So, thanks!

As for Christmas, I hope you’re all having a great day today. If you want to give me one gift, get offline (after rating the article, of course) and spend some time letting your friends and family know how much you appreciate them. It’s a good day to do so, even if you don’t particularly care for the holiday.

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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How To: Cancel Your LastPass Account

This is just a PSA type of article, about how to cancel your LastPass account. Below are the reasons why you might want to cancel your LastPass account and how you can go about actually canceling that account.

Below is a copy of a recent email from LastPass:

Dear LastPass Customer, 

We recently notified you that an unauthorized party was able to gain access to a third-party cloud-based storage service which is used by LastPass to store backups. Earlier today, we posted an update to our blog with important information about our ongoing investigation. This update includes details regarding our findings to date, recommended actions for our customers, as well as the actions we are currently taking.

We thank you for your patience and continued support of LastPass.

The Team at LastPass

Click the link in the quoted text for more information.

I can no longer trust LastPass with my passwords and wanted to quit their services, closing my account. The only link I could easily find was at the bottom of their email – and that would simply unsubscribe you from their email list.

With the help of @Condobloke on Linux.org, I was eventually able to find how to close my LastPass account (so I’m told by LastPass). When closing my account, they asked for a reason. The reason I gave was:

I no longer have faith in your security

For the record, I had never used LastPass for anything. I had just signed up for an account. I never actually used the extension or their services.

Cancel Your LastPass Account:

The first link you’ll see is in their email, and all that option does is remove you from their mailing list. You’re ONLY unsubscribing to their email list, not actually removing your account. 

That’s this link:

http://417-klk-478.mktoweb.com/lp/logmeintransact/UnsubscribePage.html?mkt_unsubscribe=1

Link left plain on purpose. That link will ONLY remove you from their mailing list. It will not delete your account. So, I recommend deleting your account before removing yourself from the mailing list.

To delete your account, you need a link provided by @Condobloke:

https://lastpass.com/delete_account.php

Again, the link is left plain on purpose. That link will only get you started.

When you have logged in and clicked the button to remove your account, your account is still not deleted. You need to check your email and they send you an additional link. You can use that link to remove your account, remembering to confirm it when they ask time and time again.

When they ask you for a reason as to why you’re removing your account, you might want to tell them that it’s because you can no longer trust their security. They had the chance to be secure and failed. They might be making the ‘right steps’ now, but those steps should have been made before now.

What You Can Do:

If you’re going to use a password manager, you are better off getting one where you control the data. That means you want an ‘offline password manager’ that’s free and (hopefully) open source (so it can be audited, if need be).

I do not have enough experience with offline password managers to make a recommendation. I also am not going to be the one to suggest a specific product only to find out I sent you barking up the wrong tree. So, my suggestion is that you use your favorite search engine and look up ‘offline password manager’. Then, pick what you think works best for you.

I’ve done some looking and this article looks solid. I make no recommendations based on that link, it just looks pretty thorough to me. The article may contain errors and I’m not responsible for that, as I lack the time to dig deeper into this due to a rather impressive winter storm.

Good luck and do due diligence before deciding on a specific offline password manager platform. Read reviews, check security history, make sure it’s easy enough for you to use, and make sure it works with the software you intend it to work with.

Closure:

Well, I don’t use the ‘News’ category often, but this seemed like an important article to get out there. It’s time sensitive so it’s not going to be scheduled for publication, it’ll be published as soon as I’m done proofreading it.

Stay safe out there. Remember, “Practice safe hex!”

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

EDIT: Fixed a typo.

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Meta: The State Of Linux Tips #13

Today’s article is just a quick one, a meta article. I try to write one of these every month, at the most, or when things happen around the site that I think folks would be interested in.

So, for a while, there were no Google ads. It turned out a site I added to my AdSense account was considered ‘invalid traffic’, which is a vague term that seems to mean it’s whatever Google says it is when they say it. I resolved that issue.

At that point, ads were being shown again – and I know folks clicked on ’em. My readers are kinda creatures of habit, so I’m positive there were clicks. For whatever reason, Google gave me no credit for those clicks.

Then, the pay period ended… 

It could be coincidence, but the site started generating ad revenue when the pay period ended and a new one began. The site has since been getting credit for your clicks. While I like your clicks, I want to remind folks:

Do not click ads to make me happy. Only click ads if you’re truly interested.

If you’re legitimately interested, feel free to click an ad or two… Otherwise, just don’t click. Thanks for both!

Also, I’ve tried to enable a new feature. It’s provided by Google and it’s a nag for those who block ads. This should be EASILY dismissed and not nag you all that often, like once a month or something like that. If the nag in any way interferes with the functioning of the site, please let me know.

For whatever reason, I can’t seem to trigger the ad block nag screen. This makes it difficult to debug.

Meta Stuff:

So, I originally thought the ‘invalid traffic’ was because this site, Linux-Tips, was getting massive increases in traffic. After all, nobody would define ‘invalid traffic’ well enough for me and the site was definitely growing at a good clip. I figured this was the problem, but I was wrong. It was the other site that I added.

What is this massive traffic? Well, it’s not massive when compared to the big sites, but it’s definitely pretty respectable. Last month we had more than 10,000 unique visitors, and those people visited more than 18,000 times. 

My stats are kinda wonky and I’m thinking it’s counting some bot traffic when it’s counting the pages displayed, because in November it claims we displayed more than 1.3 million pages. That’s a whole lot of pages for those visitor numbers, so I think it’s just not accurate.

The bandwidth has gone up accordingly. I now regularly exceed the free tier at the CDN (quic.cloud). Last month, but seemingly not this month, I had to make another deposit to pay for ‘page optimizations’. So, expenses pile up! You don’t have to donate, but you could if you wanted. I will not complain!

I pay for the CDN so that the site is pretty much always available no matter where you are on the globe, and so that it loads quickly from servers that are closer to your location than my actual server. A quick loading site with high availability seems to be a good idea to me.

Some Data:

The three articles that got the most traffic in the past 28 days is:

Find Out Which Display-Manager You’re Using
How To: Disable Sleep And Hibernation on Ubuntu Server
How To: Restart TeamViewer From The Terminal

I am not sure why those are the most popular articles. They’re not the pages I’d think would be the most popular, but I don’t actually have a clue what I’m doing with this whole SEO thing. I just smash buttons and hope something good comes out the other end.

The three most used search terms to find this site via Google, again for the past 28 days, would be:

screenfetch vs neofetch
permitrootlogin prohibit-password
restart teamviewer command line

That’s technically three out of the top four, as the first one is pretty much the same as what’s listed – it’s just in reverse. Lots of people wanna learn about the differences between the two (screenfetch and neofetch) via Google. Again, don’t ask me why. 

So far this month:

The busiest day is Monday, by a good margin.
The vast majority of my traffic is from the United States.
The average person spends 199 seconds (3 min 19 sec) per visit.
96.1% of my visitors are using Linux.
85.5% are using a browser that identifies as Google Chrome.
Google search accounts for most of my traffic.
Linux.org accounts for the second most, but it’s truly dwarfed by Google results.
Last month we used ~25 GB of bandwidth.

Got any other numbers you’re interested in? If so, leave a comment. I’ll be happy to let you know – if I actually have those numbers. It’s also important to realize that every single stat application (especially ones like Google Analytics) is horribly inaccurate. I rely on AWStat the most, because it’s the closest to accurate for some of these numbers. Google Analytics should not be even remotely trusted – but still has some useful information, useful for spotting trends.

Closure:

And there you have it, you have another nice meta article. I’d actually planned on another article, but I decided I’d watch American football and just write a meta article. It seemed like the thing to do. The next article will be published on Christmas day, so we’ll see if we can do something festive for the holiday.

Thanks for reading my meta article! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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