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Laysan is my current desktop computer. I originally intended to build a server, circumstances caused it to become a desktop. The server ended up being built later; see Dart.

The concept for this machine is to try to keep the operating system relatively stripped down and generic and to use Docker and Virtualbox. Vagrant for testing and development (here on Laysan and on Plover) or just day-to-day work on VirtualBox on Linux or Parallels on the Macs.

Ubuntu is on an SSD /dev/sda. Virtual machines are on /dev/sdb (another SSD) and backed up to a spinning hard drive. In virtual machines I install whatever I need to get the job done - Debian or Windows or whatever.

With Windows I use VirtualBox because it stays around permanently. For some services (like TimeMachine) I use Docker containers. I use Vagrant (with VirtualBox) for quick testing set ups.

I had Windows 8.1 installed on a separate hard drive and dual-booted to use ArcGIS. During the big move back to California I ended up using my Mac Plover as my ArcGIS workstation. That worked so well that it continues to stick that way. The Windows 8.1 drive was useless to me, especially since when booted into Windows I could not touch the many gigabytes of data stored in the Linux filesystems.

Now I have Windows 10 in a VirtualBox just so I can run ArcGIS Pro. I give it 4 cores and 4 GB of RAM.


Motherboard: ASUS P8B-M LGA 1155 Intel C204 Micro ATX Server Motherboard

CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1230 Sandy Bridge 3.2GHz LGA 1155 80W Quad-Core Server Processor BX80623E31230; hyperthreading makes it appear as 8 cores under Linux.

RAM: 16GB (4GB x 4, all slots are full.) Kingston 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) ECC Unbuffered Server Memory Model KVR1333D3E9SK2/8G


Slot Location 5 PCI-E x8 (Gen2 X4 Link) NVMe 500GB
Slot Location 6 PCI-E x16 (Gen3 X16 Link) PNY Quadro 2000D video card
Slot Location 7 PCI-E x8 empty
Slot Location 4 PCI 32bit/33MHz Osprey bT748 video capture card


I just started filling up the bays with drives one day... I am adding a 500GB WDC Black NVMe tomorrow. I think it will be /volumes/ssd_machine and the Samsung will replace the WDC Caviar drive as a GIS data drive. Home will probably fit on the NVMe.

/dev/sda root OCZ Vertex3 120GB OCZ-670MWZY36F81947M
/dev/sdb Samsung Evo 840 750GB /volumes/ssd_machines S1DMNEADA11042D (was 120GB Agility OCZ-369V7Q4MY957MSTA)
/dev/sdc Seagate 3TB /volumes/time_machine ST3000DM008-2DM166, FwRev=CC26, SerialNo=Z50392VF
/dev/sdd Seagate 3TB part of time_machine ST3000DM008-2DM166, FwRev=CC26, SerialNo=Z5039QJ5
/dev/sde WDC Caviar Black 2TB (SATA 2) /home WD2001FASS-0 SerialNo=WD-WMAY00310595
DVD burner: TSSTcorp CDDVDW SH-222BB


Video: PNY VCQ2000D-PB Quadro 2000D 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 Workstation Video Card I wanted a workstation video card, as I want to do some OpenGL programming, and I work with ArcGIS software. This is the only component in this build that I would change; I would try a high end gaming board instead of a low end workstation board.

Monitor: Acer 23" and Acer 20"


Keyboard: IBM PS/2 Model M SpaceSaver (built in 1987) and Apple Bluetooth Keyboard Yes, 2 keyboards... one keyboard for BIOS and one for every day.

Audio: This motherboard has no integrated audio so I use a NuForce UDAC 2 and a pair of Yamaha powered speakers.

Other: bT878 video capture card, an Osprey 210, see Digital Video.

Case: Fractal Design Define Mini Black Micro ATX Silent PC Computer Case w/ USB 3.0 support and 2 x 120mm Fractal Design Silent Fans

Power supply: SeaSonic S12II 620 Bronze 620W ATX12V V2.3 / EPS 12V V2.91 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply


2017-Jul-15 Replaced OCZ Agility with Samsung 840 Evo

2017-Apr-26 Put gps and btrfs onto /dev/sdb1 and mounted it at /volumes/ssd_machines. Copied virtual machine 7_ESRI there. Installed virtualbox from apt. Purchased and installed Windows 10 and ArcGIS Pro.

2017-Apr-25 Moved 3TB Seagates from Tern. Installed spare OCZ SSD. Installed btrfs-progs and docker. Pulled docker for Time Machine.

2017-Apr-22 Upgraded to Ubunti 17.04 (Zesty)

2016-Nov-09 About a month ago I installed Debian on a 120GB SSD and moved the 750 into an enclosure; for some reason the UDAC2 stopped working. So I installed Ubuntu, and ta-da! UDAC2 works. I never could figure out which version of VirtualBox to use with Linux Mint 18, so I picked Ubuntu as it is well supported.

2016-Jan-19 Installed Debian 8.2 on the 750GB SSD. I also had to repartition the SSD to remove the Macintosh GPT partitioning. I booted in rescue mode then used "mktable" command in parted. I wrote an msdos mode table to the drive, rebooted and reinstalled. (grrr!) GPT has been a pain. Might be "better" on a Mac but does not work for me as a Linux boot drive. I think it's because I have not changed to using UEFI yet on Laysan.

2015-Mar-14 Upgraded from Ubuntu 13.04 to Xubuntu 14.10, then added Cinnamon. I keep trying it but I still hate Unity.

2014-Apr-26 Installed Windows 8.1 on Samsung drive. Hmmm, if I run Linux I can use a linux fs on the Black drive but if I boot into Windows, I can't. This is a serious deficiency and makes me only want to run Windows in a VM.

2013-Sep-10 Installed Ubuntu Raring 13.04 MY OH MY UNITY IS STILL AWFUL

up to Sept 9, it was Linux Mint 15, an excellent choice

Operating system is split between a 256GB SSD and a 2TB HD. I had a RAID 0 setup with 2 SSD's but the (considerable) speed bump was not worth the pain to configure and maintain it.

Time machine for Mac backups

I stopped using the mini-itx system Tern for Time Machine backups and moved the drives into Laysan.

/dev/sdc1 and /dev/sdd1 are a btrfs RAID stripe. I mount /dev/sdc1 at /volumes/timemachine See Netatalk 3 on Debian for information on installing and using TimeMachine in a Docker container.

Changes for SSD

The SSDs I have been buying lately seem to be pretty solid. I trust them more and am no longer afraid they will wear out before I upgrade them as prices continue to plummet.

Using btrfs is good because it knows about SSDs but the OS is still on EXT4. I do a few tweaks that are not automatically done at install time to optimize the fact that I have the operating system installed on an SSD and that I have a lot of RAM.

On RAM fs are /tmp, /var/tmp, /var/run, /var/lock

Since the system has 16GB of RAM I am not worried about swap space. I left it on the SSD in a 32 GB swap partition. I don't anticipate it will get used much but when/if it does kick in I want it to be as FAST possible. (I used to put a swapfile on the spinning hard drive. That was a bad idea.)

echo vm.swappiness = 0 > /etc/sysctl.d/swappiness.conf

At the end of /etc/fstab

# Move things to RAM DISK for speed
tmpfs /tmp     tmpfs defaults,noatime,mode=1777 0 0 
tmpfs /var/tmp tmpfs defaults,noatime,mode=1777 0 0

TMP space is normally cleared on reboot anyway...

NVIDIA driver

Unfortunately it does not work in Makerbot Desktop. I have to run Makerbot software in a VM now.

The Nvidia driver has always a problem for me. Choices are: repositories or Nvidia web site. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO INSTALL DRIVER FROM Nvidia site. Instead follow instructions found here to get a version that is newer. A couple years ago I tried the NVIDIA version (from Cinnamon crashed. The monitor resolution for the 15" LCD was forced to 640x480. I could not force in the correct resolution.

For Debian Jessie --

For Ubuntu --

add-apt-repository -y ppa:xorg-edgers/ppa
apt-get update
apt-cache search nvidia-
apt-get install nvidia-367

and then reboot.

I did 'apt-cache search nvidia-' to find the versions available to install and just picked the highest number.

Printer driver

The Brother is set up on Bellman with a raw queue, so I need to install the Brother PPD file on Laysan. Download the Cupswrapper DEB file from Brother.

Install it.

cd Downloads
sudo dpkg --install hll2320dcupswrapper-3.2.0-1.i386.deb

In printer control panel delete the local printer you just created, it's useless. Then add a network printer. It should be visible in Network Printers as "bellman RAW queue" or some such. Use the driver you just installed. It will appear in Brother list now.


wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add -
echo "deb zesty contrib" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/virtualbox.list
apt-get update
apt-get install -y emacs git \
 qgis gpsbabel-gui \
 vagrant virtualbox dkms \
 openscad \
 openjdk-9-jdk \
 owncloud-client \
 vlc openssh-server


I had to adjust the Cinnamon theme settings to get it to look right, and I type in the command cinnamon-settings to get at System Settings for Cinnamon. I added a theme by unzipping it in ~/.themes. I am using Elune. I selected the Humanity (Ubuntu) icons.


These can't be installed from the Debian packages.