Welcome to your PecoDisk
A world of computing in one tiny package.
This USB drive is an entire encrypted hard disk with operating system. It can connect to your wifi but remain completely separate from the rest of your computer. You can add new packages to it, save data to it and switch it between computers. The software on it will automatically update itself.
Just before we get you started with using the PecoDisk, there is one crucial instruction to remember:
NEVER EVER REMOVE THE PECODISK WHILE THE MACHINE IS STILL RUNNING.
Removing the PecoDisk while the machine is running could corrupt the PecoDisk and lose your data. Always power down the machine before removing the PecoDisk.
Your PecoDisk can be used to:
- Rescue non-booting or problematic computers.
- As a way to try Linux and new software.
- Breathe new life in to old XP and Vista systems or indeed any Intel based PC from the last decade.
- Really take your own personal ‘desktop’ to any PC/Laptop.
- It can be used as a full normal desktop
- Will work well with our forthcoming ownCloud personal storage service and Firefox Sync services.
You need to boot your machine from the PecoDisk. With the machine powered down, insert the PecoDisk into a USB slot. Turn on the machine and watch carefully. Some machines will automatically boot from a USB drive, others won’t. You’ll know if yours does as an unfamiliar screen will come up, prompting you for a password.
If your machine logs on as normal, it hasn’t booted from the PecoDisk. Reboot, and as the boot screens come up watch carefully for a line referring to changing the boot options or to boot from USB – unfortunately each PC manufacturer has its own way of doing things.
Common keys are F10, F12 or Esc and they often display a menu of the options. Select the OpenSure PecoDisk USB device.
As a hint, press the key around the time you see a message about pressing a key to enter setup, that is usually the right moment.
However, for Mac users the most likely command is to press C during start-up.
If you’re really struggling with this, an HLUG video on booting from USB might help:
Otherwise please drop us a line and we’ll do what we can to identify your machine’s command.
Once the machine has booted from the PecoDisk you’ll be prompted to enter a pass phrase. This is not your normal password, but the key to the PecoDisk’s encryption. You will have been sent this pass phrase by email.
The machine will go quiet for a minute or so, then you should see a personalized log on screen, requiring another password. You will have been sent this too by email.
We recommend after logging in and checking things are working ok, that you change your login password to something else long and yet memorable! Try looking for ‘User Accounts’ and unlock and change your password.
After logging in you will see effectively a blank screen with a background pattern. To access packages, take the cursor to the top left of the screen. The screen will change and include a vertical menu bar showing the most popular applications. Simply click on one to fire it up.
To see the full list of applications go to the square of dots at the foot of the vertical bar.
To access the packages on your PecoDisk go to the Menu button at the bottom left of the screen.
Both Mint and Gnome have a search facility that helps you find the right program, utility or application.
In Gnome as soon as you move the cursor to the top left and the screen changes, you can type straight away and it will find matching options. For example type ‘word’ and it will search for software that relates to word-processing or ‘photo’ will show GIMP as an option.
Firefox – A brilliant, safe and standards based browser that can be extended and enhanced with free extensions and add-ons or themed or ‘skinned’
LibreOffice – A complete office suite using the international open standard of ODF for file formats. It also reads and writes MS Office file formats.
Rhythmbox – A music player that manages music libraries, playlists, looks up album covers, artist information, creates playlists and works to sync playlists to MP3 players etc. It can also turn your CDs in to MP3s,
Evolution/Thunderbird – Either can work like Outlook or Mac Mail but follows industry standards and will help with contacts and calendars.
OpenShot – Video editor especially good for digital cameras, bit like movie maker. It allows you to create videos with titles, sound tracks, effects and transitions like a pro. All drag and drop without affecting your source videos and output them results to a whole range of formats and codecs.
Gimp – A photo editing package which is a bit like Photoshop or Paintshop Pro allowing you to work to a pixel level with editing tools and filters.
Shotwell – A photo viewing and library package that can also drag images from your camera or card. Works with file meta data so you can view by date, location etc.
Inkscape – A vector drawing package, great for text effects, logos, shapes but also producing 3D images. Works with most vector file formats like SVG.
Brasero – A CD or DVD burner a bit like Nero or iTunes and can make music CDs, DVDs, backups, bootable disks
Totem/VLC – These are both video and media players and will play DVDs, MP3s, MP4s, AVI, DivX and many more.
Gedit – Advanced form of Notepad a powerful text editor that help with simple notes or edit complex code.
Updates and new software
Their are special software repositories on the Internet that are accessed with an app on the PecoDisk called Software Centre, Package Manage or Synaptic there are literally thousands of free, safe and maintained software packages, games, utilities and extensions.
After you install software, as with the rest of your PecoDisk system it is automatically maintained with security updates, bug fixes and upgrades to features and functionality. That goes for the software and the Operating System in one simple click.
Interaction with your computer
If you want it to, the PecoDisk can read your machine’s hard drive, allowing you to open eg documents, photos etc from your existing computer hard drive with packages on the PecoDisk. This can be a life-saver if your computer suddenly won’t boot and you have information on your computer hard drive that isn’t copied anywhere else.
We hope this sheet and the support environment at https://www.opensure.net/pecodisk-help-page. will answer your immediate queries and concerns. However, if you’re having problems or are looking for advice, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your PecoDisk is for fun and trying out something new to you, and is just one aspect of the services OpenSure provides. Primarily we provide managed web and email hosting (both to individual businesses and white label) and ancillary online services such as domain registration and DNS services. To complement this we can undertake consultancy, interim IT management, change management, security and contract audits.
Please get in touch via email@example.com or our contact form if you would like to discuss any of our services.
For those that have an interest in the technical stuff that makes this work please read on.
As this is not an SSD and not magentic media we needed to reduce the wear caused by the operating system and general use and balance that with reliability and speed.
- Using RAM for all tmp and log file areas partly for speed and partly for wear.
- Ramdisk-log script that rsyncs the logs to/from the physical disk on shutdown and startup and using /etc/init.d/ramdisk-log.sh sync
- Ext 4 file system with journaling turned off.
- Mounted as default relatime rather than noatime as there was little gain in disk io.
- Removed swap mount for normal use and set swappiness to 0 if enabled to reduce swap use.
- Using full disk LUKS based LVM encryption to protect all contents of the mounted live system with 255MB boot partition.
In tests over time we are not yet convinced that journaling needs to be turned off but as the realistic alternative formats are often Ext2 and FAT32 which have no journaling we felt the other slight speed benefits of Ext4 it was still a good compromise.
We also installed nonfree firmware and restricted Ubuntu packages as a courtesy as this will reduce the issues experienced by users coming from an XP/Vista/Win7 hardware environment and with existing files and formats.
We did not install Wine at this time as we felt that could be more confusing for users although for some this may be useful if they want to use existing Windows software and even make use of the installed DLLs on the underlying system.