Piero V.

Debian on an encypted microSD on a Surface Pro 2017

Wow, I have not needed to write a guide about installing a Linux system for years (well, these are my notes rather than a complete guide).

Partly because I found it quite easy in the latest… 5 years? Partly because I avoid reinstalling my systems unless strictly needed.

This time is different: I am targeting a peculiar device (a Surface Pro 2017) with a microSD (I am too lazy to repartition its SSD) and full disk encryption (including /boot).

But I am happy because I have learned a lot! For example, if you choose the expert installation for Debian, you can disable the source repositories immediately!

Big caveat: my initial plan was to install GRUB on the microSD, but it did not work. If I understood correctly, the Surface cannot boot from SDs. So, I used the ESP of the SSD. If you wanted a completely autonomous system on a microSD that disappears as soon as you remove it, I fear you cannot get one.

Preparing the install drive

After I discovered Rufus, I have always used it to prepare installation drives on Windows.

But Debian ISOs have a feature I really appreciate: in UEFI mode, you can just extract the image to a FAT32 partition. The advantages are that you do not need Windows, and you do not have to format the drive, you do not lose any existing data. And, on top of that, secure boot worked at the first try (with Microsoft & 3rd party CAs, but I do not remember if it is the default). I have tried with other distributions, but none worked in the same way. … [Leggi il resto]

NetStylus

Preamble

Recently I started digital sculpting, and I immediately realized that the mouse is not the best tool for this scope. As any tutorial will tell you, a drawing tablet will make you much faster and much more precise.

I do not have one, but I have a Microsoft Surface Pro and a Surface Pen. However, it is the base, not-so-powerful model: it has just a Core M3 and 4GB of RAM. It was enough to study at University, but, sadly, I cannot even think of running a 3D editor in it.

Initially, I tried Weylus, a program that allows you to control a machine (my Linux desktop, in my case) through a web browser from any device with a stylus. Being web-based, it works on any device, including iPads, and it even mirrors the screen.

However, it did not play well with the barrel button of my pen. And that button is critical for a lot of workflows.

Therefore, I decided to write my own software to do so: NetStylus.

The Win32 API for tablets

I discovered that Microsoft has liked pen input methods for years: they started the Tablet PC thing with Windows XP, before 2005!

They have several APIs and functionality, but we are interested in the one that sits at the beginning of the chain: the Real-Time Stylus interface.[Leggi il resto]