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Focal Fossa!

#TIL that a fossa ( is more than just another name for Ubuntu 20.04 (ie, “Focal Fossa”

It’s also a cat-like animal from Madagascar, though more closely related to the mongoose family.


No, I haven’t upgraded my operating system – I’ve been running Ubuntu 20.4 for many months. That said, I’ve been caught in a bit of a bind recently... On the one hand, I like new shiny things, am interested in technology, and want to learn new things. On the other, I don’t want to deal with the disruption and pain which usually comes with upgrading my “main” system. On the third hand... well, suffice it to say that I ran out of hands.

Bottom line is that my trusty old laptop is just not able to keep up with my current needs. Years ago, when I wanted to start taking courses on InfoSec, I wanted to install Ubuntu, but our “home” machine was shared by the family, and was running Windows.

I know that I could have set up a dual-boot, etc, etc, but I didn’t want to risk our home machine being out of commission for days while I fiddled with boot settings. Also, even if THAT worked perfectly, I was just picking up Linux again, and was concerned that I could encounter compatibility issues that would cause me a lot of pain.

At the time, the simplest answer seemed to be getting my own laptop, and replacing the pre-installed Windows with Ubuntu. It was a “secondary” machine, and I really didn’t want to spend too much on it, so I found a relatively inexpensive model. While I had a few challenges getting things set up, our “main” machine was totally unaffected, and I started using my laptop for all my personal work.

Still, we shared a “computer” desk, so I would open up my laptop when I needed it, then shut it down when not actively being used. That meant I didn’t bother using it for personal email, as I only started the machine a few times a month (except when taking courses).

When the COVID-19 lockdown started, though, things changed. We reorganized the house and set up office space for all our remote work, so I had a bit more desk space. Then, when I started working on our home network ( and other things which led to me starting to blog (, it seemed only natural to set up email as well, at which point I was using my laptop regularly, and all was well.

... except for the fact that the machine was relatively low-powered, and now 5+ years old. Still fully functional, but running virtual machines, or doing other resource-intensive work was becoming more and more challenging.

Once I decided to get a new machine (after months of consideration), I did a bit of research on vendors, hardware compatibility, and price comparisons. I thought seriously about building out a desktop system, but finally decided on the ease and convenience of a laptop with Ubuntu pre-installed. (First time I’ve done that, so I also figured it would be an interesting experiment)

As this was a “customized” machine, the vendor said something along the lines of “allow 12 weeks for delivery”, but it came after a little more than 2 weeks. Quite acceptable, I would say.

Startup was a breeze, with no messing around with dual-boot, and the Ubuntu setup came up exactly as I would have wished. Nothing is ever perfect, though, so I’ve had a few issues to work through:

  1. The fingerprint reader seems a bit flaky, and I often have to use the password. No more than a minor irritant for me, but I may dig into it over time and see if there’s anything I can do.

  2. Copying files from old machine was quick and easy – NAS is nice! ( – though I’ve had a few minor issues deciding how I want to set up the file permissions and such

  3. Ubuntu seems to be picking up my monitor correctly, but doesn’t seem to want to use the highest-resolution available. I may take some time to figure that out.

  4. VirtualBox was a bit of an issue, as I had to research some error messages... In the end, all I had to do was enable some features in the BIOS.

  5. There seems to be an issue with the USB switches... when the system goes to sleep, it seems to forget about the USB connection until I physically unplug/replug. Need to investigate that – it’s quite annoying.

All of that said, the biggest issue will be to decide how best to deal with the old machine, but I think I may have figured it out. As I have described previously (, I wanted a dedicated machine for development work, and set up a VM (virtual machine) on Linux Mint. That was a valuable exercise, and I’ve learned a lot, but now I HAVE a machine I can dedicate to development work, so I think I’ll continue to use the VM as a “sandbox”, and use the old laptop as a dedicated development environment. Let’s see how that goes.

Now, back to playing with my wonderful new machine!



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