Friday, 14 June 2019

Containing your Gaming

Ever felt like playing a quick game of CS:GO while that compilation is finishing without having to install software that could impact how your current development environment is setup? The simple answer is to game inside a container.

The following are my configuration notes based upon the excellent articles by Stéphane Graber and Simos Xenitellis which allow you to firstly install (and subsequently remove) the containerisation software and then within that how to install and configure Steam to support local and streaming gaming.

# change the following as required
  # Ubuntu user: linuxium
  # Container: steam
  # Container user: linuxiumcomau
# update the current environment to the latest software
sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade
# add LXD group required for containers and make yourself (linuxium) a member of this group
sudo groupadd --system lxd
sudo usermod -aG lxd linuxium
# reboot to ensure the group membership has updated
sudo reboot
# check you are a member of LXD group
# install the LXD container software
sudo snap install lxd
# initializse LXD making sure the 'size in GB' is adequate for gaming e.g. 15 is required for a local CS:GO
lxd init
# check with an LXD command just to make sure everything is working
lxc list
# create login alias for user linuxiumcomau (alternative to lxc exec steam -- /bin/login -p -f linuxiumcomau)
lxc alias add login 'exec @ARGS@ --mode interactive -- /bin/sh -ac $@linuxiumcomau - exec /bin/login -p -f '
# create a LXD gui profile
cat > lxdguiprofile.txt <<+
  environment.DISPLAY: :0
  raw.idmap: both 1000 1000
  user.user-data: |
      - 'sed -i "s/; enable-shm = yes/enable-shm = no/g" /etc/pulse/client.conf'
      - 'echo export PULSE_SERVER=unix:/tmp/.pulse-native | tee --append /home/linuxiumcomau/.profile'
      - x11-apps
      - mesa-utils
      - pulseaudio
description: GUI LXD profile
    path: /tmp/.pulse-native
    source: /run/user/1000/pulse/native
    type: disk
    path: /tmp/.X11-unix/X0
    source: /tmp/.X11-unix/X0
    type: disk
    type: gpu
name: gui
lxc profile create gui
cat lxdguiprofile.txt | lxc profile edit gui
# setup a bridge if using Steam streaming to get the container on the same network as Ubuntu
    Click on "+" button at the bottom.
    Choose "Bridge" and click "Create".
      The default bridge interface will be named bridge0.
    Click on "Add" button.
    Choose "Ethernet" and click "Create".
    In "Device" field, choose the interface to enslave to the bridge, e.g. eth0.
    Click on "General" tab, and check both "Automatically connect to this network when it is available" and "All users may connect to this network".
    Save the change.
    Click on "General" tab of the bridge, make sure two check boxes are enabled ("Automatically connect to this network when it is available" and "All users may connect to this network").
    Go to "IPv4 Settings" tab, and configure either DHCP or static IP address for the bridge.
      Note that you should use the same IPv4 settings as the enslaved Ethernet interface eth0.
    Finally, save the bridge settings.
    As you have the additional bridge connection you no longer need the previously configured wired connection so delete the original wired connection e.g. Ethernet connection 1.
      You will momentarily lose a connection since the IP address assigned to eth0 is taken by bridge0.
  # update the default profile to use this newly created bridge
  lxc profile edit default # replace lxdbr0 by bridge0
  # delete the old bridge
  lxc network delete lxdbr0
# create an Ubuntu container called steam and install Steam
lxc launch ubuntu:18.04 steam
lxc exec steam -- bash
  apt update
  apt upgrade
  # create user linuxiumcomau
  killall -u ubuntu
  groupmod -n linuxiumcomau ubuntu
  usermod -md /home/linuxiumcomau -l linuxiumcomau ubuntu
  usermod -aG users linuxiumcomau
  loginctl enable-linger linuxiumcomau
  sed -i 's/ubuntu/linuxiumcomau/' /etc/sudoers.d/90-cloud-init-users
  # install dekstop packages
  apt install adwaita-icon-theme-full ubuntu-desktop^
  # exit
lxc login steam
  sudo sed -i "s/; enable-shm = yes/enable-shm = no/g" /etc/pulse/client.conf
  echo export PULSE_SERVER=unix:/tmp/.pulse-native | tee --append /home/linuxiumcomau/.profile
  # exit
# assign the gui profile
lxc profile assign steam default,gui
lxc restart steam
lxc login steam
  firefox # go to Steam website ( and
    # click Install Steam (top right and then centre screen and save the .deb file)
  cd Downloads/
  sudo apt install ./steam_latest.deb
  steam # use ctrl and \ to terminate
  # exit
# create HUD entry
lxc file pull steam/home/linuxiumcomau/.local/share/Steam/tenfoot/resource/images/steam_tray_48.tga ~/.local/share/icons/
cat > ~/.local/share/applications/steam.desktop <<+
[Desktop Entry]
 Comment=Play games on Steam
 Exec=lxc exec steam -- sudo --user linuxiumcomau --login steam
# use HUD to search for Steam and then add to favourites
# launch Steam

# and to remove everything
# remove HUD entry from favourites
rm ~/.local/share/applications/steam.desktop ~/.local/share/icons/steam_tray_48.tga
# remove LXD
lxc stop steam --force
lxc delete steam
lxc  list
lxc delete <any other containers in list - should be empty in this example>
lxc image list
lxc image delete <any images in list - should be empty in this example>
lxc network list
lxc network delete <e.g. LXD bridge i.e. lxdbr0 if present>
echo '{"config": {}}' | lxc profile edit default
lxc storage volume list default
lxc storage volume delete default <whatever is in list - should be empty in this example>
lxc storage delete default
sudo snap remove lxd
sudo deluser lxd
sudo groupdel lxd

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Thursday, 30 May 2019

'Austin Beach': Intel's Compute Element Fanless NUC

With Intel's announcement today of the NUC Compute Element [1], drawing a long bow may lead to two observations: firstly Intel is using the halo effect of 'NUC' to overcome the presumed horn effect of 'Compute' from the recently cancelled Compute Card products [2]; secondly a passively cooled NUC is to be launched and become part of the NUC's ongoing product family [3].
The Intel NUC Compute Element enables an industry standard for modular compute through a device that incorporates an Intel CPU, memory, connectivity and other components and is capable of powering solutions like laptops, kiosks, smart TVs, appliances and more [1]. At first glance it almost seems the same as the aforementioned Compute Card except that instead of being a fully-enclosed, gadgety card, the NUC Compute Element looks and acts a lot more like a computer part, right down to its exposed connector. Intel claims the changes reduce its footprint inside other devices and also increases the I/O options on tap [4]. Significantly whilst the Compute Card's sealed design and extra durability added nominally to the card cost it added about $50 to each unit on the OEM side to incorporate the module which stunted its adoption [5]. Intel goes on to further emphasise that the NUC Compute Element delivers incredible performance and amazing connectivity at a low cost while making it easy to integrate, upgrade and service computing in next-generation devices [1].

Intel concluded their announcement by stating that the initial NUC Compute Element will be available with a range of processors, including versions with Intel vPro™ technology for increased security and manageability and that products based on the Intel NUC Compute Element are expected to be in market in the first half of 2020 [1]. Interestingly this provides credibility to an earlier leaked product map:

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Intel's 'Islay Canyon' NUCs Announced

Built for casual gaming and home entertainment

Introducing the first Intel® NUC with 8th Generation Intel® Core™ processors and Radeon* 540X discrete graphics for all your gaming and entertainment needs. Play casual games, binge watch the latest series, or stream digital music like never before with a quad-core processor that delivers 2x faster performance.


  • 8th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-8565U/i5-8265U Whiskey Lake processor
  • AMD Radeon* 540X discrete graphics with 2 GB GDDR5 graphics memory
  • 8 GB dual-channel LPDDR3-1866 (soldered down)
  • 16 GB Intel® Optane™ memory 1 TB SATA3 HDD/256 GB SSD
  • HDMI* 2.0b and Mini DisplayPort* 1.2
  • Windows® 10 Home Operating System


Choose an Intel® NUC that’s right for you – accelerate performance with Intel® Optane™ memory paired with a high capacity HDD to load the next game level up to 4.7x faster, or get efficient reliability with an SSD with no moving parts so bumps and drops won’t damage your drive.


NUC8i7INHJA/NUC8i7INHJPA - $770.00
NUC8i7INHX - $599.00
NUC8i5INHJA/NUC8i5INHPA - $663.00
NUC8i5INHX - $492.00


          User Guide

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

crostini: '--enable-gpu' not the panacea

Steam on crostini was not a proposition until recently as hardware acceleration was not available. That has changed with the latest development release of ChromeOS (75.0.3761.0) as it is now possible to manually start the termina container with the '--enable-gpu' flag to solve this situation. However whilst improvements are noted the performance is a long way off native Linux and Windows as will be demonstrated below.

Using two hardware devices, an HP Chromebox G2 and a Vorke V5 Plus configured similarly with identical CPU and RAM and similarly sized SSD, I've run the free games Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2 under Steam running on crostini, Windows and Ubuntu.

First the basics: in-game settings. On each platform I changed some key advanced video settings for CS:GO to low:

I've then installed Windows on the Vorke V5 Plus followed by Steam and CS:GO and Dota 2. The FPS for CS:GO were mid 20's when idle:

and for Dota 2 were high 50's:

I then dual-boot installed Ubuntu 18.04 on the Vorke V5 Plus followed by Steam and CS:GO and Dota 2. The FPS for CS:GO were again mid 20's when idle:

and for Dota 2 were in the 60's:

Then on the HP Chromebox G2 I installed Ubuntu 18.04 as a crostini container. Running 'glxinfo -B' shows that GPU acceleration is not enabled:

I then installed Steam, CS:GO and Dota 2. The FPS for CS:GO was only 1 when idle (arguably as expected):

and for Dota 2 were in the 2 to 4 range:

So I restarted my container with the GPU flag:

This time for CS:GO the FPS only increased to 5-6:

and interestingly the mouse's directional movements failed resulting in constantly looking at the floor once the mouse was initially moved.

For Dota 2 the FPS improved similarly also only to 5-6:

I then installed the same Ubuntu container on Ubuntu on the Vorke V5 Plus and ran Steam's CS:GO and got a similar FPS in the 20's range thus showing that running in a container is not a bottleneck. I'll post the full details on this in a companion post later.

Therefore the conclusion is that while the 'enable-gpu' has improved the FPS performance it is still significantly lower than the FPS from natively installed OSes. This must be due to the 'virgl' drivers and hopefully a 'next' release will address this issue.

Latest Update: 

Compatible drivers are now available through installing the package 'cros-gpu-alpha':

sudo apt install cros-gpu-alpha

and then update and upgrade with

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

According to starting in release 76 a flag will be introduced to allow Crostini GPU to be enabled / disabled and the 'cros-gpu-alpha' package will be automatically installed.

Now for CS:GO the FPS has increased to around 15:

And for Dota 2 the FPS improved to around 40:

Please donate if you find this information useful using the following link

Thursday, 21 March 2019

What is after Gemini Lake?

By The Osthoff Resort -, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Elkhart Lake [1]. 

Based on a 10 nm manufacturing process, the Elkhart Lake SoC uses Tremont microarchitectures (Atom) [2] and features Gen 11 graphics similar to the Ice Lake processors [3]. Intel’s Gen 11 solution offers 64 execution units, and it has managed over 1 TFLOP in GPU performance [4]. This can be compared with the Nvidia GeForce GT 1030 which offered a peak throughput of 0.94 TFLOPs [5]. Code has already been added in the Linux mainline kernel [6] suggesting a possible Computex announcement and mid to late 2019 availability [7].


Monday, 4 March 2019

Ubuntu announced new point releases for 18.04 LTS and 16.04 LTS

Canonical have released the second point release of Ubuntu 18.04 Long-Term Support (LTS) as Ubuntu 18.04.2 and have also released the sixth point release of Ubuntu 16.04 Long-Term Support (LTS) as Ubuntu 16.04.6.

I’ve respun the desktop ISOs using my ‘‘ script and created ISOs suitable for Intel Atom and Intel Apollo Lake devices:


Please donate if you find these ISOs useful.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Nextcloud on Crostini running in its own container

Nextcloud (a fork of Owncloud) provides file hosting on a private server and when running on Crostini provides a simple way of accessing Chrome OS files from different local devices.

It is simple to set up (example) and an advantage of Crostini in allowing multiple containers means you can run Nextcloud effectively in background while you explore and modify your default 'penguin' container.

Start by creating a new container based on the original penguin one. I already made a copy of 'penguin' and called it 'google' but you can take your existing container and add Nextcloud if you prefer.

In your VM or 'termina' enter:

  lxc copy google nextcloud # or lxc copy penguin nextcloud
  lxc start nextcloud
  lxc exec nextcloud -- bash

Then make sure everything is updated by entering:

  sudo apt update
  sudo apt upgrade

Nextcloud depends on an underlying LAMP server so first install Apache:

  sudo apt install apache2

Create the configuration file:

  sudo vi /etc/apache2/sites-available/nextcloud.conf

and add the following text:

Alias /nextcloud "/var/www/nextcloud/"

<Directory /var/www/nextcloud/>
  Options +FollowSymlinks
  AllowOverride All

 <IfModule mod_dav.c>
  Dav off

 SetEnv HOME /var/www/nextcloud
 SetEnv HTTP_HOME /var/www/nextcloud


Next create a symolic link to the file:

  sudo ln -s /etc/apache2/sites-available/nextcloud.conf 

and enable the following modules by entering:

  sudo a2enmod rewrite
  sudo a2enmod headers

Finally restart Apache:

  sudo systemctl restart apache2

Secondly install MariaDB:

  sudo apt install mariadb-server

Create a database administrator account first by entering:

  sudo mariadb

and then:

  create user dba@localhost identified by 'password';
  grant all privileges on *.* to dba@localhost with grant option;
  flush privileges;

Thirdly install PHP:

  sudo apt install libapache2-mod-php7.0 php7.0-gd php7.0-json php7.0-mysql php7.0-curl php7.0-mbstring php7.0-intl php-imagick php7.0-xml php7.0-zip php7.0-mcrypt # on Debian stretch

or (if your container is Ubuntu 18.04):

  sudo apt install libapache2-mod-php7.2 php7.2-gd php7.2-json php7.2-mysql php7.2-curl php7.2-mbstring php7.2-intl php-imagick php7.2-xml php7.2-zip # on Ubuntu 18.04

Finally install Nextcloud:

  cd /var/www
  sudo apt install wget # only on Debian stretch
  sudo wget
  sudo unzip
  sudo rm
  sudo chown -R www-data:www-data nextcloud

Make a note of the container's IP address:

hostname -I

and configure a port forwarding rule using the 'Connection Forwarder' app: ->

Now open a Chrome window with:


and enter your details:

and Nextcloud will start:

Finally to be able to access your Nextcloud container from other devices on your LAN enter:

sudo vi /var/www/nextcloud/config/config.php

and change 'trusted_domains' by removing the port number and adding a line for your Chrome device's IP address:

'trusted_domains' =>
  array (
   0 => 'localhost',
   1 => '',

You also need to prevent your Chrome device from sleeping so under Chrome's 'Settings' then 'Power' select 'Keep display on'.

Now you can add files from Chrome OS:

and access them over the LAN from another device:

Please donate if you find this guide useful using the following link