[solved] Mac OS X Won’t Erase USB

The usually painless process of creating a bootable linux usb was rather sucking today.

First, I’d get the “disk you inserted was not readable by this computer” error (below) but I wasn’t worried.


Then, when trying to erase it using Disk Utility, I’d get the “Erasing process has failed”.


Once, I think, it actually started to erase one of the USBs I tried before failing.

It was only after a couple tries that I clicked “Show Details” but that didn’t help Google help me find any answers. Not the answers I needed anyway.

I saw more than one post online about Sierra (I have High Sierra) failing to erase USB flash drives. The solution was using Disk Utilities > First Aid but that didn’t work for me.

As it turns out, the problem was the USB sticks in question were formatted as FAT-32 which, apparently, Mac can format to but not read from. So I did this (step-by-step instructions below screenshot):


In the terminal, type:

diskutil list

Carefully and accurately determine which disk is actually the one you actually want to actually erase — the 8GB size was the clue I wanted /dev/disk3. Using that information to erase the USB — not my hard drive — I typed:

diskutil unmountDisk force /dev/disk3

I’m not sure how much that step mattered for me as I don’t think my USBs were even mounting.

Lastly, type:

diskutil erasedisk MS-DOS UNNAMED /dev/disk3

Your formatting type may differ as might your disk identifier.

I went back to Disk Utility and, right away, it looked different.

BEFORE fixing it in the terminal. Note the 2.5 MB capacity with Zero KB available.
AFTER fixing it in the terminal. Note the 7.81 GB capacity with 7.79 GB available.

Finally, I went through my usual process to Create a bootable USB stick on macOS.

First, because I’m a stickler for following directions (follow the link for simple and easy instructions), I erased it in Disk Utility which, this time, gave me a happy, green checkmark.


I then used Etcher to, most triumphantly, create my bootable USB.


This is all an example of why MacOS rules and Windows drools. In the rare occasions something goes wrong, you can fix it easily. For the time being. Apple is, slowly but surely, f***ing that up on both counts and that is an example of why I increasingly use Linux instead.


Further Speeding Up My Laptop

Recently, I switched to Lubuntu and, for the most part, I couldn’t be happier. Before that, I tried speeding up the aging Dell Vostro 1000 by adding more RAM — some people online insisted it was possible — but DV1k was having none of that. Yes, I expect and accept an overall slowness from an older machine but in the last few months, Ubuntu updates would either frequently lock me out of the login screen (note to self: write post with solution) or break my wi-fi.

So far, my only real issue with Lubuntu is if I close the laptop, put it in my bag and go somewhere, when I take it out the fan is cranking even louder than usual and the laptop is hot to the touch. It runs too warm to actually have it on your lap on a good day — and I always keep it on something elevated with airflow underneath … this is way worse.

Also, it hangs when trying to put it to sleep, reboot, shut down, etc. so I always have to manually press the power button.

So my new “excited and nervous” task is switching from lxde to LXQt in an effort to further speed things up, if possible. If I’m correct, it only comes by default in 18.10+ and I’m using 16.04 because DV1k is old. Somewhere, I saw instructions for installing it on 16 and they wouldn’t provide instructions unless it was totally safe, right? 😉

So let’s go … as I do these steps …

    1. sudo apt-get update
    2. sudo apt-get install lxqt
      Terminal asked if I wanted to install the ten billion things I said y.
      Wow, this is taking a while …
    3. My notes say to sudo apt-get install lxqt-common but Terminal tells me lxqt-common is an invalid operation. I’ll look that up later.
    4. I need to log out then log back in choosing “LXQt desktop”.
      There was no menu on the login screen …
    5. Based on a different source, tried sudo apt install lxqt-common and that is working.
      Done. Now trying to logout/login … woo-hoo! We have a menu!

WOW, does it look different! I’ll let you know how it works out.

And I need to look into temperature management and stuff …

Other issues:

  • Chrome is still a RAM-devouring beast that slows everything down and often freezes but, to my knowledge, there’s nothing I can do about that if I want/need to use Chrome.
  • Lubuntu does often make me log in twice. Someday, I might look into that.

SAD UPDATE: 24 hours later, I’ve switched back to the regular Lubuntu DE.

  • There are long-standing bugs with adding apps to the widgets/panel at the bottom which drove me crazy. I hated having to use the menu for everything.
  • At first, the WiFi appeared in one of the widget-things but, after I tried customizing it (and everything suddenly flashed and all the panels and widgets were empty) and everything disappeared. I added some things back but two things wouldn’t reappear
    • Battery status
    • Network Manager

As it turns out, that wonkiness is also a long-standing issue. While researching this and trying various solutions, I logged out and noticed there was another choice besides LXQt for the desktop environment — “openbox” — so I chose that … and got ANOTHER longstanding LXQt/openbox issue … a black screen.

After trying various solutions, I finally rid myself of LXQt which makes me sad.

Odd Update = two of the apps I tried adding to the panel in LXQt now appear in the panel in regular Lubuntu.

Cool Update: While going through several sites filled with tips on speeding up Ubuntu, Lubuntu, and basically googling “why does Chrome suck so bad in Linux?” I found some dandy tips on speeding up both Chrome and Firefox.

Nervous and Excited About Switching

My little linux-powered laptop is chock full o’ stuff I’ve installed and worked on since I I installed Ubuntu on it a couple years ago. I want to switch from Ubuntu/Unity to Lubuntu/LXDE because UU is way, way too slow and I’ve heard LL is way, way fast.

I was using Ubuntu/Cinnamon for a long time but, lately, the udpates have been locking me out of my machine and it takes a few steps in the command line to set things straight. I could just stop updating but … no.

I’m nervous. What will break? Will I lose anything? I’ve already started to back stuff up. Mostly, if not completely, done I think.

When I try Lubuntu via USB drive, I don’t get WiFi. I have a Broadcomm problem. As soon as I figure that out — should be simple now that I’ve found my ethernet cable — I’ll take the leap.

I’m excited because, while learning, I’ve installed bunches of stuff I haven’t used or no longer need — including multiple versions of, you know, Python, Node, PHP, and all that jazz … tons o’ stuff. It’ll be nice to have a light, lean machine.

But, ugh, gotta rebuild the web server, all my private keys, and so on. Fun, though — it’s practice. Relearning it to redo it is good.

Install That Tarball in Ubuntu

Installing applications was, for a much longer time than I care to admit, the most frustrating thing about Linux. My confusion and sense of helplessness was caused by, among other things, some sources providing a ppa with which to download and install via the command line and others providing a tarball (tar) which is not, say, the Linux equivalent of an img or exe installer. A tarball is a compressed archive–like a ZIP file–so whatever is inside isn’t going to install anything either.

The contents could be:

  • Source code you need to compile (if you’re single and bored)
  • Compiled code ready-to-go (if you have a boyfriend or girlfriend and things to do)

Fortunately, I recently learned about the Linux file hierarchy, which made my recent Firefox Developer Edition installation less scary than previous installations because I wasn’t confused by different instructions from various sources.

I like knowing what all that gibberish I’m typing into the Terminal means so, although there’s only two lines here, if you’re like me in that sense, I’ll explain the gibberish and any variables.

Note: It doesn’t matter where you download the tarball. You can move the tarball and anything you extract. Also, you’ll delete the tarball like any other ZIP or installer once you’re finished with it.

The following example code is for a tarball named firefoxdeveloperedition.tar.bz2 I downloaded to my desktop.

Step #1

To extract the contents:

tar -jxvf firefoxdeveloperedition.tar.bz2

tar is the utility you’re using so it’s the basic “command.”

You’ve probably seen a hyphen and a letter or two (or four) after a command. Each letter is an option–like checkboxes in a dialog box (the dialogue box itself being the GUI equivalent of a command in the terminal). You can specify multiple options simultaneously–hence multiple letters after the hyphen.

j == use bzip2 to decompress this tarball. We know to use j because of the final bz2 extension in the file name.

x == we want to extract the contents (there are other things we can do with the tar utility besides extracting)

v == “verbose” is optional. Verbose makes all those lines of code fly by telling us what’s happening during the whole process. If you don’t care about or need those details, you can omit v.

f == use the file I’m about to specify.

The result of this command is a folder named (in this case) “firefox” on my desktop.

Step #2

Move the “firefox” folder from my desktop (which lives in the home directory) to its proper home: the opt directory in the root directory. I’ll explain why /opt/ is the proper home in a future post very soon. Also, I want to differentiate this app from the regular Firefox by renaming the folder from “firefox” to “firefox-dev.”

sudo mv ~/Desktop/firefox /opt/firefox-dev

sudo == If I try using the mv command without authorization, the terminal responds, “permission denied.” If I give it the “superuser do” heads-up, it asks me for my password.

mv == “move” which then takes two parameters: the place of departure and the destination.

Just in case you can’t tell, there’s a space between ~/Desktop/firefox and /opt/firefox-dev.

~/Desktop/firefox is the current/original location and the item we want moved. The tilde and slash “~/” represents the “home” directory (likely your username) containing folders like Desktop, Downloads, Documents, and so on. firefox is the name of the folder we’re moving.

/opt/firefox-dev is the destination. The slash all by itself represents the root directory followed by the opt folder inside the root directory. We can change the name of the firefox folder to firefox-dev just by typing it that way.

Step #3

Delete that tarball (wrapping paper) and play with your new toy.

App didn’t come with a launcher? Create a Launcher in Ubuntu

Make a Desktop Shortcut in Ubuntu

First of all, it’s called a “Launcher” in Ubuntu, not a “shortcut.” This tutorial shows you how to make a custom launcher when the app you just worked so hard to download and install doesn’t come with one or, and I say OR, you just want to make a custom icon because … you just do. It’s how I made these:


Three things to know:

  • Aptana came with a pretty and easy-to-find icon
  • I had to find my own SeaMonkey icon and then I had to find a new one with a transparent background.
  • Firefox Developer Edition uses, by default and for whatever reason, the same icon as the regular Firefox that regular people use when they’re doing regular things.

Step #0

You may first need to install gnome-panel.

sudo apt-get install gnome-panel

Step #1

In Ye Olde Terminal, type the following:

gnome-desktop-item-edit ~/Desktop –create-new

That opens this window:


Step #2

  • Click the placeholder icon in the upper-left and navigate to your image of choice.
  • Name your little icon.
  • Command is the linux command you’d use to launch the app from the terminal. Don’t freak out–all you need to do is click Browser and navigate to the app.
  • Click OK.

You’re probably done. If you’re doing this for Firefox Developer Edition like I just did, proceed to Step #3. I had to re-do this twice.

Step #3

You can either start again at Step #1 (like I did–hence the following screenshots) or you can right-click and choose Properties.

Notice the icon is the regular old Firefox icon (you may have already noticed while completing step #2).


Click the regular icon with as much contempt as you can muster so there’s no question in your computer’s mind that you are, in no uncertain terms, displeased.

Note the path is completely different from the one you told it to follow and navigate to the correct icon.


Click OK.

Treasure Trove Discovery

TL;DR? Skip to “BUT TODAY!”


For a long time, I struggled through ActionScript constantly having to look things up because I didn’t really understand what I was doing. I couldn’t tell you how many arrays and For loops I coded but didn’t understand. Copying & pasting or just typing verbatim from some shallow tutorial … but then … I started learning JavaScript at Codecademy and Khan Academy and these things–through proper instruction–made total sense!


A couple years ago, I tried installing and using Linux for the first time. It was a nightmare. I wasn’t online at home but under the impression that it would be okay because I had an install disk. If that makes you laugh, you know what I went through with ten trillion dependencies popping up every time I thought I’d satisfied them all … downloading them to a USB at work, installing them at home, they’d have dependencies of their own … I hated it.


Then, of course, there’s my relatively recent nightmare trying to install the ELK stack. Then trying to update the ELK stack. I had no idea what was supposed to go where or how to get any information to do anything. I hated it.


A couple days ago, I found two super-nifty online books every newbie should run to this very millisecond. Explanation(s) of what makes them so ridiculously awesome are below the linky links.

Linux Fundamentals by Paul Cobbaut (365 pages)

The Linux Command Line by William Shotts (537 pages)

“The Linux File Tree” — Chapter 11 of Cobbaut’s Linux Fundamentals is a gift from Heaven. Now I know not only what a bin directory is for but why there are so many of them! Oh, and I know what FHS means and its significance! I also know what lib, opt, var, usr, and etc are! Life is so freakin’ awesome now. Each chapter in the book has homework and study questions which I’ll start as soon as I’m done writing this post.

“Package Management” — Chapter 15 of Shotts’ Linux Command Line was even better than I’d hoped for. Did you know Red Hat and Ubuntu are like whole different countries? I know, right?! Apparently, trying to use rpm in my Ubuntu terminal didn’t work, you know, for a reason. My total favorite topics were the following yummy (no pun intended) goodness:

  • Determining If A Package Is Installed
  • Displaying Info About An Installed Package
  • Finding Which Package Installed A File

Why those? Because as I tried to install and/or upgrade the aforementioned ELK packages, I had no idea which ones worked or which ones I could remove or which pieces belonged to what package … now I can go back and confidently clean that mess up and maybe even start over and do it all right and smoothly this time.

Quite Pleased With Myself (QPWM)

I made my original banner image 1140px wide to match the default width of shizzle in my Bootstrap theme. Now Bootstrap was created to be responsive but when I resized the browser, my not very flexible banner image did this:


Yuck, right?

So I added some CSS goodness to the “masthead” class giving it the purple background-color to match the image, cropped a few hundred pixels on either side of the image, remembered to add a border-radius, and now it does this:


Speaking of pretty things: I installed Cinnamon in/on my Ubuntu so I never have to use Unity again. I feel like I was a leper and Jesus healed me. Not only does it not have Unity’s irritating qualities, the perpetual dimness is gone–I’m not constantly trying to/wishing I could increase the brightness.