Acer AspireOne D255 with openSUSE Tumbleweed Xfce

Anytime someone wants to give me a piece of hardware, it’s hard for me to say, “no.” I received this Acer AspireOne D255 as payment for installing openSUSE Leap on an HP Laptop. This little netbook was a bit slower than my other Acer AspireOne and with only 1 GiB of RAM and a dead battery. I tried to see if I could install anything but the hard drive was at it’s end of life. So, thing sat in a drawer for about a year or so. I found that there are some education open source programs that are quite educational and since I would rather my kids not play games on phones and tablets, now was the time for me to act.

I purchased a new battery and a charger for this computer which cost me all of $21. I ordered a 2 GiB stick of DDR3 memory so that whenever it did arrive, I could upgrade that as well.

Taking apart the AspireOne is not that difficult, at all, you just have to know how to get to the screws to drop the back panel. Annoyingly, you have to remove the keyboard by essentially pushing back little detents to pop the thing out. It isn’t exactly work made for large hands.

Under the keyboard the screws that require removal are all marked with arrows and the last bit is to push the panel off using a screwdriver. That will expose the goodness that this machine keeps hidden away.

The hard drive sits in in a caddy and the memory is held in place with the usual spring clip arrangement. After replacing the failed Hard Drive with an SSD, it was time to do the installation.

Out of curiosity, I wanted to see how it would go to have my eight year old boy install openSUSE Tumbleweed with Xfce. I expected to direct a couple steps, of which would be how I want the partitions to be laid out, the username and password as well as the root password. I also instructed him to turn off the CPU vulnerability mitigations as well. I saw no need for this computer to need those.

I wanted to see if he could do the rest without my help. Amazingly, but really not so amazingly, he was able to do it. This made me think and smile and reinforce the fact that the YaST installer is actually quite easy to use. I mean, if an eight year old can do it…

My boy recognized Windows 7 wasn’t on it any longer and corrected the mislabeling.

After playing with Xfce on openSUSE in the virtual machine, I really wanted to see how it felt on some 10 year old netbooks, or more specifically, this under powered unit with only 1 GiB of RAM.

Surprisingly, the system runs quite well and doesn’t seem too terribly encumbered by the lack of RAM. Granted, most of what is being done at this time are simple programs geared for educating my kids but getting on the web didn’t prove to be a problem either. It was able to YouTube without any irritating stutter.

After booting to a settled system. The AspireOne was using about 380 MiB of RAM. I could probably force it lower by removing some things but I don’t see it as necessary at this time. Instead, I will pop in that 2 GiB DDR3 SODIMM and leave quite a bit of headroom for some of the other educational things to come.

The “new” battery for this machine did have one drawback. It is a little thicker than the original one and now it sits at a bit of an angle when set down. It does make it a bit harder to slip into a neoprene case but the flip side is that it won’t suffocate if left running on the couch

The applications I installed for the time being to make using them a bit better are:

  • Syncthing-Gtk – I have a series of files in written as well as audio and video form that are for memory work. For them to have read-only access to it from their machines is a huge plus when they are not home.
  • Gcompris – This is a great educational application with lots of games and such to help teach the basic foundational things like numbers, letters and learning the sounds. It is also a great tool to teach the kids to learn to use a mouse or touchpad as well.
  • Tux Paint – it is a fine little application to teach the basics of creating images in on a computer.
  • qsynergy – this is more for my convenience so that I can more easily “help” them fro my computer. I do want to note, that I did purchase a license key for this applicaiton.
  • Crossover Linux – I have an older version of Rosetta Stone that is packed with many languages. I specifically want them to take time to learn Latin and German. This will reduce the irritation of having only a single machine for the kids to share. One little note. There was an issue with sound. The PulseAudio module was not available in the Wine Configurator. The solution was to install libpulse0-32bit

What I Like

I really like that I am able to install a “heavy weight” distribution like openSUSE onto a rather under powered an really quite anemic machine. I was incredibly surprised how Xfce looked and felt on this machine. Although, much to my chagrin, my daughter made hers all pink and bright instead of my preference of dark and green of which I initially set. I guess, without any instruction at all, she too sees the importance of making it personal.

This machines gets crazy long battery life. For a machine as “long in the tooth” as this is. I am shocked that it can run all day on battery. I will place a lot of that credit to openSUSE’s default use of TLP as well as the fact Xfce is very resource conscious.

This is going to certainly enhance the quality of the my supplied education to my kids. Inexpensive laptops running a resource conscious operating system with all the underpinning bells and whistles provided by openSUSE.

What I Don’t Like

For whatever reason the libpulse0-32bit module didn’t install with Crossover Linux. I don’t think that is a fault of openSUSE, maybe Crossover but that was an irritation that required a few extra steps.

The machine itself is too small for my fingers. The keyboard is okay but it is just slightly smaller than what I like. It isn’t easy to do extended typing on it. The touchpad, also a bit undersized and the “mouse buttons” although separate from the touchpad, are not great. This is part of the reason I like having Synergy to use my main system to use as an input device. I suppose I could plug in a mouse and keyboard…

Final Thoughts

I will never take for granted how great Linux can keep older hardware highly functional. In this case, using openSUSE Tumbleweed with Xfce is absolutely enhancing the use experience on this old, under-powered machine. Consequently, I am able to better enhance the quality of education for my kids.

I have a new love for these end of life netbooks. Just a few short days ago, they were sitting stacked on top of one another collecting dust. Now they are sources of furthering my children’s education and they enjoy using them. I have developed an aversion to my kids being on mobile devices like phones and tablets. I want them to learn and know to use a keyboard and mouse or touchpad. I am hoping, as time progresses, I can further their education on the use and eventually administration of Linux, especially openSUSE or MX Linux.

For 9 year old Amazed on how performant this AspireOne D255 is. The Atom N550 is able to do a lot more than I expected and it looks like I will get a significant amount of time out of it. I must say, once again, how grateful I am to everyone that has anything to do with any of the tools that make this possible. From the kernel and applications, to the package maintainers and the folks in the server room delivers each of those Tumbleweed snapshots, and everyone in between or have some ancillary relation to any project, thank you.

References

openSUSE Tumbleweed Download
Atom N550 CPU Benchmark
Syncthing-Gtk
Gcompris
Tux Paint
qsynergy
Crossover Linux

Advertisements

Kim | KDE Plasma Graphics Service Menu

There comes a time when I realize I want to be lazy about something and one of those things is converting images. Sure, I could be a super nerd and do a batch conversion of images in the terminal but today was not that day. I wanted Dolphin, the Plasma default file manager to do the work for me. I remembered in a kind of vague, dream like haziness remember Dolphin or Konqueror doing this long ago. So, it was time to do some Web-Search-Foo and figure things out. After a bit of time, I came upon something called Kim. It is described as, “A very useful images KDE service menu”. That was worded kind of funny… so I would describe it, “A very useful service menu for basic manipulation of images.”

Installation

Installation on openSUSE is very straight forward. Probably very similar on other distributions.

sudo zypper install kim

According to the package details, Kim is a KDE service menu which allows to resize, convert and rotate your images without to use a graphical application like Gimp! This service menu can be considered as a front-end of ImageMagick.

Main features of Kim: Compress and resize

  • Compress to 70%, 80%, 90% or other
  • Resize to 300 x 225, 600 x 450, 800 x 600, 1024 x 768, 1200 x 900 or Other
  • Resize and compress for the web
  • Convert in JPG, PNG, GIF, TIFF or other,
  • Rotate images.

Treatment and publication

  • Rename images
  • Convert in gray-scale
  • Add a white or black border
  • Watermark images
  • Send by mail resized images.

After installing it, I restarted Dolphin and to my surprise (not really) I had some new options!

The “Service Menu” in Dolphin had three new items on its root menu:

  • Kim – Compress and Resize
  • Kim – Convert and Rotate
  • Kim – Treatment and publication

All the functions are rather self explanatory and can make for quick work in the file manager on making things happen with your image files. To save on some time and because it’s more fun to have some self-discovery than see what some bloke does with it. Here is a preview of the options:

The options that I used to get my work done today was to convert the collection of PNG images into JPG or the system would not accept the package of files. I will likely use this

What I Like

The additional menu items only show up when I am selecting an image so it is not hanging out in the service menu, cluttering things up when manipulating other files. I appreciate that consideration.

Lots and lots of very useful options that are easily accessible. Although I didn’t use the GIF feature, that is something that might be fun to do with a series of pictures. Quick access to resizing and compressing images is quite useful too.

Another great feature is, if you select multiple images and invoke an action, it will modify them all. Converting to a different file format will leave the existing file and add new files with the respective extension. What is very nice is that if you are compressing or resizing it, you are prompted on whether or not you want to replace the existing file.

Incredibly polite!

What I Don’t Like

The entries all start with “Kim -” and not just what the function is. I would prefer just the function alone. I think it would visually be better. It doesn’t take away from the functionality of the application, it is just a preference.

Final Thoughts

Kim is a great addition to the KDE Plasma servicemenu that enhances and extends the function of my desktop. This did save me some time today in converting images and it is likely I will use something like this again in the near future.

Yet another reason why KDE Plasma is a fantastic desktop to use and makes my life just a little bit easier on my day to day tasks.

References

https://software.opensuse.org/package/kim

Noodlings | MX Linux, Pine64, BDLL openSUSE News

This noodling is brought to you by poor spelling and bad math. Maybe a little more time as a kid watching Sesame Street instead of Transformers would have done me well.

The 4th Installment of my Noodlings can be found here

MX Linux 19 Beta

I have installed MX Linux on several machines. December of 2018 was my first experience with it and I really enjoyed how it worked, quite literally everything about it. I was thinking a lot about WHY I like MX Linux and I think these are my top reasons:

Simplicity of the desktop. Although my primary machine runs Plasma as my desktop of choice and it does what I want it to do, it feels snappy and is tuned to my preferences, Xfce accomplishes all of that but differently. It has the right look, it IS rather easy to customize although not quite to the same accessibly easy level and is most certainly quite snappy.

The changes in MX 19 are not “earth shattering” and headline popping but they are all quite welcome. The High DPI support is of no benefit to me but for those with those fancy 4k monitors there is. A visual update to MX 19 that is partially related to Xfce 4.14 but is also due to general visual updates that MX has been given over time.

The opacity of the main panel, by default, is subtle yet noticeable and you don’t get any impression that what you are using is dated or stale at all. The default wallpaper has a new freshness feel to it, especially juxtaposed to the desktop panel, widgets and floating windows. The whole package just feels right and it feels like it is all being orchestrated by developers with vision and craftsmanship.

I am an openSUSE guy but there is something about MX Linux that makes me feel comfortable. Using a house analogy, openSUSE is the house where I do most of my living, working and learning but MX Linux is like that vacation cabin on the lake that doesn’t have all the amenities I am used to but still lets me unwind and have a good time with a welcome change of scene.

Pine64 ARM Based Hardware

My technical knowledge is about modern hardware is fairly limited. I can understand 6502 era machines like the Commodore 64 pretty well as it is quite straight forward. Modern x86 architecture computers are easy to assemble and get running as they are just giant Lego bricks but it seems like the world of ARM based computers has me befuddled a bit. I am not sure if it is all messy or just still to early to put any real weight behind but I think Pine64 seems to really have a pretty unified platform to target.

Since I am barely ARM-literate, I couldn’t help but think, what a great way to learn more about the hardware than to invest time and effort into making openSUSE work better on the hardware. It’s not like the other options are not as good, they are all fine choices, but there is almost an ineffable quality to openSUSE Tumbleweed that I can only somewhat articulate, I just don’t get that same level of excitement from most other distributions.

I am very much enamored with the idea of having openSUSE Tumbleweed on a PineTab and PinePhone, all connected to the PineTime watch that is soon to start shipping out developer kits. None of these devices are particularly powerful but the battery life you would get on the laptop, tablet and phone tuned just right could make for a spectacular user experience.

Today, I have too many knowledge gaps in the wonderful tooling of openSUSE to be effective with a piece of Pine64 hardware. As much as having a Pinebook Pro with openSUSE would be, at this time, I need to put that on the back burner until I get some other things mastered.

BDLL Follow Up

AMD has been known as of recent of shipping hardware before it “fully baked” as it were. Driver updates do come down later and fix issues and improve performance but is this creating a kind of behavior out of consumers to weight to buy something? Does it hurt or benefit a company to push things out sooner rather than waiting until it is ready.

Video cards in the late 90s and early 2000s suffered this same irritation trying to play Descent³.

Seems like it is common practice to push things out on a deadline before they are ready. I personally think it is not a good idea but I understand the pushing from business teams and sometimes, in all fairness, the engineering teams need some urgency to really hammer a design out so that it isn’t continually improved and the company doesn’t end up making money.

Sometimes, I think an 80% solution and acting immediately is better than a 100% solution that never arrives.

openSUSE Corner

The last week was a little bit light on news but not light on importance of package software updates.

Snapshots 20190916 and 20190917

Linux Kernel 5.2.14 Ceph buffers and Advanced Linux Sound Architecture

KDE Applications 19.08.1, Krita 4.2.6 many bug fixes like lags in Move Tool when using a tablet device (bug:410532), Make the settings dialog fit in low-res screens (bug:410793), low res in this instance is 1366 x 768. Fix a deadlock when using broken Wacom drivers on Linux (bug:410797). The new feature for this version of Krita is to add a new layer from an existing layer.

Intel’s Graphine package received an update to 1.10.0 that now uses an ancillary library called µTest for it’s test suite to allow you to build and run the suite without depending on Glib.

Mozilla Firefox 69.0 was bundled with Enhanced Tracking Protection as they are putting an emphasis on stronger privacy protections and added support for multiple video codecs to make it easier for WebRTC conferencing services.

Icecream received a delicious update to 1.3. This is the first I’ve heard of “Icecream” so I had to look it up. It is based on distcc which takes compile jobs from a build and distributes it among remote machines allowing for a parallel build. Unlike distcc, Icecream uses a central server that dynamically schedules the compile jobs to the fastest free server. This pays off when there are multiple users on a shared pool of computers. This update improved the speed of creating compiler tarballs.

Libvirt 5.7.0, a C toolkit used to interact with the virtualization capabilities of Linux, added AppArmor-abstractions as a required package for the libvirt-daemon.

Some other honorable mentions are updates to glib2, gtk3, flatpak-builder and VirtualBox rolled through

Snapshot 20190916 score of a moderate 72, Snapshot 20190917 scored a moderate 85.

https://news.opensuse.org/2019/09/19/firefox-graphene-krita-update-in-tumbleweed/
Tumbleweed Snapshot Reviewer

Fun Little openSUSE Tool

Depending on how long you have spent within openSUSE you may or may not be aware of a fun little tool that lets you know the status of the various openSUSE systems. You can view the real time status at:

https://status.opensuse.org/

Everything from Wiki pages, Software repositories to the home page, forums and the Build Service, can be monitored in the comfort of your very own cubicle. This is yet another example of the transparency of the openSUSE Project.

Reasons why openSUSE is Fantabulous in 2019

Not long ago, I was in the openSUSE Discord off topic chat room… or channel… whatever the terminology is, and the reasons for using openSUSE came up because someone needed a reminder. It was probably more tongue and cheek than anything but it is good, from time to time, to reflect on your decisions and ask yourself whether or not those decisions are still correct.

After doing a little reflection as to why I use openSUSE, what is its unique selling feature, I would say there are multiple and those reasons likely change in rank based on your particular use case. For me it is the combination of the tools plus a few herbs and spices that provide to me a reliable and stable base upon which I can rely which enables me to learn, experiment and potentially break it with multiple fail safe features to easily restore it to a pre-fiddling stage. I get freedom to fiddle with openSUSE without the catastrophic consequences of breaking it. It is quite literally everything I want out of a computer operating system.

Here are some of the features I think make it “Fantabulous”, today, in 2019.

BTRFS done Right

Although it seems like it gets a lot of flack on in the Linux world, BTRFS is a very reliable file system when implemented by [open]SUSE. There were other distributions that didn’t implement it well and a meme was born, riddled with falsehoods that it was not a reliable file system to use. Several tech media pundits still continue this meme… maybe they should use a distribution that knows how to harness the power properly. Keep in mind, not everyone can drive a submarine properly.

So what makes BTRFS great is that it is a copy-on-write file system supported properly by the Linux Kernel. The way openSUSE implements it makes for a fantastic snapshot system that allows me to effortlessly roll back the system should there be any issues with an update or if I decide to muck about on the system, I can roll the thing back to the last working state of the machine. Super handy and it has gotten me out of a bind more than once. It is as simple as booting into the last known working snapshot and running sudo snapper rollback... like it never even happened.

Open Build Service for All

The Open Build Service is a fantastic feature of the openSUSE Project. This is not only the place that builds all the software for openSUSE it is also a place where community members can build and share software from their own home projects as well as help out with experimental and potentially the official repositories. If you have experience in building your own RPMs or any software packages for that matter, OBS not only alows you to do so but it does all the hard work of checking for dependencies while giving you the opportunity to share your hard work with the community of users.

One step cooler, you can also use the Open Build Service to target other distributions too. It supports Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora and Arch to name a few. It also supports several processor platforms too beyond 64bit x86 that is most common. There is a fully supported (on Tumbleweed) 32 bit x86 as well as the likes of ARM and several different PowerPC platforms.

Interestingly, you can even target an AppImage with the Open Build Service which is a nice additional feature. It makes me think, if more projects used the Open Build Service, it would be a lot easier to keep AppImages of your project up to date.

YaST – Yet another System Tool

In all my computer-life experience, there has been no other system control panel that is anywhere as good and comprehensive as YaST. To just call it a “system control panel” does not do it justice as it is so much more.

You can, quite literally, do just about every bit of system configuration from here. Every tool here is not only exceptionally useful but works quite well. The user and group manager is top notch for managing such things. Recently, the Boot Loader module has become even more useful as of late by allowing you to select your CPU Mitigation posture.

Since there are so many tools, it makes for a rather lengthy, albeit well organized, list of modules. If you don’t want to browse through the list, there is the search option that will filter down the options as you type. You really couldn’t make something so complex as managing your system any easier and this is such a well done suite. This is essentially the same system tool that manages the installation of openSUSE so it is highly improbable that this tool will ever get neglected. Whether you run a Qt, GTK or Terminal only based system, you can access the same tool with all the same powerful features. From bow to stern, YaST is clearly a well designed, well engineered, flexible tool that does not get the credit it deserves. It is another reason that openSUSE absolutely Fantabulous!

Zypper

By far this is the best package manager I have ever used. This is the package manager that is like an agent that works for your success. If you are coming from the Debian world, you can use APT just as you would and there are aliases already built in to direct you to the equivalent Zypper action but with the Zypper refinements.

When doing an installation or upgrade, the clarity of your interactions with the system is the best I have used. I use Tumbleweed primarily and when you are pulling down updates it is very useful to know what is being installed, upgraded, removed and additional notifications about actions post install, like requiring a reboot to take advantage of a new kernel. Zypper provides a very comprehensive summary of any actions and if there are any conflicts you are presented with a list of options where you direct Zypper how to proceed.

If you are tinkerer and you mess with your system to the point that you break something, not only do you have the integration with the BTRFS snapshot system that allows you to roll back but also, if you are running Tumbleweed, invoking sudo zypper dup in the terminal and the way Zypper analyzes your system, it will essentially re-baseline your packages to the latest set and assuming you didn’t destroy your configuration files too badly, you will be back up and running.

Note: this is not a 100% solution but I would say, with great confidence, that will solve the problems you create by sticking your “nose-pickers” where they don’t belong 99% of the time.

The Wiki

I find it almost shocking that some distributions haven’t taken the time to put together a wiki for their distribution. openSUSE has one of the best wikis out there. Like any wiki, sometimes the information does need a new coat of polish and when I come across something, I do try to take the time to fix it. I have used the wiki a lot and because I have gained so much value in the wiki, I have felt compelled to continue to add what little I know into it as I know that when I need that information again, I and many others can refer to it.

It is great to see that openSUSE has made it a point to make knowledge management an priority. It is most certainly an important for users to get answers and guidance for a variety situations.

That Green Chameleon

It is often stated that marketing in Linux isn’t great. Say what you will, but by far the coolest of the Linux distribution’s mascot is the openSUSE Chameleon who’s name is Geeko. The logo and everything around logo is a welcoming friendliness that is unmatched. I can’t see any other Linux distro’s logo dancing in a music video or in computer animated shorts. When you see that logo, it is unmistakably [open]SUSE, it is not at any risk in being confused with anything else. I even appreciate merchandising of that logo into plush toys to begin the introduction of openSUSE to my children at a young age. The closest thing to a lovable distribution mascot is PuppyLinux but last I checked, there aren’t any plush representations of that mascot.

Whenever I have had a less than stellar day, a glimpse of that logo brings just a bit of a smile to my face and I think, “…can’t stop the SUSE…”

Community

The openSUSE community is an extremely helpful and friendly group of people. Sure, like any community that is as big as it is, you are going to have a character or two that is going to require “extra grace” but that is going to happen anywhere there are large groups of people.

I have had numerous instances where people in the community have helped me solve problems, even built software packages so that I could get a thing working. Should you have to report a bug, the community members work with you to get the problems resolved. Even if you don’t really know what you are doing and are willing to answer the questions asked, you can create a useful bug report. You will not only help the project but will also learn something in the process.

The official openSUSE forums is a great place to go for help and the openSUSE Sub-Reddit has a lot of the same people there helping out as well. I have received so much help from the forums over the years and I do try to help others out there as much as my skill level can provide. In the 8 years I have been using openSUSE as my regular distribution, I have never received the “RTFM” on a question. Every time, they have helped me discover the problem to a greater depth and find the true solution.

The openSUSE Discord server is a good time. Not only can you get technical help but you can interact with other openSUSE contributors, developers, members and a full range of enthusiasts. It is a great way to see how the sausage is made, as it were, and flavor it the way you like.

Final Thoughts

There are several more reasons that I believe openSUSE to be so fantabulous but for the sake of not turning this into novel about my near unhealthy obsession over openSUSE, I will leave it here. Going down this thought bunny trail of Linux distribution reflection, I have further cemented my personal reasons that I have chosen openSUSE as my primary distribution of choice.

References

Open Build Service
SUSE Geeko Montage
Can’t Stop the SUSE
openSUSE Build Service Supported Targets

Noodlings | Commander X16, BDLL and openSUSE News

With this episode it is a 33% increase in podcasting content for you to… enjoy is not the right word. Tolerate?

Have a listen

Commander X16 a New Retro Computer

The mission of the computer. Similar to the Commodore 64 but made with off the shelf components. As far as the architecture goes, it is actually closer to the VIC-20 on board design but far, far more capable. I am rarely excited about new things, I like my old computers and really existing technology. I tend to drag my heels at the very thought of getting something new. This, for whatever reason gets me excited and I can’t exactly put my finger on it.

This all started out as a kind of pondering in 2018 and in February 2019 with a video from David Murray, the 8-bit Guy’s Dream Computer. the discussion started by the 8-bit Guy

The initial design started with the Gameduino for the video chip which had some technical hurdles and was based on an obsolete, as in, no longer supported, chip that doesn’t have a large pool of developers and hackers working on it.

After some discussions and planning, it was decided to base it largely off of the VIC-20 as most of the chips are still available today and it is a known working design. Some of the changes would be a faster processor, better video and better sound components.

One of the goals of this project is to make it easy enough for one person to understand the whole board to make it easy to program.

Some of the highlights out of the list of specifications are:

  • WDC 65×02 @ 8 Mhz CPU (8-bit)
  • 40K of “Low RAM” 512K of “High RAM” standard Expandable to 2MB
  • Two AY-3-8910 sound generators (stereo)
  • “Vera” Video chip specifications
  • 128K of internal video RAM
  • 640×480 @ 60 Hz analog VGA output
  • PETSCII font

The graphics are on par or superior with the Amiga 500 and VGA graphics of that time which, for an 8-bit or 16-bit system which should make for some very interesting games to be targeted against this platform.

There is an emulator that can be downloaded from Github and YES, there is a Linux build for it. There is nothing to install as it is a self contained application where you can start mucking about with it. I just tested it, wrote some very basic BASIC programs and demonstrated to my kids how much fun it is to write your own programs so easily.

What makes this project interesting for me is that it is a kind of rebirth of the Commodore 64 in a kind of VIC-20 board design. Although this is still in the works, it is looking to be a fun educational tool and hobby device that can be a target for game development that uses mostly off the shelf components. I would call this a kind of Neo-Retro system that will hopefully end up in my collection of retro(ish) hardware in the not too distant future.

Building my dream computer – Part 1
Building my dream computer -Part 2, Commander X16 Introduction Video
Commnader X16 Facebook Group
Commander X16 Forum
Commander X16 Emulator

BDLL Follow Up

Manjaro Linux has formed a company and although I could really care little about Arch, I am glad to see that someone is looking at Linux which is free software and making a living from it. Forming a profitable company around Linux can’t be a bad thing, so long as those working on it don’t lose the focus on the core reasons they got into Linux in the first place.

MX Linux 19 is the next BDLL challenge. I don’t look at this as much of a challenge as this is the other distro that I have

BigDaddyLinux European Edition 14 Sep 2019
BigDaddyLinux 14 Sep 2019

Latest from openSUSE

From the openSUSE Corner comes some rather exciting new updates. The YaST Development Sprint 84 has brought about several improvements to YaST. The first was to address YaST’s usage of Qt UI Event handling. It has been a kind of non standard method and they always kind of “misused Qt to hammer it into shape” and it recently broke with the latest release of Qt. Digging into it a little bit, I am not sure why they are using Qt in a “non standard” way, maybe to be accommodating to the YaST ncruses interface, I have no idea, I am sure there will be more to come on all that.

There are updates to the wireless networking portion to make it more intuitive. This is a welcome change as this is quite likely the only think in the YaST installer that has really been a glaring issue for many users. This change should come to Tumbleweed soon.

Enhancements to the Partitioner with encrypted devices has been ongoing work. There are some changes that will be trickling down to broaden the set of technologies and use-cases that the partitioner supports. Already YaST does a lot in this regard so I will be keeping an eye on this for future development.

https://lizards.opensuse.org/2019/09/16/yast-sprint-84/

Snapshots 20190905, 20190907 and 20190909

The exciting new bundles of software joy that has come down include KDE Applications 19.08.01 which contain improvements to Kontact, Dolphin, Kdenlive, Konsole, Step and more. This is the first I learned of Step and this is an interesting education piece of software that I haven’t ever heard of before. In short it is an interactive physical simulator that allow you to explore the physical world in a simulated environment. This is something I will have to try.

The anti-malware application Clamav received an update that addressed two vulnerabilities, the Gnome web browser package epiphany plugged another memory leak. Plasma Desktop received a minor update to 5.16.5 and fixed KWayland-integration builds with recent frameworks and Qt 5.13.

About 15 CVEs were addressed with Mozilla Firefox which addressed Mozilla’s JavaScript Engine, Spidermonkey. Kdevelop5 received an update to 5.4.2 and dozens of other updates came down the pike.

The snapshots, in totality, are all scoring in the low 80s being considered moderately stable.

news.openSUSE.org 20190913 Update
Snapshot Reviewer

EndlessOS | Review from an openSUSE User

EndlessOS is a distribution of Linux I have been watching from afar and almost dabbled with several times. Unfortunately for me and my biases, I didn’t take the time to get to know this distribution sooner. This is an incredibly interesting project that has been given a lot of time and care with plenty of thought. In no way should Endless ever be confused with a casual passion project. This is a serious, well designed and well thought out distribution of Linux that should be part of any Linux user’s growth in an open source enthusiastenthusiest.

Bottom line up front: Endless OS is a very interesting Linux distribution that has a specific target. I am not that target that I can appreciate. To refer to Endless as a Linux distribution does not do it justice as this is so much more. This is a Linux product. The “offline internet” and especially the Cooking application with the loads and loads of recipes built into it. There has obviously been a lot of thought that went into the user interface as this is incredibly polished. The presentation and holistic thoughtfulness in the user interface is not lost on me at all. The interface and the design intent is quite clear but is clearly not for me. I will stick with my more customizable KDE Plasma with my comfortable, leading-edge base that openSUSE Tumbleweed provides. Bottom line up front: Endless OS is a very interesting Linux distribution that has a specific target. I am not that target that I can appreciate. To refer to Endless as a Linux distribution does not do it justice as this is so much more. This is a Linux product. The “offline internet” and especially the Cooking application with the loads and loads of recipes built into it. There has obviously been a lot of thought that went into the user interface as this is incredibly polished. The presentation and holistic thoughtfulness in the user interface is not lost on me at all. The interface and the design intent is quite clear but is clearly not for me. I will stick with my more customizable KDE Plasma with my comfortable, leading-edge base that openSUSE Tumbleweed provides.

Installation

Installing Endless OS is a rather pleasant experience, the splash screen that introduces Endless OS felt like the same gravitas you would get from starting up a commercial, highly anticipated game.

The logo, coloring and the effect of it’s appearance, told me right away, I am not working with a Linux Distribution, I am working with a Linux product. The installation process was really quite simple. It begins with setting your language than determine if you want to “Try or Buy” this experience. Since I wanted to install it so I went for the “Reformat” option.

Next you are which version you’d like to use. Since there was only one option and no explanation as to how to download another, this did seem like a pointless step. The next step makes sense to me. I offered to select which disk to select to install EndlessOS. In this case, I am running this on a Virtual Machine so there is only one selection available.

Once you select Next, the reformatting will commence and you will be prompted to power off which was just a bit odd as I would think a reboot would be the next step.

Regardless, it rebooted and the installation continued where you were asked to select your language then the keyboard layout.

The only part of the installation that gave me pause was the Terms of Use. Sections were highlighted and it might have been one of the longest license agreements I have ever seen.

I realize this is a very litigious world we live in so this is the reality of life today, which is unfortunate but since, even after reading through it, I didn’t see a problem with it, I chose to accept and continue. I also selected to Automatically save and send usage statistics and problems. Spoiler alert, I didn’t have any problems.

If you are looking to add any online accounts, you can do so now and then you are asked to give information about you. The default sunflower avatar didn’t really seem to fit me so I changed the icon to just something else.

The last step asks for a password and then you are done.

Once you select to Start Using Endless the setup is complete and you can begin wondering around in the vastness that is EndlessOS.

First Run and Impressions

Right from the beginning, EndlessOS presented itself unlike any other Linux Distribution. I wouldn’t say that this isn’t a desktop in the strictest of senses. It is very much more like using a mobile operating system such as an Android Tablet or Phone and I wouldn’t say that it has a desktop either. In fact, I don’t know what to call it. Whatever it is called, that is what Endless has.

Although it is very different, it is also familiar at the same time. Along the bottom there are the familiar desktop features you would expect in a desktop… but they don’t all behave like you would expect… entirely. The menu button in the lower left corner behaves more like a “show desktop” than a menu but in this case the “desktop” is the menu… which is more like an Android device.

The neat feature of this desktop is the ease of beginning a search. Using Plasma, I would activate krunner to search for something. In my case, I wold press Alt + Spacebar or press the Meta key and start typing to pull up the menu and get the same search function. By contrast, on Endless OS, just start typing.

I started to type “games” because I was at a momentary loss as to what else I should type and it immediately brought up related items to games. This would include anything on the system to curated items in the App Center. There is an option to “Search Google for” your search term as well. This is another great example of the notion that the this is a product, not just a Linux distribution.

I wanted to explore some of the applications on Endless and I think my favorite of the applications I tried is the cooking application. Not only does it look great and feel welcoming but is very intuitiveeasy to navigate.

Some other noteworthy applications that I don’t have the time of which to give you a full review are what’s included, certainly aimed at education, one section, Games to Hack has some neat tutorials for working on games and the tools you need to start doing some coding. Seeing that Arduino and Raspberry Pi made the cut is simply fantastic.

The only thing that made me scratch my head was that I didn’t understand why the terminal wasn’t forefront in the menu system. Not a big deal though, that aforementioned search system allows for the same discovery option and you are able to search “Terminal” and find the terminal. I had to check and it was interesting to know that a freshly installed Endless OS system used 27 GiB of disk space and when settled, only uses 713 MiB of RAM. I find that impressive, considering it is a modified GNOME system.

I can see a lot of value in Endless OS and I only just began to scratch the surface of it. I can see a lot of value in this finely polished product. After touring around for a while. The only issue I had was finding out how to log out. Since the “menu” wasn’t a menu and didn’t have my session management options, like logging out. I eventually did figure out after clicking around that my avatar image in the lower-right corner was where I was able to shut the system down.

What I Like

It is of no debate whatsoever, Endless OS is a highly, highly polished and well thought out distribution. The whole package from initial boot, the installer to the running operating system is a unified product. Although called a Linux distribution, this is very much more than that, it is indeed a Product.

Some of the default applications are pretty fantastic to have. The number one on that list for me, the Cooking application is pretty great. The interface is very intuitive but that is not the impressive piece of it. What really stands out is the massive amount of recipes to try. I also really enjoyed seeing the selection of applications under the “Learn to Code” collection. Arduino Projects, Raspberry Pi Projects and Video Games stick out the most to me.

I appreciate the goal of Endless OS. They are working to bring the “internet experience” to less developed regions of the world and makes a single computer a lot more valuable. It makes me think… I wonder if other sites and resources could be rolled into this in a similar fashion. If so, that could make for a great offline repository of resources.

What I Don’t Like

Access to a terminal emulator is not immediately obvious. At least, I couldn’t find it in the “menu” of programs. I was able to find it by just typing “terminal” and it popped up. This wasn’t a huge deal… just kind of annoying. It would have been a bit nicer to have had it on the forefront… but that is likely not the intent with the target audience.

The “menu” in the lower left corner doesn’t exactly “play” the way I would expect but I do have to concede that the reason is to give a more Android / Mobile OS feel than the traditional desktop feel. This is totally my preference but I find the mobile phone application menu handling cumbersome. The clustering of applications, the Android way, is also a bit jarring too. Though I can very easily type to search for something, there is something to be said for browsing through a menu, grouped in logical categories.

It took me a bit to figure out where the session management tools were, I couldn’t find the logout or shutdown icons for a little bit but once I did, it made sense to me. I just wish there was some more obvious indicator as to where those selection exist.

Pause For Noteworthy Hardware

I am always a fan of interesting hardware and Endless has, for sale, some products that look like nothing else. These are not your average plastic and metal beige or black boxes with a couple LEDs to tell you that the thing still has a “heart beat”. They are works of art.

These simple yet elegant designs have a cleanly warmth to them that would look good, about anywhere in any room. These are by no means a power house of computing power but they would get the job done, for sure. For more information, check out the computers here.

Final Thoughts

Endless OS is a finely polished product that has a specific target market. I am not in that target market but I can think of many that would fit in this. I am initially thinking that this would be a pretty great interface to get kids into Linux. It is just set up perfectly for exploring Linux and learning how to use computers. The Learning to Code section is absolutely something that I would love to push my kids to do as they get a bit older.

I highly recommend trying Endless OS, just to try it. Even running it in a VM and playing around with it, is a great use of time. It will most certainly spark the imagination as to what you can do with it. I wish I had more time to explore all the different applications, especially under the Learning to Code and Games to Hack sections. I actually think that there could be several articles related to Endless OS and all the remarkable applications they have bundled into this product.

In the end, as refined as Endless is, it is just not the distribution for me. Although I believe there are many things to be gained by using Endless OS, the user interface design is just not compatible with the way I prefer to use the desktop. I also, personally, do not have a need to have several gigabytes of internet data on my machine. While I certainly see the utility in that, it is not what I personally want. I will stick with my comfortable, like old leather, distribution of openSUSE Tumbleweed and the Plasma Desktop where everything is tailored to me personally.

References

Endless OS Home
Endless OS Challenge at the BigDaddyLinux Community

Noodlings | Desktops and Window Managers, BDLL and openSUSE News

Another podcast and after listening to the final thing… I sound a bit like cardboard. Maybe episode 3 won’t smell like wet newspaper.

Listen here, it’s only 10 minutes and 30 seconds of cringe-worthy material.

Desktops and Window Managers

I view KDE Plasma as the pinnacle of all things that are the Desktop and portal into your digital life. This is of course my own opinion but really, what else can do as much as Plasma, in as little resources and be as flexible as it is.

Xfce is the GTK desktop that is, in my estimation, the benchmark to which all GTK desktops should be measured against. It is what I would call a “classic” Redmond style interface that is familiar to nearly everybody.

i3 is a very interesting window manager, I would still call it a desktop of sorts though the “hard core” users of it may say otherwise. It uses Gnome so it is encumbered by the Gnome limitations. If it could somehow be Xfce based, it would seemingly make more sense. I did some searching and so far as I can tell, I have not been able to find a Kwin based Window manager as opposed to i3.

11 Best Tiling Window Managers for Linux

What this lead me to was a discovery that Plasma has the capabilities of being a pretty darn decent tiling window manager. In my case, I am using some of the power of tiling with the traditional floating window desktop, so, in effect having the best of both worlds there.

BDLL Recap

There is a lot of talk about bringing new users to Linux and Adam Grubbs set up an Ubuntu Laptop similar to what you might buy from an OEM. Adam wanted to see how a new user might get along with a brand new Linux desktop.

The key bit of the conversation was the user’s experience of setting up Lutris. I have historically used Wine or Crossover to install Windows games on Linux and Lutris wasn’t quite as obvious on how to use it.

There was some difficulty of getting going with Linux, icons were a bit different and, better curation of applications could be a benefit. For example, searching for Steam doesn’t necessarily bring up Steam in an application search.

What is the solution?

I don’t think that there is any one particular solution to solve this for everyone. I am also not sure how “user friendly” Linux needs to be. Where Linux would, most certainly benefit:

  • Documentation Improvements to make it easier to become acquainted with the Linux Desktop
  • Something like Clippy as a built in guide to help you out when you are stumped
  • Ultimately, the strength of Linux is the community, be open to help people problem solve their way through Linux.

The Current BDLL Distro Challenge is Endless OS. This can be downloaded from here.

openSUSE Corner

Snapshots 20190902 20190829

Multiple YaST Packages trickled down with updates.

Libreoffice 6.3.1.1 removed some patches.

The welcome window for openSUSE received more translations for global users with an update of the opensuse-welcome 0.1.6 package.

openSUSE MicroOS, specifically the core appliance buildier Kiwi, has been further updated, it added required cryptomount coding for for EFI boot.

openSUSE MicroOS is designed for container hosts an optimized for large deployments. It benefits from the rolling of Tumbleweed and the SUSE Linux Enterprise hardening and scale of deployment. It is optimized for large deployments but is just as capable with a single container-host. Uses the BTRFS snapshots for updates and rollback.

20190902 snapshot has a very exciting change that really was a long time coming with proper PackageKit integration with Tumbleweed. Unless you have a bunch of crazy repositories, PackageKit will now handle your updates just as well as you would have it in Leap.

Snapshot 20190829 received a moderate score of 90 while 20190902 is trending at moderate 86 and 20190904 at a stable score of 93.

What I am doing with openSUSE

I am working with a Linux community member to create an openSUSE Tumbleweed based replacement for IPFire or pfSense. This is still in progress but as of today, I am real excited about it and the prospect of having an openSUSE based firewall / router with all the flexibility and modularity that it brings.

References

Best Tiling Window Managers for Linux on TecMint.com
openSUSE Tumbleweed Snapshot Review
BDLL Regolith Linux and New User Experience
Adam Grubbs Site
EndlessOS Download
CubicleNate Noodlings | Episode 02

VirtScreen on openSUSE | Turn a Tablet into a Second Monitor

When I take my laptop and I go into a mobile mode, I’m often missing a second or third screen. Frequently, my need isn’t having full motion video or anything of that sort, it’s just the ability to have text displayed in some form, be it PDF or web page, beside my main screen. Most of the time, that is how I use my multi-screen layout. One screen is my main workspace while the others display reference information.

I came upon this long lost solution on the BDLL discourse from Eric Adams.

https://discourse.bigdaddylinux.com/t/use-your-tablet-as-a-monitor-with-virtscreen/104

Key difference in my implementation versus his, both of us using KDE plasma. His solution is probably more elegant and could probably better take advantage of my AMD GPU but my solution is quick and dirty but gets the job done.

Host Device

Since this package is not available in the openSUSE repositories, I downloaded the AppImage here:

https://github.com/kbumsik/VirtScreen

There are further instructions on that page but I am going to only highlight how I used it on openSUSE Tumbleweed with the Plasma Desktop Environment. Looking at the system requirements, I had to install X11VNC

sudo zypper install x11vnc

Since I used the AppImage, I had to make it executable. To do that in terminal, navigate to the location of the AppImage and run this:

chmod a+x VirtScreen.AppImage

Alternatively, if you are using Plasma with the Dolphin file manager, navigate to the location of the AppImage, right-click, select Properties (or Alt+Enter when highlighted). Select the Permissions tab and select the Is executable button.

Upon Launching it, I set the resolution of my Tablet, which is my HP Touchpad that I set up with F-Droid. I made an adjustment to the Height to adjust for the navigation buttons that seem to get stuck in the ON position.

I selected the Enable Virtual Screen.

Next, I needed to Open Display Settings to arrange the screens.

Unfortunately, there was an error that caused the display settings to not open. I went into the preferences to see what the other options were. Since I know I didn’t want Gnome, I went with ARandR.

Since it wasn’t installed, I went to openSUSE Software and searched for it.

https://software.opensuse.org/package/arandr

After installing ARandR, VirtScreen still could not launch ARandR. Thankfully, I was able to launch ARandR using Krunner (menu works too) and made the adjustment to the screen location.

The next step was to activate the VNC Server within VirtScreen by setting the password and opening up the appropriate port in the Firewall. Since the openSUSE default is Firewalld at the time of writing. You can either do so with the GUI, which is pretty straight forward or use the terminal.

To get the active firewall zone

sudo firewall-cmd --get-default-zone

Assuming you are only using the default zone, Public (adjust based on

sudo firewall-cmd --zone=public --permanent --add-port=5000-5003/tcp
sudo systemctl restart firewalld

If you are not running Firewalld you will have to adjust for your particular firewall.

The final step is to activate the VNC Server.

Client Device

The client device in my case is my HP Touchpad. The client software I set up that worked best from the F-Droid store was AndroidVNC. If you have one that you prefer, by all means, use that instead.

This is the easy part. Here, set the Connection Nickname, Address and Port. I did set it to the 24-bit color but would get better speed with a lower color depth but not so much as to make the the display much faster, it does, however, make the display much more annoying to look at.

Once you command the client to make the connection, and everything else is done correctly, the client will connect to the host and you will have a second, albeit a bit sluggish 2nd monitor to use for any low frame-rate functions.

I use this for displaying PDFs, web pages like wikis, chat clients or anything else that doesn’t require high frame rate. This is often useful when I am doing different admin types of tasks that require me to look at published documents and I am away from my SuperCubicle (home office). It is very, very handy.

Final thoughts

This is a great little project for making old tablets, such as my HP Touchpad, even more useful. It just doesn’t take much processing power by the client device to peer into a VNC host.

Issues I have noticed. On some Wi-Fi networks, I am not able to make the connection between the devices. I’m sure either ports or some sort of walking is happening that is preventing me from making the connection.

When you set up your VNC client on the tablet or whatever, you have to be sure that you take into account loss of screen real-estate due to whatever the client does on the boarders. Optionally, find a way to turn off the pointer on the client. If you don’t, you get weird flickering. Sometimes, the client or host will just disconnect. I have not yet tracked down the root cause of the problem but it doesn’t happen frequently enough for me to do anything about it.

Full motion video is not actually possible with this. I wouldn’t recommend watching any YouTube videos but more static web pages or using it for chat clients like IRC, Telegram, Discord, or the like is perfectly usable.

How often will I use this? Only when I have to and that is at least monthly. There are a few issues with the setup but it is perfectly usable with just a bit of fiddling. Hopefully this will continue to get attention and work done by the developer.

Reference

VirtScreen on GitHub.com
Use Your Tablet as a Monitor with VirtScreen on discourse.bigdaddylinux.com
HP TouchPad in 2018 on CubicleNate.com

Regolith Linux | Review from an openSUSE User

Regolith is a very interesting distribution based on Ubuntu that uses the i3 Window manager. In this case, you get all the benefits of the Ubuntu distribution with the unique i3 interface with predefined shortcut keys. The creator of this fine distribution, Ken Gilmer, has put a lot of time, effort into really making this a fine demonstration of i3.

This is my first i3 experience and overall it has been quite enjoyable. For those that are less familiar with what a Window Manager vs a Desktop…. I really can’t say, to me, it is a desktop environment I’m sure there is some nuance that distinguishes a “desktop environment” to a “window manager” but that debate and discussion is outside of the scope of this blathering. For my purposes, anything that allows me to interact with my computer in a holistic fashion is a Desktop Environment. So what is holistic in this context?

This is my impression of using Regolith as a deeply entrenched, content openSUSE Tumbleweed User that thinks using anything other than Plasma keeps my fingers hovering just over the bail-out button. Bottom Line Up Front, Regolith was a challenging but educationally enjoyable experience. My trip through Regolith sparked my imagination as to some specific applications and uses for this user environment. As cool as the interface is for Regolith (i3) is, it is not enough to push me off the openSUSE Tumbleweed Plasma mountain. This is my biased impression after running Regolith as a my interface into my computer.

Installation

Since this is Ubuntu based, the installation is really quite trivial. The team at Canonical have done a fantastic job of giving us a low barrier of entry into the Linux world. When Regolith boots, out of the gate, you are asked to select your Language. The Grub Boot menu pops up where the second option will put you immediately to the “Installation Process.” Thumbs up there! Anytime I get that option right from the beginning, I am just pleased I don’t have to hope that the Installation Icon is not hidden, bypassing my need to hunt around for the one function I came here to do.

Choosing this option, it looks like Regolith boots up a basic desktop and you are immediately greeted with the installation application. To start out, you are welcomed and asked for your language preference… again… perhaps just a verification that you do indeed speek the language you previously specified. Then you selet your Keyboad Layout.

Next you are asked to select whether or not you would like to install updates and 3rd Party Software. The Installation Type I have chosen for this is to erase the entire disk as I am running this in a virtual machine

Before committing to the drive modifications, you are given a sanity check and that makes this the point of no return, in a manner of speaking. After that, you are required to select your location.

The last step is going to be to set your user information. Here you can determine if you want to log in automatically or not here too. I find, even in VMs that will have no chance at having sensitive information, I still won’t select to automatically login.

The installation process occurs as fast as any other Ubuntu installation and you are given a slideshow of information as you would expect to see. I didn’t notice any differences in this installation sequence than Ubuntu proper.

Once you are given the installation completion message, select the Restart Now button and you are off to the Regolith races.

First Run and Impressions

Since performance was not going to be an issue with this distribution as it is not something loaded with extra bells and whistles. I wasn’t conserned with any lagging due to running this in a virtual machine, and the reality is, there wasn’t any issue at all.

To start off, you are given the Ubuntu Welcome Walkthrough that once again sets up your system.

The walkthough then allows for location preference and cloud services. Once that is complete you are done and ready to i3 to your hearts content.

One of the beauties of having a machine with muliple monitors is that I can dedicate one monitor to a full screen virtual machine and very much get the feeling of bare metal. Doing this, I used Virt-Manager with KVM/QEMU.

The desktop (window manager, I know but I am calling this a desktop, feel free to send condescending comments or emails on this point) has instructions plastered to the background to get started with navigation. I found this so handy that I took a screen shot and used this as a reference.

I was muddling my way through a bit on Regolith but I didn’t get into my groove until I watched this demonstration by Eric Adams on YouTube. Watching him go through and show some other features that weren’t on this page, and see how he navigated it very quickly, I mimicked it a bit and I started to see the real power.

I started to see how I could use this very nicely with any terminal based applications and tile them quite quickly and nicely, ready make things happen. Used it to do many of my terminal and web browsing functions. I could easily modify the boarder size with Super+ + or Super+ –

I really liked the ease of opening new terminals and browsers into new work spaces or into new pane on the existing screen. I think, if I were to use this regularly, I would probably end up with many, many virtual desktops in order to manage similarly what I do in Plasma. I think in some ways it could be better and perhaps more effective. I then wondered what would happen if I went more than 9 Virtual Desktops…

Being forced to use keyboard shortcuts to force me to jump into different virtual desktops for a while on Regolith started to become second nature. Consequently, I now use the default keystrokes for virtual desktop switching with Plasma. I am tempted to change them to the Regolith shortcuts but I think I have those mental profiles for switching in Plasma locked in now and I must say, way better than moving the mouse to the bottom of the screen.

What I Like

The minimalist feel of the window manager. The speed of which to lay out the panels is really fantastic. Managing all aspects of the window are done with the need to move my hand from the keyboard is really quite minimal. Combine that with a laptop pointer mouse you would see on a business class Dell or Lenovo, you could potentially do a lot very fast, so long as it wasn’t an artsy thing.

Using Regolith reminds me of the days of old using DOS based applications but layered in a fantastically intuitively manner. Being able to switch between, resize window panes and dig through menus on a keyboard alone feels like a nerd superpower.

The location and status information in the bottom panel is almost just right. If I took the time to tweak it just a bit to give me just a bit more information, I would almost call this perfect.

What I Don’t Like

There seems to be a lack of being able to customize the color scheme. Although the color scheme is fine, I would like to tweak it a bit. I am sure that I could install Gnome tweaks but I am what you would call a proponent of the extension system. Therefore, I am not installing such a thing.

Related to my previous dislike. This is Gnome based, currently, and this could change, I have limited confidence in Gnome as a whole. GTK appears to be a wonky and broken tool kit when used by Gnome, although it is fine in Plasma, I have experienced mixed results with GTK in Gnome. I also don’t like that Gnome is a single-threaded process. I would prefer something Plasma based where the environment is multi-threaded. To further contradict myself, since i3 isn’t exactly doing a lot, this might be a silly and moot point.

I don’t really run Ubuntu, not for any technical reasons, I just don’t prefer Ubuntu, so I think I would prefer using i3 or something like it on an openSUSE base. After all, this is my biased review and having that familiar set of terminal tools that I greatly appreciate would make for an even better experience. I think what might happen next is taking i3 for a spin on an openSUSE machine and comparing the keyboard input schemes of the two different systems.

Final Thoughts

Regolith is a very interesting distribution using the i3 Window Manager by default. Although you can essentially just add i3 to any Ubuntu distribution, this will make the end goal of an i3 environment on Ubuntu much easier. It has a real raw, strap yourself in with a 5-point harness, this is going to move fast, feel to it. The very way you interface with the system is speedy and feels ultra productive. I can appreciate the design and thought of i3 and especially the time that Mr. Ken Gilmer has put into Regolith.

The biggest take away of using i3 was that it forced me learn and use the keyboard in such a way that when going back to Plasma, I wanted the same kind of productivity enhancements. This forced me to learn the bindings in Plasma to better navigate my desktops and a few other functions.

After dabbling around with i3 and modifying my Plasma desktop usage, I have decided Regolith or i3 for that matter wouldn’t make my Linux life more efficient on my primary machine. The keyboard shortcuts are very awesome for doing very rapid switching between applications and tiling them around on the screen. The reality for me is, I don’t see this as enough of an enhancement that I would gain more than I would lose from moving away from Plasma on openSUSE… but then this had me thinking… where I could most certainly see this being used is in a more server or systems monitoring application where a full desktop is not necessary. The awesome nerd-value of i3 is strong and for some sort of persistent system where I can have it monitoring logs and activity is exactly where I would use this.

Regolith might be one of the greatest experiences I have had in Linux for a long time. Not so much that I have radically changed anything about what I am doing but that I have taken what I have learned from the productivity enhancements and assimilated them into my own workflow to make my work more efficient. For that, I am extremely grateful.

References

Regolith Linux Home
Virt-Manager with KVM/QEMU on openSUSE Tumbleweed
Big Daddy Linux Live! 8-24-19 Regolith Discussion Week 1
Big Daddy Linux Live! 8-31-19 Regolith Discussion Week 2
Eric Adams Regolith Runthrough