Bought a turkey to smoke for Thanksgiving. I had to buy a 5 gallon bucket to brine the thing in. Using a basic brine of brown sugar and salt. I realized that I don’t have a large enough smoker to hold the turkey whole so my solution is to cut it in half so that I can put it on two of the racks.
What I learned
My smoker thermometer is probably wrong
I would have been wise to swap the halves of the bird sometime through the smoking process
I used to much wood so it was a bit too smokey tasting
Those turkey bones made for some great post-Thanksgiving soup
Next turkey should be a bit smaller or just do a couple chickens instead
What would be really great is to have a smoker that has some sensors like temperature, humidity, particulate matter and a couple probes to put in various places in the meat so that I can get better data on the cooking process
Linux Powered Christmas Lights
I have wanted to some kind of computer controlled Christmas lights since I first saw this light display on YouTube to the tune from the Trans-Siberian Orchastra, “Wizards of Winter.” Since then, this has been something I wanted to do. This was the year that I finally did it and this is what I used.
BeagleBone Black rev C
Kulp Lights F8-B “Cape” that controls the pixel lights
8 local ports for strings of lights
Each string can have approximately 700 pixels
Multiple expansion options
Pixel2Things AC board to power the traditional AC strings of lights and the blow up Santa and Painfully bright White Christmas tree
12v 30Amp Power supply
ABS Electrical Junction box enclosure
10 Pair of Ray Wu connectors to build extension cables and to wire into the F8-B
200 ft of 18 AWG 3 conductor cable to build extension cables
500 ft of 18 AWG 2 conductor cable for power injection, although, I didn’t end up needing it.
8, two conductor extension cords from the hardware store for the Pixel2Things AC devices, the traditional department store lights and the blow up Santa
1, 40 ft, 3 conductor extension cord for powering the control box and for extra wire as needed
Currently running 1148 pixels totaling 3444 light channels
xlights software AppImage which works very well in openSUSE. Using it not tied to music but just as an animation.
Turning some of my “Christmas Lights” into all the holidays lights.
Next year I will be building some props, candy canes, arches and Christmas trees, add a low powered FM transmitter to do light shows to music but not so much that my neighbors will want to burn my house down
BDLL Follow Up
Working through evaluating the Ubuntu 19.10 releases. I’m impressed with the Ubuntu Proper release. It is a great project that has so many high quality derivatives.
Ubuntu Proper (GNOME)
I am going to just say that Ubuntu has my favorite expression of GNOME. The Competitive advantage of Ubuntu GNOME is the clean experience and the additional features that just make sense for a typical desktop user
A solid experience and it just doesn’t disappoint. You can choose between the different desktop paradigms of Windows Like, Mac Like, and Unity Like. It’s such a smart Desktop and frankly I think this should be the Ubuntu Proper experience, but that is my opinion.
The LXQt desktop with the best out of box polish. There are some other things I would polish out on it, specifically, to drop openbox as the window manager and use Kwin but that is easily done for any user. In fact, I did a little write up on it.
A great Plasma desktop experience and although it has some really great defaults, I still prefer some of the other integration better on openSUSE. Specifically that Firefox uses the Plasma file dialog box instead of the clunky GTK version. Since the default layout is not a big deal to me as that is easily changed and I have been doing so since the KDE 3 days, there isn’t a great reason to choose Kubuntu over an openSUSE Plasma. However, I will say, it is my favorite of the Ubuntu flavors. They just happen to do Plasma justice and for someone new to Linux that wants a premium Linux experience, this would be a candidate to send them there.
Xfce based Ubuntu. I didn’t actually try it but since I know what I am getting with Ubuntu and I know what I am getting with Xfce, you just can’t go wrong with it. For those that like the Xfce experience and want to try their hand in the Ubuntu world, this is a good place to go.
Tumbleweed Snapshot Releases
Mesa 19.2.4 bug fixes from 19.2.3
Linux kernel 5.3.12
Tumbleweed gets a new OpenSSH Version
KDE Plasma 5.17.3 buxfix update fixed Mouse KCM acceleration profile on X11. I did notice that there were mouse issues shortly after that announcement with GNOME’s mouse issues.
kcalendarcore package update with KDE Frameworks 5.63.0
YaST Packages updated
ALSA 22.214.171.124 dropped patches and fixed regressions for the UCM parcer
Update of ModemManger 1.12.0, a D-BUS-activated daemon that controls mobile broadband devices and connections. That update had several improvements and changes to include adding support for Mobile Station Based Assisted-GPS in addition to Mobile Station Assisted-GPS.
firewalld 0.7.2 added 15 new service definitions and provided a new option, FlushAllOnReload in firewalld.conf
There was also an email from the Tumbleweed release manager, Dominique Leuenberger that a build fail notification for the python-numba package in openSUSE Factory has not been addressed for the past four weeks and unless somebody steps up and submits fixes, the python-numba will be removed.
Tumbleweed Snapshot Reviewer give 20191203 a stable score of 95; 20121206 Stable 98; 20121207 Stable 99
I am not one to turn up my nose to old technology and I typically am excited about anything a little bit older or vintage to explore. In fact, I am generally excited to take a screwdriver to just about any piece of technology out there. I will say, there has been a recent exception.
I was brought a computer to extract some pictures and such off of it to put on a flash drive. It is a Pentium 4 Compaq which means it is a 32 bit machine. I am sure hasn’t been turned on in a long time. I am guessing 6 years or greater. I do remember setting this computer up years ago with openSUSE Linux but I didn’t have the root password for it. Since there was some sort of file system error that fsck wouldn’t correct and I didn’t have root access either, so that made it problematic as well. If you are thinking it was a BTRFS problem, you are thinking wrong. It was XFS that had an issue as this was before openSUSE started using BTRFS on root.
I took the side panel off of the machine to get the drive out, but try as I might, I was not able to remove the drive from the inside. There are fasteners in the side of the drive that are not accessible but in a kind of track.
So, I decided, I would take it out of the front of the machine. after some prodding and probing, I was able to get the face of this derelict machine off and finally be able to remove the thing. The 3.5″ PATA (IDE) drive sits right below the 3.5″ floppy drive. Removal of the drive was now trivial. The plastic retainers just had to be pressed on the side of the drive enclosure and the drive slid neatly out of the front of the machine.
I had to dig into my storage bin of hard drive related components and I pulled out an IDE to USB adapter. The first one didn’t work, nor did the second, the last one I pulled out was able to actually read the IDE drive and I don’t have any idea why this was a problem. I have used the adapters for years recovering data from these old drives, however, the last time I did such a thing was 2012.
Pulling the contents of the data from the drive took an incredibly long time, much longer than I expected. Transferring 74.1 GiB of data over a PATA interface with a maximum theoretical speed of 133 MB/s really demonstrated how spoiled I have become with SATA drives and SSDs. I walked away and worked on other things due to my lack of patience so the actual time it took is unknown to me. I suppose I could do the calculations…
Using this site here, Calctool.org, it tells me that it could have taken no less than 70.8 minutes. That is probably about right.
After I transferred all the data locally, I exported the pictures and such to three USB flash drives to be used on whatever computer they wish. The question remains, what do I do with this machine? I could put something 32-bit on there just to see how it would work but the question is, which one? The top contenders for me are openSUSE, MX Linux, BunsenLabs and PuppyLinux (some variant). Maybe I’ll let one of my kids do it as a learning exercise.
I can seldom resist the urge to play with technology, it is a weakness. Basically, as long as the request isn’t, “can you install a non-Linux operating system on it” I am all about it. Recovering data can be a fun project, although, admittedly, this was less fun than other machines due to the obstacles in removing the hard drive
I find it remarkable how fast the years of tech seems to be flying by. It seems like only yesterday that PATA (IDE) was the standard on everything and I didn’t have any complaints about disk speed when it was the standard. Now, using that fifteen or more year old drive, just for the process of removing the data, was so much slower than what I remember, or maybe I am becoming less tolerant of waiting for my technology. Either way, as much as I like vintage tech, I do appreciate many of the new standards, like SATA, because not only is it faster but has a more robust connector… and the more I look at it, I see how it resembles the edge connectors of old.
It is also worth noting that the transfer speeds of PATA drives theoretical maximums is slower than what many have as an internet connection speed. Something to think about.
Ubuntu is, without any dispute, the most prolific Linux distribution today. You can look at any metric and you will see that Ubuntu is number one. How did they rise to this level? I can only speculate, perhaps it has to do with the charismatic and enthusiastic visionary of Canonical’s founder Mark Shuttleworth that made Linux more approachable and attractive by the masses. Regardless, Canonical does a great job with Ubuntu. Despite any of the controversies or blunders the company makes, they are risk takers and regardless of what distribution you use, it should be applauded.
As part of the BigDaddyLinux Live challenge, we are testing the various Ubuntu flavors but for this article, I am going to focus on Ubuntu Proper, the mainline from which all the other flavors are derived. At one time, Ubuntu had their own desktop, Unity, of which they have discontinued development and now use GNOME as their core desktop.
This is my admittedly biased review of Ubuntu (Proper) as an openSUSE Tumbleweed user that prefers Plasma to all other desktops. It should also be clear that I am not a fan of GNOME at all and to use it is an absolute chore to use for me. Bottom Line Up Front, Ubuntu is pretty great and I would feel good about giving it to anyone. Regardless of my bias and preferences, Ubuntu is just a great, rock solid distribution that is a bit heaver on resources than I like but if you run a reasonably modern system, this is not an issue what so ever. If you haven’t tried Ubuntu, which would be odd that a Linux user hasn’t, or if you haven’t tried it in a while and have that restless itch, Ubuntu is worth taking around the block and maybe even on the highway to stretch it’s legs a bit.
Feel free to bail here.
One thing I can say about Ubuntu without any reservation is that it is incredibly easy to install, especially when you have a fairly straight forward installation. When the ISO boots up, you can “Try or Buy” as it were and since I don’t see a whole lot of use with a VM in just trying it without the installation process, I wanted to Install Ubuntu. The first decision is to set your keyboard layout.
The next in a line of easy decisions to make is to set your preferences for Updates and additional software. For my purposes, testing an installation, I like to see what software they bundle with the distribution. I am finding more often than not that distributions seem to be skimping out on basic computing software. It amuses me continually how people clammer for a minimal installations, especially on a desktop system where you need basic installation but maybe I don’t get it and am not Linux-ing correctly. I also selected to download updates and to install third-party software. This is one feature I do like about Ubuntu. Although adding such things in openSUSE isn’t complicated, clicking one checkbox is by far much simpler. The next page is to instruct the installer how you would like to utilize your disks and before you continue, a final sanity check will take place.
Your location in the world will be required as well as your name, computer name and if you would like to log in automatically or require a password to log in. For a VM and how I am using it, an Automatic login would not be an issue but I still chose to require a password to log in.
The installation will commence and very nicely, you can watch the details scroll by as you watch the fun highlights of the distribution like you would your uncle Fred’s vacation Slideshow during a family reunion…
The installation doesn’t take long and when complete, just a quick reboot for a fresh and exciting Ubuntu Proper experience was unleashed.
First Run and Impressions
The Ubuntu log in screen is simple and elegant with a purple field, white writing and a single user log in selection. There is nothing to detract your eyes away from the mission at hand, log in. Simple elegance.
Your first time logging into the system you are given four pages of initial preferences. You would start off with setting up any online accounts you have. For my case, I am not going to use those. Next will be an option to help improve Ubuntu. This is a nice feature and although I am a bit dubious about having anything “phone home” I am absolutely in favor of letting distribution creators know any information to help them improve the product.
Next is to set allow applications to determine your geographic location and lastly you are ready to go with some recommended applications to try out with a button to get to the Ubuntu “Software” application.
After the short guided setup, you are left with a very pleasant and release-unique desktop with a great wallpaper. I am also pleased to see you can indeed have icons on your desktop. Well done Canonical!
Next, I just wanted to click around and interact with the desktop. Just see how Ubuntu Proper does the basics like the applications menu, the system menu that contains the network, sound & session actions and the Activities features.
This is totally a personal preference thing and completely opinionated but I kind of don’t like that three basic desktop functions in different corners of the screen. I have only tested this on a single desktop VM but I can’t help but wonder how this would feel to work with on a multi screen setup. It would be annoying to have to go to different screens to get to those bits and it would also be annoying to have the title bar on all the screens. That is certainly worth further investigation.
The software center is great but a feature that I think stands out with Ubuntu is how you can tweak the software updates to your liking such as what updates you want and the frequency of checking for updates.
Since I prefer the rolling distribution model best, this wouldn’t be particularly useful to me but I really like this concept and I applaud this sort of easy access to updates as what would suite your personal preference.
The system settings is the typical GNOME settings so it is without the customization abilities as you would see on most of the other desktops. This is one of those irritating “features” of GNOME, the lack of organic ability to customize and the interface to suit your specific needs.
If you really want to customize GNOME and make it your own, you will have to install GNOME Tweaks. I find this to be less than ideal but does open up the ability to make GNOME more to your liking.
This is what basically makes GNOME the worst desktop when it comes to the mess that is the system settings. The groanings that some may give about Plasma pales in comparison to the mess that GNOME has made of their system settings. I wished that Ubuntu would fix this, just for their release but alas, they have not. I don’t know what it would take for GNOME to include the tweaks tool directly into the system settings but the fact it has been a buried (not included by default) feature for quite some time now is depressingly unfortunate.
Really, once you select Yaru-dark, this is a premium GNOME visual experience. Now it looks good and doesn’t give me a headache. Sure, if you are using LibreOffice, you still have to deal with the white block in the center but it is not nearly as painful to look at as the all white version.
Not only is LibreOffice with Yaru-dark very pleasant to look at, it also makes for a nice focus or framing of the document too. I do appreciate the the work that was done into Yaru-dark, very much, and I wish that would be an easy default to select.
Just a thing…
I noticed that Zypper was in the Ubuntu repositories and I wanted to see what would happen if I installed it. I really should have played around with it longer to see if I could get it to successfully manage the Ubuntu repositories but I didn’t get very far with it.
Having Zypper on an Ubuntu could almost push me over the edge in using Ubuntu more regularly but Ubuntu is still missing the cohesive YaST Control Center for managing system settings and such. Fortunately or unfortunately, I have become very dependent and accustomed to that suite of tools and it is kind of expected on anything that I intend on managing.
Although I did a lot more with Ubuntu than these few things, this is where I am going to leave it. This is at a length that a typical reader will just start scrolling through to see how much more nonsense is stuffed to the article and just look at pictures to see if anything grabs attention.
What I Like
Ubuntu does a great job at polishing GNOME into something much nicer than what you get from the upstream. They really take into account user experience and do the little things that count, like a functional desktop where you are allowed to place icons, even if this is something that becomes messy and unwieldy. At least you have a choice and a place to put folders to other locations in your desktop for convenience sake.
The Yaru-dark theme is fantastic. Sure, it takes a bit of digging for the un-GNOME-initiated to turn this lever but once you install the GNOME Tweaks tool and unlock the “control of your desktop achievement,” you can keep the headaches at bay and make for a more relaxing and enjoyable desktop experience. Granted, I know this is an opinion of the author and just a quick reminder the heading of this section is “What I Like”. This is a biased review, I am not a journalist!
The update control options on Ubuntu is simply fantastic. If you were to set up a system that had to remain in an unchanged state for an extended period of time, this is the place to make it happen. I can see having this adjusted for something that needed to be treated as an appliance where the system doesn’t change, outside of what would be needed for security purposes. This is an appreciated feature.
What I Don’t Like
GNOME… As much work as Ubuntu puts into GNOME, it is still frustratingly aggravating to use and adjust to suit user preferences. The lack of easy switch to the Yaru-dark theme without having to jump through hoops (okay, not really hoops) to do simple improvements is just maddening. Also, GNOME quite possibly has the worst settings of the desktops with the separation of the Settings from the GNOME Tweaks. I would be less irritated by this if Ubuntu would just include it as a subset of the Settings but the way it stands, the need to go to two different places to find what you need is just silly.
Try as I might, I do not like the top and side bars, the Unity layout, for my desktop. I find the top menu combined with the side menu an unacceptable extra use of screen real-estate. Reference my previous LibreOffice images, there is this thick bar of overhead at the top of the screen before you even get into where you do any document creation. Now, I will admit, that it is no worse than my preferred layout of having all that “admin overhead” at the bottom of the screen It is the same total loss of vertical real estate. I don’t see the value in having the icons along the side as well as the information along the top. I can’t even say for sure why you even have that “LibreOffice Writer” drop down in the top bar. Sure it’s a place to get some information but why couldn’t that be integrated into the side dock? You also can’t make the top menu bar auto hide which would be a nice feature too. I would actually prefer the top bar go away entirely and just put everything to the left side of the screen MX style as I don’t see any other practical purpose of the top bar at all. It’s just there. Perhaps it is just to what I have grown accustomed but the split of information along two sides of the screen just doesn’t work well for me.
Ubuntu is, in my estimation the best Ubuntu experience you are likely to have. Though, as I can remember, Pop!_OS is pretty great too but I haven’t given that a spin in quite a while. I do appreciate the work that Ubuntu has done to improve the desktop look and feel. It’s a great improvement from the the stock GNOME experience. They give some color and a much needed modern touch to the icons that GNOME desperately needs. The Yaru theme has a premium look to it and GTK applications should test specifically against this theme as it is likely the dominant GTK theme in Linux today.
Would I give up openSUSE for Ubuntu? No, absolutely not but I do appreciate the technology, the time and effort that goes into the polish of this distribution. I appreciate all that Canonical has contributed, the technology, the run times for Steam and Snaps but the underlying operating system is not for me. Canonical’s gift of Snaps is a technology which I use pretty regularly on openSUSE. In my estimation, Ubuntu is more of a consumer distribution that is targeted to the mass market. It is a fine product but just doesn’t provide that same comfort that I get from my tried and true openSUSE where I feel like it is more mine to work with and on.
I highly recommend, if by some off chance you haven’t tried Ubuntu in a while, to take it for a spin. Just because GNOME annoys me, doesn’t mean it will necessarily annoy you and these are just the ramblings of a Linux user that likes what he likes.
I hate to say this but Linux software is not perfect. I know, I know, but nothing could possibly be wrong with openSUSE, right? Well, Linux and all the open source tools are created by people and since we are flawed, so are our creations. Sometimes, things can slip through the quality assurance process at openSUSE and however rare, they do happen.
One of my problems that has shown it’s ugly head is an issue with the wifi driver. Sometimes, for whatever reason, it cannot authenticate. Another situation is, sometimes, you may have an issue passing a device to a Virtual Machine and it doesn’t come back quite right.
In short, if you have a device on the PCI bus that needs to be removed and added again, there are some ways to do that. To get the PCI device ID, run:
Take note of whatever your troublesome device is from here.
echo "1" > /sys/bus/pci/devices/$NUMBER/reset
This should reset the device and have it behave, but as you may know from your experience in having used the original Nintendo Entertainment System, sometimes, it just isn’t good enough.
The sleep 2 is only necessary if you are copying and pasting into the terminal or creating a script. It is just a pause before it rescans the PCI bus. How I used it and I did create a script for this that I can invoke if I have problems.
Software isn’t perfect, I have historically had issues on more than one distribution with PCI devices requiring a reset. This method works with openSUSE Tumbleweed in the year 2019. If this should change, I will update this post.
NetRunner (19.08) is not one of those distributions I hear touting its uniqueness and wonders loudly on the Internet. As part of a two week challenge for BigDaddyLinux Live, I lassoed an ISO and took it for a spin on a VM. Some may argue that a VM doesn’t make for a good test experience and I would agree to that, sort of… This is not going to be a test of NetRunner’s performance on bare metal but rather, this is an impression of how the developers are answering the operating system question.
Bottom Line Up Front, NetRunner has a look of its own. The default software is refreshingly not minimal as that seems to be the talk of many Linux enthusiasts (I blame Arch for that). The included pieces of software makes for a great showcase of the various KDE applications. Personally, this is a good approach for most users. Those minimal installation folks should just learn to remove software using the package manager if that is such a huge issue. I am not keen on the default theme with the red cursor and the lack of a usable Dark NetRunner theme. Aside from that, it appears to be a good KDE Plasma experience and a fine showcase of the various applications a Linux user should try. This is my biased review of NetRunner as an openSUSE user.
The installation of NetRunner, like most of the Linux world is very straight forward and not problematic. Although, I realize that this is not a shared view among all users, this is my experience.
The bootloader gave some options so I wanted to play around with them. Unfortunately, the Memory test didn’t work for me but it was a neat idea.
Rather than continue to play around with these tools, I decided I would go ahead and unwrap this NetRunner present and see how it goes for me.
Essentially, a few moments later and the Desktop presented itself in all it’s KDE Plasma beauty. The default look is fine with me. Not my preference but I don’t expect every distribution to ship my preference, that would be silly and would undoubtedly make touring other distros incredibly boring.
The installation process uses the Calamares installer so it is incredibly easy to do. Thankfully, there isn’t any scavenger hunt required to initiate the installation. Once the installer has settled, select your Language and Location.
Next will be your keyboard layout and your partition scheme. I chose to erase the entire disk. It is interesting to note that the default Swap size is twice your RAM amount plus a little extra for good measure.
The last bit of using your noodle to get this set up is to set your user name and root password. Once complete, you are given a Summary and final sanity check before you commit to the installation.
The installation doesn’t take before it is finished which gives you a great opportunity to read the installation propaganda as you wait, or you can go do other things as I did and come back when it is done.
When you are done, feel free to reboot or hang out in the live session, whichever works for you. I wanted to see how quickly this would boot and I wanted to dig into it.
First Run and Impressions
The boot time was reasonable. Not lighting fast but reasonable and of the speed that I would have no complaints. Ultimately, I would rather it boot every time than boot occasionally really fast and leave you scratching your head when it doesn’t choose to boot.
The login screen or sometimes called “Display Manager” looked nice enough. I couldn’t put my finger on it but it made me feel like it was an older layout. That might be me and if we were in court, I would expect the other lawyer to object to that and strike it from the record.
The desktop does look nice, but I am not sure about that red cursor. It does bring back the happy smiles of the Amiga OS as it did back in the early 90s. The version of Plasma that shipped with NetRunner 19.08 is 5.14.5. A bit older as it was released in October of 2018 but not a bad version at all. It should also be noted that this is not an LTS version either.
The menu is the Application Dashboard. This is not my favorite menu system but that is easily changed. I do admit, it is a nice looking interface but it is just not for me. I don’t like menus that block out my desktop.
The game selection brought a smile to my face. I am glad to see Steam is installed by default. If you are into gaming, Steam is your portal to a wide selection of electric joy. I would have liked to have seen Lutris too but one out of two is not too bad. Excitingly, a game that I did forget about was BurgerSpace. It is a BurgerTime clone that I played on the Intellivision as a kid. Although, BurgerSpace doesn’t have the fun 8-bit music as the original, it was still fun to play… until I couldn’t get down the ladder…
I wanted to explore further the different applications. I found it interesting that there is a Skype client by default. The multimedia applications installed by default are some that I use. Handbrake and Kdenlive are two that I use with some frequency. There isn’t VLC but SMPlayer is available which is fine. The Web Camera application is Cheese which is also fine.
The Web applications section I thought was curious. Telegram was good to see but I scratched my head on the WhatsApp. I know that is used by many but the juxtaposition with having it alongside Hooktube seemed odd. Hooktube divorces you from the YouTube-ness of YouTube while WhatsApp is an application that will be collecting on you. It is easy enough to remove but I just thought it odd. I am sure that there is a valid reason for the selection, I just don’t know what that is.
The software package manager is very decent and I like the interface very much. It’s very clear on how to use, perhaps overwhelming for a new or less technical user but it is perfectly usable. I have found that there is this rather large section of the populous that doesn’t like to read and a wall of text can be overwhelming when there isn’t a giant “GO” or “NEXT” button to guide their eyes. When committing to updates, authentication is required. This is in contrast to what I am most accustomed in openSUSE.
What I found fascinating is that I found interesting is that it looked like the critical updates were not automatically included. Perhaps they were not selected or I had done something wrong but I would assume that these would be priority. I completed these updates and rebooted the system to take advantage of the new kernel and such.
The default NetRunner theme is too light for my liking. I went into the System Settings to correct this deficiency and unfortunately, I was met with less than stellar results. Somehow there seems to be something wedged in the theme engine that makes even the Breeze Dark theme unusable.
It didn’t seem to matter which dark theme I chose, NetRunner, changed the colors, Breeze Dark, use the Dark Color scheme, the result was the same in that it was not possible to read the text as any contrast was lost. For whatever reason, the desktop was not respecting my request.
This is basically a deal breaker for me. I do not like light themes… at all… and if I cannot allow my eyes to take a break from the light pollution, I am not a happy user. Just a mention, but I did notice that there was some reorganizing in the menu selection. Plasma Tweaks was an additional section that included all the visual tweaking settings. It seemed redundant and a silly call back to the Gnome Tweaks mess of applications.
There are some other interesting applications included in NetRunner that are worth looking into but I have already blathered on far too long about my first impressions.
What I Like
NetRunner does not do the rather common nonsense approach of not bundling software with their desktop environment. They have taken the time to include a nice and sensible selection of applications to get you going right out of the gate. Quite literally, after a short installation cycle, you can be up and running, creating, playing or doing very typical computer based tasks. The selection, although somewhat peculiar is a great showcase of applications.
The package manger, Synaptic, is frankly, one of my long time favorite package managers ever in Linux. It is the Debian staple of managing your packages and no Debian system should be without it. The fact that it is installed by default is a huge positive. As nice as the software centers are for discovery of applications, Synaptic just does the job better.
What I Don’t Like
The theme, something is wrong with the theme and how Plasma handles themes. I am sure I could correct it with enough time but that is a pretty significant annoyance. I would prefer NetRunner just use the standard Breeze themes and modify it to whatever would make it uniquely NetRunner with maybe a different shade of blue and the logos. Making the theme as such that I cannot read the text when switching it to a dark color scheme is a no go.
There isn’t a system control panel like you would find on the openSUSE or MX Linux distributions. I find YaST to be such an important tool for any system I set up. The KDE System Settings is great for user level settings but not the best for system wide settings, user management and the like. If I could wave the magic wand, I would like to seem more distributions use something like YaST, if not YaST itself on their distros for better system management.
The Software selection, although mostly great had me less than happy about having Skype and WhatsApp installed by default. This might make me sound like an old man yelling at kids to get off my lawn, but I have made it a point to push people away from such services and use them only if necessary. Having these installed by default don’t make me smile, I would much prefer to see other, less invasive applications in their place. Telegram was nice to see so there is that.
NetRunner is a distribution that is clearly focused squarely on it’s own goals and appearance. If you aren’t going to stray from what they have set in place, this will do nicely for you. The software selection is a great start as a sensible base of applications and also has some applications that should probably be removed
I am not exactly sure what I think of NetRunner. I like much of what they are trying to accomplish, I appreciate that they are doing their own thing and seemingly have a goal in mind of targeting a general user with this distribution. At the same time, I do not like some of their defaults and find some of there selection, not to my liking. Would I recommend NetRunner for someone to try? Yes, but it wouldn’t be the first I would recommend. It scores high on the ease of installation but low on the ability to cleanly customize it. It scores high on default software selection but bothers me that they have selected some other applications. Overall, it is a decent distribution and if you are not satisfied with your current experience, this is worth a try.
Would I switch from openSUSE to NetRunner? No, not a chance but I am glad NetRunner is out there and answering the software needs for many people.
I have been using BTRFS on all of my openSUSE machines without issue. In my quest to build a new multi-roll system to act as a server, workstation and occasional casual desktop use, I wanted to have a storage solution that was very fault tolerant and would allow me to expand my disk size with minimal effort. That is in both replacing individual drives with larger drives and potentially adding another controller card to have more drives.
ZFS is in the news as the new “hotness” for a file system and it does indeed have a lot of the really awesome features BTRFS provides, maybe more but support in Linux doesn’t appear to be as robust as BTRFS. Could my mind change in the future? Absolutely, but for now, until I get the stability of BTRFS on root, the snapshot system and the ease of flexibility in altering the array of storage, I will stick with BTRFS.
I have been looking at doing an upgrade to my monitor situation, for numerous reasons. The monitors I am using are of unequal resolution, size and aspect ratio, it has been fine but I am becoming less satisfied with its usability. This is especially true since I started to use some of the tiling techniques built into Plasma. I just happen to need more pixels. Looking at my available options, I became interested in one of these 1440p monitors. My issue is, I am not interested in a curved monitor. I think they look just a bit silly and I don’t stand directly in front of the computer all the time. Interestingly, it seems as though the curved screens are less expensive then their flat counterparts with the same resolution and frequency. Although I would prefer a flat screen, it is more economical and of better specifications to go with the curved model.
I’m not prepared to make a purchase today as I need to do some more research on the subject but I am now very much interested in a single 1440p monitor rather than my two cobbled, odd lots hanging above my laptop.
US military has been using 8-inch floppy disks in an antiquated ’70s computer to receive nuclear launch orders from the President. Now, the US strategic command has announced that it has replaced the drives with a “highly-secure solid state digital storage solution,” Lt. Col. Jason Rossi
The 8-inch floppy disks have been used in an ancient system called the Strategic Automated Command and Control System, or SACCS.
It’s used by US nuclear forces to send emergency action messages from command centers to field forces, and is unhackable precisely because it was created long before the internet existed. “You can’t hack something that doesn’t have an IP address.
Despite the age of the system, the Air Force is confident in its security and has a pretty good handle on maintaining it. By contrast, installing an all-new system isn’t as easy as it sounds. “You have to be able to certify that an adversary can’t take control of that weapon, that the weapon will be able to do what it’s supposed to do when you call on it,”
My U13 Logic chip is likely failing. I am sure it’s not the RAM as I am having an intermittent problem with my system. Sometimes I get a blank screen and sometimes some garbled mess of characters in a range of colors. Based on the likely causes, I am quite sure it is the 74LS257A Logic IC. That should cost me less than $1 for the part and around $10 on shipping.
I am late on the release of this podcast, not because I am fading out already, but because of life things. Regardless, I wanted to follow up on a BDLL from 19 October 2019. The discussion was about distro hopping, why Linux users distro hop. Often when people are new to Linux, they hop around and try new distributions. Some people like to jump around every time there is something new released.
Some Distros cater to some bits of hardware better than others. MX Linux on old hardware, openSUSE on newer hardware, Manjaro or Pop!_OS for gaming. Debian for obscure hardware. Ubuntu and its flavors for the mainstream.
I am not a distro hopper, embed myself, decided to stick around and help out to the best of my ability.
Between Mandrake / Mandriva fading and embedding into openSUSE I jumped around a bit. When I decided on openSUSE, I knew it wasn’t perfect, there were some issues but they were easily mitigated, I was most enamored with the friendly and helpful community along with the “ecosystem” of tools around openSUSE. The ease of installing software the graphical way and a pretty awesome wiki.
I mostly try out other distros to see what else is out there. Nothing ever seems to capture me like openSUSE. There are many good choices of Linux and I would probably be content elsewhere but nothing quite gives me the excitement that the green chameleon clad openSUSE provides.
Firefox has been updated to version 69.0.2 which contained a single fix for Linux-only crashes when changing the playback speed of YouTube videos. Fwupd shipped at version 1.3.1, that is a daemon that allows session software to update the firmware. It now allows for disabling of all plugins and added support for thunderbolt interfae for kernel safety checks. Gstreamer and many of it’s plugins were updated to version 1.16.1 which offered performance improvements. nodejs12, python-packaging and tcpdump were updated to address more than two dozen CVEs.
Plamsa 5.17.0 arrived with some significant changes to the new version. The release announcement says that this new version is as lightweight and thrifty with resources as ever before. Notably, the start-up scripts were converted from a slower Bash to a faster C++ and now run asynchronously, which means it can run several tasks simultaneously, instead of having to run them in sequence. KDE Applications 19.08.2 improved High-DPI support in Konsole and other applications. Many bug fixes in Kmail and saving messages directly to remote folders has been restored. Many other KDE applications received updates as well. e2fsprogs update 1.45.5 addressed a CVE where an attacker would have been able to corrupt an ext4 partition. Updates to gnutls, Nano and php7 were also included.
Mumble was finally updated to 1.3.0 after getting through the rigorous legal review of the SUSE lawyers and now those crazy lips are gone.
The Tumbleweed Snapshot reviewer gives 20191009 a moderate score of a 90; 20191011 a stable score of 92; 20191012 a stable score of 96; and 20191014 a moderate score of 82.
The Project Name Change Vote Continues
The discussion around changing the name of the project is still continuing in the mailing list. The vote has been extended out to the 7th of November, 2019. It has been decided to create a wiki page to consolidate the information. The keypoints can be summarized by the following:
For Keeping the project name
If the name is changed, we would lose brand reputation earned over the years.
Many members and other contributors are strongly attached to the current name.
Changing the name might give the impression that the relationship between SUSE and openSUSE is strained.
A lot of work will be required to rename domains, OBS projects and metadata, GitHub namespace, packages trademarks, etc.
Rebranding requires a tremendous amount of communication (and money) over years to establish the new brand name.
SUSE can transfer or license relevant trademarks to an openSUSE Foundation.
The relationship with SUSE is part of our marketing strategy, e.g. Leap/SLE’s shared codebase.
Changing the project name will make current openSUSE swag (T-shirts, mugs, stickers, etc) obsolete.
Reasons in favor of the name change
openSUSE is often typed and/or pronounced incorrectly (e.g. OpenSUSE, OpenSuSE etc). Watch how do you say SUSE?
The Free Software Foundation (FSF) complains about the looseness of the term “open”.
The distinction between openSUSE and SUSE can be confusing to people new to either brand. Some people have been known to shorten openSUSE to SUSE.
If the community thinks that the project benefits from a new name then this is the moment to change it, i.e. before registering a new legal structure (like a foundation).
My thoughts on this, the reasons for a name change seams superfluous. Although I understand the there is some confusion and how it is typed is often wrong, those do not outweigh the marketing strategy of the Leap/SLE’s shared codebase, the amount of work that would go into rebranding, renaming and making all the cool things I have today obsolete.
I think it is good that we the openSUSE community have this discussion. It has been good for me as I can reflect on my reasons I don’t care for it and rather than just make it an emotional and close-minded decision, I can look at the facts and make a rational decision to keep the name just as it is.
If the name changes, I won’t be upset, disappointed, yes, but not upset. It is the community and the technology that I like, the name is secondary.
There are many flavors of Linux, we call them distributions but in a way, I think “flavor” is a good word for it as some some are a sweet and delightful experience while with others a lingering, foul taste remains. Manjaro has not left a foul taste in any way. In full disclosure, I am not a fan of Arch based Linux distributions. I appreciate the idea of this one-step-removed Gentoo and for those that really like to get into the nitty-gritty bits Arch is good for that. My problem with Arch is the lack of quality assurance. The official repository on Arch Wiki describes the process of how core packages need to be signed off by developers before they are allowed to move from staging into the official repositories. With the rate at which packages come in, it is almost an impossibility that through manual testing software will continue to work well with other software as some dependencies may change. Admittedly, I don’t use it daily, outside of VMs for testing nor do I have a lot of software installed so this is not going to be a problem I am likely to experience.
Manjaro, from my less than professional opinion, is a slightly slower rolling Arch that seems to do more testing and the process, from what I understand, is similar. Developers have to approve the packages before they are moved into the official repositories. I also understand that there isn’t any automated QA to perform any testing so this is all reliant on user or community testing, which, seemingly, Manjaro is doing a good job of it.
This is my review of Manjaro with the Plasma Desktop. Bottom Line Up Front, this is quite possibly the safest and most stable route if you like the Arch model. In the time I ran it, I didn’t have any issues with it. The default Plasma Desktop is quite nice, and the default themes are also top notch. The graphical package manager works fantastically well and you do have Snap support right out of the gate. It’s truly a great experience. Was it good enough to push me from my precious openSUSE? No, but it has made for a contender and something about which to think.
The installation process was as smooth as room temperature butter and felt incredibly refined. The installation media greets with a very nicely themed boot loader to which the default option is to boot Manjaro. Very quickly you are brought into a live session where you can begin to do some exploration.
Since I was doing this in a VM, I did have some VM-isms, that made this look less than stellar, initially. Since I wanted to get to installation, straight away, I went right for that icon on the desktop. Nice to see that the icon was on the desktop, not hidden away giving you a scavenger hunt as your first objective for the installation. This is using the Calamares installer so it is incredibly straight forward and new-user approachable. You are initially asked for your language preference, then to set your location.
Your next objective in this installation is to select your keyboard layout. Then to set your partitions. My preference, for this installation was to Erase the disk and I didn’t add any Swap. Although, I recently learned that doing so is not the best idea for system stability.
You next step in this journey is to tell Majaro, who you are in the Users step. Here you will enter your name, your username, the name of your computer, set your user password and administrator password. Here you can set the system to log in automatically and to use the same password for the administrator account. The next step is a somewhat new entry into this process, as I’m told, but you can now select your Office Suite. The three options are: No Office Suite, LibreOffice, and FreeOffice.
I selected FreeOffice for two reasons, one, there was quite the hullabaloo about Manjaro offering it. I am personally quite happy with LibreOffice and I like my options there so this was the perfect opportunity to get some impressions of it.
Finally, you are presented the Installation Summary with a final Sanity Check before proceeding. I always appreciate the sanity check
Then the installation will commence, you can sit back or leave, whatever you want to do at this point. Alternatively, you can read the Manjaro propaganda and become acquainted with the world into which you are stepping.
Here is where I put the image that tells you to reboot… but… I didn’t take that snapshot.
First run and Impressions
Just like the live media version, the installed version of Plasma looks fantastic. Although, to be fair, it is a chore to make Plasma not look fantastic.
This time, however, I wanted to do some exploration of the Welcome and also leave it set to launch at start so that I can return to it on my next boot. My first stop was at the center column, bottom row, Applications.
This curious application, called Manjaro Application Maintenance was highly structured and very easy to get around and understand what is going on. For those that like the “minimal” installation. They can very easily go here and remove all the bits they don’t want.
Next on my agenda was to perform updates. In this case, they have a graphical tool so the graphical tool, I decided to use. Warnings are never a point of concern, really, as they are just that, warnings, a spot to slow down and read the situation.
Here there were some warnings about packages being installed before the dependency. It’s odd that the package manager wouldn’t just fix that and reorder how the packages are installed but perhaps it is some sort of circular dependency and this is the warning of that. The updates proceeded but with one slight hitch.
I was not able to do as instructed on here as when I did go to the virtual terminal, I was greeted with nothing, no prompt or anything of that nature. Not a big deal, I just waited until there was no activity from the virtual machine and I sent the power off signal to safely power the thing down.
Upon rebooting the VM with Manjaro, I was once again greeted with the splendidly polished Display Manger and a login prompt. I logged in and everything was as I expected it. I do want to say that having Yakuake installed by default is a fine addition to Plasma. A quick F12 presents a terminal drop down that just screams all kinds of nerdy wonderfulness.
I then wanted to see how the process of installing applications would go with Manjaro. Since I didn’t want to install anything that would pull down a lot of packages, I went for something small that I didn’t really need, KPatience, a Soliaire card game. After all, Windows 3.11 had something similar installed by default.
When you select to install an application you are prompted for you password. This is not the administrator password but the user password. Whether or not that is more or less secure than the root password, I don’t know, but I thought that was worth noting. I also appreciate the “Transaction Summary” given. How that is different than an Installation Summary, I am not sure. Maybe this is a better word for it as you can install and remove applications and those actions combined are “transactions.” Something to think about.
I did have to change the Application Launcher to the Application Menu because… I just happen to find the Menu more appealing.
That is very easily done, as in any Plasma desktop, by right-clicking on the menu icon and selecting, Show Alternatives.
Another noteworthy feature of Manjaro is the Kernel Notifications. I don’t completely know what all this means, what is an “unsupported kernel” and to only notify if running an unsupported kernel but I do understand notifying of a new LTS Kernel. If I were going to take my flag in this distribution, I would recommend becoming well acquainted with this too. I imagine this could very much be the difference between a reboot and run and a reboot and flop.
I also want to congratulate the Manjaro team on a job well done with the Dark Breath theme. Although, when I say it, I feel like I’m saying “Breeze” with a lisp, the Dark Breath theme is so nicely done that I could reach out and give an e-high-five on how it looks. Different then the Breeze but equally as nice.
The desktop and Manjaro specific tools all feel well orchestrated. Aside from my upgrade hiccup, which I want to stress is a hiccup, I was able to keep flying along. I do want to note that the only other time I have seen that screen was when updating a system with proprietary Nvidia drivers on a previous main driver. It was almost a welcome back to see that little notice.
Since I had to try FreeOffice out… though, without any office tasks to perform, I wanted to see how it looked and felt. Just on the surface because this is not a review of FreeOffice, just an impression. I was immediately impressed by the ease of picking your theme. Not only did you have the choice in dark or light themes, you also had a choice in the annoying ribbon layout or traditional and much more useful classic menus and toolbars.
The first application to click-around in this office suite was the word-processor called TextMaker. I really liked the presentation of it as it immediately gave me happy feelings. The ribbon layout was what you would expect but the part I didn’t care for was the additional menu bar of new, open, save, undo, redo, etc. I prefer the LibreOffice execution of that as it moves that inline with the File, Home, Insert, Layout etc… tabs. Not a big deal. I didn’t dig into it but I am sure that it is customizable to some degree.
The next application in this sweet suite of office tools is the spreadsheet application called PlanMaker. It has a similar feel as TextMaker and had the basic functions for which I would be using. I did find the ribbon a bit excessive on the screen real-estate but again, this is just an impression. I could very easily go back to the more efficient layout.
The last application in this suite is called simply Presentations and it also is about what I would expect. I didn’t create any presentations with it but the impressions by clicking about did give me the impression that I would be able to bore anybody with an unnecessary slide show.
The only thing I hadn’t checked yet was the file dialog. I must say, I did not like this. It was the only thing I didn’t like about FreeOffice on my tour of impressions. It was very 2002 in appearance and although I’m sure it is quite functional, it is not what I would consider modern. Although, the GTK dialog isn’t any better, so if we are comparing it to that I guess it’s fine. I would have preferred some sort of Plasma integration here so that it used the Plasma File Dialog.
Really, all applications and desktop environments should really use the Plasma file dialog, anything but that is a sore disappointment in user interface.
Overall, FreeOffice is nice, certainly very usable and has a nice polish to it. I don’t think I would replace LibreOffice with it as I do use the Draw and Math functions of that and I haven’t run into a compatibility issue in a long time. I am glad that Manjaro gave me the opportunity to kick the tires on it.
What I Like
I like the fact that Manjaro give the option, right out of the gate, to pick your office suite. I would haven’t ever tried anything other than LibreOffice had I not had the option. Although I have decided to continue to use LibreOffice, I appreciate being presented an alternative.
Pamac-CLI is a kind of shim to make Pacman not ridiculous. It converts all the nonsense commands of pacman into something that is human readable and intuitive. For example, to install a software package:
Breath Dark theme is well done. It give Manjaro Plasma edition a unique feel but just every so subtly. Also, green is a great color to go with if you are going to set a highlight color.
Default software selection is very satisfactory, so much so that I had to find some oddball thing to install just to go through the process. I still prefer to have VLC over other media players and Firefox over other web browsers. I like that they chose to include Konversation for IRC and Steam for games.
A nice surprise was to see that SUSE Imagewriter was included on the Manjaro installation for writing images to Removable media. Interestingly, not even openSUSE includes that by default.
What I Don’t Like
It fundamentally still uses Arch as the base and although pamac-cli is a nice shim to offset the nonsense that is pacman. I do prefer having sensible and intuitive terminal commands. There are too many to remember, I don’t have the patience to faff with the game of scrabble in command options.
The Plasma screen locker crash did bother me a bit as and I’m not sure where the blame is to be had for that. I don’t have an nvidia driver so maybe the issue was with the package resolver (ahem, Pacman) that didn’t order things properly. I don’t know.
Manjaro used Ext4 for the file system. That means, I don’t know how I would roll back a bad update. I think running a rolling distribution without that safeguard is asking for trouble. For this alone, I am much relieved that I have BTRFS on my root file system for snapshots. Should anything go wrong, rolling back is trivial.
Manjaro is a fine distribution but it has the one glaring shortcoming that is, it is Arch based. Since I have had such a bad taste in my mouth for Arch, I just wouldn’t consider using this. Perhaps, if my first experience with Arch was Manjaro, things would be different. Had I not ever messed with Pacman maybe I wouldn’t be so obstinate about it. Although, fundamentally, I am not real confident in the QA process of Manjaro or any Arch based distribution. I would be more inclined to trust it if it was built on something like the Open Build Service with openQA automating the testing process to knock out most of the rough edges along with user testing.
For me, I will stick with my openSUSE Tumbleweed with my snapshot rollback system, should the automated and human testing allow something to slip through that takes my system down or I muck about, I can always undo it and keep sailing.
Just because I am over biased about Arch, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give Manjaro a try. It is certainly well done and the developers have a fantastic passion for the project. That passion alone is almost enough to nullify all my reservations about the project.
My 6th noodling might be my longest noodling yet. It started out a bit light but then after reading I just got a bit too excited. If you want to skip to the end where I do a little self-deprecation and ignore the meat of it, that is very understandable.
I took my kids to the symphony this past Sunday. It was hugely beneficial to have the kids experience a symphonic performance. It made for a pretty decent lesson about the benefits of working together. When the orchestral members were warming up before they begin the performance there is a cacophony of sounds and although individually, the instruments sound nice, together it sounds like a mess. When the performance started and the conductor did his conducting, keeping everyone on pace and on the “same sheet of music” as it were, you could listen and imagine the story of events in the mind’s eye. Everything from serious and intense melodies to whimsical light hearted tones. Although my kids could only manage to sit through an hour of the performance, there were lots of lessons to be extracted about the benefits of working together.
How this can be applied to the Linux community is as such. When we work together, in harmony with one another, we can make for some amazing results. Whether it is the latest Ubuntu MATE, the newest release of Plasma or helping someone through a tech question, by working together in a kind and respectful tone we can achieve great things. I am of the belief that all Linux is good Linux and by making any one aspect better, we make it all better, regardless of the flavor of Linux or desktop you choose.
Let’s make some beautiful music
Dell Latitude E6440 Caddy Drive Bay
My primary machine that I am using I didn’t choose lightly, I wanted a lot of flexibility in a fairly small package. Since I like to test things in VM, I wanted to have the option of a third hard drive. What I discovered is that it doesn’t seem to matter how much storage I have available, I seem to fill it up. I am starting to think that maybe I have a problem.
I do clean out my drives from time to time but I find that the more space I have, the sloppier I am about cleaning up the cruft. I am preparing to build a system with a heck of a lot more storage and after making my hard drive purchases, I realized, I may have purchased too small of drives. If this is the case, I think I have a strategy to compensate for this.
I did create a YouTube video of the ease of using the drive bay for additional storage as I knew it would be a short thing and provide me an opportunity to edit something together. A consequence of the additional drive has resulted in me rarely poping in the optical drive. Perhaps my needs for optical media is fading?
I recently change over all my cordless power tools to the DeWalt 20V max line. I do spend a lot of time outside of the cubicle doing non-cubicle activities and I have recorded much of it and scripted some things out to share my findings and reasoning from the perspective of a Linux Geek. Although power tools are not strictly a nerdy activity, there is a lot of nerdiness to be had. My specific high points of what I find is that the price per tool combined with the watt-hour of use per charge and number of charges per battery made it the best bang for your buck. The other main factor is the variety of tools I have available to me with this one battery platform. In an effort to simplify my life, this is what I have chosen and so far, it has exceeded my expectations.
BDLL Follow up
One of the things I like about BigDaddyLinux Live is the discussion we have on there. Some of it, I don’t have much to contribute as it is either outside my area of expertise or maybe I am still forming my opinions. There were two topics that really engaged me last Saturday. The first being developing on Linux and the second on virtual memory or in Linux called Swap.
On development, there is a lot of negativity towards Electron applications from some in the Linux community. In short, an Electron application is a cross platform thing that allows a developer to make an application for Linux, MacOS and Windows. One of those things is really cool and the other two, not as much. The benefit is, it is an easy way to maintain a single codebase and maximize the number of platforms that can reached.
The draw backs are that Electron is quite inefficient. The storage space it takes up is fairly extensive and the RAM usage is also weighty. With newer computers, this is not an issue. If you have 16 or 32 GiB of RAM this isn’t an issue, if you have 2 or 4 GiB of RAM this can be an issue.
A discussion that start on the Discourse and made its way into the show was about using Swap in Linux when there is so much RAM available in modern systems. The question is to Swap or not to Swap and how much Swap and what kind of Swap. I recommend watching BDLL from 05 October 2019 for the extended discussion or going to the BDLL Discourse for opinions outside of mine.
Swap reminds me a lot of the bank switching that was common on 8-bit computers of old except instead of keeping the data in a switchable bank, this is putting it on a hard drive or SSD. The issue I find with Swap is if you are really taxing your system, you can end up with having a lot of disk thrashing that can really bring your system down to a crawl.
For my primary machine, I have set aside 17 GiB of Swap space, just in case. I have used it on more than one occasion… maybe due to Electron apps and it has come in handy when I haven’t paid attention to memory usage when using Google Chrome. Swap space on the two Acer AspireOne netbooks I set up for my kids gets used pretty regularly. Whenever using the a web browser they do dip into the swap space often.
Since I’ve been using Linux now for quite some time, I have the space to spare and I do take advantage of the hibernate to disk (or SSD) function from time to time, I set my system up with a Swap partition. It is an old fashion and inflexible approach and I am okay with that. The benefits of a swap file are probably greater but since openSUSE makes it very easy set up a Swap partition and I know what I am getting with it. That is what I will stick with, for now.
openSUSE Leap to SLE
An often forgotten bit of openSUSE that makes is rather remarkable is how closely the Leap project is with the SLE project. One of my good E-friends, Mauro, who does the Linux thing as a profession, not a hobby and home-gamer like me was telling me how easy it is to move a client from an unsupported openSUSE Leap system to a SUSE Linux Enterprise support contract without disruption.
I know that this is not possible with CentOS and Red Hat but with Canonical’s Ubuntu it is essentially the same distribution. What I find interesting is the different executions of each of the distributions of integrating community based projects with commercial offerings. My preference here is the [open]SUSE model as it seems like a cleaner approach, though I see the benefits of the Canonical method too.
Many updates included gcc9 version 9.2.1, gcc8 version 8.3.1, gcc7 version 7.4.1, Plasma Framework 5.62.0, Plasma Workspace 5.16.5, Xorg-X11-server 1.20.5, Kernel 5.3.1 and several bug fixes around YaST and PulseAudio and a bug around not being able to duplex print with Okular.
The Tumbleweed Snapshot reviewer gives 20190923 a stable score of a 97; 20190925 a stable score of 98; 20190926 a stable score of 98; and 20190927 a moderate score of 83.
If you want to lock yourself on the latest Stable snapshot from the 26th of September:
tumbleweed switch --install 20190926
Project Name Change Vote
As of today, the polls are open for a name change on the project. I did cast my vote and after reading through the mailing list, there is a little bit if heat concerning the issue. Ultimately, the hope is that it is a clear in favor or not in favor of the name change. If it is closer to a 50-50 split, that can potentially be more problematic. I personally am hoping that we just keep the status quo. Although I do agree that some of the legal constraints with the relationship to SUSE can be problematic for end-user experience, things like codec installation and such. There are some benefits with the brand association, especially in respect to the SLE to Leap for those that are in the space of selling solutions.
The sixth openSUSE Asia Summit just concluded this past weekend. It took place at the Fakultas Teknik of the Universitas Udayana in Bali, Indonesia. There were a number of participants that traveled from 20 different nations around the world to join the students at the university. Students not only made their first contributions to open source technology but also volunteered with running the summit.
The Beta version of Plasma 5.17 was released with new features and improvements such as per-screen fractional scaling on Wayland and a new User Interface for configuring permissions of Thunderbolt devices and network statistics in KSysGuard. Due to increase in user privileges with this feature is being examined by the SUSE security team.
openQA found a few bugs with GIMP, some applications were mixing Kirigami and Qt Widgets that were breaking some keyboard shortcuts that were addressed and will be fixed in the final release of Plasma 5.17.
Leap 15.2 will see some major version upgrades of many components such as a new version of the Linux Kernel, Qt 5.12 LTS, Plasma 5.18 LTS and the latest KDE Frameworks and Applications. A full Wayland session that arrived in Tumbleweed a few weeks ago will be available in Leap 15.2. Testers are welcome to ensure the best user experience possible.
Qt 5.14 branch is still in early stages but the development teams have been busy integrating it into openSUSE builds. Bugs have been identified and most of them fixed so it is possible to build projects against Qt 5.14. One of the most user visible features is the implementation for scaling for HiDPI displays that was mostly rewritten and hardware acceleration for Qt Quick using a new abstraction layer. It can also take advantage of the Vulcan API.
I was able to get my Commodore 64 under its own power to access the IRC chat rooms, specifically the BigDaddyLinuxLive room where I was able to chat with such folks as Bill, Popey, Chris and another Allen. It is very satisfying experience. More on that here:
I recently had jury duty and the courthouse in my small-ish community, Windows 7 which is near end of life. For each bit of evidence, they used CDs and DVDs to store each individual item as evidence.
Building a Computer
I am building a computer for the first time in a very long time. I want to do it on a budget. I received some components at no cost to me, the case and motherboard so that drove the purchasing of the rest of the products.
Motherboard MSI 970A-G43
AMD FX-9590 CPU
Memory, 32 GiB DDR3 1866MHz
Video Card RX570
Storage 6x 2-TiB drives
1000 Watt Power Supply
Rather large case
All for about $350.00
More on this in the future.
Acer AspireOne Netbooks
Recently Set up two AspireOne Notebooks with openSUSE Tumbleweed using the Xfce environment. Initially one had had 1 GiB of RAM but an SSD, the other with 2 GiB of RAM and a slightly faster CPU but with a traditional hard drive.
Told after the fact two points of advice, whip the egg whites before you add the sugar, contrary to the directions and questioning whether or not there was any amount of egg yolk.
BDLL Follow Up
Manjaro is the current Distro Challenge… It’s Arch based so…
Eric Adams talked about how people can get “bug apathy” when they experience a problem on Linux or other open source software. know that I am guilty of that.
Bug reporting is something we Linux or free and open source software users should do. The vast majority of the software I don’t pay for, it’s open source and I believe that I have a social contract with these developers and maintainers to either help with the project or donate to it.
LibreOffice and openSUSE communities are having a joint conference next year in Nuremburg, German. For this special conference, they are having a logo competition. A logo is believed essential for the conference and they want to visualize both communities during this co-conference. LibreOffice will celebrate its 10-year anniversary and openSUSE will celebrate its 15-year anniversary during the conference.
There have been discussions about the “openSUSE Project logo & name change” that started in June 2019 on the openSUSE Project mailing list. The Election Committee received a request from the Board to conduct a vote whereby openSUSE members can indicate whether they are for or against the project name change.
The voting will start on Oct. 10 and end on Oct. 31, which will provide three weeks for members to vote. The result will be announced on Nov. 1.
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…
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…
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.