KDE Connect CLI | A gift to Future Self

terminal-icon

KDE Connect is an application that I use on a daily basis between my mobile and my desktop or laptop Linux systems. Most of my systems are openSUSE machines running KDE Plasma and the mobile devices are running LineageOS (Android). Up until I decided to run a non-KDE Plasma desktop.

​I was given the distinct pleasure in getting to know the KDE Connect Command Line Interface application when pairing devices to a BunsenLabs and MX Linux installation. The main reason for this was to be able to share clipboards and use my HP TouchPad as an input device for the machine.

The commands are mostly easy to use. This is a guide for me, if it works for you, fantastic. If you have no interest in this, that is perfectly fine too.

Installation

Install using your favorite graphical package manager or in the terminal.

openSUSE

sudo zypper install kdeconnect-cli

Debian Based

sudo apt-get install kdeconnect-cli

Process to Pair Device

There are two ways you can go about doing this. From the terminal on the non-Plasma system to a system with either Android KDE Plasma or the reverse. I am going to demonstrate this the fun way, which is from the terminal to the GUI systems.

Assuming that you have configured your firewall to allow KDE Connect communication, in short 1714-1764 for UDP and TCP connections, check with your distribution for firewall instructions, or here for the KDE Community instructions. Optionally, here for the openSUSE Instructions.
In the terminal run this to find KDE Connect enabled devices:

kdeconnect-cli -l

That will give you output something like this:

– TouchPADD: device_ID (reachable)
– SkyHigh: device_ID (reachable)
– Icarus: device_ID (reachable)
– Nexus5X: device_ID (reachable)
4 devices found

Now that you have identified the devices you will need to pair the device

kdeconnect-cli -d device_ID --pair

On the device you are attempting to connect to, you will see the notification that the a device is attempting to connect
kde connect pair notification

Accept it and move on to the next device you that you wish to connect.

How I am using it

I am using my TouchPADD as another input device for the non-KDE Plasma system, I am also using it to share clipboard contents between machines as well, usually URLs.

Final Thoughts

There are many more function of KDE Connect you can do in the terminal. You can play around with KDE Connect in the terminal by running.

kdeconnect-cli --help

The only other command I have used is to ping another device

kdeconnect-cli -d device_ID --ping

Since I couldn’t find any resources that plainly explained how to use the terminal commands so it was fitting to jot it down. Hopefully you find this useful.

Further Reading

https://community.kde.org/KDEConnect

https://en.opensuse.org/SDB:KDE_Connect

KDE Connect – Mobile and Desktop Convergence

MX Linux | Review from an openSUSE User

BunsenLabs Linux | Review from an openSUSE User

https://lineageos.org/

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openSUSE Linux on a Dell Inspiron 3646 | Low Budget Multimedia Configuration for a Small Church

Churches generally have no budget for technology and frankly, I don’t think that a church should really avoid spending on technology as much as possible. I’m sure this isn’t a view many people share but it is my view. I believe it using whatever is available whenever possible and only making upgrades or purchasing new hardware when it is absolutely necessary.

There are several pieces of equipment in varying states of age and functionality. I haven’t sorted out everything, yet, and it is also not completely on my shoulders, as another tech and audio enthusiast in the church, Phil, has taken care of the audio equipment. It is all a work in progress.

My focus, for now, is to restore multimedia capabilities of the computer, Dell Inspiron 3646 and even improve it somewhat. Upon my initial assessment, I knew what my first steps were.

The Problems

Dell Inspiron 3646-04-System.jpgThe machine originally came equipped with Windows 10 which would annoyingly upgrade at the the most inopportune time and using it on under powered hardware is often problematic. The few times I spent any amount of time on the machine, it didn’t perform very well but it was working and I wasn’t really interested in thrusting the greatness of Linux on those not ready for it.

At some point in time, the system fell into disarray and I was recently asked to see what I could do to make the computer functional. Phil had already made the sound system functional enough to be used so it was my turn to make the computer functional.

Like it or not, sometimes your volunteers have things come up and just don’t make it in one day leaving the available workers short handed. Back in my days of childhood, multimedia meant slide show or overhead projector, but it’s hard to convinced a 20 something pastor that the right investment with no budget is a slide projector…

The Limitations

A budget of zero, or rather, whatever I am willing to dig up to make improvements. Since I had already been informed there is no budget for any upgrades or equipment, I was only going to do what was necessary to make the computer system as functional as possible. I already knew, with the power and capabilities of Linux, I could make substantial improvements very easily.

Here is the hardware I have to work with:

  • Dell Inspiron 3646
  • Intel Celeron CPU J1800 @ 2.41 GHz
  • 4GB RAM
  • Single Head Video Output
  • A bunch of other audio equipment with which to integrate

Preparing the Installation

I prepared a USB drive with openSUSE Leap 15.0. I downloaded the ISO from here and put the image on an ISO using SUSE Studio Imagewriter. Once the image completed writing, I inserted the drive into the Dell Inspiron 3646 and powered it up.

In order to access the BIOS, when the machine is going through the POST process and you are greeted with the Dell Logo, press F2. Since openSUSE is capable of handling secure boot without issue, I didn’t have to change anything. I just wanted to be sure that the BIOS was picking up the USB drive and I wanted to see the main screen so I could record the main bits of the hardware.

Dell Inspiron 3546-01-BIOS

I set this machine up with KDE Plasma because, is there really another choice? I mean, yes, of course there is but I didn’t want to have to fiddle with anything to get the features I wanted so my only real choice was of course going to be Plasma.

Since I like what I like when setting up the partitions, I did it manually to my preferences. I prefer the swap partition over the swap file and I am using BTRFS on root with snapshots enabled. BTRFS has been a rock solid performer in this capacity. I use XFS on /home. I was going to use Ext4 but the only reason for that would be for Dropbox compatibility and frankly, I just stopped using Dropbox due to their technical shortcomings.

Dell Inspiron 3546-02-partitions

After boot up, the system was all set. It required a few more software packages, firstly, the Plasma Browser Integration. In terminal:

sudo zypper install plasma-browser-integration

It actually may not be necessary to have to explicitly install this software package as the desktop it is supposed to automatically ask you if you want it installed.

Next I installed the Plasma Add-on for Firefox.

Plasma Integration Add-on

Finally, I installed all the Codecs and VLC into this machine using my multimedia codecs and VLC player instructions for Leap 15.0.

The last bit to configure was KDE Connect. Initially just with my Android phone, mostly for demonstration purposes. I also was presented with an opportunity to do a “live test” as well.

After some tests, it all worked just as expected and the machine performed much better than it did previously… exceptionally better… Not to belabor the point but before the machine was rather sluggish and I didn’t expect anything fantastic but this machine really does perform fantastically well.

Changes and Upgrades

This machine has only one VGA output and it was previously set up with a splitter cable that when plugged into both the monitor and the projector, the output would shut down. I don’t know if that is how it has been used or not but I determined it needed a proper splitter. I picked one up, hooked it up and I now have a unified output between the screen and projector.

VGA Splitter.jpg

I actually thought that this machine was going to require more memory to function well enough but it isn’t necessary at this time. This machine isn’t being taxed at all. KDE Plasma, even with all the fun I was running did not tax the machine at all.

How it’s working now

I am sure that there are a few more “bugs” to be worked out, mostly with the human to machine interaction. Mostly, I need to properly document the process of turning it on and off the system properly as well as how to pair Android phones or tablets to allow other workers to use the KDE Connect features. I have helped two people completely unfamiliar with KDE Connect, use it and it be impressed with it.

The feature that stood out the most was the ability to share a YouTube URL from the phone directly to the computer to have it open immediately and play. A feature I have enjoy for quite some time and have become quite accustomed was new and exciting to the unfamiliar. The multimedia controls, also quite handy and when I demonstrated the ability to use the phone to switch slides on LibreOffice Impress using only the volume keys, all well received

I still need to create some documentation to allow anyone to be able to use it without my direct intervention. For now, I am going to make myself available to help people become accustomed to this “new” system.

Future upgrades

Since some of the volunteers do Add a dedicated “burner” tablet so that volunteers don’t need to install KDE Connect on their phones. After I was reviewing some of my photographs, I noticed that there is an HDMI port on this computer. I am going to see about adapting that port to VGA and for multi head capability. The next upgrade would be a memory upgrade. 4 GiB of RAM, although good enough for now it would be nice to to have just a bit more. I haven’t opened the machine up but I am guessing there are at least 2 slots and one of them filled and the other is open. Of course, I need to check for certain before I start buying hardware.

Not directly related to this computer, there is a need to make further refinements to the attached sound system and determine what the issue is with the lighting control system.

Final Thoughts

The Dell Inspiron 3646 is a fine machine that, in my estimation has many years of service ahead of it. I have to say, once again, how amazing it is how much more efficient Linux is than Windows on less capable machine. The  computer’s functionality would greatly improved with a second display.

The sound system to which it is connected and the lighting controller are going to need a bit more attention. I am not sure exactly where to start or if I should even be the one to touch it. There is an annoying 60 Hz hum that needs to be eliminated. Then there is the matter with the lighting controller. Currently, it does nothing, no lights work. I am not sure yet where the breakdown is but I will figure it out eventually.

This is only the first in many steps to slowly making the information system situation in the church better. This is not the “main effort” in the church which is perfect for me. No budget, no attention and no one else that interest in finding solutions.

External Links

openSUSE Leap Download

http://philoangelo.blogspot.com/

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power-on_self-test

Multimedia Codecs Terminal

 

Just a Christmas Day Blathering | Linux Makes it Better

CubicleNate-Christmas-2018-2Christmastime is my favorite time of the year but I am not so much a fan of the cold and the darkness. Regardless, I love all that Christmas is supposed to be about along with some of the trappings of the pop culture effect on Christmas. Growing up, much of the Christmas time celebration with family didn’t take place until just after December 25th. I enjoyed the old-world twelve days of Christmas style of celebrating Christmas time. Starting December 1st we would celebrate Advent but would generally put the tree up on or near Christmas Eve. The First day of Christmas was understood as December 25th and we would keep our tree up through at least to Epiphany. Today, it seems like Christmas starts November 1st, if department stores merchandising has anything to say about it. I realize that this early debut of Christmas irritates many but I don’t mind at all. For me, when I stop passing out Halloween candy at 8pm, I turn on the Christmas music and begin that transition. It is what makes the cold, dark days of the winter so much more bearable.

There are some downsides to this time of year, the elevated levels of hustle and bustle which makes it easy in which to get lost in the chaos. Keeping everything straight and on the right course is a continual challenge. This is where Linux makes the holiday season much better, more efficient. It is kind of like a life-hack that makes doing more possible. Beyond the obvious like tracking everything in a calendar, there are other tools Linux makes easily available. Life gets real busy this time of year, and without the right tools it is real easy forego the activities for which you look most forward, the things you enjoy, like put up Christmas lights.

Christmas Lights-2018-01.jpg
They are all LED lights… except for that wreath.

Every year, I make it a point to add to my Christmas movie collection. You can’t have Christmas without the seasonally appropriate movies. I’ll pick up a DVD or two and use Handbrake to create a digital copy and use VLC to play them back throughout the Christmas season.

Another great thing about Christmastime is the baked goods. There are a number of things I like to bake, cookies, pies, pumpkin rolls… I do it as often as I can for school, church and family functions. Keeping it all straight and accessible is easy, thanks to software like Gnome-Recipes.

Dell Inspiron 20 3048-09-Gnome Recipes

Sure, you can use books, papers and sticky notes to save your recipes but utilizing technology makes it so much more efficient. Thanks to the power and efficiency of openSUSE Linux, I am able to keep my recipes at the ready on my Kitchen Command Center.

Christmas-Cookies-2018-01.jpg

I am not a fan of the cold, but I do enjoy Christmastime very much. The dark and cold of Southwestern Michigan is much more bearable when you have a joys of family, delicious food and the lights of Christmastime. All the more reason to extend the season to the right and left of December 25th.

The way I see it, today is the first day of the twelve days of Christmas, but maybe the next eleven days think about some way you can spread some Christmas kindness to the people around you. Just because the presents have been exchanged and the terrestrial radio stations stopped playing the Christmas classics doesn’t mean the season is over. There is nothing stopping you from giving the gift of Linux… The hustle of the season is over, take a little time to genuinely share some Christmas kindness with those around you.

Further Reading

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

Gnome Recipes on openSUSE Tumbleweed

openSUSE Tumbleweed on Dell Inspiron 20 3048 All-In-One Desktop

Minitube a YouTube Application on openSUSE

Minitube on openSUSE-sm.png

I’m not sure how I stumbled upon this handy little application but it’s great. It is used for watching YouTube videos without the bloat of a browser or having to log into Google for subscriptions. There is a lot to like about this application as it provides, in many ways, a better YouTube experience. As of recent, it seems like YouTube is getting more bloated with features you don’t need and is getting increasingly irritating to use. There is a drawback, I do want to “like” and occasionally comment on videos to which you cannot do with Minitube but at least you are giving the content creators another “view”.

Installation

When visiting the Minitube home page that there is a Windows, Mac and Ubuntu version available, there isn’t a listed option for openSUSE, not even mentioned but that is not a problem. Some fantastic member of the openSUSE community has taken care of it for you and it is in the official repository for both Leap and Tumbleweed. The easiest method of installation is to utilize the one-click installation method here:

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

Alternatively, you can jump into a nice cozy terminal and fire this off:

sudo zypper install minitube

Once installed, it shows up in the menu under the “Multimedia” section.

Features

When you start it up, you are greeted with a simple screen where you can search for your desired video. It is just that easy.

Minitube-01-Search

Alternatively, you can browse for content based on topic of which they have listed 11 topics to choose: Most Popular, Film & Animation, Autos & Vehicles, Music, Pets & Animals, Sports, Gaming, Comedy, Entertainment, How to & Style and Science & Technology.

Minitube-02-Browse

Once you have subscribed to a channel, that is stored locally only and you can review those subscriptions in the Subscriptions “tab”. There you can watch what is new on that particular channel. Alternatively, you can select “All Videos” or “Unwatched Videos.”

Minitube-03-Subscriptions

A nice feature here is that, if you select All Videos or Unwatched Videos, it will make a kind of playlist intermixing the different channels, sorted by newest to oldest allowing you to just let it run if you so choose.

Minitube-05-Playing Subscriptions

Should you want to subscribe to a particular channel, there is a small bookmark looking icon next to the channel name. The icon is a bit counter-intuitive as it shows the bookmark with a red “X” when you have subscribed.

Minitube-04-BDLL

A fantastic feature, that is great if you have kids, is a “Restricted Mode” which hides videos that may contain inappropriate content. I don’t know how effective the filter is but even if it is partially successful, I would at least call that partially a success.

What I Like

This client is fast and efficient. It doesn’t have all the irritating lagging of using YouTube in a browser. Although that can be fixed in Firefox so that it doesn’t lag as much, this is still much faster. I like the way it handles subscriptions, does not require signing into Google, does protect users at least somewhat with a restricted mode.

If you watch something and want to go to the YouTube page to comment, like or look at the description, it is as easy as a right-click and “Open In Browser” or Ctrl+B.

I like how it turns your subscriptions into a playlist automatically. This is handy if you have a bunch of videos to catch up on and you have to knock out a few baskets of laundry in the living room.

What I Don’t Like

There are a few bugs. Very often, stopping the video will only stop it momentarily and it will continue when you are on another tab of the player. The navigation of the application is a bit clunky. When watching a video, there isn’t an obvious way to navigate around back to your subscriptions page or to the Browse page.

Just as much as it is a positive that this doesn’t talk to your Google account, I also think that it is somewhat unfortunate that it doesn’t connect somewhere so that you can keep track of what you have watch across machines. Perhaps a future feature but there are times I start a video in my “SuperCubicle” and move on to the Kitchen or the Living room computers. It would be nice to be able to keep them all synchronized. The work around for that is to check the timer to see how far you are in the video. Just a thought, but this could possibly be done with a simple config file that stores information about the last video watched that could be synchronized between machines using Syncthing.

Final Thoughts

I have been using Minitube on and off and there is a lot to like about it. First and foremost, it is efficient, uses only about 233 MiB of RAM to run the application and play a video so it is certainly lighter than running YouTube in a browser. There are also a few nitnoid issues with it but I am certain those will smooth out over time.

I highly encourage you to try Minitube to see if this is something that would make sense for you. It is a visually nice interface, very responsive and pretty straight forward to use. It does give you the option to jump into a browser to watch the video so there really is nothing lost in using this over exclusively using the browser. Personally, I do see this as a fine piece of software that I am thankful to have.

Further Reading

Minitube Home

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

YouTube Classic Extension on Firefox

Syncthing on openSUSE

Solus | Review from an openSUSE User

Solus review title

I have been trying other Linux distributions as of late, not due to any dissatisfaction of openSUSE, quite the contrary, I haven’t been more satisfied with openSUSE. The fun of Linux is the variety of expression in solving similar user problems. Solus is a distribution that does pretty much everything its own way. I don’t know all the technical details but I do know that it has its own package management system and strict guidelines that claims to be more efficient than other Linux distributions. This is my very biased review of Solus.

Installation

I prefer to test out distributions in a Virtual Machine (VM). I will agree that you can’t get the FULL experience with a VM but you can at least make some of the evaluations and determine if you are willing to commit at a greater scale to the operating system.

I downloaded Solus from here. I prefer to download using torrents instead of direct in an effort to relieve the Solus server of my traffic and seed the network for a while. The download is a modest 1.4 GiB size ISO. At the time of writing, I installed version 3.999. Also note, I downloaded the torrent as to not tax their servers and as a very tiny way of giving back, I leave the torrent going on my machine until I hit a ratio of 1.

I set up the VM for Solus, started the installation process. This ISO is a live cd which gives me the desktop, I suppose as a preview, and the option to Install the operating system.

Solus-01-Live CD

The installer walks you through the process very nicely. I have no complaints about the installer.

You start out by setting your language and give the installer an opportunity to detect your location, which worked perfectly for me.

Next you choose your keyboard and your timezone. I do feel like that is an extra step as they could have bundled that in sooner but really, that is just a nitpick. Not a complaint.

The disk options are very straight forward as well. Just have to answer how you want to install Solus. In this case, I am erasing the disk entirely. Then determine if you want any additional disk options. I chose none.

The configuration of the Hostname and bootloader then your users is very straight forward. It should be noted, that you must use all lowercase for your hostname in Solus. I have used mix cases on openSUSE for years which I like to camel case some hostnames. Logging in has never been a problem as I haven’t had any case sensitivity issues ever bite me.

Confirm the users then proceed to install the operating system. You are prompted to make sure that you are absolutely certain you want to commit to the install. The installer was pretty swift. I failed to take a screen shot of the process so nothing to show there.

Solus-13-Complete

The reward to your efforts, you are given a happy “Installation Complete” message and an option to restart now.

First Run

Unfortunately, the first run was not a success at all. I even attempted to reinstall Solus in the VM and again on another VM with tweaked settings. I was still not able to get Solus working in a VM.

Solus-15-Install booted on VM

I was unsuccessful in correcting this so I decided to install Solus on my aging Aspire One Netbook.

Solus-17-Install on AspireOne

It installed and worked fantastically well on this machine. It did hurt a bit to install over openSUSE Tumbleweed but I hadn’t been using this machine much since I fixed my Lenovo ideapad.

Solus-18-Disks

Once the machine booted up. I checked for updates and there were plenty. Like many distributions, you are prompted for a password to do updates. Not as much of a fan of this but it seems to be quite common.

Solus-19-Updates

The odd thing with the updates is, when I completed the first round of updates, there were more updates but I couldn’t do the next round of updates because the system would no longer accept my password. I rebooted the machine, which was really quite fast, and I was able to use my credentials once again to complete the updates. Upon completion of those updates there were more updates and again the system would not accept my credentials. A second reboot, completed a third round of updates and this time there were no further updates. I proceeded to install Telegram. I appreciated seeing it readily available for installation.

Solus-22-Install Telegram.jpg

I was, however, not able to install it because once again, the system would not accept my credentials, so I had to do a third reboot to install Telegram. I found this a bit aggravating but to be fair this is release 3.999 so I am sure they are still working out some of the issues. Like all Linux distributions, they are a continual work in progress.

What I Like

The installer looks great and is easy to use. I see no stumbling there for a new user. The software installer is also intuitive. The search feature works well and I found what I wanted in the repository. I find this to be pretty typical of most distributions so no surprise there.

Solus has a very pleasant desktop that is clean and modern looking. It has a kind of minimalist feel to it, almost serene by comparison to how I keep my KDE Plasma Desktop. Notifications applets side panel is also a very clean and intuitive layout. Compared to Deepin, I would say I like this approach better. Although, in comparison to the KDE Plasma Status & Notification, I still prefer how Plasma presents the information.

I do appreciate the default menu in Solus. It has the menu structure and favorites or common applications adjacent one another. The search is at the top of the menu so finding what you want is efficient.

Solus-21-Menu

The default theme is great, albeit too light for my liking. The new icons are well done, very modern and visually appealing. The task bar is the right color, dark. It has a task bar and a system tray which are important features in any desktop.

The most important feature is the boot time. Solus boots fast, it was especially crazy fast on an 8 year old netbook. I am not sure what special sauce the Solus Team uses to make this possible but this is fantastic.

What I Don’t Like

Something that I found odd about Solus was this mishmash of dialog box theming, some translucent dark, others are opaque white. I haven’t determined why exactly but after finding the switch to the dark theme, I didn’t see this as an issue. Also note, I didn’t initially see any obvious way to customize the theme initially. Thanks to some help from those on the BDLL Telegram chat, they directed me to how to switch the appearance through the right-side notification panel.

I wasn’t able to install Solus in Virtual Box, which is very annoying. I have been able to in previous versions of Solus, of which I have done testing in the past. This is a rather important feature, for me.

Solus is really focused on being a desktop distribution. it doesn’t seem like it is as well suited for server applications. Although, since Snap packages are supported in Solus, I don’t see why Solus couldn’t be used to run Nextcloud or some other service.

Final Thoughts

Solus is and has been a fantastic distribution. If I were to be without openSUSE for some reason, Solus would be a top contender based largely on the speed, efficiency and generally well tuned nature of the distribution. Although I didn’t test KDE Plasma, I have heard great things about it and if I were to give Solus another spin, I would certainly go there next.

Just a note, I did notice that Solus with Budgie uses more system resources than openSUSE Tumbleweed with KDE Plasma. Solus with Budgie uses 446 MiB with a vanilla system vs openSUSE at 382 MiB. I imagine it is due to the dependencies that Budgie has on Gnome.

As nice as Solus is with all it’s incredibly fine tuned engineering and strict packaging guidelines that feeds into its efficiency, I find it a bit too… strict. This model is likely fine for most but I don’t feel like it is mine. The more open model of openSUSE just feels like a better fit for me.

Further Reading

Solus Home

Install Snaps on Solus

Lenovo ideapad 110S Repair | UEFI Partition Currupted

bigdaddylinux.com

ltunify | Tool for working with Logitech Unifying receivers and devices on openSUSE

I recently became increasingly annoyed using the Touchpad portion of this wireless keyboard. Touchpads just are not as efficient as a real mouse. The touchpad is fine for very simple navigation but for doing anything that requires much traversing around the screen combined with much left and right-mouse button clicking is almost unusable. Maybe if this keyboard had real left and right mouse buttons, this wouldn’t be so bad.

Microsoft Wireless Keyboard Touchpad.jpg

I happened to have an orphaned Logitech receiver doing nothing in one of my many drawers of horded electronics. All I needed was a mouse to pair up with it. Since this one is one of those Logitech Unifying Receivers, all I needed was a Logitech mouse that was compatible with it. I went to my favorite place to buy used electronics, eBay, to get the cheapest thing I could find. I came upon a Logitech M185 Wireless Mouse which I ended up winning for $3.00, so a great deal.

Logitech Unifying Receiver and M185 Mouse.jpg

Next, I had to pair this newly acquired mouse with my Unifying Receiver. To do so, I needed to install the Ltunify application.

Installation

Like nearly everything on openSUSE, installing software through the official, experimental or community repositories is easy to do. The easiest method is using the one-click installation from here:

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

Or if you prefer the terminal, which I happen to, you will have to add a repository then install the application.

Repository for Tumbleweed

sudo zypper ar http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/hardware/openSUSE_Tumbleweed/ Hardware

Repository for Leap 15.0

sudo zypper ar http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/hardware/openSUSE_Leap_15.0/ Hardware

Refresh all repositories

sudo zypper ref

Install the application

sudo zypper in ltunify

Application Usage

Once the application is installed, I just typed ltunify -h in the terminal to see the help and gain some understanding on how to use this.

# ltunify -h
Usage: ltunify [options] cmd [cmd options]
Logitech Unifying tool version
Copyright (C) 2013 Peter Wu <lekensteyn@gmail.com>

Generic options:
-d, –device path Bypass detection, specify custom hidraw device.
-D Print debugging information
-h, –help Show this help message

Commands:
list – show all paired devices
pair [timeout] – Try to pair within “timeout” seconds (1 to 255,
default 0 which is an alias for 30s)
unpair idx – Unpair device
info idx – Show more detailed information for a device
receiver-info – Show information about the receiver
In the above lines, “idx” refers to the device number shown in the
first column of the list command (between 1 and 6). Alternatively, you
can use the following names (case-insensitive):
Keyboard Mouse Numpad Presenter Trackball Touchpad

From here I could see that this was going to be super simple. As root, I ran this

ltunify pair

Then turned the mouse on immediately. As soon as the mouse paired the terminal returned to the command prompt. To verify the mouse was paired, I ran the command

ltunify list

To which I was happy to see that the new mouse was now paired along with the broken mouse I once had.

Devices count: 2
Connected devices:
idx=1   Mouse   Performance MX
idx=2   Mouse   M185

To remove that device no longer being used, that is just as easy as pairing

ltunify unpair 1

Now my receiver is happily paired exclusively with the new mouse for my Kitchen Command Center Computer and I am no longer encumbered by a buttonless touchpad, navigating around a spreadsheet, document or anything of that nature.

Final Thoughts

Logitech is pretty awesome for having this Unifying Receiver device. It makes losing a dongle to a Logitech mouse or keyboard not such a big deal. It even frees up ports as you can have one receiver paired with 6 devices. That, in my opinion, makes Logitech devices more valuable than others and so long as they keep up with this convenient-for-the-user focus. They will keep my business.

Further Reading

ltunify from software.opensuse.org

Logitech Unifying Receiver

Kitchen Command Center Computer: Dell Inspiron 20 3048 All-In-One Desktop

ltunify on GitHub

openSUSE Tumbleweed on Dell Inspiron 20 3048 All-In-One Desktop

Dell Inspiron 20 3048-00-Title

For quite some time, I have been noodling around an idea about adding a “new” Linux machine to my home with a specific purpose and requirements in mind. The primary purpose of this machine would be to enhance my organization and reduce wasted time. I also had a very specific form factor requirement for my use case, an all-in-one computer with a touch screen interface and VESA mount capability. I needed it to be new enough but it didn’t have to be too new. I did months of searching and watching and finally ended up with the Dell Inspiron 20 3048 All-In-One Desktop.

Why?

I have a smaller kitchen and I spend a lot of time in it. I had a laptop or Chromebook taking up valuable counter space which had at times become problematic. Generally, that laptop or Chromebook would be tied into my CoolVox, a refrigerator sound system. I stopped using the Chromebook for this because it would do crazy things with the audio such as play at maximum volume and not allow me to adjust it. The openSUSE Linux machines were far more reliable with Bluetooth audio. The kitchen machine would be used for entertainment purposes, music, podcasts, YouTube videos or Netflix while I am doing what needs to be done.

I have been using the KDE Personal Information Manager, Kontact, for keeping my life organized for quite some time. I have several calendars some Google, some iCal and they are used for different purposes. As much as I like Kontact and Akonadi for managing this data, they can get a bit resource intense from time to time so one of my 2 GB machines would not be adequate. I tried the paper calendar trick but it just wasn’t as sustainable if I changed something, I wouldn’t always put it back in the digital calendar or I would forget to print a new one… it was too clumsy.

e6440-01-smI was not satisfied with any of my current solutions as they made the kitchen feel cluttered and taking my Dell Latitude E6440 in the potential harms way of kitchen messes just wasn’t a good idea. Getting an All-In-One that I could mount to the wall would clean up my kitchen and be a focal point to keep better organized.

Interestingly, this machine came preinstalled with Windows 10. I wanted to see how well it worked on this machine before blowing it away and installing openSUSE Tumbleweed. Unfortunately, it didn’t even successfully boot.

Dell Inspiron 20 3048-02-Windows Fail

The Hardware

I didn’t want to spend a lot but I didn’t want to go too cheap. I also didn’t want a big project fixing anything. This used, Dell Inspiron 20 3048 was close enough to meet my requirements. I think the screen is just a bit small at 19.5 inches diagonal and the resolution is only 1600×900 but it is adequate. What it does have is a VESA wall mount which many of the newer Dell all-in-one machines do not seem to have.

Dell Inspiron 20 3048-01-Back.jpg

Specs that matter

  • CPU Pentium G3240T 2.7 GHz
  • Upgraded to 8 GB RAM
  • 1 TB HDD
  • Touchscreen LED 19.5″ at 1600×900
  • Built in speakers
  • SD Card reader
  • 6 USB ports
  • 3.5mm Line out
  • 3.5mm Headphone / mic jack
  • Atheros AR9565 Wifi b/g/n + Bluetooth

Upgrades

The machine came with 4 GB Upgraded the memory to 8GB. I used the two 4 GB  DDR3 SODIMMS from my E6440 when I upgraded its memory. Accessing the memory on this machine is a bit of a headache. The back panel is held on by snaps. I used a plastic separator tool to pop the snaps and remove the back cover. The memory is behind another panel on the right, viewing from the back.

Installation of openSUSE

openSUSE Tumbleweed has been so rock solid and reliable on everything so far, I decided that I was going to use that instead of Leap. I will have regular, daily interaction with this machine and running sudo zypper dup in terminal once a week or so is hardly a hassle. The installation went as one would expect, flawlessly. I set up the partitions as such:

  • /boot/efi: 250 MiB
  • Swap: 8 GiB
  • / (Root): 40 GiB – BTRFS
  • /home: 883 GiB – XFS

Added Applications

In order to fully utilize this machine, I need a series of applications added to this machine. Here is my short list:

Telegram – Because most of my communication happens here.

Franz – I have been using this quite happily since I first installed it on my other machines, it only made sense to use it to stay properly connected to work functions.

Falkon – I am liking this web browser right now

Syncthing – It should be noted I amusing Qsyncthingtray on this machine

Insync – I am still using Google Drive pretty heavily and this is the best Google Drive Sync application I have used to date

kvkbd – This is the best on screen keyboard I have seen in Linux to date. It does need to be switched to the dark theme to look right. I used this keyboard previously on a Panasonic CF-19 Toughbook with much success.

Teamviewer 13 – Just in case I need to get into this machine remotely

Setup and Tweaks

KDE Plasma looks best, in my opinion, with a openSUSE dark theme and I added the Oxygen5 Window Decorations because it just looks right to me.

In order to play media, I added the needed codecs and VLC using my own little guide I set up. The terminal instructions are way better.

I set up KOrganizer with the appropriate calendars and two of my email accounts. I don’t foresee myself using this much for emails but I do have a need to be able to stay on top of some higher priority accounts.

The default notification sound in KDE Plasma are not to my liking. I have a bunch of Star Trek The Next Generation sound effects that I prefer use instead.

I opened up a few ports in the firewall for KDE Connect, Syncthing and SSH.

I have made this machine a nearly complete mirror of my primary machine using Syncthing. It took a few hours to synchronize about 200 GB of data but it was much quicker than pulling down my files on Google Drive.

Hardware issues

The only issue I had was with the SD Card reader. It seems to read some cards fine but not all. I don’t know if it is an issue with the device, the drivers or the SD Card itself. I rarely use SD Cards so this is not an issue right now.

How it is currently working out

So far, it’s been working out well. Using Kontact to display my calendar has been beneficial to not only in keeping me on task but also in keeping the kids involved in activities and time frames. Using this machine tied in with my CoolVox to play music or entertain myself has also been fantastic. I also use it with the kids education for displaying relevant educational materials or playing songs to help with memorization of facts. The wall mount is almost perfect for positioning the screen as I like and I also appreciate it being a bit higher than normal. Forces me to stand straighter…

The only real issue I have with this system is it feels quite a bit slower than I would like. Upgrading the CPU is an option and I just may do it in the future. It’s really fine for now, it just hiccups a bit when I make it do too much.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I am very happy with this purchase. I like how it has made my kitchen more functional, improved efficiency and organization of day to day activities. This machine will obviously not do much when it comes to gaming and probably not too much when it comes to generating data. It will, however be used a lot to display information and consume content. Kontact works fantastically well on and is very touch screen friendly. As I have been interacting with it, I have found little “paper cut” issues with the machine using the touch screen. I will be filing bug reports on the little issues I discover to hopefully further improve user experience on KDE Plasma.

This computer was a great purchase and I have a few other tasks in the works for it but that will be for another blathering.

Further Reading

C|Net Review Dell Inspiron 3048 all-in-one

Whirlpool CoolVox

openSUSE Tumbleweed

Crazy Awesome KDE Plasma Desktop Bluetooth Audio on openSUSE

CPU Pentium G3240T 2.7 GHz Benchmark

Telegram on Mobile and openSUSE

Franz | Chat Messaging Unification Application on openSUSE

Falkon Web Browser on openSUSE

Syncthing on openSUSE

Insync, the Google Drive client for Linux

Panasonic CF-19 Toughbook | Touch Panel Calibration

TeamViewer 13 on openSUSE

Multimedia Codecs and VLC Player

Dell Inspiron 20 3048 All-In-One Desktop

Konqueror is Still Awesome

Konqueror logo.png

My first file manager on Linux was Konqueror. Compared to anything I at that time it was by far the best thing I’ve ever used. So many options, so many customization features and so many ways to find out information about your files. Looking at it today, I still think it is still by far the best file manager (plus) out there.

The basic openSUSE Tumbleweed installation does not include Konqueror by default but it is available in the main repository. To install enter this in the terminal:

sudo zypper install konqueror konqueror-plugins

Be sure to install the “konqueror-plugins”. Without the plugins, Konqueror doesn’t have that particularly special functionality so I recommend the plugins package.

When you start Konqueror, you are greeted with a pleasant little introduction which tells you a little bit about what Konqueror can do. The more you learn how this software works, the more you discover what you can accomplish with it. Click through the introduction to get acquainted with the product then get to work.

Konqueror Welcome Screen

Konqueror has all the fine functions of a file manager, web browser and can be used as a universal document viewer. More on that last part later. I want to initially focus on the file management capabilities of Konqueror.

Konqueror File Manager.png

This isn’t anything that Dolphin, the default KDE Plasma file manger can’t do. In fact, in comparison, there are things Dolphin will do that Konqueror does not by default. To compare the two, Dolphin has side panels for quick links to places, recently saved work and details about whatever file has been selected. Konqueror does not have this.

Dolphin Home Folder.png

Most basic file management will work just fine in Dolphin. Where the difference really comes in is with the plugins and some additional or more advanced built in features. The feature that stands out most is the File Size Viewer, a graphical breakdown of files, larger to smaller and the size they take up relative to the overall whole of the directory in question. It sorts the directories by size so at a glance you can see what is taking up your disk space.

Konqueror File Size View

I have yet to see this particular feature in any other file management tool. From what I can tell, this feature stands alone and it is absolutely fantastic. It is not a daily feature but it often comes to play when I am analyzing the contents of a disk or when I have to periodically go through and clear out information from my Google Drive so that I don’t go over on my piddly 100GB allotment. I also use this to periodically look at what is taking up the most space. In my case, I have a bunch of VMs on my drive cluttering things up.

The next rather fantastic feature of Konqueror is the ability to make your time managing files productively enjoyable. It has the ability to split up the window into panes where each pane can be where ever you want it to be and view them how you want them to be viewed. You can even open up a Terminal Emulator. I have used this to monitor Rsync operations. If you do file transfers with webdav, ftp, sftp and so forth, this will give you a great way to manage files.

Konqueror Panes Terminal Emulator

But wait, there’s more!

Konqueror Panes Terminal Emulator 2.png

Each of those panes can be changed to show file locations as you see fit. I can have a File Size View, Detailed View or even just open up another terminal emulator. To the untrained eye, I can give the illusion that I am way smarter and more productive than I actually am.

Konqueror also has a real decent web browser. It is a very capable browser and can be another tab in the same window. It uses either the default KHTML rendering engine or optionally Webkit. I don’t use it as a browser so much lately as Falkon has largely taken that role away but when I want to look at a page with an alternate browser, Konqueror is the tool I use.

Konqueror Web Browser

The last bit I am going to cover is the ability to embed other applications within Konqueror. Applications like Okular, the document viewer, can open up a PDF or picture as a tab within Konqueror. Any application that supports KParts can be used within Konqueror. Combine that capability with the ability to split the Window into panes and your desktop really becomes like clay, a piece of digital organization art and productivity to dazzle the masses.

Final Thoughts

Konquoror doesn’t get talked about much and that is unfortunate. It is an awesome application with great capabilities. It is almost like what Chrome / ChromeOS is trying to be but just doesn’t quite hit the mark. Chrome’s version of a file browser is dismal at best. Konqueror does everything in these nice neat, little, flexible containers but with fewer system resources than what you would see on Chrome. With multiple tabs open of file management, web pages and an embedded document viewer, It is still using less than 300 MB of RAM.

Admittedly, I tend to use Dolphin and Falkon more frequently than Konqueror. Dolphin for the side pane functionality and Falkon tends to to a better job of rendering pages than Konqueror. When it comes to serious file management, where I really need to dig in and do some heavy [file management] lifting, Konqueror still reigns supreme.

Further Reading

Konqueror Home

Okular Document Viewer

Falkon Web Browser on openSUSE

USB or Removable Media Formatting in Linux

USB Drive-02.jpg

I am working on another project and whilst doing so, I was reintroduced to a kind of irritating problem with Desktop Linux. Nothing huge, just annoying enough. Formatting Removable or USB media. This is one area where I agree with the statement that Linux is not as easy to use as Windows. The Linux solutions work but it seems to lack some elegance.

Method #1: The Terminal

Before you start issuing any Format commands, be sure you know what the device name is. The way I prefer is by inserting the drive into the computer and and run in terminal:

dmesg

You’ll see a lot of text and toward the end look for something that reads like:

[109951.128820] sd 6:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg3 type 0
[109951.128995] sd 6:0:0:0: [sdc] No Caching mode page found
[109951.128997] sd 6:0:0:0: [sdc] Assuming drive cache: write through
[109951.135052]  sdc:
[109951.136745] sd 6:0:0:0: [sdc] Attached SCSI removable disk

That tells me that the device name is sdc and I know that it is mounted under /dev. So this USB drive is /dev/sdc

to verify run:

df -h

If your computer mounted the drive you can take a look at the listing. Somewhere you should see the last drive you plugged in along with the Size of the drive, How much is Used, How much Available, Use of drive as a percentage and where if anyplace it is mounted. In my case:

Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sdc        7.5G  946M  6.6G  13% /run/media/cubiclenate/XFER

For the following examples, replace the “X” with your particular drive letter.

Next you need to ask yourself, do you wish to share the contents of this drive with non-Linux machines. If the answer is “yes” than you will need to format in FAT or NTFS.

Format with FAT or in this case VFAT

sudo mkfs.vfat /dev/sdX

Format with NTFS (New Technology File System), more common since Windows XP

sudo mkfs.ntfs /dev/sdX

If this drive is just for you and your Linux buddies, go with a Linux file system. They are “better” in many ways.

Format with EXT4 File System

sudo mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdX

Or, if you are feeling it, go with XFS

sudo mkfs.xfs /dev/sdX

This process isn’t hard just not as straight forward to a new user and if you don’t spend your life in the terminal, these commands can easily be forgotten.

Method #2: Quick USB Formatter

A more graphical, KDE Plasma, friendly feeling option is this USB Format application. This is not in the Official openSUSE repositories.

https://software.opensuse.org/package/quick-usb-formatter

What is nice about this application is that it is very straight forward. After installation, just typing USB will bring this up in the menu / quick launcher as “USB Format”. The executable is located here:

/usr/bin/quickusbformatter

USB Format-01

The interface is very straight forward, you select the device, in this case /dev/sdc and it will NOT allow you to select your system drives so there is no shot at making a mistake here. You can select the file system but XFS is not an option. There is a field to type in a label if you so choose as well.

Downside to this interface is that you can’t manage the partitions should you want to delete or add partitions on this drive. Also note, I am not able to format anything in the build in SD Card reader. If these are not a concern then this may be a fine solution for you.

Method #3: Gparted

Perhaps my preferred method for managing storage medium is Gparted. This is the Gnome Partition Editor and is one of the finest pieces of software I have ever used. It just does everything I need to do in a nice, intuitive, easy to use and extremely powerful tool for managing disks. It is described as an “industrial-strength” application for for creating, destroying, resizing, moving, checking and copying partitions, and the filesystems on them.

Gparted is available for both Tumbleweed and Leap, to install:

sudo zypper in gparted

This “do everything tool” for your disks will require root privileges and rightfully so. You can create space on disk for new operating systems, or even copy the file systems.Gparted-01-sdc

This has access to all the drives on the system, mounted or not. Also note that modification to SD Cards, as expected, is also not an issue.

Gparted-05-SD Card.png

This application is fantastic in how you an resize and move partitions around on a drive. The designers have taken great care in paying attention to the finer details of disk interaction.

After you are satisfied with the disk modifications, you commit to the changes by a check box labeled “Apply All Operations”.

Gparted also removes all ambiguity in what is supported with each file system. There is a great report you can review under View > File System Support.

Gparted-02-File System Support

Final Thoughts

Managing USB or Removable media isn’t exactly the most straight forward if you are new to Linux. This might not be true for all distributions or desktop interfaces but my experience on KDE Plasma over many years has been as such. Maybe it shouldn’t be a straight forward process as a user should know what they are doing before they start making any changes to any pieces of hardware and maybe it is also a non-issue as most removable media is already formatted and ready to go.

If you have any other thoughts on interacting with removable media. Please share, I am interested in knowing if there are other or better options out there.

Further Reading

https://software.opensuse.org/package/quick-usb-formatter

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

Lenovo ideapad 110S Repair | UEFI Partition Currupted

Lenovo 110S Title-broken

For several months, I was happily using my Lenovo ideapad 110S running openSUSE Tumbleweed. I have had few complaints about the device, other than a lack of RAM (but I knew that going into the purchase). One day the thing just stopped working; on boot up it left me a sad looking, blank screen. No combination of key presses did anything to change its state. All I could do was hold the power button down and forced off the laptop. No matter how many times I power cycled the machine, it was the same thing, no splash or error message, not a single bit of useful information. It was a busy time for me so I just put it away in a drawer thinking I’ll get back to it and maybe dissect it for it “secrets” or something… but I really just forgot about it.

Three Months Later

I was listening to some discussion about BIOS issues and how it is possible for it to become corrupt and require some sort of reset. My mind wondered from the conversation to that misbehaving Lenovo ideapad and I thought that maybe I was having some sort of BIOS or UEFI issue. I am not sure why I didn’t think of it sooner but I thought, is it posssible that the UEFI boot partition may have possibly been corrupted?

Using my previous blathering about installing Linux on this machine, I tried to hit F2 rapidly on startup to find that it initially didn’t get me into the BIOS. I tried it a few times, all with no success. Then I remembered that this has one of those silly keyboards that defaults to having the media keys as primary. I tried it again, this time, holding the Fn key down plus F2. The trick is, just keep tapping immediately as you turn the computer on. Once it displays a black screen it is too late.

When I was able to get into the BIOS. I reordered the boot sequence to look for my USB drive but that didn’t work. It still booted into the back screen. Going into the BIOS for the second time, I switched the Boot Mode to Legacy Support. It is still set to look for UEFI first but when that fails, look for a Legacy Bootable device. This change allowed me to boot from the USB Drive.

Lenovo ideapad-01-BIOS.jpg

Using the latest openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshot, I performed the install, formatting UEFI ( /boot/efi ) and root ( / ) partitions. I figured, leave nothing to chance and just wipe the machine. The installation was uneventful and didn’t require any further intervention.

Now that I have the system back up and running, I can use it as my “go machine” once again. The 2 GB of RAM makes things a bit tight but maybe it is good for me to only have 5 or 6 tabs open at a time but as many terminal applications as I want.. It is unfortunate that I wasn’t smart enough to try this sooner as it would have been a better machine to take with me through the summer. The nice thing is, my drawer of electronic bits and bobs is slightly lighter. Thankfully, there is no need to make any effort to fill it with more junk as it seems to do that on its own.

Final Thoughts

I learned that just because a screen goes black on a computer and it becomes entirely unresponsive, doesn’t mean it is garbage. I wish I had thought of doing this to recover this laptop sooner, I would have been regularly using this machine. Not sure if this is a common problem or not but maybe, just maybe, this might somehow wind up helping someone else out with a similar issue.

Further Reading

openSUSE Linux on a Lenovo ideapad 110S Laptop

openSUSE Tumbleweed

openSUSE Tumbleweed installation media

Terminal Applications