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Windows 7 cumulative rollup updates - Any good?

updated December 3, 2016, category: Software & security

Windows 7 rollup updates
In the past year or so, Windows 7 suffered from slow update checks, a flaw in the Windows Update functionality, a problem that was magnified by paranoia and extra scrutiny around Windows 10 and the free upgrade offer. Naturally, people assumed that Microsoft was making Windows 7 deliberately slow as an incentive to make users move onto a newer operating system. Nothing like a conspiracy to spice up the rumors.

At the same time, Microsoft started working on a few new initiatives that would make updates on Windows 7 and 8.1 faster, more elegant, and ultimately easier to manage. Back in April 2016, they released a convenience rollup for Windows 7 SP1 - effectively a complete new service pack if you will - designed to include all previous updates. And then, in July, Microsoft finally and successfully managed to fix the slow updates thingie. Now, October 2016 onwards, you also get cumulative rollup updates similar to Windows 10. I decided to test and see how this new model works, and whether you should like it, or worry. After me.

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Dedoimedo 2016 contest - Winner announced

updated December 3, 2016, category: Software & security

Dedoimedo contest
Ladies and gentleman, we have a winner! His/her name is Odysseas Neslechanidis, and they will soon be receiving the BQ Aquaris M10 FHD Ubuntu Edition tablet. Now, this year, there were fewer participants than in the previous contests. Either the prize isn't lucrative, or I am failing as a human being. Or both.

But that is not important. Let's focus on the happy side of things! The lucky winner will shortly be receiving an email informing them of their achievement, and once they confirm it, the boxed goodie reward will set sail for the physical address of our diligent and fortunate reader. That would be all. 'Twas fun. Stay tuned for future contests and such.

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Chapeau 24 Cancellara - Same same but different

updated December 2, 2016, category: Software & security

Chapeau 24 Cancellara
In French, Chapeau means chap. A good ole chap. Which is why it is based on Fedora, a distro so sharp you could cut yourself using it, hence the term bleeding edge. Now, now, relax. On a more serious note, Chapeau is an attempt to make the pure-free Fedora more accessible to masses (in Spanish, known as pura vida) by offering all sorts of common, everyday goodies out of the box. Remember Fuduntu? Remember, remember, the distro November. Or something. There.

Cancellara is based on Fedora 24, which I liked quite a bit. Recently, Gnome 3 has been behaving a little more sanely than in the past, even though it is still pretty heavily chromosomatically challenged. Nevertheless, Fedora gave me a good, pleasant experience, and Chapeau might, too. Let's see.

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Make CentOS 7 MATE & Xfce ultra fine with Numix

updated November 28, 2016, category: Software & security

CentOS 7 & Numix
I am back at it again. CentOS pimpage - pronounced pimpazh (like garage in French), and this time, we are going to focus on the Xfce and MATE desktops. You will surely remember the revolution, no, not the French one, I'm talking about my more recent effort to get CentOS 7 running on a UEFI-powered laptop. Great success.

Since, we have had four reviews - KDE, Gnome, Xfce and MATE, and I've even shown you how to beautify the first of these. Now, we will have another look at the often neglected and cosmetically challenged Xfce and MATE frameworks, and make them into the dog's bollocks of the open-source world. To wit, the finest customization ever done. EVAR.

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Spotify & Local Files problems on Linux

updated November 26, 2016, category: Software & security

Spotify & Local Files
Roughly a month ago, I reviewed Spotify here on OCS-Mag, testing the recently revived Ubuntu version. My experience was mixed. While the media player sported good looks and a sleek interface, the overall behavior was slightly erratic, culminating in crashes when trying to play local files.

Since, I have spent more time exploring Spotify, not necessarily because I was enamored by its features and abilities, mostly because I felt it would be a worthy exercise for all those seeking the thrills of popular media streaming on Linux. Furthermore, like my past endeavors with Steam, Sketchup and alike, it's part of a possibly Don Quixotic attempt to bridge the application gap between Windows and Linux, and give the users of the latter system some more freedom and choice. But there's a cost. Sometimes, things do not work right away, or they do not work at all. This article is the diary of my journey.

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Ultimate Windows Tweaker - Taming the Shrew

updated November 25, 2016, category: Software & security

Ultimate Windows Tweaker
Bombastic names bring about bombastic expectations. Ultimate Windows Tweaker (UWT) is a tool developed by the enthusiastic and nerdy-oriented members of The Windows Club, which is like The Breakfast Club, only different. The software is designed to help you tame and tweak Windows 10 across more than 200 options and settings.

Why would you want this? Because Windows 10 is a naughty operating system, and it is more aggressive when it comes to advertising, telemetry and other sub-100 IQ features than all its predecessors. Hence the need for some clamping. We've seen one privacy tool in action already, W10Privacy, and now we will test UWT. After me.

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How to extend TrueCrypt volumes - Tutorial

updated November 23, 2016, category: Software & security

Truecrypt volume resize
Back in 2008, I created a 125GB TrueCrypt file container on an external disk, so that in the case it got lost or stolen or something, the data stored there would not be immediate accessible to curious strangers. In 2016, I ran into a capacity problem. The volume could no longer accommodate all the data that I intended to copy. No more free space.

Most people solve this by creating a bigger container and then copying data into it. True, this is always an option, but could there be a more elegant way? I started exploring and then came across a curious, niche tool called extcv, specifically designed to extend, or rather, resize existing TrueCrypt volumes without reformatting. Let us explore.

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New anthology: You Are Here is here!

updated November 21, 2016, category: Books & short stories

You are Here
The latest anthology, You Are Here - Tales of Carthographic Wonders has been officially released, and you can merrily find it on Amazon. This one features 18 stories, one of which is mine - called Forward. Using a map of time, a lively investigator attempts to outsmart the very man who invented time-travel.

Wait. There's more. As part of the anthology work, I have written a crazy short story that was featured as the teaser story for the entire volume, and it is titled: A Tale of Guns and Goats and Velvet Coats. If you need to lie down, I will not hold it against you. Without further ado, please enjoy the fun, the madness, the crisp prose. Not just mine, all of it!

Blog post Teaser story Amazon page ... (external links)

I spy, with my little eye, Gnome Pie

updated November 21, 2016, category: Software & security

Gnome Pie
Regardless of the factual conclusion of this article, you are already sold on it just based on the title. Anyway. Humans are really good at solving problems, especially, or possibly only, if they are linear. It is not a coincidence that we have manuals that follow through a simple top-down logic or that navigation systems use turn-by-turn instructions. Square root of 7443 anyone? But this is not a biology lesson. And yet, it is.

Operating systems are designed to help users translate their linear thinking into instructions. When they do this successfully, we have what we call intuitive interfaces. When they don't, we have nerdy things that no one wants to use. The system menu is probably the most important ingredient of any desktop, as it's the gateway to all we do on a computer. Most of these solutions are linear. Things go bad otherwise. Just check my Fedora 18 review for a quick reminder. Windows 8 anyone? Now Linux wise, there's also this thing called Gnome Pie. It's a radical answer to the idea of a system menu, and a challenge to the whole linearity concept. Does it work?

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Kubuntu 16.10 Yakkety Yak - Cautiously good?

updated November 19, 2016, category: Software & security

Kubuntu 16.10 Yakkety Yak
All right. Give me a K. Give me ... whatever. We've reviewed Ubuntu and Xubuntu of the latest crop so far. Ubuntu delivered a less than mediocre setup, while the Xfce-flavored distro was surprisingly refined. Which begs a question. What will the Plasma child do?

It is time to submit the Kyak to test - see what I did there? I will be using the same test box as always, the notorious G50, which isn't notorious at all if distro developers actually bothered writing a normal network driver stack for it (psst: they eventually did). But as it is, we will be facing some naughty Realtek issues - pronounced real tech - both on the hardware side and proverbially. Shall we continue?

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Kernel 4.8.7 fixes Realtek card disconnects!

updated November 18, 2016, category: Software & security

Realtek & kernel 4.8.7
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the day worth remembering. The long outstanding problem with the disconnects on a variety of Realtek Wireless devices, my RTL8723BE included, which has shown problems time and again in pretty much every single distro out there, has been finally resolved. Word.

A reader emailed me a few days back and said the new kernel 4.8.7 fixes the issue. I decided to test this, and completed a long and arduous set of checks in Manjaro 16.10, which has the kernel 4.8.7 available in its repos. One of the perks of bleeding-edge Arch-based distros. The Manjaro review is still a few weeks away, but we can at least focus on this burning issue. Let me proudly and happily elaborate.

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Ubuntu 16.10 & Unity 8 overview

updated November 14, 2016, category: Software & security

Ubuntu 16.10 & Unity 8
The one thing that made me not try to blowtorch my laptop in anger after I was done reviewing the terrible Yakkety Yak was the inclusion of the Unity 8 desktop environment in the distro, allowing for some fresh testing. The word desktop is probably not the best vocabulary choice here, as this hybrid-like environment already blithely powers touch devices like the Ubuntu Phone and the M10 tablet. But we're on a laptop, so.

Anyhow, I wanted to explore Unity 8 some more, but I did not want to do it as part of the distro review. This is why we have this article here, to explore the merits and failings of Unity 8, and see whether we should be really afraid this may become the default and only choice for our desktops one day. Which it might. So read carefully.

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Two more fine sites added to the most special of lists

updated November 12, 2016, category: Greatest sites

Greatest sites
The Hall of Fame just got bigger. Dedoimedo has a fresh couple of entrants for its special section called 'That part of the Internet that sucketh not' and they be as follows. Number 1: Ghacks. What do you mean? A Linux guy recommending a website mostly dedicated to Windows? Yes. Established in 2005, Ghacks is a domain offering articles and tutorials on popular technology, many thousands of them.

Candidate Deux: The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. More science. Well, sort of. This curiously titled website is dedicated to promote scientific inquiry and critical investigation. But what makes it really interesting is that it focuses on controversial, extraordinary, paranormal and fringe claims. If you believe in pixies and like to be dazzled by media, read no further.

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Firefox & Electrolysis - Oxygen for all?

updated November 11, 2016, category: Software & security

Firefox & Electrolysis
You probably have read a lot of articles talking about the introduction of proper, full-blooded multi-threaded, sandboxed stack into Firefox, commencing with late 4X versions, designed to improve the security and performance of this supposedly ailing browser. Known as Electrolysis, e10 and whatnot, it's meant to breathe fresh life into Firefox. Right.

Now, the full support will not be enabled across the platform for some time now, and it will also depend on extension support, which has always been the core part of the Firefox ecosystem. Before the new concepts hits your machine, I decided to give it an early preview and see what gives. A sampling of what Firefox will be one day.

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How to install the latest version of Docker on CentOS 7

updated November 9, 2016, category: Software & security

CentOS 7 & Docker 1.12 upgrade
This should be a simple but useful tutorial. Recently, I showed you the fairly cool native implementation of orchestration with swarm mode in Docker 1.12, a brand new functionality that did not exist in earlier Docker builds. As it goes, CentOS 7 still has the older version in its repos, and if you want to test, you are seemingly stuck for now.

This will inevitably be resolved one day, but that should not discourage you from reading this article to its very end. After all, the CentOS repos will always lag behind the official release, so if you do not want to compromise and bring the latest and greatest to your operating system, then this howto should help you get there. After me.

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Odrive cloud sync - Thunderstruck

updated November 7, 2016, category: Software & security

Odrive cloud sync
One cloud to rule them all. One cloud to find them. One cloud to bring them all. And in the darkness bind them. Or something. Anyhow, introducing odrive, a universal sync client for all them clouds out there. It's supposed to simple to use, secure and fun.

Which is why we are here. I have never been too keen on cloud storage, all those different providers all look and behave the same, and ultimately, you rely on someone else having access to your stuff. Not necessarily in a bad way, but you get the drift. All of which makes odrive both compelling and utterly unnecessary in my vocabulary. But let's be optimistic and see what it can do.

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Dedoimedo 2016 tablet contest ends soon

updated November 5, 2016, category: Books and gadgets

Dedoimedo 2016 contest
Ladies, gentlemen! The end is near! I mean, come the first day of December, the Dedoimedo 2016 contest concludes. What is this all about, you may ask, intrigued. Well, there's this little contest I'm running. You read my books, you rate them, and you get a chance to win a BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition Tablet, FHD model no less. Neat, right.

Like previous contests, this should be fun. Most notably, you should focus your efforts on my recently published book, The Amazing Adventures of Dashing Prince Dietrich, the first volume in the most gloriously named series, Woes and Hose. If those sweet words won't sway you, I don't know what will. There. I've done my share of nudging, it's up to you to do some reading. 26 nights left. No time to waste. Ladies, gentlemen, remember, remember, the first day of December!

2016 tablet contest Amazon page (external link)

Xubuntu 16.10 Yakkety Yak - A breath of fresh air

updated November 5, 2016, category: Software & security

Xubuntu 16.10 Yakkety Yak
Time to test another Ubuntu hatchling. This one with the Xfce mask. Xubuntu is a strange one. Long time ago, I hated it. Then, it started getting better and better and better, and soon it became a favorite. It also won high praises from me last year, both in the Xfce competition and the annual best-distro contest. After that, things went downhill.

The problems are caused and instigated by the erratic, wild, irrational changes in Ubuntu, of course. But still, Xubuntu is a separate entity, and so it should have a personality of its own. Which makes the Yakkety Yak experiment all the more intriguing. Ubuntu 16.10 is a huge flop. What will Xubuntu achieve now? After me.

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The formula for the perfect Linux desktop

updated November 4, 2016, category: Software & security

Linux perfect desktop formula
Make your own distro, someone said. I might, I replied, and my brain started spinning, thinking of all how-not-to-make-your-OS, as opposed to how not to be seen. But then, it is easy to criticize the work of others. Which is why I decided to write this article as a foundation for what I think is required to make a successful Linux desktop.

And it's not about technology. It's not about desktop environments, nor the bling bling, nor the ideological differences between Debian and Red Hat. Those are probably the least important bits in this equation. It's all about the business case, and this is something that the Linux desktop has never truly had.

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Ubuntu 16.10 Yakkety Yak - Cue in Benny Hill music

updated November 2, 2016, category: Software & security

Ubuntu 16.10 Yakkety Yak
Benny Hill's music makes everything better. Fact. Now, I most strongly recommend that you hit Yakety Sax on Youtube, and let it play for the duration of this review. Your reading experience may be improved. Anyhow, it is time to test Ubuntu again. It's only been six month since the rather underwhelming Xerus LTS, and only a few days since I tested it the second time around, with only marginal improvements.

I am really angry, because I feel that the Linux desktop is dying, and Canonical is slowly spearheading this effort, the same way it once led Linux out of the basement and into the mainstream awareness. But let's see what gives. Maybe Yakkety Yak is a good release. Maybe it will behave nicely on my G50 box. Let us.

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Eurotrip across Britain - Don't bother

updated October 31, 2016, category: Car reviews

Eurotrip - UK
Welcome to the fifth installment in my neverending Eurotrip series of driving. So far, we've done a fair share of motoring through five countries. Our first adventure was in Croatia. Then, we spent some time in Italy. After that, we nailed Germany's sweet autobahns and Belgium's straight, radar-enforced roads plus some racing at Spa on the third trip. The fourth driving trip took us to the nearby Netherlands. Now, we are going to conquer the British Empire.

Our journey shall be an interesting one: From Goodwood Motor Circuit in Chichester, in the south, to Donington Park Circuit in Midlands, two race track, shiver me timbers, approximately 300 odd km worth of highways, or shall we call them dual carriageways. But let us not forget a detour into the medieval streets of London, a few quick dashes through the countryside, and the counter goes up to well over 1,000 km worth of experiences. Two different cars, one BMW 330d and one Renault Captur. Plus a pinch of Civic Type-R. After me.

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Solus review - The distro that could not

updated October 29, 2016, category: Software & security

Solus 1.2
Hello. Solus, I believe, is the continuation of the SolusOS distro from some time ago, which was an interesting and colorful little piece of work that piqued my attention. This new version has a different name but a similar flavor. Plus it comes with the Budgie desktop, which I tested approx. 1.5 years ago and found somewhat bland.

A bold statement, an intriguing choice. Shall we test? Absolutely. Let's give it a go. We will try to deploy Solus Stable on my G50 laptop, and we are expecting some resistance in the form of the Realtek network card, and perhaps UEFI.

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Microsoft UX expert talks about Windows 10

updated October 28, 2016, category: Software & security

Expert talks about Windows 10
World-renown Microsoft UX expert and MVP Risitas, the CIO of the highly prestigious Spanish software company Las Paelleras S.A., talks about Windows 10 in an exclusive interview.

This is an important video, and it touches many important aspects of the Windows 10 desktop, including the controversial touch capabilities, telemetry and privacy. Please take a few minutes of your time and watch the clip. Snippets from the interview with one of the greatest tech minds of our age. Enjoy.

Read more ... (Youtube link)

Spotify for Linux - In the friendzone

updated October 26, 2016, category: Software & security

Spotify & Linux
Spotify is arguably the most popular music streaming service out there. Apologies to any diehard fanboys who may have been offended by this statement. With 100 million users and tight social media integration, it sure plays in the big league. You can also go premium and this will render your interface ad-free and fidelity-high.

But what about Linux? As it turns out, Linux has never been high on the list of priorities for the Spotify team, and at some point, the support was discontinued, then it was revived recently, which prompted me to give it a try. Seeking originality and uniqueness in my work, I opted for Fedora, only to learn that only builds for Debian-based distributions are available. In other words, Ubuntu and friends. Very similar to my experience with Sayonara. Anyhow, let's see what gives.

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Zorin OS 12 Beta - Flat white, no sugar

updated October 24, 2016, category: Software & security

Zorin OS 12 Beta
Zorin or GTFO. That was the email I got. No, just kidding. No one likes me, so no one sends me any emails. But yes, it is time to review Zorin OS 12, Beta version mind, based on Ubuntu 16.04, the sum of all our hopes, dashed and shattered. But perhaps the derivative might be better than the integral of its parts?

I will be testing on the G50 box. I know what you're going to say. Cursed Realtek network. Yes, but what about everything else. Can this little operating system deliver the smooth and friendly and consistent experience that we used to expect from Ubuntu and family? Can it be the answer to what Windows users might be looking for?

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Powershell on Linux - Early taste

updated October 22, 2016, category: Software & security

Powershell & Linux
Once upon a time, I wrote an article on Powershell admiring its Linux-like properties. I even had a nice animation therein, to everyone's merriment. Fast forward several years, Microsoft decided to open-source Powershell and make it available on Linux (!), and it is now available for early testing.

I like this idea for many reasons. It allows a more common ground in development and system maintenance, especially since there's also Bash for Windows, so we can see a nice mirroring of efforts. In the long run, this should make the two operating systems cooperate more effectively, and the real winners will be people doing administration, developers, but also end users. Let's see how it works.

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Systemd - Progress Through Complexity

updated October 19, 2016, category: Software & security

Systemd problems
A play on the Audi slogan: Vorsprung Durch Technik. Except we're going to talk about something that is clearly not progress. Systemd. Roughly 6 years ago, Systemd came to life as the new, event-based init mechanism, designed to replicate the old serialized System V thingie. Today, it is the reality in most distributions, for better or worse. Mostly the latter.

Why would you oppose progress, one may say. To that end, we need to define progress. It is merely the state of something being newer, AKA newer is always better, or the fact it offers superior functionality that was missing in the old technology? After all, System V is 33 years old, so the new stuff ought to be smarter. The topic of my article today is to tell you a story of how I went about fixing a broken Fedora 24 system - powered by systemd of course, and why, at the end of, my conclusion was one of pain and defeat.

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How to run graphical apps in BASH in Windows 10

updated October 17, 2016, category: Software & security

Windows 10 & BASH & X11
Hello hello, I don't know why you say Windows, I say Linux. Until recently, the concept of running Linux on top of Windows was only possible through the graces of virtualization. But now, Windows 10 offers a native implementation of Ubuntu. Rejoice.

We saw this in action recently, and we are all amazed. But one thing that we did not succeed in doing was to run graphical applications. The Ubuntu image comes without the graphical component. You can install the X11 server stuff, but you will not be able to launch it. You need an external X server for your graphical apps. Let's try that.

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PlayOnLinux second review - The magic man?

updated October 15, 2016, category: Software & security

Roughly five years ago, I tested PlayOnLinux. My first reaction was, blimey, was it five years ago? Damn. It feels like only a few months back. Anyhow, this program is a very nice wrapper for WINE, allowing you to install Windows software with more ease and a higher chance of success than just manually. In Linux. Need I say that?

Back in 2011, PlayOnLinux did an okay job, but as I aptly titled the article, there are no miracles. Some of the stuff simply did not work. Fast forward a lot, WINE seems to have stagnated, at least in my experience. Winetricks looks outdated. Which leaves us with PlayOnLinux, and recently it did an excellent job of getting Sketchup 3D to run on Ubuntu. So, we are giving it a second chance. Five years is a long time in the binary world. Let us see if and how PlayOnLinux has changed. Perhaps there will be a miracle this time. To wit.

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Elementary OS 0.4 Loki - Ragnarok

updated October 14, 2016, category: Software & security

Elementary OS 0.4 Loki
It is elementary, dear readers. The formula for creating the perfect distro. If only so. But people are trying, and among the many who are striving to transform Linux is the bunch behind elementary. Prettiness be their middle name, and they even have a rad (not) .io domain for their website. Silly stuff aside, you can even buy the distro if you want.

In the past, elementary OS seems to have charmed my readers more than it did me. You kept on asking, and again, we have a recurring pattern of emails hitting my inbox. Well, let us test again, then, shall we. G50 machine, Loki release. Go!

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SuRun on Windows 7 - Worth trying?

updated October 12, 2016, category: Software & security

SuRun & Windows 7
Many moons ago, I tested a nifty little tool for Windows XP called SuRun, which emulates the concept of sudo in Linux, except you do in a Microsoft operating system, with grace and elegance. I've always advocated setting up systems as a limited user, but it often presents an administrative challenge, due to the overhead associated with running multiple accounts.

SuRun solved the problem, and eight years later, I'm still using it in my virtualized Windows XP, to see how well this operating system weathers the challenges of modernity. But you may ask, what about Windows 7 and onwards? Well, looking at the project site, it does not mention anything, but the Sourceforge page seems to cover all recent Windows releases. And so we're testing.

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Ubuntu 16.04, re-tested six months later

updated October 10, 2016, category: Software & security

Ubuntu 16.04.1, six months later
It is time to re-test Xenial. Why? Because it's been a while since I did it the first time, and boy was I not pleased with the high and mighty promise of an LTS release. And because we now have 16.04.1 lined up, and that means a slew of improvements, supposedly, which ought to fix all them initial bugs. Finally, 16.10 is coming soon, so.

Anyhow, let me tell you a short story about how I feel now, roughly six months since I've first encountered and tested the disappointing Xenial Xerus release, which killed my hopes and dreams that Linux was actually slowly becoming a dominant desktop player. Now that I am a man without illusions (in French, homme sans illusiones), we shall submit Xerus to the tribunal one more time. After me.

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Ubuntu tablet, Oct 2016 - We need more!

updated October 8, 2016, category: Software & security

Ubuntu M10 tablet, Oct update
Recently, I gave you a fresh review of my BQ Aquaris E4.5 phone with the Ubuntu OTA-12 update. It was a decent experience. More speed, better overall performance, a bit more capability, but also the big question around the small and still not powerful enough app ecosystem.

Now, let's take a look at the M10 tablet. My initial impression was lukewarm, but then it got better when I tested the Convergence Mode with a real keyboard. So what's new with the recent update? Let us explore. And remember, children, there's the Dedoimedo Ubuntu tablet contest running till roughly the end of this year, so don't you miss on that one!

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LinuxCon Europe 2016 - Veni, Vidi, Vici

updated October 7, 2016, category: Software & security

LinuxCon Europe 2016
Hello everyone. The reason why you see me report so early on my participation at LinuxCon Europe this year is because I have not been able to attend the full three days of conference. Alas, unfavorable circumstances forced me to fly in just for my session, deliver a quick if neat little presentation, and then fly back. The shortest country visit ever.

But let us not lament! Let us enjoy ourselves. To wit, please take a moment or three to read and reflect on my experience at the European version of the arguably most important open-source event of the year, which took place in Berlin, Germany. Alles klar after me, kommissar.

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Docker Engine swarm mode - Intro tutorial

updated October 5, 2016, category: Software & security

Docker Engine swarm mode
Sounds like a punk rock band. But it is the brand new orchestration mechanism, or rather, an improvement of the orchestration available in Docker. To keep it short and sweet, if you are using an older version of Docker, you will manually need to setup Swarm to create Docker clusters. Starting with version 1.12, the Docker engine comes with a native implementation allowing a seamless clustering setup. The reason de jour.

In this tutorial, I will try to give you a taste of what Docker can do when it comes to orchestration. This article is by no means all inclusive (bed & breakfast) or all-knowing, but it has what it takes to embark you on your clustering journey. After me.

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Mount LVM filesystems in live session

updated October 1, 2016, category: Software & security

LVM mounts & live CD
Several days ago, I gave you a tutorial on how to recover from a borked glibc, using tools available inside the installed system. We mentioned booting into a live session as the last but always viable option. Then, I thought of a little snag that may come your way. What if the installed system uses LVM?

Normally, you would just mount the root partition and then fix files and folders as needed. But what happens when you're running LVM? The procedure as you know it no longer applies, and we need a new method. Let's see what gives here.

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How to fix slow Windows 7 updates - Tutorial

updated September 30, 2016, category: Software & security

Windows 7 & slow updates
All right, this has been one of those unfinished businesses that kept me awake day and night for months. Well, not really, but this is something that I have sought to resolve for a long time, and I finally have. The topic at hand: slow Windows 7 updates.

The symptoms you may have noticed: very high CPU utilization while the Windows is checking for updates, and a very long time for the check to complete, sometimes ranging in the tens of hours for unlucky users. This is obviously a waste of time. We tried to fix this before, and I gave you a less than promising article on the topic. We also discussed some alternative, unofficial tools to help with this rather annoying but persistent problem, in the guise of Autopatcher and WSUS Offline. Now, we will resolve this once and for all, using official Microsoft patches. Let us.

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Getting jiggy with Busybox and LD_PRELOAD

updated September 28, 2016, category: Software & security

Busybox & LD_PRELOAD
What is the most important component of an operating system? Well, arguably, it is the kernel. And if something goes wrong with the kernel and its associated files, you will not be able to your box, right? Example, the initrd problem we talked about a few years ago.

But what about glibc? What happens if you delete some of the important C libraries that power your booted system? How would you go about recovering from such a fiasco? In this tutorial, I am going to engage in some semi-mild hackery and teach you all sorts of nice self-rescue methods for fixing turbo-broken systems using busybox and a few other fancy tricks. If you're still wondering, this be a Linux guide. After me.

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Say not Goodbye, say Sayonara

updated September 26, 2016, category: Software & security

Music goes beyond the sum of all notes and lyrics. There's also the presentation layer, and when you are working on a desktop, a Linux one in particular, the digital component of how the music is delivered unto you does count. You want to enjoy your songs with style.

As simple as it sounds, nailing the equation is very difficult. Every few months, a new music player is born, and it promises the ultimate audio experience to its users. Anything from lyrics via cover art to live streaming. Throw in half a dozen skins and plugins, and you have the perfect juke box. Except, it does not quite work like that. I've given the likes of Amarok, Rhythmbox, Clementine, Tomahawk, VLC, and several other players their due attention on many occasions, but now, we need to do it again. Users, say hello to Sayonara. Sayonara, say hello.

Read more ... (external link)

Lenovo G50 & CentOS 7.2 MATE - Fairly solid

updated September 24, 2016, category: Software & security

Lenovo G50 & CentOS 7.2 MATE
You asked, I deliver. So. Let's have another CentOS 7 review, in case you felt I have not given this operating system enough attention in the last few months. The thing is, I am enjoying my CentOS experiments very much. Especially since they were not supposed to succeed in the first place.

But then I got the distro booting on the Lenovo G50 machine, and before I knew it, I had the KDE and the Gnome and the Xfce versions all lined up, all working, with their own foibles and idiosyncracies, their own ups and down and whatnot. Now, let's explore what the MATE version can do, shall we.

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Let's bash Windows 10. I mean BASH on Windows 10!

updated September 23, 2016, category: Software & security

Windows 10 & BASH
Yes. Windows 10 is nothing special. We have established that, both when the operating system was released, in my review on G50 a year ago, and more recently in my article on the Anniversary Update. Neither good not bad. Just average.

However, what makes is rather interesting is that you can run BASH. Yes, proper Linux, essentially. Not as a virtual machine. It's a user-mode implementation of Ubuntu, through the use of Pico kernel drivers that translate Linux syscalls into NT APIs and emulate the Linux kernel. Wicked. Clever. It's called Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), and it is as native as it gets. Quite compelling for us nerds. Let us explore.

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Rotate videos in VLC - Tutorial

updated September 21, 2016, category: Software & security

VLC & rotate video
A friend of mine sent me a 253MB video file, created on a mobile phone, and recorded with the phone device positioned upside down. Ipso facto, the output was also inverted, and it looked like I would have to either rotate my head ever so uncomfortably, turn my monitor around, flip its display using keyword fury, or I had a better idea, summon VLC to my aid!

This little guide is not about video processing. That's a separate topic, and we have covered it a few times, including my original tutorial and the Frankenstein video prep stuff. Today, we will learn how to use VideoLAN for one-off changes to video clips, so that you can enjoy them without a lengthy process of, well, um, processing. After me.

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The Amazing Dietrich of Free Kindle Downloads

updated September 19, 2016, category: Books and gadgets

Dedoimedo 2016 contest
Gentle reminder, dear fellas! I am running an Ubuntu tablet contest, pitted against the gory chore of YOU reading my books and giving them a truthful appraisal. He who reads dares. And he who dares wins. Maybe. At the beginning of December, we will tally up all the reviews and one shall go home with an Aquaris M10 FHD tablet as a prize for doing some honest literature.

Why is this of particular interest today? Because come September 28-29, I will actually be giving away The Amazing Adventures of Dashing Prince Dietrich for FREE. Yes. You will be able to download the Kindle version of the book free of any charge, and still be eligible to participate in the contest. Need I say more?

2016 tablet contest Amazon page (external link)

Ubuntu Phone, Sep 2016 - Vorsprung durch Touch

updated September 19, 2016, category: Software & security

Ubuntu Phone Sep update
Every few weeks, months, I pick up my BQ Aquaris E4.5 phone and do some fresh new testing to see how well it behaves. My last experiment actually involved my progenitors, and they were subjected to roughly a week of using the phone on their own. They liked it quite a bit, and did not dislike it much, and that's a good sign.

Recently, I noticed a fresh new firmware update, and once I had it installed, the look and feel of my Aquaris phone had changed. Which merits yet another review, another look at how Ubuntu Touch OTA is progressing and whatnot. Version 12, based on 15.04.6, but there might be a new and revolutionary LTS just around the corner. Let's see.

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Donington Park, Caterham and fog

updated September 17, 2016, category: Car reviews

Donington Park & Caterham R300
Time to go a-race trackin'. Our next destination is Donington Park, a 3.2-4.0 km long MotoGP and BTCC racing circuit in the middle of England, close to a bunch of castles, roads, airports, and other monumentia what make the British proud. Indeed, after having driven a Renault Clio Cup round Grobnik, Croatia and briefly stinted in a Megane RS 265 at Spa-Francorchamps in wet and fun conditions, we shall now step into a spartan two-seater open cockpit of one Caterham R300.

There is also a roadtrip element to this journey, which thou shalt read in a separate article. Hither, we shall mostly focus on what happened at the circuit. Cold weather, moisture, fog. Not quite the best friends forever of anyone keen on speed, especially when you need to strap yourself into a roofless 50s-tech roadster, still, it ought to be exciting. Hopefully. Maybe. Follow me.

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Fedora 24 - From 0 to Fun in 10 minutes

updated September 16, 2016, category: Software & security

Fedora 24 pimping
Ladies and gentlemen, it's pimping time. We shall now transform a tame Fedora installation that is not designed for mass consumption into a beautiful and majestic fun box. This means adding codecs and pretty stuff and extra software that people crave. We shall do this quickly and easily, and I will be your shepherd.

Recently, I've discovered or rather rekindled my passion for all things Red Hat and Gnome, and Fedora has joined the list, after a long season of dreadful releases. It works well, it's fun and stable and fast, and all it's missing is some flavor and spice. Let us.

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How to tame and pimp Xfce on CentOS 7

updated September 14, 2016, category: Software & security

CentOS 7 Xfce tweak & pimp
Hello children of the Internet! Recently, I've taught you how to setup Xfce on CentOS 7, and then slowly transform the system into a near-perfect production combo. However, in the original article, I skipped on most of the Xfce tweaks and changes. You only ate the cake, but you knew nothing of the recipe.

Today, I would like to teach you about all the little steps required to achieve a beautiful, modern and elegant Xfce desktop on CentOS 7. Should your appetite kill the curiosity cat, then you might want to hang around and read some more. This fine little guide covers all my troubles with the Xfce setup, and then how I managed to overcome every single one, and finally enjoy a supreme CentOS 7 desktop. Dr. Distrolove, or: how I stopped worrying and learned to love the Xfce. Which is even more amazing as this is a server distro. Follow me.

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The hunt for the perfect CentOS theme

updated September 12, 2016, category: Software & security

CentOS 7 & perfect theme
You all know my not so secret fetish for using CentOS as a home distro. Yes, it's never meant to be consumed in that fashion, but with the help of some extra software repos and some additional pimping, it makes for an elegant, fast and stable operating system for daily use. Plus, it's pretty.

But can it be prettier? I set about searching for the ultimate combo of icons, fonts, window decorations, and themes that would transform the KDE4 package into a supremely tasteful product, the last missing piece, with a very poetic Clancyesque title, in my larger CentOS equation. If you have no other purpose or need in life than to read articles like this, please do proceed onwards.

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KDE neon - Weak lighting

updated September 9, 2016, category: Software & security

KDE neon
The one email title that has featured prominently in my inbox for the past two months contains the words kde and neon. Review, it, why don't you review, please review it, take it for a spin, I will bear your children, etc. All right, I get the hint. KDE neon it is.

But what is it? Well, it's a KDE distribution au naturale, based on Kubuntu 16.04 and blessed with the latest and greatest in the Plasma world. Sounds intriguing but also worrying, because lately, Plasma has lost its early charm and became just another run-of-the-mill bag of bugs and fragmentation. Yet hope is never lost. We test.

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