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Latest articles & site news

GRUB2, Fedora & can't find command error

updated February 22, 2017, category: Software & security

GRUB, Fedora & command not found error
The problem you are facing is as follows. You have a multi-boot system with several instances of different operating systems, mostly Linux. You have recently installed a Red Hat distro, like Fedora, the Fedora derivative Chapeau, CentOS or alike, and you want it to be in charge of the GRUB2 bootloader sequence. So far so good.

However, when you try to boot an entry other than the above distro, you get a weird error that says: error: can't find command 'linux' and error: can't find command 'initrd'. This effectively breaks your system. What now? Let's fix it.

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Linux Mint 18.1 Serena - The glass is half full

updated February 20, 2017, category: Software & security

Linux Mint 18.1 Serena
Mint time. It's been a while since I last reviewed a Linux Mint edition, and probably even longer on the happiness front vis-a-vis this particular distribution. In the past, this was my favorite, but come Xerus, things have gone downhill. The overall quality of the LTS release has deeply affected all its offspring.

Linux Mint 18 Sarah was an average offering, but maybe Serena can fix the situation. We will be the doing the usual review thingie on the Lenovo G50 box, so there will be quite a few interesting bits and pieces, like UEFI, 16 partitions, a whole bunch of installed systems, Realtek networking, and such. Let us commence.

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Make Gnome 3 more accessible for everyday use

updated February 18, 2017, category: Software & security

Gnome 3 tweaking
Gnome 3 is a desktop environment that was created to fix a problem that did not exist. Much like PulseAudio, Wayland and Systemd, it's there to give developers a job, while offering no clear benefit over the original problem. The Gnome 2 desktop was fast, lithe, simple, and elegant, and its replacement is none of that. Maybe the presentation layer is a little less busy and you can search a bit more quickly, but that's about as far as the list of advantages goes, which is a pretty grim result for five years of coding.

Despite my reservation toward Gnome 3, I still find it to be a little bit more suitable for general consumption than in the past. Some of the silly early decisions have been largely reverted, and a wee bit more sane functionality added. Not enough. Which is why I'd like to take a moment or three to discuss some extra tweaks and changes you should add to this desktop environment to make it palatable. Follow me.

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The State of Plasma

updated February 17, 2017, category: Software & security

Over the years, my experience with KDE can best be described as a rollercoaster - on ice, with rocket thrusters. KDE3.5 was a great release, followed by a somewhat mellow, emotionally curbed KDE4, which took years blossoming, and then when it finally gained solid form, it was replaced with KDE5, or rather, Plasma 5.

Since 2014, Plasma has kept me entertained and disappointed in equal measures. At some point, I had it crowned my favorite desktop, and then it went downhill steeply, fast, struggling to recover. Not helping was the slew of bugs and regressions across the distro space, which exacerbated the quality of Plasma and what it could show the world. Today, I would like to explore Plasma from a different angle. Not from the user perspective, but usability perspective. AKA Everything What Plasma Does. After me.

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Windows 10 & SuRun - Stand and deliver

updated February 15, 2017, category: Software & security

Windows 10 & SuRun
To SuRun or not to SuRun, William 'Bill' Shakespeare once wrote. And he was right. Back in the XP days, running a limited account on Windows was not as trivial and easy as you might have hoped. But then, SuRun came along, bringing the sudo mechanism into the Microsoft arena, and boy was it glorious.

Fast forward to Windows 7, I gave this fine little program its due test and review several months ago, and again, it proved to be elegant, simple and useful. However, it wasn't that necessary, given the significant improvements in the standard user mechanism and the way privilege elevation is done in Windows nowadays. It didn't make a big difference, but it sure did not hurt. So what happens when you try the same on Windows 10?

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Recover from a badly corrupt Linux EFI installation

updated February 13, 2017, category: Software & security

EFI partition corruption & fix
In the past decade or so, Linux distributions would occasionally fail before, during and after the installation, but I was always able to somehow recover the system and continue working normally. Well, Solus broke my laptop. Literally.

GRUB rescue. No luck. Reinstall. No luck still! Ubuntu refused to install, complaining about the target device not being this or that. Wow. Something like this has never happened to me before. Effectively my test machine had become a useless brick. Should we despair? No, absolutely not. Let me show you how you can fix it.

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Docker swarm mode - Adding worker nodes tutorial

updated February 11, 2017, category: Software & security

Docker swarm & join
Let us expand on what we started with CentOS 7.2 several weeks ago. In this guide, we learned how to initiate and start the native clustering and orchestration functionality built into Docker 1.12. But we only had our manager node and no other workers. Today, we will expand this.

I will show you how to add non-symmetrical nodes into the swarm, i.e. a Fedora 24 that will sit alongside our CentOS box, and they will both participate in the cluster, with all the associated fancy loadbalancing and whatnot. Of course, this will not be trivial, and we will encounter some snags, and so it ought to be quite interesting. After me.

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Fedora 25: Wayland vs Xorg

updated February 10, 2017, category: Software & security

Fedora 25 & Wayland issues
Almost as good as Alien vs Predator only much better. Anyhow, as you probably know, I have recently tested Fedora 25. It was an okay experience. Overall, the distro behaved reasonably well. Not the fastest, but stable enough, usable enough, with some neat improvements here and there. Most importantly, apart from some performance and responsiveness loss, Wayland did not cause my system to melt. But that's just a beginning.

Wayland is in its infancy as a consumer technology, or at least that thing that people take for granted when they do desktop stuff. Therefore, I must continue testing. Never surrender. In the past few weeks of actively using Fedora 25, I did come across a few other issues and problems, some less worrying, some quite disturbing, some odd, some meaningless. Let us elaborate.

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How to configure H.265/HEVC in Linux? - Tutorial

updated February 8, 2017, category: Software & security

Linux & H.265
Recently, I've come across a small, possibly innocent problem. I tried to play a full HD video that was encoded with H.265, and for the first time ever, VLC complained that it did not know what to do. I tried this in Trusty, and I was surprised by the error. It said: No suitable decoder module: VLC does not support the audio or video format "hevc". Unfortunately, there is no way for you to fix this.

Ha, ha! The joke is on you! Of course I'm going to fix this. So without spending too much time on pointless introductions, let us. This will be one of my shortest articles, and I'm sort of struggling with the concept, but we'll do fine. We will fix for Ubuntu first, but then we will also provide a solution for other distributions, too. Follow me.

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OpenSUSE Leap 42.2 Gnome - Better but not really

updated February 6, 2017, category: Software & security

OpenSUSE Leap 42.2 Gnome
It is time to give Leap a second chance. Let me be extra corny. Give leap a chance. Yes. Well, several weeks ago, I reviewed the Plasma edition of the latest openSUSE release, and while it was busy firing all cannon, like a typical Stormtrooper, most of the beams did not hit the target. It was a fairly mediocre distro, delivering everything but then stopping just short of the goodness mark.

I will now conduct a Gnome experiment. Load the distro with a fresh new desktop environment, and see how it behaves. We did something rather similar with CentOS recently, with some rather surprising results. Hint. Maybe we will get lucky. Let's do it.

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MOAR greatest sites for your perusal

updated February 4, 2017, category: The bestest the Internet can offer

Greatest sites
Tired of the Webz? Not enough fun? Let me a-help you. To wit, two more fine sites that will wash away the tears of bitterness washing your face. Indeed, ever wondered how much volume a thousand Barbie Girl dolls displace? Or the speed of the nearest galaxy? Or the angular momentum of a squirrel's tail? Or how many ping pong balls fit into the hull of a Boeing 747? Wolfram Alpha can help you with these crucial existential slash work interview questions. And the second candidate. Now, a site with the word popular in its name sounds like a paradox, or an oxymoron if you will, and you may immediately feel like it's designed for people who struggle with the basics of science, like amino acids or Quantum physics. The thing is, Popular Mechanics repository of science, tech and nerdy facts is worth an occasional dabble.

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Make Fedora fonts better

updated January 28, 2017, category: Software & security

Fedora fonts
Citizens of the Internet, welcome. Fonts in Linux are a rather neglected topic; there are things with a higher delight factor we could talk about, discuss, test, and indeed, write. But fonts be probably one of the most important elements of modern computing. Because we spend countless hours staring at monitors, and the precision of displayed information affects our productivity, health, mood, and ability to remain in front of a screen.

It's not all about fonts, but then, it is. Types of displays, pixel density, color calibration, screen resolution, lighting, viewing distance, and many other factors affect how we experience text before us. But for any given hardware and setup, there's a drastic variation among operating systems. Windows and Linux. And then, each distro has its own way of showing text. We talked about this in my songesque-titled article, and one of the things I mentioned was the inferiority of Fedora fonts compared to Ubuntu. I want to focus on this claim some more today, and eventually, give you better fonts. Let's do it.

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Dedoimedo interviews: Bodhi Linux team

updated January 27, 2017, category: Software & security

Interview: Bodhi Linux
Bodhi Linux and I never quite saw eye to eye. I had tested the distribution a couple of times, and in all cases, I found the somewhat spartan, DIY approach to be quite limiting. My need from Linux distributions is very simple, I expect everything to work out of the box.

However, some professional bickering does not mean we cannot enjoy ourselves. After all, we're all in this together, we few, we happy few, we band of penguins. Or Tuxpeople, if you prefer. To this end, I wanted to interview the project manager for the Bodhi Linux operating system, so we can get some exposure the other side of this coin. Today, we have Jeff Hoogland as our guest, and he will tell us more about his work, his passion, his community, and a few other things besides. After me.

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Fedora upgrade - Does this work?

updated January 25, 2017, category: Software & security

Fedora upgrade
The idea of upgrading your operating system from one version to another is an interesting one. It implies you will be changing your software without changing your hardware. This is true for short-lived operating systems the likes of Fedora, service packs for long-lived distributions like CentOS, and sometimes, when the vendor feels adventurous and offers you something new. This is a wider philosophical discussion for another time.

Today, I would like to show what it takes to (presumably safely and successfully) upgrade Fedora. I've tried similar endeavors in the past, with Ubuntu, Mint and CentOS, plus some non-Linux systems, and the results are mixed but good. Mostly good. In the past years, this has become easier, more streamlined, less error and disaster prone. With CentOS, this is a simple affair, but then, you are doing service pack like upgrades really. Ubuntu does offer genuine, full-edition upgrades, and I tried it several times, with decent success. The same goes with Linux Mint, where I dabbled with in my 17.X series testing. Now, What Does Fedora Say?

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Fedora 24 Gnome & HP Pavilion + Nvidia setup review

updated January 23, 2017, category: Software & security

Fedora 24 Gnome & HP laptop
Recently, you may have come across my Chapeau review. This experiment prompted me to widen my Fedora family testing, and so I decided to try setting up Fedora 24 Gnome on my HP machine, a six-year-old laptop with 4 GB of RAM and an aging Nvidia card. Yes, Fedora 25 has since been released and I had it tested with delight. But we can still enjoy this little article now can we?

This review should complement - and contrast - my usual crop of testing on the notorious but capable Lenovo G50 machine, purchased in 2015, so we have old versus new, but also the inevitable lack of proper Linux support for the Realtek network card on the newer box. We will then also check how well Fedora handles the Nvidia stack, test if Nouveau is a valid alternative, and of course, pimp the system to the max, using some of the beauty tricks we have witnessed in the Chapeau review. Should be more than interesting.

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Dedoimedo interviews: DistroWatch

updated January 21, 2017, category: Software & security

Interview: DistroWatch
Time, now it's time, to bring you another interview. If you get the song reference, you get mega bonus points. Anyhow, Dedoimedo has this new thing, and it's the spotlight corner with the open-source community. We started with the MX Linux team, we had a chat with KDE folks, and now we will be interviewing a titan. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present, DistroWatch!

Arguably, most likely definitely, DistroWatch is the most important open-source portal out there, the powerhouse of information, fact and opinion about anything UNIX and Linux. I am quite honored that my email request for a written interview was positively answered. Today, we will be hosting Jesse Smith, the man behind DistroWatch Weekly and Other Cool Things Besides. Let us begin, but I would first like to delight you to another badly worded poster in Latin.

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Install icon panel & dock on Gnome 3

updated January 20, 2017, category: Software & security

Gnome 3 & Dash to Dock
Gnome 3 has many good qualities. No wait. Let me rephrase that. Gnome 3 is not the most accessible desktop environment in the Linux world. In fact, far from it. It is the least consumption-ready setup, and it comes in a very basic, clean and functionality-missing configuration. The issues are many, the frustration great.

There are a lot of things you should change to make it work the way nature intended, more like the ole Gnome 2 did. The first and foremost is, you will probably be asking yourselves and every guru you know: where are my icons? Indeed, no matter how adventurous you are with Gnome 3, it will be hiding the application shortcuts from you. The simplicity of one-click joy is gone, and so you must suffer through at least two action before you can get your software to launch. Windows 8 anyone? Worry not, we fix, high five.

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SoftMaker Office 2016 - Your alternative to LibreOffice?

updated January 18, 2017, category: Software & security

SoftMaker Office 2016
Depending on how you look at it, the world of office suites for Linux is either very rich or very poor. As the rather obscure idiom says: the tailor (hence the cliche suit reference) always goes naked. But in essence, you're either using LibreOffice - used to be OpenOffice - or maybe something else. Probably nothing.

However, there are quite a few office products for Linux: Kingsoft Office, SoftMaker Office, Calligra, standalone Abiword, some others, each offering a slightly different aesthetic and functional approach. We talked about this in the office suite competition article back in 2013, and a lot has changed since. LibreOffice finally became suitable for use side by side with Microsoft Office, as far as decent document conversion and fidelity go, and every one of these products has seen a large number of major and minor number increments. In the original piece, SoftMaker Office was kind of a dud, and it's time to give it a full review. Let us.

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Nextbase 101 HD in-car dash cam review

updated January 16, 2017, category: Software & security

Nextbase 101 dash cam
After three odd years, 100,000 km of driving and car reviews across three continents and through a dozen countries, it is finally time to retire my old DVD-027 dash cam. It's done exceptionally well, but the physical parts were starting to come apart. The wear and tear and the years of constant sun and heat beating through the windscreen have left an irreparable mark on the little gadget.

The dash cam is dead, long live the dash cam. I have a new model, Nextbase 101, a 720p HD camera with a 120-degree angle, tiny, snug and ready for action. This is my new purchase, and it is priced roughly the same as DVR-027. About USD60. Let us.

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MX Linux MX-16 Metamorphosis - Winds of change

updated January 14, 2017, category: Software & security

MX Linux MX-16 Metamorphosis
Corny titles are my specialty, and I hope I nailed it with the most recent entry. But I just couldn't resist. Anyhow. MX Linux. There's been a lot of noise around this distro slash community. We had the interview, then the Xfce end-of-year vote, and the annual roundup, all of which featured the last year's product as a respectable candidate.

But we need to put MX-15 behind us, and focus on the winter release, MX-16, funnily named Metamorphosis. This new edition promises a lot, and I have just the right man and the right hardware for the occasion. Introducing me! Plus my multi-boot test machine that is known to have brought many a distro to its knees. Separating the nerd from the chav. Let us begin.

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What About My Humanity, by Igor Ljubuncic

updated January 11, 2017, category: Books & short stories

What About My Humanity
Sparepart wasn't a very creative name for a man, he knew. Which was probably why they had given it to him. He was, after all, made from human bits and pieces left behind in the warehouse.

Sparepart stepped out into the weak, jaundiced January sun, looking up at the silver sky striated with chemical fumes, forming into long, windy clouds. The city of Mech pumped all its worth into the frigid air, earning the rich folks in their habitats a few more hours of warm, electrified leisure.

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TLP - Don't go chasing power management

updated January 9, 2017, category: Software & security

Linux power management & TLP
AKA The Myth of Power Management in Linux. Today, I am going to talk to you about a sensitive topic. The battery life of your laptop, when eastbound and down, loaded up and running with Linux. Can you extend it? Can you make Linux eat less juice?

Enter TLP, a tool designed to bring you the benefits of advanced power management for the glorious benefit of optimized battery life. It is a command-line utility and it is intended for people with good Linux skills, even though it advertises itself as being approachable even by people who are less than l33t nerds. So let's see what gives shall we?

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Maui Linux 2.1 Blue Tang - Aloha!

updated January 7, 2017, category: Software & security

Maui Linux 2.1 Blue Tang
Netrunner is dead, long live Maui. Well, not quite. But the old Ubuntu-based Netrunner as you've known it (AKA somebody I used to know) once is now a different distribution called Maui Linux. I think for a good reason, as Netrunner is a semi-rolling system that has never quite worked for me.

I did hint at this in the Avalon review, and here we are, about to test Maui. The distro combines the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS base with the KDE neon presentation layer, so this should be an interesting experiment. In other words, it's what Kubuntu should be, plus some fresh new apps straight out of Plasma forges. Test box: Lenovo G50. Let's.

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Kernel 4.8.7 & Realtek Wireless - Fedora report

updated January 6, 2017, category: Software & security

Realtek & kernel 4.8.7, second report
Several weeks ago, I happily informed you that it would appear, barring any special corner cases, that the long-standing problem of random disconnects on laptops with the Realtek RTL87XX family of cards and running Linux has been resolved with the introduction of the kernel 4.8.7 into our lives. I tested with Manjaro 16.10. Lovely jubbly.

Now, that seems fine, but not enough. I waited a few days for Fedora 24 to offer the same kernel upgrade, a bonus of these edgy distros right, and let the system do its magic, followed by a quick reboot. Once I had confirmed that the new kernel had been loaded into memory, it was time to begin the testing.

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And the best distro of 2016 is ...

updated December 31, 2016, category: Software & security

Best distro results
It is time for the final vote. I have already given you my opinion on the finest performers when it comes to individual desktop environments - Plasma, Xfce and even Gnome, but now, following in the best of our annual traditions, we need to vote on the most complete, most successful distribution of the year.

Unlike the desktop environment votes, it will not be purely based on the final score. I will also incorporate other elements - how deeply has a particular distro charmed me, whether I have continued using it after the initial review, how it has evolved, and of course, the critical stability, support and friendliness parameters. And then, there's your vote, too. So let's run through the coveted shortlist. To wit, the 2016 elite.

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VideoLAN (VLC) cannot play remote files - Solution

updated December 28, 2016, category: Software & security

VLC & remote file playback errors
The problem you are facing is as follows. You are most likely running some kind of a Linux distribution, and you want to play files stored on a remote computer. Most often, this will be a Windows machine, so you need some Samba sharing. The thing is, on its own, the sharing works, but VLC just can't play remote files.

You get an error that reads: Your input can't be opened: VLC is unable to open the MRL 'specific protocol and file location'. Check the log for details. In my case, this was with Samba, hence the protocol is smb:// and then the full path to the desired media object. Now, I have seen the issue a few times before, but recently, I spotted it in GeckoLinux, a distro based on openSUSE, and then again in the latter, and a few other KDE/Plasma systems. So I decided to write a little tutorial that shows how to fix this problem. Follow me.

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Ex-Mozilla dev talks about Firefox

updated December 26, 2016, category: Software & security

Ex-Mozilla dev talks about Firefox
World-renown programmer and ex-Mozilla developer Risitas, the CIO of the highly prestigious Spanish alt-browser company Las Paelleras S.A., talks about Firefox in an exclusive interview.

This is an important video, and it touches many important aspects of the Firefox browser, its recent market share slide and battle against Chrome, the new UI design, multi-processing and sandboxing, Web extensions, the future, and other concepts and ideas. 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.

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Tesla Model S 70D review - The future is here?

updated December 25, 2016, category: Car reviews

Tesla Model S 70D
Having well-off friends is always a bonus. Because when they buy a nice new car, and they wanna show off, if you're in their grace, you get invited for a spin. The minus side is having friends in the UK, because driving on the wrong side of the road, on a rather bad infrastructure, is never great fun. The plus side is, again, having friends who had just bought a Tesla. That beckons some testing, what.

Indeed, my friend, who shall remain unnamed, although he didn't mind me disclosing that Philip is his real name, confessed having had much more attention since buying the Model S than ever before in his life. He had become a celebrity, or rather, his car had. Nary a day passeth without someone begging for a ride, a photo or both. 'Tis my turn now. Follow me on the electron trail, if you will.

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Dedoimedo interviews: KDE team

updated December 23, 2016, category: Software & security

Interview: KDE Linux team
Behold, for we are doing it again. Several days ago, I've given you an interview with the MX Linux team developer Dolphin Oracle. It was a very interesting glimpse into how a small, passionate community runs their project.

Now, we will expand and look at the far end of the Linux spectrum - the KDE community, one of the oldest, largest, most prolific, and most influential software and technology houses in the open-source world. And we will not have just one interviewee, but two! Sebastian Kugler and Bhushan Shah. Let us commence.

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Best Gnome distro of 2016

updated December 21, 2016, category: Software & security

Best Gnome of 2016
What? Dedoimedo, have you been drinking Peckham Spring lately? No, I have not. The reason why we have the Gnome desktop environment included in the annual summary, unlike ever before, is not because I have suddenly grown old and mellow. It is because Gnome, after many many years, is finally showing real promise in being usable and practical.

Ever since Gnome 3 came to life, I struggled with how it was realized and what it did, a far cry (but not Far Cry, hi hi) from its predecessor. It was functionally inferior to its rival, and it is the chief reason why MATE and Cinnamon came to life. Then, over the years, it slowly evolved, and now, at last, the combination of its core elements and a thick layer of necessary extensions allows for a decent compromise. Throughout 2016, I tested more Gnome releases than ever before, I was quite pleased with the results, and now we will select the best candidate for this year.

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Able2Extract PDF Converter 11 review

updated December 19, 2016, category: Software & security

Able2Extract PDF Converter 11
A few weeks ago, I was contacted again by the Investintech team, asking me to take their brand new flagship product, PDF Converter 11, for a rigorous spin. Having already reviewed versions 9 and 10, I more or less knew what was in store for me, but it's still interesting to see what the program can do come a fresh release.

In the past, I did have a plethora of comments and feedback on the speed and finesse of the conversion mechanism, the niggles around Microsoft Office installations, and the quality of output, especially OpenOffice. Now, overall, PDF Converter 10 was a better product than the ninth release, but far from being perfect. Well, let us proceed with the baptism of fire, shall we.

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Fedora 25 Gnome review - A way to land

updated December 17, 2016, category: Software & security

Fedora 25 Gnome
All right. Brace yourselves. It's Fedora time. Throughout 2016, a gloomy year for the likes of us, Linux users, Fedora has been a friendly companion. It made me like and use Gnome again, plus it offered a pleasant, vibrant, practical desktop experience that nicely filled the gap left by Ubuntu. Almost like a dental crown.

We also learned how to pimp it, and I have a whole bunch of surprises laid out ahead of us, including yet more elegant tweaking and taming, reviews on other hardware, some revolutionary usability tricks, and still more. But all that will happen in the future. Now, we should focus on Fedora 25, and see how it stacks against its predecessor, as well as the entire Linux ecosystem. No pressure.

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Holiday gifts, free books for all!

updated December 16, 2016, category: Books

Free books
Rejoice! 'Tis the holiday season, and I am feeling ultra-uber-benevolent. Over the next two weeks, no less than five different titles of my fantasy repertoire will be free for grabs on Amazon Kindle. Anywhere between 2-3 days, each book will star with zero cost, up for grabs. You should, plus review the books, because you never know when a new contest will come up, and that means gadgets and prizes.

To wit, you get to download the four books in The Lost Words series, including The Betrayed, The Broken, The Forgotten, and The Humbled. And of course, there's my brand-new, wrath-invoking gem: The Amazing Adventures of Dashing Prince Dietrich. Just hop over to my Amazon page, refresh it now and then, and get whatever's free that day. Starting December 17 till the New Year. You're welcome.

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OpenSUSE Leap 42.2 - Forrest Gimp

updated December 16, 2016, category: Software & security

OpenSUSE Leap 42.2
I do have to admit I've been waiting for openSUSE to release 42.2. Even though the much anticipated Leap version did not stun me, I still have a secret love for openSUSE, deep deep down, as it was my first proper distro, and it has always shown that level of professionalism you don't get elsewhere. Lately, it's been flaking, but still.

Anyhow, let's try to rekindle the emotion. OpenSUSE 42.2, also named Leap, is here, and currently, it comes as a mighty DVD-size ISO. Live editions ought to follow soon, but for me, it was time to bleed the network bandwidth. Testbed? The notorious if recently somewhat redeemed Lenovo G50 machine.

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Dedoimedo interviews: MX Linux team

updated December 14, 2016, category: Software & security

Interview: MX Linux team
Behold, for this has never been done before on Dedoimedo. Several readers suggested that I perhaps expand my critique of all things open-source into a more personal dimension. Interviews, babe, interviews. I listened, I agreed, and here we are!

This is the first such interview attempt on Dedoimedo. First of many to come. Today, we will be conducting a written Q&A session with a member of the MX Linux team. Now, for those wondering who or what this distribution slash project might be, quote: "MX Linux is a cooperative venture between the antiX and former MEPIS communities, using the best tools and talents from each distro. It is a midweight OS designed to combine an elegant and efficient desktop with simple configuration, high stability, solid performance and medium-sized footprint." MX Linux caught the attention and high praise of Dedoimedo recently, with a very solid MX-15 release, and I had recently titled it as one of the top Xfce releases of 2016. Let us expand, shall we.

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Best Xfce distro of 2016

updated December 12, 2016, category: Software & security

Best Xfce of 2016
Let us continue where we started with the KDE/Plasma nominations. It is time to vector our all-seeing eye toward another desktop environment - Xfce. Once upon a time, it used to be a bland, boring offering that could not stand up to the likes of Gnome 2 and KDE 3.5. But then, slowly, it emerged from the ashes like a Phoenix, and persistently, steadily earned its place among the big ones, standing tall, stable, sturdy, and just plain good.

In a way, Xfce now fills the void that was created when Gnome 3 came to life, and many years later, it is still there. But then, Xfce has also left its austerity behind, and it is trying to cater to the modern-era users with all the goodies people expect, without sacrificing its simple approach to fast, no-nonsense computing. So let us see what Year 2016 has blessed us with. To wit, our candidates.

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Manjaro 16.10 Xfce - Surprised me, I like

updated December 10, 2016, category: Software & security

Manjaro 16.10 Xfce
I'm hungry, so it's time for some Manjaro! Oh, that was probably the worst joke ever. But this might be a decent review still. Hopefully. It all depends on how Manjaro 16.10, our scapegoat de jour, hmm I love goats, will behave today. In the past, this Arch-based distro has given me tough love.

Manjaro 15.12 Xfce was an okay beast, but it failed to deliver a super-mighty punch. Still, it was a very capable product. But it sure can do better. We will commence our barbecue on the G50 machine, which comes with a fairly complex setup - UEFI, GPT totaling sixteen partitions, and then Windows 10 and some 6-7 Linux distributions and such. Quite hectic. Let us proceed. Some ketchup please. I mean blood.

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Best distro of 2016 poll

updated December 9, 2016, category: Software & security

Best distro poll
Time for you to express yourselves. It's been another year full of ups and downs, good distros and bad distros. Or if I may borrow a quote from a movie, Aladeen distros and Aladeen distros. Indeed.

The rules are very similar to what we did in years gone past. I will conduct my own annual contest best thingie wossname, with a sprinkling of KDE, Xfce and other desktops, having their separate forays. But then, I will incorporate your ideas and thoughts into the final verdict, much like the 2015 best distro nomination. Let us.

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Banana radioactivity - How many for a lethal dose?

updated December 9, 2016, category: Hillbilly physics

Banana radioactivity
Here's an interesting thought slash question. Bananas are slightly radioactive. Fact. This is because they contain Potassium. Good. Now, when you eat bananas, you introduce radioactive isotopes into your body. A tiny tiny amount that makes no difference against the likes of the background radiation and bad genes. But.

What would be the needed mass of bananas so they generated a lethal dose (LD50) to kill a human standing in their vicinity? Is this even doable? Well, let us embark on a quest of unraveling this highly critical [sic] and completely useless mystery. After me, banana lovers.

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Netrunner 16.09 Avalon - King Arthur wasn't there

updated December 7, 2016, category: Software & security

Netrunner 16.09 Avalon
Blade Runner? Say what. Nope. Netrunner. But not the Netrunner distro as you remember it. There are changes in the land of sprinters. The old system, which used to be based on Ubuntu LTS, is now a different fork and a separate entity called Maui, and it shall bear the scrutiny of my wits, senses and taste very soon.

This means, today, we are testing Netrunner 16.09 Avalon, the latest semi-rolling edition based on Debian Stable. Now, my previous testing experience does not agree with this model. Netrunner 17 Horizon was a pretty good product, in fact good enough to be the honorable mention in the annual Plasma/KDE vote, but the rolling 2015.11 was a disaster that would not even install, and got a zero score. So, with less than high hopes, we proceed.

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Best KDE/Plasma distro of 2016

updated December 5, 2016, category: Software & security

Best Plasma/KDE distro of 2016
The end is near. I mean, 2016 has less than a month left on its credit. We should now step back and contemplate. Which distribution merits our highest regard, most excitement, best praise, prolonged use? However, before we can declare the final result, we need to do it step by step. First, Plasma.

Overall, Year 2016 was a fairly tough one for us Linux users. Whether you like it or not, Ubuntu plays a very big part in how the world of distros turns. The pendulum of fortune sways heavily toward the gravitational pull of what Canonical does, and when Ubuntu mis-delivers, a large number of other distributions suffers for it, both directly as they be based on Ubuntu, and also indirectly, through the erosion of hope and good karma. Still, despite these challenges, we can sift through all the trouble and search for the nuggets of happiness. The desktop environment candidate for this article is Plasma, and to some extent, KDE.

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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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