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Ubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapata - Viva la revolucion!

updated April 22, 2017, category: Software & security

Ubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus
This is the last Ubuntu as we know it, this is the last Ubuntu as we know it, and I feel very ambiguous about this decision. In a way, the world of Linux has revolted against commercial innovation that Ubuntu tried to instill, and now we're in the post-modernistic world of anarchy, free software, and whatever.

But that shall only happen in the next LTS. For now, we still have Ubuntu adorned with Unity, and the latest release bears the name Zesty Zapus. I prefer my version. Let's see what it does, how well it does, and whether it can handle my Lenovo G50 machine.

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Skype failed installation error code 1603 - What now?

updated April 21, 2017, category: Software & security

Skype error 1603
Several days ago, I was just about to start a call with a non-existent friend when Skype decided to self-update itself on a Windows 7 box, and later on Windows 8, too. All right, no biggie. This happens now and then, and usually the ordeal is over within a minute or two. Only this time the update failed with error code 1603.

As you can imagine, I was annoyed, as I was unable to complete the call - imagine this happening to you just before an important meeting or an interview. It also meant wasting time digging into a pointless problem that should never have happened in the first place. Ah well, my time cannot be rewound, but I might save you some of yours.

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How to convert XPS to PDF - Guide

updated April 19, 2017, category: Software & security

XPS to PDF
Lo and behold, someone decided to send me an invoice as an XPS file. Not PDF. Ah well. XPS stands for Open XML Paper Specification, a new fixed-layout document format developed by Microsoft. In Windows 8 and onwards, the plot thickens further with oxps, and in all cases, things can be tricky to view or read if your operating system does not have the right software. PDF sounds like a better, wiser bet.

In this little guide, I will show you two ways of converting XPS files to the PDF format, so you can make sure they are viewable pretty much on any device you may have. We will do this using Linux tools. Follow me.

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Latte Dock - An anchor for your Plasma stuff?

updated April 17, 2017, category: Software & security

Latte Dock
You must test this new dock for KDE/Plasma, my friends told me the other day. I'm kidding. I do not have any friends. But I did get to see more and more references to Latte Dock recently, and not just beverage at the local coffee shop, so it got me thinking. Is this program as good as they say? Or just good? Or?

'Tis a curious question, because among the many varied desktop environments out there, Plasma comes with a solid, traditional bottom-panel-plus-menu recipe, which has remained unchanged throughout the KDE history since ever. Windows still uses this formula, twenty plus years and counting. A few other desktops, as well. So is there really a place for a dock in the Plasma world?

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Q4OS 1.8.3 Orion review - Bayeux distro

updated April 15, 2017, category: Software & security

Q4OS 1.8.3 Orion
Witness a strange journey. I am getting tons of emails asking for distro reviews, and one that featured a lot recently is this little Debian-based beastling. Imagine my dismay when the latest version, 1.8.3 Orion, refused to boot on my G50 laptop, despite the promise of UEFI support.

But then, for the sake of it, I had it running as a virtual machine, and I liked it a lot. So I decided to extend the testing and try this curious distro on my semi-ancient LG RD510 laptop, an oldie but goodie currently booting Fedora and CentOS 7. Plus it has an Nvidia card. Let us begin.

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Winaero Tweaker - Taming the Shrew ... again

updated April 14, 2017, category: Software & security

Winaero Tweaker
Also known as The Book of One Thousands Nights and a Night, or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Use So Many Different Apps to Try to Force Windows 10 into Submission. Indeed. Over the past two years, I've invested a lot of time learning and teaching on the pros and cons of the latest Microsoft operating system. Mostly cons, and most of them stemming from a simple fact - Windows 10 assumes everything is a mobile device, hence the somewhat moronic desktop defaults.

This extends to things like forced updates and subsequent reboots, too much telemetry and whatnot. I have no problem with this on transactional devices like mobile phones, and I do love Windows Phone 10, tested on Lumia 640 and again on Lumia 950, my newest gadget to be precise. But on the desktop? Nope. Hence, so many guides and tutorials on how to stop the idiocracy from affecting your life. Now, we have a new tool, and it's called Winaero Tweaker.

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Microsoft Lumia 950 - The Last of the Mohicans

updated April 12, 2017, category: Software & security

Microsoft Lumia 950
I'm a living paradox. I'm a Linux guy, and yet I love Windows Phone. I find the combo of its simple, square, OCD-friendly aesthetics, decent performance, and excellent offline software perfectly suited for my needs. Indeed, I began the journey with Nokia Lumia 520, which I still actively use, continued with Microsoft Lumia 535, and recently also tested the sweet value-for-money Lumia 640 model, which was a loan from a friend.

Now, with the 40% discount on the latest Lumia models, and the stock going out of stock fast, I thought it would be a good idea to put my hands on the flagship item and buy myself one. Hence, this almost impulsive holiday purchase, and this review.

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How to backup GUID Partition Table (GPT) disks

updated April 10, 2017, category: Software & security

GPT backup
Recently, I scared you some with my story about a wonked Windows 8.1 + UEFI + ATI setup, where I was forced to restore an old image of the operating system to get the box working again. This went well, but we did have to overcome some big snags. And then I got me thinking, how does one go about manually backing up and restoring GPT disks should they ever need to replicate the partition table to another device?

In this short tutorial, I will show you how you can use Linux (like duh) to examine, back up or restore GPT disks, so that if you ever need to restore individual partitions, you do not need to go about recreating everything from scratch. It might be tedious, or worse, you might not fully remember the setup, and what it looks like. So let's take a look, shall we?

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Unity is dead. Long live Ubuntu!

updated April 8, 2017, category: Software & security

Ubuntu & Unity death
Several days ago, Mark Shuttleworth publicly announced that Canonical will stop the development of Unity8, the phone and the whole convergence idea. This seemingly sudden and possibly shocking change will come into effect in 2018, with the next LTS release.

By now, you've heard and read a lot of rumors and stories, analyzing this new situation, the future of Ubuntu as an operating system, and what all this means for us, Linux folks. Well, rather than quoting snippets from the Ubuntu Insights news article, I will focus on what the technical and strategic aspects of the change mean, and why you should be worried.

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Q4OS- Olden Linux for modern times, first test

updated April 7, 2017, category: Software & security

Q4OS 1.8.3 Orion first test
Imagine the following eclectic repertoire of paradoxes and styles - a Windows XP lookalike running something called Trinity, which is based on KDE 3.5, with a new Linux kernel under the hood (Debian) and weighing at only about 500 MB for the live edition. What.

That is the sum of my first experiences with Q4OS, a Linux that few of you will think of as your initial choice for a desktop. Or maybe even a second or third picking. On DistroWatch, it's number 56 on the list, the reviews are far and few in between, so why bother, you may think. Well, the story isn't as straightforward as it looks.

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Skype for Linux 5.0 Beta and the rise of the bots

updated April 5, 2017, category: Software & security

Skype for Linux 5.0 Beta
As the popular saying goes, when it rains, it pours. After having been exposed to the somewhat older, more conservative 4.X version of Skype for a very long time, we now have a beta release for Skype 5.0, roughly six months since the alpha edition. That one turned out to be quite decent and fairly stable.

I decided to give this new release its due test, on Fedora 25. I grabbed the RPM package, and what follows is the sum of my experience. It should tell us where the future of the most popular VoIP client is heading, and what it means for Linux folks.

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Ubuntu 16.10 essential tweakology guide

updated April 3, 2017, category: Software & security

Ubuntu Yakkety Yak & tweak guide
Taste is subjective. Taste is, in this case, whatever I say it is. Welcome to my guide on essential beautification and enrichment of the Ubuntu Yakkety Yak desktop. We've done this work many, many times before, links to follow in abundance, and we shall attempt it once more with the latest Ubuntu release. Just before 17.04 knocketh on our door.

So, if you allow me, we will now commence to make the default installation a little bit less boring, a little bit more exciting, a whole lot more fun for immediate consumption. There isn't that much wrong with stock Ubuntu, but as I've revealed in my review, things aren't as exciting and peachy as they can be. Shall we?

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ATI, UEFI and Windows 8.1 - How to recover partitions

updated April 1, 2017, category: Software & security

Windows 8.1 + UEFI + ATI
Now, this is a story all about how, my laptop got flipped-turned upside down, and I'd like to take an image, and restore right there, I'll tell you how I became the king of the ATI-UEFI scare. Word.

Less poetically, what happened is, my Lenovo Ideapad Y50-70, running Windows 8.1, suddenly decided to gimp up and stop working nicely. I was unable to obtain any updates, and after a while, I simply decided to restore an older image, taken with Acronis True Image 2015. But then I remembered reading a scare story around ATI and machines with UEFI powered by Windows 8.1. Cue in dramatic score.

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Discover Discover

updated March 29, 2017, category: Software & security

Discover
Nailing the perfect software design is tricky. It is all too easy to confuse simplicity of aesthetics with simplicity of functionality. A piece of software can be deceptively plain looking - Google search for instance, but it can do a hell of a lot. On the other hand, you may have something with a huge amount of buttons and toggles and whatnot, but in essence, it does very little.

The quest for the ultimate GUI package manager in Linux continues. We've had dozens of tools come and go over the past decade or so, each trying to offer that fine mix of intuitive search, useful information and great looks. KDE has also seen a range of programs appear and vanish, but so far, the elusive goal remains. The latest Plasma incarnation is Discover, a tool I've found wanting in all my previous reviews. Come KDE neon 5.9.3, I've given it a fresh spin. Let's see what it does.

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Hard disk failure recovery - This is how you do it

updated March 27, 2017, category: Software & security

Hard disk failire recovery
So here's an interesting story for you. A story with a happy ending. One that could have ended up in tears, but it did not, as it builds upon a solid foundation of data backups and system imaging. On the same day I was fighting a corrupt EFI partition on my test laptop following a botched Solus installation, wifey told me she couldn't save files to a folder on the E: drive on her Windows box. That didn't sound good.

I quickly examined the situation, and one of the Western 1TB Blue hard disks inside the desktop tower was rapidly growing the number of its bad sectors. This hard disk had three partitions on it, C:, D: and E:. Oops. A quick Internet search suggested running chkdisk and trying a few other hacks to keep the disk alive for a while longer, but the situation was deteriorating fast. At first, it was only the E: drive gimping, but then the D: drive joined the party. There was no need prolonging the inevitable. It was time for a change. Cue in Scorpions, Winds of Change. Play it while reading this article.

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Exorcism is a Tough Business, by Igor Ljubuncic

updated March 24, 2017, category: Books & short stories

Exorcism is a Tough Business
When bored housewives needed poltergeists purged from their homes, or garden spirits banished, they normally contacted the local city ghostbusting agency, ran by the Cleary sisters. When people required serious exorcising, they contacted A & A, Inc.

Akiva and Ahmed stepped out of their van in front of the thirteen-story building. The nervous landlord just handed them the key to the penthouse and scampered away. Akiva looked at the bleached plaque nailed above the entrance. It read, 13 Elm St. Almost too poetic to be true.

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22 things Amarok does: the good, the bad, the ugly, and the hope

updated March 22, 2017, category: Software & security

Amarok
Ask not what you can do for Amarok. Ask what Amarok can do for you! Many years ago, just the mention of this music player would invoke shivers down my spine. It was stylish, exotic, modern, elegant, powerful. It did everything superbly, and there was always a hidden Joker up its sleeve. The plethora of options and possibilities and feature was endless. And then it all changed.

Amarok slid out of the spotlight and became just another program to play your music collection. Recently, fueled by nostalgia and perhaps vain hope, I've invested fresh new energy and time working with it, taming it, fighting it, loving it, hating it, trying to figure out how relevant, sleek and accessibility this player still is. My curiosity peaked with the extensive Plasma testing I did last month in my somewhat ultra-long article The State of Plasma. So I fired KDE neon once again, a brand new image, and started fiddling. Here's the Spaghetti Western of what to expect. With a big disclaimer. Read on.

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Dedoimedo interviews: Gizmo's Freeware

updated March 20, 2017, category: Software & security

Interview: TSA - Gizmo's Freeware
We're back with a new interview, and this time, we step away from the purely Linux world of things. So far, we've talked to the MX Linux team, two KDE developers, Jesse Smith of DistroWatch, and Jeff Hoogland of Bodhi. As I said, Linux primarily. And now, for something completely different.

Our voluntary victim for today is the man who started Gizmo's Freeware, also known as techsupportalert.com, one of (if not) the most influential portals on free software. Names and titles aside, we shall refer to him as Gizmo. Without further ado, shall we commence?

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Rejection report 3: Knoppix and Q4OS

updated March 18, 2017, category: Software & security

Rejection report 3
My test repertoire of hardware includes three laptops, with Lenovo G50 most commonly used. This 2015 machine comes with a fairly decent spec, i3, 8GB RAM and the dreaded UEFI. It has served me well in the past 24 months, with roughly 100 different distro tests completed, some successfully, some less so.

Indeed, this box has been rife with challenges, which is good, because Linux will never rise mighty unless it can cope with whatever the market has to offer. In this case, I faced boot problems, a not-quite-resolved issues with the Realtek Wireless card, and other bugs. Worst of all, a significant number of distros would not even run. In fact, I have compiled two dedicated reports on here be topic, and now we have a third one. My name is Cam Brady, and I regretfully approve of this article.

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Modern software development is cancer

updated March 17, 2017, category: Software & security

Modern software development
Wait. Before you say clickbait, let's focus on the definition of cancer. It is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. Now, let's replace diseases and cell growth with words like software and industry.

In the past 15 years or so, ever since the first software bubble was burst and developers realized they needed a new way of making easy money, there's been an alarming and unchecked trend in the growth of software languages and development disciplines, all designed to support and sustain themselves. A living organism with unprecedented spread. Cancer.

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Dedoimedo drives the BMW M4!

updated March 15, 2017, category: Car reviews

BMW M4
Here's the ultimate life combo. BMW M4. 425 HP. 550 Nm torque. Unlimited German autobahns. Yup. That, my friends, is the definition of Nirvana, or in German spelling, Nirwana. As it happens, the pixies of the Internet and the cosmic fairies have blessed me with an opportunity to drive this sweet almost-supercar in Germany for six days, over the course of about 1,100 km. Sounds awesome. You bet.

What you see is here is the car review, per se. But that's not all, dear friends. Because West Germany, the region that I chanced to find myself in, is also very close to Belgium. And you know what you can find in Belgium? Yup, you guessed it! Spa-Francorchamps! The famous racetrack! So necessarily, we will follow up on this little article with some track driving in another sport car, similar to what we did during a Eurotrip back in 2014. And then, we will also have a short video review of the M4, and a bunch of footage from the track. And a new Eurotrip story. And more. All in all, it's gonna be total fun. Follow me.

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Plasma is sluggish? Disable desktop effects.

updated March 13, 2017, category: Software & security

Plasma & desktop effects
Back in the good ole days, you could tweak the visual side of things in KDE4 with a single magical key combo. Alt + Shift + F12 would toggle the desktop effects on and off, and if your system was not purring as loudly as it could, this little trick helped.

With the new KDE5 = Plasma, things are much more complicated. I was facing some serious performance issues in openSUSE 42.2, and I thought one of the immediate remedies would be to turn the desktop effects off. But how do you do that?

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Age of Empire - The African Kingdoms - Superb

updated March 11, 2017, category: Computer games

Age of Empires: The African Kingdoms
Age of Empires II, released in 1999, revitalized in 2013, kept alive and kicking and awesome ever since. Last year or so, I reviewed this fabulous game, the summary of memories and many thousands of hours of fun, also focusing on The Forgotten expansion pack, which was brought to us just recently. There are few games that receive active development roughly two decades after they have been released. This be one of them.

The second-to-latest expansion pack is called The African Kingdoms, and it introduces four new civilizations, a new campaign, new maps, new common and specialized units, new technologies, new game types, even new fauna. Of course, it does not end there. But wait! What about Rise of the Rajas, you may ask? Well, in due course, children, in due course. No need to rush. Let's have a little review, shall we?

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More Fedora 24/25 family pimpage

updated March 10, 2017, category: Software & security

Fedora 24/25 pimping
Fedora, Fedora, Fedora, Soltanto Fedora, Fedora tra noi, here's a song for you. But the reason we are here is not to tickle the nostalgia glands. Instead, we want to spend a little more time making Fedora extra useful, beautiful and functional, also known in the professional circles as pimping.

We've done this before time and time again, including the recent stint with Fedora 24, and the installation & review of Fedora 25, and now we will do some of this magic. I would like to show you a few more tips and tricks that can enhance your Fedora experience. This article should also work nicely with my recently published Gnome accessibility guide. Fedora me.

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Firefox + EMET + EAF mitigation slowness fix

updated March 5, 2017, category: Software & security

Firefox + EMET + EAF slowness
The problem you are facing is as follows. You are using the most splendid Microsoft EMET toolbox to protect your system from software violations and exploits. Recently, you have upgraded EMET to version 5.5, and Firefox seems to be running extremely slowly, taking huge amounts of CPU. You might not necessarily correlate the two, but there is a connection here. The operating system of choice: Windows 8.1.

In this little article, I will show you how I came about fixing this problem, first by isolating the problematic factors, and then mitigating the issue by disabling the incompatible mitigations. Get it? Mitigating the mitigations. After me.

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How to work around video and subtitle embed errors

updated March 3, 2017, category: Software & security

VLC & subtitle errors
This is going to be a slightly weird tutorial. The background story is as follows. Recently, I created a bunch of sweet parody clips of the Risitas y las paelleras sketch, famous for its insane laughter by the protagonist, Risitas. As always, I had them uploaded to Youtube, but from the moment I decided on what subtitles to use to the moment when the videos finally became available online, there was a long and twisty journey.

In this guide, I would like to present several typical issues that you may encounter when creating your own media, mostly with subtitles and the subsequent upload to media sharing portals, specifically Youtube, and how you can work around those. After me.

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How to embed subtitles using VLC - Tutorial

updated March 1, 2017, category: Software & security

VLC & subtitles
The topic of hardcoding subtitles into video clips is not a new one. We have discussed this in a tutorial several years ago, using Linux only tools. Today, we will revisit this concept, with the focus on the highly versatile and powerful media player, VideoLAN (VLC).

Indeed, if you are not in the mood to use multiple tools to accomplish a few simple video editing tasks, nor dabble in strange, unknown operating systems, VLC can do the job for you, in a simple and elegant manner. Now, this guide partially demonstrates on Linux, but the steps are 100% identical and consistent for Windows, too. Please, join me.

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LXQt usability review - We got a long way to go

updated February 27, 2017, category: Software & security

LXQt usability review
And a short time to get there, I'm east bound, just watch LXQt run. Yes. In a fashion similar to my rather exhaustive review of Plasma a bunch of weeks back, I am now going to give LXQt its due spin, rinse and ironing. Brace yourselves, or rather, grab some food and drink, for it shall be long.

Now why LXQt? Because it has a history richer than the Kingdom of Navarre. We have a desktop environment that is a culmination of two separate projects, LXDE and Razor-qt, both of which underwent the Dedoimedo massage treatment in the past. Moreover, we talked about LXQt back in 2014, and it is time for some fresh testing. Again, from the usability perspective, mind. Let us commence.

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Microsoft Office Online gets better - on Linux, too

updated February 25, 2017, category: Software & security

Microsoft Office Online
One of the core things that will make or break your Linux experience is the lack of the Microsoft Office suite, well, for Linux. If you are forced to use Office products to make a living, and this applies to a very large number of people, you might not be able to afford open-source alternatives. Get the paradox?

Indeed, LibreOffice a great free program, but what if your client, customer or boss demands Word and Excel files? Can you, indeed, afford any mistakes or errors or glitches in converting these files from ODT or whatnot into DOCX and such, and vice versa? This is a very tricky set of questions. Unfortunately, for most people, technically, this means Linux is out of limits. Well, not quite.

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GRUB2, Ubuntu & rmdir os-prober mount error

updated February 24, 2017, category: Software & security

GRUB, Ubuntu & rmdir error
The problem you are facing is as follows. You have decided to update your GRUB2 menu configuration. The execution of the command seems to hang or take a very long time, and optionally, you may decide to try to break it. At this point, you see a lot of errors on your screen, reading something like: rmdir: failed to remove '/var/lib/os-prober/mount': Device or resource busy. This results in a corrupt GRUB menu.

Your menu now has duplicate entries or it is missing entries. You are wondering if it's safe to reboot your host, and if you're going to have a valid bootloader configuration, which lets you safely use your system. We will demystify these worries in this guide.

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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

Plasma
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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