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Latest articles & site news

Nextbase 101 HD in-car dash cam review

updated January 17, 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.

Read more ... (external link)

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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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 SFFWorld.com 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 1.2.0.5 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.

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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

PlayOnLinux
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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