My new epic biblical mythology novel I Shall Slay the Dragon! has been published. Go get it.

Updated: January 21, 2019 | Category: Virtualization

VirtualBox 3D acceleration & black screen

Virtualization is a nice, convenient technology that lets you incept your operating systems - you run an operating system on top of another, a computer inside a computer, and this means flexibility, legacy support, ability to test software on multiple platforms, isolation, and then, somewhat limited support for fancy graphics.

For a few years now, VirtualBox has had the option to enable 3D acceleration in virtual machines, which can help provide a smoother experience, as some of the graphics-intensive stuff is done more effectively. There has never been a perfect solution, but it's better than nothing, except those situations where things go wrong. Like enabling the VirtualBox Guest Additions and then getting a black screen on next login. Well, we should rectify that. This tutorial shows how to work out of the black screen situation without reinstalling, and even getting proper 3D acceleration enabled.

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Updated: January 18, 2019 | Category: Various

Technology - change for the sake of change

Whenever I encounter the phrase "embrace the change" - online or in real life, my fingers begin to twitch with the onset of rage that I, as a rational being, am able to contain and put aside, and then write an article about, as I'm doing here. Because that phrase, especially when bundled with technology, has become the lazy excuse for sub-mediocre design of products and arbitrary choices (or rather, lack thereof) that define the world today.

So what is this all about? Well, if you happen to use a computer, which you obviously do, you must have noticed the deterioration of quality in software these past few years. Nothing new, plus see above. The "agile" mindset is what has transformed a reasonable practice (i.e. programming) into a beta-quality bugfest of hypes and buzzwords. That wouldn't be so bad and sad if not for the overly enthusiastic borg drones reciting the message all over the place: embrace the change, embrace the change. Welcome to Idiocracy, where newer is always better.

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Updated: January 16, 2019 | Category: Linux

Plasma desktop ergonomics

We've talked about Plasma a lot recently. Even since I've purchased a Slimbook laptop and had it installed with Kubuntu, I've been pestering you with all these reports on serious, productivity usage and the various bugs, issues and snags that I keep encountering along the way. While Plasma is a phenomenally flexible and highly polished desktop environment, there are still things that need to be fixed. Most of them touch on everyday ergonomics.

Today, I want to talk to you about several cardinal new issues I've discovered working with the Plasma desktop environment. Now, it does not mean the desktop is bad - consider the fact it's the only actively developed framework out there I do actually want to use in my production setup in the first place, with Trusty + Unity still holding strong on my Asus Vivobook - but it does mean there's a lot more that can and needs to be done to make Plasma superb. As I've mentioned in my perfection & bugs article, we ain't there yet. Follow me.

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Updated: January 14, 2019 | Category: Linux

MX Linux MX-18 Continuum

The heat is on. The stakes are high. Why, thou asketh? Well, I crowned MX-17 the best distro of 2018, and now I'm testing the successor release, MX-18 Continuum, with all the associated hype and expectation. And that means it must sparkle and shine and be absolutely splendid, because even tiny mistakes will mean it isn't quite as fabulous as the last year's edition.

I have decided to go for two tests - first run MX on my newer Lenovo box, with Intel graphics, and then, provided there ain't no disaster, commit the distro on the old LG machine - which is showing signs of age, like the inability to run latest Fedora smoothly, for instance - complete with Nvidia graphics and a plan to use it more extensive in a sort of lightweight long-term test a-la my Slimbook adventure. But all that's distant future. We begin with the first boot.

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Updated: January 12, 2019 | Category: Game reviews

ArmA3 Chernarus Winter

You know it. ArmA 3 is the only FPS worth playing. For nearly two long decades, the Operation Flashpoint franchise has dominated the genre of serious war simulation, with nothing else coming close. A golden standard to realism. And fun, too.

A big part of the joy factor comes from the community maintaining the thousands of maps, scenarios, mods, and other add-ons that make the game superb and fresh. Feeling nostalgic? Operation Flashpoint stuff at your disposal rendered in modern graphics. There you go. ArmA 2 maybe? That can be arranged. After all, Chernarus has always been a darn good map, and it had that Cold War feel that Altis and Stratis don't really offer. So you can imagine my delight when I discovered the Winter edition!

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Updated: January 11, 2019 | Category: Linux

Slimbook Pro2 & Kubuntu 18.04, report 4

Still more miles under the proverbial webbed feet of me Plasmatic penguin. In other words, it's time for another combat report of my Slimbuntu journey, where hardware AKA Slimbook Pro2 meets operating system AKA Kubuntu Bionic. A nice, decent combo, if you ask me.

But there are problems, too. For 'tis a perilous journey, and there be dragons. And bugs. So we're continuing mission, to seek out new use cases and new applications, to boldly chart the productivity path. Anyway, forgive my tripping, take a look at reports one, two and three, and join me for another dash though the open-source savannah. Ahem.

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Updated: January 9, 2019 | Category: Linux

Linux Mint 19.1 Tessa

A new year is upon us. This means more distro testing. More fun, more tears, fresh hopes, resurging desperation. Which of these shall the great Lottery of Tux draw out for us on this day, people are asking. Well, it really depends how rad and enjoyable Linux Mint Tessa can be. For we are reviewing.

The LTS edition - Tara - was reasonable. Nothing special - a far cry from the stellar perfection that Mint once had, year after year. Just adequate, with the right dose of friendly and bad blended together, and then some extra fun after modifications and tweaking. Hopefully, Mint 19.1 should build on a solid-ish foundation, improve upon it, iron out some of them early bugs and problems, and give us a refined experience. One can hope, and one will test. Commence.

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Updated: January 7, 2019 | Category: Virtualization

Boxes virtualization

A name was mentioned. An application was tested. In my Gnome apps review from several weeks back, one of the comments pointed out Boxes, a virtualization product that is native to this desktop environment, and which I completely missed. Indeed, as far as software goes, there are no other desktop-specific virtualization products.

To amend my wicked ways, I decided to do a full, proper test. But not only. Another reason for looking at this tool is because virtualization is, inherently, NOT meant to be easy. Therefore, a virtualization product that hails uber simplicity sounds like a contradiction. You can’t expect people to be testing operating systems and then also act all clueless about things like drivers, mouse integration or CPU extensions. It’s like being a helicopter pilot. Only different. Let’s test.

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Updated: January 6, 2019 | Category: Office

LibreOffice productivity tweaks

Welcome. Wilkommen. Bienvenuti. This article is part of my neverending series of articles on making your life better, smarter, faster, more efficient - with technology. Specifically, a few months ago, I bought myself a new laptop, a Slimbook Pro2, and installed Kubuntu 18.04 on it. Then, I started using this Kubuntu in earnest, and began uncovering all sorts of bugs and issues.

Some of these escapades are covered in my Slimbook reports one and two and three. And some of the annoyances mentioned come without trivial solutions. Since I can't let things rest, I began exploring in more depth ideas and tweaks that allow both Gtk and KDE software to work nicely on a small-size HD display, replete with good font clarity, readable UI and such. LibreOffice is normally okay, but I did encounter fresh new niggles on this journey, so we shall remedy that now.

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Updated: January 4, 2019 | Category: Office

LibreOffice icon themes

In general, the LibreOffice interface has not changed much throughout its history. But there's one noticeable visual element that has changed in recent version of the suite - and that's the use of new UI icons. Not only that, you actually have the ability to change them. Old icons, new icons, Tango, Sifr, Oxygen, take your pick.

But then, what happens if you want to use yet another set of icons that is not listed in the options? Is that even possible? Intrigued, I set about hunting for nice and appealing icon packs for LibreOffice. And of course, I decided to write this tutorial, to actually show you how to setup and use custom icons for this program. After me.

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Updated: January 2, 2019 | Category: Linux

Fedora 29 customization

A conflicting message, you might say. After all, I wasn't too happy with what Fedora 29 delivered on me old laptop with Nvidia, 'twas basically a no-go, but the experience with this distro on my Lenovo G50 machine was pretty good, and there, we had an in-vivo upgrade. And so I decided, despite the woes and problems what I encountered, to actually give you a fresh pimping guide for Fedora.

This is not a new thing, and we've done this many times before. As a baseline, check my Fedora 24 & 25 customization guides, and also, don't forget CentOS, for the idea is very similar. Then, more recently, I've also shown you how to make Fedora 28 very pretty and slick, and today, we shall attempt something similar with the latest release. Follow me.

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Updated: December 31, 2018 | Category: Linux

Best distro of 2018

For the end is near. Of the calendar year, that is. Julian. And vote we must, declare the finest Linux distribution in the past dozen months, in the best of traditions since I started making this series of article, that is. We've already done the voting thingie on Plasma, Xfce and Gnome desktops, but now we do a collective one that covers all angles.

Back in 2017, Kubuntu Zesty won my heart. It was just delightful, and it was such a shame this was only one of the short-lived interim releases. One of the rare highlights of the desktop adventure in recent times. But then, 2018 has had its curious moments too. Let's see what happened in the land of Tux, shall we. After me, brave users.

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Updated: December 29, 2018 | Category: Linux

WINE apps & HD display scaling

Here's a story for you - you need it to understand the reasoning for this article slash guide. Got meself a new laptop, one Slimbook Pro2 and installed Kubuntu Beaver on it, right. Encountered HD scaling issues all over the place, which I fixed. So far so cushty.

Now, I also started reporting my daily slash weekly experience with this machine, used on full thrusters in a production environment, no restraint and no detail glossed over. If it's good, it's good, and if it's not, then hopefully, stuff will be fixed in future versions of Plasma, like the 5.14 release, for instance. I found out that the default KDE image viewer GwenView and the text editor Kate aren't quite as slick and efficient as their Windows counterparts by the names of IrfanView and Notepad++, respectively. So I installed these, and noticed they looked mighty tiny on Slimbook's 1920x1080px display. No scaling. Aha! The reason why we're here. Let's fix that, then, shall we?

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Updated: December 28, 2018 | Category: Internet

DuckDuckGo

Back in 2011, I wrote about DuckDuckGo, a new search engine focused on privacy. I came looking for an alternative to Google, and found a tool that had a very promising future. Fast forward to 2018, DuckDuckGo (DDG) has been growing, gaining popularity, especially in the light of various privacy breaches that abounded in the past couple of years. Likewise, I've continued testing and trying this engine, exploring its options and abilities.

Which means it's time for another review. For me, switching software and products is not a trivial thing, because I like things to be perfect, especially if I need to change my usage patterns. Let's see whether DDG has reached the point where it can usurp the throne, and become the gateway for information. Commence.

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Updated: December 28, 2018 | Category: Books

Welcome to Pacific City

The sixth SFFWorld.com anthology has been published! Unleashed unto the world, available for immediate purchase! Welcome to Pacific City is a super-powered sci-fantasy anthology set in an all-new shared world dominated by countless Heroes and Villains! I’ve got my own hero in the book too, so all the more reasons for you to get it.

And you’d better hurry, ladies, gentlemen, and the odd superhero in disguise. Consider it an early holidays gift, you can buy the anthology at a reduced price. Until the New Year, that is, when things go up to their normal shelf cost. Also, for the first time for an SFFWorld.com anthology, there’s a paperback, too! Of course, there's me own story in this book - it's called Park Life. Not quite the superhero you expect, but surely one we all need.

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Updated: December 28, 2018 | Category: Books

Short story: The Hunt

Ho ho ho! Crimson Streets has just published my holiday-themed short story The Hunt. As it goes, Santa Claus gets arrested for burglary. While trying to save the world. On Halloween. Wearing flip-flops.

"Your name?"

"Nicholas Sinteklaas."

The investigator frowned, his expression one of well-practiced skepticism. "That's a Dutch name."

"That it is," Nicholas said, pulling a deep smoke.

"You don't look Dutch, you don't sound Dutch."

Nicholas blew the smoke at the policeman. "I'm from Aruba, officer."

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Updated: December 26, 2018 | Category: Linux

Kate text editor productivity

The Kate text editor is a nice, versatile piece of program. But it's not without issues. While I do like it, and I do use in the Plasma desktop environment, the reason why we gathered here, I am sometimes frustrated with how the program behaves. The tab management is tricky, some of the functions are too hidden, and we also had to deal with saving sessions, which also goes toward making Kate more efficient.

As part of my everyday Plasma usage journey, with Slimbook Pro2 and Kubuntu, I'm trying to expose and then fix all sorts of niggles and issues that may arise, which often stand in between perfection and professionalism on one end and the everyday humdrum that is the Linux desktop. Hopefully, today, I can give you some useful pointers that will make you not reach out for a WINE app like Notepad++ as a solution. Which is exactly what I did, as I told you in my Slimbuntu experience report deux. Follow me.

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Updated: December 24, 2018 | Category: Linux

Best Gnome distro of 2018

We talked about Xfce. We talked about Plasma. ‘Twas a turbulent year, and yet, it didn’t really have any defining Linux moments. More sort of steady state, stuck in the middle of a prolonged identity crisis where both the desktop and Linux are struggling to find innovation. Now we ought to talk about Gnome, the third of the triumvirate. What be the best distro of 2018 wearing the Gnome desktop environment cape?

Last year, I wasn’t really impressed with what Gnome had to offer. Following a brief spike in hope from the year earlier, this particular desktop environment settled into a pattern of inaccessible defaults and high resource usage, making it rather unsuitable for everyday use. Sure you can adapt it and tweak it, but then there are better, more elegant choices out there. Let’s see what happened in 2018 – and remember, it’s Gnome only, so we won’t be discussing the likes of Linux Mint or Deepin. After me.

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Updated: December 22, 2018 | Category: Linux

Gnome 3 uninstall extensions

If you're using the Gnome desktop, due to its minimalistic nature, you must have been exposed to the concept of extensions, and probably used some. The workflow is as follows: you install a browser extension and the shell package, you install extensions through the official website, and then you tweak the extensions on/off through the Gnome Tweak Tool. But what if you want to remove an extension? Permanently?

It is quite easy to add extensions, and also very easy to toggle their state, from enabled to disabled, and vice versa. However, turning an extension off does not actually remove it. So how does one go about uninstalling Gnome extensions? Let's see.

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Updated: December 21, 2018 | Category: Cars

Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI BlueMotion review

Over the years, I've driven many Volkswagen models, but apart from a short stint with Golf R, I never really got a chance to drive the quintessential family car. Recently though, the favors turned, providing me with a two-day opportunity to test a Golf 1.6 TDI BlueMotion.

With roughly 600 km of road surfaces under the wheels, I can now say I've finally garnered a much better impression of what Golf is all about. After all, it's consistently voted the car of the year since its inception back in 1974, and it comes with a hard-to-beat formula of good looks, reliability, practicality, and solid performance. Let's see how it fared in Dedoimedo's arms tonight.

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Updated: December 19, 2018 | Category: Linux

Chkrootkit false positive warning

Occasionally, I test the few security tools that exist in Linux distributions, to see what they offer and whether they really have merit. One such tool is Chkrootkit, and so far, I've reported not one but two false positives over the years - including lkm warning and suckit infected message. And now I've stumbled upon another dud, and this is one called Linux/Ebury - Operation Windigo.

I came across this result while testing the Ubuntu-based Robolinux 9.3, and given its strong focus on security, the finding is doubly alarming. But as I suspected right away, it seems to be another false positive, and so I did a little more testing and checking. Let me show you what gives.

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Updated: December 15, 2018 | Category: Linux

Best KDE distro of 2018

Let us Plasma. A few days ago, we talked about the bestest Xfce distro of 2018. It was an interesting but also somewhat predictable experiment, as things haven’t changed that much on the Xfce scene, with most distros slowly moving along, well set in their grooves, some oiled, some rusty. Now, we need to examine another desktop environment, and the choice de jour is KDE.

Looking back at yesteryear, there was a flurry of activity including the more than solid 17.04 Zesty, which turned out to be a turning point [sic], one of the most refreshing and complete operating systems to hit the Tux market in a long while. Then, I also wrote, perhaps with mild prophetic genius, that KDE seems to be on the right path, and that good things ought to continue into the future. And today, that future is our past. And explore and judge we must.

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Updated: December 14, 2018 | Category: Linux

Slimbook Pro2 & Kubuntu 18.04, report 3

More proverbial miles (well, kilometers really) on the digital road, more findings. New experiences ready to be reported. A couple of months ago, I got meself a new laptop, one Slimbook Pro2, and it is now serving a noble cause. It's being used in a real, production setup, doing all the things that I'd normally do on a Windows box. The goal is to see whether Linux can be used for everyday desktop work. Every facet thereof.

I'm a pragmatic fella, and I like everything to work clockwork, including games, office work, whatnot. At the moment, this is mostly a Windows domain, and Linux still isn't quite ready to usurp it. True, I've been using Linux for some serious productivity desktop stuff for many years, but never 100%. And I'm still not doing it. But I'm trying. This Slimbook journey is an attempt to examine this case, plus it's fun. So far, you've had two merry reports on my experiences with this machine and its operating system - Kubuntu Beaver. Here's a third installment. After me.

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Updated: December 12, 2018 | Category: Linux

Fedora 29 Gnome

Here we go. As you've already seen, I completed one Fedora 29 test so far. It was an in-vivo upgrade of a Fedora 28 instance on my Lenovo G50 laptop with UEFI and Intel graphics. The experiment went well, although it was a bit slow - paradoxically, it always takes less time to do a fresh install than an upgrade - and everything worked well. But let's not forget, I re-used my system and tweaks, and we're talking hours of fine-tuning and polish that went into making the distro nice.

Now, I want to start fresh. A clean install in a dual-boot configuration on an old (2009) laptop with Nvidia graphics. This should be doubly interesting, as we will be able to witness how well the new Fedora handles the hardware stack, how accessible the distro is out of the box, given its Gnome heritage, and lastly see how it works in general. Follow me please.

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Updated: December 10, 2018 | Category: Linux

Elinks text browser & Linux rescue

I contemplated long and hard what title to use for this article, because the topic is somewhat convoluted. So let me explain. Say you have a Linux box that suddenly refused to boot into the desktop environment. For instance, you may have just installed graphics drivers, but they are not loading, and you don't get any graphical interface. Only a text shell. The old runlevel 3 stuff.

At this point, rescuing the system will usually require three things: skill, access to the Web, and some extra files, like updated drivers, new kernel, whatever. The first one comes with you, but the two other two, well, for most people, going about the Web is not doable without a browser, which means UI. Except, not really. You can use a text browser, and in this article, I'll show you how to use Elinks to search the Web, grab packages and drivers, and fix your box. After me.

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Updated: December 8, 2018 | Category: Windows

SyncBack Free

I cannot stress enough how important data backups - and system images, if you will - are. There are many reasons for having your data safely replicated to another location. Hard disks can fail, hardware can get stolen, you can accidentally corrupt your files. Unlike real life, where you can't have a clone of yourself, not yet anyway, software gives you easy ways to create copies of your data.

In the Windows environment, my favorite data backup (and replication software) is Karen's Replicator. Alas, since the author unfortunately passed away several years ago, it has not been maintained, and it does not work well with Windows 8 and above. A change in the NTFS data structure sometime in 2017 made Karen Replicator unable to create new folders. I began a hunt for an heir, and found out that there's too much focus on cloud backups. Eventually, I found a bright spark among the ashes - a program called SyncBack Free. Hence, this review.

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Updated: December 5, 2018 | Category: Linux

Best Xfce distro of 2018

The current calendar year is slowly converging toward its end. That means one thing! Well, two things. Festivities and liver stress testing for most people (that’s one thing), and Linux distro evaluation. Indeed, the past almost-year has gone by with many an ISO etched and booted. Following the tradition from the previous few years, we shall examine the annual landscape and do some awards, and the first desktop environment to undergo the verbal treatment shall be Xfce.

Before we begin, please remember. This is an entirely subjective article. It is also an article with a limited scope, because there are so many distros and only so few Dedoimedos – Highlander style, there be only one. Hence, I will focus on the systems I’ve tested and tried. If you don’t see your favorite Linux here, don’t go all crusading on me right away. Instead, comment down your own experience, and perhaps next year, I may choose those over and among the many samplings and delights out there. Now, let us peacefully and civilly proceed.

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Updated: December 3, 2018 | Category: Internet

Firefox cookies sqlite corruption

A strange problem befell one of my computers running Windows, with Firefox being the default browser, utilizing a profile that goes back a good decade or more. One blue Monday, I opened the browser, went to one of the sites I frequently visit and use, and noticed that I'd been logged out. Another site, same thing. It would appear all my login sessions were gone.

Since I keep multiple backups of everything, I restored the Firefox cookies database - cookies.sqlite file into the Firefox profile, and I was back to normal. Several days later, the issue happened again. Intrigued, I started exploring this somewhat obscure and not-well-documented problem. I believe I know why, and I have a solution.

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Updated: December 1, 2018 | Category: Linux

Fedora 28 to 29 upgrade

It is time to take a little break from Ubuntu-focused distro reviews and talk about Fedora. Now that it's had its 29th release unveiled, I ought to test it. And test it I shall, twice. First, I'd like to upgrade my existing instance of Fedora 28 sitting in the eight-boot setup on my Lenovo G50. Then, if that goes well, I will test the distro on an older laptop with Nvidia graphics, because why not.

Also, why not a fresh install on your Lenovo? Well, I wasn't too impressed with Fedora 28, but after a while, I had the distro really nicely set up - new repos, all the media codecs and extras apps, tons of cool extensions, and a lot more besides, and you can glimpse the evidence of this hard labor (re: pimpage) in me article on this subject. It would be a shame to trash all this, plus it's a great opportunity to test the Fedora upgrade process once more. So far, it's worked well for me. Anyway, let's continue.

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Updated: November 30, 2018 | Category: Linux

Ncdu

Space. The final frontier. But what if you run out of space? Sometimes, you may end up hogging your hard disk partitions with data, and you might not even be fully aware you're doing that until the moment you actually need some free storage. Well, not to worry, we shall clean up.

That's not quite as simple as it sounds. First, most if not all distros distinctively lack a self-cleanup mechanism that will remove - in a safe way - unnecessary stuff. You can cleanup your software packages and browser temp files, but there may be other stuff you want to get rid of, but you don't know how. Experienced users may point out the old, familiar df and du tools, but there's an even better way. Ncdu.

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Updated: November 28, 2018 | Category: Linux

Slimbook Pro2 & Kubuntu 18.04, report 2

More testing, more experiences, more results. But more does not necessarily mean MOAR. Or does it? Anyway, the background story to this ongoing tale is, I bought myself a Slimbook Pro2 machine and promptly installed Kubuntu Beaver on it, to much delight and whatnot. Then, I started testing this system in earnest, trying to use it in a production-like manner as frequently as possible, to see whether Kubuntu can offer the necessary daily delights that are needed. Hence, the first report. There.

Now, we have this second report. It's been another few weeks - worry not, I do not intend to assail your senses with unnecessary drama too often. More sort of, get enough meaningful stuff each time and then give you the summary, so you can judge for yourself how the things are going. Anyway, let's go into more detail.

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Updated: November 26, 2018 | Category: Linux

Kubuntu 18.10 Cosmic Cuttlefish

For testing is what we do. And today, we shall expand the mission to include Kubuntu. We've seen two Cosmic fishes (find the fish, Monty Python style), Xubuntu and Ubuntu MATE, thus far, and they were relatively all right, the latter rather more so. Still, we've seen better. Integration, fun element, quality, whatever you fancy. Not quite there with the current offering.

This makes the Kubuntu test extra interesting, especially since I've recently gone to the dark side and started using this distro in my production setup, and that's a big thing, because I don't commit lightly to operating systems. But that's LTS stuff there. So this 18.10 thingie is more of a timely test to see how consistent and stable Kubuntu is, whether the Kubuntu/KDE team can maintain their sweet momentum of innovation, and it's a weather gage on how much hope we ought to have come the winter storms. Proceed we shall.

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Updated: November 24, 2018 | Category: Linux

Gnome apps

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about KDE apps. I went through the default stack of programs available in the desktop environment, and examined their suitability, maturity and fun for everyday use. The next logical step is to examine the Gnome desktop environment and its bundle from the same angle.

If I think about my Linux usage over the years, I can’t really say I’ve ever had a pure experience over the years. I started with KDE, used Gnome (mostly through Ubuntu) for a long while, sidelined KDE3 and largely ignored Gnome 3, sailed happily with Unity, and been having a lot of fun with Plasma recently. But my app stack was never either this or that. And today’s article, together with the KDE piece, should be an interesting examination of why that is. Follow me.

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Updated: November 21, 2018 | Category: Linux

Kate text editor save session

Here's a scenario for you. As a Linux person, you happen to be using the Plasma desktop environment, and your text editor of choice is Kate. You have multiple files open, i.e. multiple document tabs, and you want to preserve them for your next session. In the Kate settings, you did find the option that allows you to save the session, which you've promptly marked. However, on next app start, you only get a single, blank document.

This turned out to be a problem that I had to face after I configured Kubuntu on my new Slimbook Pro2 machine. The quest for answers soon turned into a neat and non-trivial tutorial that you're reading right now. So let's have it. I'll show you now how to make Kate remember and preserve your work sessions.

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Updated: November 19, 2018 | Category: Linux

KDE neon upgrade

The Plasma desktop environment household demonstrator is KDE neon, a distro that prefers not to be known as a distro, based on Ubuntu and loaded with Plasma. Until recently, the system used Ubuntu 16.04 LTS as its foundation, but now, a new version has been released, with 18.04 running through its veins.

We've already sampled of this fine beast a few days ago, when I showcased Plasma 5.14. I told you I'd continue the testing with my installed version of neon, and here we are. This distro sits in an eight-boot setup on my Lenovo G50 machine. Now, I shall attempt to upgrade, and the results shall flow like treacle? Or blood? You choose.

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Updated: November 17, 2018 | Category: Various

Convert PNG to SVG

The world of pixels comes in two big forms - raster graphics and vector graphics. Plainly speaking, rasters or bitmaps are your ordinary photos - a grid of X-Y information, where each dot (pixel) represents a three-color value. Vector graphics do things differently - they use mathematical functions to represent graphical information. This is like true-type fonts versus ... eh ... not so true-type ones.

Why is this important? Well, when you resize (scale up) bitmaps, you lose information. When you do so with scalable vector graphics, you don't, which is why vector graphics images always look nice and smooth, regardless of their size. OK, so you may want to have a logo or such, and you have it in JPEG or PNG format. Now, you want to convert it to SVG. You realize that this is not quite so trivial. Free image manipulation programs like Krita and GIMP cannot do this. What now?

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Updated: November 16, 2018 | Category: Linux

Ubuntu MATE 18.10 Cosmic Cuttlefish

Time to continue our distro season testing. The volunteer what we got here is Ubuntu MATE 18.10. It's a very curious breed of system. It self-brands as a system for a retrospective future, and I tend to agree, because there's a mad, brilliant simplicity to the old Gnome 2 layout. And today, we must sample again.

Overall, I liked MATE Bionic, even though it had some problems. The basic idea is sound, there's a strong momentum of innovation in this distro, but like all small projects, it simply can't control everything, and this is where things go unfocused. Therefore, this review is of astronomic [sic] importance. Hi hi. And we shall also compare to Xubuntu Cosmic, recently tested, because it's a nice indication of how these two rather similar desktops behave, and whether there's consistency in the overall desktop. After me.

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Updated: November 14, 2018 | Category: Linux

Linux Mint Cinnamon theme edit

I came across an interesting, frustrating problem while testing Linux Mint 19 Tara. Namely, the Cinnamon edition of this distro uses the new flat Mint-Y theme. While pretty, it's also ergonomically bad. It comes with a low font contrast (pale gray on white), making it very hard to distinguish elements or spend any spell of time reading. I wanted to fix this right away, and I realized the solution wasn't trivial.

Similar to what I've shown you in my Gnome theme editing tutorial, I'd like to give you a very similar take on Cinnamon. This will not be a very long guide, but it should save you a lot of trouble. If you want to use this desktop environment, and you find the existing theme/font color choices are inadequate, follow me.

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Updated: November 12, 2018 | Category: Windows

Windows 10 admin tools

Working with Windows 10 is an interesting phenomenon. Often, functionality is hidden or purposefully obfuscated, making administration work that much harder compared to earlier editions of Windows. Then, because this operating system is so popular, there are always many clever ways and workarounds for pretty much every problem.

Finding the right tools is almost as important as knowing what the issue is. But assuming you're following sound principles of problem solving, then having the adequate toolbox will help resolve problems quickly and efficiently. In this article, I'd like to present some of the most handy programs an advanced Windows user should always have in their proverbial IT drawer. Follow me.

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Updated: November 10, 2018 | Category: Internet

Ghostery

Here's a mind-blowing but obvious realization: the Internet is one giant shopping litmus test lab, with billions of voluntary participants helping big corporations fine-tune their products and marketing strategies. This is done without the use of elaborate, interruptive questionnaires. All it takes is some Javascript running behind every visible Web page, and Bob's your uncle.

The most pervasive form of marketing is, you guessed right, online ads. Shown to you in all sorts of shapes and colors, they not only peddle wondrous solutions, they also directly and indirectly measure (i.e. track) the human response to the shown content, and this wealth of statistical data is used to make future products and future ads work even better for the selling party. On its own, this might not be bad, except people are greedy. What might have been just innocent marketing has become one giant data harvesting industry, going way beyond simple browsing habits. If you are not so keen on participating mind and soul, you are probably using an ad blocker tool of some sort. We talked about Noscript, we talked about UMatrix, we talked about Adblock Plus. Today, we will talk about Ghostery.

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Updated: November 3, 2018 | Category: Linux games

TrackMania Nations Forever

Arcade is not really my thing. But sometimes, when you're really tired and your brain is buzzing by on fumes of intelligence and borderline paranoia that comes from extreme exhaustion, arcade can be a lifesaver. Sometimes, you just want something simple, raw and straightforward.

TrackMania Nations Forever is exactly that - a simple, no-nonsense - actually yes-nonsense - arcade racer, which lets you compete solo (Han Solo) against the computer or play against other humans, on your local network or online. Strap into a sled on wheels and start racing. Don't worry about physics. Worry about besting your foe as you hockey-puck through, around and over mad, delirium-architected tracks. Let's do a review, shall we?

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Updated: November 2, 2018 | Category: Linux

Ubuntu & Deja Dup backups

What has more umlauts than lebkuchen? Deja Dup. Properly spelled with a whole bunch of accents, this is a simple but versatile backup tool, included in Ubuntu by default. Normally, I have my own backup methods, but while playing with Ubuntu 18.04 Unity, I had the tool pop up and prompt me to configure some redundancy for me files and folders. And I thought, all right, this is a fairly non-aggressive offer - it does not pop up right away, it lets you use your system for a few days before gently raising its head.

And so I am going to show you how to use Deja Dup, as well as outline the various interesting feature it has. I was not expecting much, but then, as I clicked through the GUI, I realized there's more to this than just a seemingly bland interface. Follow me.

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