Updated: November 20, 2019 | Category: Linux

Ubuntu MATE 19.10 Eoan Ermine

How is an ermine different from a martel or a beaver? Je ne sais quoi, the French would say, but good news! We can discover how different Eoan Ermine is from Disco Dingo, and/or other Linux distributions out there in the wild. Commencing the autumn season of testing, joy, tribulation and unknowns, we begin with the MATE edition of the family.

Now, some notes ere we begin. I happen to know the head honcho of the MATE project, but this familiarity shall not be affecting the outcome of this review in any shape or form or whatnot. Furthermore, I did dabble some in the beta version of Ubuntu MATE and provided some feedback on the rough edges here and there, which again, is something you should know in advance. All that said, my Lenovo G50 laptop with its plethora of partitions and installed systems is about to receive a new one. Let's do it.

Read more ...

Updated: November 20, 2019 | Category: Books

System Administration Ethics book discount

Dear Dedoimedoistas! My publisher has just informed that the holiday season comes with perks. In other words, my recently published System Administration Ethics books is available at a discount, using a purchase coupon code directly on the publisher's site.

I think this could be a really good opportunity for you to grab yourself a copy at a reduced price. This book comes with an important set of rules and guidelines for how to conduct oneself professionally and ethically in the IT world, something that has come under a lot of scrutiny recently. I would be happy and honored if you read the book - it's the best way to support Dedoimedo. The discount offer will be available till December 31, both for print and e-book versions. Case-sensitive coupon: ETHICS20. There you go. Enjoy!

Read more ... (Apress book site)

Updated: November 18, 2019 | Category: Windows

Windows display & color calibration tutorial

Here's a weird problem. I was using my Asus Vivobook, which happens to dual-boot Linux and Windows, and in the resident Windows 8.1, during some strenuous maintenance - installation of several applications, updates and such - my screen colors suddenly changed. It was as if the brightness had been halved, even though the slider was in the max. position.

I didn't discover what triggered this color muting, but I did realize that I needed to find a way to restore my colors back to what I like. And so I started fiddling a little with color adjustments and display calibration, and eventually wrote this tutorial, for things ain't (too) trivial. Thus, if you happen to be using Windows, and suddenly you find yourself disliking the colors on your screen, here's a tutorial that could help you.

Read more ...

Updated: November 16, 2019 | Category: Life wisdoms and such

Are you conservative

First, if you think or even vaguely suspect this article has somehow anything to do with any sort of West Coast soap opera melodrama about boring political affiliations, you're reading the wrong article, so please, click the close button on the browser tab and go back to your Interneting. This article is an attempt to understand, or rather, enlighten you, into what makes one receptive or resistant to change. Mostly when it comes to technology.

The world is currently undergoing several social, cultural and technological mini-upheavals, at a faster pace than in the past. This gives us a unique privilege to live through them, and even observe them, through our own personal experience. Typically, changes of this nature used to take generations, so people would often equate them with the natural cycle of human life, and thus, they were also easier to miss, ignore and adapt to. Now, the speed makes everything more interesting. Let's commence.

Read more ...

Updated: November 9, 2019 | Category: Linux

CentOS 8 perfect desktop tutorial

Traditions are there so they can be maintained, nourished, upkept, repeated. Most notably, any time there's a new major CentOS release, I happily jump on the opportunity to test the distro and also provide you with a tutorial that shows all the steps you need to undertake to turn a fairly boring server distro into a fully productive, fun desktop setup.

We've done this with CentOS 6 and CentOS 7 (and there are sequels, too), and it's time we do the same with CentOS 8. So let me show you all the bits and pieces you require to enjoy stability with the latest and greatest software. Over the years, this effort has become easier, so it will be interesting to see whether CentOS 8 makes it even simpler than the previous versions. Let's begin.

Read more ...

Updated: November 8, 2019 | Category: Books

System Administration Ethics book published

Dear readers, I am truly happy to announce the publication of my latest technical book. It comes with a lengthy but important title - System Administration Ethics: Ten Commandments for Security and Compliance in a Modern Cyber World. A colleague and I have been writing this book over the past year and a bit, and we've jotted down what we believe are the most critical dos and don'ts of information technology.

Ethics has never been more important - just look around, and you'll see the Wild Wild West of the digital world, breach here, breach there, data this, data that. Amidst this chaos, you will find techies, afloat, lost, confused, angry, and wondering how their work and passion has become the spearpoint of social dissent and mistrust. I hope this book can provide the right pointers.

Read more ...

Updated: November 8, 2019 | Category: Books

The Golden Horde weekly serial, Chapter 6

Operation Putain started three hours into Operation Lake Placid, with the morning sky streaked in lead and filthy white but no rain. Lee Qiang was happy they didn’t need to slog through mud on the very first day of their mission.

Assembled in eight Magdalena SUVs, they crossed the border into Sector 8. Well, the term “border” was deceiving. It implied a line, a fence, maybe a formal checkpoint, whereas in between the two territories, it was fluidly marked by a stretch of rugged land about 10-15 kilometers wide. Inside this buffer zone, wearing the wrong kind of uniform did not mean you’d automatically get shot by the other side.

Read more ... (my books-only website)

Updated: October 26, 2019 | Category: Windows

Windows 7 end of support guide

In January 2020, Windows 7 will come to the supported end of its respectable lifecycle. After this point, there will be no more updates from Microsoft. Since there are roughly 500 million active Windows 7 devices still out there, this raises a very important question: What should existing users do now, and for how much longer can they continue using Windows 7 in a manner that is safe, smart and logical?

I thought, here's a great opportunity to address this concern. I will explore the Windows 7 question from three main angles: security, hardware (and performance), and functionality. We did this thing when Windows XP was about to be retired, and we will do it again now. Oh, and rule no.1: don't panic!

Read more ...

Updated: October 25, 2019 | Category: Books

The Golden Horde weekly serial, Chapter 4

It had taken Lee Qiang the better part of his military career to develop and hone his philosophy on warfare. He was very proud of his epiphany.

War can be best described as Antonio Vivaldi’s most famous work, Four Seasons. With one exception. It starts with the second violin concerto. Summer.

War always starts in the summer.

Read more ... (my books-only website)

Updated: October 23, 2019 | Category: Linux

Plasma 5.17 review

It's happened again. The KDE team has released a new version of their desktop environment. Seemingly a small increment, based on the numbering scheme, it still brings a wealth of changes, improvements and whatnot to the desktop scene. That means there's only one reasonable outcome: some proper testing.

And so I did. I fired up my neon instance sitting cozily in the eight-boot Windows-and-Linux setup on my G50 laptop, let the system run a whole bunch of updates, and an hour later, I had the Plasma 5.17 desktop up and running. Now, let's see how it fares and what it offers. After me.

Read more ...

Updated: October 21, 2019 | Category: Linux

Manjaro 18.1.0 Juhraya Cinnamon

You know how the popular saying goes. When it rains ... people drive slowly just to annoy you. But as it happens, I received a bunch of emails from people asking me two things: 1) Why have I not recently done any more Cinnamon reviews (other than Mint)? 2) When am I going to review the latest version of Manjaro 18.1 Juhraya?

The answer to these question is: yes. At the same time! I decided to try Manjaro Cinnamon, not something I've done before, so it should be an interesting, refreshing and hopefully worthwhile exercise. The test box will be the same one I used for the Illyria Xfce test, so we can compare things in earnest - and accurately. This is an eight-book mixed Windows & Linux box, and it comes with UEFI, Intel graphics, 16 sweet partitions, and another instance of Manjaro that we won't touch in this review. Begin to start.

Read more ...

Updated: October 19, 2019 | Category: Windows

Windows 10 & offline account setup

Feeling bored? Not enough excitement or first-world problems in your life? Worry not! Windows 10 at your service - not to be confused with Windows as a Service, right. Indeed, if you've followed the tech news in the past three or four years, you may have noticed there's always a flurry of unexpected activity with Windows 10. This could be system changes after updates, this could be problems with updates, or this could be, the latest thingie, how to setup your local account after a fresh installation. Shouldn't be an issue right, except, seemingly, it is.

A few days ago, I came across an avalanche of articles discussing a (new) phenomenon: when you set up your Windows 10, it seems to be more difficult to create a local account, and you might be forced to use an online account instead. I read this on Ghacks, among other places, and then decided to do the test for myself, to see whether this is indeed the case. Let's see what happens.

Read more ...

Updated: October 18, 2019 | Category: Books

The Golden Horde weekly serial, Chapter 3

Civilians.

No, that was not the right word. Non-combatants, then. That didn’t work either.

Everyone was affected by the global war of the past nineteen years. The best description was people with no control over their lives. Fallen leaves, waiting to be swept and whirled by a sudden gust of wind. Ghosts, with brittle smiles.

One such specimen stood at the corner of the street. Smiling that empty smile of people living through hell.

Read more ... (my books-only website)

Updated: October 16, 2019 | Category: Linux

Plasma desktop cool widgets

Plasma is an extremely extensible, flexible desktop environment, and it lets you customize and change anything and everything to the tiniest detail. You can go about mimicking other desktops and systems as you please, limited only by your imagination and patience. If you want a Mac-like look or a Unity look, you can.

So I thought, I should revisit my old Plasma widgets article and explore some fresh applets out there, to see what else you can do here. Indeed, there are lots of hidden goodies lurking beneath the surface, and if you're curious, you will discover fresh tools and features that can make the Plasma desktop experience even more enjoyable.

Read more ...

Updated: October 14, 2019 | Category: Linux

CentOS 8 & Gnome Shell extensions

Several days ago, I reviewed CentOS 8. Overall, the whole thing went well, but there were some snags along the way. Most notably, I had trouble getting the system configured so that I could use Gnome extensions and transform the vanilla, default look & feel of the Gnome 3 desktop, which I find extremely unproductive, into a more classic desktop formula.

There were problems getting Gnome extensions installed, and then the system didn't have the native host connector, and it took a bit of work sorting everything out. Not trivial. Before I give you a full perfect desktop tutorial that I promised, the kind we did with CentOS 7, I'd like to show you all the steps you need to get the Gnome extensions properly configured in the latest edition of this server-cum-desktop distro. After me.

Read more ...

Updated: October 12, 2019 | Category: Linux

Peek review

Now and then, the sun rises above Gondor. And by Gondor, I mean Linux. And by that, I mean, occasionally, fresh new software is born, and it is indeed as fresh as a brioche just taken out of the oven in a small, remote village somewhere in Normandy. The holder of the challenge seems to be Peek, a software designed to help you create compact, high-quality demo animations of desktop activity.

Being able to record your desktop isn't a new thing. I've written about this many times in the past, covering programs like recordMyDesktop, Kazam and friends. Even Spectacle can do this for you, and if you're handy with the omnipotent ffmpeg, then you can do whatever you fancy. Sounds like a simple recipe that would be hard to beat. But this article proves otherwise. After me.

Read more ...

Updated: October 11, 2019 | Category: Books

The Golden Horde weekly serial, Chapter 2

Commander Lip sure didn’t waste time.

He tried to kill Lee Qiang the very next day.

They were riding an APC to the front lines for a routine inspection and familiarization. It was one of the new prewar models, a Kismet urban warrior, with an anti-tank mesh on both sides. A squeaky clean example of a dwindling inventory.

Read more ... (my books-only website)

Updated: October 9, 2019 | Category: Office

TeXstudio review

Many a person in the modern world have had, at some point in their life, to write a document of some sort, usually a CV, and then send it to other people for professional scrutiny. Others have braved their luck writing books and articles, or creating presentations. Many have tried, but few had succeeded.

If you want to write a nicely styled document, you need, well, style. Or rather styles. Ever since computer graphics became powerful enough to show fancy stuff on your screen, document writing has gone from text to a vomit of figures and colorful objects mixed with words in one messy bundle. But if you want to do it right, you want content and style separation. In essence, this is HTML and CSS, and to be fair, this is your modern word processor with the use of styles. Or if you're feeling really adventurous - LaTeX. Or if you're feeling bold and lazy, then maybe LyX. Then, there's another candidate - TeXstudio, and we shall discuss it today.

Read more ...

Updated: October 7, 2019 | Category: Media

Quod Libet review

My music requirements are simple. I have many great qualities, but a refined ear isn't among them. With an aural sensitivity of a comodo dragon, my needs come down to a simple player that is pleasing to the eye, comes with a semi-modern layout, and most importantly, will not annoy me with badly arranged albums, titles and tags. The last piece has been my chief music-related woe for years.

When it comes to music players, I'm kind of okay here. VLC does the job, and when you tweak it, it's quite delightful one must say. Then, when I'm feeling adventurous, there's Clementine, which features splendidly on the desktop, with a clean interface and tons of goodies. And yet, now and then, I go about testing music applications, because music collections won't sort themselves, now will they. To wit, Quod Libet.

Read more ...

Updated: October 5, 2019 | Category: Linux

CentOS 8 review

There are operating systems that were never meant to be used as desktops. Well, to be fair, most Linux distributions fall into this category, in a way. But CentOS falls more. It's a no-nonsense server distro, designed to give you three quarters of an eternity of stable support and a blackhole worth of predictable boredom so you can do work stuffs. But if you wanna desktop, you can too.

I've always had a soft spot for CentOS - if you're curious, you can read all about my CentOS 6 story and the subsequent CentOS 7 saga over the past decade. Now that the latest release is out, it's time for another long review. I'll commit the distro to my eight-boot mixed Windows & Linux Lenovo G50 machine, which, by the way, already runs a CentOS instance. And if all goes well, then we will attempt an in-vivo upgrade, too. For now, let's commence the journey.

Read more ...

Updated: October 4, 2019 | Category: Books

The Golden Horde weekly serial, Chapter 1

Eyes squinted against the daylight glare, Lee Qiang stepped out of the tin-can transport, together with seventeen other soldiers, all new recruits—except him. They milled quietly, rubbing shoulder against sweaty shoulder, trying to get some sense of where they were.

Hell, Lee Qiang thought.

A familiar place.

Read more ... (my books-only website)

Updated: October 2, 2019 | Category: Linux

Cairo dock

In a perfect world, desktops are complete solutions. Alas, we live in a world that is far from perfect. If you look across different Linux desktop environments, only Plasma (and Unity) offer a fully consistent layout. Gnome requires modifications, and Xfce never mastered the dock idea that well.

Indeed, while testing Manjaro, I decided to retry my notion of a handsome Xfce desktop with a top panel featuring global menu and a pleasant dock at the bottom of the screen. In Gnome, the latter part would be satisfied using extensions, the likes of either Dash to Dock or Dash to Panel, Plasma would give you icons-only task manager or Latte, MATE would give you its own plankified dock version, and Xfce ... well. To that end, I decided to test and explore Cairo Dock. Hence, this article.

Read more ...

Updated: September 30, 2019 | Category: Car reviews

BMW 218d Cabriolet M sport review

To roof or not to roof. This is a question than many Cabriolet drivers had faced since the dawn of the, eh, cabriolet. It's not something I had to contend with until very recently, when I finally got a chance to drive a BMW 218d Cabriolet, with two doors, M Sport kit and signature Estoril Blue paint, and some black canvas for the roof.

I had the car for two days and about 550 km of driving, including open highways, jammed urban traffic, but also some nice twisty roads in the hills and mountains, which gave me an opportunity to test the vehicle's dynamics in all three dimensions. The weather was favorable too, so there's that. Follow me.

Read more ...

Updated: September 28, 2019 | Category: Linux

Manjaro Plasma post-install essential tweaks

You know I'm no Arch fan. But I am also impressed by the efforts to transform the ultra-nerdy Arch into a friendly system accessible to the masses. This is primarily done by Manjaro, which is blazing an honest path of creativity down the Linux highway. I've recently tested version 18.0.4 Illyria Plasma, and found it to be quite solid. There were lots of problems, but then, there were also some super-cool features.

To help you get along, I've compiled this article - it's mostly the summary of tweaks and changes I introduced to the installed Manjaro system, in order to get a smooth, seamless experience replete with good software, good looks and proprietary drivers. Now, there's also the Xfce review, and we might do some tweaks for that edition, too. But now, we only focus on the Plasma spin. To wit, let us commence.

Read more ...

Updated: September 27, 2019 | Category: Linux

Make Plasma look like Unity

Over the years, in my production setup, I've used only two Linux desktop environments in earnest - KDE and Unity - well, Xfce to a much, much smaller extent. I've started with KDE 3.5 back in the day (with SUSE 10), ran Unity for as long as Trusty was supported, and I'm now using Plasma 5.12 LTS as part of Kubuntu 18.04 on my Slimbook Pro2 laptop. But Unity has a sweet spot in my heart.

Well, I haven't abandoned the desktop, as it is still installed on the Asus Vivobook machine. I had the system upgraded from Trusty to Bionic a few months ago, and installed both the Unity and Plasma desktops, and then tweaked the latter to look like the former. A small and incomplete transformation. Then I decided to ratchet this up a notch or three. A full makeover. Proceed we shall. If you're impatient, go to the good results section below right away.

Read more ...

Updated: September 25, 2019 | Category: Linux games

KDE Connect on Windows

Several weeks ago, we talked about the all-time classic Red Alert. Now, I want to focus on the successor, the equally nice and fun Red Alert 2 and its expansion Yuri's Revenge. While this game never really eclipsed the original, it's still very much the quintessential Westwood RTS, with great graphics, same fast-paced spirit and some extra factions and technology.

So how does one go about enjoying this game on Linux? Well, you noticed the mention of CNCNET in my Red Alert guide, a great community of people dedicated to keeping the legends and classics alive. While RA is free to play, RA2 and Yuri are not. These games have not been handed off to the public at large, and so you still need to have the original DVD - or buy them fresh. But if you happen to have those, then let's talk business.

Read more ...

Updated: September 23, 2019 | Category: Windows

KDE Connect on Windows

If you're in possession of an Android phone, then you might be interested in KDE Connect. This is an application developed by KDE folks, which lets you pair your smartphone with your Plasma desktop, and then do all sorts of magic to and fro. You can control media, check SMS messages, view system information, share files, and more.

I've reviewed this software and found it quite useful, although support for other mobile systems would be nice. Now, as you can imagine, its very name implies that it is tied into the KDE (Plasma) desktop environment. Well, not anymore! You can use it Gnome vis GSConnect, but that's still Linux. Well, well, well! There's also an experimental build for Windows. And that's why we're here. Let's test this software in Windows.

Read more ...

Updated: September 14, 2019 | Category: Windows

Sandboxie review

The last time I tested system sandboxing software was in the XP era. I remember programs like ShadowGuard, if my memory servers me well, and Deep Freeze, designed to create a virtual filesystem layer to which changes would be made during your active session, and then on next reboot, these would be scrubbed back to a clean state. In essence, a read-only system with the ability for selective modification.

For applications, you may have wanted something less complicated - and for those in need, there was Sandboxie. As it happens, I never really got to try the application, not in its early days nor later after it was acquired, but now, having tried Windows Defender Application Guard (unsuccessfully) on Windows 10 Home, I decided to give this program another look. So let's have a test and review of Sandboxie. Let's build us a security castle!

Read more ...

Updated: September 13, 2019 | Category: Linux

Manjaro & Broadcom Wireless fix

Here's an interesting problem. Several weeks ago, I tested Manjaro 18.0.4 Illyria on my HP Pavilion laptop, and I've come across an interesting phenomenon. The laptop is equipped with a Broadcom Wireless card, and in the live session, both with free and nonfree drivers, the network was up and running okay. However, after the installation, I had no Wireless.

Looking at system looks, I found an error that said WLC_SCAN error (-22). Once I hit the Intertubes with this search, all hell broke loose. I found dozens of Arch and Manjaro forum posts talking about this issue. There were some solutions offered, but they were either ineffective or very difficult to implement. So I decided to try to fix this on my own, hence this guide. Follow me.

Read more ...

Updated: September 13, 2019 | Category: Books

The Golden Horde weekly serial

Readers of mine and random curious souls, rejoice! I am going to try something new vis-a-vis writing. At least, new for me. In a few weeks, I will begin a year-long journey of a serial book publication, releasing a fresh new chapter every week, right here on this website, for free. Which book, you’re asking?

Well, this is going to be The Golden Horde, a military thriller taking place in near future, with World War Three in full swing. You say, War World Three… Why, did you expect the series to end with just two installments?

Read more ... (external link)

Updated: September 5, 2019 | Category: Linux

Fedora 30 & GRUB updates

If you're using Linux, you are also probably, almost definitely, using the GRUB2 bootloader. The bootloader lets you control the startup sequence of the system, especially if you have multiple operating systems installed, like Windows and Linux side by side, multiple distributions of Linux, and so forth. Sometimes, you will need to make changes to the GRUB2 configuration, including specific overrides like kernel command-line parameters.

If the above means nothing to you, you don't need this guide. But if it does, then you can consult my rather extensive GRUB2 tutorial on how to use and manage the bootloader. Except, it's not enough. If you want to add boot parameters to the kernel - permanently - then editing the default configuration file as I've explained in the guide will not work. That's part of the fragmentation delight that's Linux. So we need a different method, and this is why we're here.

Read more ...

Updated: September 2, 2019 | Category: Media

Kdenlive 19.08

About a year ago, I reviewed the beta version of Kdenlive 18.08. It proved to be an okay program, an incremental improvement, even though there were some issues that you'd expect to find in beta-quality software. Overall, there weren't any big surprises, but I was hoping for a more streamlined workflow and improved consistency.

Twelve months later, Kdenlive 19.08 has been released, and it's time for another review. After all, this is my favorite video editor, and I've used it to create all of my funny and unfunny Youtube videos, so I'm always very keen on what new things and improvements we can have here. Let us commence then, ever so gingerly.

Read more ...

Updated: August 31, 2019 | Category: Linux

Xfce 4.14 review

People often ask me (joking, no one asks me anything, I ain't got no friends) what my favorite Linux desktop is. And my answer is, well, long and complicated. But I guess, in the past fifteen years, I've mostly used and loved Plasma and Unity, with some brief moments of joy with Gnome 2. Then, inevitably, the question of Xfce comes up, and my answer is even longer and more complicated.

The release of Xfce 4.14 might provide a part of the answer you're looking for. And you should definitely look at my reviews of various distros running Xfce, like say Xubuntu or MX Linux, to get a sense of what this desktop environment does, and how it does it. But then, it's never been really my default go-to setup, although I did use it quite successfully and effectively - and still do - on my feisty, 10-year-old Asus eeePC netbook. On the desktop proper, I like it, and I liked what it did approximately three years or so. Since, it's kind of kept a quiet profile, not quite here nor there. Well, I want to see if the new version has the kick to make my proverbial colt buck and gallop. Testing time it is then!

Read more ...

Updated: August 30, 2019 | Category: Internet

Firefox & Event ID 58 error

Here's a philosophical question for you. Would you rather have a problem that clearly manifests and comes with a well-defined error or one that seemingly does not exhibit any symptoms but is also accompanied with a vague message that doesn't really tell you what's wrong? I have to say I prefer the former, because the latter just assailed me a few days back, in the form of a Firefox error in Windows.

Without having made ANY changes to my operational setup, I was merrily browsing the net, and as it happens, I did look in the Windows 7 Event Viewer logs for unrelated reasons, when I noticed a bunch of errors, all related to Firefox. The message read: The description for Event ID 58 from source Firefox cannot be found. Either the component that raises this event is not installed on your local computer or the installation is corrupted. You can install or repair the component on the local computer. Well, let's debug this.

Read more ...

Updated: August 28, 2019 | Category: Internet

Nikola site generator

The modern web is all about dynamic content. But in most cases, this is a technological illusion. A large number of website uses dynamically generated pages, i.e. stuff gets read from a database and rendered on the screen when requested, even for things that don't necessarily require any interaction. This takes resources, and might even be considered less secure, because bad or malformed instructions could theoretically generate something undesired.

The old Web was all about static content - HTML pages with links and images and not much else. Not bad, very light on the resources, and as secure as the Web server what does it. But then, not much interaction happens, and updating content can be tedious. What if there was something midway between the two worlds? That would be Nikola, a static site generator.

Read more ...

Updated: August 26, 2019 | Category: Linux

Plasma global menu, app title and window buttons like Mac and Unity

Several weeks ago, I wrote my article slash guide on how to style the Plasma desktop to appear somewhat like a Mac. It wasn't a perfect one-to-one transformation, but it was sufficiently pretty and elegant. Then I got me thinking. How far can I take this experiment? How about full Unity?

Again, this ain't a new topic, and I have already made the Plasma instance on my Asus Vivobook, which used to run Trusty and have since been upgraded to Bionic, look somewhat like the Unity desktop - in addition to the actual Unity desktop, that is. Not a complete change, though. And that's my next objective. However, this is a rather lengthy and non-trivial topic, so I'll start with something simpler. Let's first see how you can have integrated buttons for maximized windows and application titles in the top panel in Plasma.

Read more ...

Updated: August 24, 2019 | Category: Linux games

C&C RA on Linux

A true definition of a classic is something that refuses to die. Ten, a hundred, a thousand years later, they are still relevant. One such example is Command & Conquer and its immediate successor Red Alert. Released in mid-90s, this superb RTS franchise revolutionized the PC gaming, defining a standard for decades to come. Sure, there was Dune, and there was Warcraft, but C&C and RA sort of reigned supreme.

All right, so we have a mission. I want to show you how to enjoy Red Alert in all its glory on a modern system, replete with online gaming, should you so desire. As it turns out, this is somewhat easier than you'd be led to believe, as I shall demonstrate in a jiffy. Follow me.

Read more ...

Updated: August 23, 2019 | Category: Office

LibreOffice 6.3 review

I am a fairly happy user of LibreOffice. For real. I use it in a relatively lightweight capacity, mostly the Writer application, and it does a decent job for a program that costs nothing. But then, occasionally, when I do try to use Calc, or when I have to work with Microsoft Office files, issues do crop up. I've written about this in my day-in-office article. As much as I'd like for the reality to be different, it isn't.

However, every time there's a new LibreOffice release, like version 6.3, I perk up, aflush with hope that this new edition will bring in revolutionary changes and fixes, which will make it a business-quality rival to the expensive Microsoft suite. This is ever so more important and relevant, given how aggressively Microsoft is pushing its cloud-based software, and for people who just want a quiet and relatively inexpensive solution, the future holds little glamor. And so we test.

Read more ...

Updated: August 19, 2019 | Category: Books

Book news: problem solving & system administration ethics

I have some nice news for you. Having focused a lot on getting a fresh fiction work out there in the past couple of months, it is almost too easy to neglect mentioning some of the more serious writing I've been doing lately. Plus some rather curious and happy developments. Indeed.

As it turns out, I have completed a new technical book, slightly ahead of schedule, and it's due out soon. And an older volume of work has been translated. Lots of good stuff happening. I hope you will be pleased with this snippet of news as much as I am. Well, let's elaborate, shall we. But not like super long and prosaic beyond recognition. In fact, for real this time, this will actually be a short article, something I rarely do. Let's see what gives.

Read more ...

Updated: August 18, 2019 | Category: Linux

Manjaro 18.0.4 Illyria Xfce

Well, well. It is time to expand our horizons. That means more distro testing. In particular, I shall continue exploring the Manjaro 18.X range. The Plasma version turned out to be a pretty solid, colorful release. It wasn't perfect, and there were quite a few hardware-related issues with my old Nvidia-powered Pavilion dv6 laptop. But then, there were also tons of unique goodies that convinced me to persevere.

Now (meaning when this article was written, a few weeks back), I want to check the Xfce edition, and see how it fares on my eight-boot G50 laptop, running Windows 10 and a whole crop of different Linux distros, complete with UEFI/GPT and Intel graphics. This is similar to what I've done with Manjaro 17 Hakoila, having tested both the Plasma and Xfce builds. So we begin.

Read more ...

Updated: August 17, 2019 | Category: Linux

Fedora 30 upgrade

Time for another and possibly last test of the 30th crop of the Fedora grain. So far, we had two. First, I did a fresh install on the Lenovo G50 laptop, with its UEFI + Intel graphics set, and it went quite all right. Then, I ran a similar experiment on the much older HP Pavilion box, with BIOS + Nvidia graphics, and this was a much more disappointing experience, full of bugs and hardware problems.

Still, overall I was pleased somewhat with what Fedora 30 delivered, and I wanted to do a third test, and that would be the upgrade of the Fedora 29 instance sitting in my eight-boot Windows-and-Linux setup on the Lenovo machine. With the system polished up all pretty and functional, this ought to be an interesting experiment, especially on the performance and compatibility fronts, given the changes and tweaks.

Read more ...

Updated: August 14, 2019 | Category: Linux

Pi-Hole review and tutorial

The modern Internet is a fairly annoying place. Quite often, innocent activities like reading text or watching videos are interrupted by promotional messages better known as ads. This wouldn't be a problem if the ads were relevant, well-timed, or non-intrusive, but despite much "progress" in artificial intelligence, deep learning and other buzzwords, they are none of those. Then, we have privacy and whatnot.

The battle between ad givers and ad blockers rages on. It's also slowly escalating, as more and more people are turning against the aggressive in-yer-face ad model. For the most part, if you use an adblocking extension in your browser, you're all set. But then, you're at the mercy of the browser company and what they allow, plus this doesn't always work in every browser and/or operating system. The solution is to complete block network requests to ad servers, and this is what Pi-Hole does. Let's review.

Read more ...

Updated: August 12, 2019 | Category: The Hall of Fame

Greatest sites

I have just updated my Greatest sites page with two fresh items of goodness. The Internet just got better. Item number one: Sometimes, a rather unassuming website name can hide a lot of goodies under its cloak of modesty. The Register is a good example. Think Dad's Army meets IT meets science. That's the crux of The Register, a very neat and humor-flavored (or rather humour-flavor, this being the British site and all) domain that dabbles in all things hax0ry and technological.

Item number two: Vasily's blog may be a new thing, but it comes loaded with rich, colorful articles full of self-deprecating humor and tongue-in-cheek references to the steaming pile of buzzword dung that is polluting the oceans of the Web. Vas3k, at your service.

Read more ...

Updated: August 1, 2019 | Category: Linux

Slimbook & Kubuntu combat report 10

The mission continues. We're now in the Delta Quadrant, chasing the Borg. Or rather, you are reading my tenth Slimbook report. If you've got some time, you should read the first through ninth installment. If you ain't got time for that, the long story short is that I've bought a Linux laptop, and I'm using it for realz, production stuff, serious work. And does it work?

Well, quite so. In fact, while there are many subtle differences between the worlds of Linux and Windows desktop, the big differentiating factors are gaming and office. That's all. But the devil is in the detail, which is why you're reading this piece now. Let's see what happened in the past few weeks.

Read more ...