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

Updated: May 24, 2019 | Category: Linux

Linux & VPN plugin connection failure

This is an obscure problem. An alarming one. But there's a happy ending. So let me introduce the problem statement. On me Slimbook, which happily runs Kubuntu Beaver, I set up a VPN connection, to see how well the operating system handles all manner of things, technologies and use cases. This wasn't trivial, as a necessary package was missing and whatnot, but in the end, I got things running.

Then, suddenly, things stopped running. The VPN would no longer connect, with a rather ambiguous error showing in the system log (nothing else is shown to the user, there's just a silent fail on connect) reading something like: VPN plugin: failed: connect-failed (1). My first thought was, oh noes, a regression. But rather than just blaming Kubuntu, I decided to dig into this some more.

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Updated: May 22, 2019 | Category: Linux

Fedora 30 Workstation

Typically, I care not for release announcements or lists of features available in products as an incentive to sample from said goods. But occasionally, I do see something unique or interesting, and I think, I might as well give it a good look, see what gives [sic]. Case in point, Fedora 30.

As the bleeding edge tech demonstrator slash nerd distro slash Gnome trailblazer, Fedora was often a victim of its own destiny, plus the combination of (until recently) FOSS-only approach limited its appeal to the wider desktop audience. But this changed recently. Fedora 29 had non-free repos available through the Software Center, allowing much easier access to fun stuff. MP3 is no longer taboo. And now Fedora 30 brings in speed improvements, in package management and the desktop. I've always complained about Gnome being slow, so test we must. Begin.

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Updated: May 20, 2019 | Category: Linux

WINE & Mono (dotNET) setup

Linux. WINE. Interesting use case. As it happens, I was playing with WINE, trying to install some Windows software. Turns out, the particular program is available natively, so no biggie, but occasionally, I am trying this framework, to see if it's made progress in becoming simpler and easier.

On this particular rainy day, I was not having success with Mono, or dotNET if you will. The application couldn't run, because there was Mono missing on my Linux box, but getting it configured correctly was far from trivial. Hence this tutorial. Someone somewhere out there may have an obscure use case, and this little guide shall come handy one day. Or not. After me.

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Updated: May 17, 2019 | Category: Car reviews

Volkswagen Passat 2.0 TDI

When it rains, it pours. Or something. Well, shortly after I got the chance to test the Golf 1.6 TDI, the wheel of fortune (alloy not steel) provided me with a short opportunity to drive the Passat, too. One equipped with a 2.0-liter turbo-diesel engine and a six-speed manual gearbox, with a cavalry of 150 horses deployed onto the tarmac. The test was short, but the experience sweet.

Somewhat akin to what I did with Peugeot 208 GTi and Skoda Octavia vRS, I can quickly share the sum of my findings from a single day with a Volkswagen Passat, roughly 500 km worth of roads, mostly on highways and with excellent 80s music playing inside the cabin. Shall we.

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Updated: May 15, 2019 | Category: Linux

Kubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo

We embark on another test, another distro, another review. This time around, we shall glimpse, sample, taste, torture, and examine Kubuntu, the KDE-flavored of them distros of the current spring crop, and it ought to be an interesting exercise. Plasma Cosmic was good, fairly so, bringing back some of the zest [sic] and fire that we saw with Zesty back in the day.

As you know, I'm driving daily with Beaver on my Slimbook, so I'm always very keen on improvements in the Plasma space, as I cast me gaze to the future and wonder how and when and if I'll ever be able to fully and unreservedly embrace Linux for home use. Until that day, I paddle up the distro creek, in pursuit after happiness and high-quality software. Perchance Disco shall deliver. Or will it be deliverance? Let's see.

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Updated: May 13, 2019 | Category: Office

Calibre & KFX conversion

This is a rather interesting topic. Over the years, Amazon have changed the Kindle file format several times. Their digital books came in a variety of formats, including AZW, then AZW3 and finally KFX. The last one is a complex archive that combines numerous features, including typesetting engine, fonts, multi-page thumbnails, and also DRM. I noticed this starting with Decay, one of my books published in 2017.

Reading some more, I realized KFX seemed to include DRM even for books that are not meant to use DRM, and I found this quite weird, because as an author, I have specifically chosen not to publish my own works with any sort of lock-in encryption. So this got me thinking. Is there a way to actually convert KFX into the old format, or other e-book formats, and use them in Calibre and other readers, the way the older formats allowed? Follow me.

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Updated: May 11, 2019 | Category: Internet

Android look like Windows Phone

E.T. phone home? No, Windows Phone home. Aha! So yes, we are here to attempt the unattemptable. Well, not really, because the apps are in the store, and all that, but really, the reason we're here is because I want to try using Windows Phone theming on an Android phone. With the inevitable demise of the Microsoft smartphone line, including my most fabulous Lumia 950, the supreme ergonomics of its tiled user interface will be one sad day consigned to memory. That leaves me and like-minded users with color-iconics approach used by the market leaders, Android and iOS.

I've recently gotten meself an Android phone, to test the waters so to speak, and I'm very pleased with the Moto G6 choice I've made. It's quite reasonable, in all aspects, and if it had the tiled interface, 'twould be superb. As it happens, there are apps of this nature in the Play Store. So I'm testing, and trying to come up with an answer to the important question: can one use a WP-like layout on Android? Well, I tried this four years ago, so now we need to have a second look at this. Follow me.

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Updated: May 10, 2019 | Category: Internet

Android 9.0 Pie update

Me no smart smartphone user. Me someone who likes their things big and comfy and efficient. Tapping with fingers doesn't quite translate into those needs. But ... with Lumia slowly ascending toward the big phonebooth that is in the heaven, alternatives must be evaluated. Hence, Motorola Moto G6, which I find to be a surprisingly good device, Android notwithstanding. On the contrary. This was another solid surprise.

So perhaps there's light at the end of the touch tunnel. As it happens, you also get updates for your phone, be it test device or not. This article tells my story of the Android 9.0 upgrade, how it went, the good, the bad, and the weird. So whether you're reading this on a nice 24-inch screen or a tiny phone in your lap, lean back, if you can, and enjoy. Let us commence to begin.

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Updated: May 6, 2019 | Category: Linux

MX Linux & fan control and brightness tweaks

This may sound like an odd topic. After all, my eeePC is 10 years old. But ... recently, I had it successfully restored to a full, meaningful new life with the use of MX Linux! Just about as I was to consign it to ashes, this nimble little distro made the netbook relevant once again, with decent performance, modern software and good looks. So not only am I happy, I'm amazeballsed.

There were two hardware issues with the netbook - screen brightness Fn keys not working and fan control not kicking in. I had these SAME issues when I first got the device. Nevermind, let me show you how to fix these problems. We'll get the full range of Fn keys working again, and then sort the fans. After me.

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Updated: May 4, 2019 | Category: Internet

Firefox disables all add-ons problem

Earlier today, I was merrily browsing the net using Firefox, when all of a sudden, the browser restarted, and when it launched again, I saw a yellow warning message that my add-ons have been disabled because they could not be verified. Adblock Plus, Noscript and Greasemonkey had simply vanished. W00t.

A quick search confirmed my suspicion: a wider problem with Firefox, globally. Apparently, a certificate used to sign add-ons in order to verify their validity had expired, which made the browser unable to check add-ons, resulting in the foobar that I and millions of other Firefox users had just experienced. Well, let me show you what you can do to mitigate this issue. After me.

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Updated: May 3, 2019 | Category: Linux

Xubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo review

In the spring, the snow thaws, the animals come out of hibernation, and the hunting season begins. The season of distro hunting! Fooled you there for a second, didn't I? Also, this is not true in Australia, which is on the side of the planet, and there it ain't no spring, it's autumn (or fall if you like). Why? Because Dingo. Hence Xubuntu.

We shall commence the spring crop review with the Xfce-flavored one of the bunch, with testing being done on me Lenovo G50 scapegoat machine, with its eight-boot configuration, Windows and Linux mixed. My impression of Xubuntu Cosmic was okayish, but nothing too remarkable. The sweet momentum of yore seemed to have wandered away elsewhere, like MX Linux. But there's always fresh hope. So it's download and test. We begin.

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Updated: May 1, 2019 | Category: Linux

KSysGuard review

If you want to know how your Linux machine is behaving, you have a range of options: from GUI tools that show nice graphs to simple command-line dashboards to sophisticated statistics collection programs and profilers like dstat and perf. Typically, the GUI tools are the least powerful ones, with best graphics and scantiest information. Except, it does not have to be that way.

KSysGuard is the Plasma system monitor (hint, K letter in the name), designed to shatter the simplicity reputation. Indeed, if you look across the pond, Windows 7 introduced a refined task manager and resource monitor, and then you also get Process Explorer, which offers a deep, multi-dimensional glimpse into the system behavior, pretty colors notwithstanding. KSysGuard is a tool with comparable capabilities, and you just wouldn't believe that from your first encounter with the program. Explore we must.

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Updated: April 29, 2019 | Category: Linux

WINE & uninstall applications

Sounds like a noob question, does it not? Well, turns out, some things aren't trivial. In fact, the whole WINE framework isn't trivial. There are many ways you can go about trying to install and configure Windows software on Linux machines. You have 32-bit and 64-bit WINE, there's UI (but it's weird) and command line, you can also use winetricks, and then some.

Most if not all of the guides related to WINE out there showcase testing and installing software - but not how to remove said software. Well, in this short little tutorial, I'd like to explain how you do exactly that. And because things aren't simple, we will do this in several different ways. After me.

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Updated: April 27, 2019 | Category: Windows

Windows 10 updates change

Several months ago, I wrote my prophetic piece Windows 10 updates - One step forward, one step back, which lamented the massive over-complication in the update facility in the latest version of this operating system, the amount of time needed to get things done, as well as some planned improvements designed to address these issues. Then, there was also the matter of quality.

I highlighted this in my recent Creators reviews - for the first time ever, I had big errors in the 1804 build, something that has never happened to me before, as Windows Updates used to be legendary rock-solid. And then, Build 1809 introduced still more issues. Not for me, but everyone. Microsoft actually paused this update, restored it, and then axed it completely. And then, they revamped the update functionality.

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Updated: April 26, 2019 | Category: Game reviews

Assetto Corsa & main screen loading problem

Speed. Or at least, there used to be. A couple of years ago, I bought Assetto Corsa, a really cool racing simulator. Impressed by the physics and driving dynamics, my finances dropped some when I bought a G27 wheel to go along with the game. Many hours were spent perfecting the line going into this and that turn, including me favorite track, Spa-Francorchamps. At least, this used to be the case.

Recently, I encountered a problem. Whenever I'd click the 'Start engine' button, which takes you from the main screen and into the actual game, Assetto Corsa would start loading the splash animation and then go back. The racing part would simply not launch. So I set about debugging.

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Updated: April 24, 2019 | Category: Linux

Asus Vivobook + Ubuntu 18.04 + Plasma

Let's spice things up, shall we. A few weeks ago, I upgraded the Trusty instance on my Asus Vivobook to Bionic, doing this via two consecutive updates in the same day, both rather successful. Then, I installed Unity as the desktop environment of choice, and did some basic testing, to see how well everything works. And well work everything (almost, 99%) did.

Then, I thought, what about Plasma? After all, it is my desktop environment de jour, and I'm using it in my production setup on the Slimbook laptop. So it only makes sense to see what is going to happen if the same exercise is applied to this device. Plus a twist. Hence the article. Read.

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Updated: April 22, 2019 | Category: Game reviews

Medieval 2: Total War

As the article headline says, good games are timeless. Now and then, I come across new titles that really grab my attention, with the likes of Cities: Skylines and Euro Truck Simulator 2 being some really awesome recent examples. But more often than not, I go back to my classics, games created ten and even twenty years ago.

One such example is Medieval II: Total War. Having played a whole bunch of installments in this franchise, this one happens to be the pinnacle of the series. Shogun was still early steps, Medieval was a little rough around the edges, Rome was an experiment, and MTW2 was everything combined - history, drama, romance, religion, politics, the cunning battle system, and kickass graphics. Ten years on, I'm still glued to the screen, thanks to the Definitive Edition on Steam. Now, we talked about this game before, but we shall talk again.

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Updated: April 15, 2019 | Category: Linux

Solus 4.0 Fortitude (Budgie)

If distributions had personalities, then it would be fair to say that Solus and I never got along on. I liked the promise of Solus and what it could deliver, but somehow, this never translated into successful, prolonged usage, mostly because it used a custom bootloader, and things weren't that simple on that front.

I got a blizzard of emails from you, asking, demanding and cajoling me to try the latest version, one merrily and optimistically named Fortitude. Well, that sure sounds promising, so I grabbed the Budgie version and went about a-testin'. But then, instead of going for my Lenovo G50 machine, I decided to try running it on the old RD510 machine, which has recently seen credence revival in the form of MX-18. But that's just a side point, because we want to see how well Solus stands on its own, and there's a Nvidia card in the mix, too. Let's do it.

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Updated: April 13, 2019 | Category: Linux

10-year-old laptop & MX-Linux MX-18 Continuum

Time to try reviving another old machine with Linux. This time, a 10-year-old LG RD510. You will surely recall my escapades from yesterdecade, with four Ubuntu 9.04 installations in parallel, gaming with a nice Nvidia card to do all the hard work, the fun, the thrill, the memories. But age does takes its toll.

Recently, I've used this laptop for testing, primarily to see how well distros handle old hardware, and more importantly, Nvidia graphics. In my Fedora 29 review, I noted some performance sluggishness, and I thought, well, we're approaching the usability limit, in that I have to be mindful OF systems I use on this box. But then, only a few weeks ago, I went through a similar ordeal with my equally ancient and even more under-powered Asus eeePC. I upgraded the operating system, and it wouldn't run well. Then I tried MX Linux on this sweet little relic, and it gave new life to the netbook! Amazingly so. Encouraged, I decided to repeat the experiment here. After me.

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Updated: April 12, 2019 | Category: Best of the best, sir!

Greatest sites

So what do we have today? Numero uno: Rarely do I come across personal blogs that are really captivating. I'm talking honesty, insight, engaging writing styles, inherent tragedy of those programmatically inflicted, and disillusionment with the buzzwordy nonsense that we call technology today. Now and then, a gem surfaces up, and Tonksy's digital memoirs happens to qualify.

Numberskaya dva: New action, old action, action action. The Action Elite! I mean seriously, how wrong can you go with a website that has Charles Bronson, Chuck Norris and Jean Claude Van Damme on its front page? Indeed, The Action Elite is a website dedicated to movies packed with blazing guns, exploding things, car chases, and tons of sweet 80s cliches. Ergo, let off some steam Bennett.

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Updated: April 10, 2019 | Category: Linux

Slimbook Pro2 & Kubuntu 18.04, report 7

When I started my Slimbook & Kubuntu journey, I didn't know where it would end. And I still don't. But half a dozen reports later, I am much more confident into what kind of experience awaits me day in, day out. What I really value in software are two main qualities: stability and predictability, the kind of stuff one must have for their production setup. So far, this laptop and its blob of code are delivering nicely, reliably.

Another facet of this journey is its randomness. I typically have a very strict routine when it comes to distro reviews, but here, I'm letting the challenges surprise me. I am using the system, and if and when a use case occurs, I handle it. For better or worse. Well, you can definitely read all about that in the previous articles. Now, let's see what happened over the last handful of moonrises.

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Updated: April 8, 2019 | Category: Virtualization

VirtualBox NAT sharing & port forwarding

I have a rather interesting problem for you. It's also quite convoluted. Say you're using VirtualBox as your preferred virtualization tool. Say you're having trouble with 3D acceleration - black screen and all that. As you've seen in my tutorial, the fix is to use repo-provided guest additions. But this repo set, as provided by the distribution, unlike the additions provided by the official ISO, does not contain a shared folder driver. This means you don't have this functionality available.

To make things even more complicated, say you want to share stuff. We talked about this in another tutorial, aptly named network & sharing, but you're using NAT rather than bridged networking, so the guest machine is not accessible from your host by any normal means. And you don't want to use Samba or alike, so the whole situation is even more complex. Okay, so let me show you how you can transfer files from host to guest without having shared folders while using NAT. No Internet tomfoolery. We're doing it all local. After me.

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Updated: April 5, 2019 | Category: Linux

KDE Cantor

Education and science go hand in hand with Linux. The academy likes open-source in general, and there's a pretty good chance you'll find Linux software in research laboratories worldwide. So if you happen to dabble in sophisticated mathematics tools, you might as well dabble in Linux. Alas, most desktop environments don't have their own edu-sci applications. Well, KDE does.

Cantor is a multi-purpose scientific analysis tool, with support for multiple backends. You can use the program to run Python, R, Octave, Scilab, KAlgebra, Qalculate, Maxima, and other engines. This makes it useful as a single interface for all your mathematics needs. And I like the unique angle. But does it work? Let's find out.

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Updated: April 3, 2019 | Category: Linux


Writing good scripts is difficult. There's the obvious PEBKAC skill, of course, but also ancient magic and history, with legacy conventions going to Plan 9 and FLOW-MATIC, which most people don't really understand or care about when writing their software. Then, the lack of a Dostoevskian crime & punishment in software development also means codes can be lazy and write however they like.

A bunch of moons ago, I've come across a neat little program designed to make your shell script suck less. It's called ShellCheck, it's available as an online console, and you can also install it in pretty much any distro and then integrate in your workflows or whatnot. Intrigued, I went about a-explorin'.

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Updated: April 1, 2019 | Category: Linux

Asus eeePC & MX Linux MX-18.1 Continuum

Several weeks ago, I upgraded my 10-year-old Asus eeePC from Xubuntu 16.04 to 18.04. The previous LTS was coming to an end, and so I let the system bump itself to the latest release. I then tested the behavior of the old netbook, and the results weren't good - either with the Xfce or the Plasma desktop I installed thereupon. It seemed like an end. But then you emailed me.

I've never received so many emails on any topic - and I have to thank you all for your suggestions. Some of you recommended hardware tweaks - more memory and SSD, but I felt investing in a decade-aged platform would not be wise. Most of you said - try a different frugal, lightweight distro. Your chief candidate was MX Linux, which has shown some great promise in the past two years. So I thought, well I ain't got nothing to lose. Indeed, when you have no choice, it can be quite easy sometimes. You do things you wouldn't normally contemplate, like perhaps marrying your cousin or introducing a brand new Linux distro in your production arsenal. I tried the latter.

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Updated: March 30, 2019 | Category: Linux

Asus Vivobook + Ubuntu 18.04 + Unity

Somewhat similar to my Asus eeePC story, where I upgraded the resident operating system from Xubuntu 16.04 to 18.04, and then tested the behavior and performance, with some rather interesting and sad results, I am going to try the same approach with my five-year-old Asus Ultrabook. A few days ago, after much deliberation and emotion, I moved the Trusty instance to Bionic via two upgrade hops.

Now that we have the Bionic running on this machine, it's time to select the desktop environment. I am not inclined to use Gnome in my production setup, hence it needs to be something else. There are two choices here, Unity, as I've shown you last year, and Plasma, which is gracefully gracing my Slimbook laptop. We will start with the former, and then follow up with a KDE-flavored sequel. After me.

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Updated: March 29, 2019 | Category: Game reviews

Euro Truck Simulator 2 review

I have to admit, when I first heard about a game that is essentially a truck simulator, my first reaction was, what the hell? Why would anyone bother developing - let alone playing - a game where you lug heavy workloads across Europe at moderate speeds, snail-pace acceleration, and with long, boring slogs of roads between your source and destination? Ah, little did I know how crazy and addictive this idea was.

Unsuspecting, I installed the game and went about exploring. After finishing the rudimentary tutorial showing me how to operate the user interface, I started doing quick jobs. Minutes turned into hours turned into more hours. I was sitting here, sweating, fretting, CARING about my truck business. Whatever the game developers did, it's a mind trick of the highest order. After me.

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Updated: March 27, 2019 | Category: Linux

Shutter review

Screenshot taking is one of those bi-polar activities. Either you do very little of it, or you do tons. There's no middle ground. If you're like me, reviewing software quite often, then you fall into the fabulous category, and you need reliable tools that will let you take screenshots quickly and efficiently.

You might say, that's what the PrntScn key was invented for, but what if you need only active windows, or parts of the screen, or maybe decorations? Or no mouse pointer? Over the years, I've tried many screenshot tools, and I talked about this at length in my KDE apps review piece. There are many a screenshot program, but somehow, they all have one little flaw that prevents them from being really cool. Recently, though, I've cast my eyes on an oldie and hopefully goldie - Shutter. It's been dormant for a while, but now it's come back, and so we are testing.

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Updated: March 25, 2019 | Category: Linux

Home dir backup

Say you're a Linux user. No, seriously, say it. OK. Now, you are a Linux person, and you would like to backup your personal data, because it's very important. Indeed, having a solid backup plan is a smart thing. If you're about to make a big system upgrade, try new software or anything else that might bork up your files, a copy of the data will help prevent any undesired tears or panic.

There are two ways you can go about this. One, you can use a tool of some sort, like Grsync or Deja Dup, and that's perfectly fine. Two, you can write your own little script. Normally, there's no reason to bother with the latter method, but it's good to know what to do come the need. Today, I'd like to show you how you can make flexible and encrypted (yes, encrypted) archives of your data, with exclusions and whatnot, and then be able to save them anywhere you like, another disk, another system, cloud, whatever. After me.

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Updated: March 23, 2019 | Category: Internet

Android privacy guide

Several weeks ago, I bought myself an Android phone - a rather lovely Moto G6. The primary purpose for this purchase was to test the feasibility of having to use Android for everyday needs as an alternative to the unfortunate and seemingly inevitable demise of Window Phone, like my ultra-awesome Lumia 950, which remains the most graceful and elegantly designed mobile operating system, decent privacy included.

The switch to Android also comes with a lot of questions around privacy. While I'm not too bothered by the whole big brother nonsense, I do understand the focus around this topic. Almost daily, there's an article telling of this or that privacy breach, or how user data gets shared without consent, or similar. So I wanted to take this opportunity and share my approach to a privacy-oriented Android setup, without compromising too much on usability or going over the top. A sensible middle-of-the-road thing. Follow me.

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Updated: March 22, 2019 | Category: Linux

Ubuntu 14.04 upgrade

It's time for drastic changes. With only about a month left into Trusty's five-year life, I decided to finally upgrade my dual-boot Ultrabook. This laptop has been my only serious Linux production machine until very recently, when I purchased the rather sweet Slimbook. From day one, it's only given me good stuff, working reliably and without any issues. A large part of that experience goes to Trusty, the most excellent of operating systems ever made.

Now though, it's going away. An upgrade beckons. So let me show you what I did. In fact, it's not going to be one upgrade, but two. We'll go from 14.04 to 18.04 via 16.04. Along the way, I shall entertain you with bits and pieces from this experience, each step of the way. Commence, we must.

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Updated: March 20, 2019 | Category: Linux

KDE neon 5.15 review

Just recently, I reviewed Plasma 5.15, and it was a good, pleasant experience. Throughout my review, I tried to avoid making explicit mentions of the underlying test framework - KDE neon - in order not to confuse the improvements in Plasma with the system itself. Now, it is time to give neon its due.

So today, we will look at KDE neon as a whole, system plus desktop. While a lot of the stuff I covered in the desktop environment test still holds, there's the facet of general usability that goes beyond specific versions of Plasma. My test box be Lenovo G50. Now, follow me.

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Updated: March 18, 2019 | Category: Windows

Windows 10 OneDrive shortcut

As far as operating systems go, Windows 10 is a fairly in-yer-face one. The aggressive marketing approach makes it visible and intrusive, and advanced users who want a quiet, peaceful desktop without any bells and whistles and modern nonsense that makes low-IQ crowds happy worldwide need to go through a bunch of hoops to get things in order. One such example is the OneDrive icon in Windows Explorer.

Now, all in all, not using OneDrive is relatively easy. You can ignore it. You can disable the startup entry. You can even remove it. I've explained all these steps in my Windows 10 ultimate privacy guide. But the one thing that needs extra rigor is a leftover OneDrive icon that shall remain lingering inside Windows Explorer, whether you use the service or not. To wit, we need to remove it and make peace with our OCD demons. A variety of guides shows how to do this, but what if the standard registry hacks don't work? Aha. Follow me.

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Updated: March 17, 2019 | Category: Linux

Slimbook Pro2 & Kubuntu 18.04, report 6

Here we are gathered, for another episode of drama, thrill and technological escapades in the land of Tux. Starring one Slimbook Pro2 in the main role, with a trusty sidekick called Bionic Beaver of the Kubuntu clan. We've had quite a few episodes so far, and they tell a rather colorful story of progress, beauty and bugs.

Over the past few months, I've detailed my usage of the laptop and its operating system in serious, real-life situations, with actual productivity needs and challenges. This isn't just a test, this is running the machine properly. Many things work well, but then, there are problems, too. Of course, you can read all about those in the previous articles, and again, for the sake of simplicity, I'm only going to link to only the last report here. If you're truly intrigued, I'm sure you can find your way around. Now, we continue.

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Updated: March 15, 2019 | Category: Linux


A couple of months back, I wrote my state of Gnome apps article on OCS-Mag. One of the readers commented on the piece, and suggested that I look at GSConnect, a Gnome version of the popular KDE Connect tool. Intrigued, I set about exploring, and after a brief perusal, testing this program.

Now, GSConnect is a Gnome Shell extension and a complete implementation of KDE Connect, with browser integration and whatnot. The utility does not require KDE to work, or the desktop application. But it does comes with all the goodies that its spiritual inspirator provides. Well, time to fire up a Fedora box and commence to start testing. Let's see what gives.

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Updated: March 14, 2019 | Category: Linux

Plasma 5.15 review

It's that time of the year - there's a new Plasma release, this one labeled 5.15. If you've followed my Plasma escapades of late, then you're aware of my enthusiasm for this desktop environment, plus the fact I've been using the environment in a serious, real-life production mode on my Slimbook machine, trying to ascertain whether Linux can be mustered for everyday activities, the whole plethora of it. This quest comes with its own deck of articles, aptly dubbed combat reports, now at number five and counting.

This means I am rather fanboyishly enthused about this latest version, as I'm always keen to discover new features, and better yet, learn about all the fixes and improvements added to the existing stack. There is a lot of great momentum in the Plasma world, and the desktop is speeding toward the Pro Station like an unstoppable bullet train. Let's see what 5.15 brings to the table.

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Updated: March 11, 2019 | Category: Linux

Asus eeePC & Bionic Plasma

Show must go on. A couple of days ago, we talked about my old eeePC netbook, and how it copes with modern operating systems and modern needs. Following an upgrade from Xubuntu 16.04 to 18.04, I am rather sorry to say this ancient, decade-scarred machine is struggling with the gluttony that is the present-day software.

But not all is lost. There is still some hope. And it comes in the form of the Plasma desktop. I am more than pleased with Plasma, and its low, frugal footprint makes it ideally suited for an underpowered platform like my netbook. So once again, we commence, full of emotions and dedication. Let's see if the Plasma desktop can give this old box a fresh life. After me.

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Updated: March 9, 2019 | Category: Short stories

The Man Who Sold the World short story

"What is your name?"

"Vasher of Dannath."

"And what is your trade?"

"I'm a unicorn hunter."

There, that look, Vasher thought. He always got that look when he told people what he did for a living. "Among other things," he continued as he spotted a breach in the clerk's defenses. "I am renown for hunting all things magical. Dragons, faeries, goblins, you name it. I've seen them all, and I've hunted them all."

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Updated: March 8, 2019 | Category: Hardware

Motorola Moto G6 review

At the end of 2019, something really awful is going to happen. Windows Phone is officially going to be kaput. And that means my super-awesome Lumia 950 will have become a collector's item. The dwindling arsenal of usable applications is already felt, and things won't improve as time ticks by. Which is why I decide to prepare and start considering the inconsiderable. Using an alternative mobile device.

I've been a proud Nokia and then Lumia user my whole life - at least the portion that applies to mobile devices, that is, and the notion of having to go with Android or iOS does not make me too happy. But then, things might not be that bad. Hence, Motorola Moto G6. You've already read my review of the Moto G4 dual-SIM model a couple of years back, so I thought testing a successor model might be a sensible idea for a future eventuality. All in all, Android has made some rather serious progress since I've first tested it roughly seven years back (and to be fair, iPhone is also less annoying than it used to be), and if anything, this could be the right no-choice for me. So let's see what gives.

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Updated: March 6, 2019 | Category: Linux

Zorin 12.4 review

It's been some three years since I last tested Zorin OS, and back then, it was a beta version. I hadn't been too impressed, and the experience was rather bland. But three years is half an eternity in Linux terms, so it's time for another review. Besides, I was looking at the list of potentially interesting distros to test, and I do have to say, it does feel rather quiet, maybe even slightly despondent.

Today, Zorin stands at version 12.4, but that on its own does not say too much. Lots of Ubuntu under the hood, a heavily customized Gnome theme, and now, there's also a payware option. You can purchase Zorin Ultimate, which comes with software, games, new themes and wallpapers, and even a support channel. If you don't like this venue, you can use the free (Core) edition. That was my choice for the test - with Lenovo G50 being me scapegoat. We roll.

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Updated: March 4, 2019 | Category: Linux

Plasma X server recovery

Here's an interesting little problem. I was merrily using my Plasma desktop when suddenly it went kaput. But kaput in a bad way, not a good way. This translates into windows decorations being all gone and nothing really responding to mouse clicks. And here comes the conundrum train, nonstop to Foobar. I wanted to restart the Plasma shell and just get back to working - after all, I mentioned this workaround a couple of times in the past, like my Slimbook & Kubuntu combat reports. Indeed. Except ...

This didn't work. In the virtual console (the only thing that actually was working), I had the kstart: cannot connect to X server error. At this point, a reboot or magic were needed, and I really wanted to have to avoid rebooting. In general, rebooting is a lazy way of fixing issues, and it should be done sparingly. So let's talk about a better, less destructive way.

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Updated: March 2, 2019 | Category: Linux

Asus eeePC & Bionic Xfce

The sturdy little Asus eeePC is one of my best purchases ever. This 10-inch machine has served me loyally for almost a full decade, going to places, and I mean going to places. I've used it heavily for travel, and it's done pretty much everything. I wrote books on it, edited media, used encryption, synced 100+ GB datasets with rsync, and it would give me 7-10 hours of battery, even with Wireless turned on. But age takes its toll.

My latest experiment with this machine was upgrading the Trusty instance to Xerus, in both cases with the Xfce desktop. You should really read those two articles first to get the understanding of how time and system change affected this, er, system, rolling from 2015 to 2017 to present day 2019. To-day, I'd like to invite you to a most interesting experiment - to see whether a 10-year-old lowly netbook can still be relevant.

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