Slimbook & Kubuntu - Combat report 12

Updated: January 27, 2019

We haven't spoken about my Slimbook Pro2 system in a while. Well, there's a reason for that. A good reason. Everything is fine. Boring, I know. There's nothing sensational or controversial to report. But then, if you are thinking of buying yourself a Linux-adorned machine, you sure do want to know how robust one of these might be, and whether they can withstand the test of time, usage and real-life functionality. Which is why we're here.

Now, we have done this exercise eleven times already. In the last report, we mentioned some errors and bugs, a few oddities here and there, but by and large, the Slimbook experience remains uneventful. With several more months of usage tucked under the belt, it's time to pause and reflect.


Travel the world on the seven Tux

I've enjoyed a good quiet period with the Slimbook. For about three or four months, there have been almost no issues at all. I haven't encountered the no-screen-dim-lock issue since the last time I reported it. No application chose to crash or annoy me. The update cycles remain reliable.

No, wait. I am understating this. The last few months have been quite phenomenal. I got to lug the Slimbook around for a bunch of conferences, and this meant flying about, using the laptop in unknown environments, with finicky networks, draining the battery juice to the max, and such. I also had the opportunity to hook the laptop to a whole variety of peripherals, including different projectors. No problems. Nothing.

It was a very pleasant experience. Side by side with that, Firefox got ever so slightly better, in general as well as the way it works on Linux, and Google Docs is a more refined product than when I mentioned it last time in my day-in-office report. Part of the wholesale Linux experience, right. Good, good.

Everyday work


A challenger appears ...

But then, all of a sudden, I encountered a flurry of little problems, and they are all related to how Dolphin handles ISO files. If you recall my Windows 10 USB media tutorial, then you will have noticed I mentioned issues mounting and extracting the image. This happened in Kubuntu 18.04, on my Slimbook.

First, when I did try to extract the ISO image, the command seemingly finished successfully, but there was only a text file in place, and inside, I had a silly error message that doesn't help me at all:

This disc contains a "UDF" file system and requires an operating system
that supports the ISO-13346 "UDF" file system specification.

I don't want to see this kind of thing. If Dolphin offers right click > Extract, then it should either do it well, or not at all. But this technobabble doesn't help me. Moreover, I realized that Dolphin doesn't have an option to natively mount ISO images, which is a shame.

The functionality to do this is available as an addon. I went about re-configuring Dolphin and adding new services. In the end, you can achieve what you like, but this should be more streamlined. For instance, the very first addon says: Do not install with Dolphin. I mean really?

Something to think about when you want pro results. Actually, when you think about it, the default services selection is quite random. More people are likely to need to mount an ISO file then to open a remote desktop connection.

Dolphin services

ISO mount

Battery life

Zero complaints. The device is now about 16-17 months old, the battery cell is still at 100% capacity, and the system remains frugal. For example, just a few days ago, I tested the system with full brightness, moderate usage and outside, in a fairly cold temperature, and with 80% charge left, there was still about 3 hours worth of juice available. This means 3 hours 45 minutes total, and with slightly lower usage and brightness down, I'm certain I could stretch the utilization to 4.5 hours just fine.


Other things

Well, there are still some outstanding issues. I'm happy that Plasma is getting better, more refined by the day. And yet, crinkles do crink me proverbial suit of happiness. For example, when I disable the Wireless network on the Slimbook, i.e. switch to Flight mode, quite often, it is impossible to expand the system area applet until a Plasma Shell restart (the little up/down arrow next to the clock applet).

When this happens, I must use Krunner and then killall plasmashell && kstart plasmashell. An old problem. Once the desktop reloads, the plane icon always changes to a red "ethernet" network icon. But the system area is once again responsive, and I am able to start the network again, and connect to the desired Wireless access point.

Sometimes, LibreOffice icons refuse to play ball with pinning. They'd jump out to the unpinned area on the right, and after I'd close the application, they'd jump back to their rightful place in the taskbar. No such woes with Chrome anymore, for quite some time. GwenView still has the ambiguous Esc character binding problem, and I wish these issues would get properly fixed in LTS releases. I don't want to have to jump to the next version.

And I did see a few weird messages in syslog. Now, normally, one should not be looking into logs unless there are problems, but since I'm testing, then I'm doing a bit of extra snooping. I don't like generic errors, especially if they seem to be silly bugs. But there are few here and there.

Dec 9 13:33:45 slimbook systemd-resolved[1525]: Server returned error NXDOMAIN, mitigating potential DNS violation DVE-2018-0001, retrying transaction with reduced feature level UDP.


There we go. My Slimbook brings all the boys to the yard. And the thing is, it's a very decent laptop. The overall feel has become more refined, part due to my tweaking and fine polishing touches, part due to updates and fixes introduced in the Kubuntu desktop. All in all, it's fairly invisible, sitting in the background and doing its job.

Now, technically, this could be a machine for everyone, but the problem is - applications. A generic Linux issue. There are some key programs that people expect and need, and are not available. Games, another big one. No matter how advanced and slick the operating system is, you can't just plop a random Windowser, and expect them to have a transparent experience. But it's pretty close. I'm quite pleased with how elegant Slimbook and Kubuntu are. Well, I guess that's all for now. Bottom line: me happy. Annoyances? Yes, here and there. I hope they get sorted. Until the next report.