Slimbook & Kubuntu - Combat Report 5

Updated: February 7, 2019

Let us continue our testing saga. Long story made longer: I got meself a Slimbook Pro2 and installed Kubuntu on it, and then started using it in earnest, earning and burning, shake and bake. Over the past few months, I delighted you (maybe) with real-life, no-nonsense, production-setup reports on this experience, parts one through four. I'm just gonna link the last, fourth report, 'cause if you like, you'll read more, right?

I find this journey important and useful, for myself - and for you, too. Linux is often mentioned as an alternative to Windows, but that's a throwaway statement. There are a lot of things one must consider to be able to use an operating system in their production setup. This article is the continuation of my noble attempt to do so, and expose all the ailments along the way. Today, I'll shed some fresh light on yet more findings, new bugs, new issues - and new delights, too. After me.

Teaser

Stability & performance

This is generally true for all operating systems. They are often released too early, and there be many a bug lingering in the stack past the official date. Over time, the issues get spotted, ironed out, and your system stability slowly goes up. Kubuntu 18.04 also proves this rule.

I did mention one or two Plasma shell crashes if you recall. Well, since, it's been all quiet and peaceful, with one or two rounds of updates in between. The system works well. There are no nasty surprises, no sudden lags or anything of that sort, and I'm ever so gently expanding the repertoire of tests and programs I'm using.

An interesting observation is memory consumption. At the moment of this writing, the system had an uptime of about 17 days, and about half the RAM was taken by applications - mostly Firefox and Chrome. Just firing up the latter and doing a single VoIP session eats about 2.5 GB of RAM! With roughly 30 tabs open, Firefox devours a solid chunk, too - about 5 GB, which go down to about half if you close the browser and start everything fresh. Funny that browsers can consume so much.

Resources

Battery life remains quite impressive - even with both browsers running. You may notice that Chrome inhibits power management during video calls, probably in order to provide maximum stream quality, but this could hurt your overall laptop battery charge. Still, with moderate loads and brightness set to 50%, I consistently get about 4-4.5 hours of juice. Very neat.

Chrome, battery, power management

Quirkonics

There were a few. Merely testing the online accounts functionality resulted in Akonadi creating a local database worth about 330 MB. Once I decided there was no value in using KOrganizer beyond the test session, I deleted this file, and everything was just fine.

Akonadi, ncdu data

You can also manually stop this, if you're not digging it:

akonadictl stop && akonadictl disable

There was also no rar plugin in Ark (the archive manager), and I had to install it manually (unrar package). Shame, because this is a rather popular format. At least the integration is seamless and immediate:

Loading the archive /home/igor/The Lost Words 1-4.rar failed with the following error: No suitable plugin found. Ark does not seem to support this file type.

The Chrome icon keeps unpinning itself from the task manager. It's the only program that keeps doing this consistently. However, it's not just Chrome. Skype - and even LibreOffice - misbehave now and then. I really don't understand why this happens, and it's rather annoying. Plus I did spot one or two that have sneakily shifted left or right of their intended position.

Task manager icons 1

Task Manager icons 2

Remember the copy & paste thingie in Google Docs? Well, I figured that the menu actions do not work only in Firefox, but they're fine in Chrome. If this is a subliminal way of making people prefer using Chrome as their browser of choice, it's not having the desired effect. If this is some odd Javascript nonsense, then I'm just miffed but not surprised.

Session restore still seems busted. Reboot, and I had to re-launch everything manually. Not nice.

I also had an odd message during updates. Apparently, Google has changed some info in its repo, and now apt-get is complaining about this, but it does not really tell you how to remedy the problem. If you don't know your way around this, no Google repo updates for you!

E: Repository 'http://dl.google.com/linux/chrome/deb stable Release' changed its 'Origin' value from 'Google, Inc.' to 'Google LLC'
N: This must be accepted explicitly before updates for this repository can be applied. See apt-secure(8) manpage for details.

Luckily, the solution is simple and straightforward. I resolved this by running:

apt-get update -y --allow-releaseinfo-change

Finally, the Microsoft Lumia 950 mount bad string udev thingie whatnot also remains. The phone is listed as two separate devices in two different parts of the file manager, all at once. In the side pane, it's an RM-1104 device, and in the main pane, it's an XL Dual-SIM device (RM-1116), which it definitely is not. But at least it works, and you can even copy files directly from the phone to Samba shares over the Wireless.

Lumia bug

Games, games, games!

I had a fair streak of luck with games. I found that the old Red Alert and Red Alert 2 were available as WINE snaps, so I installed those. The newer title actually requires some of the original game files, so I had to dig out my ancient Command & Conquer DVD. In fact, a bunch of years ago, I bought the Command & Conquer The First Decade bundle, which comes with all the excellent titles on two discs. It was finally time to use it!

C&C DVD

I first installed the game in Windows, using the old printed book with the code stickers on the back, and then copied the necessary files onto my Slimbook. The installer worked fine. The game had an update, and this worked fine, too! I am able to play Yuri's Revenge on full HD resolution (a marvel if you think), but it needs 16-bit colors, so you can't really do windowed mode. But for something that was released so long ago, this is a lovely thing, especially since it works on Linux. You can even play online, something that required IPX connections and Kali back in the day. And you don't need the DVD to be able to run the game.

CNCRA2YR installation

Original files required

Original files, copied to Linux

Yuri's Revenge works

And the older title:

Red Alert, installation mode

Red Alert, installation

Red Alert works

Task manager, Red Alert running

Then, I also played Medieval II and Euro Truck Simulator 2. Awesome games both, and I'm going to do full reviews soon. We did talk about the Total War title a while ago, but I need to give you a fresh outlook. Timeless, this stuff. And both game run natively. So the bad stuff in this report was definitely more than counter-balanced by the awesome success on the game front.

Total War Medieval II

Euro Truck Simulator 2

Approaching Ausfahrt, the largest city in Germany.

Conclusion

There you go. Another reporting in the neverending Slimbook story. I hope you are liking this series, and that my reports are helpful in shedding light on all the good things and all the bad things that can be, let's talk about Tux babe. Indeed.

Anyway, I am still quite happy with Slimbook + Kubuntu. There are some annoying things - the Wireless connection glitch on first login, the icons in the task manager, the session save bug. But then, the system is stable, fast, ever so slightly but consistently improving, the game repertoire is pleasantly nice and growing, and overall, the desktop feel rich, fun and polished. You notice how advanced Plasma is when you switch over to other systems and try other environments. Me liking, but I wants even more good stuff! Well, to be continued some more.

Cheers.

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