Showing posts with label linux. Show all posts
Showing posts with label linux. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

My Review of GalliumOS v1.0

When Google first released the Chromebook, my interest was piqued, because here was a laptop designed from the ground up, hardware and all, with Linux in mind, albeit Google's stripped-down, mutilated monster, rather than the full-fledged penguin we know and love. Still and all, the hardware is good, good with Linux, which is the real pull, and cheap, too. Ever priced Acer's refurbs on E-bay? Do so today. You might be in for an eye-opener. Google gives Chromebooks away, but makes bank in their ChromeOS, because the business user has to pay to play. The App Store is what the Chromebook is all about. Understand the business model? Even so, Google left a little backdoor open for all the poor hackers of the world.

I have nothing to do with GalliumOS's developers and, indeed, have no idea who they are. I found GalliumOS through Googling for a fix for my Chromebook. My Chromebook is a cute little web kiosk, but what if I want to FTP, RDP, run LibreOffice, and do all of the other nifty things that Linux can do? I don't like being prevented from doing things. I despise ChromeOS. It's wonderful if you don't understand computers. It protects the user from himself. But if you need to actually get things done, then ChromeOS is terribly limiting. Goodbye, ChromeOS. Enter GalliumOS.

As always, I highly recommend torrenting the .iso for GalliumOS, because by doing so, you are assured an error-free copy, besides saving the developers bandwidth. I did so and then followed very carefully and very slowly--the only way to ride on a new pony--the instructions for installing. Yes, the instructions are a wee bit more involved than a veteran Linux user might be accustomed to, but that is not the fault of GalliumOS developers. Whose fault is it? Why, the manufacturer, Google, of course. Google does not necessarily want you to be ridding yourself of their ever-loving, money-making ChromeOS. For my part, I could not wait to be shod of the thing, and my feelings were, if I brick my computer, then so be it. As a matter of fact, you must feel this way in order to install GalliumOS. You will be required to type a similar phrase in order to install. Otherwise, GalliumOS will not install. There is a risk. You could make a typo or something else could happen. Be at peace with your decision before proceeding.

All went well for me, and I had GalliumOS installed in less than half an hour. Not much sorcery is required and little in the way of prayers. Fear not. If you read the instructions very carefully, and then go back and read them again, and don't rush off in an all-fired hurry, then you should be okay. Just slow down, sip your coffee, rub your beard, ponder the situation, and get things done. Trust me, it's easy. I can't really improve upon the wiki's installation instructions. The GalliumOS wiki is your friend, and you should read everything there that might assist you.

The wiki has instructions for making a backup of your ChromeOS, in case you suffer a knock on the head and decide to go back to ChromeOS just because it's easier. I went ahead and backed up my ChromeOS to a flash drive, but I will probably delete the backup, because I'd rather have the flash drive for other purposes. You can optionally create a multi-boot system with both ChromeOS and GalliumOS or even something more exotic. I went the nuclear route. Out with ChromeOS, in with GalliumOS. Whole disk, baby! I don't ever want to see ChromeOS again, seriously.

The Chromebook is "prepared" by running a special script that wipes out ChromeOS and hacks the BIOS to allow the booting of a nonstandard operating system. This is a script made by John Lewis, and it worked flawlessly on my Acer ChromeBook running an Intel Broadwell cpu.

In the end, I am presented with the following screen when I boot my Chromebook. GalliumOS calls this the "scary screen," but I guess I don't scare easily. I just think it's an ugly BIOS-type screen with some misinformation thrown in by Google.

At this screen, we must press Alt-L. If we neglect to press Alt-L, eventually our Chromebook will play the nanny and suggest reinstalling the ChromeOS, which we don't really want to do. Unfortunately, a hack has not appeared to bypass this screen. It is merely a minor annoyance, courtesy of Google, again to protect the clueless business suit from himself. Remember, the suits have more money than we do, and almost everything is designed for them, not us. But that's okay, because we can fix the Chromebook to do what we want it to do, and I'm at least grateful for that.

After Alt-L, we enter hackland:

All we do here is press Esc, followed by 1 to boot the system, and that's it. We enter the familiar territory of good old Linux.

You will notice I encrypted my entire disk. I think this option is a no-brainer. A laptop can get stolen, duh. I chose a very difficult password and wrote it down in a secret place. I then configured the system to log in automatically, because there's not much of a case for requiring a log in, if the encryption itself requires a password. I really don't understand why everyone does not use full-disk encryption. It is like they are not living in 2016, with all the identity theft, password theft, fraud, hacking, and so on.

GalliumOS is based upon Xubuntu, which I am familiar with, but lacks Xubuntu's Software Manager. Instead, it has Synaptic Package Manager. Otherwise, it's pretty similar to Xubuntu, with additional optimizations to ensure a smooth experience on the Chromebook. My hardware, consisting of the Chromebook itself, a USB drive and a USB-connected Ethernet cable, all worked OK. I installed Qbittorent, Remmina (an RDP client), Filezilla, Firefox as my default browser, and Gcolor, and now feel like my Chromebook is actually worth something to me.

The desktop comes with a picture of a high-rise building as seen from the ground. I suppose that is an allusion to the idea that they intend to be moving up, going places, improving, since they are on version one right now. I replaced it with solid black, as I always do.

Other than the missing Software Manager, I did not see much difference between GalliumOS and Xubuntu, which is intended. This OS boots fast, is responsive, and I feel like I can actually get things done, as opposed to ChromeOS, which was great as long as all I wanted to do was surf the web.

The one thing that bothers me about GalliumOS has nothing to do with the technical side. I want to know who the hell they are. Just a name, a location, a picture, and a little bio, you know? In fact, post a life story, with twenty-nine chapters, a thousand pages. Knock yourself out. That may seem hypocritical coming from me, mystery man that I am, but then again, I'm installing their code on my machine. I am giving them root access. It would be nice to learn that the developers aren't actually the Russian mafia, the NSA, the Chinese Red Army, Iran, or North Korea. Just post a dozen or so pictures of the developers strolling through a garden sipping tea, holding hands and singing or dancing or vaporizing. That would be nice. Seriously. It might also jumpstart the donations, so the public knows the money isn't going to ISIS or something. I don't get why there are no names at all on the GalliumOS web site. It's not like they are discussing anything controversial. Perhaps they are in fear of getting sued by Google. Is that even possible? I don't know. I'm not a lawyer. Is it legal and okay to hack a device that one owns? I think it is. But again, I'm not a lawyer.

The next version of GalliumOS will be based upon the next LTS of Xubuntu and should be coming out this year, 2016. I'm looking forward to it.

Step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow, a distribution that just works right out of the box, and a distribution optimized and customized specifically for my machine. I'm gushing with gratitude for the perceived added value to my Chromebook. I award GalliumOS a 10 out of 10. It converted my Chromebook from a fairly useless hunk of junk to something I actually will use. I feel like Distrowatch should definitely add this to their list of distributions, because it is extremely useful to owners of Chromebooks.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Thoughts on Linux Mint Hack

I've always wondered whether somebody may have hacked any of the Linux distros I have used over the years. And now the day has come when I've been informed of precisely that. Well, Windows is not exactly the most secure OS in the world, either, so stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

Anyway, Clem, the founder of Linux Mint, informed everybody almost immediately of the hack, and in my opinion that's best practice. Some people are now saying, oh dear, Linux Mint is horribly insecure, go back to Debian or Ubuntu or Windows, etc. Anyone that uses this occasion to criticize is just a dirty bird. Not fair play. Was the United States government never hacked? If the State gets hacked, then who is safe? Get real, read the news, drink a cup of coffee, whatever it takes to return to the reality that the rest of us are living in. I honestly do not know what planet some of these naysayers live on. Oh, Wordpress is insecure, is it? Well, then how come my WP site never gets hacked? Learn about security, for one thing, and then talk.

The Internet is a Wild, Wild West, always has been, but nevertheless, much progress has been made on the security front. Things are better now, because fences and gates have been invented and refined, and backups, logs and site analysis tools are now routine, although definitely not everyone understands these things. Some shops don't have a proper web site admin, and they tend to be the shops that get hacked.

The downside to all of this is that Clem is being forced to worry over security, and less time will get devoted to the version 18. The other downside is that the forums look very primitive now. It is like a bomb went off on the web site, and it looks worse. As if Clem didn't have his hands full just coping with GNOME's peculiarities, trying to get it incorporated into Cinnamon.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Linux Mint 17.3 Cinnamon

I like Linux Mint 17.3 Cinnamon so much that I have replaced Linux Mint 17.2 XFCE with it. Cinnamon just seems a bit more up-to-date and not a throwback to an earlier era. It is prettier, which inspires confidence and promotes harmony. XFCE just seems crude, somehow, in its icons and layout. I also like the ease with which the look and feel of Cinnamon can be customized.

It is a pity that Linux Mint is about the only Linux distribution I have any use for, besides occasional forays into Xubuntu. The other distros just seem, well, primitive or lacking in some way to someone coming from the Ubuntu family of distributions. I wonder why the other distros don't improve their user interface in order to compete with Ubuntu. Perhaps they are bound by tradition and only serve a small group of veteran users or specialized applications. Perhaps Open Suse is the sandbox for Suse Enterprise, while Fedora is the sandbox for Red Hat. PCLinuxOS is missing a lot of software, and one has to make peace with giving up applications forever in order to use it. Debian seems geared for servers. Mageia may be promising but seems not to offer anything special over Ubuntu. I don't know that there is a really strong competitor to Ubuntu and its derivatives at this time. The best that can said about the other distributions is that they are almost as good or comparable with Ubuntu or Linux Mint in one way or another.

ArchLinux and moreover, the M- distro (I forget the name, but apparently it has its own separate repo's) seem tempting from time to time, but I really don't want to spend hours tweaking my OS to get things working, and I do not like the idea of a rolling distribution either, in which things can break. I like the idea of updates that trickle in slowly, after being vetted by the veterans, not updates that can break my printer or cause my computer not to boot at all. I also want access to the Debian world, which Ubuntu provides. It is important for me to have easy access to all available software applications. A distribution that cannot offer that is not one I would consider. I am afraid Open Suse and PCLinuxOS were missing some programs in their repositories during the times I evaluated them.

At this time, I don't know of any compelling reason not to use Ubuntu/Linux Mint. However, I certainly hope the MIR/Wayland brouhaha does not get out of hand, and that Ubuntu is wise enough to offer easy access to Wayland, so that everybody can just get along. What we do not need is a scenario where stuff breaks in Ubuntu because it was made for Wayland.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

ArchLinux is a Gift

I don't use it, yet, but I have to say ArchLinux is a gift to the Linux world. The ArchLinux wiki offers far superior documentation on Linux than any other source on the Internet, bar none. If you are a Ubuntu user, you should read the ArchLinux wiki in preference to anything Canonical or any other Ubuntu web site offers. ArchLinux just knows. Whereas Ubuntu is kind of hit or miss and often miss and a lot of obfuscation. I read ArchLinux documentation and then I understand.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


One of the nice things in Windows 8.1 is that when one copies files in Windows Explorer, the file manager drops duplicates to the end of the copy queue rather than querying the user immediately with a prompt. In every Linux file manager I've ever used, the file manager prompts the user the moment it encounters a duplicate. What this means is that if you go away from your computer for five hours, then return, you may discover that the copy has not completed due to one duplicate file, and whether you choose to overwrite or skip that file, the copying may have another five hours left to go.

This is another of the reasons I upgraded from Linux to Windows 8.1 on my workhorse computers. I don't need to be waiting around for files to copy.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Munich to Dump Linux

I'm a pretty open-minded guy, so if igor says there's something amiss in the Linux desktop scene, there's something amiss. Microsoft is eating Linux for breakfast. Munich, Germany is all set to dump Linux for Microsoft, because Linux sucks. This news jibes with my own experiences trying to introduce some of my customers to Linux. Well, they don't like it. Why don't they like it? Mainly because they can't get some of their hardware to work and can't manage their photo collection in a civilized manner with Linux. Photo management is probably the most important thing for a computer besides Internet these days. There needs to be a Manhattan Project among Linux devs to work on that application, but instead Linux gearheads spend all their time reinventing the wheel with twenty different desktops and a couple hundred different distros. Microsoft just focuses upon creating one single killer desktop, meanwhile, that slays all the Linux competition. Another area that needs to be addressed in Linux is the problem of associating applications with filetypes. Most Linux distributions are completely retarded in this area. They open a dialog window requiring the user to hunt down a binary executable somewhere in the file system in order to open, say, an .htaccess file in a text editor. Well, that's a lot of silly nonsense, that's what that is. Instead of fixing this rather obvious problem for the end user, distros are instead working on what? Integration of the desktop model with that of smart phones? I don't know what KDE is doing, and I'm not sure KDE knows, either. XFCE is doing nothing. Aah, well, I think one can appreciate the viewpoint of Munich. At the end of the day people just want their computer to work and not have to spend a lot of time and effort in order to make that happen. At the end of the day, maybe it is worth it to pay Microsoft a hundred bucks or so to ensure the computer will work the first time, rather than the fifty-first time after a thousand hours of troubleshooting. KISS applies--Keep It Simple, Stupid.

The one thing Linux does well is Internet surfing, and that is mainly thanks to Mozilla supporting Linux with Thunderbird and Firefox. Okular is another killer app in Linux, superb for .pdf files. LibreOffice is great, although it does have limitations in terms of compatibility with Microsoft Word, and I'm sure that was a huge issue for Munich, just like it was a problem for me and my users. However, users expect a lot more from their computers than just surfing the Internet. Everybody and their brother has a digital camera these days, and the first thing they are going to do in Linux is try and manage their photo collection. Well, after a look at Gimp and Digikam, most users are going to ask me how much I will charge to install Windows and ACDSee. Those projects need a lot more developers and a lot more money in order to compete. However, I think the most logical alternative would simply be to entice ACDSee to support Linux. Probably the only group with the clout to do that would be Canonical, but they're busy plotting to take over the mobile phone market.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

DistroWatch Silly Over Deepin

Distrowatch is silly to repeat their assertion that anyone who doesn't have an open mind about Deepin is "tribalist."

Probably more than half the people reading this blog don't know what Distrowatch is or Deepin is, but I digress. Research 'em if you like. I usually start at Wikipedia for my research. On the other hand, most people won't care. I care, not because it's a fascinating subject, but mostly because I'm right, and it always feels good to be right about something.

Now looky here, Distrowatch. If a Linux distro pops up from, say, Brazil or even Japan, then I'm OK with it. Different tribes than mine, but no biggie. Hey, live and let live--the more, the merrier. Brazil and Japan have something I respect. It's called Freedom of the Press. Nice concept. It means web sites like DistroWatch don't have to sit a-quivering in their shoes that the police are going to bust down the door and drag them away by their hair for writing something on their web site. Ain't that nice, Distrowatch? I think so.

So Distrowatch, that's why I won't install a Chinese-made Linux distro on my computer. It's not because they're from a different tribe than mine. It's because China ain't free. Someone slips a trojan or a subtle, intentional vulnerability into Deepin. . . then there's no one in China that can talk about it without fear of the police. Point made. End of discussion.

One would think that people with an education--ahem--would already know all this, but perhaps they have a certain motive to pretend otherwise. Hmm . . .

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Linux for Light Duty

Since upgrading from Linux to Windows 8.1, I do feel more productive on my workstation. There was long list of "can't do that" when I was using Linux and a lot of little annoyances. Having to enter a password to rename a file is just one example. I bought a remote control and tried to get it to work in Linux. Well, there's something you need in order for that to happen, some odd package that needs to be hunted down, installed, and painstakingly configured--it has about five or six different configuration files with a very long list of settings. I forget what the thing is called, but I tried it, and after about four hours of tinkering with it, I finally succeeded in getting the remote control to work in Linux. Trouble was, there was a lengthy delay when pressing buttons on the remote control, and sometimes Linux would not interpret button presses at all, for whatever reason. Having a remote control that works some of the time, but not all of the time, is not a tenable situation.

At the same time I threw in the towel on Linux, one of my customers did, too. She had been eager and willing to give Xubuntu a try, but there's a huge problem with Linux. Other than Internet surfing, retro video games and basic word processing, there really is not much in the way of cutting-edge apps available to the Linux user. Want to manage your photo collection? Lots of luck with Digikam or Gimp. If you are one of the few that use Linux and you edit or manage photos--and many people do nowadays--welcome to the Land of Suck. Gimp is a turkey. I would never dream of using Gimp, not in a million years. Digikam is almost plausible. Digikam looks like ACDSee might have looked in beta back in the 1990s. The trouble is that ACDSee won't work in Linux. No one really minds paying money for a photo manager, but it needs to be easy to use. Dear mister Developer: People don't want to learn to use your program. You need to program an intuitive creature that adapts to the human user. I don't know where some of these Linux devs learned their design principles. I think if someone set out to make a program completely impossible for the average user to use, then Gimp would be the end result. The first problem is that Gimp will not save to a universal format like .jpg, .gif, or .png by default, and the second problem is that Gimp opens three different windows, and then there are about a thousand other problems. Each new version of Gimp or Digikam offers some useless tweak that I never heard of and would never use in an entire lifetime, when really a complete overhaul of the UI is all that is needed. Improve the UI, and you might get some users. Keep it cryptic and stay small-time.

For the home user, Linux remains useful for two main purposes: htpc (despite certain limitations such as remote controls) and light desktop use such as internet surfing, word processing, and retro games like Dungeon Crawl. My rule of thumb now is Windows for heavy-duty work and Linux for light duty.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Windows 8.1 Replaces Netrunner 14.04

I overwrote Netrunner 14.04 with Windows 8.1 Pro and could not be happier. Windows 8.1 has the key feature that Netrunner 14.04 lacks. It is possible, in Windows, to right-click on a text file and open that file immediately into a text editor of my choice, in this case Notepad++. With Netrunner 14.04, everytime I tried to edit a text file, Netrunner would pester me for the exact location of the text editor, because apparently the operating system does not know where any of its applications are stored. Well, I am not the operating system, and I don't know, either; I rather expect the operating system to keep track of things like that for me, and if it does not, then the operating system has no business operating in 2014 and needs replacing.

I didn't mind so much the requirement of a password to edit a text file, which is a standard security measure among Linux distros, although it is boneheaded and wrong. But asking the user to go and find the text editor executable among the hundreds of paths on the hard drive is really the final insult. I regret to say I spent a collective hour over the course of several weeks trying to find the executable for Jedit before I finally realized the obvious, that Netrunner must be replaced at all costs, because it is costing me time and energy. There were other problems with that old thing, but this was by far the worst. I really don't know what the devs are working on, but apparently they never consult the users when determining their priorities.

As for the much-maligned Windows 8, I do not concur with all the naysayers that hate Eight. Yes, it is slightly more difficult to use than Windows 7. The main problem is the lack of a Start button. A lesser annoyance is the infernal Charms menu. I turned off all the tiles in my Charms menu, just to avoid any potential bandwidth drain. I think they are stupid, but they can be rather easily avoided by pressing Win+D whenever they pop up. I was pleased to read the Charms menu will be eliminated in Windows 9, and indeed the main reason I purchased Windows 8 was to be able to purchase a low-cost upgrade to Windows 9 when it is released.

In the past, keyboard shortcuts were for power users. The main thing to keep in mind with Windows 8 is that keyboard shortcuts are more useful than ever. I am able to short-circuit most Windows 8 annoyances and design blunders by using keyboard shortcuts. Simply being patient and taking the time to learn the quirks of Eight will suffice to overcome all confusion. The lack of a Start button can be rather easily circumvented by following the simple instructions found here to create something that approximates a Start button. This is not entirely sufficient, but is adequate. I have taken to allowing more icons on my desktop than usual in order to make programs more accessible.

I think that corporations and individuals in general are just following the money. They see a lot of money in mobile gadgets, and so they ignore or redesign their successful existing products to please mobile users. In the process, they annoy their true customer base, those with desktops, the people who tend to do actual work on the computer. I wish that more engineers would head corporations and fewer business managers. What is needed are people who understand how things work, not people who understand how to make money.

I also think mobile gadgets are stupid. Just plain old stupid. The proper place to operate a computer is seated at a desk in front of a very large screen with an optimal input device of one's choice. Staring at a device with a three inch screen and no mouse or keyboard is not my cup of tea. I do not know how anyone can get any real work done on such a gadget. And when one is out in the world, outside of a secure and controlled environment, among strangers and motor vehicles, it is not such a great idea to be staring at a screen.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Be Safe on the Internet

Most people don't realize just how dangerous the internet can be, especially to Windows users. Everyone that is not a tech gets a computer virus sooner or later. The typical response is to discard the old computer or put it in the attic and buy a brand new one, an unnecessary waste of money. Where knowledge is lacking, the wallet must compensate.

To all users, I recommend the following. Use Firefox, and do not install any toolbars, but do install the addons AdBlock and NoScript. NoScript requires extra effort on the part of the end user, but the payoff in security is worth it. I do not install NoScript for clients unless specifically asked, because I appreciate the annoyance it can cause. For myself and loved ones, I will always install NoScript and train them how to work with it to have a safer browsing experience. Only scripts that have been specifically greenlighted by the user will be permitted to run. I also teach my users to be extremely skeptical of anything they read on a web site, in particular regarding their computer, but even beyond personal computer security, much of the information one finds on the internet is paid advertising or else people looking to "monetize" (the verb they choose) their web domain.

Also, backup an image of your Windows system to a separate hard drive--built-in Windows functionality available via the Control Panel--it only takes 20-60 gigs of space and will save your bacon in the event of operating system loss. I image my Windows systems every 3-4 months to capture any new program additions or removals. Be aware that backing up the system image is different than a complete backup. Microsoft does not make the differences quite clear to the user, but I discovered the differences through the time-honored method of trial and error. A system image backup captures the operating system and all files needed for Windows operation. A complete backup captures that as well as media files that may be stored on different drives. Everything should be backed up, but the system image is really important, because it allows very fast restoration of Windows in the event of a malware infection.

This is the best advice I can give to Windows users with my 30 years of experience, other than to consider giving Xubuntu a try for light duty such as Internet browsing. I use Xubuntu or SolydX on three different systems and consider it a worthwhile tool. It boots faster than Windows, is free, does not require much in the way of configuration, allows a high degree of customization, and requires very little in the way of system resources. Mine all run fine with 2 gigs of RAM in each box. The limitations of Linux have been described elsewhere on this blog.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Bigoted Against China?

DistroWatch expressed their disdain of my rumour-mongering:

I can tell you that my reviews contain only my observations, facts I can gather and my opinions on the experiences I have. I see no reason to consider rumours about which products may or may not include malware without proof. Almost all governments use spy tools and find ways to introduce back doors into operating systems. Those which do not make their own software back doors purchase such tools from companies in other countries. People who point fingers solely at Chinese products and complain about intentional back doors are either ignorant of other governments' actions or simply bigoted. I think it is worth noting that China has been restricting sales of selected closed source products because their government is just as concerned about American technologies as American organizations are concerned about products made in China.

I'm biased against China, because it is a tyranny. Period.

Look, if China puts a backdoor in a Linux distro, and anyone in China talks about it, that blabbermouth is going to prison for a long time. If Distrowatch headquarters itself in China and starts talking trash about the government, then they can experience the tender mercies of Chinese tyranny first-hand. Funny how apologists for China like Distrowatch are careful to locate their offices and their families outside of tyrannical regions, while publishing an astonishingly all-positive review of a Chinese distro--the most positive review I've yet read in Distrowatch--for some as-yet undisclo$ed rea$on. I'm bluffing, of course--I don't actually know where the Distrowatchers are located. But if they call my bluff and declare themselves to be located in China, then that would be interesting.

Contrast China with the U.S. of A. If our NSA puts a backdoor in a Linux distro, and anyone in the U.S. talks about it, the blabbermouth is going to be featured in the media and earn a lot of money and recognition and career advancement for doing so. As for Eric Snowden, he signed a contract of non-disclosure, from what I understand, and so the Obama Administration is essentially pursuing him for violation of his contract. I don't approve of the Obama Administration's hunt for Eric Snowden. I believe that Eric Snowden did the right thing in principle, if not in execution. But in the U.S., we have people who do the right thing. A conscience is a very American trait.

So, yeah, I'm against tyranny, and for free speech. I am biased in the sense that I favor good over evil. And I do believe that such things exist--that there is a definite good and a definite evil that characterize the actions of human beings. And I think that choosing good matters. I have explained why many times in this space and will continue to do so.

Ignorant? I rather think DistroWatch pretends to be ignorant--of history, politics, current affairs--whether they are so or not. But perhaps they understand certain other matter$ well enough. I really doubt Distrowatch is as mind-numbingly naive as they pretend to be. Breezing by China's tyranny with the "all governments use spy tools" line just won't cut it with anyone that has any kind of education, but might deceive a certain percentage of geeks that only know computers and nothing else. Perhaps China calculates that even a tiny 1-5% penetration into the Linux market will help with its cyberattacks.

Distrowatch should go have a chat with some of the bloggers busting rocks in China's labor camps who dared post unfavorable reviews of the government. Then they can decide for themselves whether all nations really are the same. Trust China for your software? Why not trust them with all of your personal and private data, and see where that gets you? Because if China writes your software, then China gets your information. I refuse to believe that bonafide software engineers, developers, technicians, whatever they are, that have been in this business and writing about this business for years on end cannot understand this extremely simple and obvious concept. There has to be another motive lurking about in the shadows other than "all governments engage in spying, so hey, what's the biggie?"

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Upgrade from Netrunner 14.04 to Windows 95?

I really need to upgrade from Netrunner 14.04. Everytime I try to edit a text file from within FileZilla, Netrunner goes haywire. The operating system cannot find Jedit. I have to drop to a command line, chdir to the correct directory, and enter "sudo jedit [ name of text file ]. What's the point of having a GUI desktop if I have to use the command line to load a text editor? None at all.

"Primitive" doesn't even begin to express my feelings here. I don't know what audience Neanderthal is designed for, but it certainly wasn't designed for anyone that needs to get work done.

The screenshot below illustrates what I call the "KDE Stupidity". There is no option for setting any default text editor in the operating system, because KDE is philosophically opposed to people getting actual work done.What does the dropdown menu display? Why, nothing, of course. There are no text editors available, according to Netrunner, despite Kate, LibreOffice and Jedit being installed on the system. A more schizophrenic operating system I never hope to see.

I did find "File Associations" in the Settings, but although it seems promising, it just doesn't work; the text editor is not known to FileZilla. Editors are listed, but the paths to those editors are not passed on to an application such as FileZilla, perhaps because FileZilla is a non-KDE app.  There is only one way to edit a text file from FileZilla when Neanderthal rules the roost, and that is to drop to a command line, chdir to the right location on the drive, and sudo jedit [ name of text file ]. And everytime I have to do that, I rue the day I ever installed Neanderthal on my machine, and go hunting on Ebay for install disks for Windows.

In Windows, editing a text file takes all of one second. I right-click on the file, load Notepad++, and I'm there. What did I, the user, have to do in order to set up this miraculous convenience? Why, absolutely nothing, other than install Notepad++. With Neanderthal, editing a text file is a complete nightmare. The operating system simply is not designed for any kind of useful work at all besides, I suppose, surfing the Net, hence the name.

I don't honestly know what KDE has been working on the past twenty years other than screensavers and desktop effects. It would be nice to have a text editor available to edit text files without having to drop to the command line. Perhaps that feature will be available in KDE by 2015?

Update: I bought a copy of Windows 8 Pro today, although Windows 95 would have been a dramatic improvement. I can't think of a better use of $100 that to be able to edit a text file whenever and wherever I please and not have to think twice about it.

Netrunner, your days are numbered. I'm going to format c:\ and get rid of the blasted thing once and for all. No more "uh, I dunno where your text editor is, go run and find it." No more of Muon's infamous "Enter your password to update your system. Okay, you entered the right password, but I still won't let you update, because I've got a bug. Thank you for helping test this alpha-ware software." No more "can't install such-and-such because it's not compatible." No more "Oops, your desktop crashed. Were you wondering why Firefox froze, and the keyboard and mouse were unresponsive? Well, that's why." No more "you cannot use the Netrunner forum and get help with technical issues, even though you did register, because the Netrunner forum registration is broken, just like Kubuntu's." No more, "Oh, were you searching for that .htaccess the past ten minutes and wondering why you couldn't find it? It's because I decided to hide it from you! Hee hee!"

As for text editors, KDE installs Kate by default and seems to prefer it, but even Kate is not accessible to FileZilla. I could possibly make do with Kate, if it would just load for once after a right-click. But Kate is not a programmer's text editor. Kate is cute, I'll grant you, but Jedit is a real programmer's text editor. Jedit is what I use when I want to get things done. Jedit is the Notepad++ to Kate's Notepad. When KDE has Jedit installed and working in all apps, including FileZilla, then it will have arrived. It will be a civilized operating system. Until then, KDE is not ready for prime-time, and sorry, but I just don't have time enough in my day to help alpha-test it.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Four Things I Hate about Linux

1. Hidden files. Why? If the file merits existence, it should be seen by the user. Many hidden files, such as .htaccess, contain critical configuration settings that must be modified to get things to work. Just stop it with the hidden files. Probably fifty million man-hours around the world have been lost because some developer thought it was wise to hide files from the user. This is anti-social sadism on the part of developers.

2. This infernal pop-up which arises in every Linux program. Trying to edit a text file from within a program like Filezilla is impossible. Instead, one must drop to the command prompt, because the Linux GUI is useless. Even if one does, somehow, track down the location of the text editor using the Browse button, Linux permissions will not allow the saving of the text file. Potential time lost? 5 - 10 minutes per attempt to edit a file. In Windows, I can load a text file from any program using Notepad++, and it takes me approximately one second to do so. Why is Linux retarded?

 3. Networking in Linux. I hate networking above all other things. But Samba is a program that is confusing in the extreme. It is designed for a server, which means it is about a trillion times more complicated than necessary for a home network. What do all the settings mean? Why do I need or want to enter a password to access a directory on a networked computer at my own home? Why is everything so slow on the network? Why isn't there some kind of GUI? Over the years, I cobbled together a configuration file for Samba that I use in every Linux distro. I spent many hours sweating over that thing, trying to figure out what it all means, but I still don't understand half of  it. I don't envy the new user to Linux that has to figure out home networking for the first time.

4. Muon. I don't like the Kubuntu Software Updater or the Kubuntu Software Manager. I can't find the programs I want in them, for one thing. In keeping with the general Linux philosophy, the program I want are "hidden". I can find the programs I want in Synaptic, but not in Kubuntu's programs. As for Muon Software Updater, it's buggy. It used to be a lot buggier, but it still has strange problems. Synaptic just works all the time, on the other hand.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How much does a positive review cost?

How much did the tyrants in China pay for all the positive reviews that Deepin has received in the Linux press--reviews that completely miss the main point, that Deepin was developed by a fascist tyranny for a reason that has not yet been revealed.

Hint: the reason probably has to do with using the personal computers of unsuspecting nerds around the world to steal passwords, information, bandwidth, and computing power.

I watched a BBC Storyville documentary the other day called "China's Bleak House," that reveals how China treats the poor. Those poor people that dare to complain about their treatment by corrupt officials are beaten, tortured, dispossessed of whatever meager possessions they have, separated from their families, witness their families getting beaten, and have all manner of ill visited upon their heads for merely asking for justice.

It was a depressing show, and I tuned out late in the show when a peasant woman was pushed in front of a train by goons. The police did not bother investigating her murder, and they did not even bother cleaning up the body parts. Her friends walked along the tracks the next day and found parts of her jaw bone, skull, and even a large portion of her hand. This illustrates what I think about China. It may have pilfered a lot of our technology and stolen our jobs, but the country remains tyrannical and does not give a damn about its working class. It is one of the worst places in the world to work.

I think Westerners that install things like Deepin on their computers have no knowledge of world affairs or history.

However, there are a lot of Westerners that would gladly buy their food from China and absorb all manner of heavy metals and carcinogens into their bodies because they think all countries are equal. Good luck with that. For my part, I think I will buy my food from local farmers and get my software from people that live in democratic lands where people can provide feedback without worrying about the police coming a-knocking on their door.


I'm surprised none of the reviews I've read about Deepin, including at Distrowatch, make any bones about Deepin being developed in China. You know, the same country that has been hacking Western corporations, governments and private citizens for years. China has about a million reasons to want to push a Linux distro, and none of them are benevolent. In Distrowatch's interview with a developer, I read that Deepin has 30 developers. Actually I thought there would be more, given that the Red Army is actively engaged in computer hacking. I would not touch a Chinese distro. Lose the illusion! China is a tyranny; there is no free speech, no real justice system and the government does whatever the heck it wants to do, whenever the heck it wants to do it. No matter how many positive reviews Deepin buys for cheap in the online press, the fact remains it derives from a highly suspect source.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Here's for Linux Mint XFCE

One thing I like in Linux Mint Xfce and that I don't see in Netrunner KDE is the ability to right-click a file, choose a program to open it, and then teach the desktop to always use that program in the future. With Netrunner, it's an ongoing battle to have it use Jedit to open up .sql, .html, .shtml. Netrunner wants to always use Kate, which is extremely limited and has a lot of problems dealing with plain text files. I cannot even open, as root, using Jedit, a text file at all in Dolphin and have given up on what should be an elementary procedure that even Windows 3.1 was capable of managing.

What I have had to do in Netrunner as a workaround is drop to the terminal in the directory with my .sql file and enter sudo jedit suchandsuch.sql each and every time I need to edit the file. That annoyance is enough to make me not want to use Netrunner in the future, and combined with KDE's propensity to freeze, then reboot the desktop for no apparent reason makes me not want to choose KDE in the future as a desktop. I think I will stick with good, old, tried-and-true XFCE, Linux Mint edition, thank you very much.

It is impossible to register for Netrunner's forum, so raising the issue there is a no-go.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

KDE Likes to Crash

One of the rude bugs of KDE is that it likes to crash when I'm browsing the Internet. Firefox will suddenly freeze for a solid minute, after which Netrunner throws up an error message saying, "The KDE desktop had to be restarted because the graphic environment was reset." That is very annoying, and it's something I never experienced in Xubuntu.

I turned off most desktop effects and will continue paring them down to zero if the bug persists.

Right at the moment, I'm busy hunting for the option that will let me set up keyboard shortcuts. KDE hides this away for an unknown reason. In Xubuntu, I found the option in about a minute. I'm still searching in KDE's wilderness that they call a Settings Manager...

Update  the answer to keyboard shortcuts in KDE is here and, compared to Xubuntu, it's ridiculously complicated. I'm beginning to think that XFCE is much more advanced than KDE. The supposed advantage to KDE is the bells and whistles, but if they cause the desktop applications to freeze at random intervals, then that is not of much use to anyone at all. Reliability is the most important factor in a desktop, bar none. I would rather go with XFCE being 99.9% reliable than with KDE being 99.89% reliable, because that .01% error rate is going to cause a lot of irritation in the long run.

Update # 2 I think I found the answer after about a half hour's Googling. Settings | Shortcuts | Custom Shortcuts actually allows entering in a simple command such as /sbin/shutdown -P now, which after doing a sudo chmod u+s /sbin/shutdown works like a charm. I suppose, in retrospect, the shortcut manager was rather obvious, but I don't find Netrunner's organization of settings obvious at all. What precisely is the difference between the categories "Hardware" and "System"? Actually, nothing. Hardware is the system, and the system is the hardware. Advanced | Other just seems strange. I rather like Windows' way of listing everything when one selects the traditional view of Control Panel. Sure, it's a long list, but it is organized alphabetically, and once one has looked it over a couple times, one can find things quickly. I really don't like the categories in Netrunner's System Settings, because they are unintuitive and not helpful. Xubuntu's settings could use some tweaking too, but they are light-years ahead of Netrunner in terms of ease-of-use. Whoever designed Xubuntu's settings understands. He just understands.

I'll continue using KDE. Perhaps it is unfair to hold it to the same reliability standard as Windows 7. Microsoft, after all, has legions of full-time programmers and testers. I really like Netrunner overall, at least when my browser isn't freezing up on me.

However, next time I'm in the market for a new desktop, I think I'll pass on buggy KDE and go with tried-and-true XFCE. I like a desktop most of all that just works.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Netrunner's Closed Forum

Another thing Netrunner has in common with Kubuntu is that it does not have an accessible forum. Registering for that thing is an ordeal, if it is at all possible. I solved all of their little puzzles to prove I'm human, clicked on the email verification, logged in, and was not logged in. No error message--nothing. Their forum is broken, just like Kubuntu's was when I tried it a year ago. I tried Netrunner's forum about six times without any luck. I don't really need the forum, anyway. I was just trying to register to praise the design. Sometimes I err on the side of over-enthusiasm. Perhaps a bit of distance is a good thing.

Linux distros that have functional forums include: SolydXK, PCLinuxOS, Linux Mint, and Ubuntu.

Linux distros that have broken forums include Kubuntu and Netrunner.

If one considers a functional forum to be helpful from time to time, then that will have an impact on the choice of distro. For now, I'm willing to go without, because Netrunner is similar enough to Ubuntu that I can just use Google to answer questions I may have. If I ever run into any kind of difficulty, however, then I'm thinking that Linux Mint KDE might be a good choice for the future.

Netrunner 14.04 is a Nice Strong Cup of Awesome

I haven't the time to compose a proper review, but just a quick note that Netrunner "Frontier" 14.04, 64-bit Kubuntu edition, is out of this world. I thought I'd be tweaking for hours to get the desktop nice and comfortable, but no. Netrunner is a distro that knows what users want and delivers it to them with a nice pretty bow on top.

If you want to check out a modern operating system outside of Microsoft's realm, then be sure to torrent a copy of Netrunner.

I haven't tried the Rolling Release and have no plans to do so--Manjaro seems Greek to me--but I can definitely vouch for the Frontier edition.

KDE is looking mighty good these days on an Intel Haswell Celeron G1820.
techlorebyigor is my personal journal for ideas & opinions