Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How to Update to Ktorrent 4.3.1 in Linux Mint Nadia KDE

Ktorrent's download page gives good though incomplete instructions for installing the latest version of Ktorrent, which has not and I think never will hit Linux Mint 14's or Ubuntu's 12.10 repository. I believe the Ubuntu folks may be reserving Ktorrent 4.3.1 for Ubuntu Raring, for whatever reason, but I didn't let that keep me from trying out the latest version of Ktorrent, which seems to have some worthwhile new features and bug fixes. I sometimes observe unusual delays with my torrents, so I thought it might be helpful to update to the latest version just to reduce the possibility of a bug.

First, I visited Ubuntu's documentation for compiling software here and performed only the first step, which is
sudo apt-get install build-essential

Then I loaded Synaptic Package Manager and installed all of the following packages and their dependencies:
The above is quite a long list. Installing consumes about a gigabyte or so in free space, if memory serves me correctly. I let one of the larger downloads run overnight while I was asleep. I discovered these prerequisites through trial-and-error. Whenever the compile failed, or in some cases even if it succeeded, I noted the compiler's complaints and tried to satisfy them through Synaptic Package Manager. It is okay to recompile as many times as one desires until the not-found errors are eliminated.

Next, I followed the instructions on Ktorrent's download page. Note that the above satisfies all prerequisites (qt, kde, libgmp, qca2 and others left unmentioned) for compiling.

I am now using Ktorrent 4.3.1 with KDE 4.9.5 on Linux Mint Nadia. My configuration file was preserved intact during the upgrade. So far, Ktorrent 4.3.1 works well, although I had to get used to the new tab design, which I think may be better, as it may save a few clicks on occasion.


Ktorrent 4.3.1 is, if anything, faster than the earlier version, and I like the new tab feature. I think I improved performance by disabling DHT and reducing the number of network connections to about 45 or so. In the case of network connections, more is not necessarily better. I also use the uBitTorrent protocol exclusively, not allowing TCP connections, because uBitTorrent protocol plays better with other users on the network. I have not noticed any detrimental impact from excluding TCP connections. I don't know for sure whether my ISP frowns upon torrenting, but I don't want to find out. All my connections require encryption, and I often use KDE's proxy, though not always, because I'm not 100% confident in the proxy being up all the time.

Why did Canonical not release this new version of Ktorrent to users of earlier and current versions of Ubuntu? By neglecting to backport new versions of software, Canonical provides incentives for users to upgrade to their latest version, 13.04 Raring, which is fast approaching its release date.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Linux Kernel 3.8 Upgrade Breaks S/PDIF Optical Sound

After researching online, I found this little snippet that explains why my S/PDIF connection is dead silent after upgrading the Linux kernel from 3.5 to 3.8.2. It seems the developers sacrificed S/PDIF audio output to please HDMI users, who are more numerous. I guess you can't please everyone, as the song says. The best alternative I've found is to stop upgrading the kernel at 3.7.10--that's the cliff, after which S/PDIF goes silent. For my part, I'll just hold off on upgrading my htpc until there is a fix that satisfies both S/PDIF and HDMI. Apparently 3.8 isn't quite the thing for my htpc. A silent htpc is about as useful as a rock.

My htpc does not use HDMI, but the motherboard has an HDMI connection. Linux kernel 3.8.x disables S/PDIF. I removed 3.8.x and installed 3.7.10, and it is working fine with S/PDIF.

Jonesin' for Linux Mint 15

I am seriously jonesin' for the next version of Linux Mint KDE. It's going to be tough for me, I tell you, because I'm going to watch Ubuntu 13.04 be released...yawn...then Linux Mint 15 Mate and Cinnamon...okay, that's nice, but not quite the thing for me...and only about a month later, maybe in the Fall, will Linux Mint 15 KDE roll out. That's the ticket right there. That will be the time to upgrade everything. I hope the long wait is worth it. I'm looking forward to the latest version of KDE.

I had to pass on Open Suse 12.3, because it's just too problematic. I don't think the end user should need a Ph.D. to set up a printer. To me, printing is an elementary function of the operating system. Printing should never, ever be any kind of issue. I also believe that a Linux distribution should access the network from the word "Go." The user should not be required to do anything to set the network up, especially in the case of simple wired networks where there is no wi-fi password to deal with. As far as repositories go, the dvd must cease to be a repository once the OS is installed. These are the three primary reasons that I am opting for an older version of Linux Mint KDE over OpenSuse 12.3 KDE. There are other rough edges with OpenSuse, little things that require the user to learn how to cope with OpenSuse, when the user should instead be focused upon getting things done. An operating system should be unobtrusive and elementary to understand.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Intuit's TurboTax Spyware

Intuit TurboTax won't let me file taxes online. Chris Pederick's user-agent switcher won't work to bypass the "system requirements" check, either. There's only one reason I know for a web site to require the use of a specific operating system, and that is that they want to load spyware onto the user's PC. So that makes me wonder what kind of spyware Intuit Turbotax is deploying and for what reason?

I hate to switch to a different product, but I'm leaving Intuit alone this year. They seem to be resorting to desperate measures in this economy. I can't say I'm terribly surprised, as I used to get unsolicited phone calls from Intuit on a regular basis--they'd call every week, punctual, usually around dinner-time, trying to sell me Quicken or some other product I don't care about. Thank goodness I run Call Clerk now to intercept annoying calls from clueless companies such as Intuit that have no idea how to treat a customer.

Turn Your Computer into a Fortress

I often hear of users having sorry experiences with Windows. Slow-downs, malware, bloatware, viruses, anti-viruses, and lots of money and time down the drain seem to be the order of the day. It does not have to be this way. There is a better solution. I would estimate that at least half of all computer users today are using their computer for one task that does not demand much of the operating system at all--internet surfing. Yes, occasionally, the typical user might also wish to edit a spreadsheet, write a document, or play multimedia files. Linux can do all of these things quite well. Linux does not require much in the way of hardware, either. A computer built in 2008 will serve admirably. Only two gigs of RAM, you say? That is not a problem. Why not buy a used computer for $100 or less? Linux runs Firefox or Chrome like a champ, and all the add-ons that are used on Firefox in Windows can also be used on Firefox in Linux. One caveat--there may or may not be an issue where Flash is concerned. One's experience with youtube may vary depending on the computer hardware. However, Chrome has no difficulty at all running Flash in Linux, because Chrome's flash decoder is native rather than suffering from a dependency upon Adobe.

If I were designing a laptop or desktop for the casual Internet user, I would install the latest version of 64-bit Linux Mint KDE with Firefox as the internet browser and the NoScript add-on for security. Some people hate NoScript, because it is annoying by design, disabling all scripts until the user manually approves a site. Thus, clicking on a link no longer can result automatically in infection, because the user must first approve the scripts that are to run. However, the first time one visits Ebay, Amazon, et al, one must approve of the scripts being run before using the sites as one is accustomed.

A fortress against malware is presented by Linux Mint KDE with the firewall enabled to deny incoming connections, Firefox as the browser, and the NoScript Add-on installed. This set-up is also fast to boot, easy to install, and free. There are further refinements that can be made, given experience and the knowledge that comes with it, but the basic setup is easy to understand.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I Prefer Linux Mint 14 to Open Suse 12.3

In Open Suse 12.3, I spent an hour trying to configure my network printer, got confused by the complicated, convoluted and delay-prone print management dialogs, did not succeed in setting up my printer, and wound up deleting Open Suse from my hard drive. I thought version 12.3 was supposed to bring improvements to print management. What gives?

In Linux Mint 14, which is several months older than Open Suse 12.3, I spent less than a minute configuring my network printer. Perhaps there was a grammatical mistake in the printer dialog, and perhaps the first time I clicked on "Print test page," it didn't print, but who cares--I sure don't--because after one minute and very few mouse clicks, everything just worked.

Linux Mint compares favorably against Windows 7, too. In Windows, the printer did not install automatically. I had to do what I have always done in Windows -- visit the manufacturer's web site, download the drivers, and install them. I had to do the same to configure my modem and install the video driver. Windows takes at least twenty hours to fully configure and install all of the software packages. Linux Mint takes about twenty minutes, tops, although twenty minutes would definitely be the worst case scenario. The point is Linux Mint saves the end user a lot of time and trouble, whereas Microsoft could not give a flipping flapjack about the end user.

Linux Mint is the only operating system that I would feel comfortable recommending to my technologically less sophisticated friends. I know from experience that the end user will not encounter any "gotchas" during the installation and that they will be able to perform the basic tasks one expects from an OS, such as printing. I cannot recommend Windows because it is time-consuming to set up and configure all of the various hardware drivers and software packages, and once they are set up, Windows adds new obstacles by restricting the user from installing the OS on more than one device, which is a very severe restriction, because a simple change of hardware will invalidate a Windows installation. In addition, Windows remains a security hazard due to the way that its software is distributed. There are far too many compromised Windows systems in the wild. I much prefer the Linux method of keeping software on repositories, where educated geeks monitor what is there and keep out malware.

Lost Girl

Lost Girl, a supernatural show about a succubus, is a blatant rip-off of True Blood--so blatant indeed that I became bored by the lack of new ideas. The show is nothing but a collection of cliches. I thought it might be interesting due to the introduction of a seldom-portrayed supernatural being, a succubus, but that was not the case. The pilot and sequel were marred by frontloading of the plot--lengthy speeches informing the audience of tedious details that we do not need to know. This succubus is no demon, but actually a full-blooded Fey, you see, with a biology of her own, and there is a population of Fey existing undetected alongside humans, and they have their own society. Sound familiar? Why of course, this is a pale imitation of True Blood. The actors are always explaining the plot to the audience in order to eliminate any false impression, even the most unlikely, that any imaginative person might entertain. At the end of the second episode, to eliminate any speculation that the two women might be lovers, the writer had the younger one utter a non sequitor to the effect that she only did men. Well, that's nice to know, as it gives me one more reason not to tune in for episode three.

The Hobbit

The Hobbit was a better movie than any other fantasy or sci-fi movie I've seen lately. The critics were too hard on it by far, for instance by taking issue with the meager source material, Tolkien's thin book, being used as the basis for not one, but three movies (two are yet to come). I take the opposite view, that the three Lord of the Rings movies were too fast-paced. Each of Tolkien's LOTR books should have formed the basis of three separate movies, for a total of nine instead of the three--a strategic blunder that I am sure is regretted now that the producers realize how much money can be made through the Tolkien franchise. Tolkien was a great writer, and his works lend themselves well to the medium of film. How about another ten films based upon The Silmarillion?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Little Issues in Open Suse 12.3

In the end, I just couldn't resist OpenSuse 12.3 because it is so freaking beautiful. I just love the wallpaper. That's my rationale for overwriting Linux Mint 14 with OpenSuse 12.3. End of story.


Easy Download & Install

Here's what I liked about OpenSuse 12.3--I downloaded it via torrent. That's nice, because it meant that my copy was downloaded verified and without errors, and I didn't have to do an MD5 checksum on a downloaded .ISO. I also like the idea of helping out by uploading some data to others. The torrent for OpenSuse is well-seeded, by the way.

I also like that OpenSuse released a new version ahead of the *buntu family of distros, because that meant I could sample the new KDE and the new kernel without much effort.

OpenSuse did not install the first time I tried it. There was an error, but the medium I used was cheap Rosewill garbage. Rosewill is not known for quality when it comes to DVDs and CDs, so I was not willing to blame OpenSuse for the error. Instead, I clicked on the OpenSuse option to verify the disk, and thirty minutes later OpenSuse determined that the medium was indeed bad. I burned another disk, this time a Verbatim dvd, and my install proceeded without a hitch. The Rosewill dvd now rests at the bottom of my garbage can. I haven't had any Verbatim dvds turn up bad.

Teething Pains

There were a couple of issues with OpenSuse 12.3. In the first place, my wired network was not detected even after reboot. Linux Mint detected it at once, but OpenSuse did not. I had to go into the network configuration and manually set the network to DHCP + zeroconf. DHCP alone would not work. That is a surprising bug for a modern Linux distro, because all the other distros I've tried have detected my network immediately. I don't have anything complicated over here, just plain old wired ethernet leading to a humdrum run-of-the-mill router.

I noticed Amarok was listed twice under the multimedia category in the Applications menu. I know now that one entry occupies a designated slot for "Recording" and one entry occupies a designated slot for "Audio Player," but still, that seemed buggy. I was able to delete the entry for "Recording" to eliminate the apparent duplicate.

I found that I could not uninstall Amarok by right-clicking on it in the Application menu--received an error for my trouble. Instead, I had to go into YAST to uninstall it. Not a big deal, but I don't think the right-click should offer to uninstall, if uninstall won't work.

VLC was not offered on OpenSuse's repositories, but I found VLC on the web and setting up another repository for VLC was fairly painless, after an initial trial-and-error. The instructions for adding a repository are not exactly clear, which led to the failure of my first attempt. Installing VLC took about twenty minutes in all due to the many downloads needed. I should mention that in Linux Mint, VLC is installed from the get-go, saving the end user time. I do not think there is any video player in the Linux world that handles all video and audio formats as well as VLC at this time.

Another issue in OpenSuse 12.3 is that the OS does not remove the install DVD from the repository list by default. That means the user will get an error anytime he opens up the software updater, unless the DVD is still in the drive. I had to go in to the repository editor and delete the dvd from the list of repositories. I suppose that this is by design, to save bandwidth on downloading things that happen to already exist on the dvd. However, the dvd does not get updated and will not have the latest versions, so I wonder how useful it really is to keep the dvd as a repository. In my opinion, the dvd should be removed from the repository list at the end of the installation process.

Another thing I've noticed just typing this blog post in is that a line disappeared on its own from my screen. I have no idea why. A line in the above paragraph simply became invisible until I highlighted it with my mouse, and then it reappeared. That was strange, but it could be a Firefox problem or any number of other things. This problem has continued throughout my post, with lines disappearing seemingly at random. The space occupied by the lines is still there, and the text in the lines is not erased, and I can make the text reappear by highlighting it with my mouse, but it is strange to see them blink in and out like that.


I intend to continue using OpenSuse 12.3 at least for a while to get a good feel for it and see whether I like it better than Linux Mint after all. So far, I don't feel that OpenSuse has saved me time or effort in comparison to Linux Mint, but I do like the wallpaper much better and certainly an updated version of KDE is nothing to sneeze at. I am interested in the one-click install capability, which OpenSuse has but Linux Mint does not.

Tips & Tricks to Using OpenSuse 12.3

I've decided to use this post as a catch-all journal for my ongoing observations about OpenSuse 12.3. There are many of what I regard as peculiarities, eccentricities, yet it is also true that what is an eccentricity to one fellow will be a reasoned design decision to another. It is also true that every Ubuntu distro in existence has left me cold, and I found numerous eccentricities in them as well. So far, my favorite distro of all remains Linux Mint, and of the various desktop flavors, Linux Mint KDE may be the best--but it does not have the best wallpaper. OpenSuse 12.3 has the best wallpaper. I think that somebody who really understood design worked on that wallpaper.

Military Time, Please

Oddly, OpenSuse places a maze before the user when it comes to changing the format of the time at the lower right of the desktop. There are many dead-ends in this maze, but only one valid GUI path to changing from the AM / PM relic to military, twenty-four time--the time format that computer programmers and scientists use to get work done. After quite a bit of poking around, I found the trick. Right-click on the time, choose "Digital Clock Settings," select Appearance, and then click on the wrench icon, followed by the Date & Time tab. Then you can change the time format to HH:MM:SS. I have had to do this on every Linux distro I've ever installed. I also like for the day of the week, followed by the alphabetic month, one- or two- digit day, and four-digit year to reside below the HH:MM, but this was much easier to accomplish and does not bear explaining.

A New Kernel for OpenSuse 12.3?

One of the first things I did after installing OpenSuse 12.3 was to upgrade the kernel to 3.8.3. Upgrading the kernel is much easier in OpenSuse 12.3 than in a Ubuntu or Linux Mint distro. One simply goes to http://software.opensuse.org/123/en, types in kernel, and then a page with various kernel flavors opens. The number of choices seems bewildering, but I chose kernel-desktop for my desktop, which seemed logical enough. The default version is 3.7.10, but one can click on "Show Other Versions," followed by "Show Unstable Packages," which will pop-up a warning message. Continue, and there are several kernel versions available for one-click installation.

In following through this procedure once again, I did not see kernel 3.8.2 available for OpenSuse 12.3, let alone 3.8.3, which is what I have installed right now. I do not know the explanation for that. Perhaps problems were detected in these kernels, and they were taken down overnight by the admins. Another possibility is that I may have chosen a different branch of the kernel packages. I don't remember. At any rate this information may be helpful to those OpenSuse users that want to try out the latest and greatest Linux kernel.


I sold something on Ebay today, and had to print out postage. OpenSuse wanted to print to a file, which might be useful if the post office accepted postage via email, but alas, the post office is an old-fashioned outfit.

At first, I tried something called Print Management and was presented with what looked like a web page for CUPS. The "Add Printer" option triggered a pop-up asking for my username and password. When I entered these, they were rejected, and all future attempts to add a printer were rejected as well. I don't know why, as I had entered the correct admin name and password for my system. By searching online, I discovered that YAST was required to set up a printer.

I tried the YAST printer utility, but encountered greater complexity than I thought possible for a printer. There were options that I had never heard of with jargon bandied about. The menus seemed complex, and I was not sure which option to choose. I tried to setup a network printer, but OpenSuse could not find my printer on the network, even though Linux Mint and Windows had no difficulty in doing so. Experimenting was punished by lengthy, unexplained delays, sometimes of several minutes, and canceling an ill-chosen option was not always possible, so that more and more time was lost. Eventually I set up my OKI printer only to discover, alas, that it was set up not on the network where it resides but on my parallel port, which is not in use and never will be in use. I did not see any option for removing the non-existent printer, either; it remained there, defiant, ready to accept test pages. Little or no explanation was available for any of the menu options; the set-up "Wizard" must be a fellow of few words. Apparently, I am supposed to already know such terms as "IPP." I spent an hour trying to get OpenSuse to find my network printer, to no avail. The documentation on opensuse.org did not work, and the various dialogs for print management and the lengthy unexplained delays associated with them did not inspire confidence.

Of note, I still have lines of text blinking in and out on my screen as I type this blog post. Lines disappear, only to reappear at random.

Also interesting is that earlier today, I attempted to copy files from a Windows drive to the OpenSuse drive, and after half an hour the GUI was still churning its wheels, with 0 bytes copied. I am not sure what it was doing, and possibly it was not sure either.

I decided this afternoon that I am going to reinstall Linux Mint KDE, because the printing problem in OpenSuse caused dismay. I don't want to have to take a crash course in CUPS or learn a lot of jargon in order to print. Disappearing text was also a concern--I don't want to have lines of text play leprechaun tricks on me. I think I have a greater appreciation now for what Ubuntu brings to the table. It far less likely I will leave the Ubuntu family of distros anytime in the foreseeable future.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

On the Fence About OpenSuse 12.3

I've been scouring the net of late for reviews of OpenSuse 12.3, reading every stray article I can get my hands on. I've been rather disappointed by the lack of comparative analysis in all the reviews. It seems that most reviewers are fixated upon the new kernel and new version of KDE--elements that will also be present in the next versions of Ubuntu, Linux Mint and all the other distros, although their releases will have more recent versions, so patience may offer a slight reward. I am most curious about whether OpenSuse presents any advantage over Linux Mint or Ubuntu. If the answer is no, then why should I jump ship for OpenSuse? One thing I will say, however, is that I really like the default wallpaper of OpenSuse 12.3. I think it is the best wallpaper I have ever seen on any operating system in my life. Is that enough for me to give OpenSuse a try? Not quite, but it helps. I'm surely glad that at least one distro grasps the virtue of a dark background, so friendly to the human eye.

Batch Mode is Unknown to File Managers

When will Thunar, Dolphin, Window Explorer, et al, learn how to copy files in batch mode? Copying files in batch mode would require about an afternoon's worth of programming, at the most, but would avoid fragmentation and speed up the copy. Right now, I am waiting on Dolphin to finish copying six groups of files, which it is attempting to do all at once, which is the worst possible method. That means the overall copy takes more time to complete and disk fragmentation will be the inevitable result.

Pirated Software

Back in the day, I used to be a high level pirate, capable of cracking copy protection, although in those days cracking copy protection was often just a matter of using a hex editor on a 5.25" or 3.5" diskette to find the hidden sectors and tamper with them or revising a hidden BASIC program. I don't know whether many people even remember 5.25" diskettes these days. At one time, I traded software with people around the world, but since PirateBay wasn't around back then, let alone the Internet, or even BBSes, we used to use the good old-fashioned postal system to ship our disks, sometimes vast packages of thirty or forty disks at a time with everything conceivable. I do believe that many of us were collecting simply for the nerdy joy of collecting and then being able to make gifts to others and receive their thank-yous, praise and attention. We were actually using maybe .001%, at most, of what we shared. I don't think I ever played more than a handful of the thousands of games I acquired, and most disks simply collected dust in their plastic boxes.

Back in the day, pirates forged personal relationships and often knew one another to a certain extent. I knew a guy that programmed in assembler and made his own game, but also cracked software by disassembling code. He was hardcore and extremely talented. He confessed that there wasn't much money to be made in programming things, and surely he was right. I programmed games myself, although I only used BASIC to do so. My skills were pretty good as far as BASIC goes, but BASIC never went very far; it was slow by comparison to assembler and not capable of doing very much in terms of graphics at that time. From a thousand hours of programming, I probably made $50, from which one can deduce my hourly wage of $0.20, which I understand is the norm in China. In piracy, there was no money to be made, only glory to be had, and that glory wasn't worth two nickels rubbed together, unless one sold pirated software and that was close to impossible--that would bring the heat down faster than anything. Identity theft and viruses had not been fully developed in my day. But all that has changed.

Nowadays we have the Internet, Pirate Bay, and tons of money to be made by licit and illicit means, and new actors such as state spy agencies, organized crime and multinational corporations, many of them eager to exploit computers, whether personal or commercial. Many such actors are motivated by greed, fear, the urge to dominate and control, and hate. I tell you what it is, I'm wondering what motivates Pirate Bay and its group of hackers to offer the Windows Operating System to everyone. It seems to me that the temptation to implant some kind of malware must be tremendous, and the motives as various as human nature allows. Profit stands out as an obvious motive, but there are also reasons that state agencies might want to spread altered copies of Windows. A copy may not even have a virus at all--it may be "clean" as judged by any antivirus--but it may have a certain vulnerability introduced deep within its inner workings that can then be exploited by a web page or software application. How is all of that to be detected and by whom? Who is watching the chickens? No one. People are placing all their faith in a stupid antivirus that merely detects the most obvious and stupid malware programs that were written by idiots. What about the viruses that were crafted by cunning hackers? I can see a motive for a corporation to release a pirate version of Windows that doesn't work well with their competitor's hardware or software. Perhaps a virus only activates for certain regions of the world; perhaps people living in Israel get a different experience from the pirated software than people living in, say, China. Perhaps a virus only activates when it detects that there is no antivirus present. I find it difficult to accept that the Pirate Bay would exist as a charity to distribute Microsoft's products to poor people when there is a legitimate alternative to Windows to be found in Linux, which is open source.

That Linux is open source means its code can be examined and reviewed by academics and others. The userbase includes a high percentage of experts who know what they are about. I feel more confident placing some of my trust in Linux than I do in a pirated copy of Windows. I just keep wondering, what is the motive for this pirate outfit to give me a free copy of Windows? What do they get in return? I think they must be getting something in return, in order to pay their legal bills, server bills, salaries and miscellaneous operating expenses, but it is not clear what form their remuneration takes. Who would donate to PirateBay out of the goodness of their heart? The answer is no one. So PirateBay has to find a way to pay the bills. Many downloaders seem unconcerned and do not think this is worth worrying about, but many people are also the victims of identity theft, like some acquaintances I know, and there are many compromised machines in the wild. I can think of a million reasons why someone would want to release an altered version of Windows, and not many reasons at all that someone would go to the pains of releasing a cracked version on a regular basis to defeat Microsoft's constant updates and seed their upload with sufficient bandwidth to disseminate throughout the world. Come now, would they not feel the slightest temptation to make a tiny alteration that would result in profit for them--compensation, in their view, for their hard work and dedication? Or would they choose to work for nothing, out of some sense of idealism? Even if profit were not a motive, perhaps they might feel a duty to plant some code that would benefit one group or one region while harming another. Maybe they don't like America, and they put something in that is going to harm Americans, or only harm Americans on the Fourth of July, or only harm one in ten of the Americans that download their malware-infested OS. Maybe they place a backdoor in their releases to enable access on an as-needed basis. I don't think it is really possible to evaluate the safety of pirated copies based upon a few comments by under-informed individuals who like to LOL and LMFAO. Most of the comments on PirateBay seem worthless to me and I do not think PirateBay has made a serious effort to cultivate trust. Too much is left mysterious and vague, and in shadows lurks a threat.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Upgrade Linux Mint Nadia to Linux Kernel 3.8.2 (or 3.8.3)

Note that this is an experiment, to be read and followed with caution.

Look at the kernel packages for Ubuntu here. I am going to list the steps I intend to take for upgrading my kernel on a 64-bit Linux Mint system. I assume that if one has a 32-bit system, one would replace the identifier "amd64" with "i386", below.

Based upon the comment by Tom C. here, it seems prudent to remove VirtualBox, which I don't believe I use anyway.
sudo apt-get purge virtualbox virtualbox-guest-utils
I did so and rebooted and all was well.

Next begins the task of upgrading the kernel. I have read that proprietary drivers may encounter problems following a kernel upgrade, but I don't believe I am using any on the particular machine I have in mind for this experiment.

Note: the specific commands to upgrade to the next kernel version, 3.8.3, may be found at the end of this post.
cd /tmp

wget kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v3.8.2-raring/linux-headers-3.8.2-030802-generic_3.8.2-030802.201303031906_amd64.deb

wget kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v3.8.2-raring/linux-headers-3.8.2-030802_3.8.2-030802.201303031906_all.deb

wget kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v3.8.2-raring/linux-image-3.8.2-030802-generic_3.8.2-030802.201303031906_amd64.deb

wget kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v3.8.2-raring/linux-image-extra-3.8.2-030802-generic_3.8.2-030802.201303031906_amd64.deb

sudo dpkg -i linux-headers-3.8.2-030802_3.8.2-030802.201303031906_all.deb

sudo dpkg -i linux-headers-3.8.2-030802-generic_3.8.2-030802.201303031906_amd64.deb

sudo dpkg -i linux-image-3.8.2-030802-generic_3.8.2-030802.201303031906_amd64.deb

sudo dpkg -i linux-image-extra-3.8.2-030802-generic_3.8.2-030802.201303031906_amd64.deb
Reboot. Assuming the system now boots. . . open a terminal and enter
uname -r
to verify the kernel has been upgraded. I will now follow the above steps and see what happens. I feel ambivalent about the risk. If my OS is borked, then I will simply install the latest version of OpenSuse, 12.3, which was released today, by the way.

Post Scriptum.

After rebooting, all was well. I opened a terminal and typed uname -r and found that the kernel was now 3.8.2. I am using Firefox and Ktorrent without any issues so far. . . however, I do notice that the font on my blog looks correct for the first time in a long time. I don't know why a kernel upgrade would change that, but I'm not complaining.
Post Post Scriptum.

I had good fortune with the kernel upgrade on Linux Mint Nadia KDE. It may be my imagination but I believe Ktorrent is downloading and uploading faster after the kernel upgrade, but I change so many settings on the fly in Ktorrent that I don't know whether to trust my hunch.

I had bad luck upgrading the kernel on Linux Mint Nadia XFCE, in which my system was rendered completely silent. I believe the problem concerned not XFCE but rather the optical S/PDIF audio output of my htpc system. Linux support for optical S/PDIF has always presented difficulty, because I always have had to edit configuration files to get the sound working right. After the kernel upgrade, I did not know how to get the sound configured and did not feel like researching it all over again, so I opened up Synaptic and completely removed all the files associated with the new kernel. Then I rebooted and found myself back at kernel 3.5, with sound working again.

One has to weigh the advantages of a new kernel--minor, insignificant--with the disadvantages--no sound?!

03/18/2013 Update: Upgrading to Linux kernel version 3.8.3

To upgrade to Linux Mint to kernel version 3.8.3. . .
As you can see, just a few minor changes to the filenames are required to install a different kernel version. I added this section because I used it and may use it again in the future.
cd /tmp

wget kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v3.8.3-raring/linux-headers-3.8.3-030803-generic_3.8.3-030803.201303141650_amd64.deb

wget kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v3.8.3-raring/linux-headers-3.8.3-030803_3.8.3-030803.201303141650_all.deb

wget kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v3.8.3-raring/linux-image-3.8.3-030803-generic_3.8.3-030803.201303141650_amd64.deb

wget kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v3.8.3-raring/linux-image-extra-3.8.3-030803-generic_3.8.3-030803.201303141650_amd64.deb

sudo dpkg -i linux-headers-3.8.3-030803_3.8.3-030803.201303141650_all.deb

sudo dpkg -i linux-headers-3.8.3-030803-generic_3.8.3-030803.201303141650_amd64.deb

sudo dpkg -i linux-image-3.8.3-030803-generic_3.8.3-030803.201303141650_amd64.deb

sudo dpkg -i linux-image-extra-3.8.3-030803-generic_3.8.3-030803.201303141650_amd64.deb

03/21/2013 Update: Upgrading to Linux kernel version 3.8.4... Or Not?!

Kernel versions are being released faster than I can keep up with them. I've decided to wait until the last update or EOL of kernel 3.8 and then install that to tide me over until the next version of Linux Mint is released, probably sometime in May 2013.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Overcoming Windows

Over the years, I've resorted to unorthodox methods to overcome the limitations of the Windows operating system. Observe the photo below, taken two days ago.

What on earth is that contraption hovering precariously over my keyboard?

The contraption is a day calendar that has a plastic back molded with a little round hole that I discovered would hold the tip of a plastic pen, which I am using as a leg. The pen supports part of the weight of the day calendar and transfers the force of gravity to the "N" key on my keyboard.

The reason I rigged this contraption was that I was copying a vast number of files from one drive to another, an operation that required several hours, and I did not want Windows to stop the entire process with an input prompt asking me to confirm whether I wanted to overwrite an already existing file. This contraption ensures that "N" will be pressed everytime Windows asks me that idiotic question. It would not have been necessary if the programmers had thought to include a flag in the Xcopy command for the same purpose, but at Microsoft, the programmers are busy working on ways to maximize shareholder value; they are less concerned about making life easier for the end user.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


RuPaul's Don't Be Jealous of My Boogie must not be missed! The video is based upon the Grand Finale of season two of RuPaul's Drag Race.

RuPaul is a good entertainer that makes me interested in drag, but you know I'm interested in ice skating, too. I don't think I'd ever do either one. I'm more of a voyeur. Some of Ru's lady boys are awfully attractive, and all of them are fascinating in their androgyny or femininity. Drag, I find, involves a lot of hard work. I could not begin to master the art of make-up, let alone fashion; I can scarcely pick out matching clothes. I don't know more than a dozen colors.

RuPaul's show is like boot camp for drag queens. Ru makes his little queens perform all kinds of zany stunts for a chance to win $100,000. Most of Ru's challenges involve celebrity impersonations, comedy, acting, public speaking, dancing, and always dressing up. I could do any of those things like I can fly to the Moon. Well, public speaking I could handle--I've made strides in that area--but not the others.

In season two of RuPaul's Drag Race, Tyra was among the prettiest competitors, but surely the most polished, mature and cunning. I didn't like her at first--she came off as obnoxious singing aloud with the earphones on--trying to distract her competitors--underhanded--aggressive--but she grows on the viewer. She understood the value of silence, and I think she has more brains than people give her credit for. I liked her, but I also liked Pandora's Boxx and Jujube. Raven talked ill of others too much to be liked, but she was talented no doubt. I thought Raven deserved to be number two, but there is a coldness in Raven that equates to a lack of grace. (Raven cuts a far more sympathetic figure in the first episode of All Stars.) Pandora's Boxx was underrated by the other competitors--they did not get her quirkiness. I think she has good potential as a comedian and needs practice performing at a higher level. With proper guidance... but perhaps she lacks the killer instinct that Tyra has. Tatiana was underrated by the others as well. Her performance in the Snatch game was outstanding.
techlorebyigor is my personal journal for ideas & opinions