Tuesday, May 7, 2019

SunsetMicro PC from Amazon Continued...

This nightmare started here

My New-To-Me Sunsetmicro PC From Amazon

Since it was ridiculously botched from the start, and I had to redo just about everything now, I went ahead and ordered an SSD and a Graphics Card when I ordered the correct hard drive caddy.


As you can see, it is very different from the one that was hot glued into the computer by Sunsetmicro



One problem though - one of the pins that holds the hard drive in the caddy is missing


That's eBay for you. That is the only place to buy these, unfortunately.

The SSD and cool adapter I found on Amazon (it actually matched the picture in the listing!) fit right into the caddy, and right into the PC.


The graphics card came from eBay too, and it had more than one disappointment. Check out this cool packaging job - some bubble wrap and a padded envelope






That is not nearly enough protection. I inspected it, and all seemed well until I installed it.


Do you see the corner? It appears the graphics card got dropped. I don't know if it was dropped before shipping or during; the packaging didn't show signs of excess abuse...

This is a card I ordered at the same time for another PC' it was ordered from Amazon





See the bubble wrap, foam pads to keep the card away from the box edges, popcorn to keep it all in place, and all this in a box.

So, is this card going to work?

If it does work, will it continue to work or will it eventually fail?

Time to find out.

Windows 10 Pro installed fine. Everything ran fine - drivers installed, updates ran...

... but it wouldn't boot on restart.

I tried a cold boot, but no joy.

After much trial and error, foul language, and head scratching, I went into the bios and shut off all "legacy" options in the boot options. Windows boots and runs.

Next, partition the hard drive and install Pinguy OS.

Pinguy OS wouldn't boot. I don't know what is wrong with it, but I have noticed it is rather common. If there are multiple OS's, it will be picked up in GRUB from another system and become bootable. Since this is supposed to be a backup work machine, it will only have Windows and a single Linux system. I installed Deepin and all is well.

Time to move it from the bench to its new home.

I hooked up the 2 monitors and other peripherals. Right away my Alpha Wifi adapter wasn't working in Windows. I mistakenly thought this was already installed, but I forgot that it was done prior to the new SSD.

I installed drivers, deleted drivers, connected to the internet via another dongle, then installed drivers again. In between attempts, I booted into Deepin, and it seemed to connect fine. It was easy to just blame Windows, and keep plugging away until it was working correctly.

Finally, Wifi working, monitors arranged correctly, everything is fine and working.

Then I booted into Deepin to get it squared away. I arranged the monitors and they went black and the PC was unresponsive. This indicated a hardware problem. Now, the question is - is it drivers or the actual hardware itself?

I restarted and went to the Deepin Graphics Driver tool. There was only the one option and nothing to change. This is an AMD graphics card and that is the way it is supposed to be. That is why AMD is supposed to be the best option, plug N play, eezy peezy with Linux OS's.

So, is the card bad or is there a driver incompatibility?

I'd say the latter because it worked okay in Windows.

Next, pull the card, use the native graphics and install its drivers.

Windows went as expected.

I boot into Deepin and the Wifi is non-existent.

WTF?!

WT sam F?!?!

This PC is going to be a blister on my butt until I bludgeon it with a hammer!

After many attempts, I switched to a TP-Link Wifi dongle and the internet was available again. I booted into Windows and made the necessary adjustments.

All of this headache, time wasted, frustration.... all because Sunsetmicro did a piss-poor job on their so called "refurbishing" of this PC. It should have been as simple as hooking it up, running updates, then done.

But now, I have many questions.

Why all the hardware issues?

Is this one of those PC models that doesn't get along with Linux?

Is the bios got some hidden glitches or switches?

Is there a motherboard issue?

Is the graphics card damaged?

I could install Xubuntu and see how it acts with the Alpha Wifi adapter and the AMD graphics card.

I could install the Graghics Card into another PC.

I didn't buy this thing to experiment on; it was supposed to be a backup for work.

If it gives me any more trouble, I'll post a link on this site to a video of me smashing it with a hammer.

Remember kids, even when the seller has 100% positive feedback, you may still get a piece of junk from eBay.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Making an OS Look Cool with Wallpapers

One of the things that I require of my Operating System is that it looks good. One of the ways to do this is with cool wallpaper

cool wallpaper here

One of the things I have always appreciated about Xubuntu and most xfce desktops is the way they help you manage your wallpaper. It's just as simple as right-clicking on the desktop and selecting "desktop settings".

From here it gets fun. You can select what folder you want it to access for wallpapers. For me, I have a master folder with all kinds of wallpapers in my DropBox folder.

get DropBox here

You can set a different wallpaper for each screen if you have more than one monitor, or you can set one wallpaper to span all screens. That is the coolest custom effect to make an OS look great.

And, you can set it to change your wallpaper every so many seconds, minutes, or hours (or at startup, or every day, etc.).

But, as I stray into other Linux distributions that do not use an xfce desktop, like Deepin or Pinguy OS,

get Deepin here

get Pinguy OS here

what do I do for cool wallpaper automatic changes every 5 minutes (or whatever time interval suits my mood)?

There is a cool program called "Variety"

Variety link 1

Variety link 2

Deepin has it available in the Deepin App Store, and Pinguy OS alread has it installed.

Variety has cool wallpapers natively, AND it will go to various websites and download more. You can customize how often it does this, and where it stores them. Of course, I have a special folder in my Wallpaper folder in Dropbox so I can share across all of my machines.

Variety also lets me import my wallpapers from DropBox so my list is huge.
























 - -

Friday, April 19, 2019

My New-to-Me SunsetMicro PC from Amazon

Windows 10 and old computers is about like cheap paint and old houses -

the more coats, the better it looks.

Windows 10 for several cycles has been miserable on old computers. When Windows upgrades to the next version, the old computers get hung up in a loop of can't update, not just to the new version, but at all.

I try to keep "spare" computers for work so I don't experience a paycheck outage, but my spare computers are not at the ready so they defeat the purpose.

Willing to take the blame, I thought I should get some newer computers to use for spares.

And so my adventure begins.

I looked at TigerDirect and Amazon. It needed to be as cheap as possible and Windows 10 Pro (NOT Home). Amazon had a Dell Optiplex 7010 Intel I3 quad-core processor, 8GB RAM, dual monitor outputs, and Windows 10 Pro. I couldn't find these exact specs at TigerDirect, and this cheap. Bonus, this was a USFF (Ultra Small Form Factor) so being the size of a small cracker box, it would take a lot of room to store. Awesome!


When my box arrived I knew something was wrong. My wife asked for help with the door because the box was "really heavy". And, that box was way too big to hold a Ultra *Small* PC.

The picture below shows the 4 different sizes of the Dell Optiplex 7010. From left to right

USFF, SFF, DT, and MT









The picture in the ad was a USFF. They sent me a DT.

(actual pictures)






If you zoom in on the first pic, you'll see it has a different model number. Yep, that's right, the picture is NOT what was in the description.

But it gets worse.

3.8GHz *quad*-core processor, 8GB RAM, dual monitor outputs, and Windows 10 *Pro*?

3 out of 4

The processor is a *dual*-core Intel I3 at 3.4GHz. It does hyper-thread, but that makes it a hyper-threading dual-core, not a quad-core.

If you bought a truck, and it was supposed to have a decent V8 in it, but later you discovered a turbocharged 4 cylinder under the hood, you'd be pissed, right? This is how I felt about the processor.

Further investigation into the original ad reveals this: (title, description, more details)


"quad Up to 3.8, Dual-Core 3.2, 3.2 Processor Count 4"

Hmm. Okay, so maybe they need to learn how to properly list items for sale with *accurate* descriptions, and pictures that actually match the description would be great. And, I can't trust Amazon anymore either; I have to pick through listings with fine tooth combs (like eBay). If anything looks amiss, ask questions, and run if things don't smell right.

But, all in all, with what I paid, this was still a good deal.

After letting Windows 10 do its updates, and installing a few pieces of software, it was time to partition the hard drive and make it mine -


Um, what?! No EFI partion? Why did they install Windows 10 in "legacy" mode? Why not utilize the full UEFI? So now I need to wipe the hard drive and reinstall Windows correctly? Really?

Starting to get mad, but, it is still a "fair" deal for what I paid... maybe I'll just leave it as it is and designate it for my wife's spare computer...

The final stroke -

I was taking some pictures to show Amazon what it *really* looks like versus the picture in the ad and I thought, hey, I'll peak inside. My wife says, "what's that wire?".

That wasn't a wire, that was a glue string.

And, the hard drive and its caddy were stuffed in the case at an angle.

The glue strings were from the hot glue that was used to hold the hard drive in place.

Wow, they took the time to put the hard drive IN A hard drive caddy, albeit the wrong one, only to HOT GLUE it in place after stuffing it in there...







This is a company, a REAL company that is pushing this crap


Oh, the Wifi adapter mentioned in the description and eluded to in one of the pictures - didn't get one.

I did get spray paint on the access cover though. I mean, consistent with everything else, they didn't even bother to wipe any dust or debris off of it first; they just shot black spray paint right over it!

There was a bonus boner in the box -



"Anti-splash"?! Water-resistant maybe?

And, what the heck is "thiner"?!

Thiner?

Is this some old English like thee, thou... thiner?

I guess that was my bonus joke box to soothe my pain.

These jokers are not only on Amazon, but they are on eBay too (of course).

SunsetMicro - avoid at all costs.

 - -

Monday, March 18, 2019

Linux Distribution Developers, Communication Is Key

It's becoming quite apparent that computers, for the most part, are not made for Linux, but rather,
Linux is (and has to be) made for computers.

[list of sites offering computers with Linux preinstalled]

I had previously commented on a video by EzeeLinux. It would seem best to buy a computer with Linux preinstalled. The alternative is to see what computers are on the "Linux approved" list although personal experience has shown that this may lead to unsatisfactory (downright frustrating) results.

Other people have shared frustrations about getting Linux to work with their particular computer hardware. I thought maybe communication needs to be increased between Linux developers and end users.

The other day I came across this prominently displayed in the Zorin support forum -

"...have always been keen to ensure that when a major release is made, the best possible experience is more often than not guaranteed (E&OE when it comes to some specific hardware - like I have said elsewhere, IT consumer products were never garnered or engineered to run any version of GNU/Linux but that other Operating System that begins with a W)."

read the whole announcement here

Zorin 12.4, their most current release, is based on Ubuntu 16.04.

Ubuntu is currently at 18.04.2. [18.04 was released April, 2018, almost a year ago!]

From what I'm gathering, Zorin has NOT released their latest version based on Ubuntu 18.04 because they want to get it right. They feel the struggle of getting Linux to work with their hardware.

So, the struggle is real.

But Zorin took the time to make a public announcement to it's end users.

I think that right there is what we need -

more communication!

Not just fanboys that troll the forums looking for victims to inflict textual pain on, but real and useful information from the developers.

Zorin has always been good to me. I started with them several years back with a paid version, Zorin Ultimate. This entitled me to realtime support from the people Zorin. They were always patient, polite, and helpful. And please understand, my "problems" were not Zorin problems; I was new and needed "new guy" help. Zorin and it's people are great!

Deepin also displays good and useful communications with me, an end user. I follow them on social media and have them set as a priority in my feed so they always display first or on top. My morning vigil involves a tablet and scrolling social media as my synapses awake, begin to fire, and synchronize for the day. If team Deepin have released any updates, I know right away, and, what is in the update, and what is being patched or fixed.

Good, useful communication...

...straight from the horse's mouth.

Linux distribution developers,

talk to us; we'll listen.

 - -









Friday, March 15, 2019

Linux Computers

One of the best ways to get a computer that runs Linux perfectly is to buy one that is made for
for/with Linux

https://www.athenacomputer.us/

https://www.currentbuild.com/

https://www.dell.com/learn/us/en/555/campaigns/xps-linux-laptop_us

http://eightvirtues.com/

http://www.emperorlinux.com/ 

https://endlessos.com/

     https://endlessos.com/computers/

     https://endless-global.myshopify.com/

https://www.entroware.com/

     https://www.entroware.com/store/desktops

     https://www.entroware.com/store/laptops

https://eracks.com/

     https://eracks.com/products/desktops/

     https://eracks.com/products/laptops/

https://fit-iot.com/

https://jccss.ca/#/

https://www.jinuxpc.com/

https://secure.jncs.com/php2/main.php

https://shop.lacpdx.com/

     https://shop.lacpdx.com/desktops/

     https://shop.lacpdx.com/laptops/

http://www.linucity.com/ 

https://www.linuxcertified.com/

     https://www.linuxcertified.com/linux_desktops.html

     https://www.linuxcertified.com/linux_laptops.html

https://thelinuxlaptop.com/

https://www.pine64.org/?page_id=3707

https://www.pugetsystems.com/

https://puri.sm/

https://www.swt.com/

https://system76.com/

     https://system76.com/desktops

     https://system76.com/laptops

https://www.thinkpenguin.com/

     https://www.thinkpenguin.com/catalog/desktop-computers-gnu-linux

     https://www.thinkpenguin.com/catalog/notebook-computers-gnu-linux-2

https://volkspc.org/ 

https://www.mywowcomputer.com/

https://zareason.com/

     https://zareason.com/Desktops/

     https://zareason.com/Laptops/

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Fedora 29 Workspace

The next #OSchallenge from Jason Enangelho from Forbes

Fedora 29 Workstation

Since I'm a multi-booter, I attempted to install using manual options. This failed. For some reason there was an error because it couldn't find the EFI partition, nor would it let me find it manually.

I reached out to Jason and told him it didn't work.

His response was to try the "'Reclaim Space' option? The way that option is worded is not very intuitive."

In order to do this, you proceed as if you are doing the automatic installation option. Fedora informed me how much "free space" it needed, but that I didn't have enough. NOW the option to "Reclaim Space" appears. Upon pressing that button, ALL OF MY PARTITIONS are enumerated. I simply selected the one I wanted to use, then pressed "delete".

From there, everything went as it should.

Upon reboot I was greeted with a welcome menu to set things up.

I was a little irked right away because my common password for testing Linux Distributions "was not strong enough". I resorted to foul language and it accepted that one. Let's see if I can remember it...

I mean, seriously, I don't work for the CIA or for the Dept of Homeland Security. I don't use any of Hilary Clinton's email servers either. Do I really need that level of "security" in my password?

Once in, the big test,

CAN I CONFIGURE MY MONITORS AND THE SETTING BE SAVED?

I didn't immediately see any tools to obtain addition drivers for my Nvidia card. Configuring the monitors was easily accomplished. Upon restart, the settings remained correct.

Then for updates...

Restart to install updates? Really?

Wow! That felt like a Windows 10 update (upgrade). I wish I would have set a timer, but it felt like it took FOREVER.

And, what's up with the boot menu?


Where's sda3 - sda6?

It might be 'buntu's fault. See, those missing partitions are Ubuntu Mate, Ubuntu Budgie, Lubuntu, and Pop! OS, but in GRUB they all look like Ubuntu 18.04...

Does Fedora think it is cleaning up redundancies?

That's funny.

I had to check the partitions to make sure they were still there. They are, with an addition

sda9 is a new "boot" partition and the new sda12 is where Fedora resides. I'm glad to see the boot partition is 1.1GB in size; somebody at Fedora must know about boot partition sizing. But why is it formatted in EXT4? That doesn't make sense...

On to the rest of it - Firefox installed, Libre Office installed, a screenshot tool, a Software installer/handler that resembles the one in all the 'buntus... Looks good...

...but, what's up with the window buttons? As in, there is only ONE button to close the window, nothing else. If you want to maximize the screen, you have to either drag the edges, or right-click, then select maximize.

That indeed sucks.

At almost a half century old, my click-weary  hand doesn't need extra clicks.

I thought I would peruse around the setting to see if there was a way to remedy this, and IT LOCKED UP.

That means that I have to try to figure out how to download and install Nvidia drivers.

We just moved to a whole new level of "sucks".

I did a quick Google ("install nvidia drivers in fedora") and read through the instructions of the first 4 listings. Each one was different. The last one was the shortest and simplest to understand, but its final stroke was something about modifying a config file so everything worked right.

Um, no.

I remember Jason complaining about people getting instructions for terminal window commands for fixing stuff in Linux Distributions.

Not possessing the ability to just "walk away" I booted back into Fedora and went straight to the Software tool. I searched for "nvidia". And, of course, they have the Nvidia X Server program/widget.

NOW I SEE why you have to alter a config file; I have been down this road before.

I also recall telling myself that ALL OF THIS was unnecessary as demonstrated by any/all 'buntus and Deepin (they all have tools that make it easy and they work perfectly).

And, one other complaint, why is Fedora so slow? It feels like it is trying to pull a fat kid in a wagon that has no wheels.

So, I'm out. I have withdrawn from this #OSchallenge.

Now I have to figure out how to repair GRUB and get my other partitions in the menu...

 - -

Monday, February 25, 2019

Xubuntu 18.04.2

It seems like I have come full circle.


My old standby Linux Distribution used to be Xubuntu 14.04 (released April of 2014).

The 2016 release proved to be problematic so I strayed away.

The 2018 release appeared to have issues, but as I am beginning to understand, it may be the boot partition (EFI) that may be the source of my problem, and other issues...

Today in testing my new 1GB EFI/boot partition, proportionally sized to my 10 separate partitions for different Linux distributions, I installed Xubuntu 18.04.2.

Everything was slick and smooth, just like I remembered it being in spring of 2014 with my originally playtime.

The only thing I noticed was a little bit of screen flicker on the monitor connected to the DVI-I port. That's a driver issue with the Nvidia GT 710 gfx card.

Xubuntu has a little tool marked "Additional Drivers". Select it, and it shows me I can use the opensource drivers (for a flickering monitor) or I can select Nvidia proprietary drivers.

This little tool does ALL the heavy lifting. And the results are splendid.

It took a little while (which I expected). When it was done it prompted me to restart.

From there I arranged and oriented my monitors and I was done.

Simple. Easy. Like it used to be, like it is supposed to be.

Old setup notes

 - -