Thursday, August 15, 2019

SunsetMicro PC from Amazon... [part 3]

The beginning http://www.atnpc.com/2019/04/my-new-to-me-sunsetmicro-pc-from-amazon.html 


The continuation http://www.atnpc.com/2019/05/sunsetmicro-pc-from-amazon-continued.html

So, it was time to use it. I turned it on and let it sit there thinking there might be an update or two.

I came back later and it didn't want to go anywhere online.

I checked the internet on another device and it was running well.

I checked the computer again. It was connected, but it just wouldn't go anywhere.

I restarted and all was well.

After some experimentation, I discovered that computer would run fine, until I left it unattended for a while. It didn't matter if I was in Windows 10 or Deepin. I checked all settings and power settings, nothing helped.

I was busy with other things so I didn't take it out back and beat it with a hammer.

Later I needed a SSD, so I scuttled the one out of it.

It sat for a few weeks and played the role of dust magnet and kept getting in my way.

Then, Xfinity/Comcast started giving me fits with uptime. Not knowing if I was having equipment or wiring trouble, the testing began.

Part of the test is to monitor "xfinitywifi" for uptime. This means I am connected to somebody else's router. this tells me if the problem is in my area if it goes down the same time my internet does.

To do this, I needed a computer that I wasn't using.

I took the problematic-from-the-start Dell Optiplex 7010, slapped a regular hard drive in it and installed Xubuntu 18.04.2.

I connected to a neighbor's router via xfinitywifi and started to monitor.

It was probably a few weeks later that I realized what I had done -

It was the same computer, using the same TP-Link wifi dongle, endlessly connected to the internet, unattended until my ISP experienced downtime.

It was just working. And, it is still working right now.

WTF?!

The only differences are operating system and hard drive.

I can't imagine that Xubuntu over Windows AND Deepin would make any difference at all; and the other hard drive is in my daughter's computer, being used daily without issue.

I guess it it was on those mysteries of the computer-verse...

 - -






Monday, August 5, 2019

ExpressVPN Fire Stick APP "Known Issue"

ExpressVPN has to be the easiest VPN to set up.

I have it on several computers running Windows
and Linux.

But the real reason I use them is for my Amazon Fire Sticks.

Bad news - the Fire Stick app has a "known issue".

If you have been using the ExpressVPN app, you're fine.

If you are a new Fire Stick owner, or, like me, a person that just did a factory reset and has to re-install all their apps, it will not work.

Their customer service is great in the fact that they tried so hard to help me to get it to work, even though the known issue prevents it.

Truth told, they have my email address. If they would have sent out an email to warn existing customers of the issue, I NEVER would have reset my Fire Stick. Hence, I would not have spent hours of my life to no avail.

Time wasted that can't be reclaimed...

And, bless their hearts, their people are still trying to help me.

I've told them at least three times now,

"You told me this is a 'known issue'. You have my email address. Can you please send me an email when the 'issue' is fixed?"

We'll see how that goes.

my subscription ends September 15th...

 - -


Saturday, August 3, 2019

Standard Definition Restriction for Streaming in Linux [UPDATED]

I've been quite disappointed with my 4k Amazon Firestick since I bought it.

The first problem I noticed was the stick would restart when ever there was an update. No warning. Doesn't matter if you're right in the middle of watching a show. It just restarts.

The other problem is their menus and the way they present all their shows (and apps). It can get really frustrating trying to find something you found a week ago.

And, try using captions when you have the volume turned down so as not to wake sleeping family members; it puts the caption too far up and obscures the part of the show you are trying to watch.

Maybe I'll just go back to using a computer like I used to...

"...If you are running an operating system other than Windows or Mac OS, playback is restricted to standard definition." https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=GUVGB3QMQRYRERYW&linkId=71025432

That's nice.

This is after I installed, re-installed, re-installed again different Linux distributions trying to figure out why I couldn't get my 1080p.

Several conversations with Amazon later, they don't care.

Fine.

I can let my subscription expire.

Amazon doesn't seem to care about that either.

So, if I drop Amazon Prime, I could use Hulu for les than $13 a year more.

https://help.hulu.com/s/article/supported-computers?language=en_US

There is NO mention of Linux, just Mac/Windows/Chrome.

I might still try them since they have a better selection of shows...

I can also hack my browser -

https://www.maketecheasier.com/watch-netflix-hulu-amazon-prime-ubuntu/

That doesn't look like an instruction set for the faint of heart, but it might be doable.

That doesn't work with Amazon Prime. The user agent is showing correctly, but Amazon keeps me restricted to standard def.

I tried another method utilizing a browser extension, but it didn't work either.

I won't be renewing my Amazon Prime subscription...

 - -

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Facebook Groups For Sale

Since we don't have a retail side to our business anymore, we don't need our social media sale groups.

Do you have a retail business?

Do you buy pallets?

Do you have a ton of stuff to sell on a regular basis?

Then YOU NEED your very own group to sell your stuff!

These groups are established!

They haveTHOUSANDS of members! And these are REAL members, not spammers. The members have been carefully screened.

These groups have been carefully built and maintained and are ready for you to take over.

Contact me at Group Owner to purchase

Group #1 "Buy and Sell Greeneville, TN"


https://www.facebook.com/groups/595557340455282/


purchase price $450

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Group #2 "Greeneville Online Yard Sale


https://www.facebook.com/groups/GreenevilleOnlineYardSale/




purchase price $175

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Group #3 "Online Local Yard Sale Johnson City TN"


https://www.facebook.com/groups/johnsoncityyardsale/



purchase price $150

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Group #4 "Greeneville TN For Sale on Facebook"



purchase price $100

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Group #5 "Baileyton TN Buy/Sell/Trade"



purchase price $100

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Saturday, June 15, 2019

DropBox Pulling the Rug Out From Under Me

Since the writing of my article

Making an OS Look Cool with Wallpapers

DropBox has shown me their butt





3 devices? Seriously?!

That should be 3 instances to be accurate. Most all of my devices have more than one operating system. The computer I am on right now has 2 operating systems. Each of those has DropBox installed. That counts a 2. One device...

And why should I pay $120 a year for a forced upgrade?!

First of all, I don't need 2 TB of storage



That's all I'm using now.


Secondly, I have referred people to DropBox. How much money did/do they give to DropBox? I didn't get any of that money...


Another service I use for cloud storage is pCloud. If, IF I wanted to upgrade, it is less expensive, but they are not forcing me to upgrade. Their free version has 5 times the storage space and they aren't giving me a hard time because I have it installed on a quadzillion operating systems.

So now I have to switch all my stuff over to pCloud.

pCloud is Linux friendly too; did I mention that?

 - -

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 pCloud folder.

get pCloud 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

 - -

How Large Should You Make the UEFI System Partition?

@#%&ing UEFI!!!

I used to multi-boot with a whole lot less trouble than I do today.

The good old BIOS machine. You have Windows 7 on a 500GB hard drive. What do you do with all that space? Why, you cut 8 more partitions and install a different Linux distribution on each one!

I'm not making that up.

The beginning of headaches is when I got my first UEFI capable machine. It was an HP with a 1.5TB hard drive and WINDOWS 7.

Yep. You saw that correctly, Windows 7.

Window 7 is NOT UEFI compatible, but you have to have UEFI for a hard drive bigger than 1TB.

There was no problems until I was installing (dual -boot) a Linux distro and it picked up on the UEFI and did a UEFI install instead of doing a regular (now called "legacy") install. It wrote over the entire drive and I lost not only Windows, but ALL THE SOFTWARE that was precious to me in Windows. It took me a few days to recover from that nightmare.

Since then, UEFI has been a blister on my butt that won't go away.

My latest "test" machine is Linux ONLY. This is the machine that I use to try out Linux distributions so I don't accidentally trash my main work horse.

And, since there is no Windows installation to set EFI/boot partitions,

How big should this partition be?

Windows makes it 100MB. In previous research, there were some instances of 256MB.

Then I came across this webpage. I've never seen anything like this in all my Google searches about EFI partitions. This is some heavy stuff.

"The UEFI System Partition should be at least 260 MiB (273 MB) to ensure its properly formatted with FAT32 so that you avoid UEFI implementation compatibility issues."

Oh...

"Microsoft recommends you set aside 100 MiB for Windows. Unless you decide to get away with the separate /boot partition on Linux, then I recommend you set aside 100 MiB of space per Linux system you intend to install. Keep in mind that you should allocate some space for failed and past installations, upgrade staging, and operating/file system debris as well. There is no reason to try and squeeze down the size of the ESP to a point where it might cause issues for you in the future."

Holy crap! 100MB per Linux system? I've set aside 10 partitions for separate Linux operating systems so I need 1GB now, but more is needed for other stuff.

The author wrote back to me on Twitter and said,

"You could also create 10 separate 100 MiB ESPs for isolation."

I have seen in the Manjaro and Pop! OS installers where you can set the ESP partition. I don't think that is available in other Linux distributions, but then I wasn't looking either...

Wow! I am beginning to understand why I have experienced so much trouble, I did not (do not) understand UEFI ESP partition rules at all.

I also understand why all of my research came up bust (until now) -

People at most dual-boot - Windows and some form of Linux.
I am Multi-booting; I have 4 to 12 different operating systems on a single machine.
There is no Google search for what I do; I just got lucky when I found that article.

This explains some of the X-Files-like problems I've had in the past few months. It baffled me why a computer that had been working fine all of the sudden wouldn't boot a Linux distro. This was after some big updates/upgrades so I'm guessing the boot/ESP partition got clogged.

This may offer insights into why I had issues installing openSUSE and Pop! OS.

So, time to resize the boot/EFI partition (AGAIN!) and see what happens.


 - -

Monday, February 18, 2019

The "Truth" About Linux?

I've had to watch this a few times


2:22 is 4 points that make sense.
  • Linux is not like Windows
  • Linux is not a drop-in replacement for Windows
  • Those who expect Linux to be like Windows will get very frustrated [er, maybe?]
  • Those who are willing to take the time to learn and are open to new ideas do well with Linux.

3:37 He talks about the "latest" computer in a store is designed for Windows.

Yes I agree, but what he says next needs to be taken with a grain, up to a pound of salt - he says do your research.

Not that long ago, I thought I needed to "up my game" and use a more modern laptop. I *did my research* and checked the official "Linux approved list" and found the EXACT MODEL and hardware of a Dell 2 in 1 that was being offered as a refurb at a cool price.

Please note

  • It was NOT new
  • It WAS on the Linux list of "tested" computers
  • I did my research


And,

[dramatic pause]

the $%#@ did NOT work with Linux!

It would run a little while, then without any warning at all it would lock up. It ran fine with Windows 10 though.

Some deep digging on the internet combined with some very masterful Google searches, I was able to find a forum where the Dell rep said Dell "was going to offer a bios patch" for the little 2 in 1 that made it Linux compatible, but by the end of the thread, IT NEVER HAPPENED!

So, how does this piece of electronics make it on the "approved" list when the manufacturer has intentions of, but does NOT FOLLOW THROUGH?!

And people wonder why I get SO mad.

5:25 "Really, honestly, if your hardware is well supported then the driver will already be in the kernel. So you won't have to do anything to get it to work. Or, there will be a propriety driver available in the repositories. And, that is assuming you are running something... that is made easy to use..."

6:01 The only way to have a machine that will work 100% with Linux is to buy one that was made to work with Linux.

That's great, if you are willing to drop $1K to $4K US.

Or, he said to use the Linux distributions that are "easy to use for new users" like Mint, Ubuntu, or Manjaro.

This is all starting to make sense. This may be the "why" behind 6 years of experimentation, frustration, and madness.

7:13 I don't agree with what he says here if everything he said previously is true. Not "a couple years old". I'd say 5 years old to not quite 10 years old. And from experience, that is a huge maybe. Do you research still, and redo it, then make darned sure you get the used machine cheap to minimize your frustration.

11:02 Dual-booting, the great headache. In my experience, I had almost come to the point where it was going to be Linux OR Windows, but not both. Almost...

24:05 Unpleasant people in the community...

I call them fanboys, or @$$holes, depending on my mood.

That is the exact reason why I will not use Linux Lite or MX anymore.

If you want to see what I mean, install MX, install Grub Customizer WHICH IS AVAILABLE IN THEIR REPOSITORIES, then tell them after you installed Grub Customizer you are having trouble. They aren't fanboys, they're...

But, according to the video, I'm the bad guy.

He's wrong. I'm the guy that worked so hard so others didn't have to. The work was unappreciated and underpaid.

I'm not the bad guy; I'm just tired... and pissed!

31:10 "...this is about you. It's about your own personal journey. And, it's about finding out what you want to do."

That's a good close.

What I take away from this, is that, if I had it to do over, I might have been better served if I had pursued acquiring a Apple/Mac computer in order to get away from Microsoft Windows. I could have gotten into a used (2 or 3 year old) Apple/Mac for less than a new "made for Linux" machine. If I pushed myself through the learning curve of a Mac, I would be light years ahead of where I am now struggling through Linux.

But, I don't have a time machine.

So, for me and my 12 - 20 pc-type computers (I lost count), at this point in the game, it looks like I should stick to 'buntu or 'buntu-based distros.

So far Zorin and Peppermint seem to work well; both are 'buntu-based.

I may give Xubuntu 18.04 another try.

Deepin is doing wonderfully. It is debian-based, but the developers are not slack in their work.

The author of the video also mentioned Manjaro. I guess I'll give it a go.

I'm glad I watched the video (several times). I learned a lot, or at least got a good explanation for the trouble I've had.

It's not that I don't like Linux; I really do like Linux, a lot. It's just that I didn't think the past 6 years should have been so hard. And it shouldn't have been...

 - -

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Pop! OS [UPDATED!]

Yes, I'm still playin'

 Ell on Twitter is taking suggestions for OS's to try.

Pop! OS is on the list.


Pop! OS is the System76 version of Ubuntu Gnome.

I was a little confused right off the bat at the download. They push 18.10, but I should get the LTS (Long Term Support) which is 18.04, right? And a special "Nvidia" version? Do I need that for my Nvidia card since it is older?

I download both Nvidia and non-Nvidia 18.04 versions and chose to install non-Nvidia first.

The color scheme and GUI look great, but, the installer said it needed 256MB to install EFI/boot partion. My EFI/boot partition is 256MB (268.4MB actual) but the installer said it is too small.

I checked to make sure that the partition would be formatted, and checked everything else.

No go.

That was where my review originally ended.

Since then, I got a little education on ESP partitions for multi-booters and everything is different.

After a newly created 1GB boot partition, Pop! OS went right on my machine.  It felt a little more like a serious commercially produced OS - install, restart, THEN set up user accounts and details.

Ya, I know, the rest of the 'buntus can be done this way, but maybe I was dazzled by the color scheme and cool steam punk robot wallpaper...

So, once in, it was time to update. It seemed a little slow on the updates, and I have no idea where the repositories are physically located, nor did I see anyway to choose a faster location.

When the updates were done, the update interface offered a Nvidia driver (remember, this is the non-Nvidia version). Most notable is that this was the newest 410.78 driver.



This is the first time I have EVER seen the most up-to-date driver. I am usually offered 390.

One of my monitors was acting a little wiggy so I opted for the driver.

This took a while, and is to be expected. (Note to self - use the Nvidia version next time.)

What completely baffled me after a cold boot was that they appear to be using the Nvidia X Server program. But how did they make it so easy? My previous experience with Nvidia X Server was less than pleasant, and I was so pleased when I found a fix for it.

That just proves what I've said before - it doesn't have to be difficult. Nothing has to be difficult in Linux. Ever. And, when something is this smooth and easy, it reflects on the intelligence of the developers.

Arranging my odd trio of monitors was simple... As it should be...

The important stuff seems to be installed already: Libre Office, Firefox, screenshot utility, Simple Scan, and a system monitor. Elementary OS should take some notes here.

I can only see 2 things that cause me to raise an eyebrow:
  • to maximize a window you have to do it as a right-click function, or drag all the edges to the edges of your monitor,
  •  
  • no GRUB; they use systemd.

You only get a close button. Strange. I saw no way to change appearance, icons, themes, or anything like that. It's just strange.

And no GRUB. I understand that systemd is supposed to be fast, but I have 5 other operating systems installed that I can't reach. And, I'm going to install 4 more.

This is easily remedied by installing another Linux distribution in another partition. The GRUB of the new distro picks up Pop! OS in its menu and makes it bootable from there.


So, in conclusion, I'm really liking Pop! OS.

I see why everybody else is excited about it.

I am too ;)

 - -

Friday, February 15, 2019

Peppermint OS Linux

Yep, I'm still at it.

This time I'm checking out PeppermintOS Linux.


This is a continuation of @CubicalNate 's list of "Top 5 Linux Distributions for Everyday Desktop Computing".

This was his #4 choice.

Installing seemed to be what I remember from anything 'buntu, but with a prettier color scheme. And after reboot, I really do like the dark red and grey; looks good.

Without getting to far into it, I noticed they have ARandR, and a "Additional Drivers" tool. But, first, to the Display settings.

I set up my 3 monitors and rebooted. Everything remained as I set it.

Good.

Next, lets see if it locks up without proprietary Nvidia drivers.

I went to Google and downloaded Google Chrome since it wasn't available in the Software Manager. The Software Manager did have Pepper Flash, I think, so I installed it, I think.

Right away, I was playing a video in one browser at the best quality the monitor could handle. And, at the same running video in another browser.

Nothing locked up.

Next was software, or Software Manager? There are 2 listed, Software and Software Manager. Um, what?

"Software" looks to be the 'buntu software installer tool/program/widget.

"Software Manager" looks to be a Gnome interface.

What?

The next thing I noticed was the "office" options in the menu were links to Microsoft's online version of their office products?

What?! Have the developers been drug tested recently?

I typed "libre" into both software tools. Software offers the whole suite. Software Manager offers each Libre software element individually. I opted for the whole suite.

Everything else looks typical. I didn't see VLC, but it is easy enough to install.

It works. And it's based on 'buntu 18.04.

18.04

That tells me that my previous troubles with 18.04 may have been hardware related.

That makes me not happy and happy at the same time.

Although the Peppermint treatment on the 'buntu base may fix a lot of ills too...

Anyway, it works; and, it looks good.

Hmm...

So, did I find a keeper?

It sure looks like it.

 - -


Thursday, February 14, 2019

Dear Linux Distribution Developer


Dear Linux Distribution Developer:

I understand that not all distributions are for everybody. But what I find perplexing and downright frustrating is that not all distributions will work on everybody's hardware.

Jason Evangelho, writer for Forbes says:

     "...The problem is the complete fragmentation and confusion when it comes to graphics drivers....

"... I hope that everyone involved in the development of every single Linux distributions hears this: It's still far too complicated for the average user. The education is lacking and the documentation that's out there is often difficult to understand.
I want the gaming ecosystem on Linux to continue improving -- and it's truly fantastic once you have it all figured out -- but there is still serious work to do to appeal to all those folks becoming disenchanted with Windows 10. It all just needs to be simpler."

Read the whole article here.

I have seen Linux distributions that work, for me, on my hardware.

Deepin has a Graphics Driver Manager that installs Nvidia drivers just fine... for me... with my hardware.

This tells me that it is possible to have a tool/widget/program that gets the right driver(s) for your hardware.

Deepin also has display settings that can be customized. These settings can be saved so when you reboot, your monitors are still arranged correctly. No terminal window involved, just a simple gui. No additional software, command prompts, nothing. This works fine... for me... on my hardware.

This is not a commercial for Deepin Linux.

I only use this as an example of what can be done.

It is simple. It works...

...for me... on my hardware.

How can a Linux distribution be made easier?

Documentation?

Maybe.

Paid support?

I've used it and it was worth every penny!

How about general information?

???

If BubbasDeepFried Linux showed that they used Dell Optiplex 7000 series with Intel i5 processors and Nvidia GT 710 gfx cards for development, then potential users would know that it works with that hardware.

Extra info like "we are having issues with RTX 2080 cards, but we are working on a fix..."

General information, but useful.

Something needs to be done to make Linux easier for the new users.

I'm a middle of the road, non-expert user. I use my computer every day. Everyday it seems a little more frustrating.

Can you help?

Sincerely,

Frustrated, but still using F'n Linux

 - -