Thursday, May 28, 2020

Instagram On A Desktop Computer

Social media, at times seems to forget us computer users.

Instagram is a perfect example.


You can view Instagram in a browser, but that is all you get to do. You canNOT upload pictures.

I came across this little gem in the 'buntu Software app/store.

Instagram Port gives you Instagram on your computer WITH the ability to upload pictures, just like your phone app.

I found out it does not like png files, so make sure all your pictures are jpg.

 - -

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

dougsocie48@bluetonemedia.com (cont.)

Facebook kept pestering me about a suggested change to my page, changing the email address to the one in the picture below.


I thought, "Gee, that's real f'n cute, but who the heck is this?"

I did a Google search that led me right back to my own website (Click HERE!) in particular (Click HERE!)

That was from a time (5 years ago) when I updated my contact information while renewing my domains. After updating my info, my inbox was inundated with everybody and their brother offering some kind of hosting or webpage services.

So, did Doug Socie of Bluetone Media submit the suggested change to my Facebook page?

I sent a rather course/blunt email to that address and never got a response.

Facebook, a place to make lasting friendships


 - -

Friday, May 22, 2020

Acer Aspire V5-122P-0408

Happy birthday to this little guy! The sticker on the bottom says it was manufactured 05/22/2013.

This little laptop came back to me from my daughter last week. It went to her so she had something a little smaller to carry to college.

This little Acer is a 11.6"; the perfect size for portability.

AND, it has a touch screen!

The downside is this is what I call "tweener" technology - it is between different technology hardware eras.

It has 2GB of RAM soldered on the mainboard and a Dimm slot containing 2GB more (can be replaced with a 4GB).

Thankfully, it does NOT have one of those semi-useless EMMc chips, but rather a "real" hard drive... Too bad it's a Seagate...

The processor is an AMD A4 1250, that is a dual-core 1.0GHz. It doesn't draw a lot of power, but it doesn't offer any speed or performance either.

There is a 2.0 USB and a 3.0 USB and an SD card slot, and that's it. No CD/DVD drive.

I'm wondering if pulling the 2GB RAM card and replacing it with a 4GB will offer any noticable performance/speed improvements. Going from 4GB to 6GB?

Then, pulling that "guaranteed to fail" Seagate hard drive and replacing it with an SSD?

Is it worth it to upgrade or should I leave it alone?

For now, it works, slow, but it works; the battery seems to be holding too.

Windows 10 is out (Click HERE!)

Zorin Lite 15.2 works well.

I got this screen during install, which is something I've never seen before


I'm not sure if this is 'buntu's answer to problems I've had in years past with booting on a UEFI laptop, or...?

When the laptop first booted after install, it went straight to Windows 10. I powered off and cold booted into BIOS. In Boot Options I chose the "ubuntu" one and moved it to the first slot so it would "boot" first.

It worked.

I never saw any screen that needed that Secure Boot password that I set during install.

Everything seems to be fine, as long as I'm patient and realize the AMD 1.0GHz processor can't be expected to run any faster than it does.

The touch screen works too. I installed Xubuntu 18.04 and it worked with it too. This has me a little perplexed; my previous experiences with touch screens and Linux were questionable. I'm not sure if this is the superiority of Acer's hardware and design, or if it is general improvements in the world of Linux and it's evolution. What I do know, this touch screen works with Zorin Lite 15.2 and Xubuntu 18.04.4 with no tweaking or adjustments.

I did have a failure with the recent pCloud update. After the update, pCloud failed to start and I got an error message. I immediately downloaded pCloud again, made it executable, double clicked, and all is well.

So, only 2 manual adjustments, one on pCloud, the other in the BIOS Boot order, and it runs.

Maybe I will upgrade the RAM and switch to an SSD...

 - -


Is Linux That Great or Is It That Windows Sucks That Bad?

As I collected my thoughts before writing this article, I had to pause and consider,

Is this another victory for the Linux community, or is it just another testimony of just how bad Microsoft's Windows 10 is?

I was hoodwinked into thinking Windows 10 was making itself into a worthwile operating system during the version 1903 released May 21, 2019. I was so shocked, I wrote a positive article about Windows 10 (Click HERE!)

That was very short-lived. November 12, 2019 is when Microsoft released version 1909 of Windows 10. I started noticing things that I'd normally expect to see from Windows...

When watching IMDB TV on the Amazon Prime Video website, their ads were getting through my adblockers. This was not the case in Linux, just Windows (Click HERE!).

Amazon Prime limits customers to Standard Definition ONLY if they are not using Windows or Mac (Click HERE!) Yep, that big TV limited to VCR tape quality...

Next, there was a re-emergence of a problem I had seen in the past - when Windows 10 upgraded to the next version, it would delete or render the Linux partition unusable if you had any form of Linux on the same PC (Click HERE!)

Oh, but, wait! There's more...

One of Windows 10's biggest selling points was its driver base, and its ability to find drivers for most any computer or hardware...

...until now.

Now I am seeing evidence of drivers that used to be readily and automatically available disappearing.

- Case #1
     A newer Dell Inspiron was acting like it had a failing power supply. After way too much time was spent diagnosing and eliminating what should have been the culprits, it was discovered that the computer would completely black out when it went to sleep. The only way to get it to recover was to remove power, zero the mainboard voltage, and plug it back in. The solution was to disable sleep altogether.
     This had never happened before; this was a new problem that arose a short while after upgrading. There is a chance that a BIOS update could have remedied this if one was available. Whether one was availble or if it would have helped is unknown.

- Case #2
     An HP laptop was several versions behind on upgrades, so it got its hard drive wiped, and a fresh copy of Windows 10 version 1909 installed... more than once...
     After diagnosing the hard drive, RAM, and other hardware, all of which were fine, if the laptop went to sleep, or hibernated, it could not wake up without crashing and restarting.
     This is a driver issue, and, possibly, a BIOS issue. Either way, it is a new problem brought on with Windows 10, version 1909.
     The only fix was to disable sleep and hibernation. That sounds easy, but at every turn, Windows 10 was turning sleep and/or hibernation back on. Absolutley enfuriating!

- Case #3
     An Acer Aspire V5-122P-0408 that I just got back from my daughter. It had Windows 10 version 1709 on it (2-1/2 years old). It worked, but it was slow because of its diminutive hardware, but it worked.
     The best way to upgrade is to wipe the drive and install the current Windows 10 version.
     This caused what I call "chugging". Chugging is when a computer works for a few seconds, freezes for a few seconds, works, freezes, and so on.
     Updates did not help. Checking and updating all drivers did not help...
     And, remember, version 1709 did NOT do this; this was brought on by 1909...
     So, when I installed Zorin Lite 15.2, it worked fine. Even the touch screen worked fine. For fun, I installed Xubuntu 18.04. It worked fine and the touchscreen worked fine too (much to my surprise!).

Can I say "Yay! Linux saved the day!"?

Or,

is Linux (in this case, Zorin 15.2 and Xubuntu 18.04) just running like an operating system should? Dependably with the necessary drivers?

And, has Microsoft let Windows 10 slack into a state of disarray?

Or,

is this a tactful move by Microsoft to force some computers into a state of obsolesence so new ones need to be purchased?

 - -


Saturday, May 9, 2020

Pinguy OS What?!

I was updating Pinguy OS today. After a restart I got this


Understand, this window came up while I was in Pinguy.

So, Pinguy OS 18.04.4 is offering to upgrade to the next LTS, Pop!_OS 20.04?

So what happened here?

What is going on?

Did Sytem76/Pop!_OS buy out Pinguy OS?

Any ideas?

Leave comments below, or on the social media post that led you here.

 - -

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Things To Do After Installing Zorin Lite 15.2

Run Updates

Restart

Display
 Arrange Monitors

Settings
 Power Manager
  General
   Power Button = Shutdown
  System Suspend = When Inactive for 30 minutes
  Display
   Blank = Never
   Put to sleep = Never
   Switch off After = 20 minutes
 Screensaver = OFF
  Lock Screen = OFF
 Zorin Appearance


Workspaces = 1

Right-click Desktop
 Desktop Settings



Additional Software/Apps
 Gnome System Monitor
 GTKHash
 Instagramport
 PhotoScape
 Shotwell
 Sound Juicer
 Synaptic Package Manager

 Google Chrome Browser
 GRUB Customizer
 pCloud

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

Grub Customizer
 sudo add-apt-repository ppa:danielrichter2007/grub-customizer
 sudo apt-get update
 sudo apt-get install grub-customizer

 - -

Zorin 15.2 Lite, Continued...

After the pleasant surprise of finding, installing, and loving Zorin Lite (Click HERE!), I conducted some experiments over the weekend.

My normal computer setup is to have hibernation, sleep, suspend, lockscreen, and all that stuff disabled. The only thing left on is setting the monitor(s) to power off at a set amount of time.

Another Linux distribution I played with got me interested in trying suspend again. It seemed like a good idea with summer coming because this would help minimize unnecessary heat generation in the house. It was all fine until one day I awoke the computer and it glitched; it closed my browser and an open document. Luckily Libre Office recovered the document for me.

So, what about Zorin Lite?

I installed it on the infamous Dell Optiplex 7010 (Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3). I figured, if it was going to act up, this would be the place for it to happen. All weekend long I let the computer go to sleep with browsers open, and a document open, then woke it up at short and long intervals. There were no problems. There were no crashes.

Beautiful.

So now it's time to get serious and install it on one of the work machines. The machine is an HP Envy 700-500z; this is the one that glitched on Suspend with a different Linux distribution.

The HP's specs:
HP Envy 700-500z
AMD A8-6500 APU 3.50GHz
8GB DDR3 RAM
EVGA GeForce GT710 2GB
SSD for OS, HDD for file storage

This computer does not need a lightweight OS. I don'y have to run Zorin "Lite"; I'm doing this by choice. I am used to the XFCE desktop and Xubuntu-like distros. It's what I like and I'm familiar with. The lightweight nature is a bonus.

Zorin has always made a professional looking operating system. They don't get in a hurry, and don't release a version until it is right.

Zorin has some proprietary gadgets that make it even cooler, but these don't come at an expense that costs reliability. Everything is smooth and elegant.

Right from the first boot from a Live USB, you have the option to use THE CORRECT graphics drivers. This is computing done right.


I've been harping about that for a while (Click HERE! and Click HERE!)

During installation Zorin Lite can be set to boot without a password. I understand the need for passwords and lockscreens, but this is not necessary for a desktop pc in my home (I have a shovel, know how to dig a hole, and have a big back yard...)

After installation, I noticed something in the terminal window - password feedback. Normally in a terminal window in ANY linux distro, when asked for the password, any typing just leaves a blank area.

Not Zorin Lite


See the asteriks? That's the way it should be. Thank you Zorin Lite!

(This feature can be turned on in other distros too, Click HERE!)

Now, Sunrise/Sunset activated Light/Dark mode.


Why does this matter to me? This computer has a window seat


That window view while working helps me to hang onto that thin thread of sanity that somehow remains... So a bright screen by the bright window, until sundown. At sundown it automatically switches to dark mode.


That's really cool!

By default, automatic updates are turned OFF! Thank you again, Zorin.



If you have ever installed your favorite 'buntu and didn't turn off "download and install immediately", you know what I'm talking about. It can take a perfectly good PC and make it frustratingly unusable for a spell.

And now I'm reading about Zorin Connect (Click HERE!) Unfortunately


That gives me the perfect reason to buy Zorin Ultimate! It works on Zorin Core too, btw.

(read more about Zorin Connect Click HERE!)

So, now it is Wednesday; this is my third day using Zorin Lite on a work computer and I'm still thrilled. I have had no problems, glitches, or hang-ups.

I think I've found THE linux distro. Thank you Zorin!

 - -

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Zorin 15.2 Lite

When I was finishing up this article (Click HERE!) I saw that Zorin has 4 versions now. It didn't settle until the next day that Zorin "Lite" is based on XFCE.

XFCE?
My prefered desktop environment?
Really?!

I HAD TO try it! And, I'm glad I did! Right now I'm happier than a fat kid with a 2 pound chocolate bar!!!

Booting from Live USB I had an option for Current Nvidia Drivers.

Thank you!

Install was straightforward.

First boot needed updates as expected.

Upon restart I went to the Display settings and arranged my monitors.



From there, I downloaded Google Chrome browser, and, while the Software store was up, I also installed Gnome System Monitor.

Just like Xubuntu, right-click on the screen, select Desktop Settings. Here I can select a folder of Wallpapers to span all screens and change at a regular intervals. Just the way I like it.


Next scour settings to find and turn of Suspend, Lock Screen, and Screensaver.

While in the Settings, adjust "Zorin Appearance" for ooey gooey, Zorin goodness. Accent color - Green, Background - the center setting (auto light/dark switching), Schedule - Sunset to Sunrise.


After logging into Firefox and Chrome, then arranging buttons on the Panel, I examined the software. Libre Office, Simple Scan, Xfburn... Is it really ready to go? Maybe I'll add Sound Juicer, GTKHash, Synaptic Package Manager, and GRUB Customizer, but that's normal for me.

Zorin Lite idles using 775MB of RAM; that's mega not giga. Very light on system resources as expected.

I mean, WOW! All the ease and familiarity of Xubuntu, all the cool goodness of Zorin, no bugs, no glitches, no headaches. It looks good; it works well...

Is this "The one"?!

It might be.

I'm happy, VERY happy.

Now I need to go find that fat kid and steal whats left of that chocolate bar...

 - -

Friday, May 1, 2020

My Preferred Linux Distributions

I hate those "This Year's Best Linux Distros" articles you see everywhere. They are just dumb puff pieces written by morons with no imagination that get paid per word to write such drivel. And they ALL say the same thing. And they ALL have no useful information.

I am not one of those people.

I am a real guy, with real computers.

I struggle. I cry. I get mad. I break things. I drink beer...

I do NOT get paid to spread useless information across the internet to clog your Google searches and social media feeds.

This is a list of Linux Distributions that *I USE* and/or approve of.

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

Xubuntu (official)

Xubuntu (my thoughts/comments a year ago)

Xubuntu works. It is lightweight and easy on resources. It works on anything and everything. On the odd chance it doesn't run on a particular PC, then it is officially time to recycle that PC because it is no longer usable.

I started a "to do list" for what Xubuntu needs immediately after installation.

Xubuntu After Install 

The "Additional drivers" tool solves the whole Nvidia graphics issue that plagued me for months (here, here, here)

Arranging displays is a big thing to me. I use stuff that other people throw away, so I have monitors of different sizes, resolutions and orientations all plugged into the same PC. The Xubuntu "Display" tool allows me to arrange them exactly as they are so the monitors are almost seemless. This particular function does not work as well with ANY OTHER Linux distribution I have used or tried.

With the screens all arranged, I can "span" a single wallpaper image across all screens for a unique look. (old article before DropBox messed it all up for me)

The Panel (Windows users know this as the "Task Bar") is fully customizable. By default, it is at the top. It can be placed on the bottom, or vertically on either side of the screen. And, you can rearrange the buttons, add/subtract buttons, and change the size of everything.

There is a search bar in the main "Whisker Menu". You don't know how cool that is until you try something like Lubuntu that doesn't have one. Without the search, you are forced to pick through all of the menus until you find your particular program. That's silly. ALL of the distros I use have a search bar...

Xubuntu has the full force of anything 'buntu/Canonical behind it, so you have the greatest amount of possible resources behind you.

When there is a major upgrade, they make the process almost automatic. I took an old laptop (13 years old) and let it upgrade from 14.04 to 16.04, then to 18.04. It ported everything over just fine. This is a feature unique to the 'buntu family as far as I know.

I do have a few minor complaints.

Xubuntu out of the box looks bland. That is easily remedied, so it is a very, very minor issue.

I have noticed that the past 2 major cycles, the release of 16.04, and 18.04 were glitchy. Some of this might have been due to user error on my part, but I can't confirm or deny. I do know for a fact I had problems with each release when new.

After an update cycle or two, with the release/update to either .1 or .2, the issues/glitches were gone. So, for the next version, 20.04, I will experiment ONLY and won't take it seriously until 20.04.1 or .2.

[UPDATE - Xubuntu 20.04 LTS has been released. Click HERE! to read about my initial thoughts and experiences.]

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

Peppermint (official)

Peppermint , Peppermint , Peppermint , Peppermint , and sadly Peppermint

Peppermint is pretty darned good. It isn't as light as Xubuntu, but it is close.

A popular tech writer at Forbes described it as the Frankenstein of Linux distributions. The developers of Peppermint seem to have taken all of the best stuff from different distributions and included it in theirs.

The result is a very nice looking, very functional system.

From the initial boot after installation, you update everything and restart.  The Additional Drivers, at least for Nvidia drivers, was automatic. That is a major plus!

Arranging monitors works well.

Playing with different wallpapers isn't as cool because you can't span a single picture across all monitors. Not a huge deal since Peppermint looks so cool to begin with.

Peppermint has ICE. ICE allows you to make certain functions perform more like a super lightweight Chrome OS on a ChromeBook. That's unique to Peppermint, and pretty cool, albeit, I've never used it.

ICE is the reason that Peppermint offers the Microsoft Office products under the "Office" menu. For some, that might be good.

I personally haven't used Microsoft Office in a decade and don't plan to. I started using whatever open source product was included with Xubuntu 14.04. Then version 16.04 had a different product. In the transition I almost corrupted and lost valuable information that I needed for taxes for my business.

This taught me a very valuable lesson - use one product and stick with it. I chose Libre Office. It is readily available from most Linux distro repos; it is available for Windows, and you can even get it on your Android and Apple devices.

So, along with a few other personal tweaks, I have to download and install Libre Office.

List of "after install" Click HERE

Peppermint's taskbar is fully customizable and you can add or delete buttons.

There is a search bar in the main menu.

Peppermint dropped down a rung on the ladder for me when I had a problem (read about it here). Their support forum didn't offer much help. That, for me, is a BIG issue. One of the major selling points of Linux is the so-called "community". If the community is weak (or snooty like Linux Lite and MX [read HERE],  that is a problem. The computer problem I had, I inadvertantly caused (as does any dual-booter), I knew how to fix it long-version, but I was hoping for a work-around to save some time. In the hours spent trying to "fix" it, I ended up installing Xubuntu....

This is a personal experience, and nothing really against the developers of Peppermint OS.

I recommend Peppermint OS to anyone, and actually would recommend it over Xubuntu.


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

Zorin (official)

Zorin , Zorin

Zorin has always been pretty cool.

They used to bill themselves as the "Windows replacement". Back in those days, they were trying really hard to mimic Windows without being Windows.

Today, they excell toward awesomeness at new levels.

IIRC, Nvidia drivers installed automatically.

Click on the "Z" button and there is a search bar.

The software preinstalled with Zorin is just about everything a person would need for everyday computing. If you need more, the Software store button will get you just about anything your heart desires.

Zorin comes in different versions (Click HERE!)- Ultimate (costs $$, but you get enhanced support [used it before and was worth every penny]), Core (the "regular" version I use now, missing some enhanced features in the paid version), Lite (a stripped, lightweight version for really old computers), and Education (designed for school settings).

One of the things that I noticed about Zorin as it evolved was that I couldn't find the settings as easily as I used to. It made it hard to find the Wifi settings after install. Now many distros have the same arrangement so it is more common - you click on the cluster of icons in the lower right hand corner


Once this mystery is revealed, you have access to not only the Wifi connection settings, but ALL the settings - power, display, sound, etc. Like I said, this is more commonplace now (also on Pop!_OS and others) so it isn't a big deal anymore...

Another mystery that I figured out recently has brought Zorin back into my favorite distros category - how to add programs to the "Favorites" bar. In Xubuntu, Peppermint and the like, they have a "Panel" at the top or bottom of the screen. This panel has your buttons and menus access like a "taskbar" in Windows. I couldn't figure out how to add to this bar or customize it in Zorin because I didn't know it was called a "Favorites" bar. Now that I know what it is, it is as simple as finding the program in the menu, right-clicking it, selecting "add to Favorites" then moving it to where I want it.

Next, surprisingly in the Software store is the cool wallpaper program called "Variety" (read about it, Click HERE!). Once this is installed, Zorin not only looks great under its own awesomeness, but it has a cool custom touch to finish it off.

But wait, there's more!

Go to "Settings", then "Appearance", then "Zorin Appearance". From here you have 3 different layouts to choose from if you have Zorin Core, and a lot more if you purchased Ultimate. Now select "Theme".  Choose an "Accent Color", select the middle "Background" setting (half light, half dark, then "Schedule" "Sunset to Sunrise" and turn on location settings when prompted. Now, your computer will have light or bright appearance when the sun is up, then switch to dark mode after sunset, all adjusting automatically to your area.

Now THAT, boys and girls, is pretty cool.


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

Pop!_OS (official)

Pop!_OS (my first experience)

This Linux distribution is based on Ubuntu Gnome, but done completely right. It is simple, and sports the "clean" desktop.

I'm not a fan of the "clean" look because it usually means I have to use extra clicks of my mouse for things that used to execute with a single click.

Instead of clicking once on an icon, I have to click on "Activities", then click on the icon/shortcut on the favorites menu.

For instance, Firefox has a close button in the upper right hand corner; there is NO minimize or maximize buttons. These functions are found by right clicking on the top border first, then selecting minimize or maximize - 2 clicks where there used to be one.

I know, this is trivial.

But, when you are a half century old, and you've been clicking for a quarter century, you have to be mindful of your mouse hand, in particular your wrist.

Maybe the developers for Pop!_OS could add a "for people 50 and over" button? This would add more buttons to everything for less clicking, maybe a single click screen magnifier, and a simple sound equalizer to enhance sound frequencies/ranges for tired ears (just thinking/typing out loud).

Another thing to note - Pop!_OS uses systemd instead of GRUB. If you multi-boot like I do, you need to make sure you install Pop!_OS first, or at least early on so later installed distributions will pick it up in their GRUB (if you install Pop!_OS last, you will only be able to boot into Pop!_OS).

Please don't mistake my trivial nit-picking as a bad review; it is not!

Pop!_OS is aptly named because it just pops. Really. It is rapidly becoming my favorite Linux distribution. I have been using it for remote work instead of Windows 10 and I'm seriously falling in love.

There is just something about Pop!_OS (everything, really) that just impresses upon me that the developers care about their creation, and they want it right.

I downloaded and installed version 20.04 beta for this commentary. It did not glitch, error, or experience a snafu; not once.

The correct and CURRENT Nvidia drivers were installed automatically for me.

The "suspend" (sleep) function works flawlessly without hanging up the computer.

Clicking the "Activities" button in the upper left-hand corner exposes you to access to everything, INCLCUDING a Search bar.

I manually installed drivers for my Realtek 8811CU Wifi adapter (article about headaches in other distros Click HERE!). I have not had to reinstall it after many updates. I don't know why it is still working, but I'll take it!

I didn't even realize that the beta had expired and the LTS version was released; it just updated to LTS on its own, seamlessly.

The only "improvement" I made was installing "Variety". I was pleasantly surprised to find Variety available in the "Pop!_Shop" software store. (more about Variety, Click HERE!)

The developers of Pop!_OS make it for the computers that they build and sell (Click HERE!) The last time I went there, I had to back away from the cart slowly because the computer I built was going to be over $10,000 delivered! But, hey, who doesn't want a computer with 2 cpu's, 32G of RAM, 2 SSD's, 3 GFX cards, and 6 matching monitors?

[UPDATE - Later that day, after writing this about Pop!_OS, I woke the computer from "Suspend". In a few moments the screens went black. When they came back on, my browser was closed and a file I had open in Libre Office was closed too. Thankfully Libre has a restore feature for files that didn't close and save properly. Moral - disable all sleep/suspend/hibernate functions just like I do in other distros on other machines...

And, starting the computer the next day, the Realtek 8811CU Wifi adapter wasn't working. The updates the day before killed it, I just hadn't restarted the computer to get the full effect. This can be fixed see the notes at the bottom of this page Click HERE! So Pop!_OS is not different from other distros in this regard.

Your mileage may vary...]

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

[This is old info here. Since this segment was written, Deepin has failed to keep the updates rolling in. That can be very, very dangerous if you do online transactions and banking. Hopefully they will get it together, but until then I *WITHRAW* any recommendations for Deepin]

Deepin

Why?

It looks good, really good. But why does that matter? Personal preference and vanity I suspect. When someone looks over your shoulder and sees a non-Windows OS, their first question is, "is that a Mac?" Yes, it should look that good.


Drivers. I think it is absolutely ridiculous, no matter what any Linux distribution fanboy touts, to have major issues getting drivers for your hardware. There are exceptions, but for the most part, Linux distributions are made for computers (not the other way around) so they should work without having to hire a team of rocket surgeons. Deepin Graphics Driver Manager easily finds and helps me install what I need for my graphics card so my computing experience is as it should be.

And, software. The "Deepin Store" is full of all kinds of interesting programs (apps). And, it looks good. Everything is sorted, grouped, and easy to find.

And, Deepin communicates.

Jason Evangelho at Forbes says, "What I love about Deepin is that it elevates the perception of what a Linux desktop is capable of." Whole article here.

[Deepin released version 20 Beta on April 15 (9 months without updates?). It is a COMPLETELY re-vamped distro with a completely different look. The installation is clean, clear, and easy to understand as before. There is NO support for Nvidia graphics drivers and their "Graphics Driver Tool" shows that it is "unavailable" in the Deepin Store. It was horribly slow and groggy at first. After updates, it seemed a little better, but... Next, I tried to install Firefox, the one marked "English"


I'm no English major, but that ain't English. I can't take Deepin seriously anymore. I'll keep messing with it on my test machine and watch for developements, but that's as far as it will go. Deepin has unique programs that you can't find anywhere else. It also has a unique look and feel. It is a real shame the developers don't make better efforts to keep it up to date.]

 - -

Friday, April 24, 2020

Xubuntu 20.04 LTS Released

Yesterday, April 23, 2020 they released Xubuntu 20.04.

I tried not to get excited. The reason being when 16.04 and 18.04 were first released, I experienced problems. I have found that the initial release can't be taken seriously, but later revisions are just fine.

Xubuntu 18.04 is good till April 29, 2021. By then Xubuntu 20.04 will be good to go.

So, for now, version 20.04 is for trial and experimentation ONLY.

First impressions:

Booting a live USB of Xubuntu 20.04 I noticed they have a splash screen animation; that's new. this gives Xubuntu a little more of a refined appearance from the getgo.

Then something called "casper" was running before Xubuntu loaded. Casper has something to do with "persistence" on a live USB... This may be good, but it adds a lot of time to booting, which seems contrary to the lightweight nature of Xubuntu...

The live USB version also has an expanded shutdown menu; there are many more buttons to choose from. The installed version, on the other hand only has an additional button for "Switch User". I'm not sure if the installation could tell that hibernation would crash the system or... (newer operating systems have issues on some older systems with sleep, suspend, and hibernation functions).

Installation went as expected with no real differences... until it started downloading some updates during the install. I noticed a whole lot of Nvidia stuff being installed.

This is something I have whined, and pissed and moaned about for a while - and they got the message. (Read HERE! / Also HERE! / And HERE!)

Nvidia graphics drivers install AUTOMATICALLY now!

THANK YOU!

The initial boot looked nice with a black screen, "Xubuntu" in white font, and a start up splash screen animation. For a minimalist's distribution, that is a nice touch.

Next, I opened a terminal window and did "sudo apt-get update". Then I selected the Software Updater from the Whisker menu.

And, right here is why I can't get excited yet - this has been stuck on the screen


The computer is not locked up, but the Software Updater is.

And THAT, kids, is why you ALWAYS TRY A LINUX DISTRIBUTION ON YOUR "TEST" COMPUTER FIRST before loading it on you everyday workhorse expecting it to do all your bidding without glitch or snafoo.

I closed the updater and restarted. Then I got this (no surprise)


A restart, then to install Synaptic Package Manager. But where is the "Software" center? It is now the "Snap Store". But isn't that what errored out during the initial updates?

I installed Synaptic Package Manager from the Snap Store and ran it. It found a couple things that needed attention. When it was done I restarted and it seems all is well.

Next problem, the screen kept locking after 5 minutes of inactivity. I went into the power manager settings and set the display to shut off after 30 minutes with no sleeping or blanking.

That did not fix it.

I made sure everything was off/unchecked in system power saving and security.

That didn't fix it either.

I searched around through the settings and couldn't figure out what was going on...

...UNTIL I saw the "Screensaver". I disabled the screensaver and clicked on the "Lock Screen" tab and disabled the Lock Screen.

Would you believe, even though they were disabled, the screen was still locking every 5 minutes?

I enabled Screen Lock, set it to "0" minutes, then disabled it again. I enabled the screensaver, set it to 30 minutes, then disabled it again.

Now my monitor turns off at 30 minutes with no lock.

Sheesh!

I'll boot Xubuntu 20.04 periodically and see if anything changes. But, again, I WILL NOT TAKE IT SERIOUSLY untill Xubuntu 18.04 expires in April 2021.

 - -

Monday, April 13, 2020

Yahoo Does Not Like Adblockers

I've been seeing this whiny-ass graphic for a few weeks now on my yahoo mail page


I would have gladly supported you (maybe) back when you were awesome, but not now; definitely not now.

My original yahoo account is 20 years old. It was (past tense) awesome! I don't know why I even created it, but when HotMail (remember them?!) started one of its stupid cycles where I couldn't check any of my email messages, I was glad that old yahoo account was there to change over to.

Next I created other yahoo email accounts so I could keep my email sorted. One for business, one personal, one for job hunting, one for any and all news letters and regular mailings, and a spare, just in case.

But the old grey mare, she ain't what she used to be.

I have kept and still maintain them all because I would have to hire a full time employee to change every single email I get over to another service. Seriously.

Today, while I'm trying to find an email so I can pay my state "Business License Tax" yahoo gives me this


Yahoo is holding my inbox hostage. They want money or spam ad rights restored.

Ha! That will be the day, indeed.

Yahoo is the original reason I began searching for adblockers to begin with! No joke!

It seems companies are getting scared they might be missing a few pennies in revenue because of adblocking. Windows has some wizardry running that I can't figure out that lets some ads sneak through (read about it HERE).

This is ridiculous.

Spread this around.

 - -

Monday, April 6, 2020

Commercials and Streaming

I got really sick and tired of the Amazon Fire Stick attached to my TV so I decided to use a computer for streaming shows (read HERE)

Ups and downs, trial and error, it *seemed to be* optimized by using Windows 10 for streaming (read HERE)

Things, as they always do, started changing.

All of the sudden, I am seeing commercials. You know the ones; the really annoying ones you HAVE TO watch right in the middle of the show you are PAYING to stream? Ya, I hate those.

But, I usually don't see them... Why now?

When I stream shows, I use either Mozilla's Firefox browser (click HERE) or Google's Chrome browser (click HERE) . I switch back and forth as necessary due to video rendering issues that I call "chugging" (don't use this term in public; people will laugh at you). Chugging is when the video doesn't play well, like there is a half second missing every few minutes. Chugging usually goes away after a few update cycle of the browser. So, in the mean time, I use a different browser.

One thing that both Firefox and Chrome have in common is the availability of the uBlock Origin browser extension (read about it HERE). uBlock blocks ALL ads, even commercials in streaming video...

...until now.

It used to be when this happened, there was a browser update available that had not been installed yet. Once the update was installed, the ads went away.

But not now.

Most notable, ads in IMDB TV through Amazon Prime (still no ads in YouTube, thankfully)

What the heck?!


After checking, rechecking, updating, IMDB TV through Amazon Prime is serving ads that I have to suffer through.


Bright idea, restart the computer, but boot into Linux instead of Windows. After some updates I verified that Peppermint OS was using the EXACT same version of Firefox and Chrome as Windows. I went straight to some shows on IMDB TV and NO COMMERCIALS.


Um, what?

So Windows 10, ads, Linux no ads?!

What am I missing?

Same browsers, same uBlock, different OS.

Another problem remains:

"...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

So, there's that.

I have noticed once I get into the show I'm streaming, I seem to forget about the video quality.

Anybody else having issues with ads that they didn't before?

 - -


Monday, March 16, 2020

* * * * * Coronavirus/COVID-19 * * * * *

 [Updates and new links of interest]

As it stands, even with more cases being found every day, you are still at a greater risk of serious injury or death by automobile than you are from COVID-19...

With Governor Bill Lee's new executive order,  here is a somewhat vague description of "Essential Activities" https://fox17.com/news/local/list-essential-activities-under-tennessee-governor-bill-lees-stay-at-home-order

I updated the links on the My Start Page for local news outlets. Also on that page, or click HERE for the updated links to local TV video.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2020/mar/16/coronavirus-map-us-latest-cases-state-by-state

https://www.google.com/covid19/

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

[original article posted 3/16/2020]

The internet is saturated, and my email is flooded with every company on the planet making their "CoronaVirus statement".

Unbelievable.

The one that made me laugh today was from Synchrony Financial (Lowes Credit Card). They said

"We are monitoring the Coronavirus and are prepared to help you. "

Really?

Am I supposed to take this seriously?!

The email didn't really support their opening statement at all, but I'm sure they are concerned about my wellbeing, at least enough to make sure the payments keep rolling in every month...

...I should have them paid off by the year 2060 at the current rate...

So, Coronavirus/COVID-19, what's the big deal?

This site is tracking it

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html

There are 4115 cases is the U.S. currently, and 73 deaths.

(side note - the 4115 was 3570 this moring [15% increase], and the 73 was 66 [11% increase])

Alone, these numbers are anything you want them to be or make them out to be.

But with some facts and statistics -

according to https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/us-population/

there are 330,442,911 people in the U.S.

Compared to 330 MILLION, 73, and even 4115 is very, very small.

Real numbers, the 2019/2020 Flu season has seen 19 million cases.

19 MILLION, regular flu. You know, the kind that makes well people sick, and sick people dead.
(https://www.contagionlive.com/news/us-flu-cases-increased-by-4-million-over-the-last-week)

Stick with me now, CORONAvirus - 4115 cases, 73 deaths.

From what I saw here https://www.nsc.org/road-safety/safety-topics/fatality-estimates you are much more likely to be killed in or by an automobile.

The year 2019 saw 38,800 deaths by automobile.

If everybody took that last number as seriously as they are the Coronavirus, you wouldn't see a single personal vehicle on any road in the U.S, only commercial trucks, buses, and taxis.

More automotive data was available for 2018  https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/motor-vehicle/overview/introduction/

There were 39,404 deaths by automobile and 4.5MILLION INJURIES!!!

Even at 4.5 million, they haven't shut down car manufacturers, nor outlawed private motor vehicle operation.

So 73 deaths out of 4115 cases of Coronavirus is shutting down businesses, threatening peoples livelyhood and sanity, and everyone is scared to death.

Didn't the Joker in the 1989 Batman movie do something like this?

So, in accordance with popular trends, and keeping real numbers and statistics in mind,

We here at All Things New PC in Greeneville TN feel that:

Everyone should wash their hands.
If you go somewhere, wash your hands.
When you get home, wash your hands.

Keep your hands away from and out of your eyes/nose/mouth.
Stop picking your nose.

If you are sick, STAY HOME.

Eat good food.
Drink good drinks.
Get plenty of rest at night.
A little excercise, for the most part, never hurt anyone.

More importantly, PAY ATTENTION when you drive.
Turn your phone off before operating a vehicle.
Set the stereo before you drive and leave it alone while operating your vehicle.
Stop at STOP signs.
Stop at red lights.
Look before you pull out; look again. If another vehicle is coming, EVEN IF THEY SEE YOU, let them pass before you pull out. Now, look again before pulling out...
SLOW DOWN.
Calm down.
Be patient.

MOST importantly, TURN OFF THE NEWS!!!
The news is NOT there to help you do anything but suffer from anxiety and experience high blood pressure.

Watch a funny movie.
Laugh a little.
Laugh a lot.


 - -

Friday, March 6, 2020

Realtek 8811CU WiFi Adapter [Updated]

I was having some trouble with my auxiliary work computer connected to the home wifi.

A couple days of troubleshooting and I had some conclusions, and more suspicions.

The primary issue is all of my USB Wifi adapters run on 2.4G.

For some strange reason when the network gets congested, the 2.4G wireless get bogged down hard. To complicate things, Windows 10 Pro takes this personally. So much so that my secondary work computer crashed its network manager, then seemed to forget what driver it needed for the wifi adapter.

I switched adapers and even computers and was able to duplicate these findings.

Android devices, would eventually crash, then immediately connect to the 5G network.

I performed the same tests with Linux (Xubuntu 18.04) and got it to disconnect and reconnect once under heavy network load.

(To perform these tests simulating "load" and network traffic, I had 5-6 devices running an Ookla SpeedTest at the same time on the 2.4G network)

Tests on the 5G side of the network worked fine. With several devices running, speeds slowed, but were still usable and no crashes or disconnects.

One conclusion that is reasonable is that my router may have an issue with it's 2.4G network.

As previously stated all my USB Wifi adapters are 2.4G.

I could order a new router, but this is a good one, and just a little over 12 months old. A newer, faster one would be $175+ and the budget cries when I think about it.

The new work contract I was looking at involved using Windows and making voice calls, so I HAD TO use my secondary computer to isolate myself from the rest of the house.

Time for new USB Wifi adapters... but cheap, affordable.

For $8.99 I was able to get a Realtek 8811CU 2.4G/5G USB Wifi adapter shipped to the house.

Boom! Plugged in, drivers, it worked beautifully.

I restarted the PC into Xubuntu (Linux) and there were no drivers, at all. The accompanying driver disk was useless. No drivers or help on the website, none in 'buntu Software Center or Synaptic Package Manager.

Google rendered this

https://www.prado.lt/how-to-install-realtek-8811cu-wireless-lan-802-11ac-usb-nic-on-ubuntu-19-04

There is a preface in the beginning to make sure you have "Make", "GCC", "Linux-Header", and "Git" installed first. These were easily accomplished by typing "sudo apt-get install..." into a terminal window for each

except Linux-Header.

It was not available, nor was it needed, apparantly, because the instructions worked fine without it for me in Xubuntu 18.04.

Did you see that?

The instructions worked.

That never happens, ever.

It's these adventures that cause me lost hours, lost wages, endless searches and forum questions, they all end in heartbreak and a great disdane for an operating system and its so-called "support community".

But not this time.

This worked.

It actually worked.

I am so happy!

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

[UPDATE]

Yep, it works great...

...until you run updates.

Then it stops working.

To remedy this, I had to grab an old 2.4G adapter, plug it in, then log into my Wifi network.

Leave the Realtek 8811CU WiFi adapter plugged in too.

Now, go to the Home folder. Find the folder named "build" and delete it.


Now repeat the steps in the weblink above, just like the first time.

Open a terminal window

mkdir -p ~/build
cd ~/build
git clone https://github.com/brektrou/rtl8821CU.git
cd ~/build/rtl8821CU
make
sudo make install
Shut off the computer, remove the old 2.4G adapter, start the computer and all is well...

...until the next kernel update; then you'll be doing this again.

Sad, but true.

 - -


Monday, February 24, 2020

Windows Upgrade Killing Linux Partition

I noticed Windows 10 version 1903 was the beginning of something beautiful again for Microsoft Windows.

Coming from me, that is a HUGE deal.

I mean, Windows 10 has been around for 5 years already, so it's about time they got it right for the "900 million devices using it".

But, I was reminded that this is STILL a Microsoft product, and it STILL has the good old Windows temperament.

Of all the computers I own and maintain, my Media PC attached to my TV in the living room was the only computer that had this glitch - when Windows upgraded, it deleted the Linux partition on the drive. When the Linux partition is deleted, it causes a GRUB error, and the computer will no longer boot. And, all of this, right smack dab in the middle of a Windows version upgrade.

Worthy of noting, this computer is a Dell Optiplex 780. It is pre-UEFI so everything should be simple and robust. As was with all computers that I configured in this particular period in time, it was a "dual boot" with Windows 10 Pro and MX 17.

Interesting side note: I started using MX Linux in 2015, the same year that Windows 10 was released. Since then, Windows has become simply amazing and MX has rapidly declined in function and support. I swear I live in a parallel universe sometimes where everything is upside down to reality...


To fix my Dell, I reinstalled Windows 10. This has always been the best treatment - to wipe the hard drive and install a fresh copy of the most recent version of Windows 10.

Some time later, a customer with a Dell laptop was experiencing a similar problem. Her laptop got all jammed up on a Windows 10 upgrade. The laptop was a pre-UEFI also. This time Windows did not delete the MX partition, but it did make life difficult.

Then, this past week, a customer called with a boot issue. He has a Dell Optiplex 780 also, the only difference being it is a Small Form Factor, whereas mine is the Mid Tower configuration.

It was a dual boot also, Windows 10 and MX 17.

Right in the middle of upgrading to version 1909, it deleted the MX Linux partition and made itself unbootable.

So, that's 2 Dell Optiplex 780's with Windows 10/MX 17 (and a Dell laptop from the same era of Dell) out of countless different models and manufacturers of computers that I set up in the same fashion.

Why the Dell Optiplex 780?

Or is it the combination of Windows 10 and MX 17?

Why have there been not other incidents with other makes and models?

I have no idea.

To fix the latter 780 I booted a Live USB of Xubuntu 18.04, installed Boot Repair, and ran it.  This recreated the MBR. Upon restart it picked up where it had left off in the Windows upgrade.

The MX partition was wiped by the Windows upgrade and marked as "unused space".

I'd love some answers to the why's...

 - -

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Not Pretty Day

You don't "fix" computers; there's no such thing.

If hardware is faulty you *replace* it.

If the operating system is wonky, you *reinstall* it.

You don't fix it, ever.

So, for the past 2 days I've been trying to *fix* my primary work horse computer. That's right, I said *"fix"*.

3 days ago Windows booted fine, but Peppermint OS just gave me a black screen with a blinking cursor.

I know why this happened. Windows 10 creates an ESP/boot partition on the hard drive that is 100MB in size. That is generally fine for Windows. But, when you have more than one operating system on the computer, you need that partition to have at least 100 per OS. Otherwise, like I was experiencing, you will eventually have boot issues.

https://www.atnpc.com/2019/02/how-large-should-you-make-uefi-system.html

Generally speaking, reinstalling an OS *"fixes"* everything, but I didn't want to do that. So, even as much as I despise forums, I joined the Peppermint OS forum.

https://forum.peppermintos.com/index.php

The forum is chock full of great information! I searched, but couldn't find my issue with a cure already posted (no surprise) so I started a thread. Since I was a new user, my thread had to be approved. That took a few hours.

I went ahead and started working on my computer.

I tried Boot Repair several times from a LiveUSB.

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Boot-Repair

No dice.

Next, it was time to go ahead and address the undersized ESP/boot partition. It is so easy to make one on a new or newly wiped hard drive, but on one already set up, it isn't fun. I had to resize and move everything to get the partion the size it needed to be. If you've ever done this before, you know it can take hours.

The ESP/boot partition didn't expand the 100MB to fill and utilize the new space even after running the fix tools.

I tried Boot Repair in hopes it would rewrite and fill the partition.

Nope.

I reinstalled Peppermint OS thinking it would rewrite and fill the partition.

Nope.

The only thing left to do was to delete the ESP/boot partition, and create a new one. This means all boot info is lost.

I installed Xubuntu 18.04 over the Pepermint partition. Before restarting I ran efibootmgr. Xubuntu booted fine, but no Windows 10.

Boot Repair?

Nope.

I used my Windows 10 USB drive and ran the repair options. Running the Command Prompt, following all the instructions, it didn't work. Windows was not an available boot option.

With no choice left and no response form the Peppermint forum, I tried to reinstall Windows.

It failed.

I booted into the UEFI/BIOS interface and purged ALL of the boot options.

Windows installed correctly.

I ran a LiveUSB of Xubuntu and Boot Repair and it created a GRUB menu with Windows and Xubuntu, both bootable.

That's not what I wanted. I wanted to make the original Peppermint OS bootable...

And, 2 days later...

So now I have an ESP/boot partition that is big enough it should last longer than I need, a fresh install of Windows 10 Pro, and fresh install of Xubuntu 18.04.



Bye, bye Peppermint

 - -

Windows 10 After Install

Device Manager update drivers
 restart

Display Settings
 adjust monitors

Additional Power Settings
 High Performance
  Hard disk 0 min
  Turn off dispaly after
 Turn on fast startup (OFF)

Apps
 remove bloat

Start Menu
 remove bloat

Local Disk C:
 Tool
  Optimize
   Change Settings
    (OFF)

Open Hardware Monitor

Windows Update
 check for updates
 restart

Windows Update
 Change active hours
 Automatically adjust... (ON)

Alarms & Clock
 add to Start Menu

Firefox Web Browser
 pin to start
 pin to taskbar
 sign in

Google Chrome
 pin to start
 pin to taskbar
 sign in

pcloud

Background
 Slideshow
 Custom Wallpaper Folder
 Span

Libre Office

PhotoScape

VLC Media Player

Speedtest by Ookla

MyRadar


 - -

Xubuntu 18.04 After Install

Updates

 restart

Additional Drivers
 Updates
  When there are security updates
   Display Immediately

 restart

Display
 arrange monitors

Software
 Gnome System Monitor
 GParted
 GtkHash
 Sound Juicer
 Synaptic Package Manager

Firefox
 sign in
 create panel shortcut

Google Chrome
 add to panel
 sign in

Grub Customizer
 sudo add-apt-repository ppa:danielrichter2007/grub-customizer
 sudo apt-get update
 sudo apt-get install grub-customizer

Desktop Settings
 Background
  Spanning Screens
  Folder to custom wallpaper folder
  change background every

see asteriks when you type passwords into terminal

 - -