Monday, September 29, 2014

Linux Finale, the Good News

I'm still loving Mint, the Cinnamon version. I've only found 2 computers that didn't do well with it;
one is an antiquated XP machine (graphics card issue), and a netbook that suffered from inadequate hardware.

With these 2, and any other computer, the Xfce version of Mint works fine.

Right along with Mint Xfce for hardware challenged machines, there is Xubuntu. I *was* using Lubuntu, but I think it suffered from kernel updates and very possibly my lack of understanding of "apt-get". See my distro installation instructions for more details. Please keep in mind, Xfce and Xubuntu work great on newer machines too.

In pursuit of video editting and production, I discovered Ubuntu Studio and ArtistX. Ubuntu Studio has a good set of software and the desktop environment is familiar and friendly. Unfortunately ArtistX is not using the most recent kernel. Why? I don't know. And, it is really too bad because it has a VERY extensive pile of programs for video, pictures, audio... I think they have them all.

I gave LXLE another solid try. It seems to be suffering slightly like Lubuntu; I don't know why or I would fix it. There is something with the updates, whether to software or the kernel itself that is suffering slightly.

Kali... I don't know what to say. I guess if you are an aspiring hacker or you do penetration testing for a living, you probably would like it. As much as I'd like to be, I'm not a hacker. The tools and software packaged in Kali are indeed cool, but I have no need of it.

Ultimate Edition started off cool; it has EVERYTHING. But, it acts like it ate everything too- it's bloated. In the updates, whether kernel or software, something went wrong. It crashed and I couldn't get it to recover. I checked, and I WAS running the most recent version, so I don't know what happened.

I have not yet completely discarded Windows. Some of the software I use has to be run in Windows. The software that should be a suitable replacement in Linux either doesn't work, doesn't have a good instruction set, or a combination of the 2. There is Wine and "emulators", but my lack of success with those leaves me to running "dual boot" set ups. That's not a problem as I see it, at least for my purposes, but I would eventually like to stop using big corporation money makers like Windows and anything of the Apple/Mac atrocities. The day will come; I have faith.

During the installation of ANY and ALL distros,
do NOT have the computer connected to the internet,
or elect to have it NOT install updates during the installation process.

Instead, install the Linux distribution.
Restart per the instructions offered.
NOW, connect to the internet.
In the "terminal" type
sudo apt-get update
sudo do-release-upgrade
There may be a restart involved.
Next, find the "software updater" and run it.

Xubuntu does not have Flash and Java installed already like Mint. Find "Ubuntu Software Center" and search for "restricted extras". Install...
Also search for "OpenJDK Java 7 Runtime" and install
For Java-
sudo apt-get install openjdk-7-jre
sudo apt-get install icedtea-plugin
sudo update-alternatives --config java

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

Repair, Adapt, Remove Grub
This is necessary for fixing GRUB after removing a distro. You can also use it re-establish GRUB for a particlular distro so it has the priority so Grub Customizer will function correctly

So, in summary,
Mint Cinnamon is great,
Mint Xfce if the hardware is severely lacking,
Xubuntu is rapidly becoming a favorite for all occasions,
Ubuntu Studio looks promising,
and I wish they would update ArtistX so I could give it a thorough test.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Internet Slowdown

Cable companies want to slow down (and break!) your favorite sites, for profit. To fight back, let's cover the web with symbolic "loading" icons, to remind everyone what an Internet without net neutrality would look like, and drive record numbers of emails and calls to lawmakers. 
Are you in?


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Friday, August 22, 2014

UEFI, The Dual Boot Killer

Dual Boot- simply put, you keep Windows AND install Linux so you can boot either at startup.

Well, that was until they came up with UEFI BIOS.

What is UEFI? Read here

And here's the problem, the people that are supposed to know, or act like they know, DON'T.

For instance


Clueless, and sad because that is the Linux Mint "Community". Actually, that is VERY sad...

Now, this guy gets it-

And, God bless him!!!

He has great understanding and takes the time to break it down, WAY down, so us po' foke can understand.

According to Rod Smith, I understand why the last 3 days of my life have been consumed trying to understand what happened to my work horse computer...

Windows 7 boots in "legacy" (BIOS). So does the DVD drive.

But, when you boot from a USB flash drive, it boots from UEFI. If you install an operating system from a USB drive (like I've done so many times before) the resulting operating system on the harddrive boots from UEFI.

So, if you want to keep Windows, and have Linux too (dual boot)...
Both Windows, and Linux will then be booting from BIOS, or GRUB (sorta', but not really with Mint [this rabbit hole goes WAY down Alice!!!]).

But none of this should be this hard on a Windows 7 machine... Windows 8? Oh, yes, but not Windows 7...

They started implimenting this UEFI stuff around 2011 (when my machine was made). And, just like HP, they straddle technologies eras and leave a mess for guys like me when they try to install or re-install operating systems (it has happened before).

Odd though, the cheaper brands like eMachines, Acer, Gateway, they have NEVER given me issues like this, yet they are ridiculed by computer snobs...

I guess, one day when I become "cool", maybe I'll understand...

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dangit Anyhow!!!

So, you know how to "multitask"?! You're a darned liar! There is no such thing!

The human brain can't do it...

or, you can try, and you will be involved in several events, the most successful of which will be something like FORMATTING THE HARD DRIVE in your workhorse computer!

Yep, nothing like that "sinking feeling", that feeling that feels like your heart just slid down into your intestines...

... and I do feel crappy.

So this page is links to "How to Recover Files from a Formatted Hard Drive"

EasusUS SUCKS!!! They will only recover 2GB, then you need to pay $70!

TestDisk/PhotoRec for Windows SUCKS!!! It will only work on 64bit systems that don't have the file that ALL 64bit SYSTEMS HAVE!!!

I'd punch Alan Henry right in the effin eye for that article! He mentions Undelete Plus right next to freeware- so you assume it is the better freeware in context of what he says:

"Recuva (Windows, Free): Personally, Recuva has been indispensible. Made by the same folks behind CCleaner, Recuva makes data recovery simple and easy. if you're only interested in browsing and restoring selected files off of the drive, Recuva is a great option. Alternatively, check out Undelete Plus for Windows."

Oh sure, check it out... was going to run for more than 24 hours (I shut it off at 20) and show me every file it might recover WHEN I EFFIN PAID!!!

A little up front disclosure could have saved me A WHOLE DAY of my life...

So, I joined the Linux Mint forum and the fellows there are straightening me out on TestDisk/PhotoRec.

PhotoRec recovered 19.8GB of data. Bad news is, it is the equivalent of dumping 50 pounds of Legos on the floor- it doesn't look like anything but a mess.

This is my first experience with a machine utilizing the UEFI BIOS... but that will be a different post entirely.

And remember, if you need to do something- DO IT!

Don't "multitask"; just focus on ONE job and do it till it's done.

If you can't focus on a single job, then walk away and come back when you can.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Linux, Not So Bright Ideas

Have you ever wondered about that green grass on the other side of the fence?
Ever wondered how it got there?
Somebody probably threw it over there because it had problems!

In playing with Linux Distros for "older computers", I thought I'd try some other
ones, just to see what I was missing.

Mint Xfce is great; but I knew that. It works and works well. It is simple to install, it allows you to install it right alongside other operating systems, and it helps you partition the hard drive in the process.

Lubuntu works; and I knew that too. It is extremely lightweight which is good for really old, early version Windows XP (Media, pre- service pack) machines. It is a little weird though; it has a tendency to give errors on installation and may even crash. The good new is, when you get all the updates installed, it smooths right out (boy! there's a bunch of updates!).

But, what about ALL these other distros recommended for archaic computers? Are they any good?

Most popular is Puppy Linux. Why is it most popular? I'm not sure exactly.
To me, I really thought I was back on a Windows 95 machine or worse. And, maybe that's who's using it- people that have old 95 machines and it acts like and looks like 95, but I'm only guessing. The whole thing was a mess, hard to understand, and very hard to get connected to the internet. For something this strange and confusing it is insulting to the linux community and canines.

From here I tried LXLE, Bodhi, CrunchBang, antiX, wattOS, Legacy OS, and Absolute.

My biggest complaint is that, for the most part, these wouldn't install alongside another operating system; they wanted to format, then install.

About the only one that might have been worth the effort was LXLE. It had kind of an antique motif and a hardware monitor right on the desktop. I couldn't really determine if it had any advantages over Xfce or Lubuntu, and Xfce and Lubuntu can be installed alongside other operating systems. BUT, what did stand out was that the 32 bit versions does NOT use the latest kernel. That's right, the current version of LXLE (14.04) is 64 bit; good luck getting that running on your old XP Media Edition computer!
Bodhi was just weird. It didn't make sense.

antiX 13.2? Ya, right; that was so November 5th of 2013. It's now called MX-14. Oh, and antiX and MX-14 are nothing alike.. at all. I wonder how far MX-14 is from PX41? You know, the serum that turned the minions into haggered-looking, purple creepers? Anyway, when I go to a sight, then find out that what I'm looking for is not actually what I'm looking for, and the versions are more different than night and day, I get a weird feeling like I just got duped into installing malware or something else malicious. That wasn't the case, but...

I just don't get it... why all these distros? I fooled with this stuff all day and into the wee hours of the morning with ZERO bragging rights... But at least now I know for sure.

On old machines, run Linux Mint Xfce. If that doesn't work, use Lubuntu.

Stay away from the fence.

It's there for a reason.

It's not grass on the other side; it's moss, mold, and mildew.

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Linux initial failures

Linux success

Linux multimedia and server

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Even More Linux

The latest linux experimentation was with HTPC (Home Theatre PC) distros and server distros.

The HTPC distros can turn a pc into a pushbutton dvd/cd player instead of a computer. With access to old Windows XP machines, I thought this might be fun.

VortexBox turns a computer into a server to store your tunes on... which got me thinking about servers. What if I took one of these old pc's and hooked it to the home network and used it as a server? I could store all of my commonly used files on it and they would be accessible from any computer. Pretty cool.

I played with this stuff all day and well into the night and didn't really get any results to brag about or anything I could use. I was disappointed and frustrated to say the least.

About the time I think I'm stupid, and I just can't figure out Linux, then I read this article on How to Set Up the Ultimate Home Theatre PC at Cnet. According to that article, I ALREADY HAVE 2 HTPC's. I've got one in the family room consisting of a Dell XPS running Windows Vista (yes, I said Vista!) attached to a 32" LCD TV. The other is in the mbr and consists of an eMachine e1850 (yes, I said eMachine) running Mint Cinnamon 64bit feeding a 22" LCD TV.

I use a Logitech K400 wireless keyboard for both

Walmart always has these for back-to-school for $29.99.

The article at Cnet mentions some other goodies I was NOT aware of, like Touch Mouse. Supposedly with Touch Mouse, I can control my HTPC with an iPod. I'll have to play with that some and maybe talk about it later...

So, since I ALREADY HAVE 2 HTPC's running, what is the problem? These other so called distros SUCK!

I guess if you are an uber-geek and your parents raised you on terminal command lines instead of formula, those contrived distros might work for you. I'm giving them ALL my official "Two Thumbs Down" and "BITE ME!" labels.

Their descriptions and concepts seem cool, but, did I mention, THEY SUCK!

All links are included below for your amusement.

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Multimedia Distros at DistroWatch

Home Theater PC

Another HTPC

Turns an unused PC into an mp3 jukebox server

Superb Mini Server

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

More Linux...

I admit it- I am a hopeless tinkerer!

I don't know if it was the Lego sets my parents bought me as a kid, or the first tape deck that broke that I took apart to fix... I just have to mess with stuff! I can't help it!

My first attempts at Linux brought dismal results.


... I now have MULTIPLE distros running on several machines!

I played with Mint. I like Mint!
 It is simple, straightforward, easy. You can install it right alongside any other operating system, or several. The built in partitioning tool is in the install process!

But, there are 6 versions: Cinnamon, Cinnamon Debian base, Mate, Mate Debian base, KDE, and Xfce.

I can't give a technical breakdown of Debian and non-Debian Mint; I've tried them all and can't see any noticeable difference except at startup. There are minor differences between Cinnamon and Mate, and I prefer Mate- it looks crisper and the menus look nicer, and kind of puts me in mind of a well laid out Windows XP Pro OS.

KDE is supposed to be the one that has everything. I don't like it. The menus are surprisingly lacking and I can't find anything. It just doesn't have that familiar feel like Mate or ease of use like Cinnamon.

Xfce has caught my attention. I first learned about it at a terribly informative website that has no nonsense answers "the ideal replacement for Windows XP". That site recommends version 13. I just happen to have version 13 and 17 on one archaic machine and I disagree- Xfce 17 is better.

The hacker's distro Kali is installed and running on my favorite laptop! Very cool distro with very cool tools! They have "ham radio" stuff built in and "software defined radio" too! How cool is that for the hopeless tinkerer?! I tried Kali before, but... It is installed now, working, and I'm shopping eBay for compatible usb wifi adapters for some experiments (link here).

Another link (of many) that I have found useful is .  I've seen some interesting distros that I am experimenting with. So far, Mint rules...

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