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Updated: June 25, 2018 | Category: Windows

Windows 10 Build 1804 review

It is time for another Windows 10 mini review, and this time, I'll be examining the update process and the post-upgrade experience with the biannual Windows 10 major version upgrade. This one was released in April, hence the number 1804 (well 1803 but still). From what I've been reading online, there seem to have been quite a lot of problems with this particular edition, so I waited a few weeks before testing.

And now we are testing. The Windows 10 resides in an eight-boot setup on a Lenovo G50 laptop, cozily nestled among various Linux distributions. The system uses a local (and limited) account, and it's configured for solid privacy, as I've outlined in my Windows 10 privacy guide. All right, let us commence.

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Updated: June 23, 2018 | Category: Greatest sites on the web

Greatest sites

The Internet has its bad corners. Mostly bad corners. But there are some good corners too, and then some really great ones. Today, I'm pleased to add two more excellent domains to my greatest sites list. Bob Ross - The Joy of Painting and Stack Overflow.

Candidate Number One: I got my first Bob Ross instruction manual when I was 14. Fast forward many years later, framed painting of my own creation still lurk out there, with splendid nature vistas that blend talent with technique, a testament of how wonderful and practical that booklet was. Indeed, if there's one contemporary artist who managed to make art so easily accessible to the public, it's Bob Ross.

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Updated: June 22, 2018 | Category: Linux

OpenSUSE Leap 15

Testing, testing. One, two, fifteen. OpenSUSE is our next volunteer. Over the years, for me, openSUSE has lost much of its glamor and quality. Once upon a time, it was the most "pro" choice for home users, with some serious, intelligent enterprise fiber woven into its brawn. But then, crashes, repository conflicts and difficulty enjoying the stuff that people need, like music, videos and whatnot, made it very hard for me to recommend openSUSE. Once, I did it with passion and dedication. Not anymore.

It's time to try to rekindle some of the old love, and the new version promises a lot. Live media is back in the game, new features abound, and with Plasma being a delightful cookie, we're looking at a gourmet meal. Maybe. So far, there's been little reason to rejoice this spring testing season. Distro after another came, scarred with apathy and bugs. Only Ubuntu 18.04 WITH Unity was okay - and Kubuntu post upgrade. My test box will be a 2009 laptop with Nvidia graphics, currently dual-booting Linux. Let's see what gives.

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Updated: June 20, 2018 | Category: Linux

Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver slow boot

After I let the fires of bad QA settle following the official release of Ubuntu roughly a month back, I decided to pick up the smoldering baton and continue the race. Hence, I upgraded my two Kubuntu 17.10 instances to the LTS release. The two machines in question are my Lenovo G50 laptop and HP Pavilion laptops, with Intel and Nvidia graphics, respectively, quite a bit of difference in age and use and complexity of their multi-boot configurations. After the successful upgrade, I noticed a super-slow boot on the Lenovo system.

The time to reach the desktop went from an okay 60-seconds to a horrendous 4-minute mark, making short work of any fun associated with the adventure. I realized I had to debug this, especially if and when one day I choose to commit my production systems to the new LTS. So let's elaborate on the problem and then figure out what we need to do to resolve it.

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Updated: June 18, 2018 | Category: Linux

Kubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver upgrade results

A few weeks had gone by since my initial test of Kubuntu 18.04. I wasn't too pleased, I have to say. I was expecting more, so much more, and the scattershot of bugs and issues that do not belong in an LTS release saddened me. I really was hoping to be able to upgrade my production boxen - those running Linux - to this edition.

Fast forward a bunch, and the early snags and woes should be fixed. Which is why I bravely decided to upgrade my system. Sorry, systems. Not one but TWO different hosts, with completely different setups and hardware. This should be interesting, and it will shed fresh light into the readiness of Kubuntu Beaver in becoming a household item. Let us.

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Updated: June 16, 2018 | Category: Linux

Gnome 3.28 review

Now that I've tested Fedora 28 Workstation and sampled from its cuisine of good and bad stuff, I'd like to focus on testing Gnome 3.28 proper. I've already hinted at a full, separate review in my Ubuntu Beaver review, being rather sorely disappointed with how Gnome (and as a consequence, Ubuntu) is shaping up. The whole pseudo-touch minimalistic approach feels wrong.

But then, I might be mistaken. The last time I tested Gnome 3 was a whole bunch of years ago, and back then, the overall trend of over-simplification and functionality neutering was strong in this one. Gnome began and continued stripping valuable configurations from its menus, hiding them or removing them altogether, making visual and functional deviations from the intended default state near impossible. Gnome 3.28 brings a whole bunch of changes to the table, so it's time to revisit my impression. After me.

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Updated: June 15, 2018 | Category: Various

GIMP 2.10 review

Tonight, on PIMP My GIMP: Tuxy McGnu, the infamous explorer of all things free and open, goes about testing the latest edition of GIMP, the cross-platform raster graphics editor. Rather pleased with the available capabilities, options, filters, and plugins he’s discovered in earlier episodes, and the single-windows view mode in Episode 8, Tuxy is keen on learning about new things and features in the program.

Tuxy’s journey has been eventful. Not that long ago, he contested with Krita, another specimen of the OSS Race, and found it interesting and useful if somewhat less practical when it comes to pure image editing. Will GIMP deliver more of the same, or will GIMP be a surprise? And if so, will it be a good surprise? This ... and more, in tonight’s episode, on PIMP My GIMP!

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Updated: June 13, 2018 | Category: Linux

CentOS & kernel 4.16

The reasons why we have gathered here are many. A few weeks ago, my CentOS distro went dead. With the new kernel containing Spectre patches, it refused to load the Realtek Wireless drivers into memory. Moreover, patches also prevent manual compilation. This makes the distro useless, as it has no network connection. Then, in my CentOS 7.4 upgrade article - which was flawless, including the network piece, go figure - I wondered about the use of new, modern 4.x kernels in CentOS. Sounds like we have a real incentive here.

In this tutorial, I will attempt to install and use the latest mainline kernel (4.16 when I typed this). The benefits should be many. I've seen improved performance, responsiveness and battery life in newer kernels compared to the 3.x branch. The Realtek Wireless woes of the disconnect kind (like a Spielberg movie) were also fixed in kernel 4.8.7 onwards, so that's another thing. Lastly, this would make CentOS a lean, mean and modern beast. Bravely onwards!

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Updated: June 11, 2018 | Category: Various

Designevo logo maker

Several months ago, I was contacted by the DesignEvo marketing team, asking me to review their product. And now that I've made some solid progress through my neverending request and publication queue, we are indeed doing that. DesignEvo is an online logo maker tool, with thousands of high-quality templates available, offering both free and paid services.

In general, the creation of logos is a somewhat niche need, but then, a lot of people like to have business cards, or they may wish to design an icon for their website or online service, and usually, this process involves working with an artist. But some may choose to style their own custom work, and this is where DesignEvo comes in. Let's see what gives.

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Updated: June 9, 2018 | Category: Linux

Plasma desktop recovery

Testing unstable dev versions of Plasma has its perks - and dangers. You may end up with a desktop that no longer loads. As it happens, this happened to me. One day, my KDE neon tech guinea pig decided not to load anymore, probably tired of all my configuration changes and installations. No problem, reinstall ought to fix it then, right?

Well, not quite. Even a full reinstall (using the same home and user, of course) did not alleviate the problem. Come the first boot and the first hope of a login, I had the mouse cursor, and it would travel merrily across the wide 16:9 estate of the black screen, but the desktop simply refused to load. So what now?

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Updated: June 8, 2018 | Category: Game reviews

Cities Skylines - Good Traffic Guide

This splendid city building simulation is no stranger to Dedoimedo. I've talked about the game at length, covering both the original release and the combined After Dark and Snowfall expansions, and recently also covered the relatively new Mass Transit DLC. But that's not all. We have also talked about traffic management. A lot.

Like most urban simulators, the game places heavy focus on the road infrastructure - let's face it, a city cannot function without transportation, and everything else is a derivative of the tarmac grid, even if you do not really use grids in your games, ha ha. I've shed some personal advice on how to handle smooth flowing traffic against organic city growth, and the use of underground tunnels to achieve extra throughput and better aesthetics in your cities. Now, with Mass Transit offering a whole new range of additional transport technologies, I wanted to compile a complete guide on making your traffic perfect. Let us.

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Updated: June 6, 2018 | Category: Linux

Plasma tips & tricks

I like being surprised. I like being impressed. I like seeing quality, forethought, vision, and innovation embedded in software products. I like seeing pride and passion woven into the fabric of digital code. And when a nice piece of code walks in, I get sprung.

A few days ago, I reviewed Plasma 5.13 and liked it a fair bit. Then, if you recall, I also wrote about nifty tricks in Ubuntu MATE, and then I thought, well, there ought to be an article on all the good things in Plasma, too. After all, it’s a fun, consistent and highly innovative desktop environment, and you need to get pumped.

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Updated: June 4, 2018 | Category: Linux

Fedora 28 Workstation review

Time to step away from the Ubuntu family and explore some other other distros. On the menu today, Tux Libre, with a side dish of Fedora and fresh garden Gnomes. Indeed, we shall be testing the latest incarnation of Fedora, the Red Hat test bunny. The two interesting things about it are: the use of the word freedom that it almost feels like an anti-war parody film and the fact it actually advertises itself as a distro for developers, plus the necessary friendly, easy and similar adjectives. But this is already a step in the right direction. It tells ordinary people they have nothing to look for here.

Still, I will do what I've always done - test software from the perspective of someone who doesn't really care for ideology, underlying architecture or finer points of Python code. It's about applications that bring valuable functionality and allow users to have fun. The Ubuntus sure didn't prove themselves worthy of this task so far, with a rather mediocre offering of LTS editions. Once upon a time, Fedora was decent, then it sort of stalled these past couple of releases, and maybe, Workstation 28 could be the Freedom Redeemer. Let's see.

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Updated: June 2, 2018 | Category: Linux

CentOS 7.4 & Realtek Wireless problems

Several weeks ago, I upgraded my CentOS instance, forming a part in the eight-boot setup on the Lenovo G50 laptop, to the latest release, version 7.4. Remember? Well, everything was peachy, including the networking. Then, a couple of reboots later (and more importantly, full system power offs), CentOS 7.4 would no longer recognize the Wireless interface! The Realtek RTL8723BE module was not being loaded anymore!

I decided to explore and troubleshoot this in detail, because I hate seemingly random issues, especially since it worked once, it should continue working. Intermittent problems are the worst. Let's see if we can understand the problem and fix it. After me.

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Updated: June 1, 2018 | Category: Linux

Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver with Unity

Several weeks ago, Ubuntu 18.04 was released, and to me it felt like I was watching an episode of an old TV show, and all the grainy VHS quality didn't quite look as exciting as a bunch of decades ago. But whatever year you want to choose as your reference point for the larger regression, 2011, 2007, whatever, Ubuntu Bionic does not feel like a modern, slick, sleek operating system. The reason: it comes with Gnome 3.

Last year, Canonical decided to switch from Unity to Gnome. Their decision was economic, the impact on the user catastrophic. After having a fast, elegant and PROFESSIONAL desktop, we're now given something that best fits the description of a pseudo-touch experiment. But that's not why we're here. We're here to talk about Unity again! You can make Ubuntu glorious once more! Let's do it.

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Updated: May 30, 2018 | Category: Internet

GDPR guide

One day, you're a carefree blogger. The next, you're suddenly dealing with this big, looming thing called GDPR. The EU has introduced a new privacy-focused regulation, GDPR, and it dictates important privacy, security and data transparency requirements for websites handling personal data. You're asking yourself, does this affect me? And you're worried. Today, this article will help you better understand who, what, when and how, and hopefully give you both the knowledge and the tools to become a carefree blogger once again AND be merrily compliant.

Now, the one extra question that you maybe asking yourselves is: why are publishing this only now, AFTER the regulation came into effect? Well, the answer is, believe or not, most tools and services out there released GDPR-compliant updates only in the past week or so, and that finally allowed me to put this guide together. Let's see what gives.

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Updated: May 28, 2018 | Category: Linux

Software Boutique

Long time ago, before mobile and touch and fake news, Linux had app stores. It had app stores before there were app stores. The concept of centralized package management, wrapped nicely with an inviting GUI turned out to be a robust, welcome feature, be it free or paid software. But then, round 2012 or so, things went downhill.

Since Ubuntu Software Center, the one real "pro" store in Linux, there hasn't really been a successful GUI package manager. The old and proven Synaptic is there, of course, and there's Muon too, but they aren't really shop-and-buy things. As for all others, well ... half-baked products mostly. Well, now, a challenger appears, and its name is Software Boutique. First seen by me in Ubuntu MATE 18.04. Let's explore.

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Updated: May 26, 2018 | Category: Linux

Plasma 5.13 review

Two years ago, the Plasma desktop was just another offering in the Linux pool, with a modern but overly complicated interface, bereft of enthusiasm and brimming with problems. Then, suddenly, it changed. Like a primordial being crawling out of a mineral soup, it started morphing into a slick, fast, elegant desktop. And now, it’s become the leading force in the Linux world.

Several months ago, we looked at Plasma 5.12, the LTS release, and I outlined all the different issues and problems surrounding it. The KDE team has its ear(s) to the ground, and there’s been a lot of positive momentum and hard working invested into making Plasma amazing. Sometimes, the mission is set back by regressions in the distro space. If only the emotional rollercoaster wasn’t so swingy. Now, we have another chance to be dazzled – or shocked. Plasma 5.13 is in its last beta stages, and I took an opportunity to check what gives. Not one but TWO tests. After me.

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Updated: May 25, 2018 | Category: Linux

MX Linux MX Tools

Roughly fourteen full phases of the moon ago, I wrote an article on MX Tools, a unique and useful bunch of dedicated utilities packaged with the MX Linux distribution. This toolbox offered the ordinary (or new) MX Linux user a chance to perform some common configuration tasks with easy and elegance.

In general, MX-16 was a great player, and the recent MX-17 is even better - and at a first glance, so is the new version of MX Tools bundled with the system. Good stuff. So I set about testing, to see what has changed, and in what way this set of utilities has improved, if at all. But I'm positive. Let us commence.

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Updated: May 23, 2018 | Category: Linux

Linux Mint tools

Creating Linux distro spins is relatively easy. A few string replacements, some branding, and you're done. Creating unique, independent and self-sufficient projects, that's another matter entirely. The latter category is reserved to only a small number of distros that manage to balance their parenthood and individual identity while still providing users with a sensible and meaningful setup for work and fun. Linux Mint is one of such rare examples.

For many years, Mint has successfully paddles its gray-green look and feel, topped with good and easy access to everyday needs. This hasn't always been easy, as Ubuntu changes a lot, and this has often affected Mint in unpredictable ways. Still, overall, it managed to retain an edge of worth that goes beyond being yet another bland clone. Staying with the LTS releases as the baseline is one such manifest. A set of unique tools is another. We explore.

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Updated: May 21, 2018 | Category: Linux

Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver review

After covering the other three major flavors, it's time to focus on Ubuntu. So far, the spring season has been rather mediocre. Kubuntu started well but then sort of ruined it with crashes and bugs. Ubuntu MATE delivered a fairly strong offering, but it had its own shares of crashes and it took a huge amount of effort getting into order. Again, not the LTS quality. Xubuntu was all right, except no innovation, and it took too much putting together into a reasonable package. All of the stuff you expect NOT to have to do with a pro LTS release.

Meanwhile, after sampling Ubuntu in its beta phase, I let it rest for a while, and now it's time to look at the flagship edition, and see what it can do. The big contention point is the use of Gnome 3 as the desktop environment, of course. It's simply not good enough for serious use. Not pro, not anything. Which makes the Ubuntu effort almost a lost battle. But there's a caveat. Let's do it.

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Updated: May 19, 2018 | Category: Media

SMTube review

It's a no brainer. On the desktop, you go online, and you open a tab and you load Youtube, and then you play clips. But then, on mobile devices, you have dedicated applications, which usually offer a somewhat more efficient media experience. So, on the desktop, it's the browser way or the ... SMTube way?

SMTube is a cross-platform Youtube player, which allows you to search and play videos from the popular media platform, with some additional search tweaks and filters, and extra download options, all this from the desktop, without having to keep a browser tab open. It's a convenient tool to use, and with the recent rewrite, it actually works, and it works fairly well. I decided to test to see what gives.

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Updated: May 18, 2018 | Category: Linux

Ego & fragmentation in the Linux distro world

If Tom Clancy had been a technophile of the software kind, he'd have used this title instead of the familiar one for one of his iconic blockbuster thrillers. The thing is, Linux accounts for a tiny percentage of the overall desktop market share. The perennial 1% has been around roughly since 2005, and even if the actual share is higher than that, it's still a small and largely insignificant fraction. And yet, there are hundreds of Linux distributions populating this narrow, crowded arena. Why? Well, ego, of course.

One might say: open source. Ah, well, the open-source nature of Linux has been the chief excuse to the colorful abundance of replication and duplication of the Linux desktop world, while at the same time serving as the main catalyst to the expansion of Linux in the commercial space, which makes for a dubious cause. I believe the reason is different. Let me tell you what it is.

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Updated: May 16, 2018 | Category: Linux

Xubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver

The pursuit of happiness is an alienable right of any techie, especially those who dabble in the open source. Shall they find what they seek? Well, I'm like Bono this spring season: I missed the rains down in Africa, and I still haven't found what I'm looking for. Namely, my experience with Kubuntu and Ubuntu MATE, both of the Beaver persuasion, were somewhat disappointing.

Well, we're continuing the hot pursuit. Next on the menu, Xubuntu. It will be interesting to see how well this distro fares, and whether it blindly embraces the bugs and inconsistencies that plague its two LTS siblings. One thing is certain, my hopes are low, for LTS editions are meant to be free of problems, and that's not what we have. Maybe the Xfce-clad Bionic can deliver?

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Updated: May 14, 2018 | Category: Linux

12 cool features in Ubuntu MATE

I have to admit, I wasn’t too pleased with my experience with Ubuntu MATE 18.04 so far. I mean, it was all right and all that, but there were too many bugs, too many problems, and even a few application crashes, which are a big no-no for an LTS release. But at the same time, I was quite intrigued by all the features and options that MATE offers. And this is why we’re here.

I want to explore the innovative side of things in the reincarnated Gnome 2 desktop. We touched on some of these things in my MATE 1.20 review, and then in more detail in my article on Mutiny, a Unity-like desktop layout for MATE users, designed to fill in the gap left by the unfortunate demise of Ubuntu’s flagship environment. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. So with the dichotomy of dissatisfaction and amazement, let’s see what this old-new desktop can do for us.

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Updated: May 12, 2018 | Category: Linux

2018 best Linux software

Greetings. Over the years, I have compiled several articles detailing the best-of software for Linux and Windows, starting as early as 2008, and then making the last bundle in 2012. Six years is a very long time in the software sphere, so I thought about making another compilation.

My criteria for the inclusion and nomination are relatively simple: Applications need to be robust and stable, they need to accessible, the installation process should be relatively straightforward, and ideally, these will be cross-platform tools that run on other operating systems, too. There's a certain degree of personal taste, too, but I believe my choices are pragmatic, useful and fun. With the necessary expectation for a certain amount of hype, let us proceed. And do note, in some cases, you will see older and/or official screenshots, but that's mostly for aesthetic purposes.

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Updated: May 11, 2018 | Category: Windows

Windows WSL & various distributions

Being an industrious pioneer of technology that I am, already in 2016, I've written about the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), and how you can use it to run BASH in Windows 10. Then, I've also shown you how you can actually run Linux graphical applications in Windows using an X11 server. Good stuff.

Essentially, the early escapades with WSL were mostly, understandably, focused on Ubuntu. However, recently, Microsoft has expanded the range of available distributions in the Windows Store, with Kali being the first edition. But since, several more systems have been added, and this calls for another review.

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Updated: May 9, 2018 | Category: Virtualization

VirtualBox WinTrustVerify error

Several weeks ago, I decided to test Macrium Reflect, a free system imaging software. Macrium Reflect uses Windows PE as bootable live media, inside which you can perform both backups and restore operations. Now, with system imaging software, testing restores is the most important thing, and I decided to do this both on physical hardware as well as in a virtual machine.

This is where I hit a problem. Trying to boot the PE image in VirtualBox, I got the following error - E_FAIL (0x80004005), with more details available in the VBoxHardening.log file. Inside this file, among many lines of text, I found several hits that read lacks WinVerifyTrust, one of them resulting in the failure below. What now?

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Updated: May 7, 2018 | Category: Linux

Ubuntu MATE 18.04 Bionic Beaver review

Let us continue the saga of happiness. I mean, the spring distro testing season. In my first test, I tried Kubuntu 18.04, and it was average. Disappointingly so. I was hoping for a rock-solid Plasma offering to dazzle me for the next five years, to make me upgrade my production systems, but all I got was a handful of tears. It will get better, but so does a shrapnel wound.

Today, I'd like to test Ubuntu MATE. This flavor has recently come into my focus with the release of MATE 1.20, which brings about a whole spectrum of fresh ideas and solutions to the retro-Gnome scene. I was also quite intrigued by the Mutiny Unity-like panel-and-menu implementation. All in all, this should be interesting, although my hopes are quite low, following the Kubuntu test. But then, I ended up with more than 100 screenshots collected, so let's see what gives.

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Updated: May 5, 2018 | Category: Linux

Ubuntu 18.04 & Samba problems

Microsoft Windows makes up the vast majority of desktop systems in the world. Easily 90%. This means that if you're testing Linux or considering dual-booting Windows and Linux, you will most likely have a Windows machine in your setup, and you will want to share files. Samba is the easiest way to do things. In your Linux box, in a file manager, in the address bar, type smb://, followed by a host name or IP address, and you should be able to connect to your Windows shares. Well, in Ubuntu 18.04, not so anymore.

I've encountered this problem while testing Bionic Beta and then again when I took Kubuntu 18.04 for a spin. In both cases, I was not able to reach my Windows shares. Now, this is a stupid problem, because I can connect to Windows shares from EVERY other Linux system I have. Let me show you how you can fix this.

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Updated: May 4, 2018 | Category: Hardware


Several months ago, I finally managed to resolve the read-only saga on my Lenovo G50 laptop. You can read about the original problem and then my first workaround attempt, and then finally, once the problem really became popular due to the Ubuntu 17.10 drivers fiasco, the real solution came about in the form of a kernel update, and henceforth, I had my UEFI working properly again. The funny thing is, this is a much bigger issue, and not restricted to Ubuntu, but it was casually ignored for a long while.

Now, while I was waiting for the fix to be created - not knowing if there ever was going to be one, I tried to find ways to get new operating systems to boot on the Lenovo machine. As I mentioned, raw disk access via VirtualBox is one. Another method, somewhat less risky but also somewhat less effective is: GRUB2 ISOBoot. We shall discuss that now, for there could come a day when you might face (or still are) the BIOS/UEFI NVRAM read-only issue, and need a way to work around that, and no kernel updates and such available. Let us proceed.

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Updated: May 3, 2018 | Category: Various

Macrium Reflect 7 review

I am a strong proponent of system imaging. The ability to restore your system to an earlier point in time is extremely valuable, as it can save you many hours normally required to install and configure a machine should things go wrong and necessitate a complete rebuild. Whether it's a bad system update, malware or anything else you don't like, just roll back and Bob's your uncle.

Macrium Reflect is a Windows-based imaging and cloning solution that fits the bill. The list of features and options is quite impressive, and both free and paid editions exist. Now, we've already talked about Macrium Reflect a long time ago, in my second article on free Windows imaging software, but now I want to give version 7 a full-blown review.

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Updated: April 30, 2018 | Category: Linux

Kubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver

The day of reckoning is upon us. Kubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver has been released, and with five years of promised support, it's potentially a great candidate for a production desktop setup. The emphasis is on the adverb used in the previous sentence, as we know how fickle and erratic and regressive Linux distros can be.

But I am genuinely intrigued. I may want this in my production setup. After all, Kubuntu Zesty was the ultimate Plasma release, the best Kubuntu ever, and among the finest Linux systems released in the past decade, and it spiked my interest and desire to deploy Plasma on my serious big-boy machines. With such gentle expectations, let us commence.

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Updated: April 28, 2018 | Category: Media

Elisa media player

A bunch of days ago, the first stable version of Elisa, a new KDE-oriented music player, was released unto the wild. The program aims to be a simple, nice and flexible player, with good integration as well as cross-platform support. Sub-1.x releases of any which application are always tricky, but I still decided to give it a whirl.

Overall, the Linux world is over-saturated with music players, many of which offer only limited functionality, and just a few consistent programs that have survived the rite of time and steady use. In a way, this proliferation mimics the larger distro world, with hundreds of offerings, some with only minor differences among them, and usually something really cardinal missing. Which is what makes Elisa potentially interesting. Can it outplay the overplayed game?

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Updated: April 27, 2018 | Category: Linux


Backup solutions for Linux-based systems are many - most of them using rsync as the backend service. In this regard, Timeshift isn't much different, but its presence of the tool in Linux Mint 18.3 Sylvia, as well as the way it behaves prompted me to take it for a longer and more thorough spin.

Indeed, looking at the product - it's not only rsync what Timeshift does. It also supports BTRFS, and it's not just a user data backup tool, it's actually a system backup tool. Sounds interesting. And this is why we're testing.

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Updated: April 25, 2018 | Category: Game reviews

Cities Skylines Mass Transit

Without using too many superlatives, Cities Skylines is a great little game. Well, not little. It's a superb, rich, complex, and fun urban slash city building simulator, and the first game of its kind since SimCity 4 to actually stir a response in my proverbial loins. But it also a ravenous beast, and it chomps through system resources like there's no tomorrow.

Over the last year or so, I noticed a weird phenomenon - you play, and everything is fine, but then suddenly, you add a new road, train line or a subway section, or delete some buildings, and the game starts to lag. It begins running very slowly. There's no apparent reason for this. I spent a lot of time investigating, and I believe I've come up with a nice solution. It's witchcraft, which makes it even better.

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Updated: April 23, 2018 | Category: Linux

Plasma widgets

The concept of addons is an interesting one. At some point over the past decade or two, companies developing (successful) software realized that bundling an ever-growing code base into their products in order to meet the spiraling tower of requests from their users would result in unsustainable bloat and complexity that would not warrant the new functionality. And so, the idea of addons was born.

Addons come in many flavors – extensions, plugins, applets, scripts, and of course, widgets. A large number of popular programs have incorporated them, and when done with style, the extra functionality becomes as important as the core application itself. Examples that come to mind: Firefox, Notepad++, VLC, Blender. And then, there’s the Plasma desktop environment. Since inception, KDE has prided itself on offering complete solutions, and the last incarnation of its UI framework is no different. Which begs the question, what, how and why would anyone need Plasma widgets? We explore.

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Updated: April 16, 2018 | Category: Linux

Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver Beta review

In about two weeks, Canonical will release its next LTS, 18.04 Bionic Beaver. What makes it special is that it's going to be running a Gnome 3 desktop instead of Unity, a sort of full-circle reversal of direction and strategy, and that means ... uncertainty. With Trusty Tahr being the only production Linux system in my setup, I am quite intrigued and concerned, because I need to choose my next LTS carefully.

So far, the prospect isn't encouraging, given the more-than-lukewarm performance by Aardvark. There's a lot of hope in the Plasma spin, given the stellar performance of the Plasma desktop recently, but that's still a big unknown, especially since Kubuntu 17.10 was a regression compared to the most magnificent and awesome Zesty Zapus. Therefore, I decided to check this beta, to see what gives ahead of the official release. Normally, I don't like testing unfinished products, but this be an extraordinary occasion. Let's do it.

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Updated: April 15, 2018 | Category: Linux

Ubuntu Windows 10 trans pack

As a man with a keen eye for aesthetic details, I do like the concept of trying to make operating systems mimic their rivals, provided this can be done with elegance, style, quality and attention to detail. A great example would be the Macbuntu transformation pack. Including but not limited to.

Now, Windows 10. Say what you will about it, it ain't ugly. It's actually a reasonably pretty distro, although the whole flatness deal is a bit overplayed. But since Linux can be made to look like anything, I set about testing, in Ubuntu, Kubuntu and even Linux Mint, to see whether this is something worth your time and decorative skills in the first place. Will this work? An open question. After me.

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Updated: April 13, 2018 | Category: Office

Manjaro & Microsoft Office Online

The Linux desktop has never made it big. Canonical tried with Ubuntu, they made a big ripple, but the effort fell short of a revolution, in part because of the necessary monetary resources required, in part because of missed timing, and also because of some rather stiff rand unneeded resistance from the community. A paradox. Linux folks want to displace Windows, but when one tries, they are scorned for selling out.

There isn't a single formula for success - but the one component that cannot be removed, whatever the equation might be: applications. Without offering the needed functionality to Windows converts, they have no use for an empty shell called the operating system. Proof, Windows, the most successful desktop system, did not succeed in the mobile world, because it did not have any applications. Same way, Linux on the desktop stands no chance without the everyday software that Windows folks need. The most prominent among them: games and Microsoft Office. We have Valve Steam to thank for the former, and now, Manjaro for the latter?

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Updated: April 11, 2018 | Category: Internet

Falkon browser

The world of browsers is a weird one. There are many programs out there, but in essence, it all boils down to only several rendering engines and their numerous forks, spin offs and adaptations. You may think you have a lot of choices, but you don't.

In the KDE world, there have been many players - Konqueror, rekonq, QupZilla - and now Falkon, and I have probably forgotten some. Falkon, you ask? Yup. QupZilla used to be the official KDE browser until it was renamed, rebadged and slightly revamped as Falkon. Well, the official domain name is still the old one, but the use of the letter k is the giveaway, right. Is it any good, you ask some more. Well, that is something we shall answer today.

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Updated: April 9, 2018 | Category: Linux

Antergos 18.3

Antergos is one of those distros that require a bit of luck and tough love to get going. For a while, it stubbornly refused to boot on my Lenovo G50 test system, and I let it be. Then, while my G50 was on the fritz (blink for the imperialists), I had it tested on my older LG RD510 machine, and I was quite impressed. The distro delivered a fairly solid experience, with some nifty and unique tricks along the way.

It is time to revisit the test with the 18.3 release, and once again, I'll be testing on the Nvidia-powered machine. Gnome, again, too. The reasons for this choice are many. One I want to see how Antergos performs over time under the same test conditions, and not because I don't want it tested on the Lenovo. Perhaps it if proves worthy. Much like the recent Manjaro test, which I had extended once the distro showed good quality and promise. Two, we need some variety, hence Gnome. Three, Nvidia always makes for a fun test case. Shall we?

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Updated: April 7, 2018 | Category: Linux

CentOS 7.4 upgrade

I have not updated the CentOS instance on my Lenovo G50 laptop since mid-2016, more or less. But then, a few days ago, I decided to revisit the distro, both to see how it fares, performance and relevance wise, and also to update its package set to the latest 7.4 build. We're talking 18 months of backlog, tons of customization.

If your memory is a bit dusty, I am really fond of CentOS, and despite the fact it's a server distro, it still offers great value in home setups. Specifically on the G50 machine, I had it installed and then tested the KDE, Gnome, Xfce, and MATE desktops individually, plus added a whole of pimping and extra software. You may wonder, will all this work get in the way of a version update? Let's check.

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Updated: April 6, 2018 | Category: Linux

Xubuntu 17.04 to 17.10 upgrade

Zealous Zoltan (Zoltan!) was one of the better Ubuntu releases in the past years. No matter what desktop environment you chose, it delivered well. Then, Aardvark was among the less successful ones, be it Gnome, Plasma or Xfce. Still, the clock inevitably ticks forward, and with only nine months of support, one must either abandon or upgrade.

I already showed you what I did with my fabulous Kubuntu Zesty, going to Aardvark. It was a somewhat lukewarm experience, but over time, with patches trickling in and some extra work on my end, I was able to fine-tune the Plasma desktop in the 17.10 release into one closely matching the 17.04 edition. My next endeavor was with Xubuntu. Only the Zapus release was now officially EOL. Let me tell you a story.

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Updated: April 4, 2018 | Category: Linux


This is my BEST pun yet. Or not. A few days ago, I've read the release notes on Ubuntu 18.04 MATE beta, and there was a lot of good stuff in there, enough to have my jaded curiosity glands intrigued. Many new features are going into the reincarnated version of Gnome 2, and they make for an appealing case for the retro desktop that MATE is. Neat.

In my review of this desktop environment, the freshly released 1.20 version, I did mention that in order to compete with the likes of Gnome 3 or Xfce, MATE needs to step its game up and introduce modern features that go beyond what Gnome 2 used to. Lo and behold, her we have Bionic MATE, and it seems to be just the thing I was looking for. Specifically, a Unity-like Dash-and-Launcher setup called Mutiny. Let's explore.

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Updated: April 2, 2018 | Category: Linux

AHCI mode & ATA link resets

My hardware arsenal, used for Linux distro testing, is quite varied. It includes some new machines as well as several relics. The oldest among them happens to be a 2009 LG RD510 dual-core box, the first one I ever bought for the sake of proper Linux testing. If you're in for a bit of nostalgia trip, check the original report. Since then, it's had its uses, and recently, I brought it back into the game as the test mule.

The laptop comes with an old Nvidia 9600M GS card, and what's special about it is that no Linux distro installed on it has ever really been able to resume from suspend successfully. I've decided to tackle issue with my recent set of distro checks, just to figure out why and what the underlying issue might be. For those coming through search engines - this article is the fix for suspend & resume problems in Linux on machines with Nvidia cards, caused by ATA link resets for devices running in AHCI mode. Now, shall we?

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