domingo, 20 de agosto de 2017

MX Linux saves the day

Last Friday, when I was working in my office, a colleague asked me for help.
She had turned on the new desktop computer (a Windows 10 machine) and, as she didn't have a user, she was barred out.  That was bad for her because she wanted to print urgently.
I don't have a user on that machine, either.  However, Megatotoro had made a bootable pendrive with MX Linux for me, so I plugged it in and started the OS.
Once inside, configuring the printer was a snap since I found the same tool I use in Mageia.  I selected the wrong driver at first, but got the right one on my second attempt.
I printed her documents and she was amazed and thankful.  I was glad my first time with MX Linux went well.
Oh, and her file was an .odt she made with LibreOffice!

domingo, 30 de julio de 2017

10 Days with Fedora 26 and Mageia 6

About 13 days ago or so, I posted an entry on my preparations to upgrade Fedora Workstation KDE 25 to Fedora 26.
My original intention was to do it via CLI, but it did not go well because, after having downloaded all the packages, the system reported insufficient space in / for the install.  Apparently I, being a Fedora noob, had not removed all the old packages and had less than 75 MB left.
I performed a clean install and everything went perfect.  I am still trying to figure out how to enable the scanner, though.
By the way,  # yum clean all gets rid of the old packages.
 
During those days, Mageia 6 was finally released, so I decided to remove the Mageia 5 on my work laptop and put in the brand new version.  I kept my /home and the upgrade was perfect.
Today I even changed the Mageia 6 Sta2 on my daughter's UEFI desktop and a problem that prevented me to install WINE there was gone.
Good!

martes, 11 de julio de 2017

Getting Prepared to Upgrade from Fedora Workstation 25 (KDE) to 26


I decided to install Fedora Workstation 25 (KDE) on December 28, 2016 and, despite the learning curve, I found myself happy with it.

Today, DistroWatch announced that Fedora 26 was released, and this announcement threw me at the eternal crossroads of the Linux users: If the system is running fine, why upgrading it?

Taking into account that I am not an expert Fedora user, the operation can become a risky one.  In addition, today is one of those days in which my technological biorhythm (if such a thing actually exists) instructs me to keep away from computers as much as I can.

But I have this article that details the upgrade process.

What can go wrong?

Let's live dangerously!

jueves, 8 de junio de 2017

UEFI and Mageia 6 RC Adventure

I had to replace my daughter's desktop computer because it fried during an intense storm. Fortunately, I could rescue the two hard drives and, thus, I did not buy a new hd with the new system.  One disk was a storage unit; the other one dual-booted with PicarOS and Mageia 6 Sta2.  Normally, it would have been a matter of stuffing the HDs and telling the BIOS to pick the one with the OSs.  The new PC, however, came with UEFI.

I expected no real problem because, having successfully replaced my own desktop two months ago with an UEFI machine, the system picked up the two disks and now dual-boots OpenMandriva Lx and Mageia 5. In addition, I had worked with Mageia on an UEFI machine before and had no problems.

My daughter's computer was different.  Since I wanted to replace the out-dated Mageia 6 Sta2 install, I booted the machine with a pendrive that contains the recently-released Mageia 6 RC iso, which detected UEFI and booted in UEFI mode.  Even when I disabled secure boot and everything, I got stuck at the partition stage during installation: the installer kept saying that I needed to mount a partition in /boot/UEFI. 
I read the Mageia install documentation because I did not want to lose PicarOS if I reorganized the partitions.  According to the guide, the best approach was to erase the Mageia 6 Sta1 partitions and later select "auto-allocate", so that the installer could take care of the partitioning using the empty space.

It did.  It created a 300 MB UEFI partition before /, the swap partition, and /home.  Before completing the process, I picked "Install GRUB2 on UEFI partition"  It was painless.  "Well, that went smoothly," I said to myself while savoring my easy triumph.

However, my smile vanished when I attempted to boot the system.  GRUB2 reported problems and, after changing options to tell UEFI to pick the correct HD, the machine simply refused to start.  To add insult to injury, the system no longer wanted to recognize the USB device as a legitimate bootable source.

After changing things again, the PC booted from the pendrive at last, so I decided to try to install once more, but this time paying careful attention to the disk or partition where I was going to put GRUB2 into.

At the partition stage, I deleted my Mageia partitions to free space and selected "auto-allocate."  I could not help but noticing that the installer did not create a UEFI partition this time. Weird.  

With no UEFI partition, I put GRUB at the MBR of the HD and finished the install.  I re-started the machine fearing the worst.

GRUB2, nevertheless, picked up PicarOS and Mageia.  In disbelief, I booted PicarOS.  Everything was OK there, so I booted Mageia next and, after a while, my daughter's new desktop greeted me with the Welcome screen of Mageia 6 RC.  The installation was a success.

I wish I knew what happened...

Definitely, I still have a long road to walk with UEFI.

viernes, 5 de mayo de 2017

The Return of the Asus Eee PC 900 -- with PicarOS!

The reason why I jumped into the Linux train was a tiny Asus Eee PC 900 that I bought in 2007.  This 8.9 inch netbook came with Linux pre-installed and I intended to change the OS to Windows XP, but the latter made the netbook a real snail.  In addition, my wife had already grown fond of the cute Frozen Bubble game on Xandros, the netbook's original OS, so I went back to Linux, but put Mandriva on the machine instead. 

It was an amazing little machine that helped me get my tenure at the University where I work, but that I gave away later to a person who needed it to keep studying.

Last month, by pure serendipity, I saw another Asus Eee PC 900 sitting on the display window of a computer repair shop.

I bought it for my daughter, expecting to change the Windows OS to Sugar since her school decided not to lend the OLPC XO computers for take out.

Even though I had my pendrive ready with Sugar, my plan did not work because I failed to consider that the machine is very old and, hence, its architecture is 32 bit.  Most Linux distros abandoned 32 bit to concentrate on 64 bit.  Sugar does not support 32 bit.

I put old Mandriva 2010 on the HD and, sure enough, the netbook came to life with Linux.  There was another problem, though.  When I tried to watch Youtube videos, Google told me that the browser was no longer supported and urged me to upgrade to a more modern browser.  I checked Firefox and... it was version 3.5.3! 

Of course, getting a more modern Firefox from the repos was impossible as Mandriva repos went to nothingness.  It was a dead end.

Then Megatotoro reported that PicarOS was out.  PicarOS is a fantastic Linux distro that is designed for children and my daughter loves it.  Besides, this beautiful OS has a small system footprint, so it was a good option because it still supports 32 bit architecture.

I downloaded the PicarOS Diego 2017 image and, using ROSA image writer, a great USB live OS creator, stuffed it to a 4GB pendrive.

Although the OS booted perfectly, the installation was problematic.  I tried the advance mode and, after completion, the machine simply showed a GRUB error.

I tried the automatic mode.  No luck: the netbook did not boot.
I tried the manual mode.  Same problem.

I booted it live and, starting to feel defeated, looked for another install method.  In the menu, under Minino Tools, there was this suspicious entry that I had not seen in PicarOS before.  It was for copying the system to an USB or HD, it said.

I tried it.  when prompted, I selected the HD of the netbook and waited.... and waited.

A window with a progress bar was there.  The window read "Oh. The /usr folder is so full of things!"  After a while, the message  changed to  "Less work to do now" until it finished copying.  I really appreciated the humor.

When it was done, I rebooted more confidently (perhaps thanks to the humor?) and... GRUB was there, offering me three options: 64 bit, PAE, and 32 bit.
I selected 32 bit and PicarOS Diego became alive!

The tiny machine has everything one needs to work and play.  And it loads YouTube videos, too!


My daughter, Eimi, liked it a lot.  She got a bit disappointed when I told her that the little machine does not have enough power to play Among the Sleep, her favorite Steam game.

However, she was very satisfied when she could practice her reading using GCompris and got a perfect score, hehe.
Eimi holding the tiny Asus Eee PC 900 with PicarOS
PicarOS is definitely a great OS for children.  It is too bad that not many people are aware of its existence.

lunes, 1 de mayo de 2017

Another Year on the Blogosphere

This blog came to life on May 2, 2010, as my humble attempt to register each step, however minimal, that I took in my journey as a new Linux user.

I had started using Linux a bit earlier (2009), thanks to an Asus Eee PC 900 that came with Xandros Linux pre-installed.  I did not like the OS, but decided to give Linux a chance after the complete failure Windows was on that tiny netbook.

I changed the OS to Mandriva 2009 and so I became a full time Linux user.  No one asked me to migrate; I came to Linux by myself.

Mandriva 2009: Default wallpaper

Seven years have already elapsed!  Seven years in which I have used my computers without worrying about viruses, of seeing computer myths exposed, of watching the world spin from a different standpoint.

Distros have risen and fallen; desktop environments have evolved, forked, and gone are certain bugs that annoyed me, along with features that I loved.

People that came across in this virtual world have died, too.  And projects that inspired me are disappearing, swept away by the ceaseless tide of time.

In the middle of all this, hope springs eternal: I have seen other non-technical computer users like me abandon their fear when they sit in front of a Linux-powered system. Ah, and there's also this girl who was born six years ago, surrounded by Linux computers... If OSs were languages, she would be trilingual!

Seven years of learning...

domingo, 30 de abril de 2017

KDE Connect from the eyes of a newbie... What sorcery is this?

I had seen the KDE Connect applet in both OpenMandriva and PCLinuxOS many times, but I had not had any interest on trying KDE Connect to assess what it could actually do.

Of course, I inferred it was something to connect a phone and a PC in some way and enabling the swapping of files in between the two devices, but I really did not care much about it.  After all, that is what bluetooth is for, right?

Today, I decided to give it a try on PCLOS.

The first thing I got was a message saying that "No paired device was found" and that I had to install the android KDE Connect app on my phone first.  So, I got the mobile app and ran it on the phone.  It picked my PCLOS laptop and asked me if I wanted to pair the devices.

I accepted, expecting the app to crash.  However, my PC showed me a notification asking me to pair it with the phone.  Apparently, the app had worked!

The first option on the phone was to send files, so I selected a picture of Buachompoo Ford, a Thai singer/actress, and sent it to the PC, but I saw nothing happen.  "A-ha!", I grinned, thinking that the app had failed on PCLinuxOS.  So, I  closed it on the phone.

I was getting ready to reboot in OpenMandriva to perform a second attempt when, inside of a folder, I saw Buachompoo smiling...

"What??!!"

There was no doubt; that was the file I had sent from the phone with KDE Connect.

I turned off the phone's bluetooth and rebooted the laptop in OpenMandriva.

After pairing, I saw something that read "Remote input".
I tapped it and got a screen with a message giving me instructions on how to control my laptop from the phone.

 Again, without expecting it to work, I moved my finger on the phone screen and the computer pointer mimicked my movement.  It was nice, but I was not very impressed because I had used a LibreOffice remote app before.  This remote, however, let me operate all of my computer: I rotated the workspaces, changed the activities, fired up the browser...  and the bluetooth on the phone was off!

"Sassy app, hu?", I said to myself.  "So you work via Wi-fi.  Let's see you crash when I use the Japanese keyboard on the phone in LibreOffice."  I need to clarify that I do not have a Japanese IME on PCLinuxOS right now, so there was no chance typing in that language was supported...

I opened Writer and chose the keyboard on KDE connect.  As I expected, the Japanese keyboard popped up on my phone and I typed with a smile that became petrified when I saw hiragana characters appear on the blank page of Writer and change to kanji.



This meme describes my reaction perfectly:



I have to admit that I have seen something impressive on Plasma 5 at last!