miércoles, 1 de julio de 2015

Mageia 5: I See no Change... and That's Good!

It's been like a week after Mageia 5 was released.  I installed the full DVD version to two desktops and two laptops to see what it offered.

Normally, I test a new distro more cautiously; first, I run a VM, then, I run a live version on the actual system where I wish to install before I decide to wipe out the root partition and say hi to the new OS.

But somehow I felt lazy this time.  No, it was not laziness.  As Megatotoro said, I was feeling bored because all my Linux systems have been working flawlessly for such a long time that I have been tinkering with my Firefox OS phones instead.

I wanted to upgrade and I sort of wanted something to break...So I tried multiple installation scenarios to maximize the chances of things going bad:

1.  My old desktop.  Upgrade from M4 to M5 via upgrading applet.  Not only did it work, but it also corrected a minor problem I had with iBus for Japanese input!

2.  My wife's laptop.  DVD install.  During the process, the touchpad froze.  I plugged in a usb mouse and went on expecting trouble once the system had been installed.  Nope, the touchpad worked and Grub 2 also played nice with Ubuntu...

3.  My ZaReason laptop.  Again, applet upgrade, with the additional complication of having a multiboot configuration (OpenMandriva Lx, Mageia 4, PCLinuxOS, Pisi Linux, PicarOS, Elive beta, and Mageia 5 RC).  Nothing bad happened.  The applet even distinguished the two Mageia systems and asked me which one I wanted to upgrade!

4.  My daughter's desktop.  This is a dual-boot, multisession machine. DVD install.  Nothing happened here during the upgrade.

After a week, and without considering aesthetic improvements, I have seen nothing different... it feels just like the system those machines had before.  Of course, that's not to belittle the great work of Mageia developers, but to say that when a user experiences no disruption after an upgrade, that is very good news.

Mageia 5  is looking solid and consistent with the user experience that was established with Mageia 1.  In this world, where developers keep changing things and expect users to adapt, I, for one, appreciate the consistency.

domingo, 14 de junio de 2015

Game On!

Although I am not much of a gamer, I enjoy good games when I get some free time to play them.

I wanted to try World of Goo and This War of Mine.  Luckily, The Humble Bundle offered The World of Goo and other interesting titles (ZenBound, Limbo, and Braid again), so I bought the bundle and decided to play them on Steam.

Steam, for its part, had This War of Mine at discount price.

I could not resist and bought it, too.

So, I resumed my playing of To the Moon, Nihilumbra, Braid, and started This War of Mine (to add to the assortment of painful games).
A screenshot from To the Moon

As an emotional relief, I also played Limbo... CREEPY!

Limbo... a platform game with an oppressive atmosphere
Of course, keeping all this joy for myself is just not right.  I had to share the happiness and thus sent the games to Megatotoro.

I have to admit that the gaming experience on Linux has become a lot more enjoyable thanks to Steam.  I might even get a Steam machine later.

I will try to play on Desura one of these days, too.

martes, 26 de mayo de 2015

Good-bye, Mandriva!

It is official: Mandriva S.A. is being liquidated (in French).
After a long struggle, Mandriva S.A. comes to an end on June 2, 2015 and, with its demise, the venerable Linux distro that made me migrate from Windows also disappears.

Mandriva is dead!  Long live Mandriva!
I think that it is sad that the Mandriva star twinkles no more in the OS universe, but it is good that other distros can continue with its legacy: Mageia, OpenMandriva Lx and, up to a certain extent, PCLinuxOS.

This is the way of life.  Nothing stays forever... What a weird coincidence that I am dressed all in black today.

Many things have changed since I first used Mandriva.  Some of those changes were for the better, some others were not.

Now let's see what else the future brings. 

sábado, 23 de mayo de 2015

Happy Belated Anniversary, LinuxMigrante!

Oh, no, I missed the fifth anniversary of Megatotoro's blog, La Esquina de Un Migrante a Linux!

This blog was created on May 21, 2010.  Because of the author's commitment to sharing his knowledge about Linux, I have learned many useful tricks.

Thanks to this blog, among other things, my daughter enjoys a computer with PicarOS, my wife played games like Passage, and I learned how to configure GRUB for multiboot.

Megatotoro writes about fun and crazy stuff, as having a Buddhist cow in your computer, or about bold experiments with Linux in stressing situations.  One thing is sure: the writer in the corner of migration to Linux has never been afraid to toe the line when trying the new resources that FLOSS offers.

May you continue posting for many years to come, Megatotoro! 

viernes, 22 de mayo de 2015

A New Firefox OS phone

I wrote before how Firefox OS reconciled me with mobile phones.

My experience with the ZTE Open was so good after I upgraded the OS to 1.1 that I decided I wanted to get version 1.2.

Instead of getting enough information, I grabbed outdated instructions to install an old 1.2 image... back then, it was a pre-release version of Firefox OS 1.2

The process was smooth and I got a new interface:

I was very excited  when I saw that some of the regular features of a smartphone has were at last operational with this upgrade, such as microphone recording, contact storing, etc.

The clock was redesigned with more functionality: it has the alarms, a practical timer and a useful stopwatch all in one.

This new version also allowed me to create functional music playlists... but with the new system, my problems with the ZTE Open phone began.

I know that it was actually my fault for installing a pre-release image. So, I could not receive updates and certain apps stopped working.  One was ConnectA2, the WhatsApp equivalent.  There were other apps that could allow me to access the WhatsApp network, like Loqui IM or OpenWapp, so I did not worry much.

But  Run, Bike, Hike, HereMaps, and all apps that needed GPS were misbehaving.  The reason: GPS was simply not working!

This GPS problem was a show-stopper.  I tried to revert to Firefox OS 1.1, but the process did not work.  I tried everything to no avail; I was stuck with this version of 1.2.

That's when I decided to buy the Alcatel One Touch Fire C, the only phone they sell in my country with Firefox OS.  I was a bit reluctant at first since the carrier that offers the phone is Movistar, a Telefonica-owned company.

Last Monday, I bought the phone anyway.  I must say that I am very pleased by its performance and very cheap price.  One can swap the SIM card to use the phone with another carrier here, too.
Home Screen of Alcatel OneTouch Fire C (with my Nihilumbra Wallpaper)
These are the specs of this affordable smartphone:

  • CPU: Dual Core 1.2 GHz CPU
  • Camera: 2 MP Rear
  • Battery: 1300mAh
  • Display: 3.5” HVGA, TFT 262K color display, Capacitive Screen with gesture.
  • Resolution: 320x480 pixels
  • Internal memory: 4GB ROM + 512MB RAM
  • External memory: MicroSD Card: up to 32GB
  • Size: 112.2 x 62 x 11.95mm
  • Weight: Approx.100g
They are not bad for a basic smartphone.  The Gaia interface is pretty and responsive and I installed the apps I need from the MarketPlace.  In so doing, I noticed that ConnectA2 was not working, but it was not a big deal: I could access my WhatsApp contacts through Loqui IM.
Three app screens
Although this phone does not have a compass, I liked that Firefox OS 1.3 offers more customization options: you can now select your favorite song as the ringer, you have more control over the updates, contacts, and calls, and the battery does not run out of juice as fast as it does in other phones.

My main complaint is the color: I would have preferred it in Mozilla Orange... but this phone satisfies the strange requirements of a mobile phone hater like me ;-)

martes, 28 de abril de 2015


I believe that one of the greatest strengths of Linux is its community.  Unfortunately, most of the times, the hard work of the developers that have the technical ability to put a distro together goes unnoticed in the excitement of the final product.

Users become particularly vocal when things do not work as expected: we rant and, in our frustration, we sometimes fail to recognize all the hard work and commitment of those who make things happen.

Only two days ago, I discovered that the release candidate of Mageia 5 was available and tested it.  I saw that a key feature for me, Japanese IME via iBus, was not working.

I reported the bug without much hope, to be honest.

Almost immediately, I began receiving emails with updates of the progress that Mageia developers were making.  They were busy, buzzing with activity trying to rectify the problem.

Today, I am happy to report that Japanese IME is working again in Mageia 5 RC.

Although I could not manage to make Anthy work, Mozc works perfectly: it lets you type in hiragana and katakana, and gives you suggestions of conversion to kanji, as Anthy did.

Therefore, I want to express my deepest gratitude to those who took their valuable time to tackle this issue.  I don't know the names of all of you who got involved, but one thing I know... You all ROCK!

Japanese IME: iBus + Mozc (Mageia 5 RC)

domingo, 26 de abril de 2015

Mageia 5 RC is Out: A Quick Test Drive

Mageia 5 RC is truly out.  After downloading the Install 64 bit ISO, I ran it first on a VM and this is what I found:

Mageia 5 RC on a Virtual Machine

Splash screen.  I like the new artwork
The new splash screen follows a consistent color pattern with that blue-white that we have seen since Mageia 1.  The installer itself is familiar as its visual characteristics and most of its functionality is inherited from the installer I found in Mandriva PowerPack 2009, if I recall correctly.

Language selection screen

The Mageia team seems truly commited to the ideal of keeping the installation process as consistent as possible.

So, you first select the interface language and then accept a license.  Then you get to choose the time zone, time, location, etc.

The partitioning process follows and then you wait until all packages have been installed to the HD.

Like I said, nothing confusing there if you have done it before.

KDE in Mageia 5 RC.  iBus refuses to work!
You then add users, etc.

The installation was smooth and relatively quick.

Since this first install was a VM one, I experienced no problem with the Wifi connection, but could not activate the effects.

The downside was that, differently from previous releases, this RC does not seem to accept IME, be it by iBus or SCIM.  This is truly sad for people who need their Linux system to type in languages such as Japanese.

UPDATE: iBus is now working for Japanese input with Mozc instead of Anthy.  See here.
This KDE version allows multiple wallpapers
LibreOffice was upgraded

The general experience was that of working with the same system I have (Mageia 4).  No crashes, no weird slow-downs, no problems with multiple wallpapers, as Megatotoro reports here Plasma 5 is showing... aside from the missing IME, I felt like at home.

Mageia 5 RC on real hardware

To install Mageia, I had to use the partitions I have destined for Moondrake (since I could never fix the Control Center to install new packages, I sadly could not do much with Moondrake).

The network applet was missing!
After installing, I observed some bizarre results.  First, the KDE desktop booted with all my favorite effects enabled, but without any panel.  It was not a big deal; I added the lower panel manually.

Then I saw that the network applet was gone from the panel, but both the wired and wireless connections were functional.
Another odd visual aspect was that, when I switched the application launcher to Kickoff, I saw one cute penguin icon...just like the ones in Moondrake.  
That made me understand that the oddities were caused because of my own hand: I did not format the home partition! 

I then played some music and YouTube videos, saw the beautiful screensaver, tested the screen lock... In my humble opinion, if you enjoyed Mageia 4, there is no reason why you will dislike Mageia 5.  As I said, for non-technical users like me, the experience is fully consistent.  I guess the Mageia team did most of the changes under the hood, where the tweaking stays invisible to my untrained eyes.

The system was responsive and solid.  Everything was working as it should... except, again, iBus... So, momentarily, no Japanese input :-(

I hope they correct that before the official release.