miércoles, 5 de agosto de 2020

It's the Ides of August!

In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Roman general Julius Caesar is given an ominous message by the Soothsayer.  The message is a simple warning:
"Beware the ides of March!"  The ides means the first fifteen days of the month and, come the third month, Julius Caesar is stabbed to death in those first fifteen days.

However, it seems that the ominous month for electronics is not March, but August.  In 2015, I had shared the story of how Nixie Pixel's cellphone, laptop, and desktop broke as soon as August started and how some people believed that this eighth month seemed to bring the death of beloved electronics. I even had to replace my laptop screen that month!

Well, today I woke up to the battery indicator of my ZaReason Strata 7140 sending out an intermittent red flash.

It was the laptop's way of saying to me "Aye, the ides of August have come!"

I turned on the machine and discovered that the battery is at 20% health and needs replacement.

This is pretty expected since the Strata has been working since the first half of 2014. 

Getting a replacement battery for this machine is not going to be easy, though... much less now that the government has shut down many commercial activities due to the Covid-19 emergency.

So, I took out the battery and connected the laptop to the backup power supply for the time being.

While I was doing that, I can swear I almost heard the voice of the Soothsayer delivering the ominous reminder: "Aye, the ides of August have come, but not gone!"

Brace yourself!

viernes, 17 de julio de 2020

MX Linux: The Ugly Duckling

Three days ago, I decided to test a Linux distro that has become very popular in DistroWatch, MX Linux.

Megatotoro started using it as soon as it came along, carrying the legacy of the extinct, but amazing  Mepis Linux combined with the speed and versatility of AntiX.  Although, back then, this distro was but a faint bleep in the DistroWatch radar, today it has the top 1 spot in the chart, way above Mint and Ubuntu, once rulers of Linux popularity.

What prompted me to try it was an experiment with OBS Studio, which required me to use a 64 bit distro that worked with .deb packages.  I have always used .rpg distros: Mageia, OpenMandriva, PCLinuxOS, and Fedora.  Well, I have Elive 3, but it is 32 bits, so it did not work for me.

I needed to replace one distro, so I chose to erase Fedora.  Anyway, I could always put it back once I finished my OBS Studio experiment, I said to myself.

MX Linux installed very quickly and without any problem.  I had no GRUB2 issues and found myself quite at ease with the DE.  Thanks to my experience with PCLinuxOS, using Synaptic in MX represented no learning curve at all.

So, I carried out my experiment and failed miserably.  However, contrary to what I had originally intended, I had already customized the appearance of the DE and stuffed the system with my favorite programs.  When I saw myself syncing my files and Firefox, I knew that the distro was staying in my laptop.

Now I understand why so many Linux users prefer MX.  Just like in Andersen's story, I had grossly underestimated this distro... until it became a beautiful swan-like OS powering my computer with grace and ease.

It is no coincidence that its code name is Patito Feo.


domingo, 3 de mayo de 2020

COVID-19, Telework, and Linux! Happy Anniversary, Mandriva Chronicles!

With the present sanitary emergency created by COVID-19, I've been away from this blog for two months already.

It's not that I have not had the motivation to post, no.  Actually, my work load blew up to three times its normal size because of the mandatory teleworking policies of the university where I work.

In the course of three weeks, I saw everyone move to cyberspace (willingly or reluctantly).  Anxiety, contradictory policies, and uncertainty became the new educational environment for many.  And, with this, I forgot that last Friday was the 10th Anniversary of this humble blog.

 What can I report?

1.  Well, the idea of the younger generations being "digital natives" shattered into a million pieces; as I had always suspected, it was nothing but a myth.  This crisis forced students to use the Web to study and, in great numbers, they are admitting defeat.  It turns out that their online skills seem nothing else that proficiency for using social networks: they cannot read and concentrate, have problems understanding how to post in forums, and become confused when submitting their assignments in an online mailbox.

2.  Linux has been up to the challenge: even though I have been forced to install programs such as Zoom and (yuck!) MS Teams on my laptop and my daughter's desktop, PCLinux OS and Mageia have been reliable, helping me attend meetings and helping my daughter continue with her elementary school classes.

Megatotoro and I decided to ditch Zoom and favored a more flexible online approach.  This idea implied producing lots of audiovisual material --something that we have no training on.  Thus, we had to learn how to produce videos in Linux for our courses.  In a week, I taught myself Kdenlive and Openshot, became more proficient with Audacity, and relied more in the image-editing of the always trustable GIMP.

In the meantime, other professors have been struggling trying to adapt their lessons to something they can deliver through Zoom meetings.  How successful that attempt is I cannot say.  Students claim that Zoom sessions generate anxiety and make them very tired, which has been confirmed in this article.  

So, yes, it has been a busy time.  But, all, in all...

Linux truly saved me from this technological virus that seems to be eroding the mental health of my colleagues...


viernes, 14 de febrero de 2020

Steam client crash in OpenMandriva Lx 4.1 Fixed!

After fixing some boot problems (due to a careless update of another OS), I discovered that Steam is now working in OpenMandriva 4.1.


Honestly, I do not know if it was fixed or if my installing of GRUB editor (which was removed in the new OpenMandriva) did the trick.

Whatever the case, Steam is now working!

domingo, 2 de febrero de 2020

Steam client crashing on OpenMandriva Lx 4.1

I downloaded and installed OpenMandriva Lx 4.1 and the OS looks good.

The main problem with it right now is that Steam is not working properly: even though the client starts, downloads updates and unpacks the Steam runtime, it crashes right before login.

There was not much I could do about it.  Apparently, this problem has already been reported.

So, I have to wait...

sábado, 1 de febrero de 2020

A Surprise!

Today, my daughter wanted to play some Steam games and, since we were in my home office, I let her use my laptop.  I booted OpenMandriva Lx and dragora showed me that there were some updates. I had updated the machine like a couple of weeks ago, so I thought the process could wait until after the game.

My daughter played and, afterwards, I saw that the updates were massive: more than 1800 packages!

I decided to install the updates, but nothing was going on.  So, I checked the OpenMandriva site and found this:

Thinking that I had misread something, I went to Distrowatch.org and saw that the RC of OpenMandriva Lx 4.1 was out in  January 29...

Boy, I missed all that because I had been working so much writing!

I guess I will have to wait to be able to download the new release.

martes, 31 de diciembre de 2019

My Linux Experience in 2019

This is my last post of the year.

In summary, I can say that my experience with Linux during 2019 has been extremely satisfactory.  I mean, my computers have been working great and the distros have been more stable than ever.

This is not to imply that I have not encountered problems along the way.  Mageia 7 has been showing me strange updates that, when I have succumbed to the temptation of installing them, my system has lost functionality (for my particular purposes, that is).  Those two notorious problems are the mesa update, which wants to remove Steam, and the WINE update, which has rendered the few Windows programs I still keep unusable.  I tried the  instructions here to fix issue, but to no avail.  Using DNF, I have seen that Mageia 7 does not seem to be connecting to the mirrors.

So I guess I will use Steam in Mageia and WINE in PCLinuxOS for the time being.

I can always resort to OpenMandriva LX 4 if I want to use both Steam and Wine.
I could finally enable Wine in Mageia.  I did it with konsole, using these commands as root:
urpmi.update --no-ignore "Core 32bit Release"
urpmi.update --no-ignore "Core 32bit Updates"

to make sure that the i586 repos are enabled to retrieve the i586 dependencies and then

dnf install --allowerasing  wine

this allows dnf to erase the newer packages that were conflicting with Wine.


Fedora keeps eating the /root space avidly every time there is an update.

sábado, 9 de noviembre de 2019

Getting the Epson XP-231 Multifunction printer to work in Fedora 31 KDE spin

This new version of Fedora gave me a bit of a headache trying to get the Epson XP-231 multifunction printer to work.  The main problem was that the OS would not enable the printer and, regardless of my attempts, I could not get the rpm package with the drivers installed.

The Plasma assistant detected the printer, but could not find any drivers.  So, I first tried what has been working before: using a local package called epson-inkjet-printer-201204w-1.0.0-1lsb3.2.x86_64.rpm (which I downloaded and keep around) using either Discover or dnfdragora. Discover told me that the installation was successful, but the Plasma assistant still refused to see the driver.

When I used dnfdragora, it would not start and issue an error message about insufficient permissions. I made my user a sudoer, but it did not help.

Little did I know that the solution was a lot simpler that I expected.

All I had to do was to start dnfdragora and search "epson." This gave me a package with a newer version of the drivers, which I installed and, after that, I simply configured the printer with the plasma assistant, where the drivers could be selected this time.

For the scanner, I used megatotoro's procedure here again.

Now everything is good!


lunes, 4 de noviembre de 2019

The Changes that November Brought

I realized that Fedora 31 had been released on October 29, so I decided to install it to my laptop three days ago.

Putting on the Fedora is a touchy operation: generally, installing this distro implies a fresh install keeping my home partition, running DNF commands to install the RPM fusion repo afterwards, and finally configuring my brand new Fedora desktop.  Although that sounds pretty standard, the problem lies on the fact that I am dealing with a laptop that has OpenMandriva Lx 4, Mageia 7, PCLinuxOS, Elive 3.0, PicarOS Diego, and Pisi Linux.  The changes that Fedora makes to the OpenMandriva-controlled GRUB2 regularly lead to a kernel panic in OpenMandriva and a slow start in Mageia.

This time was no different.  Well, there was a difference: I required a considerable less time to fix the problems, which made me very happy as I needed the laptop for work today.  Yet, I made a change to make my life easier.  I moved OpenMandriva Lx 4 from rolling to rock.  Steam is working, too.  In Mageia 7, I keep avoiding the three mesa updates that want to remove Steam.

I am considering replacing Pisi... It is way too outdated and there is no word about it since 2016.

The question is what distro to pick.  I want something light and, if possible, not rolling.

Or maybe I should try BSD?  Say, MidnightBDS? My daughter and her cat, Mr. Midnight, would certainly like that! :)

I will give it a thought...

sábado, 14 de septiembre de 2019

An Easy Fix for a Stupid Mistake

I waited a long time for Mageia 7 and for OpenMandriva Lx 4.  When both distros arrived, I was very happy.

But new distros bring changes, and sometimes it is not easy to adapt.  Mageia 7 has been rock-solid: it is doing a great job in my laptop and both in my daughter's desktop and in mine.  There is one thing, though.  I have been avoiding a strange mesa update that wants to remove Steam.

OpenMandriva is also fantastic, but this new release provided options like rock, release, and rolling.   When I first installed the distro,  I chose rock because I was shying away from the rolling flavor.  Eventually, I had to move to rolling because that was the only way in which I could manage to install Steam in both my laptop and desktop machines.

And then, disaster came to the desktop.  I forgot to update packages in over a month.  Logically, when I attempted the update, kwin was not operational.  I reinstalled as rock and, curiously, this time installing Steam was possible.  So, that took care of the problem.

I then started the update in the laptop.  Since I had been installing upgrades more frequently, I assumed that the process was going to be painless.

I stumbled upon a large update and, just like with the desktop, I had problems.  The screen lock was broken and, even though I tried the recommended method (Ctrl+Alt+F2 to switch to a virtual terminal, then running loginctl unlock-session c2 and then switching back to the running session with Ctrl+Alt+F1), I got an error message.

So, the installation was not completed and the desktop had several issues, like kwin crashing, dragora failing to retrieve the database, and losing widgets and icons.

I was prepared to reinstall as rock, but I thought that maybe I could use dnf to complete the installation.  Dnf showed me that the database was corrupted.

I decided to try rpm --rebuilddb  and then dnf upgrade

That did the trick.  Now OpenMandriva is fully operational on my laptop!

domingo, 16 de junio de 2019

OpenMandriva Lx 4 is finally here!

Great news today that, around here, we celebrate Father's Day: OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 has been released!

The details can be found here

I am presently downloading the .iso file to install it as soon as possible.  In the time being, I think I will test the live distro when the download completes.


Magiea 7 is coming around soon, too.

It's the Ides of August!

In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Roman general Julius Caesar is given an ominous message by the Soothsayer.  The message is a simple warn...