miércoles, 30 de diciembre de 2015

Disturbing News... RIP Ian Murdock

It seems that 2015 could not finish without making the last half of December painful in one way or another.

I first read about Ian Murdock yesterday.  Reading today that he was found dead under very blurry circumstances is disturbing.

The cynic may fire at me.  After all, I never met him or had any kind of contact with him.  I did not know about him until yesterday.  I do not even use Debian or Docker.

However, his death affected me...

Maybe more than I understand now.

R.I.P. Ian Murdock.  I hope his family finds support to carry on.

jueves, 24 de diciembre de 2015

Divergent News on FirefoxOS

Almost 15 days ago, with a heavy heart, I said good-bye to my FirefoxOS phone because of Mozilla's decision to stop the distribution of the devices.

Today, I read these two articles:  The first one describes how Mozilla is dropping all other projects to focus only on the Firefox browser.  The writer emphasizes the irrelevancy of FirefoxOS and supports Mozilla's decision to stay on focus with the browser. 

The second article, however, mentions how Mozilla's strategy is not to ditch FirefoxOS, but to take it to different devices where it can enjoy more success: tablets, keyboard computers, and routers, for example.   Does this mean that FirefoxOS enjoyed more success as a smart TV OS than we have heard about?


Mozilla, what are you up to?

miércoles, 16 de diciembre de 2015

Once Again, Dell Disappoints

Back in November, when they announced that Dell was taking Steam machines to stores, I was very happy.  I really wanted to try the Alienware Steam machine.

Granted, I am not much of a gamer, but my gaming experience on Linux improved drastically thanks to Steam.  So, I visited the closest Dell store and ask about the Alienware Steam machine.

They offered me the Alienware Alpha instead. 

I made it very clear that I wanted a Steam machine, not a Windows computer with a Steam client.  I want to run Linux games.

So, they got my email and promised to notify me about the availability of Steam machines.

I thought I was never going to hear from them, but they wrote to me in a matter of two days... to offer me the Alienware Alpha AGAIN!

I then wrote back, telling the Dell representative that my lack of interest on the Alpha was exclusively because it had Windows.

The guy wrote promising to give me the info in December.  Well, it's December 16 already and nothing has been heard of the Alienware Steam machines...

Why isn't Dell selling Steam machines here?  Is it because they want to help Microsoft boost up numbers of Windows 10?

How funny... Dell has not figured out how Microsoft treats its "valued" partners yet.

jueves, 10 de diciembre de 2015

So Long, Firefox OS Phones, and Thanks for All the Fun

Yesterday news came with a blow: Mozilla announced that, despite development of Firefox OS will continue, they decided to stop their three year experiment with the OS on phones.

For many, this was equal to saying that Firefox OS is dead.

Some people were surprised because this decision came when Firefox OS phones were starting to get some traction in developing markets.

Apparently, Mozilla wants to focus on its core products.  I guess that means the Firefox browser only because they are also looking for someone to pick up Thunderbird.

Mozilla, however, says that they will continue with Firefox OS in embedded devices.

I suppose that implies that I will have to buy a TV if I want to run Firefox OS again.

domingo, 22 de noviembre de 2015

Happy 20th Anniversary, The GIMP!

On November 21, 1995, the announcement that there was a program for image manipulation was made.

This program, originally named The General Image Manipulation Program and now known as the GNU Image Manipulation Program (The GIMP), in my opinion, is the best software I have ever used to work with images.

I am not a professional image designer.  However, as a teacher, one frequently needs to modify or enhance a particular image for a presentation.

Adobe Photoshop is heavy and too expensive.  I used to resort to an assortment of programs that included Irnfanview and Satori, which I could use for free and that satisfied my humble needs.

Then I migrated to Linux and discovered The GIMP.
With it, one can resize images, modify colors, change backgrounds, enhance pictures, create effects, you name it... It is, truly, an amazing program.  In general, every time I have to work with images, I look for this reliable software.  Perhaps batch conversion is the only operation that I prefer to do with other software (Gwenview).

And I've noticed that The GIMP has two points of controversy:  first, many people object to the acronym because of the offensive connotation of the resulting word.  Second, there seems to be an ongoing debate between the Gnome and KDE communities concerning "the way of the desktop" and The GIMP is in the middle.  Gnome strives for simplification while KDE presents lots of options...and The GIMP does not seem to follow Gnome's motto.  

But let's not spoil the party.   The GIMP is here and that's the reason for the celebration!


miércoles, 18 de noviembre de 2015

The Astoria Dilemma... in Images!

These last weeks have been pretty stressful.  So, taking a break form my work, I decided to do something to take my mind off of everything....

sábado, 7 de noviembre de 2015

Tomb Raider Chronicles: Those Unexpected Findings...

I have been experiencing problems to attach files larger than 200kb to emails.

I don't remember when this started happening but, since I normally do not work with files that large by email, the thing was nothing that a minor nuisance to me.

Today, when trying to find the root of the problem, I got side-tracked and ended up stumbling on a happy discovery.

You see, back in 2008 or so, I had to give up my favorite Windows game: Tomb Raider 4 "The Last Revelation."  This was not caused by my commitment to Linux (I did not start using Linux until 2009), but because a Windows XP update made the game crash.

Then I migrated to Linux and playing Tomb Raider again became a lost hope.

Until today.

I did not remember I owned a Tomb Raider Chronicles DVD.  Well, I installed it with WINE on my desktop with PCLinuxOS and, after changing some settings... I could play with Lara Croft again!

I never played Tomb Raider Chronicles on Windows.  Like I said, I did not even remember I had the DVD, so I was excited to hear familiar tunes and, like a child with a new gift, I did not worry about the playability of the game.

I will go back to the game on vacations.  Right now, and after all this time without playing Tomb Raider, I was satisfied with having Lara run around, walk, climb, jump, and shoot---on Linux!

Gotta work.  Er, wait.  Megatotoro is reporting that Pisi Linux is alive!  Wow, another unexpected finding!  :-)

jueves, 5 de noviembre de 2015

What happened to Mepis?

My Linux migration story started in 2009, when I bought a tiny Asus Eee pc netbook pre-installed with Linux, a version of Xandros that I did not like much.

In trying to replace it, I had my first encounter with Xubuntu (no wi-fi support), Debian (minimal shell), and Mandriva, which I installed because it supported wi-fi out of the box.

My brother, Megatotoro, decided to find a Linux distro more to his liking and chose Mepis.

Mepis became the distro of choice for rescue purposes: in live mode, it was perfect to get inside a misbehaving Windows install and retrieve important files.  However, after we abandoned Windows for good, I could see that Mepis could shine with its own light, not just because it was a great rescue tool to have around for those frequent times in which Windows failed.

With Mepis 2011, Warren Woodford, the creator of Mepis, achieved a beautiful polish and rock-solid stability.  I never understood why this distro was not so popular in the DistroWatch ranking.

Then, the development of Mepis stalled and Warren Woodford went silent after a communication on November 5th, 2013.

This happened exactly two years ago.

Mepis is now marked as dormant in DistroWatch.

Of course, the Mepis community has been active all this time.  While some have switched distros, others have stayed.

The fusion of the Mepis and the AntiX communities originated MX Linux.

I still miss Mepis, though.

domingo, 1 de noviembre de 2015

Meet The Ultimate Hacking Keyboard!

I learned today that there is a project on Crowdsupply.com that is attempting to redefine the way one uses a keayboard.

This design integrates typing, pointing and clicking, and ergonomics.  In other words, it works as a keyboard AND a mouse for your computer (in addition to being compact, but expandable to fit the most comfortable position for your hands).

How?  Well, it splits in two and works with programmable layers/macros to make sure you can do everything a conventional keyboard does... and more.

Oh, yes, the UHK also supports Linux and gives you the option to show it is YOUR Linux keyboard by not having the Windows logo in the super key.

This whole thing sounds kind of crazy, but I have to admit it is an interesting idea.

Visit this page to see it in action.

miércoles, 28 de octubre de 2015

OpenMandriva Forums

I received an email about a new tool for OpenMandriva forums today.  It made me curious, so I visited the forums and discovered that I had forgotten to join the forums!

I signed in quickly to see the new tool and, whatever it is, this new tool makes the interaction great.  Its clean and modern appearance reminded me of the interface of Google+

This also caught my eye:


I also gave the OpenMandriva Games page a try and found the proposal interesting despite the games they have are not the ones I play.  I guess it would be great to be able to play Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation again, but Steam is doing a wonderful job to satisfy my occasional gaming needs.

I must try to catch up with what the folks at OpenMandriva are doing...

domingo, 25 de octubre de 2015

History, the World, and KDE: Discovering Marble

Since I migrated to Linux in 2010, there have been two constants.  The first one is, of course, adaptation to new programs.  The second one, the question on whether Gnome is better than KDE.

I recently participated in a survey on Google+ to that effect and, thanks to the survey, I remembered my experience with KDE.

I like KDE not because I think it is superior than other DEs, but because I find its flexibility very convenient for my workflow.  The first Linux distro that I tried was Kubuntu, but never installed it and became a Mandriva 2009 user.  Needless to say, I was using KDE then.

Today, most of the distros I use have KDE, but I also use LXDE (with PicarOS) and Enlightenment (Elive).

Although I felt satisfied, I was missing Google Earth, which I recently had discovered and, those days, only ran on Windows.

KDE's option was Marble.
This is the globe that greets you when you first open Marble.

Marble's OpenStreet map. 

However, I saw it as a very humble substitute for Google Earth, so, when Google Earth became available on Linux, I forgot about Marble... Until yesterday.

I did not know that one could load new maps for Marble and that made all the difference.  With Marble, I can now visualize the conception people had of the world in 1492, before America made it to the map.
Behaim globe, 1492.  The oldest cartographic representation of the Earth known
Behaim globe, 1492.  You can see sea monsters, but America is NOT there.
You can also see the the historical progression of the charting of America:
Cantino's map (1502).  America was rather small back then.

Schagen's globe (1689).  California was an island, the South Sea to the left of Central America!
 For me, these are irreplaceable jewels.

To download them , simply open Marble and press Ctrl+N (or go the the Menu, File, download Maps.  You can get many more maps of the Earth...or the Moon... or of other planets and their satellites.

viernes, 16 de octubre de 2015

Nostalgic Gaming

It seems that Eimi, my now 5 year-old daughter, developed a taste for Dragon Ball Z Kai.

For me, it was surprising.  She even asked me to buy two Goku and a Freezer figures to play.

Then, I remembered there was an old Dragon Ball Z SNES ROM.  I used to play lots of those ROMs in emulators when I used Windows.

I found a Windows ZSNES emulator and the ROM and tested them with WINE.

They worked.
WINE running the DBZ ROM, PCLinuxOS
We had a lot of fun playing together.

miércoles, 14 de octubre de 2015

The Great Paradox of Openness

Yesterday I went to a forum that was organized by the university where I work.  Since the title was "Freedom of Speech, Information Access and New Technologies" I decided to attend because I thought I could learn something about FLOSS.

The talks, however, were more about legal aspects of the government apparatus and the availability of information for regular citizens.

Some interesting points where discussed, such as classified information, privacy of government employees, and the legal framework to grant access of information to communicators.

Something happened when the second speaker attempted to start her speech: she got stuck and could not figure out how to open her presentation because the laptop, had LibreOffice installed.

A bit in a panic, she addressed the audience: "Does anyone know how to use Open Software?"  For two or three seconds, silence fell on the auditorium like a heavy curtain.

That was my cue.  I sprang up and from my seat at the very back and walked confidently to the front and onto the podium.  Slowly, I moved the pointer to "Slide show" and clicked on "Start from first slide".

The speaker showed a smile of absolute relief to me as she thank me.

I went to back to my seat and that could have been the end of the story, but the most paradoxical event happened when she, whose talk was on access to information, stressed the importance of saving government documents using open formats. (!?!)

I mean, this young woman showed evident command of her data and was, in no way, an incompetent speaker.  The sad reality was that, however persuasive her words were, they contrasted sharply with the way in which her speech started.  How can you advocate open formats and, at the same time, ignore how to use LibreOffice?

She redeemed herself, nevertheless.  When she finished her talk, she closed her presentation and repeated the simple process to open the presentation of the speaker that was coming next.

That was good.

domingo, 11 de octubre de 2015

Wishful Thinking

Time is flying.  It will be Christmas pretty soon.

So, I thought about gifts I would like to get for myself.  Yes, that is perhaps mere wishful thinking, but I guess I can indulge in some brief daydreaming.

Let's see...

If I go modest, a Raspberry Pi would be my first choice for a self-gift.  Or maybe an Asus Chromebox.

Now, if I can expand the scope... I would definitely buy myself a Steam Machine!  That is weird as I am no gamer and have never owned a gaming console in my life, but I enjoy computer games and I feel thankful because Valve brought many entertaining hours to my Linux computers... I suspect my daughter will claim this gift for herself :D

A new desktop would also be nice.  Mine is so old that my KDE-based distros are beginning to run slow.

Now, if I can really, really aim high (as in high-end), I will go for the mythical ZaReason's Chimera 2 laptop!

OK, that's enough of my frivolous indulgence ;-)  Back to work!

sábado, 10 de octubre de 2015

Password Hell...Again!

Passwords are, without a doubt, a convenient derivation from the security device from ancient times: token showing.  Yes, in very old civilizations, to recognize a member of a particular clan, a token had to be shown.

Tokens, however, were not safe; one can lose the object and, therefore, be taken as an intruder and a potential menace (with all the undesirable consequences for the person).

Thus, it was only logical to substitute the material object by a coded word that, as everyone knows, has the particularity that it is sometimes difficult to remember...especially if you have many passwords to remember and financial institutions ask you to change them at least once a month.

In my multi-boot ZaReason Strata, I have seven different Linux distros.  Somehow I managed to remember the different user and root passwords for each one of them until I updated OpenMandriva Lx 2014.1 to 2014.2 (the Scion).  Maybe because of stress, or aging, or whatever reason, the password for OpenMandriva Lx 2014.2 would not stick to my memory.  I had to reinstall the Scion twice because I forgot the user password and ended up locked out from my account.

Well, I just finished reinstalling it AGAIN.  Yes, that makes it three times.   The funny thing is that, the former two times, I was sure to have chosen a password that I could remember easily.  It seems that it was easier to forget it.

Then I read this comic strip.

I tested this human-friendly method and it really works!  Simple and effective.

One can but imagine the future problems if they actually substitute passwords with facial gestures, secret taps on touch surfaces, or biometrics.  Scary.

jueves, 1 de octubre de 2015

On the on and off relationship between FirefoxOS and WhatsApp

Good-bye, ConnectA2! 
Yesterday, my FirefoxOS gave me some bad news: ConnectA2, my chosen app to access the WhatsApp network was discontinued and that I should wait for a new soon-to-be ready app called "ConnectedIM".

ConnectA2 was not a perfect app.  Sometimes it would fail to connect and, after an update, it would constantly receive messages from +server saying "Unable to parse the resource".  This messages were annoying, specially because one could several during a day.  I once got 11 in two hours!

It also lacked certain characteristics from the real WhatsApp which, however, was never a problem for me.  I mean, I was conscious ConnectA2 was NOT WhatsApp.  So, expecting absolute equivalence was foolish.  After all, I was using a FirefoxOS phone, not an android phone.

LoquiIM...very similar to KDE's Kopete

Once that ConnectA2 got seriously broken, I had to remove it and started using LoquiIM.  This app lets one configure accounts on Facebook, Google Hangouts and, of course, WhatsApp.  I only used it to access the WhatsApp network and found it quite efficient.  However, every time WhatsApp released an app update, LoquiIM would fail.  Of course, I was then using a developer phone.  When I got the commercial FirefoxOS phone, LoquiIM was the only app that could access the WhatsApp network.

OpenWapp, show me what you can do
There was another change and LoquiIM started to underperform, so I went back to ConnectA2 for a while... that is, until yesterday.  Since ConnectA2 is no more, I had to decide if I stayed with LoquiIM or if I tried another app: OpenWapp.

 OpenWapp's design is very consistent with the rest of the apps on the FirefoxOS platform (HTML5?), so it feels very natural on the phone.  However, I have noticed that it takes some time to display incoming messages.

For the time being, I will keep using OpenWapp.  Let us see how it goes.  If it performs poorly, I can always go back to LoquiIM or, if they fulfill their promise, I can give ConnectedIM a try.

viernes, 18 de septiembre de 2015

The Changes in the Geography of Linux World

Maybe you remember how the explorer Dedoimedo, back on May 13, 2011, produced the first map showing the world of Linux.

Since then, many events have taken place in the universe of technology: Steve Jobs passed away and Tim Cook started directing Apple, Steve Ballmer, who called Linux a cancer, stepped down from his position as CEO and Satya Nadella took the reins at Microsoft, claiming that "Microsoft loves Linux".

One can also remember Valve's release of a native Linux Steam client, the systemd storm, the bankruptcy of Mandriva S.A., the tension between the Ubuntu community and Canonical, to mention some of the most notorious changes in the world of Linux in these four years that have elapsed since the map was created.

Those events have impacted the geography of Linux, so I decided to adapt the map to show the changes.

The geography of Linux in 2015.  Adapted from Dedoimedo's work.
1.  Xandros disappeared.
2.  Mepis has vanished; MX was created later.
3.  Mageia 1 was released.
4.  Pardus became Debianized, ditching the Pisi package manager in the process.  Pisi Linux is born as a response.
5.  The OpenMandriva Association released OpenMandriva Lx.
6.  Microsoft admits it is using Linux.

Wow!  All these in four years!

jueves, 13 de agosto de 2015

My ZTE Open Phone Finally Came Back!

Sometime ago, I managed to upgrade my Firefox OS on the ZTE Open to version 1.2.  However, this upgrade broke many things, like the GPS and other features.

No matter how much I tried to downgrade, the phone would never respond.

That changed today, though.

I tried a crazy approach and deleted a folder in the root folder.  Then, I put the 1.10B06 zip there and rebooted the phone.

While the phone was rebooting, I pressed the power and the volume up buttons together to enter recovery mode.  Once there, I selected the zip file without much hope because I had tried that a zillion times with no success.

But the phone acted differently and showed me a bar with the words "updating."

In less than 2 minutes, it showed "finished" and I rebooted the phone to a fully operational 1.1 downgrade.

The ConnectA2 app to use WhatsApp also works now.

Who would have said that a desperate move would save the phone?  But you know the saying:  Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% desperation! :P

On August and Broken Electronics

Some days ago, Nixie Pixel shared this image on Google+.  Unfortunately for her, August started with her cellphone, laptop, and desktop computer breaking.
One follower replied to her that he has seen that something always breaks in August and, therefore, he has learned to save money ahead of time, destined to the fixing expenses.

I was amused by the post until yesterday... The screen of my ZaReason Strata displayed a blue vertical stripe that eventually extended from the top to the bottom into a full line.

Blue line...
This happened because I was moving the laptop while carrying some books and I almost dropped it.  Not to let it slide to the floor, I exerted additional pressure on the lid against my leg and, surely, I damaged the screen.

The good thing is that there is a place nearby where I can take my laptop to have the screen replaced.  I trust the technician, too.

It turns out that I am the first client that brings him a Linux laptop.

He fixed the Strata fast and, as I tested the KDE effects on PCLinuxOS, he was impressed by the beauty of Linux. He also praised the solid construction of the Strata. He said that other clients have cracked the screen of their laptops with less than what I did to mine.

That confirms my decision.  I will keep buying from ZaReason. :) 

domingo, 19 de julio de 2015

Pisi Linux 1.2 is available!

This confirms Megatotoro's finding:  Pisi Linux is alive! 

At last in DistroWatch!

The kitty shows the famous smile of Korean actor-singer Bi (Rain)

And so I Won...!

I woke up early today with all the intention of tackling my morning jog, but I lacked the energy.

What to do?

I could go back to sleep or... play LIMBO.

Somehow, I knew I was very close to finishing it.  I mean, with all those gravitational spins, how much crazier could that creepy game become?

As an additional motivation, I reminded myself that I had not won any game on Linux.

So I opened Steam and played.

It took me less than one hour to finish LIMBO.
LIMBO:  The end sequence

Just like T.S. Eliot's Magi would have said, the ending was... satisfactory! ;-)

Interestingly, I experienced certain emotion (joy, a sense of achievement/completion?) from winning this game, something that resembles what one feels after finishing a jog.

I sort of understand gamers better now.

martes, 14 de julio de 2015

Seen on Yahoo: Mageia a Great Desktop Distro

I saw this tonight.  It's an article that talks about good Linux desktops.

Two things caught my eye:

1.  The sheer admission that desktop Linux is on the rise.  This is something I have suspected for quite a long time, but sites like StatCounter and Netmarketshare have been denying it with their questionable numbers and that biased tech-journalists keep hiding/misinforming.

2.  When I read the article, I was surprised not to see the usual distros there: Ubuntu, Mint...

And then there's mentioning of Mageia!

martes, 7 de julio de 2015

Fun on Google: Ultraman minigame

Google is today paying homage to Eiji Tsuburaya, a producer that created a world of fantasy that many children remember: the Ultraman series.

The mini-game: make a Ultraman movie!

Of course, Godzilla also exists thanks to him.

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.

sábado, 25 de abril de 2015

Another Surprise: Mageia 5 RC is available!

I don't know why DistroWatch seemed to have missed it, but Mageia 5 RC is available for download.

Great, I was becoming nervous because of the long silence since Beta 3, released on Feb 14.

This is another surprise that should go under the "GOOD" list I wrote yesterday.

KTorrent working already! :-)  Wait... the torrent looks dead.  What's going on? :-(

Mmm.  At least the direct download is working...

UPDATE:  I installed Mageia 5 RC. To read about it, click here.

Weekend Surprises...The Bad, the Good, and the Beautiful

This weekend started with a flavor of that old Western entitled "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly": I have been sick, work is piling up as a result, and one listens to all sorts of bad news everywhere.

I think that I will try to be positive here. So, instead of going to the dark side of life, I am going to move into the silver lining of the dark cloud.

Let's begin, then.


Megatotoro reports that one of the aesthetic features that attracted me to Linux, the chance to have different wallpapers on the virtual desktops, is not working in Plasma 5 because of a bug.

I know that some will dismiss the issue as an exaggeration or a waste of computing resources to favor eye-candy.

Well, they can think that way.  However, for people like me, the change of desktop wallpaper provides a relief from mental strain when working for a long time on a writing project.

I hope they fix the bug... I really do.  I mean, KDE has been my desktop of choice since I migrated to Linux.  While I am sure I can adapt to other DEs, I am fond of KDE.  I will miss the feature, for sure.


After a rather long wait that was making me nervous and silence in both the Mageia and OpenMandriva camps*, OpenMandriva announced the new alpha release, code named "Einsteinium."

* UPDATE-- It seems that the news on Mageia 5 RC missed DistroWatch, whose last report on the Mageia front was the release of Beta 3 on Feb 14, 2015. I just learned that Mageia 5 RC is available for download!

I downloaded the ISO and tried to run it in my ZaReason Strata laptop, but it would not boot.

Curiously enough, it worked perfectly in a VM.

The live session went off normally (with the usual license, language, time options) until, BOOM!, the desktop loaded in less than 3 seconds.  The reason?  They seemed to have put the KDE + Homerun/SimpleWelcome debate at rest by using LXqt instead...

LXQt, the default desktop in OpenMandriva 3

 No Firefox this time, friends.  All hail Qupzilla!
Qupzilla, the default browser
I couldn't play YouTube videos... I guess it's a flash problem.  Fine, this is an alpha release, after all.

I didn't see LibreOffice, but Calligra.
Since I did not install the alpha, I could not try Calamares, the new installer.  

In their release announcement, the team says that they are "mixing the ingredients together."  I myself have mixed feelings about OpenMandriva right now, but I consider it is good to have a release.


Some weeks ago, DistroWatch announced a newcomer into the Linux landscape: BellaOS, another Ubuntu derivative... or should I say a Linux Mint/Xubuntu derivative, as the creators state it on their website?

I tried out the distro out of curiosity.  It was a pleasant surprise because the distro lives up to its name (Bella means "beautiful" both in Italian and Spanish).
Desktop of BellaOS: pretty and functional

For a lightweight, the main desktop looks pretty and does not require a lot of training to be used.  It is a customized version of XFCE with a deck at the bottom.

BellaOS picks up my wifi out of the box under the live session and has no sound problems.  Even when having Firefox and Banshee working, the footprint is small:

BellaOS lets you have different wallpapers on the workspaces!
The system sees my other Linux partitions, too.

I guess that BellaOS and OpenMandriva will keep company to AntiX on my netbook...

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...