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gfranken's blog

With the latest Kubuntu 15.10 (Wily)

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Just talk

I love the KDE desktop—I really do. However… here are some grumbles.

Issues with Kubuntu 14.10

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I installed Kubuntu 14.10 a couple of weeks ago. Here's two issues I've discovered, the first one is solved, but the 2nd one isn't.

1) Kdenlive will play videos from the Clip Monitor, and in the Project Monitor. However, after rendering the video, audio is lost.

2) It's not possible to mount an nfs share automatically in /etc/fstab. You have to use
sudo mount -a and enter the root password.

Computer Equipment and Screen Recording Revisited

It has been about 3 years since my primary hardware machine has been upgraded. I already had 16GB of RAM, two 1920 x 1200 monitors, a Filco mechanical keyboard, and a graphics tablet. OK, I admit that the CPU is showing a little age, but it was an AMD Phenom II X4 965 quad-core processor, and that still has some life left in it.

So I decided to update my graphics card, which was an Nvidia GeForce 440.

Mandrake Derived Distros

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Todays special is about Mandrake derived distributions, namely,
OpenMandriva Lx 2014 alpha vs Mageia 4 final vs ROSA 2012 R2 final vs PCLinuxOS 2013.12 final.

In (my limited) testing, I've used the X86_64 versions favoring the KDE desktop, and I've used the NVidia binary drivers provided with each distro.

Here's my experience with each one:

PCLinuxOS 2013--An Old Friend Revisited

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I first heard about Bill Reynolds (AKA "Texstar") when I was using Mandrake Linux 7 (later called "Mandriva") many years ago. Back then, Texstar was putting together updated KDE releases for Mandrake Linux, as Mandrake would only typically update their KDE release once or twice a year.

Windows 8.1 "The Worst Ever"

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Just talk

I've taught High School Computer Science for 25 years--Computer Programming, Web Page Design, Word Processing, Database Processing, and Spreadsheet processing. I have Linux on all my home computers with a dual boot into MS Windows 7 on my main computer. I don't use Windows 7 very often--but, I can find my way around in Windows 7. Since I have no experience with Win 8, I've thought all the recent hoopla about Microsoft's Windows 8 and 8.1 was just inexperienced grousing.

Casual Programming and Linux Screen-Recorders

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After being retired (for four years) from teaching high school Computer Science, I decided to get back into programming again. I once taught a beginning programming class using the Ruby language, and I thought that would be a good way to get back into programming. So, I decided I needed a “Ruby refresher”, and I wanted to learn more about that language than I taught in the classroom.

Lost mime types under kde

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I downloaded the source to the (video editing) application "kdenlive" (version 0.9 just released), and following the instructions on the kdenlive web site, compiled it, and installed it on my Linux Mageia Cauldron laptop. Maybe I did something wrong, maybe not. Anyway, disaster ensued.

LibreOffice 3.5.0beta2--one person's experience

I've been working on a complex document for the last year or so. This document is now 25 pages long, and includes a dozen images in frames with captions, with text running around the images, a table of contents, Gradient backgrounds on major headings, 2 drawings, varying headers and footers (with borders and shadows), lists, varying page styles, footnotes, and font styles.

I've been working on this document long enough that I started it with openoffice. I then switched to LibreOffice with its first release. And now I'm editing it with the LibreOffice Christmas Eve (2011-12-24) 3.5.0beta2 release.

Invariably, up to now, in a 2 hour work session, openoffice/libreoffice would crash at least once. Sometimes more.

Interestingly enough, this latest LibreOffice beta has not crashed once in three 1 hour work sessions. It may only be a beta, but I'm a believer.

Gook work LibreOffice folk.

Nook Ebook Reader & DRM

I'm 62 years old, and I've always been a reader. So, a few months ago, I finally coughed up the money to purchase a Barnes and Noble Nook ebook reader. Despite being a Linux user and occasionally enjoying tinkering with the innards of things, I haven't rooted my Nook, or installed any other OS variant—it is completely stock.

Unlike my wife's Amazon Kindle (with its E-Ink display), my Nook's battery doesn't last long. The other day I was reading a good short novel I had just downloaded from Barnes and Noble. I'm about half way through the novel when my Nook's battery level gets very low.

Here's the rub: my charger unit has an intermittent electrical short, and I can't immediately plug it in to continue reading while recharging my nook (a couple of days later, I fix this).

But I want to finish reading my novel now! I've got the time, and I'm really into the story.

Hard Drive Purchase and Thailand Flooding

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Just talk

My 2nd desktop is largely reserved for video editing. As it often the issue with video editing, storage space is getting scarce. The sata hard drive has 320 GB, and it's getting full. Time to purchase a new hard disk drive...

BIOS Flash update under linux.

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I figured it was time to do a BIOS update on one of my main Linux boxes. The MSI NF 980-G65 AMD motherboard came with an AMI BIOS dated September 2009. This MSI motherboard is based on the NVidia NForce 980a chipset, and has built-in NVidia Geforce 8300 video (which I do not use).

Powering up this system has always been a little flaky, requiring a couple of reset-button presses before it would boot into Linux (it would hang at the BIOS splash screen). After boot-up, the system always ran great.

Alright, so on to the BIOS update. MSI has the live update online program which requires, of course, Microsoft Windows, and the Internet Explorer browser. Well, I don't have these on this system, and don't want to put them on it.

In the AMI BIOS setup program, I see the M-Flash option. I try this, but can't get it to work. Some research on the Internet indicates that it's very likely you'll wreck your BIOS using M-Flash anyway, so that's out.

Mageia 1 Alpha2 -- A Status Report

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On September 18, 2010, in response to Mandriva's liquidation of its “Edge-IT” subsidiary and the attendant layoff of a substantial share of its developers, a group consisting of former Mandriva developers and Mandriva community contributers announced their intention to form a non-profit organization and release a fork of Mandriva Linux called Mageia Linux.

How is the Mageia 1 release shaping up? This status report takes a look at Mageia Linux 1 Alpha 2 release (updated daily), from a KDE-user perspective.

Mandriva Linux 2011TP (Tech Preview) - Quick Look

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After laying-off a significant portion of its employees, is Mandriva going to remain a viable distribution? While many distros, including Mandriva, are furiously working on their Spring 2011 releases, Mandriva announced a two-week slip from their previously announced release dates. As a compensation, Mandriva gathered up its packages from its 2011 development repositories (called "Cooker"), and released a pre-alpha 2011 TP (Technology Preview) iso. The coming Alpha version is due to be released February 14 with Alpha2 slated to be released February 28. So, here's a quick report on the Technology Preview release, and how things are shaping up.

Printer Woes

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Just talk

The last day of this year in Southern Oregon is sunny, clear, and cold. Sitting here and basking in the morning sun streaming through the window mitigates my foul mood regarding the state of printers.

Screencasting Under Linux--A brief Story

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Since my recent retirement from 34 years of mathematics and computer science teaching, I've been working on creating creating screencasts for teaching how to use various kinds of computer software. So, I need to record my screen while narrating audio. What follows is my story of what it takes to do this under Linux.

Should Pulseaudio Die? What do you think?

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When I was installing and testing Mandriva 2010 Cooker (new development) releases this last Fall season, I kept having persistent problems with sound. Eventually, the advice in the Mandriva Cooker forum for KDE users became: "Disable Pulseaudio, and set Xine as the preferred back end over GStreamer (in the KDE multimedia settings).

Desktop Recording on my Laptop

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I bought this Acer Aspire 6930 laptop about a year ago. It is my first and only laptop--and came with Windows Vista pre-installed. Since I value good video performance, I selected a sub model of Acer laptop that has on board Nvidia GeForce 9600M GS video (confession time--yes, I use the proprietary NVidia driver). Since it came with Win Vista, I had 3GB of RAM, and a 320 GB hard disk drive. Plenty of horsepower for Linux, except for ...

Recommended: Rosewill Wireless USB 2.0 Adapter 802.11b/g

After teaching high school computer science for 33 years, I had never owned a laptop computer. I'd always wanted one, but they were just too expensive. Finally, last year, after saving up for a long time, I bought a laptop for me, and 6 months later, a laptop for my wife.

The built-in wireless on my wife's laptop has little range, and isn't very reliable.

Which KDE 4 Distro for my Laptop?

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I have a Mandriva Spring 2009.1 RC 2 install on my main production box. I have Kubuntu Jaunty on my experimental box. Which to install on my Acer Laptop?

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More in Tux Machines

Security: Curl, Two Factor Authentication (2FA) and Hacking With Kali Linux

  • Daniel Stenberg: curl + hackerone = TRUE
    There seems to be no end to updated posts about bug bounties in the curl project these days. Not long ago I mentioned the then new program that sadly enough was cancelled only a few months after its birth. Now we are back with a new and refreshed bug bounty program! The curl bug bounty program reborn.
  • Liz Fong-Jones on how to secure SSH with Two Factor Authentication (2FA)
    Liz mentions that by adding passphrase encryption, the private keys become resistant to theft when at rest. However, when they are in use, the usability challenges of re-entering the passphrase on every connection means that “engineers began caching keys unencrypted in memory of their workstations, and worse yet, forwarding the agent to allow remote hosts to use the cached keys without further confirmation”. The Matrix breach, which took place on April 11 showcases an example of what happens when authenticated sessions are allowed to propagate without a middle-man. The intruder in the Matrix breach had access to the production databases, potentially giving them access to unencrypted message data, password hashes, and access tokens.
  • Hacking With Kali Linux
    Before I talk about the series that I am going to start, let us briefly talk about who should follow this series. I know there are so many people out there who are very curious to learn hacking just to hack their partner's social media account. Well, if you are such a person, please listen to me. Hacking is not about getting into somebody's personal life and steal their information. It is illegal. Somebody well said - “We need to have a talk on the subject of what's yours and what's mine.” So you should not hack information that is not yours. ​But if you are a tech enthusiast who wants to make a career as a penetration tester or white hat hacker, this series can be really a good way to start. So for such enthusiasts, I am creating a page where you can follow the series. You can also follow our social media pages so you get a notification when a new informative article comes out.

Mozilla: VoxelJS, AiC and Mozilla B-Team

  • Mozilla VR Blog: VoxelJS: Chunking Magic
    A couple of weeks ago I relaunched VoxelJS with modern ThreeJS and modules support. Today I'm going to talk a little bit about how VoxelJS works internally, specifically how voxels are represented and drawn. This is the key magic part of a voxel engine and I owe a tremendous debt to Max Ogden, James Halliday and Mikola Lysenko Voxels are represented by numbers in a large three dimensional array. Each number says what type of block goes in that block slot, with 0 representing empty. The challenge is how to represent a potentially infinite set of voxels without slowing the computer to a crawl. The only way to do this is to load just a portion of the world at a time.
  • AiC: Collaborative summary documents
    One of my goals was that we could, at least for a moment, disconnect people from their particular position and turn their attention towards the goal of achieving a shared and complete summary. I didn’t feel that we were very succesful in this goal. For one thing, most participants simply left comments on parts they disagreed with; they didn’t themselves suggest alternate wording. That meant that I personally had to take their complaint and try to find some “middle ground” that accommodated the concern but preserved the original point. This was stressful for me and a lot of work. More importantly, it meant that most people continued to interact with the document as advocates for their point-of-view, rather than trying to step back and advocate for the completeness of the summary. In other words: when you see a sentence you disagree with, it is easy to say that you disagree with it. It is much harder to rephrase it in a way that you do agree with – but which still preserves (what you believe to be) the original intent. Doing so requires you to think about what the other person likely meant, and how you can preserve that. However, one possible reason that people may have been reluctant to offer suggestions is that, often, it was hard to make “small edits” that addressed people’s concerns. Especially early on, I found that, in order to address some comment, I would have to make larger restructurings. For example, taking a small sentence and expanding it to a bullet point of its own. Finally, some people who were active on the thread didn’t participate in the doc. Or, if they did, they did so by leaving comments on the original GitHub thread. This is not surprising: I was asking people to do something new and unfamiliar. Also, this whole process played out relatively quickly, and I suspect some people just didn’t even see the document before it was done. If I were to do this again, I would want to start it earlier in the process. I would also want to consider synchronous meetings, where we could go try to process edits as a group (but I think it would take some thought to figure out how to run such a meeting). In terms of functioning asynchronously, I would probably change to use a Google Doc instead of a Dropbox Paper. Google Docs have a better workflow for suggesting edits, I believe, as well, as a richer permissions model. Finally, I would try to draw a harder line in trying to get people to “own” the document and suggest edits of their own. I think the challenge of trying to neutrally represent someone else’s point of view is pretty powerful.
  • Mozilla B-Team: happy bmo push day!
    Bugfixes + enabling the new security feature for API keys.

Programming Leftovers

Devices: Radiant Software, ASRock and Microsoft

  • Radiant 1.1 Lattice FPGA Design Tools Release Accelerates Design Reuse
    In addition to supporting Windows, Radiant Software 1.1 adds support for the popular Ubuntu LTS 16.4 distribution of Linux. Radiant Software 1.1 is now available for download from Lattices website and currently can be used with a free license.
  • ASRock spins Whiskey Lake-U in thin Mini-ITX, 3.5-inch, and NUC formats
    ASRock announced four products based on Intel’s 8th Gen Whiskey Lake-U: a thin Mini-ITX “IMB-1216” board, a 3.5-inch “SBC-350,” and a NUC 4×4 form-factor “iBox-8365U” mini-PC and NUC-8365U mainboard. ASRock Industrial has been busy lately tapping the latest embedded-oriented x86 chips in products such as the Intel 8th Gen Whiskey Lake-U based iBox-8265U mini-PC, as well as the iBox-R1000 industrial PC and NUC-R1000 mainboard built around the AMD Ryzen Embedded R1000. Now it has announced four more Whiskey Lake-U products aimed at the embedded market.
  • Making Sense of Microsoft’s Acquisition of Express Logic [Ed: Windows is worthless, so Microsoft is buying the competition. Microsoft also bought Danger, Sidekick etc. and it never ended well. Anything Microsoft touches turns to dust. When it bought Skype it was (back then) near-monopoly, but not anymore. Microsoft sometimes announces financial losses.]
    Even the Linux Foundation, home of the Linux kernel, hosts a project called Zephyr, which is an RTOS designed for use-cases, beyond the reach of Linux.