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Instead of getting enough information, I grabbed outdated instructions to install an old 1.2 image...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

Time for gratitude-- BIG THANKS, MAGEIA DEVELOPERS!

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.

The BAD

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.

The GOOD

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.

The BEAUTIFUL

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...

domingo, 12 de abril de 2015

Discrepancies between Jogging Apps in Firefox OS and Android

Last year, I decided to try to focus a bit more on my health and picked up jogging.

I've always liked jogging: one needs practically no equipment and it's good to lower your stress.  You know, you leave the crawlaggars behind ;-)

Run, Born, run!  It's behind you!
I said "no equipment" because many people run today with their smartphones.

I must confess that, at first, I did not like the idea of taking a phone out when I am jogging.  However, I like to listen to music while on the street.  Moreover, there are apps that can actually motivate you to keep going.  For Android, my favorite is RunKeeper.  For Firefox OS, Run-Bike-Hike is my app of choice.

Today, I decided to compare the measuring accuracy of both apps, so I took the Firefox OS and the Android phones for a 2 km walk.  I discovered that, despite activating the apps at the same time, they show different readings of the distance and pace.


This is what Run-Bike-Hike gave me on Firefox OS:
On the other hand, RunKeeper says that I walked a bit less with a slower pace:

The moral of the story is that one should never take the readings of an app too seriously.  Technology can also make mistakes.