jueves, 8 de junio de 2017

UEFI and Mageia 6 RC Adventure

I had to replace my daughter's desktop computer because it fried during an intense storm. Fortunately, I could rescue the two hard drives and, thus, I did not buy a new hd with the new system.  One disk was a storage unit; the other one dual-booted with PicarOS and Mageia 6 Sta2.  Normally, it would have been a matter of stuffing the HDs and telling the BIOS to pick the one with the OSs.  The new PC, however, came with UEFI.

I expected no real problem because, having successfully replaced my own desktop two months ago with an UEFI machine, the system picked up the two disks and now dual-boots OpenMandriva Lx and Mageia 5. In addition, I had worked with Mageia on an UEFI machine before and had no problems.

My daughter's computer was different.  Since I wanted to replace the out-dated Mageia 6 Sta2 install, I booted the machine with a pendrive that contains the recently-released Mageia 6 RC iso, which detected UEFI and booted in UEFI mode.  Even when I disabled secure boot and everything, I got stuck at the partition stage during installation: the installer kept saying that I needed to mount a partition in /boot/UEFI. 
I read the Mageia install documentation because I did not want to lose PicarOS if I reorganized the partitions.  According to the guide, the best approach was to erase the Mageia 6 Sta1 partitions and later select "auto-allocate", so that the installer could take care of the partitioning using the empty space.

It did.  It created a 300 MB UEFI partition before /, the swap partition, and /home.  Before completing the process, I picked "Install GRUB2 on UEFI partition"  It was painless.  "Well, that went smoothly," I said to myself while savoring my easy triumph.

However, my smile vanished when I attempted to boot the system.  GRUB2 reported problems and, after changing options to tell UEFI to pick the correct HD, the machine simply refused to start.  To add insult to injury, the system no longer wanted to recognize the USB device as a legitimate bootable source.

After changing things again, the PC booted from the pendrive at last, so I decided to try to install once more, but this time paying careful attention to the disk or partition where I was going to put GRUB2 into.

At the partition stage, I deleted my Mageia partitions to free space and selected "auto-allocate."  I could not help but noticing that the installer did not create a UEFI partition this time. Weird.  

With no UEFI partition, I put GRUB at the MBR of the HD and finished the install.  I re-started the machine fearing the worst.

GRUB2, nevertheless, picked up PicarOS and Mageia.  In disbelief, I booted PicarOS.  Everything was OK there, so I booted Mageia next and, after a while, my daughter's new desktop greeted me with the Welcome screen of Mageia 6 RC.  The installation was a success.

I wish I knew what happened...

Definitely, I still have a long road to walk with UEFI.

viernes, 5 de mayo de 2017

The Return of the Asus Eee PC 900 -- with PicarOS!

The reason why I jumped into the Linux train was a tiny Asus Eee PC 900 that I bought in 2007.  This 8.9 inch netbook came with Linux pre-installed and I intended to change the OS to Windows XP, but the latter made the netbook a real snail.  In addition, my wife had already grown fond of the cute Frozen Bubble game on Xandros, the netbook's original OS, so I went back to Linux, but put Mandriva on the machine instead. 

It was an amazing little machine that helped me get my tenure at the University where I work, but that I gave away later to a person who needed it to keep studying.

Last month, by pure serendipity, I saw another Asus Eee PC 900 sitting on the display window of a computer repair shop.

I bought it for my daughter, expecting to change the Windows OS to Sugar since her school decided not to lend the OLPC XO computers for take out.

Even though I had my pendrive ready with Sugar, my plan did not work because I failed to consider that the machine is very old and, hence, its architecture is 32 bit.  Most Linux distros abandoned 32 bit to concentrate on 64 bit.  Sugar does not support 32 bit.

I put old Mandriva 2010 on the HD and, sure enough, the netbook came to life with Linux.  There was another problem, though.  When I tried to watch Youtube videos, Google told me that the browser was no longer supported and urged me to upgrade to a more modern browser.  I checked Firefox and... it was version 3.5.3! 

Of course, getting a more modern Firefox from the repos was impossible as Mandriva repos went to nothingness.  It was a dead end.

Then Megatotoro reported that PicarOS was out.  PicarOS is a fantastic Linux distro that is designed for children and my daughter loves it.  Besides, this beautiful OS has a small system footprint, so it was a good option because it still supports 32 bit architecture.

I downloaded the PicarOS Diego 2017 image and, using ROSA image writer, a great USB live OS creator, stuffed it to a 4GB pendrive.

Although the OS booted perfectly, the installation was problematic.  I tried the advance mode and, after completion, the machine simply showed a GRUB error.

I tried the automatic mode.  No luck: the netbook did not boot.
I tried the manual mode.  Same problem.

I booted it live and, starting to feel defeated, looked for another install method.  In the menu, under Minino Tools, there was this suspicious entry that I had not seen in PicarOS before.  It was for copying the system to an USB or HD, it said.

I tried it.  when prompted, I selected the HD of the netbook and waited.... and waited.

A window with a progress bar was there.  The window read "Oh. The /usr folder is so full of things!"  After a while, the message  changed to  "Less work to do now" until it finished copying.  I really appreciated the humor.

When it was done, I rebooted more confidently (perhaps thanks to the humor?) and... GRUB was there, offering me three options: 64 bit, PAE, and 32 bit.
I selected 32 bit and PicarOS Diego became alive!

The tiny machine has everything one needs to work and play.  And it loads YouTube videos, too!


My daughter, Eimi, liked it a lot.  She got a bit disappointed when I told her that the little machine does not have enough power to play Among the Sleep, her favorite Steam game.

However, she was very satisfied when she could practice her reading using GCompris and got a perfect score, hehe.
Eimi holding the tiny Asus Eee PC 900 with PicarOS
PicarOS is definitely a great OS for children.  It is too bad that not many people are aware of its existence.

lunes, 1 de mayo de 2017

Another Year on the Blogosphere

This blog came to life on May 2, 2010, as my humble attempt to register each step, however minimal, that I took in my journey as a new Linux user.

I had started using Linux a bit earlier (2009), thanks to an Asus Eee PC 900 that came with Xandros Linux pre-installed.  I did not like the OS, but decided to give Linux a chance after the complete failure Windows was on that tiny netbook.

I changed the OS to Mandriva 2009 and so I became a full time Linux user.  No one asked me to migrate; I came to Linux by myself.

Mandriva 2009: Default wallpaper

Seven years have already elapsed!  Seven years in which I have used my computers without worrying about viruses, of seeing computer myths exposed, of watching the world spin from a different standpoint.

Distros have risen and fallen; desktop environments have evolved, forked, and gone are certain bugs that annoyed me, along with features that I loved.

People that came across in this virtual world have died, too.  And projects that inspired me are disappearing, swept away by the ceaseless tide of time.

In the middle of all this, hope springs eternal: I have seen other non-technical computer users like me abandon their fear when they sit in front of a Linux-powered system. Ah, and there's also this girl who was born six years ago, surrounded by Linux computers... If OSs were languages, she would be trilingual!

Seven years of learning...

domingo, 30 de abril de 2017

KDE Connect from the eyes of a newbie... What sorcery is this?

I had seen the KDE Connect applet in both OpenMandriva and PCLinuxOS many times, but I had not had any interest on trying KDE Connect to assess what it could actually do.

Of course, I inferred it was something to connect a phone and a PC in some way and enabling the swapping of files in between the two devices, but I really did not care much about it.  After all, that is what bluetooth is for, right?

Today, I decided to give it a try on PCLOS.

The first thing I got was a message saying that "No paired device was found" and that I had to install the android KDE Connect app on my phone first.  So, I got the mobile app and ran it on the phone.  It picked my PCLOS laptop and asked me if I wanted to pair the devices.

I accepted, expecting the app to crash.  However, my PC showed me a notification asking me to pair it with the phone.  Apparently, the app had worked!

The first option on the phone was to send files, so I selected a picture of Buachompoo Ford, a Thai singer/actress, and sent it to the PC, but I saw nothing happen.  "A-ha!", I grinned, thinking that the app had failed on PCLinuxOS.  So, I  closed it on the phone.

I was getting ready to reboot in OpenMandriva to perform a second attempt when, inside of a folder, I saw Buachompoo smiling...

"What??!!"

There was no doubt; that was the file I had sent from the phone with KDE Connect.

I turned off the phone's bluetooth and rebooted the laptop in OpenMandriva.

After pairing, I saw something that read "Remote input".
I tapped it and got a screen with a message giving me instructions on how to control my laptop from the phone.

 Again, without expecting it to work, I moved my finger on the phone screen and the computer pointer mimicked my movement.  It was nice, but I was not very impressed because I had used a LibreOffice remote app before.  This remote, however, let me operate all of my computer: I rotated the workspaces, changed the activities, fired up the browser...  and the bluetooth on the phone was off!

"Sassy app, hu?", I said to myself.  "So you work via Wi-fi.  Let's see you crash when I use the Japanese keyboard on the phone in LibreOffice."  I need to clarify that I do not have a Japanese IME on PCLinuxOS right now, so there was no chance typing in that language was supported...

I opened Writer and chose the keyboard on KDE connect.  As I expected, the Japanese keyboard popped up on my phone and I typed with a smile that became petrified when I saw hiragana characters appear on the blank page of Writer and change to kanji.



This meme describes my reaction perfectly:



I have to admit that I have seen something impressive on Plasma 5 at last!

jueves, 13 de abril de 2017

Time for a change

Three days ago, I decided to abandon my efforts to rescue my PCLOS KDE4 install, which was destroyed by a connection disruption while updating.  I lost my connection for over a week and,  when my ISP finally solved the problem, my desktop was so messed up that I gave up on it and decided to give PCLOS KDE5 a chance.

I must confess that I am not a real fan of Plasma 5.  However,  as KDE4 is going the way of the dodo,  I thought that it was better to take the leap and see how this beautiful Linux distro works with KDE's new desktop.

The installation was as easy as it gets.   Everything was functioning after completing the process.

With PCLOS,  this is my third distro with Plasma 5: Openmandriva and Fedora also have it.  Mageia 6 will have Plasma 5 as well.

I am going to miss the independent wallpapers on the different workplaces.

viernes, 17 de marzo de 2017

Update Shyness

You know, when an animal eats a poisoned bait in a sublethal dose, the said animal learns to identify the poisoned bait and avoids it.   This is referred to as "bait shyness."

Updates? I know you mean well, but...
This month was a bumpy ride regarding updates and, consequently, I think I developed some kind of update shyness. 

It all started when I fired up Synaptic on PCLOS to update packages.  Normally, the process is completed with no hassle.  This time, however, there was a message about "broken" packages and, since I had never had broken packages before, I decided to log out and back in to see if everything was alright.

It was a poor choice.  The DE did not load, so I ended up with a black screen in front of my eyes and desperation all over me.  Fortunately, when I logged in as root, the DE was operational, so I fired up Synaptic again and fixed the broken packages.  That rectified the problem.

But the update madness had just started.  A couple days after the PCLOS incident, I booted OpenMandriva and Discover notified me that there were updates.  I must confess that the update process in OpenMandriva has not been easy for me: I prefer to use the Control Center, but sometimes it cannot install some packages and those have to be installed with Discover.  Sometimes, the latter simply refuses to load the package list.

In an attempt to circumvent the duality, I used urpmi instead.

I ended up with a system that refused to boot and had to reinstall from scratch.  Oddly, after the reinstall, the update went fine.  Go figure.

To finish my story, I started Fedora 25 and, again, Discover told me that there were updates. I updated confidently because Discover has never failed in Fedora.  The process seemed smooth and I went to sleep, but there was a surprise for me the next morning: Fedora was unable to see the wifi.   In fact, there was no kernel module for wireless connection at all!

Then fall, Caesar!


I saw that the problem was that, by an unknown reason, Fedora had installed a very old kernel and was booting with it by default.  When I tried the advanced options and booted a different kernel, the wifi worked without a problem, so I specified this kernel in GRUB2 to boot it by default.

Curiously, when Discover updated packages again, there was no problem.

****

So, my distros are working fine now.

But I do get a bit anxious every time I see that there are updates.  Even so, it is comforting to see that the problems are temporary. 

miércoles, 1 de marzo de 2017

Kdenlive and Audacity... A Powerful Combo for Education

The university where I work is pushing all professors to use a platform for online courses.

I am very critical of those learning environments because it is easy to claim that technology enhances education without considering the dark side of ICTs.

It was time to give the platform a try.  After all, the university is also advocating the use of FLOSS, so...

The creation of a virtual environment was rather easy, but to produce content is perhaps the most time-consuming activity.  Fortunately, my basic GIMP skills gave me a decent standing concerning the presentation of the different sections.

Then I decided to go ahead and produce a simple video. For this task, I selected Audacity (for recording/editing sound) and Kdenlive (for the video sequence).

I was expecting many problems because I am not an expert in sound/video.  In addition, it was my first time with Kdenlive.

The video-creating process was pretty straight-forward, however.  I got the still images and organized them to fit the sound track that I produced with Audacity and I never felt confused or got stuck; everything was intuitive.

Of course, my video was very simple, but I can say that Kdenlive and Audacity make a powerful combo for beginners who need to produce a quick video for a presentation.


I need to keep experimenting with them.

martes, 14 de febrero de 2017

A Glimpse of Mageia 6: Mageia 6 Sta2

Today, I got great news at G+. Jean Francois shared here a link to an FTP directory where I could download Mageia 6 Sta2 Live DVD.

Of course, I downloaded it and put it into a pendrive to test it on my ZaReason Strata.  It booted normally and, after a while, I was greeted by Plasma 5.

OK... where's the cashew thingy?
The new menu... Very Plasma-like.
I noticed that the icons were new and the DE is more responsive that the beta that I had installed previously.  I particularly loved the new icon for the Mageia Control Center (it reminded me of the nazar in Pisi Linux).

I used the system a bit to see if I could detect certain glitches even though I know this is not a final version.  My intention is not to write a review, but to assess potential problems and, most importantly, to get more familiar with Mageia running Plasma 5.

In general, and thanks to OpenMandriva Lx and Fedora, I can say that using the DE was not as awkward as the first time I ran a system with it.  However, there are some questions that my test drive is forcing me to ask:

1.  Where is the cashew control?  The DE was locked to Folder view, which is fine with me, but I could not add any plasmoids to see what gives.
2.  Will netdrake be replaced? The network applet was dead.  To use the Web, I had to add a new wireless network from MCC.  Both OpenMandriva Lx and Fedora use now KDE's network applet... Is Mageia following suit?
3.  Is Mageia discontinuing the desktop cube?  The effect could be activated, but it was not responsive.  I hope it is due to something that needs ironing and the desktop cube will be back in the final release.

Of course, this is a Live DVD.  Maybe the Install DVD will give more options.

Upgrade to OpenMandriva Lx 3

My HP Pavilion has been running OpenMandriva 2014 exclusively, but I decided to upgrade it to OpenMandriva Lx 3 last week.

The move was sensible; I needed the machine to work in my office at the university and, as they are shaking IT everywhere, I wanted to have software that was more up to date.

However, the upgrade was complicated.  The installation part was flawless and fast but, after finishing, when I attempted to upgrade the packages, I would lose display at a given point.

I remember that something like that happened to me when I tried to upgrade OpenMandriva Lx 3. on my ZaReason Strata the first time.  Eventually, I solved the problem then.  On the HP Pavilion, there was no such luck.

I tried installing from scratch multiple times, both with MCC and Discover, and even with urpmi on the CLI.  It seems that the culprit is a package called gtk-lib.

 Oh, well.  I decided to leave it like that while I figure out if that was a bad repo sync or what.  The machine works nice and, if I could survive last year using a 2-year-old system, I guess OpenMandriva Lx 3 will be fine.

miércoles, 8 de febrero de 2017

Memories

I read this article and it evoked so many memories!  It pretty much describes how I got started with Linux, except that, in 2009, I went for Mandriva instead of Ubuntu or Debian, as the author did.




sábado, 28 de enero de 2017

Almost a month with Fedora...

I installed Fedora 25 Workstation (KDE spin) almost a month ago, as a desperate attempt to get my all-in-one Epson XP 231 printer working.

The experiment ended with the printer/scanner working on OpenMandriva Lx 3.1, PCLinuxOS and, later, on Mageia 5.1.  Oddly, although I could scan without any problems on Fedora, the printer was not operational.


I knew nothing about Fedora.  After some reading, however, I managed to get everything running, except the Japanese IME, which has eluded me.  I hope I will manage to get it to work soon.

It seems Fedora 25 has earned a place among my favorite Linux distros.

sábado, 21 de enero de 2017

Temporary fix for Insync problem not running on OpenMandriva LX 3.1

After the Christmas update, Insync has refused to run properly on my OpenMandriva Lx 3.1 install.

When one first installs the package, it runs, syncs, and seems to be OK.  However, after closing the session, Insync is gone from the panel and nothing can summon it back.

To circumvent this issue, I uninstalled the package and, using the terminal, installed it again as root using the urmpi command.

After it synchronized and everything, I closed the session and it was gone again.  However, this time, one can bring it back from Konsole as root.  It is not the most elegant fix, but it is easy enough.

I guess this solves that problem for the time being...

viernes, 6 de enero de 2017

Epson XP 231 vs Mageia 5... The Final Chapter

I was truly feeling like giving up on getting the Epson XP 231 to scan properly on Mageia.  I tried pretty much everything, even Megatotoro's solution, to no avail.

However, I discovered that the real problem was that, although sane-find-scanner would actually find the scanner, there was a permission problem.

I confirmed this when I ran xsane as root and could scan.  Of course, one solution was to chmod the file where the scanner was at /dev/bus/usb/003/, but that was temporary

The real solution was found here, at the Mageia forums.  I only had to add my user to the lp group.


lunes, 2 de enero de 2017

Getting Cozy with Fedora

As Fedora Workstation 25 (KDE spin) is the first system in which I got everything running, I decided to decorate it a bit.

Modified version of a FNAF Foxy wallpaper by Gold94chica
I installed the ghost theme/window decorations, activated the effects, and changed the Plasma 5 home icon for a fedora icon.  I need to change the trash icon, too. 

Here is how you install Steam on Fedora (tutorial by Nick Congleton).
And Aaron Kili's page helped me a lot with his 25 suggestions about what to do after first installing Fedora 25.

Progress Report

This table shows my progress working with several problems on my four main Linux distros.

After a lot of effort, I made significant progress with the Epson XP 231 in PCLinuxOS.  Today, I managed to get it to work as it should.  Some people are reporting my same problem with Steam on that OS, though...

OpenMandriva Lx 3.1 pretty much does everything, except that Insync, which I believed was running, must be reinstalled every time to get it to work. You close the session and it's gone.  Bad.

Mageia 5.1's problem is the scanner.  XSane reports that the usb port where it is found fails to open the device.  I originally thought it was the file epwoka.conf at /etc/sane.d, but it does not seem to be the problem.

And then Fedora 25 weirdly refuses to print, but I suspect it is because I installed Fedora two days ago and noob is too short a word to describe me.

But I will keep trying.  At least, I could solve the printing/scanning problem in PCLinuxOS by using what I learned in Fedora about the installation of packages via shell.


UPDATE: I finally solved the problems with the printer on Fedora 25 and installed Steam.  Hence, Fedora is so far the first system in which I managed to get everything running.