Anti-Linux nonsense

I really have to laugh when I see self-proclaimed ‘experts’, who try to explain Linux to the masses.  Nine times out of ten, the fail.  Miserably.  Case in point – meet Swapnil Bhartiya, a 10-year veteran of tech journalism, and a writer for IT World.

I am loathe to belabor Mr. Bhartiya’s CV, but for reasons that will become apparent, let’s wade through what he has to say about himself.

He claims to be a journalist and writer, who has been covering Linux and Open Source for ten years.  At one point, Mr. Bhartiya was Assistant Editor for Linux For You magazine.  He claims to have met all the movers and shakers in the GNU/Linux world, from Richard M. Stallman to Linus Torvalds.

Seems as if Mr. Bhartiya has quite an extensive background in GNU/Linux, doesn’t it?  Well, maybe in this instance, talk is cheap.

Mr. Bhartiya recently wrote an article for IT World, titled, 7 things Linux users still can’t do.  I’ve provided the link, so go on with yourself, go take a look at what Mr. Bhartiya has to say.  Frankly, in my not-so-humble opinion, Mr. Bhartiya was writing nothing but click-bait for IT World, but go see for yourself.

Let’s examine the seven things Mr. Bhartiya says we Linux users still cannot do with our Linux operating systems.  And watch how I show it all to be naught but anti-Linux nonsense.

Point One – Adobe Photoshop

On this point, Mr. Bhartiya is most certainly correct.  Linux users cannot use Photoshop.  As a matter of fact, Linux users cannot use almost all Adobe software offerings, since Adobe chooses to ignore Linux.  Mr. Bhartiya gives the GIMP a passing mention, but then fails to mention other graphics editing tools, such as Krita and Inkscape.  And Mr. Bhartiya’s most glaring omission is the fact that many Linux users do, indeed, run Photoshop on Linux.  It is entirely possible to install Photoshop on Linux, by using the Wine compatibility layer.  Wine (which is an acronym for Wine Is Not an Emulator) allows Windows software to be run on several POSIX-compliant operating systems, such as BSD, Mac OS X, and <cough> Linux.  Someone, please let Mr. Bhartiya in on the fact that not only are GIMP and Inkscape free-of-charge, but are also cross-platform and work equally well on Windows, Mac OS X, and <cough> Linux.

Point One just became Strike One.

Point Two – Use Adobe Premiere

Well, the second point is the same as the first.  Adobe is Adobe, and they cannot be bothered porting their software over to Linux.  And, yet again, this is an Adobe problem, not a Linux problem.  Linux is not responsible for writing Adobe’s software.

But Mr. Bhartiya, once again, fails to mention open source alternative to using Premiere.  Offerings like Lightworks, which is an Academy and Emmy award-winning video editor, with over 20 years of use history in the film and broadcast industry.  Films such as LA Confidential, Pulp Fiction, Heat, Road to Perdition, Hugo, and The King’s Speech were edited with Lightworks, but Mr. Bhartiya bemoans the fact that Adobe Premiere will not run on Linux?  And Lightworks is another cross-platform offering, which works well in Windows, Mac OS X, and <cough> Linux.  Mr. Bhartiya also overlooks other offerings, such as Openshot, Kdenlive, and PiTiVi, along with many others.

Strike Two.

Point Three – Play serious games

Two words for you, Mr. Bhatiya.  Wine and Steam.  Will someone please give Mr. Bhartiya a wake-up call, and please, remind him this is 2015, not 2005.

What is genuinely laughable is Mr. Bhartiya specifically calls out three games that are not available on Linux – Crysis, Call of Duty, and Medal of Honor – all of which are completely playable on Linux.

Strike Three, Mr. Bhartiya.  But don’t leave yet, we’re a long way from being finished with you.

Point Four – Watch streaming video content

Mr. Bhartiya attempts to make his point, by suggesting the Amazon Fire Stick is not available for use on Linux.  Huh???  It most certainly will work with Linux systems, as will Roku and Chromecast.  Mr. Bhartiya, please remove your head from that dark place, where you’ve inserted it.  I know, you had to make some stretches to come up with your click-bait article, but this is simply going too far.

Strike Four.

Point Five – Use Google Drive

Uhh, who really cares?  Anyone interested in online privacy already knows Google is not the place to find it.  So why would I ever want to store personal, and possibly sensitive documents on any service offered by Google.  If I ever need to store files on a cloud service I do not self-host, then what is wrong with using Dropbox ?  Personally, I self-host ownCloud and avoid all public, cloud storage options.  The key to that is that those options are public, whilst my own files are personal.

Strike Five.

Point Six – Use iTunes

Yes, this is absolutely correct.  I cannot use iTunes in Linux.  But I have absolutely zero problems running iTunes in Wine, which I’ve previously mentioned.  Poor, poor, Mr. Bhartiya.  He erroneously thinks there are so many limitations to running Linux, when actually, the only limitation is his own imagination.

Strike Six.

Point Seven – Use Internet Explorer

As an example, Mr. Bhartiya claims his wife was trying to access a site that would only allow users to log in with IE.  What a poorly-written Web site that has to be.  To create a Web site that will not work with other browsers is, in a word, insane.  What about Mac OS X users, who run Safari?  And there is no denying that Firefox and Chrome are racing, neck and neck, to the top of the most-used-browser lists.

Mr. Bhartiya, would it help if I show you a screenshot of my Arch Linux computer, running Internet Explorer?

wine

Click for full-size image

Somehow, Mr. Bhartiya wants to shame Linux users, because he erroneously thinks (he’s pretty good at that, for someone with a decade of experience with Linux and open-source) we mourn not being able to run the single-most exploited browser in the history of the World Wide Web.  But, as you can clearly see above, Wine came to the rescue, and allowed me to perform what Mr. Bhartiya wrongfully says is impossible – to run Internet Explorer on my Linux computer.

Strike Seven.

OK, now, Mr. Bhartiya.  You can now take your stick and your ball and go home.  I’ve no clue what IT World paid you for that poorly-researched article, but I do know you owe them a full refund.

This is typical of far too many journalists, writing articles for Web publication.  They do zero research, and then want people to accept their bona fides at face value, so their tripe is accepted as being truthful.  And look at poor Mr. Bhartiya.  He wrote an article, based on seven points, all of which were nothing more than anti-Linux nonsense and FUD.  Congratulations, Mr. Bhartiya, you have, by your own efforts, assured I will never again look to IT World for any reliable reporting on anything.  If your anti-Linux nonsense is indicative of articles IT World publishes, then I know not to waste my time reading that site.

Sincerely,

An extremely satisfied Linux-user since April 2007, exclusively since January 2011

Is Antergos losing the plot

I really don’t want to come across as an Antergos-hater, because I used the distro for several months, and really enjoyed it.  But for the best part of the last month, Antergos has really been losing ground with me.  As Antergos problems are manifesting themselves on my machines, I am migrating them over to straight Arch Linux – with no problems, whatsoever.

I purchased a new domain, and planned on publishing a pro-Antergos blog, to try to help steer people over to Antergos.  But after the problems I’ve been witnessing in the last 3 – 4 weeks, I decided to take the site back down, and have even deleted the account from my server.  I was actually surprised the domain was even available, so I guess I will sit on it, and hope someone comes along, wanting it more than I do.  (Although if someone wants it, at all, then they want it more than I do.)

I thought one of the slickest concepts anyone had come up with were the Antergos Minimal ISO images.  They are a very small download, which provide a minimal desktop, just enough to run the Antergos Cnchi installer.  Those Minimal ISO images were released on 7 March.  When Antergos announced the release of their new version of Cnchi, on 12 April, I decided to do a Virtualbox install from one of the Minimal images.  My plan was to take screenshots, and attempt to show people just how quickly and easily Antergos could be installed.  Yet here I am, some 3 weeks later, and still unable to get Antergos to install on Virtualbox.

Dustin Falgout, one of the Antergos developers, posted to their support forums that there “…is a bug in Virtualbox related to its vboxvideo kernel module that is causing the lightdm webkit greeter to malfunction. I’m afraid there’s not much that can be done besides use an alternative until a fix it released by the vbox devs.”

Sorry, to hear the news, Dustin, but when I can get other distros (including Arch) to successfully install on VirtualBox with absolutely zero issues, and Antergos is the only distro with snags, I think you might want to re-examine where you are placing the blame on this one.  I know a lot of Linux users who test new distros on virtual machines, prior to doing metal installations, so you might want to consider how off-putting all of this might be for the future growth of Antergos.

And I am really struggling to understand how the vboxvideo kernel module could ever cause Cnchi to fail building package lists, and to fail installing packages.

It’s OK, I never had any real, personal need to help promote Antergos to anyone.  Since Cnchi has proven itself to be an utter failure in the last, several weeks, I can always write about how well straight Arch Linux works.

Just as I was becoming convinced that Antergos was a Linux distro for everyone, I learned that Antergos has some serious issues, needing serious attention.  Fortunately, it was my interest in Arch Linux that brought me to the Antergos doorpost in the first place, so I am now easily, seamlessly, and quite happily, transitioning all of my installs over to straight Arch.  Why bother with a middle-man, when going straight to the source is as easy as this has been?

I know for some people, the thought of installing Arch can be intimidating.  But I have done several installs, and it really is not so difficult.  The Arch Wiki Beginner’s Guide is a fantastic tool, and it will walk you through every step of getting Arch up and running.

For anyone who is struggling with, or is nervous about performing a full-on installation of Arch, remember the Evo / Lution Arch installer works really well.  I know, I know, the Archers detest the fact there is an easy way to get Arch up and running on a machine, but Evo / Lution does a great job of doing just that.  Jeff, Carl, and everyone else at Evo / Lution are really providing an amazing alternative for people wanting to run Arch Linux.

I never imagined I would ever say this, but at least for the time being, I would give Antergos a very wide berth, and focus on directly installing Arch, instead.  I just calls ’em as I sees ’em.

So long Antergos – Hello Arch

For the last year, I’ve been running Antergos Linux, which is really little more than Arch Linux, with a graphic installer and a custom repository.  I came across Antergos whilst trying to find a straighter and smoother path to Arch.  Antergos was pretty spectacular, in that it not only brought me to the doorstep of Arch, it did it with a lot of polish and shine.

At that time, I found Antergos preferable to Arch, in most ways.  The Antergos support forums were a lot smaller, but they were much more friendly.  Whilst the community was small, it was extremely helpful, and it was easy to find answers to questions, without needing to submit a single post.

A couple months back, after the Antergos team decided to migrate their support forums to the NodeBB platform, those support forums started coming apart at the seams.  Suddenly, a helpful and friendly support community had become a site of abject confusion and chaos.  Not only was the NodeBB site foreign to people accustomed to using support forums on all software platforms, some custom coding by one Antergos dev made the situation even worse.  It was possible to directly navigate to come forum categories, and not others.  It was possible to post to some forum categories, and not others.  Some posts could be made to forum categories that were impossible to directly navigate to, which only added to the confusion.  After spending over a decade, trying to optimize various forum software platforms for search engine crawls, I can only wonder the nightmares the Antergos forums are causing in the hallowed halls of Google, Bing, etc.

In defense of the Antergos team, they were biting off a lot more than it seems they were prepared to chew, as they were in the process of releasing a new Web site, migrating to new forums, developing a new Cnchi installer, and developing new Minimal ISO images.  In the midst of which came the GNOME 3.16 release, which seems to turn everything upside down.

Since that GNOME release, it seems Antergos is plagued with problems.  Users, including myself, have run into systems that were ‘broken’ after updates, whilst other users were unable to even get Antergos to install.  I was in the process of developing an extremely pro-Antergos blog site, so I was trying to do a VirtualBox install with one of the Antergos Minimal ISO images.  And the install just would not happen.  In the matter of just a couple days, the Cnchi installer underwent some 60 point revisions, but Antergos would not install on VirtualBox.  Now, it seems the Antergos devs are saying that is some kind of a problem with VirtualBox, and not with Antergos.

I find it rather strange that if VirtualBox is plagued with a bug, it is still a simple matter to install Arch, it is still a simple matter to use Evo / Lution to install Arch, and it is still possible to install Fedora.  The only distro causing me any grief with VirtualBox is Antergos.  Hmmm…

In an earlier blog post, I suggested it might be time to get my focus back onto the original target, which is, and always has been, Arch Linux.  After giving it some careful consideration, over the past couple days, I have determined that is the best route for me to follow.  Whilst running Antergos, I constantly found myself browsing to the Arch Wiki, looking for solutions to problems I was having.  So, why bother with the middle-man?  Antergos was a comfortable place to learn the basics of Arch Linux, but now seems to be the time to kick off the Antergos training wheels, and to move on over to straight, Arch Linux.

So long, Antergos.  It has been real.  It has been fun.  But in the last, few weeks, it has not been real fun.

Chinks in the Antergos armor

For over a year, I have been using Antergos Linux, and praising the efforts of the Antergos team.  Quite frankly, I found Antergos to be the most exciting Linux distribution I’ve ever used.  But over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve been discovering some chinks in the Antergos armor.

Several weeks back, the Antergos team unveiled a new Web site.  One of the team members, Dustin Falgout, works for Elegant Themes, and he has done a really good job of moving the main Antergos site over to Elegant’s excellent Divi theme.  Or, so it seemed at first glance.

A post was made about the release of Cnchi v0.8 on the Antergos site, with a call to action, asking for comments on this amazing, new release.  I was impressed with how impressive Cnchi was looking, and since I know how the game is played, I decided to leave a comment, to show my support and admiration for the hard work.  That was back in late March.  On 22 April, I f-i-n-a-l-l-y received an e-mail from the Antergos blog, asking me to confirm my registration, so I could then add my congratulations.

Yeah, as you can well imagine, that iron had long since gone cold.  But hey, e-mail confirmation arrived within 30 days, so don’t let this seem like a cold, wet blanket.

Due to circumstances beyond my control (he says as he glares at his two, innocent-appearing kitties), I arrived home to find this computer was shut down.  I am still not sure what happened as I was at work, but I am not letting the cheeties off the hook.  I sat down, hit the power switch, and prepared to boot back into Antergos.  Only that did not happen.  So, figuring it would take less time to simply re-install than to trouble-shoot, I did a complete re-installation of Antergos, on 31 March.

On 9 April, I did all of my usual and daily Antergos updates, and Cinnamon rolled upside down, caught fire, and crashed into the wall.  I tried another, fresh installation of Antergos/Cinnamon, and Cinnamon was refusing to work.  I decided to give MATE a try, so I did yet another installation, using that desktop environment.  And quickly learned that despite all of its popularity, MATE is not for me.  So, I did a third installation, this time using the GNOME desktop.  I have to admit, GNOME 3 is making progress, but Cinnamon it is not.

After getting a plethora of issues worked out with Clutter and Cinnamon and GNOME and Metacity and Adwaita and Gtk, I finally managed to get Cinnamon re-installed, after which I quickly binned GNOME.  Finally, after two days of every imaginable hassle, I had Antergos/Cinnamon running again.  Whew.

But wait.  Antergos simply refused to recognize my old, HP printer.  I puttered around for a couple of hours, trying to get hplip to work, but my most recent Antergos download did not recognize python-pyqt4 as a dependency.  You can only imagine what it took to sort that one out.  Finally, with hplip working, I was still unable to get my printer recognized.  Well, it seems Antergos had both gutenprint and foomatic-db installed, which was effectively making sure that my printer was never going to work.  I removed gutenprint, and my printer suddenly jumped onboard.

After a lot of tooth-gnashing, hand-wringing, and garment-renting, I finally had Antergos back up and running, as it had before all of the GNOME and Clutter updates broke everything.

But this wasn’t the end of the problems I’ve been experiencing with Antergos, of late.

(more…)

More Antergos goodness

I have never bothered to conceal the fact that I really enjoy using Antergos Linux, and how much I appreciate the efforts of the entire Antergos development team.

I dual-boot Antergos Linux and Arch Linux on this machine, which may seem a bit redundant to some folks.  To be honest, I view Arch as a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  It is simple, but it is really tasty.  Antergos is more like a full-blown, banana split.

One of the aspects of Antergos that really grabbed my attention was the Cnchi installer.  I’ve installed a lot of different Linux distros over the years, and the Cnchi installer pretty much blows the others out of the water.  When I read the news that the Antergos devs are close to releasing an even better version of Cnchi, I wanted to see it for myself.\

antergos_welcome_screen

Click for full-size image

The Cnchi welcome screen has suddenly become a lot cleaner, and easier to understand.  Which makes me feel the distro is really maturing well, as time progresses.

antergos_desktop_options

Click for full-size image

And here, you can see the new selection page for the desktop you want to run on a fresh Antergos installation.  And the selection is pretty diverse, offering everything from a base installation, Cinnamon, GNOME, KDE4, MATE, Openbox, and Xfce.

All along, I’ve been saying that Antergos is just a cleaner and sleeker version of Arch, and it is clear the Arch devs are staying the course with this upcoming release of Cnchi.

I’ve been using Antergos for just over one year, and I can say I’ve never enjoyed any other operating system as much as I’ve enjoyed this one.  The Antergos devs just keep exceeding my expectations, with every new release.  If you are looking for a better operating system, there is no need to look any further than Antergos.

Antergos Linux

I have been using Antergos Linux for nearly one year, and my opinion of it only improves with time.

I’ve written about how good it looks, how smoothly it works, and how easily it can be installed, but I’ve not pulled all that together on this site. So, sit back, relax and come with me for the grand tour of an Antergos Linux install, using the Cinnamon desktop.  This post is going to run a few pages, so be sure to click on the pagination links, at the bottom of each page.

I always have Windows users who are worried that they will be giving up some manner of usability by adopting Linux, but I personally feel the Antergos developers have really put a fine touch on how well everything looks.

antergos_desktop

I have made some minor changes to the desktop, in the above image.  The panel is displayed at the top, by default, but is easily changed to appear at the bottom, which is closer to what a Windows user might expect to find.

Another big concern for potential Windows conversions is the ability to do all of the same things that can be done within Windows.  I always chuckle a bit at this one, because I push my Antergos systems harder than I ever pushed a Windows machine, and I’m yet to be disappointed.

antergos_youtube

Yes, I can browse the Web.  Yes, I can watch videos.  Yes, I can listen to music.  Yes, I can open, edit, and save Microsoft Office documents.  Yes, I can play games.  Yes, I can read and send e-mails.  As mentioned, I do all of the same things I always did within Windows.

Let’s take a look at how easily Antergos Linux can be installed on a computer.  Some of the following images are eight or nine months old, so there have been some aesthetic changes, but the basic principles remain the same.

The easiest way to install is to download Antergos, burn the resulting .iso file to a DVD, then reboot your computer from the LiveDVD.  This is something that Windows users are not familiar with, but this procedure will allow you to boot up a Windows computer into Antergos Linux, without making any changes to the computer.  If, after playing around with Antergos is not your cup of tea (which is not likely, by the way), then you can simply reboot your computer, and it will boot right back into Windows, same as it always has.

antergos_install002

As soon as you boot into the Antergos Live environment, you will see these options, available in the Cnchi installer.  You can click Try It, and just spend some time looking around, to get a feel for how smoothly Antergos operates.  Or, you have two other choices, the CLI Installer, and the Graphical Installer.  For this post, we are going to use the Graphical Installer option, so I clicked on that button.

Trying to catch up

How is it that so many weeks and months can slip by without an update to this blog? It seems there are always a dozen other things on my plate, and getting to this site gets pushed to the side.

Well, it is time to make up for all that.

As you can see, I have made some aesthetic changes to the site.  For the last few years, I have used the Thesis theme, almost exclusively on all my WordPress sites.  But with the changes in Thesis 2.0, I realized that I just didn’t have the time or the desire to re-learn how to make everything work.  I stayed on the 1.8.x branch, but that really felt like I was falling behind the curve, so it was time to sweep out the old, and lay in the new.

People chide me, but I always lean toward more minimal appearances for my sites.  Sure, glitz and glamor can be nice, so long as they are used in the proper place.  I am just of the opinion that here is not the place.

I have installed Elegant Themes’ Divi 2.0 theme, and to date, I am well-pleased with it.  There is a bit of a learning curve, but I find most functions to be rather intuitive.  And yes, I like the very simple and minimal look Divi provides me, without any styling effort on my part.  Plain vanilla works for me.

I am still plugging along with Antergos Linux.  Antergos makes me wonder if the Antergos devs kidnapped me, then did a brain scan to see what I wanted in a Linux distribution.  I really find that Antergos ticks off every check box on my Linux wish list.  I suppose there might be something Antergos is lacking, but I cannot imagine what it might be.

Then we come to the big news.  After considerable procrastination, I’ve finally decided to start offering my computer services on a professional level.  Things are still coming together, but I am slowly getting White Rose Technology ready for launch.  I will primarily be doing Windows virus clean-ups and that type of work, but I will also be evangelizing the use of Linux as a Windows and OS X replacement.  I find a lot of people who are interested in having a personal Web presence, so I will also be offering WordPress installations, modifications, upgrades, and maintenance.  I should have made this move a dozen years ago, but better late than never, aye?

I better get back to work, as time’s a’wasting.  I promise, I will try to update this site on a more regular basis.

Simple password security

I want to talk to you about that elephant in the parlor. You know, that single password you are using for every site where you have an account. Yes, that password.  The one you use to log into your favorite discussion forum, to log into your favorite pizza joint’s Web site, and to log into your bank account.  See, you thought you were being sly, but I know that one password is the only one you have.  And if someone ever manages to discover your password, they are going to own your life.

Rule Number One – never, ever, never use the same password twice.  Every site you have to use a password to log into needs to have a unique password.

Rule Number Two – there are no exceptions to Rule Number One.

Yes, I know, we all have too many accounts to look after.  And with each account having a different password, who could possibly remember them all?  I am here to tell you I can only remember one of my passwords.  I only need to remember the one, because I have a tool that takes care of the rest of my passwords for me – LastPass.

lastpasslogo

I know, you’re thinking me a fool for allowing one service to store and manage all my passwords, but that is only because you’ve yet to discover how LastPass really works.

LastPass does store all my passwords in a central vault, but it also uses an encryption key that exists on my devices, and nowhere else.  The key never leaves my devices, and not even LastPass has a copy.  Because they wanted everything to be completely secure, all of my passwords are encrypted and decrypted on my machine, not on a public Web server.

And setting up LastPass could not be easier.  You simply download the recommended package for your browser of choice and install it.  Once installed, you can restart your browser and set up a LastPass account.  Oh, did I mention that if you’re not interested in adding any mobile devices, the account is completely free-of-charge?  LastPass requires you to input a working e-mail address, and then you need to enter a very strong password.  But never fear, because this is the last password you will ever have to remember.  Personally, I came up with a very unique sentence and I use the first letter of each word in the sentence for my password.  Once you are logged into LastPass, then it is time to start adding a lot more security to all of your online accounts.

Your first step is to log into a site, using all of your normal details.  Then browse to the page where you can change your password.

lastpass001

Above, you can see I’ve entered my old password, then I have clicked on the character in the New Password field, which opened up the LastPass dialog.  You can select how many characters you want to use in your password, what types of letters, and.or numbers, and/or special characters to use, and then have LastPass regenerate another password.  Since I don’t need to remember any of this information, I try to make my passwords as cryptic as possible.  Once I am satisfied with the suggestion LastPass has made, I simply click on Use Password.

lastpass002From that point, I just need to get the site saved to my LastPass vault, so I can log back into this site, the next time I visit.  So I click on Save Site.

lastpassoo3LastPass recognizes the name of the site (actually, this is the Evo/Lution Linux discussion forums), and then allows me to store the details in a custom folder.  From here, I only need to click on Save Site.

lastpass004After everything was saved, I logged out of the site and then made to log back in.  I clicked on the special character in the Username field, and,

lastpass005LastPass automatically populates both the Username and Password fields for me.  I’ve no clue what that 16 character password is, but neither do I have it written down somewhere, so someone can gain access to my account.

The beauty of all this is that LastPass runs on your browser installation, so if you use more than one browser, you only need to install the LastPass extension in each browser.  It doesn’t care if you are running Linux, or one of those inferior operating systems.

And since most people now carry smart phones, you can bump your account up to a premium account, for just $12 USD per year, and then your phone will be able to access all of your LastPass vault details.

This one is a no-brainer, people.  You can stop using that single password that most people would be able to guess in under 60 seconds, and add in a new measure of security for all of your online accounts.

Are things really going this smoothly

I have to admit, when I see things going this smoothly around here, I start wondering how long it can last. But this time around, I think I am just going to enjoy it whilst I am able and let the cards fall where they will.

ting002I wrote an article a couple months back, about how I had discovered Ting, a new and innovative mobile phone service provider that just makes sense.  And I am delighted to report that although I was already dealing with a very inexpensive provider, my switch to Ting has reduced my monthly expense to less than half what it was.  Seriously, people, there is really no reason to be paying for a lot of phone services that you are never going to use, particularly when you can switch over to Ting and pay only for the minutes, the messages and the megabytes that you use.  Would you like to save $25.00 on your switch over to Ting?  Click this link and Ting will give you $25.00 off your first Ting device.  Or, if you have a Ting-compatible device, they will give you a $25.00 service credit, which can actually amount to a lot of service.  Last month, my Ting bill came to a total of $17.00, plus taxes.  I know, it sounds like crazy talk, but click on that link and see how you can start saving money with Ting.  every now and again, I stumble across a company that holds up their end up a partnership, and Ting is one of those companies.

antergos-logoI’ve been using Antergos Linux since the first week of April, and I just cannot find enough good to say about how happy I am to be using it.  After using it for a while, I finally got up the gumption to try a full-blown install of Arch Linux, which is what Antergos is based on.  I have to admit to finding Antergos to be the better choice for myself, but since I am dual-booting Antergos and Arch on this machine, I won’t be left twitching at the end of the rope, should Antergos ever go away.  When Ikey Doherty shut down his development of SolusOS, I was more than a little disappointed, and spent a lot of time looking for a new Linux distribution to try.  once I found Antergos, I thought maybe it might be what I had been looking to find.  And now, after 5 months, all I can say is that Antergos/Arch FTW.  I am always amazed to browse through the Arch User Repository, and see all the software that is available.

Several months back, I decided it was time to start being more proactive about securing my online presence.  I still have a Gmail account, but I have abandoned all use of it.  If you like Google scanning your messages for keywords, to better serve you contextual ads, that is your decision.  Personally, I enjoy the few liberties I still have left and using Runbox e-mail services on one of my own domains has been a treat.  Yes, I do pay for my Runbox account, but the price is well worth every penny, just knowing that I’ve eliminated Google’s prying eyes.  If you are someone I trust to respect e-mail security and personal privacy, you already have that address.  If you don’t have that address, well…

owncloud-logoAnother area where I have determined to increase security is by eliminating use of Dropbox.  I now have an instance of OwnCloud running on one of my Web servers, and the most recent version is really incredible.  OwnCloud allows me to share and sync my files across all of my devices (desktops, laptop and phone), and allows me to do the same with a calendar, with personal contacts and a lot more.  If you wonder why I am paying for server space to store my data, let me just remind you that there is no way to keep your own data personal, when you are storing it on a public cloud.  Ask Jennifer Lawrence how she feels about public cloud services these days.  And one of the features I really enjoy about OwnCloud 7 is the ability to encrypt all my data, so everything I store is secure from prying eyes.

I never imagined I would be saying this, but I am considering a major shift in the focus of my own Web sites.  For more years than I care to count, I have been running forum sites, and have added a handful of blog sites to my portfolio, as well.  But I am now giving some serious consideration to starting up at least one podcast.  I think there are more than enough forum sites, blog sites and YouTube videos to dilute potential audiences, so I am thinking podcasting might be the way forward for me.  A lot of people have lengthy commutes, to and from their jobs, so listening to a podcast can often help the time go by.  I listen to a handful of podcasts whilst at work, a couple of which are rather poorly done.  Rather than trying to find other podcasts dealing with the same subject matter, I am thinking this might be my opportunity to wade in and try to grab some listeners.

The major downside to establishing a podcast is the equipment investment that is required.  If I do take this step, I don’t want to waste my time investing in sketchy components, so I’ve been reading a lot of product reviews.  It looks like the purchase of something like a Røde Podcaster microphone might be a good way to get going, but I am starting to think hanging back and using a good XLR microphone might be a better option.  I don’t want to get carried away with expenses, but a small mixing board seems to be a good idea.  If anyone has any thoughts or suggestions, please add your comments.

I will be trying to be more timely with blog updates, in the coming weeks and months.  Over the last 3 years, or so, Life has been trying to slam-dunk me.  But, as I’ve always said, I am a survivor, and this time is no exception.  I’ve got my head above water again, so look out, world!

Around Antergos in 80 days

I have been running Antergos for a little over 80 days, and all I can say is it continues to kick ass.

antergos-logoI have to admit Antergos is the finest Linux distribution I have ever used. I enjoyed the stability of Debian, I admired the simplicity and clean looks of Mint and I loved using SolusOS (may it rest in peace). But I am finding Antergos is far superior to all of those options.

I am running Antergos on three of my four computers and although it has thrown a couple of curve balls at me, they were nothing that were not easily overcome with the great help of the Antergos support forum community.  I continue to be impressed with how that community is growing and how it is attracting people who are friendly and willing to help.  As I was researching the possibility of moving into the Antergos/Arch realm, I spent some time reading the Arch support forums, which are sadly, an overwhelming disappointment.  When I see new Arch users who are genuinely seeking help, it really galls me to watch veterans of the Arch support forums sticking to their ‘read the fecking Arch Wiki’ guns.  The Arch Wiki is an amazing amalgamation of Arch information, but what a pity an Arch user cannot just get a simple answer.  The elitism and exclusivity is not very becoming, so far as I am concerned.

This particular machine has Arch partitions, as well as Antergos partitions.  Yes, I spent the time to sit down with an Arch .iso and to install Arch from scratch.  Yes, my first, two attempts went down in flames.  Yes, I learned a lot from my mistakes.  Yes, for nearly two weeks, I really felt an immense amount of satisfaction that I had managed to accomplish the install on my own.  After those two weeks, I restarted this machine and booted back into Antergos.  From my chair, both Arch and Antergos run exactly the same, because under the hood, they are the same.  But Antergos has all the polish and elegance built right in, rather than making me sort it all for myself.

This Antergos install also has an Evo/Lution install of Arch running in VirtualBox.  The Archers will try to convince people that Antergos and Evo/Lution just are not the same as running Arch.  And on that one, single point, I will whole-heartedly agree with them.  Antergos and Evo/Lution are not the same as running Arch, because by comparison, Arch is a pain in the ass to install.  When I can have Arch up and running in under 30 minutes, by using Evo/Lution, why wouldn’t I?  And when I can have Arch up and running with all of the amazing Antergos goodness, why should I spend a single second on an Arch command line?  Puhleeze!  But if it makes you Archers feel better to keep thinking that by running Antergos I am not just running a polished version of Arch, I’m OK with that.  I’ve installed both, I’ve used both and I know the real truth.

When I first started running Antergos, I really didn’t feel it was well-suited for Linux newcomers, but as Antergos continues to mature, I have revised my thinking.  I will be recommending Antergos to everyone, simply because it is a complete package.  From its Arch roots, to its talented developers, and on to its uber-friendly support community, Antergos is really amazing.

If you would like to learn more about Antergos, be sure to visit their Web site.  And yes, I am also going to provide you a link to the page where you can download a copy of Antergos for yourself.  Boot into the Antergos Live environment and I am confident you will really like what you see.

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