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.

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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.

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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.

A mobile provider that understands

One sure way to get me fired up is to start talking mobile phone providers. I am not a big fan of telephones in the first place, but when it comes to mobile phones, I am in complete agreement with Joe Pesci (and no, this one is NSFW) –

I have done business with the big providers.  You know who I mean, the providers that lure you in with the concept of a ‘free’ device, but then turn around and charge you exorbitant rates, to cover the actual cost of the phone.  They demand those long-term contracts, and Lord help you if you should be so bold as to terminate early, because they will then charge you the difference on the device.  But did you ever notice, after your contract period is up, the monthly bill never drops a thin dime.  If you are wondering why that is, watch the above video again.

I’ve done business with the pay-as-you-go companies.  They don’t play games with the phone prices, they sell you a phone at fair market value, but then they charge more reasonable rates for the services they offer.  It’s a step in the right direction, but I still find I am paying for call minutes, texts and data that I am never going to use.

Sitting here in my office, there are three different computer systems within reach.  I don’t have to move my chair an inch, because all three keyboards are right at hand.  And there is a laptop, in a carrying case, within 6 inches of my left foot.  I have got plenty of access to computers, for the times I need to be using computers.

I keep a mobile phone around for the ‘just in case’ scenarios.  If I am away from home and someone needs to contact me, I have my phone in my pocket.  If I am in a strange town and need driving directions, my phone is in my pocket.  I even send the odd text, every now and then.  But I am certainly not that person you see that is always looking at, or pecking away on his phone.

So I want a mobile phone company that doesn’t try to hide costs and doesn’t want to charge me for things I will never use.

And I have managed to find that company.  It is one not many people have heard of, but that is certainly going to change, as time goes by.

ting002Enter Ting.

Ting has made it clear there are practices in the mobile phone industry that do not make sense.  And they have made it their mission to turn the mobile industry upside down.  Ting has figured out the formula for a successful business.  It all comes down to creating happy customers.  When customers are happy, they enjoy talking about the company that made them happy.  And Ting has put together a recipe to ensure happy customers.

Ting charges customers for the call minutes they use.  Ting charges customers for the texts they send.  And Ting charges customers for the data they use.  And, if you can imagine, Ting is always ready to offer you tips and techniques on how you can reduce your bill, by reducing the services you use.

Ting doesn’t offer you plans for your phone, they show you the rates they will charge you.  Take a look at this matrix –

ting_rates

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In the above example, the prices all fall into what Ting calls their Medium bucket.  If you were to use between 101 and 500 call minutes, send 101 – 1000 text messages and would transfer 101 – 500 megabytes of data, then your bill would come to just $32, plus taxes.  But what happens if you were only to use 85 call minutes and 50 MB of data transfer?

ting_rates002

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See how your bill suddenly dropped to just $17, plus taxes?  Call your current provider and ask them if they will reduce your bill, just because your needs fell into a lower plan’s pricing range.  Let me know how that works out for you.

Take a few minutes to read this article on how Ting will bill you for your service.  You are likely going to want to read it twice, because people like you and I are just not used to doing business with companies that place their customers ahead of everything else.

Just to show you how simple Ting’s rates and billing can be, turn your device off and let it sit for one month.  Your bill will come to a flat $6, the fee to keep the device active.

Have you ever called your mobile provider for support?  If you’re anything like me, you probably ended up talking to a girl from a third-world nation, who doesn’t even have English as a third or fourth language.  You know, the girl named ‘Sally’?  You explain you problem to her a couple of times, only to learn she cannot handle your issue, so she puts you on hold and bumps you to a higher support tier, where you get to explain the problem all over to another person.

That doesn’t happen with Ting.  If you call 1-855-846-4389 (which works out to 1-855-TING FTW, by the way), the person who answers the phone will be empowered to handle your problem for you.  See what I said, back there?  I said, “…the person who answers the phone…”  If you like dealing with phone trees, then run the other way, because Ting representatives answer their phones.  Yes, as in you get to talk to not only a real person, but a real person who is qualified to handle whatever problem you might be experiencing.

Ting wants your business.  As a matter of fact, if you click on THIS LINK to visit Ting, they are going to offer you $25 off your first device with Ting.

Or maybe you already have a Sprint-compatible device that you want to move over to Ting.  Well, click on that link and Ting will give you a $25 service credit.  And listen – if you are a casual mobile user like myself, that could amount to your first month’s bill being $00.00.

Are you locked into a contract and not wanting to eat the early termination fee to move over to Ting?  Well, I told you that Ting wants your business.  They want you to be a Ting customer so much they will pay 25% of your ETF, up to a total of $75.

If you need to purchase a device, then visit Ting’s Personal Shopper page.  There, you can decide if you want to purchase a new device, a used device, or a refurbished device.  Ting offers a broad array of devices, to meet any budget.

There is a lot more I could say about how wonderful Ting is when it comes to customer service, but I’ll just let you click this link to visit Ting, and save $25 as a new Ting customer.

Arch, done the Arch Way

I did it.

I finally worked up enough determination to install Arch Linux on one of my machines.

It wasn’t necessarily pretty, and yes, my first two attempts crashed within minutes of actually getting into the graphical, desktop interface.  But as all who know me will attest, my stubborn streak is akin to that of a stone, so I kept getting back up and trying again.

You may be wondering why I was taking that kind of punishment from an operating system, particularly when I have Linux Mint running on one machine and Antergos Linux running on three others.  I had very good and very solid Linux installs already, so why not just use them and be satisfied?

The truth is that I have never been one to be simply satisfied.  I always want the best, and even when I find it, I am still looking for something better.

I can hear you saying that Antergos is naught but Arch.  Yes, that is certainly true.  And I have found Antergos and the Antergos community to be simply amazing.  But Antergos is Antertgos, and I wanted to know what Arch was really like.

small_arch_logoA couple weeks back, I used Evo/Lution, a graphical Arch installer, to get Arch running in a virtual machine.  And since that day, Arch has been singing a siren song to me.  A song I simply could not ignore.

But I still wondered what a real Arch installation could be like.  The hardcore Archers will scoff that I installed Arch with Evo/Lution.  They will wrongly try to assert I had not installed Arch, even though I actually had.  I could see Arch was going to be the way forward for me, so I started reading and studying all the options for installing Arch on this computer.  And because I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to do a hardcore, native Arch install.

That being said, let me make one point very clear.  Evo/Lution will do an impressive job of installing Arch.  So, if you find the Arch install a bit too daunting, but you still want to run Arch, then use Evo/Lution.  If you want a really polished version of Arch, along with a really friendly support community, then install Antergos.  Both of those options work very well and will provide you with an excellent operating system.

But if you are up to a bit of a challenge, then I want to urge you to try installing Arch, using the native Arch method.  And, to help you discover the satisfaction of installing an operating system from a command line, I want to try to help you make that happen.

Three things must be said, here.  Firstly, this is not a definitive, be-all and end-all guide to installing Arch.  But if you spend some time reading through this guide, and using it along with the comprehensive Arch Wiki, you will soon come to understand that installing Arch is really not difficult.

Secondly, you should prepare yourself for some failures, before you get everything working.  The odds are you will not get everything right and will have to start over.  As I said, it took me three tries to get it right, all because I kept missing just one, single command.  So don’t sit down with an Arch CD, this article and the Arch Wiki, thinking you will get it all right on the first attempt.  Be prepared to fail.  But also be prepared to learn from your failures, because when you first see the graphical desktop on your new Arch install, satisfaction will overcome any sense of failure.  If you have a computer with enough resources to run VirtualBox, I really do recommend installing Arch there, just to get yourself familiar with what you will need to do.

Last of all, this guide is going to show you how to install Arch with a Cinnamon desktop.  I am going to cover all the necessary steps to make that happen.  There is no right or wrong way to install Arch, so remember this is only a guide.  And no, I cannot be responsible for any problems you might experience, along the way.  All of this worked for me, so if you are careful about each step, then you should not have any problems.

Are you ready to install your own cutting edge, customized operating system?  Then let’s go.

No matter if you are installing Arch on an actual hard drive, or a virtual machine, I really do recommend using GParted to partition the drive, before starting the install.  This install was done on a machine with 8 GB of RAM, so I used GParted to set up two partitions, one for root and one for home.  You’ve been around Linux for a while, or you wouldn’t be reading this, so you are already familiar with Linux partitions and what you will likely want or need for your own use.  So grab a LiveDVD from another distro, or go download GParted and burn it to a CD, so you can partition your drive.

While you are out and about, head on over to the Arch download page and download a copy of the most recent dual .iso, which will have everything necessary to do either a 32 bit or a 64 bit install.  Again, you are not a beginner, so you know what all this means.

For the purposes of this guide, I am going to assume you are using two partitions on a blank drive, with dev/sda1 as your root partition and /dev/sda2 as your home partition.  You may be creating a triple-boot, so your partitions will be numbered differently, but I will use the above partition references throughout this guide.

I will also recommend you connect your system via an Ethernet cable, so you will have a wired connection to work with.

I will be showing you several commands that you will need to enter, so you want to be very careful to type the lines exactly as shown.  Upper and lower case letters, spaces, hyphens and other characters are all extremely important, so double-check your typing, before you enter any commands.

This is a rather long article, but you will find subsequent page numbers at the bottom of each page

Drop the Arch CD into your optical drive and re-boot your machine, selecting the optical drive as the boot device.  Within moments, you will see the Arch installation prompt.

A quick look at Arch

After using Antergos Linux for a few weeks, I decided I wanted to see what native Arch Linux was like. The die-hard Arch users will accuse me of being a slacker, but I decided to give Jeff Story’s Evo/Lution GUI Arch Installer a test-drive.  That deafening sound you are hearing are the people who have spent hours installing Arch the hard way, as they wring their hands, gnash their teeth and tear at their clothing.  But the fact of the matter is that Evo/Lution allowed me to use a graphical interface to install Arch Linux with a Cinnamon desktop in less than 30 minutes, with zero problems.

Click for full-size

Click for full-size

Evo/Lution is just like any LiveDVD environment, in that you use it to boot up a machine and then move through the installation steps, from there.

Once I had Evo/Lution running, everything was the same as an Antergos install, as the Evo/Lution package seems to be using Cnchi.

The installer is a piece of cake, especially for anyone with any Linux installation experience.  Identify your location, your language, your keyboard layout and the disk partitioning you want to use, and from there, you just wait as the installer downloads fresh files for the install.

Having a couple of weeks experience with Antergos helped out a bit.  Not being a huge Linux geek, I prefer using a graphical interface on a package manager, so I had to sort out how to get Yaourt installed, so I could then install PacmanXG.  But that was really naught but a minor bump in the road.  It gave me a bit more CLI exposure than I am used to getting, but the time spent running Antergos really helped me understand what i needed to do.

I installed Arch in VirtualBox and was still imnpressed with how quickly it runs.  I spent the last seven years, believing that Debian and Debian-based distros were the way forward for me.  I only wish I had discovered Arch before now, because it is really an amazing distro.  Then again, the Evo/Lution installer is not all that old, so installing Arch via the ‘Arch Way’ would likely have been a deal-breaker for me.

evo028

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I am thinking I will continue to use Antergos on these two PCs and on my laptop, but I am also looking at moving a third PC in here.  When that happens, I think that machine will get an Arch install on it.  Once again, I will likely use Evo/Lution for the install, but that only seems to make sense to me.  Why spend hours installing Arch from a command line, when I can have it up and running in minutes with the graphical installer?  At the end of the day, you still end up running Arch.  I’m willing to give up the warm fuzzies of thrashing my way through a command line install, if I can trade that off for some additional time actually running Arch.  I prefer to use an operating system to actually get things accomplished, rather than wasting my time trying to merely get the OS installed.

Quite frankly, I am not a big fan of the Arch support forums and the Arch Google+ page.  I find some of the individuals running those pages to be wound more than just a little too tightly.  It is a bit like some of the crowd on the Debian forums.  They spend so much time alienating potential users with their claims that installing via Evo/Lution is not actually Arch, that I am surprised they get new users at all.  I don’t know what the actual native-Arch numbers are like, but Jeff Story has recorded 5,000 downloads of his Evo/Lution script in just 25 days.  To me, that equates to a lot of people who were wanting to run Arch, without enduring the pain of a CLI install.  And I would think the Arch devs would welcome that kind of interest in their work.  Sad to say, they do not see this kind of install as being ‘real Arch’.

I’ve found the Antergos support forums to be the exact opposite.  People there are welcoming and eager to help others, which is always a sign of a solid community.  It is that sense of community that is going to keep me running Antergos, at least on the three machines on which I have installed it.

Antergos is really impressive

In spite of getting off to a rocky start with Antergos Linux, I am finding it more impressive, every time I sit down at my desk.

antergos-logoI mentioned Antergos in an earlier article, but to recap, Antergos is what was formerly known as Cinnarch.  In a nutshell, the Antergos development team has taken Arch Linux, added their Cnchi installer and has made an easy avenue for average Linux users to get involved with running Arch.  The hard-core Arch users no doubt wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth that people like me are claiming to be running Arch, but I really don’t mind.  The truth of the matter is that if I had waited until I felt comfortable installing Arch via the ‘Arch Way’, I would not have found just how amazing Antergos really is.

Earlier this evening, one of my kitties managed to walk over and switch off two different power strips, which shut down all three of my desktop computers.  After getting the switches turned back on, I hit the power switch for an iMac, which is (sadly) still running Linux Mint 16.  Once I had selected the Linux install in rEFIt, I switched on an old Dell PC, which is running Antergos 32 bit.  Both of these machines hit the GRUB menu at the same time.  I opted for the Mint install on the iMac and allowed the menu to just time out on the PC.  I entered my user password on the iMac and then on the Dell.  I then switched on another Dell machine, which is running Antergos 64 bit.  I selected Antergos from the GRUB menu and entered my password to log in.  The older Dell was already sitting on the Antergos Cinnamon desktop, by that time.  The newer Dell landed on the Cinnamon desktop and I opened Thunderbird and had it running, when I turned around, just in time to see the iMac finally landing on the Mint Cinnamon desktop.  I don’t mean to slam Mint, because it has always been solid for me, throughout the years.  But when Antergos is so much faster, it is time to move on.

Antergos is blazingly fast.  I cannot get over how quickly this old Core 2 Duo Dell runs on Antergos.  And this machine has been exclusively running one Linux distro or another for several years, so it isn’t as if I had just migrated to Antergos from Windows XP, or something.

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And I realize everyone has their own perception of what constitutes beauty, but for me, Antergos meets all the qualifications.  And this one is a rolling distribution, which means it is always being updated, so what’s not to love?

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I was definitely spoiled by Ikey Doherty and his SolusOS distro, with its Solus Desktop Environment, and until finding Antergos, had just never found anything that really made me quite as happy.  But give me Antergos with a Cinnamon desktop and I am in tall cotton.

It took me a bit of time to get settled in with PacmanXG, but after using it for a bit, I am ready to start throwing rocks at other package managers.  Because it runs blindingly fast, as well.  And when you are installing packages, you’re not getting some dusty and out-dated piece of software, you are getting the latest and the greatest.  This was one of the things that had always attracted me to SolusOS, so to re-discover it in Antergos is like even more icing on my cake.

I want to thank the entire Antergos team for their incredible efforts, but I also want to add a special thanks to Dustin Falgout, who took the time to help walk me through some of the growing pains I had whilst migrating to Antergos.  Dustin was the reason I stuck it out and managed to get Antergos running on the two PCs.  He’s been providing a lot of help, as I’ve been trying to get Antergos installed on the iMac, but that one seems to be a bridge too far.  The iMac had become my daily driver, but it is about to find itself a new home.  I am looking to buy an older PC, install Antergos on it and use it in place of the iMac.  I really had come to enjoy using the iMac, after installing Linux on it, but I want a machine where I can easily install Antergos and just use it.

Max Wachtel is also blogging about Antergos and has a lot of screenshots over there, so be sure to check out his blog.

Honestly, I don’t know I would recommend Antergos to someone who is coming to Linux for the very first time.  At least, not quite yet.  But for those people who have some Linux experience already, I just cannot say enough about how impressed I am with Antergos.  Click that link, download a copy and see how easily you can get your own system running on the ‘Arch Way’, without any of the pain and grief of using the native Arch install.  And not to worry, because Antergos has an active and very friendly support forum, so help is never very far away.

 

A Love-Hate Relationship

As all my friends know, I am a full-time supporter of using Linux. I’ve been using it for years and can never quite understand why people want to waste time and money with other operating systems.

But there are times when Linux can be pretty frustrating.

I get wound up when so-called Linux advocates start talking about this being the year of the Linux desktop. People, stick it in dark place. I’ve been hearing that same talk since April 2007, when I first starting running Linux. And let me tell you why this is not going to be the year of the Linux desktop, nor subsequent years.

The beauty of Linux is also its downfall. Since Linux distributions are open source software, that means anyone can come along and edit a package’s code, to create their own, customized version of that distro. So we Linux users have hundreds upon hundreds of choices in the selection of the operating system we want to use.

But, since it is so easy to make a couple of coding changes to a very popular Linux distro, a lot of people do just that, and then release packages that just might not be ready for prime time, let alone the light of day.

For quite a while, I ran Ikey Doherty’s ill-fated SolusOS distro. It was as if Ikey had asked me what I wanted to have in my operating system and then he wrote it all, just for me. It was, by far, the best distro I have ever used. But the workload got to Ikey, and I think the challenge having been met, and SolusOS was discontinued. Much to my chagrin.

So I went back to running Linux Mint, which is a very good distro. I like running Mint, because the Mint devs have really put a lot of extra effort into it. I am not a fan of the GNOME 3 experience, and when the Mint devs released Cinnamon, I immediately adopted it.

But as good as Mint is, it still leaves me wanting that undefined, something more.

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And the saga continues

Just yesterday, I was proudly posting about being adopted by a new kitten. But since I had lost two kitties, so close to one another in time, I had already decided I was going to take in two, new kittens. I wanted to honor both of the kitties I had lost.

CricketJust yesterday, I had posted a photo of this little girl, who tragically passed away after only being here for 5 days.  She had been here for just minutes, before she was romping through this place like she had lived here for years.  She would seek me out, mewing in her little squeaks, and wanting attention.  I would scratch her ears for a few minutes, then she would charge off on another of her adventures.  Since she was always bouncing from here to there and making the squeaking mews, I decided to name her Cricket.

I was really gutted when Cricket passed.  She was a pretty, little girl, but she was also 100% kitten, through and through.  She had energy beyond belief, but she also had a very tender side.  When she was playing, she had only one speed – wide open.  But when she was ready to relax, she would suddenly turn into a loving girl, who just couldn’t cozy up close enough.  I would laugh at her, because when I would lay down in bed, she would immediately jump up onto the bed, come over to me and start kneading on my upper arm.  Her eyes would glaze over with a thousand-yard stare as she was kneading my arm.  Then she would flop down and immediately be asleep.

The girls at the shelter where I had adopted Cricket have really been great and have treated me like royalty.  They knew I was looking for two, new kittens, and they also knew I was really wanting kittens that would be people-oriented, rather than being shy wallflowers.

After a lot of consideration about my emotions, one of the girls finally decided to let me in on a little secret.  And she sent me a couple of photos of a kittenCricket2001 that was available for adoption.  Initially seeing the photos rocked me back on my heels, but once I managed to catch my breath, I contacted the shelter and said I wanted her.

And yes, if you think she looks rather familiar, there is good reason.  She is Cricket’s sister!

My intentions, all along, were to adopt two kittens and to name them Angel and Cricket, to honor the two girls I lost in October.  It might seem a little strange to name this little gray and white Cricket, when that was her sister’s name, but since her sister was her such a short time, I am still going to name her Cricket.

One of the girls at My New Cat has already warned me to be prepared, because this little girl is full of energy and has the very same disposition that her sister displayed.

My response to that is only to say, bring her on, because I can’t wait!  If I cannot have Cricket here with me, at least I can commemorate her life by taking in her sister and giving her a forever home.

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I look at these two beauties and cannot imagine getting any better Christmas presents.  How lucky could I possibly get?  I am a little over 10 hours from being able to go pick these girls up, and the clock just isn’t running fast enough to suit me.