Computer Update – Current Setup

Linux Nerd Journal Update

I thought I might do a wee computer status update. Which sounds silly, since there hasn’t been a ton of change. But things are working well, so I haven’t torn it all down and started fresh for quite some time. When Ubuntu comes out with version 19.04 I’ll probably do a more major update. I’ll do an upgrade to 18.10 today most likely, just for fun though.

Current Distros

When I got my System 76 Gazelle a while back, I made a choice to put one single, lonely operating system on it. (I know, crazy!) I put Ubuntu Mate, which has been my workhorse for some time. When I need to stop twiddling with software and do actual work, I use Ubuntu Mate. It works well, and I don’t have to fiddle with very much to get it running. Sometimes I long for Manjaro XFCE, which is my other favorite distro. I have never had problems with it, but it’s so tinkerable. It just invites you to install updates and see what new stuff is out there. So tantalizing. I do enjoy a rolling distro though. I don’t promise not to hop over to Manjaro or even PopOS one of these days (I am running a System 76 machine, after all).

My desktop machine currently runs Linux Mint, for the same reason, to get me to stop tinkering and get to work. It also runs well, although in an effort to be responsible, I set up separate home and root partitions. That was great until the root partition got over filled with Flatpak applications, which take up a lot of space. I understand it is possible to change the location of the Flatpak files, but that seems like too much of a pain to me, so I’m avoiding Flatpak for the time being. Most software I need is available in a different format, so I’m going with that, and it’s fine. I am glad for more options in software format though. If software isn’t available on a repo, it’s nice to be able to grab it via snap, or appimage, or flatpak. Options are good. Heck, that’s the strength of Linux – options and freedom to choose.

My laptop and desktop data files are synced periodically using Syncthing. It’s a good, solid bit of software and just syncs up files. It runs great. I use it for Android as well. I sure wish it were available for iPhone! But it is easy to choose the folders I want to sync and update everything between various machines. It allows me to work with files on the old Macbook running Elementary, or the Dell netbook running MXLinux if I feel like it too. That’s always nice.

Mobile is Still the Worst

I also have the same old iPhone 5c and Android Samsung S2 8″ tablet. Mobile devices are such a compromise. There is no good answer, until the Librem 5 comes out. Which is why I keep using my old iPhone and will keep using it as long as I can, until a decent option comes along. Apple at least makes their money more off hardware than from selling my data. But their platform is proprietary and wildly locked down. I support software openness, but in practice I want the choice that is less abusive in gathering my data.

I also have a Samsung android tablet. Google is pretty much the worst, in spite of having a slightly more open platform, based as it is on Linux. It is still full of propriety apps and packed to the gills with spyware. I do what I can to mitigate that, by not signing into a google account, and loading software from FDroid where I can. For a few things not on FDroid, I use Yalp to download and install the apk installation files. I do like the control of being able to run software that I like on Android. Granted, every once in a while, one doesn’t run correctly. I try to use apps that don’t require the Google Play Services nonsense. Software should run as light as possible, and don’t need extra google-y-ness to get the job done. In my opinion.

FreeFileSync was on the list of favorite software, until I wrote a version of this post on my PocketChip saved to a flash drive. Then I used FreeFileSync to sync it to my laptop, and instead of updating the older file on the laptop, it replaced the file on the flash drive with an empty text document. I didn’t have the file saved anywhere else (my mistake, clearly), so it was lost forever. Granted, it was not the Great American Novel or anything, but still. I am not sure why it copied over the empty file rather than saving the newer version. So watch out your file sync, and turn on version control! That’s the lesson for today.

And exciting news!

I get to attend Linux Fest NW this year! I went two years ago, and it was a fabulous time. I am thrilled to go back again.

And, just for fun, my favorite software lately:

  • Zim Wiki. Always at the top of the list. Simple, clean writing software for notes, journals, etc.
  • Zettlr. A markdown app with a nice interface, and some handy features, like word count, pomodoro timer and a nice menu tree.
  • Syncthing. My favorite method for syncing files between various machines.
  • Akregator. For RSS feeds. Rebelling against social media makes me want a good way to keep up with folks I want to follow. RSS is the best way to do that.

It’s not software, but I’ve been using real life notebooks more too, which I find helpful. Something focusing and grouding about a pen and a piece of paper. I get scattered easily, so I need all the grounding I can get.