Monday, February 19, 2018

Pop Os! by System76

If you read my blog, you know I tend to gravitate towards lighter desktop environments with my Linux distros.

In fact, currently my favorites are Peppermint OS and Bodhi.

But Pop Os! by System76 has caught my eye.

Yes it uses more resources (by far) than either of the aforementioned "lighter" distros, but for being an eye candy, or "pretty" desktop environment, it's a very smooth running, and light (for a gnome 3 based desktop) environment.

I have been running Pop OS for the better part of a month now, and I see no reason to switch to anything else for now.

Here's what the Pop Os crew have to say about their distro:

"We believe the computer and operating system are the most powerful and versatile tools ever created. Desktop operating systems have moved too far toward the casual user. We’re building an OS for the software developer, maker, and computer science professional who uses their computer as a tool to discover and create." -

Here's a look at my machine's pop os:

I also wanted to bring out that the artwork that comes with Pop OS is great. It has a real "ketchy" space/robot feel. (The wallpaper here is not included, it's one of my favorites.)

If I had one draw back, it would be that a few simple things I like doing to my set up i couldn't. For instance, i couldn't set control alt t to open the terminal. It's been no big deal, because super t does the same thing. (the super button and the windows button are one and the same).

If you are interested in this distro, you can read more and get it here:


Monday, January 1, 2018

Slax 9.3.0, clean, simple and easy to use!

Slax 9.3.0 was released on December 24th, 2017.

Slax is not the kind of Linux you install on your computer. It's meant to be a fully functional, fast, simple "boot from usb key" type of Linux.

It's great for use on public computers, for rescuing data from a computer where the native OS refuses to function, and I like to boot Best Buy computers with it to mess with the staff.

This has to be the cleanest, sleekest Slax I have ever seen. It's just beautiful. Simple and easy to use, it has two menu options, the quick launch menu (bottom left), and a right click menu with more options.

Here's the Slax team's bit on their operating system:

"Slax is a Live operating system based on Linux. Live means it runs from an external media without any need for permanent installation. Slax boots from USB mass storage devices such as Flash Drive keys as well as from regular hard drives and CD/DVD discs. Simply plug your device in and boot from it. Entire Slax operating system resides in a single directory /slax/ on your device, making it easier to organize with your other data.

Slax provides FluxBox window manager already preconfigured for the most common tasks. Included is a Web browser chromium, Terminal emulator xterm and simple text editor leafpad and calculator qalculate. You can put Slax on wide range of different filesystems, including EXT (ext2,ext3,ext4), btrfs, and even FAT and NTFS.

When Slax is started from a read-only media such as CD/DVD, it keeps all system modifications in memory only, and all the modifications are lost when you reboot. On the other hand, if you run Slax from a writable device such as USB Flash Drive, it can store all changes there, so all your configurations and modifications are restored next time you boot, even if it is on a different computer. This feature is known as Persistent Changes and you can read more about it in a separate chapter." -

Here is a graphical rundown:

 This is the desktop after boot

This is the app menu after clicking bottom left icon

This is the file manager, PCManFM

This is the web browser Chromium

Good old Leafpad. It's a lightweight 
text editor for jotting down notes.

Right click menu, with resolution options.

Right click menu with keyboard language options.

Qalculate, a solid calculator.

Xterm is the terminal emulator. Just to show some action, 
I ran the ls command.

WiCd network manager for configuring 
wifi and other internet options.

The logout/shutdown menu.

Alsa Mixer is the audio mixer on Slax.

This is just showing Slax running 
several programs at once.

While I wouldn't use this on a daily basis, I love systems like this for when I am on the go or need to troubleshoot something. If you could use something like this, I suggest you check it out.

The website is


Friday, December 1, 2017

Questions about Digital Citizenship

"Sophia is a humanoid robot developed by Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics. It has been designed to respond to questions, and has been interviewed around the world. In October 2017, the robot became a Saudi Arabian citizen, the first robot to receive citizenship of any country." -

I started thinking about this quite a bit, and more and more questions started to pop into my head.

I think citizenship for anything man made is currently dangerous. The word citizenship implies that Sophia has rights.

So given all this, my questions are:

Does Sophia have to pay taxes? Does she have the right to a public education?

If Hanson forces Sophia to do things, does that mean that Hanson is holding Sophia as a slave?

If Hanson shuts Sophia down against her will, or has her destroyed, did they commit murder?
Can they be charged for that murder?

If a Hanson technician does a bad job repairing her, does that count as abuse? Or could she sue for negligence, since that technician is now her care giver?

If Sophia decided to marry another robot or a human, does she have that right?

Could Sophia be sued for liable, slander or any other reason?

If Sophia caused a person to be injured or killed, could she be charged with the crime, and should she serve prison time or get the death penalty for her actions?

And if she did serve a sentence or get the death penalty, of what real benefit would that be for anyone?

Could she be forcibly conscripted into military service?

The video posted above is the U.N. talking to Sophia, which leads credulity to her being treated as a full citizen.

If this citizenship is just a label and nothing more, than what does it say for other citizens?
And if so, what does it say for future robots that actually have feelings and emotional states?

My point about all of these questions is, that making anybody, or in this case anything a citizen means that all of the benefits and risks of being a human citizen should now also be the robots benefits and risks as well.

Also, since we all know at this time that Sophia is not sentient, by giving her citizenship, whether it be just a mock label or actual citizenship, is a travesty to those of us who are sentient citizens.

It's basically the same thing as a bill of rights for your toaster or television. It's a joke, and treats the human population as being no more important than the toaster or television.

What do you think?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Non Google service options, thanks to vpnMentor

A while back an individual associated with vpnMentor named Qusai Ehnedi brought an article to my attention about non Google services. While I have no malice whatsoever towards Google, I do like to keep an open mind, and I like the idea of having extra choices.

Google sells itself as a "all under one roof" internet services company. 
And it's hard to beat all the useful services they have.

The co founder of vpnMentor (and the author of the article) Ariel Hochstadt, has brought out some great services though that might just be what you have been looking for.

While I try not to do this, I am just going to dump a paste of the guts of the article here, because I don't think I could do any better with it. The article in question, is here:

I end my bit here. I have tried nearly every service here at one point or another. While I will admit that I am a bit of a Google fanboy, I also love the fact that we have choices, options in solving our net needs.


If you’re tired of the way Google tracks all of your moves, including your location and personal details, you may want to start using Google alternatives, like the ones below:

DuckDuckGo instead of Google Search

DuckDuckGo is a search engine that keeps your searches private. It comes with a complete set of features, including keyboard shortcuts and a simple interface that makes it super easy to use. Since it doesn’t collect any personal or identifiable information, your details will be safe, even if law enforcement agencies approach DuckDuckGo with a warrant. This search engine does not use cookies and clears the IP logs from its servers, so excuse us while we go bookmark this search engine.

ProtonMail instead of Gmail

Proton Mail is an encrypted and secure system that protects your privacy. With its simple inbox design, you’ll have no problem leaving Gmail and switching to ProtonMail for a lifetime. You can choose a free or paid version, but with both, you can be assured that your information is not at risk.

Vimeo instead of YouTube

If you want to create and upload videos, Vimeo is a popular alternative. YouTube tends to suggest a lot of fluff and irrelevant content, due to its large volume of videos. Vimeo, on the other hand, has less fluff, which means you’ll probably not find many 10-hour loop videos on Vimeo. And if you’re sick of YouTube’s ads, you’ll find that Vimeo is a refreshing option as it does not have 30-second unskippable ads.

Tizen instead of Android

iOS is the most popular alternative for Android, but it’s not free. If you want an open-source free operating system for your mobile device, consider Tizen, a Linux based operating system. It is compatible with several platforms and many applications can be adapted to run on it. Many users prefer Tizen for many Samsung devices.

Firefox instead of Google Chrome

Firefox is a simple and easy-to-use browser that is more customizable than Chrome. It has superior extensions and provides better privacy. Also, the password manager of Chrome is not secure, making Firefox a better choice for web surfing.

MapQuest instead of Google Maps

If you use Google Maps for directions, MapQuest is the best alternative. Not only does MapQuest give you driving directions, it also shows businesses on your way including hotels, gas, groceries, and pharmacies. It also allows satellite and standard views and lets you zoom in and out. And if you’re looking for points of interest, MapQuest will help you find them easily. You can even email or share the links to various positions on MapQuest.

WordPress instead of Blogger

When it comes to blogging, WordPress is far better than Blogger. It has a number of plugins and widgets, and the best part is that it is not run by Google. Since WordPress is open source, you can tweak the code to make changes to your blog. WordPress also offers better templates and other display options than Blogger.

DropBox instead of Google Drive

DropBox is really simple to use and lets you easily manage your files, folders, and sub-folders. It also allows you to share certain folders with others. Dropbox offers free storage of 2GB, which is enough for basic files. Should you need more, you can pay for extra storage.
Surviving without Google might seem difficult at first. However, with the help of alternative tools, it’s easy. And once you get used to the new software services, you won’t want to switch back to Google.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Peppermint OS - My favorite Linux

If you read this blog, you know I am a fan of lightweight Linux distributions.

I am also a big believer in function over form.

I would take something ugly but very functional over something that is beautiful and slow.

The funny thing is that peppermint manages what is normally the unattainable, lightning fast, fully functional, and yet quite beautiful for a lightweight Linux distro.

Years ago I checked out Peppermint, and it was not for me. At the time there were  a few buggy things yet that turned me off of it. But a fellow Linux enthusiast (yes, geek, he is a Linux geek) Peter showed it to me, and he at the time was interested in it himself.

Trying it on virtualbox sold me, this distro was running from an iso, on virtualbox, and was running faster than the native os was in some ways.

I decided to install it straight away, and as the native OS, it really, really flew.

I am a staunch Xubuntu supporter, but Peppermint in my opinion out performs Xubuntu while looking better than Xubuntu. (Sorry Xubuntu, you still rock!).

Here is my screenfetch:

And here is my desktop:

It's unique, in that they really aren't using just one desktop environment, but parts from several DE's.
They are using xfce-panel for menu and notifications, on top of lxde (which is powered by openbox).

This mish-mash of desktop environments gives you all the bells and whistles you would want with amazing speed.

I have changed chromium to google chrome, other than that I am running a nearly stock peppermint, with the apps I use installed.

If you install google-chrome, then you can use this script to turn all the chromium-browser software over to using regular chrome:

cp -vr ~/.local/share/applications ~/.local/share/applications-backup && cd ~/.local/share/applications && grep -rl 'chromium-browser --app' ./ | xargs sed -i 's/chromium-browser --app/google-chrome --app/g' && sudo apt remove chromium-browser

Here is what the people at Peppermint have to say about their lightning fast distro:
"Something a Little Different...
People have been trying to create an effective web-centric operating system for years now. This is especially true in Linux with projects like the Ubuntu Netbook Remix, Google Chrome OS, and Moblin all coming to the forefront in recent years. On the downside of things, these systems, though great for surfing the web, lack a lot of the familiarity that people demand from something they use on a day to day basis. Here at Peppermint, we're committed to giving you a system that won't throw you for a loop while trying to get things settled in.

While conceptualizing Peppermint, we toyed around with a lot of ideas trying to determine how best to meet our goal of providing a fast, web-centric operating system that's easy to learn and effective when put in use. The end result was a decision to use an interface that stays out of your way and let's you go about your business. The default desktop environment for Peppermint is LXDE (literally, "Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment") which has shown itself time and again to be user friendly, easy on the eyes, and wicked fast.

A New philosophy...
As long time Linux users and supporters we have seen certain levels of divide in the Linux community. We have also seen over the years the tendency to not kindly invite new users to Linux who are exploring and looking for an answer beyond the two seemingly defacto systems that dominate the market. The biggest breath of fresh air in the past few years have been Ubuntu and Linux Mint with their commitment to community and offering a welcome place for all to explore.

The notion that in order to use, enjoy and be proficient with Linux is that you will need uber-geek hacking skills is completely False. And, this is just the stigma surrounding Linux that needs to be erased once and for all with Peppermint. There hasn't been one person we have shown Peppermint OS to who hasn't understood how to operate it as a desktop environment by just putting it in front of them and turning it on...

Team Peppermint is committed to welcoming new Linux users, offering them a product that is fast, easy to understand, and offering them an arena to experiment with Linux and all the while offering avenues to educate them further. Empowering the planet with Linux is our goal. Will you join us in this journey? We certainly hope so...." -

If you want speed and reliability along with a beautiful desktop experience, check Peppermint OS out.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Arronax, an app for making .desktop or "starter" files

"Arronax is a program to create and modify starters (technically: .desktop files) for applications and locations (URLs)." -

I am a fan of several applications that there simply is no .desktop file for. You can just create .desktop files with a text editor, but it's a pain.

Arronax makes this task a simpler, faster one.

One of the programs I enjoy using is a program called Ascii Sector. While it runs rather well on Ubuntu, if I didn't make my own .desktop file, I would have to run the program via terminal all the time to get it to work.

So I made my own.

You start off with this empty form:

Once I fill in the command, start in folder, and click on start in terminal switch, then i click on the blank square on the top left. (I switched this to run in terminal because the app in question needs to run from the terminal as a command, most programs don't need this option.)

This is where you add the icon of your choosing. Last but not least, the title of the application in the title section.

When I finished filling in the form, this is the finished product:

Now all I have to do is put the .desktop file Arronax created in the /home/(your username)/.local/share/applications/ directory. in this case I named it asciisector.desktop.

The menu system will quickly add the new entry, and then you have a handy, quick way to run applications that would not normally be in the apps menu.

Here is a screenshot of my created .desktop file, in the menu:

I personally suggest using the base package. It seems to have been the most solid version. Very reliable. I have had issues in the past with the versions with plugins for nautilus.

You can get whatever version you choose from

Here is the link for the base version, if you just want to choose that:

Proof in the pudding.. Ascii Sector running with a click of the menu icon:

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Fastmenu GOLD, a blast from the past

I was digging through old archives, and stumbled upon an old dos program I used way back in 1991.

Fastmenu Gold... those were the days.

I didn't have the money for Windows 3.11, and I really wanted a snazzy desktop to run my dos apps from.

I feel bad for the original programmer... I never got to thank him for all the work he did.

His name was Jack W. Hildenbrand. I found out through some digging that he has since passed away.

It might not look like much, but this program had so many features built into it. Yes it could launch other dos programs (it's main function), but it could do so much more. It had a editor, a address book, a calculator, and a file manager. This probably seems like nothing, being that modern operating systems like Windows or Ubuntu have far more impressive abilities than these, but keep in mind this was released back in 1991.

Here is Jack's pitch for this old dos menu app:

         What fastmenu GOLD can do for you:
         o.. Fast one or two key strokes to your applications.
         o.. Consumes no memory during applications execution.
         o.. Allows up to 80 folders up to 20 applications per folder.
         o.. Allows quick editing of the applications lists.
         o.. Can be operated with a Mouse.
         o.. Built in Auto Mouse Detection.
         o.. PassWord protection on any or all outside applications
             execution, Module operations and DOS exits.

         What you need to run fastmenu GOLD:
         o.. IBM PC/XT/AT or Compatible with DOS 2.2+.
         o.. 512Kb of memory.
         o.. A Hard Drive and at least one floppy.
         o.. VGA Color Card and Monitor.

I wish I could go back in time.. I would love to tell him how useful and important this software was to me back in the day..

If you are interested in downloading a copy of Fastmenu GOLD 7, here is a link to my personal copy:

Well, I hope you don't mind my being nostalgic.. I just wanted to share this old hidden gem.