Monday, December 14, 2015

Slitaz, Super Lightweight Linux

5 years ago I wrote an article about SliTaz.

I was looking for a lightweight Linux distribution and I had found Damn Small Linux  or "DSL" as it's called as an option.

The problem then and now is that DSL is not maintained very well or in most cases not at all .

When I found SliTaz I couldn't believe the power and capability you had with a distribution that was less than 50 megabytes in size.

This week I again was looking for a super small Linux distribution, something very lightweight and I ran into SliTaz 5 RC 3 .

SliTaz 5 is just beautiful. It's fast, reliable, clean, and still at 35 megabytes for download.

There was some tweaking to get WiFi to work (at least on my machine), but after that It ran beautifully.

Here is what the SliTaz team has to say about their distro:

"Introduction to the project

SliTaz GNU/Linux is a free operating system working completely in memory from removable media such as a CD-ROM or USB key. It is light, speedy and fully installable on a hard drive. SliTaz is distributed in the form of a LiveCD that you can easily burn to a cdrom and boot from. When the system is running you can eject the LiveCD and use your CD drive for other tasks. The Live system provides a fully-featured, working graphical distro and lets you keep your data and personal settings on persistent media. The system can be extended with the Tazpkg package manager and security updates are provided for the cooking and stable versions.

SliTaz project provides free technical support to users through the Mailing list (i18n list) and the English Forum. You can also contact us for more information, suggestions, or comments using the list or directly by mail:

SliTaz Specifications

The default ISO image provides 4 flavors: base, just-x, gtk-only and the full desktop. SliTaz can also be booted from the web, customized to match any needs and installed on a wide range of devices from old computers, to powerful servers and small ARM devices such as the Raspberry Pi.

SliTaz is easy to use for Linux beginners: we provide a fully featured and modern desktop following the Freedesktop standards with home made tools that lets users graphically configure the entire system. The full system can even be controlled remotely with our web based configuration panel.

We provide a base system and a stripped down X system from where you can build your own customized distro. The custom system can then be used from a CD-ROM, USB stick, SD Card, installed to HD or booted from the web.

Follow UNIX philosophy: i.e. everything is a text file. Our packages manager and all system settings are stored in simple text files for easy customization and human readable configurations. SHell scripting is used for most tools, again for easy customization and development.

Radically simple way to boot using 4 scripts to configure the entire system, handle boot options, manage networking and run local commands. SliTaz loads the minimal resources and lets users control everything else.

Be able to run completely in RAM memory from a LiveCD, a USB stick or frugal HD install. This mode allows you to save documents on a mounted partition while the system stays super fast and responsive.

Structured network with deep SliTaz integration for easy navigation between all sites. Structured development with Mercurial and custom tools such as the bug tracker and the cookutils.


Root filesystem taking up about 100 MB and ISO image of less than 40 MB.
Ready to use Web/FTP server powered by Busybox with CGI support.
Browse the Web with Midori, Firefox or Lynx in text mode.
Sound support provided by Alsa mixer, audio player and CD ripper/encoder.
Chat, mail and FTP clients.
SSH client and server powered by Dropbear.
Database engine with SQLite.
Generate a LiveUSB device.
Tools to create, edit or burn CD or DVD images.
Elegant desktop with Openbox running on the top of Xorg/Xvesa (X server).
Homemade graphical boxes to command line utilities.
4967 packages easily installable from the mirror.
Active and friendly community." -

Here are some screenshots thanks to
Stable 4.0
Stable 4.0
Stable 3.0
Stable 3.0
Stable 2.0
Stable 2.0
Stable 1.0
Stable 1.0
Cooking - Geany and GPicview
Cooking - Geany and GPicview
Cooking - Conky
Cooking - Conky
Cooking - Multimediaplayer MPlayer
Cooking - Multimediaplayer MPlayer
Cooking - Dateimanager PCManFM
Cooking - Dateimanager PCManFM
Stable - E17
Stable - E17

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Transparent Aluminum, Now a Reality!

If you are a Star Trek fan, then you might recall that in the movie "Star Trek: The Voyage Home" they mention transparent aluminum. In the movie they use it to transport whales to the future.

Well that sci fi idea has become reality.

In a press release on they made it clear they have already accomplished this amazing task.

The new material, called Spinel is made of magnesium and aluminum (among other things).

It should be fairly cheap to make, because "The precursors are all earth abundant, so it's available in reasonably low cost".

It's also quite a bit lighter and thinner than bullet proof glass of today. "A "bullet-proof" window today, for example, has layers of plastic and glass perhaps five inches thick. "If you replaced that with spinel, you'd reduce the weight by a factor of two or more,""

For the whole news release, check the link out here:

Saturday, October 31, 2015, free and easy dictations

I stumbled onto quite on accident . I don't like using the keyboard on my Chromebook because it's so easy to miss type things and the bump things like the touch sensitive screen or track pad . Searching Chrome's App Store I found a plugin for this website .

I am using this website right now to type this article . It is very accurate and the commands are easy to use. Here is what the authors of have to say about their wonderful product .

"Speech Recognition in the Browser

With Dictation, you can use the magic of speech recognition to write emails, narrate essays and long documents in the browser without touching the keyboard.

To get started, just connect the microphone to your computer and click the Start Dictation button.

Dictation uses your browser's local Storage to save all the transcribed text automatically as you speak. That means you can close the browser and it will resume from where you left off.

The app internally uses the built-in speech recognition engine of Google Chrome to transform your voice into digital text.

Speak in your Native Language

You don't have to speak in English as Chrome's engine can recognize quite a few languages including Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Malay, Indonesian and more. Dictation will automatically determine your browser's default launguage and uses it for subsequent transcriptions.

Hindi and other Indian languages aren't supported at this time.

Written by Amit Agarwal for Digital Inspiration." -

Here is a nice intro video for using

Here are he commands thanks to

1. Say "New Paragraph" to begin a new paragraph

2. Say "Comma", "Full Stop", "Question Mark" for punctuation

This is one handy tool. -Denny

Sunday, October 11, 2015

PearOS just won't die...

"A new start" on this Pear OS 8 poster from several years ago seems very apropos. (Click to enlarge)

On January 21st, 2014, I wrote an article as a fond farewell and a sad melancholy goodbye to a beautiful and well rounded Linux distro, Pear OS.

Information from a Softpedia article shows someone is giving new life into this old but popular distribution.

Softpedia wrote:

"Remember Pear OS? Yes, the popular GNU/Linux distribution that looked like a Mac OS X operating system! Well, you won't believe this, but some people will not let go of the past, so a Portuguese developer just cloned the OS.

Rodrigo Marques uploaded a Live DVD ISO image of a new Pear OS-inspired computer operating system on the SourceForge website, claiming that he used the real thing until now and that he wanted to have an updated version for his personal use.

So, he took the concept of the Pear OS distribution, modified an Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS (Trusty Tahr) operating system with all sort of desktop and icon themes to make it look like a Mac OS X desktop, added various modern applications, and published the final result under the name PearOS.

Among the pre-installed apps, we can notice the LibreOffice office suite, Chromium web browser, BleachBit system cleaner, Spotify Client, Mozilla Firefox web browser, Gedit text editor, Shotwell image viewer and organizer, Transmission torrent downloader, VLC Media Player, and several of the apps from the GNOME Stack.

Legal problems? Let's hope not!

Now, considering the fact that Pear OS was bought by a big and powerful company whose name we don't know, even to this day, we do hope that the developer won't get in any legal trouble because of the name, which you can see that it's a little modified e.g. Pear OS vs PearOS.

Until then, those of you who wish to take the PearOS distro for a test drive can download the Live ISO image right now from the project's SourceForge page, where the developer invites anyone to contribute with suggestions or ask questions. Please note that the default languge of the OS is Portuguese, but you can easily change it to English."

Rumors some time ago persisted that Apple bought the original Pear OS. If that's the case, we can almost certainly expect some fireworks over this...


Monday, September 28, 2015

Openbox rocks, again!

I wrote an article entitled "Openbox Rocks!" back in March of 2012.

I wanted to retouch on this, because a lot has changed.

My original article mentioned my use of Feh to add a background. Well if you are an Ubuntu user like me, the first thing you realize is that Feh doesn't work well in Ubuntu 14.04 anymore. Not certain if this is because of my choice of 64 bit architecture, or what.

The new replacement for Openbox users on Ubuntu is nitrogen.

Nitrogen is so simple to use. You first run it normally to choose the directory and image file you want as your desktop, along with it's orientation, such as scaled or centered. Then in your autostart file in /home/(your user name here)/.config/openbox, you simply add nitrogen --restore at the end. I tried to use the nitrogen command in the beginning like in my old article with feh, it didn't want to cooperate.

I also hadn't mentioned it at the time, but I also now suggest lxsession-logout.

It adds a much needed, beautiful, simple log out/reboot/shutdown menu.

Here's a nice pic thanks to lubuntu:

I personally have stopped using wicd-gtk. It just isn't needed anymore, nm-applet, which automatically runs on most versions of Ubuntu, is a better option (IMO).

I also want to add that I am a lxpanel and gmrun fan still for Openbox. lxpanel is a very lightweight panel app that gives you super lightweight functionality, with enough bells and whistles. (Don't forget to add the volume control under panel options in lxpanel unless it's already there, nice to be able to mute and change volume from the bar.)

gmrun is my favorite app launcher for the debian/ubuntu universe.

Besides stealing lxpanel and lxsession-logout from the lxde world, I also like to steal xfce4-screenshooter, xfce4-terminal and thunar from the xfce world.

I also suggest snagging lxappearance from the lxde world, to change your icons for programs like lxpanel, thunar, pcmanfm, or any other program using the system icons.

You will want to add a copy of rc.xml to /home/(your user name here)/.config/openbox, so you can have keyboard shortcuts to programs like your terminal emulator, screenshooting utility, app run program, or whatever.

I also suggest obmenu. It gives you the option to edit the openbox menu with great ease in a simple but functional GUI interface.

This strange combination gives a very flushed out yet crazy fast desktop environment (or window manager, for you "I must use the correct label all the time people")...

Here is what my Openbox looks like: (Click it to enlarge)

I think with these little additions and notes, Ubuntu and Openbox make a great team. Power and speed.

I have included below a link to my autostart, menu.xml and rc.xml file, thanks to Google Drive.

My Openbox files:

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Lily flies itself to capture your adventures

While reading posts on my favorite BBS, I found a post by a user named Android8675.

In this post was the cool intro video I have linked below via YouTube.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing! A drone that not only flies itself, but takes beautiful in focus footage of the person wearing the "homing beacon". (For want of whatever Lily calls it)

This thing is amazing. Here is the YouTube video I just mentioned:

Here is what the Lily team have to say about themselves:

"Lily started in September 2013 in the basement of a UC Berkeley robotics lab, where Henry and Antoine built the first prototype using a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino.

In Spring of 2014, leading investors Shana Fisher and SV Angel supported the Lily vision and showed them the yellow brick road. Along the way, Robb gave Lily a heart, Rowland gave Lily courage, and Nghia gave Lily a brain.

Our mission is to release human creativity by inventing tools that allow for effortless expression. We believe that great products are built with a clear purpose." -

Right now Lily is not available, but it will be available starting in May of 2016, and you can pre-order now via

Well that's about it. Before I go, here is some great artwork shots thanks to

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Free Music to play, download and share

While I usually write about some new Linux distribution or other tech related gadgetry, I wanted to share my love for public domain music.

Public domain music is exactly that, owned by and in purview of the public. Which means anyone can download, listen to and share this music.

While you are not likely to hear music on the local pop "top 40" station, there are some real gems in the public domain.

I personally like to listen to jazz.. (except Dixie land, not a "John Philip Sousa" type of a guy..)

But there is something for everyone in the PD (public domain) including current sounding pop, country, r&b, rock, etc.. songs if one so desires. Of coarse there is also some very old music too, and cool radio recordings of shows like "The Shadow" and "Dick Tracy". 

One of my favorite songs I found in PD is a song called "This is Honkstep" by Orkestra Del Sol.

Here is the link to it thanks to

It really takes off after the tuba solo. Anyways, this is just a small taste of what you can find. Here is my compilation of favorite places to dig for buried PD treasure:

"Fun Fun Fun Media is all about enjoying music.
Our music bloggers find and post MP3s for download.
We do the music discovery. You listen and download anything you like.
Music isn’t shrinking, musicians haven’t stopped making music.
Fun Fun Fun has devoted itself to keeping music creativity alive.
Fun Fun Fun offers a free music cloud so you can enjoy music anywhere." -

"Our musical heritage is our culture.
The Past should be appreciated, not neglected.
These artists are so unique, they should never be forgotten.
This site is designed for your musical edification.
This site can not grant any commercial uses of this material." -

"The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format." -

"Musopen ( is a 501(c)(3) non-profit focused on improving access and exposure to music by creating free resources and educational materials. We provide recordings, sheet music, and textbooks to the public for free, without copyright restrictions. Put simply, our mission is to set music free." -

I hope you enjoy this list, there are more where that came from.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Terminology, stylish terminal emulation

While putz-ing on Bodhi Linux, I came across one of the things that endured me to Bodhi in the first place, Terminology.

Terminology is the standard terminal emulator for Enlightenment, which is the standard desktop environment for Bodhi Linux.

What I first loved about Terminology was the icon, and then the old school feel of it that made you relive your TRS-80 or IBM mainframe terminal days. (If you are an old fart like me.)

Then, when I did a little research and found out just how many cool bells and whistles came with terminology, I loved it all the more.

This is one cool terminal emulation.

It gives you all the old school charm, but with features you just don't see on the newest terminal emulators out there. Features even the heavy weights like Terminator don't have.

Since I am lazy, and because the Terminology people did such an excellent job already, I am going to just paste here the main contents of

Terminology is a terminal emulator for Linux/BSD/UNIX etc. systems that uses EFL and has a whole bunch of bells and whistles. Use it as your regular vt100 terminal emulator along with all the usual things like 256 color support (we attempt to emulate Xterm as closely as possible in most respects).
Of course since it uses EFL, it works in X11, under a Wayland compositor and even directly in the framebuffer on Linux. Replace your boring text-mode VT with a graphical one that requires no display system.
We have config panels (just press right mouse or hold left mouse down for about a second) and you can even customize the colors to your own liking or just use the colors specified with your theme.
Run all your regular terminal apps, like top, htop, ls, emacs, vim, mc etc. as you always have, and enjoy one of the fastest terminal emulators around in terms of it handling I/O. No waiting for scrolling any longer than the application generating the output spends. Terminology will keep scrollback in RAM, not on any file on disk to keep things a bit more secure. In addition scrollback is compressed on the fly to save space. It can even use OpenGL to render if you have configured the acceleration preferences for EFL (Elementary).
You will have a nice and unmistakable visual bell to let you know something is wrong, as well as sound to get your attention (can be turned off by muting alerts).
Terminology understands full file paths, URL links and email addresses in the terminal and will underline them on mouse-over so you can click and get more information such as gravatar information for that e-mail address, or to download the file from a URL (and if it's a video or animated gif, play it, otherwise just display it).
Don't be mystified as to what is going on while it downloads, as you'll get a nice progress bar to let you know how things are going,
And when the file is ready (instantly if local), it will display the file for you in a nice popup inside the Terminal. It saves bringing up another GUI application if all you wanted was to quickly see what was going on in that file or URL. Of course Terminology can be configured to bring up files with external application helpers.
Never again be stuck not being able to see cats do stupid things in animated gifs when you don't have your web browser available. Your terminal can give you all the fluffy fun you wanted by itself. You can even use tycat (a special cat tool that provides metadata for Terminology via escape sequences), to literally “cat” content inline in your terminal. it even remembers it in scrollback. Even if it is a video file. Scroll back and the video will play. With sound as well (and controls to seek, pause etc.).
Your image files will come up with all their glorious alpha channel goodness. Even SVG files will scale properly, PDFs and PS files will be visible and scalable. If you have libreoffice installed, you can even cat PPT, ODP, DOC and even XLS files if you want.
But don't just click on links or use “typop” to pop up files, and tycat them, but even set them as backgrounds too. “tybg” can set a background to any file you like, from a simple JPEG or PNG file through to SVG, even MP4 videos, animated gifs, even PPT files can become your terminal background if you like. Love that presentation on rising finacialization of market innovation? Never live without it again! Set it as a background and enjoy it all day, every day. In your terminal. Want to watch a video of butts drifting by in your terminal while using “tyls” to list files… along with their thumbnails? never fear! Terminology will come to your rescue. Have cats trying to jump and fail miserably by plummeting to the floor? You can have it all NOW!
Also need translucency, so you can see what is below your terminal? Fret not! Terminology has this bell and whistle also nicely stashed in its chest of visual features. Feel free to set it to 0% to make your display totally unusable as no background is then provided and you can see everything behind clearly.
Is this not enough? Never mind then, We also have Tabs. Good old-fashioned Tabs the way most people like them. Lined up along the top of your terminal showing the current title for that Tab. And fear not - your background videos will still play across all the Tabs you have. Yes - the ones in hidden Tabs will be “paused” (actually entirely evicted from memory until you come around to open up that Tab again).
But do you want something a bit funkier with Tabs? Then hit the 4 boxes at the top-right of a terminal, or hit CTRL+SHIFT+Home and go into “Tab switcher” mode. A grid of terminals much like Esposé will do will appear. You can navigate with the mouse or keyboard and select what you want. All the miniatures will be live, showing current content scrolling by or updating, and if they have a background - even a video, it will be playing. Live.
If Tabs are not enough, Terminology also offers Splits. This allows you to split the terminal into panes with a left/right half, or top/bottom half. Splits can nest, so you can split a Split again as many times as you like. They are resizable, and each Split can hold as many Tabs as you like. So slice and dice your terminal any way you like.
But don't worry, all your Splits will keep playing your videos, displaying your wallpapers and updating their content as you might expect them to.
And of course we have a large set of configuration options as well. Want something to behave a bit differently, or change look? Switch theme? Select background visually? Change font and sizing? Just right click or hold left mouse down and bring up the settings panels. Customize to your liking. Terminology will store your changes for future annoyance (unless “Temporary” is selected).
Of course if a bunch of still images is not enough for you, Below we have a video showing off more of what Terminology can do for you. It showcases most of the features, but just know that features keep being added all the time, and this may not represent everything you can do today.

See what I mean, no need to write all that myself. ;)

You can download Terminology here:

or if you are a Ubuntu user, here is the info for installing it on 14.04:

And here is a screenshot of me using it on Xubuntu 14.04 LTS 64 bit edition:

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Watchtower Library 2014 with PlayOnLinux

If you have had issues installing a newer version of wine, or need an older version of wine for another app, PlayOnLinux is a great way to install the Watchtower Library on Linux.

Before we start, I must tell you the PlayOnLinux way takes longer, and needs to download packages from the internet to accomplish it's task.

First of all is the installation of PlayOnLinux. In Ubuntu (or other Debian Linux distros) you just type sudo apt-get install playonlinux in the terminal, or look for playonlinux in synaptic or the Ubuntu Software Center.

Once that is done and you start PlayOnLinux, here is how you install the Watchtower Library:

This screen, choose "Install a program"

Wait for the load screen to end

Type in "Watchtower Library" (without the quotes) 
and choose your version

Once this screen arrives, click next, and wait.. 
it takes a while to install.

PlayOnLinux has to install several packages, 
this is the first, wine 1.7.

More wait time, extracting Wine. (Patience!)

Another package to install, wine gecko.

Now for wine mono. Keep waiting.

Nearing the end, PlayOnLinux needs to make a 
virtual drive c for all of this wine goodness.

Now the screen we waited for. I personally store
the watchtower library cd files on a usb drive,
but for most people you will want to choose 
"use cd-rom".

Point the program to the CD or place you have the Watchtower Library files, and the rest is just like installing it on Windows or older versions of wine.

After installation, PlayOnLinux will make a desktop icon.

If you want to have a menu entry instead, start your favorite menu editor (i.e. menulibre) and put this info into your new menu entry:

Command: /usr/share/playonlinux/playonlinux --run "Watchtower Library 2014" %F

Icon location: /home/xubuntu/.PlayOnLinux//icones/full_size/Watchtower Library 2014
(Change the "xubuntu" to your username.)

I hope this how to is useful.

As always, if you need help, you can reach me with the info in the "Contact and about Denny" section on the right.