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How to turn Kubuntu into a perfect desktop

updated July 3, 2017, category: Software & security

Kubuntu & pimp
Here's a little wannabe guide. Shiny, happy, full of adjectives and superlatives but no laxatives. With a good reason. I'm psyched, and this without ingesting any chemicals. The reason being, the very recent Kubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus is a mighty good little distro, and I'm pleased to actually be using it on a daily basis, something that hasn't happened with KDE for at least 5-6 years.

To commemorate this revolutionary moment, we have this little pimping guide, akin to my many other pimping guides, which should help you make your Kubuntu into a mean, lean productivity machine. Let's see what you can or should do. Voluntary, optional and fun.

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Macbuntu - Spice up your desktop

updated June 30, 2017, category: Software & security

Macbuntu is no stranger to Dedoimedo. We first used this lovely project slash transformation pack in Gnome 2 many years ago and then again about three winters counter clockwise with a Salamander edition of Ubuntu. Now we shall attempt this lovely work again on top of Ubuntu 16.10 Yakkety Yak. I've written this just before the Zesty release, but the idea is 100% identical and valid.

Before we continue, you may ask, why you do dis, I feel no pain. Wait, I got confused. That's a Zohan line. What I meant is, why touch the default Ubuntu setup? Well, we've already done some work in my essential tweaking guide, so we're notching up to the next level. This will give you some serious street credit in your local coffee shop. Probably not, but worth a try.

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Nomad desktop - You'll never walk alone

updated June 29, 2017, category: Software & security

Nomad desktop
If you've been using Linux for a while, you have probably heard or even played with various desktop environments; Unity, Gnome, Plasma, Xfce, Cinnamon, and others. A personal quest of finding the most suitable interface between YOU and the system. But I bet you half a shilling you have not yet had a chance to experiment with Nomad.

Nomad Desktop is the face of a new Linux distribution named Nitrux. The naming choice is a little tricky, because Nomad is already heavily used to brand a range of software products, and the domain name for Nitrux has the magical NX combo in there. But it does look very interesting. The JS-heavy homepage offers a lot of visual candy, the screenshots are shiny, and Nitrux aims to carve its own niche in a small world saturated with desktop environments. The backbone behind this effort relies on Ubuntu and Plasma and cutting-edge Qt5 solutions, similar to KDE neon. Let's see what it does.

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Birthday ... Celebrate ... Free books

updated June 26, 2017, category: Books

Ladies and gentlemen! Dedoimedo celebrates 11 years of operation - of fun, lunacy, reviews, tutorials, and other collectible memorabilia, for your pleasure and mine. What started as a humble little blog has transformed into a dope site with bling-bling and some 2,000 articles to date. Thanks to you, there's someone actually reading them, forever not alone.

To wit, and in direction violation of birthday traditions, where I'm supposed to be getting gifts, you'll be getting gifts. Two of my books, The Betrayed and The Amazing Adventures of Dashing Prince Dietrich will be free for download on Amazon Kindle from June 30 till July 5. So why don't you do some mouse clicking and stuff? Enjoy.

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AOMEI Backupper review - Needs more resilience

updated June 26, 2017, category: Software & security

AOMEI Backupper
I was approached by AOMEI staff, asked if I could review Backupper, a for-Windows backup & restore suite, capable of system imaging and cloning, file sync and replication, designed to be simple and intuitive to use even by non-experts. Sound like a fair deal, so I added the program to my uber-long writing queue, and many weeks later, here we are.

AOMEI Backupper has a funny but noticeable name, and it comes in three flavors, including the free Standard edition, a USD49.95 Pro license, and then the much more expensive server and technician editions. Life-time upgrades roughly double the cost. I decided to evaluate the free offering at first, and then see if the professional leveling up merits the cost hike. Let us begin. Program version 4.0.2, for those asking.

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Liri - Loves me, loves me not ... at all

updated June 24, 2017, category: Software & security

Liri desktop
What does the world of Linux need more? Desktop environments? Nope. Ah, well, you'd be surprised, because a fresh new challenger appears! Its name is Liri, and it is the presentation layer for the namesake operating system being baked in the forges of community creativity as we speak. Sounds potentially interesting, but then we must be wary.

I've trawled through the obscure, uncharted waters of Budgie, Razor-Qt and more recently, and with much greater attention to detail, LXQt, and in all of these cases, I was left rather dissatisfied with the end product. Not enough cohesion, quality, future roadmap, and most importantly, the finesse that you expect from polished, professional products. Then again, building a desktop environment is a huge undertaking, probably even more complex than spinning a new distro, and so, it's not a coincidence that there are few serious contenders in this space. But Liri comes with enticing artwork, a promise of Material Design for the desktop, and so here we are, trying to get the first feel of what it does.

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Manjaro 17.0.1 Gellivara (Che Guevara) - Pretty decent

updated June 23, 2017, category: Software & security

Manjaro 17.0.1 Gellivara Xfce
It is time to arch our backs and explore the distroverse some more. That's a horrible pun, I admit, so I'll chase to the cut. Manjaro. It's a nerdy operating system, powered by sacrificial goats, curdled blood, enthusiasm, and heaploads of nerdiness. But then, over the years, it has slowly grown on me, becoming almost usable on a daily basis.

A new version is out, carrying the numerical identifier 17.0.1, and there are several desktop flavors available. In order to test the progress and change in Manjaro, I decided to continue with the Xfce version, and so we can compare to previous editions. Now, the system has a rolling update nature, so I could have just upgraded the installed instance on my Lenovo G50 box, but I decided to go for a full, fresh experience. We commence.

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Fedora version upgrade - Laptop with Nvidia

updated June 22, 2017, category: Software & security

Fedora upgrade & Nvidia
Several months ago, I wrote an article on the Fedora in-vivo upgrade mechanism using dnf. The upgrade went smoothly, going from version 24 to version 25 on my G50 laptop. Now, let us make this thing more challenging.

Today, I shall attempt to upgrade Fedora 23 to Fedora 25, a two-version skip, on my somewhat antiquated LG RD510 notebook, which also happens to have an Nvidia graphics card, and also using the relevant proprietary drivers. As promised, here we go. Let's see if we can match the success of the previous adventure.

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Fedora & EFI mount problem = failed boot

updated June 19, 2017, category: Software & security

Fedora & EFI boot problems
Madonna sang, once upon a time: Fedora don't boot, I'm in trouble deep, Fedora don't boot, I've been losing sleep. But I've made up my GRUB o-oh, I'm keeping my distro, hm, I'm gonna keep my distro hm. As you may have guessed, one day, I fired up one of my two instances of Fedora 25 on the G50 laptop, and it stopped booting.

Out of the blue, just like that. Now, remember the recent successful upgrade? Well, now I had one less healthy instance and a whole lot of paranoia, and then I also remembered how systemd made another Fedora go wonk, and how I was unable to recover from the problem. Time to investigate and see what can be salvaged.

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Plasma secrets - Tips and tricks for the KDE desktop

updated June 17, 2017, category: Software & security

Plasma tips and tricks
I used the word secret. Well, it's a bit misplaced. It's not like Plasma really hides its options from the users so that only a select elite can enjoy its full range of capabilities. But then, some of its many virtues are a little obscured from the common user by the proxy of subtle failings in design, ergonomics, intuition, as well as the vast array of settings and features that Plasma offers.

We've already talked about Plasma's goodness at length. It was my favorite desktop for a brief, fickle while, then it waned, but then it again picked up speed and quality with the fine release of Kubuntu Zesty Zaphod. Moreover, we've talked about the State of Plasma, in great detail, and I've also given you a handful of practical tips and tricks on what this desktop environment can do, and we discussed the omni-potent Krunner. Now, we're gonna delve deeper. Let's do some honest Sherlock Holmes work and unravel a few of these usability mysteries.

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OpenIndiana 2017.04 Hipster - Temple Gloom

updated June 16, 2017, category: Software & security

OpenIndiana 2017.04 Hipster
I don't want to brag or sound like a badass, but sometimes I like to play it risky. Like trying to run and test a UNIX operating system. This is easier said than done, because the market offerings are far and few in between, and you have to sample carefully.

One of the candidates is OpenIndiana, which I've tested a good six years ago, as a DistroWatch feature story. It wasn't very noob friendly, but it did fairly well, given the circumstances. Fast forward to 2017, I want to see whether UNIX has any viable merit for the desktop masses. This time, our scapegoat is OpenIndiana 2017.04 Hipster, the dev branch.

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Linux, Wireless printing, scanning and HPLIP

updated June 14, 2017, category: Software & security

Linux & wireless printing
How well does Linux handle Wireless printing? This is a questions that billions ask themselves every morning before their first shot of coffee, and hopefully, today, I will be able to answer this question. A few weeks down the trouser of time, I bought myself a new printer, and it comes with Wireless connectivity.

If you've read my reviews and printing tutorials, so far, they have mostly revolved around Samba printing, often with a less than perfect record. Now though, I have a new device, so it will be interesting to see how Linux distros cope with this thing. Shall we?

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Ubuntu & UKUI desktop - Not a good idea

updated June 12, 2017, category: Software & security

UKUI desktop
When I first read the name of this desktop environment, I thought it was some new political party in the UK. But then I realized it stands for Ubuntu Kylin User Interface. Now, this is an unofficial spin of Ubuntu, featuring a forked MATE-based desktop, previously Unity, designed to be an alternative to the default Ubuntu experience, created in China, mostly for the local audience, with a distinct Windows-like feel. Deep breath. That's the lengthy official definition, but does it work?

With Zesty Zapus testing behind us, with some relatively favorable results and a renaissance in hope, I decided to dedicate a handful of hours testing this new desktop in parallel to Unity, this as a precursor to a potential full-blown desktop evaluation. Shall we begin?

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More Gnome 3 pimping - Highway to sanity

updated June 10, 2017, category: Software & security

Gnome 3 & more pimping
If Gnome 3 was a person, it would be a generic mannequin in a clothing store, with no visible eyes or a belly button. Those come as extensions, but you can only have eyes fully closed, mind. Welcome to another article that tries to make Gnome 3 more palatable to normal people.

Over the years, I've gone from total scorn to mild disdain and some modest fun when it comes to this particular desktop environment, thank Fedora for that, but it still fails in so many simple, trivial areas I sometimes have to listen to Aqua's Barbie Girl for a few hours on constant loop in order to keep myself from committing acts of violence. Let us tweak.

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Windows 10 Creators Update - Let there be light

updated June 9, 2017, category: Software & security

Windows 10 Creators Update
And Microsoft said, for it is Windows 10, and it needs an update. And so they released one, and they were all amazed, for it was new, with a bunch of stuff in it. What shall we name it, the engineers asked? Lo, the marketing department said, it shall be used to create stuff, and henceforth, it shall be known as the Creators Update.

Fast forward a month or so, I decided to upgrade my Windows 10 instance on the test-hungry Lenovo G50 machine to the latest edition. After all, there's been enough time for other people to discover critical problems and bugs. Let's see if this new version brings about any substantial or important changes that can make the desktop more fun.

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Deepin 15.4 review - All that glitters is not gold

updated June 7, 2017, category: Software & security

Deepin 15.4
If you follow Dedoimedo, then you know I've had problems with Deepin. It just would not boot on my Lenovo G50 machine, which is a shame, because I was really looking forward to the test. I was forced to resort to using one of my older, non-UEFI laptops, a near seven-year-old HP Pavilion, recently used for a in-depth Fedora test.

So today, I will attempt to run this Chinese Debian-based distro, and see what it can offer. In the past, it has shown some really nice results, the most notable being a very colorful and unique desktop setup, markedly different from most so-called Western systems, and with a touch of appeal and aesthetic one notch above the rest. Shall we?

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ArmA 3 - The Last Hope - Abandoned

updated June 5, 2017, category: Computer games

ArmA 3: The Last Hope
If you ignore the ever-so-nagging DLC suckfest, ArmA 3 is an excellent game. Sorry, scratch that. It's a gritty, accurate, realistic, brutal, grim, slow-paced, not-for-kids, top-notch combined-arms war simulator, a worthy continuation of the finest and really only FPS series - everything else is just silly arcade for 10-year-olds - which had started with the most legendary Operation Flashpoint, continued with the utterly sharp and splendid ArmA 2, and now we have this third installment. No new news here per se. But.

I play the game quite often with friends in privately hosted servers, and we go about testing and trying different mods and scenarios available in the Steam workshop. We look for engaging, high-quality, bug-free content that can be installed without too much fussing, and mostly through the game's integral interface. Recently, we came upon a magnificent mission called The Last Hope - Abandoned. It's so good that I decided to write a complete review. Follow me.

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Kubuntu: Enable write access to Windows Phone

updated May 26, 2017, category: Software & security

Kubuntu & Windows Phone
Say you have a Windows Phone, like for instance, Lumia 950. Say you have Kubuntu or any which KDE/Plasma distro installed on your system. Say you want to mount your phone in this system, for the sake of some simple image/video copying. Say you encounter errors trying to do this, being unable to write files to the phone but also copy files from the phone onto your hard disk. What now?

I encountered this issues while testing Kubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus, which turned out to be a lovely thing, and it comes with a significantly improved support for mobile devices. In the past, just being able to see your phone in Dolphin was virtually impossible, but now we have it. However, read/write with the Windows Phone is still buggy. Let's unbug it.

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Activities Activities Activities

updated May 24, 2017, category: Software & security

Plasma Activities
Several weeks ago, my colleague Bruce posted an article on KDE/Plasma Activities, and this got me thinking again about this rather interesting and often overlooked functionality. On paper, it is supposed to be a killer feature; make your desktop fully customized to your specific needs. In reality, most people have no idea it exists, and Plasma makes it even more difficult to discover and use than in KDE4.

Emboldened, my curiosity piqued, I decided to run my own test and see how useful and practical Activities really are, compared to the classic - and static - setup featuring an interactive desktop with icons and widgets, a multi-purpose panel, and a live search menu. Shall we?

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Rejection report 4: BunsenLabs Linux & deepin

updated May 22, 2017, category: Software & security

Rejection report 4
More Linux testing, more distributions that don't like my hardware. Welcome to the fourth report on failed attempts to enjoy Linux on my UEFI-powered G50 laptop. This has been my main test box in the last two years, and still, being able to boot from it is not a given.

True, there were more issues early on. For example, openSUSE and Red Hat distros didn't like this box at all, but a few releases and a few firmware updates, things seem to be in a slightly better shape. And yet, occasionally, I am forced to write these sad compilations, telling of those gloomy afternoons where I expected to have some fun, and ended up frustrated, angry and abandoned. Fourth report, here we go.

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CloudReady - Chromebook re-experienced

updated May 20, 2017, category: Software & security

Are you ready for the cloud? Are you? Well, um, no? All right, no matter, let's take it one step at a time. To wit, I will showcase CloudReady, an operating system based on Chromium OS and designed to run on non-Chromebook systems. If you'd like to have a simple, locked down, secure and entirely Google machine that isn't a mobile phone or a dedicated piece of hardware, then you might want to give this a go.

I deliberated how to proceed with the test. Use a physical box, because that's the best option? Well, no. I wasn't 100% sure how well CloudReady could handle multi-boot systems like my G50 laptop, so I decided to start with some basic virtual machine testing. That should give us an indication of where we stand. Let us proceed.

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Wireless printers & security

updated May 19, 2017, category: Software & security

Wireless printer security
I've used quite a few printing devices in my life, but never a Wireless printer. Recently, though, I decided to buy myself a somewhat cheapish, or should I use the more accurate term, budget all-in-one printing device, HP DeskJet 3630 All-in-One, which, among many things, also comes with Wireless connectivity.

Going cable free sounds like an interesting concept, so I decided to configure the device to be accessible using its Wireless functionality. Midway through the setup process, I began wondering what kind of security this printer might have. It all sounds so mysterious, and there might be implications to end users. Hence, this guide.

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How to edit Gnome themes - Tutorial

updated May 17, 2017, category: Software & security

Gnome 3 & edit themes
Like the Rolling Stones song, I see some pale font and I want to paint it black. This is the primary motivation for me writing this article. How does one go about editing Gnome themes to make them more usable, i.e. better clarity and contrast, higher productivity, less eye and soul wear?

While Plasma offers a very simple and straightforward way to make theme changes through the system GUI, Gnome completely hides the functionality inside obscure files, with little to no standard on how they should look like or behave. Worry not, we will unravel the mystery today.

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Change document background color in MS Office Online

updated May 15, 2017, category: Software & security

Microsoft Office Online, color
Recently, I tested the rather nice and friendly Microsoft Office Online suite in Linux, showcasing that you can actually use the most prevalent and de-facto standard office programs in your favorite Linux distro without having to go full Windows. This is quite important, as it has monetary and professional considerations.

But there was one thing that annoyed me - and that's the fact the document background in the online version of Word is gray. To be more precise, it's transparent, but the particular shade of gray (get the joke) is quite heavy on the eyes. It Ain't Heavy, It's My Color. I actually have another half a dozen song cliches here, but I will politely stop for your sake. Anyhow, gray color, bad, eyes tired, bad. But there isn't a UI option or button to change this. So let me show how you can temporarily tweak this while you're working online. In other words, we will change the Microsoft Office Online document background color to whatever you fancy. After me.

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Okular - An eye for an eye

updated May 12, 2017, category: Software & security

Documents, documents, documents. Didn't Steve Ballmer shout that at some expo some time ago? No? Never mind. Let's talk about Okular instead, then. This is a document viewer for Linux and THE document viewer available in the KDE/Plasma desktop environment. It's been around for a long time, it's survived quite a few seasons of ever-changing desktop versions and tool, and its name doesn't even begin with the letter K, which tells you how robust it really is.

Having embarked on a journey of leaving no stone unturned in the Linux desktop world, it is time for me to take a deeper look at Okular. We started with the rather comprehensive State of Plasma report, we talked about Amarok and whether it will ever see revival, and now we will do this. After me.

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Windows 10 & new processors policy - The explanation

updated May 10, 2017, category: Software & security

Windows 10 & new processors
Here's an interesting one. Recently, Microsoft announced they will not support pre-Windows 10 operating systems on the new generation of Intel and AMD processors, known by their popular names Kaby Lake and Ryzen, respectively. This sounds like a scary scenario.

As always, the Internet is afire with righteous fury and indignation over big corporation evils, not that different from the initial noise around telemetry and spying, and of course, the UEFI conspiracy for Linux people. So let's try to clarify things and understand really if Microsoft is pulling a bad one on its users. Read on.

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Xubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zorro - Vigorous

updated May 8, 2017, category: Software & security

Xubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus
I'm listening to Brahms and writing this review. A good start. Indeed, this distro testing season has had a very reasonable and promising beginning. Firstly, Ubuntu 17.04 behaved very nicely, redeeming itself somewhat and infusing hope into a bleak, Dystopian landscape of open-source code. Then, Kubuntu Zesty followed with an even more impressive performance. Stylish, professional and rad. Awesome.

It's time to test the third in the holy triumvirate - like Rush the band, only different and less progressive - Xubuntu. Once again, you must admit my naming convention is better than the original. But for the sake of it, Zapus it is. Recipe: G50, UEFI, 16 partitions, a complex setup of Windows and Linux, let us begin.

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Motorola Moto G4 review - Extremely refined

updated May 6, 2017, category: Software & security

Motorola Moto G4 Plus
My wife (pronounced Wi-Fi) and I had a big row. She said she wanted an Android phone. I said, whaaat. Are you abandoning our love child, the Windows Phone? She said, nay. She just wanted another baby - all that she wants is another phone, with dual SIM, all that she wants is Android, oh-oh. Ahem. So, in addition to her Microsoft Lumia 535, she be getting a Motorola Moto G4. Hence this review.

This should be interesting. For many reasons. First, I'm going to tell you my story of how I bought and tested this USD229.99 phone, and more importantly, how I feel about Android nowadays. It's been a while since I played with this operating system, and who knows, it may no longer be the chaotic little thing of the past. Let's see what gives. Dedoimedo Does Moto.

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Windows 8.1 gets stuck searching for updates

updated May 5, 2017, category: Software & security

Windows 8.1 + stuck WU
This is a rather weird problems that I've been battling lately. If you've followed my recent Windows related articles, I had issues with the Windows Update (WU) functionality on my relatively brand-newish Lenovo Ideapad Y50-70 laptop, which necessitated a complete system image back to an older state, a worthy lesson of its own. However, this on its own posed a big problem with the combo of UEFI, ATI and Windows 8.1, but we managed that hurdle just fine.

Several weeks after this incident, I noticed the laptop was noisy, with the CPU fan working overtime. Not without due cause, as the processor was running at 13%, roughly all of one logical thread, and this was the svchost.exe process that also controls the WU service. I knew I was facing botched updates again, and indeed, Windows 8.1 would never complete the search for updates, no matter how long I left it running. I decided I needed to fix this.

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Asus eeePC + Xubuntu 16.04 - Engage!

updated May 3, 2017, category: Software & security

EeePC & Xubuntu 16.04
The story of my brave little Asus eeePC continues. In its lifetime, spanning eight years of heavy-duty use all over the world, this netbook has undergone a handful of upgrades, with the notable mention of Xubuntu Pangolin and more recently Trusty, both of which had served their purpose extremely well. But now, it is time for another upgrade.

So we have a single-core, two-thread Atom processor, plus 1GB RAM, on a platform that is almost eight years old. Tons of legacy data on the hard disk, including some semi-exotic software obtained outside the official repos. Intended operating system? Xubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus, which was merely decent the last time I tested it. But 'tis an Xfce distro, and it's an LTS. Challenge accepted.

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Gnome 3 + Dash to Panel extension - Turbo efficiency

updated May 1, 2017, category: Software & security

Gnome 3 & Dash to Panel extension
Once upon a time, I simply adored Gnome 2, then I hated Gnome 3, and then I stopped hating Gnome 3 and began using it more extensively, largely thanks to Fedora, which undid my negative emotions and opened a new world of Linux fun for me.

A significant part of this revolution was the humble little extension called Dash to Dock (D2D), which transforms the Activities Dash with your favorite application shortcuts into a proper panel, so you need not waste time on extra mouse clicks. In other words, you get the sane behavior with a taskbar slash panel like any other desktop environment. Now, there's another extension - Dash to Panel. Let us review.

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Kubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zaphod - Kawabuntu!

updated April 29, 2017, category: Software & security

Kubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus
Let us continue with the spring season distro testing. Next on the menu: Kubuntu. After many years of offering bland, emotionless releases, we had a cautiously reasonable Yakkety Yak edition, so me hopes are high for today.

And for today, we will examine the latest Kubuntu, which officially bears the name of Zesty Zapus, but once again, like my recent Ubuntu review, my version of the distro's name is totally better. So allow me to ask thee, what is the answer to Linux, multiverse and constant forking?

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Oh Snap - to boldly package where no one has packaged before

updated April 28, 2017, category: Software & security

Despite my recently found liking for Gnome 3, largely because of Fedora 24 and Fedora 25, plus some rigorous work with extensions like Dash to Dock, it is still a highly inefficient desktop environment. The unnecessary touch emphasis is there, regardless of what anyone says, and it makes things difficult.

For instance, Show desktop. This is an action slash widget in pretty much every other desktop, and despite occasional setbacks and regressions, it's always been there, a loyal companion in the moment of need. Not so in Gnome 3. Not just hidden. Not there at all. And what if you want it? Far from trivial. Hence this tutorial.

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Show desktop icon in Gnome 3 - Where and how

updated April 26, 2017, category: Software & security

Gnome 3 & show desktop
Despite my recently found liking for Gnome 3, largely because of Fedora 24 and Fedora 25, plus some rigorous work with extensions like Dash to Dock, it is still a highly inefficient desktop environment. The unnecessary touch emphasis is there, regardless of what anyone says, and it makes things difficult.

For instance, Show desktop. This is an action slash widget in pretty much every other desktop, and despite occasional setbacks and regressions, it's always been there, a loyal companion in the moment of need. Not so in Gnome 3. Not just hidden. Not there at all. And what if you want it? Far from trivial. Hence this tutorial.

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Windows 10, annoying ads & ultimate privacy setup

updated April 24, 2017, category: Software & security

Windows 10 ultimate privacy guide
Recently, I've been reading how Microsoft has introduced annoying, intrusive ads all over Windows 10, including app suggestions in the menu, apps being installed without user request, all sorts of silly recommendations, and of course, ads inside applications, including Windows Explorer and the lock screen.

Never one to cry wolf without dressing up in a sheep's fleece, I fired up my test box, the Lenovo G50 machine running a multi-boot setup with Windows 10 and several Linux distros, and did a full update of the former. After the reboot, I examined my machine. It was pristine and unaffected. And that result prompted me to write this article. A brief discussion on these ads and whatnot, and then, a thorough list of actions that can help you achieve a quiet, productive setup in Windows 10. After me.

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Ubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapata - Viva la revolucion!

updated April 22, 2017, category: Software & security

Ubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus
This is the last Ubuntu as we know it, this is the last Ubuntu as we know it, and I feel very ambiguous about this decision. In a way, the world of Linux has revolted against commercial innovation that Ubuntu tried to instill, and now we're in the post-modernistic world of anarchy, free software, and whatever.

But that shall only happen in the next LTS. For now, we still have Ubuntu adorned with Unity, and the latest release bears the name Zesty Zapus. I prefer my version. Let's see what it does, how well it does, and whether it can handle my Lenovo G50 machine.

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Skype failed installation error code 1603 - What now?

updated April 21, 2017, category: Software & security

Skype error 1603
Several days ago, I was just about to start a call with a non-existent friend when Skype decided to self-update itself on a Windows 7 box, and later on Windows 8, too. All right, no biggie. This happens now and then, and usually the ordeal is over within a minute or two. Only this time the update failed with error code 1603.

As you can imagine, I was annoyed, as I was unable to complete the call - imagine this happening to you just before an important meeting or an interview. It also meant wasting time digging into a pointless problem that should never have happened in the first place. Ah well, my time cannot be rewound, but I might save you some of yours.

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How to convert XPS to PDF - Guide

updated April 19, 2017, category: Software & security

Lo and behold, someone decided to send me an invoice as an XPS file. Not PDF. Ah well. XPS stands for Open XML Paper Specification, a new fixed-layout document format developed by Microsoft. In Windows 8 and onwards, the plot thickens further with oxps, and in all cases, things can be tricky to view or read if your operating system does not have the right software. PDF sounds like a better, wiser bet.

In this little guide, I will show you two ways of converting XPS files to the PDF format, so you can make sure they are viewable pretty much on any device you may have. We will do this using Linux tools. Follow me.

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Latte Dock - An anchor for your Plasma stuff?

updated April 17, 2017, category: Software & security

Latte Dock
You must test this new dock for KDE/Plasma, my friends told me the other day. I'm kidding. I do not have any friends. But I did get to see more and more references to Latte Dock recently, and not just beverage at the local coffee shop, so it got me thinking. Is this program as good as they say? Or just good? Or?

'Tis a curious question, because among the many varied desktop environments out there, Plasma comes with a solid, traditional bottom-panel-plus-menu recipe, which has remained unchanged throughout the KDE history since ever. Windows still uses this formula, twenty plus years and counting. A few other desktops, as well. So is there really a place for a dock in the Plasma world?

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Q4OS 1.8.3 Orion review - Bayeux distro

updated April 15, 2017, category: Software & security

Q4OS 1.8.3 Orion
Witness a strange journey. I am getting tons of emails asking for distro reviews, and one that featured a lot recently is this little Debian-based beastling. Imagine my dismay when the latest version, 1.8.3 Orion, refused to boot on my G50 laptop, despite the promise of UEFI support.

But then, for the sake of it, I had it running as a virtual machine, and I liked it a lot. So I decided to extend the testing and try this curious distro on my semi-ancient LG RD510 laptop, an oldie but goodie currently booting Fedora and CentOS 7. Plus it has an Nvidia card. Let us begin.

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Winaero Tweaker - Taming the Shrew ... again

updated April 14, 2017, category: Software & security

Winaero Tweaker
Also known as The Book of One Thousands Nights and a Night, or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Use So Many Different Apps to Try to Force Windows 10 into Submission. Indeed. Over the past two years, I've invested a lot of time learning and teaching on the pros and cons of the latest Microsoft operating system. Mostly cons, and most of them stemming from a simple fact - Windows 10 assumes everything is a mobile device, hence the somewhat moronic desktop defaults.

This extends to things like forced updates and subsequent reboots, too much telemetry and whatnot. I have no problem with this on transactional devices like mobile phones, and I do love Windows Phone 10, tested on Lumia 640 and again on Lumia 950, my newest gadget to be precise. But on the desktop? Nope. Hence, so many guides and tutorials on how to stop the idiocracy from affecting your life. Now, we have a new tool, and it's called Winaero Tweaker.

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Microsoft Lumia 950 - The Last of the Mohicans

updated April 12, 2017, category: Software & security

Microsoft Lumia 950
I'm a living paradox. I'm a Linux guy, and yet I love Windows Phone. I find the combo of its simple, square, OCD-friendly aesthetics, decent performance, and excellent offline software perfectly suited for my needs. Indeed, I began the journey with Nokia Lumia 520, which I still actively use, continued with Microsoft Lumia 535, and recently also tested the sweet value-for-money Lumia 640 model, which was a loan from a friend.

Now, with the 40% discount on the latest Lumia models, and the stock going out of stock fast, I thought it would be a good idea to put my hands on the flagship item and buy myself one. Hence, this almost impulsive holiday purchase, and this review.

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How to backup GUID Partition Table (GPT) disks

updated April 10, 2017, category: Software & security

GPT backup
Recently, I scared you some with my story about a wonked Windows 8.1 + UEFI + ATI setup, where I was forced to restore an old image of the operating system to get the box working again. This went well, but we did have to overcome some big snags. And then I got me thinking, how does one go about manually backing up and restoring GPT disks should they ever need to replicate the partition table to another device?

In this short tutorial, I will show you how you can use Linux (like duh) to examine, back up or restore GPT disks, so that if you ever need to restore individual partitions, you do not need to go about recreating everything from scratch. It might be tedious, or worse, you might not fully remember the setup, and what it looks like. So let's take a look, shall we?

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Unity is dead. Long live Ubuntu!

updated April 8, 2017, category: Software & security

Ubuntu & Unity death
Several days ago, Mark Shuttleworth publicly announced that Canonical will stop the development of Unity8, the phone and the whole convergence idea. This seemingly sudden and possibly shocking change will come into effect in 2018, with the next LTS release.

By now, you've heard and read a lot of rumors and stories, analyzing this new situation, the future of Ubuntu as an operating system, and what all this means for us, Linux folks. Well, rather than quoting snippets from the Ubuntu Insights news article, I will focus on what the technical and strategic aspects of the change mean, and why you should be worried.

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Q4OS- Olden Linux for modern times, first test

updated April 7, 2017, category: Software & security

Q4OS 1.8.3 Orion first test
Imagine the following eclectic repertoire of paradoxes and styles - a Windows XP lookalike running something called Trinity, which is based on KDE 3.5, with a new Linux kernel under the hood (Debian) and weighing at only about 500 MB for the live edition. What.

That is the sum of my first experiences with Q4OS, a Linux that few of you will think of as your initial choice for a desktop. Or maybe even a second or third picking. On DistroWatch, it's number 56 on the list, the reviews are far and few in between, so why bother, you may think. Well, the story isn't as straightforward as it looks.

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Skype for Linux 5.0 Beta and the rise of the bots

updated April 5, 2017, category: Software & security

Skype for Linux 5.0 Beta
As the popular saying goes, when it rains, it pours. After having been exposed to the somewhat older, more conservative 4.X version of Skype for a very long time, we now have a beta release for Skype 5.0, roughly six months since the alpha edition. That one turned out to be quite decent and fairly stable.

I decided to give this new release its due test, on Fedora 25. I grabbed the RPM package, and what follows is the sum of my experience. It should tell us where the future of the most popular VoIP client is heading, and what it means for Linux folks.

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Ubuntu 16.10 essential tweakology guide

updated April 3, 2017, category: Software & security

Ubuntu Yakkety Yak & tweak guide
Taste is subjective. Taste is, in this case, whatever I say it is. Welcome to my guide on essential beautification and enrichment of the Ubuntu Yakkety Yak desktop. We've done this work many, many times before, links to follow in abundance, and we shall attempt it once more with the latest Ubuntu release. Just before 17.04 knocketh on our door.

So, if you allow me, we will now commence to make the default installation a little bit less boring, a little bit more exciting, a whole lot more fun for immediate consumption. There isn't that much wrong with stock Ubuntu, but as I've revealed in my review, things aren't as exciting and peachy as they can be. Shall we?

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ATI, UEFI and Windows 8.1 - How to recover partitions

updated April 1, 2017, category: Software & security

Windows 8.1 + UEFI + ATI
Now, this is a story all about how, my laptop got flipped-turned upside down, and I'd like to take an image, and restore right there, I'll tell you how I became the king of the ATI-UEFI scare. Word.

Less poetically, what happened is, my Lenovo Ideapad Y50-70, running Windows 8.1, suddenly decided to gimp up and stop working nicely. I was unable to obtain any updates, and after a while, I simply decided to restore an older image, taken with Acronis True Image 2015. But then I remembered reading a scare story around ATI and machines with UEFI powered by Windows 8.1. Cue in dramatic score.

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Discover Discover

updated March 29, 2017, category: Software & security

Nailing the perfect software design is tricky. It is all too easy to confuse simplicity of aesthetics with simplicity of functionality. A piece of software can be deceptively plain looking - Google search for instance, but it can do a hell of a lot. On the other hand, you may have something with a huge amount of buttons and toggles and whatnot, but in essence, it does very little.

The quest for the ultimate GUI package manager in Linux continues. We've had dozens of tools come and go over the past decade or so, each trying to offer that fine mix of intuitive search, useful information and great looks. KDE has also seen a range of programs appear and vanish, but so far, the elusive goal remains. The latest Plasma incarnation is Discover, a tool I've found wanting in all my previous reviews. Come KDE neon 5.9.3, I've given it a fresh spin. Let's see what it does.

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Hard disk failure recovery - This is how you do it

updated March 27, 2017, category: Software & security

Hard disk failire recovery
So here's an interesting story for you. A story with a happy ending. One that could have ended up in tears, but it did not, as it builds upon a solid foundation of data backups and system imaging. On the same day I was fighting a corrupt EFI partition on my test laptop following a botched Solus installation, wifey told me she couldn't save files to a folder on the E: drive on her Windows box. That didn't sound good.

I quickly examined the situation, and one of the Western 1TB Blue hard disks inside the desktop tower was rapidly growing the number of its bad sectors. This hard disk had three partitions on it, C:, D: and E:. Oops. A quick Internet search suggested running chkdisk and trying a few other hacks to keep the disk alive for a while longer, but the situation was deteriorating fast. At first, it was only the E: drive gimping, but then the D: drive joined the party. There was no need prolonging the inevitable. It was time for a change. Cue in Scorpions, Winds of Change. Play it while reading this article.

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Exorcism is a Tough Business, by Igor Ljubuncic

updated March 24, 2017, category: Books & short stories

Exorcism is a Tough Business
When bored housewives needed poltergeists purged from their homes, or garden spirits banished, they normally contacted the local city ghostbusting agency, ran by the Cleary sisters. When people required serious exorcising, they contacted A & A, Inc.

Akiva and Ahmed stepped out of their van in front of the thirteen-story building. The nervous landlord just handed them the key to the penthouse and scampered away. Akiva looked at the bleached plaque nailed above the entrance. It read, 13 Elm St. Almost too poetic to be true.

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22 things Amarok does: the good, the bad, the ugly, and the hope

updated March 22, 2017, category: Software & security

Ask not what you can do for Amarok. Ask what Amarok can do for you! Many years ago, just the mention of this music player would invoke shivers down my spine. It was stylish, exotic, modern, elegant, powerful. It did everything superbly, and there was always a hidden Joker up its sleeve. The plethora of options and possibilities and feature was endless. And then it all changed.

Amarok slid out of the spotlight and became just another program to play your music collection. Recently, fueled by nostalgia and perhaps vain hope, I've invested fresh new energy and time working with it, taming it, fighting it, loving it, hating it, trying to figure out how relevant, sleek and accessibility this player still is. My curiosity peaked with the extensive Plasma testing I did last month in my somewhat ultra-long article The State of Plasma. So I fired KDE neon once again, a brand new image, and started fiddling. Here's the Spaghetti Western of what to expect. With a big disclaimer. Read on.

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Dedoimedo interviews: Gizmo's Freeware

updated March 20, 2017, category: Software & security

Interview: TSA - Gizmo's Freeware
We're back with a new interview, and this time, we step away from the purely Linux world of things. So far, we've talked to the MX Linux team, two KDE developers, Jesse Smith of DistroWatch, and Jeff Hoogland of Bodhi. As I said, Linux primarily. And now, for something completely different.

Our voluntary victim for today is the man who started Gizmo's Freeware, also known as, one of (if not) the most influential portals on free software. Names and titles aside, we shall refer to him as Gizmo. Without further ado, shall we commence?

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Rejection report 3: Knoppix and Q4OS

updated March 18, 2017, category: Software & security

Rejection report 3
My test repertoire of hardware includes three laptops, with Lenovo G50 most commonly used. This 2015 machine comes with a fairly decent spec, i3, 8GB RAM and the dreaded UEFI. It has served me well in the past 24 months, with roughly 100 different distro tests completed, some successfully, some less so.

Indeed, this box has been rife with challenges, which is good, because Linux will never rise mighty unless it can cope with whatever the market has to offer. In this case, I faced boot problems, a not-quite-resolved issues with the Realtek Wireless card, and other bugs. Worst of all, a significant number of distros would not even run. In fact, I have compiled two dedicated reports on here be topic, and now we have a third one. My name is Cam Brady, and I regretfully approve of this article.

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Modern software development is cancer

updated March 17, 2017, category: Software & security

Modern software development
Wait. Before you say clickbait, let's focus on the definition of cancer. It is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. Now, let's replace diseases and cell growth with words like software and industry.

In the past 15 years or so, ever since the first software bubble was burst and developers realized they needed a new way of making easy money, there's been an alarming and unchecked trend in the growth of software languages and development disciplines, all designed to support and sustain themselves. A living organism with unprecedented spread. Cancer.

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Dedoimedo drives the BMW M4!

updated March 15, 2017, category: Car reviews

Here's the ultimate life combo. BMW M4. 425 HP. 550 Nm torque. Unlimited German autobahns. Yup. That, my friends, is the definition of Nirvana, or in German spelling, Nirwana. As it happens, the pixies of the Internet and the cosmic fairies have blessed me with an opportunity to drive this sweet almost-supercar in Germany for six days, over the course of about 1,100 km. Sounds awesome. You bet.

What you see is here is the car review, per se. But that's not all, dear friends. Because West Germany, the region that I chanced to find myself in, is also very close to Belgium. And you know what you can find in Belgium? Yup, you guessed it! Spa-Francorchamps! The famous racetrack! So necessarily, we will follow up on this little article with some track driving in another sport car, similar to what we did during a Eurotrip back in 2014. And then, we will also have a short video review of the M4, and a bunch of footage from the track. And a new Eurotrip story. And more. All in all, it's gonna be total fun. Follow me.

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Plasma is sluggish? Disable desktop effects.

updated March 13, 2017, category: Software & security

Plasma & desktop effects
Back in the good ole days, you could tweak the visual side of things in KDE4 with a single magical key combo. Alt + Shift + F12 would toggle the desktop effects on and off, and if your system was not purring as loudly as it could, this little trick helped.

With the new KDE5 = Plasma, things are much more complicated. I was facing some serious performance issues in openSUSE 42.2, and I thought one of the immediate remedies would be to turn the desktop effects off. But how do you do that?

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Age of Empire - The African Kingdoms - Superb

updated March 11, 2017, category: Computer games

Age of Empires: The African Kingdoms
Age of Empires II, released in 1999, revitalized in 2013, kept alive and kicking and awesome ever since. Last year or so, I reviewed this fabulous game, the summary of memories and many thousands of hours of fun, also focusing on The Forgotten expansion pack, which was brought to us just recently. There are few games that receive active development roughly two decades after they have been released. This be one of them.

The second-to-latest expansion pack is called The African Kingdoms, and it introduces four new civilizations, a new campaign, new maps, new common and specialized units, new technologies, new game types, even new fauna. Of course, it does not end there. But wait! What about Rise of the Rajas, you may ask? Well, in due course, children, in due course. No need to rush. Let's have a little review, shall we?

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More Fedora 24/25 family pimpage

updated March 10, 2017, category: Software & security

Fedora 24/25 pimping
Fedora, Fedora, Fedora, Soltanto Fedora, Fedora tra noi, here's a song for you. But the reason we are here is not to tickle the nostalgia glands. Instead, we want to spend a little more time making Fedora extra useful, beautiful and functional, also known in the professional circles as pimping.

We've done this before time and time again, including the recent stint with Fedora 24, and the installation & review of Fedora 25, and now we will do some of this magic. I would like to show you a few more tips and tricks that can enhance your Fedora experience. This article should also work nicely with my recently published Gnome accessibility guide. Fedora me.

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Firefox + EMET + EAF mitigation slowness fix

updated March 5, 2017, category: Software & security

Firefox + EMET + EAF slowness
The problem you are facing is as follows. You are using the most splendid Microsoft EMET toolbox to protect your system from software violations and exploits. Recently, you have upgraded EMET to version 5.5, and Firefox seems to be running extremely slowly, taking huge amounts of CPU. You might not necessarily correlate the two, but there is a connection here. The operating system of choice: Windows 8.1.

In this little article, I will show you how I came about fixing this problem, first by isolating the problematic factors, and then mitigating the issue by disabling the incompatible mitigations. Get it? Mitigating the mitigations. After me.

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How to work around video and subtitle embed errors

updated March 3, 2017, category: Software & security

VLC & subtitle errors
This is going to be a slightly weird tutorial. The background story is as follows. Recently, I created a bunch of sweet parody clips of the Risitas y las paelleras sketch, famous for its insane laughter by the protagonist, Risitas. As always, I had them uploaded to Youtube, but from the moment I decided on what subtitles to use to the moment when the videos finally became available online, there was a long and twisty journey.

In this guide, I would like to present several typical issues that you may encounter when creating your own media, mostly with subtitles and the subsequent upload to media sharing portals, specifically Youtube, and how you can work around those. After me.

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How to embed subtitles using VLC - Tutorial

updated March 1, 2017, category: Software & security

VLC & subtitles
The topic of hardcoding subtitles into video clips is not a new one. We have discussed this in a tutorial several years ago, using Linux only tools. Today, we will revisit this concept, with the focus on the highly versatile and powerful media player, VideoLAN (VLC).

Indeed, if you are not in the mood to use multiple tools to accomplish a few simple video editing tasks, nor dabble in strange, unknown operating systems, VLC can do the job for you, in a simple and elegant manner. Now, this guide partially demonstrates on Linux, but the steps are 100% identical and consistent for Windows, too. Please, join me.

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