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Linux for education (or Li-f-e)

I have been reviewing the “Linux for education” series since opensuse 12.3 was used as the base.  Check this SEARCH LINK for previous related posts.

Today, there was news about the future of the series:

Apparently, the group that prepares this is no longer able to base them on opensuse, because the opensuse live installer has stopped being supported.  The tentative plan is to base future Li-f-e versions on ubuntu.

I’m sad to see this change.  While I do prefer to use the DVD installer, live media with a live installer is often a good introduction for people who are new to the distro.


Tumbleweed is rolling along

It has been more than a month since the new structure of  opensuse Tumbleweed was announced (see my earlier post), and we have seen it in practice for a month.

Since then, it has been rolling along.  It rolls a bit more jerkily than the previous Tumbleweed.  But this one is a true rolling release.  It is now at the 20141201 snapshot (and that’s a date, in case that wasn’t obvious).

The old Tumbleweed was steadily being updated.  The new Tumbleweed sometimes goes for a week or so without any updates, and then a large bunch.  But that’s the nature of software testing and updating.  The jerkiness is because updates are held back until they have passed a bunch of tests.  And occasionally, one stubborn component holds back all of the updates.

At present, I am still using opensuse 13.2.  But I also update my separate Tumbleweed install.  At some time, I may switch to using Tumbleweed on my main desktop.

Thus far, I have not run into any problems on my Tumbleweed system.  All seems to be going well.

The firefox flap

I’m rather surprised at the amount of complaining that I have seen about firefox 29.  There are several threads at opensuse forums and several threads at (the two main technical forums that I follow).  Yet, for all the complaints, firefox still functions very much as it always has.

I’ll admit to surprise when I first saw the new firefox.  What was most noticeable were the curved edges of tabs and the changed shape of the back button.  Some people are saying that it has become “chrome”, but its browsing behavior is still that of firefox and quite different from chrome.

The menu bar

One of the frequent complaints is about the menu bar having gone missing.  I did not notice this myself, because I had turned off the menu bar some time ago.  What I noticed, instead, was that the firefox menu had moved from near the top left to near the top right, and had changed shape.  But that is easy to adapt to.

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Why I don’t like Unity

In an earlier post, I hinted that I might have something to say about Unity, the default ubuntu desktop environment.  I’ll also say something about how I use the desktop.

Of course, what one likes or dislikes about a desktop is mostly a matter of personal taste.  Some people really like Unity, and some people really like Gnome 3.

What I like in a desktop

I’ll start with my likes.  When Windows 95 came out, the desktop seemed far too cluttered for my liking, with icons all over.  So later Windows versions, with a better nested menu system and with few icons on the desktop, were more to my liking.

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UEFI on Toshiba – it’s like the old wild west

I’ve been following a thread, and offering help, at opensuse forums.  It concerns installing opensuse on a new Toshiba Ultrabook Z930 that came with Windows 8 pre-installed.  The particular discussion thread is

and the most interesting part of the discussion is on what happened today, starting at about message #74 within that thread.

There are supposed to be two ways of booting a system.  Booting directly from the hard drive uses the boot loader file “\EFI\Boot\bootx64.efi” in the EFI partition of the disk.  (I deliberately use Windows notation for paths here).  Alternatively, one can boot using a define NVRAM entry, where “NVRAM” stands for “non-volatile RAM” (or memory).  The use of NVRAM is the preferred way of booting.

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Notes on KDE and Gnome

A few days ago, KDE was updated to version 4.10.2 on opensuse 12.3.  And yesterday, Tumbleweed (which I have on one computer) updated Gnome to version 3.8.  So here are a few notes on those desktop environments.

KDE 4.10.2

I’ll start with KDE.  This is the desktop that I mainly use.

Not much has changed.  With a few minor exceptions, everything seems to be as before (when I was running 4.10.00).

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UEFI and linux

I recently mentioned that I had purchased a Windows 8 box.  One of the things that will do, is give me an opportunity to work with UEFI systems.  And what I have learned, thus far, is that things are rather unsettled when it comes to UEFI and linux.

I am currently looking at the web page “Managing EFI Boot Loaders for Linux” which is giving me some insight into the situation.  While I cannot vouch for the accuracy of everything in that web page, it at least seems to be consistent with what I am reading elsewhere. Read More…

Windows security – sigh!

I doubt that Windows will ever be sufficiently secure.  I suppose I’m a skeptic or a cynic, or something.  Here I’ll comment on the recent java flap, and on a post at opensuse forums, where somebody thinks linux should change its security model to be more like Windows.

Java security woes

The has been a lot of discussion, over recent weeks, about security problems in java.  It seems that there were some flaws that were being exploited.  I first heard of those problems in thread, such as these, at the security forum of

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The trouble with grub2

In my last post, I mentioned my disagreement with the way that grub2 is installed in Fedora 18.  If you read through the bugzilla report on that issue (linked in my last post), there’s a pretty good discussion of why the Fedora people did it that way, and why the grub2 developers think it should be done that way.

I’ll start by describing the way it works in a hypothetical situation which is similar to that on the test computer where I installed Fedora 18.

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Blogging and RSS

In my last post, I described how I use akregator to follow blogs.  One of things that I have noticed is that some blogs provide a full copy of new posts in their RSS feed, while some provide only a summary.  Here, I want to discuss how that affects me.

I’ll note that WordPress has a setting for this blog (under “Reading Settings”) where I can specify whether I want to provide the full text of a post or just a summary.  The default was to provide the full text, and I have left it that way.

My overall conclusion, which I will discuss below, is that it is preferable to provide a full feed.  I’ll note that others have reached the same conclusion, as for example here: Read More…