BLUG Aug. 15 Meeting Notes

Clint started the meeting with his quest for a distribution that might run well on his old 2005 Dell laptop that had been running SharkLinux 16.04 LtS among other older Linux distro's that were nolonger supported or past end of life.  He tried several Ubuntu 18.04 LTS variants but just about anything 18.04 would take forever to boot (even LinuxMint 19 would take over 5 minutes to get to the deskop).  He even tried Pop_OS but that too was 18.04 based.  Then he found Manjaro which is based on Arch Linux.  The underlying reason for the older lapto is it is a 64Bit VT Enabled dual-core system with a 1680X1050 15" Display, very unusal in the current laptop world of HD displays primarily designed for watching movies in 16:9 format and not for productivity applications like programming and office work. During the meeting demo, two shortcomings in Manjaro were found.  1)  The version of LibreOffice is rather dated at 5.4.6 and for some reason, the printer management utility was missing from the current version of Manjaro 17.1.11.  Current version of LibreOffice is now 6.x.  But other than, all the variants of Python along with IDE's such as Eric6 and Pycharm are well supported and even ansible 2.6.2 is available, out of the box.  What really impressed Clint was that he did very little "tweaking" of the installed application versus a laundry list of additions he would have to make to get a usable version of the Ubuntu 18.04 based distro.  Manjaro even played his commercial encrypted DVD's with VLC, out of the box, making it probably the most friendly distribution for moving people from Windows to Linux and its Xfce based desktop both lightweight and easy to use with its Cinnamon like menu.  In fact, it more like Cinnamon than Xfce in use.  Another "first" for Manjaro was that it supports external displays on the laptop automatically, no display utility required for setup altough one is provided.  What follows is the list of website referenced in the meeting demo and the very few "first things" that Clint did to bring his Manjaro desktop "up to use" which was primarily finding and installing the Manjaro-Printer and openssh-server (a task he also has to do on 18.04 based distros as well).  Oh, did I mention, Manjaro also comes with a nice 134 page PDF "Beginner_User_Guide" which gives it high marks for documentation.
Manjaro Linux 17.0.2 "Xfce" (Feature Story by Jessie Smith)

A third review by Smith was about Manjaro 17.0.2 Xfce in July 2017. The conclusion was:[59]
“Sometimes after I write a review people will e-mail me and ask, in so many words,
"Never mind the overview, why would I use this distribution over another one?"
In Manjaro's case this is an easy question to answer as the distribution does a lot of things well.
Manjaro is a rolling release, cutting edge distribution so the project consistently provides the
latest and greatest open source software. Apart from the programs in the distribution's repositories,
people running Manjaro can also make use of AUR (the large collection of software submitted by
Arch Linux users). This provides Manjaro users with a huge collection of packages, most of them
consistently kept up to date with upstream sources.

I found Manjaro's Xfce edition to be very fast and unusually light on memory. The distribution worked
smoothly and worked well with both my physical hardware and my virtual environment. I also enjoyed
Manjaro's habit of telling me when new software (particularly new versions of the Linux kernel) was
available. I fumbled a little with Manjaro's settings panel and finding some settings, but in the end
I was pleased with the range of configuration I could achieve with the distribution. I especially like
that Manjaro makes it easy to block notifications and keep windows from stealing focus. The
distribution can be made to stay pleasantly out of the way. In short, I think Manjaro is the ideal
distribution for people who like the simple, cutting edge philosophy of Arch Linux, but who would like
to set up the operating system with a couple of clicks and have settings adjustable through a friendly
point-n-click interface. Manjaro has most of the same capabilities of Arch, but with a friendly wrapper
which makes installing and working with software packages a quick, click-and-done process."

    2  sudo pacman -S ansible
    3  ansible --version
    4  sudo pacman -S thonny
    5  sudo pacman -S manjaro-printer
As root:   
   22  pacman -S openssh
   23  systemctl status sshd

   10  cd /usr/share/backgrounds/
   13  cp /home/tinslecl/Pictures/possibilities.jpg .
       cd /usr/share/backgrounds/xfce
       ln -s /usr/share/backgrounds/possibilities.jpg possibilities.jpg


Clint then turned to Linux Mint 19 and its new features in "Sarah" which is based on Ubuntu 18.04 and which his demo machine was a 6 year old Dell 17R N7110 (i7 w/8 GB RAM):

Timeshift - daily backups (snapshots but not really, changed files only, using Rsync)  Also interesting is that it only keeps four snapshots, one primary.  He also showed the actual snapshot folder space consumption using the Disk Analyser: baobab - timeshift.  It should be noted that Timeshift only keeps 4 backups and my most original is 9.5 GB (first day), the second oldest is 6.0 GB (2nd day of use), the smallest is 514 MB (not much done that day) and then the current one at 2.7 GB. Other note here is that Timeshift runs once every 24 hours basis, unless the system is off/down then it takes a snapshot immediately on powerup and then runs every 24 hours after that.  You can also force snapshots on demand from the Timeshift Administration Utility.

Versions: Cinnamon 3.8, Mate, XFCE, 64 and 32 Bit. No Gnome, KDE!

New Welcome Screen - To Do List

Nemo File Manager - Full text search and improved performance.

Flatpack, snapd not installed but available.

Improved x tools, xed, xreader, xplayer, and pix

LMDE3 - Debian Edition/Cinnamon.
Add desklets on top of your desktop wallpaper!
To install a desklet: Download it and decompress it in ~/.local/share/cinnamon/desklets.
You can also download and install desklets straight from within Cinnamon, using the "Desklets" configuration tool in the "System Settings".  In playing with the Desklets, I got the cpu one working which shows the load of all 8 of the cpu's cores on my system.  Pretty cool.

I also mentioned the book Linux Mint 19 from Surfing Turtle Press as not being worth the 40 dollars. This is my review of the book posted on Amazon after I purchased it and had a chance to review it:

This book doesn't even mention Timeshift which Linux Mint calls star of the show and its use is critical to updating from 18.3 to 19. I checked the SurfingTurtlePress website which appears in the process of being updated, doesn't even mention version 19 of the book or provide any addendum to the book with respect to critical ommissions such as this. As far as I can determine, this version of the book is just a minor update to version 18 and not worth the price of admission. It may even be grounds for return. Another person mentions that Timeshift is mentioned (p. 108-111) and I did verify that but it is in the wrong place as it is a "first step" before you can even upgrade, and Timeshift is not referenced in the Index. I still consider this book a revision/update to the 18 version and does not add to the conversation, especially with its $42 price tag. I own the previous versions of the book (17 and 18) as well as several other books from Surfing Turtle Press. Incidentally, 18 was 590 pages in length while this version "19" is only 553 pages so what got taken out!

Adding here, before I throw the book up on the shelf with a stack of the previous versions, is that the back cover mentions Linux Mint KDE Desktop...  This may account for the reduced page count but also supports the thought that this version of the book is just a "regurgitated" version 18!

To get LinuxMint 19 usable, these are some of the steps I had to go through to get it configured for my use:

   10  sudo apt install python-setuptools python-cryptography python-openssl python-socks python-ntlm samba
   13  sudo apt install vim vim-doc vim-scripts
   15  sudo apt install eclipse-pydev
   20  sudo apt install eric thonny eric-api-files
   22  sudo apt install build-essential python3-dev python3-setuptools python3-wheel
   23  sudo apt install geany geany-plugins
   25  wget -q -O - | sudo apt-key add -
   26  echo "deb [arch=amd64] stable main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/google-chrome.list
   27  sudo apt update
   28  sudo apt install google-chrome-stable
   30  sudo apt install python-numpy
   32  pip3 install numpy
   33  sudo apt install openssh-server ssh-import-id
   43  sudo apt install snapd snapd-xdg-open
   44  sudo snap install pycharm-community --classic
   50  sudo apt install ansible ipython python-jinja2-doc sshpass python-selinux

Clint then provided a unscripted tour of Ansible and Ansible Tower along with the 5 Virtual Machines he had installed on his LinuxMint 19 Desktop using KVM.  He went over some basic tasks including configuring his "remote user" as sudo to enable ansible root access for system tasks such as installing applications.  He also had ansible "role" directory which he went over the various "yml" files for variables and tasks, plus the template .j2 files as well as the top level playbook which called the role.  While this setup was based on CentOS/Red Hat, he has another one where he is 5 virtual debian servers in his ansible managed configuration.

The meeting ended about 8:30 PM.  Thanks to all who attended.