Yikes! And just when I had gotten used to telling people printing on Linux isn’t that big a deal…
As of today, Linux Journal is back, and operating under the ownership of Slashdot Media.
This pretty much summarizes the recent history of Linux Journal:
I hope it works this time!
Linux Journal is Back | Linux Journal
Like so many, but not nearly enough, I’ve been work-from-home since mid-March.
My daily driver is a Dell desktop with Ubuntu 16.04 (the GNOME spin), but it’s in the living room. It’s not the easiest place to work during the day, in that it’s high-traffic. My two-year-old daughter is way too fascinated by video calls! I took to working in the bedroom on my fairly old T420i ThinkPad for chunks of the day. It’s probably around 10 years old, but it’s rock solid, even though it’s 32-bit architecture and 8GB RAM. I ran Linux Mint Cinnamon on it and while it wasn’t blazingly fast, it handled my daily work without any issues. That is, until a Zoom update broke Zoom. Without Zoom, the computer was much less useful. And unfortunately, finding support for Zoom on a 32-bit Linux system isn’t as easy as it sounds.
I realized I needed a new laptop. I looked at new ThinkPads but they were much pricier than I wanted to spend out-of-pocket. I started hanging out in the ThinkPad subreddit, and seeing all of those people doing so well with used ThinkPads. I realized that the whole point of a ThinkPad is the durability. Why not go used? So I used this wonderful guide and started searching ebay, Newegg, TigerDirect, Overstock—anyplace that sold used ThinkPads. I eventually decided against ebay because I wanted some kind of warranty and I wound up finding a great machine at a great pricepoint: a T460 with 16GB RAM and an IPS screen (highly recommended in the subreddit; I’m not quite sure if it matters to me…) for less than $600, including the one-year protection plan, from NewEgg. It happens to be an ultrabook, which is a moot feature since I don’t go anywhere anymore. It also happens to have a fingerprint reader, which works better than one I had 15 years ago, but which feels like a solution in search of a problem.
I put on Ubuntu 20.04 without any drama, and it’s been smooth sailing. Zoom works like a champ. I can easily VPN into my work computer with Cisco’s Linux VPN client and Remmina remote desktop. My older ThinkPad couldn’t run Cisco, so I used openconnect, a command-line tool, that while not quite as simple as Cisco, was pretty darn close.
As I mentioned, I’m using TLP to manage the battery. I use Evolution as my Exchange client (you need to install the EWS plugin, which is in the repositories). And I learned you can bring over a Thunderbird profile, just by copying a folder. It was painless. I keep my files in-sync with pcloud.
I thought I loved Ubuntu 16.04 but GNOME is fast and much better integrated on 20.04. I’ll have to move off 16.04 soon, as support is ending in 2021, but I’m now excited to upgrade my main machine.
I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the T420i. It’s usable, but because of its age and architecture, using it requires a certain amount of expertise. My wife is passionate about sustainable technology, so she’s been looking into some programs that might benefit from it. Because I was very lucky to be in the position that I could spend as much money as I did for a second computer. It’s important to acknowledge that privilege because there are lots of people who don’t have the option of working from home, or who have the option, but lack the technological resources. Not everyone has home Internet. Not everyone has a home computer.
I wrote this to remind everyone that while there’s a shortage of new laptops, there are lots of good used options, and Linux breathes new life into older hardware. As the people on the ThinkPad reddit are quick to point out, the more you’re able to fix up a ThinkPad yourself, the more favorable the pricing. I needed something quick and operational, but I’m comfortable with the specs I got for the price.
I’m a ThinkPad nerd. I love them (this is my third) and have had nothing but great experiences with them. But this isn’t about ThinkPads. It’s about affordability and sustainability. My story is a reminder that even if you’re not looking for a fixer-upper, you can still find something used and reliable, that runs Linux, at a good price.
I learned about this on the ThinkPad reddit. It only works with ThinkPads, but it lets you set battery parameters, so your ThinkPad will stop charging at specific points. So you can configure your laptop to stop charging when it’s 90% charged, which is helpful for people like me who tend to forget to unplug. It seems to add life to your battery, which is a good thing.
I’m excited to see the integrated calendar, not that installing Lightning is such a big deal. I’m a huge Thunderbird fan, though. The interface is sometimes overly complex, but you can always Google around to do what you need to do.
I’m also wondering when this will hit the Ubuntu repos. I might be a ways off from seeing 78 in action! It sort of reminds me of when Gimp added a single-window mode. I was using Sabayon at the time, so I saw the new interface pretty much instantly. But when I went back to Ubuntu, I didn’t see single-window mode for months. It was like time travel.
What’s New in Thunderbird 78 | The Thunderbird Blog
On Linux you definitely want to enjoy the freedom to theme and setup your desktop the way you like. The small time effort seems totally worth it to me even if it improves the experience of staring at this screen for hours every day just a little bit.
Another satisfied customer!
Also, ThinkPads are the best.
Linux Impressions | Jorin’s Logbook
The move to phase out the master/slave and blacklist/whitelist terminologies came after a proposal filed by Linux kernel maintainer Dan Williams on July 4. Linux creator Linus Torvalds approved the proposal on Friday in a pull request for the Linux 5.8 repository.
I’m very happy to see Torvalds evolving. The community takes its cues from him and his behavior, so his support is important.
This is an interesting debate over the utility of the
sudo command. There are lots of perspectives, from how it allows you to log who’s doing what to a system, to how it helps protect users from themselves. It’s a surprisingly compelling thread considering it’s a command most of us use fairly regularly.
Is sudo almost useless? | StackExchange
Avi reached out to me via the contact form, for which I’m eternally grateful. I’m also always happy to showcase that isn’t overly technical. Avi’s using Linux for lots of, as he puts it, “regular” things. Like so many, but not nearly enough, I’ve been working from home, which has been a real test of my own Linux rig. I’m able to make my own file format/workflow choices with personal work, but work-work often has less options. But I’ve been able to record screencasts and video chat quite easily. Office365’s web interface lets me deal with weird Word formatting issues pretty easily. I’m finding myself popping into my Windows VirtualBox less and less often.
- Who are you, and what do you do?
I am Avinash. I work for a major Human Capital Management company on the implementation side of things.
Why do you use Linux?
I am just a regular computer user: browse the web, listen to music/podcasts, play some Steam games (I am not a heavy gamer) and watch videos.
What distribution do you run on your main desktop/laptop?
I currently use Linux Mint 19.3 on my laptop. It is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and thus I know that I am fully supported until April 2023. If I need the latest and greatest software, I use a mix of Snaps, Appimages, and Flatpaks.
What desktop environment do you use and why do you use it?
I use Cinnamon, which is the flagship desktop of Linux Mint. I used GNOME in the past and I kind of miss the one-touch workflow with the meta key. Who knows? I might install it in the future.
What one piece of Linux software do you depend upon? Why is it so important?
Mozilla Firefox is my main piece of software. I use it because it is a browser I trust to protect my privacy. I also make use of almost all its services, like bookmark/password sync, data breaches, and Facebook container.
What kind of hardware do you run this setup on?
I have an Acer Swift 3 laptop which I bought last year. It has a core i5 processor, 8GB RAM and 1TB SSD.
Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?
Sure. Nothing fancy. Simple and uncluttered.
Interview conducted May 4, 2020