elementary OS Afterthoughts

elementary OS is an elegant Linux distro marketed for minimalists (who don't tweak as much) and new users that want to try Linux. I used it for roughly a week and I'm still liking it. I wanted to share some of my afterthoughts, so to speak, about how I feel about the OS. I watched a few more YouTube videos and some of my thoughts are voiced by many others, mainly the lack of the minimize button and the good and bad things about the AppCenter.

The Good

Designed by UX Designers: A Russian YouTuber by the name of Aleksey Samoilov posted a video (in Russian) where he said that elementary OS is elegant because it's designed by UX designers rather than programmers. I think he's the only one that said this but I do agree with what he said. To me, there are two kinds of Linux users. The hard-core, tweaker and the (maybe) new, more on the boat on how UX is designed on Android or iPhone. I'm the latter due the organic growth from the former (although I wasn't a hard-core user).

Pay What You Want: I like the idea of paying what you want (or what you can) as a way to fund the OS and/or the apps. It's better than all or nothing.

Customizing Plank: Plank is the dock of elementary OS and the YouTuber Nick of The Linux Experiment had a video that showed how to do it. It's so simple but you need to know the keyboard shortcut to get into the settings. Ctrl + right click on Plank is that said shortcut. Plank comes with some nice settings including themes, where one the screen edges it sits, and other things. The only thing that I changed is the theme to transparent. To me, transparency just follows better with the main theme of any OS, including mobile OS's, and it's modern.

Minimize Button: Do you really need it? Think about it. You don't need it!

There is a video that talks about why you don't need to minimize button. There is other ways to minimize windows such as clicking on the icon on Plank, moving windows to different workspaces, Alt + Tab (Alt +Shift + Tab to cycle backwards) to cycle between windows, or scrolling between windows from the icon on Plank if you have multiple windows of the same app. That video converted me into using all three methods, even though I already rely on Alt + Tab to cycle between windows.

Picture-In-Picture: I tend to not have any reason to use workspaces as I have other ways to manage windows. The main on is the always on top option but that has changed with elementary OS, at least with watching videos. On this OS, there is a mode called Picture-In-Picture. This mode allows you to select a window or a part of one and it will stick on top of any window, including the desktop. You can even resize it. It makes watching YouTube and Twich easier without the black outline or other parts of the pages.

The Bad

There is only one thing that is a downside outside the two that I talked about in my first post.

AppCenter: This is one of the issues that many voiced which is there is no way to know what you have purchased. On Ubuntu and it's favors, you can use your Ubuntu One account to log in and it would be nice to have it on elementary OS. I think I understand why it's not a feature because it's a privacy concern. That I can understand. If it's something else, anyone is welcome to correct me.

Other Notes

First Look at elementary OS

December 21, 2019 I'm writing a new blog post about elementary OS after few days use. This blog post is simply the first look at the OS after an hour of use.

Over the last decade, I noticed that I became a minimalist from really wanting to customize and have eye-candy. It's either that I matured from the awkward pre-teen and teen years or my thinking changed organically. But it's for the good of things as I noticed that I do tend to over think and over complicate my work flow. I also started to dislike Ubuntu over the last year or so. Recently, one of the YouTubers that follow, Schykle, posted a review on the most recent release of elementary OS, 5.1 codenamed Hera. That video alone made want to try it out which I did. After a hour of using it, I fell in love of it and installed it with no issues- even though I never have installation issues, I tend to have issues from updates. I will talk about it and share my top five apps.

Review of elementary OS

elementary OS is prefect for those who are minimalists. It's very elegant and simple to use, maybe a bit too simple and minimal for my tastes as I do like to tweak a bit but not as much as some. It will also teach me to use more keyboard shortcuts to pull up apps faster. There are three other cool features that I like but they are already listed on their site. I don't really use those three anyways, expect Picture-in-Picture time to time.

The Good

Redundancy: There is no redundancy of functions like on Ubuntu. One example is software updates. There are two apps were you can do it and two of them are redundant and they are Software Center and Software Updater. In elementary OS, there is only one app: the AppCenter. I think this comes from the removal of using PPA's and just using their repos along with Flatpak allows it.

Flatpaks: Flatpaks are way better than PPA's and the other methods of installing programs/apps because I do certain apps. The main examples are Viber, Telegram, and Discord. At the moment, you can Sideload from Flathub and it only installs on the user account that is logged in.

Just a FYI, Viber from Flatpak works out of the box without that weird Dpi scaling issue on the Snap or the one from the .deb. Here is proof:

Onboarding A.K.A Welcome Screen: It's better than Ubuntu's since it asks you if you want to change settings associated to each of the screens.

The Bad

Restarting/Shut Down Times: I haven't had any issues in shutting down but when I restart, it takes forever. I heard that it's a issue.

Volume Icon Not Updating on Wing Panel: I hope this is a bug and will be fixed soon.

Other Notes

Ubuntu Repos: elementary is built of off Ubuntu which is useful if the app that you need isn't found in the official repos or Flatpak. The main examples, for me, are Firefox, MPV, pip, and the tools that allow me to upload with Nikola.

Tweaking: There isn't that much to tweaking to do expect if you like the power to minimize windows without using the keyboard shortcut super + H or disabling the single click in the file manger. Like in Ubuntu, the tweaks apps needs to be installed. The app on elementary is called elementary-tweaks.

Quoting from the README:

Installation

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:philip.scott/elementary-tweaks sudo apt install elementary-tweaks

If you have never added a PPA on Juno before, you might need to run this command first: sudo apt install software-properties-common

How to build

``` sudo apt install libgconf2-dev libpolkit-gobject-1-dev libswitchboard-2.0-dev elementary-sdk meson build --prefix=/usr cd build ninja

sudo ninja install io.elementary.switchboard ```

Then you simply just go into System Settings and the last item in Personal, as below:

Top Five Apps

I do use other apps that in repos like Optimizer, aren't in the repos like youtube-dl, or Flatpak like Viber, but these five are my top. The links are provided in the headers for each app.

From elementary's Repos

Notes-Up

Notes-Up is a (yet another) note-taking app that allows you to keep notes in notebooks with tagging and note linking while you write in markdown with a formatting panel to help and auto-saving! What more to say about how awesome it is! Okay, two more things is you can export to Markdown or PDF and bookmark pages.

Clipped

Clipped is probably the best clipboard manager for Linux ever. The main reason is, when you first start up, it will ask/show what is the keyboard shortcut to pull it up. Mine is Ctrl + Alt + V. This much faster then going to the menu or the system tray to pull up that list. Also, it has unlimited list where you can tell it to remove infrequent used items after certain number of days. I have mine set to it's default seven days. Because there is an unlimited list, you have the power to search through that list. Once you have your item, either from the most recent or from searching, you can either double click to paste or type in a number from 0 - 9. Just remember to down arrow to exit out of the search box if you searched. It will always remember your section for a simple Crtl + V.

The downside to the app is you have no way to pin items.

Gvride

This is an app for Google Drive where it syncs and allows you to always access your Google Drive. That's the reason why I like it.

From Ubuntu's Repos

MPV

MPV serves as a prefect media player where it can use command line to play whatever I want locally or from a server. I mostly use it to watch Twitch and YouTube, and listen to streaming radio; because the metadata stays. Yes, I'm a cheapskate in using it to watch YouTube and Twitch but it uses less processes and it 100% by-passes the ads.

Firefox

My Dad was the one who converted me to FIrefox back in 2004 and I have loved ever since. It just yells Open Source. And it's better then ever with Firefox Sync since there is a problem with the profile from my Ubuntu installation being outdated and I wasn't able to use it. Lucky, I was able to pull everything from the synced profile.

Open Cit Sci Pages Update on Wikipedia April 2019 Update

I received a overwhelming, positive response from week one of my introductory e-mail (and blog post) about updating citizen science and Open Science pages on Wikipedia. Thank you to all who agreed to help! I learned that there is more than updating the pages and adding the missing ones.

Updates

• I started the navbox with the basics that I know. There are hidden topics under the "Topics" header that need have pages to. I based them of the working groups from Citizen Science Association site as I feel that the Association is the umbrella organization for citizen science

• The talk of starting a WikiProject or Task Force is happening

• A page for Citizen Science Association was created

Next Steps

• Start grading the articles within the Citizen Science category

• Write the proposal for the WikiProject/Task Force

In the future, the other suggestions that I saw on the talk page of the roadmap will be focused on.

Announcing Open Cit Sci Pages Update On Wikipedia

Both movements of Citizen and Open Science have evolved quickly in the last ten years, but many of the Wikipedia pages are outdated. It's is up the community to update these pages.

As of April 2nd, a project over on Wikipedia was started and is looking for experts within the Community to update the pages. Currently the project has a rough roadmap that you can look at and a Talk page where the discussions will happen.

I look forward into working with some of you on this!

March 2018 Update

Hello World! February and March been crazy months for me and I wanted to write a quick update:

Blog

I made two major updates to the blog.

Tags Rather Than Categorizes

I have decided to use tags instead of categorizes as Nikola doesn't allow comma separated categorizes. I have found that tags summarize posts better and more is better than one. I also have two posts to write about two programs that I use, which are MPV and CherryTree.

Personal Links Page

I decided to get rid of the links list on the footer as I realized how many other profile pages that I have and I want to include all of them. Instead of a footer, I created a personal links page and organized them based on what type of site it is. I also added my Telegram link.

Grailville Wetlands

Last month, I finished the data analysis for the two and half data collection seasons and reported the data through a paper, restructured the repo, and updated the index page. Most of the lessons that I learned throughout the course of time was more on the Open Science side of things; mostly with how to set up a repo on GitHub and maintaining it. I also gave the materials that are in the repo to Grailville for their archives. As of February 2019, I call the project done, although I may come back to it and work on the research portion of it or even work with the data in R to see if I can replicate the analysis.

As an afterthought, I should called it Project Duckweed as a short name for the project!

Open Science/Citizen Science

I'm still drifting with in the communities of Open Science and citizen science trying to find to work on community development and/or engagement and I haven't had any luck. I had more leads but no go mode yet. The main lead is from the Citizen Science Association with their working groups. As of now there is not much about these groups but I heard from a Board member that more information will be coming.

Wikipedia

I was thinking why I'm having a hard time getting back into volunteering Online is either my weak skill in search kung-fu or place that has a good resource list. In response, I Tweeted this:

then after while, the thought of “oh wait, there is Wikipedia!” came to mind where I posted the same question/though on their mailing-list. And I made the newbish mistake of asking a question where the answer could of been found from doing my homework as the answer stated. I replied admitting that I made the mistake and also the one that I posted to the meta Wikipedia which is the community side of Wikipedia.

I will take on this advice and start working that on that. As a new contributor, I should take the advice of working on the low-hanging fruit rather than starting big.

reply

I starting back at square one as I have when I first started volunteering Online in the Ubuntu Community where worked on keeping the Ubuntu Women and the main wiki up to date. But this time, I feel that I have limited information about the happenings in the Open Science/Citizen Science sector. Also, working alone, while it's okay, is a bit against the values of Open *, collaboration. I'm working on finding people with in the said sector to help me to look through the Wikipedia pages within the sector. If you want to help, please contact me via e-mail (belkinsa@fastmail.com) or via Twitter DM or Telegram.

The next step that I see is to work on a roadmap and maybe post it here for everyone to understand what I'm trying to do. Look for that next month!

Back to Ubuntu Touch!

Over the last month, I thought about buying a new phone and the thought process was this:

The phone must be/have:

  • A non-Samsung or iPhone While they are best of the best, they are just over advertised. Plus, they cost above my pay rate.
  • Privacy, please It's something that we have, as a whole, thrown away. Also, that FaceTime bug is scary.
  • It needs to be simple I'm still leaning on using my computer for my work. I only use my phone to make calls, text, and check my e-mail and Twitter.
  • It needs to be rootable What if I want to switch back to Android? Plus, how would I of switched to Ubuntu Touch in the first place? If I were to switch back to Android, I would use the stock ROM- no need for bloat-ware.

I decided to buy a Nexus 5 and put Ubuntu Touch on it. I used to have a Nexus 4, but it was water damaged. I bought it because I wanted a bigger screen although I think based on the usage, the Nexus 4 would of worked.

Review

I don't recall if I wrote a proper review on Ubuntu Touch, but I will here. Like as I said I don't really use my phone and I will not be reviewing the convergence part.

Installation

Installation was much easier after Ubports took over the project because they added a GUI method to flashing Ubuntu Touch on devices. The the only problem that I found is that Nexus 5 wasn't found automatically. Luckily, the installer has a manual selection.

System

Overall, it's a nice and stable system. I don't see any major changes from when I last used it. The one thing that I love is the fact you can respond to messages from the indicator menu. The only bad thing is that the Weather app doesn't work outside the box. You will have to update it from the Ubuntu Open Store.

Apps

The Apps I have on my Ubuntu Touch are:

  • Base, pre-installed apps minus Notes I don't use Evernote but I may need a basic noting taking app. The others are needed for everyday life.
  • Active Screen It replaces the "always on while charging" setting from Android. I may have use for it, but I don't yet.
  • Circle Message It's there for motivation.
  • Morph Browser While it's one of the base, pre-installed apps, it the most powerful app on the Ubuntu Touch. Most of the apps that I used on my Samsung Galaxy Edge are web-based apps, such as Twitter and e-mail.
  • Talaan It's a pretty good check-list app.
  • UT Tweak Tool Because there are some settings that aren't found the system settings, such as turning off the launcher.

Other

My lockscreen looks like this:

Media PC

I forgotten that, in my house, I have big screen TVs and an unused ThinkCentre- and what prefect use for those two things? Watching Twitch/YouTube/Movies on the big screen! A week ago, I set up my ThinkCentre media PC and I found that it's a nice set up for Ubuntu Linux. It could be better because the DisplayPort connection doesn't stay stable if the computer is left on. It will go back to the computer's speakers after awhile. The only solution at this time is to restart the computer. I also found out that there are no senors on the ThinkCentre but if you watch from a distance and/or with load volumes, you will not hear the fan.

My current set (below) up is the TV hooked up with a full HDMI cable that goes to a switcher. I have this because I also have a Nintendo Switch hooked up to the TV by it's own full HDMI cable in the one of the ports of the switcher. In the other port, a HDMI/DisplayPort connects the ThinkCentre. A powerline adapter provides internet since the computer doesn't have a wireless network card and a Logitech media keyboard. The Ubuntu installation is a minimal 18.04 LTS installation with no extra programs expect I transferred my Firefox settings from my laptop and changed the homepage to Twitch.

Hopefully I will have fun watching things on the big screen, which I haven't done forever!

Setting Up Git Pages With Gandi.net Domain

After a week or so of trying to get the custom domain to work with Git Pages from Git Hub, I got it to work. Once again, it was from not doing my homework on how domains work as from what I bolded in the e-mail that Dante A. from Gandi.net's customer support. But I can't blame myself on doing my homework.

Hello again,

Here is the current configuration of your DNS Records:

Github 1800 IN A 185.199.108.153

Github 1800 IN A 185.199.109.153

Github 1800 IN A 185.199.110.153

Github 1800 IN A 185.199.111.153

blog 10800 IN CNAME username.github.io

webmail 10800 IN CNAME webmail.gandi.net.

www 10800 IN CNAME webredir.vip.gandi.net.

If you want this to be available at your bare domain and 'www' subdomain, you should change these records to the following:

@ 1800 IN A 185.199.108.153

@ 1800 IN A 185.199.109.153

@ 1800 IN A 185.199.110.153

@ 1800 IN A 185.199.111.153

blog 10800 IN CNAME username.github.io.

webmail 10800 IN CNAME webmail.gandi.net.

www 10800 IN CNAME username.github.io.

The '@' A record represents your bare domain. Please make these changes to the records and allow for them to propagate. Once done, your site should point to the Github page as expected.

Best,

\o/ Dante A. G https://www.gandi.net/

Hopefully there will not be anymore issues with my site and blog.

December 27, 2018 Update

As I said in the December 2018 update, the Wetlands pages live on this blog for the ease of viewing the markdown files. Some of the pages are combined because they are related to each other and the flow is better. An example is the write up and the findings are under write ups now because the findings were really from the research about the two ponds themselves from official sources. I also looked at what I have done and I found that I didn't do that much as I wanted to. Lucky I'm doing this a volunteering thing rather than for school, so that means I don't have a deadline for when I need the work done. Well, maybe a deadline but one that isn't so strict which will be made for sometime next year.

I also added a page that lists the programs where I link the official information sites/pages and my reviews.

December 2018 Update

I moved my landing page again but to a better place: to this blog! I realized that I'm paying Linode to simply host two pages and images, which is a waste of $7 a month. Luckily, I got my money back from the credit that I had.

Earlier this month, I started to work on moving all the images used in posts and the two pages from the servers of linode back onto my computer in the SenseOpenness folder; which is the nikola folder for my blog.

What's New

  • Off-topic Rambles live on the main blog. I found that I don't write so many of them and it's easier to maintain one site/blog.
  • Categories are only used. In order to be consistent, these categories will be used: Open Source, Open Science, Off-topic, News. I'm planning to work on descriptions for each of them and have the categories page display them.
  • Other Personal Links live in footer. To me, it looks better when the links are in vertical line rather than in a horizontal line. Plus, they are on all of the pages now.

What's Next

  • Different Theme. I might change the colors of the theme that comes with the basic theme or I will play around with another.
  • My wetlands work will live on the site. This is for the ease of reading the markdown files.

Lessons Learned

  • Read the instructions!!! If I read the instructions, things would be simpler.