New Blog

I will not be writing to this blog anymore after this post, but if you still want more generic nerdy posts from some random 13 year old kid on the Internet, then add this webpage to your bookmarks:

Captain’s Log

It will be my new blog, which is hosted on my Raspberry Pi. I am only doing this because it motivates me to post more. See you on Captain’s Log!

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KDE Plasma 5: Ready or Not Ready for General Use?

January 11, 2008: KDE 4.0 is released unto the free software world, and it so happened to be the glitchiest, buggiest, ugliest, and probably the most unstable version of KDE currently supported at the time.

Seriously, if that does not look ugly to you compared to KDE 3.5 you might need to see your eye doctor.

Many had tried KDE 4 and reverted back to their beloved KDE 3.5 for stability and familiarity. Now fast forward to July 15, 2014: this is when KDE announces the immediate availability of KDE Plasma 5.0. It sports an “updated and modernized, cleaner visual and interactive user experience” as well as “smoother graphics performance thanks to an updated graphics stack”. This time the new KDE release actually gets some fairly positive reviews by Linux users, but it was ultimately decided that it “looks good” but “needs more work”.

Here is an example on what I mean.

Here is an example on what I mean.

Now fast forward to today: the new KDE is currently at version 5.2, and has gotten some bug fixes, new icons, and newly ported KDE software along the way. I personally decided to try it out on my Dell laptop with Arch Linux and so far, the new KDE experience is fabulous!

My current KDE Plasma 5 desktop, minus the panel being on the bottom (It is now on the top.).

Installation on Arch Linux is pretty easy. In the ArchWiki, they recommend installing sddm alongside Plasma 5 for those wanting a display manager with their newly installed DE. When I tried sddm, it already came with a KDE 5 theme, but it is not enabled by default, but the theme can be enabled through the Plasma 5 System Settings. It sorta feels like KDE 4 but with a sleeker interface and less problems, except for one major crashing problem which keeps me from being able to use Plasma 5 as of today: after using Plasma 5 for some time (Say a few minutes.) the desktop locks up and freezes, forcing me to Ctrl+Alt+F2 and “killall xinit” and if sddm is running and I’m not using xinit, then I’m forced to reboot the computer.

Overall, KDE Plasma 5 is a wonderful new desktop environment with a sleek interface and even a new icon theme called “Breeze” which has cool icons for Firefox, Steam, and more! And if it were still working on my computer without locking up and crashing, I wouldn’t be forced to write this post on *cough cough* GNOME 3. So before I wrap up this post and go to bed, here are some pros and cons on KDE Plasma 5:

Pros:

Cool new icon theme with icons for Firefox, Steam, and other programs.

Sleek, simple and customizable interface.

New looks on widgets

sddm is a great display manager

Fixes a lot of the problems that KDE 4 had.

Cons:

In addition to fixing, it also creates problems that were not in KDE 4, like locking up and freezing.

Can’t change Applications Menu button picture (This means you will be forced to stay with the letter “K” as your app menu picture instead of being able to change it, which is a bummer.).

Some applications such as Dolphin are not ported to KDE 5 yet.

Overall, I give this new DE an 8 out of 10, and once the KDE boys fix up the locking up and freezing that has been happening to so many new users, I think that KDE 5 will be ready for general use, and if you are somehow savvy enough to be able to fix that problem, I think KDE 5 will be ready for you to use on your main machine.

UPDATE: Until the freezing bug has been fixed by the KDE team, I have temporarily downgraded to KDE 4.14.6.

I’m Zach, and as always, thank you for reading and have a nice day.

Haven’t been blogging in a while, here are my goals:

Hello, and if you are reading this, you are one of the few people that still read my blog. You see, I am one of those people that procrastinate even when the thing I’m procrastinating against is actually fun, take blogging for an example. While acknowledging the fact that I’m not active on WordPress, I also realized that I’m more active on Twitter than anywhere else. Twitter is a bit, let’s say, easier to get stuff out there, as it is only 140 characters of text and sometimes pictures and videos. WordPress, however, to me seems like something where I post long stuff. As a result, I am willing to post on WordPress more often, but how? I have only made about 3 blog posts so far, and that is not enough. So here is what my goal is: I will post at least 2 or 3 blog posts on WordPress a month, and I will try to make most of them about Linux and other geeky computer stuff that you guys like. You will also probably see product reviews and funny pictures/videos. I will try to keep you guys up to date as much as I can, but whenever I may not be active on WordPress, you can make sure to follow me on Twitter.

So if you’d like, you can do so at https://twitter.com/zach_linuxuser

Thank you for reading and have a good day.

Haven’t been blogging for a while, here are some changes:

I have two new-old PCs: A Dell Optiplex 170l (bigger model) and an HP Compaq dc5100mtj

The Dell has two IDE hard drives (second one installed by yours truly) which makes a total of 80 gigs of space, 512 MB of RAM, and with the lightness of Linux, it can play YouTube very well! The HP has Debian Wheezy and a 40GB SATA hard drive as well as 512 MB of RAM. Both run on Celeron processors.

My laptop is still running on Arch. It is actually my best performing PC with an Intel Core i3 (which isn’t such a bragging right in my opinion) and 4 GB RAM and a nice, spacious 500GB hard drive (which I plan on upgrading in the future).

I also plan on building a budget $200 rig in the future: AMD Sempron CPU, 4 GB RAM, 500GB 3.5″ hard drive from WD, and an LG DVD burner. I also plan on installing an NVIDIA video card with 512MB of RAM. It’s not much, but it can definitely handle a lot of PS3/360 era games, and it also has support for DVI and HDMI as well as VGA, while the motherboard (ASUS, $35) only supports VGA. Speaking of the motherboard, it has support for legacy PS/2 hardware, so I could throw in my old eMachines PS/2 keyboard, but not my generic unbranded PS/2 mouse 😦 (it only has one PS/2 port, unlike two, each for a different connection on older motherboards). It also has blazing fast USB 3.0, which a lot of prebuilt home PCs that cost hundreds of dollars more than my build seem to lack.

On October 31st, some special packages came in: powerline adapters. That enabled me to use fast ethernet connections on many of my devices. PS3, Xbox, PS2, RPi, and my laptop.

And that is unfortunately all for this post, but if you’d like more frequent updates, follow me on Twitter: @zach_linuxuser. I use it more than any other social network, actually.

Raspberry Pi Media Center

So this happens to be the first post on this blog, so allow me to give a little introduction:

I’m Zach Dupont, I’m (almost) 13 years old, and I really enjoy computers and geeky things. Currently, my main computer is a 6 year old Gateway M-1624 laptop running a Debian Wheezy/Windows 7 multi boot. The Dell Inspiron 3520 laptop which is *usually* my main actually fell on a hardwood floor (that happens to be the one in my bedroom) and the hard drive came off loose. I tried disassembling the laptop, but to no avail because 2 of the screws in the back were stripped, and I didn’t have the proper tools to get those off. You can follow me on Twitter @zach_linuxuser.

NOW TO THE GOOD STUFF:

After having a lot of fun at Linuxcon 2014 North America in Chicago, all that fun turned into unpacking a bunch of vendor stickers, SUSE Linux Enterprise Evaluation DVDs, and other free stuff. I also won a Raspberry Pi at the FoxT Booth. They let me choose between the Model B, or the Model B+. I was a total Raspberry Pi newbie, so my newbie instincts told me to choose the B+, and those instincts were right. According to http://www.raspberrypi.org/product/model-b-plus/, it is superior to the Model B in SD (because it now uses Micro SD), USB (More USB ports), GPIO (More GPIO pins), etc. It ditched composite and HDMI for only HDMI, which I don’t mind because I have plenty of spare HDMI cables in my house, and I don’t have many composite cables that are actually useful, because most, if not all of the devices in my house have HDMI support as well as all of the TVs being HD 1080p (except an old 2003 CRT TV/VCR combo from Toshiba in the basement). It’s overall superior to the Model B. Anyways, the first time I hooked up that Pi was when I got home from Chicago. Sure, it required a lot of hassle, especially when hooking it up in my room, but it was all worth it in the end. I put NOOBS in the Micro SD card and installed Raspbian, just to see what the Raspberry Pi was like when using it. After that I decided to install Raspbmc so I could use it as a media center. I planned to just install Raspbmc on the SD card and use all the flash drives I already have and have gotten as freebies from the convention as storage for all the movies and music I plan to put on there. And that’s exactly what I did. The Raspberry Pi plays DVD-quality movies very smoothly, although I’ve never tried playing 1080p video (mainly because the only movies I have on the Pi are Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and National Treasure, both ripped from DVDs and stored on the same 4GB flash drive). I plan on using one flash drive for music, and some for movies and TV shows.

 

Also, I thanks to the CEC feature on my Vizio TV, I can switch the HDMI inputs without having to press the buttons on my HDMI input selector, because I change the inputs right from my TV’s input screen. I really love what hooking up the Raspberry Pi has made me do with my TV. It’s great that I can control my Playstation 3 and my XBMC box, aka the Raspberry Pi ;), with the remote that came with my TV. And switch inputs with no hassle. And now I don’t need a separate Blu Ray remote accessory for the PS3 so I can play my DVD and Blu Ray discs with ease!