Episode 434 Show Notes

Welcome to mintCast

the Podcast by the Linux Mint Community for All Users of Linux

This is Episode 434!

This is Episode 434.5!

Recorded on Sunday, March 31, 2024

Bringing the Fun Fun Fun I’m Joe; lowering the IQ in the room, I’m Moss; Going vroom vroom in a big truck, I’m Bill; launching off, I’m Majid; I’m Dale and I invited myself to the podcast.

— Play Standard Intro —

  • First up in the news: Red Hat Announces Nova Graphics Driver for NVIDIA GPUs, Blender 4.1 released, MakuluLinux brings LinDoz back this time with AI, the end of EXT2,
  • In security and privacy: Backdoor found in widely used Linux utility breaks encrypted SSH connections, Suspected Russian Data-Wiping ‘AcidPour’ Malware Targeting Linux x86 Devices
  • Then in our Wanderings: Moss needs some salt for his new battery, Bill goes vrroom vrroom in a big truck, Joe is getting Steamed, Majid chillaxes, and Dale is Scaling his NAS;
  • In our Innards section: Using the Linux Mint Backup Tool and backing up applet settings
  • And finally, the feedback and a couple of suggestions

— Play News Transition Bumper —

The News

20 minutes

  • Red Hat Announces Nova, a Rust-Based GSP-Only Graphics Driver for NVIDIA GPUs Bill
    • From 9to5Linux (via londoner)
    • Red Hat announced earlier this week that the company has started work on a new open-source graphics driver for NVIDIA GPUs written in Rust, called Nova.
    • Designed as the successor of the Nouveau open-source driver for GSP-firmware-based NVIDIA graphics cards, the Nova graphics driver is a GSP (GPU System Processor) only driver entirely written in the Rust programming language and it aims to be a lot more simple and easy to maintain than Nouveau while benefiting from more memory safety offered by Rust.
    • With Nova, we see the chance to significantly decrease the complexity of the driver compared to Nouveau for mainly two reasons,” said Danilo Krummrich, Senior Software Engineer at Red Hat. “First, Nouveau’s historic architecture, especially around nvif/nvkm, is rather complicated and inflexible and requires major rework to solve certain problems, and second, with a GSP-only driver there is no need to maintain compatibility with pre-GSP code.
    • With Nova, Red Hat hopes to contribute to the Rust efforts in the Linux kernel and also attract more developers to get involved in this open-source graphics driver for NVIDIA GPUs. Red Hat wants to develop its Nova graphics driver upstream in the Linux kernel, starting with just a driver stub that only makes use of some basic Rust abstractions, but they first need to deal with the missing C binding abstractions for integral kernel infrastructure.
    • More details about Nova and the ongoing work to upstream the graphics driver can be found in this mailing list announcement. But it’s not only Red Hat that works on a drop-in replacement for Nouveau, as Collabora recently promoted their open-source Vulkan-based graphics driver NVK for NVIDIA GPUs to the stable channel, which will be available as part of the upcoming Mesa 24.1 graphics stack.
    • Both Nova and NVK are more than welcome replacements for Nouveau, which is old and not actively maintained these days. The ultimate goal here, at least for NVK, is not only to provide a basic graphics driver for NVIDIA GPUs on systems where NVIDIA proprietary graphics driver is not installed by default but to provide Linux users with a better replacement for NVIDIA’s driver for gaming.
  • Blender 4.1 Officially Released with Quality-of-Life and Performance Improvements Joe
    • from 9to5 Linux
    • The Blender Foundation released Blender 4.1 as a new update to its powerful, free, open-source, and cross-platform 3D graphics computer software for GNU/Linux, macOS, and Windows systems.
    • Arriving more than four months after Blender 4.0, the Blender 4.1 release is here to introduce quality-of-life improvements and performance enhancements all across the board to make Blender more useful and reliable, especially for modelers or animators.
    • Highlights of Blender 4.1 include a new file handler API that lets devs extend traditional file “import” operators with drag-and-drop behavior throughout the Blender UI, adding support for the Alembic, Collada, Grease Pencil SVG, OBJ, OpenUSD, PLY, and STL file formats within the 3D Viewport and Outliner areas.
    • Also new is GPU-accelerated hardware support for OpenImageDenoise when using GPU rendering in the 3D viewport, supporting NVIDIA GTX 16xx, NVIDIA TITAN V, and all NVIDIA RTX GPUs, Intel GPUs with Xe-HPG architecture or newer, as well as Apple Silicon. For now, AMD GPUs are not supported due to stability issues.
    • Blender 4.1 adds a new Soft Falloff option to Point and Spot lights to make the lights render the same as in Blender 3.6 LTS and earlier versions. The light texture radius acts as a blurring factor for the projected texture when the new Soft Falloff option is applied and it will be directly visible on the spherical light source when the new Soft Falloff option is not applied.
    • Tons of other new features, check the link in the show notes.
  • LinDoz Returns With Advanced AI To Revamp the MakuluLinux Lineup – Majid
    • from Linux Insider
    • LinDoz, a sidelined MakuluLinux distro that made an ideal Windows-to-Linux crossover, welcomes the new year with artificial intelligence and virtual camera powers.
    • MakuluLinux developer Jacque Montague Raymer had paused LinDoz over developmental issues caused by constant upstream changes in the Cinnamon desktop environment. With those issues resolved within the Cinnamon developer community, he decided to bring it back.
    • This re-release of LinDoz reflects the distribution’s mantra of “always pushing boundaries.” My hands-on experience with the beta versions assures that the return will not disappoint, even if the notion of AI-powered Linux seems scary.
    • So far, AI has not been an integral part of Linux, Windows, or Mac operating systems. In some OSes, AI is accessible via limited applications and web browsers without being built into the desktop core. That is what makes LinDoz so special.
    • Raymer first dabbled in AI with the release of the MakuluLinux Max distro in June. I have been a fan of the various evolving MakuluLinux releases since the distribution’s creation in January 2019. The introduction of AI in Raymer’s newest distro — Max — impressed me.
    • Raymer’s innovative customizations, such as buffering the Cinnamon desktop with AI-driven features, make the new LinDoz an irresistible Linux experience. His clever tweaking of AI and the virtual webcam features are too much to ignore.
    • These two concepts already exist in the MakuluLinux Shift and Max distros. Still, their more advanced development and expansion here will be the primary attractions for new users to this uniquely different Linux operating system.
    • Raymer’s approach to integrating AI into the Linux desktop is an interesting story. First, let’s take a quick overview of LinDoz.
    • At first glance, the Cinnamon desktop appears familiar but is modified with the addition of the Conky calendar and system monitoring views. These enhancements give the desktop a non-traditional Cinnamon appearance.
    • The underlying theme of LinDoz has always been to give users a familiar MS Windows look and feel as they transition to the Linux OS. Depending on how much of a Windows style you want, you can select from a variety of appearance options to suit your comfort zone.
    • Lots more at the link in the show notes.
  • The Journey of Linux’s ext2 Filesystem Comes to an End – Moss
    • from Linuxiac
    • Developed as the successor to the original Extended File System (ext), ext2 was introduced in January 1993, engineered to overcome the limitations of its predecessor and the FAT file system, which was widely used in DOS and Windows environments then.
    • Over the past three decades, ext2 has been an integral part of every Linux kernel version, serving as the go-to filesystem for Linux distributions until the turn of the millennium, around 2002-2003.
    • However, like all technologies, ext2 has reached its twilight, giving way to newer, more advanced alternatives, in that case in the face of the ext3 file system. The transition from ext2 as the default filesystem to more advanced filesystems like ext3 happened at different times for various Linux distributions.
    • Debian started using ext3 as the default in the Debian Sarge (3.1) release, which was officially released in June 2005.
    • Red Hat Linux introduced ext3 as a default option in version 7.2, which was released in October 2001.
    • Slackware’s transition to using ext3 as a recommended option came with Slackware 9.1, released in September 2003.
    • SUSE Linux started offering ext3 with SUSE Linux 9.0 in October 2003 as an option, but ext2 was still widely used in earlier versions.
    • Why are we taking on this swift journey through history? It’s because ext2 is on the verge of retirement after three decades.
    • The ext2 filesystem has been marked as DEPRECATED in the soon-to-be-released Linux kernel version 6.9, which is anticipated to arrive around mid-May due to a significant limitation: its inability to support dates beyond January 19, 2038.
    • Linux kernel 6.9 Marks ext2 as Deprecated
    • This decision is based on the filesystem’s design, which does not accommodate inode timestamps extending beyond this “Year 2038” threshold.
    • The Year 2038 problem, similar to the much-discussed Y2K issue, arises from the storage of time values as 32-bit integers. These integers will overflow early that year, leading to potential data inaccuracies and system failures.
    • In response, the Linux kernel developers have introduced a “DEPRECATED” keyword within the kernel parameter description for ext2. This move cautions users about the filesystem’s dated limitations and nudges them towards more contemporary alternatives that guarantee longevity and stability.
    • The recommendation for current ext2 users (if there are any nowadays) is to transition to the ext4 driver. This driver offers backward compatibility with ext2, ensuring a seamless migration for users. It accommodates filesystems without journals or extents, providing a versatile solution for a wide array of use cases.
    • Furthermore, ext4 addresses the timestamp limitation head-on by supporting larger timestamps, given that the filesystem is created with inodes of at least 256 bytes.
    • Of course, labeling ext2 as DEPRECATED raises no concerns. In practice, ext2 serves more as a relic of the past than a filesystem in active use. Additionally, even its successor, ext3, has been virtually entirely replaced by ext4, which now stands as one of the primary filesystems that most Linux distributions depend on.
    • Currently, there’s no comment regarding the duration ext2 will remain in future Linux kernels marked as DEPRECATED before its eventual retirement. Although this change won’t occur in the near future, the initial move toward its phase-out has already begun.

— Play Security Transition Bumper —

Security and Privacy

10 minutes

  • Backdoor found in widely used Linux utility breaks encrypted SSH connections
    • From ArsTechnica (via londoner)
    • Researchers have found a malicious backdoor in a compression tool that made its way into widely used Linux distributions, including those from Red Hat and Debian.
    • The compression utility, known as xz Utils, introduced the malicious code in versions ​​5.6.0 and 5.6.1, according to Andres Freund, the developer who discovered it. There are no known reports of those versions being incorporated into any production releases for major Linux distributions, but both Red Hat and Debian reported that recently published beta releases used at least one of the backdoored versions—specifically, in Fedora 40 and Fedora Rawhide and Debian testing, unstable and experimental distributions. A stable release of Arch Linux is also affected. That distribution, however, isn’t used in production systems.
    • Because the backdoor was discovered before the malicious versions of xz Utils were added to production versions of Linux, “it’s not really affecting anyone in the real world,” Will Dormann, a senior vulnerability analyst at security firm ANALYGENCE, said in an online interview. “BUT that’s only because it was discovered early due to bad actor sloppiness. Had it not been discovered, it would have been catastrophic to the world.”
    • Several people, including two Ars readers, reported that the multiple apps included in the HomeBrew package manager for macOS rely on the backdoored 5.6.1 version of xz Utils. Those apps, one user said, include: aom, cairo, ffmpeg, gcc, glib, harfbuzz, jpeg-xl, leptonica, libarchive, libtiff, little-cms2, numpy, openblas, openjpeg, openvino, pango, [email protected], [email protected], tesseract, webp, yt-dlp, zstd. The other user said HomeBrew has now rolled back the utility to version 5.4.6.
    • The first signs of the backdoor were introduced in a February 23 update that added obfuscated code, officials from Red Hat said in an email. An update the following day included a malicious install script that injected itself into functions used by sshd, the binary file that makes SSH work. The malicious code has resided only in the archived releases—known as tarballs—which are released upstream. So-called GIT code available in repositories aren’t affected, although they do contain second-stage artifacts allowing the injection during the build time. In the event the obfuscated code introduced on February 23 is present, the artifacts in the GIT version allow the backdoor to operate.
    • The malicious changes were submitted by JiaT75, one of the two main xz Utils developers with years of contributions to the project.
    • “Given the activity over several weeks, the committer is either directly involved or there was some quite severe compromise of their system,” an official with distributor OpenWall wrote in an advisory. “Unfortunately the latter looks like the less likely explanation, given they communicated on various lists about the ‘fixes’” provided in recent updates. Those updates and fixes can be found here, here, here, and here.
    • On Thursday, someone using the developer’s name took to a developer site for Ubuntu to ask that the backdoored version 5.6.1 be incorporated into production versions because it fixed bugs that caused a tool known as Valgrind to malfunction.
    • “This could break build scripts and test pipelines that expect specific output from Valgrind in order to pass,” the person warned, from an account that was created the same day.
    • One of maintainers for Fedora said Friday that the same developer approached them in recent weeks to ask that Fedora 40, a beta release, incorporate one of the backdoored utility versions.
    • “We even worked with him to fix the valgrind issue (which it turns out now was caused by the backdoor he had added),” the Ubuntu maintainer said.
    • He has been part of the xz project for 2 years, adding all sorts of binary test files, and to be honest with this level of sophistication I would be suspicious of even older versions of xz until proven otherwise.
    • Maintainers for xz Utils didn’t immediately respond to emails asking questions.
    • The malicious versions, researchers said, intentionally interfere with authentication performed by SSH, a commonly used protocol for connecting remotely to systems. SSH provides robust encryption for ensuring only authorized parties connect to a remote system. The backdoor is designed to allow a malicious actor to break the authentication and from there gain unauthorized access to the entire system. The backdoor works by injecting code during a key phase of the login process.
    • “I have not yet analyzed precisely what is being checked for in the injected code, to allow unauthorized access,” Freund wrote. “Since this is running in a pre-authentication context, it seems likely to allow some form of access or other form of remote code execution.”
    • In some cases, the backdoor has been unable to work as intended. The build environment on Fedora 40, for example, contains incompatibilities that prevent the injection from correctly occurring. Fedora 40 has now reverted to the 5.4.x versions of xz Utils.
    • Xz Utils is available for most if not all Linux distributions, but not all of them include it by default. Anyone using Linux should check with their distributor immediately to determine if their system is affected. Freund provided a script for detecting if an SSH system is vulnerable.
    • More details about the timeline of this exploit are at
  • Suspected Russian Data-Wiping ‘AcidPour’ Malware Targeting Linux x86 Devices Moss
    • From Hacker News (via londoner)
    • A new variant of a data wiping malware called AcidRain has been detected in the wild that’s specifically designed for targeting Linux x86 devices.
    • The malware, dubbed AcidPour, is compiled for Linux x86 devices, SentinelOne’s Juan Andres Guerrero-Saade said in a series of posts on X.
    • “The new variant […] is an ELF binary compiled for x86 (not MIPS) and while it refers to similar devices/strings, it’s a largely different codebase,” Guerrero-Saade noted.
    • AcidRain first came to light in the early days of the Russo-Ukrainian war, with the malware deployed against KA-SAT modems from U.S. satellite company Viasat.
    • An ELF binary compiled for MIPS architectures, it is capable of wiping the filesystem and different known storage device files by recursively iterating over common directories for most Linux distributions.
    • The cyber attack was subsequently attributed to Russia by the Five Eyes nations, along with Ukraine and the European Union.
    • AcidPour, as the new variant is called, is designed to erase content from RAID arrays and Unsorted Block Image (UBI) file systems through the addition of file paths like “/dev/dm-XX” and “/dev/ubiXX,” respectively.
    • It’s currently not clear who the intended victims are, although SentinelOne said it notified Ukrainian agencies. The exact scale of the attacks is presently unknown.
    • The discovery once again underscores the use of wiper malware to cripple targets, even as threat actors are diversifying their attack methods for maximum impact.
    • “This variant is a more powerful AcidRain variant, covering more hardware and operating system types,” warned Rob Joyce, director of cybersecurity at the U.S. National Security Agency.
    • The development also comes as the AhnLab Security Intelligence Center (ASEC) revealed that threat actors are launching brute-force and dictionary attacks against poorly secured Linux systems to create backdoor accounts for persistent access.
    • “Attackers may employ various attack methods for adding new accounts, including changing the password of the existing root account and registering an SSH key to log in without entering a password,” ASEC said.
    • Such access is then abused to install various malware strains such as ransomware, cryptocurrency miners, and DDoS bots such as Tsunami, ShellBot, and the KONO DIO DA miner.

— Play Wanderings Transition Bumper —

Bi-Weekly Wanderings

30 minutes (~5-8 mins each)

  • Bill
    • So for the past few weeks I’ve been going vroom vroom in a big truck! This past weekend was the annual Mid America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky. 3 Fat Truckers was there! The reason I wasn’t on the last recording of mintCast was because I was working the entire duration of the weekend to make up for the lost time to be incurred during the show. We took off Wednesday morning. Louisville is about a 3 ½ hour drive from Fort Wayne. We arrived at around noon which was plenty of time to set up our booth, and get checked into the hotel room. Setting up went smoothly, which gave me the false sense of security that would indeed fail me the next day when we would begin recording.
    • Thursday morning began with me firing up my HP Omen laptop which is the machine I’ve used for all the shows, and indeed was the powerhouse machine I used as a daily driver until I started on mintCast. It runs Arch, by the way. I’m not at all sure if I’ve mentioned it in the past. This laptop has the Optimus graphics setu up that everyone knows and loves so much. The last couple years has seen the improvements the enabled good, transparent usage of the dual- graphics setup. Normally everything works well, and there’s no problems. This was not to be the case during the show. When it comes to OBS studio, I use the flatpak because that’s the fastest way to install the software with the “browser” plugin that is needed to stream VDO.ninja to the recording. On Arch, you can also install it that way through the AUR, but it means you have to compile it every time there’s an update, which…no. The problem is that it means if you want to use the NVENC hardware incoding, you have to have the NVIDIA driver in the flatpak. When I hit the record button, I got an error saying NVENC failed and I needed to update the driver, which in the case of flatpak, wasn’t possible. I went into panic mode, eventually opting to use VAAPI on the less powerful Intel video SOC. It worked, though the output was not as good as it would be if I were able to use the NVENC setting. I got through the show with less than stellar results, and by the end (we did 34 interviews by the way) I was ready to put the laptop on the railroad tracks that run behind my house. When I got home, it occurred to me I should try to remove the flatpak in favor of the repo version which will have direct access to the video API’s without the container layer. Wouldn’t you know it? It worked. NVENC worked as it should, with the added benefit of Intel Quicksync, had I’d wanted to use the less power-hungry Intel SOC, while still getting improved hardware encoding. The moral of this story is as it has always been, when in doubt, ditch the universal package and go with the distro-maintained version. Maybe one day we’ll live in a world where this isn’t the case. I can’t say we’re anywhere near a place where stuff like flatpak, snap, and appimage work for everyone, every time. Anyway, all the interviews are up on the YouTube, so if anyone is interested, you can view them there. We also recorded episode 54 while we were there. So check that out if you’d be so inclined.
    • Last week I purchased an Elgato Streamdeck, which I intended to play with, get working well, and add it to today’s show as a “check this out.” Unfortunately, I think I’m just going to talk a little about it here as it’s just not as interesting as one would wish. The truth is that the device is simply a glorified “hot keys” device while beit a really well designed “hot keys” device. The main problem with the device is that there’s no officially supported software for Linux, though there has been two projects on GitHub, one abandoned, and another taking it’s place. It’s a bit of a pain to set up because there’s udev stuff you have to set up to give the machine access to the device, and it doesn’t seem as though you can just leave it plugged in, because sometimes the device is accessible at boot time, and sometimes it’s not. The best way to insure it will work is to plug it in after the machine is booted, and you’ve executed the background process to give the device access to the commands you’ve set up on it. I can only imagine when Mint switches to Wayland full stop, the headaches will start all over again. The device is ok, but I can’t in good conscience recommend it to folks who have simple to intermediate streaming and recording needs. Most of what it does can be easily achieved with keyboard shortcuts. If you do a lot of complicated scene transitioning with OBS Studio, then perhaps this would help with that but for my needs it’s a bit superficial.
  • Joe
    • Have been using my Steam Deck a lot. Mostly to play Skyrim. I have been enjoying relearning all the fun things about the game I used to know. Plus there always seems more to do on that game.
    • I also decided to purchase the Halo Master Chief Collection on the Steam Sale which means that I got all 3 of the original trilogy for less than 10 dollars. I do remember playing them some but I don’t think I ever really dedicated any time to it. I have not played it a lot but I have played it enough to know that it plays well on the deck and is easy to control. None of the trouble with aiming that I have had with other first person shooters like Borderlands 2.
    • Also on the Deck I have been testing out Sunshine and Moonlight. It is an alternative to steam streaming. It is actually pretty good and has less overhead and less latency than the inbuilt steam streaming. I have also used it to do some desktop sharing and though it will not spin off its own desktop I still find it useful because on a dual screen setup like I have in the garage it will NOT try to show both screens at the same time but will switch between the two screens depending on where the mouse is. I can make that work.
    • I also installed it on my VM to give it a test. I had to switch to bridged network mode but it did work well even though it broke a lot of the other things that I had set up in regards to the VPN. So I switched it back to NAT and I will continue looking for another solution.
    • I also tested out a program called BadaboomBooks which is a command line tool used to help organize an Aubiobookshelf library. You enter in the command and the path to the book you want to organize and it will search the web for the correct ISBN and the you have to verify it and it will do all the updating and create a metadata file that audiobookshelf will recognize if you ever have to reindex everything.
    • You can put multiple books into the command but you still have to do each book individually instead of an entire folder at one time. I ended up using a combination of tools to try to make things a little bit easier. First I would choose an author that I wanted to organize and then I would use find -d to get all the directories along the path of that author and I would export all of that to a file which I would open in gedit. Then I would use find and replace to get rid of all the line ends and replace with quote space quote. then add a quote to the start and the end. then on another page I would have the command and the modifiers ready to go. I would paste the paths into the command and then copy the whole thing and paste onto the command line.
    • This worked pretty well but I did need to install some tools so that python could see the clipboard correctly which is how the command knows what the book identifier is. The script would pop up a page with the search information in your browser and then I would right click the page that was correct and click copy and then the next page would pop up. Important to have the browser window next to the command line prompt to make sure that the information matches. It took some trial and error but I was able to make it work.
    • The problem got to be that even though all the information was correctly stored and should have updated the books the next time I force matched the whole library is that it didn’t. I was able to get matches after I then went to each individual book and clicked match and the only thing that would show up was the correct book. So that did show that the script was getting the information where it needed to go but audiobookshelf was not able to always do it on its own. It should have been able to with little to no problems. Maybe the issue is the scale of my library. Running the match command while it did not see the ones that I was watching for always showed that some were updated.
    • I picked up a Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 at a really good price so I have been playing around some with that. I have not found anything to complain about in regards to that but I cant say that anything jumps out at me to say it is great either.
    • With getting the new watch I needed a new charging stand so I decided to go on thingiverse and see what was available. After some looking around nothing quite met my needs. I wanted something to hold my watch and my phone. I was able to find some watch stands that would accept the watch 5 charger but not that would also take the fast wireless charger for the s24U. But I did find an openscad version of wireless charger stand. So I was able to modify that to take the larger wireless pad and the USB-C cable after a couple of prints. Then I imported that and the watch stand into tinkercad and merged them into one print with some plastic between them.
    • I am happy with how it turned out. I probably should have added a little bit more space between the two parts to make some more room for the band on the watch and I probably should have tested the watch stand which has a bit more tolerance around the watch charger than I would like but I can modify the stl for the next time that I print it.
    • Last night i had some trouble sleeping so i ended up doing some 3d design. I was looking through thingiverse for ways to mount things to the back of the steam deck and there are a lot of solutions for that but very few good ones. So i have started designing my own rail mount system that will use the mounting screws on the back to attach the rails. This will allow me to design mounts for usb-c port replicators and possibly battery banks.
    • I am still in the design phase and not even to the printing and testing phase yet but i think that it will work easy enough. For now i have a left right design but i will eventually switch to a up down design. I have high hopes for it. But i may also go with a completely different design. The design thati am working on now would screw into the back of the casing to add the rails and i have my concerns because i would need to add longer screws and it may cause problems if they are too long.
    • I might switch to a snap on back plate with mounting rails. I have not decided yet.
    • I also did some rather fun things with pihole and wireguard but that will be for next show
  • Moss
    • I’ve had a few days of work, and some time figuring out how to rearrange my time. Yesterday, the first episode of Distrohoppers’ Digest was recorded – that is, the first one that didn’t have me on the show. It has been a big weight off my little autistic shoulders, but it still feels like a loss.
    • I completely busted the screen on my Fire HD8 tablet and had to order a new one. It just came in Thursday, and I got it set up (with more difficulty than usual, but eventually it succumbed to my ministrations). I got out the cover that I used with my old one. Funny thing. The only place it didn’t fit was that it covered the power supply plug. I had to get out a sharp blade and make adjustments to the case. But I dun it.
    • I’m still trying to figure out why I can’t get Firefox to load in Bodhi. Nobody has gotten back to me on this issue. I wait a few minutes for my 3 tabs to load, none of them do, and I open chromium. Not my preferred method of working.
    • I’ve not needed to use my T540P for a while. I need to keep it in case I return to Distrohoppers’ Digest, as that is my “test machine”. I’m mostly either using my laptop or my M700 Tiny studio machine.
    • Speaking of my laptop, my T580 was gifted a new battery, one of the 61+ models. (The Lenovo T580 has two batteries, one internal and the other swappable out the back; I only replaced the swappable one.) This battery is a bit thicker than the original 61. I’ve been getting absolutley unbelievable battery life since getting this, to the point I was starting to wonder whether I traded my T580 for Apple M2 silicon. Nope, still my Lenovo. But wow. With the old battery, I was getting 5-7 hours of life. With the new battery, I literally got 20 hours of life out of the first charge after draining it to 2% as recommended by the battery provider, and I’ve already had another 5 hours since recharging it, with Mint reporting that I’ve another 80% of life in it.
    • Just about everything else in my life is either reading or music. I’m reading one book to my best friend, two more to my wife, and about 6 myself.
    • I have been invited as a guest performer to Balticon, a SF/F convention in Baltimore, MD, over the Memorial Day weekend. I will get to sit on a few panels as well as do a concert and hang out in the filk rooms. Music all around. This was a great opportunity, as I might be able to sell a few CDs to the over 6,000 fans in attendance.
  • Majid
    • So the school holidays have started here, this meant the traffic on the roads is much less and so commuting to work was a breeze for a change! I had taken the full two weeks off, but when it became clear we werent going to be going anywhere or doing anything special (Ramadan & lack of money) I decided to work this week. Keeping the rest of the time off though, I could do with a few days of chillaxing at home and catching up on sleep. The irony of being an anaesthetist who has sleep problems is not lost on me!
    • So I’m still on Mint on my Zenbook, Ubuntu on my work machine and KDE Neon on this podcasting box. As much as I like Mint (as I do) the distro-hopper in me is looking for the next distro, recommendations welcome!
    • Ive been using mega as my cloud storage of choice for almost a decade, and ts worked far better then I initially thought it would, hence I’ve stuck with it for so long. Recently been having some sync issues though, specifically on Mint. I’m not sure why. I would love to move to Proton Drive, but there still isnt a linux client which is annoying
    • I’ve been using nordvpn and surfshark for the last 2 years as i got them on a deal. Though they are owned by the same company, surfshark worked much better and I barely used nordvpn over that 2 year period. I’m going to stick with surfshark, though again if anyone knows any other vpns i should check out then let me know.
    • Goin back to Mint, by wife has this HP Elitebook tablet-with-keyboard (a la Surface) which I had bought for her a few years ago. It was a very good deal on ebay for a pretty modest machine. But then again she has pretty modest needs as her phone is her main computing device. However as expected, its started to slow down, and my daughter, who has been using it for schoolwork, has been getting annoyed with it. Its got 4GB RAM and 128Gb SSD and runs a Core m7-6y57 (remember them?). So I offered to buy her a newer machine, but told her “Linux will make it better”. To my surprise, she actually agreed. So which distro? I could go something light like Ubuntu Mate, but then it wouldnt have the eye-candy and also isnt the best with touchscreens (and these girls are used to touchscreens!). I tried KDE Neon, and whilst its definetly much slimmer then previous KDEs, it was still using 3GB of RAM. So I decided to try Mint 21.3 Edge (as I still had the iso hanging around from when I installed it on my zenbook). Did a few modifications to make a bit more touch friendly (bigger icons etc) and both wife and daughter are happy with it. They did complain that the battery life wasnt great, but then it wasnt that great anyway (after all its a device made in 2015 and no battery changes). My wife did come to me though to say “the touchscreen doesnt work”. I thought that was odd, and booted it up to find a perfectly working touchscreen. So I asked her what she meant. Basically it turns out that the Firefox version thats on Mint isnt touch-optimised, I switched it over to Brave, and shes happy now!
    • I was a bit surprised with that for Firefox, maybe its to do with the version, I’m sure I had heard that they had improved touch-functionality.
    • Speaking of Firefox, i cam across with Firefox fork called Floorp. Its a japanese project which basically makes it the Vivaldi of Firefox browsers. Its a bit more performant then the usual Firefox. Doesnt have multi OS versions though (Android etc) and so I think it wont become my daily driver, that is still Vivaldi/Brave.
    • I went to visit my islamic teacher the other day, and whilst I as perusing his significant book collection, I noticed his antiquated laptop. I mean hes happy with it, and especially likes the fact it that it has a big 17in screen. He uses it mainly for academic research and reading basically as a desktop replacement. So i’m tempted to get him a new one, though I dont have a good history of tech interventions with him.
    • Amazon had a spring sale (sort of) and I managed to get some Galaxy Buds2 pro for 100 quid off. There were some issues with delivery (i’m really starting to get annoyed with amazon delivery folk), but I got them in the end. They are “ok”. I dont think the sound quality is much better then the Galaxy Buds FE that I had, but the ANC is better and they are very comfortable to wear. Still mulling over whether to keep them.
    • I have spoken ad nauseam about my S24 Ultra on the podcast. But one thing that was starting to annoy me was the horizontal scrolling in the app drawer. Having been using non-samsung phones (in the most part) for the last few years, I’d developed some muscle memory in searching through my (vertical) app drawer. Now I had used GoodLock to get this functionality in previous phones, but for some inexplicable reason (as has been noticed on android websites too) it isnt there as an option now. So after many years (even though I’d paid for it) I installed Nova Launcher and made it look Pixel-y. I used to regularly use ith, but option 5 years ago, I was happy with the android distributions that most phones came with so didnt feel the need. It wouldve been nice if I could important my pre-existing layout, but didnt take too long to set it up. I actually had some nova backup files, but when I used them I realised what apps I no longer used! Bit of a nostalgia trip i suppose.
    • Finished the Night Agent on Netflix. Wife really liked it. I thought it was ok (if predicatable). She really likes this kind of spy-genre so looking around for the next thing we’ll watch. I found Murder Mubarak on Netflix which looks like an Indian remake of Knives Out so might watch that
    • Started the 3 body problem, really good, maybe I should complete the book though.
    • Been really enjoying Invincible on Prime. It has a surprising amount of character development and pathos which I wasnt expecting. It also has a brilliant soundtrack (second only to Umbrella Academy) and I’ve found that really nice.
    • The annual Indian Premier League is back so the house is a bit cricket-mad for the next few weeks. My team is never going to win thouhg, and I’ve just accepted that as a part of life.
    • We are cat-sitting again! This time a 10 month old black british short-hair. The joy on my daughters face when she plays with the cat is priceless.
    • Can I just say that I hate the state of NHS Dentistry in the Uk at the moment. I’ve been having a reccurring tooth infection and its impossible to get an appointment unless you go private, I understand why (as dentists are paid much less for an NHS patient compared to private one) but its still annoying. I wonder if that why we are seeing more of the complications in hospital too.
  • Dale
    • I did some more work on my main server. I replaced Debian with TrueNAS Scale, which is based on Debian. Despite how I prefer using the command line to do administrative tasks, I do like the Web GUI they have. My friend Josh helped with installing and configuring the containers for Plex and Tailscale. I later installed Nextcloud on my own after watching a YouTube tutorial on it. It still needs configured but at least it is installed and running.
    • I wanted to increase the access time of my Plex Media Server. So I created a ZFS Pool with two 1 TB Crucial MX500 SSDs. The performance difference is mind blowing. With the combination of a 12 core 24 thread Ryzen 9 3900x and the 2 SSD’s in a stripe. It took less than 2 minutes to import 350 movies and a dozen or so tv show series seasons. I think it is around 1.2 TB of media. I wasn’t timing it but I know it wasn’t any longer than 2 minutes. I had initially thought it failed because it stopped so soon. The playback on my Roku was much quicker compared to the previous spinning drives. Seeking forward and back only takes a second or two. I have a couple friends added to my Plex account. I haven’t heard any complaints from them. I will need to add two more ssd’s to mirror the others. A stripe is dangerous if you don’t have a backup. If one drive fails, the array fails.
    • I am also trying Tailscale for the first time. It surprisingly works as easy as advertised. At least for the basic features of the service. I enabled the exit node which allows me to use my local network as a VPN endpoint. That works pretty well but it limits my speed because of the upload speed of my cable modem.
      There is an option to enable local lan access, as if I was home. My phone was able to use the local host names listed in my Pi-Hole, though my laptop couldn’t resolve the names. I figured out it was the systemd-resolved service Pop!_OS is using. When I would manually edit the /etc/resolv.conf and put in my Pi-Hole DNS. I was able to resolve my local host names. The systemd-resolved re-writes my /etc/resolv.conf when each network connection is connected. I haven’t dived into the resolved service to figure out a better solution yet.

— Play Innards Transition Bumper —

Linux Innards

30 minutes (~5-8 minutes each)

DATA BACKUP with Mint Backup Tool

  • Backing up your data has always been important. It is even more important these days. Considering all the videos and pictures we create, not to mention our music and documents. In addition to backing up and restoring data. Reinstalling your distro along with your packages is also time consuming. The Linux Mint developers created a backup/restore utility to accomplish both data backup and a list of installed packages.
  • After you open the Backup Tool. There are two sets of options. Personal Data and Software selection. The former is for backing up and restoring your settings and the contents of your home directory. The later is for creating a backup of a list of installed applications that can used to reinstall them. There is one caveat about using the Software selection. It will only list native packages that were installed by the Software Center. To save a list of installed packages manually that you installed via Apt in the terminal. From the terminal type
    dpkg –get-selections > mylist.list
    You will want to run that command from a folder you want to save the list. You may call it anything you want as long as it has the .list extension.
    It will not list any Flatpaks even if they were installed using the Software Center. This is what I do that will take some time edit. To save a list of your installed Flatpaks. Type the following command in the terminal.
    flatpak list –app –columns=app > flatpak.list
    Then I create a bash script with the flatpak command to install with my list apps with spaces between each one. I will show an example below.

      By the way, Mint Backup will not use this .list file. The words Folders and Directories are used interchangeably in Mint Backup and in the innards.
    • Selecting Back Up Now using the Personal Data option asks you where you want to save this backup. The default will be a folder called Backup in the Documents folder in your Home folder. The drop down menu will show you the folders in your Home directory. If you want to select a different location, click on other. A Nemo file manager window will open. Click on where you want to save to. I would recommend an external USB harddrive enclosure, a share on another computer or NAS. After you are done, click forward.
    • The next window is where you select files and folders you want to exclude from the backup. If your backup location is mounted under your Home folder, it must be excluded. This is so it isn’t trying to back up the files it is backing up. Any other files or folders you don’t want included can be added by clicking on Exclude Files and Exclude directories. Clicking on each will open a Nemo file manager window. To select multiple items press and hold the CTRL key while clicking on each item. Personally I exclude my Downloads directory because I usually delete or move the files from the there. Click forward to continue.
    • This window is where you can include or exclude hidden files and folders. They are not included by default. Which in my opinion is a bit of a miss. The beauty of Linux is that the configuration for applications are in these hidden files and folders. Restoring them saves quite a bit of time so you are not re-configuring your applications.
      I would recommend including the hidden files option. For the hidden folders, I would not include the .cache folder. It is used by application for temporary files. Otherwise, I would include all of the remaining hidden folders and hidden files. They are the files and folders that have a period as the file character in the name. They are referred to as dot files. Once finished click apply. Now the Backup Tool will begin backing up the files and folders. As a tip, Nemo doesn’t show these by default. To show them press CTRL H and they will be displayed. Pressing CTRL H will hide them again.
    • The backup file will be named the year-month-day-time-backup.tar. If you are familiar with Tar, you can use this file to do incremental updates to it. Though that is beyond the scope of this innards. If anyone is interested learning more, let us know.
    • When you use the Restore option. Select the backup you want to restore. The next question is if you want to restore only missing files or restore all of the files. Once it is done it will report “Your files were successfully restored”. Now you can exit the Backup Tool. Though it doesn’t tell you that you can exit now. I am just pointing that out.
    • Using the Software Selection option is much simpler. Click on Backup Now. The following window will have a list of applications you want include. Keep in mind, these are not the physical packages. The Backup Tool creates a list and uses that list to reinstall them. After selecting all or some of the applications click forward.
    • The next window reports “Your software selection was save in and shows the path”. One thing I don’t understand is why the ‘Personal Data’ option is excluding the Documents/Backup folder but the Software Selection option is saving the list to the Documents/Backup folder. Which would mean your list wouldn’t be backed up. So with that bomb shell, I would recommend moving that file to a folder that you are backing up.
    • To restore the Software Selection. Select the list you want to use and click forward. It will report when it has finished the installation of the packages.
    • I am going to give some more backup tips to make re-configuring your fresh install much easier.
    • The applets have the ability to export and import their settings. They are saved in a .json file, which is a special formatted text file. To export the settings, do the following.
      Right click on the applet and click on configure. Once in the settings, you will see three horizontal lines in the upper right corner of the window. It is just below the minimize, maximize, close window buttons. It is called a hamburger menu. Click on them. From the list of options choose ‘Export to a file’. That will open a Nemo File Manager window to choose where to save that file. I would save it in a folder that is backed up.
    • To restore the settings, click on the same hamburger menu and from the options click on import from a file. Select the file you want to restore and click open. After a few seconds it will have imported the file. You may need to right click on the applet and select refresh or logout and login again. Some applets don’t have a refresh. So you will need to logout and login again.
    • I hope this walk through of the Mint Backup Tool was helpful along with my other suggestions. If you have any questions, my contact information with be given at the end of the podcast. You can also email the podcast, as I am an advid listener and will respond to it just the same.

    — Play Vibrations Transition Bumper —

    Vibrations from the Ether

    20 minutes (~5 minutes each)

    • Zen Floater2
    • Ikey Doherty
      • Hi guys,
      • I’ve been a listener to mintcast for many, many years. I just wanted to clarify a few comments:
      • I’m involved in Solus and actually helped to rescue the project from doom when it was nearly lost to “the downtime”. I serve as TSC lead and am responsible for getting Serpent OS ready for Solus to rebase upon it.
      • I’m unsure what Clear Linux has to do with things, that was simply a job at Intel which honestly paid below the market rate. I’m quite happy with my current employment at MZLA working on Thundebird (since March 2023)
      • Lastly please be aware that as I am an Irish Traveller remarks such as “a digital nomad of no fixed abode” could be considered highly offensive, not to mention legally racist.
      • If you have queries regarding my work in future please note I’m easy to find and always been known for being approachable and personable, so this will eliminate the need for guesswork rather than research.
      • Many thanks,
      • Ikey Doherty
    • Joe Boylan
      • Sorry if we said anything that offended you, we most definitely did not mean to do that.  
        We have always appreciated your work and would love to have you on the show sometime if you would like.  

    Whatever topic you choose

    — Play Check This Transition Bumper —

    Check This Out

    10 minutes

    • SafeEyes
      • (from londoner)
      • Safe Eyes is a simple tool to remind you to take periodic breaks for your eyes. This is essential for anyone spending more time on the computer to avoid eye strain and other physical problems.
      • Features:
        • Short breaks with eye exercises
        • Long breaks to change physical position and to warm up
        • Strict break for those who are addicted to computer
        • Do not disturb when working with full-screen applications( Eg: Watching movies)
        • Notifications before every break
        • Optional audible alert at the end of break
        • Option to lock screen after long breaks
        • Smart pause and resume based on system idle time
        • Multi-monitor support
        • Plugins to utilize Safe Eyes
        • Elegant and customizable design
      • Website: https://slgobinath.github.io/SafeEyes/
      • To install:-

    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:slgobinath/safeeyes

    sudo apt update

    sudo apt install safeeyes

    Housekeeping & Announcements

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    • Bill Houser for our audio editing
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    • The Linux Mint development team for the fine distro we love to talk about <Thanks, Clem … and co!>

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