Episode 440 Show Notes

Welcome to mintCast

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

This is Episode 440!

This is Episode 440.5!

Recorded on Sunday, June 23, 2024

Fresh from the swamps Im Joe; melting down, I’m Moss; By the way, I’m Bill; networked out, I’m Majid; and predictably the most boring, I’m Eric

— Play Standard Intro —

  • Full show notes are linked in the show’s description.
  • First up in the news: Mint 22 Beta in testing, Cinnamon 6.2 Desktop Environment Released, Linux’s New DRM Panic “Blue Screen of Death” In Action, Ubuntu is Finally Adding DEB Installer Support to App Center, AlmaLinux comes to the RPi 5, Proton goes non-profit, and light-based chips are coming;
  • In security and privacy: nada
  • Then in our Wanderings: Bill plays Pacman, Joe fixes more things, Moss sells cars, Majid is Synologised, and Eric is in search of a new mesh WiFi setup.
  • In our Innards section: We have a discussion about what distros we think are best for beginners.
  • And finally, the feedback and a couple of suggestions

— Play News Transition Bumper —

The News

20 minutes

  • Mint 22 Beta in Testing
    • From the Linux Mint Community (via londoner)
    • It’s on its way! The first beta of Linux Mint 22 (the Cinnamon edition) entered testing yesterday (Sat June 22). You can follow the progress on the Community website (linked above). Also watch the Linux Mint blog for an official announcement.
  • Cinnamon 6.2 Desktop Environment Released – Majid
    • From 8to5Linux (via londoner)
    • The Cinnamon 6.2 desktop environment reached stable status on June 16 as the Linux Mint developers published the first tarball in the 6.2 series, which will be the default in the upcoming Linux Mint 22 “Wilma” release.
    • Cinnamon 6.2 looks like a smaller release than Cinnamon 6.0 as it only introduces a few changes like greeter badges for Cinnamon sessions, the ability to show the search bar by default in the app chooser dialog, new screen lock delay options for 5 and 10 seconds, and improved support for Flatpak apps.
    • This release also introduces a new XApp called GNOME Online Accounts GTK for setting up all your online accounts, rather than the GTK 4-based GNOME Online Accounts app from GNOME 46. The GNOME Online Accounts GTK allows Cinnamon users to continue using the Online Accounts functionality.
    • Cinnamon 6.2 also enables support for configuring bindings for Spices, introduces the ability to display battery pending charge/discharge states in Power Management, adds an interface for xdg portal requests, adds a new action icon for the Mint-X theme, and ports various components to Clutter animations.
    • It also brings various fixes to improve support for NVIDIA users so that Online Accounts no longer breaks, as well as to the Power and Sound applets, and removes the Adwaita and HighContrast themes from the list of available themes.
    • Among other noteworthy changes, Cinnamon 6.2 updates the User applet to allow the displaying of profile pictures on the panel, improves the workspace switcher, adds Shift + click actions settings to the Cornerbar applet, fixes the desktop peek function, and adds a Science category to the menu.
    • As mentioned before, Cinnamon 6.2 will be the default desktop environment of the upcoming Linux Mint 22 distribution, which is expected to see the light of day in the coming months based on the Ubuntu 24.04 LTS (Noble Numbat) operating system series and powered by Linux kernel 6.8.
  • Linux’s New DRM Panic “Blue Screen of Death” In Action
    • From Phoronix (via londoner)
    • After being talked about for years of DRM panic handling and coming with a “Blue Screen of Death” solution for DRM/KMS drivers, Linux 6.10 is introducing a new DRM panic handler infrastructure for being able to display a message when a panic occurs. This is especially important for those building a kernel without VT/FBCON support where otherwise viewing the kernel panic message isn’t otherwise easily available.
    • With Linux 6.10 the initial DRM Panic code has landed as well as wiring up the DRM/KMS driver support for the SimpleDRM, MGAG200, IMX, and AST drivers. There is work underway on extending DRM Panic support to other drivers that we’ll likely see over the coming kernel cycles for more widespread support.
    • For those curious what DRM Panic can look like in action, Red Hat engineer Javier Martinez Canillas shared a photo of the DRM Panic “Blue Screen of Death” in action. A BeaglePlay single board computer was used and Javier posted to Mastodon of an example implementation:
    • It’s simple and to the point. It could be extended in the future with some operating systems having looked at QR codes for kernel error messages and other efforts for presenting more technical information while still being user-friendly.
    • On Linux 6.10+ with platforms having the DRM Panic driver support, this “Blue Screen of Death” functionality can be tested via a route such as echo c > /proc/sysrq-trigger.
  • Ubuntu is Finally Adding DEB Installer Support to App Center – Majid
    • From Joey Sneddon at OMGUbuntu (via londoner)
    • One of the biggest drawback to Ubuntu’s new App Center, the Flutter-based replacement for GNOME’s Software Center, is that it doesn’t let you install DEBs downloaded from the web.
    • To be clear (since confusion often creeps in) the Ubuntu App Center does allow you to install DEB software so long as it’s the Ubuntu repos. What it doesn’t (currently) do, which the many software center incarnations over the years did, is ‘side load’ DEB packages. But, at long last, support for this is actually in the works — as in code not plansOn the App Center Github there’s been a spurt of activity in a pull request to plumb in support for installing DEBs using the App Center. This lets Ubuntu users to do what they’re used to: download a DEB installer then double-click it to install via a guided.
    • Obviously, given that DEBs aren’t sandboxed and could be made by/come from untrustworthy sources the distro will educate users as/when they attempt to install DEB packages like Google ChromeDiscord, and Steam using App Center with warnings: –
    • There’s likely to be some gasping and pearl clutching at word that DEB installer support is in the works. Some frame making it easier for Ubuntu users to install DEB packages they (choose to) download from the web as tantamount to ‘encouraging’ it.
    • Which, as the warnings the distro will show to users when ‘side-loading’ a DEB package make clear, has potentially severe security implications.
    • DEBs aren’t sandboxed and get unrestricted root access to a user’s system. Plus, unlike DEB packages in the Ubuntu repos, 3rd-party DEBs downloaded from the web are not vetted, can be produced by anyone, and could contain anything. It’s a valid fear. At least in theory?
      • In all the time I’ve (Joey) been blogging about Ubuntu —16 years— Ican’t recall any widespread and/or recurring incidents involving dodgy DEBs stuffed with malware, masquerading as other apps. It can be done but generally, it hasn’t.
      • Why? Speaking from experience, making a valid DEB package isn’t a low-effort task: it takes time. Even then, making the DEB is one thing, getting people to discover and install it? Harder than uploading to a store that surfaces/suggests it to users on you behalf.\
      • Anyway, in 2024, the vast majority of 3rd-party DEB installers which Ubuntu users download from the web aren’t cribbed from backwater channels, forums, dodgy repos, or obscure websites.
    • Most Ubuntu users just want to install a DEB from a company, developer, or service they (to varying ethical degrees) feel they can trust, like GoogleDiscordSteamZoomMicrosoftProton, etc.
    • Everything else? These days, that tends to come from the Ubuntu repos, the Canonical Snap StoreFlathub, Nix, and other more modern software mechanisms which have security safeguards.
    • Those of us who already know how to install DEBs through other means (CLI, etc) don’t need this, and a few may argue that gatekeeping the secret of side-loading is a security boon, but Idisagree.
    • I don’t see how re-implementing support for 3rd-party DEB installs using a GUI — a feature Ubuntu has had since 2004 — will somehow ignite an arms-race in DEB-packaged malware that has, in 20 years to date, failed to materialise.
    • So in all, Iwelcome this — and the good news is that because App Center is a snap this feature will be available to users on Ubuntu 24.04 LTS, not just those who install or upgrade to Ubuntu 24.10 later this year.
  • AlmaLinux OS Now Officially Supports the Raspberry Pi 5 Computer
    • from Linux Today
    • It’s been a long time coming, and it’s also been challenging for the devs, but Raspberry Pi 5 support is finally here for both AlmaLinux OS 9.4 and AlmaLinux OS 8.10 releases, featuring the GNOME desktop environment as the default graphical interface.
  • Introducing a new RISC-V Mainboard from DeepComputing – Now On Framework
    • from Framework blog
    • Framework shared a preview of a Framework Laptop 13 Mainboard with a new CPU architecture today. The team at DeepComputing has built the first ever partner-developed Mainboard, and it uses a RISC-V processor! This is a huge milestone both for expanding the breadth of the Framework ecosystem and for making RISC-V more accessible than ever. they designed the Framework Laptop to enable deep flexibility and personalization, and now that extends all the way to processor architecture selection. DeepComputing is demoing an early prototype of this Mainboard in a Framework Laptop 13 at the RISC-V Summit Europe next theyek, and they’ll be sharing more as this program progresses.
    • There is excellent philosophical alignment between RISC-V and Framework. Both are built on the idea that an open ecosystem is more powerful than the sum of its parts. RISC-V is a fully open Instruction Set Architecture (ISA), which is the interface point between software and hardware. It’s a defined set of instructions that software is compiled and assembled into that the processor executes to run the actual program. x86 (or the latest version, x86-64) is the most common ISA for PCs today, and it’s what is used in the processors for each Framework Laptop they’ve shipped to date. The x86 ISA was invented by Intel, extended on by AMD, and is proprietary, with Intel and AMD being effectively the only two companies able to use and create processors around it. ARM is another popular ISA, owned by Arm Holdings. Arm licenses the ARM architecture out, which enables companies to pay a license fee for cores to make their own processors that leverage it. What makes RISC-V unique is that it is an entirely open architecture, which means that anyone can extend on it and create their own processors that use it without paying a fee. RISC-V International is the collaborative organization that exists to help develop the standard and define common versions to ensure cross-compatibility of hardware and software. There are hundreds of companies now developing cores and chips around RISC-V, but most of these have been hidden away in embedded applications. The DeepComputing RISC-V Mainboard is one of the first instances of leveraging this ecosystem for the main processor in a consumer-facing product.
    • All of this is what makes RISC-V unique from an ecosystem enablement perspective. The actual technology is equally interesting. The base instruction set of RISC-V is simple and streamlined, while there are a number of extensions enabling high performance and specialized compute. This means that RISC-V cores can be developed for anything from tiny control CPUs embedded inside a sensor (the Fingerprint Reader they’ve used in Framework Laptops since 2021 actually has a RISC-V core!) to monstrous multi-hundred-core server processors. The DeepComputing RISC-V Mainboard uses a JH7110 processor from StarFive which has four U74 RISC-V cores from SiFive. SiFive is the company that developed CPU cores using the RISC-V ISA, StarFive is the processor designer that integrated those CPU cores with other peripherals, DeepComputing created a Mainboard leveraging that processor, and Framework makes laptops that can use the Mainboard. The power of an open ecosystem!
    • This Mainboard is extremely compelling, but they want to be clear that in this generation, it is focused primarily on enabling developers, tinkerers, and hobbyists to start testing and creating on RISC-V. The peripheral set and performance aren’t yet competitive with our Intel and AMD-powered Framework Laptop Mainboards. This board also has soldered memory and uses MicroSD cards and eMMC for storage, both of which are limitations of the processor. It is a great way to start playing with RISC-V though inside of a thin, light, refined laptop. The Mainboard will be able to drop into any Framework Laptop 13 chassis or into the Cooler Master Mainboard Case. DeepComputing is also working closely with the team at Canonical and the Fedora Community to ensure Linux support is solid through Ubuntu and Fedora. they’ll continue to keep you up to date as they work with the team at DeepComputing to complete development of this new Mainboard and enable access to it. You can sign up in the Framework Marketplace to get notified when they have updates.
    • They have a couple of other updates around scaling access to Framework Laptop 13. The first is that just like they did for Framework Laptop 16 last theyek, today they’re sharing open source CAD for the Framework Laptop 13 shell, enabling development of skins, cases, and accessories. The second is that they now have Framework Laptop 13 Factory Seconds systems available with British English and German keyboards, making entering the ecosystem more affordable than ever. they’re eager to continue growing a new Consumer Electronics industry that is grounded in open access, repairability, and customization at every level.
  • Proton is going non-profit – Majid
    • from TechRadar
    • Proton, the company behind one of the best password managers and best VPN products around, has announced that it will be going non-profit.
    • The Proton project has been famously open source across all of its solutions, including Proton VPN and Proton Mail.
    • This switch will continue to ensure Proton products are built in the interest of the community they serve by adopting the Swiss non-profit structure that blocks hostile takeovers and sets a legal precedent for the trustees to run the company in line with Proton’s original mission.
    • Interestingly, the basis for Proton’s non-profit structure relies on the beating heart of the business, Proton AG, to remain operating in a for-profit structure under the watchful eyes of the non-profit foundation, which will be the primary shareholder – protecting the business from hostile takeovers and pressure from investors.
    • In the letter announcing the new model, Proton founder Andy Yen highlighted that this structure would offer the best of both worlds, stating that “the for-profit corporation is not prevented from issuing stock options to attract and incentivize the best talent in tech. Nor would it even prevent the corporation from raising capital on public markets if additional resources are required to win the fight for the future of the internet.”
    • “However, the foundation’s control would always require the company to act in a way that does not jeopardize Proton’s original mission, and Proton’s financial success is directly committed to the public good. In this way, we seek to preserve not only Proton’s values, but also our culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, and ambition, and our relentless competitive spirit,” Yen said.
    • The announcement comes on the 10 year anniversary since Proton started its journey with the crowdfunding of Proton Mail in 2014.
  • Light-Based Chips Could Help Slake AI’s Ever-Growing Thirst for Energy
    • from Wired
    • Moore’s law is already pretty fast. It holds that computer chips pack in twice as many transistors every two years or so, producing major jumps in speed and efficiency. But the computing demands of the deep-learning era are growing even faster than that—at a pace that is likely not sustainable. The International Energy Agency predicts that artificial intelligence will consume 10 times as much power in 2026 as it did in 2023, and that data centers in that year will use as much energy as Japan. “The amount of [computing power] that AI needs doubles every three months,” said Nick Harris, founder and CEO of the computing-hardware company Lightmatter—far faster than Moore’s law predicts. “It’s going to break companies and economies.”
    • One of the most promising ways forward involves processing information not with trusty electrons, which have dominated computing for over 50 years, but instead using the flow of photons, minuscule packets of light. Recent results suggest that, for certain computational tasks fundamental to modern artificial intelligence, light-based “optical computers” may offer an advantage.
    • The development of optical computing is “paving the way for breakthroughs in fields that demand high-speed and high-efficiency processing, such as artificial intelligence,” said the University of Cambridge physicist Natalia Berloff.
    • The article continues in length at the link.

— Play Security Transition Bumper —

Security and Privacy

10 minutes

— Play Wanderings Transition Bumper —

Bi-Weekly Wanderings

30 minutes (~5-8 mins each)

  • Bill
    • So this week has once again found me distro-hopping. The entire reason I felt the need to temporarily suspend my use of Mint is so that I could take full advantage of the in-tree support for Focusrite Scarlett devices starting with Linux kernel version 6.8 and above. Currently Mint only supports version 6.5. As I’ve stated before, support is possible if you’re willing to re-install the kernel module manually every time there’s a kernel patch to 6.5. I also wanted to take advantage of Pipewire, which isn’t fully supported in Mint 21. My first attempt was to switch to the new LTS of Ubuntu Cinnamon. I imagined I could just kind of skate by with that and the changes wouldn’t be noticeable because – well – it’s Cinnamon. I wanted to keep the same sort of desktop workflow so that I could just do the work I need to get done with the least friction. What I found was that once I replaced the things that come native with Ubuntu with the tools I’m comfortable using on Mint, Ubuntu would crash, and/or throw up unhelpful error messages asking me whether or not I wanted to report the problem to Canonical. I thought it was the fault of that particular flavor of Ubuntu, so I opted to try the flagship version of the widely used distro. Again – after replacing the Ubuntu Dock on the left side with “Dash To Dock” and replacing some of the default apps with ones I was comfortable with, I again got the same errors and dialogs wanting me to report to Canonical errors that I can’t make head of tails of. For example: Both Ubuntu and Ubuntu Cinnamon by default use “Gedit” as the default text editor. Being a Mint user, I’m more happy using “Xed.” Currently the only way to get Xed on other distros is to download the tarball from Github. To be fair, inside the tarball is a debian install file which kind of helps get it up and running. It’s unfortunate there’s no flatpak or something. I suppose I understand why it doesn’t appear in the Debian repos given the difference in release cadence between the two distros, it’s just unfortunate I had to jump through the hoops. I was ready to throw in the towel and just go back to Mint 21 and wait it out until the 22 betas are made available, when a sudden burst of insanity overcame me. By the way, I thought I’d try Arch.
    • Installing Arch on this machine was kind of like sliding into an old bath robe after a hard day in the unobtanium mines. The Archinstall script offers as one of it’s desktop options Cinnamon, and all of the tools I’m used to using are in the default repos at the newest, stable release version. The only Flatpak I have installed is OBS Studio and that is only because it’s the easiest way to get it with the “browser” plugin installed. It can also be done via the AUR, but compiling OBS is a little silly given how well the Flatpak is maintained. As of right now, the only problem I’m having is with a third-party Cinnamon applet I’ve been used to using which sits in the taskbar and lets me know when my microphone is muted by displaying a “red” microphone when muted and “green” when not. The applet simply doesn’t work with Arch. I can only assume it’s because the applet is using low level pulse tools to stat the system which simply don’t work with Pipewire. Speaking of “Pipewire” I did have some wierdness with Audacity not knowing what do do when the inputs and outputs were set to “default.” Setting those two things to “pipewire” fixed the problem. I have successfully recorded and edited two episodes of 3 Fat Truckers, and an episode of Linux OTC with this system. If you’re seeing and hearing us right now, let it be further evidence of Arch’s usefulness for content creators. That all being said, I’m eagerly awaiting the next version of Mint.
    • I’d like to take the time to let everyone know I’ve began uploading .ogg versions of the show to Archive.org. Since I’ve taken over the audio and web management of the show, I’ve only uploaded the .mp3 version of the show to the site. This is because the plugin we use on mintcast.org will only work with mp3’s for the RSS feed, and given the fact the standard is no longer patent encumbered, and hasn’t been for some time, I didn’t see the need to duplicate effort, and storage. I’m not sure I have a good explaination as to why I decided to start uploading both formats except – well “why not?” If you want to download and listen to the show In OGG format, you’ll have to download it from the archive.org site. A link to the site is on the front page of mintcast.org. I’d be interested to know from you, dear listener whether anyone still cares about these things well enough to go through the trouble of checking Archive to see if the next episode is available. Please let us know at [email protected], or hit us up on the socials.
  • Joe
    • Interesting four weeks but not a whole lot of tech stuff. I went to Florida and visited some family. My Dad, stepmom, sister, Grandma, nephew, BIL. Missed out on all the Aunts Uncles and cousins but still had fun anyway.
    • Played a lot of Skyrim, read some more Spiderman 2099 and hung out.
    • I did also end up helping out with fixing a couple of computers. Mom needed a keyboard replaced on her laptop for the church which had a couple of broken keys. I don’t remember the model off the top of my head but it was not a simple matter. At least not as simple as other ones that I have done in the past. Basically I had to remove the entire casing, the motherboard the daughter boards the battery and everything that was in the lower chassis and move it to the new chassis that contained the replacement keyboard. So more tedious than anything else.
    • Beyond that I had to figure out how to make a desktop icon for windows store application in windows 11. I don’t know why they made that more difficult.
    • Usually on these trips I do a pretty nice setup for remote networking that allows me to provide secure mobile WiFi to my kids but in thinking about it this time they were all going to have their phones on them anyway and would not need it. So I left my portable router at home and just used my Wireguard cell phone setup for myself.
    • Speaking of, while I was in Florida, Texas had a bunch of storms and the power went out at my house. Down goes my server and down goes my Wireguard. Thankfully my eldest child had stayed at home for this trip. I was able to have her turn on my server but she was unable to get the Brix to turn on due to a power strip issue.
    • Thankfully Iam paranoid and had a bit of redundancy setup in that I never turned off the Pi Zero W that was also running Pi-hole and Wireguard. This got me access to my router at home and allowed me to reset my DNS server allowing my home network to work again.
    • In accessing my router I found out some functionality had been added in one of the updates I hadn’t paid attention to. I can now do Wireguard directly on the router. Well I set it up but at first it would not work and for a very dumb reason. The stock port for Wireguard was still setup for my zero(no longer). So a quick switch of the port and an update of the config and I’m off to the races. I also think it will be even faster than the mini computer I was using before. Plus more redundancy. I think I could probably get rid of the others and use something like Adguard DNS instead of Pi-hole if I wanted.
    • Did I say not a lot of tech stuff. OK I may have fibbed a bit. I picked up the full version of Ghostrunner for the Steam Deck because it was on sale for less than 10 dollars. It is difficult. Either that or I’m just old. But I am still enjoying it on the deck. Ithink Ihave gotten about a third of the way through the game and I have died so many times. I will probably go back to it on occasion but I don’t think I am going to dedicate much more time to it.
    • Then like right after that my daughter Tala found a humble bundle for me for fathers day that had some Atari games and high on life along with several other games but those are the ones that I was interested in. So I now have those too and Ithink she said she paid 25 for it.
    • I am soo busy this week. I guess it started on Wednesday with TLLTS in the evening. Then the LGBTQ celebration on Thursday. Then LLC on Friday. Then a pool party on Saturday. mintCast today, plus a meeting after for local area Dems, meeting with new management on Monday (two meetings same guy). Another ‘meeting’ after work on Tuesday with him and a guy from above him. Then TLLTS again on Wednesday. Debate meeting after work on Thursday and a tremendous nap on Friday.
  • Moss
    • I almost completely forgot about this show. I’ve been busy shuffling cars, insurance, finances, and my wife’s birthday.
    • I told you before that I bought a new car for my wife, and that she had decided she wanted to keep the old one, so I had to sell my Mazda 2. After a lot of thinking – and some spreadsheet examination which showed that the Mazda cost $700 less per year in maintenance than the Chevy and got 10 mpg better gas mileage, she has decided to accept the Hyundai after all. We have yet to call the insurance agent or set up the For Sale stuff on the Chevy. It’s the right decision (TM).
    • I was showing off my new USB port manager to the guys on the last Streamcast, which has on-off buttons for each port. It is helping cut energy cost around here, including the energy to power the USB port manager itself.
    • I got to view my concert over Memorial Day, and it’s pretty good. It will be up on the Balticon website until July 15th, and then I can post it to my YouTube channel. I also have made one sale (better than zero) of one of my concert CDs from a previous Festival of the Living Rooms.
    • Life with only one laptop is a lot easier. I’m sure Robert Wiley has already put the T540p to much good use on the Bodhi Linux project. My T580 is enough for me. I have used the PineTab 2 a few times in the past two weeks; it may not be the fastest tablet out there, but I’m glad I have it. I also have discussed swapping the copy of Bookworm on it for a copy of Trixie, both with the special kernel for PineTab, just haven’t pulled the trigger yet.
    • For my wife’s birthday, it was dinner and a movie. The meal was excellent and much less expensive than we remembered, we will have to visit there more often. The movie was Thelma, an “action movie” featuring a 92-year-old June Squibb in her first lead role, with Robert Roundtree as her co-star, with a lesser co-star role from Malcolm McDowell. It was a wonderful, wonderful movie.
    • Not going to get into Book Club here, but I am currently reading three completely different series by Honor Raconteur as well as another by Iris Beaglehole (probably not their real names, but you need a layer of security these days) and a brand new novel from my current favorite author, Charlie Holmgren.
  • Majid
    • So, it’s been about a month since I was last on mint cast, actually. So this isn’t really a bi weekly or more of a monthly update. Really.
    • Okay, so on the Linux front, I lost patience with endeavour OS, as I think I kind of mentioned last time, I think at the end of the day I just did not know what was going on. And I couldn’t just make things work. And even when things like update would come through, I wouldn’t understand what the updates are about. I wouldn’t understand what I was being told to say yes to. So anyway, I decided that that experiment was over and it was time to move on to something else. So I decided to go for Ubuntu unity, which I’m really enjoying using. I do have one strange bug, which at first I thought was only specific to Ubuntu unity, but now I’ve started seeing that bug come up on my Ubuntu work laptop as well. And the bug is that basically it will connect disconnect randomly from the Internet, whether it’s Wi Fi or whether it’s wired, and it will reconnect straight, almost straight away, but then an error message would come up. Now the interesting thing about that is that mint never had that problem. Even though Mint is running an older kernel. I was using mint edge ISO when I was running a 6.5 kernel. And yet still never I never had that problem with that. So it’s it’s obviously something to do with Ubuntu. I don’t know why exactly. And so, but I did quite enjoy using Unity but it did, but that did kind of effect my experience. For example, when we were doing OTC and I done all my recording on Audacity for them to be uploaded. It didn’t upload properly because it had one of its random disconnections. The decision was then made for me when an update crashed my system and my system wouldnt boot. So I decided to take a bit of a punt. After discussing with Leo on Linux, OTC I’ve gone for an immutable distro so I’ve gone for Aurora Linux, which is basically a fedora, kde spin but which is immutable. All the packages are by a flat pack. And it’s early days. I admit, I only had it for a week or so. But it’s working surprisingly well. Actually. It’s nice being back on KDE. I like KDE. I’ve been a fan of KDE for a while.
    • I finally after a lot of time, and procrastination decided I was going to get a NAS I did thought about whether to get a bespoke Synology device or whether to go for a build at your own TrueNAS or Raspberry Pi. In the end I went for a Synology DS223j which has two bays. Got it for about 180 pound from Amazon which I thought was pretty decent. spent a whole day setting it up which was fun, in a way. It meant I had to organise reorganise my office,I found out I had more power outlets than I had initially thought that I did. Does mean I might have to get an Ethernet splitter because now there’s too many things connected to the router. But anyway and I got it working. It took a while for me to get so my other previous media and backups and stuff were just on basic hard drives SSDs which I’d got you know, Samsung, Western Digital, that kind of thing. Took a while for that to transfer that onto the NAS and the software is all through a web based interface. I suppose probably because at the end of the day, the hard drive that’s in the NAS is spinning rust I mean it’s a four terabyte Seagate IronWolf thing. So I suppose maybe just takes time to,transfer, one and a half terabytes worth of data. It’s done now. Anyway, I do need to organise it properly. I do need to set up a Plex server. I have managed to get a network share type thing going so I can access stuff. When I’m home on my own network. It’s very much a work in progress. I’ve still got to learn a lot about networking and stuff like that. It’s a new world for me. And you know I’m a bit of a noob
    • It was Eid last week so Eid Mubarak to anybody who was celebrating. I decided that the one plus pad of that I had I was going to give that as a gift to a nephew of mine. And so he’s very happy with it. He’s got a OnePlus phone as well. It’s got one plus Nord three if I remember correctly, so it syncs quite well with that. Being me being me, I saw a relatively cheap deal on a Galaxy S9 Fe tablet which I bought off eBay. The reason I got I bought this apart from the fact that I obviously have an allergy to my money, is I like using it when we’re doing our simulation sessions. So for example, on Thursday, we had a paediatric simulation day where you’d have a monitor and the mannequin and okay, this is what’s happened with the child that’s what’s happening with the child oh look, the heart rate going up heart rates going down things like that. We do have proper sim kit, but I mean, a lot of it is tied to a particular clinical area. And so if you want to do something in a different clinical area it’s a bit of a hassle to move. So I actually found that quite useful to do that. It worked really well as a tablet. I mean, it’s not going to win any prizes for being, you know, the best tablet in the world, but, but it’s good. You know, it does everything that it’s supposed to it does everything as it says on the tin.
    • I’ve been travelling a little bit. I went down to London for the Royal College tutor meeting. And the network on the train and the Wi Fi were just so terrible. I couldn’t get any work done. So I just ended up watching television. I couldn’t even watch YouTube properly on my phone. Just had some stuff downloaded so I was able to kind of pass the time. With that does surprise me still how in such a developed country we have such poor internet.
    • Like a lot of other people. I believe I was been watching the acolyte on Disney which is terrible, just terrible. And not even terrible for the whole political woke stuff , its just very badly made. Script is shockingly bad. I’m watching the fourth season of The Boys which is still has a propensity to shock but again, but still very good. House of the Dragon looks really good even after just one episode And I’m also enjoying watching the cricket. The Indian team are doing well, USA not doing too badly. Plus also from other sports side. Football as in soccer as you American say the European Championships are on and again, England seem to be in a decent position. So let’s see how that goes.
    • I mentioned on OTC that I had a friend who was interested in going over to Linux. Long story short, he basically wanted to get away from Big Tech. Hence has been moving over to open-source alternatives. He gave me an update, basically hes loving the proton suite and its made him more productive on the go. Now, need him to actually install a distro!
    • Oh, and by the way, most of these wanderings have been written using the Otter transcription app!
  • Eric

My current WiFi setup is from 2020 and consists of a Synology RT2600ac 4×4 dual-band Gigabit WiFi router and three Synology MR2200ac Mesh WiFi routers as access points. There were a few reasons I went with Synology, the main ones being that I was already familiar with their products by way of my DS412+ NAS, which I have had for almost 10 years and have never had a single problem with, apart from needing to replace a faulty drive a few years ago. I like their style of web-based control panel that looks like you are connecting to a remote desktop session because it has a desktop environment layout. It’s a bit of a gimmick but it is effective. The other reasons I went with Synology were their web filtering profiles so I can have some control over what my daughter does online, and lastly, the price was competitive with other mesh WiFi devices that didn’t seem to offer as many features.

The reason I need so many access points is because my house is basically a Faraday cage due to most of the walls being covered in stucco with an underlying metal mesh for it to stick to. Wireless signals do not penetrate this material very well so I get basically a room and a half of coverage per access point. Combine the construction materials with the layout, which is more traditional with individual rooms instead of an open floor plan and it means that I need more coverage than you’d expect for this much square footage. I ran an Ethernet cable from the office where the main router is to the living room so the access point in there has a wired backhaul. This means there’s a full strength signal near the center of the house which the access point furthest away from the office can still get a decent signal.

The performance hasn’t ever been what I’d call top-tier but is good enough for what I need and the software has mostly made up for the mediocre hardware. These things take the better part of 10 minutes to boot so I assume they are just barely adequate to run their software. The software does provide a decent amount of granular control but isn’t of professional quality. But that’s by design since this is squarely aimed at consumers. The units reboot themselves at regular intervals which is annoying and I have never been able to figure out why and how to stop it. There have been other annoyances but none which were so bad that I considered replacing the system.

Recently I have been having problems with the access points staying connected and have had to reset and reconfigure them on occasion. I also have noticed a general decline in performance that doesn’t seem to be tied to any specific thing. I have a sense that there have been some bloated software updates that are sapping resources and causing worse performance. Whatever it is, I think it’s time to start shopping for an alternative.

I am sure that all of the major consumer network hardware companies have abysmal data collection policies and security practices so it would be great to either find an open solution or to possibly do something myself with the right hardware. I will want it to be well priced and relatively easy to use. I’m willing to trade some convenience for extra configuration capabilities as well, although the filtering and scheduling aspect of Synology’s system have been very useful and I hope I can have something similar on whatever I end up with. I need to do some research to see what’s available and hopefully you all have some suggestions as well.

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Linux Innards

30 minutes (~5-8 minutes each)

  • Which Distro is best for the new user? [freeform discussion]
  • Is it Distro or Desktop Environment?
  • DIstros to discuss
    • Mint + LMDE
    • Ubuntu
    • Kubuntu & Other flavours
    • Elementary
    • Zorin
    • Debian
    • ?Garuda
    • ?Immutable

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Vibrations from the Ether

20 minutes (~5 minutes each)

  • Austin

Hi Bill and Mintcast,

I was listening to the latest episode, and it made me wonder if you’ve thought about checking out MX Linux 23.3? The latest Debian kernel is at 6.6, but their low-latency kernel goes up to 6.9. You can also grab the Mint webapp manager from the MX test repo, and it works well.

I’ve got two other questions I’ve been meaning to ask y’all for a while.

How do you handle distro/tool drift when telling others about Linux? I started learning from Joe Collins’s YouTube channel, and I know one of the reasons it cut through the noise, was that he was daily driving Mint, and also recommending it for new users. I switched to MX earlier this year, due to a text to speech specific use case. That said, I would still recommend Mint with Cinnamon for new users, but I know people saying “I use distro-X, but you should start with distro-Y instead”, was one of the things I found confusing when starting out.

Lastly, do you think anything will replace Compiz after the Wayland transition? Everybody thinks about Compiz for the cool and fun factor, but with the graphical settings manager, it’s a practical accessibility Swiss Army knife. The dedicated accessibility plug-ins are great, and there’s even more you can do accessibility-wise using the general plug-ins. Accessibility everywhere is getting better, and Mint with Cinnamon actually has the best magnifier, but I don’t see anything else as powerful as Compiz for overall accessibility, and I’m not sure it will survived the Wayland transition.

Sorry if this got a little long-winded, feel free to paraphrase if you discuss on the pod. I also included a screenshot of my MX desktop, people think XFCE looks outdated, but with MXs dark theme it looks pretty sharp.

Thanks for the fun and informative podcast


  • Hey Austin,

Thanks for the email! I have considered MX Linux. I find that to be one of the more interesting distros out there right now. I wonder if it doesn’t get enough attention. I ended up just putting Arch on my production machine just temporarily until Mint 22 betas release. I’ll talk a little bit more in detail on the next episode in my wanderings. I actually recorded the last episode of Linux OTC using that setup.

You post some interesting questions and I’m going to make sure everybody has a look at this email and will bring it up on the next episode. Your questions are so interesting in fact, they may be worthy of an entire episodes innards.

Any way-thank you again. I’ll pass this on and feature it on the next show. There’s a slight possibility I might not make the next episode coming up. If I can I’ll try to hold this off until the episode that I can be on.

Talk to you soon


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