Linux

On to 2019

Christmas has come and gone, and now we approach the end of 2018. This is the cold and dark part of the year. If you like very cold rain, ice and snow, you’re probably enjoying this. If you’re a robot, you may not.
Typing on a frosty keyboard with gloves or mittens is a bit of a hassle, but there are times when you make do regardless of the environment. Working on a smart phone is less frustrating, especially if you have nifty gloves that sport special screen friendly finger pads or you use a “pen” and don’t drop it in the snow. 
Smart watches, and voice assist are all useful, but there are a few of us who still do the majority of their “computer work “ on a laptop. Not bringing an entire tower, monitor, keyboard, and mouse is mobility enough for some. If you work inside, that’s cool, but it’s nice to get out once in a while. 
I don’t consider working from your laptop in a coffee shop “field work” but I can see where that is much more enjoyable than being stuck in a cubicle. Do people still sit in cubicles? There are of course, worse places….so I am told.

Advances in mobility technology have made it easier to work at almost any site, and remote applications have allowed some to work from distant locations. 
Which is better, on site, or offsite (from a cubicle)? I have to lean towards on site, but that’s not always practical. 
Out on an ice field of blowing snow at negative 30 degrees Fahrenheit isn’t always more preferable than a nice cozy office cubicle or desk, but sometimes being there in the cold gives you a whole different perspective and appreciation for the equipment and operating mechanisms on site than a long distance remote view ever could. 
That’s all changing for some types of work. Drones, and artificial support will impact how some resources are deployed on site, and offered remotely.
With the new year ahead, I expect to see more practical use of artificial intelligence for application and diagnostic support, and drone usage for inspection related i.e monitoring or surveillance operations. 
I don’t think AI needs a cubicle to work, possibly some rack space and lot of power. Drones won’t require ladders, lifts, or climbing harnesses.

As widespread adaptation of IoT, G-5 telecom, and cloud computing services evolve in 2019, watch how your once “state of the art” non-mobile work force drifts towards a persuasive argument for “less office space based work”. Consider how many tasks AI and faster Internet access has played a major impact on work life already.
Flexibility to work in both office based and remote site locations might prove to be a productive skill in the near future. If you’ve already cleared this hurdle, you’re probably in good shape.
Technology continues to march onward. If you can work
“Anywhere” especially where technology hasn’t already automated and crowded humans out completely , than you may have a very desirable skill set that you might not normally consider a positive.
I guess it isn’t that cold and dark after all.

It will be interesting to see how some in-house IT support is affected in the coming year. Help desk support, desktop support, and unique product support, usually hold the keys for administrative tasks. Many professing their bland “tricks”, some reading from their “problem solving flow charts” This is wonderful if you view your workforce as low tech skilled workers. Not all desktop support is like this. There are some very skilled techs who work in desktop support that are truly helpful and productive. Unfortunately it only takes one bad experience to sour one’s opinion.

On the other hand a lot of OS X and Linux users often seem slightly irritated by any form of desktop support from the world of Windows. Hand a thin client to a skilled coder and see what kind of look you get. I understand the security implications, but where’s the soft spot actually located?

I prefer the approach of giving the tools to those who actually do the work that keep the machine running. Sometimes you need to have faith in the person with the screw driver in their hand. That brings me to my point of useful skills for the future. Learn Linux, work more from the shell/terminals, and learn how to use a screw driver (tools). Of course these are all just considerations that may not be widely accepted.

Reading is good, gaining experience through “doing”, and figuring out what works, and what doesn’t may improve your confidence level. Confidence is good to have, but it should be based on some productive abilities.

Practice on non-production systems, offline, and with proper permissions. Never “test” on any system that could have negative impact due to some preventable mistake.

Many companies invest a lot of resources into training low skilled workers to do “higher skilled” focused jobs, but that doesn’t mean these workers can’t learn on their own. I think you should always try to improve “your skills” which may not necessarily be the skills you are required to have or limited to in your present situation. The world is full of surprises. Prepare for your future.

With AI, G-5, Robots, companies contemplating “right sizing”, and cloud computing all picking up momentum in the coming year – what should you do? Here’s my simple advice; don’t let stress sidetrack you. Get enough sleep, remember what your priorities are and be yourself. Sounds like bad advice, but it may not be. You’ll figure it out. Have a cup of coffee and watch the snow drifts change the lay of the land.

PowerShell on LINUX?





I know it’s not Christmas yet, but I did get a nice early gift.
My main laptop has been very reliable over the last few years.
My old Lenovo ThinkPad (11e) has been great, but lately I’ve been thinking I’d like to upgrade. I’ve been looking for something to replace the 11e, and finally (after much consideration and spec comparison) settled on a newer 11e with twice the memory and a i3. It looks and feels as rugged as the old machine, but it’s a little faster. The unit came with Windows 10 pro which I replaced with Ubuntu 18.10.
I did play with it for a while with Windows, but after waiting for updates I decided I should stop fooling around and set it up the way I want.

I did test a few other Linux LTS Distros, but Ubuntu 18.10 works great on the new 11e – actually better than it did on the old ThinkPad. I think that was more related to the old Bios and driver/hardware limitations.
The one thing that I do like about Windows 10 has been PowerShell. Now that PowerShell is available for Ubuntu I might not need a Windows machine. I was never too excited about running Ubuntu under Windows, as a virtual box, or duel-boot.
I’ll probably load Win10 on the old 11e just to have on hand for special projects, but I’d like to keep the new laptop as a Linux only machine.

I know ToughBooks have been the benchmark for rugged laptops for fieldwork, but I’ve had great luck with the 11e (Education series) I paired solid hardware (ThinkPad) with a great Operating System (Ubuntu/Linux).
PowerShell is working – although not exactly the same as it would on Windows, but it does seem very promising.

PS /home/eph> Test-Connection LocalHost > Test_Connection.txt
Reply from 127.0.0.1: bytes=0 time=0ms TTL= Reply from 127.0.0.1: bytes=0 time=0ms TTL= Reply from 127.0.0.1: bytes=0 time=0ms TTL= Reply from 127.0.0.1: bytes=0 time=0ms TTL= Ping complete. 

Source Destination Replies


X LocalHost {System.Net.NetworkInformation.PingReply, System.Net.NetworkInformation.PingReply, System.Net.NetworkInformation.PingRep…

PS /home/eph> cat Test_Connection.txt

Source Destination Replies


X LocalHost {System.Net.NetworkInformation.PingReply, System.Net.NetworkInformation.PingReply, System.Net.NetworkInformation.PingRep…

PS /home/eph> ping localhost -c 6 > Ping_test.txt
PS /home/eph> Get-Content Ping_test.txt
PING localhost (127.0.0.1) 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=0.017 ms
64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=0.072 ms
64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=0.072 ms
64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=4 ttl=64 time=0.072 ms
64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=5 ttl=64 time=0.071 ms
64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=6 ttl=64 time=0.074 ms

— localhost ping statistics —
6 packets transmitted, 6 received, 0% packet loss, time 127ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 0.017/0.063/0.074/0.020 ms
PS /home/eph> cat Ping_test.txt
PING localhost (127.0.0.1) 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=0.017 ms
64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=0.072 ms
64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=0.072 ms
64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=4 ttl=64 time=0.072 ms
64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=5 ttl=64 time=0.071 ms
64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=6 ttl=64 time=0.074 ms

— localhost ping statistics —
6 packets transmitted, 6 received, 0% packet loss, time 127ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 0.017/0.063/0.074/0.020 ms

One nice attribute you have avaiable when using Powershell in Linux is the availability of standard Linux commands in the same terminal.

If PowerShell is the only thing keeping you tied to Windows, you might want to take a look at the Linux version.

Oh, the calamity

Oh, the calamity of it all!
IBM taking over Red Hat, Apple increasing product costs, and Windows 10 version 18.09 “October pause” stressing you out as we approach the Holiday? Does the thought of installing Debian just in case Ubuntu announces some even more “fantastic” shift given you a slight feeling of nausea?Never fear, everything will be alright. Wait long enough and the sea will settle down eventually. The one announcement I had hoped to hear (an updated iPad mini 5) hasn’t materialized, or maybe I missed it in the fine print.So if all seems a little chaotic lately it’s probably amplified somewhat by the approach of the Holidays followed by the end of the year just around the corner.
It may seem like it’s been a strange year for Windows 10 updates, and a tad boring year for Linux desktops , but sometimes boring is appreciated. Too much excitement might persuade me to invest in a new computer even though I seem to remember something about Intel and AMD cpu specs. I’m sure it was something important, maybe having something to do with their architecture? Whatever it was, I’m sure it will come back to me.
We still see somewhat expensive laptops on the market with older hard drive technology (no SSD) and lower than stellar cpu speeds. I would have expected older builds like those at much lower prices, but apparently somebody is willing to purchase these machines.
I think I’ve squeezed as much use out of my old laptop as I possibly can. Do I pick up a mediocre consumer grade pc to get me through a few more years, keep waiting for the perfect price/power ratio deal, or bite the bullet and invest in a top of the line laptop currently available this shopping season?
If I only used OSX it would be an easy decision. The new MacBook Pro would be a logical upgrade from my 5+ yr old MacBook Pro. I don’t use it that much because the bulk of my time is spent working with Linux and Windows, so something like the Carbon X1 would be a more logical choice.
My experiment using a Chromebook actually has me rethinking which Laptop I take on the road. I found that a basic IdeaPad running Mint with the Chrome browser gives me the ability to still run Linux tools and have a similar experience as the Chromebook provides. This is not a bad trade off most of the time, but once in a while it would be nice to have a little more horsepower.
The Chromebook does startup much faster, and does seam more focused for writing – if that is what you’re mostly interested in. It would be great if it could run some of my favorite Linux tools, but I’m not seeing that yet. The Linux beta abilities that might be available for some Chromebooks in the future could open up some possibilities that might make my upgrade decision even more difficult.
I must admit that the Samsung Chromebook has a better keyboard feel than the minimalist Lenovo Ideapad, so I do think I could lean more towards the Chromebook if I find the need for Linux tools decreases in the future. On the other hand the I’ve had good luck with the Ideapad, and the keyboard isn’t too much of a distraction yet. If you’re doing a lot of writing neither one might be your preferred tool of choice.

Dark Roasted Conspiracy


As the daylight hours grow shorter and darkness becomes the prevailing theme, the temperatures drop and the winds blow cold. It feels like the night never ends. The leaves are falling and swirling down the road. Without the sun’s energy and warmth, a good fire and a hot cup of dark roast coffee help take away the ever-present Autumn chill. Coffee is an ever-persistent habit for me. I like good coffee, and it keeps me going like high octane fuel.

No cream, no sugar, not for me.
I like coffee, just black coffee.

The darker the roast, the better I like it. It’s a basic thing. You can make it more complicated than it has to be, or you can learn to appreciate it’s simplicity. I don’t care what other people put in their coffee, everyone is different. I only worry about my own. Just don’t mess with mine. Sometimes all I need to keep me going is a hot cup of coffee. I have a thermos, it is a luxury I appreciate. I buy coffee I like and rarely buy coffee on the road, although I will order a cup if I stop somewhere for a bite to eat. I usually don’t stop anywhere long enough to eat. If I’m working I usually just go, do the job, and head home. I’ll eat when the work is done.
If I’m working at home, I have my coffee close at hand.

I use the same approach in what tools I use to get a job done, and this includes my choice of operating systems, and applications I use. Unlike choosing your preferred coffee blend, choosing a simple, useful, but stable operating system is not quite so easy.

My perfect setup

 A hot cup of coffee, and a laptop running one operating system with only the applications loaded  needed to get some quality work done.

How hard could that be?

Well, lately it hasn’t been as straightforward as I would like. Right off the bat, Windows 7 or 10 – both favored by large organizations, but remind me of instant coffee with too much nondairy cream and way too much artificial sweetener.
Next, up we have my rarely used MacBook Pro – great for creative inspiration, but not something I want to beat the hell out of on the road. So yes, again I lean on my Linux workhorse laptop as my go-to machine. When I’m working on a project I try to reduce any distractions. I’ll have the radio or a podcast on low in the background. I try to avoid the mainstream news/noise, it’s all goofy. I’ll stick to Linux focused news, usually not too wacky or controversial……Suddenly that illusion is dismissed.

What the heck is going on with all the “Code of Conduct” for developers?

  • Is this going to impact the future of Kernel development?
  • Is Linux’s future now sketchier than ever?
  • With Linus on “Holiday” could we see Microsoft becoming more of an “influence” in the fate of Linux?

Probably not, but there’s a change in the air. I’m not sure what it is, but it has the hint of stale coffee that means we should probably brew a fresh pot.
Now let’s turn off the background noise and get back to some less controversial productive topic.

Where was I? Oh yes, good coffee and the best work laptop setup.
I still have my Chromebook that seems to be working fine…..and fast. It’s great for much of my “non-work” work, but not so great for “work” type work. That probably doesn’t make sense to anyone other than me, but unfortunately, not everyone uses a Chromebook yet, although there’s always hope.
I wouldn’t want to limit anyone’s choices. Let each choose what works best for them. I see a lot of people still struggling with Microsoft’s Windows to do basic things a Chromebook would do with less complexity, and a would usually cost less than the new laptops they are getting frustrated with.
That’s a whole other thing.

Suddenly I just had a thought: should I give up on
Linux? Wait a minute, I thought I would forget about that as soon as I turned the radio/podcast off in the background.
Why is this bugging me now? 

Linux isn’t supposed to be political or controversial

….at least I never think of it that way. It’s just a tool to use for a multitude of tasks. For the moment I really should care less about the “CoC” controversy and more about getting some work done. The last big fuss was about Ubuntu turning into another Microsoft. How soon we forget.

Actually, I have recently started using Debian based Distros again in a feeble attempt to get away from the Ubuntu and Arch-based systems. This was more of a precautionary objective to see if I could still be productive without an Ubuntu or Arch based Distro on an underpowered laptop.
I was using Q4os on an old netbook. Had a great start, but the Trinity desktop soon was replaced by KDE. I do like the KDE approach to desktop design.

I have had a great experience with KDE Neon in the past and may return to it if I can not find a suitable replacement, however, the Q4os KDE desktop was working very nicely for me until it froze while I was trying to change the taskbar settings. Most likely attributed to my older hardware.
That was enough for me to decide to go back to the most reliable Distro I have always been able to depend on (not perfect, but it usually gets the job done)…..Mint. (Boring but stable)

Oh, what a surprise

So I guess I can’t really get away from Ubuntu completely. Apparently, the combination of Debian and Ubuntu heritage works best for my current hardware.

At least I haven’t had to regress/default back to running Windows 10. I still have choices available for what Operating system I use.

Time for another cup of coffee.

If the future of Linux development is in question? Will developers abandon ship? Who knows? (At least it hasn’t yet directly affected my pursuit of the perfect work laptop setup.)

If you prefer to use a Mac, that’s great, if you like to use Windows, that’s great too. If you use Linux, perfect! I work with them all, and there are various things about each system I like, and some I’m not too pleased with. If you drink coffee …..cheers! I don’t drink coffee to make a political statement, nor does my choice of an Operating system have any significance on my political views. Why should it? I’m even aware that not everyone drinks coffee. I hear some people even drink water straight out of the tap. Now that’s a little extreme for sure.

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