Grrrr, GMX Mail

Stupid GMX Mail. I should have known, I guess. I don’t trust Google (and therefore I don’t trust Gmail), so I set up an account at a free e-mail provider called GMX. Free POP3/IMAP access, generous terms, all that. Very popular. Great Webmail interface but I like to use a 3rd party e-mail client (like Thunderbird, but I use Geary).

But the outgoing server (smtp) times out, fails, won’t connect, whatever. Constantly.

Welllll,

It turns out that GMX is apparently known to be a big ol’ spam factory, so a lot of ISPs block it. Who knew? Everybody but me, I guess.

Fine, GMX, be that way. I don’t need your stupid outgoing server anyway, and since it’s blocked by a lot of people, I’ll bypass that.

The trick is to use your own ISP’s email server for outgoing mail. You’re not stuck using your free e-mail provider’s smtp server, y’know.

Shared just because – a lot of us are un-Googlifying, especially since Google has started quietly censuring conservative sites and profiles lately. Natural News, for example, has been effectively “banned.”

I’m not recommending GMX by any means, only suggesting that if you’re using one of those free email services and an e-mail client like Outlook, Thunderbird, Eudora, etc., you can use your ISP’s outgoing server if the free one is as unreliable as GMX’s has turned out to be.

Xubuntu and Linux Lite

I take special delight in keeping this ancient Dell desktop running and out of the landfill.  With it’s very low resources, it doesn’t really run the full-blown version of Xubuntu as well as it used to, and when 32-bit support ends it’ll finally be time to retire the faithful old box. It runs xubuntu-core like a dream though!  Well-chosen lightweight applications (Geary and Midori instead of Thunderbird and Firefox, for example) and the very basic Xfce desktop with the wonderful Xubuntu default settings (but no compositing, not a bunch of daemons running in the background, etc) make this old beast race along as sweet as ever.

But I also have a laptop with 3 gigs of RAM and a dual-core processor and it’s 64-bit.  So just for grins, I’m giving Linux Lite a try.  It’s Xubuntu-based and designed to be even more novice-friendly (if that is even possible).  It has some pretty special little features that are great for folks trying out Linux for the first time.

lite-welcome

Once installed (using the super-awesome Ubiquity installer that makes all the Ubuntu-based distros installable in minutes with wonderful simplicity), the first boot of Linux Lite offers this interactive step-by-step guide to getting started.  After updating installed software, you can upgrade within a series with a great little Linux Lite application that changes repository settings as needed to the next point within a “series.”  Each series is based on the LTS releases of Ubuntu and compare with point releases.  Very cool.  Now check out the “Tweak tool:”

linux-lite-tweaks-tool_orig

This is a sweet little all-in-one-screen utility that does a little bit of housekeeping and customizing.  Newbies can simply check all the “Safe” options to keep the system clean and fast.  All of this can be done in any Xfce distro from the Settings menu, but Linux Lite has made it more convenient and reassuring for novice users.  Now they can tweak and peak their OS fearlessly.  That extra little safety assurance is similar to what Linux Mint  has done with their Updater, with levels of risk clearly labeled and explained for the user.

SUPPORT

The interactive online Help Manual opens in a tabbed web page and helps users navigate through many of the tasks that sometimes frustrate newbies (and technophobes like me), like getting the wireless to work, finding the right driver (or even updating existing ones!), getting the sound to work, etc.  For most users, all that stuff works right out of the chute anyway!  But if not, this Help Manual is about the simplest and best I’ve ever seen.  Not a Wiki or a searchable database, but a step-by-step guide with pictures and everything.

linux-lite-support-page

CONCLUSION

If you’re installing Linux yourself for the first time, Linux Lite is an awesome beginner’s distro with all of Xubuntu’s awesomeness made super simple and a lot less scary for the technically challenged / phobic novice than most distros, even “beginner friendly” ones.  And it’s lightweight enough to run on most computers that used to run Windows XP or Windows 2K.

If you’re not a “rank beginner” and can find your way around or want to provide a little bit of support for a friend, I still recommend Xubuntu.  I also recommend Xubuntu-core if you’re like me, using an ancient dinosaur relic fossil that can barely manage full-blown Xubuntu or Linux Lite, which is not lighter than Xubuntu in any way, but you don’t need to settle for a bare-bones desktop interface that doesn’t offer the fantabulous configurability and beauty of the Xfce desktop.  I remain a

xubuntubar

but heartily recommend Linux Lite for rookie beginner novices, with older hardware that is too nice to just throw away.

Giving away my MacBook Pro and going back to Linux

Ethics, Freedom, and Clarity.

thealarmclocksixam

I’ve used GNU/Linux as my main and only desktop OS since more than 10 years (as a University student first and now at work).

I’ve always been fine with Linux and I never felt like I was missing something (except Skype, maybe – or a better multiscreen support on KDE). I would from time to time change my desktop environment to refresh the user experience when the UI started to become boring on the eyes (cycling between Unity, KDE, elementary, GNOME) and that purely aesthetic freedom felt great.

But I kept seeing a growing number of colleagues around me using Apple laptops. Were/Are they all blindly following the flavor of the week? No, I don’t think so, they’re smart people. I concluded that there had to be something really better about these MacBooks.

So I ordered one as my new work machine…

…and my experience with it has been positive (yes…

View original post 391 more words

Robin’s Favorite Forever

I think that if I listed all the Linux distributions I have tried, it would number somewhere near two dozen or thirty!  Some didn’t last a day, some not even an hour.  Some lasted for weeks or months, when either some update messed it, or I messed it up myself, one just disappeared, one got political and I dumped it on principle, and one – only one – was the distro I always ran home to when I either got scared off, ticked off, or turned off.

Debian and Debian-based distros.  Slackware and Slackware-based distros.  Ubuntu and Ubuntu-based distros.  PCLinuxOS (independent, the apparent “heir” of Mandrake).  Red-Hat-based distros.  Everything but Gentoo and Arch.  I am a technophobe still, after all.  Some I loved!  Crunchbang Linux, now unsupported, was most awesome when it was Ubuntu-based.  The switch to Debian brought improvements in some areas but made installation and configuration much harder and more complicated, and one installed, it ran slower too.

In the end, they’re all Linux, all wonderful for the niches they fill.  Whether for servers, tablets, or desktops; whether for super-geeks or novices; grandparents or little kids; students, teachers, heroes, and sidekicks – there’s a Linux for everyone.

For this technophobic sidekick, it really has, after 6 years, boiled down to one single distro that has kept my old relic computer out of the landfill since I first ditched WindowsXP for my first ever alternative OS, Ubuntu 8.04.  One that – once discovered – became my go-to operating system, the one I always ended up falling back to.

When Canonical tamed mighty Debian and made it finally available, installable, and useful for ordinary mortals to use without “mad techno-geek skillz,” they did it better than anyone else had before.  And they still do.  I know a lot of Linux folks enjoy belittling Canonical for their business dealings and Ubuntu (to include the official derivatives, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Edubuntu, etc) users for their lack of computer skills.   So be it.  I have always lacked computer skills when it came to tweaks and fixes and configurations and such.  I kept a diary of whatever I did and what resulted.  I learned to use the terminal like a wonderful, powerful, magic toolbox!  But I always preferred the graphical interface, and the point-and-shoot simplicity of the Synaptic Package Manager instead of sudo apt-get whatever, for example.

I may yet get a few more years out of this old dinsaur before Linux stops offering support for 32-bit architecture.  But even when I no longer need to stick to “lightweight” distros, I’ll stick with the best one I’ve ever used, the one that more than any other, has kept my old desktop running, got me through all my college classes, and inspired this blog.

Robin’s all-time, forever fanboy Linux distro:

xubu-core16-04

XUBUNTU.  Here’s 16.04, built from Xubunu-core (after installing the Ubuntu base with only a terminal) and my own selected lightweight applications.  There’s no Firefox or Thunderbird in my remix, no LibreOffice, none of the usual popular stuff, but ultralight or other lightweight alternatives.  Geary for email (because Claws Mail just refused to cooperate). Midori for web browsing. Abiword and Gnumeric for office stuff. Mostly standard Xfce apps for just about everything else I use my computer for.  All with the awesome Ubuntu base and Xubuntu team community support.

This old Dell still runs faster and better on Xubuntu, now 7 years later, than it did when it was brand new running WindowsXP.

 

Mozilla’s Replacements

I have enjoyed a three-year love affair with Seamonkey and it was awesome. Mozilla took the old and wonderful Netscape Internet Suite (browser, email client, etc all in one) and resurrected it as Seamonkey. It seemed a low-priority project compared to Firefox and Thunderbird, but it was much lighter and faster for the first two of the three years I enjoyed it. Having far fewer lines of code than it’s siblings, it was small, sleek, and powerful.

logo seamonkey icon updated by victor1410 deviantart net 360x364
logo seamonkey icon updated by victor1410 deviantart net 360×364

Then one day someone at Mozilla dared to express a politically-incorrect personal opinion and Mozilla responded by firing him.

I’ve been loooking for a good FOSS alternative to Seamonkey ever since. Even if I disagreed with the opinion expressed, I would do no less than this, to protest in my little quiet way, the censorship Mozilla imposed on a good man, and the fear they’ve inflicted on others who work there, which stifles their freedom of expression as well.

It took some time to find anything as close to awesome as Seamonkey that wasn’t either buggy or patent-encumbered. The Xfce project’s wonderful little Midori browser finally quit crashing on me at random, and the latest version of Geary seems to finally be behaving itself now. It too crashed at random, especially while composing e-mail. K-Mail is far more limited, and Claws Mail needs an external editor to send anything but plain text.

But it looks like the very latest versions of Geary (rumors of it’s demise are false by the way) and Midori have rid themselves of those annoying crashes.

At last I have my replacement for Mozilla’s Seamonkey. It’s sad to even have to look elsewhere, but just on principle, for whatever it’s worth, my little protest.

iu

Goodbye, Mozilla.

 

Update Garmin Nuvi Maps for Free!

No you don’t have to have either Windows or Mac in order to update your Garmin Nuvi GPS (or Magellan, TomTom, and a few others). And no, you don’t have to pay for updated maps either, even if your GPS is older or unregistered with the company.

I did it, and I’m still as technophobic as I ever was. So if this li’l technophobic sidekick can manage it, it’s likely that any of my readers can. I do the FedEx Ground delivery driver thing, and I have an old hand-me-down Garmin Nuvi that I use on my route. Not for directions, but just as a “rolling map” to tell me where I am and streets are coming up as I travel.

The technique I’ll show you here uses OpenStreetMap, a free and open-source collaborative work. Maps are updated much more often than the official Garmin maps. They also show considerably more detail, judging by my Nuvi’s performance today. I’m just going to write about the Garmin GPS because that’s what I have and all I really know. But according to this wonderful web page, it also works for some other brands.

I navigated to my /home directory and created a new folder named “GarminNuvi.” It has a subfolder called Maps.

I connected my Garmin Nuvi to my computer via a USB port and it was automagically mounted, thanks to Thunar’s awesomeness (Thunar is the Xfce file manager in Linux). I then copied the map file, named gmapprom.img, to /home/robin/GarminNuvi/Map. You can do this in the terminal or just open your file manager as root (“sudo thunar” in a terminal window) and move the file from your Garmin to the “Map” subfolder. This is a safety thing! ALWAYS BACK UP the old map in case something goes wrong! Now you can DELETE gmapprom.img from the Garmin. I renamed this backup file gmapprom-old.img. If I needed to restore it, I’d give it back it’s original name.

Select and download the new maps from http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl/ It’s easy, just follow the prompts on the screen to select your map by continent, country, state, province, or customize your own. If you customize yours, you’ll need to enter your e-mail address and they’ll notify you when it’s compiled and ready to download. My old map is North America, nearly 3GB in size! Yikes! So I selected only my own state for the new map, because that’s really all I need and it’s just a few hundred MB in size. Easy peasy. And fast! The file you want for the Garmin Nuvi is named osm_generic_gmapsupp.zip.

Move that file to /Garmin/New and extract it there. 7-zip works, most default "archivers" work for decompressing zip files. After unzipping it, you'll have a file called gmapsupp.img. For the Garmin, you must rename that file to gmapprom.img. This is your new map! Copy it back to your Garmin, re-start it, and take it for a test drive.

Save a copy of your new gmapprom.img in the /Garmin/New folder as the next backup. When it's time, that can be moved to the Old subfolder. But until you're sure everything works okay, keep that old one around!

Oh My, Slackware Has No Gnome!

Gnome has been removed from Slackware, some months ago. It’s nothing against Gnome, I guess, but I was surprised when I went to try out a couple of Gnome applications because my favorite web browser (actually, Internet Suite) Seamonkey, has started acting up.

Not available in the repository, not available as a Slackbuild. Salix has a couple of Gnome things in their repository, but not the applications I wanted to try. Geary and maybe Evolution for e-mail and maybe some other browser (besides Firefox).

But I had to use another distro to try them out! Grrrr. Oh well, back to Xubuntu for this trial-and-error experiment. But not exactly full-on Xubuntu.

Xubuntu Core
is a nice little invention. Available as an .iso file from one of the Xubu developers, the official way to get it is to install the Ubuntu Mini iso, which installs only the base Ubuntu system and a terminal without any applications or desktop environment. Then do the

sudo apt-get install xubuntu-core

thing. This installs only the Xfce desktop with some of the wonderful Xubuntu settings that set Xubu apart from other Xfce distros for it’s elegance and classy looks. No bloat, just stripped-down, ultralight Xubuntu awesomeness. Next I installed Synaptic Package Manager and chose some very lightweight applications (Abiword and Gnumeric instead of LibreOffice, for example) and the applications I wanted to try out.

Oh, by the way, note to first-timers with that Ubuntu-mini iso: After it installs and asks you to reboot from the HDD, you must bring up the Grub menu the first time it boots from the hard drive. So that by holding down the Shift key during it’s boot-up. It works better than typing

start
run
begin
commence
engage
do something, dammit!

Trying them out on Xubuntu Core, Geary just plain sucked. Random crashes in the middle of composing an e-mail or even reading one. No wonder the Elementary team forked it (Pantheon Mail). And Evolution (a Novell product, I should have known, I hated it when I had to use their crap in the Fire Department) refused to connect to the Internet. Okay then, lesson learned. No wonder Slackware dropped them, I guess. Not just the Gnome 3 debacle, but these native apps suck.

The lightweight Midori browser no longer crashes randomly, however. It always did before, every time I have given it a try over the last couple of years. Now it’s working just fine! My long-beloved Seamonkey may be replaced by Thunderbird and Midori.

It’s always trial-and-error with Linux, ain’t it? Yeah, that’s really half the fun I guess.