Disappointment in Manjaro Linux

I’m really disappointed by Manjaro Linux. Not the distro, but the people. The forums.

The problem with rolling distributions of Linux is they can break. The cool thing about rolling distributions of Linux is you always have the latest greatest software, even if it doesn’t work.

Let’s take a look at Arch and the Arch derivative Manjaro. Manjaro is steady.

Take another look. Manjaro Linux forums are as unfriendly as the Arch forums. The entire line suffers from antagonistic people who, if they look at other derivatives they are scorned.

You may think a distro, or derivative, community is not important, but eventually, if you settle somewhere, you’ll need to talk to people who run that derivative.

Look away.

Arch people hate non-Arch people. Manjaro people hate non-Manjaro people.

Go with Antergos.

It’s a derivative. It’s solid. It works. The forums are small, but non-critical.

Bad Blood and Help Vampires in Linux Forums

by Wayne Boyd
April 3, 2017

As you probably know there are about a hundred billion versions of GNU/Linux freely available for download that you can install on your computer, wiping out Windows altogether (or keeping it if you like too).

Some of these versions were started from scratch using the Linux kernel developed and maintained by Linus Travalds in the early 1990’s. It also includes various other pieces of software from GNU and even sometimes proprietary sources. (Android is one of these Linux branches and runs on many, many smart phones.)

There are charts you can look at on Wikipedia about the history of the development of these many Linux distributions (herein called distros), but many of them branched out from some older and often still maintained distros.

The largest family tree is Debian. From Debian come so many versions of Linux it takes up have the chart on Wikipedia. It includes Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Ubuntu Studios, Linux Mint, Linux Debian, SolyDX, Bodhi,  ad infinitum. No way to do it justice here.

Then there’s the Red Hat branch, and that’s the next big branch. It includes dozens and dozens of offshoots, including openSuse, Fedora, and Lord knows what.

Slackware is a distro with many active branches.

More recently Arch and then later Android (developed by Google) came along.

Arch is a gloves off roll up your sleeves operating system that you install from the ground up with certain command line tools. Unlike other popular distros, after you install Arch on your computer, you wind up with a command line. What you do from there is partition your hard drives with fdisk and start installing the bits and pieces that eventually will give you some kind of functioning desktop computer down the line.

These Arch people are hard core. They have little time for fools like you and me who they call Help Vampires come to suck the life blood out of their efforts. Honestly, though, as someone who has used Linux since the turn of the century (exclusively since 2002), and somewhat familiar with how a Linux system is put together and works, I just don’t want to build a version of Linux from the ground up anymore.

There’s no need.

So along came some branches off of Arch, most notable but not exclusively, CineArch and Manjaro. CineArch was an Arch based distro with a graphical install and which provided the Cinnamon desktop environment. Thus the name: Cinnamon + Arch: CineArch. But when Cinnamon was dropped by CineArch and they went with Gnome 3, they need to change the name of the distro. Thus Antergos was born.

I’ve used both Manjaro and Antergos now, and they are great operating systems that give you a wonderful graphical experience and you don’t have to worry how it was put together underneath the hood.

The Arch people are very quick to point out, despite so many YouTube videos and forum claims, Arch is not 100% Antergos. Antergos has their own repositories and software, their own wiki, their own forums and their own administrators. It is not true that Antergos is just a graphical installation of Arch. Antergos is a full-fledged Linux distro in it’s own right using the Arch framework plus their own tools to build their own operating system.

The Antergos community and their forums are not as populated as the Arch forums, and so a lot of Antergos users, thinking Antergos is just Arch, go to their forum and ask questions. This makes some in that community upset. Many of the original Arch developers have stated their feeling that they should not help Antergos. Antergos should provide their own help on their own forums to their own users.

Life is a two way street, and although much less so, there’s a similar mood from Antergos diehards about the Manjaro people that come to their forums and ask questions about their Arch based distro.

Arch forum moderators get all hot headed and have no tolerance for what they are calling Help Vampires. Help Vampires, they say, come in swarms and completely distract and destroy a well developed online community.

That’s what they think of us – the Antergos community.

So I found bad blood and calls of Help Vampires after reading a prominent article tonight on the Arch user forums. Now I don’t want to go there anymore. Let them have their world all to themselves. Power to them.

I just want a computer that works pretty good, is fun to fiddle with, looks pretty and functions effectively. I’ve got that with Antergos. I recommend it.

That’s my two cents worth. I came here to get away from politics, not to find it.

Manjaro – getting volume up/down to work on your Linux system

I’ve been having a problem getting my volume up/down/mute keys on my keyboard to do anything at all with the volume level of my Manjaro Linux computer.

After much research I came up with a solution that works for my computer, and I will document it here for my future reference and anyone else in the Linux world who needs this information.

Originally, on askUbuntu.com someone asked, “When I press the volume up/down keys on my keyboard, the volume changes too much. How can I make the step size smaller so that I have finer control?”

This topic was close to what I needed. In my case I needed the keyboard volume up/down/mute to do something to the sound. It wasn’t.

I found the solution way down in the discussion. This solved my problem and even after repeated reboots still works.

This easy solution works and does not require CCSM.

You will not have on-screen volume bar action when you use the keyboard shortcuts, but you will have however fine-grained volume control as you wish.

  1. System Settings > Keyboard > “Application Shortcuts” tab
  2. At the bottom click the “+ Add” button
  3. The “Shortcut Command” dialogue pops up. Where it says “Command” type
    amixer set Master 2%+

    Experiment with the percentages. You may ned to go more or less than 2% at a time. The “+” increases the volume by that amount.

  4. Assign a key or key combo: Select a shortcut and press the desired key on your keyboard (volume up).
  5. Click OK and follow step 1 -3 for each of the following two set of commands:
    Name: Volume Down
    Command: amixer set Master 3%-
    Name: Volume Mute
    Command: amixer set Master toggle

After this, when you use your keyboard volume controls you should have whatever volume increments you specified. You can always go back to the original behavior by disabling your custom shortcuts and re-enabling the premade ones in the “Sound and Media” category.

Musings of an Amuser

This is a wandering article. It’s about the flu, my computer, and software.

As I write, I’m sick with what I think is probably the flu. Probably, because I haven’t been to the doctor. I will probably go to the doctor before I have to go back to work so I don’t have to go back to work so I can get better.

In the environment of my work place I am exposed to many people. Some of those people have confirmed cases of the flu. It’s likely I contracted the flu, if that’s what I have, from there.

Oh, I’ve had the flu before. I have aches and pains, my muscles and joints ache. I have a fever of about 100 F. My nose is stuffy. I sleep all day and all night. The glands on my neck are swollen. My head is in a fog. I have no energy.

I think it’s probably the flu.

I sit here in front of my computer because I can’t stay on the couch in the living room all day. I try flipping through Facebook or Twitter, but my head is in a fog. I feel awful.

I’ve got some minor glitches with my computer which, for the last several days, is running on Ubuntu Studio. Most annoyingly, the volume control on my keyboard isn’t controlling the volume control of whatever comes out the speakers. If this were Linux Mint it would be okay, but it’s Ubuntu Studio. There’s several fixes I found when I Googled them, but I’m sick and don’t have the concentration or energy to do anything about it.

I did think about going back to Linux Mint. It wouldn’t be hard. I could do that even if I was sick. But I’m happy in the Ubuntu environment for now. I do miss the software repositories. I do miss a lot of stuff. It wouldn’t be much different. I’d be using the same desktop environment, xfce.

So what is it that I want to stay away from Linux Mint for now? I’m not sure.

I guess I don’t want to be held in a box, backed into a corner, with no other options. I’m a “computer freedom” guy. It’s why I have a different operating system on my computer than most people who run the boring and security flawed Microsoft Windows.

So here I’ve been in the Linux world for years. I use an Android phone, Android being built upon Linux. iPhones being built upon Unix-like just like BSD. Windows phones, fortunately, never really took off, but Windows still dominate the computer world. Most people who use a laptop or desktop computer don’t even know that you don’t have to be restricted to running Microsoft software. You don’t have to pay for software. And why pay for vulnerable software anyway? You don’t have to.

For a couple years recently I went without my desktop. When I started this blog, I wasn’t using a desktop. It was all done from my tablet or Samsung Galaxy S6 phone. Eventually, however, I realized that I’m a touch-typist. I can type about as fast as I can think and I don’t have to look at the keyboard. I look at the screen. These words were typed looking at the screen, not the keyboard. Everyone should learn how to touch-type. It’s great. So touch-typists need a keyboard. I revived my computer and here I am. Inside Ubuntu Studio.

Linux vs Microsoft: How Far Would I go?

Despite the existence of hundreds of Linux “distros” it basically amounts to two classes, and none play NBC.com.

My never-ending battle to stay as far away from Microsoft Windows as possible lost ground today.

I hate Windows. Have I ever told you this? It’s why I use Linux.

The other day I tried TrueOS and didn’t like it. I was trying to get as far away from Microsoft Windows as humanly possible. TrueOS is the new name for OpenBSD. The BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) is the open source version of Unix. When BSD stalled due to court cases, Linus Travalds came out with Linux, another Unix-like operating system, and the rest is history.

But BSD survived. Nowadays we have various versions like OpenBSD (now TrueBSD) and FreeBSD. The problem I found with TrueOS is it seems to be a developers platform, not a robust desktop end-loser platform for people like me.

So I went back to Linux, but what flavor of Linux?

For years I’ve been using Linux Mint, lately with the xcfe Desktop Environment on top.

When recently I revived my computer, I decided to explore around. I installed TrueOS, Linux Mint Mate, Linux Mint xfce, Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Arch Linux, Manjaro xfce, Fedora xfce, Fedora Workstation, Debian, and Bodhi Linux. My computer design makes this painless to accomplish.

Here’s what I found. Despite the existence of hundreds of Linux “distros” it basically amounts to two classes. The RPM models and the DEB models. RPM models consist mainly of Red Hat Linux, Fedora, Arch and openSUSE (all of which I have used). The DEB models are based on Debian and consist of many distros like Ubuntu, Linux Mint and Bodhi Linux.

Hands down, Linux Mint seems to be the most robust for out-of-the-box usage, but as with any Linux distro, you can work with whatever flavor of Linux you have and install almost anything to make it work and feel like whatever you desire.

Since I was trying to move away from Linux Mint (out of boredom), I tried many of the aforementioned distros, the last being Fedora Workstation which I installed this morning and uninstalled this afternoon.

Fedora Workstation comes with Gnome 3 Desktop Environment pre-installed, but it was easy to install xfce and make it like Fedora xfce!

Fedora Workstation is a great Linux distro, but alas. It sorely lacks codecs, the pieces of code that enable you to watch DVD’s, Twitter clips and YouTube. I managed to install the necessary codecs after hours of research, but when I tried to play Farmville2 on Facebook, found it wouldn’t and couldn’t load. (I don’t play that game, but my wife loves it so I tried it for testing purposes.) No matter what I did, spending hours, I couldn’t resolve this issue.

So I thought, “I bet if I went back to Linux Mint it would work.” Then I thought of a distro I hadn’t tried, Ubuntu Studio.

I am now running Ubuntu Studio and here’s what I found. It has all the codecs installed, it plays DVDs and YouTube and Farmville2 on Facebook. It plays music, you can make and edit movies, all kinds of goodies.

However, knowing me, I had to stretch the limit. I went to NBC.com to see if I could watch past episodes of recent TV shows.

Yes, and no. The video shows up, but so jerky and disjointed it was unwatchable.

Then I thought, “I bet if I was on Microsoft Windows it would play,” and you know what? I know it would.

Which brings me to the ultimate question. How far am I willing to go with this? Would I ever switch back to Microsoft Windows?

The answer, of course, is no, I wouldn’t, but I’m disappointed my Linux codecs won’t play that content.C7ErZCdWkAAp9yv

Off the Beaten Track

Sometimes I wander in thoughts and in actions.

Hiking the Adirondacks as a kid, I remember there were are all kinds of marked trails. They’ve got little signs tacked to trees marking colors. In some places, where there were no trees, they painted colors on the rock. These are the marked, well beaten trails. Sometimes they had helpful wooden signs posted here and there showing you the trail map. There was no GPS back then, but we always carried a topographical trail map in our pockets.

And then there was bushwhacking. We’d purposely wander off the beaten track. That’s where we’d get lost if we didn’t know what we were doing. My father always seemed to know what he was doing. We rarely got lost. Maybe we had awkward shortcuts, but never would we be lost. The moss always grew on the north side of the tree trunks.

It was not without adventure including bushwhacking itself and the occasional rattlesnake hiding under a rock or rotting tree branch.

Bushwhacking meant making your way through the thicket – broken branches and bushes, trudging over leaves and pine needles, encountering gnats, flies, and annoying threads left behind by spiderwebs. Sometimes there’d be some cool rocks to climb on. We had a collapsible metal cup we’d whip out when you came to a spring or stream, and we always had canteens too.

The Boyd solution to the snakes was simple enough. They were more scared of you than you were of them, my Dad used to say, so make a lot of noise. Get a big stick and whack at the tall grass on the hill you are climbing. Never got bit. Saw a lot of rattlesnakes and copperheads, though. My older brothers used to kill them by beating them with big sticks. Saw black bears, deer and pretty vistas.

Every aspect of that childhood still affects the way I am in front of my computer as an adult.

I prefer lesser known trails. Sometimes I prefer to bushwhack. Sometimes I get lost.

My computer hobby is this: the operating system that makes the thing work and the various desktop environments that sit on top of it. I’m always fiddling, never satisfied. My wife chuckles at me for this. “Are you installing Linux again?” “Well I screwed up something. It won’t boot, so I’m just reinserting the DVD. Don’t worry, I’ve been through this a million times.”

In 1983, Brooklyn, New York, I had a black screen with green words on it. That was what a computer looked like. It was a Tandy Radio Shack running the TRSDOS operating system. On that machine I used my first word-processor, wrote my first book, and learned BASIC programming.

Oh, why do I bore you? Windows came along. OS2 came along. Linux came along. FreeBSD and it’s latest incarnation TrueOS using Lumina -tried that too. Dabbled with Solaris. The worldwide web came along, domain names, another book, Turbo Pascal, perl and PHP. Added a wonderful wife, a job, pets, smart phones, tablets, laptops, and self-built computers, and here I sit, on my days off, fiddling.

Gotta stop now. See what’s going on in one of my other workspaces downloading Debian with their weird jigdo file download thingamabob. I’ll just press crl-alt right arrow and this whole screen flips over to the next one to see whuz up. I’ve got seven different screens called workspaces, all running different programs, or sometimes just there, all with different window background pictures, many that I took myself.