Art buyers

Last time we were in Frankfurt, I discovered that little store where they sell limited photography prints of all kinds of things. Mitchie and Zuleikha loved it, once inside and browsing, and in the end they bought a smallish (and not so limited) print of the library of Trinity College in Dublin. You can see a bigger version left of them in the shop:

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Art buyers, Frankfurt am Main 2022

They packed it nicely, and it’s not even unpacked yet:

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Art buyers’ bag, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2022

More about the artist on his website. As always, thanks for viewing.

Activities on a Sunday in late April…

Today I upgraded Mitchie’s computer to ‘Jammy Jellyfish‘, and I also installed a small WLAN repeater which we bought yesterday so that both Zuleikha and Mitchie have better WiFi coverage in their rooms.

Oh, and the new and LTS (long term supported) Ubuntu desktop is also covered here. Personally, I am running Debian and Arch, but I’m still a big proponent of Ubuntu. It is in fact the better business desktop, just as Steven writes.

As always, thanks for reading. And good night.

4G

  • geimpft
  • geboostert
  • getestet
  • genesen

We’re recovering from CoVid. And we all had mild progressions, thankfully – and surely because we all had three vaccinations. Don’t take this one easily, friends, it could seriously hurt you, and it’s definitely not a walk through the woods…

New MIDI keyboard

My old MIDI master keyboard with 49 keys was pretty finished, and I had that since 25 or 30 years – so time for a new one. I would have bought another simple and cheap one, but then saw a good deal with lots of additional full versions of libraries, like a Rhodes e-piano and a Mini Moog synth, so I could hardly say “no” to that. And I think Zuleikha likes it as well…

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MIDI Masterkeyboard, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2022

So that was a right decision… and like always, thanks for reading.

Which Linux version(s) would I recommend? (And which one(s) am I using myself?)

I often was asked this question, mostly by (now former) colleagues, and sometimes also by family and friends. And since my journey through the different versions and flavours of Linux and Unix (mostly Solaris and the BSDs) was quite a curvy one, and I arrived at my current state and choice through recommendations/suggestions/encouragements myself, I thought I should probably write about it.

First, you have to decide whether you’re a total beginner, and what your reasons and preferences to thinking about switching to Linux are, or to anything else than the big mainstream operating systems like Windows and/or MacOS. And since the question about which Linux to choose is mostly asked by beginners, let me give kind of a quick & dirty (which is a joke! It doesn’t tell anything about the quality of the following!) advice first:

  • Beginners:

Use Ubuntu, full stop.

There are many reasons why you should start with a simple solution and choice like Ubuntu, but the first and maybe most important one is the sheer size of it, the numbers of people who download, try, and give advice and tips about this free operating system. Don’t get me wrong, there’s also criticism about it, but that’s mostly by people who already have seen and used other distributions. As a beginner, you can’t go wrong with Ubuntu, and you will always find help in case you’ll encounter some problem which you can’t find handled in the help files already.

Ubuntu looks very different from other operating systems, both commercial and free ones – it is now based on Gnome 3 but still applies its own look & feel onto it. There’s another distribution which is based upon Ubuntu (which in turn is based upon Debian, but more to that later), and which has a certain degree of eye candy and might appeal to people who like the look of MacOS, and that is

Elementary OS.

I myself had only a brief encounter with it so far, but a friend from Paris uses and seems to like it a lot. My first impression (of only minutes, so maybe not very valuable) was that it indeed is pretty like MacOS, but to me it seemed to be similarly restricted in a way that I’d have had to find out how to use other tools and programs than the ones which are delivered with it out of the box. Too much effort for me for just a bit of eye candy, so I gave up quickly, but if you like it, give it a try, YMMD…

By the way, about this “give it a try“: you can download so-called “Live Images” of most of the distributions I’ll mention here, with the exception of just one. That means that if you download the offered live image and put it onto a bootable medium like a CD or DVD or a USB stick (search for “Rufus” if you are on Windows), you can boot from these media and try any of these distributions (except one) without even touching your already installed system – so there’s no harm done if you decide that you do not like what you see. Go and try the next one, or give up – it’s all about choice.

So what is my first choice, and the system I’m using since about 20 years and counting? I’ll cover that under a new chapter like:

  • Intermediate users:

I’m using Debian GNU/Linux since before my youngest was born. I’ve had it on servers and on my own desktop and notebook machines since a former colleague from Austria suggested to have a look (Thanks Peter!), I first got the feeling and urge to give something back with using this distribution – which is what I did – and now even some relatives like my brother are running it (although my wife and daughter are both still on Ubuntu, see my recommendation above).

Debian comes in three different versions, called “stable”, “testing”, and “unstable” (plus some additional ones like “experimental”, but that is beyond this article). I’m using “stable” because that is what I want – a stable operating system which never breaks, and which lets me concentrate on what I want or need to do, instead of dealing with my OS.

The disadvantage about being stable is that Debian never has the newest stuff. There are some exceptions, so core applications like web browsers or mail clients (Firefox-ESR and Thunderbird in my case) follow the “upstream” development and they do get updates, but in case you always want the latest and greatest, then Debian stable might not be the right choice for you. The release cycles of Debian are quite long – their release team members are proud of their choice to “release when we’re ready” – so if you want or need anything more current, you probably need to look elsewhere. Or try Debian “testing” or even “unstable”, don’t be afraid of these names because Ubuntu and others are based on them (but they still take out some headaches you might get when simply choosing one of these without being able to deal with problems yourselves).

So for something newer and more current, I’d suggest to look at some distributions which use a so-called rolling release model. That’s a bit like Debian “unstable” (also called “Sid” because that is the boy from the neighbourhood in the film “Toy Story” who always breaks toys), but some of these rolling release distros are still a bit polished, and you’ll get some kind of hand-holding. Like for instance with

Manjaro Linux. Manjaro is based upon Arch Linux, and like it it follows a rolling release path, using its own repositories, which is why you might compare the relations of Manjaro and Arch to the ones of Ubuntu and Debian – think of it just as a more beginner-friendly version of Arch. There are others like for instance EndeavourOS who don’t even use own repositories (I think, only tried it briefly as well), but the closer you’ll get to Arch itself, the more you might ask yourself if you really need some kind of friendly installer and polish, or if you’d rather learn – and that brings me to the

  • “Pro” users,

and to:

Arch Linux itself, which is my second choice, and my “testbed” for newer stuff like pipewire, new kernels, and so on. Arch is the only mentioned distribution which does not provide any live image, so what you boot into is the installer (text based), and although Arch now has an arch-installer script, this one is very rudimentary at this moment, so in case you’d like to keep other operating systems which you already have on your hard disk / SSD, you’ll have to go through the very well documented manual installation, and to put in stops and detours in case you’d like to have a dual or triple boot system like I do.

Arch was first mentioned to me by my son Jeremy, and I’m glad he did (thanks son!). It is really nice if you can just reboot into some fresh OS to try out things for which you might need another kernel or architecture or whatever. But it will also teach you about how little you know, so you’ll have to bring the urge to learn something new, or else this won’t be much fun. The package manager still is – for me – not as intuitive as “apt”, Debian/Ubuntu’s “Advanced Packaging Tool”, but it’s still far better IMO than Red Hat’s notoriously well-known “RPM hell” (and yes I know, both Fedora and Red Hat plus others like Suse now have programs and tools to resolve dependencies, good for them, but I prefer to avoid commercial stuff, thank you very much) – but hey, did I say something about learning new stuff? And for that you can’t have much more than Arch’s Wiki which is one of the best I’ve seen so far.

  • Conclusion

So there you have it. On my current boot drive (a 1TB SSD) I have a triple boot setup where I started with an Arch image to create an UEFI partition big enough to hold boot loaders for three systems (and I’ve learnt about that from Arch as well), then installed Windows 10 Pro, Arch, and Debian onto it, so when I now switch on my machine it will boot into Debian if I don’t interrupt that to select something else. In the future, Windows will be wiped off of my drive (won’t install something like Win11), but I’ll probably keep both Arch and Debian because these are my choices. Debian for its stability and for “daily work”, Arch to learn, and to try out new things.

No spyware. Like I wrote, Linux is about choice. But so would be any of the BSDs if you’d want something even more “exotic”.

Hope that helped answering some question(s), and as always, thanks for reading. Oh, and by the way, of course I have written this on one of the mentioned systems, which in this case was Arch Linux.

P.S., from Monday March 21st, 2022: in case you want Debian stable but still need some newer package(s), have a look at its backports pages, and follow the instructions.

P.P.S, from Monday March 28th, 2022: the new and upcoming Arch Installer script looks pretty neat, see https://github.com/archlinux/archinstall/releases/tag/v2.4.0.rc1 – that should/could probably help those who would like to use plain Arch without going the manual way…

Visiting Tuna

Today it’s exactly a year since “our” Tuna died. And of course we had to visit her grave. I took my camera, and even a 2nd battery just in case – but forgot the SD card which was still in my computer at home from this morning.

So here are two snapshots from the phone instead:

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Tuna’s grave from behind, Frankfurt 2022
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Tuna’s grave, Frankfurt 2022

We still miss her each day, so thanks for viewing.

Happy birthday sayang :)

Today is my wife’s birthday, so we got a few presents for her. I built her a new computer…

Happy birthday… 🙂

For those who are interested: here are some links and a parts list (hint: I used slightly more)… oh, and like the c’t magazine wrote, it runs just fine with Ubuntu 21.10 (although the recent kernel 5.16 would have been even better for this new hardware). But everything like the integrated AMD graphics or the wireless runs out of the proverbial box.

P.S.: Mitchie just measured the power consumption when doing nothing on her Ubuntu 21.10 desktop (but with WiFi on) – the meter cycles between 19.3 and 20.5 Watts, so I’d say that’s an average of about 19.9W. Cool; mine takes slightly more than 31W when doing nothing (which is what computers do most of the time, they’re always waiting on us instead of vice versa…) 🙂

New car. Used of course.

Our car needs to be repaired. This time it’s the crank shaft sensor which has to be changed, and Mitchie decided that it’s not cost-effective to keep hanging on to that vehicle any longer; it’s now well over 19 years old and needs to be repaired more frequently lately, so she wants a new one.

No, not this one which Zuleikha saw and loved in our car dealers’ shop lately:

Toyota Yaris 4th generation in “mangan bronze”

That’s almost the same they had given us last time, and about which I’ve written here already. Super car, but we wouldn’t like to spend 20k€+ on a new car right now.

So we decided to look for its last predecessor, which is the second facelift of the third generation of the Toyota Yaris line, and we’ve found a really nice one in a trim that Toyota calls the “Style Selection”. Here’s a photo taken from the dealer who had it on offer:

Toyota Yaris Hybrid Style Selection, from 2017

This one also has a 1.5l fuel engine, but a four cylinder instead of the three cylinders in the newer version. Plus, like all full hybrids, an electrical engine and a CVT – a continuous variable transmission, meaning: no gears. No clutch, no starter, alternator, no drive shaft as well. It has a combined power output of 100hp, three more than we have now, but the top speed is limited to 165km/h (more than enough in this day and age IMO). This “Style Selection” comes with two colours as you can see, and with 16 inch wheels, a bit bigger than what we have now.

The used car market is pretty empty at the moment, and it’s understandable why: people are thinking about getting full electrical cars, but most of us who live in urban areas don’t yet have the possibility to charge these at home, or on the working place. So no electrical, no plugin hybrid, but a full hybrid like this makes the most sense at the moment, and because everyone thinks that this time will pass as well, people are buying more used than new at the moment. Understandable in my opinion.

Bob from Ireland thinks the same, namely “that it makes a lot of sense” to get a car like these:

Quick review of the Toyota Yaris Hybrid 2017

He’s driving the exact same car in red & black, and with the wheel at the other side of course, but beside of that, the same.

And here’s another (bit longer and) nice presentation from a German car dealer where Josephine also talks about the differences between her own and that slightly higher specced “Style Selection” model (in German of course):

Toyota Yaris (Modelljahr 2017) – Fahrzeugvorstellung + Probefahrt | Review/Sitzprobe

I’ve driven “ours” (which is paid, but we don’t have it registered yet), and we’re very happy with what it is and what it does. I assume that we’ll get it in a few days, then I’ll report more, and have our old one repaired, maybe somewhere locally (and a bit cheaper than at an official Toyota repair shop?). Then we’ll have to see to whom this one will go…

Oh, and this “new” car doesn’t only take less fuel than our old one (I managed to get it to 4.8l/100km on our short test drive, the old one takes a bit more than 6 litres), it also takes “E10” which can be produced a bit more environment-friendly, and which costs 6 cents less per litre than the 95 octane “Super” we need now…

As always, thanks for reading, viewing, and watching. Also thanks to Bob and to Josephine, as well as to the people at our car dealers’. Be well and stay safe everyone.

A good balance between size and performance

In regards of space I’m a bit restricted, and so my thoughts about computers and cases to put them into lead me to Mini ITX, and to a case which was introduced last year and which immediately became one of the favourites in that size and price class, the CoolerMaster NR200P. Here’s Leo from Kitguru reviewing it:

Leo analyses Cooler Master MasterBox NR200P

You can also read their/his written review here in case you want to know more.

As you could see in the review video, my current drives – one 2,5″ SSD and one 3,5″ hard disk with 4TB – the same Leo was showing – both fit nicely. Plus modern mainboards all have space for one or two M.2 SSD drives which are even faster anyway, and the case could even take two more 2,5″ SATA SSDs behind the front plate – that’s 6 drives overall, surely more than enough storage options.

Of course one should also try to save some space with choosing components wisely, so as a power supply I’d take Corsair’s smaller SFX ones, the ‘Platinum’ specced ones have a set of nicer braided cables compared to the ‘Gold’ rated ones. Without ever planning to add a graphics card, a 450W model would be more than enough, if you want to keep the possibility to add a medium- or high powered graphics card later on, there are also models with 600 or with 750W available. Remember, the high powered system Leo was building there drew some 500 Watts from the wall socket when stressing it out, both CPU and GPU alike. For me, that would rarely to almost never happen… so what about cooling?

I’d go with air cooling with a Noctua L12S low profile top blower cooler. I’d never overclock a system, so that should be just fine for a CPU with a TDP of around 65W like the AMD Ryzen 5 5600G (6 Core / 12 Thread), the Ryzen 7 5700G (8 Core / 16 Thread) or a comparable Intel Core i5-10400 (not the “K” versions which take lots more power). Learn more about such coolers from Machines & More:

Cooler Master NR200: Low Profile Air Cooler Configuration (feat. the Noctua L12S)

In case you also take low profile (or JEDEC-compatible) RAM which isn’t higher than 31,25mm, you could even let the cooler’s fan *under* the heat sink if you so desire, although these tests showed that it’s performing a bit better if you have the fan on top of the heatsink.

So for RAM a kit of 2x8GB or 2x16GB DDR4-3200 from Corsair (“Vengeance”) would be cool and wouldn’t restrict your mounting options.

For the main board, I’d go with Asus, but Gigabyte is also a good option and maybe a bit cheaper. Even MSI has a nice board, for AMD CPUs I’d take one with a B550 chipset, for 11th gen Intel chips a Z590 one.

All of the mentioned CPUs have graphics built right in, so you won’t have to overpay for graphics cards (only gamers would want these anyway, you can cut movies or “develop” photos without a dedicated graphics card just fine).

That would be cool machines, and maybe I’ll build one of these for a relative soon.

Oh, and a propos benchmarking: my own current system which is quite old already, and still has a 4th gen Intel Core i5 was behaving quite nicely when I stressed out its CPU with the Blender render “classroom” test:

Benchmarking Blender on my machine

As you can see, CPU average temperature was 41°C, max was 52°C, and the system was drawing about 72 Watts from the wall socket while doing this. Of course this took quite a while:

Blender classroom test finished

Over 31 minutes is slow, a more modern machine and chips like the ones mentioned above should do the same in about 8-10 minutes. And while they might draw a bit more power, they’d still do it in about a third to a quarter of the time, which makes them much more efficient in case you need that power…

As always, thanks for reading.