Jarret Hynd

pollinator
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since Apr 17, 2017
250mm of Rainfall, Average Windspeed 10kph & Prevailing WNW.
Sask, Canada - Zone 3b
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Recent posts by Jarret Hynd

John Weiland wrote:And my understanding is that, just like commercial OSs, the open source communities behind the different Distros are generally adding improvements along the way, yes?


Correct, they fix bugs in the OS and programs as they get identified. It's probably easiest to explain things with an example: Linux Mint

At the top it says "Based on: Debian/Ubuntu", which basically means Linux Mint is getting the same updates/support as Debian/Ubuntu - most of the Linux OSs you look at will be based on those two. There are others independent OSs that do their own updates and other OS rely on them (like Arch), but in general some are commercially developed (like Ubuntu) and others are community driven (like Debian). I don't think there is much need to worry about lack of support these days from either side, because a Linux OS being outdated and Windows OS being outdated have very different meanings. Many times when trying to revive decade old computers, you sometimes have to use outdated versions to get reasonable functionality. The version of Lubuntu (based on Ubuntu) that I used on the old compaq laptop was no longer being supported by the developers. People that are looking to exploit unpatched security flaws are mostly targeting Windows systems for desktops, and Android for phones, because they are both dominant in each of their markets. Here's the old pc vs mac explanation if you remember those commercials. :)

If you look at Ubuntu and scroll down to the various release versions, you'll see LTS which means Long Term Support which has an End of Life support date 5 years after release. The way releases work is the LTS is like the "safe" option where only stable elements are added in, and the other types of releases typically only have 2 years worth of support but they have all the cutting-edge updates, which might also be buggy or not work properly on everyone's different systems. Most new users who are feeling overwhelmed by the new information and varying choices just go with a LTS release of Mint/Ubuntu. Though like Abraham suggested, Manjaro is equally easy to install and has rolling updates all the time - one of my friends uses it exclusively now partially for that reason. At the end of the day the casual user just wants 1 functional OS, and there are at least 20 distros that can fulfill 99% of what they want to do on a daily basis.

John Weiland wrote:with respect to apps and given that some apps may *work* better with some distros, is app *installation ease* something specific to the application or to the OS Distro?... maybe both?


This is dependent on what programs you use and what their developers have chosen to do. If you use Windows/Mac programs, like Adobe (photoshop), it'll probably have some minor/major bugs if you try to use it in Wine because it's not supported on Linux - Windows gamers certainly understand this aspect. But, if you use multi-platform programs like GIMP instead of Adobe, it'll be supported and working fine. This is where the choice comes to either learn new open-source programs that'll be supported on whatever system you choose in the future, or, dual-boot and keep Windows around so you can use those special programs when you need them. Typically people dual-boot at first, and eventually lose access to that Windows program or just learn an open-source alternative program, and a few years later make the full switch.

Q4OS has a very small list of basic programs they keep updated and seem to work flawlessly. I think projects like PCLinuxOS try to have much larger support for various programs, but it's been about 4 years since I last tried it out so I can't recall.

For trying to use Windows programs in Linux, Wine is not something you want to have to use unless it's necessary. I'm really just a casual user that's using web browsers, password managers, VLC, LibreOffice, Calibre E-Book management, etc and I haven't had to use Wine for anything, partly because apps are becoming browser-based, which gives them flexibility that is similar to being open-sourced/multi-platform. But since I never really got onboard with mainstream ecosystems/programs(like quick time, apple store, etc), I've always been using varying degrees of third-party applications which have a much higher chance of being supported everywhere. While those programs don't look as nice, and sometimes have a small learning curve, if one is already willing to take the effort necessary just to try Linux, learning "off-beat"  alternative programs is a lot easier by comparison in my opinion.

---

Hopefully your wife is okay with "Sarah" being a part of your life now, and with time, she may even want to meet her :)

P.s You can use programs like YUMI, and that way you can test various Linux OSs without having to format USB drives, setting things up, etc. If you do it this way, pick 5 or so and try them all out over the course of a few days, and eventually by choice you'll end up trying 1 or 2 more frequently than the rest - flip a coin and go for it.

Douglas Alpenstock wrote: Buying SSDs and charging money for the laptops is a good idea, but impractical in these pandemic times. When people hand over cash, they naturally want to test out the unit (as would I). Right now, we're in semi-lockdown, in winter. Public spaces are off limits. It's logistically impossible.


Ah I see, that's true. In my area it's not quite the same mentality or restrictions, but I understand.

I hope you just have better luck than I did in the past. Probably only 1/10 of the repurposed refurbs I tried to give away actually found a new home. People seem to be very brand-oriented, and without it being Windows or Mac, they don't want to bother. Yet those same people would probably buy laptops from 2010 with 2GB of ram "running" windows 10 for $50 :(
3 weeks ago
I always felt the Raspi OS was really more about bare-bones functionality (based on it's original mission statement) rather than a good, modern user-experience.

John Weiland wrote:The 'ease of installation' is one parameter that I'm researching as I test out the different offerings.  Do you have a feel for which ones are easiest for the layperson installer?  You mentioned using Zorin....did that install easier than RaspPi?


When I started playing with Linux in 2013, only a few distros ("distributions", aka OS) had "OEM options" (at least that I tried) which made them a lot easier to install back then. It's pretty standard these days.

  • Zorin branded itself as a Windows-alterative early on, but the project kind of died for awhile before coming back recently if I remember correctly. I tested it out last year and it's still a solid choice.
  • I was testing Q4OS for awhile in 2016, and that was a really good one for pretty much all laptop/desktops regardless of age(no driver issues or hardware bugs), and it looks like it's gotten even better. They've developed a windows installer so there isn’t a need to mess around with USBs or anything and it can readily be installed it along side windows. (I haven't tried that installer, but did test the new Q4OS. And while it's a little dull in visuals still, it's improved even more in functionality since the last time I used it.)
  • Just like Abe, in 2015 I took in someone's old compaq laptop and lubuntu was the one that worked best on it at the time. (later on in 2017 Q4OS worked equally as well)
  • I've been 100% on Linux Mint the last year, more so just because it's one of the ol' reliable ones. I prefer the Cinnamon edition.

  • I've tested dozens over the years, but the mainstream desktop/laptop distros are all pretty easy to install via USB these days. A nice datebase of most Linux OS can be found on DistroWatch.

    It really all depends on what the individual needs to do and what the age of the system is. There was a topic I was engaged in a few months ago where the age of the computer was going to limit the OS choices, and typically those are bare-minimum OSs which aren't as novice friendly as many more modern ones.  

    John Weiland wrote:It's too bad....I think my parents finally crossed that line in age/abilities to really be able to take advantage of a computer at this point.


    While some dogs won't learn new tricks, it depends on how the OS is approached and customized for the user, but I know what you mean - it's a struggle in many cases. Depending on what you mean by "take advantage", if it's for a parent or senior to be able to use a computer for communicating/online browsing, It's best to just make it as easy as possible to use and try to get them where they want to go with the least steps possible. By that I mean take the main programs/URLs they use and make them visible in the middle of the desktop screen - increasing the size of the font (including browser) as well as the icons typically helps convince them to try it for awhile. There are also docker-style options for launching applications, like in Elementary OS (and others) which makes it feel like a Mac-alternative. If they are used to Android on their phones, there is an android OS which functions exactly like it is on the phone, though with a bit of reading it seems to be getting updated less frequently these days.

    Personally I never liked the idea of booting the OS from USB, especially if the computer isn't for me, but that's up to the individual to decide. (this is more to do with average consumer behaviour/knowledge, rather than just being a bad choice overall)

    John Weiland wrote:I suppose in some way it could be argued that this thread is no longer so aligned with Permaculture per se, but I guess I feel that anything that 'recycles' otherwise landfill-destined hardware is pointing towards less waste.


    FOSS/Linux falls in line with the 3 ethics of Permaculture, so I'd say it's a relevant topic for Permaculture :)
    ---

    Douglas Alpenstock wrote:What would be a reasonable minimum amount of storage for a laptop running Debian Raspberry Pi? I'm thinking of basic systems for seniors or students. They would have most of their stuff online. The OS will take up about 4GB.

    Reason for asking: I have functional laptops to give away but I'm out of old hard drives. I can get 16GB SD cards for $5-6 on sale, and 32GB SD cards for about $8-10. Is that enough space to be practical?


    Peppermint OS is designed to be a ChromeOS-alternative. I am not much for online stuff, (I also say boo to cloud storage like Bill does) but it might be better suited to seniors/students who are used to storing their stuff with cloud-based systems.  

    And just my opinion: If you are springing $10 for SD cards which have a shorter life/higher corruption rate (per my understanding) than SSDs, it might be better to ask $20-30 from whoever you are building the system for, and buy a cheap $30 120GB SSD for it. My original off-brand SSD from 2012 that's had TBs of data written to it is still going after 30,000 hours of use.  
    3 weeks ago
    Funny, as I was just thinking of this topic the other day. :)

    A few months after previously posting in the topic, I did end up buying a 28 inch carbon steel wok, and it rusts the same as cast iron from what I've experienced. I used it in a roughly constructed dakota fire setup, with an old dryer drum as the stand for the wok.
    4 weeks ago
    Hey Brian, welcome to permies :)

    Physical books have the disadvantage of no longer being published or very few copies are available. They can sometimes be very expensive for this reason - here's an example.

    If the only option is physical books, and you want the most detailed information possible, my recommendations would be: Permaculture: A Designer's Manual(PDM) and Edible Forest Gardens(EFG) Volume 1 and 2. The PDM is the best overall for permaculture strategies that can be implemented anywhere, while EFG is filled with similar strategies, but is also a psuedo-encyclopedia specific to North America and has detailed information such as which plants accumulate which resources, how to handle winter/dry climates, etc. I can't think of a reference off-hand, but having a homestead-skills book would probably fill in some missing gaps.

    Gaia's garden and many other popular permaculture/gardening books are more theory-oriented or echo parts of the PDM. I also feel they aren't equipped with enough knowledge to turn 80 acres into a thriving homestead, but my standards are different from the norm.

    ---

    As for raising animals, there isn't a book I've read that has the same quality as the PDM/EFG (though I haven't looked hard), so you might have to look around and buy a few different ones to get a good overall view of the subject. There are plenty of resources out there for free aimed at ranchers on government/state sites though.

    Greenhouses would probably be something along the lines of Eliot Coleman, but Citrus in the Snow is a much better example of greenhouse usage in my opinion. Last I recall it's only $2-5 or something for 80 pages.

    ---

    Much like yourself, I'm also quite concerned about access to meaningful information in the future. While I could go into the reasoning and causes, that'd probably be an off-topic, so I'll leave it at all.

    With that in mind, in the last year I've really started to ramp up the time I spend building my own digital library. For online webpages, the keyboard shortcut crtl + s saves a webpage in HTML format. Sometimes the saved information doesn't look as pretty as the original, but it's still there on your hard drive. You can also use tools like youtube-dl to save important videos you've watched. There are Windows versions available half way down the page.
    Your climate may play a role in what is effective and what isn't. Here it's dry all year round, so the mice want water bad after being in the house for a week.

    I've found the comment from Cristo (from one of the threads Anna linked) to be similar to what has worked for me.

    Cristo Balete wrote: John, it's worked for me for years, having buckets out partially filled with water that mice and voles jump into all the time. I've found them in empty buckets, but more often in buckets with water, so I assume they are looking for water. I also have a couple of garbage cans full of water for a quick bucket filling, and I even found one in there. Not sure how it even got up that high. I keep the lid on upside down so the tree frogs will stay in it and eat mosquito larvae. It happens at night, when there is all the running around. This past summer there were 6 in one bucket.

    It doesn't happen every day, but every few days in my 8 buckets there is usually one. The only caution I would add is that a bird, that come in with the big flocks, to my garden morning and evening, will sometimes jump in the buckets, too. I hate when that happens, so I don't fill them up too much so it can get out again.  


    An icecream pail (4 Litre pail) with 2.5-3 inches of water in it is eventually how they end up leaving the house, and usually the pails had cherries/berries in them that I was soaking for cleaning. But I've had them even jump into antique 1 gallon jugs that I had left with soapy water to soak as well.

    ---

    The sticky traps only seem about 80% effective for me - which is still good. But it seems like some of them identify the smell of the glue on the sticky pads, and then learn to avoid them. I've had as many as 25 pads out at a time and there was always one mouse that will learn this strategy to avoid them.

    I no longer use the sticky pads, as the house I'm in is over a 100 years old with small holes everywhere, so mice coming in (especially for winter) is expected. It's not much fun accidentally stepping in a sticky pad either. (I can't be the only one who's done it... :) )

    Just a smaller pail with some water in it, and maybe add something sugary to it to attract them even more.
    2 months ago
    Hopefully this info is helpful in some way:

    I attempted to buy the cards as a gift per the instructions in the OP, but I was not getting any screen asking if I'm a US resident or not - I was getting taken directly to Paypal.

    tried a bunch of tests and fiddling with stuff

    Eventually, I figured out that it's because I backed a kickstarter and so I can download the cards directly from permies already. However, this still doesn't change the fact that I can currently click on the $3.50 gift button, and that I am taken directly to Paypal without seeing any message about residency. (I'm pretty sure I should still get the message despite the kickstarter freebie, because if I did buy it as a gift, it'd likely be used outside of the US)

    However, if I log out and try to buy the cards, everything acts as it should and I get the message asking if I'm a US resident, select "No", and get taken to gumroad.

    Judith Browning wrote:We are both seventy and my view of buying more stuff lately is that it either has to outlast us (another thirty years?) or more than support itself in time and cost.    


    I'm not sure if one could make a computer that will run for that long, but if you do learn how to use Linux, you would be able to reuse all the "slow Windows computers" that people want to throw away, and by doing that every 7 years or so would keep you up-to-date hardware-wise. Especially if you have family or friends like that, they'd usually prefer to give you an old computer rather than sell it to someone else for $50-100. That's a pretty good method of recycling in my book.

    As for the computer supporting itself in time and cost, it really depends on what value you attach to it's usage. I've started using basic programs (that you wouldn't be able to use on a smartphone/tablet) and I'm making a simple blueprint of the design of the farm I work at so we can better visualize and orchestrate our work activities throughout the year. Even out of the blue today I was asked about doing some landscaping design in the spring, so I'll probably be mapping out someone's yard to. There's so much value you can get out of a computer - sky's the limit.

    ---

    Linux

    As for Linux, honestly, it's much easier than you think to try it out. It takes a bit of bravery I suppose to change things in BIOS (motherboard settings), but you can't mess much up as long as you are read carefully and are cautious. I'm not a tech support, but this is how the process would go if you wanted to try it on your current computer:

  • Download Ubuntu from DIstrowatch.com
  • (these are typically over 1GB in size, so careful if you have bandwidth/internet restrictions)
  • Use a USB drive and a program like Etcher (or Rufus, etc) to "organize" the Ubuntu image (file) onto your USB Drive so it's ready for you to use.
  • Restart the computer, and when you see an HP logo, click the f10 button constantly(I think f10 is the right button) - you should enter BIOS mode. (here's a video reference)
  • Change the Boot Order from your Hard Drive to your USB device.
  • Go to Save changes and restart - your computer will now load from your USB Drive instead of your Hard Drive
  • When your computer is starting up, you'll see something like this screen pop up - press enter while "try ubuntu without installing" is highlighted
  • After clicking enter, your computer may show a black screen with text loading from top to bottom (I haven't used ubuntu in awhile, so not sure), this process is your computer "reading" the files on your USB Drive
  • Hopefully after 5-20 seconds (processes take longer on old computers), you'll see a screen like this.You can now play around with it and see if your computer runs well with it.
  • If you want to use Windows again, remove the USB drive from the computer. You may have to go into the BIOS mode again and change the boot order from USB Drive to Hard Drive and save and exit.

  • I only explained the process so there is less of a worry about complexity, but there are some risks to take into account - as with anything. The main issue that can arise when doing this is that the "loader" for Windows files can get "lost" and so when you go to boot up Windows on it, you'll get a black screen with the message "bootmgr is missing" or similar. Typically after a restart or two, windows will go into repair mode and fix it itself. The other issue you may face is that your wifi card may not work on Ubuntu upon first loading - typically plugging the Ethernet cable into the machine will update the wifi card information(called drivers) and solve this.

    ---

    Judith Browning wrote:I'll plan to try linux whenever I come up with another computer.  Now, though I'm afraid to do anything different for fear it will crash...might be able to squeeze a little more time out of this one if I'm careful? or just lucky?


    I think this is forsure the best way to start out, as it takes a lot of the pressure off. My advice is to focus less on how long your current computer has left, and keep an eye out during this time of year for good deals on used ones.

    I would suggest you look for these kind of specifications, though they aren't written in stone by any means:
  • Windows 10
  • 8gb ddr3 memory, with room for 16gb expansion in the future
  • i5 processor that's 3 ghz or higher
  • (these have "integrated graphics" built into them. You can buy a "dedicated graphics card" later if you want, though may not be necessary)

    Here's a fancy list if you want to use it as reference while out searching - ignore the price as it's automated. Other hardware can be added later

    After that, hopefully the installation of Linux on your old computer works out and you can begin to play around with it. Once you are confident in your usage of Linux, you can do something called "dual-boot" which basically allows you the ability to choose between Windows and Linux via a simple pop-up screen when you power on your computer. Again, this carries a few small risks, but doing so on your old computer is the most cautious and beneficial route I can think of. Even if it takes you 1-2 years of playing around until you get comfortable enough to attempt to dual-boot, at least you now have unleashed a huge new world of options for yourself. Ex. Maybe in 10 years, you are so knowledgeable with Linux, that you can use some of the very light-weight Linux operating systems that are a little harder to navigate. If so, a new computer now may be the last one you will ever need.
    3 months ago
    I agree with Em - youtube-dl is the way to go and avoids the trouble of ads, apps and complicated tricks.

    ---

    I don't use it for music, but it's is pretty simple to use even for beginners, but quite powerful once you get a grasp of the advanced commands. Ex. if there is someone's playlist that you like, you can use:

    youtube-dl --extract-audio --audio-format mp3 --playlist-items 1,4,5,7,10,12,14,16-20,22,24 PlayListID

    (where PlayListID is the portion of numbers and letter after "List=" in the url of the playlist)

    They'll all auto-download into the same folder. And if you listen to different genres, there's even a way to adjust the command so certain downloads would go into separate folders, but I'm not that keen with it yet
    3 months ago
    From what's been said so far, I feel the least time consuming and likely even the most cost-effective option in the long-run is to get a new(er) computer. As R.Han said, 10 years is a long time for a refurbished computer, and even more so is that your particular desktop was made in 2006. There really isn't much life left to get out of it at the end of the day, or, the effort to get more life out of it may be too costly in time and money compared to other options.

    ---

    I used to play around a lot during the winter using linux to improve people's old computers. There was an old dell from 2001 stored in a garage that I took on, but the experience was simply too slow or buggy for 99% of linux distributions. The two that did work had very small memory requirements (<50mb) compared to Windows, but they aren't very user-friendly. In the end I made the decision that was the end of it's life and got rid of it.

    Earlier this year I bought an older laptop from 2012 for $200 so I could be more mobile instead of being stuck at home on a desktop, and with Linux Mint it's usable for me, partly because I already have common upgrade parts laying around. I did buy 16gb of ram($90) only because I used the original 8gb of ram in the laptop to upgrade my neighbour's computer, but this will also help the next person who ends up with my laptop - and they will likely be the last person that gets some life out of it. I don't expect to use this myself for more than 1-2 years at most, as the screen is already starting to have issues.

    ----

    Some things to consider after reviewing the thread:
  • In such a situation, the money spent upgrading the dc5700 would be better spent on a newer (2013, 8gb minimum) refurbished desktop. Especially with what Douglas says about 4gb memory limit for your computer, as 8gb is standard these days. Not to mention you could have parts failing on your current computer at any time.
  • With Linux, some programs you want to use may not be as easy to install. And while Ubuntu is simple to use and install, I have doubts that the modern releases of many Linux operating systems will work well on a 2006 desktop. I once had to download a 3 year old version just to get Lubuntu(similar to Ubuntu) to work on a 2006 laptop.
  • There are a lot of laptops 5 years old that have battery issues because people leave them plugged in all the time that can be had for <$200. Even without a battery, It would make a fine desktop replacement as it'd just have to be plugged in all the time. (you can use an external monitor with it as well)
  • Computers have depreciation prices associated with them just like most things these days. Spending $200 on a refurbished computer and getting 5 years out of it is $40/year. I pay more for the internet in a month to use on my computer. I'm sure I pay more for electricity in 2-3 months to run the computer. Just something to consider.

  • I took a quick look on craigslist, and there are kids with gaming computers from 2014 that they are selling for <$250. i5 CPUs, 8gb memory, 1 TB hard drive, windows 10, etc. For your usage, it could last another 5-10 years.

    And yet, there is nothing wrong with waiting for the dc5700 to fail either(or get too slow), as long as you back up your files and can live without a computer for a bit.

    ---

    Other than that, to echo John Weiland's comment - an adblock add-on for your browser can help with those auto-playing ads and videos.

    It can really be a confusing rabbit-hole having to assess such scenarios with computers/consumer technology as there are so many factors to consider. :/
    3 months ago
    I haven't followed Pine stuff in awhile since I was researching their Single Board Computers, like the Rock64(their version of Raspberry-pi). I do recall reading a few articles on their open-source laptop and smartphone development plans. Here are some recent articles about it.

    A basic summary of what it is: a phone that doesn't lock you into using certain software. You can download from a choice of various Operating Systems to use, similar to Linux Distributions for computers. Sometimes you hear about "my iphone/android phone needs to be rooted in order to do ___", which is akin to giving yourself Administrative Permissions to do whatever you want on a Windows computer. So rooting gives you full access to make changes to it as you please, but usually at the risk of "bricking" your phone - making it unusable. Since the Pinephone is open-source and lets you modify it to the extent your skills will allow, that is not an issue.

    Since the topic has no direct questions, I'll just write what comes to mind.

    ---

    My intuition tells me that 99% of the general public would not have a good experience with such a phone even after the alpha version is completed - that's why it's geared towards developers and enthusiasts. Ex. I was at an Ag seminar today where one of the presenters spoke of how making formulas in Microsoft Excel was so complicated that "only techies can do this kind of stuff".

    I'm typing this reply on an old laptop running Linux Mint(A Linux Operating System), and it has some annoying hick-ups that most general users I know wouldn't put up with. My guess is that open-source phones will be aimed at high-end tech users for some time to come.

    ---

    Some questions that come to mind:

  • Will there be long-term support?
  • Wikipedia says the phone will be in production for 5 years, which allures to support for 5 years, but tech projects make a lot of claims that never pan-out.

  • Will there be replacement parts readily available at reasonable prices?
  • By reasonable, I mean not having to spend $100 for a new touch screen for a $150 phone. Google tried to make a modular phone several years ago and it didn't work out, so a small community-based developer team really has their work cut out for them, to say the least.

    Along with that, the project has very few core developers (dedicated full-time to it), so it's essentially in bleeding edge-development, which means it's such a new or unconventional concept that it puts a lot of the risk in the hands of the investors - the people buying the $150 phones in this case. Ex. One day maybe the main developer leaves because of health issues, then the project stops being developed and that can potentially be the end of it. Everyone who bought the phones are kind of left in the dark.

    But, if I could buy a $150 phone that would receive updates for 5 years, and I could buy a $30-40 replacement screen for it until it's not longer in production, I'd buy in. (I would really appreciate a higher quality camera on it though)

    ---

    I'm glad they're at least trying, but software development, especially volunteer-powered, can really slow down a project - I'm sure it'll be a awhile before it's close for daily usage by even novice linux users, such as myself.

    If you have any other questions, I have at least enough knowledge (I think) to explain stuff in layman's terms.
    3 months ago