Friday, July 31, 2015

Windows 10 review: Microsoft takes back its identity

Windows 10 logo
Last night I installed Windows 10 and I've been using it. First of all, I think it's great, I really enjoy using it and the features are awesome. Here are some reason why I love Windows 10:

The start button is back, and it's better than ever


Windows 10 start button

This was one of the weakest points of Windows 8. Microsoft forgot for a moment its own good idea and left the beloved start button out of Windows 8, which resulted in several customer complains. Now the button is back, but it means more than just a button in the lower left corner of your screen. It means that Microsoft got the OS' identity back. One of the things I didn't like about Windows 8 is that the Metro view had the feeling of a completely different and independent operating system. It was like having an OS embedded into another OS. Now, we have a single and functional OS with Windows 10. Check Candy Crush installed from the Windows Store, running right on the desktop.

Windows 10 Candy Crush

Multiple desktops



This feature was absent in Windows when Mac OS and Linux had it years ago. It was something frustrating, but that's over. The multiple desktops are used seamlessly, and it actually is something that goes very well with Windows. I don't know why the did't include it before

It blazing fast

Windows 10 is much faster than Windows 8. At least, that my impression as I write this article. The windows open faster and the folders with large quantities of items (like photos) load much faster. In the past, you always had to upgrade your hardware to some extent. In this case, I'm using Windows 10 with the same hardware, but with better performance.

You can paste text in the CMD console!!

Yes, I think it was pretty annoying to write everything letter by letter, especially when you can paste in the Linux console.

Simplest OS update ever

The update to get Windows 10 was very, very simple. I didn't event to configure anything, the process is completely automatic. Also, the compatibility with my current software is excellent. So far, I didn't have problems with any application.

The Action Center

This feature contains general information about notifications, wireless connections, settings, etc. It's like the upper menu in Android. Really useful, a great addition that was missing in Windows 8.

Windows 10 action center

What I didn't like


  • The store is better, but it's not good enough yet
  • I heard about some problems with the drivers in HP machines, but I didn't face those problems. If I find something strange, I'll write about it here
  • Cortana is unavailable in many countries
There are some important features like Microsoft Edge, but I'll dedicate a complete article to that. For now, this is just a glimpse of Windows 10. And so far, I really like it!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Review of Kiwi, the social app to ask questions

For some time I've heard about Kiwi, but I didn't pay much attention to it until now. After all, this app has been downloaded more than 10 million times.

When I first downloaded and used Kiwi, Twitter came to my mind. When it first came out, I thought it was just a waste of time, but eventually I learned how to use it properly, and now I have an active Twitter account. However, in the case of Kiwi, this is more like a way to know your friends better. It's like a little and enhanced piece of Facebook or Twitter.

Kiwi basically consists in asking questions to your contacts and answer their questions too.

The home screen shows a feed where you see the answers given by the people you are following:
Kiwi home screen

In the 'Nearby' screen, you can see you current location. You can ask question to nearby people. It is interesting that you can navigate to other locations and ask questions there. However, all of this is just for fun. Don't expect to fin meaningful answers in Kiwi.
New York nearby

The next screen is just a list of question for you to answer. Tap 'NEW QUESTION' to get a new list of questions.
Kiwi questions list
Tap the thunder icon to see your notifications. Here you'll find the usual stuff: likes to your answers, new answers to your questions, etc.
Finally, tap the right icon to open your profile.

I used Kiwi for about 4 days and I had fun, but I didn't communicate better with my aquantainces, nor did I get important news (as I do in Twitter). For now, my veredict would be "A waste of time". But I thought the same about Twitter and some other social networks when they first came out. In the case of Twitter, I realized that this social network is better to get instant news and to follow celebrities. I think this is not the intended main use for it, but it finally found an area where it can be useful. Is this the same case of Kiwi? It's very hard to say. I checked my friends' feed and sometimes it turns into a simple chat, where everybody says 'hello' instead of asking questions. What do I think about this? This app won't last much. But if it does, I'll be glad because it's fun and interesting.

By the way, I had a los of crashes when I first tried to use it, but it inmediately got better with a couple of updates.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

How to install Arch Linux, step by step, for VMware Workstation (Part III)

This is the final part of a tutorial I published in 3 parts (check part I and part II). Let's review what we have so far:
  • Create and boot a new Virtual Machine
  • Partition disk
  • Format partitions
  • Install basic system
To finish the installation, we still need to set some configurations:

Set main configuration

1. Generate the fstab file. This is a file that lists the disk partitions and other type of data resources in Linux systems. For more information, check the Wikipedia entry for fstab.To generate the fstab file:

genfstab -U -p /mnt >> /mnt/etc/fstab

2. Execute Chroot:

arch-chroot /mnt

Note: After this, the console will display something like this:

3. Set the machine's name:

nano /etc/hostname

The command will open an empty text file. Just enter the name for the machine:
Hostname Arch Linux
Once you have typed the name, press Ctrl + X. Then type 'Y' and press Enter.

4. Set the time zone. Here you have to select the correct time zone for your geographical location. I'll set the time zone to New York, just as an example:

ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/America/New_York /etc/localtime

5. Set language. I'll set this to English. First, open the 'locale.conf' file:

nano /etc/locale.conf

Once inside the file, add this text: LANG=en_US.UTF-8
Arch Linux Language
That will set the language to English (United States). Now press Ctrl + X, type 'Y' and press Enter.

6. Activate language:

nano /etc/locale.gen

Look for this text: #en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8 and delete the # symbol.

locale.gen file
ress Ctrl + X, type 'Y' and press Enter.

7. Generate locales:
Enter this in the console:

locale-gen
Generating locales

8. Configure keyboard:

nano /etc/vconsole.conf

Add KEYMAP=en to the file for a keyboard layout in English.

English keymap

9. Install GRUB. First, just install it with:

grub-install /dev/sda

GRUB installed
Now, you need to generate the grub.cfg file:

grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg
Generate grub.cfg

10. Generate ramdisk:

mkinitcpio -p linux
Generating ramdisk
11. Set a password for root:

passwd
Password for root
Next, close Chroot with: exit.
Exit Chroot

12. Restart the system:

reboot

After the restart, if everything went well, you should see this screen:
Congratulations! You just installed Arch Linux successfully! Of course, there are some additional configurations we have to make, and also a proper GUI. I'll address these topics in future posts.

Monday, July 20, 2015

How to install Arch Linux, step by step, for VMware Workstation (Part II)

Note: If you didn't see the first part of this series of articles, I recommend you to check it out here.

Last time I wrote about the first steps to install Arch Linux. Now I'll continue with some step just a little more complicated. To summarize what we have so far:
  • Create and boot a new Virtual Machine
  • Partition disk
This article will continue from there. The next immediate step is to format the partitions. Let's begin.

Format partitions

1. First, get the partition table so you know which partitions you are manipulating. To do that, enter this command in the console: lsblk
Also, you should remember which of those partition corresponds to which type. In this case:

  • sda1: boot 
  • sda2: root
  • sda3: home
  • sda4: swap

2. Format partitions. Enter the following commands:

For boot:

mkfs -t ext2 /dev/sda1 

For root:

mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda2



For home:

mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda3



For swap:

mkswap /dev/sda4
swapon /dev/sda4

3. Mount the partitions:

Mount the root partition:

mount /dev/sda2 /mnt

Create a folders for Boot and Home:

mkdir /mnt/home
mkdir /mnt/boot

Mount the Home and Boot partitions in the folders you just created:

mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/boot
mount /dev/sda3 /mnt/home

System installation

1. Install basic System. For this step, the first thing to do is to verify our internet connection. If you followed this guide and left the virtual machines's settings by default, you should have internet access. To verify that, type:

ping -c 3 www.google.com

You should see an output like this:

Ping output

Now, install the bases system with pacstrap:

pacstrap /mnt base base-devel

Next, a lot of packages will be downloaded and installed. When the process finished, you should see something like this:

Base system installed

Just in case, if your Internet connection fails for any reason, don't freak out, the downloads will retry when the connection comes back. This is just a detail, but it's worth mention.

2. Install GRUB. As you may already know, we need GRUB to boot the system. Install it with:

pacstrap /mnt grub-bios

As in step 4, some file will be downloaded:

Installing GRUB
3. Install Network Manager. This will help us with all the internet connections:

pacstrap /mnt networkmanager

And this is the end of the second part of this series of articles. We are almost ready to use our Arch Linux virtual machine, we just need to make some customization. I'll be writing about it soon!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

How to install Arch Linux, step by step, for VMware Workstation (Part I)

Arch Linux have many supporters due many different reasons. This minimalist Linux distribution expects some effort from the user, but that's the reason why some Linux fans use it. This additional effort to understand the system can bring a better understanding of the way the OS is built. However, if you are a beginner, it may be a little difficult to start using Arch Linux, so here's a detailed guide on how to install Arch Linux.

Note: This is a log process, so I'll divide it into 2 articles. This is the first part, enjoy it!

For this example, I'll use a VMware virtual machine. Let's begin.

Prerequisites:
  • The Arch Linux .iso image. You can download it here.
Steps:

Create and boot the Virtual Machine

1. Open VMware Workstation.
2. Go to File > New Virtual Machine
3. Select 'Custom(advanced)' and click 'Next'
4. Click 'Next'
5. Select 'Installer disc image file'
6. Browse the .iso file you downloaded earlier.
7. Click 'Next'
8. Select 'Linux'
9. In the 'Version' drop down, select 'Other Linux 3.x kernel 64 bit'. In case you have a 32 bit version, select 'Other Linux 3.x kernel'.
New virtual machine wizard
10. Click 'Next'
11. Type a name for the virtual machine and click 'Next'
12. I'll leave the Processor configuration as it comes by default. Click 'Next'


13. I'll leave the RAM value by default. Click 'Next'
14. Continue with the wizard and leave all the values by default (this is for this example). Then click 'Finish'
15. Turn the virtual machine on

Now you'll see this screen:

Arch Linux first screen
16. Select 'Boot Arch Linux (x86_64)'. For a 32 bit architecture use 'Boot Arch Linux (i686)'. Next, you'll see this:

Arch Linux console
 As with older version of Linux, most of the actions will take place here, in the console. This can be scary for many new users, but you get used to it. Let's continue.

Partition disk

OK, this part can be tricky. There are several options to partition the disk for Arch Linux. I'll use here what I think is the best way, but you can look for more details here. Also, I'll only mention the tools I use as I continue, but I won't explain the details on why I selected them, unless it is necessary.

1. Enter this command:

cfdisk /dev/sda

2. Select 'dos'
Label type dos mbr

3. Select 'New' and press Enter.
Arch Linux partition size
*Update*

It is necessary to create a boot partition too, so GRUB can be installed there afterwards. So, before continuing, we'll create it:


  • Set the partition size to 150M
  • Press Enter
  • Select the partition you just created and select 'Type'. Press Enter
  • Select BIOS boot and press Enter
After that, you should see this:
MBR boot

*End of Update*


Once you have the boot partition, create another partition selecting the Free space and selecting 'New'. Now I'll follow this guide I wrote for Ubuntu some time ago. So, I'll assign 40% of the total space to the root partition. The total size of the disk I'm using for this example is 8GB, so set it to 3GB (approximately 40% of 8GB) and hit Enter, then select 'primary' and press Enter.

4. Select 'Free space' and 'New', then hit Enter.

7. Assign this partition 3.9GB. This will leave 1GB for the swap area, which is enough for the RAM memory used by this virtual machine (of course, just in this particular case). Hit Enter, select 'primary' and hit Enter again.

10. Select 'Free space', 'New' and press Enter. Now I have just 997MB for the swap area. I'll use all that space. 

11. Select the partition you just created and select 'Type', then press Enter. Then, select '82 Linux Swap / Solaris' and press Enter.
After all that, you should see this:
12. Now select 'Write' and press Enter. Type 'yes' and press Enter again.
13. Select 'Quit' and press Enter (ignore the message in 'Quit': Quit program without writing partition table. It will be saved anyway).

This is all for now, I hope it's useful!
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