Höstlöv fotograferat med Raynox DCR-250 makro-förlins [foto: Henrik Hemrin]

Makrofotografering, det ger nya perspektiv. Och motiv som annars kanske inte ens vore motiverat att vara motiv. 

På ett klubbmöte med LM Ericssons fotoklubb för flera år sedan, troligen hösten 2015, så gästades vi av en fotograf som rekommenderade Raynox makro förlins modell 250, 8 dioptrier. Jag tror jag minns vilken fotograf det var. I så fall köpte jag en barnbok av honom med makrofotografier, som jag gav bort. Men jag har glömt vad han hette.

Eftersom jag sedan länge haft ett Tamron 90 mm makroobjektiv så har rekommendationen legat som en notering och vilat. 

Nu har jag köpt en Raynox DCR-250 förlins från Objektivtest.se. Förlins sätts framför ordinarie objektiv, till skillnad mot mellanringar som sätts mellan objektiv och kamerahus.

Varför detta inköp, när jag har ett makro? Jo, förutom att Raynox DCR-250 går att sätta på olika brännvidder, så kan det vara lättare att ta med sig Raynox DCR-250 istället för att ta med ett extra objektiv. Ja, sen kan man förstås montera den på ett makroobjektiv och få mega-makro! Prismässigt ligger en sådan här makrolins på en bråkdel av vad makroobjektiv kostar.

Jag har provat min Raynox DCR-250 makro-förlins lite grann. Så det här är knappast en riktig och objektiv utvärdering. Å andra sidan är det ju en förlins och inte ett objektiv. För den som är intresserad av en betydligt mer professionell test, läs gärna Christian Nilssons test på Objektivtest.se.

Alla som använt ett makroobjektiv vet att det är bäst att ha ett stativ eller något annat som fixerar kameran bättre än den egna kroppen. Motivet har liksom en förmåga att åka runt i hela sökaren, och utanför sökaren.

Så gjorde jag inte, utan nu testade jag ju då utan något som helst stativ. Det var en gråfuktig novemberdag på enstaka plusgrad och med lite vindpustar när jag testade. För att få någon rimlig chans till skärpa någonstans, så valde jag slutarprioritet på 1/125 s. Denna ljussvaga dag gav det full bländaröppning på 1,8. Med andra ord inget problem att slippa skärpedjup med fokus även i bakgrunden - riktigt kort skärpedjup blev det.

Den första bilden är ett löv som sitter på ett äppelträd. Den andra bilden är ett skrumpnat äpple i golfbollsstorlek på samma träd. Det skrumpna äpplet visar verkligen ser hur litet skärpedjupet är. Makro ger alltid litet skärpedjup, och stor bländaröppning gör det ändå kortare. Jag har inte gjort någon beskärning (av bilderna alltså, trädet är säkert beskuret).

Skrumpet äpple på trädet fotograferat med Raynox DCR-250 makroförlins [foto: Henrik Hemrin]

Ingen av dessa två bilder har någon ambition att utvärdera den optiska kvalitén på linsen. Då måste man vara mycket mer noggrann med förutsättningarna. För sådan testning, kolla som sagt in till exempel Christians test. Trots allt tycker särskilt lövet ändå är rätt snyggt.

Linsen levereras med en hållare där man gängar fast linsen. Hållaren har två fjädrande "hakar" med gängspår, som man lätt fäster i det ordinarie objektivet (eller filter som sitter framför). Funkar för 52-67 mm. Förlinsen har 43 mm gänga, för montering i hållaren eller direkt i objektivet. Hållaren är i plast, och möjligen kan jag fundera hur hållbara särskilt de fjädrande hakarna är. Jag får återkomma om 20 år med rapport.

Till linsen följer (självklart) främre och bakre linsskydd. När filtret är monterat i hållaren går det bra att ha det främre linsskyddet på. Men det bakre linsskyddet går inte sätta på när det är monterat i filterhållaren. Jag förstår att det är en liten utmaning att konstruera. Kanske kunde man haft med två bakre skydd, ett som passar när linsen är omonterad och ett annat när det är monterat i hållaren. I alla fall har jag inte kommit på hur man ska kunna skydda linsen i monterat utförande i hållaren, när man inte har det på kameralinsen, och det är lite synd.

Hur som helst, ett bra kameratillbehör som gör det enkelt att ta sig ett makro! 

För bägge bilderna gäller:
Objektiv: Nikkor 50 mm, 1.8
Makro förlins: Raynox DCR-250 (8 dioptrier)
Kamera: Nikon D90
Slutarprioritet: 1/125 s
ISO: 200
Apertur: f/1.8
RAW-konvertering och efterbehandling: Corel AfterShot Pro 3
Bilderna är obeskurna

Henrik Hemrin
5 november 2019

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I started the writing of this article in a plain text editor. [photo: Henrik Hemrin]

My first word processor I recall was WordPerfect. It was at Ericsson. Probably on an Ericsson PC, or perhaps an Nokia PC. Ericsson sold the PC division to Nokia, as I remember. At Ericsson the company was EIS, Ericsson Information Systems. This must have been using DOS Operating system, well before Windows arrived.

WordPerfect had one nice feature: With a Function key, you could split the screen horizontal. The upper half was the text. The lower half was the text with the "markup" included; like "<title"hej< title="">. This made it very simple to clean and correct the markup. I do not know which markup language WordPerfect was using, if it was their own version or a common one. At that time, I would say WordPerfect was dominating the market. WordPerfect still exist, now owned by Corel.

Some Ericsson colleagues had before WordPerfect used an Ericsson word processor. I probably came across it sometimes, but do not believe I wrote with it.

When I later started to write web pages, I found my WordPerfect experience useful, because web pages are based on HTML. HTML is a markup language, so it was very familiar to use from looking at code in WordPerfect. Nowadays web pages are generally more complicated than only HTML, but still there.

My next word processor at work must have been FrameMaker, a desktop publishing software. FrameMaker is very powerful, using layers, and also having decently good drawing capabilities. I draw numerous mechanical drawings of components in FrameMaker. Later on Adobe acquired FrameMaker. I used FrameMaker for very many years, both on PC and on the SUN Unix Workstation. I also used it at home. FrameMaker is still on the market.

At work, I believe next to come was Word from Microsoft. The software which came to dominate word processing, and still do so to my knowledge.

Talking about Word, Microsoft also had the low budget Works, which I also used somewhat at home.

At home I have also used several other word processors. I think I used one from Lotus, maybe the name was Lotus Notes. Lotus was owned by IBM. I do not believe I used it extensively, at least I do not recall much of the software. Lotus was included in the software package when I bought my IBM Aptiva desktop PC.

For a period I used the word processor from SPCS, Scandinavian PC System, with headquarter in my home town Växjö. SPCS is now part of Visma, the name SPCS still exist. I think they just called it Ord (Word in Swedish). It worked very well, but SPCS stopped the development of their office suite when competition from Microsoft was too hard in that software segment.

StarOffice was a suite developed by a German company. StarOffice was acquired by Sun, who gave it out to use for free, in order to compete with the Microsoft office suite. Sun was later acquired by Oracle. For a period, as I recall, StarOffice had a small fee due to some included proprietary graphics, in parallel with the free OpenOffice variant. I'm not fully clear in my understanding if OpenOffice current relation to Oracle and Apache software foundation which has the Apache OpenOffice.

Anyway, I have been using OpenOffice as my main office suite at home for many years, on Windows as well as on macOS. It currently is my main office suite. However, the development of OpenOffice has stagnated. LibreOffice is a fork of OpenOffice.org. LibreOffice development is very much more active. I use LibreOffice to some extent on macOS. On Linux it is my main office suite. Eventually I will switch to LibreOffice only. But as long time user of OpenOffice... it's hard to say goodbye.

I should mention that both OpenOffice and LibreOffice are fully free to use. But of course, donations to them as to other free open source softwares are welcome and needed to manage software to stay free.

On macOS I also use Pages from Apple. The Apple office suite generally works well for my need. The big advantage is that Pages can both be read and written also on iPhone and iPad.
I prefer to use a word processor installed locally on the machine. I have used Google Documents online, was well as Word online, but not much.

Finally, Text editor with plain text! Text editors of various kinds, where I write in plain text format, e.g. files like document.txt. And in my case normally without any markup include, just pure plain text. Actually, this article, I have started in a text editor. I will import the file to the website and add the html markup when I create the web article in my Joomla Content Management System, with the JCE extension for the article creation.

I have lately gone back to use a plain text editor more often. Why use this more boring format? Because it's simple! Files are as small as possible. And more importantly, the format is understood by every word processor. The format will live on, if any format will live. It is standardized. I believe you can say text format is open source.

Many word processing formats are unique and proprietary. You need to be careful so you will be able to read the files later. Maybe also save as pdf so files can be read at least. Or convert to another format before the software disappears from the market or from my own environment.

Another positive side with plain text editor is I can focus on the text to 100%. Of course, it is often good to start in a word processer where formatting is done at the same time. Shorter notes, like personal minutes, can often be fine to only keep in text format.

I understand some inlcude markup in the text file, maybe using Markdown and possibly with a dedicate Markdown text editor. That will mean the text basically is in text format, but has basic formatting so it can be nicer to read, and directly prepared for web pages or formatting in a more advanced word processor. Something to consider.

I like open source of both the software and document format. Therefore I will probably focus on OpenOffice and LibreOffice for years to come, whenever I am in charge of the decision. In addition to text format. Both OpenOffice and LibreOffice primarily stores in ODF. ODF stands for Open Document Format, an open standard. So I believe for as long time as can be foreseen, documents in ODF format will be possible to read and write in one or another software. The OpenOffice and LibreOffice also have modules for spread sheet, presentations, data bases and more, so they are not only word processors. 

Henrik Hemrin
3 November 2019

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The scanner (and another printer) got a new life with Linux [photo: Henrik Hemrin]

I still have macOS as operating system on my main machine. Not unlikely, I will in the future change to Linux operating system.

My macOS cannot print with an older printer I have. There is no driver.

In the somewhat less old multifunction machine, macOS can print but not scan. There is no driver. 

Yesterday I took the time to explore if I could get them up and running with my laptop where I use Linux Mint as operating system. And yes! Both machines are HP. I installed The HP Linux Imaging and Printing, HPLIP, software as well as related depending software. After installation, both those older machines are usable again! 

Linux is a possibility to give older computers a prolonged life - many Linux distributions are far less resource hungry than Windows. And also other hardware can have a longer life with Linux.

Good for economy, good for sustainability!

To give the full picture, I believe both the printer and the scanner can be used under Microsoft Windows 10, but I'm not certain. I have not Windows installed anymore. 

Further details of the installation

The devices

HP LaserJet M1120MFP (multi function device)

HP LaserJet 1018 (printer)

Before the installation

HP LaserJet M1120MFP where printer worked, but not the scanner.

HP LaserJet 1018 Printer which did not work.

Both are relatively old.

The installation

I installed HPLIP (on Linux Mint 19.2 Xfce), downloaded from the HPs Developer Portal.

On a page before download starts, there is the dropdown to select distro - I selected Linux Mint. There is a relatively detailed step-by-step guide at HPLIP. After download, I basically executed with commands in the Terminal "Command Line Interface". It requested to install more dependencies, which I said yes to (for me, it also required installation of XSane software). In a latter stage, there was a "normal" installation window with some final installations. Only thing I recall about that window that confused me was that I had two devices to finalize, and I also had to finally close the window with the "x", and maybe I installed same thing twice before that.

During HPLIP installation, it found an older version of HPLIP, which I replaced with this new one. However, one difference is that there now also is a "control panel" for the HP devices after this installation. I was not really aware of HPLIP already existed in my installation, I did not check and investigate if it had been possible to solve without going to HPs Developer Portal. In any case, after I installed the newer release of HPLIP, the multifunction device works both as printer (as before) and as scanner. And the other printer also works!

After the installation

HP LaserJet M1120MFP both printer and scanner works.

HP LaserJet 1018 Printer works.

So, the download and installation of HPLIP from HP Developer Portal indeed made the difference for me.

Henrik Hemrin

12 October 2019

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TimeShift takes a backup of my Linux Mint system [photo: Henrik Hemrin]

Linux Mint is an operation system which just works! But not this time. I was surprised of this problem being so difficult to solve. Here is the story:

I had connected my scanner to my laptop, to scan some documents. I used Simple scan, the software which is the basic (simple!) scanning software, coming preinstalled with Linux Mint.

The first document of a couple of pages went fine. I continued with the second document, consisting of more pages including some maps which I scanned in a higher resolution. It worked all the way until I pushed Save. The software stopped working, frozen. I believe it happened because my laptop is a low spec one, with only two GB RAM memory - believe, but not knowing.

Probably I turned off the laptop with the power switch, which maybe was a mistake causing the deeper trouble. In any case, the restart did not solve the program, Simple scan did not start again. Otherwise the laptop worked I tried with re-install of Simple scan, but log file still stated System Out of Memory and killed the process.

I posted a query at Linux Mint Forums. The community is fantastic! It didn't take many minutes until I had the first response.

I installed Xsane, which is another scanning software, and that worked. But Simple scan did not. 

Several messages in the forum, analyse and trials followed. But nothing led to a solution or understanding of the behaviour of Simple Scan. 

I decided to make use of TimeShift, a built in tool for backup of the system, with the possibility to roll back the system to an earlier safe stage.

TimeShift worked, it did indeed roll back in time. But to my surprise, the problem remained despite I rolled back to before it happened. I tried twice more, even further back in time. I am not sure if it is a setting in TimeShift I do not understand, but it is a bit scary if this safe guard does not work. Do you have any thought why TimeShift failed to help me?

In any case, the most important protection is to always have one or preferable multiple back-ups of data.

At this time, another odd problem had occurred: the Start menu had changed from Mint Start meny to a standard Xfce start menu. Maybe because I had done another forced turn off with the power button. Also this didn't go back with TimeShift.

Therefore, I decided to re-install Linux Mint. I have very little data on this laptop, so no big work to save data - and of course I already had the backup of the data. Linux Mint is fast to install, maybe 20 minutes. Then comes software updates, installation of additional software and settings, but not a big task. It had been more work if it had been my main computer.

With the new Linux Mint 19.2 Xfce installation, Simple scan works normally, as well as everything else!

Instead of forcing power off with the power button, I got this advice in the forum:

If you need to forcefully shut down Mint, dont use the power switch. Instead give
sync command first.
Then hold ctrl, alt and prtsc these 3 keys and type reisub to reboot.

For more details of this issue, read the complete forum thread:
https://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=90&t=303211 

Despite this trouble, I highly recommend Linux Mint, or any other Linux distribution of your choice.

Henrik Hemrin
12 October 2019

Rolling back in time with TimeShift in Linux Mint [photo: Henrik Hemrin]

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My laptop with Linux Mint 19.2 Xfce installed [photo: Henrik Hemrin]

I keep on exploring Linux! The Linux family is a great alternative operating system for computers. Linux is very much more than operation systems for e.g. laptops and desktops, but that is my focus in this article. 

In November 2018 I installed Linux Mint 19.0 Cinnamon on my laptop, replacing Windows 10. I have been a happy Linux Mint Cinnamon user since then on my secondary computer. However, after considering that this cheap laptop indeed has limited system resources, I came to the conclusion I should change to the Xfce desktop. I wanted to stick to Linux Mint, because it works so well.

Linux Mint may very well be the distribution I will use also when I invest in a new computer with more resources some day. And eventually become my main operating system instead of the macOS I currently have on my main computer.

A couple of weeks ago I replaced my Linux Mint 19.2 Cinnamon with Linux Mint 19.2 Xfce. Linux Mint 19.2 uses Xfce release 4.12 from February 2015. In August 2019 Xfce released 4.14, and I believe this new desktop release will be included when Mint comes with release 19.3 later this year.

The Mint team has integrated their desktop options to have similar look and feel; I definitely feel I still use Mint. Cinnamon is more "modern" and is also the desktop developed by the Mint team, it should be the best one to use with Mint, if system resources is not limited. However, all three desktop variants (Cinnamon, MATE and Xfce) can be choosen based on personal preferences.

Installation went without any issue, I updated software, configured, added some additional software, and the system works well. This time I encrypted the full SSD hard drive during installation.

I have updated my RAM resource comparison article to include this new installation.

Characteristics of my laptop; a Lenovo ideapad 100s-14IBR; CPU: 1.60 GHz dual core, eMCC (SSD) Hard drive: 32 GB, RAM: 2 GB.

Try Linux you too!

27 September 2019
Henrik Hemrin

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Executing the whoami command in the Linux Mint Xfce Terminal [photo: Henrik Hemrin]

Who am I? Ask the Command Line Interface! 

The Command Line Interface is a powerful tool available in computers, e.g. via a terminal window like above. It is generally less used by "ordinary" computer users like myself nowadays, than in the old days before windows existed (for example in the DOS-days). But I like to use it more in the future than I have done the last years. I am very far from an expert on command line commands. 

The language can be fun and straightforward. And sometimes a lot of abbreviations. The command "whoami" is very straightforward, to find out Who am I; the logged in identity. Apperently it's henrik this time... Normally whoami command is not one of the most useful in the toolbox, probably it can be more useful when you are working remotely and becomes uncertain. For sure, there has been a need for the command, that is why it exist.

Whenever you need more info about a command, type "man whoami"; man for manual.  

Bryan Lunduke recently wrote the fun article "Without a GUI--How to Live Entirely in a Terminal" in Linux Journal magazine.

This snapshot above is from my Linux Mint Xfce Terminal window. Same command is available in the macOS Terminal. I'm not sure if this command exist in Windows. 

Be brave and try the terminal and try commands!

Henrik Hemrin

21 August 2019

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Operating Systems for Smart Phones

I would say that Symbian was the first widely used Operating System (OS) for smart phones. But often iPhone with iOS is seen as the fist smart phone. 

Market situation

Today the worldwide market is extremely dominated by Android (by Google) and iOS (by Apple).

Many OS have been discontinued, or are close to become discontinued. Wikepedia has a good overview

Windows Mobile - what happened?

Some years ago, Windows launched its Windows Mobile OS for e.g. smart mobile phones. I remember I thought it was a really interesting and a smart move by Microsoft. Their Windows for e.g. computers was (and still is) very successful and widely used both in business as at home. When Microsoft also was going to have the Windows for mobiles, they would have a complete portfolio like Apple. Nokia was the major brand going for Windows Mobile, while basically everybody else was going to Android from Google. Beside Apple which continued to use their own iOS. BlackBerry existed but was losing its innovative status and basically disappeared from the market. Microsoft acquired Nokia, hence also became a manufacturer of mobile devices. For some reason - I am sure there are many articles about it - Windows Mobile did not become a success and is now almost gone from the market. Despite it was launched by a big company as Microsoft.

Alternatives

There also are some alternatives, existing and in development. Some of the more interesting are:

Many of above are OpenSource, and many are based on Linux.

Is there any more important or promising I have not listed?

Conditions for changing to one of the alternatives

Personally, I am interested to change over to an OpenSource based phone with good security and privacy, not at least if it also is Linux based. But to be really interesting, it must not only be phones available with the OS (or possible to install myself). The needed applications must also be there. And not only the "global" apps like web browsers, note pads, podcaster, camera, but also the more local ones. Local, for me that is Swedish. Two examples of local apps I indeed consider very important to have on my mobile: SJ (national rail) and BankID (identification and login to many public and commercial services in Sweden). If I cannot get the local apps, the interest of that mobile or mobile OS will drop significantly. I monitor the market, and I hope there will be an OpenSource solution which is secure with a good privacy.

A new upcoming alternative? HarmonyOS

A new OS was announced 9 August 2019: HarmonyOS, by Huawei. Press release: https://consumer.huawei.com/en/press/news/2019/huawei-launches-harmonyos

The announcement was done at the Huawei Developer Conference. Currently there is a trade conflict ongoing between USA and China, and the possibilities for Huawei to continue to use Android on their phones (etc) is very uncertain. Market has talked about that Huawei has been preparing for such situation for a long time. Although the announcement does not talk about the trade conflict, I cannot stop relating to it.

The word "Harmony" is not chosen by random, I am certain. It is a political statement. Anyone who follow China politics, knows harmony is a slogan word from the Chinese political world.

However, it is not clear if HarmonyOS is intended for mobile phones and other advanced OS products. They write about a seamless experience across devices. "It will first be used for smart devices like smart watches, smart screens, in-vehicle systems, and smart speakers." It appears as HarmonyOS 1.0 will be for limited number of products categories, with intention to add more categories later.

HarmonyOS is its own OS, based on nothing else. It means it has no need to consider any legacy support of existing hardware or software. But I really cannot comment the technical description of HarmonyOS, that is far beyond my competence.

It will be released as open-source. I think that is necessary, if no other reason to give trust and confidence in it, in particular outside China. China is a dictatorship and a closed OS from China would not be trusted. 

Are they aiming for Harmony OS to be used by competitors? Depending on which type of devices that will run on HarmonyOS, how many developers worldwide will develop apps for it? What market penetration will it get? Huawei has a huge domestic market to start with.

If Huawei cannot use Android in the future due to trade restrictions - is it HarmonyOS that is the replacement or is it another OS they will consider for such devices? Will HarmonyOS become and alternative for mobiles and tablets? Or will it fail like Windows Mobile?

It will be interesting to read what more competent people with write about HarmonyOS. And learn more about it when more details are available.

Henrik Hemrin

10 August 2019

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Linux Mint Badge

A couple of days ago I updated the operating system from Linux Mint 19.1 Cinnamon to 19.2. Release 19.2 is a very fresh release, it has been out for about a week.

How did it go to update to the new release? Well, like when I updated from 19 to 19.1 a couple of months ago, the update process went smoothly. It just works! After reboot, I also updated the Linux Kernel to 4.15.0-55.

Not counting backup time, reading info etc, but counting when I pushed execute in the update manager until update was installed, less than ten minutes had gone.

If I recapture, this is a fairly new laptop that I bought 12 April 2016, which came with Windows 10 preinstalled. But last year I had to give up to install Windows updates, the computer was too weak for updates, in particular hard disk size. I tried endlessly with deleting temp files and other tips and tricks and tools from Microsoft, but still not ok. Possibly a complete re-install had beed possible. But now with Linux Mint, the update just works, no issue at all with hard disk size, RAM memory or anything else to manage the updates! 

This laptop is still a bit on the lower side for Linux Mint Cinnamon; a change to Linux Mint Xfce or an even more resource like Puppy or Slax would work better. But when I use it for simple tasks, such as simple scanning, simple web browsing on not too heavy web site or multiple tabs, or a bit of document writing, and basically one thing at a time, also Linux Mint Cinnamon is ok for this laptop.

Characteristics of this cheap laptop; a Lenovo ideapad 100s-14IBR: 

CPU: 1.60 GHz dual core, eMCC (SSD) Hard drive: 32 GB, RAM: 2 GB.

Henrik Hemrin

6 August 2019

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Linux Mint LMDE 3 is loaded on my laptop, with terminal window open [photo: Henrik Hemrin]

Another chapter in my Linux journey 

I have a cheap laptop which could not handle Windows 10 updates any more, “Short life time for my cheap laptop”. I swapped Windows 10 for Linux Mint 19 Cinnamon (now 19.2), and got my ”Cheap laptop reborn”.

Now, in my at least third edition of this article, I have swapped from Linux Mint 19.2 Cinnamon to Linux Mint 19.2 Xfce. More about that further into the article.

I have been curious in Linux for many years. Back in time I was using Unix on a Sun machine at work for several years, during that time Linux was invented.

Linux is actually the central ”kernel”, the complete operating system is more correct to refer as ”GNU/Linux”. Although in daily talk it is often just ”Linux”. Linux is an alternative Operating system to Windows, macOS and ChromeOS. GNU/Linux have more than hundred different Operating systems available based on the Linux kernel, so GNU/Linux is actually not one alternative, there are multiple alternatives. To be fair, ChromeOS, is actually also based on Linux. 

I was researching about different Linux distributions (distros) before I finally selected Linux Mint with the Cinnamon desktop as my choice to install. I do indeed like both Mint and its Cinnamon desktop.

One common application to use is a web browser. Therefore I did some research of how hungry some different browsers are, see ”Memory resources for web browsers in Linux Mint”. 

My Linux Mint Cinnamon works, but the needed resources are quite high for this cheap laptop. The amount/which applications I can use is limited.

Main characteristics of this laptop: CPU: 1.60 GHz dual core, eMCC (SSD) Hard drive: 32 GB and RAM: 2 GB.

Now I have come to next step to investigate how to be able to enjoy this Linux laptop even more; I will look into RAM memory resources for the operating system.

So far, in my exploring of Linux Mint for half a year, I am happy with Linux Mint Cinnamon. It is nice looking, stable, good functions, a lot of software in repository, updates works well, yeah, it is indeed a good operating system.

My primary intention with my testing in this article is to compare the Linux Mint variants, and benchmark them to a few other distros. To bear in mind, the "desktop environment" of a distro, is not only the "layout" of the screen, it also mean different "basic" tools, like different file managers as an example. 

There are hundreds more distros out there, and in long term I may very well use one of those other. I have no intention to benchmark all good distros in this evaluation.

The magazine Linux Journal, January 2019, the article The State of Desktop Linux 2019, has a chart for RAM usage of six different desktop environments, measured on Debian. It gives a good overview. However, I want to do a test myself and do it slightly different, and see how it is on my own laptop. So, here comes my findings.

Test objects

Linux Mint is available in four flavors. Three of the flavors are based on Ubuntu, but with different desktops:

  • Cinnamon 19.1
  • Cinnamon 19.2
  • MATE 19.1
  • Xfce 19.1
  • Xfce 19.2

The fourth Mint flavor is instead based on Debian (and Ubuntu is based on Debian). It only comes with Cinnamon desktop:

  • LMDE 3

I benchmark with four other distros. All except the first one are generally seen as lightweight:

Test condition

All distros were started via USB, except Slax, which I started from a DVD. I was connected to WiFi, and I had also a portable USB hard drive connected. But else I had no application ongoing started by myself. Hopefully the figures are in a relatively comparable idle status. However, the more I think of it, I should have been more careful in when I measure, what applications I have started or closed, and take an average value over a certain period of time. Still, I think the result give an indication.

Comparison Live-USD and installed Linux Mint

The ”Linux Mint 19.1 Cinnamon Current installation” and "Linux Mint 19.2 Cinnamon Current installation", is the installed operating system on the laptop hard drive, with my configuration, which among else includes VPN service activated. It should also be said that other programs are more or less active, compared to the Live-CD-versions above.

Linux Mint 19.2 Cinnamon

Yesterday, 3 August 2019, In upgraded my laptop from LM 19.1 to LM 19.2. I also afterwards updated the Linux Kernel to 4.15.0-55. LM 19.2 was released a couple of days ago. The new release includes also a new release of the Cinnamon desktop, release 4.2. Cinnamon 4.2 is stated to need significantly less RAM memory than 4.0. Therefore, I was curious to see how it is on my machine. More about Linux Mint Cinnamon 19.2 on their web site. 

Linux Mint 19.2 Xfce

A couple of weeks ago (said 27 September 2019), I replaced Cinnamon desktop with Xfce. The Xfce version is 4.12, released in February 2015. Xfce launced the new version 4.14 in August 2019. I expect this release 4.14 to be included in Linux Mint 19.3 Xfce, late 2019. 

Xfce is considered as desktop needing few resources. As my laptop does not have so much resources, I want to free so much resources as possible to applications. Only to start a browser like Firefox will eat a lot of the free resources. I have used both Cinnamon and Xfce too little, to really give a bold statement on advantages and disadvantages. Cinnamon has a more modern feeling, and is also developed by the Mint team, hence the most ov´bvious choice. Both are good enough and with my low system resources on this laptop, the needed system resources is the most important factor to consider. 

Result

Chart over free RAM memory for the tested distros [graph: Henrik Hemrin]

 

Test result table
Distro  Free  Used  Buffer/
Cashe
Slax 9.5.0   1 308 584    138 124  450 560
Puppy 8.0  861 500  124 312  902 988
Mint Xfce 19.1  773 172  343 760  769 392
Mint Xfce 19.2 Installed 664 908 607 384 614 128
Peppermint 10  652 116  300 288  933 692
Mint LMDE 3  644 504  535 432  717 256
Mint Cinnamon 19.2 585 604 493 456 807 232
Mint Cinnamon 19.1  581 328  497 328  807 668
Mint  MATE 19.1  568 984  355 544  961 796
Mint Cin 19.1 Installed   391 676 786 216 708 400
Mint Cin 19.2 Installed 383 028 773 068 730 192
elementary 5 243 040 507 616   1 135 660

 

I have used the command “top” in a terminal window to get the result.

Discussion and some words about the distros

Slax is indeed the least memory hungry of them all, by far. It has extremely few applications in the installation. It has a Chromium web browser, and a few more things pre-installed. My feeling is that it is part of the idea, that the user always is online using cloud services.

Puppy comes next, and is more ”traditional” when it comes to pre-installed software. It has Pale Moon web browser.

Peppermint is not that very lightweight in this selection. I notice, Peppermint has Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar and Microsoft Office Online pre-installed. But not e.g. LibreOffice. Peppermint also target a more always on-line and cloud services user.

As I had expected, of the four Mint versions, Xfce is least memory consuming. Mint is a distro-family with a relatively complete portfolio of useful software included in the initial installation. I was surprised, that the LMDE version, with Cinnamon, came out as second of the Mint distributions, although well behind Xfce. The difference between LM 19.1 and 19.2 with Cinnamon is neglible. 

The LMDE is a relatively new addition to the Mint family. It is a Mint project they have started to be prepared if Ubuntu one day will not be available any more. As I understand, LMDE is already fully usable. Ubuntu is a free open Linux distro, but it is owned by the commercial company Canonical. Actually right now, the June issue of the official Linux Mint blog writes about a concern with Ubuntu and their Snap library. It is a concern Snap may become mandatory to use, hence users of Ubuntu-based will then be in the hands of Ubuntu and Canonical. It may very well not happen, but it indeed makes the LMDE version even more interesting.

Finally, elementary required most RAM memory. It is what I expected. Elementary is a macOS look-alike distro. The state themself as "Fast, open and privacy-respecting replacement for Windows and macOS". Although elementary is free to download, they have a different approach as they at the same time also ask for "pay as you want" before downloading. I understand it is the same when downloading applications. The other distros are free to download without question, but they generally have a request for donations. 

Installed versions

When I compare my newly installed LM 19.2 Cinnamon to the previous installed LM 19.1 Cinnamon, it is not so ease to tell, it depends... I have saved three measurements values of free RAM: 73 736, 305 056 and 383 028. In the first measurement, Time shift software was running, which indeed took a share of the memory. To give a really correct comparison, I should review exactly what is running and using resources. It had been doable of course with e.g. deeper analyse of the top commande in the Terminal window - but in this article I wanted to stay at an easy level of analysing. I also know that Mint team states that needed memory resources depends on which graphics card is used. My little test, is too simple to establish a correct comparison between LM 19.1 and LM 19.2 installed versions. 

Concluding for this laptop

This laptop, Lenovo ideapad 100s-14IBR; CPU: 1.60 GHz dual core, eMCC (SSD) Hard drive: 32 GB, RAM: 2 GB, is a secondary machine for me. My primary machine is a desktop Mac mini, running on latest macOS. I use this laptop typically:

  • When I need a mobile machine
  • To explore Linux and Linux applications, for general curiosity and knowledge, and learning for eventually switching to Linux as my primary operating system (on a more powerful machine)

Elementary is not relevant for this laptop, but still a distro I keep my eye on to eventually use in the future on a better machine. All the other can be relevant, considering this laptop alone. My personal feeling is that Puppy and Mint are those I would prefer.

However, if I see this laptop as a Linux earning machine, I think I will stick to Mint, as it indeed is one of the distros I consider for an eventually coming primary machine. Linux Mint seems to be a Linux distro that "simply works" without hard efforts! Xfce is best of them when it comes to memory resources. 

Henrik Hemrin

10 July 2019

Updated 4-5 August 2019 with Linux Mint 19.2

Updated 27 September 2019 with Linux Mint 19.2 Xfce installed.

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Aktier kan vara alternativ till att spara pengar i plånbok eller madrass [foto: Henrik Hemrin]

Apple eller Microsoft – vilken har varit bäst? 

För fem år sedan startade jag ett experiment. Jag ville se om Apple eller Microsoft är bäst aktie att äga. På en och samma dag köpte jag en post Apple och en post Microsoft för samma belopp.

Jag tog ingen hänsyn till hur aktierna gått just då, datumet var utifrån när jag var redo att köpa. Bägge bolagen var även för fem år sedan enormt stora, väldigt väletablerade och väldigt välkända. Apple var förmodligen det hippaste bolaget av dem då, likväl som nu.

Aktierna köptes till ett ISK-konto (Investeringssparkonto) hos Aktieinvest. ISK-konto innebär att man betalar en skatt till staten, baserat på en procentsats på förmögenheten som finns på kontot. Framför allt är det aktier och aktiefonder som är lämpliga att ha på kontot, räntefonder och kontanta medel äts upp av skatten. Denna skatt får man betala vare sig aktier och fonder går upp eller ner. I gengäld blir det ingen skatt när man tar ut pengar från ISK-kontot, eller köper och säljer inom ISK-kontot. Deklaration av ISK-konto är mycket enklare än om man har aktier på traditionellt VP-konto eller depå.

Aktieinvest är en nätmäklare som ger rätt bra möjligheter att även köpa utländska aktier till rimlig avgift (courtage). De har också ”andelsorder” som gör att man kan köpa för ett specifikt belopp, och ganska små belopp, och så blir det så många aktier och delar av aktier som beloppet räcker till. För utländska aktier är det enbart andelsorder som gäller hos dem. Aktieinvest har också en intressant tjänst i att de utan extra avgift automatiskt återinvesterar utdelningarna. När jag började använda Aktieinvest ägdes de av Aktiespararna, där jag är medlem. Aktieinvest är nu sålt till utomstående bolag, men fortfarande finns speciella förmåner för medlemmar i Aktiespararna.

Det här med att återinvestera utdelningarna är intressant att göra om man inte känner att man vill använda utdelningen som en inkomstkälla att förbruka omgående. Detta eftersom de återinvesterade utdelningarna blir till inköp av fler aktier (och genom andelsordersystemet så kan man köpa delar av aktier), man har fler aktier som nästa gång leder till mer utdelning, och så återinvesteras detta också och allt blir underlag för nästa utdelning. Återinvestering görs vid varje aktieutdelning (om det blir utdelning), vilket för just dessa aktier varit flera gånger per år. Ja, det är detta som är den berömda ränta-på-ränta-effekten, när den appliceras på aktier. Ränta-på-ränta blir det ju förstås också på ett sparkonto, även om räntan just nu är relativt låg.

Graf över utveckling av aktierna för Apple och Microsoft under fem år [graf: Henrik Hemrin]

Så hur har det gått då? Ja, efter knappa fem år så har Microsoft gått klart bättre än Apple! Men båda har gått bra. För bägge bolagen har det ursprungligen investerade beloppet mer än fördubblats! Största värdeökningen står kursökningen för. Men notera också de gula och gröna staplarna som är utdelningarna och hur mycket de är värda efter återinvestering. Utdelningarna är inte så jättestora, men bidrar ändå till ökningen, och den effekten ökar med åren. Microsofts utdelningar har drygt fördubblats tack vare att de har återinvesterats i stället för att plockas ut.

Bägge dessa aktier handlas i USA och i dollar. Mitt ISK-konto är i svenska kronor, all min interaktion görs i svenska kronor. Valutornas förändringar mellan varandra påverkar utvecklingen. På vilket sätt valutan påverkat under dessa fem år har jag inte ens försökt att utreda.

Det finns många sätt att hantera sparande i aktier (och fonder). Jag tycker bättre och bättre om ”latmansprincipen”, eller bli miljonär i hängmattan för att låna ett uttryck från en boktitel (mer nedan). Latmansprincipen går i grunden ut på att man köper en aktie, och så behåller man den (och gärna återinvesterar utdelningen), tills man behöver pengarna. Detta passar bra för ”stabila” bolag som puttrar på år efter år. Visst bör man ändå ha koll på att företaget ser ut att puttra på även under kommande år. Liksom att man inte står med allt för mycket av sitt sparande i en aktie. Men det är väldigt bekvämt att låta aktien i huvudsak bara sköta sig själv till dess jag behöver pengarna (eller snarast en tid innan jag behöver pengarna). Jag slipper studera börskurser och andra analyser i detalj för att att bestämma mig om det kanske är bättre att sälja och hoppa till en annan aktie, med svårigheten att fatta rätt beslut både för sälj och köp, liksom avgifter som tillkommer vid varje affär.

När jag köper en aktie, så innebär det att jag lånar ut pengar till företaget. Jag är därmed ägare av företaget, tillsammans med andra ägare. Jag tycker det är bra med bolag som fokuserar på långsiktighet snarare än nästa kvartalsrapport, att företaget har som mål att finnas kvar länge och göra gott för ägare, kunder, anställda liksom samhället och jorden i stort. Det är också ett skäl till att jag gillar latmansprincipen i ägandet, att stanna länge i bolaget och inte hoppa runt. Även om jag nu är en lillepluttägare.

Är man intresserad av att spara i aktier och även fonder, då vill jag rekommendera att bli medlem i Aktiespararna. Inte minst för deras månatliga tidnings skull, men också för lokala träffar med mera.

Det finns massor av böcker att läsa förstås. Jag ska i denna artikel rekommendera en författare, som jag nämnde ovan och som skriver i linje med det jag skrivit ovan: Per H Börjesson. En tunn och snabbläst bok av honom är "Så här blir du miljonär i hängmattan". Lite tjockare, men ändå inte så tjocka är ”Så här kan alla svenskar bli miljonärer” och ”Så här blir du miljonär som pensionär”. Jag har läst alla tre, de liknar varandra och är läsvärda allihopa. Så här mitt i semestertider rekommenderar jag den tunnaste och senaste av dem; "Så här blir du miljonär i hängmattan".

Boken Så här blir du miljonär i hängmattan, av Per H Börjesson [foto: Henrik Hemrin]

När det gäller min tävling mellan Apple och Microsoft så är jag lite överraskad att Microsoft gått såpass mycket bättre än Apple under denna femårsperiod. Bägge bolagen känns robusta och jag tror de har en bra framtid de närmaste åren. Jag kan ha fel, men det är vad jag tror. Just nu behöver jag inte de pengarna jag har investerat i dem. Det finns därför ingen anledning för mig att inte vara lat med dessa aktier tills vidare, utan låta tävlingen fortsätta, inklusive ränta-på-ränta. Det är alltid en risk med aktier. Även om de har gått upp efter denna femårsavstämning, så kan de gå ner både lite och mycket eller i värsta fall gå i konkurs. Om man ska spara i aktier, så ska man definitivt ha fler än två aktier. Och köpa vid olika tillfällen.

Henrik Hemrin

30 juni 2019

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