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.


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. 


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


Test result table
Distro  Free  Used  Buffer/
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.

List of all my Linux articles

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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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DVD player [photo: Henrik Hemrin]

DVD records replaced e.g. the analog VHS cassettes, for renting and buying movies. DVD, as being digital, made it possible to include a digital lock on the DVDs. A regional lock was included in many or most of pre-recorded DVDs. It was as far as I know an economical thing for the lock – it should stop customers (and other import channels) to buy the DVD from a country (region) where the prize level was different to the prize level the home country.

The DVD player you bought was (and I believe same when you buy today) coded for one specific region. DVDs from other regions didn't work to play. However, it was often possible to clear this code from the player, making it possible to play DVDs from any region. I recall when I bought my player, it was possible in the store to get a paper instruction for the specific player I bought how to clear the regional bar, quite a simple process. Also DVD players/burners for computers have a regional bar, and can be changed perhaps five times.
Today, DVDs are less frequently used. But watching movies via any sort of play function over internet is becoming more and more common.

Some movies (and other programs, radio stations and more) are open, but many are limited to a country. Again it is, to my opinion, because of financial reasons. The provider may only have license for certain country, or want to keep different prizes in different countries. Or maybe, it can also be to launch a new movie at different times in different countries.

I use a Virtual Private Network, VPN. I use it to improve my privacy and security in my online activities. I use it for all my devices: PC, tablet and phone. When I use VPN, I create “a virtual private tunnel”; the traffic is routed via a server owned by the VPN company. I can choose a VPN server from multiple places and countries. The outer world will only see this server and not my own device. If I choose a VPN server located in another country, the outer world will believe I am in that country. By the way, this a fast and environmental friendly way of travel!

This opens up another way of using VPN: to access media restricted to that country. You bypass the country lock with VPN! In a similar way as you can bypass the region block on DVD records.
Disclaimer: I do not discuss whether it is good or bad it is possible to bypass those restrictions, nor that I encourage to do it. I only discuss the technical matters in this article.

But I indeed recommend VPN of privacy and security reasons. Be careful when you select VPN provider - generally do not choose a free one, choose one you pay for. It is important to trust or know the provider does not monitor or log your traffic. 

Some media providers knows the addresses to those VPN servers and therefore block traffic via them. So it is not always this way of bypassing works technically.

Finally, my VPN provider has servers in Hong Kong. But they do not have in mainland China. So I can route my traffic via Hong Kong, but not via China. An observation in those days when there are massive protests in Hong Kong regarding the extradition bill that the Hong Kong parliament plans to legislate. Which is feared to open for extraditions to China, and one further step for Hong Kong to loose the democracy and human rights it still has and Hong Kong becoming as any China city. And VPN services are becoming more and more forbidden in mainland China. 

Henrik Hemrin

14 June 2019

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Linux Mint Update Manager has completed its task for this time [photo: Henrik Hemrin]

I haven't used my cheap laptop with Linux Mint operating system for a while; for several weeks. For you who have read my other Linux related articles, you know I converted a Windows laptop to a Linux laptop, more precisely Linux Mint operating system. That laptop is my additional computer. I still have a macOS MacMini computer as my main machine. Beside that Linux Mint actually make it possible to keep on using that laptop, I use it for learning Linux and eventually go over more completely to Linux later. 

So today, when I have not used my Linux Mint machine for a while, there are indeed some updates to do. In the Linux Mint world (like for many other Linux distributions), there is a repository/library with a lot of software that can be installed from this repository. For updates, it means that both those additional softwares as well as those installed with the Linux Mint installation, are updated with the Update Manager. The Update Manager checks for updates, as well well check if there is anything additional that is needed to be updated to make each software working. This is a very convient way to keep very much up to date. 

Indeed, there were many updates in the Update Manager. I clicked to install all of them. It went on smoothly. All updates installed. Like other times I have updated my Linux Mint machine. 

I have a few softwares so far which are not installed via the repository. Also such a software needed to be updated. I downloaded the package (.deb) with the Firefox browser. Then I also installed this update smoothly with an installer (another standard installer in Linux Mint, which I have forgotten the name of. 

One remark I have regarding the stadard software repository in Linux Mint is the FlatPak connection. FlatPak is another both method and repository to pack software. As I know, it has a possibility to directly work in different Linux distributions. I have tried once to install a software from FlatPak "via" the ordinary program library software in Linux Mint. However, I discovered that the software was very old, I could compare with the software web site that there were indeed newer releases. I also noticed in the FlatPak description of the software "“NOTE: This wrapper is not verified by, affiliated with, or supported by [developer of the application]”. To me, it appear as someone else inlcuded the software in FlatPak, but have not bothered to keep it up to date. My recommendation is to be somewhat more careful with FlatPak, checking more, before installing. I suppose software in the ordinary repository can also be old, but I do not think they have the same issue with uncontrolled uploads. I asked this in comments of mintCast Episode 301, and it was commented by the team in Episode 302 of the mintCast podcast

Linux Mint is promising, stable with relatively easy maintenance!

Henrik Hemrin

4 June 2019

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A Joomla extension (addition to Joomla developed by someone) has not worked fully as it should. One feature could did not work to customize as it should. In contact with the software developer, he made it work in my test bench. I asked how he did it, and he told me how, as I wanted to introduce it on the live site. I was sitting logged into Joomla backend administration but I did not get it working. I thought I should write in a field in the extension setting page in the backend. After a while, I manage a way to write a bit in the field, but not fully.

Then a thought crossed my mind; I changed to another web browser. And wow, here it worked! I have mostly been using Safari browser, and not seen any issue with Joomla back end. But for this certain setting for this certain extension, I got it working when I used Chrome. I have not compared with other browsers.

But Joomla tip for the day is that if backend does not behave as it should, there is a possibility it can be browser dependent. 

Henrik Hemrin

26 April 2019

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Linux Mint Cinnamon Desktop [photo: Henrik Hemrin]

In earlier articles, I have described my frustration that this laptop is too "weak" for manage its Microsoft Windows 10 updates, despite it is not old. I have also written about how I have swapped the Windows 10 to Linux Mint operation system. Click on the Linux tag below to find all my Linux related articles. 

So, what does Linux Mint look like on my laptop? Above is a snapshot of my reborn laptop; Lenovo ideapad 100s-14IBR. The operating system is Linux Mint 19.1 with Cinnamon desktop. The program menu at the bottom left is expanded to see some of the installed software. It does not look so unfamiliar or frightening, right? 

I have done very few changes of the desktop layout so far. There are many possibilities to customize the layout. Leo Chavez, one the Mintcast pod hosts, describes how he has customized his Cinnamon desktop in his article Coming Home to Mint

A few words about meaning of "Cinnamon": Many Linux distributions are available in different variants. Linux Mint has three major variants based on the Cinnamon, MATE and Xfce desctops, respectively. Cinnamon needs most resources of those three, and possibly I will change to one of the other for this low-end PC. Cinnamon is said to be the most populare and nicest of them. Linux Mint is based on the Ubunti distribution. There is also a LMDE version of Linux Mint; based "directly" on Debian distribution instead of Ubuntu. 

More about Linux Mint on their home page: https://www.linuxmint.com

Henrik Hemrin

1 April 2019

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Lock your accounts in a safe way.

Unique and strong passwords!

Unique and strong passwords for each account is the most important to keep your accounts decently safe. 

Earlier this week it was reported that Facebook has made a mistake and stored millions of passwords in plain text. Reported for example an article in Wired; Facebook stored millions of passwords in plaintext—change yours now. And this is not the first time accounts have, or possible have been revealed, by mistake or by hackers. 

Every time something like this Facebook case is published, and you have an account at the affected sercice: change password directly!

My short recommendation for passwords: A unique and strong passwords for each account.

Passwords, a somewhat longer recommendation:

  • Use one password per account - do not reuse
  • Use long and "nonsense" strings (or phrases that only make sens to you); I typically use 30 characters nonsense string
  • Mix letters uppercase, lowercase, digits and special characters (but avoid language specific)
  • It can be debated if it really is necessary to change password regurlarly if it is very strong. But surely no harm to change regularly

In addition, an extra protection layer of Two factor authentification (2FA), is generally good to use whenever available. 

Check if you have an account that has been compromised in a data breach. The data base "Have I been pwned" is a good resource to check if and where your e-mail can be affected.

I can willingly admit that I have been lazy to change password immedeately, nor have I been using strong and unique passwords. But I have improved a lot. :-) For a period of time I have been using a Password manager. It helps a lot. 

Read more about my password journey in the article How I handle Passwords

There are many articles on the internet about passwords, security and privacy. Read more than mine articles, to conclude what you thing is best for you. 

Henrik Hemrin

22 March 2019


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Joomla logo

Joomla! is a Content Management System (CMS) software to handle a web site. The web site itself is stored as files in a file catalog, and in a data base. Joomla! is the software to create, update, administrate etc the entire web site - so normally no need to go into the file catalog or data base. This basic architecture is common for many web sites. 

Today I have updated this web site to Joomla 3.9.4 release, from the previous 3.9.3. The update process went well without any issue, and I have not seen any issue with the new release. This was a relatively small release with focus on security and bug fixes. 

The most common CMS software for web sites today is by far Wordpress. In the statistics I have seen, Joomla comes then far beyond, with Drupal on third place. 

I converted this web site to Joomla a couple of years ago, from a static html file site. When I am thinking back, why did I choose Joomla? I was mainly considering Wordpress and Drupal, beside Joomla. I was using Drupal already professionally, but only as a lower level administrator. I did not fully like to work with Drupal, but it could well be related to the specific implementation, and that I had so limited access. I also thought it would be nice to try something else. Wordpress was already then very popular. But it was more focused on blogs, and I wanted a CMS that was better designed for any and more advanced web sites, which I get the understanding Joomla had. Furthermore, Joomla is to my understanding the most independent and volontary built of all those Open source CMS's, which also attracted me. I have not regretted I selected Joomla! 

Even if this, and most updates, works without any issue, this is a good scheme for update: 

  1. Backup (and preferable download a local copy/somewhere else)
  2. Read release notes of Extensions to update (especially to understand if there can be any compatibility issue)
  3. Install Extension by extension
  4. Check if web site seems to be working normally
  5. Backup again
  6. Read release notes of the new Joomla release (including system requirements etc)
  7. Install the new Joomla release
  8. Is the "favicon" needed to re-install? If your template is Joomla-origin (not saved under new name), the Joomla-installation likely puts back the Joomla favicon. To put back your own facicon, you simply go the file manager of your web host
  9. Browse around the web site and check it works normal (especially features which release notes talks about)
  10. Read any "After installation messages" in the control panel
  11. Consider actions directly of those messages, especially security relatedor save to later
  12. Consider how I can take advantage of the new features in the new Joomla release (and in the extensions)

What is your thought about different CMS or other methods for web site? What do you use?

Do you want to try out Joomla yourself? Then I can recommend this free trial service! You can use it for trial purpose, but you can also keep it and use it as a real web site - free or paid versions. Try Joomla at launch.joomla.org!

Henrik Hemrin

16 March 2019

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