Team of Rivals

Currently reading this book by Doris Kearns Goodwin and seriously enjoying it. She knits her story together starting off from the morning when the Republican Party’s Presidential Candidate is to be announced in 1860 and introduces the ‘team’ that Lincoln was to bring together. I’m still in the early stages of the book, but so far it is an excellent read with a good background sketch of the characters and their lives up until the nomination race. I’d highly recommend this book even to those who don’t usually read non-fiction.

Team of Rivals cover

Accounts, Passwords and software keys – keep them safe

And one of the simplest ways is to use Keepassx. It works on both Windows and Linux, is pretty easy to install and has the amazing feature of AutoType, where it can type in your passwords, once you unlock the app. So now, there are fewer excuses for not using stronger and stranger passwords.


“Interesting approach to computer security” by Victor Bayon. (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0), downloaded from

Here’s a quick how-to on setting it up for use on your Windows machine! For Linux, RTFM :)

Rufus Rocks!

[rufus icon]Darn, I haven’t written about rufus yet! When I wanted to get Windows installed on to my PC, UNetbootin and others really didn’t cut it for me. Rufus saved my day. When I wanted to do full reinstall of Windows onto my old laptop, again Rufus saved the day.

Rufus is a nifty little utility, about 800kb in size, that takes your install cd image (ISO) and moves it over to USB, so you can install using that instead. While I haven’t used it to burn Linux ISOs, I can heartily recommend it.

[rufus screenshot]

Debian Jessie, annoyingly, does not come with UNetbootin in the main repository. So, here I am using Rufus to move stuff over to the USBs. A reasonably compromise and benefit of the dual boot system I have!

Experimenting with Workspaces

Screenshot from 2015-05-08 09:42:22

Linux has workspaces, yes. No big news, but then I got to wondering how I could use them. I recalled that when I used to work as a support professional, I used to have a two screen setup. One screen for the support tool we used and the second for all the work we did. So, that still got me wondering if I could be a bit more productive with with workspaces. After some searching, I found this page with a ton of responses. What it came down to was the following:

  • Workspaces are an excellent way to separate different piles of work and manage the pile of open apps on your desktop
  • To use workspaces you need to be able to separate your work into different piles
  • Common piles are, “Communications”, “Browsing”, “Work” – which could include writing a document or coding.

Loving Cinnamon and Debian 8

I hated Kubuntu. I realize that now, because where I used to hate the Kubuntu feel, I now absolutely adore Cinnamon’s desktop. It just looks awesome. The fonts are good. The look feels a lot more relaxed compared to what I had configured for Kubuntu.

Screenshot from 2015-05-08 09:29:03

The visual look and feel defined a large part of the experience of working on the desktop, which is why perhaps I felt so comfortable on Windows 7.

All that I’m missing now is a blogging client. I really should set myself to that task. I think it’d be learning experience.

Go get an SSD!

I got an SSD (Solid State Drive) for a laptop early last year. I noticed the overwhelming speed experience and became a fan. Today, after installing it on my own laptop, I noticed that in addition to the speed, the battery life’s now extended by a whopping 2 hours or more!


Yes, you can buy a massive internal drive for the price of a 128 or 256 GB SSD. I think the time and energy savings of buying a smaller SSD are worth it, unless you’re doing massive video edits or dealing with larger files. In that case you might just want to splurge on a larger SSD.

If you’re in India, I can say that the SanDisk X21 is a steal. I’ve tried Samsung’s EVO and they’re awesome – but they’re consumer SSDs. The X21 is targeted at the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) market, and low end server market. So you won’t get a fancy box, or the software to help transfer your current hard drive over, but you’ll get a great bargain for the price and something that’s going to last you a long while!

Debian Jessie on Dell Latitude 6220

I guess I should’ve read my own posts comparing Linux and Windows, before raving on about Windows last time. The updates on Win7 were a nightmare, with me having to boot and reboot every other hour for a day or two until the download floodgate was shut, almost. I don’t think I’m done. I see that sign next to “Shut Down” where I’m being warned of another upcoming update.

Debian 8That aside, I did want to get my Latitude E6220 on Linux. This time, I’ve chosen to go with Debian, and since I couldn’t choose, I went for both Cinnamon and Mate desktops. Mate gives me the creeps just from the look of the Menu. Cinnamon feels more comfy that way. Next step was to get the drivers all sorted. Frankly, that was a bit easier than getting it done on Windows! You could download the drivers from but it wasn’t a clean one-time thing.  I noticed two issues on Linux from the get go:

  • WLAN not working
  • Reboots left the computer hanging

Mercifully, the Ethernet worked right away on Linux – which it did not on Windows on first install. I had to download the Ethernet drivers from Dell’s support site via another PC. So Linux scores better here! A short bit of searching brought me to this resource on the reboot issue. I went into the nearest Latitude on that list and it did mention the reboot issue. The solution was simple:

To solve the reboot issue you’ve to pass the kernel reboot=pci. You can achieve this by adding reboot=pci to GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="" in /etc/default/grub.

And after updating that file, I ran update-grub and suffered my final hang.

The WLAN issue was a bit less straightforward. Reading through the WiFi wiki, I identified the adaptor as BCM43228. And I’d have saved myself some time if I’d just scrolled to the end of the PCI section. The wl section covered what I needed. Chased that with a now working reboot and ta da, laptop configured. Since Linux is friendly with Windows, grub handles my dual-boot and I seem to have no issues on that front. I guess I might have issues with the clock as I did previously, but thankfully I do have my old post to help me out.