Bye Ubuntu, hello Pop!_OS

A month ago, I switched from Ubuntu to Pop Os, which wasn't an easy decision.
I've been using Linux as the desktop OS for the last 15 years, ten years of these - with Ubuntu, since 8.06. I always appreciated Ubuntu because it just works, unlike other rivals. It was stable and reliable OS I can rely on. Canonical invested a lot to the UI and UX, namely in Unity, as to me it's a game-changer and productivity booster.

But as Ubuntu developers and maintainers have chosen a different path. Long story short - the system becames very unstable and buggy, with poor user experience, Unity has been deprecated. Snaps are either broken or partially working. That made me look around in search of better desktop Linux, and after considering and trying a few options, I stopped at Pop!_OS.

Essentially PopOS is Ubuntu fork which doesn't have Snap Packages in its core. You can think it's like Ubuntu 19.04 when everything used to work just fine. Instead of snaps, Pop OS has most of the packages available as a classic deb or a flatpack.

Why use Pop OS?

Pop Shop App store main screen

For me, the main reason I prefer Pop OS because it just works, as it was in earlier versions of Ubuntu.
It's open-sourced and maintained by System 76, a company manufacturing high-end laptops for the power users.

Pop!OS is not very far from its parent - it has same Debian-based package system, it's compatible and based on the same apt Ubuntu repositories and follows Ubuntu releases. That all make migration smooth, virtually non-existent. You'll _hardly notice any difference with Ubuntu, especially when compared to the OpenSuse Tumbleweed or Manjaro - the ones I shortlisted.

Pop OS also features Pop!_Shop - a marketplace for the software for both deb and flatpack applications. Unlike new "Ubuntu Software Store"(which is a snap repository browser now) all software I tried from the Pop!_Shop is working.

Issues with Pop OS?

PopOS failed to mount encrypted luks partition due to the bug in installer

So far, I can't think of something serious. For the apparent reasons, Unity and Compiz-Fusion are not maintained now, so I have to tune GNOME to a decent functional level and gain the maximum productivity out of it. But this has nothing to do with PopOS

The installation didn't go well; Pop OS installer failed to recognize my luks partition, and I had to fix it manually with init 1, like in good old times!

Unfortunatelly I could not make PopOS boot with secure boot with my Lenovo T480s, so I left it disabled

Conclusion

Pop!_OS is a great desktop Linux and it's supperior to Ubuntu in my opinion because it's much stable and doesn't have enourmous issues with software packaged in snaps.

It's great to see that there are more competition for the desktop Linux OS outthere - it's always beneficial for the end user.

Goodbye Endomondo

In April 2014, I recorded my first activity with Endomondo. Back then, I was the chubby thing, mostly neckless, with the large hanging stomach. I had Subway and sweet soda for lunch at best, but the preferred option always was KFC deep-fried chicken.

Back then, I still didn't care much about my health, but I started to suspect that something is not entirely right. Two other passions met each other and actually enabled a log way to change things for the better. First was Location-Based Services, I like the idea of recording and mapping my activities, see my moves and squeeze intersting insights out of it. The second passion is long walks, it's the only physical activity I used to accept. Long walks help to clear mind, give me a reason to dial friends and family, and a good excuse to listen to the hours of podcast daily.

Read moreGoodbye Endomondo

Ubuntu 20.04 on Lenovo t480s

Recently I've upgraded my setup and got Lenovo T480s with all max configuration(Intel i7-8650U) and additional 32Gb RAM

TL;DR: everything works really well on Ubuntu 20.04, 40Gb is just enough to run modern web applications. But in 2020 it's probably worth to consider modern models of computers and next generation CPU. Conclusion: while performance is good the design was upsetting

In this post I'll share some observations after a week of use for work. As a reminder I'm a backend and Android developer mostly focusing on JVM stack

What is GOOD

Read moreUbuntu 20.04 on Lenovo t480s

Does pihole make any difference?

The Internet is full of advertisements and marketing services which are marking and chasing you all over the web. I believe it is fair - if a user doesn’t pay for the product, the user becomes a product. Another problem with tracking and advertising services that they significantly affect browsing experience by draining up CPU, memory, making page look laggy, often affecting responsiveness.
Fortunately, the PiHole project helps to turn many of them off. More details about it are in my previous post

One might wonder, does pihole make any difference or it's just a placebo for a few geeks? I did a small research and took some measurements for the different websites with and without tracking.

Measurements were taken:

  • Screenshot of the page - it's interesting to see if there is any significant visual difference, compare space occupied by the banners
  • Number of requests - every request takes a lot of time even via the modern Internet protocols and fast internet connection. Also, downloading an additional code makes the page behave laggy as the browser needs to run it soon after. That's why the first seconds after the page visually completes it can behave a little hectic.
  • Data transfered - the more data it needs the more time to pull information is required.
  • Html loaded - it's a time required for broswer to load html page itself when DOMContentLoaded is emitted. I record an average time as this time can fluctuate significantly
  • Page loaded - time to 'load' event, when all direct dependencies of the web page are loaded. That include stylesheets, javascript and images

Examples

Read moreDoes pihole make any difference?

Discrimination by OS

It's hard to be in minority. I wonder how many people even thought that there is a discrimination by OS?

People who born before 1990 might remember that message from the beginning of millennium "this website requires Internet Explorer" to run. That time minority (macos, linux, bsd, solaris) had to run a virtual machine with Windows just to access some websites. No kidding.

Nobody liked it, people felt oppressed and that caused a very strong emotional feedback for Microsoft. Having no other options we managed to use internet and Windows-only focused hardware. As a Linux user I remember those conversations with macos users - we all were in the same boat. We were "pricks".

Read moreDiscrimination by OS

Pi-Hole and DNS-over-HTTPS using docker-compose

I'm glad that people started to think about the privacy more than ever

In this post I'll share my experience of configuring pi-hole and Cloudflare DNS-over-HTTPS on Raspberry Pi using docker-compose. Before we dig into the configuration a few words what it's all about

UPD: Post has been updated with newest version of pi-hole

Read morePi-Hole and DNS-over-HTTPS using docker-compose

Grumble: Virgin Media is hijacking DNS and has no customer service

Just recently we moved home and of course we had to look for an another Internet Service Provider. Due to coronavirus outbreak we could not install Vodafone. We had it previously and generally it was quite reliable and service was decent. Instead we stick to the only option - Virgin Media

TR;DR: If you can - avoid. It's a scum. Terrible service, low-end hardware, DNS spoofing, HTTP/s transparent proxy, website doesn't work, support agents are humiliating and threatening you.
Not convinced? Read further.

I'm going to repost my post from reddit and provide additional comments

If you're from IT you probably would be especially interested in what Virgin Media is doing with you internet traffic

Read moreGrumble: Virgin Media is hijacking DNS and has no customer service

Asus Zenbook UX303UA memory upgrade

I bought UX303UA Zenbook back in June 2016 for £800. It's meant to be be a temporary laptop to be used for 1-2 years max.

Although it's quite cheap it had very good spec especially for 2016: i7-6500U @ 2.5Ghz and 12Gb RAM with fair 4-6hours on single charge, just 1.2kg. It was a significant improvement from previous Zenbook with i5 and 8Gb memory. RAM is especially critical for java developers, especially for greedy Android tools.

Even now, in 2020 this spec isn't bad at all. It's still possible to get a similar device bus slightly cheaper. Having said that I was thinking to add more memory so I can continue to use laptop comfortabily. Unfortunatelly, all websites and official sources say it's impossible - the max is 8(in the slot)+4(soldered).

Read moreAsus Zenbook UX303UA memory upgrade