Sunday, September 6, 2015

Getting an HP scanner / multi function device to work in Peppermint

I have had a long standing problem scanning documents or photos with Linux (not just Peppermint).

You see, I have a Canon CanoScan LiDe 90, a model that is not supported by Linux. I spent a lot of time reading through forums and even trying a demo version of VueScan. It lists my scanner among the compatible ones, but unfortunately I could not get it to work. Well done for them to have a demo version, because if I had purchased the software and it had not worked - I would have asked for my money back.

I don't scan often, and I am able to use CamScanner on my phone if I have to, but sometimes it is a lot better to scan from a "real" scanner.

If it is a scanner only:

If you have an HP, this should work for you:

Click Menu >> Accessories >> Terminal
Type in: sudo apt-get install hplip-gui
press <ENTER>
Type in your sudo password and press <ENTER>
Press Y if prompted

Once it is installed, click on:
Menu >> Graphics >> Simple Scan

If it is a printer and a scanner:

You will need to install the printer first
Click Menu >> System Tools >> Printers
Click on Add
Select your printer from the list
Follow the prompts to install

Saturday, September 5, 2015

A great source for Linux articles

A website that I really enjoy for Linux news and articles is MakeUseOf.

As Linux use grows in popularity, tech websites are motivated to do more articles on Linux.

From apps, to distros to Raspberry Pi stuff - you will find it all here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

How to auto-enable Numlock on a laptop

If you have a laptop with a numeric keypad, you probably want Numlock to stay on. I got tired of pressing the button after every startup and went in search of the menu item for it. I did not find one, I searched further and found the answer:

Install numlockx.

Click on Menu >> Accessories >> Terminal
Type in:
sudo apt-get install numlockx
Press <ENTER>
Type in your sudo password and press <ENTER>
Click on Menu >> Preferences > Default applications for LXSession.
Click on the Autostart tab.
Under Manual autostarted applications, type numlockx in the box and click Add.

This is what LXSession configuration should look like, once you have made the change.

You can reboot to test, but it should work. It works on my Lenovo, but there are people that report that it does not work on their machines.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

How to play MKV files on Peppermint Linux

Now I have to give a big shout out and thank you to ConfigX, from the Peppermint forum.

This type of file is a container and a special codec is needed to read it.

Open a Terminal window, click Menu >> Accessories >> Terminal
Type in:
sudo apt-get install lubuntu-restricted-extras
Press <ENTER>
Type in your sudo password and press <ENTER>

Now when trying to play MKV files with VLC, it will work.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

How to easily kill slow or unresponsive programs and windows

(this tutorial originally appeared on the Peppermint forum, it id by mattosensei)

Have you ever been faced with a laggy, unresponsive or crashed application and program window?

It happens - though for me, much less in Linux than in Windows.

Sometimes you can't X out to close the program but you do want to close it down.

There is a very quick and easy terminal command you can use to 'point and kill' the unresponsive program. Simply open up a terminal window using CTRL+ALT+T and then type the code below and hit enter:


You will then see a X-hair appear. Just hover it over the window that's not responding and click the mouse button. Voila - the process/window/application will be killed.

Note: don't try to kill by clicking in the taskbar at the bottom of your screen as you will inadvertently kill Nemo (the desktop manager running your user interface  ;))

Anyway, a handy little tool in case you're not aware of it. 8)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

My "new" rig

It's been a long time since my last post here, sorry for that. A few things lead to this, mainly my problems in dual booting Windows 8.1 with Peppermint 6 and also because I donated my trusty Lenovo S10e netbook to my mother.

So I was stuck without Linux...

Two months in, my Lenovo i3 laptop started to slow down - as Windows 8.1 is horrible. I started longing back to the days when I had a fast computer.

Yesterday I found someone trying to throw away a computer, it had an interesting case and I asked him if he would mind if I "salvaged" it. He said, "be my guest" Turns out it is a pretty sweet computer:

It has an antec case!

For a list of specs:

CPU: Dual core Pentium CPU E5300 2.6 GHZ
Graphics Card:
AMD RV730 PRO [Radeon HD 4650]

I still can't believe he was throwing this away.

So here is a screenshot, I've installed Conky, but have not changed the default wallpaper (Peppermint 6 is out, I need to do a review at some point).

Linux truly is amazing at repurposing hardware that would have been considered obsolete.

Long live Peppermint Linux!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Linux in business - Part 2


This is the most important part of your switch to Linux. Rushing through this part is a very bad idea, so please don't do it.

Identify your needs

What software do you need to run on a day to day basis?
What does each machine in your company need to be able to do?

Explore cross platform software

Before switching, check out cross platform software that has a Windows and a Linux version. Firefox, Google Chrome, LibreOffice, etc. all has versions for both platforms. If you are familiar with the software you will end up using the transition will be a lot easier.

Start checking if your hardware & peripherals are Linux compatible

Most computers and laptops are Linux compatible, but it is still a good idea to find out before you start.

Also a lot of peripherals are simply not Linux compatible. I have a Canon Lide 90 scanner which works on Windows XP, VISTA and 7; but refuses to work on Linux or even Windows 8. What am I saying? Updating your operating system will not guarantee that all your devices will play nicely.

If your printers, plotters, scanners, etc. are not Linux compatible - can you afford to replace everything?

What is the easiest and most reliable way to know if my peripherals are compatible?

Burn yourself a Live CD and boot up Linux, without installing it you are still able to test it. This way you know for sure that your hardware is or is not compatible. It is not difficult to do.

1. Go to and download Unetbootin for your software platform
2. Go to the Peppermint OS web site and download the 32 bit / 64 bit version (if you are a Windows user, right click on My Computer, then left click on Properties. The version of Windows you are running should mention 32 or 64 bit)
3. Run Unetbootin that you downloaded, Click the button with the 3 dots (bottom right) then locate the Peppermint ISO you downloaded in step 2, double click it
4. Plug in a flash drive (warning, it will format the flash drive so use one that does not contain important files)
5. Click on Drive (bottom center) and select the flash drive
6. Reboot
7. Press F2 or Del (depending on your computer) and select Boot from Flash drive, in the boot settings menu.
8. Save and reboot
9. Select Try Peppermint OS when your computer starts up, if you select Install it will install Peppermint (either alongside Windows or erase your hard drive, depending on your choices)

When you shut down, unplug the flash drive and when you boot up again you will be in Windows again,

This is only a very basic tutorial, This will let you try Linux before installing, you can connect your peripherals and try to install them (if you have problems with that, please ask the friendly folks in the Peppermint forum, as they are much smarter than me).

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Linux in business - intro

(please note that I am writing this from a South African perspective)

People in business have specific needs. What will work for home users will not always be a good fit for business. Businesses need software that is secure, easy to use -  but does not always need to be easy to set up.

Most people are linked to Microsoft and feel they do not have a choice. With outdated computers, running outdated software. But there is.

There are a lot of companies that still run Windows XP, which today is not a safe move. Why are so many businesses sticking with outdated software that leaves them vulnerable?

1. Keeping up with new software licences is expensive
2. Hardware is expensive, and a lot will need to be replaced when upgrading the OS
3. Support for Linux is lacking / hard to find

After going a little more in depth with these points, we will look at how to set up a small businesses with Linux as the OS, set up a small office network, find a point of sale solution, find a few printers that they can consider, a backup solution and a few other things that will probably come up.

It is going to take a while to compile this and I don't want to reinvent the wheel here so where someone has a great guide I will link to it, instead of redoing it.

If you have any experience in this field, a question or a comment then please post it in the comments.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Ubuntu Phone review - by Electronic Shenanigans

At this point the Ubuntu phone has been launched, although it is not available in my region. Here is a review by Full Circle Magazine. They are my favourite magazine for Ubuntu and Linux news. 

The only thing that is a deal breaker for me, is that there is no WhatsApp for it yet. I am sure though that as the platform grows that it will come.

Would you like to run Ubuntu on your phone? Hopefully Canonical have steered clear from the spyware they used to build into the desktop version of Ubuntu in this version.

The mobile phone world needs at least 3-5 strong players so that everyone stays on their toes.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Research: dual booting Windows 8.1 SL & Peppermint 5

At this point I have bought a Lenovo laptop, one with Superfish. The picture is from here.

So I have decided it would be better to reinstall Windows 8.1 SL with media downloaded from Microsoft and not Lenovo. While scanning with Avast anti virus, I found multiple "infections", addware or spyware or crapware. Whatever it is, I don't want that on my laptop. I do trust that Avast removed everything, but I might as well go all the way here.

The important thing to do now (before formatting or anything else) is to do my homework.

I am currently downloading an ISO from Microsoft, from here.

I created a Live USB, here is how I did it:

  • Downloaded the 64 bit ISO from 
  • Checked the md5sum 2eb905b8ff3005ef2fa52e32517d0e5f using Winmd5 free from here
  • Next  used Unetbootin to create the Live USB

At this page, I learned how to boot from a flash drive. Which I did to test and see that Peppermint does in fact run on my laptop. Good news so far.

More homework underway. Updates to follow as soon as I have progress and time to report.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Setting up a new PC: Windows vs Linux

I have some experience setting up new PC's. A new computer is never "instantly" ready to use.


  • Remove the trial version Anti Virus (normally McAfee)
  • Remove Wild Tangent trial version game pack
  • Decide on an anti virus to use, and install it
  • Decide on Office software and install it


(Granted, I am unable to purchase a laptop with Linux preinstalled. So this all happens after you have installed Linux)

  •  Update your system
  • No trial crapware to ignore
  • Some distros come with Office software, otherwise choose and install
Windows machines come preinstalled with all kinds of extras. Stuff you often could live without. Like Lenovo with Superfish, a company feels they can add to your system (normally because they can make some money out of it - I am sure that McAfee pays companies to have their software preinstalled), never with your best in mind. 

I love that Linux is not bundled with nonsense. Yes, every distro does have apps that they bundle together - but never anything like what Windows vendors do. 

I guess that companies will always do things that they feel they can benefit from. 

One exception is the Acer Build your own cloud. Building your own cloud with your desktop PC, that you can access even when your PC is turned off. If you need a file on your phone or tablet, the app reaches out and turns on your PC remotely. Although this might not be for everyone, in the time we live where cloud computing is becoming more important, this can be a very useful for a lot of people. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Poll Results - Which OS for students?

Well, this post is a little overdue, but the poll results are in and I would like to voice my opinion

I invited forum members from the Mybroadband forum and the Peppermint OS forum to help me with the poll by voting. While some said they would not vote until Red Hat and server versions of Linux where listed, others took the time to vote. Not a lot of people voted, but it seems that most people believe that Windows is still the best option.

I understand that not everyone is ready to embrace Linux, but with students (using Office and web browsing) I do still feel that Linux is a viable option. If you really need Microsoft Office and you don't want to try to run it in Wine, then consider running their web app versions. Go to and sign up for a free account.

I have done a bit more digging about Chrome OS, as I believe that I did take a very harsh view about it. Consider the Amazon top 100 list of best selling laptops, in the top 20 listed items you will find that 6 of them are Chromebooks. Surely Google is doing something right with Chrome OS, or else nobody would be buying these things.

I do however find it sad that it is not as easy to buy a laptop with Linux installed. Dell is said to have a line of laptops for sale with Ubuntu on, but I would rather not run Ubuntu. Part of the problem is, I suppose, that there are so many different flavours of Linux that are available.

Anyways, a big thank you to everyone who voted. I hope to have another poll up soon.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Have you ever considered?

I don't know if you have heard the news, but Crunchbang Linux is basically dead now. With Linux comes great freedom, the freedom to create an OS the way you like it, the freedom to choose to use an OS that you like (instead of the one you are forced to use).

It is sad though when a distro ends. I understand that most projects (especially the smaller ones) do not make a profit. It takes a lot of love, commitment and time (and even money!) to create and maintain a version of Linux. Life changes and sometimes our priorities change and we don't have the time to do the things we used to.

My blog has a point and I am finally there:

If you are running Linux, no matter if it is a small distro or one with hundreds of thousands of users - you should learn a little bit more about Linux in general and broaden your horizons. What would you do if your favourite distro stopped tomorrow? If you only know how to use KDE or Gnome, and tomorrow both projects ended - what would you use? I am not encouraging anyone to be paranoid here please. The fear of change and trying new things is what keeps a lot of people locked into Windows, obviously if you have migrated to Linux from Windows you don't fall into that category. But what could it hurt to try something new? You might find that the really like the MATE desktop if you tried it. You might just encounter a new Linux distro that does things differently, (not that you have to switch) but you might learn a few tips & tricks from them.

Getting comfortable with something for too long and cause stagnation. When was the last time you used a different media player, for example? One of the beauties of Linux is that there are many thousands of apps out there. You don't need to try all of them, but having a broader set of general knowledge would not be a bad things either.

Don't go and change everything all at once now, but when and if you do have some free time - learn a new app along the way and explore a new desktop environment. You might just be surprised by what is out there.

My thoughts about Elementary OS

I started off wanting to test Elementary OS because of all the good press they have been getting lately. I don't have a background with Mac OS and I don't really mind if my desktop looks like I am using a Mac or not.

That being said, I was able to do something I have not been able to get right with any version of Linux to date. I was able to use Bluetooth tethering between my phone and netbook, so that I did not have to plug into a wired network connection to install wifi drivers. Why does this matter? Well, for a lot of people they get stuck here, without an Internet connection you can't really go very far. I usually plug into my router with a network cable, but this was nice too.

I formatted my beloved Peppermint 5 installation and installed Elementary OS, which was a quick and painless install.

Something I missed, was a program called Task Manager. When I had a problem with Dropbox (the panel icon disappeared and my whole Internet connection basically froze while it tried to download 2 GB), I was not able to open Task manager and close Dropbox. I could have Googled what the Terminal command for this would have been, but my Internet was otherwise occupied.

I found their forum weird, not bad. Just very different from what I am used to.

With even their settings menu modelled after the look and feel of Mac OS, I am very surprised that Apple has not sued them for replicating their system too closely (I mean, remember this story).

All and all, because Elementary OS is based on Ubuntu and Debian I found installing applications easy, and I was able to get work done. The majority of my Linux experience has been with Ubuntu derivatives and at this point - I don't want to relearn everything I have learnt.

Considering that I did a blog post showing how to make Peppermint look very close to Mac OS, I don't really see the need to install an OS just because of the way it looks. What happens when I get tired of the "look"? What happens when I want to change the look?

The Elementary team has worked very hard to make a distro that is light and looks good and they have done a good job. Something about it just did not feel right to me. I would still encourage you to test it, because you might love it more than I did.

I have since formatted my HDD again and have installed Peppermint 5 again. Home sweet home. Going on a holiday is nice, but it is great when you get back home to your own house. Your bed, your tv everything set up the way you want to have it.

Do you distro hop? What have you tried recently?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Elementary OS

I am busy testing Elementary OS, the first distro in a while for me. 
Why? Because Peppermint is such a good fit for me.

Elementary OS looks nice, with it clearly having been modelled to look like Mac OS. At this point I only have a live install on a flash drive, but I must say that it boots up very quickly.
I will be testing it for a while and will report back with a proper review.

Anyone reading this using it? If yes, how have you found it?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Chromebooks, the answer?

Please note: I have edited this post as some felt I was biased against Windows. I have decided to remove the word "Windows" from this post (except for that one <===).

I live in South Africa. South Africa is not America. We don't have the latest tech and the tech we have here it is not cheap. So I understand that schools are looking for inexpensive laptops for students, as low cost Celeron machines are usually slow. From my experience, a school network is a dangerous place to plug in a flash drive - because of all the autorun viruses. Lots of schools have ageing computers (think Celeron due to budget cuts) running dated software. 

My netbook performs better running Peppermint than is does with the software that it was supposedly designed for (if the sticker on the bottom left corner of my netbook is to be believed). My system runs faster and my battery life is remarkably better. 

Enter the Google Chromebook, a low cost laptop that lives in the cloud. The Chromebook is not widely available here, and there are questions relating to compatibility with peripherals. I am not against Chromebooks here, I am simply asking a question. 

My question: Why not use a low cost laptop running Linux instead?

Surely there are Linux distros with paid support, surely there are other cloud and hybrid (think Peppermint Linux) options that would or could work well? 

I have asked a few questions regarding this on the Peppermint OS forum and will post community feedback soon. I know that Peppermint does not have a large support team, so providing support on that level is probably not currently possible. But I do feel that Peppermint Linux is as good a choice as Google Chrome OS. You can load it onto almost any laptop and Peppermint has ICE for web apps.

With cloud software you are looking for a platform that is lightweight, stable and easy to use. Peppermint Linux is all of these things.

I am adding a poll, and I would like you to vote and then leave a comment.

EDIT: I have added reasons for why I feel the way I do. 

Mac is a wonderful platform (I haven't been called out for insulting them yet), with the cheapest Macbook (Air 11" R12 999) costing more than 3 times the amount (R3999) of an entry level HP / Dell / Acer laptop, you can be sure that a lot of people buying a Mac is simply not an option. The minimum wage here is less than R4000 per month - and with almost 25% of people being unemployed and with almost 1 in 3 South Africans receiving social grants - you can know that Mac cannot become mainstream while selling at the prices they do, with the level of poverty that SA is currently experiencing. 

My biggest question for using Chromebooks is what support will you have for a Chromebook? If importing them through a service like Orange is possible, at least Chromebooks are available in my country. The after sales support means a lot to me though, whichever way schools and government decide to go, support is the most important factor. What will happen if Google decides tomorrow )or three years from now when every child has one) that the Chromebooks are not a good idea and decide to shelf them (think Google TV, Reader, Wave, etc.) maybe I am being paranoid, but Google already has an end of life page that lists when current Chromebooks will no longer be supported. What does that mean? Well you won't get updates indefinitely if you buy a Chromebook, and at some point Google might decide to can the idea. 

There are times when I can't use Linux, such as when I need to use Corel Draw. Dual booting is necessary. I don't believe that Linux is perfect, but I do feel that it is an option. M$ has created an industry, people spend big $$$ on having viruses removed, reinstalling their OS among other things. They have been good and bad as a company for computing as a whole and it will be very interesting to see what they come up with next.