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Linux Daily Driver (Part 2): Are They Any Good (GUI) Email Clients on Linux?

Linux Daily Driver (Part 2): Are They Any Good (GUI) Email Clients on Linux?

I asked a question. I’ve yet to find an answer, are they ANY good email clients on Linux? Don’t say Mutt. Don’t do it. GUI email clients. Outlook on Windows (and Mac) has me spoiled. Email. That was the first task I needed to solve on this, my quest to use Linux daily, in a decidedly Windows (and Mac) environment. I have five email addresses total, 3 for work, and 2 personal, and ultimately I’d love to be able to access them all in the same client, I’m needy, but let’s see where this leads. Theoretically, I could just access these all in Webmail, even using the user switching in Gmail, (3 accounts are Gmail, 1 exchange, 1 IMAP), it would still take 3 tabs to view my mail, less than ideal.


1. Thunderbird

First up, the ever present Thunderbird. Mozilla was the name of the game in years past. Firefox was the go-to, and I spent a decent amount of time using Thunderbird as my mail client on Linux machines in my early first run with Linux and even on my MacBook Pro in college, before Apple Mail became usable, but alas, the years haven’t been kind to this once strong contender.

Everything looked good at the start, set up all my accounts, imported my signature, (plain text, didn’t bother with HTML). 2 or 3 days into my experiment my machine locked up. Completely. No killing apps, no switching spaces, I was frozen HARD. A hard shotdown later, I rebooted, logged in and returned to my work. No hard no foul, things happen.

And happen. And happen again. Every day for the next 3 days or so I had a lockup, full machine, hard shutdown, try again. I decided to keep a “top” running in the terminal, always on screen, just to see. The culprit was Thunderbird, it just ran away, sometimes after sending a message, sometimes after deleting a folder. (Full disclosure, I used plugins to access Google calendar, and Microsoft Exchange, this may have caused an issue). Sometimes I was left with a zombie process, but the machine remained usable, sometimes, as mentioned before, full stop.

Maybe I could tolerate it on a home machine, but for my daily drive for work it was a non-starter. No-go. So Thunderbird was sent to the back burner. Gone but not forgotten. It’s a huge bummer, I love Mozilla, I love what they do for the internet community, but until Thunderbird is a little more stable (and maybe Firefox too) I just can’t drive from it 8 hours a day. It’s still installed, I open it once or twice a day to sync mail and see how it performs, but I’m not ready to re-commit. (I do hope to sit down, disable all add-ons, and work through them and see if there is a single culprit).


2. Geary

That lead me to where I’ve currently landed. Geary (taken from their website) “is an email application built around conversations, for the GNOME 3 desktop.” Well that sound ok. I like conversations, I can deal with that. Now believe me when I say this thing is light on features. Email, that’s it. No calendars, no reminders, nothing. (Not saying those are must haves, obviously not, just stating).

Now their website states that they support Yahoo, Gmail, Outlook and other IMAP servers. That being said, I haven’t gotten it to accept my IMAP account (which truthfully is the account I use least), but I may be migrating to Fastmail or a similar service, so I can let it slide. Maybe I’ll file a bug report if further testing fails.

So I guess here we are, found an email client. I haven’t tried out Evolution, I had poor experiences in the past. CLAWS never appealed to me….and that’s it I think? Kmail, N1, the list doesn’t get that long. So for now, I’ll stick with Geary, it fills a need, isn’t terrible to look at, and hasn’t taken my CPU and RAM for a ride, while my computers fans spin fast enough to enter orbit.

I think I need to find a decent calendar program now…

AWS CodeStar Announcement – Gamechanger?

AWS CodeStar Announcement – Gamechanger?

I spent the last two days at the AWS Summit at Moscone West in San Francisco, I sat in on a few sessions, learned a lot, but there was a big announcement at the keynote from CTO Werner Vogels. It wasn’t brushed over I think, but most of the crowd seemed to be more excited about the changes to RedShift, Poly, and the other AWS tools. Don’t get me wrong, the announcements made were all some really amazing stuff, but I think CodeStar, Amazon’s newest development tool for building on AWS was my favorite part, and potentially something that could greatly increase time to launch for software and apps today.

Dr Vogels mentioned that although AWS allows people to quickly scale, build, deploy, etc, there is still a disconnect with writing code. We sit in out text editors, flip over to a terminal, rinse, repeat. AWS seeks to, in Chief Evangelist Jeff Bar’s words “make it easier and more efficient for development teams to create, build and deploy software.” Slow ones happen everywhere, setting up IDEs, accessing repos, libraries, and of course, the word everyone loves to hear, infrastructure. How/when/when do we test this? On top of this, most developers aren’t siloed these days, teams of developers write code in tandem, but this can lead to all sorts of security and stability concerns. While cloud based/serverless/insertbuzzwordhere tools have changed the game, there still is code to be written.

This is where Amazon’s CodeStar will change the game (in my opinion). Templates for EC2, Elastic Beanstalk and Lambda, in 5 major languages, (JS, Java, Ruby, Python and PHP). The template will take care of the setup and provisioning of the AWS services needed for the project. IAM is automatically configured, and as someone in the IT field, I can say security is paramount.

A feature I’m particularly excited about is the Project Management dashboard which makes it easier to track commits, deployments, builds, and among other things. Also configured automatically is the tandem services, like CodeCommit, CodeBuild, CodePipeline and CodeDeploy, keeping a CI/CD pipeline more doable than ever before. Coding can be done in Eclipse, VisualStudio, or through the command line, by connecting to a project’s Git repo. AWS even integrates Jira, allowing tracking of issues right in the CodeStar console. All your tools, right at your fingertips!

Stay tuned, I hope to do some hands on testing/use of CodeStar, as well as a short breakdown on some of the other things that Amazon announced during their Summit in San Francisco.  Head here to read the full CodeStar announcement from Jeff Bar, check out AWS CodeStar’s product page and user documentation

Xubuntu Continues

Xubuntu Continues

Desktop screenshot
Spacey Desktops.

It’s been just about a month and a half since I started using Xubuntu on my Lenovo N22. It’s been a bit of a ride. As I’ve mentioned before, this is not a powerful machine, it’s really meant for portability and no part of that involves heavy lifting. It was less than $200 on Groupon, and so far, I’ve been pleased with it. Windows 10 was always nice and speedy on this machine, as Linux users know, it’s often difficult to separate hardware from Windows. That’s given rise to a lot of misconceptions around Linux and Unix, you’re constantly trying to get things to work, whether it’s drivers for audio, or something in the trackpad (full disclosure – I’ve only encountered an issue I couldn’t resolve with a Linux install not working on a Retina MacBook, trackpads don’t work). The more and more I use Linux on a daily basis, the less and less proof I see behind those statements

I’ve been looking to separate myself from Windows and Mac, and use Linux more, especially as I am currently pursuing some Linux certifications through my employer. And as I’ve stated before, I’m not thrilled with any of the new stuff that Apple is doing, whether it’s the lack of updates on the Mac Pro, the new MacBook Pros (touchbar, Thunderbolt 3 only, etc) or the jackless iPhone 7. I’ve written another article or two about my hunt for a lightweight Linux distribution, but I also wanted something usable, with a decent desktop environment, etc. My sysadmin skills aren’t powerful enough that I can spend all day in a terminal, but I’m getting there!

I passed over the completely minimalist distros, and those meant to be live booted, like Puppy Linux (actually the first distro I even used). I finally settled on Xubuntu, as it seemed to be decently reviewed, and Ubuntu was something I was familiar with. So I took the plunge, Windows was out the…ahem…window, and Xubuntu was installed in its place.

I left it to install while I ran some errands, and came back to the installer, prompting for passwords, etc. I ran through the setup, nothing new there, and ended up at the desktop. I immediately thought I had made a mistake. It was slow. Not unusably slow, BUT definitely noticeable over the stock Windows 10 install. Total bummer. While I wanted to separate myself from Windows and Mac and more into Linux as much as I can, I’m not so staunch in principle that I was willing to give up the usability of my machine for it. I decided to persevere, so I took to the internet and forums, looking for tips and tricks to speed up my install.

A quick search on the interwebs gave me some interesting advice. I found some steps that were stated to be specific for Xubuntu (not sure if this true or not) and some that we’re meant so Linux in general. I’ll head down the list of the ones I implemented in another post, and take it from there. Now I didn’t exactly run benchmarks on my machine before and after, so I have no hard numbers to go on in any way, but I will say, after the tweaks I made, my laptop definitely feels faster. So I’ll take it, works for me.

From Windows 10 to Xubuntu

From Windows 10 to Xubuntu

As those that read my previous posts about my search for a lighter weight/less resource intensive Linux distribution, my end goal was always to install Linux on my Lenovo N22 Laptop and remove the Windows 10 install. But as time went on, I began to get comfortable in my usage of Windows 10, as my larger Acer laptop was running Debian. I had some small difficulties running the games I enjoyed playing on that Debian machine, and even though I’m a tinkerer, I wanted them to work, and not have to fiddle with configurations and settings. With that in mind, I purchased a license for Windows 10, and installed it on the Acer. Linux, was no longer running on any of my machines.

I felt bad, I loved running Linux distros, trying new things, and I feel that the FOSS movement deserves support. I still had a Fedora VM running on my work laptop, but supporting a design lab, and a fleet of MacOS users, I still needed to spend the majority of my day in MacOS to make sure I was up to date with the latest, thus allowing me to better assist my co-workers when something went awry (and it often did).

Last week I had a discussion with my leadership in my company, and was informed that there are options for assistance in paying for IT/Technology certifications. Well this changes everything! My goal to pass the Linux Foundation’s certifications was now back on the main burner if someone else could assist me with the cost! But what about my daily use of Linux, surely if I wanted to pass a test in my Linux proficiency, I would need a machine with a native Linux install. But I’m knee-deep in Owlboy on the Acer…so my sights turned to the Lenovo.

I settled on Xubuntu, why? I don’t have a specific reason, I’ve used it a little in the past, seemed full featured the the XFCE Desktop Environment was light enough to run well on the lower specs of the Lenovo. Despite my worries with UEFI and eMMC in this laptop, there weren’t any issues I encountered with the install. Standard USB installer, reboot, reformat and fresh install. So far…I’m pleased. It feels good to be back in a Linux environment, and now my studying can kick in to high gear!

I’ll be taking some screenshots of the layout of the machine, as I rice it up a little bit, make if a little leaner and lighter to suit my needs, stay tuned!

Friends Come to San Francisco

Friends Come to San Francisco

It’s been about 6 months since I’ve moved to San Francisco. This city is crazy, I love it, I hate it, and I can’t imagine what life would have been like had I stayed in Rochester. At the age of 25, I regret nothing about this move, and even if I end up back in Rochester in a few years, the experience that my self and Sarah are having here is something we’ll remember forever.

The weekend of Halloween, we had our first group of friends come visit. Sarah and I have tried hard to make friends out here, whether it’s people at work, or outside of work, and of course, still keep in touch with everyone from Rochester. It was amazing to have friends in town, to be able to show off the city that I’m growing to love.

It was also nice to not have to plan anything, we let the tourists handle that. All the little things that I’ve not been able to do, especially the touristy things, it felt good to be tacky and have fun for a long weekend.

The highlight was the trip to Muir Woods. It was incredible. I’ve seen photos, but standing at the base of the enormous trees is one of the most humbling things I’ve ever experienced. I’ll only casually mention the proposal, Ian (finally) asked Taylor to marry him, so that made it even more memorable. Take a look at the photo gallery page to see some Muir Woods photos, and some other snapshots of their stay.

Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, The California Academy of Science, Haight Street, we did all the things that tourists think of when they think San Francisco. It was a great way to experience a city that over the last half a year, I’ve come to appreciate, but have only seen less than 1/10th of what is available her.

I look forward to many more people coming to visit, and experiencing San Francisco with them as I grow to call this city home.

Lenovo N22 – Thoughts Part 3 – Final

Lenovo N22 – Thoughts Part 3 – Final

The morning of my flight to Las Vegas a month ago, I made the executive decision that I couldn’t travel with my new Lenovo. I was planning on bringing my Retina MacBook, and I needed to bring Dell 7450 for a user, and the addition of another laptop? The TSA would probably think I was a mule. I love the portability of the 12″ Retina MacBook, but it’s not a powerful machine at all, halfway through typing a line for an email, I’ll glance up, and realize that my cursor is still 10-15 characters behind, I couldn’t work for a week from that machine only. Ok, so now a 15″ Dell, and a 15″ Retina MBP? Sorry Thinkpad, you have to stay behind.

That being said, now that I’m back at home, I’ll definitely be getting more time to focus on this little guy and see how it does. Last thing I did before I shut it down before my trip, was to create a system image disk, so I can restore in the event of an issue. This definitely took me a few to figure out, remember, I haven’t used Windows )other than assisting users in the office, and basic Active Directory administration) for years. Some googling, and asking my more Windows-versed friends and I was on the right track. I now have a full 18GB system image (store locally and in Dropbox, 100Mbps bandwidth FTW) as well as all the drivers downloaded from the Lenovo site. This meant I was ready to try a Linux install on this machine.

The first decision, for many Linux users with a new machine, is what Distro to install? Now many users have settled on one main distribution they prefer, in my case, I prefer Debian on my main laptop, (although Fedora is growing on me), but this machine is definitely underpowered compared to my Acer, so thus begins my research into lightweight Linux Distros.

I’ve posted an article or two on here about my my search for a light linux distro, but I have to say, as I use Windows 10 more and more on a daily basis, I don’t hate it. Let me elaborate on that previous statement, (I’ve had more to say about this in other articles, mainly my post about leaving Apple behind and moving more Windows/Linux).

I didn’t move to Windows 10 fro Windows 7. I know a lot of users that were forced into the Windows 10 update from a fully functional Windows 7 install, and they were furious. I know that left a bad taste in their mouth. But for me, I entered the Windows 10 world from MacOS. And I’ve found I can do A LOT more than I could on Mac OS, especially as a power user. I entered Windows 10 voluntarily, I knew it was installed on this Lenovo, and as such, knew what to expect.

I guess the TL;DR for this post is that, I may stick with a Windows install for a bit. I have a Bodhi VM running on my MacBook Pro, and a Debian VM on my Windows 10 Acer, but for now…maybe, I’ll stay put. Who knows? Maybe 2017 is the year of the Linux desktop?

Thoughts on Trump’s Election. A Few Days Later.

Thoughts on Trump’s Election. A Few Days Later.

These last few days were rough. I’m not quite sure what to make of this. But as I said, we’re not going to take this laying down. We will not get complacent. It started Wednesday morning, friends sharing some articles about how “it’ll be ok, it’ll get better” and you know what? That’s NOT what I want to hear right now. We’re fired up, we’re angry, and by telling us that it’s going to be ok, then we’re get complacent. It hasn’t even been 24 hours. How the fuck do you think that you’ll keep this momentum going when after 20 hours, you’re already settling into an “it’ll be ok” mood?
Protests Against the Election of Donald TrumpWednesday November 11th, I spoke out against the president elect. I am incredibly proud to have taken part in the protest in San Francisco, we marched from Powell Street down to the Castro and on to city hall. Why would you protest in a liberal city? San Francisco, CA of all places? The reason is because this isn’t what we wanted, so many of us in this city, in this state spoke out against this man, throughout this election cycle, and to see him as President-elect. It’s too much.

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