A couple of new articles…

Last week on opensource.com about the STEM project:

http://opensource.com/life/15/5/raspberry-pi-for-teens

And this week, an interview turned into article by the folks on DevOps.com

http://devops.com/2015/06/03/redhat-culture-keeping-devops-faith/

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Fedora 22, Asus UX305, Windows 8.1 on KVM

It’s been almost a couple of months since I wrote a quick review on the ASUS UX305, so I decided to write up a follow up to the review and share a few things I’ve been doing with this fantastic piece of machinery since then.

Fedora 22 (beta) came out late last month, and I went ahead and re-isntalled fedora on my laptop. I just wiped it clean (minus the Windows partition and factory restore), and re-installed the OS. To be perfectly honest, I have noticed little difference (as a regular user) between F21 and F22 (that is not a bad thing :-)). The major difference is that ‘yum’ has been officially deprecated and F22 uses dnf instead. For a list of the changes on Fedora 22 see: https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Releases/22/ChangeSet

After installing Fedora 22 (beta), I played around with the i3 window manager, and had quite a bit of fun customizing it to my preferences. Adam Miller, from Fedora, suggested I use some of the Mate applets to make i3 a bit more user friendly and that worked like a charm. The specific commands I added to the bottom for my ~/.i3/config were:

#for NetworkManager
exec nm-applet
#
exec_always mate-power-manager
exec_always mate-volume-control-applet
exec mate-screensaver
#
# Run mate-settings-daemon for gnome-keyring
# gnome-keyring-daemon is handled by ~/.profile
exec –no-startup-id /usr/libexec/mate-settings-daemon
#
# Run polkit-mate-authentication-agent-1 for polkit
exec /usr/libexec/polkit-mate-authentication-agent-1
#
# For notifications
exec dunst

Given that I’ve already gotten used to GNOME 3,  it actually took me a bit longer than I would have liked to find the RPM packages to have the above commands working. The two non-obivous RPMs were:

  • mate-media #for mate-volume-conrtol-applet
  • network-manager-applet #for nm-applet

The other thing I’ve worked/played with was with KVM. First I created a RHEL7 VM on Fedora 22, and the performance on ASUS UX305 is actually pretty reasonable. I am managing the VM with libvirt/virt-manager.

Screenshot from 2015-05-10 18-26-45

RHEL 7.1 on KVM as a guest on Fedora 22 (beta)

I also took virtualization one step further, and decided to give Windows 8.1 on KVM a shot. The installation was pretty straightforward and I was pretty happy to see that quite a few Windows 8.1 drivers for KVM have been made public online since the last time I tried this last year.

Latest Display Adapter Driver for Windows 8.1: http://people.redhat.com/vrozenfe/qxlwddm/
Latest VirtIO Windows Drivers: https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Windows_Virtio_Drivers#Direct_download

Screenshot from 2015-05-10 17-57-02

Windows 8.1 running on KVM as a guest on Fedora 22 (beta)

I made sure to tune the Windows for better visual “Performance” rather than “Appearance” and that made quite a bit of difference on how the VM behaves. Again, given how “low powered” the ASUS UX305 laptop is, I have been pleasantly surprised with the performance of the both VMs: RHEL 7.1 and Windows 8.1.

I did set up the Windows 8.1 VM to use 2 cores and 4 GB of RAM to guarantee enough resources for OK performance. The RHEL 7.1 VM I have 1 core with 1 GB of RAM.

Conclusion

Two months have gone by, and I am still very much impressed by this sub-US$700 laptop that is as thin as the new Macbook Air, and  powerful enough to allow me to do most of the things I need to do on a laptop for work and personal stuff.

 

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Posted in asus, computers, fedora 22, kvm, laptop, linux, microsoft, virt-manager, virtualization, windows | 5 Comments

Raspberry Pi articles on Opensource.com

I published a couple of articles about the Raspberry Pi on Opensource.com during the past 2 weeks. Check it out:

  1. Listen to streaming music with Pi MusicBox
  2. Create your own musical light show with Raspberry Pi

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A bonus with the Asus Zenbook UX305 and Fedora

One thing I forgot to mention about the Zenbook UX305 on my review was that it comes with a “free” Ethernet USB dongle. This morning I finally had the chance to play with it, and it works like a charm with Fedora 21.

Ethernet USB Dongle

Ethernet USB Dongle

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Posted in asus, fedora 21, linux, zenbook | 5 Comments

[Update] ASUS Zenbook UX305: A very sexy Linux laptop

I bought a Macbook Pro 13″ Retina Display a couple of weeks ago and then this week when Apple released the Macbook and an update to the Macbook Pro 13″ line, I quickly went back to my purchase date, and realized I could return my MBPr 13″, get a refund and order the new one.

That’s when I saw the following tweet by ASUS, and heard about the Zenbook UX305, I was intrigued.

It turns out the $1600+ MBPr I had ordered could possibly be replaced by this machine that may not be as powerful, but it is very portable, sexy looking and more than 50% cheaper! I canceled my MBPr order, and decided to give the UX305 a try.

Ironically, I ended up buying the Zenbook at the Microsoft store. It arrived this morning, and I have been trying it out ever since. And that’s where this post really begins… a quick look, review of the Zenbook UX305FA-USM1 from a Fedora user (who really likes Apple Hardware) perspective.

First things first…

One of my biggest pet peeves in the “PC” world is how crappy the boxes in which the laptops come really are. It is something silly, but I always appreciated the fact that buying an Apple computer the experience started at the “box” level. Well, it seems like ASUS has picked up on that message, because the Zenbook box is beautiful!

Zenbook Unboxing

Zenbook Box

Then the next 3 things I’ve noticed were:

  1. It really is made out of aluminum.
  2. It really is thin.
  3. It really is sturdy (well built).
very thin

very thin

aluminum

aluminum

It really is a beautiful computer, but it is not perfect. The two ONLY major issues I have with it right now are:

  1. The power adapter for is pretty horrible. It is kind of lose on the connector, so if you move the laptop lets say from the table to your lap, the chances are the connector is going get lose and stop charging the laptop. If you move it around, you have to press on the connector to make sure it didn’t disconnect. :-( [Update: 03/16/2015 – Thanks to the OP on this post: http://www.reddit.com/r/SuggestALaptop/comments/2xfwwg/research_thread_asus_zenbook_ux305/
  2. The metal is cool and slick, but the oil from your hands leave stains all over the hardware. A nice little flannel cloth comes with the computer for you to keep it clean, but it is visible, and some people may think it is very annoying. I 6 hours of usage my touchpad (compared to an Mac’s glass touchpad) looks like it is a couple of years old.
very poor power adapter connector

You have to push in the connector hard, it almost feels like it “clicks” twice before it is all in. Then the connector will stay put.

stains from hand

stains from hand

And for the record, I am a bit of a neat freak, my hands are always clean, so I know it is not me.  This coating (if any) they have on this machine isn’t very protective it seems.

The Specs

Let me make a confession… I am getting old! I don’t know my stuff as I used to. I honestly cannot keep up anymore with the different generations and models of Intel CPUs. Frequency, Cache Size, Cores, Threads, Graphics Processor, Thermal Design Power, etc, etc, etc… They become more efficient, needing less power, frequencies that aren’t that high anymore almost gives the impression that we are going backwards in the race of powerful CPUs. Yet as the speed of SSDs, RAMs and the bus start catching up and it makes the bottlenecks of computing wider and wider.

With that said, here are the specs of this Zenbook:

  • 13.3-Inch FHD (1920×1080) anti-glare matte display with an ultra-wide 170-degree viewing angle.
  • Latest Intel Core M-5Y10 (turbo up to 2GHz) processor. Fan-less design that is quiet, clean, and energy-efficient.
  • 8GB RAM, 256GB Solid State Drive. 10-Hours Battery Life.
  • Dual-band 802.11AGN Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 3.0 x 3 ports, and HDMI port.

The base frequency of the CPU is 800 Mhz, which to be honest made me a bit worried at first. Is this Core M-5Y10 just another name for a Celeron or Atom? That’s when I started looking around for generic benchmarks against this computer and saw that overall it was a pretty decent machine. Definitely not the machine for a hardcore gamer, but much comparable to the Macbook Airs when it comes to functionality, which is basically what I am looking for.

The display is beautiful. On Windows it basically does the whole HiDPI thing (ie Retina Display) running at 1280×720 (If I recall correctly), and on Fedora, I am running it at 1920×1080 with font scaling at 1.2, and HiDPI on Firefox.

Fedora 21

I obviously didn’t buy this computer to run Windows. I have absolutely almost 0 use for Windows personally, so the first thing I did was to get my thumb drive that has Fedora 21 live image on it and try to boot into it…

Something unexpected happened. The BIOS did not recognize the USB thumb drive. It turned out that for being such a new machine, it was using secure boot, efi, the works, and I was not able to make it recognize the flash drive. (Even after I disabled the secure boot, and enable every legacy option on the BIOS). Nothing.

So, I dug around the house for a USB optical drive, and burned a Fedora 21 DVD, and boom! BIOS recognized the disk, and installation started. I was able to install it with secure boot and EFI turned on. No issue.

Once I was into Anaconda, I was still a bit worried grub was going to flake out on me, so I decided to reduce my Windows 8.1 partition instead of completely wiping it off. I left about 50 Gb for Windows, and left the rest of the space to install Fedora on.

The installation went without any problems!

fedora 21 screaming

fedora 21 screaming

I am happy to report that everything works out of the box on Fedora 21, with the exception of the Function Keys for brightness, which I am going to guess just needs to be configured, and I haven’t gotten to it yet. But the brightness on the GNOME toolbar works just fine.

The laptop is powerful enough to run virt-manager, and RHEL 7 on a VM, it works really well. The keyboard, and touchpad work really well too. I have no complaints. Even though, I don’t care about it the keyboard is not backlit (in case you do care).

Did I mention the laptop is fanless? Oh, and from what I’ve been able to see so far, Suspend/Resume works pretty well. The battery life so far seems to go way beyond 5 hours (with Windows claiming up to 10 hours of battery life). I have not used powertop in Fedora to try to tune the power settings yet. Maybe the subject for a future post?

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Posted in asus, computer, fedora 21, linux, macbookair, macbookpro, zenbook | 29 Comments