Episode 21 Show Notes


…wherein we discuss what we did this month…

Moss – I’ve been pretty busy this month, installing lots of distros, to the point where I had to save one for next month’s show. I’ve also been trying to figure out more creative uses for the Yubikey I was given by listener Firecat. I put my stimulus money to use, buying two 128 Gb USB 3.2 sticks from Silicon Power and made one into a SuperVentoy Stick, featuring the most current version of just about every distro I’ve ever used.

Dale – WellI’ve had a variety of activities the past month.  I replaced the last two 1Tb WD Red drives in my Plex Server.  In their place I put in two 4Tb Seagate IronWolf drives.  So now I have two 4Tb mirrors for a total of 8Tb of space using ZFS.  I gave the four 1Tb WD Red drives to Josh from the mintCast podcast.  I heard him mention getting a used server that had some bad drives in a past episode, so I wanted to help him out.

For distro related activities, I did an in-place upgrade to my Plex Server that was running Debian 9 to Debian 10.  It went well.  There was an error with the ZFS DKMS module but it was resolved once the upgrade was completed.  I was expecting that since it went from kernel 4.9 to 4.19.

I found a new BSD distro called helloSystems.  It uses the Lumina desktop and was based on the now-discontinued FuryBSD.  I believe they are now using FreeBSD 12 as a base.  The project is in the Alpha stages of development.  I installed the latest ISO to check it out.  They are aiming for MacOS users wanting to leave Apple or other people that like the MacOS interface.  At first glance helloSystems looks and functions just like MacOS.  I may speak more on this in the future episodes.

Lastly as a brief mention.  I purchased a System76 Pangolin.  It is an all AMD based laptop.  I chose the Ryzen 5 4500U with 6 core and 6 threads up to 4 GHz with 16 GB of ram.  The release of the laptop was a week or so before my birthday.  I haven’t had a brand new laptop in 10 years.  So it was a Happy Birthday to me.

Tony – So it has been a quiet month for me Linux wise, as I have been busy with other things, although I have continued to play with Endeavor OS. I have also been looking at the latest release of Audacity and all I can say at the moment is that it has gone back in time with the interface, as it looks very Windows 98 and very boxey. I had to do this as a snap on my desktop PC as EndeavorOS is still giving the 2.4.1 version even after updates. This morning I had an argument with a domain name supplier, I had reserved a distrohoppers domain but never used it, so cancelled the recurring payment but they took it anyway. As it is a UK company I have better protection re financial issues so I have made a formal complaint and will use the Financial Services Ombudsman if needed. 

UPDATES (Where we discuss what we have learned about distros we’ve already reviewed)

Moss – There are always new versions of Feren OS and KDE neon, it’s hard to keep up on changes.

Has anything caught your attention about the distros you’ve reviewed for us, Dale?

Dale – GhostBSD mentioned going forward that Mate will be the only official Desktop.  Xfce will now be community supported.  I didn’t see any other updates for previous distros.

BEAUTIFUL FAILURES – What we tried, and failed, to install or run this month

Moss: I was expected to join the rest of the mintCast crew in reviewing Endeavour OS. I don’t know why, but this distro has so much promise and so much failure for me. For one, after installation it creates a GRUB menu with more than a dozen entries for my main distro and several extra for whatever other distros may be installed. Running Grub Customizer allows me to cut this down, but it creates more on the next boot. I had enough other things happen that I could not keep the distro on my machine for a full day. It feels like it’s nearly there, and probably would run fine as a solo install. I would say that I was pleased to be able to install everything I use, and that for the most part using it was a pleasant experience.  I followed up with trying to run Manjaro, but this was on my FuzZ400 workstation and I could not get Manjaro to recognize the other distros on the machine, so I nuked that and installed Peppermint until something better comes along.

I have tried and failed to wrap my head around Nitrux. I tried it on my Ventoy stick and found that they included a “Classic Installer”, which turned out to be Calamares, instead of their original installer which placed the distro in a folder. I got it installed, and they gave me several pages of what I should do next, none of which looked even vaguely familiar. I ran updates, and those ended after a while with a dpkg error. There was no taskbar or dock, and not even a shutoff or reboot button (there was a Logout, but it did nothing). I did a hard shutoff and tried to boot to it, and the boot failed. So I went back into Mint and was successful at sudo grub-install and left it at that. I then installed something else.

I also worked with Dale to get Emmabuntus installed, as the Debian Installer is not my friend. While I succeeded in getting it installed, all it took was for a new installation of something else to grab the swap partition before I could no longer get it to boot. I’ve been talking to Dale some about this just yesterday. I have been unable to install this distro on either of my other machines, perhaps I will do a single installation on the Inspiron after this show is over.

Dale and Tony tell me they have not had any failures. I feel … alone… But let’s move ahead and ask Dale to talk to us about his experiences with Debian Sid.


DISTRO NAME:  Debian Sid (Unstable)

INTRO:Debian is among the oldest Linux distros that is still actively developed.  It started in September of 1993 and was created by Ian Murdock.  The name comes from the first three letters of Debbie, his then-girlfriend’s name, and his first name.  The story behind the code names started with Bruce Perens.  Once Ian got the project off the ground, he assigned Bruce with maintaining the base system and core packages.  Bruce worked at Pixar; Pixar created an animated movie called Toy Story, and the version code names are all characters from the movie.

The conventions used to name development branches is not clear to the new user, so I will attempt to explain this.

“Experimental” is not a full distribution, it is a staging area to evaluate new versions of software that has a high potential of breaking or causing system instability.  Software that is determined to not likely cause serious issues will be moved to the Unstable branch.

“Unstable” is where the development of the full distribution happens.  It is always called Sid.  Unstable to Debian means it is in a state of flux; packages can be frequently updated, added or removed.  This is where they eventually select the versions of software that will be tested for the next stable release.  They use the name Sid because he was a bratty child that would break toys and perform experiments on them.  Kinda fitting for a test bed of software don’t you think?

“Testing” is what will eventually become the next stable release.  All the evaluated packages that were given the ok from “Unstable” are moved into the “Testing” branch.  This is typically where other developers pull packages from to build their own distro from, and is what Mark Shuttleworth used to create Ubuntu.

Once the “Testing” branch is deemed as bug free and stable as possible, it is released as “Stable”.

“Stable” is the current released version.  Packages are frozen (meaning not version updated) though they are patched for bug and security fixes.  It is considered the LTS and is supported for a disclosed number of years.  The previous “Stable” release is renamed “Old-Stable” so as to not cause a naming conflict.  It will be supported until its LTS support end date has been reached.  Then it will be handed over to the Debian Security Team.  They will provide security fixes for about 1 year.  After the year has ended, “Old-Stable” will be marked obsolete.


The laptop I used was a Lenovo T430, with an Intel Dual Core i5-3320M 2.6 Ghz cpu, 14” display using Intel graphics, 4GB of RAM and a 240 GB SSD.  I am also using BIOS mode instead of UEFI.


As per usual I created the installation USB using dd.  I chose the community edition ISO that includes non-free firmware since my T430 has a WiFi chip that requires it. Debian offers graphical and text based installation methods.  The text based methods use Ncurses which allows for keyboard arrow key navigation.  It is also the method used in the Net Install ISO.

Under the Advanced options they have the following:  

  • Expert install, which allows more detailed installation options.  
  • Automated install,  where you create a file with your chosen options.  
  • A Rescue mode, which allows you to mount a drive or partition.  
  • For blind users there is a Speech-enabled method.  

As a side note, Debian uses Calamares in their Live ISO Image.

I am going to use the graphical install.  You answer the same questions of language and keyboard language.  It proceeds to detect the hardware.  I configured my WiFi which is an Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 ‘Taylor Peak’.  If something isn’t detected, you can put the driver on another USB stick and have the installer load it from there.  You could be fancy and put it on the installation USB.

You will see a dialog of connection and configuration below the progress indicator.  It will report that it is connected to your WiFi.  The remaining questions are your host name and optionally the domain name.

Next will be the user creation.  Up first will be the root user and then your user.  If you choose to keep the root user password blank, your user will be automatically configured to use sudo.  If you enter a password for root, then you will need to use the su – command to perform administrative functions, unless you want to configure sudo on your own.

The clock will be set and you will be asked to confirm your time zone.

The last step for installation starts is the disk partitioning.  You have three guided options.  They are:

  • Use the entire disk
  • Use the entire disk and setup LVM (Logical Volume Manager), used to group many disks together.
  • Use the entire disk and set up LVM with encryption.

The last option is manual. 

The guided option will ask which disk you want to use and if you want everything in one partition.  The other choices are separate /home or separate /home, /var, and /tmp.

If you are wanting to use a laptop with suspend, I would suggest using the manual option.  The guided option will create a 1 gb swap; you will need a swap equal to the size of your installed memory.

To use the manual option, double-click on your drive and you will be asked what size you want for the first partition.  Enter the size with GB or MB after it, then choose if it is a primary or logical partition.

If you want to change the files system from the default of  Ext4, double-click on Use as: and select what you want.

Since I am using BIOS I need to set the bootable flag to On.  Just double click on Bootable Flag.  It will toggle each time you double click.  When you are done double click on Done.  To create the swap just double click on the available space again.  Do the same as before but in the filesystem selection choose swap area.

When you are done creating partitions, double-click on Finish.  It will create the filesystems and continue with the installation.

One thing that is a bit different with Debian is you need to select your package manager source.  Since you are using a USB ISO it considers it the same as a DVD install.  All the APT source files will be pointed to it.  In this step you will configure a network mirror source.  You start by selecting your country, then one of the available mirror sites.

Once it has updated its sources from the Internet, you can now select your desktop environment.  The options are:

  • Xfce
  • KDE Plasma
  • Cinnamon
  • MATE
  • LXDE
  • LXQt

Other options are web server, print server, ssh server and standard system utilities.  I selected KDE Plasma, and the installer started to copy the files.

The last step is to install the GRUB boot loader.  Debian should have detected if there were any other installations.  You will be asked which drive you want it installed on.  Once GRUB is installed, remove the USB stick and click Continue to reboot.

I checked for updates in preparation for upgrading to Sid.  No updates were found.  It is highly recommended to upgrade from a clean install.  That will minimize any possible problems during the upgrade.

To upgrade the installation to Sid, there are a couple options.  The best is to do what I did:  Use the current Stable as a base.  The next option is to use the current Testing branch.  The last option is to use the Unstable Mini.iso.  It is a network install, which means it will download everything from a mirror site.  Further instructions are available from the Debian Wiki.  I have a link to it in the show notes.

Debian Unstable

Using your favorite text editor, edit your APT sources.list file located in /etc/apt/ .  Make sure you use sudo or su – to become the root user.  Replace all of the mentions of the current codename with the codename of sid.  In my case I replaced buster with sid on each source listing.

After editing the file.  APT needs to update all the source entries.  To do that type apt update followed by apt full-upgrade .  Now sit back and wait for the new packages to download and install.  Once the update is finished reboot.  Now run apt-get update and then apt-get upgrade .  That will check to see if the new Sid install is able to update and upgrade.  The last step is to remove any packages that are no longer needed.  Type apt autoremove.  That completes the upgrade to Debian Sid.

As a side note.  You may have noticed apt and apt-get.  They are basically the same.  APT provides a progress bar when installing packages.  It also provides a package search function via apt search .  Whereas apt-get uses a separate application called apt-cache .  I will have a link from the Debian Manual that explains it in more detail.

Debian Package Management


I was happy to see that the installation saved my WiFi passphrase.  It was automatically connected after I logged in.  The screen was at its native resolution.  The audio buttons and the sound were working properly.  The trackpoint was working as expected and at a manageable speed.

I did notice that, when I ran sudo apt-get update, it reported that I still had the DVD source listed in my sources list.  So I edited the /etc/apt/sources.list file with Nano and I put a # at the beginning of the DVD source line to comment it out.  I opened a terminal window again and ran sudo apt-get update and all was well.  Since apt was fixed, I installed Joe (my favorite terminal text editor), Neofetch and Htop.


I didn’t notice many problems while using Plasma.  It is currently at version 5.20.5, Frameworks is 5.78.0 and QT is at 5.15.2.  The kernel is at 5.10.0-5 which is quite recent.  You will notice while running Sid that many of the packages are very recent.  To give a couple examples.  LibreOffice is version  On Linux Mint 20 Cinnamon, they have kernel 5.8 available.  The LibreOffice they use is version  Sid is using Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release) version 78.9.0.

For Package Management Sid is using Discover by default when you install the Plasma Desktop, though they do offer Apper, which, in my opinion, is a much better option.  Apper was originally called KPackageKit; it is a GUI application for the package management service used in KDE.  I have found it quicker to use compared to Discover.  When searching for packages, Apper finds more relevant results as well.  I have done side by side comparisons of Discover and Apper.  Discover had some search results that had absolutely nothing to do with the search term, but those results were not shown in Apper.  Since they both use the same update cache, you can use either one.  Apper is very similar to the Synaptic Package Manager but has a more current looking layout, which is another reason I would prefer Apper to be the default, considering that Synaptic is the default in the other editions of Debian.

If you are used to using Debian Stable then you know that package updates mostly consist of bug fixes and security updates, since the package versions are frozen once the stable is released.  Sid on the other hand can update package versions.  They can also have a package added or removed.  The term frozen means that a current version of a package is never updated.  Only bug fixes and security updates are applied.

I did experience one oddity: the Meta key – aka the Windows key  – stopped working.  Usually you press the Meta key and the Application Launcher aka Start Menu will open.  Not only did it not work, I can’t even press alt+F1 to open it.  I tried removing the keyboard shortcut and adding it.  I did some searching online.  Apparently this is a thing that has happened to other Plasma users regardless of the distro.


First boot after installation, free -h reports 445 MB used.  Neofetch reports 498 MB used and Htop reports 510 MB.  Installation size is 5.4 GB.


When you are using Sid, the Debian Wiki is your best source.  I used it quite a bit.  Other sources of help include:  

  • The #debian-next channel on OFTC IRC Server.  They are the Open and Free Technology Community.  


  • The Debian mailing list for Debian Development. 

Links are available in the installation link I previously posted in the show notes.


I didn’t dual boot Sid with any other distro.  Since it uses Grub 2, I don’t see any obvious issues that would prevent doing that.


During my use the past 4 weeks it has been stable other than the meta key stopped opening the Application menu. However, please keep in mind that this is very dependent on the current development cycle.  Debian will probably release version 11 – codenamed Bullseye – sometime this year.  Bullseye is currently in the Testing branch.  Once they freeze Testing, nothing will be moved from Sid into Testing.  When Bullseye is released to Stable, software in the Experimental branch will be moved into Sid.  The whole process will start again creating Debian 12, and any software that was held back from Testing will continue to be evaluated, along with the new packages released from Experimental.


I don’t have any specific mentions here.  If you want to help test a distro, reach out to the various projects.  Some allow public access and some do not.


Ease of Installation                new user                    3/10

experienced user       7/10

Hardware Issues                                                      8/10

Ease of Finding Help (Community, Web)                10/10

Ease of Use                                                             8/10

Plays Nice With Others                                            N/A

Stability                                                                   10/10

Overall Rating                                                         7/10


It is hard to really give fair ratings because of the changes during the development cycle.  I took points off to try to balance it.  It mostly favors an experienced user.  I would never suggest or recommend a new user to try Sid, there are too many steps and possible complications that can occur.  For one thing, you need to install Debian Stable or Testing.  Then you need to upgrade it to Sid.  The upgrade can easily go pear shaped rather quickly.

I hope this has shown the amount of time and detail the Debian projects put into each release.  Many people complain that Debian has old packages; well, that is the intended goal.  They want as bug free and stable release as possible.  Many organizations use Debian for that very reason:  SpaceX and Nasa use Debian in combination with real time OSes based on FreeBSD.  Others use it for research.  They need a stable OS that is dependable and consistent, and anything less could alter their testing results.


DISTRO NAME: Mageia 8 XFCE/Plasma


This is a remnant of the Mandrake/Mandriva project, carried on mostly by the original French dev team. They have professional and desktop versions, with Plasma, Gnome, and XFCE flavors. It feels like the devs have concentrated on performance and neglected many features which would be useful to new users, which is the opposite of what the Mandrake project was, but let’s get into this.


XFCE: Dell Inspiron 7353, 8 Gb RAM, 128 Gb SSD, i5, Intel graphics

Plasma: System76 Kudu 3, 16 Gb RAM, 1 Tb SSD, i7, Intel graphics


The installer for the Plasma version is graphical, but could be a lot prettier. But it’s understandable, as proven by the fact I got through it.  The XFCE install uses the same method but the team has worked out the graphics much better. 

Use existing partitions

  • Mark which partition you want root in
  • Mark the partition for formatting
  • Pick general packages to delete before installation (unused hardware support, unused localization)
  • Installation begins

Pick bootloader options

  • Grub graphical, Grub text, or rEFInd
  • Delay time before boot (default 10 secs)
  • Root Password

Packages installation

  • Set default boot, click Finish

Bootloader installs

  • Opportunity to setup online media, install security updates
  • Set wifi password or select other connection types
  • A lot too many screens of wifi options
  • Click Finish.

Updates start

  • More choices for more updates


Mageia controls the boot and boot screen but seems to be ready to boot to your choice (Mint, in my case). Since I wanted to do updates, I selected Mageia. It then asks for connection type info, and does not remember my selection from installation. Again, too many screens for wifi connection. Nice to have options, but you don’t need all this to log in. Then you enter the admin password and set your username and password; and then you are prompted to login.

Poof! You have Mageia. XFCE desktop has taskbars top and bottom; moving either panel is not as easy as they think, but that’s an XFCE issue, and they can be combined into one taskbar.

The Welcome screen looks nice. Go through it if you like, including Install Software. DNFdragora needs to be installed or you will be stuck with RPMdrake, which is sort of like Synaptic.

Enabling “Tainted resources” is not as simple as they seem to think it is, and may be necessary for some software to be installed from repos.


Upon reboot, I cannot get it back into Mint. When I select Mint on the boot menu, it asks for my login and password, and then boots to Mageia anyhow; I booted using F12 and selected Mint, then ran sudo grub-install and got GRUB back to Mint, then ran Grub Customizer so that Mint recognized that Mageia was on sda3.  The music at bootup is the same as OpenMandriva’s, except it ends a couple bars before it finishes. Did they only get permission to use ⅔ of the music?

Mageia XFCE comes with XFCE 4.16 and kernel 5.10.16.

After I changed the wallpaper, I note that the wallpaper itself is glitchy at boot and then settles down. Lots of horizontal bars of varying lengths and colors, flashing, for about a second or two. This is still continuing. After settling down, the taskbar is still fuzzy, like there is a second copy on top of the first, until you hover over it and that syncs. Something is still not quite right in this desktop.

In Mageia Plasma, you have more options on boot, as to which desktop you want to log in to with Plasma as default. However, where you expect to find the Login button to continue, there is a Reboot button; the Login button is found on the lower left.  When you do upgrades in Konsole, you have to first type su, hit Enter, and type your password, then type dnf upgrade, and after completing the updates you should type exit before closing Konsole. A few times I have completed that process and then been met with a popup box stating there are more updates and do I want to install them?

Mageia Plasma comes with Plasma 5.20.4, built on top of Qt 5.15.2 and KDE Frameworks 5.76 and with KDE Applications 20.12.0; also kernel 5.10.16, and Mesa 20.3.4.

They have other desktops, including Enlightenment 0.24.2, Cinnamon 4.8.3, MATE 1.24.2, GNOME 3.38.3, and LXDE, and there are also instructions for adding LXQt 0.16.0 but not directly out of the box.

DNFdragora did not work for me in XFCE. I would load it, the program would come up (looks a lot like Synaptic), and instead of loading what programs were ready to update, it locked up.


There is often something in Mageia which is different from other ex-Mandrakes, and it always seems to be in favor of the other exes, PCLinuxOS or OpenMandriva, in my experience. Updating in OpenMandriva’s Konsole is a simple 

sudo dnf upgrade <enter> [password] <enter> [and the magic happens] 

In PCLinuxOS it’s even an apt command. 

But in Mageia, you have to use su, so it’s 

su <enter> [password] <enter> dnf upgrade <enter> [whatever happens] exit <enter>

This more resembles Sabayon than OM or Rosa.


Mageia XFCE: Neofetch reports 488 MiB. With everything installed, I’m using 6.2 Gb of disk space. A few things I would normally install could not be found for Mageia. It is a pretty light distro in terms of space.

Mageia Plasma, on the other hand, has Neofetch reporting 689 MiB. This is odd, as many other distros have Plasma and XFCE showing extremely similar numbers. Still using 6.2 Gb of disk.


There is a Mageia forum and also help available at LinuxQuestions.org. As there appear to be fewer people using Mageia than OpenMandriva or PCLinuxOS, help may not be immediately forthcoming on the Mageia forum for a new user.


I did not have issues dual-booting with Mint on my Inspiron or multibooting on the Kudu.


The XFCE desktop is a bit flaky but did not crash. DNFdragora froze a few times, solved by using Terminal for updates.


OpenMandriva Lx 4.2




Ease of Installation                new user                    8/10

experienced user       9/10

Hardware Issues                                                     10/10

Ease of Finding Help (Community, Web)                 7/10

Ease of Use                                                             6/10

Plays Nice With Others                                           10/10

Stability                                                                    8/10

Overall Rating                                                          7/10


I could not get to where I felt I could run this distro as my daily driver. It’s certainly not a bad distro, but it just isn’t as refined as OpenMandriva or even PCLinuxOS, so if you want to relive your Mandrake experience I would check those out first.


from 02/24-03/30

Kali Linux 2021.1

Mageia 8

Emmabuntüs DE3-1.04

Archman 2021-03

Bluestar 5.11.2

Arch 2021.03.01

IPFire 2.25-core154

Absolute 20210302

Robolinux 12.03

Pardus 19.5

NomadBSD 1.4

MakuluLinux 2021-03-05

SparkyLinux 2021.03

Qubes OS 4.0.4

Live Raizo

SystemRescue 8.01

Venom 20210312

Voyager 20.04.2

Porteus Kiosk 5.2.0

Tails 4.17

Manjaro 21.0

KaOS 2021.03

Septor 2021.2

KDE neon 20210325

Alpine 3.13.3

RaspiOS 2021-03-04

ArcoLinux 21.03.11

IPFire 2.25-core155

Debian 10.9.0

Debian Edu 10.9.0

4MLinux 36.0

Parrot 4.11

Kodachi 8.3

Proxmox “MG” 6.4

Nitrux 2021.03.30

AlmaLinux 8.3

Snal 1.3

Star 3.1.0


We haven’t received any new emails, and topics in our groups have gotten dealt with. I can’t think of anything to bring up for further discussion. Shall we move on to Announcements?


For chatting with us further, you may choose to join our 24 users in Telegram, our 53 members on MeWe, or the 120 or so members of the mintCast channel in Discord.

Moss: Where can our listeners find you, Dale? 

Dale: I’m on Telegram as @Dale_CDL, my email is [email protected]

Moss: Tony, where can we find you?

Tony: You can contact me at [email protected], http://hackerpublicradio.org/correspondents.php?hostid=338, Occasional Blog https://tony-hughes.blogspot.com/, Twitter @TonyH1212, [email protected]

Moss: and you can reach me as @zaivala on Telegram, at [email protected] and on Mastodon at @[email protected] plus my various blogs and music sites and, along with Dale and Dylan, at It’s Moss dot com. Tony and I can also be found almost every week on mintCast.

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