Episode 24 Show Notes


…wherein we discuss what we did this month…

Moss – School is out, so I’m not working or interacting with much of anyone, although we did have two visitors this month (two more than most months). My mother’s house got sold, so most of this month has been waiting on pins and needles for the estate to start making disbursements. I am no longer on mintCast, so I’ve had more time on my hands and haven’t done much with it. I’ve tried the occasional distro but nothing new, except for what I’m reporting on this episode. I did get a USB 3 card for my old HP Zia800 Workstation, which has tons of power but had no USB 3 ports.

Dale – 

I was fitted with my new bifocal glasses, so the first part of my week was spent getting used to them.  My computer use was less during this time due to my eyes getting tired.  I ended up just watching more YouTube and Discovery+ with some occasional messaging on my phone.  I noticed later in the week I was able to sit longer at my computer before my eyes got tired, even more so than with my old glasses.  I stayed at home the entire week except for getting groceries and a trip to bring home a burger and fries from Five Guys.  If you have never heard of them, they are a fast food restaurant that prepares the food while you wait.  You can watch them form the beef patties along with peeling and cutting the potatoes. (1500 locations worldwide, although there are rumors they are closing a lot of them recently. – Moss) They are one of my favorites next to Chick-Fil-A, another fast food restaurant featuring chicken instead of beef.

In more computer related activities, my desktop has been having an odd intermittent boot problem since I built it last fall.  I figured it would get sorted out with kernel updates, since it was a new Ryzen 9 with an X570 motherboard.  Well, this time, after nearly 20 minutes, it would hang on some kernel messages.  This was new because before it would just have a blinking cursor.  I used my phone to record the kernel messages as they scrolled on the screen.  After reviewing the video, I did some searching on some phrases I saw the most often.  I found out that it was the ASMedia SATA controller on my motherboard.  For some reason MSi uses it for the first two SATA ports with the remaining four ports controlled by the X570 Chipset.  In my searching I found a comment thread on the Linux Kernel Maintainers mailing list about adding the controller to the kernel, I also found other forums discussing various other issues.  The long story short is that this ASM1061 supports AHCI and a basic ATA mode.  Apparently it is a little buggy and sometimes it will fall back to ATA mode when it can’t negotiate a connection using AHCI.  So I moved my Samsung 860 EVO SSD to one of the 4 ports on the X570 chipset.  Shortly after turning the desktop on, I was greeted with the Pop!_OS login screen.

Tony –  

I installed the 5.11.xx kernel on my desktop after trying it on one of my Dell E7440 laptops without an issue, albeit I do not have a dedicated graphics chip in that PC. Anyway I decided to upgrade my main tower and although not a major issue it broke the NVidia driver and I had to revert back to the Open source driver for the screen resolution to work properly again. For me this is not a major issue as the card is an old one and only has 256mb of RAM but for those with a half decent card that use the proprietary driver to enable it to be fully functional this may be an issue. It’s easy to roll back to your previous 5.8.xx kernel if you do find you have an issue, in GRUB just pick the advance option on boot and select this in the menu, or if the GRUB menu does not show you can use GRUB customiser to make the 5.8.xx kernel the first option on reboot, just make sure it is installed before you try the 5.11.xx kernel so it’s available if needed.

I have also just spent a week at Woodbrooke on Holiday/Vacation while I was there, I have been spending a lot of time on the EndeavorOS laptop and have managed to get snapd and a few snaps installed. As this is on my Toshiba Z30 which is very light and portable it was the PC I used for most of the week apart from when I we recorded Episode 364 of mintCast which I used the Dell E6540 for as using a small screen for a podcast which lasted over 3 hours would have been a little too much. As I said when I reviewed EndeavorOS just after its release I could actually live with this OS on a day to day basis, it is only the chance it may break at any time if you use the AUR prevents me making it my daily driver but so far I’ve had this install for over 3 months and it has not broken yet (maybe that will be the curse now I’ve said it). 

Having spent a week just using a laptop PC, I am starting to think my next daily driver could use very well be a Desktop replacement laptop with a docking solution on my desktop to provide a full size monitor and all my peripherals permanently connected, but I can just unplug from the dock and take it out and about when I need to and still have all my regular setup at hand rather than having to run a laptop specifically for mobile use. I will still keep a highly portable and light laptop like the Z30 for use on my lap or in bed, as the battery life is far superior than a desktop replacement laptop (as I type this at Woodbrooke the Dell E6540 is set up with the battery disconnected and on permanent mains power).  

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

Moss –  Dale and I both have System76 laptops, so we waited for Pop!_OS 21.04 to come out, featuring the all-new COSMIC Desktop. The folks at System76 have gone all out to make Gnome 3 actually work well for all levels of users. We probably need to take some time here to comment on what we have learned. Dale, please tell us about the new features, and then we’ll take it from there.

Dale – 

COSMIC is an acronym of Computer Operating System Main Interface Components.

It is an update to the main shell components in Pop_Shell, separate from the tiling and 

window-management components.

They added a customizable dock with the following options:

  • Expanding full-width or condensing to a central island
  • Arranging on the bottom, left, or right side of the screen
  • Adjusting size to small, medium, large, or a custom setting
  • Removing new icons for Workspaces, Applications, or the Launcher
  • Hiding the dock, or intelligently hiding the dock when windows approach the bottom of the screen
  • Going dockless, if having icons on tap doesn’t fit your workflow

Changes to the top panel include the Activities Overview, which has been split into two items, Workspaces and Applications.  

The available options are:

  • Remove the Workspaces and/or Applications button
  • Move Date/Time & Notifications to the top-left or top-right corner
  • Toggle a hot corner to open the Workspaces view by flicking your mouse to the top-left corner of your screen

Another addition is a new launcher.  This new launcher has many new features such as:

  • Launch applications
  • Open specific menus in Settings
  • Perform searches on specific websites (ex. google system76)
  • Perform calculations using the prefix: = (ex. =5+7+6)
  • Search recent files using the prefix: d: (ex. d:FileName)
  • Open file folders using one of two prefixes: / or ~/ (ex. ~/FolderName)
  • Run a command using one of three prefixes: t: or : or run (ex. run top)
  • Show launcher features by typing a question mark

Search results in the launcher have a (Ctrl + Number) dynamically assigned to them.  To close a selected window (Ctrl + Q).  I have noticed that (Super Key + Q) does the same thing.

You can reassign the Super Key to open the launcher, Workspaces or Applications.  There are also some Multi-Monitor improvements.  

Most components can be configured to fit your workflow and preferences, with two main presets for both keyboard-focused and mouse-focused navigation and use.  These are available in Settings/Desktop.

If you are using a Laptop or have an external trackpad connected to your desktop, there are some new gestures:

  • Swipe four fingers right on the trackpad to open the Applications view
  • Swipe four fingers left to open the Workspaces view
  • Swipe four fingers up or down to switch to another workspace
  • Swipe with three fingers to switch between open windows

Lastly, here are some additional features:

  • Optional minimize and maximize buttons for windows have been added! Minimize is enabled by default, and maximize can be enabled in Settings.
  • Tile windows with your mouse! Just click and drag tiled windows to rearrange them to your liking. A hint will appear to show you where it will be arranged on drop.
  • The recovery partition can now be upgraded through the OS Upgrade & Recovery menu in Settings!
  • The launcher’s search algorithm has been updated to prioritize relevant applications for a smoother experience.
  • A plugin system was added to the launcher so that you can create your own plugins to search with.

Dale:  What I like most is the ability to configure the desktop components.  I don’t use the Workspaces, Application Menu, or the dock.  I used to auto hide the dock but I found myself not using it.  I just ended up disabling it.  My current work flow is using the Super Key to open applications and the (ALT+Tab) keys to switch between them using the Cover Flow extension.  The number of keyboard shortcuts I can configure is quite impressive.  I’ve been using the defaults and added some of my own.  I turned on the Tilling feature and it worked quite well.  It would take some time to get used to the keyboard shortcuts.  If you are used to Tiling Window Managers like i3, then you will like this workflow.  If you prefer to use i3’s shortcuts, it would just take some time to change the defaults.

Moss: I can say that the new dock and many of the new features really makes Pop! work better for new users or users who are used to a dock, and I like it a lot. Having just Gnome is the wrong thing for many users, and while Pop! in the past added better features and more sane shortcut keys, this makes it really, um, pop. I look forward to giving it more play on my Kudu.  


Mint 20.2 finally went to full release last week and I have upgraded my Dell E7440 laptop to it, sad to say the supposed improvements to HPlip have not resolved the issue with not being able to use my HP Color Laser 150nw with Linux. I have never had an issue with any printers working in linux for the last 10 years, particularly monochrome laser printers but this one refuses to work despite being seen by the system. Other than that it seems a solid incremental update on the way to Mint 22 which will come next summer. Unless you need any of the new features that have been included, if you can do what you need on the current Mint 20 or 20.1, there is little reason to upgrade. Also the team recommends that if you need a stable system to only update to the LTS 2 yearly when it is released, and then only if necessary.

Moss: I have upgraded my two machines with no issues. I tried to upgrade my wife’s T430, but for some reason the Update Manager never got the update, so she’s still on 20.1.

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


I didn’t try much of anything. I had a few failures I’ll talk about later, but finally had a success… or was it?  Dale?


I didn’t have any.  I was busy finishing my article on Mozilla Thunderbird for It’s Moss. And Tony, what about you?    


As I said earlier I updated the Tower to the 5.11.xx kernel and since I did this in the Mint 20.1 install as well as the NVidia Graphics driver not working when I’m in this drive I get freezes which totally lock up the PC when I start FireFox, resulting in having to do a Hard reBoot. Even doing the upgrade to Mint 20.2 or reverting to the 5.4 kernel did not resolve the issue so I have backed up all the data and will be doing a clean install of Mint 20.2 Mate next week after I finish the show edit and get it posted.

Distro Reviews


DISTRO NAME: Redcore Linux Orion

INTRO:I copied the following from their website because it is a good introduction.  “Redcore Linux is a distribution based on Gentoo Linux (stable + some unstable) and a continuation of, now defunct, Kogaion Linux. Kogaion Linux itself was a distribution based initially on Sabayon Linux, and later on Gentoo Linux and it was developed by RogentOS Development Group since 2011. (pronounced g’yun han Ma moot) Ghiunhan Mamut (aka V3n3RiX) himself joined RogentOS Development Group in January 2014.

However, after more than 5 years of development, RogentOS Development Group decided to discontinue Kogaion Linux in November 2016, and so Redcore Linux was born.”

Just FYI, Sabayon is a Linux distro also based on Gentoo.  Kogaion Linux is based on both Sabayon and Gentoo.  I read that it was released for educational use primarily for Romanian users.  Their website was in Romanian so I needed to use a translator to read that.  Hopefully it was a correct translation.

For those of you unfamiliar with Gentoo, it is a source-based distro that uses a rolling release model with some binaries for applications that have no source code available or would take a considerable amount of time to compile for some, but not all, people.  There is no installation program, for, as the Gentoo Handbook states, you ARE the installer.  You start with a bootable ISO that provides you with a command shell.  From there you follow the instructions and compile more software than you ever thought was humanly possible.  I have heard of people that compiled for days to install it, though this largely depends on your computer’s CPU speed and the amount of memory installed.

For those of you familiar with Gentoo, Redcore is created from Gentoo Stage 3 and provided the Kernel, Dracut (initramfs generator), dbus (a communication system for services and applications), and OpenRC (an init system commonly used instead of systemd) among others.


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.


While Gentoo uses no installer, Redcore makes it easier by using Calamares as the installer, so needless to say it was a pretty standard installation for the most part.  I did notice two things during the installation.  The check box for “Log in automatically without asking for a password” was already checked.  Usually in other distros that is not checked by default.  The second was the length of time it took to install.  Once you make all of your choices and begin the installation, be prepared to wait about 30 minutes, though I do want to mention that when I installed Redcore on my T460 to test dual booting, with a 6th gen Intel i5 CPU and 16 GB of ram, that the install only took about 15 to 20 minutes.  The additional memory and newer CPU helped speed up the install.


I didn’t have any issues, everything was detected and working.


Redcore is using a custom compiled kernel version 5.11.22. KDE Plasma is at version 5.21.5, Frameworks 5.82.0, QT 5.15.2.  They are also using Xorg’s X11 that other Linux distros are currently using.  Wayland is available if you want to install, compile and configure it for use with the other required applications. 

Upon logging in you are presented with Plasma using the Breeze Theme.  The quick launch bar next to the application menu launcher offers System settings, Discover, Dolphin and Firefox.  The System Tray has the usual icons listed like speaker volume, network connection, battery and the clock with a calendar.

When it comes to using root privileges on Redcore, it does not use sudo.  You will need to use su – with your user’s password if you chose that option during installation.  If you didn’t choose it, you will need to use the root password you provided during installation.  If you want to, you could install and configure sudo.

Since it is based on Gentoo, which uses source code and patches to update packages, Discover is only needed for installing Plasmoids (Widgets in Plasma) and Plasma Application add-ons, though there are some packaged binaries that are too large for frequent recompiling.  If you are familiar with Gentoo, you will be happy to know that Emerge is available, which is part of the Portage Package Management System which is based on the BSD Ports system.  I spoke about that during my FreeBSD 13 review last episode.  Emerge is the command line utility that installs, removes, updates and builds packages from source.

For package installation, removal and updates, the commands are simple but some don’t make any sense.  To install a package type emerge <package name>, if any dependencies are needed they will be automatically installed.  To install a package and update all packages it depends on, type emerge -u <package name>. To update a package and all the dependencies type emerge -uD <package name>.  The D means deep. To remove a package type emerge -C <package name> OR emerge unemerge <package name>.  To search for package names type emerge -s keyword or emerge -S keyword for description.  To sync the local package list type emerge sync. System updates are split up into System and World, where System is the base Linux system files and World is everything.  To do that you would type emerge -uD world or emerge -uD system.

I am not going to explain how Portage builds packages from source, that would take too long to explain.

If you would rather use the GUI, there is a utility called Sisyphus.  Other than being a unique name, I have no idea why you would name your graphical package manager that.  If you are not familiar with that name, the short version is that it comes from Greek Mythology.  Sisyphus was given a punishment of pushing a boulder up a hill for eternity, only to have it roll back down again.  You can search on your own for the full story, though I guess you could say it fits the ‘rolling’ release model of the distro.  Sorry, I will show myself out.

Sisyphus works well.  It looks similar to Synaptic, a GTK package manager used with Debian Deb files or Redhat RPM files.  Sisyphus only works with packages.  Anything that is not available in the package archive will need to be compiled using the Portage System.  This is because Sisyphus is a wrapper using some of the utilities of the Portage System.  It was created to mimic the functionality of APT or similar package managers.  One thing you will find missing in Plasma is package update notifications.  To find out if you have updates, you will need to open Sisyphus and check manually.  Additionally you can use the Emerge utility.

Package and system updates will not be quick.  Since Gentoo is a source-based distro, all updates are patches made to the source code of each package.  That means you are compiling every package from source.  Given that this is a rolling release model, you will have a lot of updates.  On my T430, 460 updates took about 3 hours, though I honestly lost track after about 2 hours.  I measured the time to update 153 packages in around 40 minutes.  Keep in mind this all depends on the size of packages needing to be updated.  I have seen 43 packages take 2.5 hours.  This also depends on the speed of your CPU and the amount of memory the computer has.  If you are using a laptop, make sure it has plenty of ventilation because it will get warm.  

Package versions are the most current, or within a few subversions of the most current.  Firefox is 89.0.2, LibreOffice is 7.1.4-2, VLC 3.0.16-r2, Telegram 2.8.1.  Some applications are not available as a package and you will need to use the Portage System to download, compile and build the package from source.

You can use Flatpak or Snaps with Redcore.  You will, however, need to install, configure, and compile the required packages to use them, and using Snaps would be a more involved option, as it needs systemd and AppArmor to function.  Both Redcore and Gentoo use OpenRC for its init system and Snap requires systemd.


The free -h command shows 446 MB in use with 13 GB of space used on the SSD.


Redcore has an IRC channel on Libera, #redcorelinux, also a Facebook page and direct email with the developer.  Though not mentioned, you can also use any documentation available on Gentoo’s website. I used the Gentoo website for most of my questions and answers.

Also note that, unless the dev has updated the ISO, the link on the desktop still points to the Freenode IRC network.


Dual booting is very simple.  The Calamares installer detected the Debian installation.  You are given the regular options of: replace a selected partition with Redcore, or resize the drive and install Redcore in the free space.


Even though it is based on a rolling release model, it is reported to be fairly stable.  Considering it is the base for ChromeOS there is some merit to this possibility.  In my usage, I didn’t notice any issues.

In my experience, not all rolling release models are questionably stable or unstable.  It comes down to how much testing and review of the code has been done before releasing it.  That is the difference between rolling release and bleeding edge rolling release.


MocaccinoOS which is a distro merged from Sabayon and Funtoo projects all based on Gentoo.


Ease of Installation                new user                10/10

experienced user   10/10

Hardware Issues                                                  10/10

Ease of Finding Help (Community, Web)              5/10

Ease of Use                                                          5/10

Plays Nice With Others                                       10/10

Stability                                                                10/10

Overall Rating                                                     8/10


I would take that score of 8 with a bit of caution.  The use of Sisyphus makes package management easier, at least for those that don’t like the command line, but it doesn’t mean you can get away from using the command line or the Portage System.  Portage itself features quite a learning curve.  That is why I gave a 5 for Ease of Use, which is for an experienced user not familiar with compiling software.  The rating can easily fall to 1 for a new user if not a 0.

Another reason for the low score is the fact that, depending on the speed of your CPU, you will spend hours waiting for package updates to be re-compiled several times per week. I am not saying this is a bad thing.  If you want to learn or already have the skills to configure and compile software,  I would say Redcore or Gentoo is the distro for you.  If you want to le


DISTRO NAME: Bliss OS 11.13 (Android 9)

INTRO: Bliss OS. With a name like this, you just know I had to review it. I’ve been more than moderately disappointed with the Inspiron 13-7353, as the touchscreen seems to be wasted on this machine for most distros and the keyboard is quite poor, at least for the way I type. This OS promised to turn my laptop into an Android tablet. Yes, I have an Android tablet, but if this worked I would have a fast tablet.


My Dell Inspiron 13-7353 features a 6th Gen i5 and Intel graphics, 8 Gb RAM, and a 128 Gb SSD.


I installed this 3 times using the Ventoy stick, and each time it said it installed correctly and had written GRUB… and each time I rebooted and was told that no boot sector was found. The first two times were using UEFI, the 3rd time was using Legacy Boot. Someone suggested to me that the problem might be that the Ventoy stick itself was UEFI, so I burned it to an old USB 2 stick and ran the installation on Legacy Boot. It installed fine and ran.


There is very little information about this distro. No tips and tricks for using it, no suggestions for apps, nothing. There are several YouTube videos on installing it, but they get as far as installation, show off a couple pretty screens, and end there. 

My biggest issue has been the onscreen keyboard. It should stay off the screen unless I’m in tablet mode, and then activate when I’m presented with text to be entered. What it does is stay off the screen entirely, or stay on the screen regardless. It’s on all the time or off all the time, whether I’m in tablet mode or using it as a laptop. I did get a lot of Android apps installed and they did seem to work so long as I kept the machine in laptop mode and left the onscreen keyboard off. Because of this, I also tried the beta of 14.3, which uses Android 11 as its base, but it turned out to not be deGoogled at all.


If you could figure out how to use it, it could be easy. I have managed to load the two desktops which come with it as well as Nova Launcher, but I still can’t change the wallpaper. As I hinted above, this might be considered a failure, except for the fact that it installed and it runs.


I did not find an app which would reveal memory use. Total disk use was 8.2 GiB.


I found a few videos. The forums are GitHub only and are not very clear or well-staffed, showing a lot of questions but few answers. The help files are few and not very helpful. I guess they just assumed that you knew how to use Android 9 and that the system worked well.


I am intentionally using it as a single installation on this computer. I don’t think you would want to try to dual-boot real Linux with Android. I doubt it will work well, but that’s not the point. There are accounts on the Internet of running it as a dual boot with Windows.


It did not crash at any point while I was using it, but I was never sure I was finding what I needed. I honestly did not use this distro very much despite having it on my computer most of the month, which was caused by the fact that I couldn’t get very much to work when I took the time to try.


Chrome OS

Gallium OS

Prime OS

Phoenix OS


Ease of Installation  new user                          5/10

  experienced user        6/10

Hardware Issues                                              9/10

Ease of Finding Help (Community, Web)         0/10

Ease of Use                                                      5/10

Plays Nice With Others                                      NA

Stability                                                            9/10

Overall Rating                                                 6/10


This distro is not ready for daily use. You would think that AOSP has been out long enough now, but your options are either raw AOSP or Chrome/chromium OS. Bliss OS has come a long way but they don’t seem to have enough devs to really move this forward.


from 06/10 – 07/13

Absolute 20210628

SME Server 10.0

Nitrux 2021.06.29

Network Security Toolkit 34-12743

Rocky Linux 8.4

Android-x86 8.1-r6

SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 SP3

Q4OS 3.15

deepin 20.2.2

KaOS 2021.06

Pop!_OS 21.04

MakuluLinux “Flash” 2021.06.29

Kodachi 8.6

openmamba 20210701

Arch 2021.07.01

NuTyX 21.07.2

RDS 16.0

VzLinux 8.4

Proxmox 7.0 “VE”

Berry 1.35

ArcoLinux 21.07.3

KDE neon 20210708

Linux Mint 20.2 “Uma”

Endless OS 3.9.5

T2 SDE 21.7

Robolinux 12.07

ExTiX 21.7

EasyNAS 1.0.0

Bluestar 5.12.15

Solus 4.3

EuroLinux 8.3

Tails 4.20

PCLinuxOS 2021.07

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