It's MOSS

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Machines, raining.

My main computer got shorted out accidentally, and while I was waiting for a replacement power supply, I got donated two other machines. One is a quad-core Xeon HP Z400 Workstation, and I’ve got that working now. I needed some help with that. Another is an older HP tower, and that one will not turn on at present. And I still haven’t had time to install the new power supply on my old mini box.

I’m back to mintCast, and have a new episode out of Distrohoppers’ Digest. For the longest time we were only getting a bit over 300 downloads on DD, but we’ve now had 3 episodes over 500 and 2/3rds of our episodes are over 400. The latest episode covered SparkyLinux, GeckoLinux (OpenSUSE), Ubuntu Unity, Solus 4.1, and Linux Mint MATE. Next episode (in October) will likely cover Pop!_OS 20.04 and KaOS… stay tuned.

I’m still hoping/wishing for articles to be submitted here. No judgment (other than editorial correctness, i.e., good English). If you’ve got something to say, say it here!

It’s raining computers

A lot of my readers and listeners know how broke I am. I’ve never managed to talk a computer-based employer into giving me a job, despite my decades of personal experience. I’m currently unemployed, although that could break at any minute as I have three solid prospects (Sep 6 2020).

Two weeks ago, my hand slipped while attempting to plug my speakers back into my desktop box. The power supply shorted out. That was, in itself, astonishing (I was astonished, at any rate). One friend immediately sent me the money to buy a new power supply (I ordered the wrong one, but the right one is now on its way). Another friend is sending me a pretty high-end box, probaboly much hotter than anything I’ve ever owned. And yesterday, while visiting another friend, he gave me another tower. It looked old and beat-up and filthy… but when I found the specs on it, yes it was kind of old (1st or 2nd gen i7 processor) but was still hotter than anything I’d previously owned, other than my current laptop.

So I’m fixing these things up. I’ll probably use the newer tower as my personal machine, but the others will be donated to needy kids in my local school district.

It is said that when you give a poor person money, that money finds its way through all of society on its way back to the top layer of the economy. When you give a rich person money, it finds its way to his bank in the Bahamas. I’m upholding the rich and continuing traditions of being poor in America.

Other Pages

I’m to be found in various places on the Internet, on different topics. My personal blog is to be found at Peaceful Hippo, and I also have blogs at Dreamwidth (music and creativity) and LinuxQuestions.org (Linux and computers). I also maintain Triad Bardic College‘s website.

I’m also featured on two podcasts, mintCast and Distrohoppers’ Digest (with associated blogs). My own music can be found on my YouTube channel, Robert Warren’s YouTube channel, and on Bandcamp. Lyrics and poetry I’ve written can be found at Peaceful Hippo.

“Tablets” review

With the help of one of my listeners, I found and purchased a new tablet. The tablet showed up in a box labeled DUODUOGO, and that is also the brand on the back of the tablet and on the openin g screen. (The black model I purchased is sold on Amazon as “Tablets” and the gold model – $6 more – is listed as “Novel TTT”.) (Since I wrote this article, the item has gone in and out of stock, back in, etc. On Aug 17 2020, the only model available comes with a keyboard and mouse and other stuff and sells for $119.99 on Amazon, and the brand is listed as “Tablets” again. I’ve also seen the brand listed as Allmeida – not a typo.)

Here are some unboxing photos. (I am not a professional photographer.)


The Box
flipside

The Other Side of the Box
<opening the box
Opening the box

First glimpse

The back with plastic cover

The Goodies

Original wallpaper

Closeup photo of my phone text, taken with rear camera

The cover is attached, is actually hard plastic clipped on the back with a plastic-coated cardboard flap folding over the front. It looks kind of cheesy, but hey it’s a cover. It is made to look as if you could prop the tablet up by folding that cover, but you can’t. Nonetheless, it’s a cover, and those are not cheap for 10 inch tablets, especially one like this which is half specially-molded hard plastic.

After booting, it wanted to run the DUODUOGO app to set itself up. However, to run that app I had to grant full access to the tablet. Since this is from an unknown Chinese company, I wasn’t comfortable doing that. So I set it up myself on my own terms. The tablet has a few apps on it without running setup, including the Google Play Store, but only a very few of the Google universe apps. The standard keyboard does not feature voice text or Swype, but I easily added the Gboard to gain that functionality. This tablet can be as much or as little a Google product as you like. This way, it feels a lot more like it’s my tablet instead of a tablet.

Specs

3 Gb RAM, 32 Gb storage
MediaTek6580 1.30 GHz
Mali 400 GPU
8,500 mAh battery
8 MP back, 5 MP rear camera
Android 9 Pie,b> kernel 3.18.35
2 SIM card slots, 1 micro SD slot
2G GSM; 850/900/1800/1900
3G WCDMA; 900/2100
4G LTE; FDD B1 B2 B3 B7

Included are the case/cover, charger plug, USB C cable, and wired earplugs, also a brief, multilingual users’ guide and warranty information. SD card is not included.

The battery was at 32% upon arrival. It charges via USB C. The battery is rated to last 5 hours, but so far I’m getting much better.

The tablet takes about 1 minute to boot and about another 30 seconds before you have the home screen displayed and ready to use. I have a video of it booting up: Of course I’m reflected in it very much. I did, of course, move the camera way when I entered my PIN number.

The SIM cards and micro SD slots are hidden behind a removable panel, and you need to remove the case to access this panel.

The tablet plays GIFs and short videos just fine; I previously had a Hyundai Koral 10×3 tablet which failed to load these, although the advertising claimed it to be as powerful as my home computer. Video quality is very good to excellent. How’s the camera? Actually it looks pretty good. I took a close up of my phone and it was sharp. The sound is quite loud, even on telegram messages, and while it can’t be confused for a media center in terms of sound quality it is still better than I’ve heard on other tablets in this range. If I am to believe the case cutouts, there are 4 speakers on this unit.

I thought my message timestamps on Telegram looked hours old, then I noticed that all my times were set for China Standard Time. Fixed it!

I did drop the tablet, from my bathroom sink to the floor, and it fell face-down. I had not yet installed the included screen protector. The tablet appeared to have collected a light scratch and a couple light pits. I was then pleasantly surprised to learn that there already is a plastic skin layer like a screen protector on the front of the screen, so the scratch and pitting I saw was in this layer, not the screen itself. It’s easy to miss, as it actually rolls over the curved edge of the screen. This curved edge I just mentioned is slightly problematic, as it means the screen actually pokes out even with or past the cover’s protection.

Rating it against other sub $150 Android tablets excluding Fire, I will give this a 9.5. I wouldn’t sell my $800+ tablet for one of these, but this item is a knockout at this price.

– Moss Bliss

Update August 5, 2020

I’m still happy with the tablet in general. The battery lasts longer than expected, but the charger takes a LOT longer to charge than it should. And Firefox tends to crash. A lot. But everything else works great, and it is still recommended, especially at this price point. Yes, it’s now $6 more than I paid for it. Yes, Amazon still doesn’t know who makes the tablet (some listings say Allmeida, others say nothing at all). But I have not seen a better specced tablet under $150 that wasn’t a Fire Tablet, and there are reasons to buy or not buy Fire Tablets. If you think you find a better one (more memory, for instance), check the processor and check the Android version. (I’ve seen some that look really hot, until I see they’re running Android 4,1.) I’m not happy that this one uses an ancient kernel with Android 9, but it works. It could be that updating the kernel could fix the few problems I’ve had, but of course they don’t make kernel updaters for Android tablets.

And if you find instructions on how to root this tablet, let me know. It is more than powerful enough to run other Linux-based tablet OSes.

First Picks

Here’s where I state my own personal preferences. I’m willing to listen to discussions on why I should try something else — be nice. Don’t start with “This is why you’re wrong.”

If you’re still wondering, “Who is this Moss guy?” see my blog at Linux Questions.

Best Distros for Beginners

It is never wrong to suggest Linux Mint to a new user. I prefer the MATE desktop, but the Cinnamon and XFCE desktops look and work very much the same, because the Mint team rocks. Other great places to start would be to pick your favorite flavor of Ubuntu. Elsewhere in the Ubuntu world you might look at Bodhi, especially for memory-challenged computers, and Zorin or Zorin Lite. If you are coming from the Mac world, which I never did, you might like elementary OS or even Pearl OS. Everything listed here uses the same application files and you can get help from the largest group of users. If you want to get closer to Debian, try LMDE 4, or MX Linux (XFCE) or Q4OS (Plasma).

If you want to try non-Debian distros, I would suggest:

OpenMandriva Lx 4.1
GeckoLinux STATIC
Manjaro 20
and if you want a thrill and have patience,
Sabayon

Desktops:

I have little preference. I frequently choose MATE or Plasma. I’m least fond of Gnome and XFCE, and LXQt shows promise but has a long way to go yet. For a touch of excitement or novelty, I love Moksha/Enlightenment, and you can’t go too wrong with Budgie.

Office

If you just gotta be free, you can’t beat LibreOffice, but don’t expect 100% compatibility with Microsoft. If you’re really tied into the Microsoft Office world, you might want to just keep using the online version of Office; however, if you’re willing to try a competitor, Softmaker Office is great (on Windows you can also purchase this as Ashampoo Office, often at large discounts). I used this for years as a professional editor, with zero issues, and I still pay for it and use it. The spreadsheet program is a bit less than 100% compatible, although it’s usually fairly simple to translate formulae. And there is literally no spreadsheet out there that can use Microsoft macros except Microsoft itself.
I’m not a fan at all of WPS, formerly Kingston Office, as that is part of the Chinese software market and rumors are not good (note that I’m opposed to (a) software stolen from other sources and (b) secret back doors and spying, not Chinese people).

Browsers

I prefer Firefox. It is open source, and has the best security available. They have made a few mistakes over the years but always seem to correct course. I try to stay away from anything chromium-based, but you may have work that requires it and other things you use may work better in it. Keep an eye out if you pick a chromium browser, as even the ones with a focus on security have a scandal or two in their past, present, or future. If you don’t like either Firefox or chromium-based browsers, that leaves you with two main choices (and they are almost obscure by comparison): Midori, and Web (formerly Gnome Epiphany, and it still shows up as that in a lot of repositories).

HELP

After you’ve picked your distro and installed it, be sure to sign up for that distro’s user forum. Often you will find the link already installed in the default browser. If you need more help, join LinuxQuestions.org. Read ItsFOSS.com’s excellent articles. Pick a podcast or three and listen to them, and join their user groups on Telegram or Discord or wherever. (I recommend mintCast and Distrohoppers’ Digest, because I’m a co-host on them, but I also listen to several podcasts from Jupiter Broadcasting, Destination Linux Network, and Ubuntu Podcast, among others.)

Installers

You want to install your new OS the easiest way possible. Look for Calamares Installer. Next best is Ubiquity, used in most Ubuntu-based distros. If you’re new to Linux, stay away from Fedora and openSUSE installers. I shouldn’t need to tell you to forget about building a system using Arch, Gentoo, or LFS.
To make things easier, especially if you’re into multibooting different Linux distros, find a good set of instructions and set up a USB stick using Ventoy. Here is an excellent video on installing Ventoy from Leo Chavez! Basically, you download the tar.gz file, unzip it, extract it to its own directory, open a terminal and change to that directory, and run a simple shell script, which will install Ventoy to your stick. After that, you can copy as many distro ISO files to the stick as will fit on it, and you don’t have to extract them.

More

I don’t have to tell you there’s a lot of software out there for Linux. What would you like me to talk about next? My bottom line is, Always Favor FOSS – unless it just can’t do the job or isn’t what fits your use case. Expect more blogs soon.

Welcome to It’s MOSS

What is It’s MOSS? The name is a double entendre. My name is Moss, and I prefer MOSTLY open source software. Also, I am not intending to step on the toes of Abhishek Prakash and his wonderful team at It’s FOSS, so I wanted to save at least one similar-looking domain name from being taken by haters.

It is my contention that Linux would have completely taken over the desktop world if one thing happened: We stopped hating on commercial software companies. If Linux users were willing to shell out money for programs such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, and others, there would be that many fewer obstacles to moving to Linux. And a big part of the problem is the Free Software advocates, who turn into fanatics at the drop of a hint.

If you’re interested in who I am, I recently published a blog at LinuxQuestions.org on my life in computerland, please feel free to read that.

If you would like to contact me to help on the website or submit articles, write me at zaivala@itsmoss.com. As you can see, WordPress is not my strong point. You can also reach me on the mintCast and Distrohoppers’ Digest and Linux Mint Telegram groups. I also have a Sponsus account if you would like to help out with this website or my podcasting, and a PayPal account (zaivalananda@protonmail.ch) if you’d rather donate directly to me.

This website is not intended to be all about me, however. I hope to post top-quality articles from throughout the Linux community. All articles posted here remain the property of the author, and are copyright — or copyleft, at the will of the author — to that person. If you wish to republish anything here, you may contact either me or the author for permission. Other than for purposes of review, all articles must be republished in full, with full authorship attribution. It is requested, but not required, that you also link back to this site.