Why I think KDE is better than Gnome as a desktop environment

I’ve recently made the switch to KDE Plasma because, like many times before, I was seduced to try it out, after reading so much about the features it contains. Unfortunately, in the past these attempts to like the desktop environment turned out not too well. There was so much graphical flickering, some things just didn’t work right and the fonts looked ugly in the desktop environment and especially on the internet in Firefox.

But things have changed so much since KDE Plasma! Let me go through the stuff that I like since I moved to it from Gnome and things that are still troubling me. Maybe the points that I list down here can be interesting or decision makers for you.

Note that my experience that I write down here is based on KDE Plasma 5.12 and Gnome Shell 3.26.

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How to fix UEFI boot with startup.nsh and Antergos Linux in Virtualbox

If you’re installing Antergos in UEFI mode in Virtualbox, things won’t go so smoothly because you’ll need to setup the EFI boot. You’ll get a message like this:

EFI boot

After that it’ll go into the UEFI Interactive Shell. There, you’ll have to edit the startup.nsh script to add the efi file.

Type FS0: and press enter to open the filesystem
Type edit startup.nsh and press enter to open the editor
Type \EFI\antergos_grub\grubx64.efi and press CTRL + Q to quit, but it asks you to save the file. Do that and press enter again and CTRL + Q again to exit for real.
Type reset and press enter to restart the virtual machine and it should boot your Antergos Linux OS properly.

Converting a single device BTRFS filesystem to RAID1

After https://blog.wheredoi.click/installing-antergos-linux-with-a-btrfs-filesytem-and-subvolumes-with-uefi/, I took it a step further now.

So I recently bought another Evo SSD to complement my single BTRFS device in a RAID1 setup. My experience with it is not long term like and the setup was very easy to do.

It’s very easy to create a RAID1 mirror from a single device with the following commands:

sudo btrfs device add -f /dev/sda /
sudo btrfs balance start -dconvert=raid1 -mconvert=raid1 /

Where of course /dev/sda has to be changed to the location of the new device and / to the location of the mount point. But I had to use these commands to convert my OS SSD to RAID1. I had to use the force (-f) flag because the command didn’t accept new disks that already contained a filesystem. The dconvert flag sets the mode for the data and mconvert for the metadata.

Be sure to have back-ups of your important data in any case

For around 170GB it took about 30 minutes to complete at the speed the SSDs could do it. And after that the job was done, no changing /etc/fstab or anything else because everything happens in the background. The second device is visible in gnome disks but not as a separate filesystem in system monitor.

sudo btrfs filesystem show

Shows the dual disk setup for the BTRFS filesystem

Now I can scrub the disks and repair damaged files where necessary.

Installing Antergos Linux with a BTRFS filesytem and subvolumes with UEFI

This is an updated tutorial (original is here: Installing Antergos Linux with a BTRFS filesytem and subvolumes) on how to set up an Antergos Linux system with a BTRFS filesystem and several subvolumes in UEFI mode, but this setup can applied to any Linux distro, as long as you know which different steps to take to perform the same actions (note that Ubuntu for example already automatically creates subvolumes for the root folder and the home folder if you choose BTRFS as your filesystem, so this setup wouldn’t apply there). These will allow you to take snapshots of important data and do rollbacks when necessary to restore modified and deleted data, but will also allow you to skip including these subvolumes in other snapshots. Note that this setup will not include any kind of RAID.

Unfortunately the information available on the internet is quite scarce – as a lot goes about the same kind of specific setup, is inconsistent and outdated. Even the official kernel page gives me the feeling some parts are outdated, because some parts of the technology are supposedly not supported, but still I see people apply them. I’m talking for example about mount options. I’m compiling all the useful information into this guide as much as possible.

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Installing Antergos Linux with a BTRFS filesytem and subvolumes

This is a tutorial on how to set up an Antergos Linux system with a BTRFS filesystem and several subvolumes, but this setup can applied to any Linux distro, as long as you know which different steps to take to perform the same actions (note that Ubuntu for example already automatically creates subvolumes for the root folder and the home folder if you choose BTRFS as your filesystem, so this setup wouldn’t apply there). These will allow you to take snapshots of important data and do rollbacks when necessary to restore modified and deleted data, but will also allow you to skip including these subvolumes in other snapshots. Note that this setup will not include any kind of RAID.

Unfortunately the information available on the internet is quite scarce – as a lot goes about the same kind of specific setup, is inconsistent and outdated. Even the official kernel page gives me the feeling some parts are outdated, because some parts of the technology are supposedly not supported, but still I see people apply them. I’m talking for example about mount options. I’m compiling all the useful information into this guide as much as possible.

Continue…

Virtualbox dynamically allocated vs fixed size VDI drive performance benchmark

Is there really a difference in speed?

I’ve been working more and more with Virtualbox these days. One of the dilemmas you get in the beginning is whether to create a fixed size or dynamically allocated virtual drive for the storage. The first one wastes quite a lot of space on the hardware if the space is not actually in use in the virtual machine, but while it’s supposed to be a tad faster. With the second one, the size of the drive is only as much as that is actually in use in the virtual machine. The maximum size can be anything that fits on your hardware (maybe even bigger, I haven’t tested that). So take for example these two virtual drives:

50 GB fixed size => takes up 50 GBs of space on your actual drive
50 GB dynamically allocated, of which 6 GB is effectively in use by a Linux OS => +- 6 GB will be the size on your actual drive

On the internet you can find some statements of people mentioning that dynamically allocated virtual drives tend to be a bit slower than fixed size drives. I felt challenged to find out if that’s actually true! So I went ahead and did some tests to see that if in my case, there is a significant difference in benchmark speed.

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Setting up Nginx with PHP and Let’s Encrypt in Ubuntu Linux – a beginner-friendly guide

Foreword

I decided to write a complete guide myself on how to set up an Nginx web server on Linux, with Let’s Encrypt TLS (SSL) and PHP enabled. Nginx is a lightweight but full-featured webserver that can perform much better than Apache and other alternatives. This means you get more performance with less resources. If you don’t need the advanced features that Apache can give you, Nginx is a splendid choice!

– This guide talks about installing Nginx, PHP and a Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate
– It mentions the configuration of TLS (SSL) connections
– It helps you setting up your first Nginx server block (virtual host)

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