Giving away my MacBook Pro and going back to Linux

I’ve used GNU/Linux as my main and only desktop OS since more than 10 years (as a University student first and now at work).

I’ve always been fine with Linux and I never felt like I was missing something (except Skype, maybe – or a better multiscreen support on KDE). I would from time to time change my desktop environment to refresh the user experience when the UI started to become boring on the eyes (cycling between Unity, KDE, elementary, GNOME) and that purely aesthetic freedom felt great.

But I kept seeing a growing number of colleagues around me using Apple laptops. Were/Are they all blindly following the flavor of the week? No, I don’t think so, they’re smart people. I concluded that there had to be something really better about these MacBooks.

So I ordered one as my new work machine…

…and my experience with it has been positive (yes, past tense, it’s already over). Everything is there and works, the Desktop UI is very consistent (you notice this after so many years of Linux desktop :D), it’s pleasant to use and touch.

I’ve used it for 8 months and then I gave it back and ordered a System76 Lemur to re-embrace Linux.

From a professional point of view, to get the work done, there was really no substantial difference in using Mac OS or Linux. I use some terminals and an editor most of the times, then a browser, simplenote, HipChat. Basically all the software that I need is available and works well on both. My workflow is the same on the two OSs.

So why did I bother going back? I mean, if productivity is the same, I could have saved myself the inconvenience to make another switch.

Here are my reasons in order of importance:

  1. Open Source. I depend on open source, most of the engineers in tech do (Software engineers, DevOps, SysAdmins, etc). And this is not only for what runs on the servers. We all run plenty of open source tools on our laptops and our productivity is heavily determined by them. How would you work without git? Then filesystems, programming languages (Python, C/C++ compilers, scala, …), command-line utilities, Jenkins, Docker, VirtualBox, owncloud, VLC, transmission, … Open Source is so fundamental for me that the least that I can do is giving back. And this means fully embracing it and trying to contribute to some of the projects that I use. So, yes, my first reason for going back to Linux is ethical.
  2. Freedom. Simply put, if you don’t like something on your Desktop, make it better for you and everyone else. This is only possible with open source projects.
  3. Clear terms. Your main desktop OS comes with clear terms. You know what applications will do and if you have doubts, have a look at the source code.

That’s it.

As I said, “there was really no substantial difference” to get the work done, so the determining factor for going back to Linux had to be on some other – non technical level.

If you think that Linux on the desktop sucks, than start using it and help your DE of choice become great.

Install owncloud with docker, ZFS and ansible

I’ve been happily running FreeNAS on my server for quite some time now, I am a fan of ZFS and I’ve used it to great advantage both at home and at work.

After its good service and with ZFS on Linux becoming stable, I have decided to move away from FreeNAS and install a plain Ubuntu 16.04 server image to play with docker and ansible and enjoy destroying and re-spawning my ephemeral service instances in seconds!

Continue reading “Install owncloud with docker, ZFS and ansible”

Quickly setup powerline for bash in ubuntu

Powerline can do many things and it is very configurable.

I wrote a small script in case you just want to power-up your bash prompt and do it without a lot of manual steps.

This is what you will get:

Get it done!

Read the README file first, then:

(you may need to install git first, or just copy and paste the script somewhere from the repo… it will anyway install git)

git clone git@github.com:vincepii/ubuntu-powerline-bash.git
cd ubuntu-powerline-bash
./install.sh

Feel free to improve the script.

Repository on GitHub: https://github.com/vincepii/ubuntu-powerline-bash

How to setup a VPN server in a FreeNAS jail

This post is not about configuring FreeNAS to connect to a VPN, but about running a VPN server inside FreeNAS, so you will be able to access all your jails and every host on your local (home) network from the outside, using the secure VPN tunnel.

Using a VPN connection is like sending a mail envelope inside another one: the external envelope is addressed to your VPN endpoint (the server), and only the server can extract the internal envelope and process it (i.e., forward it to the specified address) as if it originated locally (thus you can access private addresses on your local network). Replies will be sent back on the tunnel by securely re-encapsulating them in an external envelope.

So, after you are connected to your VPN, you can for example

ssh root@192.168.0.1

(or whatever addresses you are using) through the Internet.

Continue reading “How to setup a VPN server in a FreeNAS jail”

Building a new fanless and silent server and NAS

I wanted a low-power micro server to have a permanent personal point of presence online to support my own operations. Main usages range from hosting some Git repositories to sync my data on OwnCloud and run HTTP servers.

Using a single board PC (raspberry-pi style) was a bit limiting as I wanted to have ZFS running with at least a mirrored zpool (so I needed SATA connectors and at least 8 GB of RAM).

Another requirement was low power consumption: I don’t want to notice the effect of this thing on my power bill.

Last important requirement was silence: I will have to sleep in the same room as my server. So, I decided for a completely fanless design, which also (necessarily) conciliates the low power consumption.

Shopping list

With a budget in mind of < 400 Euro, this is what I bought:

Continue reading “Building a new fanless and silent server and NAS”

Adding a new split functionality to konsole (multi-terminals)

The existing “Split-View” functionality in Konsole certainly has its rationale (http://dot.kde.org/2007/05/23/road-kde-4-konsole-gets-overhaul), but it is not the one I expect to use.

I am trying to implement a different split, which works similarly to the one found in Terminator.

A picture can explain it better than words:

Multi-Terminals in Konsole
Multi-Terminals in Konsole

The work-in-progress is at this “personal” konsole repository on gitHub, which I will keep aligned with the master, hoping that, once finished, it will be possible to integrate this implementation into the KDE repos.

Sogno il giorno in cui…

Sogno il giorno in cui la smettiamo di dire che l’Italia fa schifo.

Il giorno in cui la smettiamo di dire ai nostri amici tedeschi, inglesi e svedesi che viviamo in un paese che non funziona, che ci vergogniamo, che ci dissociamo. Come se non ci fosse più niente da fare, come se loro non avessero i loro problemi.

Vedo gente insultarsi: “Bravo! Bella figura! Siamo proprio un popolo di me**a”. Come se provvedendo subito a condannare il gesto del connazionale si potesse creare un distinguo: “Io lo so come funzionano le cose, non sono come lui (o loro)”. Come se fosse normale sentirsi sempre senza dignità.

Possiamo ricominciare dall’orgoglio?