Friday, April 28, 2017

Pinebook - 1st review

So I got the Pinebook 11 inch with arm 64 bits.....

And what can I say, I am amazed with the quality of the construction. 

Very good plastics, better than some chromebooks and cheap windows netbooks.

The mousepad is outstanding and work really nice.

The keyboard, only has one problem!! The right shift. Probably I will remap the shift to the "/" position. I use and abuse right shift (i rarely use the left one), so this is very important to me.

The screen is bright and sharp, the OS is Ubuntu Mate, nothing new...

The support is outstanding as usual in the Linux community.

There is a win/mac/linux tool to load images to sdcard and flash the computer, it works properly. 

So where does it fails.... Please remember that this computer is for early adopters and developers, so a lot of things don't work...

- in the 11" inch version there are some flickering - This is related to driver issues, it is being worked out. The Android image as per today does not have this issue. 

- Also in linux distro due to DRM support issues, videos like youtube and other are not working properly as they are being software rendered.

- the firefox shipped with is buggy - Alternative I found was to install Chromium. Best option so far. Check the Pinebook forum for this.

- sound was not working and there is a fix, it is related to driver issue

- Android image, looks like a good option if you want things done, however in my opinion is a waste a space in the screen, and it is not very optimized for laptop. I suggest to wait for a Remix OS release. The Remix OS exists in Pine64+, so sure it will be soon in the Pinebook.

- Brightness level inverted - just a minor bug, not major issue

- still wondering how to invert the mousepad scroolling, dconf-editor not working, synaptics driver not found in kernel, strange, will have to dig deeper.

Most of this bugs are solved almost daily and for sure more will come along, however the good communication with users<->developers results in a very good community work.

I will keep using this very nice computer, and with the help of all, I am sure that all the software problems will be solved. 

The basis (hardware) is strong and good, it is just the software that needs to be tweaked.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

I am Back.... with a Pinebook...

Hello all Linuxers...

It is hard to resist the Linux community, so...

After a few years away, I am back, I am just waiting a ARM 11" Pinebook ->

I still have my Macbook Pro for serious business :), and waiting the delivery for this very portable, and funny computer to play with..

I will as before actively participate in community work and help everyone who needs it.

As soon as it arrives I promise a fair review.

Some tech Specs (from Pine64 website) on the Machine arriving soon:

Wireless :
USB 2.0 Port :
MicroSD Card Slot :
Mini HDMI :
Headphone Jack :
Microphone :
Keyboard :
Touch-pad :
Power :
Battery :
Display :
Front Camera :
Dimension :

Weight :

Warranty :
1.2GHz 64-Bit Quad-Core ARM Cortex A53
2 GB LPDDR3 RAM Memory 
16 GB eMMC 5.0 (upgradable up to 64GB) 
WiFi 802.11bgn + Bluetooth 4.0
Full Size Keyboard
Large Multi-Touch Touchpad
Input: 100~240V, Output: 5V3A
Lithium Polymer Battery (10000mAH) 
11.6" or 14" TN LCD (1366 x 768)
0.3 Megapixels
11.6" : 299mm x 200mm x 12mm (WxDxH)
14" : 329mm x 220mm x 12mm (WxDxH)
11.6" : 1.04 kg (2.30 lbs)
14" : 1.26 kg (2.78 lbs)
30 days
OS :
Ubuntu 16.04 Mate Desktop base on BSP Kernel 3.10(Default) or Android

Just leave your comment and ideas... 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

See you Soon!!

Hi all,

I know I haven't been writing a lot here, and the reason is that I moved to my main computer to OS X. However this does not mean that I moved to the dark side :)....

Even though now, I have most of my stuff in Apple (iphone, ipad, OS X), I still work with Linux, but since it is not on my main computer the updates on this blog will be much less.

This change was more than a year ago, and the reason was that I got a little bit tired of fighting device drivers, the need to have a piece of software and not being able to run it. 

The tipping point was after a kernel update not being able to have my wifi running (again), and the device driver was not compiling at all, it was not the first time it happened, but I was not in the mood anymore to go over and over again.

In that day I just wanted to open the laptop and get things done.

Going to MS Windows was never an option since long time ago, so the only viable option was Apple.

I hope I can still find time to keep contributing something to the very best community that is the Linux one!

I'm also starting a new blog that you can check if interested!!

See you soon.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Remote Control your DSLR with Linux and Android

Beside being a linux fan, I'm also a long time amateur photographer, since the time of film and fully manual SLR, yes, I'm used to camera controls and manual focus....

Today, as I was quietly at home, and wife and kid were already in bed, I decided to take some macro shots. But before, I wondered if there was any free or open-source software so I could connect the camera to the computer and shot it from there.

I already knew Nikon's Camera Control Pro 2 (which costs something like 180$), and its only available for MAC and WIN (as usual), I even started downloading the free trial to test on virtualbox, but never got there....

For Canon lovers, there is also some proprietary software...

So I start investigating (as usual), and I found gphoto2, which is a command line utility that uses libgphoto and can control your camera using PTP (picture transfer protocol) which I found out its an International standard.

As I wanted to see the photos as soon as they were shot on computer, and I wasn't in the mood for a Script session, I investigated and found out this GUI that work with gphoto:

- gtkam - old user interface, lack of function (for me) - not very good
- digikam - for KDE, I'm a Gnome and Unity user...  - not for me
- and DARKTABLE, which is the software I use for RAW processing....

all software its on repositories...

In Darktable I just need to presss Remote Control, and all configs from camera are there. Aperture, shooting mode, speed, EV control, timers, Bracketing (for HDR), etc, etc. 

My camera is a Nikon D3000 that does not have live view on camera, and it doesn't work neither on Darktable, but I believe others will do, but after each shoot the photo appears on computer screen which is very handy and much better then camera screen.

I know, that you will say that this is not very useful, as you wont carry your laptop around while taking photos.... But you can take your phone, or you tablet.....

So the best and cheapest and free and open-source alike software for Android was DSLRDashboard, its on Google Play, however as my tablet was not compatible (dont know why), I went to and made the download and installation.

For Android beside the USB cable that comes with your camera, you will also need a OTG cable.

As you can see, Linux is easy, and Android too....

And yes, I took the Macro Shoot with the PC and Ubuntu...

PS: The Nikon software said that it don't have support for my camera...

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Help on Insys WV2251ELQL - Ubuntu Drivers

As I wrote on my previous post I have a new latptop with Ubuntu (from retailer), but I had a few problems..... But they are now solved, and I hope that this could help other that could run into similar problems.

After updating the kernel on my new laptop Ubuntu 12.04.2, I realized that I lost the drivers (not in kernel) for:

- Wireless
- Card Reader

After some investigation:

- lsusb returned me the wireless hardware 0bda:8723 Realtek Semiconductor Corp., and I figured out the this new card don't have drivers on realtek site yet, but I found this page around...

Just follow the How-to on how to download and compile the driver and instalation, it will work fine... 

If you want to upgrade your computer maybe you should download this stuff first, or you will end up just like me with a cable close to the router....

- lspci returned me the card reader hardware Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. Device 5289 (rev 01).
As before this drivers are not on kernel, however, this is an Ubuntu reported bug which as a solution.
Just surf to :, and follow this instructions to execute in command line.

sudo apt-get install dkms
sudo dpkg -i rts-bpp-
echo 'DRIVERS=
="rts_bpp", ENV{ID_DRIVE_FLASH_SD}="1"' | sudo tee -a /lib/udev/rules.d/81-udisks-realtek.rules

After that you need to reboot and the card reader will work fine....

Linux is not hard, and I try to make it easier for everyone...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

My new Ubuntu Laptop Windows Free

Today I bought my 2nd Laptop windows free. The first one was a few years ago, the Asus eee 701.

This one is a Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, and it is made in Portugal, at Inforlândia (Insys).
Its a 15.6" low end desktop, With Intel B830 at 1,8Ghz a 320Gb SATA HD, wireless, a chiclet keyboard, and a integrated graphic.

Its nice for the price and it comes well configured, just updating, and copying my home folder from my old main laptop.

This machine was bought in a retail shop, and beside this one the other laptop with ubuntu was just an Asus netbook. Coincidence, there was a couple looking at it, and the first question to the seller was "how do I connect this to internet". Off course they could not answer.

My conclusion is that people want to try new stuff, but the brands must give at least some little formation to the sellers, so they could sell a new product that they don't know. 

This netbook that couple was looking at had a price better then windows had, and they just wanted to use some web apps. I was tempted to interfere and give some advice, but meanwhile the box with my laptop arrived and I was really in a hurry, maybe next time I visit the shop...

In a world of MAC's and Windows, there is place for Ubuntu (for the non-technical) that is sure.....

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Linux on the Desktop Dead? More Alive then Never - 750 Desktops at Portugal

Portuguese Insurance company Tranquilidade made the transition to Linux of 750 Computers.

The success made a study case and granted them an award of ESOP (Portuguese Association of Opensource Software Companies).

This award was given at Evento Linux 2012 - X Encontro Nacional sobre Tecnologia Aberta (Linux 2012 Event - 10th National Encounter of Open Technology).

According to source, it allowed Tranquilidade savings around 80% on software costs.

The solution is Ubuntu Linux based with Gnome 2, before 12.04LTS, they dont specify. They have intention of upgrading to 12.04 and use MATE desktop.

On the the desktop they use Firefox+Nautilus+Libreoffice, for email they use webmail previously used before.

They run 450 VDI computers (terminals) and 300 Laptops.

The transition was not done in one time, as they started using Libreoffice/Openoffice and webmail in 2009, making the users transition much softer, as this usually is the main problem for common users.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Printing to a Windows Printer from Gnu/Linux without Linux drivers

As usual I post very few, because the time is very short, but has today I made an achievement I was looking to a long time, it deserves a HOW-TO...

Here it goes....

The Problem:

Our office only has one central printer!! (well it has other, but our boss don't wanna buy tonners, I warned him on the buy, that the 2000€ was better buy, but 600€ looked better in that moment.... no comments). This printer we use is a Windows Printer, which means the developer only has drivers for windows. So no Postscript drivers available, what means a great PITA for our PC's with Linux. So since our 600€ printer went out of service me and 3 other colleagues had to bother one of the other windows users every time we needed to print something.
As this don't look a problem, imagine the hours that are lost.... And we are all engineers.... There are better ways to spend the money with our time.... So I decided to do it.... I had tried before with REDMON (, but with no success, but this time I made a decision to loose a few hours and make it...

The Solution:

So what I had in mind, was a simple solution.... To have a service running in our Windows SBS2003 that would monitor some folder change, where we would put PDF files and then print them.
Linux handles PDF nice, and the users would print to PDF and then place the files on that folder.
It looked really nice and as I thought a lot of free software was available, but......


To begin I needed a command, from command line that would execute the print command, and after trying it with Acrobat Reader, I realized that it will always leave one window open with the program, and I didn't wanted that. So I had to find another solution.....

Then I needed the software to watch the folder changes.... From a dozen windows software the best one, that was able to execute anything on changes was Watch 4 Folder 2.3 (, but it didn't worked as expected, and I realized that it would only work on file changes from MS computers. After a few emails with the developer, and as I suspected, it uses the Microsoft Windows Shell API Notifications, and it is not relieable on network shares! Thank you for the support Mr. Zvika Israeli!!!!
So I had to find another solution....

The Deeper Research:

I had bumped into this website HOWTO - Print to a windows printer from linux WITHOUT needing any linux printer drivers/PPDs  ( ) but the python looked a more complicated solution and I had gone to the software in Tryouts chapter :). This webpage has a python script that does what I wanted, but one link in this site was more what I wanted,

So I grabbed all this info, a lot, and i mean, a lot of python reading..... Especially on string and list manipulation, and came with this solution....

The Solution: (for those in a hurry, please start reading here!!!)

What you need:
1 - A computer running windows
2 - The printer you want to print to must be the preferred printer

Software you need to install on windows machine:
1 - Python -
2 - Pywin32 - - This is needed for handling command line file execution, there are other ways to do it, and they make it a lot faster, but as I'm a beginner in Python, it worked this ways, so let it be, maybe in the future I could make my script better
3 - Pdf X-Change Viewer - - It is freeware even for commercial use (we use it around the office) and it closes after printing from command line

Changes you need to make to the windows machine:
1 - Add c:\Python27 (or the folder you installed Python) and C:\Python27\lib\site-packages\win32 to the system path - How to it

2 - Create the print batch file - Open a notepad and call it print.bat and save it on c:\, fill it with the following code:

"C:\Programas\Tracker Software\PDF Viewer\PDFXCview.exe" /print %1

Note: The path to the executable depends on your system, this is the path to a Portuguese Windows SBS2003!!!!!!!!!

3 - Create the python script file - Open a notepad and call it (or other name you want) and save it on c:\ and fill it with the following code:

import os, time
import win32api

path_to_watch = "z:\\zz_Scanner\\Imprimir" ##This is the folder where you want to put the files for printing double slash are needed because the slash is a special caracter in python!!!!
before = dict ((f, None) for f in os.listdir (path_to_watch))
while 1:
  time.sleep (1)
  after = dict ((f, None) for f in os.listdir (path_to_watch))
  added = [f for f in after if not f in before]
  removed = [f for f in before if not f in after]
  if added:
      cmd = str("print.bat "+ "\"" + path_to_watch + "\\" + " ".join (added)+"\"")
      print cmd
  before = after

4 - Now run the and one command line will open without any info. If you place a PDF in the path_to_watch dir, you will see the script finding the file, executing the command and exiting the batch file, and waiting for another file.
The script uses about 5Mb of Ram, and if you want to get less cpu usage you can replace time.sleep(1) for a higher value. The value is seconds so now you choose how much time you want to wait for the printing and balance it with your server load.

5 - I wanted this script to run as a service (seamless) so I place a link to it on startup.
If you don't want to have a command line floating around your server, rename the to dirwatch.pyw
If you get more then one print, just close python instances on Task Manager.

Future Improvements:

1 - Get rid of win32api to run commands, I'malmost sure that this could be done with os, help please!!! It would execute faster with less Ram usage. And without the need to have pywin32 installed.
2 - Compare also with existing filenames, because a user could replace a file with the same name and the script only recognize files added!!!
3 - Delete the file after printing (if I do this I don't need the point above)
4 - Configure cups-pdf on Linux computer to place files directly on desired directory - I have to deal with file permissions on both linux machines and our NAS server where the folder is.....

So this is it, it worked for me, and a lot can be done so this work better, but the solution is simple and easy, and it will help us to gain time more then important on other tasks....

Friday, September 30, 2011

Mechanical Engineering Useful Software in Linux

So, as usual, I've no wrote in this space for a long time, but today, as my daughter sleeps like a baby (10 months :P), I've got the time for some writings..
So since my last post, I've acquired a new 13" laptop to replace the good old asus eee 701, I needed a small, fast and good pc for some of my engineering work.
Just in short lines the PC is an Acer Travelmate 8371, and Linux Mint Debian Edition runs very smooth.... only one thing does not work at all, and that is the fingerprint reader, which I don't care at all.. One of the most important things for me in laptops is battery (6 hours) and suspend (all ACPI events works out of the box. Even the intel wireless card work without problems...So I'm very pleased with this little and robust machine...
So, back on the post title.... As I acquired this machine mainly for work, I started filling it up with software that I use on my day to day work (I work for a Portuguese big HVAC contractor, and own my own consulting company), and as you may think, I spend a lot of my time working...
So, starting from the basis...
1 - My desktop, the wood one, is full of interesting stuff, drawings, notes, specifications, catalogs, databooks, material samples, a real mess... so sometimes finding the calculator is hard... so I use the most powerful calculator on Linux... And that is Qcalculate (check the repositories)... Imagine this common situation for me, as manufacturers that I work with around the world all work in different units....
Pressure drop calculation:
- Heat Exchanger - 40kPa
- 3 way valve - 1 bar
- Pipes - 2 mca
etc etc...
So, normally to do this calculation and getting the result in bar, for instance, or you have a good datasheet, or you use qcalculate... just by typing....
"(40kPa+1bar+2mca) to bar" you get the fine answer "1,5960828 bars", note that the mca (column of water meters, very used here) is not one of supplied conversions, but you can program any conversion you want, Qalculate has a big database of units, currency conversion (automatic update of exchange rates), math functions, variables, phisycal constants, etc, etc.... It has capability of solving equations, plot functions, a lot of interesting stuff for you engineers to explore...

2 - So, in the CAD area, I've written a lot about this, but a list of the better ones available native:
Bricscad (Comercial, Autocad Clone),
- Varicad (3D based, for me its the best CAD software available for Linux)
Draftsight (free, Autocad Clone, but no Autolisp),
Ares Commander (the father of Draftsight, comercial, full featured),
 - Freecad (very good, sound promissing),
- QCAD (released a new version, looks a lot better and is cheap)
- Medusa4 (free personal version, very good commercial software)
And you have a lot of others, but for some reason to me are not worthy to be in this list, but here is a link to an updated regularly list of CAD software on Linux I recommend this list, I go there to take a look at the news very often... (thank you)
Remember that I'm writing about software that I really used or use for production purposes, so my opinions are not from a inexperienced person on this type of software.... I've been working with cad software since 1996 :)....

3 - On number 3 we have a non native Linux software, but as they support Linux through wine (and I've bought a license, cough, cough).... I'm talking about SF Pressure Drop 7.0 (7.15 version don't work) a full package software to calculate pressure drop in pipes. It has a full database of pipes, accessories, valves, etc, etc, it also has a full database of fluids (liquids and gases) with all the temperature and pressure properties, states, etc, etc. I also allows you to calculate pumps, reservoirs empty times, economical pipe diameter, etc etc.. It is very complete and deserves a look.
I finish this small review with a screenshot...

4 - I work with a lot of PDF files from OEM's, clients, tables from books, etc, etc, etc... and a lot of times I've to markup those to present to consultants, or simply to note something useful... So I'm talking about PDF annotation and manipulation.
I work with 2 software:
For Annotation I use Xournal (it's on every repository), and it allows me to do something like...

It has a shape recognizer that allow you to do straight lines, and squares, rectangles, circles, etc, etc... Files are saved with .xoj extension, and you can export them to PDF with the annotations, very useful, as it saves a lot of unnecessary printing...
For manipulation I use PDFChain (in repositories also). In the past I used PDFSam, but it is slower to work with due to the interface... So PDFChain allow me to crop, rotate, split and merge PDF's.
5 - On number 5 is Elmer+Gmsh (both on Debian Testing repositories), the software I use to make CFD calculations. I've started using them recently, and as I'm not very familiar, I'll take the option to just talk about the tricks to make them work with DXF files for complex layouts, and the rest of physical and equation stuff you will have to take a look at the software tutorials.... (beside that I'm a lot of rusty in finite element calculation)
So in the first time you draw something on draftsight for instance.... Save it as dxf.... Import it with Gmsh.... Create the mesh... and save mesh as "Mesh - Gmsh MSH (*.msh)" choose version 2 ASCII and "Save All".
Now the trick (that took me a all night to figure this out), open the generated file with a text editor and simply replace the "." (dots) with "," (commas), somehow Elmer mess things up...
Import mesh into Elmer, model the problem, and in the final you can have a result like this...

The above image represents the air speed inside a HVAC plenum, it was just a test, as the problem was not very well formulated, but you can get a idea of what this is capable...
6 - Other software that worth a look (in the repositories)
- Crunchbang - a less powerful calculator the qalculate
- Octave - Matlab Clone
- PSPP - SPSS clone (statistics) - Never tried it
- Electric - Draw electric Schematics (I've tried but I'm a mech engineer... )

So this is it for now.... and as I'm short on time, feel free to follow me on this social networks:
Twitter - @ECA_Engenharia - @pirolocito
We can have a nice talk on a short spare time... And remember, linux is easy....

Thursday, June 23, 2011

#! Crunchbang Statler - Enable Suspend Button on Exit

A few moons ago, I posted how to create a button for #! for suspend the computer on exit, but in those days, Crunchbang was based on Ubuntu, and the software worked diferent.

In the present time, Crunchbang is debian based, so things change a little

The "Exit" command on the openbox main menu opens several buttons so one can choose, those command are:

Cancel, Logout, Reboot and Shutdown

So suspend is out of the list.... those commands are all commands for gdm-control, but gdm-control for suspend is only possible after doing logout, but I wanted to suspend inside the session, so we have to do the trick in other way...

After taking a look at xfce-power-manager, it has suspend function, and after a litle dbus introspection, I found the correct message ( for dbus that does the trick once xfce-power-manager api supports freedesktop directives (I'm not an expert on any of these things, I just catched some lines here and there)


dbus-send \
--session \
--dest=org.freedesktop.PowerManagement \
--type=method_call \
--print-reply \
--reply-timeout=2000 \
/org/freedesktop/PowerManagement \

So, for our How-to....

1 - on a command line sudo gedit /usr/bin/openbox-logout

2 - Change the file where bold text is the new text to add


#!/usr/bin/env python


import pygtk


import gtk

import os


class DoTheLogOut:


    # Cancel/exit

    def delete_event(self, widget, event, data=None):


        return False


    # Logout

    def logout(self, widget):

        os.system("openbox --exit")


    # Reboot

    def reboot(self, widget):

        os.system("gdm-control --reboot && openbox --exit")


    # Shutdown

    def shutdown(self, widget):

        os.system("gdm-control --shutdown && openbox --exit")


    # Suspend

    def suspend(self, widget):

        os.system("dbus-send --session --dest=org.freedesktop.PowerManagement --type=method_call --print-reply --reply-timeout=2000 /org/freedesktop/PowerManagement org.freedesktop.PowerManagement.Suspend")


    def __init__(self):

        # Create a new window

        self.window = gtk.Window(gtk.WINDOW_TOPLEVEL)

        self.window.set_title("Exit? Choose an option:")



        self.window.connect("delete_event", self.delete_event)



        # Create a box to pack widgets into

        self.box1 = gtk.HBox(False, 0)



        # Create cancel button

        self.button1 = gtk.Button("_Cancel")


        self.button1.connect("clicked", self.delete_event, "Changed me mind :)")

        self.box1.pack_start(self.button1, True, True, 0)


        # Create logout button

        self.button2 = gtk.Button("_Log out")


        self.button2.connect("clicked", self.logout)

        self.box1.pack_start(self.button2, True, True, 0)


        # Create reboot button

        self.button3 = gtk.Button("_Reboot")


        self.button3.connect("clicked", self.reboot)

        self.box1.pack_start(self.button3, True, True, 0)


        # Create shutdown button

        self.button4 = gtk.Button("_Shutdown")


        self.button4.connect("clicked", self.shutdown)

        self.box1.pack_start(self.button4, True, True, 0)


        # Create suspend button

        self.button5 = gtk.Button("Sus_pend")


        self.button5.connect("clicked", self.suspend)

        self.box1.pack_start(self.button5, True, True, 0)




def main():



if __name__ == "__main__":

    gogogo = DoTheLogOut()


3 - Save the file, and there you go


Hope this is any good for anyone, as it is for me... You can always configure xfce-power-manager to suspend when you do some action, as "close lid" "press power button" etc, etc....

Made in Portugal