Bye bye Windows10. Hello Manjaro Linux

I’ve been there before, trying to give up Windows for Linux, BUT every time in the past I’ve given up, sadly after only a couple of days.

2020 it looks like I’ve finally made it

It started late December 2019, speaking to a guy who bought a computer from me and when I wanted to give him the Windows serial number, he replied I don’t need it I only use Linux.
After a long chat about computers and such and once he had left, I thought lets try Linux again.
I’d tried at least three or four times in the past with no real success, but this was yonks ago, and as I am now retired I have more time, and I use a lot less programs, the main stumbling block the last couple of times was the lack of programs or rather the windows programs that will not run on Linux

Wine

Before you shout at me WINE…, (a Linux programs that will run some Windows programs) certain programs will run under WINE in Linux, but not all, I tried using Garmin Express that I need for my Fenix 6x watch and it won’t run. (but I have a second computer still under Windows so no hassle) Certain will like NotePad++, but there are Linux equivalents for that programs so why load load it under Wine…..

So what Distro ?

Now I throwing weird names around, Distro ….? this is for distribution, already one of many problems with Linux, there are hundreds of distros around, all Linux but not the same, One Windows, One Mac, hundreds of Linuxes, make chosing complicated

All Linux sites give you the possibility to down a CDRom ISO so that you can test their Linux version, you just have to rip the CDRom with the ISO, not complicated from Windows and just boot you PC from the CDRom. The PC will start under the CDRom et voilà you will be seeing a Linux instead of your familiar Windows desktop

I started with probably the biggest and most well known Linux Ubuntu, but didn’t like the interface, looks like a cartoon or kiddies computer ??? so then tried Linux Mint, this is one of the best around, it runs Ubuntu and looks really nice.

See what I said earlier, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, both ubuntu flavours but not the same, most confusing, Like an comparing a Audi A3 against a A5, same but not the same.

I was at the time spending my retired time on forums (when I’m not doing any sport) and came across distrowatch https://www.distrowatch.com/
This web shows the most popular distros around, many that I’d never heard of and so I started downloading other distros, MX Linux, Manjaro, Solus to name some, having already downlaoded Ubuntu and Mint

After trying all, even though I had now been running Mint for a couple of days and after being able to install some programs on it (not always easy) I found that Manjaro (this is a Arch Linux flavour rather than a ubuntu) distro to be the one I preferred., or at least seemed good for me

Dual boot or not dual boot

Now what the hell does that mean, well its fairly easy, a dual boot setup means that you install Linux, whatever the distro / flavour alongside your windows, and once done, when you re boot the computer, it boots from one of the two OS, usually Linux as the first choice, but you can just toggle into windows at start up if need be.

Now this is relatively easy, BUT you just have to read up a little or maybe a lot and be CAREFUL, because if you fuck up (been there, done that) you WILL lose your windows or at least the mbr/grub that tells the computer what OS to use.
I did the Mint setup in a dual boot mode as Mint is pretty dammed easy to setup and you’ll find more articles about it than probably anything else, in fact if your installing a Linux for a very first time I would suggest it using it

If you are like me and have a computer with loads of room and have HDs to spare, clone your Windows setup to second disc, now with that you are really safe. OR unplug your Windows HD, and install Linux on a second HD. I’ve done both these options, more time spent but again if you lose years of Windows data, you’ll cry all night long.

After playing with all these distros I decided to install Manjaro as my main OS, I decided to leave Windows on one HD all on its own and use a new SSD just for Manjaro so no dual boot option though I could have, If need be I’ll boot into the Windows HD by changing the bios 1rts drive option.

So here I am, two weeks later after playing with several distros, now using Manjaro as my main computer OS. As I said being retired I don’t need many programs, and the few that I need on all available in Linux, even if and here come the Linux problems sometimes a pain in the ass to install and setup

What ever Linux you try and install all not only look and feel different, but also work different, so that first thing to suss out is how to install some programs, now this can be quite complicated, or at least to start off, as you don’t just log on to a web site and download the ‘program.exe’ as you do in windows, basically each distro has a library full or not so full of programs that you can download with some success, why some success ? you can download programs that don’t just work, though most do

I’ll explain a little, I use a YubiKey for security reasons, a clever little bugger, a USB key that gives me 2FA security, Now when you download this program in Windows, it works, when you download this program in Linux Mint, it works, when you download this program in Manajo Linux, it doesn’t work, what the fuck Linux is Linux no ???, so a couple of hours on the web, IRC (yep I still use IRC and as I’m now deaf, its just like chatting on the phone for me) and also a Manjaro forum I finally got an answer from someone on the forum, saying you need to do this in Terminal “sudo systemctl enable –now pcscd” so open terminal typed it in, et voilà the Yubikey programs work as they should do in Manjaro. Two hours hunting , doh….. Thanks Linux

While I’m nattering on about chat and forums, Linux peoples are geeks, they are believe me, most will try and help and most are very nice but they don’t tend to explain how as they expect everybody to know how. Don’t even try asking what a terminal is or you will get slagged pretty much 🙂

Some forums are the same.
As I said I decided to go the Manjaro road, so I looked for Arch Linux forums in general, as I though well, Arch Linux, all the same no ?
I logged on to https://bbs.archlinux.org/ started to fill in the register / loggin page but there’s a certain question to make sure your not a robot, the question was a sort of maths question which I didn’t understand, what the hell ??? (I’m not that thick) ,
So I jumped on their IRC and asked what’s this weird question to register ?, Got slagged straight away and by quite a few people, though eventually someone said you need to use the terminal…….
OK, opened a terminal and pasted the question in it, that gave me the answer a number about 20/30 digits long and was finally accepted in their forum., staying on their IRC I learnt that they only help people using PURE ARCH Linux, the off springs / distros / flavours even though it’s Arch behind the curtains they will not help, and made it clear that the Manjaro and other distros were not pure Linux users.
When talking to those people on the IRC they put a damper on using Linux, pure snobs, pure geeks. You really get the feeling your not wanted and they don’t want you there. a real shame.

But I’m not the sort to be brow beaten, so bye bye ARCH forum and their IRC, and hello to dedicated one for Manjaro much better, much nicer though sadly less active, of course their are dedicateds one for for Mint, or Ubuntu and like Manjaro nice and friendly. Also there are dedicated forums using Telegram

I’m now running a brand new SSD with Manjaro, installation went well, far quicker than a Windows setup

Many programs are installed by default, Firefox, LibreOffice, Gimp (replaces Photoshop), etc etc
I don’t like Firefox so I installed Chrome, which again in Linux not quite everything works out of the box, again my YubiKeys wouldn’t work with the browser, and once again I needed time on the web to suss out why, once again you need to download a tiny program that lets Chrome work with YubiKeys
https://www.archlinux.org/packages/community/x86_64/libu2f-host/
again in Windows its works, in Linux it doesn’t, again it took me a while to find that and again a while to suss how to install it. no program.exe, no simple double click to install it… Though once you’ve sussed it, it gets a little easier

Other programs that I use are BitWarden that has recently replaced LastPass for me and Joplin that has replaced Nextcloud or Evernote txt files. These two programs I’m glad to say worked straight away

Networking is a pain with Linux, of all the distros I tried, I couldn’t get one that would just show me the other computers that I have at home, even posting on the Mint forum (and its a big forum) nobody was able to help and many have posted with the same problems, its like, your in a Linux world you don’t need to see other Windows computers….
Now I’m fairly tech savvy, even if I do say so myself, but this I still haven’t been able to suss this out, whatever the distro.
I can see my share folders on the other computers, but only because I know their IP addresses and the names of the shared folders so I can access them,
But for instance in Mint I had a shared folder short cut on my desktop which worked nicely, in Manjaro I can create one, but it won’t work after a new boot …..

Linux I love, (or do I hate it ???) it’s a brain teaser, you can do much more with it than Windows, but it’s a steeper learning curve, that’s for sure.
You can look for and find a distro that you like and then tweak it to suit your style. BUT you need some time with it, you cannot just install it and whoopi its works straight away.

At least now in 2020 it looks like I’m leaving Windows for good, or at least on my main computer, years ago, I only lasted a day or so before throwing in the towel, so things are far better than they were.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Windows 10 is a great product, I’ve been using Windows since XP days, having my own company for 30 years and running up to 15 PCs all built and installed by myself gave me a certain knowledge, just enough to get by often by myself before I jump in the forums and say help

Playing with Linux is just another step, Il hopefully learn how to use it better than Windows

Install it and play and please leave me any comments or thoughts.

Garmin GPSMAP 64s – Slippery bits of information #5

I recently add a post on how to install open streets on your Garmin devices, such as the 64s or Edge520, I haven’t tried to install on my garmin Fenix 5x as it was delivered with maps installed already

Now here’s a quick post on installing OpenTopoMap rather than open streets, these the same maps as open streets but have contour lines on them as well, Oh so useful when backpacking, which I shall be doing next year 2018. The maps are updated everyweek.

http://garmin.opentopomap.org/ is the address to download the files for your Garmin device, from  the screen you can download the files that can be placed directly onto your Garmin, ‘using the Garmin icon’, (rather than the Win or PC) In my case France as I there.

OpenTopo choice

Once the file has been downloaded , de-zip it and place the two files (france.img and france_contours.img) in the Garmin folder, either on the 64s or in my case on the SD card, you can see that I have the open streets maps stored here as well

SD card Garmin

Now all you have to do is when starting up the 64s, choose the map that you want to use, ‘et voilà’, a map with contour lines. I disable all the other maps that I don’t need

For info you can also download this to Basecamp, (just us the Win download option and read my previous post on how to install to Basecamp as its the same as open streets. though no real need if you have already installed Open streets as Basecamp is unable to use the contours lines as it’s really two maps rather than one, Top of the line Garmin application and unable to use maps with overlays , doh…….

Garmin GPSMAP 64s – Slippery bits of information #4

Trying to add waypoint to a certain place on the map in your Garmin 64s is sadly more than just complicated.

There is for instance a ‘mark’ button on the left hand side of the front of the machine, so obviously you say to yourself , cool, I’ll just place the cursor over the area that I want a waypoint, and it will create a way point for me BUT NO, this doesn’t work, it does actually create a waypoint but at your home position, I wanted to create some  waypoints about 600 kms from my home. STUPIDO 64s ……..

So here what you have to do to create a waypoint where you have actually placed the cursor. With the cursor where you want your waypoint to be, hit the Enter button, then the Menu  button then you can choose the menu to save the waypoint. As Spock would have said logic no ???

This will create a waymark (blue flag) with just a number #1 if its your first waypoint, you can’t name it yet, to name it ‘Camping site, picnic area etc.) you have go into the main menu, then Setup, choose Waypoint Manager and there you will be able to see all waypoints created,and from here you can name the waypoint to something more telling than waypoint #1…..

From the menu waypoint manager you can delete all waypoints by just pressing the menu button and delete all,  to delete a individual waypoint, it’s just a little less obvious (of course) hit the enter button while over the waymark in the listing, from here you can rename the waypoint, although even that’s  not obvious, (just use the middle buton to go up to the top of the screen to cahnge the name or press  the menu button and you will now have a new pop-up menu to delete, move or a set proximity alert for instance, as usual not obvious, lets keep on dancing Garmin… Another way to delete waypoints or rename them is by using Basecamp.

Have fun

 

Garmin GPSMAP 64s – Slippery bits of information #3

Tip 3 :

The trip odometer is really screwed up with the original settings when you first use the 64s.

Why ? Because even if you don’t move it, like sitting down for a break, it will keep on counting the miles, or in my case kilometres.

Now this isn’t funny as there you are walking around and you have no real idea how far you’ve walked

So :

“From the Main Menu > Setup > Tracks > Record Method, set to Distance > Interval, ) set to 0.06 miles or for those using kilometers 0.10 Kms, (the original setting were 0000.01 if my memory is correct),  I’ve set it to distance, rather than time or auto, though this is for you to try. 

136

With this setting change it should allow for GPS wandering and eliminate it. If you still find the trip counter still ‘adding up’ you can always input  0.12 or 0.15 for example . (0.10 seems to work Ok for me)

Of course if Garmin had implemented an auto pause as they have in most of their GPS this wouldn’t be necessary. 

This should now giving a more accurate distance reading, ‘a suivre’ as they say in French……

The only problem with this by the way is that when you look at your GPX tracks they are horrible as they number of points are few, one every 100 metres, so after a few trials, I’ve stopped using this and have changed the settings to the same on my Fenix 5X,

Setup > Tracks > Record Method, set to Time 00:00:05 (actually on my watch its 1 sec rather than 5 secs), this makes the GPX look pretty decent when you look at it, but again if you stop, for a pee, lunch, sightseeing it will keep on recording the distance, so I no longer use the trip counter, as its just not usable.

Shame on you Garmin

  • Update 2020

Since these posts on the Garmin, they have finally got around to adding the 64s to Garmin Express for updates

The latest at the time of writing was October  2019, most updates seem to be bug corrections. Personally what annoys me the most and my main gripe with this machine is the still the lack of Auto Pause function. as again it still makes a mess of GPX tracks if you want to export them, have a break / rest and see your GPX track all messed up.

In 2019 I used this Garmin for a six days hike, again I love the screen and the free Open Streets maps that I downloaded to it. Battery life is still a worry, even with battery saver, screen settings set to save battery, you can only get about two days max out of it. I finally got around to buying their expensive rechargeable battery pack so could recharge the unit basically every night without having to carry spare batteries.

 

Garmin GPSMAP 64s – Slippery bits of information #2

Tip 2 :

Adding maps to the 64

Garmen have their own maps that are pretty good. Sadly they are pretty expensive as well. (on my Edge 705 I had bought their Topo France 25:000 but not once did I have update, and of course their maps are for a one machine only so when I sold the 705 the map went with it) no way of transferring to my other GPS.

So this time I decided to try the Openstreets that I was seeing on all the forums, basically its maps that are updated in real time by users like myself and maybe you .

So here where : http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl/

Capture openstreets

So when this link is opened you’ll see this, this is the easy peasy part

Tick which style of map you want, I chose the second option ‘Generic Routable (new style)’ as after a couple of tests, this seems the best for me, walking, hiking etc (the third option, seems to be for those who bike.

Here’s  the full description Map types given by Openstreets

The map type to choose depends on your intended use for the map. Make sure the radio button for your map is selected or click the radio button to select it.

openstreet-text1.jpgNow choose from the six pop-up what country you want to download, You can see in my example that I’m downloaded France, and all of France in one go, on the 64 there plenty of room (SD Flash needed…)

If you are reading this and have a smaller GPS, a Edge 520 for instance that doesn’t have enough room then you’ll have to use the third section ‘Perhaps you’d like to add some additional tiles?’,  and choose what part of the country you need. it’s fairly obvious how to do it, except that your will leave and email address and you will receive  a link to download the part of the country that you had chosen.

Link too a site that explains far better than me for the Edge 520 installing maps
https://onemanengine.com/how-to-install-bike-maps-on-the-garmin-edge-520/

Anyway back to France in one go, once chosen in the pop-up menu, you can then click on Download map now! and it will take you to a new page.

Capture openstreets_1

To be honest the easiest way is to choose the ‘OSM_generic_new_windows.exe’, the ‘osm_generic_new_windows’ being the name of the map you chose to download

What they don’t really explain is that included with this .exe is the map, hence the size being the same as the gmapsupp.zip for instance

As I wanted to add this map to Garmin Basecamp (pretty useful to see the maps and check your traces) The .exe download is perfect

Once downloaded (which takes quite a while) run the .exe under admin (right-click with the mouse and run as Admin) and with Basecamp CLOSED.. this will then add the map to Basecamp and after you can use Basecamp to install the map on the 64 or any other garmin devices that allows you to install maps.

Open Basecamp (you did close it didn’t you…) and now on the menu bar / maps you will see your map or maps in my case.

Basecamp

From here you can install the map on the SD Fash , by choosing the line install maps, the following window will give you the choice of what maps to be installed if like me you have several. Use the personalise button to choose which map to install and also which map to be kept, or not at the same time and hit continue then install

This will install the maps on the SD Flash, I couldn’t get the choice of of how to install in the internal memory

This will take a while so go and drink a coffee, when finished reboot your 64 and you should find the maps nicely installed Map/menu/setup map/select map …

The other way but this will not install on Basecamp is to download the ‘osm_generic_new_gmapsupp.zip‘ file, when downloaded dezip it and drag and drop the gmapsupp.img file to the internal drive on your 64.

So there you go, it’s fairly easy to do all this, be careful when trying many times, all the files have basically the same names, so tidy up before re downloading otherwise it gets confusing

Openstreet update all the time their maps (unlike Garmin) , so don’t hesitate to do this regularly especially if you are like me and add tracks, paths, to https://www.openstreetmap.org I recently added a path that was missing in my village, its now are the latest version of the map, that’s nice to see.

As soon as I can I’ll add more tips…. Questions ?, just leave me a comment

Links to useful sites that I’ve read concerning either the 64, or Openstreets

https://openmtbmap.org/tutorials/send_maps/

Garmin GPSMAP 64s – Slippery bits of information #1

In this and the following posts I’ll try to add bits of information that I think may be of use to others.

Why ? The Garmin explications are a pure waste of time, they explain next to nothing , more nothing than next to …..

To learn how to use it correctly and to its full potential, I have started browsing through many forums trying to find out how things work, what are some of the menus for etc etc., Some I’ve learnt by myself, most of I’ve learned online from all over the place so I will try to group the useful ones here for you.

Tip 1 :

While the garmin is plugged in to the your computer, in the Garmin folder of the internal drive, there is a file called ‘startup.txt’

This file while opened using bloc-notes or any simple text editor will be like this

Capture startup text

Now here’s the cool bit, though totally useless 🙂
Change the display = 0 to 5 (I tried 5 and 2 message shows the same length)
Add a last line with your text

Capture startup text_1

Now when the Garmin starts up, you’ll have the last line’s message showing on the screen, useless but fun.

IMG_20170802_211918

 

Garmin GPSMAP 64s – A waste of time ?

I’ve just bought a Garmin GPSMAP 64s : this is for when I start hiking and trekking in 2018. From 2018 onwards I will be retired and will have more time on my hands and am looking to add  more activities to what I already do, trekking / hiking being the next one to add to my list.

I’d read up on GPS for hiking before I bought the 64, and decided on the 64s as I wanted a fairly big screen, and a gps capable of recording routes while I hiked them and for hours on end, also several articles all basically said it was the best around. I have other Garmin gps’s, a Edge 520 for biking, a Forerunner 220 for running and a Edge 705 (just sold it), so I decided to stay with Garmin as I use Garmin Connect to collect all my date, (only to find later that Garmin Connect and the 64s don’t work together)

IMG_20170729_135314

Nice clear screen with a trace on it, using Openstreets as the map

The garmin 64s has a nice big screen the trace that I had uploaded on it before shows up just fine.

So here are my first impressions, or rather the negative impressions :

Garmin Connect :

As I stated this is a waste of time with the 64s, as it doesn’t work.

I use Garmin Connect for all my running and biking activities, being used to just plugging in my old Edge 705, or uploading via bluetooth from my Forerunner 220 or the Edge 520 and I’d thought the 64s would be just the same, after all hiking / walking is just like running no ? it’s a sport no ?…….. and therefore it’s interesting to see how far you’ve walked, in what time, how long you rested, your heart rate etc etc.

So so wrong

Garmin connect isn’t capable of recuperating automatically the details of your activity , you have to manually export the GPS log in gpx form (copying it from the 64s while it’s plugged into the computer) and import it by manually import it and sadly it only shows the full time, and the kilometres and not the actual moving time, it is so much easier with Forerunner or Edge. In other words the 64s and Garmin Connect is totally useless

Ok some say you can use Garmin Basecamp, but this is for seeing, modifying routes and tracks, and I already use this to check out routes that I want to see or do and modify if need be before uploading to now the 64 (before on my 705), but it’s just a mapping program, Garmin Connect is more for data, seeing all my activities etc and even worse you can’t even export the data from Basecamp to Connect. Two programs from Garmin both usefull in their own right and no way that they can talk to each other.

Garmin, you just don’t understand ….

Odemeter

Now like my old Edge 705, you can have loads of data panels on one big screen, ‘photo below) this is great, having mostly all the data that you require while walking.

While I was doing my first hike, I couldn’t understand why at lease two data panels seemed to be giving me wrong information, the trip odometer and the total odometer

At the end of my walk I had only walked 20 kms but it was showing me 25.1km (earlier while I had 5 kms on my Forerunner it was already showing 7 kms…) worse still the total odometer was at 85.7 kms, now I’ve only had this machine about a week and this was the first real test with it the rest was just playing with at home

I knew that I had reset the screen while setting up the machine a week ago or so, what I didn’t realise is that the total odometer cannot be reset, unless you do a full hard reset, only the trip odometer can be reset before a hike for instance, which I had done again before my walk, later playing with it the machine and checking Garmin forums I found out that while the machine is on, the trip odometer ‘counts’ even when you are not moving for instance while you take a break or have a rest or even if you place it on a table so that there is no movement what so ever, the trip counts on and on and on…., in other words, leave it for ten minutes and you’ll have a 1KM or so recorded  and of course this adds to the total odometer.

So I’ve done one real hike nothing more, at the end I had 25 kms showing on the tripcounter, (while only 20 kms using my Foreunner at the same time) and have already 85 kms showing as my total kms while again only having walked 20 kms

So if you you are like me interested in seeing how many kms you have walked while using the 64, well you can’t.

In other words until you upload your walk to Basecamp, you have no real idea how many kms you walked, and worse still, imagine that you are doing a several day hike, well you’ll have no access to the real data without have Basecamp and a computer

This renders the 64 pretty useless

Update : I learned that if you modify the following :
“From the Main Menu > Setup > Tracks > Record Method, set to Distance > Interval, set to 0.06 miles or for those using kilometers 0.10 Kms, the original setting is less, also I’ve set it to distance, rather than time or auto.

Now this helps if you are outdoors, inside it changes nothing, I’m playing with and trying to find out more about this setting, and will try set it to 0000.15 rather than 0000.10 this should allow for gps wandering and eliminate it. ‘a suivre’ as they say in French…….

Update 23/09/2017 I ran a trail today, and as it was complicated I used the 64s to follow the trace, for that it’s ok, the problem is when uploading the trace to Basecamp the recorded trace shown on the map is useless, with points being recorded every 0000.10m its just inusable for anyone else, as you can see on the image, Ok so I’m running and moving a little faster than walking (on a bike it would have been worsebut whatever, it’s pure crap. I’m now trying  the setting to Time: every 00:00:02 seconds thaty should give me a decent trace and hopefully will not move the trip counter when resting

Garmin WE NEED AN AUTO PAUSE, nothing complicated, its on all your other machines…….

exemple garmin64 000_10m

Now if only I could to reset the total odometer without hard resetting the machine Grrrrr …..

Garmin how can you be so stupid
IMG_20170729_135303.jpg

Screenshot_20170730-205102

Both activities showing in my Garmin Connect account, after I manually uploaded the 64 data from the gpx file

The correct data showing from the Forerunner 220
and the incorrect data showing from the 64s

 

Screen shots from my Garmin Connect account.
Information from the 64s , you can see 20,76 kms
(on the photo higher up, its was indicated 25,1 kms),
also 4h12 activity instead of 3h36 and no calorie count.
The correct information is shown from the Forerunner 220.

 

Creating a Playlist on the Fiio X3

How to create a playlist using just Notepad or any simple text program for your music player, This works for my Fiio X3 player, it’s probably the same for any other player as well, or maybe with just some small modifications.

I use a Fiio X3 in my gym at home or when I’m travelling or on holidays etc.

For the travelling or my holidays while I’m lazing on the beach I just set the player to shuffle and let it choose, easy…..

When I’m working out at my home gym, I prefer the music a little ‘heavier’ and with music that keeps me going while I’m working out, so I use a playlist

When looking around how to make playlist I found a couple of posts, they seemed over complicated and or needed programs to make one.

So I decided to write this post so that you can make your playlist just using a standard text application like NotePad, Ultraedit on your PC

What is a playlist ?

A playlist is just a simple text file named ‘XXX.m3u8’ instead of ‘XXX.txt’

The XXX being the name that you give your playlist and the .m3u8 being the extension rather than .txt.

Mine is named WOD.m3u8. WOD as I do WOD workouts from Crossfit, but it could be ‘GYM’, ‘Running….’ whatever you like.

On the Fiio X3, this playlist file must be placed at the root (highest level) on the SD Flash (not in any folder, just on the SD) that you use probably use to stock your music being that the internal drive is so so small.

On the SD Flash I  have a folder named ‘Trev’s Music‘ and in this folder I have a folder per group, and if need be a folder per album in the group folder as I like things organised

On the internal drive I have a folder named ‘Music

So here’s the easy part to making a playlist :

On your PC create a new text file that you will name ‘my playlist name’.txt

So while on the PC, in this new text file add a first line #EXTM3U  (including the #)

Use a bog standard text program such as : bloc notes, Ultraedit, Notepad++

After this line, you can start adding your tracks to your  playlist (see my example below) one line per music track

All you have to do is just to save the exact address of the track that you want to add to this playlist, with my Fiio X3 plugged in to your computer this is easy to do as you can see the exact address . Normally when you click on the track that you want to be on your playlist you will see the ‘address’ at the top of the PC window.

Copy the exact address to your text file, once copied just delete the computers drive letter at the front of the title

Example :

I:\Trev’s Music\Death in Vegas\Satan’s Circus\09. Anita Berber.flac’

The title of the track ’09. Anita Berber.flac’ needs to be added after your copy the address in blue on my screen shot as it only copies the details up to the folder, not taking into account the title of the track, when you click in the address  section and don’t forget to add the \ before the title

A tip : for the track title, rather than typing (in my example ’09. Anita…..’) just do a right click to the track, choose the rename option, then you can copy the complete title (of course don’t rename it) this eliminating all possibilities of making an error when re typing.

‘I:\Trev’s music\Death in Vegas\Satan’s Circus’ the add’\’ then ’09. Anita Berber.flac’, easy peasy …..

(I :  being the letter that is giving by my PC for my Fiio SD Flash, this can be different depending on you PC : D, F, G for instance), but if you leave the letter I:\ (which is given, by your PC) when the Fiio tries to read your playlist it won’t understand the I:\ so just delete it, giving you this on your text file

‘Trev’s Music\Death in Vegas\Satan’s Circus\09. Anita Berber.flac’

adresse music

My Fiio connected to my PC

This breaks down to (the anti slash telling the machine to go down a folder, Fiio X3 doesn’t attribute a letter to the SD Flash, probably being that the Playlist is on the SD Flash itself) but it does attribute à letter to it’s internal drive, that being ‘a’

SD Flash :

First folder : Trev’s Music

Sub folder : Marc Almond (group/artist)

Sub folder : Stranger Things (album name)

Track : 01. Glorious.flac (notice you must copy the full track name including the extension, I only use Flac not mp3)

So basically your text file should look like this :

#EXTM3U
Trev’s music\Marc Almond\Stranger Things\01. Glorious.flac
Trev’s music\Leftfield\Stealth Remixes\01. Phat Planet (Dave Clarke Remix).flac
Trev’s music\Lemon Jelly\’64-’95\02. ’88 aka Come Down On Me.flac
Trev’s music\Thirty Seconds to Mars\Love Lust Faith + Dreams\07. Pyres of Varanasi.flac
Trev’s music\Death in Vegas\Satan’s Circus\09. Anita Berber.flac

These tracks all ‘point’ to my ‘Trev’s music‘ folder on my SD flash (there is no drive letter for the SD flash)

For a playlist including the tracks on the internal drive, you leave the letter at the front of the line

a:\Music\Odds & ends\06. Rewind.flac

In the example above  a:\ points to the internal drive rather than the SD (if you  want  to add some music to your Fiio’s internal drive, you will need to add at the beginning of the line ‘a:\‘) this telling the Fiio to go and ‘see’ the internal drive rather then the SD flash drive

The Fiio’s Internal drive :

a:\Music\Odds & ends\06. Rewind.flac

First folder : Music

Sub folder : Odds & ends

Track : 06. Rewind.flac

There you go a simple text file, saved on your PC, now rename the extension from .txt to .m3u8 and it becomes a playlist for your Fiio, copy it to the SD card on your Fiio X3 not the internal drive

Download my Playlist so that you can see how its ‘made’

Hope this all makes sense, any questions please contact me by leaving a comment. Also living in France for so long I forget my English so forgive any phrases / words that aren’t quite right

 

 

 

Updating the Bios on your Zotac computer running Linux

Updating the Bios on your Zotac running a Linux

Having just bought a Zotac EI730 to be my home media center and installing KodiBuntu (Linux + Kodi media center software) on it I wanted to see if I could update the bios as there was a later version available on the Zotac site

From Zotac you can easily check and download the latest bios version. Sadly the bios on Zotac doesn’t allow an update by itself, (telling the bios to update itself from a certain file, while in bios), and if you are like me you are only running Linux and like me know next to nothing about linux then updating the bios via Linux OS is just plain impossible.

So I ran a couple of Google checks and found next to nothing on how to update, and many people asking this question, ‘Not running Windows, how do I update my bios. ???????

Funny enough looking at the PDF that is supplied with bios download from Zotac tells you how to get around this problem

It’s as clear as mud and is slightly wrong, but after a second attempt sussed it and updated my bios in less than five minutes.

So I thought I’d try to explain making hopefully things more clear, so here’s how

Firstly you need to create a DOS (my that’s old) bootable USB , you can do this from here http://download.cnet.com/HP-USB-Disk-Storage-Format-Tool/3000-2094_4-10974082.html I already had this in my cupboard.

Here another version http://www.howtogeek.com/136987/how-to-create-a-bootable-dos-usb-drive/ this one is really easy to use.

Once this Boot USB is done, download the correct bios file from Zotac for your PC and just unzip and drop all the files onto the USB, my file contained (at the time of writing)

AFU303.exe
afuwin.exe
amifldrv32.sys
amifldrv64.sys
B2250723.bin
Note.txt
update.bat
Important_note_AMI_EFI_2.02.pdf

Reading the PDF from Zotac (the last page) firstly it states ‘Boot up from MS-DOS without autoexec.bat and config.sys’ but there are no files named like this. So except the PDF file which I knew that I didn’t need I just dropped all the other onto the USB, (only two of all these names will be needed to be typed into the following DOS screen when you boot up later)

Once all files are copied onto the USB just boot the Zotac with USB plugged in, keep on pressing on the F11 at boot (this could be different depending on the model) you should then have a screen with a choice of boot options, your HD, USB etc so just choose the USB using you keyboard.
Attention the second time I tried updating my Bios,  buggered if I could get it to boot using F11,  so hit the ESC  button and boot in the Bios setup,  change the boot sequence so that it boots in priority from the USB,  do a F10 to save this and it will now reboot using the USB,  obviously later change the sequence back your hard disk.

All being well after the boot you should tnow have a black screen with some white writing similar to the below PDF and screen shot

After the C:\> you will now need to type the following, please use my screen shot as the example and not the Zotac PDF as it’s not quite right

so

1 : C:\>afu303.exe (if your yours is not quite the same you type exactly the same name as what you copied onto the USB, probably only the number will change) don’t hit Enter yet.

2 : C:\>afu303.exe B2250723.bin (again exactly the same as the name of the file copied on your USB, again the number can change depending on the version) don’t hit Enter yet.

3: C:\>afu303.exe B2250723.bin /p /n /b /r  (note there is a space after each /). Now if your are sure that you have typed that two file names correctly now hit ENTER (and pray …..) (I always pray when updating a bios, because if it goes wrong, power cut for instance you are in the shit …)

You can see in my screen shot how I typed all in, there is a space between the file names and before each slash

and you should have the ‘done’ at the end of each line and an empty C:\ you can now turn of the Zotac, unplug your USB and restart.

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When you reboot, if you boot into the bios (delete or supp button) you should see that your bios has changed, mine was B225P011 and it went to B225P012.

To make things difficult Zotac don’t use the same names in the bios and on their site. Mine on the site was B2250723.bin and on their bios its B22P012 , making it hard to really know if the bios installed and on their site is the same or newer, Why make things difficult ……

Notice that on the Zotac PDF they explain one way and show you another, most confusing

Hope this all helps. Also living in France for so long I forget my English so forgive any phrases / words that aren’t quite right, so please do or hesitate to leave reply or ask a question.

PS : on the Zotac PDF it suggests that you backup your old rom first, although I didn’t bother doing this, it could be wise.

Zotac update bios2015-08-08 17.01.14

Updating KodiBuntu

800px-Kodi-sessionKodiBuntu

(If you don’t want to read all my blathering why I chose Kodi, jump down about a page to get directly into how to update it)

For the last couple of years I’ve been using Western Digital TV Hub to watch films, TV shows and listen to my 1000 odd CDs ripped in Flac on my HiFi when I can’t be bothered to grab a CD or a LP

This machine is easy to use just created a couple of folders on the internal HD then copy my files from my PC to the WD, this is useful as it means I have a separate backup, especially of my 1000 plus CD collection as this takes forever if you have to re rip them (been there , done that, don’t wan’t to do it again)

The only problem with the WD is that it is so so slow, changing screens from the music library to the video, or just changing folder takes far to long and I can no longer stand this, also there seems to be no more firmware updates and so I finally decided to sit down and see what else is available on the market. We are July 2015

After a couple of hours googling around I came across Plex https://plex.tv/

I downloaded and installed on my PC (I was running the beta windows 10 setup) It’s easy to install, the interface is clean , refreshing and easy to understand. basically you just choose to add some folders or files to it, under the TV, Movies or Music selection, point and click to where they are stored on your PC it will just ‘broadcast’ these to your TV (if your TV has DNLA )

In minutes I was able to watching a TV episode and listening to some of my music, pretty cool, extremely quick

Although this was pretty clever not being able to ‘remote control’ all from the sitting room with the PC being in the bedroom (you can stop, start, fast forward using the TV ‘s controller but not much else and this wasn’t enough for me

Also if I replaced the WD I want a separate box for my backups? I’m old school, the PC is for games, working etc not for films or music, so I again started to look around for a replacement of the WD box, there isn’t much on the market and my searches kept coming back to Zotac barebone computers running Kodi or Plex.

So I took a look at their site. Confusing to say the least, there are many different models and I didn’t have clue which one to buy. I ended up choosing a middle / upper range  model the EI730, there are two versions as nearly all the Zotac barebone, either an  ’empty’ model having no HD or memory, or a version with a HD and memory. I like building my own PCs so the options choosing my own HD and memory was for me a better option. I choose a  HD WD WD10SPCX 1T 5400T SATA 7MM 8MB and memory GSKILL SODIMM 8GB F3-1600C11S-8GRSL . I never have enough memory so I bought two sticks, giving me 16gb in all, a overkill, but who cares.

Receiving all the parts in a couple of days, adding the memory sticks and HD took all of 5 mins. The Zotac is clean and well thought out and adding the hardware is a piece of cake.

Adding a computer screen, keyboard and mouse to do the setup, plugged in a USB stick with KodiBuntu on it, (you will need to create a ‘USB startup’ using Linuxlive USB creator, which is dead easy) I didn’t want to waste a windows 7 or 10 key as the Zotac will solely be for music and video using Kodi. (if need be, you can boot into the Linux setup and be used as a normal computer)  The Zotac booted from the USB key and in less than 10mins the version Helix 14 was installed. (Helix 14 being the ‘latest’ version of KodiBuntu available on download from their site http://kodi.tv/download/) (this at the time of writing)

After the install had finished and booted into Kodi, there was a RSS feed on the bottom of the screen  saying latest version Isengard 15.0 had been released, so why did I only have version  Helix 14 installed  ? a quick browsing on the forums I found that there wouldn’t be a download for this version, and you have to update it yourself, mmmmm clever non ???

Maybe it was me but couldn’t find out how to update it to the latest version through the Kodi interface. As I like playing with things I decided to search a little in the Linux part of KodiBuntu (this means booting into the Linux desktop mode that is ‘hidden’ (I had chosen when installing Kodi to boot automatically into the Kodi interface)

This is not as difficult as it sounds, though I had already noticed many questions on how to update Kodi on the web, and  as usual the answers although correct will be pure gibberish for most, you will get answers such as do a  ‘sudo update’ etc etc , from where, how, these answers sadly don’t mean a thing to most people, being a little to complicated, never very clear and specific only to Linux utilisateurs

So after playing and fucking up the first install (trying to do a sudo update ….) and reinstalling again, here are I hope, some clear instructions to update to the latest version of Kodi.

Though being out of England for around 30 years now, some my English is as clear as mud, doh…

Updating Kodibunti

This is for those who run Kodi on a Linux setup : Kodibunti

When you are in Kodi on the bottom left of the screen the is the logout button, note that in the Jarvis update or maybe it’s just latest skin that I’ve installed,  the icon is no longer at the bottom of the screen, so just chose POWER from the menu bar and chose Exit, the this will take you to the login window where you can then choose to boot into the Linux desktop mode, so that you can do the update.

on off

Bottom of the screen power button

Once ‘Exit’ has been pressed

800px-Kodi-session

When you Exit Kodi

Ok, So I pinched this image from the Kodi site August  2016, just goes to show how out of date they are showing xbmc rather than Kodi

So when you are here. Top right chose Lubuntu and type in your password and hit Log in, this will now boot you into Linux

Once  booted in the standard Linux screen, choose the bottom left icon, and then choose the System tools / Synaptic manager, this will then take you into a new window.

Firstly top left click the Reload button so that it updates the package manager (you are connected to the web, arn’t you ???). You then choose  from the left frame ‘Installed’ and then slightly higher up click on ‘Mark all Upgrades’, then click on the button next right ‘Apply’ Then if all goes well …. just hit the ‘close’ button when all updates have been installed (follow the images from left to right)

All being well you have now updated Kodi to the latest version and your Linux / Ubuntu as well.

I hit the logout button after this, as I thought that this would reboot me into Kodi as normal but it only rebooted back in Ubuntu so if this happens to you, you need to go up to the top right of your screen and choose Kodi from the popup menu, then when you reboot you will reboot into Kodi, checking system info will then show you that you are running V15 (V15 being the latest version at the time of writing))

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I’m new to all this Kodi stuff, and haven’t played with Linux in years. I just found that it was far from obvious to update it, so I hope that this information helps you update your Kodi to the latest version.

Update : am now running the latest Jarvis version 16.1, all is just fine.

ZOTAC

Zotac computer running Ubuntu

Everything on the Zotac is basically standard stuff, USB, DVI, optical outputs etc Except the ‘Display ports’ not having a clue what they were and of course cables are not supplied, so I used the DVI adaptor to connect the TV using a HDMI cable to start with

Since then have checked and need to order a cable such as http://www.amazon.fr/CSL-Displayport-retransmission-connecteur-certifi%C3%A9/dp/B00P8WRH42/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1438685801&sr=1-2&keywords=display+port this I’ve ordered but not yet received. The Displayport looks like a HDMI plus but not quite ….

The sound was connected to my Rotel RSP 1098 amp using a digital optical cable, the Rotel doesn’t accept HDMI as its to old , but there is no way I’m going to change it as its to good. shame is that Kodi doesn’t seem able to route sound to two ports at the same time, so I have to use my amp even when watching a film on the TV

Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong or if I’ve written something stupid, or if you have any questions. Also living in France for so long I forget my English so forgive any phrases / words that aren’t quite right.