Some Choice Web Browsers
article #1128, updated 11 hours ago

Here’s an overview of some choice web browsers, as of this writing. It’s not comprehensive and not going to be, because there are a huge variety of web sites and related needs, there is quite a lot of new development going on, and related publicity is not coherent (and cannot be in today’s world…). The below are the experiences of this writer only, and he is well aware that reality is far larger than his experience:

  1. Firefox. Not the fastest and not stingy in memory, but if you need a particular site to work and you don’t need a Microsoft-only web application, try it, you’ll be most likely to find that it does the job. On the other hand, if you want lots and lots of tabs open and you have 8 gigabytes or less of RAM, or if you want maximum speed, try one of the others below. Firefox is also very compatible with probably the largest majority of plugin-based services, by way of it being the most current official product of the Mozilla codebase. Versions available for every major platform.
  2. Brave. This is a relatively new browser whose company is headed by co-founder of the Mozilla project. It is not only an extremely fast, efficient, and reliable browser, the project is also a concerted effort to fix the current worldwide mess by which a very few huge near-monopolies have made web advertising almost worthless except to themselves. Brave uses the Chromium code-base, significantly revised and improved. Versions available for every major platform.
  3. Microsoft Edge (as of 2019-04-24) and Microsoft Internet Explorer. As of this writing there are still many web-applications out there which require Microsoft web browsers. Edge ships with Windows 10 as its standard; Internet Explorer also ships though it is slightly hidden and publicly being deprecated. Edge has had its own code-base, really a major revision of Internet Explorer lacking some compatibility; recent Microsoft-only web sites have been Edge-compatible. But recently there was a Microsoft statement announcing an upcoming Windows update, in which the current Edge was to be replaced with a different Edge (an entirely different browser, with the same name…) with a Chromium code-base. It is entirely unclear what this will do to those dependent on Microsoft-only web applications. Obviously we will just have to watch and wait and see. Perhaps Microsoft will make things more complicated with some sort of embedding. We will see.
  4. Chromium. Open-source web browser and code base. A very good web browser on Linux. Have not yet found a Windows version that works fully and automatically updates properly, though the Chocolatey system has promise.
  5. Google Chrome. Now the most commonly used web browser. In the last year, no web sites have been found which require Chrome and don’t work in Brave or in Chromium on Linux, including Google-specific browser applications. Chrome is generally slower and more resource-heavy than Chromium and Brave.
  6. Vivaldi. This writer has had high hopes for Vivaldi for some time; it’s a highly customizable browser by a large group of mostly former Opera folks, and across-the-board web site compatibility was an original design goal, unlike Opera. Unfortunately, this writer has found its general web-site compatibility lacking versus Brave, Chromium, Chrome, and Firefox. Versions are available for every major platform.

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DMARC analyzer
article #1284, updated 1 day ago

Here’s a good one:

https://www.dmarcanalyzer.com/dmarc/dmarc-record-check/

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Headless Running X in Manjaro Linux
article #678, updated 8 days ago

  1. Install normally, using monitor and keyboard. Get the install solid with updates and testing.
  2. Switch to a virtual console with Ctrl-Alt-F2 and log in.
  3. Run this to turn off X: sudo systemctl isolate multi-user
  4. Run this: X -configure
  5. A file is created, /root/xorg.conf.new.
  6. chdir to /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d
  7. Move /root/xorg.conf.new to this new name at your current location: ./10-monitor.conf
  8. Reboot and test. If you change video cards, you may well have to do it again, and you’ll probably need to boot from install media in order to remove the file.

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Windows reports no Internet access, when there is
article #1283, updated 13 days ago

This is usually reported by an alteration of the network mini-icon in the system tray; hover over it and it will claim there is no Internet access. The only solution I know of, is to go into the NIC, and turn off “IPv4 Checksum Offload” or something close. In most cases, this setting is on by default.

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Allow a group all commands with sudo
article #1282, updated 18 days ago

In /etc/sudoers, or a file last in the list in /etc/sudoers.d, you’ll need this:

%wheel ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD:ALL

Make sure your user is in the group ‘wheel’ (default in most full desktop Linuxes), and you’re in.

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Recompiling for Performance on Arch Linux and Derivatives
article #1196, updated 19 days ago

At the core, any current desktop OS is running binary code; and the vast majority of it is binary code which uses only a subset of the CPU at hand. This is because there are so many different CPUs which need to run the same code. Intel and AMD constantly add things to the CPUs they put out, but code of general distribution lags very far behind, because when one downloads and installs, that code set has to run on everything, whether it be ten years old or three months old. On an excellent Linux, one can recompile any package in such a way that the binary code resultant uses the entire CPU which one is using. Performance gains are thus available.

Most of the advice I have been given and found, for recompiling certain packages for Arch Linux and derivatives, has made things very very complicated, and often includes statements that it’s not worth it. Well, I am a witness that it is well worth it, one can increase performance quite a lot, and it’s not too complicated as of this writing.

My Arch derivative of choice is Manjaro, it does a lot of things for us. But all of these methods are pure Arch, all you have to do is get the prerequisites.

Prepare the environment

Before we do anything, we update the system and reboot. This is partly because operations further down will get new packages.

Then we install yay. Manjaro has it in its standard repos and can be installed just with pacman -S yay; it’ll be a bit more difficult under pure Arch. Once yay is in, you’ll need to create folder “yay-tmp” in your home folder (for our purposes, /home/username/yay-tmp), edit /etc/makepkg.conf, and find this line:

#BUILDDIR=/tmp/makepkg

Add a line just below it, thus:

BUILDDIR=/home/username/yay-tmp

Without the above change, package production may well run out of room, because by default /tmp is stored in RAM.

Secondly for this file, find two lines beginning thus:

CFLAGS=”
CXXFLAGS=”

Both lines will be quite long, with close-quotes, containing several items. One of the items in both is -march=; this needs to be changed from whatever it is to -march=native. We also need an item added or changed if it exists: we need -mtune=native. This will make everything we compile, run by far the best on the very make and model CPU we have in this machine. It will also make the packages not run well on anything else, fair warning :-)

Thirdly for this file, find a line starting with this:

#MAKEFLAGS="-j

There will be a number to the right and a close quote. Find out how many CPU cores your machine has, and add one; so if you have a dual core, you’ll add this line just below the original:

MAKEFLAGS="-j3"

This speeds up package compilation a lot, even with just two cores, and enormously more with 4 or more.

There is one more item to prepare. In this file (“~” means your home directory):

~/.gnupg/gpg.conf

you’ll want to add the following:

keyserver-options auto-key-retrieve
auto-key-locate hkp://pool.sks-keyservers.net

This eliminates the need to manually receive and approve GPG signing keys for various source files as they are downloaded.

Install an Optimized Kernel

So. Once the above is done, it’s not hard to use yay to build and install the Xanmod kernel, an excellent desktop-optimized kernel:

yay -S linux-xanmod

Yay will bring in the PKGBUILD, the file defining how the kernel source is download and package built. It quickly gives the option to edit it, and doing so is part of our procedure. As of this writing, you’ll look for one line:

_microarchitecture=0

and change this to:

_microarchitecture=22

This is according to documentation in the file itself; in this version at least, 22 equals “native”, which means the kernel will be optimized for the very specific CPU make and model in your machine. You can then save and choose the defaults for the rest of the process. It will take a while, 30 minutes often and much more on slower machines. Once the rebuild and install is done, you will notice a performance boost after booting the new kernel. Do be aware that automatic updates may override this kernel down the road; you can use grub-customizer (also available via yay) to specify which kernel you will boot.

Build glibc

After the kernel itself, by far the most used boulder of code in a Linux machine is the GNU C Library, glibc for short. So we rebuild this next.

We pull the PKGBUILD and related build scripts with yay:

yay -G glibc

And then we cd into the directory created, and light off makepkg and watch it go:

cd glibc
makepkg -s

If packages are needed for the build, install will commence, and then compilation. Compilation will take quite a while, longer even than the kernel. After it’s done, install:

sudo pacman -U *.pkg.tar.xz

and reboot to fully engage, though you may see improvement as soon as you start running or restarting programs.

Issues with many packages

There are issues which can show up with many packages.

First of all, compilation may fail. glibc is a huge package with a very large number of complications, and sometimes those complications have to do with specific versions of gcc and other items — which means if your machine is updated past those versions, you won’t compile successfully. You can either dig deep in code and/or forums to see what is going on, or just wait until the (very knowledgeable and capable, much more so than I) primary developers resolve it for all of us. Even something like the Xanmod kernel compilation may fail occasionally for the same reasons; there are quite a few more kernels available to try from yay, though each of them have different methods of setting CPU optimization, do watch for this.

Secondly, getting the versions you need. You probably should want the standard version, not the AUR (bleeding edge sometimes, archival and out of date sometimes too!) version. yay -G will tell you what it’s doing, but do be careful to not try to use outdated versions, that can break your OS if you go off the beaten path.

And thirdly, when you automatically update using pacman or GUIs, newer un-optimized versions will be autoinstalled over your optimal one. There may be ways to override this, but override is very questionable, because a very outdated package of many sorts is likely to produce crashes, especially something core like glibc or xorg-server. Better to just recompile after the update is installed. It is also helpful to choose such packages for the rarity of their updates, and glibc is one such.

Other packages to CPU-optimize

There are many other packages worth recompiling. I choose these regularly and differently according to high result/effort ratio! Here is a list, there are doubtless many more. These are all for the yay -G and makepkg method used for glibc, not yay -S. There may well be others which will help more, certainly for particular use purposes, e.g., audio and video.

gtk3
gtkmm3
gtk2
gtkmm
cairo
cairomm
qt4
qt5-base
pth
libxml2
glade
libglade
libglademm

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A stop job is running for session c1 of user...
article #1226, updated 19 days ago

This notice can be seen at shutdown of recent Linux. The only thorough solution this writer has seen, is to use the ‘watchdog’ service to get rid of hanging processes. You’ll need to compile, perhaps using ‘yay’, on Arch and derivatives:

yay -S watchdog
sudo systemctl enable watchdog.service
sudo systemctl start watchdog.service

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Replacement for 'yaourt' in Arch and derivatives
article #1281, updated 19 days ago

The long default, yaourt, is no longer very available, and is not listed at all in the Arch software list of similar apps. yay appears very worthwhile.

https://itsfoss.com/best-aur-helpers/

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Calculate innodb_buffer_pool_size for MySQL
article #1280, updated 20 days ago

Run this query:

SELECT CEILING(Total_InnoDB_Bytes*1.6/POWER(1024,3)) RIBPS FROM 
(SELECT SUM(data_length+index_length) Total_InnoDB_Bytes
FROM information_schema.tables WHERE engine='InnoDB') A;

and use the result it gives, i.e., 4 equals 4G. This and lots more great info here:

https://dba.stackexchange.com/questions/27328/how-large-should-be-mysql-innodb-buffer-pool-size

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How to uninstall Windows 10 Apps by Command Line
article #1279, updated 21 days ago

These should be done in administrative Powershell only, others will not show most things.

First, to get the list of items installed:

Get-AppxPackage | Sort-Object Name | ft

Then, to remove some, for one example, the built-in Mail and Calendar (do this if you use Outlook to simplify your system):

Get-AppxPackage *windowscommunicationsapps* | Remove-AppxPackage

https://www.howtogeek.com/224798/how-to-uninstall-windows-10s-built-in-apps-and-how-to-reinstall-them/

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