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Ubuntu – A Great Windows Alternative!

Ubuntu is a great operating system alternative to using Windows!

First off, what is Ubuntu?

Ubuntu is a Linux based desktop operating system, that can be installed on your PC laptop or desktop, and even some tablets, that has a similar functionality to that of a Windows. And in most cases, it can even be installed to run along side Windows without erasing your current Windows instillation!

ubuntu desktop
Here is an example pic of the desktop. Yes, it’s kind of odd colored but it can be customized with different colors and backgrounds, just the way you want it.

I know, when someone mentions Linux, some PC users usually think they have to be some sort of programming computer nerd to use it! That was maybe true about 15 or 20 years ago, but Linux has come a long way since then! In fact, you probably already use a version of Linux on a device you own, and don’t even know it. Like on an Android phone or tablet! 

hp media center pc with ubuntuI just replaced an older Windows installation on my 10 year old HP Media Center PC, with Ubuntu 16.04. It is running great and it’s very fast! And, I don’t even really need an ant-virus!

Ubuntu comes pre-installed with a host of useful software programs, that are similar to others on Windows, like an office suite, the Firefox browser (chrome is available too), games, utilities and more! And, all the things that weren’t already pre-installed, I can install them through the software center, kind of like the app store on Windows 8 or 10. There is also a great online community of support, if you ever run into a problem or have a question!

So far I am pretty happy with it and it does most things I could do with any of my Windows PC’s! And, one of my favorite things about Ubuntu, is it’s FREE!

So how do you get and install Ubuntu?

You go to the website here for the desktop or laptop version of Ubuntu. If your computer meets the recommended requirements, click on download. You can also scroll down and there are guides on how to create an instillation disk or a bootable USB stick, to install it on your computer. Ubuntu is free, but after clicking download, the next page will show you some suggested contributions you can make to help improve Ubuntu. Or simply click on ““, below that. If you need help, just send me a message!

xubuntuAlso, there are other “flavors” of Ubuntu you can install. I am currently running Xubuntu on my DELL Inspiron laptop. It works great on older computers running 1 gig of ram or more, and has a start menu that looks similar to Windows, that can be moved around the desktop. And if you have under 1 gig of ram, you can try the light weight Lubuntu.

If you are local to the San Angelo area and would like me to install one of these op systems on your computer, or need help doing it yourself, just contact me here.

Good Luck!

Changing the Desktop Clock on Raspberry Pi 3

So I had setup my Raspberry Pi 3 with an install of Raspbian, and fixed the time to show the current time in my timezone. But noticed it was still set to 24hr clock.

In case you don’t know how to change the time on the Raspbian install on a Raspberry Pi 3, you just go to the Menu bar. Select Preferences>Raspberry Pi Configuration and click on the Localisation Tab. Then click on the buttons and select the information relevant to where you are (if you live in the US, be sure and change your keyboard setting, or it can be off on some things when you type). I think you can just change the timezone if you want. By the way, it doesn’t show the standard selection like CST, EST etc. So if you live in America, you just select the closest city to you in your same timezone. Like I am from Texas and my area of Texas is in the same timezone as Chicago, which is central time. So I selected that and it works. Then click ok and reboot. Then it should show your correct time but maybe in 24hr time format.

Anyway, to fix it to show the 12 hr time format, you right click on the time in the task bar and then chose digital clock settings, and then in the clock format box, change it to %r instead of %R and click ok. But then that will show the time format with the seconds ticking at the end. If you want to remove the seconds like I did, you change it to %l :%M %p and click ok.

There you go!

Starting Emulationstation Installed On Raspbian

How to start Emulationstation, that was installed manually from the RetroPie script, on Raspbian, for Raspberry Pi 2/3 (updated 7/26/16).

This post is in reference to my post on installing a Retro Gaming System on the Raspberry Pi 3. Click Here to read it.

So let’s say you are a beginner like me and you installed RetroPie on your Raspberry Pi 2 or 3, through Raspbian using the manual setup script. And, you are trying to figure out how to start it up so you can play some games. Well, you would think that after installing it, there would be some sort of icon or way to launch it from the desktop on Raspbian. Or you could go to the LX terminal, located on the desktop, and type “sudo” something, right?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like many other programs you installed on your Pi through the terminal. RetroPie is built on a program called Emulationstation (ES), and you have to start ES to run RetroPie. But, ES can’t be started through the LX terminal on your desktop either with “sudo something”. I tried that, it will give you an error and say you must stop X, and there is no launch icon. It can only be started from root. And no, not the root folder on your desktop. I mean, outside of Raspbian, through the command line interface (CLI or short).

Here is how to get to the command line interface, so you can run ES.

Go to the Start Menu-> Preferences->Raspberry Pi Configuration.start emulationstation from raspbian desktop

Then look for “Boot” under the System tab (what it automatically opens to). Switch the “To Desktop”, to “To CLI” and then click ok, then choose Reboot.

start emulationstation from raspbian desktopThen it will reboot (you will see all the script stuff like in the pic below) to the command line prompt (you may have to log in with your username and password. if you haven’t changed the default username and password, it would be username: pi and password: raspberry).

cli prmpt

Then here is where you will type in “emulationstation”. Then you should see the ES logo load up and start RetroPie to a screen to setup your game controller.

emulationstation

To get out of ES and back to your desktop, you can push whatever button on your controller you chose to setup as the “start” button, and select Quit. Then at command prompt type, startx, and it will load the desktop.

That’s It! Took me a while to read between all stuff on all the forums, scratching my head, but I eventually got it. If there is an easier way, please share it with me in a comment, below!

Now, you can get it on like Donkey Kong!…..never mind….sounded good in my head! lol! Have fun playing those old games!

P.S. Once you change the setting under the preferences to boot to CLI, it will boot to that, until you manually change it back. You can just go to your preferences again and change it back to boot to the desktop.

Retro Gaming on the Raspberry Pi – Simple to Install!

How to Turn the Raspberry Pi into a Retro Gaming Machine!

retro gamingI am a big fan of many of those old video games I use to to play on my old Atari and Nintendo consoles. One of my favorites has always been Donkey Kong. I actually still have a few of the old Atari 2600 and Nintendo cartridges. But, unfortunately my Atari and Nintendo consoles stopped working a long time ago. But, I have a raspberry pi 3 and I was really exited to learn that you could emulate these old consoles on it and basically turn it into a retro gaming system!

So, how do you turn a Raspberry Pi into a retro gaming system? One way is by installing emulators. 

What is an emulator?

I don’t know all the technical details behind how it all works, but in short, an emulator is a software program that emulates the hardware of a game console. But you can’t stick a cartridge in your computer (actually I wouldn’t doubt there is a way). You will need something called a ROM image, of the original game.

What is a ROM image?

A ROM (read only memory) image is like a data copy of the original cartridge or disk. It utilizes the emulator program code, to play the game. It’s sort of like a virtual cartridge.

WARNING: There is a legal gray area surrounding the use of ROMS. Some will say, If you own the original game cartridge, it’s ok to be downloaded and played. Some say, it isn’t legal at all. Then there is the adage that it’s preservation of history and nostalgia. If these games are no longer being sold in circulation for a current console and you’re not selling them, then they are perfectly legal. So play at your own risk. You can google all this, to find out more information.

Several Emulators to Choose From

You can install several different emulators on the Raspberry Pi. I won’t go into detail on how to install them, but the Raspberry Pi Pixel desktop does contains an Add and Remove software GUI utility. You can search from there to find emulators to try. Some of them run ok on the Pi, and some don’t. Or you can install a whole operating system (OS) that contains already installed emulators, all in one place. You can also add more!

Retro Gaming OS’s for the Raspberry Pi.

Two OS’s I have tried are called Retropie and Recalbox. Both were built on a platform called Emulationstation, and are very similar with about the same functionality.

To install these retro gaming OS’s on your Pi, you simply download the SD card image and burn it to your SD card (recommend class 10 16gb or higher), using your favorite SD card writing utility. Then pop the SD card into your Pi and then follow the prompts to get it going.

Download the RetroPie image, here.

Download the Recalbox image here.

They are both pretty simple to get started. Recalbox however is probably the easiest for the novice, that requires less configuration. It almost works “out of the box” so to speak. But more experienced Linux users will probably like Retropie, because you can configure and tailor things the way you like them. There is plenty of documentation found online, to help you get started.

As far as where to get ROMs, google is your friend. I will not tell you were to get them. But, they can be found on this planet among the emu and caught with a dot net. However, they don’t speak English! You can use the google translator to figure out what they are saying.

Note: Retropie and Recalbox does not contain or authorize the use of any copy righted game ROMs, that you do not own! And, will not be distributed with any copy righted games. Use at your own risk! Also, neither system is for resell!

Build Your Own

There have been many people build their own retro gaming cabinet, tables, and gameboy type hand held devices. The possibilities are endless with a Raspberry Pi! You can see many examples on Youtube.

retro gaming arcade cabinet

Sounds like a fun weekend (or over 3 or 4 weekends maybe) project!

By the way, you can do a lot more than play games with a raspberry pi! You can also use it as a second hand desktop computer, a media center pc, or to create many other neat projects.

Anyway! Enjoy your retro gaming! Good luck and have fun!

If you are looking to get started with a Raspberry Pi, I highly recommend this kit below!

Spellchecker – How to Enable it On The Raspberry Pi 3

Spellchecker Not Working?

After installing the OS, I went looking around at the programs and had a look at LibreOffice. I went to the LibreOffice Writer and started typing in the space, and noticed that it wasn’t underlining my text with red, when something was miss spelled. I googled it (source link) and found out that the spellchecker, has to be installed and enabled, before it will work. And, it’s pretty simple to do.

command terminalSo to install it, you just go to the command terminal (click the monitor icon next to the planet icon on your desktop task bar) and type in: sudo apt-get update and then once finished, sudo apt-get install myspell-en-us (for the UK: sudo apt-get install myspell-en-gb libreoffice-l10n-en-gb).

Then reboot! Then it should be working!


 

Wifi After 1st Reboot on Raspberry Pi 3

How to reconnect to your Wifi after installing Rasbian on Raspberry Pi 3 and reboot.

Your Raspberry Pi 3 comes with on board wifi (lan) to connect to your wireless network, to connect internet, so you can surf the internet. So more need for a wifi dongle or wired Ethernet connection, like the previous versions of the Raspberry Pi board, are required to surf the web and download software.

After you have run the OS instillation on your Raspberry Pi 3 though, you might have noticed after reboot, that it didn’t retain your wireless internet connection like you had during setup. There is a real simple way to fix that!

Just move your mouse over to the top right hand corner or the Pi desktop and click in the two little computer icon. Then in the list, choose your existing nework.

connecting wifi

Then enter your passphrase or password and click ok!

connecting wifi

If the password is correct, you should see the icon change to the wifi icon with blue little stripes. Then you should be able click on the little planet icon in the top left of the desktop to open the browser and surf the internet!

There you go!

You can learn more about all this Raspberry Pi @ raspberrypi.org

Raspberry Pi 3. Setting It Up, for Beginners!

How to set up your Raspberry Pi 3, and installing the Raspbian Operating System (OS), for Beginners!

It’s pretty simple to set up your Raspberry Pi 3 (I think it’s the same for the other 2 models too), it just takes a little time and attention. Lets’s get started, shall we?

Continue reading “Raspberry Pi 3. Setting It Up, for Beginners!”