Mixed Feelings About Wayland on Gnome

I’ve been a Gnome 3 user pretty much since I first started using Unity on Ubuntu (RIP Unity). When I started learning about Wayland, I got very excited (granted I’m a sucker for new shiny and performance optimized things). My main hesitation with using it, even to this date, is compatibility. Although Wayland is more-or-less intended as a replacement for X11, it’s an entirely new protocol, which requires a compatibility layer in order to use older applications (AKA most applications currently). This need for compatibility sadly means there are issues, such as with gaming. I’ve been bouncing between Gnome under X.org and Wayland for a few months now, and as much as I’d like to be using it full-time, there are a few things preventing me from doing so.

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Protect Linux Configurations Using Source Control

Recently, while performing some system updates, I mistakenly overwrote one of the system’s configuration files found in /etc. As I had not done any backups in some time (my own negligence), I wound up locking myself out of my system upon the next reboot. After using a live USB to restore the file from an older version, which I had to dig up, it was made evident I needed a better solution to prevent this from occurring. Enter etckeeper: a tool to keep track of all the changes made to configuration files.

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Diagnosing a Wireless Connection Problem

I’ve been using the same router for several years now. While an upgrade would be a good idea, I’ve not been very motivated to do so. The one I possess had not been causing any problem, and has all the functionality I need (not to mention I’m too cheap to buy one). I’m sure at some point I’ll be wanting to take advantage of higher bandwidth internet, but at that point I would want to tinker and build my own Linux-powered router. Mine has served its purpose for more than 5 years, handing things from personal computer traffic, hosting a Minecraft server, connecting cellphones and hand-held consoles, all without issue. Within the span of a week, I found three devices that did not play well on the network, and thus my troubles began.

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Why I Use Pacaur Instead of Yaourt

One of the biggest advantages to using Arch Linux is having access to the Arch User Repositories (AUR). This allows packages which are not included in the official repositories to be provided all in one place. I much prefer this to (for example) Ubuntu PPAs which require a user include a separate PPA for every package they wish to install, and these may change with package updates. The reason such repositories exist in the first place is to allow a cohesive way for users to install packages through their system’s package manager more easily, instead of simply building and installing directly from source. Continue reading

External Hard Drive Breaking WiiU WiFi

Strange thing I discovered today. A family member of mine got a new external HDD to expand the storage of their Wii U. After plugging it in and configuring it correctly, they later discovered that the console would no longer connect to WiFi. Curious, we experimented by powering down the console, turning off the drive, then powering it back on. Sure enough, the console connected to WiFi without issue. A bit of googling lead me to this page, which explained the problem. Apparently the HDD in an enclosure created enough electromagnetic interference that it conflicted with the wireless bands used for wireless internet. The solution: move the drive 1 foot away from the console. I couldn’t help but laugh that this worked, though it makes sense. The range of interference is rather small, and since the USB cable for the drive wasn’t overly restricted, increasing the distance between it and the Wii U was sufficient to avoid the problem.

The Current State of Gaming on Wayland

With new emerging technologies and advancements in Linux, one that has been in news often over the past few years is of Wayland: the successor to the X11 display server standard. Although it is now available publicly, most notably for Fedora users (Fedora 25 enables it by default), it is not yet accessible to everyone, and is likely to take several more years before adoption becomes widespread. My interest in Wayland stems from my previous difficulties with hybrid graphics support with X11 (i.e. Nvidia Optimus). With new standards, I expect to see improvements, which is why I’ve done some of my own investigating in how well one can play games under Wayland.

TLDR Version: yes, gaming works on Wayland, provided client and drivers support it. Continue reading

Preparing for a faster Firefox

Over the course of the next year, there are many exciting features being brought to Mozilla Firefox, particularly in the aim to improve the browser’s performance. Most notably is project Quantum, which is Mozilla’s new web engine. What makes this interesting is that its using the Servo browser engine, which is being developed in Rust. This allows it to easily adopt parallel processing constructs which can improve performance, particularly for users with multi-core CPUs (mostly everyone). An excellent overview of the development and current status of this back-end can be viewed here. While this major update is still many months away from public stable release, there are a few things to be done in the mean time, in preparation for this. Continue reading