Lenovo 300s (14”) Review

 

Back in October, Lenovo released a new set of laptops that used Intel’s Skylake processors. One of these laptops was the 300s. The 300s is the cheaper and slightly thinner little brother of the 300. The 300s is available in 2 sizes, the eleven inch and the fourteen inch. The fourteen-inch model is much more powerful than the eleven inch. For this review I will be using the 80Q4000KUS model. You can get the 300s with the following hardware setups:

  • Up to 8gb DDR3
  • Up to Intel Graphics 520
  • Up to 1tb 5400rpm HD
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Lenovo AC wireless 802.11 a/c

Software

The Lenovo 300s comes with a little bit of bloatware but not too much. It comes with a McAfee 30 day trial, Candy Crush Soda Saga (Native to Win10) and some Lenovo software. Overall though it does not get in your way too much and it is all very easy to uninstall. I found that none of the drivers needed to be uninstalled.

Hardware

The Lenovo 300s comes pretty packed for the price. It can be easily overclocked and it runs quite cool. The 300s does have some extra perks such as Always-on USB ports and 4 USBs. The 300s boots relatively fast and is nearly silent.

Keyboard

The keyboard on the 300s is actually quite nice. It comes with all of the usual keys along some keys that you usually do not see on a laptop such as the Home and Page keys. Along with those it also has lots of function keys that do things like turning the display off and reloading your browser page. The Trackpad on the Lenovo is decent however it is very easy to right click instead of left, as there is no physical border between the keys.

Sound

The speakers on the Lenovo 300s face down, but they can get very loud and are hard to accidently cover up with your leg. The microphone can pick up a lot of sound and is very responsive.

Camera

The camera on the 300s is actually pretty decent. It can record up to 720p at 60fps. I have found that there is no noticeable lag between the sound and the video in a recording.

Battery

The battery on the 300s is 3 cell and does 45 watts. I have found that on average it will last me about 5 hours of active use.

Display

The display on the 300s is a full HD 1920x1080p 14 inch display and gives pretty good viewing angles. Out of the box the color needed a slight recalibration, my display gave a slight blueish tone.

Size

The 300s is 0.77 inches thin and only 3.9lbs heavy. The Lenovo is easy to carry around and could easily fit in a backpack.

Conclusion

Overall, the 300s is a great budget laptop for those looking for something that is powerful but yet light and thin. The Lenovo is a great choice if you are looking for a media laptop. The 300s has very few cons in total and it is a great laptop for the price.

Manjaro i3 15.09 install and review

In my opinion i3 is the best window manager out there. When I heard that Manjaro had an i3 community edition I jumped right at it.

The i3 edition is available from the Manjaro Sourceforge repository. I was surprised to see that they offered the latest version with a testing and unstable branch. They also had the previous two editions. All of the versions also come with options for other kernels and you could download the OpenRC edition or the Systemd edition. In this article for the install I will be using the 15.09 edition of Manjaro, Systemd and kernel 4.2. For the review part of this article I will be using Manjaro 15.09 with kernel 4.1.11.1-1 and OpenRC as my system-init.

Installation

When you first boot up you should see a grub screen like below (Select the first option to install or boot live image)

Selection_001

Then you should see a screen of rolling text like this (OpenRC users may see a slightly different screen)

Selection_002

Once it is finished booting you are greeted with this dialogue.

Selection_003

Press on ‘use Calameres’

You will be greeted by a screen like this.

Selection_004

Press ‘Next’

Enter your timezone and press ‘Next’

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Enter in your keyboard layout and press ‘Next’

Selection_006

Click on manual partitioning and then ‘Next’

Selection_007

Press on ‘New Partition Table’

Selection_008

Click ‘Create’ and make your dialogue match mine (except for the size)

Selection_009

Press ‘Ok’

Click ‘Create’ again and make your dialogue match mine (except for the size)

Selection_010

Press ‘Ok’

Your screen should look like mine.

Selection_011

Select the partition that we just made and press ‘Next’

Enter in your information

Selection_012

Press ‘Next’

Make sure that this information is correct.

Selection_014

Good job! Wait for the installation to finish.

Review:

I love Arch Linux and I also love i3, so this should be a perfect distro for me right?

Manjaro i3 is amazing… but being a community distribution there are a few kinks. Even though all of my hardware worked on first boot (I was very surprised) it was still very hard for me to use because of one main reason. A lack of documentation. For example, I could not figure out how to change the wallpaper for the first few days. I tried adding a feh command to the i3 config, but it would never work. So after a lot of Google searching I finally found out that Manjaro i3 uses Nitrogen and not feh like most Arch Linux setups. Also after a couple of days my media keys stopped working for no rhyme or reason. Now I have to use the tray icon to change my volume.

Apart from those few kinks this distribution is magical. The i3 config is very easy to read, I love how there is a separate folder for screenshots and the notifications are great. I also love the Conky widgets. I feel like if Manjaro i3 got more attention and more funding it could be great. Currently it is developed by one person known as Oberon2007.

See all of the images used here

Hardware used

Dell XPS 1645 laptop with an AMD Redwood graphics card, Core I7 Q740 @ 1.7GHz and 8 gigabytes of ram.

The install used a 3 gigabyte virtual machine.

Semplice Linux 7.0.1 Review and Installation

If you’ve been following this blog then you might remember me saying that Elementary is the most user-friendly distro out there many times before. I think Semplice has changed my mind.

Semplice is a Linux Distro based on Debian. You can get two versions, the current build, and the workstation build. If you want a more stable experience we recommend that you try out the workstation build which is based on Debian Jesse 8.2.

When opening up the install wizard (you can choose to directly open up the installer from Grub you get greeted with a message and a prompt to press ‘Forward’

Semplice install 1

Next you can enter your language and keyboard layout.

Semplice install 2

After that enter in your timezone.

Semplice install 3

Now you can enter in all the system details.

Semplice install 4

Now comes the hardest part, partitioning your drives. If you mess this up then all you data gets deleted. Select ‘Advanced partitioning’

Semplice linux install 5

Press ‘advanced options’ and then press ‘Add MBR partition table’

Semplice install 6

Now click on the first partition and click on the ‘+’

Semplice linux install 6

Semplice linux install 7

Make your menus match mine except for the size. The size should be around 70% of the drive (I know mine is only 2.8gb). This partition is where all of your documents and personal files are kept.

Semplice linux 8

Click the next partition and press the ‘+’.

Semplice linux instal 9

Semplice linux install 10

Make your menus look like mine except for the size. Make this partition the other 25% of the drive.

If you have another partition and it says free space on it then you can leave it alone.

Semplice linux install 10

Make sure that your menus look like mine. For more help on partitioning check out my guide on getting started with Linux.

Click on the check mark in the upper right-hand corner and then select the smaller partition that says ‘/’ on it and press ‘Next’

Semplice install 11

Make sure you select this box.

Semplice linux install 12

Select eveything but office applications here. Press Forward’

Semplice Linux install 13

Make sure everything here is correct and press ‘Forward’

Semplice linux install 14

Congrats! Your on your way to a successful Semplice install.

Once its done, press ‘Reboot’

Once your system finishes rebooting you should see a screen like this:

Semplice after install

Go ahead an login to the acount that you made, you should see a screen like this

Semplice after install 2

If you go through their short tutorial you should learn the basics and be sent to a screen like this

Semplice desktop

To start a program just search the desktop or right click. If you need more help with Linux after installation check out my guide here.

Review

Overall Semplice is a very beautiful and easy to use distro. It has a great selection of preinstalled software that’s actually useful! For example they have tools like Clippy and Blueman preinstalled. While I was playing around with the distro, I only found one thing annoying which was the settings app. It had some really useful features built in, such as the ability to change what the power button does, but it misses some key things like display settings. To change that you have to launch an external app called ‘monitor settings’! Besides that, the desktop environment did feel a bit lacking with only a very simple dock.

I feel like Semplice has a lot going for it but it just needs a bit more work.

The complete guide to getting started with Linux.

Part 1: Why install Linux?

It’s completely free, no matter what system.

Linux is completely free – for one million computers, or just one computer, with free future upgrades and free potential software. Most Linux software is also free and open source meaning that you can get it and all of its future updates for free.

It works on all systems, new or old.

Whether you have an aging PowerPC or a newer netbook that’s not running at full speed Linux can get the most out of it. Linux can support more hardware, take up less space on your hard drive (or SSD) and use less ram than Mac or Windows.

It’s a customizers dream

If you’re looking to install Linux than there is a good chance that you love having your desktop just right. Your pop up notifications change color for different things, you have certain widgets that tell you just the right amount of info, your windows color needs to be perfect. Oh, did I forget about keyboard shortcuts?

When you’re running Linux everything can be modified or edited. Right clicking on stuff alone can get you lots of places but if you’re really into it then you can edit a configuration file for just about everything.

It is the best way to learn more about computers

The command line is the only way to get computers to actually do what you want them to do. Linux is the best place to learn some of these commands along with other fundamentals of an operating system.

It’s just plain fun to mess around with

Sure, there are plenty of algorithms and serious data processing going on but it’s still a ball to play around with. Try out GTK themes and conky widgets, new docks, and even make a live broadcast of the ISS your wallpaper.

Part 2: Picking a flavor

By now you have decided to take the plunge into Linux. Now it’s time to pick out a distribution of Linux. Every distro is slightly different and picking out one can be a daunting task. Here we will highlight a few of our favorites.

Ubuntu

Ubuntu

Ubuntu is a slightly different spin on Linux. The original idea for ubuntu was “Linux for humans”. We recommend Ubuntu because of its huge support community online and it’s extreme stability. There are also many variations of Ubuntu which all have different GUI’s but are all the same underneath. If you have an older computer we recommend the Xubuntu version of Ubuntu.

Mint

Linux_Mint_13_RC

Linux Mint is also a great choice for beginners because of it’s easy to use, Windows like design. There are also more GUI elements in Mint than Ubuntu, meaning that if you don’t want to do something in the terminal there is probably a GUI way to do it.

Elementary OS

Screenshot from 2015-09-14 10:38:29

Elementary OS is one of the most user-friendly distro’s with a very simple and easy to use Desktop and GUI.

Part 3: Installation

So you’ve found the right distro and you want to give it shot. This part of the tutorial goes over everything you need to do to get started with installing Linux. In this part of the tutorial we will be demonstrating using Ubuntu.

Getting the ISO

Go to your chosen distros site and download the ISO image of the distro. This will normally be under the ‘download’ or ‘Get it’ tab of the website. You will probably have multiple ISO files to choose from so when in doubt pick the 64-bit download. Some distros offer a bit-torrent download as well which might be a little faster so be sure to try and find that. Once your ISO image is downloaded you must burn it to a DVD or flash drive.

DVD vs USB

When installing Linux you have the choice of installing it via USB or DVD. We recommend DVD because it works on more devices and can be faster than USB 1.0 which most old laptops will have.

Burning to a DVD

If the computer which you are installing to, does not have a DVD drive, skip to the next step.

On Windows you can open up file explorer, find the ISO file, and right click on it. Then press ‘burn’

Burning to USB

If you just burned a disk then skip this step.

On windows you can use a tool called Rufus to make the live USB. Download Rufus from here and download and run the EXE file.

On Mac you can get a tool called UNETbootin. Go to http://unetbootin.github.io/ and click on ‘download for Mac’

Booting into the DVD (or USB)

Shut off your computer and put in the DVD or USB. Next, turn on your computer and go into BIOS (On Mac hold the ALT key after you hear the boot-up noise) In BIOS select boot from DVD (Mac users use the left and right arrows to find the CD icon). You should now see your distro boot up.

Trying out the live environment*

*Note that things may look different on your computer

Ubuntu install select live

Select ‘Try Ubuntu’ (it may say something else like ‘Try out Mint’). After it loads you will see a working desktop, this is what your distro will look like after installation. This is a great way to try out your distro before you install (note that it will be less laggy after installation). When you are done playing around you can double click the ‘Install ******’ icon on the desktop.

Installation

Ubuntu installl 1

Check off both of those boxes and press ‘Continue’

Ubuntu install 2

Select ‘Something else’ and press ‘continue’. Even if you wish to wipe your drive and install Ubuntu, press ‘Something else’.

Partitioning

If you are planning to dual boot then select the appropriate option.

If you are going to wipe your drive then follow the following instructions.

Select ‘New partition table

Ubuntu install partition 2

Then click on the free space line and press the little ‘+’ symbol.

Ubuntu installl partition 3

Make your menu look like mine apart from the size selection. The Swap partition should be as big as your RAM. Press ‘OK’

Ubuntu install partition4

Select the free space and click on the ‘+’ again. Make your menu look like mine again except for the size. This partition holds all of the users data. All of your documents, downloads and pictures go here so be sure to make it big enough for all of that. Press ‘OK’

Ubuntu install partition 5

Press the little ‘+’ one more time and make your menu look like mine besides the size area. This partition is where all of your programs are stored. You should make it at least 10 GB (I made mine the size it is because I ran out of space on my drive). Press ‘OK’.

Ubuntu install partition final

Your screen should look like the above image. When you are ready select the line that is selected in the picture and press ‘Install Now.” The next steps are very easy. Once it is done installing, reboot your computer and give yourself a pat on the back- YOU DID IT!

Part 4: Getting the hardware to work

If you’re lucky then everything will work out of the box, but you might need to work out a few kinks, for example my Bluetooth only works on Linux Mint.

The big problem: WIFI

Most of the time it works right of the bat but when it doesn’t it’s bad.

The first place to look if your WiFi isn’t working is this place. If your wireless card is in the green then you are good. If it’s not then you should check Ubuntu’s community documentation where people share how they got there hardware to work with Ubuntu. After that your best bet is to try using windows drivers on Ubuntu. Use ethernet to run the command:

sudo apt-get install ndisgtk

Then run

sudo ndisgtk

Press ‘Install new driver’ and select the downloaded Windows driver.

For more info on that processes check out How-To-Geeks article here.

Proprietary Drivers

Some hardware companies make there drivers proprietary, therefore, impossible to download. In Ubuntu search for ‘Additional Drivers’ in the Dash. After it finishes searching for drivers, you can switch which ones you use.

Codecs

Cant watch any videos or listen to music? First you have to run these two commands.

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras
sudo usr/share/doc/libdvvdread4/install-css.sh

Part 5: Going further

You have all of your hardware working and all of your drivers in, what’s next?

Installing apps

Synaptic

Installing an application works differently in Linux than in Windows or Mac. Instead of downloading an installer (they exist but people use them less) you use a package manager to install a program. Kind of like in the Windows app store but better. Search for “Package Manager” and you’ll find your distro’s preferred one. Launch it and search for whatever program you want to install.

Settings/Customization

Go into your distros settings menu and I promise you it will be huge. Here you can tweak some things in your distro. Still not happy? Install the Gnome-Tweek-Tool package for even more customization like changing your mouse cursor, GTK theme and icons. You can also install apps like Compiz to gain many animations like the desktop cube. Also, you can look on sites like gnome-look.com for inspiration.

The complete guide to VirtualBox and virtual machines

A virtual machine is a great way to try out an operating system without installing it. A virtual machine allows you to be simultaneously running two operating systems at once. This guide will go over how to use a virtual machine with the VirtualBox software. First of all you must install VirtualBox. In Ubuntu you can enter the following commands:

sudo apt-get install virtualbox

And that’s it! When you first open up VirtualBox you should see a screen like this:

Your screen may look different but the layout is the same.

Your screen may look different, but the layout is the same.

To make your first virtual machine click on the new button in the top left-hand corner.

For this tutorial, I will be making an Ubuntu virtual machine. It will automatically change the following menus to match your title but you can manually select a distro as well. Hit next.

Ubuntu virtual machine

This screen allows you to select how much memory will go towards your virtual machine. I normally use 1 GB so I can still use my main computer normally.

1 gb ram virtual machine

On the next screen select ‘Create a virtual hard drive now” and then select VHD. Now press dynamically allocated. Because I’m only running a distro in it’s live CD state I don’t need that much storage. If you were installing a distro, you would want more storage. Now press the start key at the top of the window.

Virtual Box size selection

Go and download the ISO of your preferred distro.

Thank you for downloading Ubuntu

Now go back to VirtualBox and click on the little folder icon. Now select your ISO file and hit start.

Ubuntu VirtualBox booting

If you see your distro loading like normal then give yourself a pat on your back, you did it! Do note that things may look different in a virtual machine than in real life.

Ubuntu 15.04 running alongside my main machine.

Ubuntu 15.04 running alongside my main machine.

What is the best dock for you? 4 Linux docks compared.

When it comes to customizing the Linux desktop one of the things that not many people think of are docks. Your dock is how you launch all of your most used apps, it’s crucial that its efficient and easy to use. In this guide we will go over 4 docks and will be rating them based on the following criteria:

  • Installation
  • Ease of use
  • Customization

Each dock can get a max of 30 points. The docks in question are:

  • Plank
  • Docky
  • Cairo
  • Awn

Installation

How easy is installation? For our tests we used Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, we cannot guarantee that installation will be the same on your distro.

Plank

Super simple, just add the ppa and go!

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ricotz/docky
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install plank

Docky

Even easier! No new ppa required for Ubuntu users.

sudo apt-get install docky

Cairo

Again it’s very simple because it’s in the official repositories.

AWN

A little bit harder… The ppa has not been updated for 14.04 or 15.04 so you have to make that ppa think you are on 13.10.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:awn-testing/ppa
sudo sed -i 's/trusty/saucy/g' /etc/apt/sources.list.d/awn-testing-ppa-trusty.list
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install avant-window-navigator

Ease of use

Plank

Just run the command below to get you started.

Plank

There’s not much else to it, Plank is the simplest dock on this list.

Docky

Just run the command

docky

If you right click on the anchor you get access to settings and customization. I will show you how to get rid of that icon later.

Cairo

To start up Cairo then you should run the command

cairo-dock

Cairo starts with a bunch of pre-selected apps and shortcuts on the bar… I cant do much with cairo because whenever I right click on the dock it disappears.

AWN

AWN was fairly easy just another one line command.  When I first opened he dock right next to the app icons was a little dead face sign. It said that the applet had crashed… not a great start.

Customization

Plank

Customization on Plank is absolutely zero without installing third party packages. All you get stock is simple drag and drop reordering of icons and the ability to pin different things to the dock.

Docky

You get quite a bit of customization on Docky. Including ability to theme the dock and to enable options like panel mode and 3D background. There are quite a few applets available as well if that’s your kind of thing. To get rid of the Docky icon enter the following command:

gconftool-2 --type Boolean --set /apps/docky-2/Docky/Items/DockyItem/ShowDockyItem False

Cairo

As I said earlier whenever I right clicked on the dock it would close…

AWN

AWN is definitely the most customize able of all the docks I have tried so far. Out of the box you get many dock styles and settings to play around with. The only thing I found lacking was themes and applets out of the box. You can get more themes and applets online though.

Final scores (Out of 10)

All in all, the best dock for you just depends on your needs. The dock for customizers is AWN, the dock for minimalists is Plank and the all around best is Docky.

Solus OS Review!

Solus is a very lightweight and easy to use distro. It features the Budgie desktop which is probably the simplest desktop environment you will ever see.

Desktop - Imgur

Solus is independent so it won’t work with rpm or apt-get. The is the only real con with this distro. It’s too simple. Yes, it’s absolutely beautiful but the lack of packages and customization is where it lacks.

App store - Imgur

When looking through the App store its so scare it isn’t even funny. There are no IM clients or IRC clients and there are 3 web browsers. But surprisingly you get all the GNOME apps including Brasero and Abi-Word. The selection of preinstalled software is amazing, though. For instance, you get a bit-torrent client preinstalled!

As far as customization goes, you get 7 GTK themes and 8 Icon themes preinstalled. You get a few applets and a bit of panel customization. There was even a ported over version of Gnome Tweak Tool and dconf Editor. Besides the preinstalled themes and icons, you can’t install any more. The settings app looks quite similar to the Ubuntu settings panel.

Settings panel - Imgur

Overall I believe this distro is on its way to being great but not quite there yet. More customization and more packages would be appreciated.

How to make a simple intro to a video

In this tutorial I will show you how to make a 1080p 30fps intro that looks like this (You can use any shape, music, name, font, font size etc;)

https://www.youtube.com/embed/vxsWOpHBA90What you need:

  • A Linux computer
  • A device running IOS
  • Ability to install apps

First we need to take the IOS device and get the app “Matter” and buy it for 2 dollars (I got mine for free because it was the app of the week).

Download_on_the_App_Store_Badge_US-UK_135x40

Once you have the app open it up.

First screen

First screen

Click on the camera icon and take a photo. Then hit “Use photo” (or “Retake”)

IMG_0342

Select 16:9

Now select 16:9 and click the check mark on the bottom right of the screen.

IMG_0343

The editing screen with three menus

At the bottom, you should see the menu. What we’ll do first, is pick an object. In the middle bar of the menu, you can scroll left and right to pick a shape. You can also cycle between shape packs by clicking on the list icon on the top bar of the menu. Once you have picked a shape then you can maneuver it any which way you want by doing things like pinching or twisting your fingers- feel free to play around and try different things. Remember to leave room for text.

IMG_0344

Selecting a shape

Now, let’s change the style. Click on the style button on the menu. There is another slider at the bottom which we can use to change how our shape looks

IMG_0345

Style changer

.

Now click on the RGB button on the top of the menu and select a color with the palette or the slider.

Color menu

Color menu

Now click the ✓ button next to the slider. We can also change the shadow by going into the shadow tab in the menu.

IMG_0348

After you do that, you can click on the tab on the top right corner and select “video”.  This menu gives you the opportunity to change all the video options. You can go through all of the options and change how the video looks.

IMG_0349

Video menu

When you are done, click on “make video”

Once it’s done hit “share” and email it to yourself.

Move back to your Linux box and install Kdenlive. On Ubuntu just type the following into the terminal

sudo apt-get install kdenlive

Once it is installed then open it up and customize it all you want with different panels (it’s a KDE app). Just make sure you have the project tree and the clip monitor.

Screenshot from 2015-08-17 14:02:03

My Kdenlive setup

Now right click on the “project tree” panel and then “Add Clip”. Then select the file you emailed to yourself (it should be called “MatterMovie”). Now drag the clip to the bottom.

Screenshot from 2015-08-17 15:12:02

Now right click on the project tree and click on “add tile clip”

At the bottom of that window check the box that says “Show background” and click where you want your text to be.  Type something in. All of the text controls are at the top. When you are done click on OK.

Now drag the title clip onto the bottom.

Screenshot from 2015-08-17 17:42:56

Next, move the other clip down to the same row as the title clip

Kdenlive

Then move the title clip up and the main clip over.

Kdenlive

Now go to the very edge of the title clip and drag it out to the length of the bottom clip.

Kdenlive

Now hit render and change the menu to make it look like mine (apart from the output file).

Kdenlive

Then just click on “render to file”. When it’s done go to the location that you entered as the output file and play your intro!