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Education Life Technology

Between Two Worlds

I have been spending too much time thinking about digital platforms again. It breaks down into two choices at the moment:

  • Continue working in Apple’s ecosystem for much of my personal and professional life
  • Work to move as much as possible to open source and free software alternatives which may include self-hosting a number of items

I have been able to work with a new ThinkPad T495 over the past months and there is a lot that I like about the machine. While it may be a little larger for a daily-carry device, it is quick, has some paths for upgrading, and is rugged enough to serve day-to-day. If I were going to continue trying to move more and more of my work to open source alternatives, I would probably look at a ThinkPad Carbon X1 as my personal device as the slightly smaller footprint coupled with being around 27% lighter would make a difference.

However, what is holding me back isn’t the device nor is it even the operating system (with openSUSE Tumbleweed continuing to receive updates and serve quite ably) … it is the available software in the community along with the seamlessness of mobile workflows.

This is felt most acutely when it comes to task/todo managers, at least for me. I have been suing OmniFocus for the past 5+ years on macOS, iOS, and iPadOS and it has served me very well. There are a lot of fiddly buttons and options to play around with, but I have fallen into a pretty simple way of handling recurring and then one-off items along with keeping track of different projects or contexts.

However, I have yet to find an equivalent application or option that will work between a Linux distro and any mobile operating system. Of course this is complicated by my want for a competent desktop application. I have looked at Todo.txt a little bit but the need for additional plugins to add recurring tasks and other features included with OmniFocus and the lack of a competent mobile app turns me off from that.

That is just the tip of the iceberg and so I am caught, in a sense, in the Apple ecosystem for the time being as I work to consider what options I may have in the future.

Digital ecosystems are complicated.

Categories
Business Technology

Quick Thoughts on the ThinkPad T495

Recently I was handed a new Lenovo ThinkPad T495 as my new “sysadmin” notebook to use for the work I do around campus. I asked for this device because I was curious about how openSUSE would work with the newer AMD Ryzen Pro mobile chips and the current notebook I was using was starting to buckle under its age.

This ThinkPad is now setup with openSUSE Tumbleweed and here are some generic thoughts about how things are working out so far.

ThinkPad T495 on desk
  • This is the nicest traditional, non-Apple laptop I have ever used. It feels sturdy and the hinge is quite nice.
  • The screen is matte and full HD, and is quite nice. It isn’t the best screen I’ve seen, and I didn’t want a touchscreen for this device, but it is quite capable.
  • The AMD Ryzen 5 3500U processor is quite capable and more than fast enough for what I need to do. I haven’t bothered checking for benchmarks, but openSUSE Tumbleweed is a dream on it.
  • The keyboard is … OK. I don’t hate the keyboard on my MacBook, and there are definitely some things to like about this keyboard over Apple’s current designs, but I have had problems typing accurately that I am chalking up to being more used to the shallow typing distance of my MacBook.
  • It is thin and light enough, but I am finding that the bags that I have been using most are now too small for this laptop even though I didn’t think the difference between Apple’s 13″ lineup and this 14″ Lenovo machine would be that big of a deal.
  • If you are going to run Linux on it, aim for as current of a kernel as possible. It runs with openSUSE Leap 15.1 decently, but the switch to openSUSE Tumbleweed was a revelation. The newer the kernel, the better, and I am hoping for continued improvements for AMD’s chips in the future.
  • I will need to get more RAM (8 GB is not enough).
  • There really is a difference between Apple’s Retina screens and something like this (what is being used in business-class notebooks across the rest of the industry). Part of this is going to be software and part of it is going to be hardware.
  • Everything should have USB-C.
  • I think I quite like it.

Apple doesn’t really offer a notebook like this at the moment and the ThinkPad is not trying to compete with Apple’s offerings. When I am using it, I do miss macOS, but part of that may just be familiarity.

At some point I am going to be forced to make a decision around replacing my MacBook, but I will keep seeing if I can wedge this ThinkPad into other parts of my work. One of the first things I did was get Zotero installed and hooked up to LibreOffice to see if I could continue working with my citations there and it works just fine.

If you are looking for a very good, competent, thin-enough and light-enough Linux laptop … I have no issues recommending the Lenovo ThinkPad T495.

Categories
Technology

Heroes preparing to make the leap

Heroes preparing to make the leap by Lars Vogdt

Some really great infrastructure updates for the openSUSE community. Thank you to everyone involved!d

Categories
Technology

Plasma, Ceph, Git Update in Tumbleweed

Plasma, Ceph, Git Update in Tumbleweed by Douglas DeMaio

Tumbleweed continues to just keep rolling with the updates and Leap 42.3 is being prepped for release as well. openSUSE, as a community, continues to really surprise me with what they are doing and Leap 15 (they are going to match the SUSE Linux Enterprise scheme now) is shaping up to be even better.

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Technology

openSUSE Leap 42.1 Released

After milestones, betas, and release candidates, openSUSE Leap 42.1 has been released for public consumption!

You can read more at openSUSE News.