Linux for travel laptop

Late last year I needed cheap and light laptop for travel use. I ended up buying Acer Aspire V3 11.6" -laptop and used it with kubuntu. The laptop was ok for my light needs during my long trip. Laptop's 4GB of RAM, slow CPU, and slow disk meant that occasionally swapping made the experience a bit annoying.

My needs for personal travel laptop have not really changed, at home I'll continue doing majority of heavy lifting with iMac that is starting to be old, but still feels quite snappy (16GB of RAM helps). Mainly for fun and curiosity I decided to see how much better the laptop would feel with SSD. I bought 240GB SSD for it. Installing it was easy. I just opened bunch of screws from bottom, pulled the old drive out and replaced it with new one.

I decided to start from scratch and install fresh OS to the upgraded laptop. Starting from scratch was a good opportunity to try out couple of different linux distros to see if any of them would work better for me than kubuntu has.

At first I installed Ubuntu Mate. Install was trivial, this seems true for all Ubuntu variants I've tried so far. The desktop resembles traditional Gnome desktop. Bootup was fast. Menus and app launches seemed quite snappy. The desktop wastes a bit space as there is toolbars both on top and bottom, but otherwise UI seemed ok. Trackpad settings UI was minimal. It allowed me to enable two finger scrolling, but did not allow inversing directions, which is a must have for me. The sensitivity and sensitivity could also use some adjusting. For desktop use with mouse the distro could be good, but these few issues were enough for me to move to next candidate.

Xubuntu was my next candidate. I've used xubuntu earlier in my work laptop for a while. I liked it, but ditched it when I realized that its multidisplay support was not good enough for my use. I often used different monitor setups and needed to quickly setup the laptop with new display when holding a presentantion. For personal use that is not an issue. Xubuntu feels quite fast in basic use, but the graphics are not entirely smooth. There is some tearing in cases like watching fullscreen video on youtube or scrolling graphics intensive website in Firefox. I got the touchpad set the way I like it, and I like the minimal desktop that xfce provides. I definitely prefer xfce desktop over Mate. The look is nicer and with one toolbar the screen usage is also more efficient.

SSD doesn't make the laptop amazingly fast, but a lot of basic tasks like bootup, start of apps, and install of packages got a lot more pleasent. I've seen a lot less lag due to swapping so far. Xubuntu seems good enough for me. I think I'm going to keep using it in this laptop.


First day with Apple Music

My first impression on Apple Music is good after one day of use. Apps are a bit complicated, but so are competitors. I don't think Apple Music is a game changer. Transition toward streaming services has been happening for long time already and Apple Music isn't bringing anything radically new to market. I'm not even sure if it is any better than competitors, but it is not bad either. Apple Music will accelerate the transition and a lot of Apple users that have so far been buying music from iTunes are now going to switch to Apple Music.

I started my experience with upgrading my iPad Air and then starting using the service. Apple Music obviously had my iTunes purchases, playlists, and had subscribed the artists whose music I own in the Connect automatically for me. Discovering new music is quite easy. "For You" -tab provided good recommendations and playlists for me. Curated playlists seem like a good idea and I found quite many songs from them.

I was surprised by the many crashes when browsing through artists and albums on my iPad. AirPlay playback via AppleTV to my amplifier was also very unreliable from iPad. Quite often the songs just went silent after few seconds of play, and only when I skipped to next song playback resumed. AirPlay from my iMac worked without any problems so could be an issue in my WiFi setup somehow.

I've never been a big radio fan, and rarely listen to Internet radio so Apple's Beats 1 is not for me. I also don't see a lot of added value in the "Connect" social media. Hardcore music fans will anyway follow their favourite artists in other social medias, and artists simply have to put their stuff to FB, Twitter, Instagram, etc. anyway since majority of world will not be using "Connect". Apple Music team could just focus their efforts on making integration of Apple Music to existing SoMe services and Web (provide API!) as fluent as possible instead of trying again to reinvent SoMe.

Personally, I have never spent a lot of money to music. I've been buying 3-4 albums of music from iTunes every year for about 10 years now and additionally I've got plenty of mp3 files from my student years. I've also been using free Spotify to listen to current hit singles. Streaming service like Apple Music or Spotify Premium would be a better user experience for me, but I'm not yet convinced that benefits are big enough for me to justify additional cost. I'm probably going to enjoy my three month free trial and after it is over go back to using combination of free Spotify and sometimes buying songs from iTunes.

Edit: After upgrading my Mac to 10.10.4 AirPlay from iPad to AppleTV has worked without any issues. Perhaps discoveryd was messing up something in my network.