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Dell Precision Workstation AIO 5720 – the first 4K all-in-one desktop running Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Ubuntu

Copyright: Dell

Responding to the growing demand for Linux-preloaded high-end systems, Dell has launched its best of the breed, all-in-one desktop, Precision Workstation AIO 5720.

It’s also the only all-in-one system that comes with full support for desktop Linux.

The base model of the Precision 5720 comes with a 27” 4k display (not touch), 8G of RAM, 7th Gen Intel Core i5-7500 (Quad Core 3.4GHz, 3.8Ghz Turbo, 6MB) processor and AMD Radeon Pro WX 4150 w/4GB GDDR5 GPU. You get 500GB 2.5″ 7mm SATA (7,200rpm) Hard Drive. All of this costs a mere $1699.

Dell pioneered the concept of customizable build so you are not stuck with these components on this machine. You can bump up the RAM to 64GB (ECC), take processing power all the way up to Xeon Processor E3-1275 v6 (Quad Core HT 3.8Ghz, 4.2GHz Turbo,8MB) or Intel Core i7-7700 (Quad Core 3.60GHz, 4.2Ghz Turbo, 8MB). There are no Nvidia options for this machine, but you can upgrade the GPU to AMD Radeon Pro WX 7100 w/8GB GDDR5. You also have the option for touch screen on the 4K display.

Of course these spec upgrades are going to cost extra. I bumped the CPU, GPU, and display to max and upgraded the storage to a 1TB PCIe SSD card, then the system sits in the ballpark of $3,749.07. Still cheaper than the less powerful iMac.

Why Dell?

Professionals who use Linux desktop for work, often find themselves struggling to get high-end systems that offer out of the box support for Linux, without having to actually do any work to make desktop Linux work on those systems.

Many of these professionals value aesthetics. Their office set-ups, smartphones, headphones, laptops and desktops reflect their personality. No surprises that Macs are popular among such professionals. But getting desktop Linux to work on pristine Apple hardware is a full time job in itself.

There are many desktop Linux preloaded machines that work fine, but they look more or less like the mobile lounge of Washington Dulles airport.

Dell’s Precision Workstation AIO 5720 sits neatly between the iMac and mobile lounge.

Beyond aesthetic value, Dell works with hardware component vendors and software vendors to iron out all the wrinkles so your Dell machine ‘just works’.

As someone who runs desktop Linux on PCs, I know the difference between a fine tuned ‘out-of-the-box’ experience vs trying to get things to work. You can either use your free time to learn new things (like 3D printing or building RC cars) or continue to waste it on getting your system to work. Time is money: use it wisely.

If you value time, aesthetics, and fully optimized systems, this machine is for you.

A caveat about desktop Linux

Just like any other platform, desktop Linux has its own strengths and weaknesses. Linux systems are not for everyone. If you are a heavy user of popular or commercial applications and services, desktop Linux is not for you. Not yet. These machines are not targeted at average consumers, these are specialized machines for specialized use-cases. It’s for those who need top-grade hardware with desktop Linux pre-loaded on it.

These machines are aimed at web-companies, developers, maker and creative people who use products like Krita, Blender, Meshmixer…that are available for Linux.

It’s a serious machine for serious people.

How to setup Red5 streaming media server

Copyright: https://flic.kr/p/PBqthV

A tutorial by Marin Todorow

Red5 is a multi-platform streaming flash media server based in java. It can be used for various of different purposes including live streaming on your website, live chat similar to Google Hangouts or online presentations. Personally I have seen some online schools based on Moodle using this for their lessons.

You complete the install fairly easy and fast. But before we start there are few requirements:

  • X86-compatible CPU (Pentium 4, 3.2 GHz or better, Intel Duo Core 2, PentiumD)
  • 1 GB Available Memory
  • 100MB or 1GB Ethernet card
  • 200 MB of available disk space (SATA II)
  • Root access to the machine

The installation

The steps below will show you how to install Red5 on CentOS 6.x. Make sure to run the commands as root. I mentioned earlier that Red5 is Java based so obviously we will need to have Java on our machine. Lets install it by running:

sudo yum install java

Red5 java installation

Next we will obtain the latest version of Red5 server:

cd /opt/
wget https://github.com/Red5/red5-server/releases/download/v1.0.5-RELEASE/red5-server-1.0.5-RELEASE-server.tar.gz
tar zxf red5-server-1.0.5-RELEASE-server.tar.gz

For convenience rename the folder to red5

mv red5-server-1.0.5-RELEASE red5
cd red5

Now start the Red5 server in the background by running:

sh red5.sh &

At this point you can access the Red5 media server by using your IP address followed by port :5080 or using a fully qualified domain name. You will see the Red5 welcome page:

Red5 Welcome Screen

 

Now we can install some of the demo applications by going to http://your-ip-address:5080/installer/

Red5 Demo apps

 

The installation is  simple – click on application and then click “install” button. Once you have installed the applications you can go to the demos pages at: http://your-ip-address:5080/demos/ to start the app you wish to test:

Red5 Demos Pages

You can check the OflaDemo at http://your-ip-address :5080/demos/ofla_demo.html. You will notice that the server will try to connect to “localhost”. You will need to change this to your IP address, do not use the port here:

Red5 OflaDemo

The path to the streaming files for this app is:

/opt/red5/webapps/oflaDemo/streams

Next thing you may find the interesting SimpleBroadcaster. It is available at http://your-ip-address:5080/demos/simpleBroadcaster.html. This tool can be used for broadcasting content from your camera:

Red5 Demo Simple BroadcasterThe good thing is that Red5 can be integrated with multiple platforms/CMS sites. For example you can use Red5 in one-to-many or conference mode with WordPress or Joomla which are one of the most frequently used CMS scripts across the web. There is an easy way to make the integration thanks to the number of plugins developed for those. A simple example for such are the VideoWhisper and CometChat plugins that are frequently used on different sites. Installation of these plugins is out of the scope of this article as the configuration and integration of Red5 within a site using plugins is strongly individual.

In conclusion Red5 is a great choice if you want a free out of the box multipurpose streaming server. As you just saw the installation requires just a few easy steps and the integration with your website can be performed without strong technical knowledge.

How to expand the storage of your MacBook without burning a hole in your pocket

Back in 2013 when I bought my first MacBook I thought 256GB of storage was enough as I had to cough up more than $200 to increase the storage. Since I ran a local file server using Linux that hosts all of my files, I never needed extra storage on my local machines.

Fast forward to 2017 where almost everything is in 4k and now I am shooting images in RAW format that take up over 25MB per image. I’m using my MacBook more and more as I want to break ties with the desktop and become fully mobile. That’s when I realized that 256 was filling up more quickly as I ran multiple Linux distros in virtual machines and also used Adobe Premiere and Photoshop.

In a nutshell, I needed extra space

However, MacBooks don’t come with expandable storage and, it can be super expensive if you do want to add extra storage. Since I am planning to upgrade my MacBook to the upcoming 15” model, I would rather save $500 toward the new system. I found an easy solution. A USB 3.0 flash drive with an extremely low profile.

There are two contenders in this space: Samsung 128GB and Sandisk 128GB. The Sandisk while a bit cheaper, reportedly gets super hot that can cause damage to your system or even burn your skin. Since I will be running VMs from this drive I didn’t want any heat issues, so I went with Samsung.

As you can see in the picture above, the drive has a very low profile; you can barely notice it. The curvy design makes it easier to slide the laptop into a bag without pulling the drive off as it may get caught.

This may not be the solution you were looking for, but adding 128GB storage to my MacBook for just $40 is not actually a bad deal.

If you are interested in the drive, go for the Samsung and use the affiliate link as it won’t cost you an extra dime, but I may get a tiny commission that funds these articles.

If you have any good or bad experiences with the drive, please share in the comments below.

Forbidden fruit: How to get the most out of your Apple AirPods

Me using the apple AirPod.

When Apple announced the AirPod, I was excited to get them. I received them a few weeks ago and have been using them extensively. I own a couple of headphones and AirPods are really among the best, the sound quality is crisp and sharp with a realistic base.

The pods fit perfectly in my ear and I also went running with them, they never fell out of my ears. As far as looking awkward is concerned, don’t listen to critics, they have no idea what they are talking about. Somehow they think wires dangling from your ears or big helmet-like over-the-ear headphones are OK, but wireless AirPods are ugly.

That was my mini review of the AirPods. If you already own a pair, you don’t need to be told how good they are and if you don’t already own them, order them now.

Once you get your AirPods, here are my tips to improve your experience with them. It’s based on my own experience and may or may not work for you. The best one is at the end of the article.

If you have some cool tips, share in the comments below.

1/ Keep ‘em charged: If you are not using your AirPods, keep them inside the charging case otherwise the batteries will deplete since they are on all the time. I left fully charged AirPods outside the case overnight once and they were dead. In addition to keeping the AirPods in the case, keep the charging case plugged in so that it remains charged.

2/ Quick charge: The good news is that leaving the AirPods in the charging case for just 15 minutes gives you 3 hours of listening time. The fully charged charging case gives you 24 hours of battery life, so if you are on an intercontinental flight, you can use your AirPods throughout the flight, just give them a 15-minute break every 3 hours.

3/ Don’t lose them: AirPods fit perfectly in my ear and I can even run and dance in those (I can do some Bhangra). I have never dropped or lost them after using them extensively for over two weeks now. But I won’t be confident if I am taking a metro, bus or on a busy street. I heavily recommend Spigen TEKA RA100 which will offer the much-needed piece of mind.

4/ Use Siri for AirPod control: There are no physical buttons on the AirPods, so unlike my Bose Quietcomfort, I can’t control the volume. The only way is through Siri. The only interaction that the AirPods v1 support is the double tap. You can configure the action associated with it. On your iOS device, you can choose whether you want to play/pause the content when double tapped or invoke Siri. I suggest invoking Siri as you can ask Siri to play/pause content, control volume and ask questions.

You can leave your phone in your office or on your kitchen table and interact with it using AirPod+Siri. You can make phone calls, check time, weather, send a text message, check your calendar and much more. My only gripe is that Siri is not as smart and intelligent as is Google Assistant or Alexa so I do miss many features, but that aside you can use AirPods to get complete hands-free experience, as long as the iOS device is in Bluetooth range since AirPods don’t work on WiFi yet.

5/ How to find lost AirPods: Apple must change the name of the ‘Find my iPhone’ app as it actually works across Apple devices including MacBook, iPad, Apple Watch… They should simply call it ‘Find my device’.

Apple pushed an update to the app that now supports AirPods. If you lost your AirPods it will help you to find it. You can open the app and it will show you the ‘approximate’ location of the AirPods on the map. You can play a sound through the app to pinpoint the headphones. Just don’t get overly excited.

AirPods rely on Bluetooth connectivity so they can communicate with your iPhone only when they are within the range of the device. So if you lost your AirPods on a busy street, you can’t locate them from a mile away. The best bet is to walk towards the place where you think you lost them and use the app, as soon as AirPods come within the Bluetooth range, you will see them on the map.

6/ Pair them with ‘any’ Apple device: Once you pair the AirPod with any Apple device, the AirPods will automatically be made available on all iOS, WatchOS, TvOS and macOS devices that are logged into the same user’s account. No need to manually pair them over and over again. When you play any content from any of these devices, just choose AirPod from the AirPlay option. Magic!

7/ Pair them with non-Apple devices: AirPods will work with any device over Bluetooth. I have been using them with my Pixel phone, Nexus phones, Pixel tablet, Chromebooks, Samsung Smart TV (powered by Tizen Linux), Amazon Echo Dot (powered by Linux), Windows 10 laptop, Sony PS4 Pro…in a nutshell, every device with Bluetooth can be paired with AirPods.

The only exception has been the desktop Linux, where the device does pair with some distros (worked on KDE neon, but didn’t work on openSUSE and Ubuntu), Linux can’t send the sound output through the AirPods.

I have been using the AirPods playing the Legend of Zelda on my Nintendo Switch. As expected, none of the features such as pause content when you take one AirPod out your ear and resume when you put them back on or switch from stereo to mono mode when you use only one AirPod.

There is no configuration option for AirPods on these devices, so you can’t use any taps to invoke Google Assistant on Android, but you can obviously use the built-in mic. However, on some Android devices, you can pause and play music by double tapping.

8/ Share your content: We bought a headphone jack splitter so my wife and I can listen to the same music or watch movies together on the iPad when we fly. With AirPods you can simply give one AirPod to your partner and enjoy the music or movie without having to deal with tangled cable.

How to add an external hard drive to PlayStation 4

PlayStation 4 Pro comes with 1TB of storage. That’s not enough storage if you are planning to play games like UNCHARTED: The Lost Legacy, Ghost Recon, and Watch Dogs. On top of that, VR games like Dirt Rally are going to take even more space. Prior to the software update, the only way to upgrade storage was by manually replacing the internal hard drive, which can be challenging for an average user.

That’s changing.Sony recently released a software update (version 4.50) for PlayStation 4 that brings support for an external hard drive to expand

Sony recently released a software update (version 4.50) for PlayStation 4 that brings support for an external hard drive to expand the storage capacity of the device, like Xbox One. The first thing you need to do is run software updates on your PlayStation.

Once the system is updated.

I recommend this 6TB hard drive from Western Digital that uses USB 3.0 for data transfer and is super fast, yet affordable.

Plug in the hard drive to one of the 3.0 USB ports of the PS4 and then power the drive. Open PS4 System Settings > Devices > USB Storage Device.

There you will see your hard drive listed.

Click on (X) of DualShock 4 and format the drive as ‘extended storage’.

PS4 will seek your confirmation before you format the drive, just to ensure that you are not destroying a drive by mistake. Once the formatting is complete, you will have extended your PS4 storage without opening the case.

To move your Applications, games and other content from the internet drive to the extended drive, go to Settings > Devices > Storage.

Then go to System Storage > Application. Click on ‘Options’ button and select ‘Move to Extended Storage’.

It will show a checkbox next to applications, either select individual applications that you want to move or select all.

It will seek your confirmation before you move and there you go, your files have moved from the internal storage to the extended storage.

Easy peasy!

Munich mayor puts America first, Germany last

A lot has been written about this story so I am not going into detail. The TL;DR version is that the City of Munich is planning to ditch the vendor-neutral technologies that it adopted some ten years ago and go back to Microsoft. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has written a very good article on why Munich should not do that.

In addition to the points raised by Vaughan-Nichols, I can also see that Munich politicians are ignoring some things that are going to hurt the German economy. The IT infrastructure of the city of Munich primarily relies on three or four core components: an operating system, a productivity suite to create and manage documents, an email service or groupware solution and a cloud service to store and sync files across the organization.

What these Bavarian politicians probably don’t know, or are comfortably ignoring is that the German software industry is the biggest threat to Microsoft’s dominance in these core areas.

Read the complete story on CIO.com

Easiest Arch Linux Manual

Copyright: William Warby https://flic.kr/p/iNmvEe

[Updated: March 1, 2017] Arch Linux is one of my favorite GNU/Linux distributions. However, it is not as easy to install as are Ubuntu and openSUSE. I have installed Arch Linux so many times on my systems that I have almost memorized the procedure. I have translated that process into an easy to follow tutorial that can help new Arch Linux users.

I keep this tutorial updated as I learn about problems that other users face or if I find an easier day to get the task done. There are many Ubuntu-like derivatives of Arch that make it easier to get started with Arch, but I will discourage using them.

Installing Arch without understanding some of its core components and configurations will cause more problems in future when something breaks because you don’t know how it’s set-up or how it works. So I encourage you to do a manual installation of Arch Linux and understand its internals.

I also recommend referring to the official Arch Wiki to get in-depth information about each step and process.

I have broken this article into several small pieces to address one topic at a time without intimidating you with a single long page.

How to convert users to Linux

Copyright: Gabiral Pinto https://flic.kr/p/arfVqB

I have converted many users, including my wife, to Linux in the past 10 years and and I am still going strong. If you do it right, Linux will do a better job for your users than Mac OS X or Windows … if you do it right.

Harvey Dent: Two sides of Linux advocacy

There are two ways of converting a user to Linux. The first to format a user’s computer without investing time in learning what the PC is used for, with the assumption that you know best, and then install your own favorite apps and tell the user to use them. When the user complains he can’t do such-and-such thing anymore, you respond: “why do you need to do that; do this instead.” The result? The user goes back to his or her former operating system, with not-so-fond memories of Linux.

The second way is to first invest time in carefully identifying the user’s needs and then decide whether Linux really is right for that user.

I have actually refrained from converting a few users to Linux after realizing their heavy reliance on some particular software or services that were not yet available for Linux. To them, a PC was just a means to do a particular job and in those cases the job at hand was more important than the OS.

Aggressively forcing those users to switch to Linux would only do more harm than good.

Why so serious? Let’s put a smile on that face

I have a simple conversion strategy. First get the users comfortable with the tools, applications or services they will be using under Linux. I have a very good use case where I deployed this strategy. When I lived in Garmisch Germany, my best buddy there (and he still is my best friend) was an Irishman named Dominic Kennedy who happened to be a Windows user.

The good news was that he was on the fence: he had heard about Linux and was willing to give it a try. However we had to get him comfortable with Linux so that he didn’t have to relearn everything. My strategy is called ‘how to change all four tires of your car without getting your hands dirty’. You guessed it right, you replace one tire at a time.

In most cases, open source applications do a much better job than their proprietary counterparts in consumer as well as professional space. The first thing I did was to understand what Dominic was doing on his computer, and which applications he was using. I invested time in understanding his usage of each applications. Once I had that knowledge I started replacing those applications with open source ones on his current system. Keep in mind I don’t start with OS replacement, I start off with applications.

Why? You will see later.

I replaced Internet Explorer (yes there are people who still use Internet Explorer) with Chrome and Firefox, and explained to him the advantages of these apps. He used to write down passwords in a diary. I showed him how he could use Firefox Sync to save passwords in a secure manner. He doesn’t have to remember passwords anymore.

In the case of Google Chrome, extensions and web-apps helped him do more things than he could do on IE.

GIMP and Krita replaced the very old version of Photoshop installed on his system. He was not a professional graphics designer and it’s crazy to invest over $600 per year in PS to do basic image editing.

The third tool in my arsenal was LibreOffice, which replaced the aging, and I suspected ‘pirated’ version of Microsoft Office installed on his system. I could see the sudden brightness in his eyes to find that he could use an office suite for free of cost, legally.

I also introduced him to Google Docs, which allowed him to work on documents, ‘presentations’, and ‘excel’ sheets. The collaborative feature of Docs was already exciting for him, in addition to ‘never having to worry about saving the files again’.

He was already was a VLC user as it beats both WMP and QuickTime when it comes to playing various video formats. But he wasn’t aware of other neat tricks VLC had up its sleeves such as media file conversion, the ability to play online videos, etc.

Clementine then became the default music player. It can pull lyrics, artist info and could do much more than the default Windows players.

That wasn’t all. I also introduced him to Thunderbird, which allowed him to manage his personal and professional accounts from the same application. Thunderbird, like Firefox supports plugins so his calendar, contacts and chats were synced with his Thunderbird account. I went a step further and also installed Pidgin, which allowed him to stay in contact with friends and families via Chat.

Once in a while he would transcode videos from one format to another and had some ‘shady’ looking Transcoder for Windows, which also installed some toolbars on his IE. I gave him Handbrake, one of the best open source transcoders and he was happy to see the ‘clean’ interface of it with many more features than that shady one.

All of these apps pretty much replaced every single piece of software he was using on his Windows machine. I told him to use these apps for a month and keep me posted if he came across any problems. One special instruction that I gave him was that whenever he needed another app besides these to let me know so that I could suggest an alternative.

A month later when I visited him again, he had no problem with his new set-up. He even liked it.

The reason was simple: I didn’t take him out of his comfort zone. He knew that he was still using Windows.

But was he?

When people tell you that they use Windows, that’s not entirely true. No one uses the OS itself. We use applications or services that run through applications. We don’t use the OS; applications use it to allocate resources to the hardware.

It was time to drive him towards the next step of changing the tires. I asked if he was still using Windows or was he using these applications that I installed. There was a moment of silence. It was a clever question. He knew that. He took a deep breath and smiled at me. He shook his head and said, ‘Well all I use is these applications and not Windows.”

The iron was hot, time to strike the hammer. “So as long as you get to use these applications it doesn’t really matter whether it’s Windows or any other OS on your system?”

Dominic gave it a thought, smiled and nodded his head.

I took a backup of his work and installed a Linux distro that was best suited for his needs. Then I installed all of those applications that he was already using. He did need a walkthrough with the new OS as it was different from Windows. But, mentally he had already been through this process when he was switched from Windows-specific, proprietary applications to their open source counterparts.

That experience had made him confident and positive about the change. He was aware that the GUI would be different but it would do more or less the same thing. And since he had had a very pleasant experience with open source applications, he approached the distro with the same positivity.

Within a week he was fluent in Linux and was happily using it! And that’s how we convert users to Linux.

So which distro did I install on his system?

That’s the topic for the next article where we carefully pick the appropriate distro for specific use cases.

Share with us your strategy of converting users to Linux in the comments below.

Note: The story was originally published in CIO.

How to auto mount hard drives in Linux

Copyright: William Warby https://flic.kr/p/iNmvEe

A few days ago I created a new Ubuntu 16.04 file server that hosts all of my files. I upgraded my hard drives from 5TB to 10TB. I mounted my drives, created Samba share and started working. A few days later there was a kernel updated, so I rebooted my system and found that hard drives were missing. Why? I forgot to create persistent mount or entries for those hard drives in the ‘fstab’ file that keeps track of all mounted storage devices.

Here is how we do it in Linux systems.

In this example I am using ‘ext4’ file system, if you are using other file systems such as ‘NTFS’, you need some extra work, we will talk about that later.

Finding Nemo: find your hard drives

First of all, you need to find the universally unique identifiers (UUIDs) for partitions that you want to auto-mount. I prefer UUID over block device name, such as ‘sda’, because UUID remains consistent across systems and reboots whereas ‘label’ can change from one operating system to another, depending on connected storage devices. To find the UUIDs of drives to be mounted, run this command:

$ sudo blkid

Which will give you an output like this:

[email protected]:~$ sudo blkid 
/dev/sda1: UUID="1C54-4788" TYPE="vfat" PARTUUID="882703bb-eea4-4014-8cc5-79dec006c151"
/dev/sda2: UUID="2c58cf82-667a-4dd3-9859-41cfa15c2b5d" TYPE="ext4" PARTUUID="d88a323e-3067-4ebe-820c-35d75304f871"
/dev/sda3: UUID="55bf412b-a26d-45bd-b313-d964d8564885" TYPE="swap" PARTUUID="0573d213-ba07-4940-b61d-1a881a60d927"
/dev/sdc1: LABEL="5tb1" UUID="b3457c55-5094-4889-8c71-8d384a99b3ca" TYPE="ext4" PARTUUID="9a9b48a4-af1d-4186-9199-4ca5194da788"
/dev/sdb1: UUID="fbba6d4a-73eb-401b-827a-85fc11207030" TYPE="ext4" PARTLABEL="primary" PARTUUID="33e185a6-8132-43b0-a14b-af2d4b63f140"
/dev/mapper/cryptswap1: UUID="3d2dd1cb-edd5-49dd-86b1-d98a5186748f" TYPE="swap"

Here ‘sdc1’ and ‘sdb1’ are my 5TB hard drives, whereas ‘sda’ is SSD where Ubuntu is installed. I will be mounting ‘sdc1’ and ‘sdb1’. If you don’t know which drive is which, as ‘blkid’ doesn’t show more information, you can always use ‘lsblk’ command to identify each hard drive by storage size.

[email protected]:~$ lsblk 

NAME           MAJ:MIN RM   SIZE RO TYPE  MOUNTPOINT
sda              8:0    0 111.8G  0 disk 
├─sda1           8:1    0    94M  0 part  /boot/efi
├─sda2           8:2    0   108G  0 part  /
└─sda3           8:3    0   3.8G  0 part 
  └─cryptswap1 252:0    0   3.8G  0 crypt [SWAP]
sdb              8:16   0   4.6T  0 disk 
└─sdb1           8:17   0   4.6T  0 part 
sdc              8:32   0   4.6T  0 disk 
└─sdc1           8:33   0   4.6T  0 part 

TO auto-mount these drives, so that they remain mounted between reboots, we will edit the ‘fstab’ file and create entries about these drives. Open the ‘fstab’ file using nano

$ sudo nano /etc/fstab

Add the partitions using the following structure (add new entries at the end of the current entries):

UUID="id_of_drive" /media/mount_point ext4 defaults,noatime 0 2

You can create new mount points, just keep them short and lower case. I created ‘prim_5’ and ‘sec_5’ as mount points. These are the lines that I added at the bottom of my ‘fstab’ file:

UUID="b3457c55-5094-4889-8c71-8d384a99b3ca"     /media/prim_5   ext4    defaults,noatime        0       2
UUID="fbba6d4a-73eb-401b-827a-85fc11207030"     /media/sec_5    ext4    defaults,noatime        0       2

Once done hit Ctrl+X which will ask if you want to save the file, click Y to save the file and exit. Reboot your system to see if the drives mount automatically.

Mounting NTFS partitions

If you are using NTFS then you need to be able to write to these partitions. Install ntfs-3g package for your distribution. Then follow the above step to finding the UUID and then open the fstab file.

The only difference is the name of the file system, instead of ‘ext4’, we use ‘ntfs-3g’:

UUID="b3457c55-5094-4889-8c71-8d384a99b3ca"     /media/prim_5   ntfs-3g    defaults,noatime        0       2
UUID="fbba6d4a-73eb-401b-827a-85fc11207030"     /media/sec_5    ntfs-3g    defaults,noatime        0       2

That’s it. If you have any questions, ask in the comments below.

Nerf N-Strike Elite TerraScout Remote Control Drone Blaster review

Choosing Christmas toys for my son is a challenge that I take very seriously. I usually get him something educational but the geek and gadget lover in me always takes over and I end up getting one big toy that’s secretly more for me than for him.

Last year,  Sphero BB-8 Droid was the undisputed hottest Christmas toy. Though after playing with it for a while I realized it wasn’t as smart and exciting as I thought it would be. It bumped into things and despite claims that it learned about the environment, it was basically running around randomly. I actually ended up returning it, as I didn’t see any fun for my son.

Fast forward to 2016 and I am going through the same challenge: hunting for the coolest gadget or toy for my son. I came across Nerf N-Strike Elite Terrascout Remote Control Drone Blaster. That’s a mouthful of a name, but in short, it’s a remote controlled tank that shoots relatively safe Nerf darts. I am going to call it Nerf Tank; I really don’t know why they called it a drone; it doesn’t fly.

Hasbro has an exclusive deal with Toys-R-Us so that’s the only place you can buy it. You can buy it from stores or order it online with free shipping. The tank makes a $218 hole in your pocket, which is a lot for a toy, so is it worth that much money?

What’s in the box

The tank comes with a battery powered Elite Rapidstrike gun (with built in camera for live feed), a dart clip that can hold up to 18 darts, a pack of darts, the tank body, a 9.6v NiMh battery, a remote controller with LCD screen, and a battery charger.

Assembling the tank is relatively easy. Open the battery compartment under the belly of the tank using a Philips head screwdriver, connect the included battery and close the cover. Then plug the connectors from the gun to the tank and slide the gun through the grooves of the tank body, you should hear a clicking sound. Make sure to connect the wires before sliding the gun into the compartment as you won’t be able to remove the gun once installed.

Now open the battery compartment of the controller and insert 4 AA batteries. If you want recording capabilities, insert an SD card into the slot right above the barrel of the gun. Don’t forget to format the card as FAT32 from your PC.

The tank supports four 2.4GHz wireless channels so that you can use different remote controlled vehicles without any interference. Make sure that both tank and controller are on the same channel. Now turn on both units, the LCD screen on the controller will display the pairing status. Once successfully paired you will see the video feed from the gun.

The controller

The controller comes with an LCD screen that displays very sharp video from the gun so you can hide in a safe place and take your tank into the enemy’s territory. You can start recording video stream from the camera onto the SD card by hitting the recording button.

nerf controllerSwapnil Bhartiya

There are two sticks to control the movement of the tank and two triggers to control the gun. The left trigger controls the angle of the gun so that you can aim precisely, whereas the right trigger shoots the darts. You can shoot single darts by clicking on the trigger once; you actually have to hold it for at least 30 seconds as it uses an electric motor-based mechanism to shoot darts. To shoot, just press and hold the trigger and it will empty the whole clip in under 5 seconds.

What’s good about it

As someone who is heavily into remote-controlled cars, I fell in love with this ‘tank’ immediately. The tread tracks on the Nerf Tank enable it to go anywhere: crushing the roadblock of monster trucks, or soft toys and even pillows. Nothing comes between this tank and its target.

I must say that the controls are not super smooth. The moment you move the stick it zaps into that direction. But the good thing is that they are super sensitive so if you go gently you can get a very slow and smooth movement that you would expect from a tank. That said, it’s loud enough so you are not going to catch your kid off guard and attack his army. This tank declares its presence.

The best feature of the tank is the live feed. I own several Traxxas trucks and I wish they would have the live video feed, similar to drones so that I could see where I was going. I am working on a Raspberry Pi based project to add live video feed for my trucks. When I discovered live video feed, I was salivating.

I can hide behind the couch and take my tank into dangerous territory without getting shot by my enemy. I can use the video to aim precisely and take my target down without wasting bullets. On top of that, I can record video so I can brag about my warfare later.

What’s not so good

It’s a neat toy but Hasbro made a few mistakes that could have been avoided with better engineering. First of all, I don’t like the position of the clip, it pops out from the side and hits objects when you drive through the rough terrain of your house. They could have made it top mounted to clear all sides.

In the age of 4k HDR videos, I was expecting at least 1080p video recording. While the controller display is very sharp, when you look at the recorded videos, you feel depressed. Miniature cameras are super cheap and Hasbro could have easily used a 1080p camera with the device without bumping the price.

I found that once you install the gun, you can’t dismount it from the tank. If you want to repack or store it or want to fix the disconnected wires, you can’t easily dismount it.

Should you buy it?

$218 is not a small amount. In my experience, it’s a cool toy if you are into Nerf warfare. Since Nerf uses standard darts and clips, you can reuse them for other Nerf guns. In addition, it’s probably not a toy your kid will play with every day. It’s for once in awhile when you are in the mood for a fight and you take your weapons out. When you have parties with kids around, you can pull it out and start some Nerf warfare. In my opinion, it’s not a one-time Christmas gift, it can also be seen as an investment on a toy that you can use over time.

I have not yet shown the tank to my son; it’s his present for Christmas. But if he liked it enough I may get one more so that he and I could have tank fights from the safety of the couch.

Now the bigger question is are you going to drop $218 for that kind of entertainment? I will, what about you?

The story was originally published on Read my complete story on CIO.com

(Full disclosure: Some of the product links are affiliate links, so I’ll get paid if you buy it. I only recommend the products I myself use and buy…)