New MacBook Air M2

It’s been a few years since I purchased a MacBook. My last Mac was a MacBook Pro I bought in the spring of 2020. Since then, I’ve been using Linux exclusively. My desktop is an Intel NUC 11 that’s running Linux Mint Cinnamon, and I’ve no plans to change that anytime soon. However, I’ve heard lots of good reviews of Apple Silicon. I experimented with a MacMini with the M1 chip a bit over a year ago but sent it back and purchased an HP DevOne, which I had docked for just about a year.

When I upgraded to the NUC 11, the DevOne became an extra laptop. I’ve been using it since August in that capacity. Last month I took it to All Things Open and used it for note-taking, writing, and tooting. I was disappointed in its battery life and the 14-inch display was not enough for a guy who’s used to more desktop real estate.

I was attracted to the MacBook Air M2’s 15.3-inch display. My eyes aren’t what they used to be, and I need bigger fonts on a bigger display. I read many reviews and visited the Apple Store nearby to inspect this new Mac. I was impressed and almost purchased a unit that day. I decided to walk around the mall and left without purchasing the MacBook. More positive reviews and commentary from some of the open-source podcasts I listen to.¬† That led me to purchase this unit on a ‘Black Friday’ deal from Amazon. The MacBook Air arrived today and got it configured the way I wanted to. I installed the latest Python from Python.org and Visual Studio Code .

I wanted to ensure that I could use this new laptop to continue to hone my Python skills.

I used HomeBrew to install some of my other favorite open-source apps which included GnuCash, MacDown, and Joplin. I’m not doing any heavy lifting with this laptop but I was attracted by its reported long battery life. This MacBook Air M2 came with 256 GB SSD and 8 GB RAM. I like the feel of the keyboard and the overall performance and build quality. There are no readily apparent downsides to this new purchase.

 

 

 

Crafting a Universal Linux Live USB Drive

I frequently create USB boot devices for Linux to troubleshoot ailing Windows computers. I also use these drives to introduce new users to the beauty and utility of using Linux as their primary operating system. If you are a Fedora user, you can easily create bootable media using the Fedora Media Writer. It is usually included by default with Fedora, but if not, you can easily create your media by installing the software on your computer with the following command.

sudo dnf install liveusb-creator

Pop!_OS users can use Popsicle. Popsicle, an open-source application designed for Linux, empowers users to securely and effortlessly write images onto USB drives. This software comes pre-installed in Pop!_OS versions 18.04 and newer. Popsicle has an MIT license.

Linux Mint users have Mintstick which is part of the default install of LinuxMint Cinnamon 21.2. Like Popsicle it can be used to create live USB drives from any Linux ISO you can download. It is open source with a GPL v2 license.

Ubuntu users have a similar tool designed to create bootable USB drives for Ubuntu. The Fedora and Ubuntu tools are great to make bootable media for those distributions. But what if you create a bootable drive for Linux Mint or Pop!_OS? Neither of the previous tools will create that media. There is an excellent open-source tool that allows you to make the media you need regardless of the host operating system you are using. It’s Balena Etcher.

According to the project’s Github repository, “Etcher is a powerful OS image flasher built with web technologies to ensure flashing an SDCard or USB drive is a pleasant and safe experience. It protects you from accidentally writing to your hard-drives, ensures every byte of data was written correctly, and much more. It can also directly flash Raspberry Pi devices that support¬†USB device boot mode

Etcher is also available for installation of MacOS 10.10 and later and Microsoft Windows too. If you are on a Debian or Ubuntu based system you can install Etcher easily with the following command sequence. Download the latest release for Debian/Ubuntu.

  sudo add-apt-repository universe
  cd Downloads
  sudo apt install ./balena-etcher_*_amd64.deb

Fedora users can install Etcher using ‘dnf’,

   sudo dnf upgrade --refresh
   wget https://github.com/balena-io/etcher/releases/download/v1.18.12/balena-etcher-1.18.12.x86_64.rpm
   sudo dnf install balena-etcher-1.18.12.x86_64.rpm

If you are a Windows user, you can install Etcher using Chocolatey.

choco install etcher

MacOS users can install it by downloading the disk image.

Etcher has excellent documentation and an Apache 2.0 license.

GnuCash 3.3 on MacOS Mojave

A week ago as I pondered upgrading to MacOS Mojave I wondered would I be able to use GnuCash on which I’ve grown to depend. Some of the research I had done on support sites indicated that the older 2.xx version of GnuCash that I was using on MacOS High Sierra might not work. I took the necessary steps to back up my files and then set out for the upgrade.

Sure enough when I had completed the upgrade to Mojave, GnuCash would not launch. I had a backup plan to use GnuCash on a Linux laptop. However I did come across a support discussion that indicated that GnuCash 3.2 and 3.3 would work. I downloaded the image files from SourceForge and set to work. When I first launched the program my register fonts were very small. I remembered that in GnuCash 2.6 that I had to edit a configuration file in the home directory ~/’.gtkrc-2.0.gnucash‘. That configuration file let me specify a larger font and different typeface.

Now, however GnuCash 3.3 required a different configuration option which I am going to share. Once I created and edited this file my new installation worked fine and the register appeared more readable. To accomplish this you need to open a terminal on your Mac. In the terminal you need to change directories to the following: Library/Application\Support/Gnucash/config/gtk-3.0/. Once you’re in that directory you will need to create a file named, ‘gtk.css’. I created the file with the ‘touch’ command and then edited it with ‘nano’. The contents of that file gave me the results I was looking for. You can edit the font and point size to your own tastes.
{
font:12pt arial, sans-serif;
}

I hope this helps other GnuCash 3.3 users.