Linux Gaming: Middle Earth – Shadow of Mordor; Get it to run, and run it fast

Gaming on Linux is a challenge because only a few companies take the time to create native Linux ports of their games. It is even more challenging when those natively ported games do not run at all or do not run well. One of them is Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. I have bought this game specifically because it has a native Linux version – and because I remember that it was well received by media and players.

This game has two issues:

  • It refuses to start in full-screen mode.
  • The performance is terrible.

Let’s go through these two issues and see how they manifest and how to fix them.

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Pop!_OS Linux Fixing Windows Dual Boot Problem

In a previous blog post I have mentioned that I was not able to add my Windows 10 installation to the Grub boot menu. I have finally found a solution. Now, in my last Linux blog post I mentioned that I ultimately gave up on Linux after trying Ubuntu 20.04. Well, I could not stop thinking about it. I am on Pop!_OS again and although I did not disconnect any SSD on installation, Pop! did not detect Windows 10 and add it to Grub itself. So, I was back at where I started.

Quick recap of the setup: I have two SATA SSDs (yes, SATA, like a cave man), one with Windows 10 (the Crucial MX500) and one with Pop!_OS Linux (the Samsung 850 Evo). The bootloader for each OS is on the respective SSD.

Now, enough background, let us get to the solution!

If you are CLI wizard do your thing, I will be using a convenient UI for the first step. Open “Disks” and locate the Windows 10 EFI partition. It’s around 100MB in size. Once you have found it, click the “Play” button to mount it.

The Disks utility will then display the mount point that is required in the next step.

Now, copy some Windows 10 Boot files to your Linux /boot folder. Yes, you read that right. Sounds weird, but it did the trick.

Do this with Nautilus or use the following command (which I recommend). Replace <mount point> with the path you got from the Disks utility. Note that path completion does not work once you go past /boot/efi. The EFI folder exists, you merely do not have permissions to see it as a regular user.

sudo cp -r /<mount point>/EFI/Microsoft /boot/efi/EFI

The last step consists of making the boot menu show up so you can actually select an entry. Edit loader.conf and add “timeout 10” (or any amount of seconds you prefer).

sudo vim /boot/efi/loader/loader.conf

All you need to do now is reboot and (hopefully) enjoy a boot menu with your Pop!_OS and Windows 10 boot entries. I do not know if this procedure also works with other Linux variants. It might for the Ubuntu based distributions, but I cannot say.

OneDrive Sync On Linux With RCLONE

In my quest to move to Linux as a daily driver it was important for me that I could continue to use Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage. Unsurprisingly, Windows 10 comes bundled with a OneDrive sync client. There is no official Linux support though, so I had to resort to a 3rd party tool. Luckily, there is a very powerful utility called rclone that does almost exactly what I want and I’ll explain how I have it set up to suit my needs.

Spoiler: it’s not as convenient as Microsoft’s sync client, but it has other things going for it.

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The Linux Experiment: One Month Later

It has been roughly a month since I switched from using Windows 10 as my main operating system to Linux. The reasons for that have all been detailed in The Switching Windows to Linux Experiment blog post. Now I will share a few of the experiences I have made during the first month (it’s been that long already) and what I think about how well it is going.

Let me address the elefant in the room first, the distribution. I think that is likely the first question you, the reader, would ask. The short answer is Pop!_OS by System76.

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Debian Testing “Bullseye”: The Repository Does Not Have a Release File

After installing Debian Testing "Bullseye" mid March 2020 I got an error trying to run apt update.

E: The repository 'http://security.debian.org./debian-security 
bullseye/updates Release' does not have a Release file.

Unfortunately, the Debian maintainers managed to let a bug creep into the /etc/apt/sources.list. It’s called "Testing" for a reason, I guess.

The offending lines are this.

deb http://security.debian.org/debian-security/ bullseye/updates main
deb-src http://security.debian.org/debian-security/ bullseye/updates main

Note "bullseye/updates", which is where the error is. Change those two lines to look like this.

deb http://security.debian.org/debian-security/ bullseye-security main
deb-src http://security.debian.org/debian-security/ bullseye-security main

After that, the update will work. I have noticed that in a later version of the installer this bug has been fixed.

Debian Testing “Bullseye”: NVIDIA Driver Install

Debian’s documentation on installing the proprietary NVIDIA driver does not (yet) cover the "Bullseye" release because, as of the time of writing, it is still in testing. However, the documentation for Debian 10 "Buster" can still be used.

The main difference is that there is no "backports" for "Bullseye" – although I have found the folders on repo mirrors. At least to me they seemed to be there. Anyway.

What you have to do is to add "contrib" and "non-free" to your main mirror definition, not to backports. You don’t need to add a repo for backports because you’ll only get an error.

(Unfortunately, I haven’t made a note of the error message)

This is what you have to do:

  • Open /etc/apt/sources.list as sudo/root.

  • Add "contrib" and "non-free" to the end of the main repo so it looks like this.

    deb http://deb.debian.org/debian bullseye main contrib non-free

(The observant among you might have noticed that the feature image is from a Pop!OS installation, not Debian. I’ve since changed the distribution.)

The Switching Windows to Linux Experiment

(Beware of the many text)

For the longest time I have been a Windows user. My first computer came with Windows 98 SE (ignoring the Amiga before it) and I’ve used Windows as the main operating system for almost all that time since then. There was a brief excursion into the Apple world for about a year or two, but apart from that: Microsoft’s creation. It’s not that I have not tried using Linux, it’s just that for many years my needs could not be easily satisfied by a Linux based operating system. For one, I have always enjoyed PC gaming and I still do. I’ve tried going with a console, but that was one of the worst decisions I had made in 2019. There also was a long period where I had used my computer as a TV, a time where Youtube and all the other streaming services hadn’t existed. And although I had managed to get the TV tuners to somehow work, it was not comparable to the experience on Windows. For my use case, over all those years, Microsoft’s OS simply was the Vulkan choice. But now in 2020, this isn’t the case anymore. Things have changed, including the maturity of Linux as well as my own needs and my views. Therefore, it’s about time that I revisit this topic.

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Of Affordable Phones, Software Updates and Yearly Upgrades

With the release of the Google Pixel 3a I once again started thinking about what I want in a smartphone. As a reminder, the last time I was pondering the purchase of one I was musing of tall phones, curved displays and notches. I am not in the market for a new phone right now as my iPhone 8 is more than capable of fulfilling my needs. But, with the recent launch of the Pixel 3a I wished that this device had already existed a year ago because it is basically the perfect phone for me. And I also wish Google would get back into the market of less expensive phones with the latest and greatest hardware as was the case with the Nexus line.

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