Fedora 38

In this guide, I look at installation and setup on a Dell XPS 13 2 in 1 Touchscreen Convertible Device with a WD19TB Thunderbolt Dock. Fedora 38 is the leading edge Linux Distribution and includes Linux Kernel 6.2, the GNOME 44 Desktop Environment and the Wayland Display Protocol. If third-party repositories are enabled, FlatPak packages are installable from Software. Software can seamlessly be used to install new Applications, handles Operating System Updates, Application Updates and Device Firmware Updates via the Linux Vendor Service. This integrated functionality makes Fedora much more logical than most other Linux distributions that fragment these components.

Fedora uses a vanilla GNOME however this can be customised using GNOME Tweaks, GNOME Extensions and GNOME Settings as shown in this guide. The GNOME Desktop Environment is the Linux Desktop environment that has the most support for a 2 in 1 Touchscreen Convertible Device exhibiting a Touchscreen Keyboard and Device autorotation out of the box. There are still however some limitations here which will be partially addressed using GNOME Extensions.

Ubuntu 22.04 LTS Released

Ubuntu 22.04 LTS has been released. This new Long Term Support LTS version of Ubuntu has an updated Linux Kernel and a new Graphics Display Driver Model. This gives support for Thunderbolt Docks and now High DPI Laptop Touchscreen Screens can be used alongside standard DPI External Monitors. For a 2 in 1 Convertible Touchscreen Device, the rotation sensor and touchscreen work out of the box and the inbuilt browser Firefox now works well with Touchscreen and the Touchscreen Keyboard which now includes emojis.

Unfortunately at the time of writing there is an issue with the Chromium Browser and pressing into a text input field such as the address bar or search bar will not bring up the Onscreen Keyboard. This bug is also inherited in Chromium based browsers such as Google Chrome. Hopefully it will be addressed soon.

I have put together a detailed Ubuntu 22.04 LTS Installation Guide here:

Laptop Mode
Tablet Mode
Tent Mode

Zorin OS 16 Released

Zorin OS 16 is released. Zorin OS 16 is a Linux Distribution based upon Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and therefore inherits all the hardware support for Ubuntu 20.04 LTS provided by OEMs and chip manufacturers. The Zorin OS installation installer also inherits support for a UEFI BIOS and Secure Boot with a Machine Owner Key (MOK) from Ubuntu 20.04 LTS making installation straight forward on modern hardware.

The Zorin Desktop Environment is Windows Like making it one of the easiest to use Desktop Environments for those new to Linux. Besides the GNOME3 Desktop Environment, the Zorin Desktop Environment is one of the few Linux Desktop Environments that supports a 2 in 1 Touchscreen Device with Screen AutoRotation and a TouchScreen Keyboard inbuilt into the Desktop Environment.

The performance of Zorin OS 16 is good and is far more lightweight than Windows. In general Zorin OS 16 Core will likely perform much better than Windows 10 on early UEFI hardware (2012-2014 models) and in any case Microsoft have pretty much given up on any computer older than 3 years with Windows 11… The Zorin OS 16 Linux Distribution can be used to replace Windows on Devices used for most common tasks. There may be some slight issues with Windows specific applications but that is becoming more rare these days as third party software support for Linux is increasing and there are more browser based solutions.

Zorin OS 16 is still lacking when it comes to multi-monitor support due to the graphics display driver model it inherits from Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. This graphics display driver model requires a fixed DPI scaling and resolution for all screens making an extended desktop from a high resolution touchscreen to a standard resolution monitor sub-optimal. The graphics display driver model is being completely revamped in the Ubuntu 21.04 Feature Releases as well as the latest Fedora 34 release and addresses this issue but won't make it into Zorin OS 16 as Zorin OS is only based upon the Ubuntu Long Term Support (LTS) Releases. The newer graphics display driver model will be inbuilt into Ubuntu 22.04 LTS and we can speculate that Zorin OS 17 which will likely be built upon this will boast better multi-monitor support.

The Zorin OS Desktop Environment is also lacking behind Windows when it comes to Snap Window Layouts and the Emoji Panel (with Emoji and Symbol input) as well as a Paste Clipboard. There are some similar utilities inbuilt into Ubuntu/Zorin OS but their overall usability could do with some work to bring them up to scratch with the Windows Emoji Panel.

I demonstrate installation on my XPS 13 9365 with a UEFI BIOS and Secure Boot in the tutorial video below and have also put together a detailed written installation guide:

Microsoft Release Windows 11 Beta ISO

Microsoft have released a Windows 11 Insider Preview Beta Channel ISO and Windows 11 Insider Preview Dev Channel ISO. They are available to download from here:

I have tested the Windows 11 Insider Preview Build on an OptiPlex 7040 with a 6th Generation Intel Processor and an OptiPlex 7050 with a 7th Generation Intel Processor. These systems are below Microsoft's recommended system requirements which are 8th Generation Intel Processors or later. Mid and High end 6th and 7th Generation Processors have similar system performance to lower end 8th Generation Intel Processors and have the additional Security Requirements; A UEFI BIOS with a GRUB2 Security Exploit patched Secure Boot and a TPM Version of 2.0 or higher.

Unfortunately the install.wim exceeds 4.0 GB. 4.0 GB is the upper file size for the FAT32 file system meaning it is not possible to create a Bootable USB with a single FAT32 partition. Some systems with a UEFI BIOS and Secure Boot require a FAT32 partition in order to Boot. In the case of my OptiPlex 7040/7050/7060 (6th/7th/8th Generation) Secure Boot blocks a USB with only a NTFS Partition. On my XPS 13 9365/9305 (7th/10th Generation) the same USB with only a NTFS Partition passes Secure Boot.

To get around this we need to create a USB with a 1 GB FAT32 Boot Partition with the remaining space allocated to a NTFS Install Partition. I demonstrate this in the video below using Disk Management.

Windows 11 has new Out of the Box Experience (OOBE) setup screens. The OOBE setup now prompts for a Computer Name.

DeepIn 20.2.2 Released

DeepIn 20.2.2 has been released and now supports Secure Boot.

My DeepIn 20.2.2 Written Installation Guide has been updated to configure the Dell UEFI BIOS to configure Secure Boot however I have not updated the tutorial video as changes otherwise are minor with respect to DeepIn 20.2.1 and this Linux distro still lacks support for a 2 in 1 touchscreen device such as auto-rotation and a touchscreen keyboard.

Windows 11 Snap, Multi-Tasking and Multiple Monitors Feedback

I installed the Windows 11 Insider Preview Dev Build on my OptiPlex 7050 (7th Generation Intel Processor). As Microsoft boast multi-tasking with Windows 11, I decided to have a look at it using a multi-monitor setup and made this video to leave some feedback.

The snap feature in Windows 11 seems to work very well and has taken Aerosnap to the next level.

There are however some multi-monitor issues.Essentially there is no option to launch an application in the monitor of the taskbar the application was launched from. The application will only launch in the monitor it was last open in. Some things such as widgets will only open in the Primary Monitor even if they are selected on the taskbar of the secondary monitor. There is no option to add the clock, touchscreen keyboard and system tray to each monitor.

The virtual desktops still carries over a flaw from Windows 10. If a program such as Excel or Powerpoint is open on Virtual Desktop 1 and is attempted to be launched in a Virtual Desktop 2, then the user is ejected from their new Virtual Desktop 2 and returned to Virtual Desktop 1. Having a different PowerPoint or Excel spreadsheet open in each virtual desktop for example should be common practice.

Windows 11 has an updated touchscreen keyboard, although the paste clipboard, touchscreen emojis and emoji panel are more or less carried over from Windows 10. These unfortunately favour emojis and useless gifs to mathematical symbols and Greek letters commonly used in scientific and engineering fields. Although these have a search bar, the search bar does not search for symbols… Microsoft should make the search bar work with the symbols and have an option to make both the emoji panel and the touchscreen keyboard more focused towards symbol input i.e. avoiding the need to scroll through screeds of emojis and gifs which are never going to be used in something official. A symbol focused setting would greatly speed up productivity when writing scientific reports for example. It would also be useful if the user could make a custom symbol/emoji pane where they could pin their favourite symbols (using a similar mechanism to the start menu) and having the user emoji pane display first when the emoji panel is opened (keyboard or mouse) or when symbol is selected from the touchscreen keyboard.

There is no tabs in Windows explorer, Microsoft should implement this in a similar manner to Zorin OS.

Python Programming

I spent the last year and a half learning Python as an open source alternative to Matlab. While learning I put quite a bit of documentation together and have finally went through it and made a tutorial video series. This covers an Introduction to Programming particularly geared towards the sciences and data science fields.


The Python programming language

The Numeric Python library numpy

The Python and Data Analysis library pandas

Plotting with matplotlib

Dell UEFI BIOS Updates Patch GRUB2 Secure Boot Vulnerability

There is a Secure Boot Security Vulnerability that has been addressed by Intel CVE-2020-10713. Dell and other OEMs have been releasing a series of UEFI BIOS Updates to patch this.

The Security Update is related to the Grand Unified Bootloader 2 (GRUB2) which most Linux distributions which formerly passed Secure Boot rely on.

If you have an older Linux distribution installed or are using an older installation ISO you will get Verification Failed: (0x1A) Security Violation and either be forced to disable Secure Boot to boot into your old installation to update or begin the install from an older ISO or seek a newer installation ISO.

The Ubuntu 20.04.1 ISO, Ubuntu 20.10 ISO and Linux Mint 20.1 ISO have been updated to pass Secure Boot.

Fedora 33 and DeepIn 20.1 which previously passed Secure Boot are now rejected by Secure Boot.

Windows 10 Installation Media on Linux or Mac

I had a lot of questions asking how to create a Windows 10 UEFI Bootable USB on Linux and Mac. Most other guides on this were poor or just didn't work due to the install.wim exceeding 4.0 GB and not fitting on a FAT32 formatted USB flash drive. We can use wimlib to split the install.wim into multiple install.swm files and then manually create our FAT32 formatted USB lash drive. The main Windows 10 guide has been updated to include these instructions:

Getting Started with Spyder 4

I've been spending the last year learning the Python programming language. With lockdown I've took the time to put my notes together. Here is a getting started tutorial with written instructions.

I have also put together installation instructions and have written guides for the numpy, matplotlib and pandas libraries which are the most commonly used python libraries for data science.