Back to Linux – PeppermintOS 7

I might continue this as a new series of blog posts regarding my return to and journey through Linux via the distribution (distro) PeppermintOS 7, based on Ubuntu 16.04 with the default desktop environment (DE) of LXDE. If you’d like to see more entries in this area, please do let me know.

My previous experience with Linux was less than favorable, which I posted rather negatively about over in this entry: Linux fails me yet again! Granted, it was more of a rant than anything, but it’s a stark contrast to my recent experience, that’s for sure!

As for now? Glorious. I did run into issues getting Netflix to behave, but it took a few hours to find a solution as to how to get Netflix to work on PeppermintOS 7. So basically Netflix uses either HTML5 or the now discontinued Silverlight, version 4 or 5.

Silverlight is the only option here, it seems. That left me to search for an open-source alternative: the solution was something called Pipelight. There’s another bit of software called Moonlight, but if I remember correctly, it’s not longer in development.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t just as simple as installing Pipelight. I had to install an extension called UAControl on Firefox to tell Netflix I’m not on Linux. Because for some reason, the people behind Netflix indeed give a damn, and stop you playing media on it, simply because you’re on Linux. Way to make some money, guys! In the end, the problem was solved.

I’ve been saving notes, links, and other stuff for future reference, which I’m finding is an absolute necessity when dealing with a new language, as well as a new UI with new ways to install things; it can get quite overwhelming. Linux seems to be a case of it’s great if you know what to do, but if not, then it’s painful searches through site after site to find a potential solution.

Everything else seems fine. Skype is installed and working, thanks to the official site being kind enough to put up a deb for it; I’m surprised M$ provided that. Audio is working, video is working, and LAN is working. I’m very pleased. Oh yes, and f.lux is installed and functioning as intended.

I’ve had to do plenty of Terminal stuff, sadly. Some of it was complicated, but I guess prior experience has helped me better understand what I’m doing, rather than my just following commands blindly. The Terminal is required less, sure, but still not yet perfect. Deb files are the best though; they’re like actual setup executables you get in Windows; the way it should be!

In other news, today I got my hands on a nice lil HP 635 laptop on which a barebones, legitimate copy of Windows 7 – Professional was originally installed. Despite its AMD, APU graphics, PeppermintOS 7 seems to work on it just fine, showing the same experience I’ve had on the computer. It somewhat miraculously got the wireless, ethernet, sound, graphics, touchpad, and whatever else to work straight from the LiveUSB without even any Internet connection needed.

I’m feeling more comfortable with the Terminal and its commands, although I’m still far from being anything other than an amateur Terminal user. Now that I have a distro and/or DE that actually works, I feel like I can make some decent progress in better understanding Linux, and with that, better understanding the Windows iterations I’ve been using since I was a lil kid some bazillions of years ago.

On a side note, I learned about Domain Name System attacks recently, which was really eye-opening and helped me better appreciate not only how DNS works, but how to block sites from running or reroute them to something more appropriate, simply by editing the hosts file with a word processor; handy stuff!

I’m excited to see what I’ll discover next.

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My Virgin Media Login over Firefox – Connection Unsecure

I’ve seen this issue around the interwebs. You set to log in to your favorite website for ordering various bits or bobs, or perhaps fancy doing some online banking—BOOM—Firefox tells you that you’re insecure! Granted, I have some personal issues, but telling me I’m insecure is a bit rude.

Today, this issue appeared with the login page for My Virgin Media, Britain’s number one Internet Service Provider offering fantastic speeds over a solid fibre optic cable—no phone line necessary. For £28.50 a month, and a £49.50 installation fee, I’m getting approximately 6.9MBps download speed, rated 50Mbps; that’s six point nine megabytes per second. Sadly, like many ISPs, I’m not offered a very good upload speed, but roughly 390KBps is just enough for some acceptable streaming over Twitch, and for some decent online gaming. But what good is such a fantastic service if we want to log in and are then told our connection isn’t secure?

Oddly, this problem only seems apparent for us Firefox users, a browser which, according to Wiki, has, as of July 2015, “between 12% and 19% of worldwide usage of users,” with Chrome, for some reason, being the top dog for the majority of the users across the globe. I’m not sure what changed to make Chrome so popular, because previously, it was all about Firefox!

I’ve just spoken with a Virgin Media techie, by the name of Ian, and he claimed that he’s “unaware” of such an issue with My Virgin Media or Firefox, but oddly, later goes on to say that he can “definitely remember” a few occasions in which Firefox has “flagged something as a false security concern,” and that he has already “had chats and calls in the past” with others claiming that “our website doesn’t use the best security protocols.” So which is it? I now wonder.

Ian continues: “I’m afraid I’m not qualified enough to confirm this but what I will say is that if this was a real security concern our Website wouldn’t be allowed to remain open. If the protocols need to be updated then I’m sure our IT department are looking into this.”

Ian then provides me a link to a thread on the Virgin Media forums, and a link to a workaround from September, this year. I suspect any workaround of this nature will merely trick Firefox into thinking it’s secure, but that still leaves a dirty thought in my mind: what if it’s actually not secure? Being paranoid about security can make browsing a challenge at times.

Thankfully, Ian understood my security concern, stating that you “can’t be too careful these days especially over the Internet.” Well said, Ian.

Taking a look at the suggested thread which discusses this issue, a commenter by the name of Sololobo reminds us that this is our ISP, on which we “depend” to “help ensure” our “online security.” Too bloody right. If we can’t even trust our ISPs then what hope in hell do we have of being at all secure online? At the bottom of the thread is a post by site admin, James_W, who tells us “this information has been passed on to our security team for analysis.” That was, however, over half a year ago.

Annoyingly, I’ve actually had this issue with PayPal in the past, and even my bank’s website, but I seemed to have resolved that by tweaking Kaspersky Internet Security. It appeared that Safe Money was somehow interfering with Firefox’s certificate checking system.

Imagine walking into your local bank only to have a member of staff tell you that you should “probably know” that “this bank isn’t secure.” Sure, that’ll make me really comfortable.

Being insecure sucks.

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