My major hardware upgrade

I confess: I hate hardware purchases with a passion.

But as all good (or not so good things), all hardware needs to be replaced at some point; either because you need a new feature, your use case changes and the hardware isn’t (as) suitable any more or the hardware simply reaches its end of life.

This time my upgrade is a combination of the latter two.

Let’s start with a little story…

One shiny summer day in 2017 I noticed my old Dell monitors were having serious problems waking up after being unplugged from power and plugged back in. The problems were actually so severe that one of the monitors failed to start after this power cycle completely.

After assessing the situation, I quickly came to the conclusion that it was time for more than just a monitor replacement or upgrade. My desktop computer back then was honestly very old and slow and most annoyingly, very noisy.

My preferences, needs and values had all changed also after the birth of my son in 2015. My office was already as paperless as possible (I haven’t ever owned a printer in my adult life). Now I wanted to make the office less like an office – like an officeless office. How would that be possible?

Main unit: Intel NUC7I5BNH

I had been looking for the Intel NUC’s before but had never had the guts to pull the trigger. One of the major questions for me was whether the new system would be powerful enough for my purposes.

After some considering between the options available I ended up with a NUC7I5BNH, a latest generation NUC with an i5 processor and enough space for a 2.5″ disk drive inside in addition to the M.2 slot. Graphics processing was going to take a relatively serious hit. I would also have to reconsider my needs regarding audio. On the top of it all, the latest generation wasn’t officially supporting Linux…

Regardless of all the potential issues I was ready to try something new – at least this NUC would be quiet, power efficient and have a form factor that begged to be stored on the desk, not the floor. Additionally it was small enough to serve potential use cases around and outside the house for the vastly improved mobility.

Input: Logitech K810 and M590

As the main unit moved onto the desk, it was also a good time to consider other devices that would be sharing the space. Until this setup, I had always preferred corded keyboard and mice to the wireless alternatives for various reasons (security, battery life, design options).

With my newly launched officeless office idea, I wanted the accessories to be very mobile as well. Being able to clean up most of the desktop space for other activities would be very handy.

For the keyboard, I ended up with a Logitech K810, a multi-device Bluetooth keyboard. I tested it once and was sold – the typing feel was close enough to the old flat keyboards I had used and the look was appealing too.

While I was slightly disappointed with the Bluetooth mouse offerings, I ended up with a Logitech M590, which is a silent mouse that supports connecting with two devices at the same time.

Both the keyboard and the mouse turned out to be very good choices for my use. If there was one thing I’d change, it was to make the keyboard slightly quieter and softer to type. If this keyboard acts like any other I’ve used in the past, I’m pretty sure the typing feel will slightly change toward what I’m most comfortable with.

As an additional bonus I can now control other devices, including my Android phone, a lot easier. This has essentially ended up offering me completely new use cases that I hadn’t explicitly anticipated; an IRC session with the phone is now actually a pleasure, not something I actively try to avoid.

Monitor: Eizo FlexScan EV2736W

While a broken monitor was the part that made me start the hardware upgrade, figuring out a replacement is such a complex and delicate process that it was also the last part to be replaced. The monitor is what you look at practically the whole time while computing after all!

It was clear to me that I wanted slightly larger screen size than the old 24″ as I was essentially replacing two monitors with one. With that, I also wanted a larger resolution for the screen. After some heavy thinking I decided 27″ would be the right monitor size and 2K felt like the right resolution to go with it.

All the above figured out I finally settled with Eizo FlexScan EV2736W. The main reasons why I decided to pick this one over the similar monitors were the power saving features as well as the generally complimented quality from Eizo. Ultimately the price point was very close to the alternatives and with a 5-year warranty over the usual 3-year warranty the decision felt fairly simple.

While the 2K resolution (2560×1440) is less than two monitors with WUXGA resolution (1920×1200), it’s close enough for me and it does remove the annoying gap in the middle which you get with a dual monitor setup.


After having used this setup for months now I’m really happy how it all came together.

While I must confess there are times when I miss a dedicated graphics card to get that extra oomph, this doesn’t happen too frequently to really bother me. After all, I get all this power-effectiveness and small size in return…

I would heartily recommend a NUC (or a similar alternative) for anybody who is looking for a new desktop machine but doesn’t need heavy lifting required by video editing, gaming or such.

There are some options for heavy lifting usecases too, but to be honest, if you prefer performance, you probably don’t mind using some extra space, the money you save by not requiring your PC to be tiny and ultimately, the flexibility with component selection.

Migrating Google Play application install data

Today I realized that after I had removed one of my old Google accounts from my phone and replaced it with a new one, I no longer received automatic updates for most of my installed apps. Oops!

While you can get a download of your data, including the app installs, Google doesn’t offer any kind of migration tool for this data.

I found a few ways to tackle this situation, none of them perfect:

  • If an installed app had an update available, and I went to the Play Store and manually updated it, it would appear in the list of installed apps. Not all of the apps had updates available though so it would have required frequent attention until all of the apps were updated.
  • Uninstalling and installing an app would do the same trick, but it would essentially lose all information stored with the app so it would have been a lot of work to resetup all accounts, configuration and stored data (and impossible in some cases, like game progress).
  • Linking the old Google account to my phone allowed automatic updates to work, but even after the updates the apps weren’t registered with the new account.

However, I was ultimately able to figure out a semi-manual way to get the apps appear under My Apps in the Play Store:

  • Log in to the new Google account on a computer
  • Go to the Play Store
  • Find the application that is missing from “My Apps”
  • Click “Install” and select the device where the application is missing

After doing this, the Play Store told me the app would be soon installed on the device. Instead of doing any kind of installation, it simply made the app appear on the app list again. Hooray!

I’ve yet to confirm that this enables automatic updates for the apps, but I have no reasons to think it wouldn’t…
Edit: This definitely re-enabled automatic updates. Hooray!

Preparing for Xubuntu 18.04

Xubuntu 17.10 was just released, but planning for Xubuntu 18.04 – the next long-term support (LTS) release – began quite some time ago. For our users, LTS releases mostly mean a system that is going to be more stable and supported for longer. For us contributors, this means a bunch of things.

As a repercussion of the longer support cycle and the sought out stable nature of the LTS releases, we do not want to introduce (too many) new components, libraries or other technical changes, as each change has regression potential. This is also a delicate balancing act between getting bugs fixed but keeping enough things as they are.

The LTS releases are also kind of an flagship for Xubuntu – they are the recommended releases for most users and while we can land stable release updates (SRU) to fix bugs and other major flaws, the scope of changes is limited. Since the next LTS release will be released two years later, we want to get things right.

For contributors – particularly us non-developer kinds – this is an ideal situation to revisit and improve artwork and documentation amongst other things. Here are some things I am going to be working on for the next months to get the new LTS look and feel more polished than the previous one.

Branding – or, updated logo

In an earlier article I wrote about the refreshed Xubuntu logo – the why and the what. Here’s the other what.

Practically this change means we will have to touch every package with Xubuntu branding and make sure they use the updated logo. For the most part this is trivial, but landing the changes requires time and some co-operation from the team.

We will also need to make sure the new logo lands on the official website, all related sites and social media before the release – ideally before the first milestone release. Last but not least, we need to communicate this change to our official vendors and provide them the new logo as soon as possible so they can start updating their products.


As with any release, the LTS release also needs a wallpaper. This needs to be drafted, proposed and polished. The process usually takes from a few days to a few weeks. We’ll also want to land the wallpaper relatively early to be able to fix potential issues with it before release.

The Xubuntu team has organized a community wallpaper contest for the last two LTS releases and it’s very likely we will be organizing one for 18.04 as well. I was not completely satisfied in how we ran the contest last time, and I’ve started a discussion to review our policies already, as getting comments from the team can sometimes be quite slow. While the community wallpaper package does not serve any defaults, we will need to end the contest well before the related freezes to double check license issues (like attribution) and leave enough time for uploading them.


Even if there is no need to rewrite sections – or the whole documentation – this time around, there are several tasks for the documentation team as well.

First of all, it’s time to refresh both the installer slideshow and the website feature tour. Nothing has been planned yet, but both of these are at least two years old and in need of a facelift – both visually and in terms of content.

We haven’t had to touch the documentation much in a long time because the main software selection and features have stayed the same. On the other hand this means that the documentation might be somewhat stale. This might be hard to identify – and possibly even harder to get stale sections refreshed – but we definitely should have a look at our offering before the release. To do this, we need to consider the following questions:

  • Does the documentation provide a good overview of the system for new users?
  • Does the documentation help users get started?
  • Does the documentation answer the most common questions?
  • Does the documentation help get the most common (non-hardware specific) issues solved?
  • Does the documentation help more advanced users – including those that are familiar with other Linux operating systems but not Xubuntu?
  • Is all information in the documentation up-to-date?
  • Does the documentation need extending in any area?
  • Can we extend the documentation in a useful way without making it too verbose?

But wait! There’s more!

My work item list for Xubuntu 18.04 doesn’t end here. You can find all of the registered work items on our status tracker.

It’s worth noting that not all of the work items in the status tracker have an assignee. This means we are still looking for people who can help us make Xubuntu 18.04 a greater release than its predecessors. Maybe you can volunteer and pick up a work item or two?

In addition to the work items, there are a few other activities that we need help with:

  • Test. By testing the daily and milestone ISOs you can help us make sure there aren’t (so many) annoying bugs in the final release.
  • Take part in the community wallpaper contest. This is not open yet, but once it is, submit your work. You can win and get some swag as well as your work included in an official Xubuntu release!
  • Submit us ideas for improving and extending our documentation. I mentioned some of the questions we have to ask ourselves with the documentation. Can you help us answer these and even work with us on the writing and proofreading?

Even these tasks just scratch the surface of what needs to be done – and what can be done.

Get your hands dirty now and read more about getting involved with Xubuntu, subscribe to the Xubuntu development discussion mailing list and join our development IRC channel #xubuntu-devel which is active on most days.

This article is part of the article series .