Tyler Voll

Writer - System Admin

For quite some time now, I've been running MacOS alongside Ubuntu. Dual-Booting was nice, because if I ever wanted to use any of the specific proprietary software that only ran on MacOS, I could do so, plus I could switch back to Linux any time if I wanted to use my system for anything else. Now that I don't have as many uses for MacOS or the proprietary software that used to hold me back, I decided that it was time to fully run Linux on my Macbook Pro. While I have been using Ubuntu 17.10 for quite some time, I wanted to try something different; and with the recent update of Fedora 28 supporting more features on Thunderbolt 3, I decided to try out Fedora 28 this time around.

My biggest issues with Linux on the MacBook Pro is that not all of the features work out of the box (primarily the Touch Pad and Keyboard and Sound for my model). I've gone through the process before with Ubuntu, but the instructions for implementing the changes to the kernel are different for a RedHat Distrobution, so this article is primarily for keeping track of the process to make it easier for others in my situation so they don't have to search or save multiple web pages to get the job done. Now, another big question that some people might have while reading this is: "Is it worth running Linux on my MacBook Pro?" This is a good question if doing some of this extra work seems tedious. For me, it doesn't seem like that much work. Overall, you will need to connect a keyboard and mouse to your Macbook Pro while you type out some commands in the terminal to get the built-in keyboard and Mouse working. Although, you are required to have those things connected while installing Fedora 28 as well, i've had to do far more work-arounds back in my Hackintosh days. As long as you prefer Linux over Darwin (MacOS), then the answer should be a clear Yes!

While this article is focusing on getting Keyboard and Touchpad control back, I will also include some other resources at the end for those who have more issues with things not working out of the box (which is very likely if you are using a different MacBook Pro model, primarily those using the Touch Bar), so that if you all need some further direction, you can still go somewhere else after here. Before starting this tutorial, make sure that you have installed Fedora 28. Although you need to plug in a keyboard and mouse into your thunderbolt ports, you shouldn't have an issue with the install (or at least I did not have any issues). While I haven't had any issues with installing Fedora and Ubuntu on my MacBook, I have had issues installing Arch Linux Distros (like Manjaro), because Calamares has issues writting the bootloader to the MacBook's NVME drive.

Read more: Fedora 28 on a Macbook Pro 2016 (13,1)

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You’ve heard of the LAMP Stack, the LEMP Stack, and you might have even heard of the MEAN stack, but have you heard of the ELK Stack? As an aspiring Linux System Administrator, I’ve had experience deploying servers on the former stacks, but the latter I haven’t really taken the time to play with. That is, until today. Like all stacks, ELK consists of a collection of technologies that rest on top of each other, complementing each other in order to accomplish a desired end goal. The ELK Stack’s goal is to make internalizing logs and data a much easier experience for your server(s). The technologies represented in the stack consists of [E]lasticsearch, [L]ogstash, and [K]ibana.

The best way to think of these technologies is a Search Tool, a Log Router, and a Log Visualizer; all working together to help take control of your data and analytics. These tools can be crucial as they can help decide business decisions along with the future development of services. Having a strong understanding of your current data trends enables you to be more prepared and aware of how your system(s) are being utilized.

Read more: Overview of the ELK Stack and Utilizing Kibana

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As a SysAdmin for a Small Community, one of the biggest changes we are going through is changing host/server providers. Going from Bluehost to Digital Ocean has been a no-brainer to me for a couple of reasons: DO is cheaper, DO is a more flexible provider, and DO has a far more intuitive administrative experience (ditching Bluehost’s cPanel for a terrific dashboard). While Digital Ocean wouldn’t be the best option for larger communities that would require far more server resources, the small community I’ve been administering only has a user base of around 100-200 people. Making the switch will effectively save the community $15 a month, or $180 a year. That is a lot of savings, especially if the community itself isn’t accumulating funding to host the web server!

While I will talk about Bluehost and Digital Ocean throughout this article, they could just as easily be replaced with the names “Server #1 with phpMyAdmin” & “Server #2 with phpMyAdmin”. While I don’t intend this article being a plug for digital ocean, they have made hosting different types of servers far easier and more fun than any other host/vps provider I’ve tested before. If it helps, the Digital Ocean ‘Droplet’, as they call them, is basically just a Ubuntu Server 16.04 Virtual Private Server. If you wanted to do this, the instructions should be pretty similar throughout for any Ubuntu Server 16.04 installation.

The steps I went through while doing this migration consist of Backing up the Database within phpMyAdmin, copying all the files from the root of the forum with the current host, creating a digital ocean one-click droplet for phpMyAdmin running off of Ubuntu 16.04, importing the databases into the droplet’s phpMyAdmin, then lastly, moving over the files for the forum and making small configuration changes for the install to work properly on the new server. One of the complications that I wasn’t expecting was from migrating phpBB from a MySQL 5.6.x database into a 5.7.x database. Although, the fix for the issue I ran into was pretty simple to implement.

Read more: Migrating a PhpBB 3.2.X Forum to a Digital Ocean Droplet

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When compared to the fixed proprietary desktop environments of Windows and MacOS, Linux has plenty of different graphical environments to choose from, which allow users to better tailor their own computing experience. While some of these options have been built upon since the mid-90s, a lot of the environments are far more recent to the Linux scene. In this brief review, I will go through the most influential desktop environments along with some prominent new contenders that have recently joined the scene and are being implemented in many different Linux Distrobutions. While a lot of desktop environments, while not be shown in this list, are only absent because I personally don't have much experience working with them. This does not mean that those DEs have not been deployed any noteable distro releases.

This overview won't go into the specific technologies which enable the Desktop Environments to properly operate within Linux, but instead in this article we will focus on specific visual differences and what each Desktop Environment tries to accomplish. With that said, this article will not focus on any revision history for any of the desktop environments mentioned.


I'm still relatively new to Linux (only running Linux as my daily driver for a little over 2 years), but when starting out new to Linux, playing with the different desktop environments was one of my favorite things to do and it really helped Linux stand out to me. I hope this article can help others unfamiliar with these desktop environments to try them out and find a new love for your Linux install.

Read more: A Brief Review of Linux Desktop Environments

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