Install Google Earth with photos on Linux Mint 18 (64bit)

Now that Mint 18 has been released, the first thing I noticed was that Google Earth is not available in the repositories and requires a manual download and install.

Before doing that, make sure Mint updates have been applied as the LSB libraries are missing from the installation disk, but are now available as an update.

First open a terminal and enter the following –

sudo apt-get install lsb-core -y -f

Then download Google Earth.

Finally, in Terminal, run –

sudo dpkg -i google-earth-stable_current_amd64.deb

The problem with the photographs not displaying still exists, so I have created a small script.

Please note – run the script at your own risk.  It does however run perfectly on my setup.

Download it here.

Open a terminal in the folder where you have saved the download –

chmod +x

sudo ./

Once it has finished, run Google Earth and enjoy!

Running a live image on the desktop

Things have been somewhat quite here of late?

Occasionally I like to set myself little mental exercises to keep the brain ticking over.  My latest bright idea was to replace my desktop background wallpaper with a live [or nearly live] image from the Internet.

There is a site with a live webcam pointing to a view that I love.  The webcam updates roughly once a minute producing a JPG image.  My task was to use that image as a desktop background.

For the purposes of illustration, I have used imaginary URLs but you can take it from me that it works.

The first part was to write a shell script to retrieve the file from the website.  This was short and simple –

# retrieves newest image from web camera
# and sets this as desktop background in cinnamon 

wget "" -O /home/username/Images/camera.jpg

gsettings set org.cinnamon.desktop.background picture-uri "file:///home/username/Images/camera.jpg"

Note that the final line is for Linux Mint Cinnamon edition. Modify it for other versions.

Save the script and make it executable.  Running the script will replace the background image with the latest from the website.

The next task is to set up a Cron job to run the script.

In Terminal, type crontab -e

Select the editor (I chose 2 – Nano).

Add the following line at the bottom –

* * * * /home/username/location of shell script

This will run the script once a minute.

Press Ctrl-o to save the file, press Enter to confirm the file name and Ctrl-w to exit.

Your desktop will now refresh every minute with the latest view.

Desktop image

The latest image on my desktop



Auto mounting an NTFS partition in Linux

I have a simple setup on this machine.

It has a 1Tb hard disk so I allocated 500Gb for Windows and 500Gb for Linux [Mint 17.3 Cinnamon].

My problem was that I wanted to be able to permanently access the Windows NTFS partition from Linux as there were some files that I wanted to be able to edit from either OS, and it made sense to retain those files on NTFS where they can be accessed seamlessly from either OS.

So how do I get Linux to automatically mount the NTFS partition on boot?


In Linux, select Menu -> Preferences -> Disks.

Disk management

[Click to enlarge]

Select the NTFS partition and then click on the cog icon below the selection (not the one at the top right corner) as shown above.

Select "Edit Mount Options…"

Mount options

[Click to enlarge]

Simple set the Automatic Mount Options to "OFF", and make sure Mount at startup is selected, as above.

Reboot and the partition is mounted.


Download failed. error:0D0890A1:asn1

I maintain a series of WordPress sites.

One of them recently started throwing up an error whenever I tried to update the core or a plugin.  All I got was the not very helpful message:

Download failed. error:0D0890A1:asn1 encoding routines:func(137):reason(161)

As this meant that every update had to be downloaded locally and then FTP'd up to the site I was anxious to find a fix.

I found this simple piece of code (courtesy of Damien Carbery over at the WordPress Forums)

Plugin Name: Skip SSL Verify
Plugin URI:
Description: Skip SSL verify in curl downloads - fixes: Download failed. error:0D0890A1:asn1 encoding routines:func(137):reason(161).
Author: Damien Carbery
Version: 0.1

$Id:  $

function ssv_skip_ssl_verify($ssl_verify) {
    return false;
add_filter('https_ssl_verify', 'ssv_skip_ssl_verify');
add_filter('https_local_ssl_verify', 'ssv_skip_ssl_verify');

I saved this into a text file which I named Skip_SSL_Verify.php, copied it up into the site's plugin directory and activated it.

Problem solved.  The site now updates normally.

Replacing Windows with Linux

Quite a few times I have been asked about Linux and why I use it in preference to Windows.

There are quite a few reasons which I will attempt to explain without going into any technicalities.

It's not technical

Probably the biggest fear people have is that they have heard about Linux in the past and that it's "all technical" and they have visions of having to type in reams of commands to do anything.  Modern Linux distributions are nothing like that at all.  Not only does the modern Linux distribution have a desktop that will immediately be familiar to any Windows user, it actually proves a whole series of desktops, such as KDE, Unity, Cinnamon, Mate and many more to suit the user's taste.  Probably the biggest criticism of Windows 8 was its desktop, and Windows 10 still provides only one – if you don't like it, that's too bad.  That problem doesn't exist in Linux.

Our Windows user will be immediately familiar with the desktop layout.  It has all the usual features such as the desktop itself, the task bar at the bottom and the "Start" button.  One thing that is different is that programmes tend to be grouped by function, so media programmes will be grouped under "Sound & Video". games under "Games" and office suites under "Office" which makes programmes easier to find.


One enormous advantage of Linux is that it is of course free.  Not only is the base operating system free but also the vast majority of the applications and programmes.  Do you want a programme for a specific purpose?  Search the repositories [a very simple procedure] and install it.  It really is that simple.


Possibly my greatest frustration with Windows is the Update.  Every time I fire up Windows [a rare occasion these days] there are updates and patches to be applied to the operating system.  These invariably are very slow to download but nearly always require a lengthy reboot during which, a power outage can destroy the whole system.  Windows updates are frustrating in the extreme.

Linux updates are a different matter.  A little icon on the panel [Task Bar] informs me there are updates available.  I click on the icon, provide my password and off it goes.  I can continue to use my machine without interruption.  When the update is installed, that's it – no reboot except on extremely rare occasions.  And not only does Update take care of my system, it also updates all the programmes I have installed.


Another downside to Windows is security.  Only the foolhardy will run Windows without an anti-virus programme [some are free but most you have to buy].  That anti-virus has to do its work every time a programme is run, a website opened or a file downloaded.  This of course slows things down.  Under Linux, they can send me all the .exe and .scr files they want and none of them will affect my system, as Linux doesn't run .exe or .scr files.  None of their viruses will run, and even if somehow a Windows virus did end up an my system it would find a completely different environment and wouldn't be able to do its nasty stuff.


Probably the biggest real fear people have is that their programmes and files won't work under Linux.  This is true, and it isn't!

Most files created by Windows products such as Microsoft Office files can be opened, read, edited and saved without any loss of compatibility.  All your Word Documents and Excel files are safe and are compatible with OpenOffice or LibreOffice.  There are some provisos though.  For example, Office macros won't work under Linux.  So what happens if you really need Microsoft Office [or indeed any other programme that is only designed for Windows]?  There are two options.  One is to try installing your programme using Wine [a Windows emulation programme], or if you want to be really fancy, you can install Windows within Linux!

Installing Windows within Linux may sound crazy but it has its advantages.  Using a Virtual Machine programme such as VMWare, you can create a virtual PC and can install any version of Windows [or indeed DOS] on it.  So for example if you really had to have AutoCad, you could install it on its own Virtual Machine and run it on that – no reboots, and you can switch tasks between your AutoCad and any other Linux programme you happen to be running.

Try it out

Most Linux distributions [as far as I am aware] will run directly from a DVD.  All that is necessary is to download the distribution, burn it onto a DVD and then boot into that DVD.  The distribution will happily run and give you the chance to play around with it and examine its features.  Granted that has its limitations – you can't for example install any software as it is running purely off memory and DVD, but it does give a chance to get the feel of the distribution and possibly allay any fears.

Several years ago, I tried it.

I installed it.

I never looked back!