The Owad Laboratory

Comparing macOS file managers for remote server access (QSpace, Nimble Commander, Forklift)

I've been using Dolphin on KDE Plasma a lot and it's made me realize just how much the shortcomings in Finder limit how I work. Finder doesn't have good support for remote volumes, and a lot of the files I want to access are via SFTP and webDAV. I'm increasingly using a variety of computers, mostly running macOS or KDE Plasma, with Nextcloud to sync files. On some of these computers, I don't want everything synced, but do want fast occasional access. This is particularly the case on macOS devices, where I don't want to pay Apple's storage premium for disposable computers. What I want is to be able to connect to my Nextcloud server via WebDAV and access those files with the speed and convenience of a local file system. I also want to be able to access my Debian servers via SFTP.

This article offers a comparison of macOS file managers, with a focus on WebDAV and SFTP connectivity.

The Top 100 Linux Distros & Which of Their Websites Track You

My first Linux install, in high school, was MkLinux on a Macintosh Performa 6116CD. 'Mk' indicated it used the Mach microkernel, and it was the only Linux that could run on PowerPC NUBUS Macs. It came as a book and CD-ROM. Next was Slackware on a 486, where I had a perl script that searched eBay hourly for old computers. Not long after, I bought a Power Computing PowerTower Pro and set it up to triple-boot Mac OS, Yellow Dog Linux, and BeOS. In college, my dorm room server was a Motorola PowerStack running Debian PowerPC, and I've rarely strayed from Debian and its derivatives since.

Recently, I've been playing with Arch on an Orange Pi 5, and it has me itching to experiment with new distros again. Browsing DistroWatch, the distros and their descriptions blur together, but I realized you can infer a lot about a community's values by looking at what external content they embed in their website. Do they respect your privacy? Or are they willing to sell you out for nothing more than a couple of free fonts?

The table below lists the top 100 distributions on DistroWatch, at the time of this writing. Those in green do not embed any external content. Those in red embed content from Google or Cloudflare. This includes Google fonts, because "By using our APIs, Google may use submitted information in accordance with our privacy policies." Google's privacy policies allow them to track you.

If the distribution is not colored, you should look at it on a case-by-case basis. Some are embedding a pretty innocuous-looking CDN or using a local piwik server. Others are not.

I didn't include multiple subdomains from the same site, if they weren't interesting. For example, for MX Linux I listed, even though there are embeds for,, and Any embeds from are just listed as cloudflare.

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LoRa Repeater Solar Enclosure Experiments

I've been thinking about plans for some LoRa repeaters and printed two mock-ups today. This one is a low-profile solar-powered design, intended to sit on a rooftop:

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How to open an LG Ultrafine 5K display

I couldn't find much on getting into these displays, which made me leery, but it went a lot better than I expected. You want a whole bunch of cheap black nylon spudgers. (I started with the iSesame that's laying off to the side, but it wasn't as useful here.) Lay the screen down on its face, and keep sticking them in and prying until the tabs pop loose:

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ORICO 9558RU3 RAID workaround for auto sleep

The 9558RU3 is an inexpensive 5-bay RAID from ORICO. It has a "feature" that puts the RAID to sleep after 10 minutes of no user activity, even if the array is rebuilding. This is configured in the RAID's firmware, with no way to disable, but sleep can be prevented by touching a file every five minutes.

On macOS, you can configure this by adding the following to cron:

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How to summon Prometheus, god of fire, using Mycroft and a Raspberry Pi

According to myth, the titan Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to humanity. But for whom, specifically, did he steal it?

Read more, for instructions.

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Märklin 29730 building block train

As the Lego Group continues to simplify its trains, I've become curious about alternatives. I purchased this Märklin when it was released last year and have been meaning to write about it:

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Configurig Let's Encrypt with DNS-01 challenge on Debian 10 Buster

While setting this up, I ran into a lot of issues with DNS service APIs not matching what was available in the buster repository and in other scripts that I tried. These are my notes on how to set up Let's Encrypt with a DNS-01 challenge, but the most important part is just knowing what works.

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