Episode IV – A New App?

I’ve decided to try and break this down into 2 blogs, and as a small homage to the greatest film ever made I’m calling the first one Episode IV!  

I thought it would be useful to understand what I use in macOS before diving into the alternatives available in eOS.  This is likely to be a real deal-breaker, as I know some of the things I use daily just don’t exist outside macOS, but let’s cover off some of this to begin.  



Not with Miley Cyrus!

One of the good things about a default eOS install is the lightweight feel.  It really doesn’t come with a lot installed, which is good if you want to add just what you need, but I do feel it’s missing a few fundamental things.  There are also some settings and switches that can make it feel a little more macOS like, so I’m going to cover these here.  Some might say they’re just apps (and they’d probably be right) but I’m still working on that blog(s)…


Take 3

You didn’t actually think I was done?  

I’ve actually been playing around some more with my eOS MBA and after installing a few more things and trying a few alternatives managed to break it again!  It wasn’t broken in the same sense that it wouldn’t boot, but I couldn’t install or update anything through the AppCenter (or Ubuntu Software Center I’d installed as an alternative) so after not too much trying to fix I thought I’d start again, hence Take 3.

Are you crazy I can imagine some people thinking?  Possibly, but I also wanted to see how long it would take a 3rd time and how much easier it would be knowing I’d blogged everything last time.  And unsurprisingly it was much quicker and easier!  I’m back to where I left, and have resolved a couple of self-inflicted issues from Take 2:


You’ve got mail (and a calendar)

I’ve kind of left this until the very end as I knew accessing my mail would be pretty straight forward.  Webmail would always be an option if not, but I’ve configured other mail client in other Linux VM’s so knew this would be fine.

I have 4 e-mail addresses, or which I really only use 2.  The 2 I don’t really use are iCloud.com (I actually used me.com long before iCloud) and Gmail.com.  I still receive some mail into both, so have them configured but don’t send anything.  The 2 I use are both hosted by Pickaweb on my own domains – aw1.co.uk and the one you’re viewing this on apeconsulting.co.uk.


Enjoy your media on all your devices

Let me start by saying I LOVE PLEX!!!

I needed to get that out of the way, as I’m sure others will love their choice of Media Server just as much, but for me, Plex does almost everything I want, and even some stuff I don’t!

I’ve been using Plex almost from the start in 2009 and had played around with XMBC before that, but it wasn’t until I started using Plex that I realised how great it would be to have all my media content in once place. This was also the start of my journey to what seems like an ever-growing need for storage and various devices to try and provide this.


VPN phone home

The last piece (I think) of my connectivity puzzle is the remote access back into my network when I’m away from home.  This is really handy when stuff doesn’t work, and by using a Virtual Private Connection (VPN) also provides an added layer of security when I’m using an untrusted WiFi network.

I have an openVPN server running, you guessed it, in a freenas1 jail and use TunnelBlick on macOS and OpenVPN on iOS to connect to it and through it to the internet enabling me to use a connection which I know is secure, rather than one I don’t trust.  Maybe I’m starting to sound a little paranoid, but I figure the more things I can do protect myself, the less chance I am to become another cyber security statistic which can’t be a bad thing 😉

Anyway, VPN is built directly into eOS and is simple to configure in the Network settings.  I simply opened my openVPN configuration file and it appeared to connect successfully.  This is actually difficult to validate whilst I’m already connected to my LAN, so I’ll try and check it out later in the week when I’m away from home, but everything looks like it should work fine.  As I won’t be using this as my daily driver, I probably won’t use this a great deal, but it’s nice to know how easy it was to setup (unlike configuring the openVPN server in FreeBSD, to begin with!)

That pretty much wraps up my connectivity requirements, as I can now access everything at home and (hopefully) away.  There are a few things that can make that a little easier though…