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Linux Mint 5.0 is Simple (in a good way) June 13, 2008

Posted by NAyK in Discussions-Conclusions-Hopes, Firefox, First Impressions, Linux Mint, Other Distros, Recommendation, Reviews, Ubuntu, Wallpapers, Windows, Working with Linux.
Tags: ,
9 comments

Linux Mint 5.0I finally found time to download and install Linux Mint 5.0 today, and happily wiped my already-feeling-outdated Ubuntu 8.04. The moral of the story is, Linux Mint 5.0 (Elyssa) is not a “rock your world” kind of distro, but it certain is easy to use as promised.

INSTALLATION

The installation procedure of Linux Mint 5.0 was very simple. Just put the CD in and after it loads, then click install and follow instructions. The entire installation procedure took about 35 minutes, which is pretty average and expected from a single-CD distro now a days. Unlike Ubuntu though, I did have to configure the internet connection (but I do think that the Ubuntu automatic internet connection is a bit of an anomaly). I also had some problems though… but that could be partly because of taste.

1. No Media Check option before loading the CD. While CD burning (especially using Linux) is getting pretty stable, I would think a Media Check option (to check whether the CD being used to install is defected or not), would be a standard boot-screen option.

2. Slow response to commands… by this I mean, when I clicked “next”, “next” in the installation screen, often I had to wait for a really long time before the next thing happened. For instance, when I clicked “next” after the Keyboard option, I had to wait for close to 30 seconds to start the partitioner. I think that’s a little too long, don’t you think.

3. No grub edit options, as far as I could see. While Linux Mint could be aimed only at the beginner, I would think allowing the user to select which is his/her default operating system would be a good thing.

4. After installation, Linux Mint logged in with a 800×600 resolution screen. With my previous Ubuntu experience I knew what to do… I logged out… and logged back in… and got my 1024×768 resolution. I don’t know if this is a bug or just something acting up in my computer, but it sure is irritating to do it all the time.

5. Interestingly, the Migrate Assistant (The option that allows you to get your Windows user settings onto Linux) worked in Linux Mint and not in Ubuntu 8.04 (for me). However, the migration was not perfect, missing several key bookmarks and even documents.

LOOK AND FEEL

I liked the Linux Mint look. The black and green look is nice. I especially liked the Login screen (I don’t know why), but the low-down login felt better than the windowesque side-login.

Also, multiple options for wallpapers makes up for the GNOME weakness of not having a direct internet connection to upload wallpapers. Some of the wallpapers are pretty cool.

USER FRIENDLY?

Yes, Linux Mint is simple. So, I like the automatic updates detection (as in Ubuntu). However, when I needed to find Firefox, I had to go all the way through it’s multiple columns. This was harder when I was finding more complex menus such as network connection settings and even screen resolution. I would think beginners would find some things hard to find here.

One Linux Mint feature is really irritating. the default search engine (in Firefox) is a LinuxMint customized Google search. That’s fine, except many of the normal links on the Google page are missing, and I have to actually type http://www.google.com to get the exact searches I need. So far, I haven’t found out how to stop that ‘service’.

Apart from that, I like the user experience of Linux Mint. It’s font rendition is fine, and yes, it did play my DVDs and mp3s out of the box. That’s nice! :)

LinuxMint5

SUMMARY

On the whole, I enjoyed the the entire experience of Linux Mint and I can already see myself using it more than I used Ubuntu. I’m not sure why, but perhaps the overall look and feel matters and Linux Mint looks better than Ubuntu. It also feels easier, partly because it seems quite simple (from installation and usage). Still, some weaknesses remain, but that could be simply a matter of preference. I’m now looking forward to help one of my friends install this onto his system!

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Getting Open Source help for schools (a comment as post) September 7, 2007

Posted by NAyK in Article Watch, Blogging, Discussions-Conclusions-Hopes, Linux, Microsoft, Open Source, OpenOffice, Other Distros, PCLinuxOS, Piracy, Recommendation, Software, Windows, Working with Linux.
2 comments

The following post is not written by me, but was a comment on a previous post about the real-life problems facing Open Source implementation in the fact of Microsoft loaded schools. This unusually large comment has a host of links that are geared to help individuals/institutions to grow in their awareness of Linux and MS. I’m posting this comment here as a post because I believe it could be helpful to more than me. The author of the comment goes by the name “Jose”. So thanks Jose, here’s your ‘comment’ as post.

(disclaimer: I don’t know anything more of Jose than this comment. So his views are his own, not mine. Similarly, I’ve not had a chance to test all his links, so even though I think I trust Jose, please click with caution).

****

By Jose, 7 September, 2007

If the schools asks for help, I am sure there are some fairly cheap offerings. LTSP is both practical (saves headaches managing it once you understand Linux) and cheap.

Nice story btw. Scouting (bringing problems like this one into the open) is very important in order to figure out what problems exist and how they might be tackled (word of mouth market research).

I think I understand you not wanting to impose your views on the school nor risk losing credibility in the process. If you have a good track record and can accept rejection, you may want to approach your supervisors with a plan for a pilot. You (with help maybe) can work on possible solutions off-line in order to make a presentation. Maybe you will also find a way, in the interest of student education and well-roundedness, to encourage students that may like Linux/FLOSS (w/parents’ help perhaps) to put initiatives forward. Do you want it or do the students want it? Reports show that Linux is growing, including for example, job offerings on Dice.com as a recent survey revealed. It seems a bad move for educational institutions to ignore Linux just on account of this momentum statistic (I’m not even considering all the other benefits of FLOSS to anyone, much less to an educational institution).

This is an educational institution to serve the students. It seems short-sighted not to offer a Linux option especially being free and with students willing to do their own research (after school club if nothing else).

http://www.k12os.org/
http://getgnulinux.org/
http://thetuxproject.org/
http://www.ceap.wcu.edu/houghton/EDELCompEduc/Ch1/linux.html

There are sites dedicated to schools and linux. There are commercial and free Linux distros that focus on schools. There is a modest amount of FLOSS that is useful specifically to teachers and administrators.

Here is a very recent story dealing with libraries and Linux: http://www.linuxtoday.com/infrastructure/2007090700526OSPB

There are many sites for newbies.

How can you go wrong with a LiveCD? Have they tried PCLOS? Do they know that you can customize many LiveCD distros and then burn another LiveCD so as to have that exact setup matching your needs and preferences wherever whenever?

Can something like this, http://olpc.tv/2007/05/19/preview-60-minutes-about-olpc/ , be all that bad and scary? [OLPC may be a great advocacy tool, browse around olpc.tv for neat videos.]

Would you be a fanatic? an advocate? or just someone finding it very difficult to ignore a good thing whose “business case” just keeps getting better and better?

Microsoft has a long tradition of illegal (court of law) and unethical behavior, assaults on OPEN and FREE software, and on extremely aggressive lock-in techniques (a part of “embrace, extend, and extinguish”). Expect Microsoft licenses to only keep getting more draconian and more expensive. Expect Microsoft products to keep getting more disrespectful of the end users’ privacy (I think this is a big concern for most people). Vista phones home with a lot of personal detail (it’s part of the license too.. you sign away many rights).

And with the lawsuits and bad news mounting, what will the school do if, heaven’s forbid, Microsoft should go out of business? What is the backup plan? Will the kids have continuity and an ability to go further with whatever they might be building.

Has the school done a cost analysis just of licensing costs for the next ten years (Linux downtime is much lower and management is easier in many ways.. again, look at LTSP offerings)? Do these take Microsoft’s steady price increases into account and the requirements for hardware buys? How about all the many and powerful Linux software that costs $0. What would that cost for Windows over 10 years for all computers? Ouch! [Note, students may want to put up their own websites and such]

There are many success stories (even of grandma’s) which should help inspire confidence, but I think the key is a presentation/pilot program to show before everyone’s eyes that it can work. [And don’t forget that the kids needs and wants will trump most other concerns.]

Linux commercial support is growing fast. The communities are in abundance. In fact, you can probably find rather easily 20 websites with volunteers pushing Linux. Why so many people willing to help out for free? [And yes, it can be fun.]

Would the school be doing its duty in not providing at least some support for the greatest educational tool of all time?

You own Linux, really. You help define Linux.. and there is so much that is new and free!

More links:
http://www.oreillynet.com/linux/blog/2006/05/greatgrandmother_hoists_the_jo.html
http://www.bellevuelinux.org/linux_educ.html
http://www.schoolforge.net/education-case-studies
http://freshmeat.net/articles/view/152/
http://education.zdnet.com/?p=1139
http://www.linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2007-07-07-006-26-OP-MR-DV-0007
http://www.linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2007-07-07-006-26-OP-MR-DV-0013
http://wiki.ltsp.org/twiki/bin/view/Ltsp/SuccessStories

It may even work to seek out stories on Linus and others that would bring a human dimension to Linux. Tux is the penguin mascot. Top supercomputers (eg, from IBM) run Linux so Linux isn’t just cute. Shrek likes Linux, too: http://www.linuxjournal.com/article/9653 . Even the US military trusts Linux when they don’t trust Microsoft.

It’s also too easy to beat up on Vista (stories of Bad Vista abound). There are also horror stories of XBox360 problems.. which comes back to the point of how trustworthy is Microsoft and will they be around in 5, ten, or fifteen years? And what will their prices be like (can’t repeat this enough times).

http://www.forbes.com/security/2007/02/10/microsoft-vista-drm-tech-security-cz_bs_0212vista.html
http://news.softpedia.com/news/Forget-about-the-WGA-20-Windows-Vista-Features-and-Services-Harvest-User-Data-for-Microsoft-58752.shtml
http://youtube.com/watch?v=FVbf9tOGwno
http://badvista.fsf.org/freesoftwarefreesociety/free-software-free-society/
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1176152812068&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/vista_cost.html
http://www.infoworld.com/article/07/04/03/HNmsclassactionsuit_1.html
http://www.jbcobb.net/?p=10
http://youtube.com/watch?v=IkeC7HpsHxo

And wow them with some Beryl/Compiz. Yes, this is Linux, too. [This should open eyes, of the faculty, but also students’ eyes.]
http://youtube.com/watch?v=ZD7QraljRfM
http://youtube.com/watch?v=Y6kd42jIaHk
http://youtube.com/watch?v=i0ZtcxHUSDQ
http://youtube.com/watch?v=ALqduQfm09c
http://youtube.com/results?search_query=beryl&search=Search
http://youtube.com/watch?v=T67kricXYRE sabayon is popular, too.

Bad Microsoft.. long rap sheet
http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/09/03/0515250
http://www.groklaw.net/staticpages/index.php?page=2005010107100653
Recent MS abuse of power and unethical behavior with OOXML. Last minute gold partners joined up on MS’s “request.”
http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20070829070630660
http://www.os2world.com/content/view/14874/2/
http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20070831002558681
http://www.consortiuminfo.org/standardsblog/article.php?story=20070828095140796
http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20070827111019189
Despite all this, OOXML failed to get accepted.

As for the Gates Foundation, I wrote this little bit up recently. I joke around, but it’s no joke that Microsoft gives to biomed research and MS software, both areas where he has significant private interests. The Foundation has made many contributions of MS software, so the Foundation subsidizes Microsoft [Bill’s left pocket pays his right one]. I mention this just in case (if it comes up) people put up with Microsoft because they think Gates is a nice person and that they are doing the right thing even if it is expensive. http://www.linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2007-09-01-006-26-OP-CY-PB-0011

And if you get down, or if you simply want to show others that it’s not supposed to be a walk in the part to go through change, here is a review of Linux by someone. What is striking is how this person’s perceptions changed over just 5 months http://www.linuxtoday.com/infrastructure/2007080900326OPSW . He isn’t the only one, btw. If you give Linux a little bit of time, it really grows on you (it takes a while to undo the brainwashing of Windows and realize that there is such a thing as freedom and control and it can be easy and fun if you give it a little time). Many people that have not heard of Linux have no clue how extensive support is for Linux and for open source (we have a huge community).

A link to the GPL may also be useful (four freedoms etc).

Sorry, to put up so few links, but I still have to organize my files.

Finally, if you have doubts about whether or not you are doing a good thing presenting a FLOSS alternative, ask youself how much of a good thing it is for the kids for them to stay along the current path [I don’t mean to pressure you, only to help overcome doubts and guilt should you want to do something.]

Using PCLinux2007: A good-bad report August 30, 2007

Posted by NAyK in Confessions, Discussions-Conclusions-Hopes, Linux, OpenOffice, OpenSUSE, Other Distros, PCLinuxOS, Reviews, Ubuntu, Windows, Working on Linux, Working with Linux.
15 comments

This is a brief report on my usage-experience with PCLinux2007 (or PCLOS for short). It’s just an op-ed piece, and some of the comments would reflect my ignorance rather than the ability of the operating system. However, considering I am still a linux beginner, a post like this documents the kind of positive experiences and challenges a user can face once he/she is actually using PCLOS.

History: For a while, after my extended tryst with openSUSE 10.2 I started reverting back to Windows XP, because I needed Photoshop and Dreamweaver. Also, since I was in the middle of academic research, I couldn’t shift too much between operating systems, so I settled back to XP. Going back to XP was partly a relief because I didn’t have to struggle to make things work… because I still am not that proficient with Linux… and the major Windows irritants were vanquished by past experience.

But of late I had the opportunity to install PC Linux 2007 on my laptop, my primary work tool. (The story of why I did that is coming soon.) However as I installed PCLOS, I discovered that many of the irritants of Linux were not gone, yet I was enjoying my computing more again.

Still, this is a USAGE REPORT of my recent experience of working with PCLOS and my personal experiences in living with the OS-specific, or Linux specific, quirkiness.

POSITIVES

1. Virus Free! Believe it or not, there is a virus roaming around in our college that affects USB thumb/pen drives. So when you enter the USB drive on your machine it crashes your firefox, orkut and youtube (more information here). Since I go through a reasonable amount of file exchange with USB drive, I found that booting through PCLOS was worth the extra-minute and a half; because it not only allowed for clean file exchange but allowed me to heal the USB drive from the virus! Of course this I could have done through openSUSE as well, but considering openSUSE’s horrific boot-up time, and PCLOS’s good start-up time, this has become my normal modus-operandi even if I am working in Windows.

2. Wi-Fi works. One thing that impressed me about openSUSE, and did NOT impress me about Ubuntu, was the the wireless network just worked. Of course I had to configure it etc. but with Ubuntu it was a nightmare… but openSUSE was just easy. PCLOS, surprisingly, has also, “just worked”. And that’s two-thumbs up!

3. 3D desktop. Yes, yes, I’m cheesy. I’m using the 3D desktop effects. There’s no real point to it. And no one has seen my machine and oohed or aahed, but I like the bouncy feel to it… for now at least. Another pointer to the enjoyable user experience. The only problem I had with the 3D desktop enabled was that it messed up my Pager settings… and wouldn’t allow me to name my own Pagers. So, I’m down to the default Desk-space 1-2-3-4!

4. Synaptic… for those who work with openSUSE know that it’s YAST updates are a pain. Really, while I like openSUSE’s power, it takes just toooo long to install anything new on it. In contrast, PCLOS has done a good job to stick with Synaptic and it’s quite fast in implementing software uploads etc. The only thing I would wish is that like Ubuntu, I wish it would tell me when I had to update my system, rather than me having to “Reload” and “mark upgrades” everytime through synaptic just to make sure.

5. K3B CD burning: Even in my defection to Windows days I used to use Linux for CD/DVD burning. I now use PCLOS and openSUSE depending on my mood, because somehow I trust it more than the Windows variants.

6. Playing DVDs with errors: This is a new one. But a few of my DVDs have gotten errors because of over-use or something, and they crash my windows. But I’m able to manage the player better in PCLOS. Of course I prefer the Windows Player (powerdvd is quite flexible and comfortable to use), but so far using PCLOS my DVDs have not crashed my PCLOS.

NEGATIVES

1. Network quirkiness: There’s something I don’t understand. When I connect to network, and sometimes a link is placed on a folder to the network. When I restart and try to install network, it says timed-out server and its impossible to connect to the network using that link again. I don’t know why, but that is a pain. I usually solve that problem by going to Remote Places and set up the network again, but somehow it has been a pain to keep having to do that.

2. External keyboard/mouse: One of the most irritating things about PCLOS and sometimes openSUSE is their handing of the external keyboard and mouse. I have a USB to serial connector which allows me to connect to both Keyboard and Mouse through one port. In Windows, everytime I return from Hibernation or Suspend, I have to pull the USB cable out and then put it in, to allow me to use the cable. However, when I am unable to use the keyboard/mouse in PCLOS, I try to remove/restore the USB cable and I am only allowed to use the mouse and not the keyboard. That is, unless I restart my machine, then it works fine. Very very irritating.

4. Hiberation/suspend: I was surprised that PCLOS had issues with standby and hiberation and I had to actually install some software or tools to enable me to do it. worse, since it was trial technology, there were no real guarantees. I must say that while I’ve got PCLOS to hibernate and system (I’ve forgotten how I did), I have avoided it. At least, when I shut the monitor of my laptop it suspends, so that’s fine.

5. Printing is still a challenge (for me): There’s something about CUPS I don’t understand. Partly because my newbie attitude has just led me to attempt to print like a bull-in-a-china-shop, rather than actually gather data of how to work it. So I managed to print (and print well) through openSUSE, but PCLOS, I’ve had to struggle a little more. I managed somehow to configure it to print, but after I did, I wasn’t able to add any more printers to it. I know this does not mean that PCLOS is not good, just that I am too “dumb” too know how to use it… but I must admit that I’ve found it difficult to work around the CUPS programme. My current status is that my printer is now disabled… and when I try to install a new printer, the computer just hangs. Anyway… I like the new Ubuntu’s promise of default printing to pdf… perhaps there’s some sense in that. Wish it was as easy for me to do, as in Windows or openSUSE

6. File sharing between PCLOS and Windows: This used to happen with openSUSE as well… and now here… that sometimes (not all the time!) when I work on a file using openoffice and save it… I can’t access it through windows. yes, I have a file-sharing tool that allows me to access linux partitions through windows, but this happens even if I save the file to a FAT drive. I never understood why this happened in openSUSE and it also happens in PCLOS. How I solve it is that when I need to retrieve a linux file, I go back to Linux, save it in multiple locations, hoping that at least in one place I’ll be able to read it, and then it usually works.

7. Keyboard shortcuts… : I’m sure if we were to do a survey of favourite Linux short cuts, ALT F2 would make it to no. 1! But sadly, the ALT F2 does not work on my laptop. I don’t know why (because it works on my desktop), so after a lot of hassles I changed changed the custom shortcut to ATL 2, which is a little irritating since I keep pressing the wrong one now and then, but it is a little quirky. The number 2 keyboard shortcut would probably be CTRL ALT ESC… to shut down programmes. But that also doesn’t work on my laptop. (it does on my desktop). But regardless, CTRL ALT ESC is one of the things I miss most when using Windows. Too often going to CTL ALT DEL and then choosing to close a programme or process is not as effective as the Linux variant!

Anyway… I think I could add to this list, but no time. I have to head back to work. To summarise. I have enjoyed working with PCLOS. I has not replaced my need for Windows, but it once again reminds me that Windows is not that great. I have strangely found using PCLOS better than openSUSE, except on a few issues here and there… so the quest for the perfect distro continues.

PCLinuxOS 2007 installation review and first impressions May 26, 2007

Posted by NAyK in Discussions-Conclusions-Hopes, First Impressions, How-To, Linux, OpenSUSE, Other Distros, PCLinuxOS, Recommendation, Reviews, Screenshots, Ubuntu, Working on Linux, Working with Linux.
77 comments

Never have I had such an incident free installation procedure before. Really! I’m not joking. There’s literally nothing much (in terms of problems) to report. My installation of PCLinuxOS 2007 was simple and error free. What I will say now (about installation) will be comments on certain preferences and perhaps some confusion on (my) part. However, I would say that while PCLinuxOS 2007 installation was one of the most simple and straight-forward linux installations I have ever done, it wasn’t perfect!

Installation Ease? 10/10

Speed of installation? I think I had a whole installation completed in under 30 minutes. That’s excellent, though not as fast as Freespire which I think has a record (on my machine) of about 10-12 minutes!

Configuration capability? Now there’s the problem. I guess every Linux distro has to choose between how “easy” to make an installation and how “configurable”. Well, PCLinuxOS’s installation configuration ability is not thaaaat great. It’s sufficient, but somehow, it is a little scary because when you’re messing with the partition editor, everything looks “fun” even “childlike” and the gravity of the situation just seems to be lacking. The advanced options are limited and often unhelpful. Perhaps to compare, one of the BEST installations in term of configuration was openSUSE 10.2. Now in that installation you can almost change everything (including which windows drives to mount or not)! But I guess, PCLinuxOS just saves the user the trouble and does the thinking for you. Nice, but a little frustrating to non-so-new Linux users.

Bootloader? Well the final bootloader looks pretty, and it even automatically recognises my Windows XP partition, but it failed to recognise my openSUSE 10.2. This was made all the more frustrating because while installing there was no way I could add (or figure out how to add) the full details for openSUSE which was really frustrating. Anyway, all this should not be a problem for those who work only with Windows and PCLinuxOS. I must say though, that the BEST bootloader installation is by Ubuntu, which doesn’t look pretty, but recognises EVERY single distribution that I’ve had on my machine. In fact in times of greatest frustration, I’ve actually loaded an entire Ubuntu just to fix my GRUB. OK… that suggests I’m still a noob, but it also shows how reliable I think Ubuntu’s grubloader is. (latest update: I have eventually fixed my GRUB, but by using a shortcut. Report here)

Internet connectivity? No hassles at all. My DSL modem worked fine as soon as I entered my IP address etc details.

Graphics display? I must add that PCLinuxOS has been one of the BEST (alongside Mandriva) out of the box experiences in terms of my monitor graphics display. Usually, in openSUSE, Ubuntu and any other distro I’ve tried, I’ve usually had to re-configure my Graphics display settings, and even download a VIA driver when available. And even with a VIA drivers, my Ubuntu display blinks! No such problem in PCLinuxOS. It’s working. No configuration needed. And that’s excellent. Really excellent!

Multimedia Codecs? Well, I’ve not tried everything, but so far, everything has worked; EVEN DIVX movies. Can you believe that? (Yes it plays DVDs and mp3s too) No need to install anything. I’m yet to try a Quicktime .mov file, so I’m not sure about that, but any distro that can read my .divx (which even Windows needs a software package for!) out of the box is excellent! (latest update: oops, PCLOS does not play my encrypted DVDs. It seems that is a company policy. So I found out (from a post) that if you want to play DVDs you have to install win32-codecs and libdvdcss2 from the Synaptic. When I did that, it still didn’t play DVD (only .vob file by .vob file). And then I found this post which says that the above solution is will not work for encrypted DVDs: http://www.pclinuxonline.com/wiki/PlayDVDs?show_comments=1 I even installed XINE and still it didn’t work. This is so sad.)

Look and feel? I must say that PCLinuxOS is visually a standout distro! The icons and the desktop look unified, as if they had one designer thinking it all through. We don’t get the modular design look (where many designers work on different programmes to give their own ‘personal’ and contradictory touch). In terms of other distro’s, openSUSE is pretty good, but you still have to work to make it look really good. Ubuntu is just terrible! But PCLinuxOS is just simply beautiful. It did remind me of Dreamlinux, but a better version of Dreamlinux! It even makes the blue look good (and I hate blue distros)! There is one minor drawback. I think because of the lack of ‘proprietary’ fonts, the font-display of my webpages is not as ‘good’ as on openSUSE or on Windows. Well, that can be changed, or gotten used to, but that’s just an additional comment.

Software Packages? I’ve given the packages in PCLinuxOS a quick look-in and I’m surprised that all the major programmes are there… OpenOffice 2.2, GIMP etc. But I’m surprised that the games are missing. That’s sad. Because for such a distro, the games would only help strengthen it. I know where to get the games, but I wish, especially if/when I were to give this distro to a newcomer, the games were already there because it would just be that much more attractive (because the Linux collection of games are actually quite fun… some of them at least).

Summary? Basically, PCLinuxOS 2007 lives up to the hype. And as a single-CD distribution, it looks and feels much better than Ubuntu, at least in its first impression. I find myself missing the power of openSUSE, but then, openSUSE being a multi-CD distro with big-buck-support, is a tough act to beat. I liked PCLinuxOS for all the reasons people are saying that it is a great distro: looks, ease of use, out of the box multimedia functionality etc. And I can’t wait to try and test it out more. Cheers to the PCLinuxOS team. This is really a Linux Plus!

(final screenshot after installation and slight modification below)

PCLinuxOS 2007

Why is Ubuntu no. 1? Because of distrowatch! April 27, 2007

Posted by NAyK in Article Watch, Discussions-Conclusions-Hopes, Internet, Linux, Linux Mint, Other Distros, Recommendation, Reviews, Ubuntu, Working with Linux.
9 comments

Don’t get me wrong (from the title). Ubuntu has a lot of things going for it. I learned a lot through it, and it eased my entry into Linux from Windows. But what my title is trying to say is this: distrowatch deserves credit for Ubuntu’s meteoric rise to fame.

Distrowatch has become the number one go-to site for information regarding Linux distributions. It’s an excellent collection of reports on the latest linux distros. Heck, without it I would have never heard of or tried, Dreamlinux, Linux Mint, MCNLive, LG3D… and a host of others.

Of course, the more people came to distrowatch and learned about Ubuntu, meant that more people would look for Ubuntu and come to distrowatch. So perhaps there is more mutuality than I have suggested.

More importantly, it’s much maligned and appreciated stats page, that records the hits for a site have been a helpful (though qualified) guide to what’s out there and how ‘popular’ it (probably) is. Notice, the key word is popular, not best.

However, human beings being human beings, we gravitate towards the “best” movie according to the highest rating, the restaurant with the best “review” and in this case, the distro with the “most” hits. Distrowatch, by its stats that have consistently shown Ubuntu as number 1 for the last two years… has drawn people, even like me, to try Ubuntu first.

Of course now I use other distros. I like other distros. However the first-time user, if given a choice, often invariably chooses Ubuntu. I mean, they (first time users) don’t even choose Kubuntu, which according to me is better equipped for Windows defectors like me. But that’s because Kubuntu is rated a lowly 15 today!

So what am I trying to say, finally? I’m saying that while Ubuntu has many things going for it (and a single-CD concept is one of them)… Distrowatch has led the way in Ubuntu’s popularity. Of course, the more people came to distrowatch and learned about Ubuntu, means that more people will look for Ubuntu and come to distrowatch. So perhaps there is more mutuality than I have suggested.

But still, this post celebrates (and emphasizes) the role of distrowatch in the rise of Ubuntu.

And just to let you know that I’m not the only one who would think like this, check out this site (http://useopensource.blogspot.com/2007/03/unscientific-linux-popularity-contest.html ) especially the first comment by Jay Ellington which reads:

Its too bad you don’t give distrowatch.com the credit they rightfully deserve in your post. Yes the numbers on the ticker can be fudged but I can remember going to distrowatch right after its first publishing and it just blowing up in the following months, it is an incredible site that still today remains quite unbiased towards the different distros on the market. I still read distrowatch weekly regularly and at the time it was one of the only sites that had quality news for open source os’s compared to today when linux has every poser organization claims they are the news site for the masses. At my university (EWU, very small school) we used it almost daily for tracking our currently installed distribution’s default packages and new up and coming distributions onto the market like sorcerer…

—–

Actually, my post is written in response to this post http://blog.lejer.ro/2007/04/26/why-the-ubuntu-linux-os-have-such-great-popularity/ which is a typical entry that one would expect that tells the “merits” of distro as the reason for its success while missing the sociological (and marketing) reasons around it.

ps. check out Distrowatch’s report of Ubuntu’s recent success. The section is in “miscellaneous news.” http://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=20070423#topten

Installing Ubuntu Christian Edition: a (spiritual) test of patience and perseverance January 19, 2007

Posted by NAyK in First Impressions, How-To, Linux, Linux Mint, Other Distros, Reviews, Screenshots, Ubuntu, Ubuntu Christian, Working on Linux.
10 comments

UbuntuCEScreenshot(latest update: Currently I’m working on Ubuntu Christian 2.1. I upgraded from 2.1 using the script provided by Ubuntu CE. It worked basically ok, though it messed up a few settings, and so my windows pager is not working correctly.)

No, I’m not joking! Ubuntu Christian Edition (CE) 2.0 (based on Ubuntu 6.10, ‘Edgy’) was a horror to install, probably the worst Ubuntu install I’ve ever seen. Read on only if you want to hear the sordid tale (that only-just ends happily ie. I’m writing on Ubuntu CE).

Preamble: why did I choose Ubuntu CE?

Well, I might as well admit it. I am a Christian. But when I heard of Ubuntu Christian I was both bemused and bothered. Being from a country where American Christianity is often viewed by non-Christians as bigoted, aggressive and close-minded, I guess I was a little scared to choose to be associated with this derivative that came possibly from that stock.

However as I continued working with Linux, I realised the need for more Christian software. In Windows I needed to use BibleWorks… but there seemed to be no such software in Linux… until I read about Sword. I was impressed that there was SOME bible stuff in Linux, and though the quality didn’t match BibleWorks, at least it was a start. I tried installing it onto my (then I was using Ubuntu 5.10 I think)… and Sword just wouldn’t install. There was a problem. In openSUSE (my current favourite), there was no bible software in the popular repositories.

Finally, as I reported earlier, with the demise of my Linux Mint 2.1 boot process… it was time to change. And rather than reinstall Linux Mint, I decided to go for Ubuntu Christian Edition.

But why Christian? Well… it had some Bible software (and a Christian environment that was not too oppressive). But most importantly, it came with Automatix. Now that was a surprise… and yet a pleasant one. Rather than download Automatix, I was hoping that Ubuntu CE would be multimedia ready. (I soon discovered that it had to be made multimedia ready, but the process was made easy through Automatix). Anyway, that was the logic. On to the installation.

Installation: Live CD Configuration Problems

10:20pm I check the CD for errors. There were none (cf. the previous K3B post. See, no errors!).

10:23pm starting the LiveCD installer

10:48pm my 4th crash! It didn’t even allow me to install.

Report: The first problem I faced was in the LiveCD stage. Usually I like to configure the computer at the LiveCD stage (ie. screen resolution, network etc) to see whether the machine is working. However, when I tried to configure, network especially, the LiveCD constantly crashed. I had to reboot three times, and strangely the LiveCD (VGA) display was not even the same one time I rebooted. Why would LiveCD change my screen resolution randomly? Anyway, at 10:42 I decided to install without making any configuration changes. And it worked. ps. It took a long time to make the partitions as I wanted, and at one time, the same thing like Linux Mint happened… it didn’t accept my / partition and said I needed one. I solved the problem by deleting the partitions and starting again.

Installation: LiveCD copying files problems

10:48pm copying installation files

11:16pm beeping sound… copying files crashed at 54%! (I might as well copy and paste the word crash since I’ve been using it so much!!!).

I remembered a verse, partly as a joke, and partly as a reality, that

…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us… Romans 5:3-5 (NIV)

What an apt verse for this installation process. Anyway, back to the install.

I decided to try again. I had already gone so far, I might as well move forward rather than back, I thought.

Installation: Yet another attempt, this time more successful

With a very quick install configuration, I was copying files by 11:22pm (within 5-6 minutes of restarting).

11:26pm… I saw the copying files at 53%… then 54%… and then 55%… ah! I sighed in relief. made it!

I continued with a little fear, anxiety… but by 11:31, I was ready to restart computer without LiveCD.

Installation complete

11:34pm I was logging on to a brand new Ubuntu Christian Edition. (Screenshot below.)

ubuntuchristianedition.png

After configuring network, which was painless, I had over 159.1 MB of updates waiting for installation!

Automatix, sadly, was simply installed but not implemented… so I had to basically install everything… like I did for Linux Mint (yes I even did it for Linux Mint though I didn’t need it because there were some programmes/fonts I wanted… but it took almost 3 hours!!!). For that, I’ll have to wait.

Reactions

I really like Ubuntu (all Ubuntus) bootloaders. They always recognise everything, pretty much accurately. In fact, there have been many times that I’ve had to install Ubuntu after other Linux installations because some Linux distros are incapable of recognising others. Of course it would be nice to have a splash screen like openSUSE, but the functionality of Ubuntu bootloaders (even this one) is excellent.

Another thing I liked was that Ubuntu’s Christian theme is not in-your-face. I had feared doomsday or pasture-ish splash screens and wallpapers but thankfully someone with a lot of design sense has kept it simple. I also like the globe pointing to my part of the world! Nice touch (for me).

Of course, Ubuntu installs are not this painful and I don’t know why Ubuntu CE suffered so much. I really really struggled and would rather just upload a current Ubuntu install rather than install CE directly… that’s if these problems are normal.

Another thing that’s really irritating is that my screen is chopped off by an inch on either side. So I’m basically living with a 17in monitor that looks like a 15in monitor. Right now, I’m just glad to have Ubuntu CE working, but it’s going to bother me soon.

Finally, I do like this distro… but I’m not convinced it’s better than openSUSE, or even better that Ubuntu pure. However, I’m going to persevere with it for a bit… and see.

>>>Right now I’m struggling with Flikr.com which is not allowing me to sign-in because it is saying my cookies are not enabled… but I tell you, they are! they are! not a good start, is it?

Dreamlinux 2.2 review: the dream turns sour January 14, 2007

Posted by NAyK in Dreamlinux, Linux, Linux Mint, Other Distros, Reviews, Working with Linux.
1 comment so far

…not quite a nightmare yet, but close, my Dreamlinux 2.2 experience has begun to turn negative.

As I said earlier, the Dreamlinux Multimedia Edition installation process was fraught with problems, and as a result I had to remain my partition. As a result, my Linux Mint 2.1 partition was affected and I lost access to the grub boot.

Then I fixed grub manually, changing the hdc links to the appropriate disk, though some of it was guess work. However, as it turns out, I got the infamour Ctrl-D error during boot process. Ie. whenever I booted onto Linux Mint, the boot process had to be manually moved forward by pressing Ctrl-D. (the error log was in var/log/fsck/checkfs… but that wasn’t quite helpful). I had to also edit some /etc/fstab file… which pushed it along, but couldn’t get rid of the error.

Dreamlinux itself developed a unique problem: The repositories started crashing, not allowing me to update anything completely

Anyway, that wasn’t the worst problem. I swear, but my Linux Mint started underperforming, crashing often. And probably it is a direct result of the renaming of the Linux Mint partition.

Dreamlinux itself developed a unique problem: The repositories started crashing, not allowing me to update anything completely.

Anyway, I also noted that even Dreamlinux does not read hard-disk backed up DVD content through the .ifo file. Neither does Linux Mint, but it showed that Dreamlinux wasn’t that multimedia ready afterall.

I know now I’ll have to reinstall Linux Mint, or even replace it, b/c currently it’s functioning really badly alongside Dreamlinux, and I don’t know how to fix all the problems. However, I haven’t been too impressed with Dreamlinux’ work environment. It too hands now and then, and it just doesn’t feel solid as a distro as say Ubuntu or SuSE.

Another note about Dreamlinux; it’s skype seems an older version to the one in Linux Mint. Doesn’t have that many features. Similarly of course it has Firefox 1.5 etc etc…

So all in all, I’ve been a little disappointed with Dreamlinux, especially since it affected my Linux Mint, which I actually was a more dependable distribution (Though it wasn’t as cool).

I wait and ponder what to do, and if I reinstall Linux on my desktop, it will be at the expense of both Dreamlinux and Linux Mint.

Over to Fedora?

Dreamlinux (Multimedia Edition) 2.2 Review: Mixed feelings, great possibilities January 12, 2007

Posted by NAyK in Dreamlinux, First Impressions, How-To, Linux, Linux Mint, Other Distros, Recommendation, Reviews, Screenshots, Working on Linux.
19 comments

Out of the blue I downloaded an installed Dreamlinux Multimedia Edition 2.2. Actually, as I said in an earlier post, I was trying to convince a friend of shifting to Linux and he has two main needs (outside the normal basic needs of an operating system): he needs remote desktop sharing and he needs multimedia capabilites. Dreamlinux promised the latter at least, and I thought that I’d give it a try and then let him play with it.

Installation ScreenshotI must say that I was quite impressed by the LiveCD. The look was unique, and it was fast. Entirely unlike Xubuntu… and of course more alive than Linux Mint. In fact, with the lower Mac-like doc panel, Xubuntu finally looked cutting edge! (cf. Enlightenment) I still feel that the icons in all linux distributions are too big, but then, that’s just me, isn’t it!

Anyway, when I tried to install, that’s when I faced many problems. (bytheway: I’m writing this in Dreamlinux, so this story does end happily, for the most part).

I found Dreamlinux’s Morphix Install difficult to understand. The chief hurdle was hard disk partitioning. While I have used partitions for linux installations regularly… the Partition Mopher was too simplistic, which, because of lack of features, wasn’t as configurable. I just feel that even though XFCE is trying to be smart and cool, along with low-resource intensive, still I hope that they don’t compromise in basic functionality, especially of essentials. I mean they use Firefox don’t they? So why can’t they use GParted or something!

In comparison to Freespire and Linux Mint, Dreamlinux is certainly the best in looks. However, in terms of functionality/installation and stability, I would rather hedge my bets (and precious harddisk space) for Linux Mint. However, Dreamlinux Multimedia Edition 2.2 must not be ignored.

Anyway… the problem was that I had to delete my partition to then allow me to configure to install. Worse of all, it changed all the numbers of other (later) partitions and thus, my grub settings were affected. Basically, I feel, it should allow me to format and install over existing partitions, but that is not the case. Anyway, after a bit of struggle, I was able to install DreamLinux.

After installation, the Grub menu option was limited too… I would like to see the existing grub settings that would allow me to configure/change, but no. I have to simply accept the grub settings they give.

Anyway, after all this, the computer copied the files from CD onto my partition. And the whole copying and install process took only about 15-20 minutes, not bad, not bad at all.

When I rebooted, I saw in horror that it had edited grub to such an extent that I had lost both my Windows and my Linux Mint partitions! Eeks!

Anyway, knowing that I could change grub somehow I contined. And the rest of Dreamlinux 2.2 as pretty painless, in fact, quite nicely done.

The installed look and feel is pretty good. For once, I wasn’t put off by the blue. The dock (especially since I’m not a Mac-user) was amazing! Reminded me of Enlightenment/Elive. Fun stuff to play around with, now if only it’s more functional like the macs. Anyway, it’s pretty much a good display, and quite fast. However, Poor display of configuration windowit’s configuration windows look like something out of Windows 3.1… Terrible! They clash so much with the modern interface and make one wonder why the team left those ugly configuration windows be. Especially since Linux users are expected to be configuring their systems, they should have spend more time beautifying the configuration windows. Then it would have certainly been a stunner of a system.

The easiest thing was the network configuration. DreamLinux seems to have recognised most of my drivers (I still don’t see 3D capability). And that included the SmartAX MT882 Sterlite ASDL modem; which many distributions, especially Freespire 1.0 didn’t easily recognise! I just had to enter my broadband ip address and I was connect (Freespire are you listening???)

Regarding usage, I tested DVD and mp3 and they worked (though DVD files need to be played individually, hopefully that is my oversight and not dreamlinux’s).

However, I’ve been a little disappointed with the packages. That’s mainly because I have a limited download connection and can’t add too many packages at once. Wish it was more functional. For instance, it only has Firefox 1.5. Plus, there is no Remote Desktop Tool (which is what I wanted to install in this distro in the first place). Funnily, I wasn’t even able to find “screenshot” that is supposed to help with screenshots. It may be there, but I can’t find it. Now why should it be so difficult?

Of course Dreamlinux has got an EasyInstall tool that allows quick access to important non-OSS installs, which functions something like Automatix.

Also, DreamLinux is geared to be a multimedia package, and there is enough in it to do music-movies-graphics etc. Regarding multimedia, Dreamlinux certainly looks feature-rich.

(update: There is one problem immerging is the repository/update manager. I’ve suffered with a lot of broken links. I haven’t selected anything other than the defaults and yet I’m not able to even “reload” my repositories without it having to be aborted. As a result, most downloads I make are incomplete.) Easy configuration of network

I also still don’t know how this distro would be in a work-situation… and I don’t intend to try, because my Thinkpad already has dual(triple) boot for WindowsXP/Ubuntu2.10/openSUSE10.2. But I guess Dreamlinux’ wi-fi and printing should be pretty solid. But that’s just a guess.

Finally, I have edited grub. I mounted my Linux Mint grub/menu.lst and copied it onto dreamlinux’s. My Windows and Linux Mint now work. High points to Dreamlinux for allowing me easy access to Windows/other Linux files!

In conclusion: Dreamlinux Multimedia Edition 2.2 looks exciting (and thus the idea that it has great potential). It’s got lot of multimedia features (and recognition ready-and-out-of-the-‘box’), and it’s hardware recognition looks excellent (barring 3D, perhaps). However, some installation problems will keep away beginning users; both partitioning and grub recoginition poor. However, the best thing I liked about this distro was it’s fresh/exciting look and it’s simplicity in configuration. It’s biggest competition is Freespire (Ubuntu is way beyond it’s league), and perhaps Linux Mint. But I think in comparison to Freespire and Linux Mint, Dreamlinux Multimedia Edition 2.2 is certainly best in looks. However, I am still concerned by the ‘core’ of Dreamlinux and would rather hedge my ‘stability’/functionality/usability bet with Linux Mint. Yet this distro must not be ignored.

…And I think I will give it to my friend.

More info on Dreamlinux, here.

A good Dreamlinux 2.2 Multimedia Edition (installation) review is found here.
Another review of Dreamlinux (2.1 Works Edition though) is here.

Remote Desktop in Linux Mint 2.1 January 11, 2007

Posted by NAyK in How-To, Internet, Linux, Linux Mint, Other Distros, Software, Windows.
3 comments

In reponse to the previous post about RDC (Remote Desktop Sharing), as it turns out, while openSUSE has the remote desktop sharing tools installed by default, in Linux Mint 2.1 they don’t exist… you have to install them manually.

Using Synaptic I installed all the rdc clients I knew, and a few VPNs. I was able to test a few RDC clients and it was successful.

The most extensive (read feature-rich) one is: tsclient (terminal server client)

The simplest one is: grdesktop (gnome remote client)

After install, both will be found in Menu/Internet.

Desktop Sharing

ps. Linux Mint (probably like Ubuntu) does allow desktop sharing access to other systems, though I’m not sure whether Ubuntu has desktop file sharing options by default.

Another Linux Mint (2.1) Screenshot January 9, 2007

Posted by NAyK in Linux, Linux Mint, OpenSUSE, Other Distros, Screenshots, Ubuntu, Working with Linux.
3 comments

Yes I’m falling in love with openSUSE 10.2, but it doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned Linux Mint. It’s blue was painful… and entirely putting-off. Hence, rather than go with something like openSuSE’s look, I went with a black and brown idea. I kinda like it… and suddenly even Mint doesn’t look so bad.

Linux Mint Screenshot

A word about Linux Mint 2.1 though. I have it on my desktop and it’s functioning ok. But it doesn’t play VCD’s directly from the CDRom. I have to copy the files on the computer and then play. (latest update: I just discovered how to play VCD’s directly from CDROM. The I’ve documented the procedure here.) Hence, I’m ending up not using it as much as I would like to.