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Goodbye Linux Mint 9: back to PCLinux2007 August 16, 2010

Posted by NAyK in Firefox, Linux, Linux Mint, PCLinuxOS, Windows.
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The shock of the previous post (where My Documents were deleted), became a full blown crisis when I lost my entire ebook folder again in that partition. Thankfully, I did have backups, but my ebooks were indexed through Copernic and I will have to do the indexing all over again.

Anyway… I decided to go back to PCLinux2007 (which I know did work for a while at least) and since I was too shaken to try something new, even PCLinux2010.

After installing, I realised that I was still in Firefox 2.0 and so I wanted to make minimal upgrades, and security updates.

I had to add the following repository: http://kde3.pclosusers.com/pclosfiles

which allowed me to make upgrades (the old repositories of PCLinux2007) were not working. Only this new one did.

Now I’m hoping that I’ll be able to function basically at my home computer, until I fix my Windows operating system.

PCLinuxOS 2009.2 Installation Review November 9, 2009

Posted by NAyK in Discussions-Conclusions-Hopes, Linux, Mandriva, OpenSUSE, PCLinuxOS, Recommendation, Reviews, Working with Linux.

PCLinuxOSIn the days when Ubuntu 9.10, Mandriva 2010 and openSUSE 11.2 are having their releases, installing PCLinuxOS 2009.2 seems like taking a step backwards. But how could I refuse to try what I had considered to be my favourite Linux distro? In fact, the only reason why I hadn’t tried PCLinuxOS for so long was because I just didn’t have the time. And so I waited for many months with a brand new PCLinux (KDE) ISO image. Not that I found the time. Rather, because all these new distros started emerging, I felt compelled to give the new PCLinux another shot. So, with a toddler running around the house potentially distroying my computer, I took the plunge at 12:22pm, on Sunday.The following is primarily an installation review, though some distribution comments may be included.

A note about my system. I’m still using my VIA Desktop of more than 4 years, though I’ve upgraded to 2 GB RAM. No graphics card (only integrated VIA chipset).

12:22pm, Insert LIVE CD (PCLinux 2009.2 KDE).

12:25 Login as guest, with password guest.

I wonder why this double login persists in a live CD. wouldn’t it suffice to function as guest with the ‘root’ password made known via instruction?

My first goal was to check if my internet was working or not. My internet connection is a DSL ethernet cable run via a Belkin wireless router. Usually, I’ve noticed that some Linux’ esp. Ubuntu, has a problem picking up the Belkin router. So I skeptically tried the internet on PCLinux and shocker! It was working. Without any configuration. Well done, PCLinux!!!The  internet did feel a little slow, but I was amazed that it was working.

At about 12:29pm I decided to install, and was introduced to a new(?) procedure of removing drivers.

I didn’t understand why on a LiveCD did you have to “remove drivers”. Wasn’t it more correct to say “choose not to install drivers” or something like that? Anyway, I went along. But when I chose the advanced options and decided to cancel, the entire procedure was canceled and I had to start again. Hmmm.

12:37 pm, the computer said the installation had begun.

12:47pm I was modified the grub.

(sadly, still making Windows XP my default distro).

At 12:49pm I was restarting the computer and ending the CD session.

(I wonder why can’t the CD ejection be automated).

At 12:53pm, after login details etc, the computer opened to a brand new PCLinuxOS desktop!

Note that’s about 24 minutes! A spectacular speed when you think there was a toddler running around trying to press all the buttons including “delete all partitions!!!” :)

The key test, at this stage, was whether the internet was still working. And… yes it was! Hurray.

Knowing however that the PCLinuxOS was a little outdated, I decided to use Synaptic to run a system update.

I did a reload of the repositories. And then, seeing the huge update backlog (I needed about 400MB and I only get free downloads in the night), I decided to only update Firefox, and do the rest later.

I chose Firefox update, but after updating, Firefox crashed. Couldn’t open.

I realised that perhaps PCLinux needed a full update so decided to wait till 2:00am to do the remaining updates. (that’s when I get free download bandwidth).

I didn’t want to stay up all night, so after starting the download, I went to sleep, waking around 7:00am to see whether the updates were done. It seems there was a problem with two of the repositories, but nothing serious seemed to be the problem.

However, it was waiting for me to say “OK”, to acknowledge that there were problems in the repositories… and only then begin the installation. I wish I had investigated (beforehand) how to set up an automatic update in Synaptic that did not require any intervention on my part. Instead I had to wait a long time till the updates were installed… and then, thankfully Firefox was working.

One thing positive was that PCLinux also recognised my screen-resolution, which is something other distros do not seem to be able to do. Of course, I still think I need to install some VIA graphics driver, because the videos, like from Metacafe/Youtube, are not viewing properly (looks like no graphics card). So I’ll probably have to find that (though I wonder whether I should not have installed all the graphics drivers in the first place!).

On the whole, the installation process is pretty painless. There remain certain imperfections, and one wishes for more flexibility in choice (more possible customization for advanced users). But PCLinux’s installation speed is pretty fast; in fact one of the fastest installations out there. And that must be commendable.

Now a few comments about usage.

I know I have only briefly been using PCLinux 2009, so I can’t say how everything works, but a few off-the-cuff comments need to be made.

Look and Feel: The graphics, especially the default wallpaper etc. are not as striking as the previous version. PCLinux 2007, or something like that. That was really nice, and made Blue look cool! This time, PCLinux looks like Fedora, or something like that. Not fun at all. Trying to update the wallpaper wasn’t as intuitive as I would have liked it to be. KDE is usually better than GNOME in such matters, so I guess I was expecting something a little more smoother. I had to manually select photos on my desktop. And when I had to chose the photos, from the KDE configuration, there was no preview (it wasn’t working). Which  meant that I had to open external viewers to see the photos. The external viewers too don’t seem to have progressed, with the Windows XP, Image-Preview, being probably the best photoviewer, because it allows arrow key navigation. In the current Linux viewers, the arrow keys are not always the way to navigate, and when yes, then the screen image still needs to be manipulated to allow for a viewable size.

Different attempts: I liked the attempt to install an auto-update button in the task bar. Because that was something that was missing in PCLinux earlier. But this one wasn’t intuitive enough for me to figure out. It seemed to give me many options, and when I clicked any, it usually only opened up Synaptic.

Current state of affairs: The audio is working. And the video, once I update the drivers, should work better. All these were done pretty ok, without any fuss. However, currently (and suddenly), none of my Synaptic repositories are working. I was simply trying to install the Wally Wallpaper program. But Synaptic wasn’t working. Not able to reload. The internet was working though, and that continues to be PCLinux’s saving grace! But I must note that the internet is drastically slower here than in Windows. Perhaps I do need to do a little bit of tweeking.

Finally, Recommendations? About a year ago I would not have hesitated to recommend PCLinux to any beginner user of Linux. It was truly a class apart. But right now, it seems to have developed a few quirks that don’t seem to generate as much confidence in the distro as the previous one. Moreso, it doesn’t seem to have moved ahead. It feels like the old one, though not exactly in the best sort of way. It seems “less better”. Maybe I need to try it a little more, but suddenly I’m not too sure about whether PCLinux is the next big thing in Linux.

Sadly, over the weekend I will be looking to install and test Mandriva 2010 and also later try out openSUSE 11.2, as replacement distros.

Oh No! PCLinuxOS In Trouble!!! March 30, 2009

Posted by NAyK in Discussions-Conclusions-Hopes, Linux, Linux Mint, News, PCLinuxOS, Working with Linux.

PCLinuxOSI just read (in Distrowatch) that PCLinux is going through an internal split. For a long long time, PCLinuxOS has been my favourite one-CD distro. In fact, the only reason why I stopped using it was because I got bored by its stability. I wanted something new and tried other distros in its place. But I always intended to return. And while I was really excited about the new PCLinuxOS 2009 release, I delayed installation because I was waiting for the perfect time to install it (to replace my current Linux Mint distro). (I have a lot of non-Linux work that I need to finish before I can start enjoying Linux again). But what I read in Distrowatch was a shocker.

Basically, to summarise, a whole bunch of developers have left the PCLinux distribution over differences with the leadership. PCLinux is one of the many closed-community Linux projects, that are run by a particular team devoted to the project (as opposed to community driven projects).

While it’s not surprising that there would be internal rift, this news couldn’t have have come at a worse time. PCLinux is hardly established in the public psyche (unlike Ubuntu), and could do without such negative publicity. This was to be an amazing year, with the new release and all. But in effect, now, this news will only dissuade people from trying out this excellent, I would say the best, one-CD distro. Sadly, to an extent, even I now hesitate to try my waiting-to-be-installed PCLinuxOS distribution.

Anyway, below are some excerpts from Distrowatch article:

Internal issues have rocked the world of PCLinuxOS, with numerous developers quitting the project. The issues appear to have started when project lead, Bill Reynolds (Texstar), took a year-long break from running the distribution and left the distro’s primary system administrator, Solis, in charge. Without input from the project founder, development of PCLinuxOS 2009 by the community continued but just before release, Solis halted it so that Reynolds could overview it. The release was then delayed two weeks while it was finalised. It appears that many developers were not happy with the way this was handled and have consequently left the project.

JMiahMan, former admin of the PCLinuxOS hardware database and developer of EeePCLinuxOS, voiced his dismay at the announcement: “Not hearing from Texstar for more than a year, development [by the community] continued, then the moment before release passwords were changed on servers and suddenly Texstar is back and now not only halting the release, but saying all the hard work the community did for a year wasn’t good enough. That’s leadership suicide.” More information is sure to come to light as former developers switch to other projects.

In related news, Derrick Devine, former administrator of the community project site MyPCLinuxOS, recently handed over control of the project and announced work on a new Linux distribution, called Unity, with many of the other former PCLinuxOS developers: “What it will be is a new Linux distribution that takes an incremental approach to desktop Linux. It will provide a central core and use the mklivecd scripts that PCLinuxOS uses and it will provide a base from which to build just about any desktop you want out there.” Currently the distro is being developed behind closed doors, but more information should come to light soon. Either way, it is clear that no animosity exists on the side of former PCLinuxOS developers, who remain grateful to the distribution for everything they have been able to achieve over the years. Derrick continues: “You won’t hear us say anything bad about PCLinuxOS, its leadership, or the direction it is going. We are very proud to have been members of the PCLinuxOS community… some of us for almost six years. Nothing can take away our gratitude.

Pause December 3, 2008

Posted by NAyK in Linux, OpenSUSE, PCLinuxOS, Ubuntu, Windows, Working with Linux.
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pauseIt’s been a long while since my previous post, and I’m writing this just to say that it will be some more time before I start updating again. I’m at that stage in life where I’ve stopped experimenting with new distributions. This is largely because of my lack of time.

Also, I’ve pretty much settled in my Linux brand choices… my current favourite is openSUSE and PCLinux. Ubuntu has just not got me… maybe it’s because of the predominantly GNOME interface… though I love the fact that they are keeping the interest going so well.

But another reason for my “pause” from linux writing is that my openSUSE has suddenly started acting funny… the sound of the system suddenly changed so much that everytime I put on the volume, I get feedback (like as if the mic is on). Now I know there must be a simple solution, but because, once again, lack of time, i am not able to pursue a fix.

In effect, I find myself once again in a purely Windows world… and returning to openSUSE only to keep it updated (and even there, somehow, it’s not that fun to just update and go back to windows).

I find myself waiting for openSUSE 11.1, and that’s where I hope to recharge myself towards linux.

But for now, I pause.

Linux Mint 5.0: Usage Points June 13, 2008

Posted by NAyK in Firefox, Linux, Linux Mint, PCLinuxOS, Recommendation, Reviews, Ubuntu, Windows, Working with Linux.
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Unlike my previous review of Ubuntu 8.04, in which I both compared it to PCLinuxOS (which is not fair to both distros) and also criticised it’s GNOME-ic flavour, which I agree is a matter of taste. Instead, I’m focussing simply on my current use of Linux Mint 5.0 and rate my experience (positive/negative).

Note that I remain a Windows-bred beginner… a noob if you will… and so I’m not the typical linux user who goes to Forums for help. I usually expect things to work, and when they don’t I waste time gripping about it in blogs like this! rather than actually finding constructive solutions for myself and others. See, I’m a terrible person, but heck, that’s me. So here’s my gripe. Read with caution.

Points : 10 (highest) to 1 (lowest). Usually I would never use 1 or 10, except in exceptional cases, so in effect my rating is between 2-9

1. Ease of installation =8

Linux Mint 5.0 was pretty easy to install and apart from a little slow response when I clicked “next”, it was painless and error free.

2. Out of the box experience =9

Unlike Ubuntu, which I kept having to install plugins that I desired, I’ve never had to install any plugin or closed-source device apart from what is already installed…. and yes, everything works. I’ve watched DVDs, listened to music and even played flash movies with ease. In fact, it’s easy to take this for granted… and matches something like my experience with PCLinuxOS. Linux Mint has a stellar “out of the box” experience.

3. Nags (problems (bugs?) in the system) = 3

a. Biggest flaw so far… when I load Linux Mint, I get 800×600 resolution. I then have to log out and re-loggin, and then I get the right resolution I desire. The fact that I use VIA chipset (why, oh, why?) could be the problem, but I certainly didn’t face this problem in previous editions.

b. The other biggest flaw is that it doesn’t allow me to hibernate, saying that I don’t have enough memory. Ubuntu said the same thing. Now if it is a “swap” drive problem, and I have 500 MB for my swap, I would think Linux Mint should advise SWAP size while installing, don’t you think?

4. Windows inter-operatability =5

As expected, the GRUB worked perfectly, and recognised my Windows partition. However, like Ubuntu, Linux Mint cannot mount NTFS partitions if Windows is hibernated. Since I usually hibernate my Windows, this is a real pain!

5. Firefox 3 = 5 (but somehow better than Ubuntu)

Perhaps Firefox has updated its Beta version, but somehow the Mint Firefox 3 works better than the Ubuntu Firefox 3. I still find myself longing for Firefox 2+ because so far I haven’t seen anything that great about 3, and perhaps that because it’s still in Beta (I think). It would have been nice to keep 3 optional.

Anyway, the biggest problem in the Mint Firefox is that it messes with the default Google search engine, customizing the look-and-feel and in the process losing some of the traditional Google search links (like images etc).

6. Operating System Navigation = 6

I like the look, even of the Menu Bar, but somehow it’s still difficult to find everything, because of the limited space for each section in the menu bar (we have to scroll down to find what we want, in “system” for instance). This is a pain, and actually makes you wish for more shortcuts (eeks!) or even the Windows ‘open-everything’ taskbar (double eeks!)

TOTAL: 8+9+3+5+5+6 = 36 / 60 = “6” … which actually looks worse than I actually found it. Without this mathematical rating, I think my actual new Linux Mint 5.0 experience is about a “7”… or even “7.5” out of 10. Certainly I would recommended it for the easy-solution seekers (like me).

How Windows helped me fix my Linux May 15, 2008

Posted by NAyK in Confessions, Discussions-Conclusions-Hopes, How-To, Linux, Microsoft, OpenSUSE, PCLinuxOS, Ubuntu, Windows, Working on Linux, Working with Linux.

Last night, my Linux (PCLinux) broke. And this evening I finally fixed it, with some help from Windows.

I’ll be telling the whole story along with what happened in the post below, but before that let me start with a few disclaimers (warnings/cautions etc).

First, it was clearly my mistake in the start the led to the demise of my Linux. I messed around with my partition table. Yes, yes, I know, shoot me!

Also, I’m a linux noob (which means, I’m more than a newbie, but not at all proficient with Linux when things go wrong). So, I’m sure there are easier solutions “IN” linux itself, but I had/have no idea about them… the few solutions I did know, didn’t work out for me… but again… that’s just me. In the same vein, I’m not a windows/Microsoft fanboy (nor a linux fanboy mind you). So my intention is not to start another uneccessary Windows-is-better-than-Linux flame-war!

The distribution in question (the one I was using) was PCLinuxOS (my current distribution of choice). Yet my comments here do not reflect on my views about how “good” or “bad” the distribution is, but this post is more a confessional on how I messed it up (so that someone may prevent themselves from making a similar mistake… or make things easier for us young-ones).

On to the story.

1. Last night I wanted to update my PCLinux (I hadn’t done it for a long time). For those who know PCLinux, they’ll know that one of it’s weaknesses is that it does not have an auto-update function like Ubuntu or openSUSE. You have to manually got to Synaptic and “reload” and then “mark upgrades” and then “apply”. So, I hadn’t done that for a while, and so I decided now is the time.

2. I realised, after seeing the size of the updates that my were too huge, and so I decided to completely wipe out my openSUSE 10.3 partition and use that space for my home directory. (ie. I’d have my programme in one partition, and my documents in another, like I do in Windows).

3. So I went to the PCLinux Control Center, went to Mount Points, and deleted the openSUSE partition. I also, choose to mount the free space with /home and the computer nicely asked me if I wanted to copy my current home folder to the new location. For which I said, “yes.”.

4. Sadly, when I saw the new configuration, I saw that the new /home partition was only the size of the home files (about 1.5 GB) and I had another 3.5 GB free… so I decided to increase the size of my new /home partition.

5. The partitioner didn’t allow it, giving some error that I obviously forgot to write down. Anyway, after a couple of tries, I decided I’d deal with that later (using gparted or something) and I decided to continue with my upgrade.

6. Just before I started my upgrades, I noticed that my new /home partition file size was about 4.5 GB (It should have been about 5) but then I thought, “oh, it did it, cool!” and I continued the upgrade.

7. I had about 700 MB of upgrades to do (yes, yes, I know, long long time). And my slow internet connection took hours and hours to do it.

8. In the process, when it said about 1 more hour to go, I went to sleep, before all the the updates were applied. But my computer battery died out (I thought it would be done within two hours, because I had about 2.5 left). But I think all the updates weren’t applied.

9. When I woke up next morning (today) and started PCLinux, it just wouldn’t let me get into the login or desktop screen. I realised I had done a foolish thing, and didn’t know what to do. (ps. I know at this point I should be able to go into Linux through some text mode thingy and fix things, but that is just too hard. I really prefer the gentle Windows “safe mode” that looks so easy compared to the text-mode Linux).

10. I realised I had failed, and since I had made backups of my PCLinux documents (yipee!) I decided to reinstall. (The great thing about Linux is that it’s so easy to reinstall, unlike Windows, that we can do it more often. Perhaps, that’s a bad thing, actually! :) )

11. Sadly, I had given away my last PCLinuxOS 2007 CD to a friend (I have already given away about 8 PCLinux OS CDs), so I had to download it again (using its metalink which took about 1.5 hrs).  (Thank God for metalinks!)

12. Then, my first reinstall attempt failed at the partition time, because it said it couldn’t read my partition, and if I tried to change it I could loose all my data, “Do you want to continue” it asked! What? Obviously NOT!!!

13. I tried again, same response. Realising that something was wrong in the partition, I decided to use Ubuntu LIVE CD to change my partitions, but no luck. It couldn’t go past my partitions.

14. I tried openSUSE oneCD installation (thinking it would be more powerful), still no luck. It told me that it couldn’t change the current settings and would use only existing settings (which I thought was not good).

15. Then I got my gParted out (the Linux partitioning specialist, a really cool/small programme). But even that failed. It just wouldn’t read my partitions, let alone let me edit them.

16. Thankfully, in all this, my Windows was still working, though by then my Windows boot was lost. I used super GRUB rescue (some boot rescue programme that I had lying around, it’s a spanish version that I can’t read, but I know a few buttons are press-worthy and times my windows boot has been restored.). And yes, this time I was able to get back to Windows.

17. And here’s how Windows helped me fix my Linux… I went straightway to MyComputer <right click>, “Manage” and then “storage” and so my partitions. Windows cannot normally read Linux partitions, but it does show that some partition exists (represented by a blank).

18. I deleted the Linux partitions, all of them, including the swap drive.

19. And then I used gParted to format the partitions to ext3 and swap….

20. And then I installed PCLinux, which worked…

21. And then I upgraded… and I’m currently typing on my updated/upgraded PCLinuxOS.

Moral of the story… keep your windows copy handy! No seriously, I was actually surprised that my partitions were so messed up that Linux distributions couldn’t read then.  Usually I use Linux to SOLVE my partitioning problems (Especially a programme like gParted) and this was the first time I had to do it the otherway. I wonder what went wrong. Perhaps, my messed up partitioning process (first) and then compounded by my error-red update/upgrade. Whatever, I’m thankful that my computer is now working… bootloader, windows, linux et al.

My Linux wish-list (which obviously is only a wish list because I have no money to give to Linux to get me these things… not even a measly dollar… because I live in the ‘3rd’ world!)… is:

1. I want a system restore in Linux!

2. I want more graphical help in fixing errors in Linux (something like a Windows safe mode).

3. I want better partitioning control, perhaps with more detail… something that actually shows where one partition ends and where one begins (like the good old fragmenting days of Windows 95)… it shows graphically exactly what bytes (sectors) are where and what to move. I’m thinking something that can be moved around like building blocks… so that we can visually see what we’re doing, rather than as lists and numbers.

4. I want automatic backups of the things that need backuping… but that’s the lazy option I guess. But what I mean is that the partitioning control centre said I should backup my partition table, but I didn’t know how to do it (I still don’t). It would have been nice if it asked instead, “do you want me to help you backup your partition table?” and then I could say, yes or no.

5. I want world peace…

ps. Please (linux fans) don’t shoot me for this post. I love Linux you guys, I really do. And I’m just shooting my mouth off, without actually contributing in support forums etc. I know, I know, I’m a bad person. I’m going to Linux hell for this, but can I appeal to linux-mercy and linux-grace.

Linux Mint 5.0 is coming May 12, 2008

Posted by NAyK in Linux, Linux Mint, PCLinuxOS, Ubuntu.

OK. Rather than complain about Ubuntu (and it’s limited out of the box experience), I am genuinely waiting for Linux Mint 5.0 (Elyssa). And so…

After many sleepless nights and a lot of work I am delighted to announce that the first release candidate for Linux Mint 5 Elyssa was released and that it is now available for download. A lot of changes and improvements were made since Daryna so make sure to read the “What’s new in Elyssa” section of the Release Notes.

Links: Release Notes & Download mirrors

The news of the release candidate (beta 032) was found here: http://www.linuxmint.com/blog/?p=174

Details of the release here: http://www.linuxmint.com/rel_elyssa.php

Of course, keeping in tune with the fact that I’m still a Linux beginner (even after so many years)… I still don’t know what a Release Candidate (or the first beta 032) is… and/or whether or how many other Beta releases coming up. I couldn’t get a date or approximation about when exactly it would be completed, I’m still guessing it’s close. But not that close.

But regardless… at the moment I’ve gotten a request by a prospective Linux user who wants to use Linux Mint and was going to install Linux Mint 4.0 but I told him to wait for 5.0… (which I told him I would help to install) so I have a stake on this release!

My own view of Linux Mint is that I think it’s growing into a more mature distribution in its own right (not just as an Ubuntu derivative), but because of my limited downloads for my internet connection, I’m afraid that I would have to download a lot to make it multimedia friendly (ie. I haven’t tried it recently). Usually a PCLinux kind of distro works for me because it works pretty much out of the box (no need for downloading) and no need for internet connections (ie. it’s easy to pass to other prospective linux users).

Yet, I wonder what’s in store for this one.

Back with Ubuntu: An installation review of Ubuntu 8.04 April 27, 2008

Posted by NAyK in First Impressions, Linux, OpenSUSE, PCLinuxOS, Recommendation, Reviews, Software, Ubuntu, Wallpapers, Working on Linux, Working with Linux.

Cut to the chase: Ubuntu 8.04 is good, not great (from a noob’s perspective). But some things, like internet connectivity, are just excellent! ****/***** (four out of five stars).

Introduction: For almost a year, I’ve stopped experimenting with Linux. That’s partly because I was terribly disappointed with openSUSE 10.3 (It was a disaster on my machine). But more importantly, PCLinuxOS 2007, was more than sufficient for my needs. I wrote about how PCLinuxOS was better than Ubuntu, and believed it! The only advantage I felt that Ubuntu had over PCLinux, was that it was evolving at a much faster rate; it was becoming better and better. As a result, I had to try Ubuntu 8.04. I just did. The following are my installation and first time use impressions of this distribution.

Using metalinks to download

I had use the Ubuntu 8.04 Desktop metalink to download, with the Orbit downloader. It’s much faster and more reliable for me than directly downloading the .iso (bitorrent is not accessible from my computer). Downloading the new Ubuntu took about 2 hours.

I began installing at 10:16pm

At the auspicious hour of 10:16 PM! I started installing Ubuntu 8.04 largely because I knew it wouldn’t take more than an hour. With Windows, a fresh installation can take almost 2 hours, but linux has made so many advances that I just knew it would be a quick process.

I checked the integrity of the disk, it was fine (thank goodness!), and started installation, thinking it would lead me to a live-CD as usual.

Instead, Ubuntu directly lead to me install Ubuntu, asking me for preliminary questions.

I guess that saves time, but I didn’t realise that the Live CD wouldn’t work, and I had already planned to check the system’s network compatibility and was disappointed that I couldn’t.

For partitioning I choose the manual option, largely because I was going to (finally!) wipe out openSUSE 10.3 from my system. I tried to mount the pre-defined swap drive, but it wouldn’t let me. I just had to mount (/) the ext3 partition, the one that had openSUSE, and check format driver.

Note for newbies: for those who’re going to partition their drives for the first time, and don’t want to lose your windows; you can either install Ubuntu on a free partition (like D or E), or you can allow Ubuntu to find it’s own free space. Either way, Ubuntu (and Linux) does a pretty good job of not messing with Windows. Your windows work will be safe.

One of Ubuntu’s key USP’s (unique selling points) has been to include a migration option; that takes the settings from other operating systems and imports them onto Ubuntu settings. It’s a pretty cool feature; but sadly, it didn’t work on this install. I wonder why?

Finally, question time is over…

By around 10:27pm, about 11 minutes since I began, I clicked install… and the computer started installing Ubuntu on my system.

At about 82%, (and the process seemed to take a long long time, in comparison to PCLinux), my internet modem started blinking, suggesting a download was in progress and I wondered how it was possible since I hadn’t configured my modem yet. Still, whether it worked or not, I would have liked it if Ubuntu gave me an option to connect to the internet or not. Thankfully, no damage done.

Reboot and log-in

By 10:42pm, about 25 minutes after I began the install, I was being asked to reboot. In the larger picture, this wasn’t bad, time wise.

Ubuntu has one of the best grub installs, it usually recognises all my operating systems without a problem, and so I didn’t fear the reboot process. Only, I was curious whether they had some artwork in the grub menu. They didn’t. But it was as efficient as ever. No problems there. Well done, Ubuntu! (once again).

At 10:44, I was staring at my new Ubuntu 8.04 system. And the art work, was quite nice too.

And now the test: Internet works!

Internet Connected with Ubuntu

I immediately wanted to configure my network, but I was curious why my modem blinked. So I clicked firefox and tried the internet. Whaaaaat??? It worked. Amazing. Without any configuration, Ubuntu was able to detect my network settings and work out of the box at this point. This was truly amazing and remarkable. Even PCLinux does not do that. 10 points for Ubuntu!

I was pleasantly surprised to see Firefox 3.

And I noticed that it found it difficult to mount

Windows NTFS drives… because the Windows was hibernated. Usually I don’t have the problem, even with PCLinux. But I guess there is a reason.

And finally the screen resolution… I got it to fit my preferred size. And all was fine/great.

Now getting down to work

My first project was to replace ugly GNOME with KDE. So I installed/installed all the relevant KDE packages. Success. But then, to view those changes, I restarted the computer (even though I wasn’t prompted to restart) and I saw that my screen resolution was changed to 800/600. Whaat? Anyway, I tried to change it back, but in KDE there was none of the usual options to change screen resolution. Plus, many of the features that I was used to in KDE were not available. As a result, I just logged out and made GNOME my default. Why mess with Ubuntu’s GNOME orientation? (i thought).

Back with GNOME, I was saddened that basic things like changing the wallpaper was still so complicated (or unintuitive). KDE does such an excellent job in installing latest wallpapers from the internet… why can’t GNOME? But anwyay… that’s just a late rant.

Then I tried installing some codecs, and like the previous version, Ubuntu does a good job in getting you the codecs you need. Only, once I had to install an mpg codec twice… I don’t know why, but I just had to.  So my computer can play mp3s, view movies and also view flash objects on the internet. What else do we need? :)


Basically, I was happy to be using the new Ubuntu 8.04 and I was particularly impressed by it’s no-need-to-configure the internet process. Still, it was a limited machine, both because of GNOME and becasue of poor KDE post-install installation. But such things shouldn’t bother us here. I’d recommend this version of Ubuntu with a 4 out of 5 stars.

K/Ubuntu 7.10 vs PCLinuxOS 2007 showdown October 22, 2007

Posted by NAyK in Discussions-Conclusions-Hopes, First Impressions, Linux, PCLinuxOS, Recommendation, Reviews, Ubuntu, Working on Linux, Working with Linux.

(updated disclaimer: Any comparison of distro’s can be problematic because each distro has different goals and visions. However, this comparison is written from the point of view of a new (Windows) user who is looking for options to install.)

Due to limited harddisk place, and partly because of my desire to try something new, I erased my PCLinuxOS 2007 to try out the new Ubuntu 7.10 (and also Kubuntu). What I present now are some impressions of my use of both operating systems, and I must say at the onset that even though I do not have any personal stake on either distribution (I am not a fanboy), I am left feeling that PCLinuxOS is by far the best choice for new Linux users available today.

(Because I have previously talked about PCLinuxOS, this article will focus more on my experience with K/Ubuntu in relation to my past PCLinux (basic) experience. Also, since I’ve used both Kubuntu and Ubuntu (or rather I installed KDE from my Ubuntu installation) I will mix both versions together… though being reasonably aware of the look-and-feel differences between KDE and GNOME).

Installation impressions:

Ubuntu: My personal experience in installing Ubuntu’s 7.10 was quite painful, partly because I first got corrupted files from a Taiwan mirror (even though the MDSUMS were correct!). Furthermore, the installation procedure is quite long, took more than 30 minutes, where today the benchmark for one-CD linux installs must be under 30. What is upsetting however is that there was very little information as to what was actually happening to my computer once the installation started… and worse there was no way of configuring what was being installed and what not. The best thing about the Ubuntu installer is the migration assistant, which while I didn’t use this time round (I now have clear differences between what I do with Windows and what I do with Linux), it was a cool trick. The other really cool thing about Ubuntu is its GRUB installer, which recognizes everything!

PCLinux: PCLinux’s installer is also pretty unhelpful. Going for simplicity, you’re eventually left at the mercy of the machine to do what it is programmed to do. But unlike Ubuntu, PCLinux is much faster, even it’s LiveCD feels faster. The other tweaks of Ubuntu can be missed, and I was particularly unhappy with PClinux’s inability to recognise my openSUSE partition. But still, it was pretty ok.

Verdict: In comparison with openSUSE’s excellent configurability during install, both PCLinux and Ubuntu fall short. Ubuntu has more features, while PCLinux has more speed. Ubuntu = 1 point, PCLOS = 1 point

Visual impressions:

Ubuntu: I have used Ubuntu since its 5.04 days, and I must say that I am surprised that it “looks” pretty much the same. Of course there have been a world of changes, but I can’t recall the difference being so huge for the beginning user. At least since 2006, there has been no significant changes in Ubuntu to warrant immediate attention, expect perhaps the change in installation; and the bootsplash. This is not to say that the design of Ubuntu is bad. I like it’s simple, brown look. I even like the drum-roll sound, which is a change from the noisy Windows or even the strange KDE music. My only complaint is that Ubuntu doesn’t have that “Wow”.

PCLinuxOS: As mentioned earlier, my first impressions of PCLinux have been “wow”. Especially in its consistent implementation of “blue” a colour I detested before meeting PCLOS. Somehow, PCLOS does a good job visually, and while many design inconsistencies remain (like the installer, which looks very childish/cartoonish), as well as some of the graphics which look too big, PCLOS still it does look good.

Verdict: Ubuntu is more consistent, simple and perhaps even elegant than PCLOS, but PCLOS is really beautiful (esp. if you like blue!). While Ubuntu has many good design implementations, PCLOS seems better thought through and implemented. Particular in comparison with Kubuntu (which uses KDE like PCLOS), PCLOS stands far ahead in terms of visual beauty. Ubuntu = 1 point, PCLOS = 2 points.

Out-of-the-box experience:

Ubuntu: It is here that PCLOS beats Ubuntu thoroughly, but it would be unfair to compare this without mentioning something of the Ubuntu philosophy. It seems that Ubuntu is driven by “free” software, though it does have proprietory software in its repositories. Still, because Linux is limited by law to play DVDs and mp3s… without certain codecs that are not open-source? Ubuntu cannot naturally offer then out of the box. As a result, any user of Ubuntu has to install the relevant codecs before using the media. Of late, Ubuntu has simplified this process by downloading the required codec when needed (ie. if you click an mp3 file, it will ask you to download the codec). But the fact remains that to make Ubuntu fully work, you need to do a little bit of fiddling. Personally, I tried to download the codec but the message I got was that there is an old package information and I needed to reload. I eventually found out that I had to enable the repositories (for software download) and then reload. All that, after installation, took another 20 minutes.

Surprisingly, even the internet took some time to configure (I’ve never had this problem with Ubuntu), as even though I gave my correct IP address, still it didn’t recognise my internet connection. Then suddenly while doing something else, it started to work. A bit of a mystery.

PCLinux: I can’t emphasise it enough that for beginners of Linux, for those who don’t know much about the philosophical or legal hassles regarding codecs etc… PCLinux comes as a breath of fresh air. Everything works! Of course I have to enter the IP address of the internet connection (and the network needs to be configured, something that I remember I didn’t need to do in Xandros!), but all the multimedia codecs I need, even the graphics driver, are all enabled. It even recognised my home wi-fi connection without any additional drivers (it was easier to connect than in Windows!). For beginners, it can’t get simpler than PCLinux! (latest update: Please note however that “PCLinuxOS does not ship with Win32codes or DVD decryption software.” While these, like on Ubuntu can be added if you need them, I’ve marvelled at PCLOS being able to play a lot of media (even mp3) right out of the box. So I’m not saying that PCLOS is perfect, but in comparison with Ubuntu, and even Windows for that matter, it is a breath of fresh air).

Verdict: Since this is a beginner user oriented post, I must say that Ubuntu is pretty unfriendly to the beginner. It is better than it was before, but in comparison with PCLinux, it’s far far behind. Ubuntu = 0 points, PCLinux = 2 points.

Packages/Software impressions:

Ubuntu: Both Ubuntu and PCLinux have a good set of software tools, most of what one would need. However, here my preference for KDE is shown where I need (prefer) K3B than Ubuntu’s CD burner… so I have to install a few things here and there. Ubuntu also has (some good) games, which PCLinux doesn’t (Why?). And because Ubuntu is more recent, some of its software packages (like openoffice 2.3) are more recent/updated than PCLinux. Ubuntu also has an excellent update feature, that automatically checks when a software/feature needs updating.

PCLinux: It has good packages, but not games, and in comparison with Ubuntu, some older packages. And sadly, for updates, you have to go to the package manager and find updates by reloading and then applying (a bit of a pain, really).

Verdict: Of course people may argue that I’m not being fair in my comparison. PCLinuxOS is older so obviously it’s packages will be older. But one thing really good about Ubuntu is its regular update cycle. It is dependable and worth looking forward to. It keeps itself up-to-date to the latest in offering, as a result, Ubuntu keeps improving. PCLinuxOS, on the other hand, while an excellent distro, does not have that kind of release cycle (I have no idea when the next one is coming) and as a result, it will obviously fall behind. Also the update tool is excellent in Ubuntu, and much needed in PCLinusOS. Ubuntu = 2 points, PCLinux = 0 points (latest update: After some comments about the efficiency of the upgrade system, I’m upping PCLinux’s package score to 1, still below Ubuntu for now).

Usability impressions:

Ubuntu: I must say that because of its terrible out-of-the-box experience, a lot needs to be done to Ubuntu before you actually use it. And because of its preference for GNOME, it’s a bit of a culture-shock for KDE or Windows users. Using Ubuntu, therefore is not much of a pleasure, until after a few days when everything is configured, then, it’s fun to use an updated distro and keep it in step with the latest.

PCLinux: As said earlier, PCLinux is almost fully ready out of the box. We can pretty much start working on it as soon as it’s installed. Also, there’s not much configuration needed either.

Verdict: While both are eventually good products to use, PCLinux gets you (you being the beginning linux user) working faster than on Ubuntu. Plus, with Ubuntu, I suspect there is more tweaking needed in the command line than in PCLinux, and there again, PCLinux has the edge. Ubuntu = 1 point, PCLinux 2 points.

Overall summary: Obviously, if your mathematics is good, PCLinux wins the basic feature by feature impression point. Of course I’m subjective, but focusing on the new user (and some not-so-new users), the experience of PCLinux is more of a relief. I must say that PCLinux is really that good; and I’m surprised that Ubuntu has so much to catch up. Of course, Ubuntu has many great features, and the best being that it is constantly improving. Still, I’m going to be deleting my Ubuntu/Kubuntu soon and reinstalling PCLinux. Ubuntu doesn’t match up to it fully, yet.

Not able to get openSUSE 10.3: (personal) download hassles faced October 11, 2007

Posted by NAyK in Discussions-Conclusions-Hopes, OpenSUSE, PCLinuxOS, Working on Linux, Working with Linux.

abstract: This article tells of how openSUSE 10.3 has been impossible to download (for me); Particularly irritating was the failure of the openSUSE metalink. On to the article…

If someone was to actually read this blog of mine, they’ll see that I’ve had a mixed experience with openSUSE.

Initially I simply fell in love with openSUSE 9.3… though I couldn’t really do anything with it. It was just a beautiful distro that made me want to look beyond Windows. Next I tried openSUSE 10, which worked but only just, 10.1 which was a huge disaster, and then 10.2 which worked exceedingly well and became my distro of choice.

Later, however, as time went by and my windows needs increased… I found openSUSE’s boot-times too slow to be practical and eventually stuck to Windows and continued my search of alternatives… though never ever erasing openSUSE 10.2.

Finally, on came along PCLinuxOS 2007, which was remarkable; a one-CD distro that was both beautiful and functional. Somehow, the difference between openSUSE and PCLinuxOS 2007 did not seem too much… especially for a beginning user like me. But, I still did not delete openSUSE.

Now, with the temptation of openSUSE 10.3’s faster boot-up timings… and that’s literally the main reason I would want to upgrade, turned out to be a major disappointment as well.

I tried downloading the DVD through my office broadband connection… (because it was partly official)… however the metalinks were just not working /recognisable. I remember downloading 10.2 through the metalink and it was amazing experience to work with openSUSE, through installs and beyond. But 10.3 metalink was just was not working. Basically for a long time the CHEKSUMs kept failing. Then after many days, it was allowing me to download only a 103 MB file… while I know that the DVD is 4.1 GB! When I enquired from the site about the errors I got the impression that aria2 (I use Orbit) would be better to use… but without linux (ie. on windows) I couldn’t even understand what aria2 was about… so I quit figuring that out.

I then tried the http download (office blocks bittorrent)… and it was phenomenally slow… I mean I was getting speeds of 6 kbps… yes KBPS! Anyway… I managed to find a ‘fast’ connection that allowed me to download openSUSE dvd in three days! But when I tried to burn the file through k3b I was informed that there was an error in the download!!!

Well… that’s not all. I then tried openSUSE’s KDE disk… and that downloaded ok. And I began to clean install of openSUSE over my previous openSUSE as well as over my PCLinuxOS 2007. But I made a mistake while installing by requesting a network install (basically downloading files from the network while installing the distro). Mistake because it took such a long time.

Anyway… it eventually worked… but as usual openSUSE does not recongise the VIA drivers, so my monitor resolution could not show anything higher than 800/600. But fear not, opensource OpenChrome drivers are available… and horror of horrors… it’s available only for openSUSE 10.2 and 10.1 (eeeks).

Anyway, I tried installing it anyway… and guess what? Crash! The x-server crashed and I could not get into the graphic display again. And of course I’m a newbie/noob whatever… and I could edit my config file.

So… what did I do? Install PCLinux 2007 over my openSUSE install, and wait for a better day.

Summary: basically, I’m a little peeved that the metalinks were not working. Shouldn’t they have been? But more importantly, I find myself wanting to work with PCLinux 2007… simply because it recognises my graphics driver… does not need to be configured etc… and is not so harsh on me if I make a mistake! Anyway… maybe this version is jinxed for me… and I should wait for 10. 4 or something!!!