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Linux Mint 9: Installation Review – A Not-So-Happy Story August 16, 2010

Posted by NAyK in First Impressions, Linux, Linux Mint, Reviews, Windows, Working on Linux.
6 comments

Fed up with my buggy PCLinuxOS, I decided to install the new Linux Mint 9. After burning the installation DVD image (which is just over 700MB), I decided to install it on my Lenovo Thinkpad Z60m.

The loading process of the Live DVD was relatively smooth, though it felt a little slow to load the live image.  (PCinux is still faster in the Live CD department)

I then decided to install, and it asked for the customary questions like location, keyboard etc.

I liked the new look and feel, almost felt like openSUSE’s installation process in a good way.

At the partition table point, I found the graphics a little too small and the default processes difficult to understand.  I was anyway going to the advanced option, but PCLinux’s large view size of proposed partitioning table, seemed for once, more helpful.

I choose to delete my PCLinux partition and mounted all my other Windows partitions making sure I did not format those.

I was also asked whether I wanted to import any preferences from Windows like Firefox settings and  MyDocuments from Windows. First I checked it, and clicked ok. but then I changed my mind and went back to uncheck it. Please note that at this time there was no confirmation from Linux Mint on whether my options were going to be effective.

Only after all the options were listed, did Linux Mint begin the process of actually installing, which is customary.

While the installation was going on I noticed that the wifi was not detected, and I guess it was too late to look to change that, so I thought I’d fix it after the installation is done. I was hoping that Ubuntu’s spectacular record of being able to configure my internet connection in my desktop automatically would filter into the wireless connection as well.

The installation process took about 25 minutes, after which I rebooted. I noted that Linux Mint was the default operating system, and I wished that Mint had given me the option of choosing which operating system I wanted to default. I usually (curses upon me) still choose Windows as my default operating system.

Anyway, going into Linux Mint, I just couldn’t get the wifi to work. I noted that there were no windows wifi drivers installed, but because my wireless was not detected, no way for me to install them! I knew that I had to log into Windows to figure out the problem.

…when I returned to windows, to my shock (not horror, because I had backups), my entire My Documents folder had been erased. I had other folders in that partition, and they were ok, untouched (I hope) and working, but the MyDocuments was empty. This was shocking, especially since I had never experienced something like this with Linux before.

However, when I returned to windows, to my shock (not horror, because I had backups), my entire My Documents folder had been erased. I had other folders in that partition, and they were ok, untouched (I hope) and working, but the MyDocuments was empty. This was shocking, especially since I had never experienced something like this with Linux before. I forgot about trying to fix Linux Mint and went about restoring my documents using my backups (alas they were a few days old, so I lost some of the work I did over the weekend, but not much).

I am now quite disturbed and will probably in reaction do away with Linux Mint and … install some other operating system in my Laptop. However for my desktop I will still try to persevere with Mint to see whether this is a one-off problem or an actual bug.

So that’s my not-so-happy tale with Mint, hope others met with a better fate.

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Goodbye openSUSE. Hello Linux Mint. January 8, 2009

Posted by NAyK in Confessions, Linux, Linux Mint, OpenSUSE, openSUSE 11.1, Recommendation, Reviews, Working on Linux, Working with Linux.
12 comments

Disclaimer: openSUSE 11.1 is reported to be an excellent upgrade. However on “my” Lenovo laptop openSUSE 11.1 has been a total disaster. This report is therefore a personal report rather than a universal indictment against openSUSE which I still think is one of the best distributions. (this is also not an openSUSE vs Linux Mint post, even though it feels like one)

Linux MintEnough is enough. After numerous attempts to get openSUSE 11.1 working, including many many reinstalls, I finally erased everything in favour of Linux Mint 6 (Felicia… whatever that means!).

My previous escapades with openSUSE have been documented in earlier posts… except that my last post I actually ended in a happy note. I had finally reinstalled openSUSE 11 and then upgraded to openSUSE 11.1. My boot system was still creating problems with the CD, but things were working so far… so I began to use the system. But things just became bad to worse… no audio… no easy program installations… search not working… and the killer lack… no CD recognition!

So I decided, because I actually NEEDED linux to work (especially for CD burning) I choose to install Linux Mint 6. Why Mint? Because Ubuntu couldn’t recognise my wifi driver/connection (and I ONLY have a wifi connection… no ethernet)… so I was pretty handicapped with Ubuntu. Linux Mint on the other hand (using the oft-used-cliche) just worked.

And I must agree… as so many others have discovered… Linux Mint is Ubuntu done right!

The installation was not as fast as I remembered it… but it was effective. Also, I didn’t like the default partition options… (here I just missed openSUSE that does such an excellent default boot option). But that was fixable using the advanced mode. Also I was disappointed with such limited options during the install… (again missing openSUSE), but it was functional. (basically, it would be nice if Linux Mint depended on more than Ubuntu and learned a few things here and there from openSUSE).

When it installed, I missed KDE… but I don’t think I’m going to try KDE until things become clearer between KDE 3.5 and KDE 4.1 (just not comfortable with the in-between life). However the Linux Mint desktop was pretty and usable enough, so that was ok.

Linux Mint recognised my wireless connection immediately.. which was a huge relief. However, when I tried to make a VPN connection (of my college)… I was just not able to find an easy accessible way of doing it. But that’s ok… I didn’t urgently need it (though that’s another thing keeping me dependent on Windows… yes it was easier to do in Windows). There were huge updates to install… but thankfully my fast internet connection could handle it pretty quickly… I shudder to think what I’d do with the older slower connection I used to use… (which I may be returning to next year!!!… due to financial and other reasons). I wish the .iso files were remastered with the updates… (like it’s possible to buy Windows with the service packs… actually I only know the XP experience, not the VISTA).

And then, problems with skype. And sadly, the audio didn’t work and it seems that both openSUSE and Mint… have problems with something called pulseaudio. I can’t understand how default installations are facing such problems… for so long. In my earlier experience with Mint I had the same audio problems… and the fix was similar… but why is the problem still there, I don’t know.

…I must agree… as so many others have discovered… Linux Mint is Ubuntu done right!

Anyway… my mic is not working… yes it’s working in Windows. And no it wasn’t working in openSUSE (even in 11)… but certainly not here. can’t figure out why… but that’ll probably be another story.

But everything else is ok. I had to install (and use) the K3B programme… and that worked.

Also once the MintInstall messed up… and didn’t allow me to install a new programs (I had to go through Synaptic). And then attempt to reload MintInstall many times (over a few reboots) to allow me to reload… and it’s working now. But I feel that the openSUSE one-place-for-everything approach seems better than the LinuxMint way that has several applications… one for update, one for installations, one for… mintNanny (whatever that is!).

And also… another problem I faced in Mint is that because I installed Mint with the external USB harddisk (accidently) connected… the external harddisk interrupts the Grub when it is plugged in. So I have to remove the harddisk and then boot and then plug it again… a bit of a pain, but it’s ok.

And finally… a big problem… which is not a problem but is still a problem… is the automatic (default) Linux modified google search instead of the pure google search. I was first upset about it until I read this post which said that is the way Linux Mint makes its money (by the default search). Hmmm. Ok. I was less upset when I read it, yet I feel it is problematic since there was no information about it or even a choice offered to participate in it. It’s kind of dictated to you… and at best it feels like a bug… at worst it feels like an invasion. Still… I am now keeping the default search, by choice… but I feel there should be a choice to participate in it or not… but that’s just me.

So, now I have a brand new Linux Mint installed. Apart from the above, it’s been working pretty well… no major problems… unlike openSUSE… and that’s a relief.

I must say that I’ve extremely impressed by the graphics experience of Linux Mint. I don’t have a heavy-duty graphics card… but the basic 3D? graphics are pretty cool… and even helpful… which I mean the desktop switcher (between different workspaces). It is really practical and it works. (no, it didn’t work in my openSUSE!). Also I really like it when the workpaces are switched and you have a FULLY FRESH desktop without the applications from other desktops visible in the panel… openSUSE still has the other desktop applications visible, which I think defeats the purpose. Nice Ubuntu? Linux Mint touch.

Also, I was very impressed with the time/date AND WEATHER! applet installed in the panel by default. It’s the kind of thing that makes you wonder why other distros didn’t think of that (ie. without depending on third-party plugins). Really nice.

My new desktop (yes, I still like flowers) looks like this, below.

linuxmintdesktop

Now that’s more like it. openSUSE (KDE 4.1) starts working… finally. December 23, 2008

Posted by NAyK in KDE 4.1, Linux, OpenSUSE, openSUSE 11.1, Recommendation, Reviews, Screenshots, Wallpapers, Working on Linux, Working with Linux.
1 comment so far

openSUSE 11So my openSUSE (KDE 4.1) is finally working. Thanks to all those who gave me moral support and some helpful advice. And yes, KDE 4.1 looks fantastic… and once you get the hang of it… the configuration is much much more powerful. Right now I still haven’t figured out this plasma thing… but at least as a basic (open) desktop… this (featured above) is a start.

From now on, I hope… there’s no turning back to openSUSE 11 or even to that GNOME interface (my gosh, people actually use GNOME in today’s age???).

How did things work?

1. I uninstalled pulseaudio, as was suggested… and that got me my audio back.

2. I went to KDE 4.1 and decided to go slow… and not mess around with the configurations too much. Even then when I right click and image and ask to set it to desktop, it doesn’t work, but I expected that. Instead, I made a folder, put the image in that folder, and connected to that folder from the desktop configuration settings. Plus, I slowly (read without trusting intuition) clicked each button hoping I wouldn’t mess anything up… and yes, finally I was able to configure KDE 4.1 to roughly where I want.

Still many many glitches remain, like I can’t still shutdown/restart from KDE… but now it’s good enough to go seeking the forums for help… that’s if I have time… but now fixing it will be fun. Hope I have many more positive posts about openSUSE in the future.

Below is the screenshot… as proof!

kde-openSUSE

7 things making me tear my hair out after installing openSUSE 11.1 (and some good stuff) December 22, 2008

Posted by NAyK in Brasero, Confessions, First Impressions, Internet, K3B, Linux, OpenSUSE, openSUSE 11.1, Reviews, Software, Wallpapers, Windows, Working on Linux, Working with Linux.
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24 comments

openSUSE 11My previous post was honest, but still irresponsible. It could have given the impression that openSUSE 11.1 was not a good distribution. I’m sure it works perfectly for thousands of people. So I admit that my problems with openSUSE 11.1 are probably only my own…  I guess I’m not that lucky to have openSUSE work on my computer… or I must be dumber than I thought. Still, AFTER I reinstalled EVERYTHING (and I mean EVERYTHING including Windows), I finally got openSUSE 11.1 working… and then I was faced with problems of ‘using’ the distribution and this is that story. In no particular order, this is a list of some of the problems I faced while USING openSUSE 11.1.

I can’t imagine how this could be universal problems… otherwise  the distro would be super-buggy… but maybe it is a problem of openSUSE not recognising my Lenovo laptop (even though it has worked fine in Lenovo for all these years)… but my experiences with 11.1 have simply been terrible.

1. Confusion over KDE 3.5 or KDE 4.1 ??? Chuck it, let’s go to GNOME… but wait, where’s K3B?

As I said in my earlier post, when I installed KDE 4.1, the window crashed simply when I wanted to change the desktop photo. So I realised that KDE 4.1 could not be my novice desktop manager of choice just yet. But after my previous experiences of crashing my entire system by just meddling with the boot configuration, I decided to work with GNOME. At least there was only one manager to work with. So what that I hate GNOME, how bad could it be in openSUSE?

Well, I was happy that the wi-fi worked in GNOME, but when I wanted to do a simple bittorrent download I found some strange program called Monsoon. OK, I thought, how bad could it be, but I couldn’t change any of the view settings… like if I wanted to see the peers who were giving the highest speeds, I couldn’t adjust the windows. Enough of that, I said, I want Azureus (VUZE). I got it without a problem, but then, when I launched it, it would crash all the time. OK, let’s go for the trusted KTorrent… and I was invited to install half of KDE base systems. But that’s ok… I needed K3B anyway… so might as well install these files, I thought. Well.. KTorrent worked fine (phew). But now it was CD burning time… and that GNOME Brasero burning couldn’t even recognise my blank CD. Instead GNOME kept openning up another CD burning app, that wasn’t allowing me to burn a CD image onto the CD. Hmm… no more waiting, let’s install K3B… but when I launched K3B… nothing happened… no launch, nothing. I was stuck, I really needed that CD burned, but I couldn’t get the GNOME CD burners to work and K3B wasn’t working. My plan, install the entire KDE base and files, which I did, and I even restarted for good-measure. And viola! K3B worked in GNOME (all it took was the support of the ENTIRE KDE interface).. surely there’s an easy way than that.

2. Back to KDE, but wait, what KDE is this???

Needless to say, it wasn’t long before I switched back to KDE (3.5) because who wants to be stuck with GNOME anyway. But wait, some of the functionality of KDE was missing, especially the shut down button. There was no shutdown. I had to logout and only then shut down. Whaat? (ok, I know there’s a fix somewhere, but please, this is openSUSE 11.1 !!! should this be happening?)

3. Repair, no repair, but still repaired… whaaat?

As I admitted earlier, I am a windows – linux user (ie. I regularly dual-boot). So I need the openSUSE grub install. However, as expected, when I installed Windows ‘after’ openSUSE, I lost the GRUB, and I knew I had to repair the openSUSE installation to fix the GRUB. I ran the CD and when the GRUB was being fixed, it didn’t recognise my Windows installation. That’s strange, I thought, and I manually entered the Windows booting code, as I remembered it. But the GRUB gave me an error, and I thought I’d rather not mess with it anyway, so I cancelled the installation, it told me that things are not repaired and I went to windows hoping to deal with this problem later.

4. Movies do not play in Kaffiene… so why have it in the first place (hurray for VLC)

Even after installing all the proprietory drivers, I still couldn’t get Kaffiene, the first-choice player, to play my .avi files. I had to install VLC to do that. So, why’s Kaffiene the default if after codecs are installed, it still doesn’t play what I would want to play?

However, when I was rebooting… to go to windows… I found a brand new GRUB installed, with Windows as default. Wow, is my computer haunted or what?

5. External harddisk. My external hard-disk does not work if I do not unmount it properly from Windows. For instance, if I, for whatever reason, pull the hard-disk cord in Windows, in Linux it will not mount the system and tell me to go back to Windows to eject it properly. What?

6. Audio has disappeared

In all this… somewhere along the way, and I have no idea where, I’ve lost the audio of my openSUSE. Either it is when I installed the codecs or when I installed the whole KDE system, I don’t know, but right now I have no audio, and I don’t know why.

7. Terrible default wallpapers. I know this is not a biggie, but couldn’t there be a major revision of what we find in the default wallpapers. That would add so much more value!

(under miscellaneous… big icons, why KDE why? )

AND THE small MERCIES (What is going well)

Not everything is bad. I had to reinstall Windows all of yesterday, and it was a striking constrast to the ease of installing Linux. In the Windows world we laptop owners are spoiled by the drivers being preinstalled… but when I lost everything… including all my drivers, I realised I had to install everything, one by one…. update again and again… restart countless times… and I haven’t even got to my programs yet! So it’s great to know that Linux, and especially openSUSE is actually much more easier to install and certainly more fun. The good things

1. Wi-fi is working. No problems there.In constrast, just to get the internet working in Windows. I had to get the wifi drivers, but before that I needed three other drivers from three different locations, before I could get that driver to work. Of course that’s three restarts as well.

2. No restarts. I know I’ve already said it, but I’ve done so many installations in openSUSE and not once have I needed to restart (besides the point that I choose to restart once, but I didn’t need to… a big relief).

3. and… well… that’s it for now… once my audio starts working, and I start listening to some soothing/relaxing music… I’ll be able to identify a few more positives… I hope.

Below is a screenshot of my gnome version… I know it’s not pretty, but what to do. Gnome-linux is better than no linux.

Gnome-openSUSE

A horrific start with openSUSE 11.1 December 21, 2008

Posted by NAyK in Confessions, Firefox, First Impressions, Linux, OpenSUSE, openSUSE 11.1, samba, Ubuntu, Windows, Working on Linux, Working with Linux.
32 comments

openSUSE 11In the past 24-hours with the latest openSUSE 11.1, I’ve had a horrific experience. And while I’ve not given up on the distribution, I’m putting down my experiences here neither as a call for help nor as a rant to keep people away. Rather, an honest approach spreads honest knowledge… and hopefully I will be proved wrong, and others will not make the same “mistakes?” I made. What follows is a quick historical recount of my experiences with openSUSE and also my current trauma.

History
Believe it or not, I love openSUSE and have been using it since the 9.3 days. Of course I was, and still remain, a novice. Which means I enjoy installing the new openSUSE, I try to get it working on my machine/s and then, after using it for a few weeks/days… I go back to windows, waiting for the next openSUSE release. I know this just reveals that I am a shallow linux user, without much knowledge of the system, but sadly, that IS me.

I think openSUSE 10.2 was one of my best Linux experience, it really improved from my traumatic experience with openSUSE 10/10.1. I eventually used 10.2 a lot, for a few months, as my primary distribution, and the only reason why I returned to Windows was because I needed Dreamweaver and Photoshop for important (read official web-designing). I did try the linux solutions, but I didn’t have the guts to invest company time and pages on my experiments.

Anyway… openSUSE 10.3 was quite traumatic as well, and when openSUSE 11 was released, I knew openSUSE would only improve. And it did. But then they had started promoting KDE 4 and while I liked it, I couldn’t use it everyday and shifted back to KDE 3.5. However by then it was too difficult to commit entirely to a Linux distro and I went back to Windows primarily, with occasional Linux visits.

One of the chief problems was that I wasn’t able to access my Linux files with explorerFS (the Windows based linux files viewer). I don’t know what happened, but once openSUSE could only be access FROM openSUSE, I couldn’t invest doing too much work in openSUSE in fear that I would waste too much time going back and forth.

I also was upset that I couldn’t access my Windows files from openSUSE when Windows was hibernated. This, is obviously for my safety, yet PCLinux allows this and it is really a useful feature. Still… that’s no excuses… just a reality.

Anyway… in time I suddenly realised that my openSUSE 11 started having problems with the audio. I couldn’t keep the speakers on without a feedback sound. Something like a mic feedback. I didn’t have the time to fix, so I waited for the new openSUSE 11.1

My horrific experience with openSUSE 11.1

downloading: I was one of the first people to start downloading openSUSE 11.1 (right to the minute it was released). I was waiting for it to allow me to download, kept refreshing the page, and when I got the direct ISO link I was delighted. In 2.5 hours I had the entire DVD on my disk, and another .5 hours I had the add-on disk.

burning and media testing: because I did the download in windows, I also burned the iso in windows (i usually prefer KDE). I then had to do a mediacheck in the openSUSE installation, and thankfully there were no problems in the DVD.

installation: The installation began and went quite smoothly… except I wasn’t able to connect to the internet because I am connected through wifi and I am not able to connect to my internet through the ethernet. Don’t ask me why… I called the Bell tech-support and their help wasn’t that great on this matter. (also I was running out of time, and wanted to get started, so I started without network configuration). The openSUSE installation is so swanky and cool (as always) that I didn’t pay attention to the new changes that may have been made. It’s just that things went so smoothly, I had no cause for complaint. I in fact used most of the default settings (I usually play around with the settings to get exactly what I need), because things were just going so well. The whole process took about an hour (the actual installation was about 35 minutes).

getting started: when I had my new KDE 4.1 desktop on my computer, I connected to the wifi connection without problems… which was great (openSUSE has always had a good wifi recogniser). And then got cracking with the updates (two security updates) and configuration.

desktop Configuration: that’s where things started getting buggy. I tried changing the desktop wallpaper, and when I changed it… nothing happened. Then I tried again… and the window crashed. hmmm? Anyway, thinking it was a KDE4 glitch… or a bug… I thought about reporting it… but I had to register as a new user and I wasn’t in the mood to do that… so I went to the KDE 3.5 session. and tried changing the desktop wallpaper there… and even there I had some problems, but I was able to change to one of the default pictures. I had tried installing my own picture… using firefox images right click set as desktop, but that didn’t work.

multimedia codecs: I then did the one-click install for all the multimedia codecs… and hoped I would be able to watch avi files. I wasn’t. I then had to install VLC player to view the avi files I had. Anyway… I didn’t want to get too picky… so I went to sleep with an imperfectly configured openSUSE. (ps I was able to go back to windows, as the grub recognised the windows booting).

The next day…

Boot configuration: the next day I started by configuring the boot… because I wanted to make windows the default. using YAST. Then I restarted and…

BAAM… no operating system! whaat?

I restarted again, and again, no operating system.

I was not concerned, thinking that perhaps the GRUB got messed up, so I tried to repair install using my openSUSE dvd. But when I tried fixing the GRUB, the entire C drive partition was unrecognisable. I wasn’t able to use or mount it. Hmmm.

Another try: I was a little concerned (though not that much because I had my important files backed up, but I didn’t have everything backed up, and I DIDN’T want to do a fresh Windows install because I would lose some preloading programmes). Still… I thought of a workaround. I tried using Ubuntu 8.04 to install and get Windows back… but even there the C drive was unregnisable. (I didn’t install Ubuntu as a result)

OK now I was worried… I returned to openSUSE disk and tried to install just the openSUSE installation, but it told me that the openSUSE root did not exist. Hmmm.

In effect, I was without a computer… with no windows or linux. Only solution, install linux again… I did that… and have found that I can’t access the C drive of windows… only the D and E (thankfully).

And now I have to repair my Windows installation… and hopefully that will be enough (I really don’t want to reinstall my Windows).

Ending… (or pause)… so that’s it… this is NOT a rant… just an experience-tale. To perhaps show my lack of experience.

I’m writing this from my second installation of openSUSE 11.1… and also on Konqueror because the Firefox is not working. What-the-heck? Something must be wrong… but I can’t imagine what.

Anyway, it’s back to repairing Windows and I hope I will return to tell a happier tale.

HOW-TO fix “Timeout on Server” in openSUSE 11 June 27, 2008

Posted by NAyK in How-To, Linux, OpenSUSE, samba, Software, Windows, Working on Linux, Working with Linux.
Tags: ,
3 comments

Continuing my involvement with openSUSE 11, I am happy to report than now even my office network is connected and browsable (yesterday I had printing success). So things are going well. For now.

1. The problem was that I had attempted to connect to my office network like the openSUSE 10.2 days, and instead found that SAMBA (smb://) was giving me problems and not allowing me to even see my network.

2. I thought it was a KDE4 problem so I installed KDE3.5, and stopped the firewall, and instantly I was able to browse my network through SMB.

3. All good, I thought, until I got the dreaded “Timeout on Server” message when I tried to reaccess the server. I do remember seeing this message in the past, openSUSE 10.2, but was able to fix it by removing the firewall or by restarting openSUSE or even by waiting for a long time. No such luck this time, I had the server timeout message going on for a few days.

4. Internet help, didn’t seem to directly deal with my problem. Neither did the Forums (yes I was desperate). But I did come across a very extensive HOW-TO fix SAMBA from a famous “Swerdna” in the site: http://www.swerdna.net.au/linhowtolanprimer.html#nicwin

5. The HOW-TO was very difficult to follow through verbatum, especially because I am not a systems administrator. But still I trudged along and installed everything I should, and made a few minimal changes.One of the significant changes I made was that in the samba configuration file I replaced workgroup = WORKGROUP to workgroup = NAMEOFMYWORKGROUP (ie. the actual name of my workgroup)

6. I still did not have any luck and kept getting the timeout message.

7. In the Swerdna HOW-TO,however, there were two commands, “rcnmb restart” and “rcsmb restart” (without quotes) as “su” users.This restarts SAMBA.

8. I suddenly had a brainwave and instead of typing my loggin-password details (for my office network as) NAMEOFMYWORKGROUP/myname and PASSWORD I now typed myname and PASSWORD.

9. It worked. the SAMBA configuration had already put my Workgroup name in the settings, so my password was simpler and I guess the restarting of the SAMBA helped as well.

10. So far, my network has worked even though I have restarted my computer, which is a good sign. Now I have to see whether it will work with the SAMBA configured Firewall back on.

11. (latest update: I got the Firewall started and like Swerdna advised did the settings as I should. I realised that I couldn’t browse my network from SMB, it said that my firewall prevented me to, but I could directly access it using my IP address (which I got from my network administrator. So things are still good!).

On to more openSUSE adventures…

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.
15 comments

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.

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.
7 comments

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? :)

Finally…

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.
75 comments

(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.

…and I thought openSUSE was hard! (Or, the pains of installing the new Ubuntu) October 19, 2007

Posted by NAyK in Ubuntu, Working on Linux.
3 comments

Previously I wrote about the terrible time I was having with downloading and installing openSUSE 10.3. But as I was tempted by and decided to install the new Ubuntu 7.10, I was in for a major shock. I spent all of two days, trying to get any form of Ubuntu/Kubuntu iso… burned it… and have still to get it to work! I’m currently on my third attempt. Basically, this is what happened…

Yesterday I downloaded 7.10. Obviously the servers were very slow so I found a reasonable speed in a Taiwan server. It was also slow (look more the four hours), but it worked. I looked forward eagerly to install it. I checked the mdsums and they were correct (using K3B) so I burned it on a CD.

Usually, a K3B burned CD works fine without needing CD-checks, but I decided to check this installation CD using mediacheck before installing. Surprisingly it found an error in an open office package. I thought there was an error in burning, so I checked MDSUMS and burned again. Once again, at mediacheck, it showed an error.

Frustrated, I decided to try out Kubuntu, hoping for a better result. I downloaded it all day today… took more than 5 hours… and burned the CD. Again, the MDSUMS were correct. And it opened nicely for the installation choices. But when I clicked the mediacheck… nothing happened. I tried clicking installation… nothing happened. The only option I could click was boot from harddisk. I restarted the computer and tried again. Same (non)result. I then tried to let Kubuntu boot by itself… using the 30seconds timeout… same (non)result. I then went to the text based install… and there was… an error in the disk!!!

Frustrated… I tried to install Ubuntu, even though it was corrupted… thinking that since openoffice is one of the last packages… I may be able to get it done… I could then fix Ubuntu from inside. And… for about an hour I went through the whole install… all the options etc… and then, even the packages… installed… crashing once during package install but nicely allowing me to move one. Then, after installing GRUB, I rebooted… and guess what, no Ubuntu Linux. It hadn’t changed my GRUB and there was no way to boot into the new Ubuntu.

So, well… I’m back to trying to install Ubuntu again… this time I’m using Distrowatch’s iso file…. slow yes, but hopefully more dependable.