Monday, January 08, 2007

Cutting-off Windows - 7 months later

It's now been 7 months since my decision to cut-off Windows. This is actually an update to my previous blog post aimed at providing guidance to those who may be contemplating the thought of shutting down their Windows PC's and booting up to a new, free, safer, and faster, operating system - Linux.

You can read the start of my 7 month Linux experience here. I'm still using Ubuntu and have upgraded from 6.06 to 6.10 code named Edgy Eft. Now, since this is aimed at prospect Linux users, and with so many different Linux flavors to chose from, I think you may find the following paragraph of interest and value in your decision making.

Last week, I actually installed Novell's openSuse 10.2 over Ubuntu. "The grass is greener on the other side" they say. So I thought...boy was I wrong! Not to bad mouth Suse but it failed miserably in speed, stability, and ease of use when compared to Ubuntu. Having tried openSuse and Fedora, I now join the multitude of Linux users in saying that Ubuntu is by far the most user-friendly distribution available.

Now, after my disappointment with openSuse Linux, I actually blew the dust off my Windows xp cd and loaded it into my cdrom. Once I got to the part of formatting my drives, I paused...and like a scene from a movie where a character's life flashes through their minds in a matter of a seconds, the thoughts of my previous life with Windows drove my finger to the F3 key and aborted the installation. I thought about the never ending threats of malware, spyware, adware, trojans, etc...I thought about the firewall I was going to need and the anti virus too. How bad is the security issue that revolves around Windows? Bad enough to where the NY Times published an article recommending the use of a "non-Windows based PC".

So now I'm back to Ubuntu. And if you too decide to go with it as your Linux distribution of choice, here are some links and tips to help you save time in getting it set up for everyday use.

1. For playing MP3's and DVD's get Automatix2. This is an easy to install package that provides a graphical user interface for installing various useful applications...codecs being one of them.
2. Install Mplayer (you can get this through Automatix2 as well) for playing various types of media files; Windows Media being one of them.
3. I found this website to be very helpful:
-You can get the flash9 plugin by following the step by step tutorial.
-If you have a Windows drive on your computer, there's a tutorial on mounting NTFS, FAT32 drives.
4. Lastly, if you want some cool desktop effects, go here and follow the steps for installing Beryl.

In conclusion, although Ubuntu will offer you a fully operational system after installation, it does require a few tweaks to get it fully configured. Be patient and simply google for anything that doesn't work. Trust me, you'll find tons of useful websites with answers. The Ubuntu community is large and very actively involved. Until my future "1 year with Ubuntu" post, good luck and God bless!


Robert said...

Personally, I prefer Mepis Linux which is a Ubuntu offshoot with KDE as the default desktop environment. I like the hardware support plus the built in multimedia plugins. I like being able to login as root when I wish. Of course, Ubuntu is fine too.

Sami said...

Could you tell what went so horribly wrong with OpenSuse 10.2 that you even thought about installing Windows? I'm just curious, as my own experiment with (K)Ubuntu ended with similar thoughts, for me it was totally useless after 10 years with SuSE. So it's no wonder sometimes is hard to jump from Windoze over to Linux, if it's this hard to even use other distro than 'own' ;D

Anonymous said...

I always find posts promoting one GNU/Linux distro over another a bit mysterious. I've been using Linux since 1999--first distro was Caldera 2.2 with which I could do little beyond getting it installed. I then moved to RH 5.2 then 6.0 and stayed with that distro until 8.0 when they switched to GNOME. At that point I went with Libranet 2.8 (?) which was probably my favorite distro. Unfortunately, it died sometime ago. After Libranet I switched to SUSE 8.0 and have been riding that train ever since, though not without issues. I have since tried PCOSLinux, Gentoo, Debian, Mepis, Arch Linux, Zen, etc. and have found issues with them all. It's easy to understand why Windows users stay with Windows--once you've made that investment. As often as not, I can't even get a Linux distro to boot after installation. When it does, there are always other showstoppers--except for SUSE, which nevertheless has it's own problems. For example, the latest version (10.2) won't boot into graphics mode, even though I was able to get the previous version to do this on the exact same hardware. Go figure!

In the end, I think CHAOS theory explains it best. Right place at the right time, you get lucky, you're happy. If not, you stay with what you know.

Anonymous said...

Ubuntu is great, but I'm addicted to the power of KDE's desktop so, like Robert, I opted for MEPIS.

I agree with your comments about SUSE. I had been a SuSE user from 5.3 (Sept 1998) to 9.0. During that time I purchased twenty two boxed sets. IMO, the last good SuSE was around 7.0. After that the quality began to yo-yo with each release. Part of the problem was the conversion from the console based YAST to the graphical YAST. What hasn't changed is the way SUSE reconfigures itself when you make changes using YAST. IIRC, it uses the file SuSECONFIG to control the firing of over a dozen scripts, regardless of how trivial the changes you made. That makes it slow. And, if you ever get impatient and make a manual change SuSECONFIG loses control and you are forever responsible for any and all changes. To make matters worse, after Novell took over they intially tried to prohibit making copies or archives without written permission, but the uproar, plus their being reminded of the GPL, soon caused them to reverse themselves. That didn't stop them from removing multimedia capabilities though. A BIG problem which caused me to look elsewhere was the RPM hell that I too frequently encountered, especially if I tried to install RPMs from non-SUSE sources.

And, yes, it IS slow. I didn't realize just how slow it was until I switched to Mandrake, then to Fedora C2, then to KNOPPIX, which was faster than all the previous ones. I also played with LibraNet, XANDROS, Kanotix, Debian, PCLinuxOS (Now there is a distro Windows newbies would enjoy!), Linspire, Mandriva, RH9, and several lesser known distros before I discovered MEPIS almost two years ago. I've been with it every since.

Even if Novell improved or removed the problems with SUSE, the BIG issue that would keep me from returning to SUSE or openSuSE, is the agreement Novell made with Microsoft. That agreement violates the GPL by creating two classes of code contributors which the GPL doesn't recognize: those whose contributions make it into SELS and thus protect them from a threat of an MS lawsuit for 5 years or until MS cancels the agreement, and EVER OTHER contributor to ANY distro or FOSS project. Thus, their agreement does MORE than just violate the "spirit" of the GPL.

The other problem I'm seeing since the agreement is the flood of pro-agreement astroturfers that have flooded Linux forums. It must be some of those same dead people James Pendergast resurrected so they could flood Congress with pro-MS letters.

HowiPepper said...

For those that opted for Mepis over Ubuntu, because they prefer KDE, my question is why not Kubuntu? Just asking, no flames please :-)

As for logging in as root in Ubuntu, yes you can. There are a couple of ways to do it, the easiest way is to allow the root user during install. I'm not really up on the graphical Ubuntu install, but if you select "expert" install mode from the Alternate CD install, you will be asked if you wish to allow the root user to login. Selecting "Yes" will then prompt you for a root password. After this, you can su to root, or if you change your login window preferences to allow local administrator login, you can login as root.

Anonymous said...

I would be curious on how you think opensuse 10.2 is slow and has no multimedia. When you installed it, did you enable dir_index? Also, just add the repos for multimedia. The packman repo has everything you need. I can play mp3, wmv, wma, divx, xvid, mpg, mpeg2, etc. Plus tons of software. I tried Ubuntu and frankly, I thought it was garbage. It was too hard to navigate and where was the software? openSuse is by far the most polished and easy to use out of all the distros I have tried (red hat 5+, Mandrake 8+, fedora all, suse 6+, Ubuntu, KUbuntu, slackware, just to name a few.) I challenge you on the ease of use. My cousin who is technically inclined has a hard time with Ubuntu. While my dad who is 60 and not technically inclined is running suse 10.1 with no problems. In fact I have had lot fewer calls from him than when he was on XP.

just my .02cents worth.

GreyGeek said...

For those that opted for Mepis over Ubuntu, because they prefer KDE, my question is why not Kubuntu? Just asking, no flames please :-)

I tried GNOME, the default desktop in Ubuntu, and found it lacking when compared with KDE. Although it is a very clean desktop with a well designed menu structure, I found its basic desktop functionality weak when compared to KDE. Konqueror is a much more powerful file manager / browser / services tool than Nautilus, IMO. There are more mimes and new ones are easy to add. Putting shortcuts on the desktop is very easy. So is dragging them to the application / system tray.

I did try Kubuntu but KDE wasn't as well integrated, and hardware detection and installation didn't appear to be as good. When I tried MEPIS the differences were amazing. This is despite the fact that MEPIS is built upon Ubuntu and uses the Ubuntu repositories.

First, MEPIS does a better job during install and/or boot up of detecting and automatically configuring and installing hardware. YMMV, of course, depending on the PC you are attempting to install it on, but it fits onto my Gateway m675prr 17" laptop like a silk glove. My ATI Radeon 9500 video chip is setup with 3D. My sound chip works, the USB device detection and setup is super, as are the SD memory cards. K3B VERY VERY RARELY burns a coaster on my DVD/CD drive. I have also installed MEPIS on a variety of desktops (friends) and with the exception of a 8 year old PI, MEPIS did very well on them. My wife's 1 year old Acer 3004Li laptop has had MEPIS 3.4.3 on it since the beginning and she has had ZERO problems with it.

Second, MEPIS 32 admin is tied into KDE's Control Center. At first I didn't think I'd like that but it makes things a lot easier.

Well, lunchtime is over. Back to work coding apps using QT4.2.2 / Oracle / PostgreSQL 8.2.

Anonymous said...

"I now join the multitude of Linux users in saying that Ubuntu is by far the most user-friendly distribution available."

Yes, a multitude of people say that. But, the truth is that the THE most user-friendly distribution available is PCLinuxOS. Ubuntu is trying to catch up to it with its next release. However, PCLinuxOS is not sitting still. The developers have been hard at work in a mayor upgrade that will integrate XGL, Beryl, and many other goodies, and it will be released this month!

m_solo said...

I'm not attempting to fire-up a war against other distros on behalf of Ubuntu. Maybe my hardware is a perfect match for Ubuntu and not Suse...
I consider Fedora to be more suitable for Server purposes as opposed to desktop...
PCLinuxOS...??? I'll give that a try and see how it goes. May be I'll be using it to post my next update.
Bottow line, I'm still a Linux the end that's all that matters.

Clifford said...

Couldn't understand why you had problem with SuSE. I put SuSE 10.0 on a low end Compaq laptop (AMD Sempron, ATI Radeon Xpress) during Christmas (because the preloaded XP kept freezing). It was my first linux attempt with a laptop and the hardware were all picked up automatically. Default settings were used and everything worked just great including the built-in Broadcom 4318 (through ndiswrapper) and K3B (easier to use than Nero). I'm gonna upgrade to 10.2 after I finish my current project. Had great experience with PCLinuxOS but SuSE is more appropriate for my development work. Being a new linux user, what I found amazing was, regardless of the many different linux distros, you got almost the same basic stuffs ready for use (OpenOffice, K3B, etc) right after install. This is very convenient as you no longer need to go through the pain of installing them individually. Today, I have a full J2EE development environment, VMWare 5.5 and several multimedia players running on it.

Guy said...

I had hovered dual booting for a couple of years. My windows PC died about a month ago & I have been rescued by a PIII putting in an admirable performace with Ubuntu dapper.

Even if I get the old PC fixed I won't go back.

Winona said...

Keep up the good work.