Posts Tagged ‘Linux’

Recently, well not recently, more like a few weeks ago, there was a post about LinuxMint development concerning LMDE and its Mint distros.  The article can be found on Segfault here: http://segfault.linuxmint.com/2015/02/about-betsy/   I was surprised to find out that LMDE’s rolling release model was removed due to lack of interest.  Also, many resources were pulled from the distro.  I understand that.  In fact it makes sense, it is just frustrating because I really like Cinnamon and didn’t want to go to an Ubuntu based solution.  I am not sure of Ubuntu’s commitment to Linux, or if they are slowly moving and making Ubuntu into a derivative of Linux, but away from what I would call a standard Linux base.  Are they going to add things to Linux so that their Linux is totally unique?  That is why I have stayed away from Ubuntu based distros.  And since LinuxMint’s offerings, other than LMDE, are based on Ubuntu, well LMDE was my only choice.

Recently, though, after watching a few YouTube vids on Linux, I started to contemplate how much I have been involved in running Linux.  How much have I struggled through and How much trouble Linux used to be.  Linux now compared to 6 or so years ago is a world away.  Other than some companies not really being ready to work with Linux, most hardware works fine with Linux.  I remembered how much Ubuntu was welcomed by the Linux community because they readily put in the codecs and other items that most people wanted in the first place, but had to hunt for those needed codecs due to legal suits and other threats made by various companies who were hostile to Linux.  Ubuntu made it easy to get videos running and to watch YouTube  videos.

Because of that and the new stance by the LinuxMint team to treat their distros as LTS releases rather than keep up with Ubuntu’s 6 month release schedule.  They are choosing quality over quantity.  They appear to try and buck the appearance that Linux is buggy and that is what you need to accept.  I have already installed the latest Cinnamon release by the Mint team and am going to run it for at least a year.  I am also planning to dual boot my laptop with Debian Jessie, or testing.  I have set up in VirtualBox Jessie LXDE and it runs great.  I am curious how well and what it takes to get all my hardware running well on Jessie LXDE.  I also want to see how low a memory footprint I can get.  I administer some machines where I work and some of them are REALLY old.  512 MB of memory.  If I can get a super low memory footprint from Jessie LXDE, then I will have a longer term solution for those machines.  I am disappointed in LMDE, but my reasons for wanting to run it have been put into perspective by remembering how much good Ubuntu has done for Linux in general.

LinuxMint, to me, is the best distro for those new to running Linux.  It has a good similarity to Microsoft’s product and it can run on older machines.  I don’t believe the average ‘surf-the-web and email’ computer user will miss anything with LinuxMint Cinnamon or MATE other than the latest flash games on Facebook.

Here’s to quality and success of the LinuxMint team.

I watch mainly Linux people on YouTube.  I have even played with the idea of starting a YouTube channel to do videos concerning Linux.  Recently, one person I watched has run up against the driver wall of Linux.  By this I mean the inability of Linux to match driver quality and compatibility for hardware.  Linux has this trouble for a few reasons, first, the desktop computer world is Microsoft centric.  Now I know there is the idea that the concept of desktop computers are dead.  I guess this means laptops as well.  I am not sure about that.  Businesses still need desktops to produce documents for communication and presentations.  I would hate to have to produce a PowerPoint presentation all on a tablet.  I don’t see Microsoft allowing Apple total access to MSOffice software for their digital devices.

This has caused others repeating hard feelings about Linux and Linux developers in general.  The developers that build the basic components for Linux are mostly rooted in the non-proprietary software camp.  If you research even FOSS and Open Source camps have some fundamentally different views.  Linux has worked up hill for years.  Hardware people have consistently refused to make good drivers for Linux.  I wonder how much the FOSS and Open Source developers have not cooperated with these hardware people.  I think Ubuntu and Linux Mint could offset that if they worked with these hardware companies.  That might in the end be the biggest problem with Linux.  While I have been a Ubuntu avoider, I must say they have brought in some very good things to Linux.  I now wonder if they could be a solution to drivers and other problems.

Linux is not MS Windows!!!! It never will be.  It was, and is, being developed with an entirely different philosophy.  A different goal.  I heard one person say Linux is less stable than MS Windows.  That is an unsupportable argument.  Linux is very stable.  It just has crappy drivers and some of the software pieces for Linux get bogged down due to roll over in their staff.  You see, most of the developers for Linux are doing it in their spare time and do it for the Love of the project.  Linux has some bugs and holes.  Some of the desktop environments need tightening up in a big way.  Some distros just need to close shop and join other distros so that we get a higher quality from each of the distros left.  Linux also requires some knowledge on the users part.  MSWindows wants users to just point and click.  Linux is a system that generally requires the user to know some information and some technical knowledge.  That is how it is….

Anyway. . . . Linux is what it is. . . .  a project designed to be free and the software open for all to mess with, to collaborate on and do something new.  Linux is freedom from proprietary ideas and monitization.  Those who come into Linux thinking it has no problems have been fooled.  For all those computer users who just want to point and click.  Stay with MSWindows or Apple.  If you want to grow in your technical knowledge, then come to Linux.

Once I was out of High School and College, I was glad to get way from peer pressure.  I was glad my choice of shoes, pants and shirt was not the subject of other’s conversations.  I was never part of the privileged or influential few.  I was rather part of the unimportant masses.  Those judged by others and marginalized by many.  I thought that was over, but I recently realized that once again I was chasing after something that, in the end, really didn’t matter.  What was I chasing?  The latest version of a software package.

I have been running Manjaro Linux for the last year and a half.  I like the distro and it has run well for that time.  My only gripe was about the sound.  For me, it was always not quite right.  I had trouble keeping my speakers running, but my headset jack seemed to work all the time without a problem.  I wanted a non-Ubuntu, rolling release distribution.  Updating every year or so was just ridiculous and I really am not crazy about the direction that the Ubuntu people are going.  I use the XFCE desktop and I has been running great.  I slowly realized I didn’t need most of the updates that were being incorporated into my install every couple of weeks.  It was then I realized I didn’t need a bleeding edge version of my software packages.  I also didn’t need a rolling release.  I also realize using a long term release candidate was ok.  After some looking around and evaluating, I have settled on Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE).  I have always liked Cinnamon as well.  Now I know I have been waiting for  LXQt, but I also am not ready to use the version that is out there now.  So I backed up what I wanted to back up and went ahead and Gparted my drive to prepare for re-installation from a USB 3.0 image.

So far I have loved my new install.  I am setup for dual boot.  I am going to get a version of LXQt installed to see what it looks like.  Not sure if it will be Siduction or Manjaro with LXQt.  I don’t need bleeding edge versions, or a super small memory footprint.  I just need something to run this old Toshiba Laptop and be able to do the few things I do with a laptop.

I have stepped away from peer pressure once again and it feels good.

 

Recently, I’ve been looking for a cross-platform development environment.  I have been working on learning Java, but recently decided to find out if there were any other cross-platform environments.  I noticed that KDE used Qt and I noticed that Razor-Qt also used, Qt.  So I took a look at it and was pleased that it was maybe exactly what I was looking for.  In the end, I started learning how to use Qt-Creator and C++.  Shortly after that, I found a good tutorial series on Youtube.  Since I do have a goal to produce some sort of game, I decided that Qt would be a better environment that Java.  I have a little bit of concern with Oracle.  I don’t trust them to keep Java a healthy environment.

On the heels of that I then heard about a new development with LXDE.  It seems they didn’t like everything with GTK3 and wanted to experiment with Qt.  I really liked what I heard.  KDE is an interesting desktop, but not my cup of tea.  I tried it, but never really used most of its unique features.  But I did like that I was developed with Qt and this cross-platform design made me wonder why another desktop would not use this.  Then I heard about Razor-Qt.  I really was waiting for them to finish.  I even loaded one of the other Linux’s that used it.  Then I read where LXDE and Razor-Qt project are going to merge.  This gives me hope concerning Linux.  I am tired of the continual fracturing of Linux projects.  Many people call it choice and forking, but I see fracturing and a loss of power for Linux.  Having the Razor and LXDE teams realize they are after the same thing and teaming up is GREAT!.  I am now looking forward to the new project and will start running LXDE-Qt as soon as possible.  The new project aims to stay true to the goals of a lightweight and full desktop environment.  They will bring the best of Razor and LXDE together.  WAY TO GO!!

Go visit both pages and see the updates.  They deserve support!

Admit it, if you’ve been part of the GNU/Linux community for any length of time, you’ve probably have thought about finding that perfect distribution. There’s got to be a distribution that doesn’t have _______. Fill in the blank yourself. We’ve all been there. I believe it is that thought that causes distro hopping. Distro Hopping is that disease where you try a “flavor” of GNU/Linux for a month or two and then find another “perfect” distro that will be the one. The one distro that provides the computing ecstasy that you are looking for. I will burst you bubble now. That perfect distro doesn’t exist. It never will. Why? Because we all look for the latest flashy wallpaper and we don’t look at some central issues that are more critical to our computing satisfaction. I am starting a series of posts on choosing a distribution. I am doing it for myself as well as you, the reader.  I hope to help just one distro hopper to end their journey. I also want to end my travels and settle down with one distribution.

For most of us, the world consisted of Microsoft’s operating system and Apple’s operating system. Those were the choices. Since Apple’s answer is pricey, that left most of us with Microsoft’s answer.  We were happy.  Well, not happy, but we settled for it since there weren’t any other options.  Once we found GNU/Linux, we realized there was a choice, then we discovered there are many, many, many choices.  We search that list of distros in order to find the “perfect” GNU/Linux version.  I keep hearing http://www.distrowatch.com say there are almost 400 active distributions.  If you’ve used GNU/Linux and never heard of Distrowatch, I am sorry to introduce you to that site. They list the top 100 distros on their site. To add to the confusion, most http://www.youtube.com reviewers of distros use a surface level reviews which consist of just looking at the surface of a distro.  I admit I have my favorite reviewers, but when I look at what they review in a distro, I am somewhat disappointed because they don’t seem to point out the differences that matter to me.  You see, I can load almost any package on any distro. So the initial installation doesn’t matter that much.

This series of articles is about another way to evaluate a distro and how to find one that you can stick to for a long time.  I really don’t believe that there is a perfect distro, but I hope to show you how to select a distro that you can live and use for a long time.

NEXT TIME: Part 2

To all readers, please give me feedback. I will watch and update this series.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . .  I never actually read the book “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens, but a book covering these three kernels and how they interrelate would be fascinating.  A few years ago I heard of the Hurd, and I wanted to see what was up today. (Yes, I couldn’t resist that play on words.)  I then decided to see how BSD and its derivatives related to GNU/Linux.  Here’s the tale . . .

It all started with Bell Lab’s product called UNIX, which stands for Uniplexed Information and Computing Service.  The unique trait with UNIX is that you got the source code for the OS as well as other things.  That way you could modify it and recompile it if you wanted.  The compiler for C was the new thing because for the first time, source code was portable because you just needed the pcode to assembler part of the compiler in order to take source code written in C to compile for your machine.  A group from the University of California, at Berkeley got really aggressive and heavily modified and ‘fixed’ some issues they saw with UNIX.  In fact, their fixes and adjustments to UNIX were so popular, they made it available.  Computer Scientists really studied the code and the methodology behind this new and powerful system.  UNIX was made available to Universities at a lower cost so that people would be hitting the market trained to operate and maintain the UNIX system.

About the same time, a new computer innovation hit, the 16 bit home computer.  Computer Scientists wondered if they could bring the UNIX system to the PC.  There were many in Berkeley, who tried this kind of project.  They called themselves Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD).  Many used the letters BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) in their project’s name.  The Berkeley modifications to UNIX had the letters BSD associated with it.  Soon AT&T sued the Berkeley group because they were worried about their intellectual property rights and wanted to make sure Berkeley wasn’t taking code that was constructed by AT&T and using for their own purposes.  This lawsuit put a hold on everything that had BSD in its name.

A man by the name of Richard Stallman announced on Usenet the founding of a project he called GNU.  It stood for Gnu is Not Unix.  Its goal was to make a version of Unix, following Open Source standards.  It was, as I understand it, to be in the spirit of Unix, but not a dedicated port of Unix.

What is a kernel? As I currently understand it, it is the program that interfaces with the physical hardware and the applications that a user wants to run.  BASH, Firefox, apt-get, and almost all commands from the terminal, as well as your desktop apps are just that apps that the kernel runs in coordination with other things.  All operating systems need a kernel.  Kernels are designed with a certain philosophy in mind.  One type is a monolithic structure where everything is together.  Another type is a distributed kernel where the different tasks are run concurrently and they communicate with each other.  This, from my understanding, is called a micro kernel structure.  Unix, from Bell Labs, has a micro kernel structure.   Back to our story . . .

Stallman wanted a micro kernel structure due to some perceived advantages.  Just before the GNU project was announced.  One of the BSD projects, which became known as FreeBSD was coming along nicely.  The FreeBSD OS is a ‘port’ of Unix without ripping off AT&T’s intellectual’s rights.  FreeBSD is developed and maintained as an entity.  Stallman’s GNU project was to be a community effort.  This means there would be many maintainers and developers.  This is one of the BIG differences between GNU and FreeBSD projects.  Stallman was tempted to choose the BSD kernel, but due to the lawsuit, he stayed clear and started the Hurd kernel project which would be the center of the GNU operating system he proposed.   HURD stands for HIRD of Unix-Replacing Daemons and HIRD stands for HURD of Interfaces Representing Depth.

Somewhere in Finland, a young man who had been captivated by assembly programming on his VIC-20 computer, began a quest for this new computer, a PC running an Intel 386 processor.  He also had discovered a work called Minix.  This is another work where the UNIX foundation and design was ported to a PC.  Using an open standard, he began work on a kernel, not because of Stallman’s announcement  as I understand, but because it was in his nature to write a kernel because he was enamored with assembly programming.  His announcement totally stunned the world and drew the focus off of the HURD project.

Having a working kernel, even though it is monolithic in nature, was better than no kernel, and the dream of getting the GNU system running was very intoxicating.  So intoxicating that the GNU project became known as Linux.  Now this name change has been disturbing to Mr. Stallman.  That is why I refer to it as GNU/Linux rather than Linux.  If HURD gets to a workable state, which I understand it is to an extent, then the releases are called GNU/HURD.  Debian Project is one of the entities working on the HURD kernel.  In a very short time, Linus’ kernel was turned into a working kernel and the GNU/Linux operating system rose to life.  The HURD project has suffered from a lack of support due to most people not really caring about the architecture of the kernel in their computer’s operating system.  I believe very few people even care about such heady and intense considerations.  I also don’t think most people care about the Open Source movement or the Free Software Foundation and the philosophy behind them.  They just like the free OS and apps.

I wonder what would have happened if Mr. Stallman had chosen the BSD kernel?  What would be different today?  Would we even know about Linus Torvalds?  What do you think?  Give me some feedback.

After running GNU/Linux for a little while a user will no doubt want to get to know the guts of GNU/Linux.  One of the first steps is to enable your file manager to see the hidden folders and files.  For Thunar, it is to click on View and then Show Hidden Files.  You will notice there are file and folders that start with a period.  It is these folders and files that are a big  key to how GNU/Linux works for you.  They are, or contain, config files.  GNU/Linux uses config files to set how programs, and processes work.  Users of Microsoft’s OS are probably thinking, “That is a really ancient way of doing things.  Microsoft uses the registry.”  Well, the registry is just one large file that is encrypted.  It also holds some hidden areas, something you won’t find in GNU/Linux.  Everything in GNU/Linux is available for the user to see and modify, sometimes at your own risk. (Side note: If you haven’t ruined your install of GNU/Linux, then you haven’t explored it enough!  lol.  I know I have done it a few times.)

Config files are a really simple way to set program information. Most config files are small text files which are easily and quickly read by almost every programming language.  That is why GNU/Linux uses them.  It is a simple way for the OS and users to use.  Some config files you probably will explore are these .bashrc, .config/xfce4/terminal/terminalrc, and many others.  Don’t be afraid to open them with your favorite editor.  As long as you don’t save it you will be ok.  If you want to do some customization just do a search on the config file and you will find a site that will discuss how to edit it.  Remember, GNU/Linux is open and you can find some documentation on every file.  One last thing, check each program in question, many of them have a preferences area that will set all of the settings you find in a config file.  The .bashrc is a file I edit because it controls your Terminal session.  If you get into Linux, you will definitely get used to the Terminal.

When working within the terminal environment, there will be times you want to edit a file.  I found that nano is an EXCELLENT program to use.  It is easy to use and pretty powerful.  The homepage is here:  http://www.nano-editor.org/   Nano is usually installed on most distributions, or it can be loaded easily from  your distro’s install program.  It has a file browser to find where to save a file.  To save your work just use CTRL O.  Most of the commands are combos of CTRL and a key.  It even has options to have color highlighting for files, which helps seeing command words and the like.  This link shows how to get the config file up and running.  http://www.nano-editor.org/dist/v2.2/faq.html#3.9  Again, read the site.  All the information is there.  Nano makes editing files and such easy.  When making BASH scrips, I will use nano.

For those who love to customize XFCE with themes, icons, cursors and wallpapers, I found settings that will help make it easy.  Now, I found all this from the XFCE site.  It is easy to setup what you need in your home area.  With these folders, you will just drop in what you want and the system programs will find the new theme elements.  To setup custom wallpapers you make a the following path in your home folder:  .local/share/xfce4/backdrops  All of your custom wallpapers will be dropped here.  I can’t remember which folders I created, but just how deep you can go and create what is not there.  If I remember correctly, I had to create the xfce4 and backdrops folders.  Anything you put in there will be automatically picked up by the appropriate tools.  Additional themes will be dropped in a folder by the name of:  .themes .  Cursors and icons are dropped in a folder named   .icons .  These config folders really help with adding new themes.  I used the site http://xfce-look.org/ to get new themes.  Just untar or unzip with the archive manager the downloads and drop them in the appropriate folders.

One of the best things I like about GNU/Linux is the choices that it offers.  You can do so much with GNU/Linux.  GNU/Linux allows you to adjust and tweak settings to your liking.  Open Source philosophy allows you to read manuals and dig into the guts of the system to make it what you want.  That is right, you can adjust many, if not all, parts of GNU/Linux.  If you wanted, you can get all the source code and compile it just for the computer you want to run it on.  Most people don’t get started with GNU/Linux that way though.  The process to compile and assemble a working box takes some skill and effort.  Most people get started with a version of GNU/Linux that is easy to install and use.  Ubuntu is that distribution that many people have started with.  Though, many move onto a different distribution for one reason or another.  For me, though, the ability to tweak is a trap.  I start to tweak and then sooner or later I don’t know when to stop.

Other than icon sets, cursor sets, wallpapers, window themes, and sounds, you can also load applications to do system tasks to your liking. There are many built in programming languages.  Bash, which is great for many tasks and is mostly used in the Terminal Window. Python is an open source object oriented language.  Java and C/C++ are also easy to install an IDE to compile and run.  C/C++ come with every version of GNU/Linux and just needs an IDE to use.  The best choice is Eclipse which can be used for both Java and C/C++ development.  Not to mention the thousands of apps that do this or that.  And that is where I am at, in tweaker’s paradise.  I don’t get anything accomplished because I am getting everything the way I want it.  Well, today I am calling a halt to that.  No more tweaking.  None.  I am running with what I have and what it looks like.

So, when you use your Windows system, realize I have choices you don’t.  I have options you can never have.  Linux.  It is a great choice.  You need to check it out.  Try a Live CD of xubuntu, which is my favorite, or Kubuntu, or even Ubuntu.  You might discover the fun in computing again.

It has been too long since I last posted.  Well, my life without Microsoft Windows has been great!  Since I am an experience Linux user, the total switch wasn’t difficult.  There are differences between Microsoft, Apple and the Linux operating systems.  Why?  Well, it has to do with development philosophies and market distinction.  Yes, I know that Apple’s OS is written from Linux.  Still, Apple has put their spin on Linux.  Most users that switch, or experience another operating system don’t realize how much they get used to one operating system and how it does what it does.  Many users think, “This is the way it needs to be.”  They don’t realize there are multiple ways to do things.  So, I you are thinking of switching, realize you will learn something new and be challenged to do things in a different way.

I switched from Ubuntu classic to xubuntu last January.  Why?  Well, I gave Unity a shot and came to the conclusion that it wasn’t for me.  Why did I make the switch to xubuntu rather than __________? (Fill in the blank yourself.)  Well, here are my reasons.  First of all, I wanted a traditional menu to choose apps.  I don’t want to search to find out what I have installed.  A menu is a quick way to find an application.  Second, I wanted to stay with Ubuntu based system for now.  Third, I always lean to a light, or rather lighter weight desktop environment rather than a full-featured environment like KDE.  Back when I was dual booting with Linux, KDE and GNOME were the two main desktop environments.  KDE was more resource hungry than GNOME.  I was a dedicated GNOME desktop user.  In fact, when Slackware went KDE only, I dropped Slackware in favor for Debian.  So with those choices xubuntu and lubuntu were the two choices.  I went with xubuntu because of XFCE, which has been around a while and has quite good features to it.  After tweaking XFCE a little by loading some things with Synaptic Package Manager, I am happy with my install.  I found xubuntu left a few features out and Synaptic allowed me to load the rest.

I chose a Ubuntu based distribution because Ubuntu has added the things that most people use, or at least, makes it easy to load the multimedia codecs that I really want to use.  Debian is the base for Ubuntu and Debian has the most packages available.  Ubuntu also has really improved package install and that is where I was frustrated in the past.  With Software Center and Synaptic Package Manager I can load anything that I need.  Also, I download packages from the source, like Libre Office and Eclipse.  What is good is that most sites include packages that load on Ubuntu systems.

Life has been great without windows.  You might find that it can be great for you.  Especially if Windows 8 is not to your liking.  There is a big community out there.  Check Linux out.

Recently, my laptop’s hard drive (HDD) decided to stop working efficiently. It took 5-10 times longer for my laptop to do anything. I had my laptop evaluated by Best Buy and they said it was just the HDD. I bought a new 1 TB HDD figuring I would try to restore windows on my currently installed HDD on the laptop, and if that failed I would install the new one after making some restore disks. Well, that didn’t work out and the restore partition didn’t work. I installed my new 1TB HDD and decided to make the switch to Ubuntu Linux. I have messed with Linux for about 15-20 year so it was time to make the permanent switch. I just didn’t want to pay money to get a set of restore CDs from Toshiba. I am tired of the money grabbing by micro$oft. Gates’ idea of purchasing the right to run software is just rediculous. This has set my development back due to a total loss of everything on the HDD.

Oh well, I am very satisfied with the Ubuntu and am looking forward to getting reaquainted with Linux. The good thing is that Java is a cross platform environment and I can get the same stuff done in Ubuntu that I could in windows.