Posts Tagged ‘xubuntu’

Now let us turn our attention to the process of selecting a distribution. I’ve been in this process for a  while. Xubuntu has worn on me due to some quirks. Ubuntu has also caused me some concern as well, so I have thought about this change because I don’t want to start the distro hopping that characterized my GNU/Linux use. Here is my suggestion as to how to choose a distribution of Linux that will satisfy. Here are the steps and then I will describe what I mean and then show you how I have made my decision.

  1. What do you use a computer for?
  2. What kind of hardware do you have?
  3. What is your skill level with computers in general?
  4. What is your experience with Linux? And How much time do you have for computers?
  5. How do you like to interact with a computer?
  6. Getting new applications.
  7. Intangibles.Let us look at each item. 

1. What do you use a computer for? — Do you use it for Business only? Do you use it for pleasure or school? Do you use it for a combination of the above? What applications that you currently use would be considered “must haves?” This alone is important. If you need certain applications, then you need to be sure that any distro you use has the ability to run these applications. This is important because if you load a distro and can’t get that app running, it then is a huge waste of time.

For me, I use my laptop for Business and Personal uses. My “must haves” are rdesktop, an internet browser, and a word processing program. One last “must have” is minecraft. Yes, I play minecraft and have played it since alpha 1.5. I also need to have Samba to connect to printers that are on windows machines.

2. What kind of hardware do you have? — Are you using a recently purchased computer, or are you using an older pc/laptop that hasn’t seen use for a while. This could be important because some distros need better hardware and some distros are designed to be used with older hardware. Since I am not a die hard gamer. My laptop is more than adequate to run any distro that I would choose.

3. What is your skill level with computers in general? — When switching, or using, Linux, a person needs to up their computer skills. You will be learning how to use computers in a new way rather than the Microsoft way. If you would classify as a person who just uses computers rather than a “computer geek” this will direct your distro search. Some distros are more for the computer geek while others are for the computer user. Knowing this will help you. Recently I tried out Manjaro. I like it on the surface, but there are some things that were beyond my current skill level. I don’t have the knowledge to get some important things working. This brings me to my next point.

4. What is your experience with Linux? And How much time do you have for computers? — If you are just getting into, or back into, Linux then maybe a distro that is more setup for you, Ubuntu, or Mint, or Linux Lite are a few examples. If you don’t have much time to spend on computer use, then Arch, Gentoo, or Linux from Scratch are not your best choice. Be realistic here. It would be a shame to spend all your precious time with your computer doing things you’d rather not do. Some distros require more tweaking and setting up and maintaining than others. Looking at this area can help you spend your time on things you want to do rather than spending time on things you don’t want to do. For me, I can do quite a bit with Linux and have some experience, but my time is limited. I don’t want to spend time with system maintenance. I want to spend time doing the things I want to do. These things are learning Java and Python and working on my bucket list of writing a computer strategy game.

5. How do you like to interact with a computer? — This has to do with computer desktop environments. Microsoft and Apple offer only one desktop paradigm. Linux offers many different desktops. Each one has a strength and weakness. Are you a keyboarder? Do you want to do everything with the mouse. Or are you a toucher? I have always wanted a minimalist desktop. I started to play with different distros and their desktops. I tried openSUSE and KDE just to see what KDE was about. I was shocked how much I liked KDE. One thing I discovered is that until I use the desktop environment, I really don’t know if I like it or not. Which also makes me appreciate some of the veteran distros like Fedora, openSUSE, and Debian. These distros allow you to load multiple desktop environments and try them out all with one install. I suggest load one of these, especially using VirtualBox and install as many desktops with that distro and see how different each desktop is with that same distro. I have done this with Fedora 18 and it really has changed my view of desktop environments.

6. Getting new applications. — In the past I used Slackware for quite a while. I liked it very much. I only switched from it when the maintainer talked of dropping Gnome and being KDE only. That was about 5 years ago or so. I turned to a Debian based environment because of the Synaptic Package Manager. I think these types of apps are very good and necessary for a distribution. A good package manager is a must for me. I won’t waste my time with a distro that does not have a package manager. While Slackware helped me with learning how to compile my own packages for use, I don’t want to go back to that. It is easier to load a package rather than compile it. Many distros have good package managers. I also want a distro that has a large repository that is very diverse and has many apps for me to choose from.

7. Intangibles. — No matter how many things you consider, there is always something that doesn’t fit a category. For me, I want a more “traditional” Linux experience. Ubuntu has been good for Linux, but Canonical is really focusing on the phone and tablet environments and I wonder how much time they are going to spend on the desktop. Since I tried KDE, I also want a distro to have a native packaging of KDE rather than a spin or a community sponsored variant like Kubuntu. I have heard that openSUSE is part of a company that has financial ties to Microsoft. I don’t want my distro to have ties to microsoft financially. I also want a distro that has been around for a while because I want something that is pretty much stable without bugs. I thought I would want a rolling release, but it seems that rolling releases are also much more apt to break things with each upgrade.

Summary – In the end, the time spent on choosing a distro will help you with your choice in the end. I have chosen Fedora as my new distro of choice. It came down to Fedora because Debian has an aversion to “free only” for stuff that gets put into their distro. I like the Open Source movement, but I am not fanatical about “free only.” openSUSE has financial ties to microsoft. Arch is just too much work for me right now. I don’t know where Ubuntu is going and the changes they are making to Linux are taking Linux in a direction that is not good for Linux in general. I wanted to wait for Fedora 19, but my Xubuntu upgrade to 13.04 was just acing badly and I just had to reinstall just to see if it was Xubuntu or my installation. Since I was going to go with Fedora 19, I just loaded 18 and am happy. Right now my Fedora 18 has Cinnamon, Mate, XFCE, and KDE installed. It still runs great. I am extremely happy with Fedora, and KDE is fantastic. I can stick with this fine.

Take some time to investigate and you might be surprised what you find and end up a happy user of Linux.

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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.