Living with Linux

August 30, 2009

After a recent spate of malware infections I had come to the end of my patience with Windows.


Through the magic of Twitter my plight was made public.


The answering call came from from Mr.Mac, as you can see, suggesting I try a version of Linux called Mint. He also very kindly sent me a long email explaining a partitioning scheme and other useful tips.

So I had a play around with it, I wasn’t a complete newbie having played around with some live-cd installs before, oddly enough almost exactly a year ago! In fact, it was a live-cd of Ubuntu that I used to retrieve a lot of the files from my recently screwed up Windows install.

First off I installed Mint on my laptop, I’ll confess it wasn’t absolutely smooth sailing and I had some learning to do. In my typical fashion, I didn’t carefully read the instructions provided by Mr.Mac, leaving me playing around with the partitions for a few days. I couldn’t get the installer to create the ntfs partition I wanted to use as a shared area. Once I figured out to create the partitions in partition editor before running the installer I was away. My next step was installing on our desktop machine which, thanks to my laptop pain, went a lot smoother.

Once everything was up and running, I spent some time setting things up to share things across the Windows/Linux divide, for example I can open Thunderbird and since emails are on the shared partition are available to me in in either. My Firefox bookmarks are synchronised across all 4 installs using a handy program called Xmarks.

Things are simple in Linux and just seem to work, I haven’t had a problem so far that hasn’t been fixed by the first answer given on the Mint forums. You see those pictures up there, the ones taken from Twitter and Tweet deck? I grabbed them in moment using the Take Screenshot app that’s installed from the start. In Windows I would have been fiddling around with picture editing to produce the same result, in fact so ingrained is this behaviour that I fired up Gimp before remembering that I’d seen the screenshot app in the menu.

One of the main reasons I’d held off on going further with Linux on previous forays was my darling Paul. In practice this hasn’t been a problem, there has been the odd comment but mostly he has taken to it easily. The main things he does are web and email so there isn’t a lot of differences to get used to. He also likes to watch movies and that’s taken care of easily with the default programs, plus there is a version of VLC for Linux to make the change even easier. I’m missing utorrent a bit but the Linux client Transmission does the job easily and simply.

In conclusion, I’m sold on Linux, its ironic really the time I spent making things share across the divide far outweighs the actual time I have needed to boot into Windows. This week I booted into Windows once, I just need to get the Nokia PC Suite working in Linux and find a photo management app that I like and I think that might be me using Linux 100% of the time 🙂

If you are thinking about an alternative to Windows, I urge you to give it a go, you wont be sorry. If you want any advice, i’m no expert but I’m learning all the time, feel free to ask 🙂

Another day, another OS

August 20, 2008

Today, I got a little sidetracked in my search for a groovy new operating system. Inspired by The Lovely Jonathan, I tried out Mac OS 10. I know! On Intel-type PC hardware!

Remember the old days when the Mac peeps were all like, “oh, yeah Macs are better cos they run on superior Processors and hardware.” Well, not any more, you see the recent generation of Mac have been quite happily running on Intel processors for some time. So its perhaps not surprising that people are now coming up with ways to run the Mac OS on PC’s they have put together themselves at a fraction of the cost of a Mac. They call them Hackintosh.

I chose a DVD image called Kalyway, which is Mac OS 10.5.2. It was very easy to get it going as you can see here.

Once it was finished it was like, totally like a Mac. Which I shouldn’t have been surprised about since that is what it was! Connecting to my mobile by bluetooth confirmed this, announcing the connection as Andy’s Mac Pro 🙂

I wish I taken a picture after I changed the desktop to the grass wallpaper 😦 I have the grass wallpaper on my PC at the moment so I’m quite fond of it.

I’m not a total novice, a few years ago I used to use an iMac at work, so some things came flooding back and others, like the Dock, were brand new.

So what did I make of OS 10 ?

Plus points were the start up speed, wow it was fast. The Dock is pretty cool, I’m deffo getting me one of those for my PC 🙂

Downside? One of the things that came flooding back was the way the applications dont have their own menu across the top. Instead, whichever app is in focus has its menu on the task bar at the top of the screen. It feels disconnected and (I think) its annoying. Overall, it feels restricted, perhaps thats just me, but its all very Apple controlled isn’t it?

It’s gone now, (I’m already onto my next install) but the deciding factor? No support for my ethernet or wireless connections, plus I dont have all the apple keys on my keyboard which affects the usability.

So, in summary, MacOS 10 (or X if you prefer) isn’t the one for me, but I can see why people like it 🙂

Next stop, Mandriva……..

New Adventures in Linux…..

August 19, 2008

… or Don’t laugh at the newbie!

Since we got back from Prague things have been pretty quiet around here. There is a reason for this, and that reason is Linux.

It’s a really odd feeling for me to go back to the beginning and have to learn how to “do” computers again. Just today in work, I reflected on this when I was asked several times (not uncommonly so) to fix this or that, reconnect new profiles to old to regain access to systems etc. We have a tech coordinator guy on site but people often come to me first. Actually, I’d almost forgot that I used to do the tech-co job until about 5 years ago!

So as I said, its an odd feeling to be the newbie, but interesting and unlike when I was learning PC’s back in the day, there is a lot of help out there in the form of forums and blogs 🙂 So far I’ve tried about 5 different Linux distros, unlike Windows there are different branches of Linux. Usually these projects are separated by their aim to be faster, smaller or more compatible than other branches.

Here is a quick run down, of my adventures (so far) in Linux.

PCLinuxOS is a popular distro, and I liked it a lot. It felt very similar to using Windows, probably intentionally, and I would be using it now if I could fix the wireless lan driver problem I encountered.

Damn Small Linux is very interesting, small enough to fit on and boot from a pen-drive, meaning you can boot a “strangers” PC, so get your familar desktop to work on, use it for a time to work or surf, then save your session and leve no trace on the host machine. Pretty cool, eh?

Ubuntu is probably one of the most popular as far as I can tell, this is, I think due to it being very stable and highly compatible. I felt that this also meant it ran pretty slowly.

Kubuntu a branch of the above, and I felt it had the edge speed-wise but the pre-installed software was all a bit obscure for me, for example Konquerer browser rather than Firefox.

Xubuntu is another Ubuntu branch, feels faster in many ways but includes Firefox and other more familiar software versions than the above. So far for me it has the edge and is the version I’m still playing around with, though it also suffers some issues with my wireless card. Can you imagine the stress its giving me having an actual wire running to the router? I know! A wire!

So, like, yeah, I’m a newbie, and I’m going to try and stick with it, (does going dual boot count?) so please don’t be a hater if I offended your fave distro, this is just my opinion, right?

We did get back from Prague!

August 15, 2008

A record of our holiday (in reverse order) as Twittered by me, strangely lacking in comments about Prague itself!

I’m sure I’ll put some photos up soon, I’ve been a bit busy messing around with Linux over the last few days, a bit scary being a newbie again but also having fun with it 🙂

Home 🙂 06:44 PM August 13, 2008 from mobile web

Feeling sad, sat in hotel lobby waiting for car to airport 😦 10:40 AM August 13, 2008 from mobile web

Enjoying free wifi in the hotel 🙂 10:14 AM August 11, 2008 from mobile web

Just started boarding, better switch phone off, will I be able to twitter from Prague? 03:23 PM August 10, 2008 from txt

is now in the airport having a beer, thats how all holidays should start 🙂 02:21 PM August 10, 2008 from txt

is setting off for the Airport 11:47 AM August 10, 2008 from txt