A New Linux

I changes Linux distributions like I change blog templates. I’m always looking for something new. I’m currently trying Zenwalk linux. It is my first Slackware distro. and I am having a lot of fun with it. It is a clean, simple distribution without a lot of bells and whistles. The developers are using the KISS principle which I appreciate. I’ve had to install a few packages that do not come with the distro., but that’s not much of a problem. It’s just a something that you have to deal with. I think I even like this better than Ubuntu, and I would not be afraid of sitting a Linux newbie in front of it, especially if they just want internet, email, and chat. The XFCE interface is one of my favorites. It is simple, sleek, fast, and it will remind you of Windows. It even comes with Java 1.5 preinstalled, so that’s one less worry.
There are three software packages that I can not live without, and I’ve had some trouble finding them, but they are here or at LinuxPackages.net. They are amaroK, Lyx, and Scribus. Amarok is my iTunes, Scribus is my Microsoft Publisher/Adobe Illustrator, and Lyx is a program that will make any written piece of tripe look like a professional publisher put it together. It is a godsend for writing college papers.
I will eventually go back to Ubuntu, but I want to stay here for a bit. Maybe until the next Ubuntu version comes out. The problem with Slackware packages is something called Dependency hell. This is something that I have seen little of in Ubuntu. Dependancy Hell is not a problem for the novice who is content with a few pieces of software that work well, but for the Linux adventurer, it can drive you insane.

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More Thoughts on Linux

I’m a Linux user. Like you, I started with Mandrake. It was an early version (5.1) and it was very rough and unpolished. I gave it up quickly. Later on, I bought Mandrake 8.1 and was re-introduced to the magic of Linux. Mandrake 8.1 could actually do stuff. It’s package manager (urpmi) actually worked and was easy to understand. Though, I have to point out that Linux packages (RPM and DEB) are a totally different paradigm compared to installing software on Windows or OSX.

Anyway, I am currently running Debian and Ubuntu, and this leads me to point out something crucial. Linux is not perfect and is not ready for the novice Windows user. I set my wife up with a copy of Ubuntu with all of the standard programs installed. She wanted to use Yahoo! Messenger. So, I downloaded the Unix/Linux version from Yahoo! and installed it. However, the version online didn’t provide Voice or Webcam Chat. Sorry, no dice. Well, what about Macromedia Shockwave? She likes playing cute little games online when she get off of work. Sorry again. Macromedia hasn’t published a copy of Shockwave for Linux. How about Yahoo! Music? Nope. I think if she were using her computer more for writing papers and basic stuff like that, Ubunutu would have done just fine. However, the lack of commercial vendor support is keeping Linux away from the average user. Right now, a computer newbie can hop on a Linux distrabution like Mandriva or Ubuntu and have no problem using it. They would never even have to open a command prompt. The problem is with the gadgets that users are used to using on Windows are not available on Linux and this where it falls flat. Linux is great and has been much more secure for the average user for much longer than Windows. It’s design inherently keeps the user’s computer safer. It’s just missing those little things to satisfy the average user.

I want my Linux back

I got a really good deal on a iMac 500mhz computer for my birthday. What would normally cost $150-200 on ebay cost me $50 because the guy didn’t know what he had. I wanted a computer that I could just do my work on and know that it is stable enough to not crash everytime I turned around. My reason for leaving Linux is 2-fold. 1. Serena’s PC crashed and I gave her mine and install WinXP on it for her. 2. I like to tinker with Linux too much, and so I end up breaking it a little too often. Don’t get me wrong, Linux is a fine and stable OS, but I like to play a little too much.

As for the iMac. It’s a lie. It doesn’t “just” work. I’ve had to invest a lot of time downloading new software to get it to do what I want. I’m not rich, or even very middle-class. I can’t afford the newest version of Appleworks or even MS Office, so I use OpenOffice 2.0 RC3 (There’s not a 2.0 Stable version out for OSX). I can’t afford graphic editing software, so I use a buggy old version of TheGimp. Most of my software is either open source or not 100% legal cough. Furthermore, my periferals don’t even work. Neither OSX or OS9 can see my scanner or my USB CD Burner. Linux could. Until I networked my printer through the Microsoft Windows box and installed special Open Source drivers, it couldn’t see the printer (Mac’s don’t have parallel ports anymore). Mac’s may “just work” when you buy the newest periferals, but as for me, it’s not doing the job. Next spring, I will buy a new PC mobo with an Athlon 64 processor. I will install Debian and White Box Linux, and I won’t go back.

I See Pretty Colors!

Windows Longhorn 5203 Screenshots

Here are a few free screenshots of the new Windows version that is due out next year. It will be called, “Longhorn”.

I see a lot of “eye candy” here i.e. a lot of fancy graphics. The problem is that it will require equally fancy hardware to support it, not to mention the cost of the OS itself.

This is Fedora Core 4:

This is Knoppix 3.9

This is Mandrake Linux using Super Karamba

This is an unknown distro running the Enlightenment Window Manager

Both Linux and Windows offers some pretty impressive eye candy, but two things stand out.

1. In Linux, the desktop is so customizable, that you won’t believe it. Everything is changeable, and you don’t even need to be a programmer to do it.

2. You can have an impressive looking (and functional!) desktop with very modest hardware requirements under Linux. If you have anything less than a 1Ghz PC, I would bet that you may have to upgrade your PC in order to run the newest version of Windows. This isn’t necessarily the case with Linux.

What Linux Needs

I was thinking about this last night. Why does’t any of the main Linux distrobutions contains a Windows conversion package? It would basically make the first CD of a multi-CD installation a live CD. That live CD would contains software that would back up the user’s files in Windows. If the person has a CD Burner, they would then be given the option of burning those use files to a CDR. Then the software would continue with the installation. That way, even if the person screwed up their HDD with the partitions, then would not have lost all of their settings.