Monday, December 31, 2007
Another thing I would like to see is an ethernet/router card (4 jacks) that fits in a PCI slot. Powered by the computer means one less power cord.
Being an old guy, I don't like too many changes but that touch pad on laptops I hope will not make a mouse obsolete, my fingers are not that nimble. I like my Wacom pad with wireless mouse.
Like with race cars, the extreme technology eventually filters down into the lives of the rest of us in some form. We have cell phones that take pictures but we are still leery of picture phones. It would stress out all of us if we had to always keep up appearances when ever we got a call. But with the computer I am surprised we don't have regular phone service with our Internet service standard. Especially if we have cable or DSL.
Well, there are lots of things to pick at in techno land and it remains as exciting as the days of crystal radios and morris code. If you have the bucks you can get there first but after the hype and dust settles is when you see what's the good stuff and what's a pet rock.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Return to the idea that any desktop or window manager can be used. The present trend toward integrating a particular desktop into Linux results in moving on to a different distribution by users who don't like the desktop. The desktop is not Linux, only the user interface. In the Ubuntu world it is so apparent that users like the whole Ubuntu scenario but want the desktop of their own choosing. If I were trying to insure the continued success of Ubuntu Linux I would pay attention to what users are demanding, GUI choice and a Linux that will run on anything. Personally I believe that both KDE and Gnome desktops are way too big and try to embrace everything all users want. So, what do I recommend? Make Linux better fit to use any desktop or window manager. You might have to sacrifice integration via libraries and devise a more transparent way for the desktop to access Linux. It is all so complicated because all the players are entrenched in their own development worlds. My final stroke has been to use Xfce desktop which is a little less than either KDE or Gnome but is more gratifying to deal with on a daily basis. Linux should not become like Apple or Microsoft, just a third choice of an homogenized product line. What makes Linux is its ability to be configured to the hardware and to the user. One size does not fit all. What direction will Linux makers and users go is so exciting and a work in progress. Computing is still pretty young as technologies go and it isn't the answer to all man's woes as some have hoped but you have to admit cool things are happening.
Monday, December 24, 2007
I think it is the thrill of doing it yourself with things you are familiar with and making all the parts work together. The idea of having one machine handle all of your media also calls into play the possibility of putting it all on a network and being able to access all your files on any computer in the house. And to top it all off, you would probably find that costs for computer parts are comparable to stand alone entertainment system components. You have to think a circuit board, enclosure and power supply vs a circuit board that plugs into a slot on the computer you already own. You might see a cost savings or better quality. Why explore this stuff? I myself like many people are on the cusp of buying a new TV anyway because of the analog to digital changeover coming in 2009. Looking at all the little boxes that set next to my old TV, the VCR, CD player and all the attachments and cords, I have a great desire to integrate it all into one easily changeable system. I am just talking about the basics here but if you have cable TV or satellite then you can guess at the possibilities in front of you. Many are so enthralled by the prospects of a home theater and buy the big screen and surround sound system but it doesn't exclude folks of modest means and smaller egos from enjoying the current technology. Yes, I still enjoy my 19 inch analog TV which still works and will have to buy a new one or buy a conversion box, but I am looking into a digital video tuner card to plug into a computer to see what the costs is like. My computer also has DVD/CD and other media connections that are handy and economical compared to stand alone components. There is one question to be concerned with. Will the computer be reliable enough and maintenance free compared to stand alone components? Should I buy or build a Microsoft, Apple or Linux system? This is up to your preference because each system has its strengths and shortcomings and also tries to lock you into their product lines. What are you willing to deal with when you need support? A great product with a slacker support system makes for a very unhappy customer no matter what the cost of your system. In any event a computer offers a chance to blend the technologies to your needs and a central point of access, less power cords, etc.
Yeah, this is not cutting edge stuff but still, style makers and trend setters can't have all the fun. Eventually an idea becomes practical for the rest of us. Do-it-yourselfers jump on it then before you know it out comes a better consumer product for the masses.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Now I don't want folks to get the idea that I hate KDE or Gnome, I just like and prefer Xfce. The point I am making, once again, is that Linux is a Linux is a Linux. My main brain has WinXP Pro and Xubuntu on it. Comparing Win98se to WinXP Pro is a night/day upgrade kind of thing. Comparing the two newer versions of Linux is almost like a mirror, but Xubuntu is Debian and Wolvix is Slackware. If you listen to some people you'd get the idea of extreme differences. But in reality the main struggle a user handles, besides the package format, is the GUI. The GUI is the look and feel thingy that most users squabble over. If you put your favorite GUI on any of the basic Linuxes, (rpm, debian, or tar.gz), a lot of the hassles of the other guys, seem to go away. The GUI makes the hidden part of Linux somewhat transparent. I say seem to and somewhat because some people are really picky.
Anyway, Xfce makes Xubuntu and Wolvix identical in look and feel. Now debian and tar.gz systems both have their advantages and short comings, also some things might not be available in one format or the other. So you have to examine what's there to see what is the right combo for your needs. And on top of that if you are inclined to tinker with code, you could convert a package to another format or compile the source code to run on your computer. This is all possible because underneath the GUI it is just Linux. In fact, you really don't need the GUI to run Linux at all. The GUI is there for our comfort and enjoyment. I only mentioned Xfce, KDE and Gnome, there are quite a few other window managers for Linux that are popular as well. I am going to end it here, I just want you to realize that the GUI is the look and feel part of the thing we call Linux.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
The publics answer to this was to develop an after-market industry to provide options that met all the varied taste and desires. Applied to the hardware side of computers, we have a few standards that regulate what a PC is to provide because companies have the ability to introduce new stuff with the intention to capture more of the market. PC hardware is not the "Wild West" it once was. Software on the other hand is a little more fluid than hardware. Just when Apple and Microsoft, which are firmly rooted in the American way of doing things, have established what constitutes an Operating System, someone from the outside invents an Operating System by a different means. This is Linux. With Apple or Microsoft, they provide a product, like it or not, and the after-market provides the options. With Linux it seems the production people and the after-market people are the same people. What brought all this up was that I was browsing the Internet after asking a question. What was the best low resource Linux. I uncovered many, many opinions, probably the result of having too much choice. What stood out was that many people like choice but not the choices. People like that Linux can provide so many solutions yet aren't satisfied because it is not "exactly" what they want. With Apple or Microsoft you buy a product which in reality only gets you permission to use it, and then get after-market add-ons to make up for lacking variety or you acquire Linux. With Linux you yourself have the right to configure it to your hearts content, even to the point of rewriting the code. But there is a point at which choice becomes a headache. Take Ubuntu Linux as an example. Ubuntu is a very good Linux but doesn't quite allow you to seamlessly install any desktop or window manager you want. So folks have developed GUI specific Ubuntu's to provide solutions. There is Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Edubuntu, and a couple more. Of course some people are not happy with this and demand a unified approach to Ubuntu while still having a choice of GUI's. You have to see that because Ubuntu is so popular folks want to have it yet they want it according to what they think is cool. Other Linux distributions suffer a little less from this malady because they are known to support only a particular GUI. This is a curious thing, if you offer a vast assortment of choices, people complain they can't find what they want. If you offer one thing they put up and shut up.
What my original question points out is that the majority of people interested in Linux want a simple solution like what Apple or Microsoft provides yet still have it tailored to their particular wants. So I would say to the Linux community that Linux needs to allow for a more seamless integration of user choices. Parts or modules that fit well and don't break the system when added or removed.
In Linux user choices have grown so they don't fit on a single CD any more. This is why on-line repositories are so important. Why force users to download a DVD's worth of software only to have it obsoleted by upgrades anyway? Red Hat are you listening? So what that you can't provide every choice on one CD. You can provide a basic working system on one CD and supply options on another or in a repository. I really admire the Linux distributions that are smallish like Wolvix and Puppy Linux. They prove that small can be better and still allow you to add all the bloat you want. Let's see, a basic working system to which you could seamlessly add or delete the stuff you want. That is the best you could get with any product. The smallish Linux distributions do other things that the big, full featured, all inclusive ones don't. Like run great on older and low resource hardware or fit on a jump drive. And it is so much easier to add things than delete them. There is a tendency for software makers to add more functionality and features to programs as they age. This results in your favorite zippy application becoming a resource hog eventually. I heard this was the case with Xfce desktop which is still, in my opinion, pretty lean compared to KDE. It is a tough job to design software to fit such a diverse group as Linux users.
I hope Linux doesn't loose its' "Lego" nature or the "kit" mentality needed by users. I hope Linux doesn't evolve into a product of limited scope and usefulness. I also hope the trend to always put a name on various new configurations (distributions) of Linux doesn't distract from the fact that it's still Linux. User opinion is fuel for the media. Users argue over which GUI is better or leaner. They vie over the package formats and the installation tools and of course drivers and codecs. The result of all this is 400+ different and named distributions of Linux. Is this dissatisfaction with or innovation in Linux? What you can say is that users are a huge part of the dialog that causes Linux to evolve. Even though the business model that produced Apple and Microsoft products is considered the way things are done the world over, it is refreshing to see that things done differently can also produce a viable solution to computing needs. Perhaps the real solution is somewhere between one size fits all and custom made.
Monday, December 03, 2007
I guess I am a bit old school, I like my desktop over a laptop. The all in one units are a maintenance risk and are fragile. Laptops are a known flight risk, you have to tie them to the desk at work or school. What I do like about laptops is that they are greener than desktops and use less power. I don't know about being recyclable. What is the worst thing about laptops, that finger driven mouse pad. If you have a low level of manual dexterity, like myself, get a real mouse. And those two mouse pad buttons are often too sensitive, making unintended selections. Also the keyboard is a nightmare till you can find all the hidden functions. Let's see, floppies are gone and so are PS/2 ports, so you can't use that "old hardware" without adapters. Progress is getting away from this old boy, I may have to update someday, but not today.
What is in the future of PC's? Just think, a PC today could run Linux or Apple or Microsoft OS's on the same hardware and I think the only difference between them is the ROM for Apple's OS. Then add in solid state flash hard drives (coming soon). The desktop PC will slowly go away and the laptop will become the standard but they must get rid of that stupid mouse pad. Look for the PC to be the base station for your PDA, electronically linking you to all your data, email and phone. Hummm... wearable PC's and voice control are still in the future. We are slowly being assimilated.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
What of these other Cad programs? They handle DXF and DWG files with varying degrees of success. When you transfer drawings from one program to another, you can corrupt and or change data, which is not a good thing. So why isn't there a Linux version of AutoCad? There are two reasons. First Linux does not enjoy wide spread use in the tech industry. Then it seems that people who use Linux expect low cost or free software. Of course if a Linux version were the industry standard, you could get people to pay for it. With Linux there is always the question as to whether or not you can get a return on your investment of money, time and energy, which comes first the demand or the development? There is another reason that troubles me. It seems that people who use Linux applications do not develop or support industry user groups beyond the general purpose forums. This is a somewhat fuzzy view because people in the mechanical and architectural disciplines do share lots of information compared to the electrical which is mostly not mentioned.
The question comes up, can you really do Cad in Linux? Yes, by running a MS windows Cad application in a emulator like Wine or in a virtual machine under VirtualBox or VM. And there are a couple of Cad programs that run natively in Linux, namely Qcad and VariCad. Qcad is free and VariCad is not. There is also LinuxCad but I am not hearing good things about that one. Again, what troubles me about Qcad in particular is that everyone talks about it being easy to use but no one who uses it shares enough information about it to get a practical idea about how to use it. There are no Qcad users groups and the makers have left the users to figure it out. VariCad may suffer the same fate but I don't know. To be able to trade notes, symbol blocks, scripts and tips is what makes for an active support community. Right now I question as to if the software is even being used. There are a good number of Linux tools for printed circuit boards and electronic circuit design but simple drafting tools seems to have escaped the platform. The future of Cad on Linux seems iffy.
Now I will say a word to Linux users that may sting a little. Linux is "just" the operating system and means nothing without the applications which run on it. We users need to really around, support and promote the applications that make Linux a worthwhile platform. Perhaps the developers should consider putting among their application web pages, some promotional type pages and market their wares on other web sites. Then develop the user forms into user groups to share stuff that make use of the applications more useful. Linux could be the next great technical platform.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
I always thought libraries were about the free flow of information and educating the public about history, possibilities of the future and what's going on today. The thought stuck in the back of my head is that some computer companies have the desire and intent to return computing to its roots. This is that we users would access dumb terminals hooked up to large mainframe computers. Of course we have to pay for access and have no control over what is stored on the mainframe. Rights and access would be limited, content controlled and the book "1984" would become a reality, common experience. Heck, we have cable TV and Internet broadband service now, how far a jump would it be to have to pay for computer service also? Desire and intent, who is in control of the direction of technology takes us.
Some how I don't think of Apple as the company to be the juggernaut to hold Microsoft in check, after all they have carved out a niche for themselves. In the computing world there has always been a faction of those outside of the making money business. Who knows, they might even develop into a Jobs or a Gates, spearheading a company. Anyway, they just became a part of the movement because they like to code and solve computer problems. They wanted to do it themselves, not waiting for some company to do it or even because they thought their solution was better than what companies offered. Some are so caught up in who thought it first, who has right to develop the idea and who profits from it. Jobs and Gates started out with the liberty to process an idea and wound up fighting to keep you from doing the same. But what if you didn't process your idea with the intent to make money or you shared your idea freely with others who had the same drive, the same desire as you. Would that idea be processed without the aid of a so-called company or commercial entity? I really marvel at the way Linux and open source software came about. I also remember that personal computing began with the sharing of free software between persons. I am so glad that spirit has not been killed off by the greed to make money off of everything. There is room in the world for free stuff.
We have in our recent history embraced the backyard mechanic, the do it yourself handyman and everyone and his momma has a cellphone and can "text", yet computer savvy folks are still gurus, geeks, nerds and techies. A lesser species who violate patents, product warranties, end user agreements and pirates without effort. And when they take their own handiwork and share them with the public, they become criminals subversive to the way things are done in business and a threat to the bottom line. And when you yourself use that approved code that you have paid for from a certified company, are you really getting anything better than what has been labeled as renegade code? How would you know, after all you don't have the ability to examine both products under the microscope. And you don't really care about the motives of the company supplying the code or the consequences of having it. You just want it to work. It is too bad a big and influential company like Microsoft wouldn't/couldn't put out a unbiased comparison report of computing solutions like what Progressive Insurance advertises they do. Honest assessments of ones competition is not the way business is done.
Well, I can not vouch for Progressive, but historically Microsoft is unlikely to give a fair review.
So having said all of the above, is it worth being bothered with open source software or this thing called Linux? I guess you will have to educate yourself and decide. The value of anything becomes apparent by using it. This is true in the computing world and in much of life.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Thursday, November 01, 2007
As usual, Linux folk aline themselves with a desktop environment. Kool Dock, Ksmooth Dock, Kira Dock, KX Docker, Tuxbar, and a couple of others are all compatible with KDE. Avant Window Navigator and Enlightenment's Engage will work with any window manager. XFCE has a built-in icon bar. Each of these icon docks have an assortment of features and requirements. Some require the support of special video drivers to do what is called compositing. This makes for transparency and animation and such. I myself am a little shy on the special effects. It's a resource thing. Of course I am amazed that Enlightenment has a history of doing special effects without special drivers. The Engage dock comes in two packages. One integrated into the Enlightenment desktop and one stand alone program. The stand alone program is sort of hard to find. They are not pushing it out there. Then there is Avant Window Navigator (AWN). It is absolutely beautiful, like Apples' dock system. AWN is still kind of new, buggy for some and is being sought after by many. I hope they develop it more and put it out there for us to enjoy. From what I understand, AWN does require special sauce to work. Then lastly there is the icon bar in XFCE. This is what I am using now. It is not a real looker or is it tweakable to the degree that the other icon bars are. I tried the transparency and shadowing effects and was not impressed. Xfce is a low resource user, but I hear that more development is on the way. Oh, by the way, MS Windows users are not really left out, there are a few Apple like icon bars for Windows. RKLauncher which I have used is pretty cool. The single click icons are such a relief over the double click ones. I don't exactly know just how much you can do to a desktop, because the object is to get at your files and stuff. It all has to be very usable. But as software developers try new tricks and revisit rough old ideas, we users get new desktops to rave about.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Well, I still have yet to fix MS XP, I working on it. In the mean time I fell into an interesting entanglement. I've been using Firefox as my browser of choice for some time because I value my freedom from Microsoft Internet Explorer. It's more than a security question to me. Before that I entertained myself with Netscape which I thought came to an end after competing with Internet Explorer. I thought all development had stopped on Netscape and that Firefox under the hand of Mozilla took over. I was looking at a web site which said it was compatible with Internet Explorer and Netscape version 8. What, Netscape didn't die? It just so happened Netscape version 9 has also been compiled for Linux. I had to have it. I found out that it is a twin to Firefox, there is no apparent functional difference between the two except for the obvious brand name which shows that Netscape is in cahoots with AOL. Now that's a twist. I don't know all the background details but it leaves me to wonder why there should be two web browsers so alike under development. Kind of redundant, ya think? Now in this new kid on the block called Flock. Yeah, it's sort of like Firefox and Netscape only it is a little more in your face. Its claim to fame is that it has a social focus. There are direct links to blogs and Youtube and other interactive social web sites. Being a little better and a little different than Firefox, you'd think it would be better received by the user community. Time will tell I guess. I like Flock because it offers a little more access, but it's not a giant leap forward by any one's standard. So why would you need or want more than one web browser on your computer? My thought is that there is always one pesky web site that just won't read right in my browser of choice. I need another point of view. Alas, there are still some web site builders who think MS Internet Explorer is the standard. Not so folks!!
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Let's see, I am a cat person, I play with Linuxes named after dogs and then I use a window manager whose symbol is a mouse. Can't seem to get my loyalities straight. Somehow in the mix of things I've lost the use of my MS XP install. I think it is a GRUB problem but I'm not sure. When you mess around too much with a boot loader, strange things can happen. So, while I investigate a solution I'm not missing XP a bit. Linux provides all the comforts of home, except for a couple of gov web sites that rely on MS Internet Explorer to work right. In school we learned, first rule of good web design is that you must believe not every one uses Microsoft Internet Explorer. You must consider a wider audience. Linux has a number of very good web browsers, Firefox is my choice. I am told it has fewer security holes. I am not a big fan of integration. When you integrate too much into one system it is easier to break and more complicated to fix. Then, when something does break the whole system is crippled or non-functioning. Remember those TV/VHS combo units. Components cost a little more but when you need service you don't bring the whole setup in, just the part that's broke. Hey, maybe it's XP that's broke and I need to re-install it, again!!
Monday, October 22, 2007
Another thing I did was switch email clients. I am using Thunderbird. I have used Kmail/Kontact, Evolution and a couple of other email programs. Thunderbird does the same things and also lets you insert pictures into the body of the email. That is very handy because pictures as attachments are often not sent in a format that can be read by the reciever. Thunderbird has a number of plug-ins and add-ons to round it out. Pretty good stuff.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
I bought an HP desktop, a Pavilion a1030e to be exact. Has a 80gig HD, 512 ram, 64-bit CPU, a CD burner and loaded with XP, MS Works (not Office compatible), the usual MS minimal tools. I could do all of my computing task in a limited way. But needed a serious upgrade if I wanted to get some real work done. Good thing for MS Windows compatible open source software that I could download and install for free. I have enhanced and upgraded my computer for little or no cost and not increased MS coffers. And I have not bought any other professional grade software simply because it was the "standard". I have known many who just had to have Photoshop, MS Office, and others. Imagine buying Photoshop just to have it so you perhaps could work on some family photos or doodle a little. No wonder there are so many pirated copies out there.
What do you get with Linux that makes it so attractive? You have to sit a while, the list is extensive, but I'll just tell you a little. With my small but powerful Wolvix installation (about 460MB), I got the complete Open Office.org suite, 2 email programs, calender, several graphics programs including the Gimp (like Photoshop) and Blender 3D, multimedia stuff, games, utilities, tools, etc, etc, etc. I didn't need to buy anything extra. All the file formats that MS Windows stuff can dish out Linux programs can read/write with the exception of propriety ones. So, for average and personal computing needs you can have it all without straining the wallet or spending all sorts of time downloading freeware. But can you run and play MS Windows stuff in Linux? I guess, but why? You can do it with a program called Wine or Crossover office and you could install MS Windows as a virtual machine in VMware or VirtualBox. But, then Linux is very adequate to replace MS Windows completely. Now you can argue with me about polish and quality and familiarity and what not, but you have to admit, it's pretty darn good for free. If you feel guilty about using free stuff, you can always donate cash to support it. All would be appreciated, I'm sure.
That's all for now folks, I have given you a piece of my mind.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
In my try this and that world I am looking for the best all around Linux that runs on my assortment of equipment. That was impossibly hard 10 years ago, today we have liveCDs.
Linux can be tried out without messing up your precious MS Windows install. Yes, I still have XP but it doesn't get much air time. If Linux only had Incredimail and what's the name of that other program.................it's been so long. I am using Kubuntu by day, it's big full bodied but it still doesn't have a few utilities I found in Wolvix. After five I switch over to Wolvix, the howl of the wolf is very intoxicating. Don't let the gray clothes fool you, it can be tweaked. If you like the shadowy, smoky stillness then Xfce is the desktop for you. But if you like color with flexibility go with Fluxbox. In a lot of distros having more than one window manager creates confusion. In Wolvix it is nice to see some synergy. I have a hard time deciding if Xfce or Fluxbox is better. In any case KDE and Gnome are not missed at all. Less is really more here. I get pizazz just short of eyecandy and stability I can count on. Does Wolvix come up short in anything? Well, being Slackware based does put you at a variety disadvantage when it comes to applications but who needs 4 or 5 versions of programs that do the same things. But you can learn to compile programs from source and have practically any program you want. Besides I am not a programmer, nor a avid gamer, just a user who does "stuff" on the computer. And I don't as yet have a laptop with wireless, so I don't see special needs or exotic hardware. Wolvix is great for me, you, what are you looking for? Would I recommend Wolvix to a new user? I think a newbie to Linux could do well with Wolvix if they didn't dig to deep into its secrets. Wouldn't want them to learn something now would we? Lets see, plug-n-play, gui's, menus, oops there's a command line. It kills me, MS Windows users try to pretend their computers have a big off/on switch that they flick and it does everything. It is not true folks. If you don't like MS Windows you also don't have to buy an Mac. Linux is very good, 10 years of testing by yours truly has proven it.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Not only have these problems been solved in other distros years ago, believe it or not, even the old Slackware has been brought up to date. So, I am saying GO Slackware, welcome to my world. It is a shame that other distros are enjoying the popularity because of glitz and glamor. I'd say Slackware deserves a second look by guys like me who been around the block a few times and by you young folks who missed out on history still making progress. Slackware based distros are up to the edge. Wolvix is very cool and if you want unique check out Goblinx, it is slammin. Now we'll go back to our regularly scheduled program.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Here is an update........
I looked it up on a public library site. The first Linux I saw was called LST, Linux 2.0 and the book was Power Linux by Stefan Probst in the year 1997. So I have been struck with Linux for 10 years. We will have to see what was happening in computing 10 years ago to fully appreciate what is going on today. I must say that Linux has really grown up from an operating system of hackers to one that anyone can use. Don't let so called computer knowledgeable people dissuade you, this is your second opinion, MS Windows products are not all that easy to use either, just more familiar. Linux on the desktop is as good as Linux on the server and as good as any Microsoft product on the market. You have ridden the black horse all your life, now you can ride the white one with brown spots.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
This is one of the default desktops, uses a window manager called Joe's Window Manager or JWM for short. Kind of Win95ish. You have icons plus the popup menus.
This is the default XFCE desktop, very sort of Mac like. Quite, clean, the popup menus are such that desktop icons are redundant.
This is where I am at today. XFCE desktop is very clean. I am looking into dressing it up with themes and such. I upgraded Puppy Linux from 2.17.1 to 3.00 which just came out yesterday. While not as flashy as some desktops, Xfce is easy to deal with and has a solid feel. Puppy is amazingly functional for its small size. Version 3.00 is supposed to be Slackware compatible. Slackware is the granddaddy of Linuxes. The really neat thing about Puppy is that you can use it as a universal rescue disk. You can have access to all your drives and media. Other Linuxes are a little restrictive on that aspect. While some distros go out of their way to be MS Windows like, or overly user friendly (we call it dummimg down), Puppy Linux has a good mix so that you are not robbed of learning something about Linux. It seems the computer industry will never shake the idea of dumb terminals hooked up to some really big computer. Some companies would like nothing better than to rent you a terminal and computer time. Like so many people today use subscription TV. Linux is about owning your equipment and the software you put on it while giving you access to the world. And with the Puppy Linux disc or jump drive, you can take it with you.
Monday, October 01, 2007
You could really put the whole system on a flash drive or burn it onto one of those tiny business card CD's. What's the story with Puppy? Usually a Linux distro is based upon another distro and "reformulated" into a new distro, you know, .deb, .rpm or .tar.gz. But Puppy is a Linux written from scratch, by Barry Kauler, to be very lean.
I know I have always complained about software bloat, in spite of all the stuff you get with it, but this is the extreme opposite. It has its own file format .pup and yes there are popular Linux programs, some reformulated to be smaller, that are available. It is great to play with as I have tried several window managers and uninstalled them with no ill effects. You probably could use Gnome or KDE but that defeats the purpose of lean and mean. You could as some have use it for your main Linux. It is that good!! Yeah, it's all a matter of taste, choice, etc. I am truly impressed with the practical usefulness put into such a small package. It is portable and you can use it to do real work. I heard about it on a Ubuntu fourm of all things. Being one who likes to explore, I am very interested in Puppy Linux and will keep it around for a while. On one of the main Puppy web sites there are user's screenshots, pretty attractive, quite creative. If you buy into the small Linux concept, you will be assimulated, you will be playing with Puppy all the time. Puppy has Metisse!, it's not even main stream yet. Puppy has Open Office2. After all, Linux is a Linux is a Linux, but it's so small!! No, It is not the smallest, but I am hearing such good stuff about Puppy Linux I just had to try it. I will have to show you some pictures when I finish tweaking/playing with my Puppy.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
In my latest trials I have tried to get Mandriva 2007 Spring to run. The liveCD worked great, the install to disk was smooth, but the reboot after the software update proved to be too much for my machine. I have a HP Pavilion a1030e, AMD 32000 Athlon, 64-bit, Nvidia Geforce Fx5200 video card, 512MB memory and a 8 gig partition. So, I really don't have exotic hardware by any means.
It is distressing when things don't go smoothly. My Kubuntu lives!! But I in my Linux curiosity state must explore, some more. I downloaded something called "DreamLinux". Its from Brazil and of course they made an English version. It is a mix of Debian and Morphix with Xfce for the window manager. Its focus is multimedia because it has a lot of programs all set up for multimedia and even the web browsers are setup already with codecs and plugins. Dreamlinux has the icon dock bar from the Enlightenment window manager folks. It is called Engage and dresses up the desktop quite nice. The menus are simpler than in Gnome and KDE. There is less confusion when you click around. But like most desktop distros, the default look is a struggle to look at. A little wallpaper and ah!!, sweetness!! Dreamlinux has the setup for Beryl with Aiglx and requires Nvidia drivers and such. I still don't trust the stability of that setup so I will bypass that for now. Perhaps they will consider Metisse instead for a bang that doesn't require special stuff behind it. Hey, maybe I will construct my own "distro". I want to see a combination of my favorite Linux stuff I haven't seen yet, all on a CD so I don't have to look all over the internet. And that is why there are 300+ distros. Duh, duh duh, the adventure continues..........
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Do I have my picks? Yes, of course. Kubuntu is my present favorite and main distro. Right now I favor the Debian distros, I've had good luck with them and I am beginning to understand how Debian things work. I also like SimplyMepis. Also Debian based, it is very much like Kubuntu with KDE desktop but still has a different flavor. I am beginning to think that after you settle on a Linux version, you will discover a Linux is a Linux is a Linux. A kernel, a number of utilities, some tools, and some applications. It's all in how it is packaged together. If you were to include all of the various functions, languages and formats in one .iso file you would need a few DVDs to hold it all. You would never not ever use or need that much Linux to meet your particular computing needs. So, it is very good that some industrious persons have packaged together different combinations of Linux stuff to meet different requirements. And as is and has been the Linux culture, the various versions or "distros" of Linux are available for download on the internet. So, go ahead and ask the big question, what would programmers do if they did not work for a company (like Microsoft)? Linux is the answer, they would do Linux. Linux is the result of lots and lots of programmers who really wanted to see a free operating system work.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
So, just why would you run one operating system inside of another? Isn't MS Windows sufficient?
He is asking this of a guy who has been using Linux for a few years now. Of course the Linux is free answer is weak because you usually buy a PC with MS Windows already on it, seems free too. But in my experience you have to invest quite a bit of extra funds to acquire an array of applications to do every thing you want to do. Those Windows bundle package deals are mighty skimpy. Linux comes with lots of applications to do lots of stuff all for free. Still there's some major programs people cry out for that you can only find written for one operating system and not the other, like Photoshop and Incredimail. Besides this most computer users, like my friend, being creatures of ingrained habits, prefer to use MS stuff because they are used to it. So, the answer to this twisted why question is that I don't have to dual-boot anymore. Dual-booting is when you choose which operating system to start up when you turn on your computer. You can only have access to one operating system at a time with dual-booting. With virtual machines you can run as many operating systems as you have resources for. They will run as would any program on the computer. I could start Linux, (my habit) open a virtual machine running XP, start and use Photoshop and Incredimail. It seems to be the best of both worlds.
I know this is a bit extreme for the typical computer user, but being exposed to the wider computer world has open new possibilities.
Now to answer the question, isn't MS Windows sufficient? I myself have been using computers as a user since the DOS days. I have lived through the history of using MS Windows in various versions. Sure you could find programs to do everything you want to do in MS Windows. But, a history of blue screens, crashes and costly upgrades has not made me a very good friend of Microsoft products. This is besides the cumbersome licensing agreements and how they can check your computer to see if you pass the legality test. The endless security patches also help make me wonder about the quality and safety of putting Microsoft stuff on my machine. Since I have discovered and have been using Linux, I have little concern about the problems of using MS Windows. There are only a few applications for MS Windows I really use. I could get rid of MS Windows all together. Even though XP has been the best MS Windows yet, I prefer Linux. What about Vista? I will not pay for Vista. If I buy a new PC with Vista on it (seems free) I will take it but most likely I will build my next PC myself and install Linux on it. Maybe I will run XP in a virtual machine. Yes, it is wonderful to have choices.
Friday, September 21, 2007
So, how does this virtual wonder work? It is hard to explain but, computers are all about managing memory and keeping one operation from crossing over into another. A virtual machine allocates some disk space and some memory space separating it from the main operating system's usage so that a second operating system could function in that space. Then through the magic of the GUI, you can interact with it as if it were the main operating system. It will turn a .iso file into a virtual disk so you can boot from it as if you were starting a program.
One virtual system is called VMware which has been around for ages. I think it is a little complicated for me but it has a lot of bells and whistles. Then there is VirtualBox. VirtualBox comes in MS Windows flavor and Linux flavors. I loaded it on both my XP and my Kubuntu installs.
It was quick and fairly painless. So, now I don't have to burn or boot from a CD.
Are there any problems, I mean since I did mention I almost had an answer? Well, yes. If you live in a 32-bit world as most do then there is no problem. If you , are running a 32-bit or a 64-bit main (or host) operating system then you can not install a 64-bit OS as a (guest) virtual machine. There is no support (yet) for 64-bit OS to run as a guest. To be a little more precise, it depends on what CPU you are using. You have to read the fine print in the docs.
So, to answer my main question, is it possible to take a .iso file copied to a hard drive and boot it as if it were a CD/DVD? Yes and No. Sure I can run a Fedora 7 32-bit .iso but I want the 64-bit one that was made for my system. I will just have to byte the bullet and buy a DVD burner.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Thanks to the wonderful Fedora 7 people, I've got to consider the cost and pay the boss. Do I really need a DVD burner? We live in a world where it is possible to save all our precious and expanding personal data, pictures and the like on optical media. We can even copy movies, which is why most people even bother with DVDs. But personal data, I can hardly fill one CD as it is. 700MB is a lot of space actually. Being from the floppy generation, I am still impressed with that. Now a DVD can hold about 4.7 Gigs (single layer) and about 8.5 Gigs (double layer) if you have that technology. I was looking at Tom's Hardware web site. You can get a DVD burner for $30-$100+, and you get what you pay for. I my self don't recommend the cheapest you can find, speed and quality does matter.
Anyway Fedora 7 folks, you have barely crossed the boarder by offering an .iso image of just 833MBs, why not just put it on 2 CDs? Hey, it's a liveCD dummy! It just wouldn't work spread across 2 CDs.
So, what can you do with a new DVD burner that you could not do with your CD burner? Besides copying movies and music. You could backup or Ghost your whole system onto a DVD. I guess the potential to do big things is there. And speaking of downloading movies, what is your download speed. I am always surprised by the number of computer owners/users who don't have cable or DSL. Using a modem is akin to using floppies in my book. What is so weird about this DVD thing is that you don't have to justify the cost because it can be reasonable. You just have to figure out what to do with the technology now that you have it. Is buying a DVD burner one of those life changing things? Hey, we do still live in interesting times.