Sunday, March 30, 2008
Linuxville is a busy place, always renovations and revisions going on, things are always getting better. Years ago you had to manually mount your disk drives, now auto mount is standard stuff. Linux is getting user friendlier everyday. It is very good if they can do this without sacrificing user choice. I was a MS Win98 fanatic as a lot of people were. Why? Because Win98 themes were very popular and I enjoyed getting away from the out-of-the-box looks. And darn it, I didn't have a business machine, so I had the liberty, the freedom to change it. Win98 people went wild. XP in comparison is rather stiff, every time I added a tweak, a new security patch would break it. Now with Vista there is a canned glitzy look. I really don't know what you can do with it and I never liked what MS anticipated my likes might be. Cars did the same thing, the 5 spoke mag wheels are standard now, they were once a pricey option. The after-market got radical and came out with spinners. The Linux desktop after market is vibrant. Take a look at www.kde-look.org , and www.gnome-look.org and www.xfce-look.org for a hint of user activity. Themes, icons, backgrounds (wallpapers) and system sounds are plentiful. And if you have suggestions for improvements, you can talk with developers.
I hate to be a separatist, but in Linuxville you have to draw the lines between the server folk and the desktop user folk and then again between the business user and the home user. The extent of the knowledge and user experience is different for each group. Linux can be adjusted to suit your work habits and have the look and feel to suit your tastes. The hardest thing is to become an expert at Linux because there are so many areas to concentrate on. This is why community is important. If you decide to make yourself at home here in Linuxville, look around.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Well I do have a prediction and a dream that one day somebody will put a virtual machine program in the boot rom (a flash drive). All OS's will be an iso file and personal settings and supplemental programs saved to disk. Data and OS's will never be put on the same disk and file formats will be open and usable between OS's. Your PDA will contain your personal settings and when in proximity to a computer transfers the settings, becomes your mouse, ethernet link and storage device. OS lapel pins will be worn like merit badges but it wouldn't matter because businesses and homes are well versed in open source software. Tux becomes a popular mascot at basketball games, learns a flying slam dunk. The total outcome is that Linux will continue to develop and grow as a OS, in spite of the inertia against it.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Well, what's going to happen to Linuxville in the future is an on going thing. I think we will have to separate the server from the workstation at least in the way we teach Linux to new folks. This is because most desktop users will not be interested in server functions and applications. The desktop deserves it's own focus. I really see a need for users to write more how-to's for all those applications. And to put in one book the popular desktops and window managers. Hey, people still like books you know!
Friday, March 21, 2008
1. If you come, stay a while. Hit and run analysis is not a reliable source. If you use a new thing over time the tastes and habits of the old thing gets tempered. Knowing more than one system also looks good on your resume and you are not backed into a corner when upgrade time comes.
2. Don't compare Linux too closely with MS. Realize it is engineered to be different than MS. While MS emulation is possible, being different and free are features worth enjoying.
3. If you are unsure about anything, ask for help. Why figure it out yourself if others have agonized over the same problems and found solutions.
4. If hardware compatibility is an issue, don't just proclaim Linux is crap. There maybe clear reasons or exclusions, like newness, propriety drivers, obsolete equipment, etc. Compatibility lists do exist and even I had to buy new hardware to install Linux (DSL box instead of a winmodem).
5. Installation is an option. If you must install, learn the install steps, get help, be patient. Even MS Windows is a hassle to install (most don't have to do it). Recite point 3 over and over.
6. Don't trash your MS install for Linux if you are not committed. It is OK to virtual machine Linux or live-CD Linux. And if you install Linux you can do the same with MS Windows (except MS Windows has no live-CD). Dual-booting, which I am doing now, is bothersome, messy to set up and a hassle to switch between OS's.
7. Linux applications are fine. It is not intended for Linux apps to be spitting images of MS apps. The important thing is the file formats. If you must run MS apps, use virtual machine or Wine or Crossover office, the same is true for games.
Linuxville is a varied place. Some come for vacation, some escape from legal entanglements, some want to explore, play, some do serious work and some just think penguins are cute. Most who come want to reside here even just to say they've been here. Yes, Linuxville is quite the place, if you give it a chance, it will grow on you (you might wake up in a TUX suit!).
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Found another great book, "Test Driving Linux, from windows to linux in 60 seconds" by David Brickner. It's for users, not administrators.
Dressing like a native is easy these days as a number of programs that are standard fare in Linuxville also have MS Windows versions. We are talking open source software. Open Office, Firefox, Gimp, Abiword and others that can be freely downloaded off the net. If you are using them already we can speak the language mon! I wish there was a printed book that illustrates and explains all the various Linux applications but, the web will have to suffice. Check out http://www.linuxalt.com, it exposes you to a lot of unfamiliar names that do things similar to what familiar MS Window programs do. I hope you look them over and then if they are included on your live-CD you can appreciate them.
I want to warn you, they can be habit forming. You might see penguins in your sleep.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
It feels close to home, then it grows on you, then it becomes a regular destination. Any advantage, you ask? Linux is the alternative OS, it can be used rather than Mac or MS. Linux is greener than Mac or MS. What I mean is that it will run on older, less endowed hardware. You will upgrade and recycle less often and your hardware becomes obsolete over a longer period of time. Linux is greener because the same community that uses it, develops and supports it, thats sustainability. Linux is not bloated, but trim and efficient. Linuxville only needs your passport, not your birth papers, social security card, driver's ID and a bill with your postal address on it. Politically Linuxville is open source. Both the source code and the development tools are free and accessible to you, you can own the stuff you acquire, not just buy user rights. With Mac you get some stuff, but I'm not familiar because I could never afford it. With my HP desktop I got XP, a trial MS Office package, internet ISP offers, MS Works (Office Jr.), MS Internet Explorer, and a couple of multimedia apps. I had to remove a lot of unwanted and unnecessary stuff and install free open source software to get some real work done. I hated the way new program icons peppered my desktop after installing. But I used icons because it is more awkward to use the start button to get to the main menu and or the file manager. Not having the file manager easy to get to means more folder icons on the desktop causing even more confusion. The new Vista still hides the file manager. You probably could adjust these things to work smoother but out of the box, it gets old pretty fast. On my state of the art Linuxville desktop a left click opens a application selection menu anywhere on the desktop and there are a few handy desktop icons and a toolbar to access my file manager in plain sight. No hunting and fishing. I didn't have to remove any useless or unwanted software and when I do add software there is no need for desktop icons because the menus are so accessible. My work flow is more efficient and I enjoy my neat and clean desktop. So, things in Linuxville are well thought out but not psycho-analyzed to death then locked down. If you want to you can change it to suit yourself. What, you want travel photos! Every version of Linux has screenshots on their web pages, you just have to search a little. If your adventurous, boot up a live-CD and see for yourself.
If you want to explore the perfect book I recommend "Point & Click Linux" by Robin 'Roblimo' Miller.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Then, what kind of user are you? Your bio makes a difference. How Linux fits your needs is the key to happiness. Server and workstation admins and coders will probably want to know all about the text input options like, the terminal emulators and text editors. They need to have at the internals, configure, compose and compile programs and other system admin stuff. If you are a point and click artist, like me, you want the ins and outs of the GUI made plain. At some time in your Linux life you should venture to know a few command line things but it is not a prerequisite. If it is your own computer you are required to know about user accounts, permissions and basic file management. What car owner would survive without knowing how to add oil or change a tire. The car manual is the car user's guide to all the user accessible features. You've read what I think about most Linux user guides, but they are none the less very helpful. Also the distro of your choice has web pages, user forums and tutorials, and also fanboy/girl blogs are rampant. This is in lieu of "the missing manual". And if all else fails, "goggle it" or "yahoo it" (sounds funny), the info is on the net by other users (Linuxville citizens). Did I forget Linux user's groups and computer clubs?
If you are a tourist or road warrior (using the live-CD) you don't have all the rights and privileges of a resident. Depending on your hardware, live-CD's run slower and you don't have the (MS Windows compatibility) extras. So if the fonts in the word processor or web browser look funny or you can't play a video or you're unhappy with the live-CD selection, you must realize this is a foretaste of better things to come.
Some live-CD's come with tools to add stuff you want and then make a new live-CD, but that is yet to be explored by yours truly.
But the big question that is asked by all visitors to Linuxville is, can I do my normal computer stuff with Linux? The answer is yes, maybe and yes, probably. You have to look into the applications available to see if they meet your needs. This includes running MS Windows in a virtual machine or using a software called Wine (allows MS software to run in Linux).
Then, if my MS stuff works fine, why try Linux? You are free to try or not. And if the opportunity to try or adopt presents itself, the benefits are yours to own. In my situation economics, choice, history, philosophy, involvement and many other considerations made Linux very attractive. But, trying it, I liked it. The cost of ownership and the legal commitment of Linux is very low for an individual user (per seat). Maintenance is lower, security is very good, and stability is excellent. But the best part of Linux is that I did not have to buy newer, bigger, faster equipment in order to run the latest OS so that I could do the same things I've always done on my computer, upgrading was and is still an option. I get good performance and bang for my buck.
Regrets, you ask, are there any regrets for switching? Sometimes you are the only Linuxville citizen in a crowd, you do the same things as others but, the slight difference can be annoying or gratifying. Having a bumper sticker is fine but wearing a TUX costume is a bit extreme. I often feel a quiet desperation because others are missing out or are duped and in the back of my head is a notion to educate them. Practically, I have not missed a beat in my computer use and as I find out more about Linux, I find Linux can accommodate that expansion. And I have discovered the holy grail of the do-it-yourself world (if your that kind of person), bragging rights.
Linuxville, citizenship has its benefits.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
I confess, I am a Linux fanboy. I watched the movie "The Pirates of Silicon Valley" and if that was a accurate portrayal of Jobs and Gates, the kingdoms they've built and the product outcomes, then computing and users are doomed to a lifetime of abuse and servitude. If not, then excuse my misguided judgment. I also watched the movies, "The Code Linux", "Revolution OS" and "The Free Software Movement" and came away with a different impression. I have heard Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman talk on YouTube. I am totally amoured by Linux and open source software as a movement and as a product. So the "dynamic duo" has become "the three Musketeers" and according to personality, Mr. Torvalds is the stable one among them. He has produced an outcome not as glitzy as Jobs but more stable than Gates. The clincher was when another millionaire, Mark Shuttleworth, funds and develops Ubuntu Linux and gives it away.
I know how we value the apparent success and dependency upon the product outcomes of Mr. Jobs and Mr. Gates but it does not mean that there are not other solutions in the world. Linux grew up along side and with the internet, and while not a model of the American dream, it is still a successful outcome. The genius of Jobs and Gates has been trumped by the genius of Torvalds who just wanted a free operating system. It works on the server and to the dismay of many (including server admins and Linux power users) works on the desktop too. Linux is not really a new comer, its heritage is older than both Macs or MS, but you all know that. We have been under the marketing and use of Macs and MS for so long that we can't imagine another platform making inroads. We resist, compare and try to discount any idea that Linux is just as good and worst if some say it is better. That is all a human nature thing. Over time the smoke and mirrors marketing and the pony shows are over. The stuff going on in the background becomes reality because somebody just wanted a free operating system and set it in motion. Linux, so complex it takes years to know it all, yet so simple you could work it with six commands, point and click, drag and drop, cut and paste. Though having to learn myself and teach others about Linux, I am having fewer to no MS Windows problems or commitments in writing (end user agreements). Linux is green, portable if need be, low or high powered, it is adjustable, configurable, and flexible. Linux is free ( no coupons to clip, no money back guarantees) or if you must, pay for it. But in any respect the Linux genie is out of the bottle and its allure is being discovered, soon we will all have to check it out. Welcome to Linuxville.