Sunday, October 28, 2007

Picking at the scabs of old wounds XP vs Linux

Nothing but nothing test your techie mantle like repairing or re-installing an operating system. I want to say to all those who have never done it, you are under the illusion of a plug-n-play dream. I mentioned before that my MS Windows XP installation failed. I thought it was my playing with Grub, a Linux boot loader. Actually it was some corrupted XP system files. There was no change with Grub config files, MS Windows XP just would not boot. So first I tried to use the thoughtfully prepared recovery disk set I made (13 CDs) and then the HP recovery tools included with my PC. Neither worked at all. I discovered that if you have stuff like extra drives, printers and such, disconnect them. Recognizing your equipment is something recovery tools don't do well. In my case, there was no recovery, I had to re-install everything. Now comes the fun and you learn why some operating systems are better that others. At one time, when MS Windows was still attached to DOS, you could boot into DOS mode and do disk repair and maintenance. You could load the tools onto a floppy and fix stuff. Now you can not, period. I relied on Linux tools to partition and format my disk. The MS recovery tools could not read my disk arrangement until my extra drive was removed. Since I was re-installing everything anyway I made the XP partition smaller and the Linux partition bigger. I kept the HP loaded XP Home install archieve partition even though it was useless in my recovery efforts. I wish they just could have given me an XP Home CD instead. Microsoft dosen't want you to own anything you might put on more than one computer, I guess. It was a good thing I had an official XP Pro CD. The XP install went fine and then came the service packs and upgrades. As expected MS XP owns the computer and there is little to accomodate another operating system on the same computer. (Why would I do that anyway?) Well, when I made the partitions, I made a couple formatted for Linux. MS Windows can't even see them without help. I installed Xubuntu Linux, simply and straightforward, downloaded the upgrade files and the programs I liked. Xubuntu Linux installs GRUB but didn't ask me where or if I wanted it. MS XP does have multiboot ability from its NT heirtage but could not find the Linux boot files. You must go through hell to figure out how to find and edit the XP boot.ini file. But Grub is very handy, easy to edit and if you don't put it in the master boot record, XP won't overwrite it, ever. Long story short, it all works. So, comparing MS XP and Xubuntu Linux, I'd say their installs were nearly equal, but Microsoft needs to include the disk prep tools in a place where you can easily use them. Also it is so disheartening to agree to so many end user agreements while installing MS Windows. Linux does not have that except for Java and some multimedia plug-ins. Sorry there is no cost savings, I already owned the MS XP CD. Most people get their Microsoft OS pre-installed so it seems free. But if you build and load from scratch, Linux can be had for free and used freely. I had fun doing all this stuff and now have a great running machine. One more thing, if you ever have to open the computer case to disconnect a drive, vaccum it out. I now know where dust bunnies come from.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

New kid among old friends on the web browser scene

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

What's up in my world of Linux?

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

Narrowing down the choice in Linux

You know I really wish there was a directory that listed all the available Linux software in one place and reviews so that it would be a little easier to explore what's out there. You could find it in Synaptic (the package installer) after you install it but not so much before you install Linux. Anyway I switched from Kubuntu Linux to Xubuntu Linux last week. Kubuntu has the KDE desktop which is a large complete desktop environment. I doesn't lack for much in the way of installed software and is configurable for a variety of looks. I liked it but thought that it perhaps was too much, too big, like MS Windows. The Gnome desktop environment which comes with Ubuntu is also complete and has a large footprint like KDE. It is a little less configurable than KDE. Xubuntu has the Xfce desktop. It, in comparison to KDE and Gnome is leaner and is less of a resource hog. It is faster, snappier and even less configurable than Gnome. It probably could stand some theme work, but it is OK. I like Xfce because it is a solid design whose elements don't get in the way (less integration). I was a little disappointed with Xubuntu because it was skimpy with the installed applications. They could have taken a page from the Wolvix playbook, small but adequate. I did take the liberty to add the applications I like. Xubuntu is like Ubuntu only it is like driving with a standard shift. It is lacking fully automatic CD mounting and unmounting for one. And another thing is that if you have to edit a file as root you can't just right click it and choose edit as root. You have to use the command line to evoke the editor in root mode. Once you get the work flow down I think it is pretty efficient. Xubuntu does give you a sense of stability. People in software circles talk of polish, look and feel, other subjective things. Xfce is OK for someone who is not overly critical with comparative looks and more into overall resource use. So, for the record, KDE and Gnome both have some amenities that make computing easier. In Xfce you learn to do things a little different, not much. One thing is for certain, Xfce is still growing and developing. It is very impressive that you can do so much with less.

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

Old school Linux made new again - Wolvix

I have to tell that one of the myths of Linux being hard to use has been busted and I am glad. Using a Slackware based distro has never been so easy. Slackware which has a reputation of being the original hacker's toy has been upgraded. I downloaded a program and proceeded to install it via the command line. I immediately entered into "dependency hell". That's when one program needs others to operate and you have to find out what they are and download and install each one. I had forgotten about Slapt-get and its gui front end called Gslapt, installed with Wolvix Linux. I opened Gslapt, added the repository name where I found the program and then the name of the program, fired it up. Gslapt downloaded and installed the program plus the six or so dependency programs it needed to run with one click of the button. It was a myth busting moment. I still can't get over an easy to use Slackware. Slackware as easy as any other distro, Debian or RPM. Oh yeah, there are some who prefer old school but you really have to cheer for modern conveniences.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Arno's Art presents more Linux propaganda!!

Well, what are you waiting for a golden invitation? You want a coupon? You want me to come over and force you to look at it? Nah, even when things are had for free, you can't force people to get into it. But a little enticement here and there doesn't hurt. My oldest daughter needs a laptop and ask me to check out the HP's since I have an account. She also needs some MS windows stuff for business purposes. It is sad but I must give her what she wants. I think the investment in hardware and software is too big for my budget. I myself don't have a need for MS products being a home user. I am not under the illusion that MS stuff is the defacto standard. As long as I can read/write MS document standard file types I can get around having to purchase MS products. Alright, what do I have against MS stuff? Cost issues, ownership/license issues, security issues, and then there is the stuff most users don't care about, big corporation market manipulation and domination, political clout, and the spreading of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) about anything not MS. What about Apple? Come on, they are exclusive and high priced. If you want them, you can get them.
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 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

More howl from a Wolvix Linux user

How did I get in this blogging business anyway? Being a guy who rarely spoke out about anything, over the years a lot of stuff was left unsaid. Blogging is a way to tell it. Computers are a daily part of my life now and I have seen things come and go in the computer world. It is amazing what other people (computer users) are totally blind to, unaware of, or will kill you over if you change what they are using. Some are even claiming supremacy in spite of having to pay for stuff and not having complete control over what they bought. Lets see, I have to purchase one copy of the OS for each machine I own because it is illegal to do otherwise. I have to pay big bucks for major "professional grade" software that I only use some of the time. These are what the stores are selling and everybody is buying it. There are hundreds of reasons why people don't know about Linux and open source software. Then when they find out, they don't want to break old habits or stop using what they are use to. I am not talking to you people. If you are curious, fed up, want a change, want a choice, want to escape, ta da, ta da, ta da.........and still get your computing done, now we can talk.

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'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

Linux is a Linux like a car is a car

You heard me say it before, a Linux is a Linux is a Linux, which is true if you blur the details. People being humans, always want to know what is the best Linux, the most popular Linux. These are impossible questions to answer, because it depends on what you are looking for. The reason there are so many Linux choices is because folks have put together different versions to meet so many different desires. Language sets, tool sets and application sets, all in various combos. It is all very much like buying a car. Some folks want small, efficient or sporty and some want a fully loaded SUV or crossover. Some will kill for a Lexus or a Hummer, a status thing, and some refuse to buy American. But in the final end, a car is still a car. Now you have to give it to Linux folks who have tried to formulate a Linux distro to meet specific needs/desires. This means that you, if you find a distro that meets your criteria, don't have to make a generic Linux match your particular needs. Its been done already. That is an ideal situation. I worked at a private school for a short spell. I had to configure a couple of MS Windows XP laptops for Korean students. It was not so easy to figure out how to do it. In Linux there's a Korean language distribution already figured out. I haven't tried it so I don't how that would work. But it is out there. Like with any car, the one everybody wants is the one where the advertising puts you in the driver's seat. You can see yourself, looking good behind the wheel. Some Linuxes enjoy the popular press spotlight and get a lot of attention. These are what most people see first. Name recognition is a big thing among us human beings. Red Hat, Linspire, Ubuntu, Mandriva, Fedora and Suse all come to mind. There are more that are in the forefront. Being a long time Linux user, of course I have my favorites and my observations about the popular choices. First these so called popular Distributions are formulated to meet the needs of a large and diverse user group. They try to include something for everyone. Which is why some Linuxes are so large. It is getting so you must have the kind of internet connection you use to download movies just to download a distribution. A DVD's worth of stuff you might never use, but you have it all. If you only have a fast DSL like me, 1 hour for 700MB, it could take all day to download 1 DVD or several CD's of stuff. I really like the repository system of some distros. That way I don't have to have CD's laying around not being used and not being updated. I can download updated software as I need it. I am not naming names, but when you go to download your copy of Linux, you will find some popular distros not so convenient. Better to order the CD's or DVD's online. The latest trend by far is the liveCD/DVD. To be able to have a complete Linux on 1 CD is of great value. It also means it is very accessible to a great number of people. In my years of Linux use I have found that I do not use regularly all the software put in most distributions. This means I could use a smaller distro with no side effects. The smaller distros are not so popular, they don't include everything, less choice, less, less, less. Is it easier to get rid of what you don't need or want or is it easier to add what you want? You have to ask this question. I really like the smallish distros because they provide for my everyday computer needs and the ability to add the stuff I want. I have on my computer Kubuntu Linux which is good for me and I choose it because I liked the philosophy behind it as well as its look and feel and software selection. But I tried Puppy Linux which showed me that all that I wanted and used in Linux could be put onto a jump drive. Hummm..........SUV or sports car? But actually I settled for something a little larger that a sports car. Wolvix which is adequate for my needs, yet can grow, be tweaked and made personal. Yeah, it's not popular, up front, flashy, or edgy, but it does not miss when it comes to stability, longevity or support. Wolvix can have the wizbang that attracts a lot of Linux users today, but it is nice and comforting to know my system can operate without it. I am not struggling anymore with MS envy. Linux has caught up and passed MS a long time ago in my book. So now to add to my sayings, a Linux is a Linux is a Linux, smallish is better I think.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Yeah! Linux still gets a bum rap!

Well, it's still Sunday and I have been sitting here considering and fussing with some Linux stuff. I'm looking at this Wolvix distro, which I did install to my spare 8gig hard drive by the way. Puppy exist on the liveCD. What pushed me over the cliff was that Wolvix makes it easy for me to get into Slackware. Now Slackware is the oldest most venerated Linux distro there is and as such is probably the source of many of the myths about Linux being hard to digest. Slackware has a reputation of being a true Linux (a hackers toy), real men get Slack. Slackware is known for not being able to resolve dependencies for installed programs. Which meant if you installed a program that requires other programs/libraries to work, you had to install those programs yourself, after you found out what they were. Then as I recalled my first encounter, you would assign partition sizes to each folder in the root file system. This diving up the disk was confusing. There are others things that people complained about that became the myths that keep people from pursuing Linux. I tell ya, Linux's got a bum rap!
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.

from Puppy to wild dogs, Linux is still Linux

It's Sunday and I am off to church, but before I go I have to comment. There are far too many Linux versions to explore, so little time. Many of the versions are of no special use for me. Many Linux versions don't get much press because they are not "popular" or is it they are not "popular" because they don't get much press? The Debian based distros are reigning right now and the .rpm distros are coming in next. Even Puppy has generated a following. One of the earliest distros is called Slackware, it is the "grand daddy" of Linuxes. When I first encountered it I was a newbie. It was difficult to understand all the details required to get it running. I should check it out again to see how it has improved. And to see how much my own understanding has grown. In the mean time I am checking out a Slackware based distro called Wolvix. From Puppy to the wild dogs, I go. Wolvix is not a huge distro but neither is it a small one. As I see it you could possibly put it on a larger jump drive. But still it is a liveCD with provisions to save configs and personal files on a hard drive or jump drive. It has all the stuff you could want in a portable Linux and still be small both in size and resource use. This means it will run on older machines and run like crazy on new machines. Slackware is a kit builders dream, if you like to control every aspect of what goes into your system. Wolvix is a nice combination of Linux stuff and still allows you to build on if you must. Wolvix can be "remastered" which means that modules can be added then a new liveCD.iso created. Also it can be installed to hard drive and use standard Slackware application packages. I don't know what to do now, I have Kubuntu and these other equally able Linuxes. Let's say it together, a Linux is a Linux is a Linux. Which one is best is highly subjective. Wolvix uses Xfce and Fluxbox window managers which I appreciated through using Puppy Linux. Wolvix, because it is Slackware, is traditional Linux. You log in as root, create user accounts and the file system is standard Linux. It is comical how I can like every Linux I try. I really like Linux. Makes it hard to recommend one version over another, especially to new users. Folks have gone out of their way to make Linux accessible. Believe me, if you had to download and install MS Windows (any flavor), you would not be so forth coming either. This is why the liveCD is so great. Imagine you get to try Linux on your machine without changing a single thing on it. Just insert, reboot and be amazed. Then ask your local nerd, geek, techie or knowledgeable friend for help (provided they have experience with Linux). As for Wolvix, it makes Slackware very friendly, even a newbie can use it. I may have to stop reviewing distros as I need to live with my choices a while so that I can dig into them. You can't learn if you just skim the surface and run off to something else. From the bark of the dog to the howl of the wolf, and it's all Linux.

Friday, October 05, 2007

DSL and Puppy Linux, tiny Titans

I think I am over my fascination with Puppy Linux, but it did open my eyes to new possibilities. I found that as wonderful as it is to have a big full Linux distribution, very often it is just a lot of stuff you don't use very often. The small footprint Linuxes go a long way to meeting the needs of everyday use and are portable to boot. Puppy Linux has a couple of strikes against it in my book. First, you start up as a root user. This means you have access to all your system files and so does everyone else. Not a problem if you are the only one who uses your computer, but still not the safest setup. Then I can't seem to get it to run in VirtualBox. I could just run it from the installed partition, but I don't want to have to reboot every time I want to use it. Or I could just run it off the CD which also requires rebooting. Puppy also does not seem to shutdown cleanly. After using Puppy, I reboot into Kubuntu and the screen says it must do some sort of disk check because the Puppy did not shutdown cleanly or unmount the drive correctly. My computer does a time consuming disk check. So I am re-thinking my relationship to Puppy and will find a situation that works well. In any case, Puppy is a fine rescue disk with cool tools. I mentioned DSL a couple of times. Damn Small Linux is another of those tiny Linuxes. It like Puppy will fit on a jump drive or can be burned on a CD, even on one of those business card CDs. But what I liked about DSL was that I got it to work in VirtualBox. It is not as snappy as running off the CD or the hard drive but it works. DSL has a variety of tools, utilities and applications. I am using the DSL-N version which is larger than the original DSL. It has some larger applications. DSL follows some Unix conventions. You can boot as root and add users just like in normal Linuxes. This is good for security. I'm not sure but I think DSL was the first Linux I ever tried. I found it in a book a long time ago. I could be mistaken. Seems to me there was a DSL of German vintage years ago. I will have to check into that someday. Anyway, there is a battle of wits going on between the Puppy crowd and the DSL crowd. Besides all the name calling and jabs, there is the feeling that there is a Linux configuration out there that fits every type of user. So if you want to set up a computer to access the internet, email, type a letter, play a CD and not much else, it can be done for very little or no cost on hardware you know wouldn't run MS Windows (any flavor), yet be up to date. If your grandma can maneuver a mouse, it's a point and click world. Go green and recycle/resurrect that old spare PC into an appliance somebody can use.

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

Things get very interesting in Linux country

I been looking at Puppy Linux. And have come to the conclusion that it is a great tool/toy. As a tool it can be a rescue disc to give you access to all your drives including MS Windows partitions. It has utilities and can be reconstructed, reformulated with the software you want and made into a designer liveCD. If you wanted just some portable office apps, you can do that also. And as a toy you can play with Linux to your hearts content to see what Linux is all about. I myself have loaded and unloaded the various window managers and am having fun trying out different Linux stuff. Some are even using Puppy Linux as their main distro. When I think about what I mainly use my computer for, I don't need a lot. Just internet access, my email, office and picture tools and I am happy. Puppy can do that with ease. It is like a sweet little foreign sports car. Small, snappy and it gets me there with a rush of excitement........... What about that big pimped out SUV of a Linux I also use? Kubuntu has its' limitations of course and its designers have tried to put into it all best choices to satisfy a large swath of users. Like I said before trying to make a flexible product fit a large and picky a group as users are is no small feat. With all its bigness, Kubuntu is very manageable. I can do all my computing with confidence and without pirating software I can't afford to buy. If you can get past the illusion of needing MS products, I highly recommend open source software. A lot of business types have little choice, but home users can actually have a different and cheaper choice. Some would compare MS stuff and Linux stuff only to complain about subjective things, looks, quality, polish, etc. But in reality they don't want to change from what they are used to. I have felt no discomfort in switching to Linux. It is growing and changing, getting better with each new version. I have been using Linux for a several years. It is sooooooo much easier to use Linux today than it was even a few years ago. Many people say they want Linux to be like the MS Windows they know and love, but what is the point in that? Besides, the Linux folk tried to do just that very thing and Microsoft jumped all over them with their legal army. The point is that there is more than the MS way to operate a computer. Programmers the world over have known this from the beginning, now you know it also. I know that I can not convince everyone and that being "free" does not change a lot of minds. But if you venture to try Linux out and have a good experience with Linux, you will be changed. Now, is Linux that different from MS Windows? From a users perspective, no. Windows, mouse clicks, it is all the same. You might not recognize the arrangement of some things but then you are not tied to the MS way of doing things either. So give Linux a try, if you are so inclined. I hope you have a good experience.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Here's some screenshots of my Puppy Linux desktop.
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

From Linux delight to a Linux eppiphany

I was digging into another Linux distro when I noticed I had downloaded and burned one I haven't tried yet. So, I popped the CD in and fired it up. It was Puppy Linux 2.17.1. I laughed, I cried, I was truly amazed. This Puppy is only 92.8MB and competes with the big boys. Here I was trying to squeeze Mandriva (700MB) onto my 8Gig spare hard drive, which shrunk up really fast by the way. So, I blew off DreamLinux, (sorry folks) and installed Puppy. I didn't have to since Puppy runs completely in ram and allows you to save settings and other docs to file on your hard drive or flash drive or multisession CD/DVD. The question came up, how many people can you fit into a VW?
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.