Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Setting up a new PC: Windows vs Linux

I have some experience setting up new PC's. A new computer is never "instantly" ready to use.


  • Remove the trial version Anti Virus (normally McAfee)
  • Remove Wild Tangent trial version game pack
  • Decide on an anti virus to use, and install it
  • Decide on Office software and install it


(Granted, I am unable to purchase a laptop with Linux preinstalled. So this all happens after you have installed Linux)

  •  Update your system
  • No trial crapware to ignore
  • Some distros come with Office software, otherwise choose and install
Windows machines come preinstalled with all kinds of extras. Stuff you often could live without. Like Lenovo with Superfish, a company feels they can add to your system (normally because they can make some money out of it - I am sure that McAfee pays companies to have their software preinstalled), never with your best in mind. 

I love that Linux is not bundled with nonsense. Yes, every distro does have apps that they bundle together - but never anything like what Windows vendors do. 

I guess that companies will always do things that they feel they can benefit from. 

One exception is the Acer Build your own cloud. Building your own cloud with your desktop PC, that you can access even when your PC is turned off. If you need a file on your phone or tablet, the app reaches out and turns on your PC remotely. Although this might not be for everyone, in the time we live where cloud computing is becoming more important, this can be a very useful for a lot of people. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Poll Results - Which OS for students?

Well, this post is a little overdue, but the poll results are in and I would like to voice my opinion

I invited forum members from the Mybroadband forum and the Peppermint OS forum to help me with the poll by voting. While some said they would not vote until Red Hat and server versions of Linux where listed, others took the time to vote. Not a lot of people voted, but it seems that most people believe that Windows is still the best option.

I understand that not everyone is ready to embrace Linux, but with students (using Office and web browsing) I do still feel that Linux is a viable option. If you really need Microsoft Office and you don't want to try to run it in Wine, then consider running their web app versions. Go to mail.live.com and sign up for a free account.

I have done a bit more digging about Chrome OS, as I believe that I did take a very harsh view about it. Consider the Amazon top 100 list of best selling laptops, in the top 20 listed items you will find that 6 of them are Chromebooks. Surely Google is doing something right with Chrome OS, or else nobody would be buying these things.

I do however find it sad that it is not as easy to buy a laptop with Linux installed. Dell is said to have a line of laptops for sale with Ubuntu on, but I would rather not run Ubuntu. Part of the problem is, I suppose, that there are so many different flavours of Linux that are available.

Anyways, a big thank you to everyone who voted. I hope to have another poll up soon.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Have you ever considered?

I don't know if you have heard the news, but Crunchbang Linux is basically dead now. With Linux comes great freedom, the freedom to create an OS the way you like it, the freedom to choose to use an OS that you like (instead of the one you are forced to use).

It is sad though when a distro ends. I understand that most projects (especially the smaller ones) do not make a profit. It takes a lot of love, commitment and time (and even money!) to create and maintain a version of Linux. Life changes and sometimes our priorities change and we don't have the time to do the things we used to.

My blog has a point and I am finally there:

If you are running Linux, no matter if it is a small distro or one with hundreds of thousands of users - you should learn a little bit more about Linux in general and broaden your horizons. What would you do if your favourite distro stopped tomorrow? If you only know how to use KDE or Gnome, and tomorrow both projects ended - what would you use? I am not encouraging anyone to be paranoid here please. The fear of change and trying new things is what keeps a lot of people locked into Windows, obviously if you have migrated to Linux from Windows you don't fall into that category. But what could it hurt to try something new? You might find that the really like the MATE desktop if you tried it. You might just encounter a new Linux distro that does things differently, (not that you have to switch) but you might learn a few tips & tricks from them.

Getting comfortable with something for too long and cause stagnation. When was the last time you used a different media player, for example? One of the beauties of Linux is that there are many thousands of apps out there. You don't need to try all of them, but having a broader set of general knowledge would not be a bad things either.

Don't go and change everything all at once now, but when and if you do have some free time - learn a new app along the way and explore a new desktop environment. You might just be surprised by what is out there.

My thoughts about Elementary OS

I started off wanting to test Elementary OS because of all the good press they have been getting lately. I don't have a background with Mac OS and I don't really mind if my desktop looks like I am using a Mac or not.

That being said, I was able to do something I have not been able to get right with any version of Linux to date. I was able to use Bluetooth tethering between my phone and netbook, so that I did not have to plug into a wired network connection to install wifi drivers. Why does this matter? Well, for a lot of people they get stuck here, without an Internet connection you can't really go very far. I usually plug into my router with a network cable, but this was nice too.

I formatted my beloved Peppermint 5 installation and installed Elementary OS, which was a quick and painless install.

Something I missed, was a program called Task Manager. When I had a problem with Dropbox (the panel icon disappeared and my whole Internet connection basically froze while it tried to download 2 GB), I was not able to open Task manager and close Dropbox. I could have Googled what the Terminal command for this would have been, but my Internet was otherwise occupied.

I found their forum weird, not bad. Just very different from what I am used to.

With even their settings menu modelled after the look and feel of Mac OS, I am very surprised that Apple has not sued them for replicating their system too closely (I mean, remember this story).

All and all, because Elementary OS is based on Ubuntu and Debian I found installing applications easy, and I was able to get work done. The majority of my Linux experience has been with Ubuntu derivatives and at this point - I don't want to relearn everything I have learnt.

Considering that I did a blog post showing how to make Peppermint look very close to Mac OS, I don't really see the need to install an OS just because of the way it looks. What happens when I get tired of the "look"? What happens when I want to change the look?

The Elementary team has worked very hard to make a distro that is light and looks good and they have done a good job. Something about it just did not feel right to me. I would still encourage you to test it, because you might love it more than I did.

I have since formatted my HDD again and have installed Peppermint 5 again. Home sweet home. Going on a holiday is nice, but it is great when you get back home to your own house. Your bed, your tv everything set up the way you want to have it.

Do you distro hop? What have you tried recently?