Choose Life - but don't always choose Ubuntu

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Choose Life - but don't always choose Ubuntu

Postby fiorghael » Fri Mar 11, 2011 11:43 pm

There's a lot to be said for trying out new distros – although I only discovered that recently.

I've been a convinced Ubuntu-user ever since I came to Linux, even though it was Knoppix that first put the thought of trying another OS beyond Windows into my head. It was on the coverdisc of one of the Windows-orientated magazines and I decided to give it a try.

My main reason for giving it a “try” was that Vista – which I'd just bought pre-installed on a new machine – wouldn't run any of the programs that I'd paid good money for.

Anyway, I moved on to Ubuntu and liked it enough to install it as my main OS. Now, Ubuntu did cause me some grief over video resolution and it took a lot of posting and Xorg-ing and a load of black screens before I got a reliable set-up.

After that, it was just a case of distro-upgrading online. Until Ubuntu stopped offering me software updates (I think that may have been because I apt-got the KDE environment to run alongside my main Gnome desktop – but I may be wrong).

The system became so out-of-date that I decided to do a fresh install of Maverick. And that took me back to the very start of my Linux exeperience – nasty video resolutions, no desktop effects and a CUPS that would only print 1.5 pages of any document.

Then I had to look for nasties and uglies and all the rest to ensure I could access content.

Even worse – as English is not my first language – it did horrible keyboard things on me. I couldn't get my language's accents. I could change the keyboard layout, select the third-level chooser, and save it globally, but – so it seemed – only per session.

When I logged in again I couldn't get the accents.

That was the final straw, so I tried out the LXF January coverdisc and found Linux Mint. Absolutely brilliant. One-click covered every codec The printer prints out more than 1.5 pages, no black screens due to NVIDIA incompatibility and as much desktop effects as I can handle.

And, best of all, my proper keyboard is intact every session – all accents proper and correct.

I know there are major issues here, in that not everyone wants to use proprietary drivers but I think small compromises are necessary to give those from other OS backgrounds as easy an experience as possible.

If we tell them “It's easy, all you have to do is go into the terminal and . . .” I think we've lost the audience. Similarly, if we're saying “No, you have to get the ugly/nasty/downright-vile/plugins before you can do that”, they'll be gone.

Linux Mint does make it easy. But this is neither an advert for Linux Mint nor an Ubuntu-bashing session. It's about the variety that is available.

The LXF article on lesser-known distros has encouraged me to think outside the Ubuntu box and I'm looking forward to trying out PCLinuxOS and SimplyMepis as my search for the perfect USB distro continues.

What I really want is a distro that I can – easily, and that's the key word – put onto a USB stick and take it from machine to machine, knowing that it'll pick up my wireless chip without me having to get dirty in the terminal.

Ubuntu is good. But Linux Mint (based on Ubuntu) has taken my Linux experience to another level. And I'm sure there are other distros that could make things even better.

And that's where the LXF coverdiscs are so good. They encourage you to try distros you might never have discovered otherwise. Had I missed LXF140, I might have overlooked Linux Mint and persevered with Ubuntu, before becoming disillusioned with the whole concept.

When you become “set” on a particular Linux distro it's hard to move to another Linux distro – but sometimes the install time is well worthwhile.

A long post, but I look forward to your comments.
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Postby heiowge » Sat Mar 12, 2011 12:27 am

I still keep finding myself drawn back to Ubuntu.

Probably the reason your updates stopped is you were using a non LTS version. The Long Term Support versions are given updates for 3 years for the desktop, but it's only 18 months for the versions inbetween.

I solved a lot of my problems with ubuntu when I started using a separate partition for home. Then when upgrading, I do a clean install and then grab the programs I need. Most easy to grab from within Ubuntu Tweak.
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Postby wyliecoyoteuk » Sat Mar 12, 2011 9:06 am

As ever YMMV.
I have tried several iterations of Mint, none of them would install properly except the last one, and yet when that one did I found it uninspiring.
Bear in mind that Mint was originally based on Ubuntu.
I moved to Ubuntu last year after being a long time Suse user.

Now I use Ubuntu on my main PC, my wife's PC and the Kitchen PC, and on most of the Linux boxes at work.
Netbook edition on our netbooks, Mythbuntu on my HTPC.

Although I regularly try other distros, I keep coming back to Ubuntu.

The codec issue...well if you can get the licensees to release them as free software, then that would be solved. Mint gets away with it because it is a small distro, if it continues to rise in popularity, I am sure that lawsuits and demands for money will start dropping on the developers doormats.


The CLI issue... the main reason that CLI is often used for an answer is actually simplicity (and this does happen in windows help forums too, especially for the server products).
Cutting and pasting a few commands into a terminal is a lot quicker than writing "click here, click that, scroll to this"
It is also more likely to work.
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Postby fiorghael » Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:08 am

The codec issue...well if you can get the licensees to release them as free software, then that would be solved. Mint gets away with it because it is a small distro, if it continues to rise in popularity, I am sure that lawsuits and demands for money will start dropping on the developers doormats.

That's a good point. I didn't realise it was a legal issue and thought it was just down to the principle of some distros wanting to stick rigidly to the open source ideal.

As for the CLI thing, it's not that I'm totally terrified of it, it's just I'm busy enough without having to trawl through lists of commands when I could do it with a GUI. Laziness, maybe.

I have to admit, too, that I'm still drawn to Ubuntu. For me, it's the definitive Linux distro and it's my yardstick for comparison. At the minute, Mint is doing the job better than Ubuntu but that could change.

I must admit that I do like the eye-candy which Mint provides with ease and Ubuntu provides with difficulty.

On the Ubuntu and Nvidia thing, by the way, will there be a better and easier-to-set-up video experience when Wayland takes over from X-server?
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Postby heiowge » Thu Mar 17, 2011 8:30 am

Not sure. I don't really have a problem with video on Ubuntu.

I install, then system > administration > additional drivers. From there, it installs everything my nVidia card needs.
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Postby nelz » Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:05 am

fiorghael wrote:As for the CLI thing, it's not that I'm totally terrified of it, it's just I'm busy enough without having to trawl through lists of commands when I could do it with a GUI.


But you can't cut and paste mouse clicks :)
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Postby wyliecoyoteuk » Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:13 pm

nelz wrote:
fiorghael wrote:As for the CLI thing, it's not that I'm totally terrified of it, it's just I'm busy enough without having to trawl through lists of commands when I could do it with a GUI.


But you can't cut and paste mouse clicks :)


Exactly. You can't always guarantee that the mouse clicks will need to be in the same place either. Which is also why on windows forums they often post "open a dos prompt and type XXXX.msc then enter"
saves them trying to explain which of the various click routes to a program that each version of windows requires.
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Postby fiorghael » Tue Apr 12, 2011 11:03 pm

But you can't cut and paste mouse clicks Smile

Got it now!

sudo eject has just saved me a lot of messing with a paper clip in the optical drive to remove an ancient cd whose contents I couldn't remember.*

And some excellent help from PCNetSpec in another thread has got my Broadcom up and running with an apt-get install in the terminal - I'd been going mad trying to do it in GUI ways.

Googled for hours, but sorted in seconds.

* Just in case anyone's curious, the mystery cd turned out to be Fedora 12!
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Postby Bazza » Wed Apr 13, 2011 9:40 pm

Hi Neil...

> But you can't cut and paste mouse clicks :)

Inside a terminal; wanna bet? ;o)

cat /dev/input/event2 > /dev/stdout

Have some fun with that little devil... ;oO

And yes you can cut'n'AUTOpaste to the cursor and it will attempt
to run this binary "command"; ooooh what fun... ;oD
73...

Bazza, G0LCU...

Team AMIGA...
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Postby Nerdy-ish » Fri Apr 22, 2011 9:29 pm

Don't forget, all the focus seems to be on Ubuntu now, even with the LF magazine seemingly going to town on that distro, but not too long ago, it was all about Mandrake (before rename to Mandriva). It was the hot distro, very up to date, and most importantly at the time of problematic hardware, it seemed to just work on a load of hardware.

Ubuntu has more marketing behind it to raise it's profile, and get people interested in Linux.

Trying different distros you get to at least see if you can live with Gnome or KDE. But most of all, you get choice, which is not what yo get with Windows, which is a more one size WILL fit all.

In the rare times I need to check something in Windows, I miss simple things like the 3D desktop cube, moving applications to another work surface. A file manager with multiple tabs making GUI moving of files easy is not an option in Windows.
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Postby pwbrum61 » Sat Apr 30, 2011 7:50 am

fiorghael wrote:That's a good point. I didn't realise it was a legal issue and thought it was just down to the principle of some distros wanting to stick rigidly to the open source ideal.


If I read the LXF interview with Stallman correctly, it's more to do with the free software ideal - your freedom to use the software how you choose, without restriction.

Free software is open source software
BUT
not all open source software is free software

8)

Unfortunately, as Stallman admits, the use of the word "free" was perhaps unfortunate as it implies zero monetary cost, whereas his intention was to imply freedom/liberty to use/modify/redistribute software without restriction

There is a sort of paradox here though. By necessity, such software is usually covered by something like GPL, but this in itself applies restrictions, so the software is not %100 free.

Similary, in the UK (or even the U.S) we consider ourselves to be living in a "free" society with "freedom of speech" yet there are laws that prevent us from saying certain things for fear of being prosecuted. One only has to look at the case of Paul Chamber and what's become known as the "twitter joke trial" for evidence of a lack of freedom.


Sorry. I seem to have "gone off on one" :roll:
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Postby fiorghael » Sun May 01, 2011 11:43 pm

Sorry. I seem to have "gone off on one"


No worries on that. But I see that the issue is a lot more complex than I thought. I'm beginning to see the subtle differences.

As I've said in another thread, I came to Linux because an upgrade to Vista meant that most of the software I'd paid for didn't work anymore. So I was expected to pay again for the new Vista version.

Now that's ironic, because paying for something means you should be able to do whatever you want with it. If I buy shower gel, for example, I might want to use it as described. On the other hand, if I want to use it instead of milk in my coffee that's my (very poor) decision.

The question might, therefore, be, am I entitled to an upgrade that makes shower gel taste better in coffee? The answer should be a resounding no as I'm not using it as recommended.

If something is "free", I can surely still make those decisions. This, though, is a very telling line:
not all open source software is free software


I think this thread is worth developing and, subject to positive feedback, I'd like to look a little more closely at what we want, and what we actually get, from "free" software.
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choose

Postby fredds » Thu Jun 02, 2011 11:28 am

If you are having video problems in linux, try changing your video card, even temporarily. I had problems such as yours for about 3 years; unable to reliably get video working, finally upgraded card and problems disappeared.
Was either a dodgy card or linux didn't like it.

cheers
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Postby SpecialStuff » Thu Jun 02, 2011 4:26 pm

Damned if I'm changing my card! It worked fine in past Ubuntu's, and works great with other distros.

A switch is the better choice imho. Why be afraid of switching from Ubuntu? Other distros offer the same, and often better than Ubuntu.
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Postby thenudehamster » Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:41 am

This is an interesting discussion which looks at an aspect of the Linux world in a similar way to how I see the Linux/Windows issue. At the moment, Linux is looked upon by many in the Windows world as a geek's OS - you can't understand it or use it properly if you can't think in at least three different programming languages, automatically go to a CLI instead of a GUI to change anything, and are happy spending more time fixing the system than actually using it.

Now I know this is an erroneous view, but I know many people who think this way, and they need to be shown how easy Linux is to install and to use. The problem is that then you have to figure out which Linux. The core is no problem, it's the interface between the user and the core which is. We have Unity, Gnome, KDE, X-fce and more. I have three machines with Unity, one with Gnome and one with X-fce at present - I've tried KDE and I just cannot get on with it - and all are equally easily useable, but the three GUIs are different - and that is the biggest problem we have trying to get the Windows world to change.

Go to any Windows machine and you can use it, no matter what flavour of Windows you're used to. Try it with a Linux box and you have to spend some time figuring our how the GUI works before you can usefully do anything.
Windows also has a straight-line history from DOS through to W7; if you need to get down and dirty with it, the basic procedures are the same all the way through, growing with each iteration of the system. Linux distributions (God, how I HATE that term 'distro' - it's such a buzzword that smacks of 'insider exclusivity') seem to have different names and different terms for everything outside the core. Great if you have the time to learn them all, but not much good for the average user.

I know one of the major attractions of Linux from the enthusiast's point of view is that is so easy to customise - but this is the big failing from the simple user's situation. Most Windows users, for instance, use Windows Mail, Internet Explorer, MSN, MS Office (or Works) - they lock themselves to Microsoft because that's how the computer comes. Until the Linux community can agree on a largely standard interface that any user can walk up to and use without what feels like a major training course, the world at large is going to remain locked into the Windows monopoly - because it's comfortable there.
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