| Linux at Home - My experience, my thoughts
You do have a choice!
The switch to Linux. What did it cost me?
Hey, even Google sees Tux. After all, that's what they run on.
Check out Ubuntu - A Great Linux distro.
Linux Software, Games and Utilities I've played with.
View log in chronological order.
The Ubuntu Dell Mini10 experience.
The Ubuntu Dell arrived.
I ordered a Dell with Ubuntu.
My Daughter needs a computer to find a job.
The ASUS Eee PC 900 A After 2 Months
The ASUS Eee PC 900 A Netbook w/ Xandros Linux
RealPlayer for Linux works great
First update of 2008
Found another Quanta+ tool
Loving Thunderbird and Mozilla
New phone/Walkman/MP3 player
Firefox upgraded itself.
Flashplayer and Firefox upgrades
Thunderbird Mail Client
Thunderbird Mail Client
Ubuntu Linux Installs
Just thinking back.
What the hell is going on with Linspire?
Some fun graphics stuff
I can keep my scanner plugged into my Linspire machine.
I'm leaning away from Xandros.
Who says nothing is as impressive as Vista?
Took the hard-drive out of my last
KStars - A great program for the astronomy buff.
Found a neat little thing in Linspire (or the common KDE ).
Had the chance in the last few weeks to install both Xandros and Linspire
on a 5 year old Dell and a new Dell laptop.
Many moons ago I set up my Linspire Desktop with the colors and curves that pleased my
eyes the most aesthetically.
Stardate 60177.4 Time to update the crew.
Got an idea. Wanna see my current Linspire Desktop?
Just an overdue update.
Wireless Internet on a Linux machine.
GoDaddy goes pro-Microshaft. Moves millions of domains from
Linux to Microsoft servers.
Too much to report.
On Linspire, this was too freakin' easy
Thought I had a problem
DSL and routers
Xandros versus Linspire
OpenOffice 1.1 and StarOffice 7 (built on OO 1.1) Exploration
Helped a friend get set up with a new Linspire machine from Fry's
Happy New Year!
What a year it has been! My Reflections!
Played with Rosegarden.
It's been a year now.
I just heard that Microsoft may add PDF support next year.
Just Linuxing along here.
|I feel so sorry for all the people buying Windows machines.
Condemning themselves to two or three more years of patches, crashes, viruses and hell. All that lovely Spyware and Adware that slips right into the poorly design Windows environment. I'd like to advocate that, "Friends don't let friends drive Windows" but it is a losing proposition. In most cases all a friend can do is provide compassion when a friend falters and hope that they see the light from a friend who doesn't drive drunk and doesn't drive Windows. We weren't able to save them from AO Hell or EarthStink either and certainly can't save you from the Gates of Wrath. All we can hope is that when the light of Linux shines their way, they are not afraid to venture to the promise land.
I'm now closing in on my first year with Linux. I do not miss Windows one bit. XP SP2 broke millions of machines. Microsoft blamed that on the customer. After all, you should have followed advice from 100's of techies on the internet and their 50-step processes that few home users are technical enough to understand before you even tried to upgrade to SP2.
When the rubber meets the road, I want a system that works and does everything I need. And that's what I have.
Turboprint Works Great
Linspire Forums - A wealth of Free Help
I'm past the upgrade bugs. Linspire has been working great. Life without Microsoft is good.
Now there's Cedega.
Tried the XSane scanner software with Linspire.
|Linspire Five-O progress.
The Linspire Five-O desktop is pretty impressive. I like it better than anything Apple or Microcrap has put out. All apps are so much nicer than in 4.5 (4.5 isn't as aesthetically appealing as MS or Apple but is intuitively more functional).
My official opinion remains. There are problems with Linspire's 4.5 to Five-O update. Don't do it unless you are adept at making backups and have the time to reinstall what you want to keep. If you've been through the Windows updates from hell, this is nothing.
If you are just now getting started with Linspire, get Five-O, use it and enjoy it.
For the home user, Linspire and Xandros are good options for a Linux experience beyond MicroshaftAppleJunk. Redhat and Novells's SUSE are targeting the corporate market. Your going to get a lot of stuff you don't want or need with those distros. If you choose Linspire, there's more than 2000 fun programs you can download and use. All kinds of games and utilities that the typical home user would want. Xandros supplies a lot of fun stuff in the box.
And the main thing, with either, you get a WORKING firewall. Something that Microsoft has failed to implement miserably because it messes up all the Spyware and Adware that Microsoft, Epson, HP, Lexmark and others invented and want you to have on your Windows based computer(s).
OK. You know who is on my blacklist.
It's starting to come together.
|I've been away for awhile...
A few weeks ago I decided to try the Linspire upgrade from 4.5 to Five-O.
Normally, I would never do an upgrade while I had a system that was doing everything I wanted it to. But, in the spirit of being a Linux and Linspire pioneer, I decided to undertake the challenge.
It didn't go well or as advertized. Linspire didn't want to admit there were some problems and avoided me like the plague. Furthermore, it appeared they hid the public problem forums from their customers to keep the word that things were seriously amiss from becoming known.
For almost two weeks my Linspire machine was rendered a paperweight or boat anchor due to the update problems.
The update option is supposed to load the new system and leave your data files intact so that you can update your applications and not lose any data files. But, the update doesn't always work. It turns out the answer is a destuctive install which means you'd better be pretty darn good about backing up ALL your important files.
If you are running Linspire 4.5, it works great. Don't mess with it!
If you are a newbie thinking about buying a Five-O machine - GO FOR IT!
If you are a newbie thinking about buying a 4.5 machine - GO FOR IT!
Spend the $100 to get the operating system and CNR. You can always get your software back.
I'm up on Five-O now and there are some nice software updgrades. Some data was lost.
It's going to be a few more weeks before I can assess the losses versus the gains related to the Linspire upgrade. It's also hard because up until now, Linspire has been a great performer. As for my list of CNR's below, looks like I will updating the ones I want to play with again for some time to come.
|My daughter had a print and photo project.
As usual I was called upon for help. She needed to edit photos someone had sent her and then put them into documents she was preparing with OpenOffice. She uses the Xandros Linux distro. But I barely got to help her and actually learned some things. While I was playing with her PC she picked up the application guide that came with Xandros. In no time she had figured out how to do the image editing (cropping, resizing, rotating, color, etc) she needed. And it pretty much looks like she has OpenOffice mastered.
It's like stepping into a time machine. Go back one year to a time when she had been using MS stuff for 5 years and it was STILL cryptic to her. Every project of hers became my project as well. She wasn't a computer person and never would be it seemed.
But she totally surprised me! With her Linux distro, she's actually learning, using and being productive with her computer. Switching her to Linux was the best thing I could have done.
|I guess I forgot to mention the Adobe Acrobat upgrade.
I was using Adobe Acrobat 5.0 on Linux previously. A version 6 for Linux was never released and frankly, I would never have put that version on anyway. I had tried version 6 on a W machine a few years ago and it was the biggest slowest pig one could imagine. I hated it. Even though I was leery about trying version 7, even on Linux, I decided to give it a try in the spirit of product testing.
It works great! It looks great and it is fast. Adobe did a great job with their latest Acrobat release.
|I was just thinking while writing an email to a friend....
Ya know,... there are thousands of software titles on the shelves at the stores for that other operating system. But why do I need that? The software available for Linux does everything that 99% of the worlds desktop users need. I can install or plug in any device and use it without installing Epson's, HP's, Microsoft's or any other vendors spyware.
|A new CNR. Storix System Backup Administrator.
Since I am considering the upgrade from Linspire 4.5 to Linspire Five-O I thought a backup would be in order. After all, I've downloaded a lot of stuff and don't want to have to download everything again for installation into Five-O. Linspire support gave me some tips on what to save. Next I purchased a Maxtor 80 Gb external hard drive. (External chosen for portability.) Plugged in the drive to a USB port, it was detected and I was ready to go. Worked great. You can plug just about anything into a good Linux distro and it works without the hassle of installing extra software.
|Still doing everything on Linux.
Besides doing the day to day stuff I've been playing with the different digicams. I am really pleased. LPhoto captures the pics no matter what camera is plugged in. Editing with Lphoto or GIMP is just a few clicks away.
|I still listen to "Jeff Levy on Computers" Saturdays and Sundays noon to 3 PM PST.
You can listen online at knx1070.com.
The show is for W users. Sure glad I'm not one of the poor people calling in for help.
And Jeff's advice is still that WinXP Service Pack 2 is an accident waiting to happen. Another note of concern. After one person installed SP2, he discovered that MS shipped 5 different versions of the Alexa webtracking Spyware with SP2. Not surprising. MS has been shipping spyware for years.
|Bought a new Fujifilm digital camera. Time to see how it works with Linux.
Uh Oh. The instructions say I MUST install the Fujifilm software before connecting the camera to the computer. They make it sound pretty dire. Even the USB cable is packed inside an envelope with the same warnings. Only problem is, the software is only for W and Mac. Guess we won't be doing that. (A lot of this packaged software includes SPYWARE anyway. You did read the licensing agreement didn't you?)
After figuring out the camera settings I went ahead and connected it to the PC. Then I fired up Lphoto, clicked on import, clicked on 'scan for camera' and whollah, it identified the camera and within seconds the pictures were in the Lphoto display ready for editing. Works just like it does with my Olympus digicam.
No new software to learn. I like that. Lphoto works with both old and new cameras. I like that. The hard part will be learning about the camera.
I checked the Fuji website. Nothing for Linux. Sent them a note telling them they need to get on the ball and quit trying to scare people.
|Was playing with Lphoto and the Olympus digicam.
As usual I told Lphoto to delete the camera images. Haven't lost any yet. I was doing an Album reorg after downloading the images and Lphoto froze. Didn't I see in some forum 4 months ago that someone griped about having a problem with Lphoto and he lost his new pictures?
So I killed Lphoto and restarted it. I had taken a few minutes and figured out the directory structure of how Lphoto stores photos when I first started using it (year/month/day) so looked there first. There were all my latest photos. Nothing lost.
I later concluded that the Album I was trying to assemble was a bad idea (and the freeze was my fault) . It was easy to clean up and nothing was lost. This is great!
|Linspire has an interesting presentation in flash format.
You can view it here.
It is available on the interent as a Shockwave Macromedia flash file (.swf). (Sure the Firefox browser plays it but I don't have a high speed connection and it seemed better to download it and play it native.) So I went to Linspire and CNR installed the flash player. PRETTY COOL presentation.
I hate to complicate my PC with more software but hey, I got used to having 5 bazillion things on my system when I used W.
|As you may have gleaned, I'm using Mozilla's Thunderbird for email. There
were a few attachment filetypes that didn't automatically open.
Had to take a few moments and do the equivalent of a "W file associations" process in the Thunderbird options menu. The MPlayer handles so many media types that a lot of the associations were directed to it. All is working great.
Then I thought back.... "W" always tried to set every file association for you to make it easy. It didn't! You got to learn about fixing file association problems after something quit working.
With Linux,... some things you learn to set early. Linux systems, to a much lesser degree, try to guess your preferences or set them automagically for you. So it was just a matter of turning on some things myself. You get to do that with Linux. Turn on what you want, when you want it. I'd rather be "turning on" things on Linux than turning off junk in W.
|Symantec Tries to Scare Mac and Linux Users
Saw two reports released by Symantec (the folks who bought Norton and then jacked it) recently.
They were titled "Hacker attacks on the increase for Linux" and "Hacker attacks on the increase for MacIntosh".
Long on rhetoric and short on facts but what did we expect? Just more scare tactics from a company that has 99.99 percent of its eggs in the Microshaft basket. Sure they have a few things for Apple users but not much and they have literally no Linux experience. Lools like they have opened their own Gates for Hell with the marketing of deception to keep people buying and using systems their junk will kind-of run on. "Thems people is putting Linux in their home and we aint got nuttin for dat cuz we don't know what it is. Go out and scare 'em before we lose any more business." Here's a report that shows Symantec's own findings were opposite of what they reported. A slew of others have followed.
Here's the truth from people who know and don't care where the chips fall. A number of companies have farms of "honeypot" web servers. Honeypots are on the web but not in the Domain system. So to find them, one has to be a hacker looking for something to crack. Stats from the "honeypot" farm owners conclude this. One year ago they reported the averages for attacks on Microsoft honeypots versus Linux honeypots. The stats clearly indicate that hackers prefer Windows and have grown tired of trying to hack Linux.
Go to your favorite search engine and enter "honeypots hacker attacks" or "honeypots hacker attacks Mircosoft Linux" to find out more about the honeypots, what they do, why and how they do it.
Haven't needed the scanner for a while so I recently decided it was time try it out. Plugged in to a USB port and it was recognized. But what if it wasn't? Updates to your driver database can be downloaded as well as a handy driver install tool. I checked out the tool anyway and it was loaded with hundreds of scanner drivers for every brand and model imaginable. Cool!
OK. How about some scanner utilities? Linspire had two scanner tool packages (as well as add-ons). Kooka, which is full of bells and whistles, and Vuescan which is simple and easy. So I tried Kooka first as it had a high customer rating. Couldn't get it to acquire the scanner and it crashed. Went technical sleuthing, search techie websites, tweaked this, adjusted config files. It didn't appear to even try to acquire the scanner. And it crashed (application problem). Figured I must have done something wrong. It was large download and data may have gotten corrupted. Install should detect that though.
Tried Vuescan next. Small download and I wanted to see if it had the same problems. It worked great. Enough utility to get quality scans but not a lot of extra fluff. After all, LPhoto and GIMP are the real photo and image editing programs for Linux so I can always use those to modify the scanned image.
If I would have tried Vuescan first I would have been scanning in no time.
Had to chuckle a bit when I saw the ad for Win4Lin, a utility that lets you install and run "legacy" MS software on Linux.
Bill Gates has been using the term for years to describe his competitors obsolescence. Now Bill is a Legacy too.
|Video Cards Again
I was perusing the forums at the Xandros website and was pleased to see that a number of people are using the ATI Radeon 8500 video cards on their Linux machines. As you may recall I had problems with the 9200 series.
This is great news and is a further testament to the fact that Linux distributions come well equipped with drivers for just about any hardware you may have.
We've had it for years with W. Every software package would come with a W compliant installation package. Pop in the CD or download the exe, after a number of mouseclicks, it was installed. Icons and shortcuts all set up for you. *
This is true on Linux also. Every major distro has included an easy to use installation manager so that you can install whatever you want, easily, off the provided applications disk(s) or their webiste. The great thing is that the distros support other distros' installation managers. RPM (Redhat Package Manager), DEB (from the Debian project, which has contributed much to the development of Linux) and others are recognized. The package managers are one of the things that makes the Linux distros so great. Anyone can easy install the software they want or need.
Will we see more titles on the shelves in the stores soon? Not likely. MS and it's subordinates are paying Best Buy, Circuit City and anyone else they can to keep it off the shelves. But you can get it on the internet. Seek and ye shall find.
|I love Tango. Downloaded some fun Tango MP3's and was so happy to
not have to worry about having a player. They played great. Totally cool.
|Decided to try the new FireFox 1.01 browser on the Xandros machine. Give it a whirl.
That machine was in-use so I downloaded the compressed gzip file to a handy jump drive plugged into the Linspire machine.
Then when chance arose, plugged the jump drive into the Xandros machine, extracted the gzip file and then looked at
what it created. Got a little tricky from there. Managed to get it installed and it worked great. But I didn't
get it to the Desktop where anyone could just click and go.
I know how to fix this I think but I'm going to have to pick my
brain a bit. Probably missed one little piece of the puzzle somewhere within the file systems.
|I did try
Lore with CNR
Lost my connection during first download attempt. CNR checkpointed it and I was able to resume to a successful installation. That is pretty good. If a Windows program goes south during installation, you're back to square one. Once again, CNR worked fabulously.
I was worried that it would charge me another $20 to resinstall. It didn't. The warehouse keeps track of that.
Dark Horizons Lore is a pretty good game. It would be even better if I was into internet gaming. It is a great single player games as well.
$20 is the CNR member price. Only a handful of the thousands of programs in the warehouse have a price tag. There's an anti-virus program you can subscribe to for updates. Viruses targetting Linux machines are rare but it also looks for Windows viruses so that you don't accidentally spread them.
|Maybe I'll buy and download
Lore with CNR
It's a big download and it costs $20 to Linspire CNR members. Still, thats about half the price of this or equivalent products for Windows. I feel obligated to throw a 20-spot to the people making all this great stuff available on the best, the fastest, the most secure AND the most affordable operating system available. They deserve it.
For a brain fart, I downloaded and tried S.C.O.U.R.G.E. It reminds me of some kind of wizards or D-n-D game. Looks good but it may take some time to learn how to play it. But hey, it works great.
Just realized something. I've been using Linux for four months. No system hangs. No software hangs. Not even the patented MS "Blue Screen of Death".
|Decided to include a list of software I have CNR'd.
Click here to check out stuff I've played with.
Hey, it all works.
|A while back I downloaded and installed GIMP using the CNR client. As usual,
that was the easy part. It took one whole click to install it. It took me a while to learn about it and evaluate it.
Here's the scoop on GIMP.
GIMP stands for Graphics Image Manipulation Program. There's a learning curve with this program as it has quite a few bells and whistles.
I haven't found "Red Eye Reduction", (yet) but I can do that with Lphoto which is where I do the usual things with digital photos anyway.
If you're really into creating and editing images beyond what is offerred in photo editing packages, GIMP is a great tool-kit that offers a lot.
Since I mentioned Lphoto previously, I thought I'd give an update. I like it the more I use it. It is a fantastic photo management and editing program. It has a lot of advanced features that may take a little time to learn but mastering the basic functions is intuitive and easy. It does everything I need it to do.
|Another dozen fixes from Gates were announced. When does W Uplate ever end?
I haven't bothered in a long time which goes against my recommendations. I don't use W for the internet so what me worry?
FTP program testing. I like gFTP over K-Bear.
I'm having a lot of fun with Linux and it is working great. Sorry. Gotta run. Time to get back to playing with it. Thanks.
|Prelim testing of NVU.
I'm not sold. I did find some interesting ways to configure it. It will take some more testing.
|Downloaded NVU from the Linspire warehouse. It was a big one.
It's a web editing tool. Don't get me wrong. I love using Quanta cuz I am a code type of guy. I gave up on all the WYSIWYG code generators years ago because what was available for Windows, MS or not, was just software that generated tons of junk, browser dependant code. So I've started to play with NVU. I'm impressed so far. Many nice and easy to use features. Quanta is still a champ. I'll play with NVU for a few days to discover and exploit its strenghts and weaknesses and see if a WYSIWYG web tool can win me back.
|Sailing along here with two active Linux systems.
One thing puzzles me though. The Xandros machine is a 733 Megahertz Pentium with 384M of RAM. The Linspire machine is a 1.6 Gigahertz AMD 2000+ with 640M of RAM. The Xandros machine keeps up with and in some areas, out-performs admirably, the Linspire machine. Is it the software? Or is it the hardware? The Linspire machine is my first non-Intel/Pentium PC.
|During the last week I've upgraded the RAM on the Xandros Linux machine
from 128M to 384M (another 256M) and ran diags. Working perfectly. Still faster
than Windows. I also went through the Xandros Applications disk. It has tons of software and games
The nice thing is that you can install any of 100s of programs or not. If I had "W" , I'd have the Gates Special, the "pre-installed top 20" with spyware.
|Now that I've gotten into the daily Linux routine I get yanked away. I'm on-call which
means that I have to dial into work. Some of the apps require the IE browser so I have to fire up the "W"
machine when I get paged.
Again I realize I've been getting spoiled on Linux. I get my mail, I surf the web, update some websites. When I have to go back to "W", it is a grim reminder of how inferior "W" is. The IE certified applications experience numerous Java errors and hangs. The whole look and feel of "W" is starting to seem foreign and unfriendly. I guess that is what happens when you get used to something better.
|Video Upgrade Testing - I've thrown just about everything I can at the new nVidia graphics card.
It is working so well. I don't really have time to play a lot of graphics-intense games. But it's nice to know, if I need
a 'shoot-em-up timeout', I can play one without going to the "W" machine.
Most PC users do not utilize graphics to this extent and may not even notice a malfunctioning video card for a long time. So you can write this upgrade off if you don't need it. Most motherboards already have a graphics processor chip that works very well.
Another note. Our Xandros Linux PC is also doing great with the 32MB nVidia card that was in the machine before I blew Windows away.
|Exchanged the graphics card over the weekend for an nVidia card. I selected the simplest one
available. One with Plug-n-Play and without all the retoric about requiring 50 megs of space on a Windows system.
Just a simple nVidia with 128M of video RAM. Installed the new card, booted up Linspire and selected the common
Linux "Re-detect" mode boot.
Everything worked great! Linux found drivers for the card, the nVidia logo displayed at startup. I was as happy as a clam firing up every software title that was graphics card explicit. And I didn't even have to install a ton of stuff like I would have had to do on a "W" system.
If this was "W" I would have needed a $200 256M video card, 50+ meg of disk space and a 400W power supply just to get the same performance. That's why Bill Gates says "'W' is cheaper". Well, he is right to a point. All the free spyware, adware and viruses you could ever want.
|Graphics card testing. Phase One.
After determining what my motherboard would support and with a recommendation from a friend, I purchased an ATI Radeon (9200) card. After all, ATI claims that their cards are OpenGL compliant. I knew that sooner or later I was going to have a problem and this was it. Linux had no problem recognizing the device. The card seemed to work fine. It was only when I tried to run something that requires advanced 3D graphics, that the bug surfaced. As soon as Quake, TuxKart, DOOM or other 3D intense games were started, it got extremely choppy. Linspire support directed me to the ATI website to get new drivers. Turns out that ATI doesn't support most of their product line. ATI directed me to several open source driver development projects. There I learned that if you want a video card that has great Linux support, get a card with the nVidia chipset. Even the experts admitted that drivers for most ATI cards were at best problematic and ATI offers no support. If the heavyweight techies can't make it work, it's best to choose something other than an ATI graphics card. (I do not know if older ATI cards also have this problem.)
Thanks to help from Linspire support I was able to debug the problem. This problem with the ATI/Radeon card occurred because the "direct rendering" feature of this card couldn't be enabled. It's one of those things that somehow works with some versions of "W" and nothing else.
Linspire Support and the user forums have nothing but high praises for the nVidia cards. I've always had good luck with nVidia cards and that's what I will replace this with.
It's a hard call when buying hardware. (I used to have great luck with Epson printers too but they quit selling reliable printers three years ago. Go to my PC Consumer Guide if you want to know more.)
In hindsight, I should have been tipped off by the fact that this card claimed it needed 50M - 70M of HD space "For Windows". For a driver? Drivers are relatively small things that tell the hardware how to share the work.
I think in ATI's case, they got so buried in the Microsoft software sandbox, trying to make their hardware work around the hardware just so it would work with "W", that the cat came along and covered them up before they could get out. Maybe it was really a quick-sandbox?
|This is the last you are going to hear about my daughters W PC. I was going through
it and determined it was a lost cause. Restores just put back all the same security holes it was
born with and more are being discovered every week. Enough is enough! I just happened to have recently purchased
the Xandros Linux distribution for just such purposes. Popped
in the disk, rebooted and it was all too easy. It wiped Windows away, reformated the hard drive, detected all the hardware,
loaded all the necessary drivers and installed without a hitch. It was all too easy.
My non-techie offspring was soon using it and wondering, "why is my PC so much faster?"
Xandros is a Linux distro with a nice look and feel and comes with enough tools and toys to satisfy the home user.
Why did I choose Xandros? It was geared more for the home user. Why not Linspire again? Wanted to try something different. Why not RedHat or Suse? They are a little too corporate-use or "Enterprise" oriented. This test was for home users. I already know that Linux works great in the corporate world. Linux on the Desltop is great. The various distros just keep getting better.
|Digital Camera and Photo Editing Testing - About a week ago I installed LPhoto from Linspire. This is one of the free programs from the warehouse. Time to test it out. Plugged in my Olympus digital camera and started up LPhoto. Clicked on the camera icon and it identified it immediately. Clicked on import, it downloaded the 165 photos and asked if I wanted to clear the camera. I selected No. Right clicked on the camera icon on the desktop and selected "unmount", (Linux likes you to to unmount devices that you plug into USB ports before you unplug them.) I was done with the camera for now. Next did an export and saved the photos into a new folder. All photos saved. Now I get to go through all the photos and do my regular photo editing stuff. LPhoto works great. But wait. I noticed something else. All my photos were saved with the original photo dates, not the import date like always seemed to happen on the old Windows machine. I like this feature as well. LPhoto is packed with goodies, is easy to use and is a great product.
|Not sure whether it's the memory upgrade, getting familiar with the applications or getting past
the learning curve. Most of the things I use the PC for on a daily basis seem to be getting zippier all the time with Linux
and the Linspire distribution. The Quanta editor is more powerful and faster than I imaged. There are some really
good and addictive games. Internet and email work flawlessly. StarOffice works great. KStars is a great program
for the astonomer or night sky enthusiast. The list goes on.
Meanwhile, my daughters Windows PC is going down the tubes. Windows has lost it's marbles again after having a number of it's flaws exploited by Microsoft hating hackers and virus writers. It's getting close to time to blow Windows away and replace it with a Linux distribution. Redhat looks to be more business oriented. SUSE looks like a good package for home use. Already know that Linspire is great. There's also XandrOS and some others. As more and more people get burned by Microsoft, they are going to want to know how to convert. As for the new PC users, they have an advantage. They won't have to unlearn the treacherous Microsoft ways and will learn much more quickly how to use Linux to do their thing.
| Spent a whole day fixing my daughter's Windows machine.
Even with anti-virus, a firewall and anti-spyware, the shysters found enough holes in Windows to get through and wreak
There was a Trojan designed to provide an internet backdoor to the evil cretins who create this garbage.
There were numerous spyware programs that had hundreds of hooks into Windows that would allow them to reinstall themselves if any attempt was made to eradicate them. Some know how to lock up the Windows registry so that you or your anti-Spyware software can't remove them.
There were keystroke loggers designed to capture exactly that. Your every keystroke is gathered into a log that is transmitted back to the websites of the vermin on the net. Great for identity theft of those of you who use the internet for online banking and other personal transactions.
There were website visitation loggers (probably set up by the Department of Homeland Insecurity) to capture every place visited on the web. Or maybe they are just looking for people they can sell Viagra ads to.
There were search hijackers (you know, those little bastards that make your machine keep going to certain websites that you never intended to go to).
It's not the first time I've came to the rescue of a someone with Microsoft Windows. Cleaning this stuff up is getting uglier all the time. Partial or full systems restores are not out of the question.
I know one thing for certain. The next time this happens I will do this. I will go down to a store brave enough to stock Linux distros, buy one, put the CD in and say, "Reformat the hard drive and wipe Windows away".
(Of course you may not have to get that radical. There are options for saving your Windows files. Any Linux system knows what they look like and can read them. Even FAT32 on the disk. Not surpising. Independant software vendors have made their products compatible with more versions of Microsoft programs than Micrsosoft has.)
The next time this happens on my daughters machine, Windows is GONE. We have backups on CD-R. I haven't found any important files yet that I couldn't recover or reproduce on a Linux distribution. And I discovered another thing. Microsoft's seemingly wonderful driver database isn't so great. The Linux distributions include the latest drivers at a lever far ahead of Microsoft.
And to all my friends who send me PowerPoint jokes. I never bought Microsoft Powerpoint for home use. So when you sent it to me I had to forward it to a machine that had PowerPoint. Not any longer. Now that I have Linux and StarOffice, I can see these at home. It sure is nice to get more Windows compatibility with Linux than I get with Windows.
|I've been using the Linux machine exclusively. Added another 512M of RAM this week for a total of 640M. It has sped things up a bit. Most things already run so much faster than on a Windows machine (even when Windows is running with more RAM and a higher clockspeed) so it wasn't as noticable perhaps. Meanwhile, six more security holes were admitted by Microsoft in the last week and I am SO glad I don't have to waste my time tracking that crap down and trying to install it just to have it introduce more problems. I can really get some work done. Every day without Windows is like a day without BS!
|Haven't been touching Windows much at home. No need to.
|I've been using the Quanta Plus software to edit the html files for my web-pages. There was a little learning curve and some getting-used-to but now I think it is great. I find new features all the time and much of it turns out to be simpler, better, faster and more intuitive than stuff previously used under Windows. Quanta is a powerful product.
|Being connected to the internet had me concerned about a fire-wall. Turns out, Linspire (like most Linux distros) already has one. And it is tightened down pretty good. I went to the Linspire website and quickly found what I wanted to know. It was all too easy. Sure Windows XP comes with a so-called firewall but it doesn't even work. At least the Linux distrubutions got it right. All Microsoft got was your money.
| Learned some new things over the weekend.
I played programmer. Needed to write a new Perl script for a website. My scripts were still on my
"W" machine so I went there to mess with it. Looked at other stuff as a refresher, created the
script and a new webpage. Uploaded it. It died. Fixed my mistakes, uploaded and died again. Perl error messages are
useless. All the Windows diags pointed to errors in my code. I know my code. So I went to
my Linux machine and ran diags. The errors pointed to just what I suspected. Windows lied about
the scipt settings and even though it said the scripts were executable, it had secretly marked them
as non-executable. What was odd was when I tested other scripts under MS which I know worked,
they quit working after I tested them. MS was destructing everything it touched. So I got on my
Linux machine. I G-FTP'ed in and inspected some stuff. In short order I fixed all the carnage that
Microsoft and WS_FTP had caused and the scripts worked beautifully.
Performed some Mplayer testing. It is not as fancy as Windows Media Player (WMP) but it opens all WMP files as well many that WMP won't. So when friends send something I deem is safe to open, Mplayer plays it while WMP gives a codec error. At least I can see it now. And for those who send me stuff from Yahoo American Greetings,... it all goes into the garbage. It is so laden with spyware and adware that my system refuses to run it.
|Decided to try out Mozilla's email client, Thunderbird. My email and setting from the
KDE internet suite merged in seamlessly.
Not sure which I like better, the KDE internet suite or using Firefox and Thunderbird. They are all great products that work well.
|Tested StarOffice further. Have it just about as I like it. Seems to do what I need it to do.
Installed MPlayer (a media player), need to test that. Perused the massive list of software
I may want to try.
I haven't said much about this. I've been going though the operating system on my "Linux outings" and must admit it is different from Windows. But the deviations can be reduced to a simple change in the clicks you use to do things. I have to click something some times when expecting something that Windows did automatically. I'm so used to waiting on Windows I didn't know at first why I was waiting. But then I figured it out. Another click was required and I was where I wanted to be AND much faster than in Windows. The help facilites have been great. And in a lot of areas, Linspire trucks right along and does things automatically that you wished Windows did.
|Installed FireFox. My browser of choice on any platform. Works as good as under Windows. Next, imported MS documents to test StarOffice. Word, Works, Office, Excel, spreadsheets and PowerPoints all imported well. StarOffice is a different product so I have to learn to do some things in a different way as well as tweak the configuration to my liking. Played around with configuring the Desktop some more.
|Started off by configuring my email. That didn't take long. Tested it and it worked great.
Responded to some emails. Next went through various product settings. I can't find the
"on SEND don't send immediately" switch so if I use this email client I have to "save as draft".
Not a big deal. Or maybe I'll try one of the many other email clients available.
Next I went to CNR and downloaded Mahjongg. Kind of fun to play someday.
Then I decided to get StarOffice so I could start bringing my MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents over. That took a little while. Can't wait to test.
|My CNR CD arrived this weekend. Didn't have time to mess
with it. I pretty much know how to use it and what more I want to install when I get to that point.
So, I thought about hardware upgrades. What do I need when I want to add more RAM and a video card? The RAM question is easy, I can add several gig if I want. Another 512 will be more than enough. How about the video cards? I checked out some that were power hogs. So the next question is how big is my current power supply? Will it handle it? OK, I have a 250 watt power supply. That isn't near the 400 watt systems that Windows users buy (after all, overhead requires not only CPU but additional hardware as well and you pay more for it). I don't need that much with Linux. I'm pretty impressed so far with what it can do with a fraction of the resources required by Windows. It is becoming more clear all the time why it costs 4 times more and requires four times the resources to make a Windows machine perform like a Linux machine. And after all of that, Windows hangs and is still hacker's playground while you are on the net.
I'm also pressing my favorite software vendors who haven't got on the Linux badwagon to do so. Lest they be left behind.
|Uploaded more HTML source pages to maintain from my Linux machine. Updated more pages using Linux. The editors and G-FTP work great. I was really hooked on WS_FTP (only runs on Windows) but G-FTP runs faster and doesn't hang leaving fragmented files at the destination. The short time it took to learn to use G-FTP more than paid for time lost checking failed WS_FTP downloads. G-FTP screams. Bam, I am connected and directories listed. And it doesn't lose it's marbles when given a big load or left unattended for a few minutes. And if the remote server times you out, G-FTP reconnects automatically and transfers. It is so much better than anything I've used on "W". No more hassle of restarting applications which revolt and hang on "W".
|It's my on-call week so haven't had a lot of time to play
with Linux. Linspire sent me an email saying there was a delay in shipment of the CD. So to be
productive I went to the Linspire website and used CNR to install an FTP program, a game and Quanta
which is an HTML text editor. CNR works seamlessly. Since a lot of what I do is maintain websites, the
editor and the FTP program are tools I need. Then I later discovered that I already have another
Linspire provided text editor with HTML features. So I will do some comparisons. Next I went to one of my sites,
saved the HTML from a page, edited and uploaded it after configuring the FTP product (G-FTP). COOL!!!
Now, I do not have to use my Microsoft Windows garbage machine to maintain my websites. Yeah!
Then I had to fix my daughter's "W" machine. 196 spyware/adware/malware programs. No wonder it was running so slow. Took almost 3 hours to get rid of all the junk that had embedded itself into Windows. My daughter's next machine will be Linux, also.
|Darn. My Linspire CD didn't come in the mail last week. So I spent some time practicing navigation of the warehouse and tweaking the appearance. So many good things. It may take a month or two, but the way I see it right now, within two months, I will only use my XP system to play games. I will just fire up my Linux / Lindows system, surf the net and do all the other things I do on my computer. Only faster.
| Decided to go online, order the software CD and join the
"Linspire Software Warehouse" program. With the Click-N-Run (CNR) program you get a warehouse
of thousands of great software packages to choose from that will run every serious thing most
people do on a PC. Big business is currently discovering the benefits of Linux. It's time for
the rest of us. Back to the warehouse. I love the concept. You go to the warehouse. You decide what
you want and click on the CNR icon. The entire install process is fully automated and performs without
a hitch. It is just too easy.
The CD is for CNR Express installation. If you order a small program, it downloads. If you order a big one, a small portion downloads and the rest is already on your machine. It's like, "Software on Demand".
| Now that the Ghoulis are gone.
Security is still important. But the odds of becoming a virus target are much lower with Linux. That's the good side. Virus dat files are required less than Windows Updates. Haven't decided between StarOffice and OpenOffice. Both will open and edit your MS Word, Powerpoint and Excel files. Plenty of digital camera software titles.
Guess what else I got to do today. I played with my "W" XP machine. After way too many problems with McAfee, I decided to get rid of it and install a package from VCOM. First, McAfee left a lot of hooks into the system and doesn't like to be un-installed. Second, after getting rid of it, V-Com turned out to be too Microsoft oriented and didn't gel with the Firefox browser. Third, after cleaning McAfee and V-Com out, I downloaded and installed, the free Grisoft anti-virus software. It worked great. So to sum it up, two System Restores later, Windows and the internet were working again. I managed to get McAfee anti-virus off the system and Grisoft's AVG working. After analyzing what went wrong this is my professional conclusion. McAfee is like AOL. "Deinstall ME and I will destroy your system." VCOM's package only works (well maybe) with inferior Microshaft products.
More reasons to become liberated from the tyranny of W .
| Where's My Arsenal?
Time to get down to the nitty gritty. I have a machine now. Now to figure out what I need. Should I just order a bundle? Should I join a subscription and wade through thousands of programs available for download? Priorities first. Research anti-virus and firewall options.
|Ventured into the box and the docs. Set up a KVM switch so the Windows system and the Linux system could share the keyboard, monitor, sound and recording devices. Hooked it all up. Started it up. Everything working great. I went through the Linspire tutorial. I was impressed. Anyone can go through the 50 minute multimedia tutorial and feel like an expert. It is very good. I set up an internet connection. Tested the KDE browser. It worked great. I configured my desktop and other settings. I am very impressed with the Linspire / Lindows Linux distribution. What also became evident is that Linux runs as fast or faster on a smaller platform. Multi-media works great without a graphics card and only 128M of RAM.
| Time to quit thinking about trying Linux at home. Fry's had a preloaded
Linspire machine for $200. It's time to journey along a path away from the Gates of Wrath.
The goal of this project is to start with a limited and inexpensive machine. Let's see how it performs. Then we'll see how well the applications perform. In general, I want to know what a Linux distribution, designed for home use, is really all about. How well does it work? Any problems when software is added and/or hardware is upgraded? Is it ready for prime time? Should I recommend it to my friends? I want to know.
|Linux Cost Table for Linspire Distribution
|$199.00 + tax
|Linspire CNR subscription & CD
|Memory Upgrade to 640M of RAM
|Basic 128M nVidia video Card
|What have we spent on Windows machines over the years? And how much time and money have we wasted on spyware, adware, viruses and Windows Updates?
|Linux Cost Table for Xandros Distribution
|Gateway 733MH PC, 30GHD,128M-RAM
|Xandros Deluxe Distribution
|32M nVidia video Card
|The Xandos distro came with all the various tools one would expect on a
store bought, preconfigured "W" machine. And all the drivers needed for it to recognize the hardware.
For example, it detected the CD Burner and installed a very nice nice CD burner package and configured it
for easy use. Setting up the printer was just too easy.
Xandros was $10 less than the store-bought basic XP SP2 home UPDATE edition. $110 less than the XP SP2 Pro UPDATE editions. (Non-Update versions, $100 higher.) The only reason anyone would buy W Update off the shelf is because it is still the best way to patch your system. Windows Uplate is problematic. So if you are going to have to shell out bucks every year to MS just to patch it's own problems, it might be time to switch to something stable. I did . You can too!
|If you can't find a packaged distro in a store you can either order online
or just download a free one and burn it to create an installation CD.
Linspire offers Freespire. Xandros offers their OCR edition. And of course there is Ubuntu which is a really good distro and in my opinion one of the best to date. Ubuntu is so good that Linspire has moved to Ubuntu in it's latest offering.
If you do not feel comfortable doing hardware upgrades I recommend getting and installing a Linux distribution on your current PC or a new PC with the hardware you want. Linspire and Xandros distros make it easy to create a Linux partition on your huge hard drive and have dual boot capabilitites. You can then try out the many applications and still access your W files or even boot up in W while you learn how easy it is to do the same things do with a Linux distro..
|List of software that I added quickly and easily using Linspire's Click-n-Run (CNR)
|Shoot em up kind of like the old Duke Nukem
|The same great reader for Linux.
|A simple yet addictive game
|A boatload of great solitaire versions. Better than expected.
|A 2D scrolling spaceship game
|MasterMind like logic game
|A DOOM version
|Classic Doom 2
|The secure browser from Mozilla
|A flight simulator. Pretty cool.
|A classic version of the game.
|Another highly addictive yet simple game.
|Really good FTP utility
|Graphics Image Manipulation Program. A great image editor with tons of bells and whistles.
|Hydrogen Drum Machine
|Fantastic! So easy to put in some tracks, grab an instrument and jam all night long. This is a great drummer for musicians to practice and play with.
|Another good FTP utility
|A scanner tool. Had some problems with this one.
|Great planetarium programs for astronomers
|Plug in your digital camera and away you go.
|Music manager/player & streaming audio.
|Macromedia Flash Player
|Plays Flash video
|Classic Mad Bomber game
|Asteroids with extra stuff
|The Chinese tile game
|Marble Blast Gold
|Another Minesweeper variant
|Not as fancy as W Media Player but plays more types of media files, including W media files.
|An MS FrontPage/Dreamweaver like tool
|OpenOffice from OpenOffice.org
|A great Office suite that keeps getting better.
|A space game in our solar system.
|You know this one
|Missile Command game
|Futuristic Submarine game
|A 3D Quake game
|What I use to maintain websites
|A DnD game. It's a real challenge.
|A fast-paced space game
|Opens and edits MS Office docs
|Storix System Backup Admin
|Backup and Archive Utility
|Like Super Mario except with Tux the Penguin
|3D version of the game
|The Mozilla email client
|Offroad racing game
|Another Asteroids variation
|Like Mario Kart
|Tux on the ski course
|A very tricky logic game
|Install it. Plug in your scanner. You are scanning in no time.
|The classic game
|Wolfenstein-Spear of Destiny
|Another set of mazes and enemies
|World Map like GeoClock.
|Variation of Galaga
|An MP3 Player. Did I install this? Or was it just there or me? Works great!
|From SANE - Scanner Access Now Easy. Another great scanner software package with a lot of nice features.
|All this great stuff and more, most of it FREE to CNR members. Over 2000
titles to choose from. From MP3 players, DVD software, burners, browsers and drivers to money
management, word processors and more.
If you buy the store distribution of either Linspire or Xandros a lot of titles are included on an extra CD.
Saildance Contents Page