To what extent can you tinker and customize Ubuntu when compared and contrasted with Debian?

Well recently I was using Ubuntu KDE, i.e. Kubuntu. You can customize it to look and feel pretty much like anything you want!

For example, are you tired of the Ubuntu logo rotating as your computer boots? You can change that. Are you tired of the boring login screen when you type your password? You can change that with two programs I helped write. Here they are.

ISS-Sunrise shows the sun rising over Earth while your computer is booting. You candownload it here and follow the instructions in the readme file.

PenguinOfLiberty is an alternative login screen with animation and sound. You can download it here. Again follow the included instructions. They come as zip files. Unzip them by clicking on them. Ubuntu will give you an option to extract the files. Extract them all.

I like PenguinOfLiberty. It shows a statue of Liberty that looks like a Linux Penguin at night. There are little stars floating about and sounds from the city and the ocean sounds you might hear in New York. I spent a lot of time developing the sound track. It annoys my wife whenever I reboot my computer, though!

Here’s a screen shot of the login screen on my computer.

Why I switched from OpenSUSE Tumbleweed to Kubuntu to Fedora

I’ve been doing this awhile – installing Linux on my computer is my hobby. By “awhile” I mean I first started using Linux back in the 1990s. I ran RedHat Linux before it went public!

Let me tell you about my journey from stable point releases to full-rolling distros back to point to point distros and now to Fedora.

Everybody, and I do mean everybody in the Linux world has a million opinions about which Linux OS or desktop environment is best. You can see people arguing this stuff intensely online! I have no intention to try to convince you which Linux to run. I’ve run a lot of them over the years. No sense in naming them.

For stability, I settled on “point to point” distros for years. These included Linux Mint, Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSUSE Leap – the list will go on and on, trust me.

The problem is that most of these require you to do a reinstall of the OS when there comes along a major upgrade every six or twelve months or so.

It occurred to me, then to move from Ubuntu Studio (which I was using a year ago) to something completely different. I went with Manjaro Linux, a rolling distribution based on Arch. From there I went to Antergos and stayed there a long time.

Then I switched, just to be different, and went with OpenSUSE Tumbleweed, a rolling distribution that worked great for me. I used it for an exceptionally long time – a few months I believe.

Now, as a Linux hobbyist, I’m always fiddling, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve broken my Linux and had to reinstall! What ultimately happened, though, is that my Tumbleweed system broke all by itself with just a simple upgrade. Then it happened two or three more times and I got frustrated. OpenSUSE Tumbleweed began to look unstable and frustrating to me.opensuse_tumbleweed_01

Said I to my wife (who tolerates me – she runs Windows on her computer), “That’s the problem with rolling distributions. I’m going back to something more stable.

So I went with Kubuntu and was very happy for a long time.kubuntu

After some time, however, I did start to notice that online videos from sources like YouTube, Netflix and Amazon, started to get “choppy,” which was very annoying. I reinstalled and it fixed it, but not completely. You could still detect a slight jerk in the video every 5 seconds. Oh how annoying that became. On top of that I started thinking about that selling point of the rolling distros: “Once you install a rolling distribution of Linux you will never have to reinstall it again.”

Well, I know that’s not completely true, because it can break, but it’s still a good selling point.

Then I started thinking about Fedora, the upstream distribution to RedHat Linux (a commercial version of Linux).

Fedora-Core-400x270

Fedora is a point to point distribution. There are minor security system and other updates, but the base system changes once every six months. And…. get this… you don’t have to reinstall to upgrade from Fedora 27 to Fedora 28 (for example). The whole thing can be upgraded simply from a command line interface.

So here I am. Fedora. (Also I’m using KDE these days, but that’s another journey to tell you about sometime.)

And guess what? The “jerking” of the videos? It doesn’t happen anymore! I didn’t expect that, but my video experience has improved many times over.

Of course, learning things like “dnf” instead of “apt-get” and getting things like kdenlive or ffmpeg working for me took some fiddling, but nothing too difficult and always easy to find help online.

That’s why I’m now using Fedora.

What made you switch from Linux to FreeBSD?

I’ve switched to FreeBSD a few times, and always came back to Linux. FreeBSD is useful for various systems. Now days, you can even run top-notch desktop environments on a BSD system, like KDE and Xfce and others.

It just depends on what you like to do with your computer. Me? I do a lot of video and audio editing, writing, and for entertainment, I like to watch YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Video online. BSD still struggles with Flash and certain other non-free programs.

Mainly this happens because, although BSD predated the development of Linux by Linus Torvalds, BSD and subsequent derivatives like FreeBSD, OpenBSD, TrueOS, NetBSD and so on were stalled by court battles over ownership of the Unix code.

BSDs are descendants of Unix. In fact all BSD and Linux OSes are in a class of operating systems called Unix-like.

They are not Unix, however. All the code had to be rewritten from scratch.

Anyway, while Unix/BSD were held up in courts, Linus Torvalds came along and developed Linux, another Unix-like OS with completely new code. That, coupled with the good people at GNU, make up the GNU/Linux family of operating systems.

Linux took off. BSD, including FreeBSD, is still trying to catch up, and is still a little clumsy for some folks (not all).

So despite trying to go to FreeBSD (and other BSDs) I’m forced to keep coming back to Linux. I’m sure it will change over time. The image below is old (I change OS from time to time). I’m now running Fedora. By the time you’re reading this I might be running something else!

Fedora: Banned?

I recently switched from Kubuntu Linux to Fedora KDE and have really been enjoying it. I tried to join the Fedora Forums today. Later I logged in to the forums to see what was going on and received this message:

vBulletin Message
You have been banned for the following reason:
No reason was specified.
Date the ban will be lifted: Never

What did I do? I’m literally stunned. I hadn’t even posted a message yet! It’s odd and really inconvenient.

This has never happened to me before. I belong to a number of Linux forums, and highlight Linux on this website often.

FOLLOW UP: We have Jim Dean to thank for messaging one of the Fedora Forum’s administrators, who said it had been an error and the problem is now corrected! Thanks, Jim!

ISS Sunrise – an animated plymouth theme for KDE Plasma

With most Linux distributions now days you can modify the “boot” screen. This is where you usually see a customized logo for your version of Linux and a little spinning thing to indicate the computer is doing something in the background while you wait for the login screen to enter your password.

The instructions below will assist you to change that boot up screen with an animated Earth sunrise from space using actual NASA images from the International Space Station.

This is a plymouth theme called iss-sunrise modified from another theme called space-sunrise. Gradually a sun rises with the KDE logo on it, and Earth lights up to a second ISS image. It’s quite spectacular. We assume in this tutorial you already have plymouth installed on your system. If not, time to check that out.

  1. Download the iss-sunrise.tar.gz by clicking the link in this sentence. Once you have the file downloaded extract the contents. It will create a directory called iss-sunrise.
  2. Copy this directory and it’s contents (in Ubuntu/Kubuntu) with this command:
    sudo cp -r ./iss-sunrise /usr/share/plymouth/themes
  3. You can skip this step for later if you just want to see what it looks like, but soon you will want to modify the file distro_name.png with something you like. The one included has my name on it. I used the GIMP to create it.
  4. Add the iss-sunrise theme to the Plymouth ‘alternatives’. This is a long line. Make sure you copy the whole thing, then paste it into a terminal.
    sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/share/plymouth/themes/default.plymouth default.plymouth /usr/share/plymouth/themes/iss-sunrise/iss-sunrise.plymouth 50
  5. Set the iss-sunrise theme as the default.
    sudo update-alternatives --config default.plymouth
    
    There are 3 choices for the alternative default.plymouth
    (providing /lib/plymouth/themes/default.plymouth).
    
      Selection    Path                                                       Priority   Status
    ------------------------------------------------------------
      0            /lib/plymouth/themes/kubuntu-logo/kubuntu-logo.plymouth     150       auto mode
      1            /lib/plymouth/themes/iss-sunrise/iss-sunrise.plymouth   50        manual mode
      2            /lib/plymouth/themes/kubuntu-logo/kubuntu-logo.plymouth     150       manual mode
    * 3            /lib/plymouth/themes/my-plymouth/my-plymouth.plymouth       50        manual mode
    
    Press enter to keep the current choice[*], or type selection number: 1
    update-alternatives: using /usr/share/plymouth/themes/iss-sunrise/iss-sunrise.plymouth to provide /usr/share/plymouth/themes/default.plymouth (default.plymouth) in manual mode.
  6. Update the initramfs
    sudo update-initramfs -u
    
  7. Reboot!