Linux vs Microsoft: How Far Would I go?

Despite the existence of hundreds of Linux “distros” it basically amounts to two classes, and none play NBC.com.

My never-ending battle to stay as far away from Microsoft Windows as possible lost ground today.

I hate Windows. Have I ever told you this? It’s why I use Linux.

The other day I tried TrueOS and didn’t like it. I was trying to get as far away from Microsoft Windows as humanly possible. TrueOS is the new name for OpenBSD. The BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) is the open source version of Unix. When BSD stalled due to court cases, Linus Travalds came out with Linux, another Unix-like operating system, and the rest is history.

But BSD survived. Nowadays we have various versions like OpenBSD (now TrueBSD) and FreeBSD. The problem I found with TrueOS is it seems to be a developers platform, not a robust desktop end-loser platform for people like me.

So I went back to Linux, but what flavor of Linux?

For years I’ve been using Linux Mint, lately with the xcfe Desktop Environment on top.

When recently I revived my computer, I decided to explore around. I installed TrueOS, Linux Mint Mate, Linux Mint xfce, Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Arch Linux, Manjaro xfce, Fedora xfce, Fedora Workstation, Debian, and Bodhi Linux. My computer design makes this painless to accomplish.

Here’s what I found. Despite the existence of hundreds of Linux “distros” it basically amounts to two classes. The RPM models and the DEB models. RPM models consist mainly of Red Hat Linux, Fedora, Arch and openSUSE (all of which I have used). The DEB models are based on Debian and consist of many distros like Ubuntu, Linux Mint and Bodhi Linux.

Hands down, Linux Mint seems to be the most robust for out-of-the-box usage, but as with any Linux distro, you can work with whatever flavor of Linux you have and install almost anything to make it work and feel like whatever you desire.

Since I was trying to move away from Linux Mint (out of boredom), I tried many of the aforementioned distros, the last being Fedora Workstation which I installed this morning and uninstalled this afternoon.

Fedora Workstation comes with Gnome 3 Desktop Environment pre-installed, but it was easy to install xfce and make it like Fedora xfce!

Fedora Workstation is a great Linux distro, but alas. It sorely lacks codecs, the pieces of code that enable you to watch DVD’s, Twitter clips and YouTube. I managed to install the necessary codecs after hours of research, but when I tried to play Farmville2 on Facebook, found it wouldn’t and couldn’t load. (I don’t play that game, but my wife loves it so I tried it for testing purposes.) No matter what I did, spending hours, I couldn’t resolve this issue.

So I thought, “I bet if I went back to Linux Mint it would work.” Then I thought of a distro I hadn’t tried, Ubuntu Studio.

I am now running Ubuntu Studio and here’s what I found. It has all the codecs installed, it plays DVDs and YouTube and Farmville2 on Facebook. It plays music, you can make and edit movies, all kinds of goodies.

However, knowing me, I had to stretch the limit. I went to NBC.com to see if I could watch past episodes of recent TV shows.

Yes, and no. The video shows up, but so jerky and disjointed it was unwatchable.

Then I thought, “I bet if I was on Microsoft Windows it would play,” and you know what? I know it would.

Which brings me to the ultimate question. How far am I willing to go with this? Would I ever switch back to Microsoft Windows?

The answer, of course, is no, I wouldn’t, but I’m disappointed my Linux codecs won’t play that content.C7ErZCdWkAAp9yv

Off the Beaten Track

Sometimes I wander in thoughts and in actions.

Hiking the Adirondacks as a kid, I remember there were are all kinds of marked trails. They’ve got little signs tacked to trees marking colors. In some places, where there were no trees, they painted colors on the rock. These are the marked, well beaten trails. Sometimes they had helpful wooden signs posted here and there showing you the trail map. There was no GPS back then, but we always carried a topographical trail map in our pockets.

And then there was bushwhacking. We’d purposely wander off the beaten track. That’s where we’d get lost if we didn’t know what we were doing. My father always seemed to know what he was doing. We rarely got lost. Maybe we had awkward shortcuts, but never would we be lost. The moss always grew on the north side of the tree trunks.

It was not without adventure including bushwhacking itself and the occasional rattlesnake hiding under a rock or rotting tree branch.

Bushwhacking meant making your way through the thicket – broken branches and bushes, trudging over leaves and pine needles, encountering gnats, flies, and annoying threads left behind by spiderwebs. Sometimes there’d be some cool rocks to climb on. We had a collapsible metal cup we’d whip out when you came to a spring or stream, and we always had canteens too.

The Boyd solution to the snakes was simple enough. They were more scared of you than you were of them, my Dad used to say, so make a lot of noise. Get a big stick and whack at the tall grass on the hill you are climbing. Never got bit. Saw a lot of rattlesnakes and copperheads, though. My older brothers used to kill them by beating them with big sticks. Saw black bears, deer and pretty vistas.

Every aspect of that childhood still affects the way I am in front of my computer as an adult.

I prefer lesser known trails. Sometimes I prefer to bushwhack. Sometimes I get lost.

My computer hobby is this: the operating system that makes the thing work and the various desktop environments that sit on top of it. I’m always fiddling, never satisfied. My wife chuckles at me for this. “Are you installing Linux again?” “Well I screwed up something. It won’t boot, so I’m just reinserting the DVD. Don’t worry, I’ve been through this a million times.”

In 1983, Brooklyn, New York, I had a black screen with green words on it. That was what a computer looked like. It was a Tandy Radio Shack running the TRSDOS operating system. On that machine I used my first word-processor, wrote my first book, and learned BASIC programming.

Oh, why do I bore you? Windows came along. OS2 came along. Linux came along. FreeBSD and it’s latest incarnation TrueOS using Lumina -tried that too. Dabbled with Solaris. The worldwide web came along, domain names, another book, Turbo Pascal, perl and PHP. Added a wonderful wife, a job, pets, smart phones, tablets, laptops, and self-built computers, and here I sit, on my days off, fiddling.

Gotta stop now. See what’s going on in one of my other workspaces downloading Debian with their weird jigdo file download thingamabob. I’ll just press crl-alt right arrow and this whole screen flips over to the next one to see whuz up. I’ve got seven different screens called workspaces, all running different programs, or sometimes just there, all with different window background pictures, many that I took myself.

Unkaputing my Kaput Computer

Suffice it to say you don’t need anything Microsoft to have a perfectly wonderful PC.

My poor computer, running the Linuxmint operating system, cool though it is with it’s huge RAM and 2.5 terabytes of storage, needs servicing.

Oh don’t have me rant about how I seriously dislike having to spend actual money to have virus protection on a Windows machine, or actual money for the operating system itself. Or that Windows is not the operating system on those devices anyway. It’s still MSDOS with an interface layer so you don’t have to use the command prompt directly like it was before Windows came along. But I digress. I’ve been ranting. Suffice it to say you don’t need anything Microsoft to have a perfectly wonderful PC.

My computer was built by us assembling the parts, such as the tower, the motherboard, disk drives, fans, etc. It was a blank machine with no OS, and I installed the easiest and best operating system on it, Linuxmint, built on top of Ubuntu. Still works, but the DVD writer is kaput. And it’s dirty inside.

Time to get it serviced. I’ll pay someone. Too much for me to bother with personally anymore.