Xubuntu

Members of the Arch, Antergos and (especially) Manjaro communities will probably be happy to learn that I’m over here now. Xubuntu.

I was at a point where I thought to experiment and I reformatted with Sabayon Linux. What I learned is that Gentoo based distributions take forever to compile and use simple software downloads.

Alas, after a few days I thought to go back to the safety net of Antergos OS. At the time, I didn’t know, Cnchi, the Antergos installer, was broken. To have broken software on a rolling distribution of Linux is normal. To have that happen to the installer was unfortunate to me.

I had no computer! This wasn’t a VM box install. This was the real deal. I needed something to use until Cnchi repaired itself.

Even though some people in the Manjaro forum have been very “good riddance” to me when I suggested an April Fools prank they did was not funny, I reinstalled Manjaro.

It turns out my ISP was having problems at the time. I didn’t know. No fault to Manjaro. I could not update the system once it was installed.

My wife suggested, “Go back to Ubuntu.”

Well, not exactly. I hate Unity and even though Unity is out the door it’s still here for now. I did, however, have a DVD install of Xubuntu, the Xfce version of Ubuntu.

That’s where I am.

It’s not a rolling distribution, but it is solid and I don’t have to reinstall because I can keep the system up to date, apparently, with the click of a mouse.

I loved Arch/Antergos/Manjaro and the now discontinued Apricity. I still belong to their forums. I am now back with Ubuntu.

Everything works. Codecs, YouTube, Netflix, all functional out of the box. That helps a lot!

Too Many Options

I cannot decide. There are too many options. A Microsoft Windows person would have no idea.

It’s all the fault of Linux, or more properly “GNU/Linux” pronounced “Gah-New Lin-ux” or sometimes “Gah-New Lin-ox.” Much to the distress of the GNU people who provide all the software for Linux and BSD systems, nobody wants to say “Gan-New” before “Linux.” The harsh reality is this: the vast majority of the public just calls it Linux.

First decision: Which Linux? There are hundreds and hundreds of versions of the open-source, free operating system. It’s already running on devices you probably own, like your modem, router, Android Phone, tablet and smart TV. At my house it also runs my Desktop Computer.

I feel secure in Linux. No viruses. No compromises. Safe, functional, beautiful, incredibly powerful.

So for the first choice I decided I wanted a “rolling distribution,” or one that once installed, it never had to be installed again. It will update itself forever, including the Linux kernel. I am tired of the versions that get outdated and have limited support after an expiration date. There is no need anymore to put up with that. There are both stable and “bleeding edge” rolling versions of Linux out there that do everything that Ubuntu or Mint do. Tough it out.

Next I needed it to be functional. Out of the box working, for the most part. At least in major areas. I shouldn’t have to have a command line prompt and build the entire operating system from the ground up like with Arch or Gentoo. I have no time for that. I wanted a version of Linux which made disk partitioning easy and left me with some kind of graphical interface when I’m done installing and at the same time which gives me complete control over what I’m putting on my computer.

Finally, I wanted to be slightly off the beaten path, but not too far off. I didn’t want Debian/Ubuntu/Mint family versions, or Red Hat versions, Gentoo derivatives or Slackware. Something different. I decided on Arch derivatives, and I narrowed that down to one: Antergos-OS. I did, in the process, over the years, explore all of the above options.

Second decision: What desktop environment? This is where Microsoft Window users are lost. They just have to accept whatever Microsoft has decided for them. They can customize their desktop to some degree, but not with the flexibility and complete range of power that someone using Linux has. In Linux we have many “DEs” such as KDE Plasma, Gnome 3, Mate, Xfce, Cinnamon, Deepin, Enlightenment, Openbox, Lxde and so on. Each of them handles things a little different, look a little different, have different functionalities, strengths and weaknesses.

The Desktop Environment is where I falter.

The desktop environment sits on top and is what your Window Manager serves up to you to interact with your operating system – I think.

For years I used a well-known desktop environment called Mate, and pronounced it “Mate” like the British version of a friend. Only recently I figured out it’s not pronounced like a British friend, but a two syllable word “ma-tay,” which I have trouble getting my head around.

I also used Cinnamon, but didn’t like it so much. Mate was my DE for years.

Then I got bored with it. I tried Unity. Hated it. So I went with Xfce, which is pronounced exactly like the letters of the alphabet. I couldn’t figure out and didn’t seem to like KDE Plasma. We’ll get back to that.

Then I migrated to Gnome and discovered that half the YouTube world mispronounces it as “Nome” when the developers want us to pronounce it “Gah-Nome” because the G means something – what I don’t know, but it’s really supposed to be pronounced “Gah-Nome.”

Then I went back and looked at KDE Plasma, the most popular of all.

Now I have all three on my computer. I can switch from one to the other: Gnome, Xfce and KDE Plasma. I have them all set up. They are all beautiful, have rotating wallpapers, intense functionality and so on. I can do anything. I can place Facebook games, watch Netflix, watch Amazon Videos and YouTube, work on my spreadsheet, write and update this blog – all from any of them. It’s hard to remember which DE I’m in at the moment. Let me check … Behold – I’m in Xfce, which is weird because for the last few weeks I’ve been inside Gnome and the last two days I’ve been setting up Plasma. Xfce was my first of these three.

With it all set up so nicely, I can’t decide. I’m confused. I don’t know what to do.

I guess if you don’t like this kind of problem and like having to pay money for an anti-virus subscription just to protect your computer from software you have to download from questionable sources, then go on using MS Windows. In Linux all our software comes from trusted “repositories” and is safe and sound, and we don’t have virus problems. See my earlier post about Linux Virus protection.

So for now, if I get bored, I just switch. Why should I be nailed down to some boring window environment when I can have anything I want and complete freedom with my computer?

Those are some of my reasons I run Linux on my desktop computer.

Bad Blood and Help Vampires in Linux Forums

by Wayne Boyd
April 3, 2017

As you probably know there are about a hundred billion versions of GNU/Linux freely available for download that you can install on your computer, wiping out Windows altogether (or keeping it if you like too).

Some of these versions were started from scratch using the Linux kernel developed and maintained by Linus Travalds in the early 1990’s. It also includes various other pieces of software from GNU and even sometimes proprietary sources. (Android is one of these Linux branches and runs on many, many smart phones.)

There are charts you can look at on Wikipedia about the history of the development of these many Linux distributions (herein called distros), but many of them branched out from some older and often still maintained distros.

The largest family tree is Debian. From Debian come so many versions of Linux it takes up have the chart on Wikipedia. It includes Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Ubuntu Studios, Linux Mint, Linux Debian, SolyDX, Bodhi,  ad infinitum. No way to do it justice here.

Then there’s the Red Hat branch, and that’s the next big branch. It includes dozens and dozens of offshoots, including openSuse, Fedora, and Lord knows what.

Slackware is a distro with many active branches.

More recently Arch and then later Android (developed by Google) came along.

Arch is a gloves off roll up your sleeves operating system that you install from the ground up with certain command line tools. Unlike other popular distros, after you install Arch on your computer, you wind up with a command line. What you do from there is partition your hard drives with fdisk and start installing the bits and pieces that eventually will give you some kind of functioning desktop computer down the line.

These Arch people are hard core. They have little time for fools like you and me who they call Help Vampires come to suck the life blood out of their efforts. Honestly, though, as someone who has used Linux since the turn of the century (exclusively since 2002), and somewhat familiar with how a Linux system is put together and works, I just don’t want to build a version of Linux from the ground up anymore.

There’s no need.

So along came some branches off of Arch, most notable but not exclusively, CineArch and Manjaro. CineArch was an Arch based distro with a graphical install and which provided the Cinnamon desktop environment. Thus the name: Cinnamon + Arch: CineArch. But when Cinnamon was dropped by CineArch and they went with Gnome 3, they need to change the name of the distro. Thus Antergos was born.

I’ve used both Manjaro and Antergos now, and they are great operating systems that give you a wonderful graphical experience and you don’t have to worry how it was put together underneath the hood.

The Arch people are very quick to point out, despite so many YouTube videos and forum claims, Arch is not 100% Antergos. Antergos has their own repositories and software, their own wiki, their own forums and their own administrators. It is not true that Antergos is just a graphical installation of Arch. Antergos is a full-fledged Linux distro in it’s own right using the Arch framework plus their own tools to build their own operating system.

The Antergos community and their forums are not as populated as the Arch forums, and so a lot of Antergos users, thinking Antergos is just Arch, go to their forum and ask questions. This makes some in that community upset. Many of the original Arch developers have stated their feeling that they should not help Antergos. Antergos should provide their own help on their own forums to their own users.

Life is a two way street, and although much less so, there’s a similar mood from Antergos diehards about the Manjaro people that come to their forums and ask questions about their Arch based distro.

Arch forum moderators get all hot headed and have no tolerance for what they are calling Help Vampires. Help Vampires, they say, come in swarms and completely distract and destroy a well developed online community.

That’s what they think of us – the Antergos community.

So I found bad blood and calls of Help Vampires after reading a prominent article tonight on the Arch user forums. Now I don’t want to go there anymore. Let them have their world all to themselves. Power to them.

I just want a computer that works pretty good, is fun to fiddle with, looks pretty and functions effectively. I’ve got that with Antergos. I recommend it.

That’s my two cents worth. I came here to get away from politics, not to find it.

Musings of an Amuser

This is a wandering article. It’s about the flu, my computer, and software.

As I write, I’m sick with what I think is probably the flu. Probably, because I haven’t been to the doctor. I will probably go to the doctor before I have to go back to work so I don’t have to go back to work so I can get better.

In the environment of my work place I am exposed to many people. Some of those people have confirmed cases of the flu. It’s likely I contracted the flu, if that’s what I have, from there.

Oh, I’ve had the flu before. I have aches and pains, my muscles and joints ache. I have a fever of about 100 F. My nose is stuffy. I sleep all day and all night. The glands on my neck are swollen. My head is in a fog. I have no energy.

I think it’s probably the flu.

I sit here in front of my computer because I can’t stay on the couch in the living room all day. I try flipping through Facebook or Twitter, but my head is in a fog. I feel awful.

I’ve got some minor glitches with my computer which, for the last several days, is running on Ubuntu Studio. Most annoyingly, the volume control on my keyboard isn’t controlling the volume control of whatever comes out the speakers. If this were Linux Mint it would be okay, but it’s Ubuntu Studio. There’s several fixes I found when I Googled them, but I’m sick and don’t have the concentration or energy to do anything about it.

I did think about going back to Linux Mint. It wouldn’t be hard. I could do that even if I was sick. But I’m happy in the Ubuntu environment for now. I do miss the software repositories. I do miss a lot of stuff. It wouldn’t be much different. I’d be using the same desktop environment, xfce.

So what is it that I want to stay away from Linux Mint for now? I’m not sure.

I guess I don’t want to be held in a box, backed into a corner, with no other options. I’m a “computer freedom” guy. It’s why I have a different operating system on my computer than most people who run the boring and security flawed Microsoft Windows.

So here I’ve been in the Linux world for years. I use an Android phone, Android being built upon Linux. iPhones being built upon Unix-like just like BSD. Windows phones, fortunately, never really took off, but Windows still dominate the computer world. Most people who use a laptop or desktop computer don’t even know that you don’t have to be restricted to running Microsoft software. You don’t have to pay for software. And why pay for vulnerable software anyway? You don’t have to.

For a couple years recently I went without my desktop. When I started this blog, I wasn’t using a desktop. It was all done from my tablet or Samsung Galaxy S6 phone. Eventually, however, I realized that I’m a touch-typist. I can type about as fast as I can think and I don’t have to look at the keyboard. I look at the screen. These words were typed looking at the screen, not the keyboard. Everyone should learn how to touch-type. It’s great. So touch-typists need a keyboard. I revived my computer and here I am. Inside Ubuntu Studio.

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

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.