Trench’s further adventures in Linux

So when we last left off our intrepid hero said he was going to give PCLinuxOS another try and I did. I’ve upgraded my opinion of it somewhat. I got it customized enough to where it really looked slick. I loved that it used Synaptic as a package manager. However, the latest dealbreaker was that it was missing a vital program that I need from its repository. This really isn’t a knock on PCLinuxOS I’m just not comfortable compiling my own stuff manually yet. I also have to add that if you’re a first time Linux user I wouldn’t start with PCLinuxOS. I found the install process a little confusing. Why does it need two partitions? Anyway, it’s worth checking out.

Previously I also posted about OpenSUSE and how I couldn’t get past the start menu. Well, I figured out how to change it to basically a generic KDE menu but I’m still not all that impressed. While the install was a snap once everything was updated I found it to be a slow and sluggish OS. I also think their repository is severely lacking. I really wanted to like this too because Novell, the company behind OpenSUSE, has some kind of deal with Microsoft that pisses off the Linux fanboys and I love to do things that piss off fanboys. However, I can not recommend OpenSUSE.

I actually dropped Mandriva as my main OS as well. I loved Mandriva and I do highly recommend it but I found a Linux install that in my opinion was better. It’s actually kind of an old install for me. Over the weekend I tried out the KDE version of Linux Mint and I’ve never been happier with an installation. I know some of you hardcore Linux fans will deride me for choosing what is basically Kubuntu but I don’t care. I found this install to be more stable and useful than most of the others I’ve tried and since it uses Ubuntu’s repository it has all the programs I need.

My next foray into Linux won’t be until Fedora 9 drops.

3 thoughts on “Trench’s further adventures in Linux”

  1. Longtime Windows users are mystified by the Linux file system. I was. I still am, but I’m getting better. My first reaction was “why does it have to be so difficult?”. What I was really saying was “why does it have to be so unfamiliar?” As I become more familiar with the Linux file system, the Windows file system begins to look ugly, clunky and primitive. The more I use Linux the more I realize that operating systems and desktop environments are much better when they are designed by the people who use them rather than by a corporation who needs to protect future profits.

    I’m glad you stuck with it and played around with your desktop. The PCLinuxOS installer has, it believe, a “just do it all” kind of selection. That will give you a good system. As an aside, I never advise first-timers to do a dual boot or partition their hard drive for partial Linux use. If they want to try Linux on a hard drive and they want to keep their Windows install then get an old hard drive and replace the Windows drive with it. Do a full install and play with it. When you’re done switch the Windows drive back in. It sounds like a lot of work but I’ve done it before (on a work machine, you should have seen my supervisor’s eyes) and it’s much easier than messing around with partitions and a lot less nerve racking. If you want to keep Linux and still want Windows then do the research and set up a dual boot with separate drive if at all possible. Understand, as your research will tell you, Linux will replace the Windows boot loader with its own, Grub. If you remove the Linux drive you won’t be able to boot anything. There are ways to get Windows XP to boot Linux but it’s more involved.

    Linux Mint is a good choice for those who expect all media to “just work”. PCLinuxOS will do that, as well as plain vanilla Ubuntu with one minor change to the Package Manager. Fedora, however, is a “free” distribution. That means it doesn’t carry any IP encumbered codecs. Fedora is actually a very good, solid distribution. It’s geared more for servers and high throughput industrial installations. It will work just fine for the informed user though. I know this from personal experience. Getting it to be media friendly takes a little bit of work though. There used to be guy, Stanton Finley (I just checked, he’s nowhere to be found), who posted a long, long list of commands to get Fedora to do everything you could possibly do with Linux. He stopped after Fedora Core 5 because he switched over to Ubuntu. You could hear the jaws dropping everywhere. If you could find something similar your Fedora experience could be very nice. If you have to piece everything together from all over the Internet, it will be a pain in the butt. One more thing about Fedora (I really like it, I really do). This may have changed since I used Fedora last (almost 2 years ago). With all the distributions comes a repository and their mirrors. Fedora, last I new, has 3 different kinds of repositories. They are not compatible (completely). I hosed my system at least twice because I didn’t know that or I wasn’t very careful.

    So for testing Fedora: Find a Fedora friend that will steer you through the media friendly installs Settle on your chosen repository (Ff may help you with that) And disable SELinux. SELinux is a security system developed by the NSA that uses some kind of file level protection. It’s usually ok but it can slow things down and once in a while really screw things up. It’s another level of complexity that is unneeded for the average user.

    I would not dismiss Fedora as a candidate. Many average, informed users are quite happy with it. Like everything with Linux, you have to take some level of responsibility for the knowledge required to use it. With Ubuntu it’s almost nothing. With Slackware or Gentoo, all your nightmares about Linux come true. So why use those two? Because in the right hands they can make a PIII with 128MB of ram faster than a PIV with 2 GB of ram. Linux gives you that potential and some people just like the challenge.

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