Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

Robolinux is amazing

09.21.14

Posted by adamlinuxhelp  |  No Comments »

I recently was given another laptop for “repurposing” – which in my circles – means “bye bye crufty windows vista/7 and hello Linux”.

It’s a somewhat older HP G60 laptop, and I pulled the original HD, and added RAM to the tune of 4Gig and wow, this thing is super fast. Boot up to usable desktop in well under 10 seconds, and the application responsiveness is the fastest I’ve seen in any Linux thus far. Now, onto to the main topic of the post, Robolinux.

I chose the XFCE Version for speed, and it does deliver. It took a while to get used to the XFCE way of doing things again (it’s been ~ 7 years since I’ve used it. I used to rock Xubuntu on an old Dell D600 laptop).

Typically, when I want a ligthweight distro with a great software base, my “go-to” is generally Crunchbang (has the Openbox environment). But this time around, I was going for a more “windowsy” user interface experience for the person I was setting the laptop up for. It would just be “too much” of a shift for them to learn both Openbox and using Linux, so I took a look at Robolinux.

Robolinux is derived from Debian, and has a lot of great software pacakges I didn’t find anywhere else. Not that I have looked high and low mind you – as I typically set up a machine and (if it’s for me) I go all out customizing it for what I want to do with it (which from recent posts, I needed a machine ready to do all kinds of things and was in love with SolydK until I had to cross back into Windows8 world… sigh. but to be fair, Kubuntu 14.04 has been doing really well.

Check out Robolinux, especically if you prefer the VM instead of Dual booting into Windows when (sigh again) necessary to do so.

Good luck.

Bye Bye Buntu, hello Solyd

12.22.13

Posted by adamlinuxhelp  |  No Comments »

I’ve used Ubuntu for quite a long time now. I would say since 12.04 on my current laptop (Dell Inspiron 15z that I mentioned in another post. Yes, the one with Windows 8 and Secure-boot UEFI). Seemed to be the “good/easy” choice to get up and running with a dual-boot for this newfangled secure-boot BIOS since Ubuntu has “signed kernels” since 12.04 version. Setting this up, was not simple, yet not too complicated once I found advice on the net that actually worked.

After upgrading from 12.10 to 13.04, things simply were not the same. The machine would not boot in secure mode. No big deal, but after a while it makes one think… what changed? what’s different? and the next thought… do i really want to be forced to press and hold the F12 key each and every time I want to boot into Linux properly. The answer to that last part was an obvious ‘no’.

So, it was time for a change of distro. The criteria was kind of simple: Stable (well I think everyone wants stable..) and if possible, a rolling style release, so I wouldn’t have to worry about `upgrades in-place` doing silly things, or having to do fresh installs. Under ‘normal’ circumstances I prefer fresh installs, but also prefer it when the machine itself is easy-to-control. Which I would say is somewhere between the days of Fedora Core 2 (when I was learning Linux) and this new age of Secure-boot BIOS. I feel like this machine’s BIOS is not under my full control (A P.I.T.A if you ask me).

The Linux Action show podcast reviews Distros every now and then, and one week, they mentioned “SolydXK“. The review goes back a few months, so I had forgotten most of the review. It was a positive one, which made me consider trying it. I wanted a KDE environment (as recently) I’ve been using KDE, even in Ubuntu (google for the 3-5 commands it takes to migrate Ubuntu to Kubuntu) if you like Ubuntu but have grown a bit tired of Unity and older GNOME.

My choices came down to Kubuntu 13.10 and SolydK (the KDE version of Solyd). So far, I’m really liking Solydk. There are few weird things, such as flickering splash screen on boot – which occurs whether I have the USB external keyboard/mouse plugged in or not. Also, I’m liking that SolydXK is a rolling distribution. Given that Linux offers choice, I can always switch back if necessary to Kubuntu. But for now… Solyd is working really nice. Really responsive on this computer and gives a great KDE Desktop where stuff basically works as expected in other KDE-based distros.

Some other qualities of Solyd are that it was not derived, but “forked” i believe from Linux Mint (read more here), which I have used and is quite nice. So that puts in the ‘based-on-debian’ category of distros. Solyd is based on Debian testing and uses Synaptic Package Manager. Even though software stores/managers are all the rage these days, I still (from time to time) will use the GUI Synaptic or the more common apt-get install command at the terminal.

If you’re in a similar spot with a relatively new computer (2 yrs old or so) and want a good KDE experience (rolling release) you do (thank goodness) have many great choices. Some of you still reading might be screaming “Arch, Archlinux has all this!” and you’re correct, Arch is well-known for its rolling style. However, it’s not easy or quick to set up and I wanted to get going quick so I can try the distro out.

I recommend SolydK for KDE fans out there, (no shopping lens or other spying apps that send data – as far as I know). And I’m thinking of putting SolydX (the XFCE version) on a friend’s computer (right now the machine runs Puppy Linux from CD-rom).

Favorite CLI Linux Apps: Intro

02.19.10

Posted by adamlinuxhelp  |  No Comments »

We’re talking about the Linux command line…again.  Don’t worry, I won’t bore you (hopefully). If you’re still on this page, I commend you.

Remember, a Linux user should never feel forced to use the terminal or “console”, but knowing how to use it will help you get the most out of Linux.  The speed, simplicity, and the consistency are what drive me to use it nearly every time I’m at a Linux Desktop.

Ok, here’s a list of programs that are typically not in a distro by default.  These programs are intentionally run from a terminal prompt.

Favorite CLI Linux Apps: Guake

02.19.10

Posted by adamlinuxhelp  |  No Comments »

Guake and Yakuake are drop-down terminal shells

Guake, or (if it’s a K Desktop Environment) Yakuake are “drop-down terminal shells” that appear when you press a button (usually F12).

If you usually open a terminal with every log in to your Linux desktop, there’s a more convenient (not to mention laaazy) way.  Simply tell the OS to run Guake after your user’s successful login. In Openbox, you’d add it to your autostart.sh file

The Guake terminal will notify you that it has started, and then auto-hides itself until you “un-hide it” by pressing the F12 key.  When you’re done with your current command-line stuff, simply press F12 again and Guake gets out of your way.

Favorite Linux Apps: Intro

02.12.10

Posted by adamlinuxhelp  |  No Comments »

So far, we’ve been talking about using the command line to download files or make some repetitive work simpler.  We’ve also seen how to upgrade a Firefox Web browser in Ubuntu.

Today we’ll discuss general “tools” that a Linux user might need on a daily basis.  Most of these tools are (believe it/not) GUI applications.  You can lose time by slogging through a CLI solution only to learn you could have gotten the job done quicker with a GUI app.  But when the GUI app is clumsy or lacks a reliable batch process—I consider command line solutions.

So, with that, here are some tools/apps that I install to my Linux desktops.  Since I prefer Debian-based package management, GUI installs will reference “Synaptic” while command line install instructions will be “aptitude”.

Favorite Linux Apps: Audio & Video

02.12.10

Posted by adamlinuxhelp  |  1 Comment »

This one’s up to you.  There are so many to pick from, just check Synaptic.

Digital Audio Playback

For an iTunes-style program, try AMAROK, and for simple playback of audio files without hearing the audible “gap” between song cuts, try Aqualung.

Audio Editing

I have used Audacity for simple stereo-file (non-multitrack) audio editing.  It got the job done, but arguably, there are better tools available for semi-pro recording on a Linux system.

Digital Video/Media Playback

VLC is a reliable application that can play many multimedia formats.  VLC sometimes comes standard with a distro.

Video Editing

I haven’t done much video editing, but so far I’ve tried Kino and I found it really easy to use.

Favorite Linux Apps: Photo & Image

02.12.10

Posted by adamlinuxhelp  |  No Comments »

Linux Gui Applications for Photos and Image-based tasks

If you like to store your digital photos in “album-style” format, then I recommend Digikam.  It’s a KDE-based app so I suggest installing it using Synaptic on Debian-based systems.  Let Synaptic fetch other files as needed.  This saves you the headaches of “dependency hell”, which happens when an app you wish to install needs additional files and you have no idea which ones, where to find them, or how to properly install them.

To manipulate photos and images (such as cropping, or layering text captions onto them) I suggest you install the GIMP if it’s not there by default.  To find out if you have it, you can check your Applications menu or issue the following command in a terminal

which gimp

If the shell returns something like “/usr/bin/gimp“, then its installed.  If it returns nothing, you’ll need to install it.  The GIMP also does scaling (resizing images while keeping the aspect ratio) and is the closest freeware knockoff of Adobe Photoshop to my knowledge.

When I say “closest” I implore you to decide for yourself if your tasks can be done with free software.  The GIMP has a lot of great features such as transparency, layers, gradients, and more; but IT IS NOT CAPABLE of replacing Photoshop if that’s what your work requires.

If you’re doing commercial graphical work, your software choice (and budget) should be “an investment” and not “an expense”.  For many personal uses, the GIMP may be able to give you professional-looking results.

Favorite Linux Apps: Text Editors

02.12.10

Posted by adamlinuxhelp  |  No Comments »

Linux Gui Applications to write and edit text

For simple stuff I recommend Gedit that comes with GNOME-based Linux distros.  If you’re running a K-Desktop Environment (KDE) then Kate is really good.   Gedit works well for writing quick text snippets or copying text from websites to use later on.

For text writing in general, I like Pyroom which came pre-installed with Crunchbang Linux 9.04 and I happen to be writing this very blog post using Pyroom.  Pyroom reminds me of a typewriter interface—everything else on the screen (except for your text and a light border) is invisible.  Nothing to distract your eyes.  You only see the words that you type (non-formatted) on your (virtual) page.  Each time you hit “return”, your work just scrolls upward.  And it can “auto-save” your work at intervals that you set in preferences.

If you’re going to write scripts in various programming languages, then you’ll need a decent IDE-style code editor.  This comes in handy if you’re building a website, because you can create a “project” file that will group together the text-based files related to your website.

For this type of work, I use Geany, but have recently installed Aptana Studio to try it out.

The benefit of an IDE-style editor is that it can color the syntax so your commands don’t look like a big vat of text.  This makes reading, writing, documenting (or “in-code comments”) and troubleshooting your work much much easier.

Favorite Linux Apps: Burning disks

02.12.10

Posted by adamlinuxhelp  |  No Comments »

Linux Gui Application to Burn CDs/DVDs

Depending on your Linux distribution, you already have an application capable of burning Data CDs for file/folder backups and Music CDs.  Most of them offer the ability to burn an .iso file.

I usually install K3B (KDE-based) for disk burning.  Install k3b with Synaptic package manager:  type “k3b” [no quotes] after clicking the “Search” button.  If you’re using a non-KDE System, let Synaptic install any extra items.

I prefer k3b because I find it more reliable than other burning software that may come bundled with a distro.  I won’t name applications, but for one reason or another they disappointed me, even though community opinion of them is high.

There are times when you just have to trust your instincts and experiences.

When something works for you, use it.  If it gives you headaches, then seek alternatives.

That’s the benefit of choice.

Your choice: part 1

01.10.10

Posted by adamlinuxhelp  |  No Comments »

Linux offers a freedom of choice.  Part 1 of ??

  1. Choice to create an operating environment in countless variations. Of course other Operating Systems offer choice in customizing your work space.  Changing things like your desktop colors, fonts, and font sizes are possible in Mac and Windows, etc.   With Microsoft Windows, you’re stuck with “Explorer” as your file manager. In Mac it’s called the Finder.  In Linux there are many file managers to pick from.  Another example is the desktop environment.  Say you wanted a simplistic layout without all the “bloat”.  Linux offers several “minimalist” desktops where the fancy eye-candy is gone, leaving you with a clean interface that uses less system resources (such as RAM) allowing for much faster response times.
  2. Choice of how many virtual desktops (Mac OS-X has “Spaces” which does essentially the same thing).  What are “virtual desktops”?  They are workspaces.  In Windows, it’s easy to clutter your desktop when you have a lot of file folders and applications open.  It becomes tedious to remember which ones to use and which ones to minimize.  And even with the advent of “ALT+TAB” to cycle through your folders and apps, the more things you have open makes it take longer to get at what you need at that given moment.  Imagine grouping your web-based apps and folders in its own “area 1” and have your word processing and spreadsheet open in “area 2” and have some mp3 music files playing in “area 3”.  The ability to flip back and forth between these “areas” greatly reduces desktop clutter—allowing you to get things done more efficiently.