Posts Tagged ‘install’

Bye Bye Buntu, hello Solyd


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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).

Another Old PC, another Linux install


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Hi all, this post is being written from another install of Crunchbang Linux.  Why is this worth mentioning? Well, it really isn’t worth mentioning, but I did anyway.

Recently I acquired a PC that belonged to a friend of mine. I offered $20 and, well, it has its limitations, but what do you want for 20 dollars, right? Right. Here’s the technical details: Shuttle XPC with an AMD64 Proc., DVD-ROM Optical Drive, 1GB of RAM, and a 20GB Hard disk.  My intended purpose for this machine is to perform software experiments and testing.  Nothing crazy mind you, so spending money to fix/improve it would be money wasted.

So, being a Linux enthusiast, I gave several Distros a test drive on this machine. Distros such as Mint (Debian, LXDE, Gnome), Crunchbang Linux, and Ubuntu (main Gnome 2/3, and Lubuntu), as these are my recent (and old) favorites. You can say I prefer the Debian Based Linux OS, but that’s a story for another blog post.

The results: (because surely a fair amount of those actually reading this blog are curious to learn what actually happened).

Linux Mint Results:

Mint 12 LXDE would not install, Mint 12 Debian Edition crashed mid-way thru installation, and Mint 11 GNOME was the winner in the Stable Mint environment for this machine.

Ubuntu Results:

Ubuntu 10.04.4 got most of the way through the install and crashed.  Lubuntu 12.04 installed nicely, but had lots of crashing during web browser use, so bye-bye. Ubuntu 11.04 GNOME was ok.  Ubuntu 12.04 GNOME not even a consideration based on inability to install a recent Linux Mint.  My Ubuntu goal was to use a long-term-support release if possible.

Crunchbang Linux Results:

This particular machine has had Crunchbang installed on it several times over the last 2-3 months, for stability tests and Linux multi-boot (GRUB) experiments.  I must say, each and every time the installation was a success, and the speed of the Openbox environment (which are the main reasons I use Crunchbang on my other Linux Desktop PC) performs superbly.

There’s just something about this machine I guess.  With 1GB of Ram, and (seemingly) other hardware-related issues, Crunchbang fits right in with its low-resource footprint.  Based on your hardware, the age and condition of said hardware, some software is just going to work better than others.

This is why I love Linux. When faced with a challenge, try, try again until you find what you want in terms of customization, efficiency of use, and last but not (by a longshot) least —stability. I cannot emphasize this enough.

The next article will discuss SugarCRM, and why it’s awesome to have an extra PC around.



Favorite Linux Apps: Text Editors


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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


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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.

Dual-boot Linux


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What do we mean by “Dual boot” anyway?

Dual boot means that our computer has 2 (two) Operating Systems.  We choose which one to “Boot” into when the computer starts.

Many Linux users dual-boot as a way of sharing a computer.  This saves you money.  Why? Because you keep the computer you already own and install Linux on it.  I have dual booted with Windows XP and more recently, Mac OS-X Snow Leopard.  Since I don’t have a PC running Vista or Windows 7, this post will only discuss Win XP & Snow Leopard dual booting with Linux.

How to dual boot with Linux and Windows (or Mac)

There are many online tutorials available.  I won’t post a tutorial here because that would be  “reinventing the wheel”.  I will only describe the fine points.  If I’ve done my job, then the process might be less intimidating when it’s time to set up your dual-boot environment.

Dual booting with Windows and Linux

  • First things first.  If your computer already has Windows or Mac OS-X on it, then backup your documents.  While the process of dual-booting is better than it was years ago, things can still go wrong.  Don’t lose your files.  Be safe, not sorry.
  • If you’re running Windows XP (yes, I know this post may be outdated as we are already within the era of Windows 7) clean up your hard drive (junk files, temporary files) and then defragment.  It’s very important to defragment.  You don’t want documents and Windows Operating system files scattered all about the hard drive.
  • Open a web browser and get a cup of coffee or tea.  Why?  Because I think it’s a good idea now to view some online tutorial (with screenshots) about dual-booting.  You may even want to print out the pages of the tutorial so you can refer to them while performing the various steps involved with dual-booting.  The tutorial is easy to follow.

Dual booting with Mac OS-X and Linux

I recently purchased a MacBook and I wanted to dual-boot this machine.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the Mac OS-X.  There are just things that I needed to set up quickly that I’m still learning how to do under Mac OS-X.  Under Linux there are things that I’ve done enough times that it’s become second nature.  Here are some notes and suggestions.

  • To dual-boot Mac OS-X and Linux, you will be creating at least one partition on your hard drive.  It’s not hard to do.  Here’s a link to the tutorial that I used.
  • I suggest following the instructions in the tutorial.  It helped me set up my Mac OS-X and Linux dual boot machine very quickly.  Same approach as before; backup your documents, do a cleanup if necessary, and read the tutorial completely before performing the steps.
  • Pay extra attention to the bootloader installation step at tutorial’s end.  If you install the bootloader in the wrong place, things can break—badly.
  • Even though my MacBook is a 64-bit machine, I installed a 32-bit Linux distro.  I would recommend a 32-bit distro as it’s likely to be more stable for uses such as these.
  • The tutorial assumes that you’re running an Intel-based system (also called “mactel”).  Be sure that this is the case before following any tutorial.

Save some money


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Linux saves money by allowing reuse of an old computer.

Let’s say you have an old (PC-style) machine lying around, and you enjoy “tinkering” with computers.  You’d like to learn more about things such as partitioning, dual-booting, bash shell scripting, or hosting a local PHP-based websites with database connections. Having and old computer available lets you to do this without messing with your “main” computer.  Remember, if it’s PC-style, (Gateway, IBM, HP, or Dell) Mac OS-X cannot be used.  Why throw away a working machine just because the latest Microsoft Operating System won’t run on it? So what are some options?

  1. Purchase a licensed copy of Microsoft Windows (remember, old machines probably cannot run Vista or Windows 7).  If the machine is really old, it may not even be able to run Windows XP.  Even if it could run XP, do you really want to use an outdated or no-longer-supported OS?
  2. Obtain a pirated copy of Microsoft Windows.  I don’t condone this approach, but it happens.  Even though your experimental machine is old, it deserves a stable architecture.  Think about it.  Your OS should be fully-functional so you can perform updates & backups without worrying about crashes or losing your work.
  3. Download & burn a few Linux LIVE CDs.  Use that “main” computer for something awesome without erasing anything on the HD. Go to distrowatch, read some info, check out some screenshots.  If a distro appeals to you—then download and burn the .iso—the cost (monetarily) per Live-CD is one blank CD.  Let the LIVE CD attempt to detect all of the hardware (this is  important if it’s a laptop, as you’d want to ensure that the wifi is working).  It might be best to stick with the more “popular” distros at first.  Most distros are “based on” or “derivatives of” major Linux distributions such as Red Hat, Debian, and (more recently) Debian-Ubuntu.  “Debian-Ubuntu” means that Ubuntu is the base, and Ubuntu is based on the Debian distribution.

Partitioning for Linux


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Partitioning is a drive-setup process where you designate areas of your hard drive as “mount points”.

Depending on the situation, you can partition the drive as you’re installing Linux, or set up the drive first, (using a utility CD such as GParted or other).  For a single-boot setup, I suggest using the Install CD’s partitioning tool if you’re wiping out the old operating system or replacing one Linux distro with another.   If you’re adding Linux (to create a dual-boot machine with MS Windows or Mac OS-X) then you should attend to the partitioning chores first.  More on dual booting later.

Partitioning can intimidate newcomers, but fear not.  The Linux install process is flexible, and you don’t have to manually create partitions for single boot setup.  The install CD may offer suggestions (depends on distro) or at the very least have an “automatic partitioning” feature that works fine.

Manual partitioning, on the other hand, is worth learning.  Even the basic “3 partition” scheme (/, swap, and /home) offers the advantage of not losing your documents if you replace your distro.  While you should make frequent backups of your files anyway, common advice from the Linux community suggests keeping /home on its own partition for that very reason.  Find a partitioning tutorial here.

Single-boot Linux


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Single-boot or “single boot” is when only one (1) operating system will be installed to your hard drive.  A single boot machine is a simple way install Linux. The single boot scenario typically consists of either

  • Completely wiping out the current Operating system and installing Linux, or
  • Installing Linux on a new and blank hard drive

I’ve performed both, and as stated, the process is simple.  You put in your Linux Live or Install CD and follow the prompts.  Many distros offer graphical installers which take you step-by-step, and typically asking you to confirm all the choices (default or custom) before any changes are written to the hard drive.  Some distros offer text-based installers which can be a bit too challenging to the new Linux user.

More on this topic later, but a word on partitions.  A partition is a “chunk” or “area” of your hard drive.  If you plan on trying other distros and still want a single-boot setup, you should definitely consider creating a minimum of 3 partitions where the swap area, root partition and “/home” are the 3 separate partitions.  A separate /home partition allows you to keep all of your documents when installing the next distro.  For more detail about partitioning follow this link.