Moving On

My beloved Xubuntu 18.04 is good until next April, but I won’t wait that long to replace it. In my previous post I wrote about the Future of Ubuntu, and have looked closely at the new default package management, snap. The old .deb packaging will still be around for legacy apps and stuff that we all depend on, but the default in 20.04 is snap packaging. To me this will mean a ton of duplicated libraries and cruft, since snaps are kinda-sorta sandboxed and snaps do not share libraries. Bad for those of us who don’t have super-ultra-mega-terrabyte hard drives, right?

Ordinarily rolling-release distros scare me a bit. But even without selectively updating (other than the kernel), there are cool tools like Timeshift that can put things back to a “restore point” in a few clicks and a few minutes’ time. And I dislike the idea of re-installing an OS from scratch and configuring everything the way I want it, adding and removing applications, fonts, themes, and all the rest of it. Updates breaking things has always been a kind of phobia for me I guess, but maybe it’s one that I have overcome with the reassurance offered by super-simple backup-and-restore tools, and the fact that my new distro of choice has a thorough vetting process for updates that filters out a lot of buggy stuff before it hits the stable repositories.

Experimental, beta, or too-new-to-be-proven stuff appears in Ubuntu (and all it’s flavors and downstream distros) without warning all too often. I still remember how buggy PulseAudio was when it foisted upon us all. I dumped it for ALSA with every new installation for months until it wasn’t possible anymore, but by that time it was stable enough. Then Unity. Then systemd. All buggy as hell at the start, but everyone became a tester, like it or not. In a distro intended for newcomers, novices, simpletons, technophobes, and other “ordinary” desktop users, this buggy experimental stuff thrown in as the new default is – well, bullshit. Snaps is the last straw. While I grant that snap isn’t replacing apt for the time being at least, by making it the default, Ubuntu has again brought buggy beta crud to “ordinary” users. No lessons learned from the last several times they’ve pulled this kinda stuff. I’m all for innovation, but let’s not use the LTS versions for that! Enough surprises.

Goodbye again, Xubuntu. Hello, PCLinuxOS!

New Linux User Questionnaire

Before installing either Xubuntu or Linux Lite on a brand new Linux user’s computer, I always use this questionnaire to customize their machine with the proper applications, themes, panel(s) set-up, icon sets, etc to make their first experience as awesome as possible:

1. What do you want to use your computer for?
2. Are you “technically challenged” and just want to keep it simple, or would you like to explore your “inner geek?”
3. How old is your computer and what Operating System did it ship to you with (example: Windows XP or Vista, OSX, etc)? How big is the Hard Disk Drive and how much RAM?
4. Do you like “eye candy” and pretty special effects on your desktop, or do you prefer a faster, basic desktop with fewer bells and whistles?
5. Please list your favorite and most-used computer applications (programs). Try to categorize them if you can, under headings such as Web Browsing, E-Mail, Music Editing, CD-burning,
Office/Word Processing, Photo Editing, etc.
6. Would you like the latest “bleeding edge” stuff or do you prefer older, proven, rock-stable programs?
7. What’s your favorite color?
8. How will you connect to the Internet (if applicable)? Dial-up, wifi, Cable
9. Will you tell all your friends how awesome Linux is (and how nice Robin is for getting it up and running for you)? Don’t answer this one yet…

 

Peppermint Loss

Very sad news of the Peppermint Linux project’s Lead Developer. Mark Greaves has passed away, no details available yet. Peppermint Linux was a particularly awesome OS, based on Linux Mint but ultralight and largely cloud focused. Even a 22 year old 32-bit Dell desktop ran great on Peppermint when I was a distro-hopper.

But Mark Greaves contributed far more than just Peppermint Linux. He was a huge contributor to desktop Linux in general and will be greatly missed.

Guest Post: Responsible Ownership

Guest Post by “Artim:”

When I got my first car, I wasn’t allowed to drive it until I could demonstrate how to check the oil, coolant, belts, hoses, lights, signals, tires and stuff. A lot of people chipped in and got this special set of elevated pedals for it since I’m very small:

In fact I still get pulled over when I’m not in my own home town, by police responding to reports of “a small child driving a car.” The officers usually just laugh along with me after running my license, and pass the word along to other cops, LOL. The point being that a lot of good people have gone to a lots of trouble to make it possible and easy for me to operate a car, but I am still responsible to know how to maintain it as well as operating it.

Computers are the same way! A lot of good people have done a lot of work to make it possible for li’l ol’ me to use LINUX (Linux Lite, Linux Mint, etc) instead of Windows. But just like my car, I need to be responsible with it. Like any major appliance, a computer needs maintenance and you can’t just “drive” it without updates, cleanup, etc. That’s not just blowing the dust out of the box and keyboard, either. But the operating system needs to be kept up as well, with regular maintenance.

Linux has lots of advantages over Windows! It’s practically virus proof (unless you treat it like Windows, downloading stuff from web sites and installing it), it works on modest hardware or even really old 32-bit computers people used before I was even a twinkle in my daddy’s eyes. It’s amazing how awesome Linux is. It costs nothing, there’s all kindsa software for it for school, web, social media stuff, music and video editing, and even games. All at no cost (but donations are suggested for your favorite stuff).

But like me with my car, learn how to maintain it! And thanks to Linux Lite especially, much more than Linux Mint in my opinion, learning and maintaining your computer with the Linux Lite operating system is the easiest, simplest, and fastest way for new Linux users to do that. The welcome screen gives you all the steps, in order, and with point-and-click simplicity. You can even bring back the Welcome screen any time, even after you’ve been running Linux Lite for a long time. It does the updates, the cleanup, and tune-up stuff so you hardly even have to think about it!

With support for Windows7 ending in a few days, now is the perfect time to try it out. And you don’t even have to install it to try it out, just test-drive it on a USB thumbdrive without making any changes to your computer at all! Then if you like it, click to install. Just be sure you have backups for all your important stuff, like bookmarks, passwords, school papers, pictures, music, and stuff. Oh, and backing up stuff in Linux is super easy too by the way.

Since so many good people did so much hard work to make it possible for a tiny boy like me to drive a car, I drive it carefully and keep up on the maintenance. In the same way, since so many people have worked so hard to make it simple and easy for a kid with no technical expertise to use the amazing Linux Lite operating system, be sure to maintain it, just like my car, and donate if you can to the people who give us so much.

Get Linux Lite here!

Thank you!

My First BSD – Just for Giggles and Grins

Hi readers and fellow technophobes,

I must be crazy to even try this, but maybe I just want to be able to say I’ve done it, y’know, for bragging rights or something. For those who don’t know what a BSD is, it’s related to Linux. Actually they are siblings, whose daddy is UNIX. There are approximately one zillion and twelve Linux distributions and less than a dozen BSD distributions, unless you count the amazing MacOS, Apple’s own operating system, which is derived from BSD!

BSD is less popular and doesn’t yet offer all the popular bells and whistles available to most Linux users, but it does have some advantages over it’s sibling: The kernel is not built and maintained just by one guy trying to herd cats like Linux is. It also doesn’t have systemd, which has grown so huge that it’s actually bigger than the kernel, and has so much “feature creep” that it’s a little scary to a lot of users, who avoid it by running to Slackware or other Linux distros that don’t have it (or don’t use it even though it’s “there,” as in MX-Linux). What got to me is the Systemd head guy saying that eventually systemd will eventually “phone home” to report on how the computers it’s installed on are used. I’m not running away from systemd, not really afraid to use it (or I wouldn’t be running Xubuntu and recommending Linux Mint for newbies! But systemd may become more of a privacy concern as it continues to expand and intrude itself upon more and more subsystems in Linux. I’m kinda hoping that Debian will drop it, and the changes will filter downstream to Ubuntu and Mint, Linux Lite, and hundreds of other Debian-based distros downstream.  Now that Microsoft is jumping into Linux with both feet as well (basically buying GitHub and “taking over” the Linux Foundation, I might want to put some more distance between myself and Microsoft as well.  That is more bothersome to me than systemd, frankly.

So, anyway: TrueOS is a BSD that used to PC-BSD. It was aimed at the desktop at first, but grew to a server-side kind of OS. Rather than try to be all things to all users, some sort of one-size-fits-all thing like Ubuntu and it’s derivatives and offspring, it kinda-sorta forked into two: TrueOS for servers and Trident for the desktop. Trident will be what I’ll test-drive this week if I have time, and report on later. In the meantime if you’re curious, have a look for yourself here.

Cheers!

New Computer in Seconds

Okay, so I found this advertisement online: It’s safe to click the link, but not to completely believe everything you find here:

https://thiswentviral.net/make-your-computer-like-new/

It’s just whatever Linux distribution on a bootable USB thumbdrive. I’ve been making those and giving them away to people literally for years! The price is kinda high, and I don’t think a 300% markup is arguably within the terms of the GNU license. And there are going to be booting issues sometimes, no matter what distro they’re using. It’s not some new revolutionary “device” either. Just a thumb drive, available at any corner store for a nickel ninety eight.

However, the idea is kinda clever. People who would never ordinarily consider using Linux might see this and think, “gee, a new computer for twenty bucks? Why not!”