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Introduction to Linux - A Hands on Guide
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You realize that there is more than one UI on Linux? If you don't like this new tablet-style interfaces go for KDE, XFCE, LXDE or one of the many window managers.
Which DE are you referring to in regards to Windows 8 Metro? There are SO many different DEs for Linux it's ridiculous. I've been using Linux off and on since 2001, regularly since 2005. In that time I have only scratched the surface of the DEs that are available to users, and of all of the ones I've tried only TWO of them have been the crappy tablet-style interface you're referring to...Unity and Gnome 3, both of which are absolute shit in my honest opinion. The nice thing about Linux is that those are not the only options. NOBODY is forcing you into those DEs, and from what I've seen they've been so amazingly unpopular that I doubt they will last anyway. LXDE, XFCE, Gnome2, KDE3...there is an immense list of DEs that follow the "classic" style and work great, so what's the problem?
That's the nice thing about Linux...you are not forced into ANY DE. Use the one you like...most of them are available through the standard package management system with any distribution. You want XFCE? Great. You want it on OpenSUSE? Fantastic..."zypper install --pattern xfce" and you're done. I don't see what the problem is. Just because these crappy DEs are available to you doesn't mean you have to use them...use what you like.
The Graphics Device Interface is responsible for tasks such as drawing lines and curves, rendering fonts and handling palettes. The Windows NT 3.x series of releases had placed the GDI component in the user-mode Client/Server Runtime Subsystem, but this was moved into kernel mode with Windows NT 4.0 to improve graphics performance.
Distribution: Debian Sid AMD64, Raspbian Wheezy, various VMs
Just to add my 2 English Pence:
Whilst I tend to agree that using some kind of Window manager is probably the way to go, it is possible to see website images using w3m and to play video with mplayer using the framebuffer. Combine this with screen and you practically have a window-manager like set up without installing X.
That said I would try things like ratpoinson if I wanted to get away from the usual desktop style but retain the ability to use things like Flash video.
If you use GNU/Linux, you will in some form or other, be using a "text-only OS". Using a GNU/Linux system, or any *nix system, usually involves the command line at some point anyway.
Not installing xorg or a desktop/window manager would not be a good idea. I could tell you to just install a minimum xorg, a wm like openbox and a browser, and have the browser autostart - thus typing startx would give you a browser, but that would be pointless IMO.
Install a typical distro such as e.g. Slackware, Debian, Gentoo, Arch or Fedora and avoid the "hand holding" distros. With a terminal emulator, a browser and the willingness to learn, the world of "text-only OS" is your oyster.
Distribution: Debian Sid AMD64, Raspbian Wheezy, various VMs
Oh, I almost forgot gpm allows mouse use for copying and pasting in the console and a nice file manager like mc (Midnight Commander) is good too.
I've been playing and it's surprising how much you can get done without a window manager. I'd still install one though given the choice.
What has really pushed me to it is this: I want to have a text-only Operating System. No photographic type images at all.
You can work from the shell. Edit documents using the 'vi'; while most network administration is done through the shell commands. You can try Linux From Scratch (LFS) I think you have the full control of what you put into it next to the kernel. That's a good learning challenge and really fits into your aim.
But I read somewhere that this might limit my ability to visit certain sites, somewhere it said "some sites rely on java or adobe" or something like that.
Use 'lynx' browser. I have read that the father of GNU, Richard M. Stahlman still regularly browse the internet using lynx browser. I have it in my system always up to day. There are those who wanted to use the internet in a quiet atmosphere of texts. Browsing is based on personal choice, not in what others think is right for them. It is not putting someone into a limit; it is saving someone from what he thinks unnecessary to his aims.
I'm grateful for all the replies, and so quickly too. I confess I feel like I'm surrounded by experts, and I only have a very basic and murky grasp of much of what was advised above. So I might be off-track here, but someone said something about 'tiling' or something. Does that mean, images will be displayed but they will look very small and uninspiring? Because, that would actually help me.
I am on the net for too many hours a day, and I MUST reduce this. If I could absolutely NOT access full-screen photographic images ('jpegs', etc) the 'addictive' element of the Net would be gone. I could then still keep the internet, for information gathering etc, which is what I need it for, without missing out on sleep etc due to being on the net for far too many hours on end daily...so I guess this is a temporary thing. But it has to be done. And it would be better to be on 'Debain' (that is text-only, right?) and not be able to access *everything* I might wish for, but still be able to read the alternative news, etc (I hope) rather than my 'plan B' - get rid of the Internet completely, which I don't want to do!!!
So, just to get rid of any confusion: it needs to be a system where, if I change my mind and decide that I DO want to see some images, that I literally cannot do so - know what I mean? I am trying to overcome an addiction here. I can't trust myself to remain 'text-only' by choice. There has to be no choice in the matter. That's what I'm wanting - an OS where even if I change my mind, I can't just go into the 'settings' and get the OS to somehow access images again. It needs to be impossible (for someone like me, anyway, who is not an expert in computers like most pp are here).
Thanks for the ideas thus far. If no one can relate to my dilemma that's fine. But I'm happy for any advice at all.
but someone said something about 'tiling' or something. Does that mean, images will be displayed but they will look very small and uninspiring
No, a tiling window manager has nothing to do with thumbnails. Let me try to explain what a tiling WM does. When you have no windows opened, and you open for example a web browser, it will take the whole screen. If then you open a second window, the screen will be split 50/50 with web browser on the left (usually) and the 2nd window on the right. If you open a 3rd window, each will take 1/3 of the screen. The idea is to stop wasting screen space and time to move windows around. Here is a presentation of one of the tiling window managers: Xmonad (youtube). There's a very good example of how it works at 0:55. If I were you, I wouldn't try a tiling WM yet, I think it would be too much to learn (since you're new to Linux).
About text web browsers. I'll show you some examples of how websites can look like under them. Screenshots taken on Slackware Linux, which came with both links and lynx installed. (sorry for the blur, tinypic has resized my images )
So as you can see, there are websites, which look good and can be comfortably read in a text browser, but there are some which cannot be seen at all. Usually it's somewhere in between, where you can read some stuff, but it's not as pretty as e.g. distrowatch.
thanks again for all the helpful advice. I have realized that on a number of levels I am going to like using Linux, whichever path within that I take. I have joined the google group for 'MLUG' which stands for 'Melbourne Linux Users Group', because the best thing to do for someone who is interested in all of this, but a bit overwhelmed by all the new terms and concepts (as I am), is to find someone local willing to help me directly. Maybe someone would have an interest in helping me to totally wipe my current PC clear of everything currently on it, and start over with Linux.
In the meantime I need to get a hold of a few blank cd's, because there are those 'live versions' that I could get on a CD, right now from the web...
There's plenty you can do in a text-only environment, but it'll take some time to learn the ropes. I think it's worth it.
Also, I feel for your need to go distraction-less. I have a desktop that's text-only. It has Debian installed without the GUI. Other OSes have GUI-less install options, such as the Ubuntu Server Edition. Often I boot into alternate window managers, such as ratpoison, which helps tame the GUI; or, until you find your way to a text only OS, you might want to play around with a full text only environment. Press Ctrl-Alt-F1 (or any Fn key up to F6), and you'll be taken to a virtual terminal. Press Alt-F7 to get back to the GUI.
Others here have already mentioned the handful of text-mode Web browsers, but that's not your only option for engaging the Web and Internet. There are a number of command line Twitter clients, such as Twidge (https://github.com/jgoerzen/twidge/wiki/), Facebook clients, such as fbcmd (http://fbcmd.dtompkins.com/), and RSS readers (at a loss for one that I used to use). I often use googlecl (http://code.google.com/p/googlecl/) to edit Google Docs in Vim. And I use the previously mentioned GUI-less desktop for various tasks, such as email with Mutt, Offlineimap, and ssmtp.
I found Linux back in '03 because I was looking for a text only environment, actually. And I found it by way of Emacs and Vi. Nano (the text editor) is great, but it's fun to learn the two master text editors and just live in them. I prefer Vim nowadays, but I had a lot of fun just living in Emacs for the first couple of my Linux years.
Biggest suggestion I have, just explore as many text-based, terminal, command line apps as possible. You'll get comfortable with them pretty quickly, I imagine.
Debian is probably the best option. Most other distros are either too gui focused or too unstable (bleeding edge) for what you want to do. Just install debian and deselect "desktop environment" during install - that's it.
Slackware is another option, though partitioning is a little more advanced (i.e. you have to do it it yourself rather than most other distros which just spoon feed you a typical partition layout) and you may find choosing what and what not to install a little more confusing.