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Relative Newbie Tries Things Out

Posted 01-11-2009 at 04:20 PM by and3583

I've only been using linux for a year or so, and I don't expect to set the world on fire with this blog, but I'm having lots of experiences as I try and work with different distros, and I want this to be a kind of diary so I can remember how I did things.

If it helps anyone to read it and join in, you're welcome, and I'd be glad to hear your advice if anyone sees me struggling with a problem they know how to fix.

Right now I'm using g OS 3.1, just an experiment because I like the mac look and the ease of use, and I read that it was developed for netbooks with no cd/dvd drive so its quite quick to set up with a lot of features included in the iso, but I was using Fedora core 8 until yesterday and I think I might go back to it. g OS is nothing like mac osx in actual functionality, it just has a similar look; its firefox looks a lot like safari and there's a dock but its full of google gadgets. I'm struggling a bit trying to install realplayer but thats probably my fault. You tube and (inexplicably) bbc radio 3 listen again work straight "out of the box"

There's a cracking gadget of tulips that grow if you water them with your mouse, but hey, how essential is that? The eye candy is really nice, and I'm seriously thinking about installing g OS on my little girl's p.c. She just wants you tube, basic games and the internet for fun, homework etc. and its perfect for that. There's a space version too with a night sky theme.

This is turning into a review, so I'll leave off the subject there and maybe write a review later when I've used it a bit. Pretty, though.
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  1. Old Comment
    Today I'm re-working my personal website at, which ties together all my web based activities. The host's use of linux servers was my first experience of linux stability. It was also this that showed me for the first time that pages created on linux systems could be viewed by people with any operating system. It sounds obvious, doesn't it? These things are hidden from computer/internet newcomers though. I remember my first experience of modern computing, when a very patient teacher spent a week showing me how to use command prompts on a Ms/dos system. I'd previously been limited to using an ICL military mainframe setup, from a V.D.U. connected to a central computer the size of a cathedral!! Anyway, I eventually got the hang of how dos commands worked, but I couldn't for the life of me work out how to switch the computer on and off or log in or out. That took another week to learn, after which the poor teacher must have wanted to change jobs.

    Although windows was an amazing step forward in accessibility, making it fairly easy for anybody to grasp the basics of starting up a p.c. and using it, I think it was "the beginning of the end" of computer users needing to understand how their machine processed the demands they placed on it. It has often been said that the linux community tend to overlook the ignorance of newcomers when answering their questions, and I certainly struggled a lot to get to grips with synaptic and other features at first. The thing is, though, that the best way to learn anything is to find it out for yourself. My mother was a teacher, and she taught her students, like she taught me, by answering their questions with questions of her own so we had to find things out. I'm sure that I'm stronger for having had to stagger along using trial and error, and although I still consider myself to be a linux newbie I'm greatly encouraged by the handful of "tricks" I've learned.

    Just another word about g OS now; (I don't want to get into a review here, particularly because I don't know enough about linux to make the necessary comparisons), I was talking on my last post about how the os has lots of eye candy, which it does, but today I've been using the office features which aren't half bad and which support much more than childsplay. Open Office features heavily of course, and thats what I've been using. However, there are also direct links to Google services e.g. google docs etc. so that you can work and store in a way that places very little demand on your machine. This must be very helpful for netbook users, and people using old machines with limited capacity.
    Posted 01-12-2009 at 05:06 AM by and3583 and3583 is offline
  2. Old Comment
    A bit late today, (I had a tooth out & loads of other hassles)

    I thought some more about g OS and I decided that it was obviously at its best on netbooks. I thought I'd be better off with something a bit more suited to my fairly powerful desktop. Having read some of the Solaris forum threads, I kind of knew that Solaris is not really aimed at newbs, but I couldn't resist having a go so I downloaded the free iso from Sun. It was a comparatively quick download and install, but I found that it ran very slowly and I struggled like I-don't-know-what to install flash. Other than that it looks really interesting and I like the amount of support/training offered by Sun, but I had a lot of work to do today and no time to learn to install all my stuff on it so I resolved to come back to Solaris one day, but for the time being to return to the relative safety of Fedora.

    Unfortunately, Fedora wouldn't install beyond the live cd so I put my thinking cap on. The problem seemed to be that it found an ethernet connection but couldn't get to the internet through it, so I ran the live cd again, this time with ethernet disconnected. When I went into the full hard drive install I then got the opportunity to configure the connection settings before connecting to the net. This worked like a dream and in less than an hour I was working away with my google bookmarks.

    A lot of hassle, but at least I know some more about linux now; even though I couldn't deal with Solaris, I did manage at some point during the nightmare to install flash into it by the most complicated means I have ever used, after which I ran around the room punching the air in delight.

    Tomorrow I'm planning to install Solaris on an old compaq piii deskpro so I can keep learning.
    Posted 01-13-2009 at 01:05 PM by and3583 and3583 is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Opensolaris has still got the better of me, (using x86) but it looks like a pretty special os so I'm still trying. Installing flashplayer seems impossible; I search the forums and everyone says "hey, no problem, just extract the downloaded zip file and put the two files from it into mozilla plugins directory in your home user". Its true, I know cos I did it 2 days ago, but now I can't get a plugins directory anywhere and nobody on the forums seems to give the path.

    Anyway, back to work using my Fedora setup. If I wasn't curious (like the dead cat) I'd stick with Fedora, it does everything I need for work, nice and quick with documents, and its great with music files; I'm a musician so I like to be able to play around with these. Installing realplayer is tricky and again I can't remember how I did it last time so when I get it right I'll put the details here in case I need them again.

    Fedora seems pretty good with pictures and graphics; I've got a pretty basic ati radeon graphics card that shipped with my p.c. and it performs really well, recognises my camera straight off and sucks the jpegs in like I'd expect from a mac. Gimp starts up quicker than it does in debian or ubuntu and again works really well. I used irfanview a lot on my windows setup but gimp seems to cover most of my needs. I sell stuff online so good pictures are my "bread & butter" - no matter how well I describe something, it won't sell if the buyers can't be sure exactly what the thing looks like.

    Printing is a breeze too, I have fairly basic printing needs, just flyers, invoices & stuff so I have a basic hp deskjet D1470 which fedora recognises as soon as I switch on. After I make it the default printing option, it "just works"
    Posted 01-14-2009 at 04:02 AM by and3583 and3583 is offline
  4. Old Comment
    For the last few days I've studied and worked, now I must get on with being a single parent as my kids have friends coming round tonight, so its time for a clean up. This won't be a long entry, particularly as I still haven't got to grips with solaris.

    Last night though, things started to get interesting. I have found lots of information on the forums about what I'm trying to do but nothing specific enough to get me really off the ground. I realised I hadn't used the tutorials much so I went to them looking for ideas/ information. After a quick read I decided it would be good if I could dual-boot fedora and solaris on my most powerful machine. First though, I need to learn about partitioning. Its not impossible, but its gonna take a lot of reading and working out. If you've stumbled on this blog because you're trying a linux related dual or triple boot, check this LQ tutorial (copy and paste this line into your browser's search bar.

    I won't waffle on about it as I still don't really understand it.

    Another quick point - fedora continues to perform really well. Its very nearly as user friendly as ubuntu. I struggled loads to install adobe flashplayer and realplayer; I just thought it'd be much more complicated so I spent ages running round in circles. The key to these installs is to download the right files, then they "Just Work".
    Posted 01-15-2009 at 03:07 AM by and3583 and3583 is offline
  5. Old Comment
    ...and now fedora "takes my day". I like fedora a lot but today xsane sort of faded away in 3 stages and from what I have googled up, I'd say it could be a persistent problem. Now its january and things are quiet, I suppose its a good time to sort all these things out. Like opensolaris, fedora has been "shelved" and I'm back to gos 3.1; Its pretty much the same as ubuntu under the bonnet and I'm getting to the point where my work has fallen behind, so I need something I understand for scanning, printing, documents, jpegs etc.

    Opensolaris is the most interesting thing I have seen this week and I'm looking forward to finding out more about it. As is, though, I have a lot to learn before I can use it for work. Sun Microsystems offer tutorials etc., which is a good thing because being unix based it isnt quite the same as linux to work with. If I can speed up certain aspects of browsing and get realplayer, adobe flash etc. working, and stop it freezing all the time it'll be great.

    For now though, I'm back where I was last week, on a clean install of g os on my 64 bit intel core2duo. Just in case I forget, I'm going to record the way I became root in g os (ubuntu) terminal. Different to some distros as gos doesn't ask you to set a root password during the installation. Instead you use your user password as follows;

    Type sudo su press enter
    Type your normal user passwordpress enter

    Bobs yer uncle.
    Posted 01-16-2009 at 07:16 PM by and3583 and3583 is offline
  6. Old Comment
    Ok, now I'm reasonably content with my setup and I think I'm ready to use it for work. Using gos is like shooting fish in a barrel; productive but not exciting. Like ubuntu it has the tools, e.g. WINE, to make life interesting.

    I'm always glad I decided to get rid of windows, but there's one problem I can't get past. One of my shops can only be properly edited using windows. Customers can buy using any os, but the administration pages keep going wrong if I don't use internet explorer. For example, most listings load ok., but often "item a" has the photo from "item b" and vice versa, my headings come out in funny colours, I enter listing details but sometimes can't update. The linux version of IE is said to be unsafe, so I'm going to have to set up a dual boot soon; right now I use my kids winxp p.c. to edit that shop but its an old machine. One thunderstorm too many and I'll be out of business.
    Posted 01-17-2009 at 09:11 AM by and3583 and3583 is offline
  7. Old Comment
    Well, its been a while but I thought I'd better start doing stuff instead of just contemplating it all. I got round the need for windows xp to manage my shop by getting a new pc. It had vista originally, and I quickly changed it to xp with an oem cd. I connected it to the same screen/keyboard/mouse as my older Linux machine with a kvm switch and now I have what I need; a new, reliable machine for work purposes, and a dedicated machine for Linux/Unix experiments.

    Interestingly, the windows machine took ages to set up, and about a week to get the soundcard drivers in and working so I had to fall back on Linux for many applications. I don't get why, when they've obviously put so much effort into designing windows, they're happy to issue it in such a half-cocked way. I pity anyone who takes up computing and tries to start off with a new vista machine, they could be forgiven for thinking it was the machine at fault. Mine, being new last week, even had vista sp3 and it still performed very badly.

    The Linux machine was still on g/os, but when I joined it to the kvm switch & so to the xp machine the screen kept going funny and the mouse/keyboard didn't always work. By this stage I was getting tired of endlessly installing different distros, so I decided on Fedora which has usually performed really well for me on my Packard Bell. I'd had fc8 before and I decided to try fc10 so I downloaded the live cd iso and installed it. Excellent in nearly every way, except for a lot of random freezing and the screen resolution, limited to 640x or 800x, looked silly on my 17" screen. Also, when I was trying to change this I accidentally clicked on 640x, it immediately took effect and I couldn't scroll down far enough to reach the "enter" button to reset it. Groaningly, I had another go at opensolaris which took for ever to boot so I finally went back to where I started, with fc8.
    Posted 01-29-2009 at 04:47 AM by and3583 and3583 is offline
  8. Old Comment
    I havent heard of Vista SP3 at this time.
    Posted 01-29-2009 at 07:50 AM by Reasa Reasa is offline


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