Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A 'till ready!

I have been adding more information to the pottery section of this site, so the Linux Helps have been a little neglected. To tide things over, I have put some links to other useful sites on the right of this page.

I have found the howtoforge articles on The Perfect Linux Desktop quite useful when setting up Linux systems. I have provided links to the PCLinuxOS 2007 article and to the openSUSE 11.1 article. Even if your intention is to set up another flavour of Linux altogether, these are worth reading, and may also give a sensible overview for someone who has never installed Linux before.

I have had a play with PCLinuxOS 2007, and installed it on a friend's computer some time ago. Whilst not really perfect, PCLinuxOS is not a bad place for a Linux newbie to start, and is an interesting alternative to the much publicized Ubuntu.

PCLinuxOS 2007 is getting rather dated, but I rather like the look of tinyME 2008.1, which is an offshoot of PCLinuxOS, and is more modern, as its name suggests. Using VirtualBox, I have had a brief dabble with tinyME 2008.1, and may consider installing it on my elderly computer sometime as it runs quickly and is not a resource hog.

OpenSUSE 11.1 is what I use, but I use the KDE 4.1 WindowManager, rather than Gnome. KDE 4.1 is still a little "bleeding edge" in some areas, although it is now very workable and I have grown to like most of it. The KDE 3.5 series were well tried and very stable. Fortunately it has recently been made possible to get a live CD of openSUSE 11.1 with KDE 3.5, thanks to openSUSE community member, Carlos Goncalves. This would be my pick to point a person to who wants to try a KDE version of openSUSE for the first time.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

First Post. How I got started with Linux.

Linux Helps.

A brief history of how I came to use Linux.

I first tried Linux when I was having problems with Windows ME, I could actually get Windows ME to work fairly well with the help of Norton Utilities, but it was inclined to get itself in a terrible tangle. In a way, I am grateful for a less than perfect experience with Windows, as I gained a lot of experience having to sort things out, and my friends still ask me to help them with their computers, which is a social benefit.

Careful Beginnings.

I found a magazine at our local shop with a little Linux Magazine and a couple of CD disks with something called Fedora Core 2 on it. I read the little magazine and took the plunge! I gingerly partitioned up my hard drive, having never done that task before, and installed Fedora Core 2 on the space that I created for it. There were some very alarming warnings and instructions that came with the CDs, and I was very excited when my computer successfully booted up without blowing up and I soon saw an attractive and very modern looking new desktop. I enjoyed playing with Fedora for a little while, but I ran into problems trying to get the computer to connect to the Internet with my computer's internal modem, and trouble with my scanner, and eventually gave up, because I did not have the knowledge to sort such things out.

I was intrigued though with my first glimpse of a Linux operating system, and some time later bought Mandrake 10.1 on a set of CDs. I had considerably more success with this, and actually managed to get my modem to work, and my scanner.

Could XP keep Me?

With the arrival of Windows XP, I thought my Windows problems would be over. XP was a huge improvement over ME, and I actually bought a copy! Eventually though XP seemed to need more and more resources to run it. I always suspected that all the patches and updates took their toll. Certainly, the freshly installed system seemed far faster than one that was patched and supposedly more secure. I found that my old computer simply wasn't up to the task of running such a heavy system, and working on it was frustrating. My old computer had (and still has) 250MB of RAM and a Celeron 1.2 GHZ processor, don't laugh, it was fairly sprightly in 2001! My final straw was when an XP patch broke my system, and a warning pop up complained that I didn't have a legal copy of XP. This was rather annoying to say the least.

To the Rescue, Mepis and Sarge.

I bought another magazine, this time one with an early version of Mepis on the accompanying CD. Mepis was actually very impressive. After playing with Mepis, I eventually added a second hard drive to the computer and installed Debian Sarge, which I ran for more than a year. (Mepis was based on Debian, so Debian seemed a logical choice).

I have heard that Debian is a difficult system to set up, especially for the beginner, but I managed it fairly easily really. I also found that my computer would run a little faster than it did with Windows XP, and was more reliable.

Open Source Applications.... mmmmmmmm!

I also began to discover the wonderful open source applications (software) that are available to users of Linux, thanks to the great work of mostly unpaid enthusiasts who create, develop and test applications for just about anything that you might want to do with a computer.

Windows Free!

Later, I installed openSuse 10.3 on my old computer, which it coped with reasonably well. About that time I also gave Windows XP a final heave-ho. I had been running occasionally from a second hard drive on my computer, but I found that I was able to manage without it.

I recently bought a new computer (a basic box with some good components that I specified, and no operating system pre installed). I installed openSuse 11 on this, and changed to Zenwalk on the old computer. Zenwalk is a very light system that runs very quickly on elderly hardware.
I am currently using openSuse 11.1 with KDE 4.1.

Let's play with Virtual Computers!

I often try out other Linux distributions, either as Live CDs, or with a useful application called Virtual Box. Virtual Box allows me to install all sorts of operating systems onto my computer into a virtual computer! Sounds complicated, but is easy to use, and fun! The new system goes into a folder rather than completely taking over your computer, if you don't like it you can get rid of it again safely.