Category Archives: Linux

Installing Linux Distros Should be More Newbie-friendly

My first venture into Linux was Ubuntu, specifically version 8.04. My laptop with Windows in it was running slow and it was frustrating me no end. Then, one day, I read an article in the newspaper about Ubuntu. I liked what I read and immediately without even trying the live CD, I installed it. Since then I have come to love Linux.

If you have been following my posts, you would have learned that my netbook now runs with Linux Mint Debian Edition.

Just recently a friend of mine gave me an old PC that he was no longer using. It had a 30 gb hard drive with 1 gb of RAM. It was running on Windows XP Pro. But I decided to install a Linux distro that uses the least amount of resources. In my search I came upon Linux Puppy Racy, which promised the use of very little resources for the PC.

So I booted the PC with a bootable flash drive. And immediately I like the Linux Puppy Racy desktop, which was what they call, Enlightenment. I immediately opted to install the OS into my hard drive. But, for the love of me, I simply was unable to do it.

I am not a Linux expert, but I am no novice either. You see, at the end of the installation process, the system flashes a note that mentions GRUB. All I know about GRUB is that it boots the system. And it asked me where I wanted to place GRUB. I answered the question with /dev/sda1, but when I booted my PC it couldn’t find GRUB. So I had to boot my machine with the flash drive again. This time I went to my netbook to find a step-by-step tutorial. I found a video and followed it to a tee. It turned out I actually did it right the first time. Still, my machine couldn’t find GRUB when I rebooted it. I tried installing it again for the third time, but to no avail.

I gave up. At least for the meantime. Maybe I’ll try again some time later.

This is unfortunate because I really liked Linux Puppy Racy. And I would have recommended it to others. However, if a newbie would try to install it, I imagine it would be a hair-pulling experience. And this is what the developers should address. The distro should not be difficult to install. The other distros that I’ve tried –Ubuntu, LMDE and PCLinuxOS– installed automatically, which included GRUB. There were no codes to mess around with.

Ubuntu uses the catchphrase, “Linux for humans.” It’s a good catchphrase because Linux used to be seen as software limited only to geeks. But more and more people are now switching to Linux and the various distros that are being made available out there is refreshing. So I believe that developers should make it a point to make installations newbie-friendly.

Otherwise, what’s the point in developing a distro if it’s not for public consumption?

Switched OS Yet Again to Linux Mint Debian Edition

You just got to love Linux!

There are so many Linux distros out there for people to try and use based on the individual’s computing habits and needs.

So, a reader suggested I try using Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE), because I wasn’t quite satisfied with PCLinuxOS. It takes a while before discovering what distro fits you.

PCLinuxOS was working for me until I discovered that it was too restrictive in installing software. For instance, if there was a software you wanted to install, you would have to search for it in the PCLinuxOS repositories. If it wasn’t there, you would have to make a request in the PCLinuxOS support forum. You could not just download the software and install it yourself.

In a way, this restrictiveness is ok because it protects the system. But it sorts of reminds me of Windows which frowns upon software that it doesn’t recognize as suitable for its system. Moreover, if you wanted to use the software immediately and it wasn’t in the PCLinuxOS repositories, you would have to wait until the developers deemed it as suitable for their system.

Another glitch I found in PCLinuxOS, was that its Bluetooth wasn’t working properly. My netbook has an internal bluetooth. But PCLinuxOS couldn’t find connecting devices. LMDE can and does connect to devices, particularly my cellphone.

And here’s another curious discovery. With Ubuntu and PCLinuxOS. my netbook would give off this whirring sound every time I use either of the two distros. With LMDE there is no whirring sound. Strange but true.

Perhaps Ubuntu and PCLinuxOS are too top heavy even for Linux standards, requiring a lot of power. LMDE, however, is light, loads quickly and doesn’t require too much power.

LMDE also makes it easy to install updates as it notifies you of the latest ones available. But the best thing I like about LMDE is the Cinnamon desktop, which I find really cool.

The only glitch I came across was I could not at first download updates or software using Synaptic or its Software Center. I was getting the error message, “Could not resolve debian.linuxmint.com,” which meant that the system was not able to connect with the repositories. A search in forums let me know that I had to change my servers to Open DNS servers. I did and everything worked fine. I believe this should be addressed by the developers or this might tear the hair off newbies.

In any case, I will continue to check out new distros as they come along. But, so far, LMDE is the OS I’m riding with. I appreciate your comments.

To get a glimpse of LMDE’s features, here’s an excellent video I found in YouTube: http://youtu.be/DFGo0BFlnrY”

I Switched to PCLinuxOS

I finally made the switch from Ubuntu 11.10 to PCLinuxOS. It took me some time because I wanted to make sure that a new Linux distro would be right for me.

So I read as much as I could reviews about the various Linux distros available. I was surprised to learn that there are a lot.

There are 2 major reasons why I gave up on Ubuntu and didn´t wait anymore for its upgrade set to be released on April. One, I did not like their Unity desktop, which was forced upon its users with the 11.10 version. Before this users had a choice between the classic desktop and Unity.

Many users disapproved of Unity, but the Ubuntu developers went on and forced it down our throats. It doesn´t bode well for developers when they don´t listen to their users. The least they could do was continue to give users a choice.

The second reason I gave up on Ubuntu is because I could no longer use RecordMyDesktop with the upgrade to Ubuntu 11.10. RecordMyDesktop is a screencast software that I use extensively for my tutorials. And nobody seems to know a solution. My post about this problem in the Ubuntu forum continues to be in Limbo. I know I´m not the only one with this problem.

So PCLinuxOs it is. My only disappointment is that Libre Office didn´t come in the package. It had to be downloaded and installed with what they call an lomanager. But that was a minor issue with me. Otherwise, PCLinuxOs looks good and is functioning nicely.

I made a video (yes, created with RecordMyDesktop) showing the PCLinuxOS desktop. It´s right below. As always, I appreciate your feedback.

Ubuntu 11.10 a Disappointment

Ever since I began using the Linux distro, Ubuntu (and this was v. 8.04), I’ve never been disappointed with their updates. That is until now.

I updated to v. 11.10, the latest, code-named, “Oneric Ocelot.” And, boy, am I disappointed!

For one thing, the developers removed the option of two interfaces, the classic interface and what they call the “Unity” interface (view the entry, The 2 Interfaces of Ubuntu 11.04. Now it’s just the Unity interface, which lets the user click too many times to get to and fro an application. There are even applications that I have installed but need to search for before using them.

Why the developers have insisted on using this interface when users have complained about it, I’ll never know.

Secondly, and this is a major disappointment, I can no longer use RecordMyDesktop, which is the best screencast app for Linux/Ubuntu. As you have already known, I have been creating videos about using Ubuntu. This was when I had earlier versions of this OS.

With v. 11.10, however, RecordMyDesktop loads, but when I click on the record button, I get this message: “recordmydesktop has exited with status: 3328.” And RecordMyDesktop won’t record. It shuts down.

I’ve gone to the Ubuntu and other Linux forums and posted my problem, but no one seems to have a solution. Another user complained that he tried to contact the developer of RecordMyDesktop, but never received a response.

So now I’m stumped. I can no longer screen cast until some good soul tries to do something about this problem because I’m not the only one who has it.

A third albeit minor disappointment is I could no longer use Kmail, which is an email app. With the latest version of Ubuntu, I also get an error message when I try to load Kmail. I didn’t bother posting this in forums as I just placed all my email inboxes in Thunderbird. But I still had to configure Thunderbird to receive the added inboxes.

So the Ubuntu developers are about to release a new version. I’m in a wait-and-see mode. If the new version will still carry the problems I have with this current version, I’m going to look for a new Linux distro.

Any recommendations?

Oh, by the way, Linux still hasn’t come up with a speech recognition software, open source or proprietary. So I still have an old desktop with Windows XP and installed within are Camtasia and Dragon Naturally Speaking, the former a screen cast app and the latter a speech recognition app.

So I’m using them again. Ironically, the only one preventing me from discarding Windows altogether is Linux.

Ubuntu 9.04 Better and Faster

Ubuntu 9.04 has been released and I’ve upgraded. The verdict? It’s better and faster.

I can’t compare it with Windows or the Mac, since I’ve forever scorned Microsoft and I’ve never used a Mac. But if you want an article on comparison, here’s one by Renai LeMay: Ubuntu 9.04 as slick as Windows 7, Mac OS X.

If you want to check out Ubuntu 9.04, you can go to the Ubuntu site. Ubuntu is a Linux distro and is free and open source.

Free Speech-to-Text Software

Because of this site’s name, many people come here looking for free speech-to-text or speech recognition software. Actually, this site talks about free or open source software, especially in relation to online marketing.

Truth be told, however, I’m also in the lookout for speech recognition open source software. When I was using Windows XP, I used Dragon Naturally Speaking, which was a good software. I’m not a fast typist and I find it easier to use speech recognition software.

Since I switched to Linux/Ubuntu, I’ve been missing Dragon Naturally Speaking. Alas, the only good speech recognition software are the commercial ones. Indeed, there are open source software such as CMU Sphinx, Julius, and two or three others, but you need to be a bit geeky to install them since you need to install them through the command line. And, when you want to activate it, you still have to do it through the command line. No GUIs yet.

For instance, I tried installing Sphinx 4, but I gave up because it requires packages within packages. If one package doesn’t get installed, the application just won’t work.

The best I was able to do was install Gnome Voice Control, which is a simple voice command app. It’s pretty decent, but at times it was faster using my mouse.

So, I have to wait until someone comes up with a simpler way to install and use speech recognition software for Linux. I heard the Ubuntu people are working on one. I guess there isn’t much demand for this kind of software or there’s some difficulty developing one.

This doesn’t deter me though from continuing to use Ubuntu. The benefits of using Linux far outweigh the inconveniences.

Changed from Windows to Linux and Enjoying It

I finally took the plunge into Linux, particularly the Ubuntu distro.

Blame it on Microsoft. My laptop was running on Windows XP and was getting sluggish. Programs took forever to load, I kept on having Internet connection issues and I had to always check for ‘badware’ even when I had the latest and updated anti-virus and anti-malware software.

It came to a point when my friends and ISP techies strongly urged me to reformat my hard drive and re-install the XP. I agreed. The only problem was I misplaced my install CD. I searched far and wide (actually near and narrow since I live in an apartment) and just couldn’t find it.

So I was in a dilemma: continue with my sluggish OS or buy a new one, neither of which was appealing. I thought, "why buy another CD when the same thing was bound to happen again." And I certainly didn’t want to upgrade to Vista; too much bad feedback.

Then I read in my local paper’s tech column about Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron. I liked what I read. Then I researched on comments, reviews and what-nots on Linux, particularly Ubuntu. I liked what I was reading. Best of all I liked the word, "free." Yet, I liked "free" in the context of excellence. Apparently open-source software aren’t run-of-the-mill.

I checked out the software bundled in Ubuntu such as OpenOffice, Gimp, Tomboy Notes and, of course, the already popular Mozilla Firefox. I deemed them not just alternatives to Microsoft and Adobe. They were superior apps that were head-to-head rivals!

So I went to the Ubuntu site, downloaded the distro, burned into a CD, backed up my important files and installed the Hardy Heron outright. I didn’t bother partitioning my drive so I could have the option of booting either Windows or Ubuntu. I was just tired of making Bill Gates rich.

It was a cinch. It installed easily and smoothly. Upon first seeing the Ubuntu interface, it felt like an epiphany. It was profound, and I’m not kidding!

That was about 4 months ago. I’ve never regretted it.

I took the plunge and I’m enjoying every minute of the adventure.