Category Archives: Software

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,” 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:”

Scribus – Powerful Desktop Publisher

If you haven’t tried Scribus, you should. It’s a free and open source desktop publisher that rivals Adobe Pagemaker.

Scribus makes use of frames. For example, to enter text you have to create a frame first. Likewise with images that you want to insert. The frames are resizeable and moveable. This makes it easy to layout your work.

Using the text frame, if a certain length of text is too long, you are able to resize the frame and cut the text; and then create another frame and automatically have the frame paste in the remaining text.

The Scribus interface is user friendly and the software supports professional publishing features, such as CMYK color, separations, ICC color management and versatile PDF creation.

There are versions for Linux, Mac OS and Windows. There is a very active support forum and mailing list so you don’t get lost in trying to learn how to use the software.

You can download a copy from

GIMP or Photoshop

Judging by the two comments I received so far, there are those who dual boot between Windows and Ubuntu, primarily because of Photoshop, a Windows-run application.

An excellent counterpart of Photoshop for Linux is GIMP, short for Gnu Image Manipulation Program. It’s open source software and free. You can download the software from the GIMP website here.

Admittedly I’m not a graphics designer, but I use to do little imaging tasks on Photoshop. When I started using Ubuntu, GIMP came with the package and I pleasantly discovered that GIMP can do the same tasks I used to do. Of course, there’s a learning curve, but it’s certainly worth the application. You can download an excellent guide through this link. There’s no opt-in, no fees, nothing. Just right-click on the link and download to your hard disk. It’s a huge file, though, about 28 mbs.

However, if you’re running Ubuntu and missing Photoshop, you can run Photoshop from within Ubuntu through an application called, Wine, which allows certain Windows applications to run within Ubuntu. Your copy of Photoshop should be a licensed one, though, to run it; and your version of Wine has to be the latest. You should be able to find help with the installation through several forums in the ‘Net.

Do comment below if you’ve had experiences with GIMP or using Photoshop within Ubuntu.

Anti-piracy Cops Wanted to Visit Me

Last Friday I received a letter from the Philippine National Police, straight from its headquarters, in behalf of the Pilipinas Anti-Piracy Team, of which it is a member.

In effect, the letter warned me about using unlicensed software and the consequences of such, and to "conduct all necessary software license checks in order to determine if the allegation (that I’m using unlicensed software) holds true or not."

A few minutes later I received a phone call from the local PNP advising me that a random visit may come and for me to ready all my licenses. I told the person that I had no problem with that because my OS is Linux. The person said a quick, "sorry," and promptly hang up.

Sounds more like harrassment, doesn’t it? I don’t know how many business owners got similar letters, but I have an inkling that this operation was instigated more by Microsoft than anyone else. They’re the ones who are gung-ho about piracy.

I’m not advocating piracy, of course, but the anti-piracy authorities should go after the peddlers and not the alleged users. I used to have a licensed Windows XP and other MS products, but I couldn’t find my CD’s nor the licenses that came with it (I moved house twice last year).

Suppose I was still using Microsoft and the anti-piracy cops paid a visit to my office. It would have been a hassle just to prove I had the license. If I couldn’t prove it, or if the cops seriously doubted me, what would happen? Would they require me to delete all my copies?

Even if proving I had a license was quick, I wouldn’t want some cop poring over my business files and other private documents in the guise of checking on licensed software.

So, I have another reason to be glad that I switched to Linux/Ubuntu. It may be free but I OWN the software and can do anything with it. If you think you own Microsoft products when you buy them, you’re deluding yourself. You merely own the license. Microsoft can still dictate what you can or can’t do with its software, and add on or not add on to its product.

If someone can tell you what products you should only use and therefore buy, this certainly limits your options doesn’t it? And it certainly makes only a few richer.

It makes you think: Who then is able to fund these anti-piracy operations and who benefits most?