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Kubuntu 8.10 vs Mepis 7.9.94 vs Puppy 4.1.2

January 9, 2009

Okay, how about a smack down between 3 of my favorite distros?  Okay, Kubuntu is not my favorite as this is the first time I’ve tried it, but it is a biggy.  I have ragged and ragged on Ubuntu even though I have tried to like it.  I do prefer KDE, so I’m going to give that an honest look and see if that warms me up to the Ubuntu brand.  I’m pitting this distro giant against Mepis which has been a fav of mine since discovering Linux and is responsible for me falling for KDE.  The release I’m running is 7.9.94 which is the RC1 of 8.0.  Not quite as stable or developed so the advantage goes here to Kubuntu before we even start.  Puppy has been my light weight fav for a long time and is an odd one out in this little comparison.  But we’ll see how well this little distro measures up.  Since I’m running totally off of live CD’s, Puppy actually gets an advantage as it runs totally in RAM.

Hardware: Dell VOSTRO 1500 w 2 G RAM and Intel core 2 Duo usually dual booting XP and Mandriva 2008 spring.
Tasks I will be using for comparison:
1. Booting
2. Getting on my wireless network
3. Working on this post in Google docs.
4. Getting a screenshot (or two)
5. Watching a Youtube video
6. Detecting an 8g flash and saving the pictures/screen shots to it
7. Finding my other partitions
8. Find my webcam
9. Play a game
10. Get me a beer

Good luck to the contestants. First up, Mepis Live CD.  Insert and restart…

mepis-menu

It took less that 5 minutes to totally restart but it took another 15 minutes to get on my wireless network.  NDSWrapper is included and I found it by looking in the lower left menu and going SYSTEM/Mepis/Network assistant.  For a nOOb like me, it was not as straight forward as I would like.  It said I would have to completely restart in order for changes in network setting to take effect.  This is obviously not true, but I did logout and log in again but still had to fiddle with the settings until I saw a notification that said I had a network connection.

mepis-network-assistant

I did take a few screenshots using ksnapshot.  Firefox is right in the bottom toolbar, where it should be.  Kmail is the mail client and Open Office handles the office tasks.  All in all, it was a nice full suite of programs and everything was where I expected it to be, since this is running off the familiar KDE 3.5 interface.  One extra I did try was the Kmag under accessibility options, and you can see my network connection and the time.

mepis-network

Mepis had no problems detecting my flash and saving the screen shots there.  Next it was time to go to YouTube, and of course Fred was right there so I gave him a shot.

mepis-youtube

Yeah, he’s really pathetic, but he’s even moreso without sound.  And sure enough, it just occurred to me that I had not heard any sound since booting.  And so, while Mepis was able to view a Youtube video, it failed in the sound department, at least off the live CD.  While it located the Mandriva and backup partitions, it did not detect the main Windows partition.  This is important in case I ever wanted to use this as a rescue disk.

mepis-sound

At this point, the test is over since it is kind of pointless playing a game without sound.  The game selection looked a bit skimpy but this IS a live CD.  It also failed to get me a beer, which was really disappointing since I could really use a beer at only 1/3 of the way through this process.  Next up: Kubuntu.

kubuntuscreen

This might be a bit sketchy as I’m going from a somewhat distant memory.  Kubuntu uses the KDE 4.1 interface, and this was my first experience with that.  It really is an attractive interface, moreso than anything I’ve used thus far.  Getting the wireless to work was a snap…easier than anything else I’ve ever run.  It easily recognized my flash drive where I saved the ksnapshot pics.

kubuntu-toolbarThere was also sound, as I ran Amorok which had a sample file that I could check.  However the rest of the exercises did not go so well.  First off, I was unable to get to Google docs because it does not support the default (and only) web browser, Konquerer.

kubuntu-webwriteKonquerer is supported by other aspects of Google but not online document editing.  So that really crimped me, but it is useful to know that limitation.  Next, I went to YouTube to see if I could watch Fred spaz out.

kubuntuyoutubeI could neither see nor watch him as flash is not supported out of the box on the live CD of Kubuntu.  I’m not terribly surprised, knowing Ubuntu’s ways as I do, but it still scores as a FAIL in this diagnostic.  And Kubuntu had no games.  Zero, zilch.  Not even mahghong or whatever it is no one ever plays but is included in every other distro.  All in all, Kubuntu is a very attractive and snappy distro that holds a lot of promise.  Too bad Mepis couldn’t have stuck a bit closer to Ubuntu’s development, because I think Mepis does a better job with KDE.  I liked that Kubuntu did so well connecting to my wireless network (TOTALLY painless) but not including flash or Firefox caused problems.  I set these tests up before trying these out, just so you know I was not intentionally trying to trip up Kubuntu.  I didn’t try a webcam test on either Mepis or Kubuntu, but I would not hold my breathe on that one.

So how about the latest Puppy?

puppy-menuMoving along to Puppy, which is the last test of the day.  Puppy, one of my most favorites, actually gave me more problems than the others as far as finding the wireless network.  I ended up getting through it using the NDISWrapper, but it was a bit of a pain.

puppyconnectionThe screenshot program is not as nice as Ksnapshot so not as many screen captures here.  The odd thing is that the default browser on Puppy is SeaMonkey and that had absolutely no problems accessing Google Docs.  Then I went to Youtube and was able to watch and hear Fred with no problems.

puppy-youtubepuppy-xsoldierPuppy does include a fun Galaga-type game called Soldier X that could get a bit addictive to those of us into that genre of game.  But Puppy also failed to get me a beer.

Given the struggles I had with all of the distros of one sort or another, I never did really try to find my webcam,

All in all, I actually enjoyed looking at Kubuntu the best and Puppy the least.  But Puppy succeeded in more of the tasks than any of the other live CDs making it a continued favorite of mine for just working where I  need it.  The purpose of a live CD is to see how a distro will work on a given hardware system, and these three CDs did give me a chance to look at the respective offerings and showed that they do have differences in functionality.  Given this particular demonstration, if I were to recommend a distro to someone new to Linux, Puppy is the only one of these three that is able to do most of the tasks that I tried right out of the box. When you add in the benefits of its small size and its speed, it really whips up on the other two distros handily.   Granted, it does not have a full office suite, but being able to use Google apps helps shore up that problem.

Puppy Wins!

None of these distros got me a beer, but I suppose they all make up for it by being free, as in beer.  Linux made some good gains in 2008 and I see more gains being made in 2009 as long as more apps start being available on the web.  When applications start being less dependent on the operating system, the advantage swings almost entirely over to Linux.

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Screen Capture and Video Editing for Linux

December 31, 2008

I’ve been bemoaning the lack of video-creating support for Linux and apparently, I’m not the only one.  I just caught Steven Vaughan-Nichols’ recent article on the subject and I had wanted to add screen recording to my wish-list of 2009. It sure would be nice if CamStudio were ported to Linux.  But now I think I might not have to.  There are a couple of web apps that might just fit the bill.

ScreenToaster and Screen-O-Matic are two web-based screen recorders that look promising, as long as the microphone functions properly.  And I have yet to test either of these programs nor have I tested my mic in Linux.

As far as I can tell, neither of these have done a lot of testing with Linux.  I saw where Screen-O-Matic claimed minor issues with RedHat Fedore Core 3 with Firefox 2.0, which looks like an old configuration to me.  For Vista, XP and Mac it was all good with Firefox.    So this post serves as a sort of placeholder for me when I want to try this out, as well as an invitation to the rest of you to try it and then let the rest of us know how it works.

And this might be the answer to more and more of the typical Linux woes.  There were several attempts to try online non-linear video editiong in 2007, but most of those are gone as of the end of 2008.  The most promising, so far, looks like it might be JayCut.   Unlike the now defunct YouTube mixer and Jumpcut (which was bought and then abandoned by Yahoo) it does allow downloading of the finished product.  The online video editing is still in its infancy, but perhaps in 2009 there might be something better that comes out for orphaned Linux users who are not using the DOS-like command line.

For screencasting and video editing, the ability to download the finished product is key.  As demonstrated by the Jumpcut fiasco, it is too easy for an outfit to be abandoned and then you can lose all your stuff.  That particular move by Yahoo indicates to me that they might deserve to be bought out by Microsoft.

I’m looking forward to seeing what new discoveries I can make with Linux in 2009.  My 2009 wishlist includes:

1. Simple and stable nonlinear video editor

2. Simple screen recorder with the possibility of adding annotations ala Camstudio

3. A Linux capable of finding my Dell laptop webcam

4. A more complete WINE capable of running at least all of the old Win98 programs instead of trying to keep up with the latest stuff.  I have a ton of old apps and games that could use a new lease on life with my kids.

5. A painless way to export my Thunderbird and Firefox settings to either windows or to another machine or just so I can upgrade to another Linux distro.  Mandriva has worked okay on my Dell Vostro 1500 but I’d like to try the latest Mepis without losing all my stuff.

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Video Editing in Linux: Kino v Open Movie v KdenLive

August 10, 2008

I have yet to see a decent article on using video with Linux, so I thought I would write one. I’ve been working with video and posting my clips on YouTube using Windows Movie Maker 2. It is an adequate program, but I’d like to find something that could be as good or better in Linux. Could I pull it off? Follow along and see…

I used a Canon Powershot A630 and captured the video on an SD card. The video was only about a minute long, just to keep it as simple as possible.

Would PCLinuxOS be able to read the output? Would I be able to edit it with a title and maybe add some music? Would I be able to post my video on YouTube? Let’s see.

I was looking for some likely video editors and these were on my list:

Kino

Cinalerra

Open Movie

KDEnlive

I’ve been using Movie Maker for all of my videos thus far, so anything I used in Linux would at least have to measure up to that. I had not used any of these but did some research on each of these and downloaded everything except Cinalerra. I’m not opposed to Cinalerra but didn’t want to spend scads of time learning features I would never use. I wouldn’t mind trying it eventually, but this is a basic project. Capture, edit, render and post. Once a body does that, we can experiment and tweak.

PCLOS was able to read my SD card, no problems. That’s more than I can say for my niece’s laptop which is running Vista. Oh well.

Meanwhile, I’m also playing with Ksnapshot for screen capturing. I’m definitely expanding my skill level with this exercise!

Kino

Kino looked pretty simple until I tried to import my .avi file. Then it acted confused as it wasn’t a DV file. I said import anyway, and away it went. It said it might take awhile. Okay. So I waited for a couple of minutes. And then some more. This movie was about 90 seconds long, so I was not going to wait forever. I purposefully made the clip short in order to limit processing and rendering issues.

Finally, it imported, taking a full 3 minutes. Next, I went to the timeline.

The Kino Timeline

The Kino Timeline

This did not look like a timeline view to me. I had a series of clips, each about 6 seconds long. I clicked the Trim button and saw that I could do a little basic editing, but it was not a timeline format I was familiar with using other editors I had fiddle with. Even the editor that comes with Nero seemed more full featured than this!

I looked at the export feature just to see what it looked like and it appeared to support several formats including some DVD options. But I decided to look else where to do this project. I didn’t see anywhere to put titles especially in light of not having a proper time line. Perhaps I missed something? I may need to do more research in order to warm up to Kino. NEXT!

Open Movie

For some reason, my package manager did not install Open Movie in the menu, so I ended up searching for it. Then I put an icon on the desktop.

Now here was an editor that I could understand a bit better. There was a more “normal” timeline with multiple tracks with the capacity to add even more audio and video tracks. But I ran into trouble when trying to add any effects other than a title. Plus, the program would simply disappear whenever I tried to preview my movie.

More research needed. I did look at the export options, and those options looked a bit complicated for someone used to using Movie Maker. Lots of promise here, but I need to be able to preview without the thing crashing.

NEXT!

KDEnlive

I’m running out of options, here. Kdenlive came on to the scene relatively recently, and I was keen to give it a try. I had seen some YouTube videos made with this program, so I knew some people were using it. Could I use it?

The default video format stymied me for a bit. ATSC is something I hadn’t heard of before. Reading a bit, it sounded like a fancy name for mpeg-2. Okay, moving on…

Next I could decide how many audio and video tracks in my project. Movie Maker only allows one video and 2 audio so the flexibility to add more is nice. I decided to stay with the default of 2 and 2.

Next I was greeted by a screen that looked intuitive as it really seemed to fit with the KDE theme. Perhaps this would be the one.

So I went to Project>add clip and was able to browse for my movie clip. I was able to drag it to the timeline. So far so good! Next, clicked the “play” button in the preview window….

Not good. Not good at all.

So I tried it again, and the second time it worked. I have no idea what I did different if anything. So while I knew I might crash at any time, I also knew this program showed promise. So it was time to save before it crashed again.

Time to add a title, which looked like it needed to be a text clip. So I created and added it…or at least I think so.

It didn’t show up in my preview.

Okay, so far so good. Let’s render this thing out, shall we?

Under file, I tried “export timeline.” Good choice.

I had a lot of choices for high and medium quality. Medium is good enough for the moment so I picked mpeg 640×480 high. So far so good. Lots of audio choices, too. Now I’m starting to feel a bit overwhelmed as there really are a lot of choices here!

I finally clicked the export button and let fly. It said it should be finished in about 5 minutes and had a progress moniter to show me how things were going. This is the furthest I had gone with any of the programs and was looking good.

After rendering, the title still did not make an appearance. I went back and tried to fiddle some more but never was able to make the title appear in the preview window on top of the clip.

There were still choices available in Movie Maker that were lacking here, such as toggling between timeline and storyboard view and number of transiton and effects. But overall, this program is a pretty good fit. Or it would be without the niggling defect of not seeing the Title/text screen I created. I did not play with that many features as I wanted a quick and dirty demonstration just to see if using Linux with TouTube was even possible for a noob like me.

Out of the 3 programs previewed, I liked Kdenlive the best, but not having the Title show up was a real bummer. Kdenlive could eventually become my editor of choice by the time it gets to 1.0 status. The trick is going to be to keep the development moving and thus keep my interest alive. This type of progression is what has helped Linux reach critical mass as desktop choice. It is good enough now to hold the interest of the average user, even if it not totally perfect. Handling video tasks such as screencasting, editing for online viewing and working with webcams are going to be crucial in order to make this OS viable for the future. Video rendering remains one of the most intensive tasks most home computers do and it is becoming more and more necessary for business. The future of computing is in video, and Linux is woefully behind in that area. This is why Macs have seen such a rise in sales is because iLife makes video creation so easy and painless. Most prominent YouTubers are using Macs. It would be nice if Linux could at least make an appearance but right now Linux is in sad, sad shape in the area of allowing average users to generate content.

The finished product isn’t anything too special but here it is:

The good news is that I was able to completely capture and render the video and post to YouTube within Linux without having to go into Windows.  And really, that was the ultimate objective.  I’ll still use Windows for the majority of my video work, just because it is faster at the present time and plays nicely with my webcam on the laptop.

I’m also in search of screencorder software, similar to Camstudio.  Or it would be cool if Camstudio were ported to Linux. I feel this type of software is crucial to further development of Linux.  That is because no one is going to sit down with a book or manual to learn about Linux or software.  But they will watch a series of short, concise video tutorials on the subject.  I can learn more from 4 minutes of video than an hour of reading a technical manual.  I can’t do code, but I could make technical support videos for Linux if there existed the right tools.  The Xvidcapture that I found isn’t quite cutting it, even though it’s a good start.

D.

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Mandriva 2008

June 5, 2008

I’m trying out a new distro on my new laptop and so far, pretty good. This is a Dell Vostro 1500 (1 G RAM Intel 2 core duo) which came preloaded with Windows XP. Yes, I opted away from Vista as I knew that the machine wouldn’t be all that happy with 1G RAM with that OS. I’ve had a chance to play a bit with Vista, and 1 G is a minimum requirement. It runs like an XP system upgraded to 512 Mb RAM.

I’ve had my eye on Mandriva for awhile. I’m not sure why it didn’t work on my work machine (with and Intel Dual core 2.4 Ghz) the last time I blogged it, but it did work on my home machine (an old 1.8 Ghz eMachine) on the live CD. In fact the Compiz feature worked right out of the box and right up front on that machine.

Mandriva and PCLinusOS are forks of Mandrake, so they are either siblings or really close cousins. They both look very similar and work similar enough that moving from one to the other is not a big deal. One thing I like about Mandriva is the option of upgrading to the Power Pack version if I choose.

I began the work of installing by downloading and burning a live CD version of QTParted. Since installing PCLOS on another machine, I’ve gotten better and more comfortable with resizing partitions. QTP made it easy. Installing Mandriva was as easy and painless as any other modern Linux distro. I can’t imagine doing new Windows install nowadays, as the last time I had that done it took PC repair people over 2 days to get it all installed and I still had to call the Mother Ship to reinstall Office XP.

This Dell already had 3 partitions set up. One was the main Windows partition, with two other very small partitions for media and recovery files (I’m guessing). So I was limited to creating one more partition as I was limited to 4 total partitions with this program. With a 250 GB HD, I had plenty of real estate to spread out. I ended up giving the new partition 50 GB of that. If I ever master video creation in Linux, I may need more. But I’m still using Windows to make and edit video.

One issue that crops up with people going to Linux is wireless support. For a desktop hooked with an ethernet cable, internet access is no big deal. For laptops, it is a different story as wireless access is much more critical. One reason why I waited a couple of months to put Linux on this machine was not knowing how to make wireless work. But I persisted with the live CD until I figured it out. Using Ndiswrapper (included in the installation process) was a new experience and there was some trial and error involved. I was able to find my Windows “drivers” folder and found the wireless folder easily enough. But there were two folders and each had a different .inf file for wireless. I tried each, and of course the first one wasn’t the right one, but the second one was. Getting wireless to work was the critical factor for me doing an install, making this a dual-boot machine. Being successful with this and the partitioning were the major concerns of this install. It wasn’t anything about Mandriva or Linux that made these issues, it was my inexperience and nervousness.

Mandriva did give me one major issue right out of the box.  I noticed up front there was some loud speaker hiss that persisted no matter the volume/mute status on volume control.  That was a huge annoyance since I use headphones most of the time.  In fact it was huge enough that even though Mandriva worked better and faster than Windows in most respects, I still booted in Windows much of the time.  I finally found another blogger who had a similar issue.  The fix was not exactly the same but similar: I went to the volume control, clicked mixer, and then went to the input tab.  In this case, turning off the left capture mixer did the trick.  This will be fine as long as I never have to actually input or capture anyting.  But I might want to, someday.

The Grub bootloader works fine, but it did take some fiddling and experimenting to figure out which partition was going to load Windows when I wanted it as the menu choice “Windows” wasn’t the proper one.

But right now, everything else works well so I’m going to stick with it.  However, I need to test it out more before deciding on whether or not I want to pay for an upgrade.  I realize that getting a distro to work properly out of the box on a laptop is trickier that a desktop for some reason, mostly having to do with the wireless issues.

D.

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Why I don’t have an Apple

April 15, 2008

I like to do things with audio, video and photos, so it would seem like I’d be a natural Apple Fan. In fact, I used to be, back in the day. My first computer was a Laser 128, which was a clone of the Apple II series. I had that machine for about 3 years and it served me extremely well. When that machine finally died, I really, really wanted a Mac, and so I bought a used Mac 512 with an extra external drive. This served me well for a couple of years and then I bought a Mac Color classic. I loved this machine a lot with 4 MB of RAM and 8 MB hard drive. It lasted several years, and I learned that a little bit of power and capability on a Mac seemed to go a lot further than it did on a PC.

But there were problems in the early 1990’s with being a mac user and trying to get online. Basically, AOL was the only real game in town, and it was expensive. I could have joined a Macintosh users group (MUG) and gotten an email address an access to their online forums but most of the people I really wanted to interact with were PC users. What really got me was when I needed to buy another keyboard do to a liquid spill and saw the difference in price. Everything having to do with a Mac was more expensive. Printers, modems, keyboards and every other peripheral were costing 2-3x more for the Mac. Plus they had very limited expandability, and any expansions also cost a premium. When I went into my local CompUSA store, I saw acres and acres of shelf space devoted to PC games and peripherals and maybe one shelf devoted to Apple stuff. I had to travel further to visit an Apple store for the privilege of paying more money to get whatever stuff I wanted. And I always wanted more than I could afford. I got sick of it.

So when my wife got a special Wal-Mart discount on a 486, we went for it. The Color Classic went to a relative who didn’t have a computer, but all the preteen daughter wanted to do was go online which was exceedingly difficult with the Mac. Within a year. They bought a PC.

By now, you know the story. We can buy a PC anywhere at anytime for a much lower price than a Mac. Macs do work and they work very well for what they do. They had better do well for what Apple is charging for them. The markup on an Apple machine is by a factor of several hundreds. Mac fans can not afford to be anything less than totally devoted to their machines because they have paid so dearly and must constantly fend off the temptation to buy 2 or 3 PCs for the cost of one of theirs. Being a bit closed-minded is part of the Mac culture because that is what is built into the Mac’s themselves. The economics of productivity and computing power can not be factors as much as a certain religious fanaticism toward the Mac platform.

I like Macs and always have considered getting one when it was time to buy a new PC. However, I shrink away from paying thousands for a machine when I can trade off my PC knowledge for performance and come out ahead.

This is not Mac bashing, but I have always had issues with Apple’s closed-off, elitist proprietary business practices that almost make Microsoft’s business model look very soft and snuggly by comparison! This little trip down memory lane was brought on by the issue of Apple trying to squash an effort by a Mac Clone company that will offer an OS X Leopard machine for about $500, which is way, way less than anything Apple is selling close performance and hardware wise.

The Apple company and fan base has always been hostile towards free-market competition. Whether this whole thing blows over or not, it does highlight the problem Apple has always had and will probably always have with Steve Jobs at the helm. Thank goodness they were not as able to put a headlock around the mp3 player business! They make good products and they should be allowed to do price their stuff for whatever the market is willing to pay. People can and will vote with their feet and their wallets, which is what I did 15 years ago. Now, with Linux, we have an even better playing field and even more choices and options. With that in mind, that makes the PC and even better buy than an Apple. I’ve always wondered why someone would clear off OS X for Ubuntu, but to each their own.

D.

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A couple of comments on PCLinuc OS 2007

March 19, 2008

This was originally supposed to be a response to comments to the posts below (thanks guys!), but I needed to make it a post of its own.

I will say one thing: It’s a good thing this distro “just works” because trouble shooting on the PCLinuxOS site can be a bit iffy.  It’s a relatively small community, and if it were assailed by too many problems, finding answers might be difficult.  I was trying to install the printer and was getting a bit frustrated until I “discovered” the PCLOS command center right there on the tool bar.  Much of my ignorance comes from having so much Windows experience that my mind couldn’t so easily get around the idea that it could be just that easy to set it up and configure!  But it was just that easy to find and install my Epson CX7800 al-in-one.  I haven’t tried the scanner yet.

However, the online help forums and documentation are not nearly as smooth, easy or fleshed out as the OS itself.  In fact, the support documentation can be descfribed as sparse, at best.  For instance, I’ve been hunting around trying to find what PCLOS’s minimum system requirements are because I have an old PIII 550 MHz with 128 Mb RAM that needs a new look and a new home.  How old and how small can I go with this?

It truly is the closest thing I’ve seen to being a Windows Killer as far as Linux distros go.  Would I wipe Vista out for it?  Considering the Vista retails at over $200, it would be tough to do just from a monetary standpoint.  I’d sooner buy a second hard drive and devote that to PCLinux and let Vista sit around, just in case I wanted to sell the machine.  However, if I was buying a machine without an OS (at a discount) then it would be a no-brainer that this would be the operating system me and my family could live with.

Would I wipe out XP?  Considering MS has said they are no longer going to be selling XP in the near future it’s a tough call.  I’d be more tempted to get a smaller extra hard drive for PCLinuxOS.  If I had a copy of XP or vista just sitting around that was new and authentic, I would be more keen to wipe the OS off.

If I were going to give a Win98 machine away (which is what the PIII was) to someone who needed one this is what I would prefer to have on it at the present time.  However, I have not tested the modem support of this OS.  For people in the market for these older machines, that could be a critical component just as it was for me last year.  The second issue involves finding an affordable ISP that can easily work with this distro.

I expect the PCLOS community to grow along with its popularity, at least until the next best distro comes along.  I did get Minime 2008  to work on my USB drive, and that is fine if you have broadband and all you need is a connection to the internet.  However, for a family desktop machine, the full-featured PCLinux 2007 version works very nicely.

dick

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PCLinux 2007 WINS!

March 19, 2008

I took a big risk repartitioning and installing MEPIS 7.0, risking the beloved XP operating system.  But XP did and still does survive.  But it is no longer the operating system of choice on the family desktop.  Neither is Mepis.

The downfall of Mepis began after I reviewed and tried PCLinuxOS.  But I was hesitant to go through another installation and risk losing everything again or a corrupted MBR like I have suffered before.  What finally toppled Mepis from favor was the fact that it only wanted to recognize and “see” its own partition and none of the other hard drives or partitions. I was trying to move some files from my wife’s Mepis desktop and it would not only not read those other hard drives, but gave me fits about moving the files to a USB drive.  What put the nail in the Mepis coffin as it would not even recognize a floppy drive.  That was the end of that.  I had no such problems with earlier versions of Mepis and not sure what caused this glitch.  But Mepis was on its way out as it was, and it just gave me a ready excuse.  This is the double edge of having distros obtained so freely and installed so easily; instead of muddling through or trouble shooting, I canned the thing and put on the distro that “just works.”

And it just does.

The machine: @2001 Celeron 1.8 Gz with 612 RAM with XP home.  HDa = 40 Gb, HDb = 127 GB + 40 Gb (linux) + 20 Gb unclaimed space.

The family: 1 6 yr-old (kindergarten)  1 9 yr. old (2nd grade) and one wife (college graduate)

My wife is relatively new to computers, but thanks to her husband has some experience with Mac OS 7, Win95, Win98 and Win XP and recently Mepis 7.0 and now PCLinuxOS 2007.

All members have successfully learned to use and enjoy the new family OS.  My wife probably has the biggest adjustment, as she still uses XP to play spider solitaire and do editing with her pictures.  However with Picasa downloaded and installed (she was using this on XP) this should be a small matter.  I’ll have to download spider solitaire or some open source variation.  Otherwise she is perfectly pleased with PCLinux.

The two kids could care less what the operating system is.  They like visiting the Disney website and fiddling around with Google Earth and that’s all they care about.  They still like to play a few games occasionally, but mostly they are content with online activities.

And this brings up a very important point, when discussing the digital divide.  When it comes to school-aged kids, computer and online access can mean a world of difference in terms of  school performance.  The state of Georgia is offering practice versions of their state mandated tests online.  Those kids without computers will be left behind and continue to be at a disadvantage when it comes to the new modalities of learning that the digital age is offering.  A computer is as necessary nowadays as paper, pencil and a calculator.  Those who do not have computers in their homes are being given the mathematical technology equivalent to a slide rule!

Linux offers an opportunity for schools and businesses to offer their old PII’s and PIII’s to these disadvantaged youngsters instead of clogging landfills.

dick