Archive for the ‘ubuntu’ Category
Well, I’m back in ubuntu world for today. It’s been quite the long way around back. After finishing up my tshirts using Vista and photoshop, I had to prepare for a vacation to Ireland and England (went very well, thanks). Over the weeks up until the vacation, we were scrambling to plan things and just keep our daily life in order. It was quite the struggle…so much so that I barely touched my ubuntu. You see, my wife started a site to help her study for the GRE, but it has broadened in scope to include a forum that we spend most of our time in. Guess who’s the webmaster?
Anyway, it’s about a week and a half since we’ve returned from our vacation and I’m back in Ubuntu land running Hardy Heron on my XPS m1330. The good news (of stuff I tried):
1. Compiz-fusion works! Finally!
2. X-Sane works!
3. cups-pdf works!
4. kdeprint works!
5. awn works (cause compiz is working)
and that’s about all I’ve tried thus far. Now here’s what doesn’t work:
1. cups-pdf is wonky with scan area. Had to set some funky offsets to get it right. Also no multipage PDF creation from what I can tell.
2. rdp busted
3. f-spot couldn’t import photos from network share (neither could picasa running in wine).
Anyway, enough head scratching for the night…I’m switching to Vista to sort through my UK photos and upload them to flickr. We’ll give Ubuntu another try this weekend.
Tom, over at TomBuntu (hi Tom, I’m Tommy) has found a little widget called DiskInternals Linux Reader (note: no write access) that allows me to access files on my Ubuntu partition while I’m whiling my time away playing SimCity 4 on the Windows Vista side of my computing house. Thanks Tom! There are also suggestions for something called “f-s driver” which the commenters claim does the same thing. I’ll have to say while it is nice to have access to my ubuntu files, I doubt that I’ll ever use it. I have been using my Windows partition as my storage drive for music, videos, etc. That way, I have access to these files on Ubuntu and Vista for free, I also only have one copy of everything in one place (cardinal rule of managing data of any kind!). At any rate, I’ll try the tools out and keep them around for the just-in-case moment when I accidentally save something to my Ubuntu partition.
I’m am unbelievably tired but had to post…finals are finished. I took a couple of online courses at foothill.edu (Cultural Anthropology and Sociology) and have just finished my last essay. Will I continue to study? Let’s just say it’s off the table for winter and spring quarters.
Now to concern myself with all things Ubuntu. I’m starting to get tired of not having Compiz Fusion on my machine. While I generally don’t care too much about the eye candy, it does make life a little more enjoyable when using my computer. I notice that when I’m using WinXP on my work machine, it’s rather dull and very utilitarian. It also has major hiccups now and then which cause some major problems. Using Vista is problematic, but gorgeously so. I’m sorry, I like the UI, I like the transparencies, I like the fact that I can run RocketDock and that it is very smooth. Here’s to praying for a video driver for my Intel 965 on my XPS m1330.
As of right now, Ubuntu is now my default OS on my XPS m1330. Woohoo! Unfortunately, Vista remains on my hard drive as a fall back–especially for games. Currently though, I’m not really involved with any PC games but plan to try Gears of War out on the Vista side of things. Also, while I’m digging the speed of Ubuntu, the Vista aero glass and Yahoo widgets are pretty nice. I also have rocketdock running over there with a super sweet icon pack–kinda makes the whole thing feel like 1930s Shanghai. I know, I know, there’s plenty I can do with customization in Ubuntu and trust me, I’m getting ready to roll up the sleeves and get all up in there. I’m currently waiting until the 18th so I can grab the final version of Gutsy and so I can catchup on my homework and reading (actually, I’m trying to get about a week or so ahead of the curve). I guess I’ll dream of a tricked out system and gamedom after I’m a little bit ahead of the reading and homework curve.
The last bit to get me over to Ubuntu full time has been getting rdesktop working with my headless vista server which I have no intention of turning into an ubuntu machine in the near future for the simple reason that it runs mozy in order to back up all of the stuff on my NAS RAID array. I may eventually figure out a way around that, but for the moment, my kludged solution works.
I’ve been having trouble getting the terminal services client that comes with ubuntu to recognize my vista machine’s name and realized that it like IP addresses. Since those change now and again when my vista box reboots, I figure I’d better give that thing a static IP so as I’ll be able to get back into it when I do go Ubuntu full time on the m1330.
I decided to make Ubuntu a little bit more “homey” and “user-ish,” I would install some sort of widget engine like Yahoo’s Konfabu-Widgets or Windows Gadgets (soon to be renamed Windows Live Gadgets Premium Super Edition Beta, I’m sure). I found Jackfield which looks pretty nice, but has been the red-headed stepchild of this particular developer’s world (ie, it’s been cast aside for other more important projects, I suppose).
Anyway, I grabbed the sources and have been trying to run the darned thing. I first I had to install SVN and get reacquainted since I’ve been using perforce at work as of late. Well, first I had to figure out if I even had svn installed or not (“svn –version” tells me that I ain’t got nada). So after installing, and grabbing the sources, I tried to run it and it complains about the fact that it can’t import the Image module. Hmmmm….I figure it’s looking for some sort of include file in the python language and off I go hunting for that.
Well, I found that I have three whole versions of python installed and one of them must have the Image module somewhere in there. Yet even more hunting and I find that I may be able to use /etc/environment to hold the PYTHONPATH variable. I tried and it didn’t seem to do much, but I bet I need a restart.
That’s one of the things I absolutely LOVE about linux thus far: immediate shut downs. The Windows has worked for the longest time is that it seems to really thing that the user is beneath it. “Oh, so you want to shut down huh? Well you’ll just have to wait till I’m done shredding the hard drive to death. So there!”
This is one aspect of Windows that I’ve always despised. 95, XP, and yes, even the much loathed Vista have this very problem of treating the user like a 2nd class citizen. I absolutely hate shutting down my XP box because it’ll usually take 5 or 10 minutes to actually go from me pleading with it to shut down to it actually shutting down. And forget about starting up. Once you go down that road, you may as well login, go grab a coffee, play some foosball, catch up on your soaps, and maybe go for a walk before even thinking about launching a program. WTF, indeed.
Anyway, Ubuntu has thus far been absolutely delightful in this regard. Granted I haven’t “crapified” my Ubuntu install with little widgets (like Jackfield) or other normal memory-suckers like I have with my standard Windows installs.
So in my couple of weeks of being a bleeding edge Ubuntu adopter, I’ve noticed a few things that are quite a bit different than the Windows world. What I’ve noticed (which is different from Windows) is that in the Linux world, graphical user interfaces are user selectable. So when you install Ubuntu, the default “Windows-like system” is called “Gnome desktop”. There is also something called KDE which you can install with Kbuntu. I’m sure there are others, but I haven’t researched this enough to find the others and understand what the differences are. This is sort of like how things were before Windows came out. DOS users could install sort-of graphical file managers like Xtree Pro (man doesn’t that bring you back?) or others to manage files graphically. The underlying system was MS-DOS (or ProDOS or DrDOS if you swung that way), but the GUI on top was of your own selection. Sorry if this is stating the obvious, but coming from the Windows world, it took me a little bit of reading to figure out that, “hey, I could swap out the GUI and use a totally different set of apps if I wanted to.”
So what does this mean? Well it means there is an underlying difference in design choices of the various Linux flavors versus Windows versus MacOS that are reflections of their target user bases (or perhaps their user bases have grown out of the sort of design choices that were made). Again, sorry for stating the obvious, but these are my “Windows-colored” perceptions.
Windows tends to be a favorite for large corporations since they like things that are relatively easy to use or at least “comfortable” for the non-techies so less time is spent by users configuring and maintaining their system and more time is spent actually working. The downside of course is that choices are limited and much of the more usable software is quite pricey (witness Adobe’s full suite now hovering at about the price of a Vespa). It’s also a favorite for the average home user around the world since it is easy to pirate, runs on just about any old heap you can buy second hand for cheap, and is easy for the non-techy home user to figure out.
Mac OS is a favorite among creative types and affluent college students. These people will pay a little more to get a well designed, tightly integrated computing experience. Apple focuses on the mainstream consumer’s needs like photos, video, and now blogging rather than Windows’ grafted on experience for these aspects of our computing lives. Also with Windows, these things are rather confusing. Witness the confluence of “Windows Mail” and “Windows Live Mail Desktop”. Why are there two? “Windows Photo Gallery” and “Windows Live Photo Gallery” — again two? And remember this one? Windows Messenger, MSN Messenger (now Windows Live Messenger), and Office Communicator — three? Are you kidding me? Coming from the belly of the Microsoft world, I know that things unfurl this way in Redmond because of the numerous VPs running around the company trying to wring as many dollars out or Bill and Steve (well, Ray and Steve now). It is something that I absolutely abhor and something that made me realize that Microsoft really is in trouble. They really should take a step back and maybe take a page out mini-microsoft’s book and figure this thing out. The Windows team really should focus on just that: Windows. Make it solid, make it tight. Leave the lifestyle apps to those guys in Windows Live and SHIP THE OS WITH THESE THINGS PREINSTALLED so I don’t have two of everything. I tried Windows Live Photo Gallery Beta and actually thought, “hey this is nice”. The ability to upload to WLSpaces with a click is very nice. Now I want to be able to have this thing blast my photos to Flickr, Myspace, facebook, etc ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Organize once, post once to everywhere that you care about. No one does this well, not even Apple.
It is no surprise that Apple’s stars are rising in college circles as laptops become the dominant computing form factor. At any rate, I like Apple stuff and have a MacBook at home that serves its purpose as my wife’s primary computer very well. What limits Apple are old perceptions that stick around today. These include (but are not limited to):
- “Macs cost too much” – definitely not true. Macs cost about as much as PCs for the most part. This perception may be perpetuated by the fact that Macs have higher resale value and the fact that Macs don’t tend to have lower end configurations that PC makers carry to bring in the lower end of the computing spectrum.
- “Macs don’t have as much software” – This is true especially in the realm of gaming, but from what I’ve seen Macs have the benefit of Apple’s pretty strong (and getting better everyday) software division that pumps out pretty goods software.
- “Macs are quirky” – From my personal use of Macs, I tend to agree. It’s not that they are quirky, it’s just that they have slightly different keys than a PC. I hope someday that there will be an IEEE or ISO standard for keyboard commands and we can do away with the one/two button mouse divide and the command/control and option/alt key madness that inflicts computing today.
Anyway, I see Apple becoming more dominant in the computing world because their products are usually quite well designed and unless that aspect of their corporate image falters, they’ll be sticking around.
Linux is a tinkerer’s dream. There are a zillion ways to just about a zillion things. There are seemingly a zillion off shoots of the main Linux distributions which in lies the problem of mainstream acceptance. There is a perceived complexity to the Linux computing experience. The focus of the Linux community is to get things just the way you want them to be. While I appreciate this aspect of Linux, I think Ubuntu got my attention because it comes preconfigured almost exactly right for most mainstream users needs. Interestingly enough, this sort of prepackaged approach seems to be what Linux users don’t like about Ubuntu. While I enjoyed Bruce Byfield’s article immensely, it started me off on thinking about why Ubuntu, or even Linux in general is not more dominant. It really comes down to this need for the tinkerers to recognize that most of world are not like them. I know, I know, it is tragic that most of the computing world does not want to explore the limits of computing independently more like most Linux users, but it really is true. Grammie Jane just want to get email from her grandkids, watch CNN videos to find out what threat level we are at today, and forward spammy chain emails to her friends. Jake the marketing guy just wants to take photos of his kids and new Beemer to show off to his buddies on MySpace. Sally the real estate agent just wants something to sell those darned house that just don’t seem to be moving. The list goes on and on. While I would love an ideal world of tinkerers and builders, it just isn’t a true reflection of reality. I mean, I consider myself a pretty advanced user, but I’ve yet to contribute to open source software in a meaningful way (although that will change this coming year). I also consider myself a tinkerer, but appreciate nicely packaged things that “just work”. The world is made up of all kinds of people and I applaud the Ubuntu folks for recognizing this forging ahead on making something that “just works” out of the box.
It’s been a day or two since I’ve used the Ubuntu-side of things and plan on getting back to it today after I watch some Lynda.com tutorials for Adobe Illustrator CS3 stored on the Vista side of the house. While taking a break from watching the tutorials, I decided to hunt around for a list of keyboard shortcuts for Ubuntu. Here’s what I’ve found so far:
Holy cow have I had a rough morning with Ubuntu. The wireless connection seems to fail if I leave it idle for a minute or two on my Dell XPS m1330. I wanted to make my first official post FROM Ubuntu this morning (I’m camped out with my work and personal laptop right now in the Anthropology library at UC Berkeley), but have been unable to keep a connection long enough to get it completed. Oh well, I’ve booted back into Vista to post this. I was trying to debug this, but don’t have much more time to dedicate to figuring it out at the moment. Here’s what I’ve found thus far:
a bug has been filed on this issue (#139832), there seems to be a dedicated laptop testing team that I may sacrifice my XPS m1330 to officially since I want Gutsy to “just work” on this really well designed machine. Plus it will give me a chance to learn how to debug things in Linux and really, isn’t that what it’s all about? I kid, I kid. Anyway, back to work (the real kind that pays me, not “WorkBuntu”)
The fact of the matter is that my server that does all of my backup and that sort of goodness runs on Vista. It also houses my budget spreadsheet so I need to get to it on a regular basis. I tried gnome-rdp but it keeps telling me that it’s unable to find my desktop. I’ve been looking around and think I need to try something called rdesktop (according to this anyway).
I suppose that’s the fun part about Linux. I mean RDP has been around for ages in the Microsoft world (they called it Terminal Server before) and it’s pretty much standardized there. You could use VNC or other protocols to get into another PC remotely, but it’s usually easier to just use Windows’ built in RDC app. After using Parallels on Hongyun’s Macbook and enjoyed the coherence mode that makes Windows apps look like they are native mac apps. I’m hoping I can find something similar to this for Ubuntu.