Archive for the ‘windows’ Tag
So I was excited to get back into Ubuntu mode last night and tried using Gimp (modified with Gimpshop to make it somewhat familiar) to create a post card for my wife’s upcoming solo art show. Lo and behold, Gimp seems to be a rather unstable little beast. I’m not sure if it is Gimp or the Gimpshop mods that make it bork, but I would get random crashes whenever I opened up a few large-ish files (about 5MB each…hardly anything out of the ordinary for compositing work). So back over to Windows I run to use Photoshop.
Also, my experimentation with Rhythmbox album art embedding didn’t go too well either. I’m back over in Windows using iTunes (of all things!) to manually copy album art from the iTunes crappish randomly named separate file debacle and pasting them in the ID3 tag using iTunes’ UI since it actually works.
Well, maybe after I get a few of these fires put out I’ll head back over to Ubuntu land for some more experimentation. There simply has to be a better way.
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’ve been running Miro on my Vista server for some time (Miro is a free, video podcast downloader that also does double duty as a tv torrent vacuum). I use it to grab backups for all of my favorite shows in case my Tivo dumps them before I can watch them or if there is a conflict that the two Tivos can’t manage to work out.
While working at home today, I decided to sift the couple hundred gigs of free podcast videos and TV shows that Miro has been downloading. Using the Vista side of the m1330, I found that the videos kept stuttering and would eventually stop transferring data altogether. I thought the Airport Extreme that dishes out wifi was having a bad day so I rebooted it. Unfortunately, that did not help. I switched over to Ubuntu to see if I could play my videos and after installing a codec pack, totem whipped through them without any issues.
I’m not sure what’s happening on the Vista side of the house, but the boys and girls in Redmond best be shippin’ SP1 soon or I’m going to forced to delete that partition and give it all over to Ubuntu.
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.
With the help of a buddy at work who is much more versed in the world of Linux than I am, I have gotten Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon Tribe 5 to install on a separate partition and dual boot it with Vista Business.
My Dell XPS m1330 laptop shipped with Vista Biz edition on there and I wanted to keep it since there wasn’t much crapware preinstalled (thankfully). I uninstalled McAfffee Antivirus as that service has gone downhill as of late. I now use Antivir which nags every now and then, but at least is free and self-updates.
I went over to APC mag’s step by step walk through of this process and it went off without a hitch. Well, that’s not quite true. I was a dork and first tried to install Ubuntu Feisty Fawn and that didn’t seem to like the m1330 too much. I figured it’d be more stable, but that did not turn out to be the case. I couldn’t get X11 to start and ended up at the command line trying to fiddle with a configuration files for X11 (xorg.conf) to see if I could get it going. A fellow dual-booter at work told me that I’d have to move up to the Gutsy Gibbon tribe 5 version of Ubuntu and then it would work. Lo and behold he was right.
After the install, I was told to add a few lines to xorg.conf as found in this bug report. Adding those lines made the upper and lower menu bar hang out in their proper places instead of taking up what looked like 1024×768 territory.
As soon as I started up with the screen looking the way it should, I proceeded to run the update manager which seemed to find a bunch of things to update and proceeded to download and install them. I messed around with some of the settings to change font size since they were way too big and turned on more effects that I believe are powered by compiz. The effects while completely unnecessary add to my enjoyment of using Ubuntu immensely. I’m not sure what it is about having the nice effects and just the right setup, but it helps me enjoy my computing much more. For example, on Vista, I installed rocket dock, icon packager with their Local Flavor icon pack, along with a nice vintage looking desktop wallpaper from interfacelift. I also got rid of the Vista and Google Desktop sidebars in favor of Yahoo’s Konfabulator…er Widgets.
Anyway, Ubuntu has been a pretty nice system thus far and seems like it can be my primary OS except for the fact that I haven’t found drivers for my printer yet. This seems to be the achilles heel of Linux. Darned hardcopies!