Tag: kde

Linux Distro and Desktop – The More the Merrier, Right?
By Ashok Ramachandran

Isn’t it great that the open source world gives you a lot of choices? When it comes to Linux distributions, shortly known tux64x64as distros, there are hundreds of them. Once you have selected a distro, you are up against a decision regarding the desktop. You need to know enough about the pros and cons of these choices so that you can pick the one that is right for you.

Let us briefly revisit the requirements for a successful migration.

You have to meet three requirements before installing Linux on your home PC:

  1. You have identified a demonstrable benefit you can gain by migrating to Linux
  2. You have done your prep work
  3. You have realistic expectations

By following these three steps, you will maximize your chances of success.

However, there is a mind boggling variety of Linux distros available.

Let us try and shortlist the Linux distros based on the following five criteria:

  1. Is it backed by a commercial vendor?
  2. Is desktop Linux for home a stated focus area for this vendor?
  3. Is a retail product available in the form of a CD/DVD?
  4. Are branded PC vendors shipping this distro pre-installed?
  5. Is paid support available, if needed?

We find that there are only two Linux distros that meet these five qualifications largely – Ubuntu and SUSE Linux.

100x100ubuntu

Ubuntu

  • Sponsored by Canonical.
  • You can download it free, buy it on DVD from Amazon or get a free CD shipped (takes 6 to 10 weeks).
  • Starter support for Ubuntu Desktop Edition is available for one year at $ 54.99 (as of Sept 2009).
  • Security update is available for 18 months from release.

100x100suse

SUSE

  • Sponsored by Novell.
  • You can download it free, buy it on DVD from Amazon.
  • You can buy a package from Novell consisting of a DVD with printed manual and 90-Day installation support (by phone or e-mail) for $59.95 (as of Sept 2009).
  • Security update is available for 2 years from release.

Can I buy Linux pre-installed from a branded PC vendor? Dell offers PCs for the home and home office market pre-installed with Ubuntu Linux. HP and MSI offer PCs with Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop pre-installed. Asus offers notebooks with Xandros Linux pre-installed. Acer offers notebooks with Linpus Linux.

Can I get Linux pre-installed from another vendor? Zareason, Berkley, CA and System76, Denver, CO sell Ubuntu Linux desktops and laptops.

Which desktop? Though there are other options available, we will restrict our selection to the two leading desktops, namely GNOME and KDE.

48x48gnome

GNOME

  • GNOME is a very mature and stable desktop.
  • The GNOME project has well defined human interface guidelines to make the desktop and applications easy to use. Most GNOME applications follow these guidelines, resulting in common usability between applications.
  • GNOME doesn’t provide a graphical interface for some of the settings. Users will have to use the command line interface for these.

48x48kde

KDE

  • KDE is also a very mature desktop. However, KDE 4 was completely rewritten and so had some issues. The recent 4.3 version seems to be more stable.
  • KDE is also better for new users switching from Windows, and relies less on the command line interface.
  • Unfortunately, KDE does not use Firefox as the default web browser or OpenOffice as the default office suite. You will have to install Firefox and OpenOffice subsequently.



If you are planning to use an older machine and just require stability and an uncluttered approach then you can go with GNOME. However, if you have a newer machine, looking for a desktop closer to Windows and avoid the command line interface, then KDE is your best bet.

Ashok shows home PC users how to successfully migrate to Linux. He writes articles applying Product Management concepts to open source software and related topics.

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Burned by Ubuntu?

By Kurt Hartman

If you’ve been involved with the IT community at all, or are even a serious internet addict, the chances are high that you have heard of Ubuntu Linux. If you have heard of it, then the chances are also good that you have considered installing the operating system, and playing around with it a little.

If you did install it, say, 2-3 years ago, chances are, things didn’t work properly. I mean, things that “just worked” in good ole’ XP, failed you entirely. You then did what you could to get rid of it, and vowed never to get involved with Linux ever again.

I would know, as I had similar problems the first time I ventured into the land of Linux. Here is my dim recollection of that moment.

I don’t remember the first time I heard of Ubuntu. I only remember a few things about my experience installing it for the first time:

  1. It installed fairly quickly.
  2. I could never get my wireless card to work properly.
  3. They forced me to fix things via the command line
  4. I messed around with “sudo this’ and “sudo that” to no avail.
  5. I ended up having to reformat my entire hard drive to get rid of it.

Fast forward 2 years. Ubuntu is running as the only OS on my machine. Ubuntu_LogoWIreless works perfectly, as does printing, and most other features that are available for my laptop. In fact, most everything that I install works well. I never have to even look at a command line if I don’t want to.

What changed? Well, Ubuntu improved, and drastically, I might add. Everything from stability, to usability and driver support are approaching windows-level compliance. In many areas, Ubuntu has surpassed Windows, especially performance.

If you feel like giving it another try, I can guarantee that you won’t have the same problems with it that you did last time? Why? Well, for one, Ubuntu has added a Windows based installer to newer distributions that allows you to install and remove Ubuntu like a standard Windows application. No more accidents where GRUB wipes out all record of your NTFS partition, and makes Vista unbootable. What’s the name of this magical program: Wubi.

How am I so sure that it is easy to use? It took me 15 minutes to get my friend’s PC dual booting the other night. It installed Ubuntu as a single file. It also defaults to WIndows on boot, unlike Grub, which usually defaults to the latest kernel, and puts XP after 3 or 4 other kernel choices.

By minute number 30, my friend was running Linux versions of his favorite kubuntuprograms, like HandBrake and Audacity. He even discovered the newest version of KDEnlive for his video editing needs. The only issue that we had resolved itself on the next boot. His wireless card was not working. Ubuntu found the driver, and installed it on reboot. Happy day. No command line (except for the commands I learned, and wanted to issue, instead of going through graphical menus), and zero extra configuration.

Look, it’s not an easy choice to try something again after you were burned. I suggest you do, however. If you can find the courage to try Ubuntu again, you have a pleasant surprise waiting for you: It comes in 3 flavors, based on the window manager of choice.

  • Ubuntu – Gnome
  • Kubuntu – KDE
  • Xubuntu – XCFE

I’m going to go ahead and say that for 98% of you, vanilla Ubuntu is the way to go. All of the bells and whistles have been thoroughly tested and integrated to work with Gnome. The eye candy is great, and it just feels very polished. The only downside is that the performance requirements for all but the very oldest machines may be a bit too much.

Of the 2% of you that may want to run something besides Gnome-based Ubuntu, 99% of the 2% won’t want to run KDE. On the plus side, it feels a bit more like a Windows based operating system. Except for the fact that it isn’t nearly as user friendly as regular Ubuntu. There are some KDE diehards out there, but I’m not one of them. I don’t have much more to say about KDE as a window manager.

If you have an older machine, XCFE is lightning fast. It takes up relatively xubuntulittle ram, is a great compromise, and runs most things fairly well. If you don’t need alot of extra graphical polish (read: minimalist) then Xubuntu may be the way to go.

Now, I’m going to really confuse you. How? Well, if you really like a classy looking Linux install, with all the support of Ubuntu, and all the flair of a professional graphic designer, then you want Linux Mint. It’s based on Ubuntu, and customized with versions of programs that have been altered to fit the Mint distribution. They can be a few months behind the latest Ubuntu distribution, but there is no doubt that it is a great distro.

So, now that I am through gushing, why don’t you try downloading it, burning it to a disk, and giving it a once through using Wubi. Oh, and if you have problems with sound or wireless cards while using the Live CD, don’t be so sure that you will have that problem when you do a full installation. 9 times out of 10, those problems are fixed in a full install.

So, go get your favorite pocket protector, strap on your safety glasses, and take the plunge. It will be nearly painless, and totally worth it. You can find all the extra info you need at Ubuntu.com.

I’m off to download a podcast, and get a cup of coffee. For the record, coffee has burned me once or twice, but that hasn’t stopped me from drinking a pot or two a week.

Kurt Hartman is an open source advocate, and has save thousands of dollars for his company by implementing open-source solutions. He currently serves as Head of Web Development for Mobile Fleet Service Inc.

Their website, located at http://www.buybigtires.com, sells mining tires, along with tires for industrial and agricultural use.

In his spare time, he enjoys reading business related books, and gaining a greater understanding of geopolitics

His recommended reading for any industry is “The Black Swan”, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

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