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Windows or Apple? My Personal Journey Into Linux

As far back as I can remember, I have been a Windows user. I can clearly recall using Windows 3.0 on one of my mother's engineering computers in the early nineteen-nineties, or browsing the Internet for the first time in Internet Explorer. This pattern of Microsoft loyalty continued unabated with only minor dabbles into the world of Macintosh in secondary school into my current college career at Central Michigan University.

 

Microsoft Vista changed everything for me. A sub-par operating system from a hardware and software standpoint, Vista was worthy more for a laugh than a laptop. On the other hand, I frankly could not afford to purchase any of Apple's computers, nor was I pleased when reviewing the technical specifications of said computers in relation to what I would be paying for.

The choices before me were as follows; purchase broken Windows or an over-priced Apple. I made my choice, and I've never been happier using a computer.

With all of this being said, you may be wondering which operating system I use, Windows or Apple?

I use neither; I am an Ubuntu Linux user.

Before I continue, I must break down what constitutes Ubuntu Linux, as this may be the first time you have ever encountered these terms.

According to information from the Linux (pronounced “lih-nucks”) Online! website, Linux.org, Linux was originally created in 1991 by a Finnish college student named Linus Torvald. The software was unveiled in the early 1990's with the arrival of the first Linux Kernel, which forms the elemental basis of how everything works within this or any other operating system. Since this new operating system was released under the GNU (pronounced “guh-new”) General Public License, every aspect of the content's source code could be altered and acquired by anyone, anywhere free of charge. This ability to freely edit and distribute content is referred to as “open-source,” with a popular example of an open-source program being Mozilla Firefox.

Based upon the aforesaid original Linux kernel is the Ubuntu (pronounced as “ew-bun-too”) operating system, which is also free and open-source. The phrase “Ubuntu” is roughly translated as “humanity towards others” from the Bantu languages of southern Africa. The word choice creates an apt description for software made by community members for global communities. As stated on the Ubuntu Linux website, (ubuntu.com), the operating system will always be freely available for use on any type of computer. Furthermore, you can even try out a fully-functional copy of Ubuntu on a “Live” disc prior to installation.

You may be asking yourself, “Open-source sounds great, but what about content?”

The next time you see me on campus or at a convention with my laptop, I'd be more than happy to show you the eye-catching Desktop Cube I use to navigate my four separate desktops. Or, when I switch to Expo mode and navigate between my other 4 desktops with the click of a button. My computer, like other Linux machines, does not crash nor does it suffer from malware such as trojans, viruses or worms due to how the kernel handles security. This is exactly the reason why most servers which power the Internet use Linux instead of Windows, and to a lesser extent, Mac.

Much has been said by devout users of Windows and Macintosh regarding benefits of exclusive proprietary applications on either system. Mozilla Firefox web browser, VLC multimedia player (similar to Windows Media Player) and the OpenOffice.org productivity suite (the Linux equivalent to Microsoft Office, Word, Excel, etc.) are just three examples of free open-source programs found on Linux systems. Concurrently, they are also largely available for use on all computers, Windows and Mac, on campus here at Central Michigan University. Need an iTunes alternative for managing your music collection? I use Rhythmbox. Love 3D modeling and digital animation? Try Blender. Are you a gamer? I highly recommend playing Nexuiz (soon, Xonotic).

If you can not immediately find a program you wish to use, you can get in contact with other users who are just as interested in creating content as you are; others such as the members of online forums such as Ubuntu Forums or here on linux.com. With a healthy mixture of programmers and imagination, before you know it, you will have a fully customizable and free program for anyone to enjoy.

Imagination, freedom and helping others; welcome to the world of Linux.

 

 

 

Fedora 13 Gnome: Compiz Windows and Menu Transparency

After few forums and some hour searching on the web and divided opinion about this, I just made to have transparent Windows and Menus (main menu, dropdown menu) on Fedora 13 with Gnome. o.k. maybe it was easy for some of you, but after looking on the web, there are a lot of people who doesn't know how to accomplish this, so I decided to make a simple but useful tutorial about this. So let's begin:

 

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system76 Pangolin Performance part one : Going mobile

You heard that right, I officially went mobile this week. I travel more than before, therefore I am away from my desktop (hence my files) more often. It was a tough decision, but I decided to shop for a laptop.

Shopping the thing

My brother was delighted when he heard I was considering buying a laptop - I was more afraid of the task more than anything else. I always considered laptops to be a problem. First of all, I'm a clumsy guy. I drop stuff. I sometimes put stuff in places I forget.  And a laptop, well, would be one more object (and a pricey one) to protect from my clumsiness. Finally, there's a heck of a lot of brands, lines, models...  I haven't quite kept track through time of which manufacturer is good or which one I must avoid. However, I think (maybe it's wrong to think so, correct me if it's the case) that laptops that cost around 500$ (not netbooks) tend to be... maybe... cheap. In a pejorative way. As I've been told before, "Stay away from Satellites. They're good to send into orbit." So basically, I tried to stay above the 700$ bar.

Fortunately, the laptop I searched for needed to satisfy one condition, narrowing down the choice a lot : it had to come with Linux. And if the manufacturer could be one that builds laptops specifically for it, so much the better.

For the sake of comparison, me and my trustworthy brother looked at HP, Dell and even Apple for more "standard" laptops (my brother has an HP one with openSUSE on it, works like a charm).

We made a stop at ZaReason to see its line of Linux notebooks, but nothing really appealed me. While the prices were interesting, the configurations available were not quite what I wanted. I already had an eye on system76 laptops. I knew system76 for the Ubuntu stickers I ordered from them a couple of years ago for my desktop (talk about far fetched!)

After a couple of review reading, price comparison I'll spare (I don't even remember the details anyway) and a couple of evenings spent drooling on online showcases, I opted for the system76 Pangolin Performance.

Buying the thing

You may now at this point say "Wow wait, what are the specs"? I feel lazy tonight, so I give you this wonderful link leading to the Pangolin Performance product page. For the others, in a nutshell: feature packed, reasonable price. It sports a decent screen resolution (not that whatever x 768 nonsense), a DVD burner, Bluetooth, USB ports, HDMI and VGA out, a fine CPU and enough RAM to run pretty much any GNU/Linux distro you want. And it came with Ubuntu.

The only thing I changed from the standard configuration was the warranty. I went overkill and opted for the 3 years peace of mind package. It's the first time in my life I opt for an extended warranty, so it was quite a big step.

First of all, I'll mention this about system76's Web site : I really liked it. Straightforward, fast, efficient and "to-the-point". Go to the laptops section, select your model, configure it using simple radio buttons on the spec page, order and voilà. No fuss, no flash, no frustration. I wish more Web sites were like that.

As for the cart/checkout process, I had a little problem with my credit card not working because of some weird address format issue or something like that. I kind of expected the process to be  a bit more complicated since I live in Canada. However, an email and a call to system76 and the order was back on track.

About 10 days later, I was in possession of the big brown box containing the mystical laptop. Will it be good? Will it work? Will Captain Kirk defeat Khan? You'll find out in system76 Pangolin Performance part two!

 

Starting large-scale deployment

Here I going to describe our experience in a large-scale FOSS deployment in our region. And first I show you the task.

The task is to deploy Linux and a pack of FOSS programs in the schools, here in Nizhny Novgorod region, Russia. Nizhny novgorod region have a population of 3.5 m, and the Nizhny Novgorod itself have a population of 1.3 m. There are 1392 schools in Nizhny Novgorod region (more than 200 in Nizhny Novgorod), and even more objects — like sport schools, youth clubs, training centers. Every school have at least 12 computers, plus some administer tasks — director, school management and so on. Special object usually have less than 5 computers.

So, today we estimate, that we need to deploy more than 35000 computers untill the end of the year.

We started a pilot project with the help of the Nizhny Novgorod Linux Users Group. Today they alreadey deployed FOSS programs in 14 schools of Nizhny Novgorod. Not bad start, but next week we are going to make a real breakthru — we made an agreement to install the software on more than 40 schools of Dzerzhinsk, a city near Nizhny Novgorod (~250k people).

We are use a special developed ALT Linux distribution, which was intended to be installed in schools and contain all needed programs, including an amazing iTalc software class management tool.

The main problem of the project is that the school teachers are not well-trained to use Linux. I can't say that they are resisting to use it at all, but some of they are. We are working on this problem too — and going to make our own special training course with support of Nizhny Novgorod Education Development Institute.

Follow this blog to know more.

 

Wine 1.2 Released

The version 1.2 of the well know wine is now released and you can download it from the next link. If you don't know what wine is, let me explain a little and short. wine is a program (wine is not emulator) that allow you to run windows programs. Some of the new features from wine after 2 years without a stable release.

This release represents two years of development effort and over 23,000 changes. The main highlights are the support for 64-bit applications, and the new graphics based on the Tango standard.

Source: Wine Reviews

 

Spotify for Linux

Spotify is an on-line music player with thousands of songs, music, etc. This program was available for Windows and Mac (and you can run it with wine) but now you can use it on your Linux system.

A lot of our developers are using Linux, obviously they want to listen to music while they’re coding away and looking at the feedback we get it appears that they’re not the only ones. So today we’re pretty happy to present a preview version of Spotify for Linux.

Built by our brilliant developers during hack days and late nights, it shares most of the same features as our Windows and Mac OS X desktop applications. Unfortunately, there are issues regarding decoding of local music on the Linux platform so we haven’t included support for local files in this version.

Source: Spotify Blog

 

How To Reset Gnome From Command Line

When I get a new distribution, I always look for all the "super-duper-new and fashion" extensions, themes, icons, screenlets, desklets, and all the other things end in -lets, but after some install-delete-update commands, I always end with my Gnome messed up, a good, nice and clean way to wipe out all the things and restore your gnome is to use the command line, next time you messed up or when things go wrong, just type this is your shell:

rm -rf .gnome .gnome2 .gconf .gconfd .metacity

...and all go back to the "factory" settings. This thing has save my life several times.

Source: LifeHacker

 

Opera 10.60 Final

Opera has launch the final version of his browser, the Opera 10.60. Some of the newest things inside the browser are:

  • The use of the WebM for video reproduction
  • The Geolocalization can help us to determinate what is best route to take, or what is the closed coffee shop in the area. The activation of this feature requires the user authorization
  • You can work off line with the Appcache
  • 50% faster than the previous version of Opera
  • Phishing supported by AVG

With the new WebM support Opera becomes one of the firsts browser to support this standard.

Source: Opera Web Site

 

Google Chrome Tests Unified Menu

Google started to test the unified menu at the pure style of Opera. Firefox 4 will include a single menu button. The unified menu takes up less space, it's less complex and it reduces clutter..

The new menu includes most of the options that were available in the page and tools menus. If you use a recent Chromium build or Google Chrome dev channel, you can enable this feature by adding a command-line flag to the desktop shortcut: --new-wrench-menu.

This new way to display the menus is less complex, save a lot space and looks cool, at least that's what I think :D

The main goal of this kind of menu is to show all the functionality of the browser (some of them wasn't available on the GUI) and save some space.

Source: Google System Blog

 

Firefox 4 Pre-Beta Available Now

The Pre-Beta version of the all mighty browser from Mozilla is now available for download for Linux, Mac and Windows. One of the newest thing is the "tabs on the top" at the pure chrome style. Like Alex Faaborg from Mozilla in a video interview: The top tabs work better and this will be the default option.

The update's still rough around the edges, and as a pre-beta, it's a very early-adopter download only. But if you're eager to play with the bleeding edge of Firefox, you can download the release (Mozilla appropriately names their nightlies "Minefield") here. (Look for the appropriate download for your platform with a name like firefox-4.0b2pre.en-US.)

Source: LifeHacker

 

Google Chrome Now Comes With Flash Built In

Flash come integrated with Chrome in the lattes version of the Google's Browser. In this vote of confidence to Adobe from Google the message is clear, both has a common enemy, Apple.

Not only is Google giving Adobe’s Flash technology another vote of confidence (Flash Player 10.1 for Mobile, which was announced  earlier this week, will be rolled out on Android 2.2 phones first), but the integration also means any updates to Flash Player will be delivered directly via Google Chrome’s updating system, ultimately minimizing security risks that tend to surface when one uses outdated software and components.

Is this a safe step for Google after all the security problems flash is currently having? Well, in my opinion this is the first step to something bigger between this 2 companies, stay tuned!!!

Source: TechCrunch

 
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