Life without Windows or OS X

GNU/Linux is quite possibly the most important free software achievement since the original Space War, or, more recently, Emacs. It has developed into an operating system for business, education, and personal productivity. GNU/Linux is no longer only for UNIX wizards who sit for hours in front of a glowing console. Are you thinking about switching to Linux and want to learn how to use it? Have you been using GNU/Linux for some time and want to learn even more? This is the place for you.

Monday, September 10, 2012

It was 7 years ago I made my first post.

Saturday, September 10, 2005....

My idea was to put the word out to the masses that there was another choice. The big two was not the only ones in town. There was also Gnu/Linux. No it was not Win Xp but if you came to this grassroots os because you believe it to work just like or was a cheap copy Windows, you would be very disappointed. If you heard that Gnu was better we must understand that it is impossible for anything to be better than something if it’s completely identical to it. A perfect copy can be equal, but can never surpass the first. So when you gave Gnu/Linux a try in hopes that it would be better, you were inevitably hoping that it would be different. Right?

When I first posted I wanted to talk about the Linux kernel was which was conceived and created by Finnish computer science student Linus Torvalds and the Gnu OS was initiated by Richard Stallman. I soon learned that if not for Andrew S. Tanenbaum and MINIX there might not be anything like the Linux kernel in the world today. The principles Tanenbaum applied to MINIX influenced design decisions Torvalds applied in the creation of his kernel.
Richard Stallman
Linus Torvalds
Andrew S. Tanenbaum

Ten years ago, I stumbled upon a magazine that that talked about a Linux distribution called Lindows OS. The story was more about Microsoft, who was sueing them over the similarities between the Windows and Lindows names. I was then tempted to try Lindows and my experience were less than ideal. Then I re-encountered their new Linux distribution a few years later called Linspire and the spark have reignited...

Lindows later called Linspire changed its name in a settlement with Microsoft so that no one would confuse the two operating systems. I rediscovered Linux through Linspire 4.5. It was easy to install and it could do pretty much everything that Windows 2000/ XP could. The biggest issue that I had at the time was lack of good flash support.

In 2005 I was using Linspire version 4.5/5.0 on a custom made desktop pc. I soon I bought the Balance 14.1" Laptop, 1.2 GHz VIA C3 Processor, w/ Linspire 4.5. Later I bought the Dell Inspiron 1420N 14.1'' notebook Core 2 Duo Intel Processor w/Ubuntu. Last but not least I now have the System76 14.1'' Lemur Ultra laptop, which has the 3rd generation Intel Core i7 w/Ubuntu. Over the years for me the 14.1-inch has always hit a sweet spot between performance and mobility. Sad to say even after 7 years,  you still can't just go down to your local Best Buy or Sam's Club and get a Gnu/linux laptop/desktop.

The last 7 years has been fun.

Over the past few years, modern Linux distributions such as Linux Mint has made the open-source desktop user experience into something sleek and simple use. Some would say that Gnu squandered and lost opportunities to capture a meaningful slice of the market. Linux desktop market share remains stagnant at around 1 percent but what is wrong with that?

To me there should be a drive to make it better not just getting on as many systems a possible. Who cares about that when GNU applications don't ensure backward compatibility between different versions of their APIs. For a lot years, they have just broke people's code. What about RPM vs. Deb? Why not merge the capabilities of a deb system with an rpm system to create a system that will play well with both formats? Or maybe make a third? Things like that are more important issues than the 1 percent vs. 99 percent argument. AND Yes, some GPL software still can't stand up to some of the commercial alternatives, but that software on GNU costs nothing to use, and it's built by passionate developers who love what they do, and who usually get very little in return. I use Mozilla Firefox web browser, Banshee multimedia player (similar to Windows Media Player) and the Libre Office productivity suite (the Linux equivalent to Microsoft Office, Word, Excel, etc.) are just three examples of free open-source programs found on Gnu/Linux systems.

There have been many changes but what has not changed is that GNU/Linux is still freely available, and most are not required to register their copies with any central authority. So even now it’s nearly impossible to tell how many people are using any given Linux distribution. Something else that has not changed in the press, any trojan that affects Gun/Linux is front page news. Successful trojans rely on some bug or flaw to exist. On Gnu, security issues can be raised and patches created by any entity, not just the original software author. These updates are applied and pushed into the repos for all applications.

Linux and its distros seem to rule the world in 2012. Google Android, for example, is built on version 3.3 of the Linux Kernel and has a 68% market share. The Gnu/Linux the server is top choice governments, organizations and major companies around the world, like including Amazon and Google. Even Microsoft updated Skype to use secure Linux servers instead of P2P supernodes.

Monday, September 03, 2012

A fast look at Linux Mint 13 “Maya”

I have a Dell Inspiron 1420n that is a 14.1" consumer notebook. The Intel Core 2 Duo (Santa Rosa) processor and nVidia dedicated graphics made it a good buy 4 years ago. The 1420n came preinstalled with Ubuntu 7.10. Unlike Windows, Ubuntu did not make the system cost more and came bundled with a variety of useful software, including a fully-functional office suite. For the last 2 years, I have been using Linux Mint 9 LTS "Isadora" GNOME on my Inspiron . How has life been without windows? For me I do everything I want to do without requiring enormous resources.

Today I am posting this on a system running LM 13 (Linux Mint 13) a user-friendly version of GNU. As expected, Linux Mint comes with the usual set of proprietary codec’s; my laptop's volume keyboard shortcuts worked out-of-the-box, as did things like YouTube, Hulu and MP3 songs.

How do you get Linux Mint? Go to their web site.

Next you will have a choice or two to make.

MATE or Cinnamon desktop? LM 13 MATE, which features MATE, a desktop environment forked from GNOME 2, and Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon, which features Cinnamon, a desktop environment built atop GNOME 3.
32-bit or 64-bit? if you're in doubt, go for 32-bit. To be honest it doesn't make a huge amount of difference, except that you won't be able to access more than 4GB of RAM.

CD or DVD? The CD doesn't include multimedia support and a few extra applications. That's because support for some of that stuff is restricted in the US. Adding them later is only a matter of a single click.

Do you download via torrent or mirror? With good cable connection, torrents took 5-10 minutes whereas a mirror invariably takes 20-25. If you use a mirror, choose a nearby by you.

Note I chose 32-bit Cinnamon desktop on DVD.

After having successfully downloaded the ISO image, and I burned the image with Nero linux, my favorite burning application to a DVD. Note when you down load an "International Organization for Standardization" aka ISO, do not burn a data DVD/CD, but rather choose the option to burn an "image". Once done just pop in the disk and reboot. Boot from the DVD or CD.In case your computer does not automatically boot from CD/DVD, open the BIOS setup to allow booting from CD or DVD.  The system boots and starts a desktop that is run entirely in the RAM of your system (the Linux Mint installation DVD is also a Live-DVD) without changing anything on your hard disk. This has the advantage that you can test how Linux Mint works on your hardware before you finally install it.

Beneath the Cinnamon desktop, you'll find a Linux 3.2 kernel. Mint, like most Linux distributions, is still using ext4 for its file system.  Since it’s built upon Ubuntu 12.04, Mint gets access to the entire suite of Precise Pangolin software, along with updates.12.04 is an LTS release meaning that LM 13 will get the same five year support. Canonical focused a lot during the development of 12.04 on stability of the system. Cinnamon requires 3D acceleration and might not work well for you, depending on your graphics card and/or drivers. So, the Nvidia and AMD/ATI users should test live section before installing it on the system. Now Intel provides excellent driver support for GNU/Linux you rarely go wrong with one of their solutions. The LM MATE version of Linux mint is a great choice for those who don’t have the hardware to run the Cinnamon version.

The purpose of Linux Mint is to produce a modern, elegant and comfortable operating system which is both powerful and easy to use.Started in 2006, Linux Mint is now the 4th most widely used home operating system behind Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS and Canonical's Ubuntu.

Saturday, September 01, 2012


The French electronics company Archos is hoping to bolster its presence in the United States with ARCHOS GamePad which combines physical gaming controls and standard touch screen with a full Android/Linux-powered tablet. Playing games like Mass Effect Infiltrator and Nova 3 was not a nice gaming experience, due to lack of physical controls. It also has a pair of stereo speakers, standard A/B/X/Y buttons, D-pad and two analogs. Kind of looks like the Wii U or maybe even the PS Vita
PS Vita
Wii U

The 7-inch slate has a dual-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz and a quad-core Mali 400 MP GPU and includes 1GB of RAM. It will have a Micro-USB port and a Mini-HDMI output at the very top of the device, and a microSD slot that is expandable up to 64GB. None of those slots are found on the kindle fire or Nexus 7.

The GamePad will be Google certified, too, says Archos. That means it will include full access to Google Play. With over 600 000 apps and games, Google Play has the content for you.

The Mali 400 MP GPU I think is a nice choice for gaming. Its texturing performance is very solid as this GPU has full support for next-generation and legacy 2D/3D graphics applications. It's so much faster than the PowerVR sgx540 found in the nexus and outclasses HTC's EVO Adreno 220 easily. The Mali 400 MP even holds its own vs. the Tegra 3 (Kal-El).

ARCHOS, pioneer in the portable audio and video player market, and now specializing in AndroidTablets, has repeatedly revolutionized the market for consumer electronics since 1988. Today, ARCHOS offers Android Tablets, Tablet PCs and MP3/MP4 players. In 2000, ARCHOS launched the Jukebox 6000, the first MP3 player combined with a hard disk. Then in 2003 ARCHOS introduced the first portable multimedia players with TV recording. In 2006 Wi-Fi is implemented and then touch screens in 2007. In 2008, ARCHOS launched the first generation Internet Tablets, and then the first ever Android powered tablets in 2009. ARCHOS has offices in the United States, Europe and Asia.

Monday, August 06, 2012

"My" Life without Windows 7 or OS X Mountain Lion

I am a Gnu/Linux user. I live a life without windows.  Yes its true while there are perfectly passable alternatives to many popular Windows programs, there are some high-end applications such as Photoshop CS4 don’t have as close equivalents in Linux. No I can’t play Mass effect 3 or GTA IV. Most software and game publishers just don’t have a Linux version of all their products. Gnu/Linux  currently does not play Blu-ray discs. Problem is with "that DRM" on Blu-ray. DRM prevents it use of open source software. Many distro’s do have super "out of the box" support some hardware but driver support at times still lags behind. Gnu/Linux software is a jumble of different packages that may or may not work with your distro. These are all true…

On a side note Photoshop CS4 is a 500 dollar program, not for the masses as it cost more than some PCs today.

However Gnu+linux is a good platform. Did you know that United States Department of Defense is the "single biggest install base for Red Hat Linux" in the world?  Or that movie production studios, like Sony and Disney/Pixar create special visual effects and animation using Gnu+Linux based operating systems. Even the federal court system uses Linux systems for case management, case tracking, accounting, and probation services.

I often see the sentiment expressed that desktop GNU is “too hard” for the average computer user. I don’t think most people would have a problem using say Zorin OS 6, which is based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin).  The most popular feature of  Zorn  is that it automatically retrieves plug-ins (such as Flash and Adobe Acrobat) and codecs for media files, meaning I don't have much  trouble using multimedia content. I can send and receive  e-mail, use Flash based web sites like Hulu Plus, rip  music  to  for my galaxy  MP3 player, create and print documents, use Instant Messaging  to talk to friends and post to blog spot.

Life without Windows/OSX means:

My system doesn’t need to be rebooted periodically to maintain performance levels.

Gnu/ Linux are and have always been a very secure operating system. Yes it still can be attacked but when compared to the others, it much more secure.

The economy, as everyone is well aware, stinks right now. I have control over how much or how little I on the Linux ego system.

Friday, July 20, 2012

OS One-Percenter:Need Microsoft Office07 in Linux?

Gnu/Linux is a computer operating system (OS) like Microsoft Windows and Apple OS X. For the last 2 years, I have been using Mint 9 LTS "Isadora" GNOME which combines the power, stability and cost-savings of Gnu with a familiar, easy-to-use desktop environment. It came with everything I needed to browse the Internet, instant message, e-mail, and share and write documents, work with digital photos, listen to music, play games and much more.

Yes, most the world windows. One of Windows' biggest advantages is the large collection of commercial applications that are exclusive to that platform. The free Gnu/Linux alternative might not be as eye popping or as well-known as the commercial package, and some aspects of the program might not be as polished, but in many cases will get the job done.

CrossOver XI

A program that many may need is MS office. Love it or hate it, the fact is that Microsoft’s suite of office software is a necessary part of many people’s work life. Microsoft at this time will not make a version that will run on Mint. They will one day give them time. I won’t be part of the One percent forever; two percent soon. Until then there is CrossOver Linux 11 (formerly known as CrossOver Office)

Starting at $39.95, CrossOver XI is a very cheap way to get MS office to run Linux. CrossOver XI does not require you to purchase Windows 7. You can install Office 97, 2000, 2003, XP, and 2007. CrossOver XI also introduces official support for Microsoft Office 2010. .NET Frameworks from 1.1 to 3.5 is now supported too. Word and Excel 2010 are working perfectly, at this time PowerPoint 2010 not so much.

All I did was open Crossover Linux form Applications > CrossOver > Install Windows Software. Next I placed the CD then select the option of CD ROM Then browsed to the place where media is situated. Hit Next. After CrossOverl creates a new bottle it will start the installation of various fonts and msxml3.exe along
with office.
Microsoft Word 2007
You will find all the MS Office programs like Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc under Applications > Windows Applications > Microsoft Office. It integrates properly with GNOME so that office will run seamlessly in the Mint 9 environment.

Side note: Crossover is currently a 32-bit application, and it cannot support 64-bit windows apps. Also not all Windows programs will run perfectly. Most won't even run at all, although many of them will at least install.

Microsoft PowerPoint 2007

At Bestbuy you will have to drop down a cool 149.99 For Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007. Too rich for your blood? Try LibreOffice. It combines word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation tools similar to the Microsoft Office suite. While LibreOffice today may not be a 100 percent, feature-for-feature match with Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007,but its strong interoperability with Office file formats, combined with the fact its free, making it the best alternative for people that need only basic capabilities. Again its Free.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Global (Nuclear) Patent War

I don’t normally talk about what’s going on in the world of Apple, but since they have attacked the nexus with patent lawsuits, I just thought I would note a few things. I remember once Steve Ballmer once described Linux as a "cancer". They (Microsoft Inc) were always claiming Gnu/Linux stole from them.

Now Apple is claiming Goggle stole the unified search also known as Apple’s '604 Siri patent from them. Apple's voice-activated search function that gathers information from Wikipedia, Yahoo,Wolfram Alpha and you guessed it Google. Without trial Apple was just awarded an injunction on the Galaxy Nexus because of the infringement claim. For a time the Samsung Galaxy Nexus was not even available via the Google Play Store and was deemed as “Coming Soon.” That was messed up especially after Google just dropped the price on the device to $349.99. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Friday issued a temporary stay of the ban on the Galaxy Nexus until Apple responds on July 12. Notice of the order was posted on the court’s website.

Here is the crazy thing. Something called Zhizhen Network Technology say that Apple’s Siri voice assistant infringes on their Xiaoi voice assistant. Siri, which uses voice recognition technology from Nuance, was acquired by Apple in 2010. I'm not sure how true Zhizhen's claim is, but its just hard for any software developer to find out whether they might be infringing someone else's patents. People are often coming up with the same ideas all the time. The cost of defending against a patent infringement is around $2 million before trial even starts, and millions more for a complete defense, even when successful.

While Microsoft hasn't formally rescinded its declaration that Linux violates its patents and is cancer. They seem at have backed off the craziness. Microsoft ranked at number 17 on the list of Linux 2.6.36 contributing companies.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Together Again

On 14 March 1994, Linux 1.0.0 was released, with 176,250 lines of code. In nearly 21 years, Linux has grown to more than 15 million lines of code. Most of the code resides in the drivers subtree. Linux and Android are two closely linked open-source projects, but they've been  distant they are from each other for a while. As of March 2012, version 3.3 of the Linux kernel made its way to the public. and once again includes Google Android Code. This should increase Android's hardware compatibility, make life easier for developers looking to port Android, and help out Linux distributions that want to support Android programs.

Some time in the next 4 weeks we will see Google's new Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" OS based on Linux Kernel 3.  Jelly Bean's biggest features is Project Butter, an effort to improve performance and response time that includes a much smoother UI experience. Animations are smoother and faster. The CPU immediately ramps up the moment a touch is detected to ensure speedy response. The only problem I see here is Jelly Bean will be available only for some devices; the GSM-based Galaxy Nexus, Motorola Xoom and Nexus S. They will get it automatically with next mouths over-the-air update. Why only those three? Because Google controls those devices. 

Will the Sprint and Verizon models of the Galaxy Nexus get Jelly Bean next month? History says no. Android 4.0.4 came to Verizon's phones two months after appearing on GSM models. The Nexus S hit the market back in Dec of 2010, old by our fast pace world. It will get the update. Well any is any other android phones from that "era" get the 4.1 OTA?

Sadly no. Google doesn't push upgrades on the OEMs or carriers; they're offered a choice. The sad truth about the economics of the phone marketplace is that phone companies want you to extend your contract by picking up a new subsidized phones. They along with the OEMs make a lot of money off selling new devices, not upgrading really old ones. The best way to get the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean upgrade, in their minds, is to buy a new phone.

So Jelly Bean and Linux 3 will rock. Sad to say many probably will never get it. Well unless you renew that contact with a new phone.