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.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

My history with GNU/Linux

Happy New Year 2019...

GNU/Linux is many times overlooked by most people and does not get as much attention outside of software enthusiasts. I've have used Linux on and off for 15 years, and Linux has been my only OS for over 9 years. There are about 100 different active distributions according to DistroWatch. There's a wide range of desktop environments to choose from, but the most common ones are GNOME, KDE, XFCE, Deepin and MATE (pronounced Ma-Tay, like yerba mate). There are even app warehouses. When you want to install a new program, the package manager queries the distribution's repository (or app store/warehouse) to look for the software package.  Linux software repositories have been around much longer than iTunes or Google Play. I typically run Linux Mint, Deepin, OpenSuse tumbleweed, Manjaro Linux and Pop!_OS.  My favorite distribution of all time was Lindows/Linspire, RIP August 2001-October 2007.

In 2003 I was using  Lindows 4.0 on a custom made Pentium 3 desktop pc. I soon bought the Balance 14.1" Laptop, 1.2 GHz VIA C3 Processor, w/ Linspire 4.5. Later  I bought a Dell Inspiron 1420N 14.1'' notebook Core 2 Duo Intel Processor w/Ubuntu Sometime later I got the very powerful System76 14.1'' Lemur Ultra laptop, which had the 3rd generation Intel Core i7 w/Ubuntu. I've also used Raspbian a Raspberry Pi.

As of 2018 I'm using an Asus X201E-DH01 with a 2nd generation Intel Mobile Celeron 847 which is an Ultra Low Voltage (ULV) dual-core processor. The GPU is HD-capable but doesn't support 3D acceleration or several video processing technologies. However the Thermal Design Power of this chip is 17 Watt, and that accounts for the CPU cores, the GPU, and other components. Windows 10 does not run the best on that hardware. However, Manjaro, and Linux mint both run much faster.

When I need to do heavier lifting I use my prebuilt HP ProDesk 400 G1 MT Intel Core i7 (Haswell) 4770 based system. My custom built Ryzen 7 system I use it more so for testing. don't have to spend a lot of time in Terminal, issuing text commands to install graphics drivers. Taking my personal experience with Pop! OS version 18.04 as an example, I didn't need to touch Terminal. All of the hardware on my pre-built HP ProDesk 400 G1 MT was automatically detected, right down to a Radeon RX 560 Video Card.

Relatively new to Linux are "Snaps." These are universal packages that install easily across various distributions like Pop!_OS, Linux Mint, Debian and others. The Snap Store contains many programs to choose from like Spotify, Telegram, Slack, Blender, VLC, OBS Studio etc.

In 2018 Steam adds Proton, making SOME Windows games playable on Linux. Proton is a new tool released by Valve Software that has been integrated with Steam Play to make playing Windows games on Linux as simple as hitting the Play button within Steam. As of Dec 31 2018 over 2,500 Windows Games Work On Linux Through Steam Play. With Proton: 3-7-8, I was able to play the MS Windows 10 ver. of King of Fighters 14 steam edition. No tweaks needed, No crash, No sound problems.

Mark Shuttleworth this year announced that Ubuntu 18.04 will be supported for ten years. Long Term Support releases of Ubuntu is usually just 5 years of support, doubling to 10 years.

Technology/consulting firm PC/OpenSystems LLC has acquired the rights to the names and have released Freespire 3.0 / Linspire 7.0. Being a fan of the original Linspire I decided to give this iteration a try. Linspire 7 is a solid distribution but its no Linspire 5-0. They choose XFCE for there desktop for crying out loud. There is nothing that seriously stands out with Linspire 7 to make me say WOW. There is no Click and Run. Now they did come out with a Service Pack for general release. With the Linspire 7 SP1 KDE is now the default desktop.
In 2019 it will still true that most apps are tailored to be written for Windows. If you look in the right places you can find some GNU-compatible versions, but only for very popular software. Windows has a big advantage over Linux which is that in the software as virtually every program is designed from the ground-up with Windows support in mind. Gnu/Linux currently will not play Hollywood DRM Blu-ray discs.


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