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The Hizzle of T-Fizzle » Blog Archive » The Linux Clock Is Ticking…plus…Content?!

The Linux Clock Is Ticking…plus…Content?!   

Faithful readers will recall that over a year ago when my computer went belly-up, I decided it was time to switch to linux full time since I had a working linux box.  A few months ago, I also tried to run linux on my work laptop figuring I could use a VM for anything that *had* to run in Windows.  I had to abandon this effort because my on-board wireless simply would not work under Ubuntu.  My mantra for linux has been “It’s not ready for prime time.”  And it’s still not.

But I have good news: It’s about ready for Final Jeopardy or perhaps the beginning of Wheel Of Fortune (here in Phillyland, Jeopardy runs at 7PM and Wheel runs at 7:30 - just shy of the elusive 8PM start of prime time.

I had been using CentOS mainly because I’d been using it at work so at least had some familiarity with it.  Once I got through the somewhat ridiculous hurdles involved with setting the display resolution, getting wireless working and getting my printer going, I found that it was working passably and I only REALLY had to launch the Windows VM to access my MP3 player and print to my HiTi photo printer.  But there were some tasks that I simply hadn’t been able to master to my satisfaction such as ripping CDs and even playing MP3s.  Every so often I would feel like perhaps it was my lucky to try my hand at some of these…and then spent a few frustrated hours accomplishing nothing.

Recently, I started to think the perhaps the problem wasn’t so much that linux is not ready for prime time (which is still true), but more that CentOS is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and neither of these products was intended to be used as a “workstation” OS - they were supposed to be server OSes!  As a result, there is not great support in the major software repositories for things like MP3 players.  You end up with a lot of dependency problems and trying to compile from source isn’t much easier.

So with the release of the new “Hardy Huron” version of Ubuntu imminent, I decided that now might be a good time to give the prior version, “Gutsy Gibbon” a shot.  And it’s close…so close to prime time.  Many pieces of it really did “just work.”  In CentOS my audio was barely audible.  I thought it was my speakers, but Ubuntu came pre-loaded with drivers and a mixer that allows me to actually increase the volume to an audible level.  The display came with the correct resolution automatically.  Wireless is still fairly weak.  In my case, the driver auto-detected just fine, but using the built-in network-manager app I could not connect at all and it would lock the card up.  But if I configure my wireless settings manually, it works fine.  Since this is a non-portable computer, it’s not even a hassle.  Getting my printer working was a tiny bit sketchy, but because of the large userbase for Ubuntu, it was fairly easy to figure out how to install it.  At this point, I’m pretty much where I was with CentOS…but it was much less frustrating.  My only complaint right now is that it keeps crashing randomly, but this could be a variety of things.  Also, my KVM switch causes all sorts of strange behavior from the mouse.

But things are progressing nicely for linux and Ubuntu.  In fact, at this point if you don’t have any incompatible hardware, I might even go so far as to say that if you had a friend or relative that didn’t have any non-linux specific needs and isn’t going to poke around too much and screw something up, you could probably give them an Ubuntu machine and they’d be pretty satisfied!  The clock is ticking towards prime time, and I’m looking forward to seeing what Hardy Huron (or is it Heron?) has to offer.  Hopefully it’s a simple upgrade, too!

This upgrade also forced me to start catching up on my picture updates.  I had no really sensible way to back up my data for the re-install, so I had to use my camera to back everything up to SD-card (note to self: get an SD reader).  In restoring my data, I also loaded a stack of pics to the PC that had languished on my camera for many months, and I noticed that Ubuntu comes pre-loaded with something called “F-Spot” which is a photo-management program.

I never felt the need to have something like Picasa, but since it was there I figured I would at least give it a try…and let me tell you…I love it!  It gives you an intuitive way to browse and sort your pictures, offers some light-weight editing right in the UI and interfaces directly with GIMP for heavier editing AND it automatically preserves the original so that I no longer have to do this myself.  In fact, I used to upload the originals, make a new copy of each original, then edit those copies and sort them into various folders for pictures that would be published, rejected, etc.  Now I can simply tag them accordingly in F-Spot and away I go.  You can also tag them with people, places, etc, so in just a click I can see all the pics of curling, my dog, or both!  Oh, and it also has a handy plugin to upload directly to both my gallery here AND to Facebook!

So inspired was I by F-Spot that I immediately began uploading pictures.  Those of you on Facebook should note that everything posted on Facebook will also be posted here, but not the reverse.  Basically if the subject matter does not involve Facebook friends, I will just post them here.

Here we go…there may be commentary posted later on for some of these sets.  Clicking the pic will take you to the corresponding gallery.

Our 2008 Saint Patrick’s Day party

The Jeff Harris Curlathon…a benefit for our friend who suffered a spinal cord injury last Summer.  You might see a couple local legends in this gallery.

A rugby game…a few years ago my brother-in-law (pictured here) spotted a sign that read “Give Blood…Play Rugby” and he has been playing ever since for Whitehorse Rugby Football Club.

There are still some curling posts to come…and even more pics.

Stay tuned!

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One Response to “The Linux Clock Is Ticking…plus…Content?!”

  1. Mike Says:

    Hey you know I will always try and push OpenSolaris. Although I will admit Ubuntu is pretty cool.

    If you need a pretty cool free VM try Virtual Box:

    We just bought these guys and their project seems pretty cool. I haven’t tried it yet, but people who have said it worked well for them.

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