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My first real Linux experience – timesucking but cool

Well, it’s 4:30 am on Monday Morning. I haven’t slept yet, but I’ve tried to. I’m at my computer, obviously posting this little entry. This weekend, I finally had free time for something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I installed Ubuntu Linux onto my computer. Ubuntu is like Windows or Mac, it’s just another operating system. It’s quite different from what I can see. There are some huge benefits to using Linux over Windows. One is that almost everything about it is free. You don’t pay for software, except with a few special apps you might find on the internet. Linux is free, and hundreds of apps are included free too. And there are some really good applications I might add. Amazing really.

So I’m not going to complain about that, but I am going to complain about some of the things I’ve encountered. Basically installing software is done through a command line in the terminal. So you have to type in things like sudo apt-get install fooprogram and if that program exists, it will download and install automatically or be upgraded automatically from a repository of software apps. Of course getting to the point where you know how to do all this stuff, takes some playing around. In one sense, it’s easier than Windows, but in most everything it’s more difficult. For example, I’ve spent hours trying to figure out how to get a larger cursor on this thing. Apparently it’s not like Windows where you can just choose the “big” cursor theme in the display properties.

I even installed this program called big-cursor, but I can’t find it anywhere. Also there are little controls in the themes / cursors properties that should let me resize the cursor, but it doesn’t actually do anything. I guess it depends on the cursor theme I have currently running? None of this matters really, but I think cursor size should be an option under the Accessibility menu, and it’s not. In fact, the Accessibility menu is really skimpy, consisting of a text voice reader.
I installed Linux because I really wanted to try out this program called Rosegarden. It’s a full featured music program including midi sequencing and even notation. I wanted to make music and this is the only free program out there that does all these things. Guess what? I installed and played with Rosegarden, it’s very impressive. But because of some unknown missing piece or setting I can’t hear any of the notes in the timeline. I can see it playing back, but a sound font or volume switch is mute which I can’t find. Great program, doesn’t do me any good whatsoever at this point.
One thing I do like are the graphic apps. I was able to play around with the Gimp, which is like Photoshop. I’ve had several complaints about Gimp on Windows, mainly that the tool palettes are too easy to hide. This little problem doesn’t happen in Linux so far. It’s behaving just fine. Now I know why Linux people love the Gimp more than I have in the past. It works better here on linux. Also got Scribus, Inkscape, Krita and more. My setup is a desktop publishing workhorse now!
I’ve downloaded the latest firefox, with a little issue. Firefox comes installed by default, but the recent update had to be acquired through a little searching and some special code that I pasted into the terminal. Again, pretty annoying, but it works fine now. Extensions are working too. Firefox is a must have. It’s a web browser if you haven’t heard of it, but it’s very extensible and really is helpful for me as a web developer and heavy surfer.
So my experience with Ubuntu is that I’m impressed, but with the hours I’ve put in trying to customize, It’s pretty frustrating. However, despite Mac OSX being really easy to use I don’t know I could customize that anymore than this. Less in fact. I shouldn’t expect to know everything about a computer right from the beginning, especially an operating system designed to be for tinkerers. I will say that If I walked into a workplace and had to use Ubuntu, (already set up for me), I would be content. It beats Windows in so many of it’s offerings out of the box, and for general computing, email, chat, word processing, it’s a perfect choice.

Apologies to those of you reading this who couldn’t give a crap about computers. Unfortunately I’m obsessed with them, so I tend to have a lot to say about my experiences.

Bed time

One response to “My first real Linux experience – timesucking but cool”

  1. Francis says:

    Hey I don’t know which version of Ubuntu you got (I think mine is Gnome Breezy). I have the choice between the “Add application” dialog menu and the “Synaptic Package Manager” window. Both take care of everything and you just have to search for the name of the software you want to install and clicl “INSTALL”. This is awesome. Like yourself, I have turned my computer into a desktop and Web publishing tool with the GIMP, Inskscape, Scribus and Bluefish.

May 15, 2006 at 6:04 am | computers, music | 1 comment