Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The problem with Linux ...

I embarked on my Linux journey some 2 years ago. Tired of Microsoft explains why I made the leap into the unknown. The downside to Linux if one can really call it a fault, is the stability of the operating system.

For the past two years I and many others have been privy to a once again stable platform. As previously mentioned Linux is not for the faint of heart and if you are not used to working from the "command prompt", well Linux may not be for you. The operating system has a great GUI and the integration with the Ubuntu distro almost seamless. However, at times you will be required to carry out tasks at the command prompt. To further exacerbate this dilemma, comparatively to DOS, it is a new language, but one that is easily mastered. So why is this a problem?

Well because of overall system stability, one forgets what one learns. The infrequency of formatting from the command prompt for the average user hastens the forgetfulness of lessons learned. Because one is not constantly re-formatting their PC for one reason or another, you become rusty.

I started off with Fiesty Fawn running a KDE interface which made the transition form XP seamless. The purist on the other hand prefer doing everything from the command prompt, which is not for me. I enjoy being able to see what I am doing rather than work in the dark relatively speaking. A certain amount of trust in ones abilities needs to be developed before one is completely at ease when operating in this fashion. Therefore I still prefer to format using GUI (graphic user interface). As my skills increased over the years I preferred a much cleaner version of Ubuntu and I now run strictly from the embedded interface GNOME. It has a greater, cleaner, quicker and less cumbersome feel to it when compared to the KDE desktop which many Window's users still prefer.

So after a year and a half I upgraded to Intrepid Ibex, I like to remain a distro behind everyone else. It allows time for the quirks to be worked out and with a new distro coming off the line every 6 months (Apr/Oct), it's no biggie. I don't go gaga over bells and whistles anymore, I need functionality and great user interface. Therefore as an old saying goes if it ain't broke, why mess with it. As mentioned I like the look and feel of my present distro over my former one hands down. Team Ubuntu had done their homework and delivered a great product with regards to functionality, albeit my own opinion. I now have a system I truly enjoy interfacing and working with.

The switch too Linux was not without heartaches, I could no longer run MS programs on it. Well I could through an emulator, but that was worst than running Windows. The functionality of the emulator was program dependent, some worked ok, others just simply didn't. This was not a major problem for what I did at a station, as Linux has all alternative programs one would need. On the other hand I missed the graphic program I was using to do my virtuals, the Linux version just doesn't cut it. Have you gathered I'm fussy when it comes to functionality.

My present desktop! Can you tell the difference? Outside of knowing where to find stuff and the geeky stuff that gets done in the background, well it looks and feels like a Windows machine, with the aforementioned attributes. I can't seem to find a snap shot of my first system, but it looked similar. The brother in law's hair had a windswept look after surfing a couple of weeks back (he's still on dialup at home). Couldn't believe the speed and relative ease of navigation etc...

Finally the best of both worlds, a Linux box running Windows XP in a Virtual Machine, now were talking. I have gained my old friend back not to mention a couple of other old programs that I required but wouldn't work correctly in emulation. That centered box can be deployed to full screen as the need arises. If we look closely at the bottom right hand corner, at the far right is the trash bin. Immediately preceding that is 4 individual desktops (grey squares). The one on the far left has Firefox running on it, the one with the blue square is the desktop above. This particular feature I use extensively. As I get more aggressive it's functionality is in need of being increased, from the present four to six, don't fret I can have up to sixteen, but then the system becomes cluttered, something I despise. In the last couple of days going back and forth through some programing instructions I could have used six easily.

This is Ubuntu running in the background with Windows 7 running in a Virtual Machine. Scuttlebutt has it that this system (Win 7) is the system of all systems. Well at a 64 bit transfer rate it should be. The downside to this system is that you are going to require a new box to run it, or use the system at a reduced capacity. I gather from discussion that this is a gamers dream come true. Well don't they have XBox for that. To me a PC is a usefull tool vice a gaming station.

As usual Windows is a hog for RAM and Win7 is no different. The minimum system requirement is 2 gig, with a recommended 4 gig. In comparison my XP VM is running on 256 megs whilst the Win7 wanted a whole gig. My system only has 1 gig of RAM which is more than sufficient for what I do. As I can only assign half of my RAM (512 megs) to the VM, Win7 was indeed sluggish, so much so that I removed it from my system. I only had 1 gig of RAM, I still require RAM to run the host (the Linux Box). On the other hand it had a cleaner and crisper look when compared to Vista. I may splurge on another gig of RAM to really give this system a fair run for its money. The latter is not to be interpreted that I will reconvert, on the contrary, it will be installed on the wifes's laptop.

For information purposes running a Virtual machine on a host system does not affect the hosts hard drive with the exception of a partition created on the HD from the free space. Installing and removing VMs is like deleting a file more or less. When installing a new VM, it just partitions a section of available free space, thus cleaning up the mess the previous system left behind. I forgot to mention. Win XP required a 10 gig partition whilst Win 7 wanted a 20 gig. MS supposedly trimmed the fat of Win7, yeah right.

In closing, now I have my cake and can eat it too.

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