It was about 6 PM that evening, roughly 9 weeks ago, I double-clicked the "Install Linux Mint" icon.
I will not bore you with the installation experience except to say that I hesitated for a while as I pondered "partitioning". Since I was going to use the entire 120 gig hard drive anyway, the instructions were straightforward and understandable.
However, since I was seeing the graphical representation of my hard drive, I wanted to see what my options were. It took me a short time to really understand the bars at the top of the partitioning program as they related to the partition on which I was focused. Later, when I experimented with other Linux distros, I learned how to build partitions on which to install them.
Honestly, I can see where this would intimidate the uninitiated. I am the youngest of four kids and all of my older siblings are brothers. I learned a long time ago, never let them see you sweat.
Speaking of worry, thanks to those who create Mint and other distros for reminding me that I am proceeding without a swap partition. That halted me long enough to scratch out a note for research later. I ended up doing the install, then when finished, finding out what a swap partition was. I found the partitioning tool and resized my partition to include it. During the install, there was nothing telling me how important it really is.
Since my initial exposure to Linux, I've seen a few different representations of the partitioning process, different tools and different ways to represent the space that is or will be partitions. In my opinion, PCLinuxOS and Mandriva have about the easiest partitioning tools for the new user, but given most any of them, a bit of caution and careful reading should get even the most timid to the next screen without
It was less than 15 minutes later, the monitor screen told me my install was done. Yeah, right. How many more reboots, question fields and more reboots until I was really finished?
I clicked restart and less than 10 seconds later, my DVD drive slid open and I was instructed to remove the disk and hit enter. How cool is that? The DVD drawer actually closed shut after I hit enter. Less than a minute later, I was a Linux user.
One thing that I noted as I explored my new system; there was nothing there that wanted me to sign a trial offer, remind me that a subscription would be needed in 90 days or offer me software that I didn't need. Sure, there is a TON of programs in a Linux DVD that I would probably never use, but there are many included that I look forward to using, or at least give them a measure of experimentation.
I truly appreciate the lack of pop-ups and circus-like pages that try to entice me into their software tent. No, I do not like trialware.
Please do not get me started on wireless drivers in Windows. It has been explained to me that this used to be a source of great angst for Linux users but installing a distro called Pinguy on my laptop produced immediate connection ability for my ancient Thinkpad. It is dependent upon a USB dongle wireless device and I take a deep breath of fresh air when I realize I don't have to dig through a pile of disks and flash drives to find those drivers anymore.
For me, my initial install of Linux Mint had everything I needed to get to work. As a Microsoft Office user, I found LibreOffice to be competent but different enough to have a modest learning curve. The word processor is smooth as silk. The spreadsheet solution was an entirely different story.
It is vastly different than Excel. Once I got the hang of it and began learning the differences in how to do things, I stumbled along until I was able to use it but it's not intuitive at all, at least for me. It took me forever to figure out how to get it to simply keep running tabs on an ultimate total for an invoice. I have also learned that conversion between file formats can be greasy if using complex tables or graphics.
My Editor called me and said that it looked like the document had "been under a terrorist attack". It looked fine on my machine as an .xlt file, but the email delivery fairies must have decided to rearrange it prior to it arriving in the Editor's email box. It was truly a mess. I had to come into the office and redo it on Microsoft Office.
I am not a database person so I am completely unqualified to remark on the LibreOffice database. I do however find the presentation tool completely competent and have used it twice and saved it to Microsoft format without problems.
In Windows, I used Windows Media Player to play my music and VLC to watch clips and movies. At first I was a taken aback slightly by the choices of media players for Linux. I am not particularly thrilled with Rhythmbox or Amarok. I have since settled on Clementine for my music collection. It just seems to be a cleaner, more productive and easy interface.
Speaking of interfaces. Even though I have only used Linux for a short time, I could not help finding myself bogged down by the hurricane of dissent concerning things like Gnome, Ubuntu Unity and KDE. I have spent some time in each type of desktop and find strength and weaknesses in all of them but I will admit a bit of confusion over Ubuntu Unity.
I use dual monitors and for the life of me, Unity refuses to work with them. As well, it seems to take forever to click through to what I want to do. I personally find it a hindrance more than a help. I cannot see myself using it much at all. I do not understand how clicking two to three times in Unity is a better choice than having to click something once in Gnome or Xfce. Possibly if I had a small laptop or netbook it might work, but for my two big rigs, it fails immediately.
In all, I suppose I prefer the very first desktop I used and that is the Gnome desktop in Mint. I hear the roar of the crowd concerning the new Gnome and downloaded Fedora 15 to see what the fuss is about. In my opinion, all the fuss is about an under cooked chicken. If the developers have put it out there for ongoing user improvements or "further cooking", then I understand. If they think that is the finished product, then I will stay an old Gnome user. Xfce is something I have on my list to use should the old Gnome go away.
In my travels down the Linux Path, I also developed a curiosity to explore KDE. It is my understanding that there has been a major change within the past couple of years within KDE. I downloaded the live DVD of Open Suse and took some time to work with it. KDE is stunningly beautiful but complex. It has components to it with names so out of sync with what they do, that it was difficult for me to understand their purpose within the environment.
The first time I encountered the Akonadi server, my initial reaction was to ignore it because I didn't need a server on my desktop machine. I had no idea how important it was to KDE as a whole. There were others that left me scratching my head as well but I cannot bring them to mind at the moment. I for one like the "K" naming scheme within KDE. It lets me know during software searches via Synaptic that it is a KDE application. On the whole though, KDE is a bit complex for my needs. There seems to be too many ways to accomplish the same task within that environment and it can be confusing. Again, this is from a complete new user.
There is a lot to like about Linux. I am now an official convert. Fortunately, my co-worker and friend Mark has about half the staff using Linux at the office. Do not get too excited, there are only 11 of us. As I understand it, all of our server software is Linux as well. As I hear it, we are an anomaly in the business world. At least our anomaly does not crash minutes before a deadline.
In retrospect, I have recently read a large amount of comments and articles on how Linux is not ready for prime time. Honestly, if I had read even a fraction of these articles, I doubt I would have installed it, even with Mark's endorsement. In the past two months or so, I can honestly say I can not understand how these writers came to such a conclusion. Linux works extremely well for me.
With that being said, there are things in Windows I miss.
part III and the final entry to Chika's notes will be posted late tomorrow. - HeliOS.