Author Topic: Alternatives to windoze  (Read 9396 times)

Offline zero

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Alternatives to windoze
« on: January 17, 2014, 05:51:48 PM »
      I'm making this post not only with the hope that it helps others but also as a reference for my own use when I'm reloading software on my own machines. In case you hadn't heard, my operating system of choice is Xubuntu Linux. Linux is a very flexible OS, far more secure than windoze and, as such, far less prone to malware, trojans, spyware and viruses. Its claim to fame is for being very lean and able to run very well on older computer hardware. On newer hardware it REALLY FLIES leaving windoze in the dust.

      There are several basic foundations of Linux upon which many other flavors are built. My preference is Debian which seems to attract more software developers and offer the largest repositories of free software. Ubuntu uses Debian Linux as its foundation. For those who are less familiar with Linux, the different flavors of Ubuntu go something like this.

      Linux is the basic command line operating system without a graphical user interface (GUI).
      • Kubuntu Linux is the base OS with a KDE GUI. KDE by far exceeds windoze for eye candy and special desktop effects. It also therefore needs more video and CPU horsepower to run well.
      • Ubuntu Linux is the base OS with the Unity desktop environment. It strikes a good balance between eye candy and performance. Up until version 11.04 it came with Gnome desktop which I loved. After that they switched to Unity developed by Canonical and I really hated the way users were forced to adopt new ways of interacting with the OS. This felt very much like a macrosoft mentality decision "You WILL do it our way. You'll like it. Really." Well, I didn't like it and I dumped Unity.
      • Xubuntu Linux is the base OS with the XFCE desktop environment. Functionally this is a more stripped down desktop, favoring performance over eye candy. Out of the box it looks like a cross between a MAC and WinXP. Task bar at the top, pop-up application bar at the bottom, fly-out menus. But, almost everything is configurable. After a fresh install, in just a few minutes I move things around, change a few settings and I have a desktop that looks almost identical to WinXP. Work-flow is almost identical.
      • Lubuntu Linux is the base OS with LDXE desktop environment. This is by far the most stripped down, yet still very functional GUI and favors performance over all else. It's not unattractive by any means and still very customizable.
      • Edubuntu is just Ubuntu with a different set of bundled applications targeted at schools and universities.
      • Ubuntu Studio is really Xubuntu with every multimedia application under the sun bundled in and a low latency kernel.
      The current LTS version is 14.04.1 and seems very stable. When I'm doing a fresh install there's a list of applications I consider "Must have", most of which are found in the Ubuntu Software Center, some only in the Synaptic package manager after Synaptic has been installed from the software center. They are:

      • Synaptic (Advanced program manager. I greatly prefer it to the Software Center)
      • gdebi (demian package installer that takes care of all the dependencies for you)
      • gksu (super user prefix for running apps that need root)
      • Gufw (Simple GUI for firewall configuration)
      • alacarte (A friendlier start menu editing GUI)
      • Wine (Allows many windoze applications to run right from Linux!)
      • libavformat-extra-54 (Extra multimedia codecs for writing xvid, mp3, etc)
      • libavutil-extra-52
      • libavcodec-extra-54
      • WinFF (Video file conversion utility)
      • Audacity (Audio file editor)
      • gthumb (Excellent image browser with basic editing)
      • VLC (Multimedia playback)
      • Flash Plugin Installer (For Flash web content)
      • LibreOffice (Replaces MS Office)
      • Fotoxx (Panoramic image stitching and many other photo retouching effects)
      • Kdenlive (Non-linear video editor. Windoze movie maker on steroids. Comperable to Sony Vegas)
      • Skype (Online video conferencing)
      • Evolution (Groupware, Email, calendar, address book, tasks. I might replace with Claws-mail.)
      • Hotot (Twitter client)
      • Brasero (CD/DVD burning utility)
      • Seahorse (For managing PGP cryptographic keys)
      • Chromium-browser
      • pepperflashplugin-nonfree (Up to date Flash for Chromium)
      • ClamTK (Antivirus for Linux for the really paranoid)
      • Unetbootin (Creates bootable USB flash drives)
      • Tuxboot (Creates bootable USB drives for partitioning tools like Clonezilla. Requires PPA.)
      • Gparted (Hard drive and flash drive partitioner)
      • FileZilla (Secure FTP file transfer utility)
      • gnome-nettool (Basic network tools like Whois, ping, traceroute, port scan, netstat, Finger)
      • WireShark (Advanced network utility/raw packet sniffer)
      • Wipe (Command line secure file deletion. Can be added directly to Thunar file manager context menus)
      • Bleachbit (File and disk wiper with nice GUI)
      • system-config-samba (GUI for configuring file sharing with windoze and Linux computers)
      • Gnome System Monitor (Nice tool for monitoring system processes)
      • Gtkterm (terminal emulator for serial ports. Replaces Hyperterm)
      • Arduino IDE (For programming my Arduino boards)
      • Extra icon themes (Not needed but adds more choices for icon sets)
      • Fldigi (multi format over the air digital encoder/decoder for ham radio)
      • Video for Linux User Control Panel (v4l2ucp, for adjusting webcam settings)

      Packages installed outside of the normal repositories:

      • OBS Studio (Replaces Webcam Max and GUVC View)
      • Truecrypt (Secure file storage. Not in repos. Message me if you want a copy.)
      • Virtual Box (Advanced tool to create virtual machines on your desktop)
      • pulseaudio-equalizer

      PPA's I can't live without that keep my system updated with bleeding edge releases and bug fixes:

      • ppa:thomas.tsai/ubuntu-tuxboot (Required for Tuxboot)
      • ppa:obsproject/obs-studio-unstable (Required for OBS Studio)
      • ppa:jon-severinsson/ffmpeg (for ffmpeg)
      • ppa:paul-climbing/ppa (for WinFF)
      • ppa:pj-assis/ppa (for GUVC View)
      • ppa:sunab/kdenlive-release (for Kdenlive)
      • ppa:nilarimogard/webupd8 (for Pulse Audio Equalizer)

      Best of all, every software package above is absolutely free of charge. So it the OS! You may or may not need all of these but this is a good place to start. Other applications that come bundled with Xubuntu I have absolutely no use for and uninstall immediately before installing anything are:

      • -Pidgin (multi platform Instant messaging client)
      • -Ristretto (Lightweight picture viewer. I prefer gThumb)
      • -Thunderbird (Fairly bloated. I prefer Evolution)
      • -xfburn (CD/DVD burner. I prefer Brasero which works for me every time xfburn doesn't)
      • -Parole (Windoze Media Player clone. I prefer VLC)
      • -Gmusic Browser (iTunes wannabe. Pretty good. I just have no use for it)
      • -Gnumeric (Basic spreadsheet editor. LibreOffice is much better)
      • -Abiword (Much like Wordpad. LibreOffice replaces it and Mousepad replaces windoze Notepad)

      Other Linux flavors people seem to like are Mint, Knoppix, Gentoo, CentOS, Tails, etc. For a really lightweight OS there's Puppy Linux or Tinycore. Here are some top picks from other experts...


      Many of these distros can be burned to and booted from CD/DVD before making any commitment to install them on your hard drive. You even have the option to retain dual boot functionality so you can commit in steps rather than all at once. I hope this post encourages some of you to at least try something different. You might like it. Just ask Doug Nevitt, aka Gettinwet in my nerd herd.

      Z


      P.S. Almost forgot. My three must have add-ons for Chromium are:

      Savefrom.net plugin for Chromium-browser. One of the few that still work at YouTube. Send that boy a donation!
      AdBlock Plus 2.4 (Yes, it really works)
« Last Edit: February 24, 2016, 02:55:30 PM by zero »

Offline zero

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Re: Alternatives to windoze
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2014, 10:10:23 PM »
One of the things I forgot to mention about most Linux distributions is release cycles. Every so often there's a release with a LTS suffix. This stands for Long Term Support. LTS releases come out every two years in the Spring and each LTS release now has a supported life span of 5 years. This means there's 3 years of overlap for support between LTS versions. If the version you're using is stable and does what you need, there's no need to upgrade until the support ends for your version. Ubuntu (in all flavors) 10.04 and 12.04 were LTS releases. A lot of attention is given to stability for these LTS releases. For that reason most people who prefer stability over bleeding edge features will opt for LTS.

Every 6 months or so there are also interim development releases. So, between 10.04LTS and 12.04LTS there was 10.10, 11.04 and 11.10, the normal progression of version numbers. Support for these versions now only lasts 1 year with about 6 months of overlap. While these versions usually contain the latest and greatest features, they're often less reliable than the LTS counterparts. Once you start down that upgrade roller coaster and wish you had an LTS version instead, you're kind of stuck until the ride comes to an end with the next LTS release. The only other option is to wipe and reinstall the prior LTS release, then wait for the next LTS release, perhaps even several months after the next LTS to wait for all the wrinkles to be ironed out.

Such is the boat I'm in right now. I made the plunge to try 13.10 because I wanted to see what sort of little annoyances had been fixed since 12.04. Certain video drivers I was waiting for are now native to the kernel, mouse cursors were fixed, system settings were reorganized, it just seemed to work better. That is, of course, until tonight when it just decided that the Linux partition should disappear. I mean POOF! It just vanished. The boot loader gave me "Error: no such partition, grub rescue>_". Um, WHAT??? Where did it go? I tried a program testdisk to recover it which is normally very good at such things without success. I tried boot-repair-disk which told me it had repaired my bootloader but when I rebooted all I had was my original Win7 Home Premium. Probing with Gparted showed that where my Xubuntu used to be was now unformatted empty space.

Just for S&G I am now reinstalling 13.10 one more time on my laptop, with much less faith than before. If it crashes hard like this again I'll revert back to a clean install of 12.04LTS, deal with the little annoyances and wait until about August or September before upgrading to 14.04LTS due to come out around April. Thankfully I have my list above to serve as a guide to rebuild by. {sigh} Or who knows? Maybe I'll get really brave and try another flavor altogether next time!

For more information about release cycles see this article. https://wiki.ubuntu.com/LTS

Offline prowlingbear

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Re: Alternatives to windoze
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2014, 07:41:58 AM »

Great summary and just getting ready to convert a couple of old XP boxes over to Ubuntu so this was also most informative.

pb

Offline cyborggold

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Re: Alternatives to windoze
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2014, 01:10:26 AM »
This is a decent overview of the different flavors of Linux, thanks! I am going to start working on converting my mother to Linux as her older machine is too slow running XP to actually do anything, lol. I also appreciate the software list, it covers 95% of everything she would need to have on her system.

Offline zero

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Re: Alternatives to windoze
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2014, 08:41:47 AM »
Thanks, guys. I've also been playing with Debian Wheezy which draws from all the same repositories so there's not much of a learning curve. I still prefer XFCE the most but might try KDE for my desktop environment on one or two machines.

Offline smith

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Re: Alternatives to windoze
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2014, 12:10:58 PM »
As a happy, satisfied Linux user it seems a good idea to add some info to this thread...
I've used & tried MANY distros; and I am fine with Linux in it's native forms
BUT=> if it can be like windows a bit=> why not ??

Therefore I strongly recommend what I am using myself - Ubuntu 12.04 LTS with LXDE added on top of it.
This has all the robust goodness of Linux with a sprinkling of windoze-likeness added for the sake of comfort.

Of course there are a bazillion Ubuntu variants available - and there is a very minimal Lubuntu as well that uses LXDE, but that is not the road I have chosen to travel as it is a bit TOO minimal for my liking.

Using Ubuntu as a base OS=> I just add in the goodies that 12.04 does not come with (codecs, etc..) and strip out any extra/useless apps that I will not use and it is great, fast & extremely reliable.

This is very easy to do, and as described is very "Grandma-friendly" and resembles the familiar windows GUI quite a bit.

Regarding other variations of Linux=>
There is great good in having a 'play box' to try out different distros upon after one is comfortable with Linux.

Included in those I've most recently installed and used are Zorin Lite, Core & Ultimate.
These are also Ubuntu variants and have been very recommended for Linux newbies & windoze users.
My opinion of them ?? They are just OK.
They do have many annoying bugs from all the tweaking the Zorin boys did.
(They are also aimed squarely at 7 & 8 users, and not XP users at all...)
Their minimal versions are free and their 'Ultimate version' is NOT worth paying for IMO.

Also just to be very clear:
I am a very happy XP user with no intentions of giving it up anytime soon regardless of all the fear-porn that is getting aimed at it's ridiculous 'end-of-life' pronouncement from the world's greediest corporation.

Running in my Linux PC is VMWare Player, in which I run a virtualized XP so that I can use all the time-proven windows apps that I wish to keep around.
This is a thrill, really - to have XP running faster & smoother in a VM than natively and Linux at the very same time on the same PC is just plain cool - and cooler still=> what does all this s/w cost ?!?
Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
How can that be beat ?!?

My PC h/w is not tremendously old either, hence my choice is not predicated upon having a dinosaur-age PC.
(My previous PC was a dual core Athlon 5000 with 4GB and a 300GB HDD. The one I'm using is newer still with higher specs.)

The way I see it - only those with loads of  extra $$$ or gamers NEED the latest OS & h/w.

Most regular folks just use their PCs to browse, email and make a document now and then - for such mundane things there is no hurry to constantly buy new stuff.

It seems that many folks (most of whom have never even tried using Linux for 5 minutes...) tend to bad-mouth it as if it is some sort of alien thing or some junk for those too poor to buy a new PC; such silliness is quite far from the actual truth.

The only 'old' thing about my Linux PC is the XP I'm using inside of Linux, and no matter how new my h/w, Linux handles it flawlessly - and then the virtualization allows XP to run on top of that, free of problems.

To anyone reluctant to jump all the way into Linux I say this:
Download & burn a DVD or make a USB stick of one or several distributions in their 'live' forms.
That way you can try them out free of any commitment.
If they don't frighten you in any manner, then you can install one by itself or beside windoze on most any PC.

And after that leap is made...you can plan to forget about forced reboots, data losses and BSODs for good !!!

Best Wishes to All.

smith

Offline zero

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Re: Alternatives to windoze
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2014, 03:00:14 PM »
Very nice contribution. Thanks for that.

Offline Zensei

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Re: Alternatives to windoze
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2014, 12:29:18 PM »
Hello, first poster here.

I am totally with you on Linux. I've been a user since 2000.

I am currently using windows out of necessity (work), linux and mac OSX.

The ubuntu variants are certainly the most polished and stable distros and can easily replace windows if you don't need specialized software.

Offline zero

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Re: Alternatives to windoze
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2014, 11:58:20 AM »
First of all, welcome.

Whether you subscribe to the fear porn or not, with support running out for XP and many users feeling a bit abandoned, right now is the best time to evangelize Linux to them. Lubuntu and Xubuntu are the two most XP-like variants that people can pretty much step right into. First thing I do when I install is move the application bar to the left, task bar to the bottom and presto, almost a perfect duplicate for XP right out of the gate.


Offline zero

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Re: Alternatives to windoze
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2015, 09:05:23 AM »
Note: This bug workaround appears to be depreciated as of 16.04.

Found this little gold nugget in the Linux Mint forums. It's called TumblerdWatcher v1.0 and it SOLVES the Thunar tumblerd process hog that often crashes and delays or prevents removal of flash media. I made a directory /home/myusername/.thunar, put this shell script in there, made it executable, then added it to the list of startup applications in Settings Manager/Session and Startup. This is a must have for anyone using XFCE. Enjoy.

Here is the raw code:
Code: [Select]
#!/bin/bash
# Tumblerdwatcher v 1.0
# Script to check and kill tumblerd process if a loop is suspected. To be automatically scheduled at user session start.
# Homemade workaround for bug: http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.p … rd#p554241
# The author has no responsibility for the execution. Feel free to distribute and modify it.
# Advice are welcome to rs2809@yahoo.it.

period=60                  # check period (sec)
process="/usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/tumbler-1/tumblerd"   # tumblerd binary path
Pcpu=20                     # tolerated cpu usage (%)
Pmem=25                     # tolerated memory usage (%)
mountpath="/media"               # automatic mount point for removable storage
sec=10                     # time limit (sec) for opened file at $mountpath for thumbnail generation
sg="-15"                  # process termination signal (-15 is OK)
logpath="/tmp/Tumblerdwatcher.log"         # log path                     
cat /dev/null > $logpath
exec >$logpath 2>&1

# reset log file
while true

# execute endlessly
do
sleep $period

# wait a set period of time
[[ `ps -ef | grep $process | grep -v 'grep' | wc -l` -eq 0 ]] && continue

# skip to next period if not executing
ps -eo pcpu,pid,pmem,args | grep $process | grep -v 'grep' | while read dpcpu pid dpmem

# catch proccess id, cpu usage and memory usage
  do
  pcpu=`echo $dpcpu | cut -d'.' -f1`
  pmem=`echo $dpmem | cut -d'.' -f1`
  [[ $pcpu -gt $Pcpu ]] || [[ $pmem -gt $Pmem ]] && kill $sg $pid && echo "`date` PID $pid $pcpu/$Pcpu %cpu $pmem/$Pmem %mem" && continue

# if cpu usage or memory usage exceed, kill it and report values in the log file
  [[ `lsof -p $pid | grep $mountpath | wc -l` -eq 0 ]] && continue

# if no opened file by tumblerd at removable storage mountpoint, skip to next period
  lsof -p $pid | grep $mountpath | tr -s ' ' | cut -d' ' -f9 > /tmp/tumblerd.lsof.old

# list opened files
  sleep $sec

# wait for tolerated time limit
  [[ `lsof -p $pid | grep $mountpath | wc -l` -eq 0 ]] && continue

# if no more opened file skip to next period
  lsof -p $pid | grep $mountpath | tr -s ' ' | cut -d' ' -f9 > /tmp/tumblerd.lsof.new

# list opened files again
  for opened_file in `cat /tmp/tumblerd.lsof.old`

# if some file was open before....
   do
     grep $opened_file /tmp/tumblerd.lsof.new && kill $sg $pid && echo "`date` PID $pid ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^" && continue

# ...and it's still hung open, kill tumblerd
   done
  done
done

« Last Edit: November 17, 2017, 08:27:45 PM by zero »

Offline zero

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Re: Alternatives to windoze
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2015, 02:00:45 PM »
I'm adding something to my list of must have utilities. It's called pulseaudio-equalizer. Absolutely fantastic to have. Here's how...

http://www.webupd8.org/2013/10/system-wide-pulseaudio-equalizer.html

Enjoy!

Offline zero

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Re: Alternatives to windoze
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2015, 04:52:19 PM »
I ran into a problem with Chromium locking my laptop computer up *HARD* when opening too many tabs. Thought it would warn if approaching a limit but I guess not. Another problem I have on my laptop is with the hybrid Intel/nVidia Ion-2 graphics. I'm doing all the right things to utilize the nVidia side but WebGL simply will not work. Can't rotate things in 3D at Thingiverse. However, WebGL works fine with Firefox on the same laptop. And, on both of my desktops using non-Ion-2 nVidia cards WebGL in Chromium works fine. Something many have reported that nVidia omitted from the Ion-2 drivers, even winblows users are complaining.

Looking through the bug reports I'm sensing some rumblings and dissatisfaction among Chromium users. Devs apparently deliberately pulled accelerated graphics support because some reported GPU problems without giving users the ability to enable it on demand "at their own risk". Many have switched to using Chrome. I refuse. I may, however, start using Firefox until the dust settles over Chromium.

Offline Adirondacks4me

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Re: Alternatives to windoze
« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2015, 10:06:34 AM »
Sure don't know about the too many tab problem but man Chromium does lock me up hard. Power cycle is the only thing
that will get me out.. So I'm on Firefox now until I see something that identifies a bad update etc.... Your initial post Z of the Ubuntu add ons etc... is priceless to a newbie...  8) AD4ME

Offline zero

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Re: Alternatives to windoze
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2015, 05:20:21 PM »
I refer back to it myself every time I reload the OS.  :o

Offline zero

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Re: Alternatives to windoze
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2016, 07:15:36 AM »
I have run into this problem so many times now that I am posting the workaround here.
Problem: system-config-samba does nothing when launched, even preceded by gksu.
Workaround:
Code: [Select]
$ sudo touch /etc/libuser.confAll this does is create an empty file libuser.conf in directory /etc.
Why we are still f#(%ing around with this "workaround" even as of 16.04LTS is beyond any comprehension.  >:(

 

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