Archive for the ‘Linux’ Tag

K-k-k-kipling

There’s a Monty Python sketch about a man who says the letter “B” instead of the letter “C” (‘the letter C?’ ‘yes the letter B!’. The solution is for him to say the letter “K” (‘what a silly bunt’). All the time I’m toying with Kubuntu this sketch comes to mind. I may of course be straying back into my annoyance of the naming of everything Linux. (kedit, konqueror, etc)

As I write this I’ve installed the latest version of Kubuntu on my main machine which has an AMD graphics card and two 4k screens. It’s a little bit of a faff to get scaling right. I’m not a great fan of using a global scaling factor since it just seems to use up screen real estate as if I’m using a 1440 or 1080 screen, but some judicious font changing (which was quite easy) means my aged eyes can read what’s on the screen. A nice trick to get a bottom panel on both screens (a quick Google) ends up with a better result than Windows (IMHO).

I’ve also been sidetracked by a hosting change, so I think I’m going to aim for the next LTS base as a full cutover (i.e. Mid April next year). What “full cutover” means is I guess changing the default boot of my PC to Kubuntu. I’m lucky enough to have both the time and resources not to rush this – for example a standalone SSD for the Kubuntu install – and so far sharing a data drive between Linux and Windows hasn’t caused either to barf. It’ll also give me a chance to try a version upgrade experience before committing.

The Hunt for Red October

No, not really the old Sean Connery/Alec Baldwin subsea adventure, but the search for a Linux distribution that could possibly replace Windoze as my day to day workstation platform. I’m not planning on the exhaustive evaluation of, say, the “top 20” Linux distros, but I have been weeding the criteria down.

(1) I don’t really want to be delving into the weeds of the operating system. For example I don’t ideally want to be compiling my own binaries. I do have a technical background, and I want to be able to see more than Windoze shows me, but I do have a life. I expect this will discount Arch-based distros and others that need a lot of customisation.

(2) Speaking of customisation, I’d like the desktop to be reasonably familiar but I’m not averse to doing SOME work to get to what I want. After all, I’ve tinkered with the desktop in Windows for years already. However, I’m not in the mood to install tons of extensions. As you might guess this is tending me away from Gnome-centric distros. I started with plain Ubuntu (20.04 LTS) for example, then moved on to Ubuntu Mate, which I preferred, but would still require quite a lot of messing. I’ve never used a Mac in anger, so simple things like windows close buttons on the left have me reeling. I also have large screens, so having what amounts to a split task bar (yes, I know they’re called “panels”) isn’t working for me.

(3) It probably goes without saying, but there are some applications that I’ve come to depend on, some of which don’t have direct Linux equivalents. I also have some that DO have direct counterpoints, and it would be nice to find those already in the distro. So I liked the look of KDE Neon, but it is relatively light on pre-installed apps. The slightly less bleeding edge Kubuntu does come with more pre-installed, and Firefox, Thunderbird and Libreoffice are on my list. It’s become my favourite so far. I’m sure there will be more discussion of this later.

(4) I’d love to find some new features and functions, or simply some improved methods. For example my current backup and synchronisation tools leave something to be desired. I’m also very optimistic about KDE Connect for combining my mobile phone with the desktop – very easy to set up in the first place (compared with the Microsoft “equivalent”).

I’m more or less resigned to using Wine for a few apps, but if anyone can find a straightforward way of importing 25 years of financial transactions into an alternative tool to Quicken2000 I’ll be all ears. I’ve tried many of the Opensource alternatives, and I think I’m just too old to attempt Gnucash ๐Ÿ™‚

The problem with *inux

I’ve finally started semi-seriously testing out whether a move to a non-Windows operating system will work out for me. I’m trying out various flavours on my old PC to see whether I can replicate my normal usage, in other words whether I can run enough of my regular applications and find alternatives for others. I’m also immersing myself to some extent in the culture by listening to a number of podcasts for at least a year or two of back-issues. One is the fairly mainstream Ubuntu podcast, the other so far is the rather more eclectic Late Night Linux.

I’ll comment in the future about my own findings, but for now I just wanted to make the obvious remark about THE MAIN PROBLEM. Which is of course the plethora of variants of the basic desktop(s) which causes decision paralysis. While I get that choice can be a wonderful thing, we’ve definitely wandered into Schwartz’s Paradox, where more most definitely is less. I could speculate as to WHY there are so many variants, I could even rail at the extraordinary amount of duplicated work, but suffice it to say that having in excess of 250 “active”ยน versions of basically the same operating system is a recipe for confusion, patchy adoption and ultimately irrelevance.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve started with two Ubuntu variants, Ubuntu desktop itself (LTS version 20-04), and Ubuntu MATE2 version 21-04. Both are competent desktop environments, neither has crashed on me yet, but I wouldn’t expect them to on a ten year old Intel-based PC with no esoteric hardware. My slightly newer main machine has an AMD graphics card and a reasonably new processor along with NVMe storage and other bits, so we’ll be looking forward to that!

1. according, at least, to Distrowatch

2. and don’t get me started on the male gamer-nerd naming tendencies