Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Linux the other white meat

I'm a bit of a computer nerd although these days life seems to get in the way.
Recently I scored a new computer for home and went back to the well for a new "flavor" of Linux.

In case you're not hip to the jargon a "distribution" is when somebody takes the basic Linux source (which is essentially free) and puts their own spin on it. They package it up with some apps they think are useful (a web browser, office tools, that sort of thing) and put it out under their name. Its still Linux but has its own distinct look and feel.
So since I've been back to the well I figured I could report my findings:

This is essentially the source from which all other Linux flows, many of the other distros can trace their line back to Debian. Of course being that its the source its for the hardcore user. No live cd here. The installer is challenging for the non-initiated, the configuration is challenging for the non-initiated, usage is kinda challenging for the non-initiated. I couldn't make Flash work, so no YouTube... In retrospect I just needed some more time but I've got too much other life that needs my attention.

Fedora is a split from the RedHat line. RedHat generally costs money while Fedora is free. The installer is much simpler than Debian but I still couldn't get Flash to work...

See a trend? Really all I want is to surf the web and maybe write up some text documents, alter some pictures and maybe use my scanner and printer...

Of the 3 so far Mint is easily the most advanced. Pretty easy to use, Flash worked right out of the box. Its also one of the few that let me auto login which is handy. Sadly I hate the hoops it makes me jump through for multiple users. Why do many distros force long passwords?

I don't think Peppermint is a offshoot of Mint but its similar. The idea with Peppermint is that its for "cloud computing" meaning very little for apps on the OS itself. I'm fine with that. Flash works, right out of the box but I can't have multiple users at all...

Why multiple users? Ever try to share a computer with somebody? What if you both use Gmail or Facebook? You're forever logging out and logging back in and around Christmas accidentally seeing what the other person is buying you... Multiple users is another must for me.

This is where I started with Linux some 5 years ago. I'd gotten frustrated with viruses on my Windows computer and grabbed Mepis. That was v3, they're on v8.5 now (skipped some numbers in the middle though) and I'm actually less happy with it... Hardest distro to get the right nVidia driver (I think my Quadro 1400 card is actually too GOOD, very little support for it on Linux). I did manage to make Flash work but another common frustration for me is the lack of jack sense. That means that the computer doesn't know I have speakers and plays through the PC speaker too. I HATE that and its a relatively new behavior I saw in Mint, Peppermint and Mepis. Its most difficult to enable in Mepis though.

Anyway I'm going to stick with Mepis a couple weeks and see what happens. Biggest frustration I'm having right now is that I can't get Hulu to play. Thats actually true with ALL of the distros. The video starts but the audio plays and then starts again and again and again so I have multiple instances of the audio playing at once... Have yet to figure out the issue other than it doesn't seem to happen on newer computers. I should explain though that this is not a low powered machine, dual 3.2Ghz processors, 4GB of RAM, it kicks the crap out of much newer consumer level machines...

No comments: