Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I love beryl

Just put beryl on the main family computer last night. It's great. The window switcher alone is worth the 10 minutes (if that) it took me to download and install. For those of you who are also running Linux Mint, the instructions for installing beryl are here. It was easy and quick- just copy and paste. I believe the method for installing on ubuntu is exactly the same.

If you decide to try beryl (and I highly recommend you do,) after you install and open the beryl-manager, hold down ctrl and alt and then right-click and move your mouse. You'll be pleased. :)

I'll write more soon about beryl. I'm still experimenting.

Monday, May 14, 2007

What is this thing, anyway?

The other day, a friend brought over an old computer that she didn't want. The windows 98 that was on it was not working properly (big surprise), and I didn't want to go through the pain to get it working since I was just going to install linux on it.

So I tried the new xubuntu, but it would just hang when I clicked install. This really confused me since the liveCD booted no problem. So I went and checked the xubuntu system requirements. It said you need 128mb RAM to boot the liveCD, but 196mb to install, and I had.... you guessed it.... 128mb!

But all was not lost! xubuntu offers an alternate cd for situations such as this. It offers an install using a text-based installer rather than the GUI (Graphical User Interface) on the regular cd. I installed and was up and running with no problem.

At this point, I became very curious about the hardware in the machine (mainly the processor speed.) On a windows machine, you could right click on "My Computer" and it would tell you information about the computer, but I didn't know the linux equivalent of that maneuver.

So, finally, on to the point of this post. I did some looking and found a great command to give you information about the hardware in a linux machine - lshw - just be sure to run it as root. For those of you scratching your head- Open a terminal and type:

sudo lshw

This will tell you more than you probably ever wanted to know about your hardware.

If this doesn't work for you, you probably don't have lshw installed. You can do this easily by searching for "lshw" in the package manager, checking the box next to it and clicking "Apply."

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Your own linux desktop available from anywhere!

Here's a great way to get a basic idea of what it's like to use a linux os.

Desktop on Demand offers a free online "computer" that you can access securely from anywhere.

First go to the download page at nomachine and look for the "NX Client Desktop Edition." Download and install the version for whatever operating system you are using.

If you're on someone else's computer, you can use the java plugin I'll talk about later.

Then go to and sign up for your free account. Open a new window and check your email for your new login information. Then you'll want to login to manage your services in order to change your password to something you'll remember. After this, you can enter your username in the box to the top left of the page and select either:
  1. Desktop - This is what to use if you have installed the NX Client Desktop Edition that I mentioned previously.
  2. Desktop (java) - This is what to use if you're using someone else's or a public computer. It will ask to install a java plugin the first time. It doesn't take long.
  3. File Manager - This is what to use if you want to transfer files from the computer you are on to your remote computer.
Login to the nomachine window that pops up.

The first two options may cause windows security to freak out. Don't worry about it, just click "unblock" or "allow."

In no time, a new window should open with your brand new linux desktop. Look around and see what's there!

One of the nicest features of this remote desktop is the file sharing. Any file that you have on your remote computer can be put into one of the share folders and accessed by any other Desktop on Demand user you allow, or you can put something in the "public shares" folder and share with the entire community of users.

You can also check out gimp, the open source equivalent to photoshop.

Have fun and enjoy!

A couple beryl videos

Here are some linux users running beryl.

Beryl comes pre-installed on the MEPIS distribution. I'm currently using it on my new hp laptop and loving it.

Me loves the eye-candy!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Three good reasons to switch from windows to linux

In the relatively brief time since that beautiful day that I finally switched, several differences between being a windows user and a linux user have really jumped out at me.

  1. Peace of mind. You don't have to worry about going to this or that website for fear of malicious code (programs that want to screw you), because that code is written for windows. It simply will not run on linux. This is a hard one for me to explain to my friends sometimes. Most people think that linux has some sort of blocker or something, but it doesn't. These malicious programs simply don't run properly (or at all) on any operating system that ISN'T windows. The only programs that run on a linux os are written FOR linux, so any virus that could potentially hurt your computer would have to be written FOR linux. Writing/creating a linux virus simply makes no sense when linux users are such a small and more educated (and therefore better protected) percentage of computer users. Why write something to break into 6% of computers on the web when you could write something to break into 80%?
  2. Ease of use. Linux looks and responds almost exactly the same way as windows. Distributions like ubuntu, MEPIS and linux mint all have utilities to manage the use of all of your SD cards, USB drives, CD's and DVD's. One of the other nice things that I never anticipated is the cleanliness and straightforwardness of open source applications (programs like gimp, amarok, etc.) because features are only added if they are useful and work properly. These program developers care more about having a functional application than trying to sell you something, and I can feel that as I use these applications. But everything I've said so far about this pales in comparison to the Package Manager. This program is a nice graphic-user-interface (GUI) that allows you to search repositories filled with debian packages. These packages contain everything you need to install a particular application on your computer. Say, for instance, you need an application to write music notation. It's as simple as opening the package manager, doing a search for "music notation", perusing the list of available applications, checking the box next to the one you want to install and clicking "Apply." Oh, and it's all free: any application to do any task you can imagine.
  3. Community and Support. Since I switched, I've really felt a part of a community that cares about one another. Many problems have been solved by a kind, more knowledgeable soul responding to a question I posted on one of the various linux user forums- usually within a few hours. I've even been able to help others that are dealing with a problem I've encountered, and it's been very satisfying. And it's all free. Free community support. I'd rather be a member of a supportive community than pay to suckle the teat of some huge corporation that cares about money above all else.

So there it is. You're thinking about switching now, aren't you... admit it.

A nice free image hosting site

A friend turned me on to this site, and I've been using it for a while now. It's great.

Check it out.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Do it! Do it now!

There IS an alternative to windows! Don't be afraid. You can always keep windows on a different partition (but you won't need it.)

Just think, you'd never have to run another virus scan (I don't.)

C'mon, at least burn a liveCD and give it a try. I did, and now I smile more than I used to.


Attention hp and compaq laptop users!

Just wanted to let anyone who has a newer hp or compaq laptop (such as an hp dv6000 series like I do or a dvwhatever) that MEPIS linux, available at, may be the distribution for you.

Like many others (judging from several linux usergroups I've perused) I've had some frustrating problems getting linux to use my built in broadcom 4311 wireless. MEPIS had no problem whatsoever using the broadcom- it even worked using the liveCD with ABSOLUTELY NO EFFORT on my part!

One other cool thing to check out is beryl, which also comes installed and working right out of the box (the figurative, virtual box, of course.) It does all sorts of cool eye-candy type stuff like wobbly windows, transparency and multiple desktops on a cube. It's sure to make your vista-using friends jealous.