Linux is Hard!

Or is it just different?

People used to walk everywhere, which is pretty easy, right? Unless of course you can’t walk, but let’s not be too pedantic here. Eventually, most of us learned to drive or ride a motorbike. Is that inherently easy? Could ease ever be described as something that needs contrast to be so?

I’ve always said that Linux has a steep learning curve, or something to that effect. I appreciate that about Linux now. Yes, it can be a tough nut to crack, particularly when compared to the likes of Windows and Mac. I know it sucks when things don’t work, but guess what, they can get it wrong too.

It took me a while to realise this myself, but a heck of a lot of people go into Linux with Windows firmly in mind, expecting it to be Windows, however, it’s a totally different operating system; an entirely different platform! That’s like stepping into a car and expecting it to drive like a motorbike.

I watched a video recently of a guy raging because he couldn’t deal with Linux not working as he expected. I’m not going to spout nonsense about how Linux always works or something, because the truth is it can be a major PITA. That said, this comes to mind:

“You are like this cup; you are full of ideas. You come and ask for teaching, but your cup is full; I can’t put anything in. Before I can teach you, you’ll have to empty your cup.” – Master Ryutan.

Granted, you can’t really get a fair chance to mess with your cup if the thing doesn’t even work at all, which is why it took a while to get to the point at which I could learn all this stuff and get so involved with GNU/Linux, as some people insist on calling it.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully accept and understand that it’s not everyone’s idea of fun to fill your screen with virtual terminals and type out command after command. I know many people feel typing jargon is like going back to the days of MS-DOS, when such apparent gibberish meant you got something done.

Well, you still can get things done, and far more efficiently — why do you think the Linux command line has survived all this time, even in the age of such excessive hand-holding like the so-called “free” Windows 10? Your games and programs were created from lines and lines of code, or a program with a UI made from yet more lines and lines of code.

I loved Windows for years, but Windows 10 was the final straw. Ultimately, Micro$oft and Mac lock you down, but, provided it works on your hardware, then Linux will set you free. Is that always a good thing? No, as there are many opportunities to screw up if you overlook something, especially for a “power user” like me who loves to tinker and tweak.

I hope Linux will continue to mature and rise up to the challenge of appealing more to those whom refuse to use a terminal and want a more “user-friendly” environment. I want those things too — I’d love not to need the terminal for anything, and that’s coming from someone who loves it! I want the option not the necessity to use it.

Linux has achieved a lot, but there’s still quite the journey ahead for desktop users.

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Back to Linux – PeppermintOS 7

I might continue this as a new series of blog posts regarding my return to and journey through Linux via the distribution (distro) PeppermintOS 7, based on Ubuntu 16.04 with the default desktop environment (DE) of LXDE. If you’d like to see more entries in this area, please do let me know.

My previous experience with Linux was less than favorable, which I posted rather negatively about over in this entry: Linux fails me yet again! Granted, it was more of a rant than anything, but it’s a stark contrast to my recent experience, that’s for sure!

As for now? Glorious. I did run into issues getting Netflix to behave, but it took a few hours to find a solution as to how to get Netflix to work on PeppermintOS 7. So basically Netflix uses either HTML5 or the now discontinued Silverlight, version 4 or 5.

Silverlight is the only option here, it seems. That left me to search for an open-source alternative: the solution was something called Pipelight. There’s another bit of software called Moonlight, but if I remember correctly, it’s not longer in development.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t just as simple as installing Pipelight. I had to install an extension called UAControl on Firefox to tell Netflix I’m not on Linux. Because for some reason, the people behind Netflix indeed give a damn, and stop you playing media on it, simply because you’re on Linux. Way to make some money, guys! In the end, the problem was solved.

I’ve been saving notes, links, and other stuff for future reference, which I’m finding is an absolute necessity when dealing with a new language, as well as a new UI with new ways to install things; it can get quite overwhelming. Linux seems to be a case of it’s great if you know what to do, but if not, then it’s painful searches through site after site to find a potential solution.

Everything else seems fine. Skype is installed and working, thanks to the official site being kind enough to put up a deb for it; I’m surprised M$ provided that. Audio is working, video is working, and LAN is working. I’m very pleased. Oh yes, and f.lux is installed and functioning as intended.

I’ve had to do plenty of Terminal stuff, sadly. Some of it was complicated, but I guess prior experience has helped me better understand what I’m doing, rather than my just following commands blindly. The Terminal is required less, sure, but still not yet perfect. Deb files are the best though; they’re like actual setup executables you get in Windows; the way it should be!

In other news, today I got my hands on a nice lil HP 635 laptop on which a barebones, legitimate copy of Windows 7 – Professional was originally installed. Despite its AMD, APU graphics, PeppermintOS 7 seems to work on it just fine, showing the same experience I’ve had on the computer. It somewhat miraculously got the wireless, ethernet, sound, graphics, touchpad, and whatever else to work straight from the LiveUSB without even any Internet connection needed.

I’m feeling more comfortable with the Terminal and its commands, although I’m still far from being anything other than an amateur Terminal user. Now that I have a distro and/or DE that actually works, I feel like I can make some decent progress in better understanding Linux, and with that, better understanding the Windows iterations I’ve been using since I was a lil kid some bazillions of years ago.

On a side note, I learned about Domain Name System attacks recently, which was really eye-opening and helped me better appreciate not only how DNS works, but how to block sites from running or reroute them to something more appropriate, simply by editing the hosts file with a word processor; handy stuff!

I’m excited to see what I’ll discover next.

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Linux fails me yet again!

When will I learn?

Sorry Linux fans, I know you’re probably sniggering behind your screens, trying not to have a hernia at my expense, but every single time I delve into the Linux world, it ends up in weird freezes, crashes, choppy sound, random bugs, and even the OS flat-out refusing to boot. It’s disappointing, really it is, because there’s a lot I like about Linux, and I’m gathering a little interest in the Terminal.

Last night, after watching videos and learning more about the Terminal, I installed the 64-bit version of Linux Mint 17.2, codenamed Rafaela, with KDE onto my spare 500GB HDD, and even disconnected my SSD with Windows 8.1 on it. I was enjoying the idea of leaving Windows 8.1 behind, or at least partly.

Because it had been a long time since I installed Linux, I made the newbie mistake of installing the bootloader to the wrong place, although you can thank an incorrect guide for that. I got it right the 3rd time. Unfortunately, even after that hiccup, which, I should add, is not at all “simple” or “easy” as so many of the exclusive Linux users like to say, and if you get it wrong, you risk screwing something up that takes yet more knowhow to fix.

In Windows, you don’t have to worry about where to install the Bootloader and you don’t have to create several NTFS partitions; granted, you don’t in Linux, but I don’t see the point in not doing it. Of course, once you know what to do, and more importantly, what not to do, it’s all fine and dandy, but for a beginner, or, hell, even an old amateur Linux user coming back after a while, it’s hardly straight-forward.

I want to enjoy Linux as a whole, but there are so many things wrong with it and even some of the Linux users seem to acknowledge that, at least to some extent.

Linux has so many distributions, known as distros, which makes things difficult for new users because they probably haven’t a clue which one to use! Fair enough, I get that it encourages creativity, thanks to Linux being open source, allowing people to try different things without the restriction of, say, a version of Windows or Mac.

The Terminal is a big annoyance to me, despite my general interest in it. I honestly feel many Linux users are blinded by loyalty to the point at which they seem to think it’s totally not counter-intuitive to have to use the Terminal so much. By default, for setting up your Linux firewall within, let’s say, the edition of Linux I tried last night, you have to install separate software in order to get just the GUI for the Firewall, which, by the way, is, for some asinine reason, completely and utterly disabled by default! Sure, that’s safe. Nice way to welcome new users, eh?

Linux seems fantastic if you’re already an experienced Linux user and somehow manage to get past the bugs, freezes, crashes, boot fails, and whatever else.

“I never have any of these issues.” – I expect most Linux fanatics say this, and I expect it’s a right load of CL4P-TP, unless you have the perfect hardware for Linux and are otherwise very lucky.

I have to ask myself how Linux users even manage to use Linux, especially for their work! Given how temperamental the Linux versions I’ve tried are, I’d be scared to do any work in-case one simple setting implodes the system. I once changed to a theme readily available from within the installation and Linux crashed then refused to boot again! How the buggery farts is that stable and welcoming for new users? I’m terrified of changing anything in Linux because it’s practically a ticking time bomb.

I have a feeling the standard server-style of Linux with just the command line interface would probably be more stable, but unless you’re running a server or something, I can’t imagine much use in it.

I want to like Linux, I really do, but it doesn’t want me to like it.

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