Recommendations for Trying Linux

I recently sent this to someone interested in trying Linux and figured I would post it here for anyone else: Dan, I recommend Ubuntu for anyone just starting out in Linux on the desktop. Use the top one, 18.04.1 LTS (Read the system requirements. If you are installing on something that does not meet these requirements, let me know. There are other distros that work on lower spec PCs.) Installation –  You will need to burn the downloaded iso to a DVD or to a thumbdrive. There are plenty of tutorials online for doing this. I use Etcher to put the image on a thumbdrive. You will also need to know how to tell your computer to boot from the installation media (i.e. DVD or thumbdrive) Once you get that far follow these steps Some things to keep in mind when trying or transitioning to Linux on the desktop:  It is not Windows so things will work differently. (Think of going from Windows to Mac.) I recommend using the stock install for a period of time before breaking your stuff by tweaking and make no mistake, you can tweak the hell out of Linux and there is a ton of information on the internet. When you search the internet for help follow these guidelines: Stick to help for your distro and version (Ubuntu 18.04). Set your search tools to results in the past year. (Old results may contain useless instructions. Linux is updated regularly.) When you find instructions to do something on a forum, don’t forget to look at the comments below. People will often correct instructions or provide alternate solutions in the comments. Compare multiple solutions to a problem before settling on the best course of action. For example, I have found 10 pages of instructions using one method that was accomplished with two commands using another method. If you are really going to make the move, take notes. You will do something and later want to duplicate what you did. The beauty of Linux is that it is free so you can install it again and again. While I am no expert Linux is a passion of mine so feel free to tap me when you need help. The laptop and screen on my desk to the left is running Ubuntu 16.04 and I’ve been using Linux successfully since 2010. Have fun, Dave

Proxmox VE (Virtually Serving the Home User)

I have been a long time user of VMWare and have used the product extensively to run Windows on Linux or vice-versa.  In addition, I have used it to virtualize many of the services I use at home.  For instance, my Samba and FTP server is a virtual machine running Ubuntu 10.04 on an Ubuntu 12.04 host.  This has saved my ass in the past when I’ve had hardware issues and had to migrate from one computer to another.  Since the Samba and FTP server was a virtual machine I merely had to move it from the computer it was on and host it on a temporary computer while I repaired the hardware on the main computer.  Once the hardware was repaired I simply moved the virtual machine back.  I recently added Owncloud to my virtual server collection.  This has been very effective and I have been very happy with the decision to virtualize the server since moving it will now be very easy and making backups is as simple as stopping the guest, making a copy of the file and then restarting it.   The virtualized servers have been running on my fileserver which is mostly responsible for storing the 2 TB of data in a raid 1 configuration and making it available to the household users.  This has all been working quite well, but in the words of Tim Allen, I wanted to give it “More power!!!!”.  It was a simple enough decision to split the virtual server part off of the fileserver, let the fileserver continue to host its 2 TB of data and let a new computer do all the virtualization….  Enter Proxmox VE.  Proxmox VE is similar to VMWare ESXi in that it is installed on bare metal and runs virtual machines that you have to remotely access.  Proxmox supports fully virtualized KVM and OpenVZ or containers.  This was ideal for me since most of my home based virtual machines run Linux and containers are known to be much more efficient than KVM, but can not run Windows. With the platform selected the next step was to purchase the hardware.  I selected the AMD FX-8350 processor with its 8 cores feeling that this would be perfect for CPU hungry virtual machines.  I snapped this into an MSI 990FXA-GD65 which would unleash its power giving it 6GB SATA III ports.  I then added a Seagate Barracuda 1TB HD, but this failed after a week and I replaced it with a Western Digital Red 2TB for nearly twice the price.  Last I put in two 4GB sticks to take advantage of the dual channel memory, but planned to upgrade later.  As for video and case, these things are merely fluff on a headless PC, so any old one was fine.  In the end it came to about $630, a little more than I wanted to spend, but a lot less than if I had purchased something prefab.   Installing Proxmox was a breeze as everything is open … Continue Reading →

Steam on Ubuntu 14.04

I went ahead and installed Steam on my new Ubuntu 14.04 installation by downloading the .deb install package from the Steam website and running it.  While the installation did seem to hang at first and I even started looking online for alternative methods of installing Steam, when suddenly the installation began to execute and everything worked.  All that was required on my part was some patience.  Now my Steam account is up and running and I am back Racing the Sun.  I have set up my Owncloud sync client on the box and have my Gmail account installed in Thunderbird and working.  Still need to get VMPlayer installed, but so far so good.  No issues with Ubuntu 14.04.

Ubuntu 14.04 Has Been Released

I kept checking and checking all day and finally they had the download linked on the main page.  I quickly downloaded it and promptly installed it into my new 250G SSD.  The very first thing I noticed is that the keyboard backlight function keys now work…. WOOHOO!  So far it seems to be pretty snappy and I will still need some time to customize everything and get my software all reinstalled, but it’s working well and I should be able to stick with it. The only con is that there is no Steam package yet available from the Software Center.  It looks like you can install it by running the .deb file from the Steam site, but I am not sure I want to do this yet.  I would prefer to see Steam in the official Ubuntu Repository for 14.04 before hacking it into my system. I still see the sites where people claim to have problems with Ubuntu and I just don’t get it.  I am not sure what they are doing that I am not.  Probably installing PPAs and .debs from websites and hacking up their system or taking advice from “Linux gurus” and hacking up their system from the command line.  I think if you owned a MAC you wouldn’t try doing these things.  What makes someone immediately want to hack up a Linux system?  Well, it works for me and I hope it maintains enough popularity to continue to be supported, because I love it.

Windows XP is Dead… Switch to Ubuntu!

I have been using Ubuntu for the last 4 years.  It works great.  I still have to use Windows at work because there simply aren’t any Linux versions of the proprietary software I am required to use and our IT department hasn’t gotten back to me about the possibility of virtualizing my Window’s environment.  I think they are worried they will have to support two OS’es on the desktop or they simply are not familiar with Linux.  Oh well.  I still use it exclusively at home.  In fact, I am using a Samsung Ativ 7 with Ubuntu 13.10 on it and everything worked out-of-the-box right after installation.  No tweaks required. I regularly install the OS on old computers for novices to use who just want to browse the web, buy something on Amazon or email their kids.  It just works and no viruses or malware or degraded performance overtime or any of those other Window’s issues. If you are going from Windows XP, give it a try.  Use the Software Center to install new apps, and run your apps from the Launcher.  Stay away from all the nonsense on the forums that may tell you to change the desktop manager or put another distro on your computer until AFTER you feel comfortable with Ubuntu and you feel adventuresome. Come at it with an open-mind.  Things will be different.  Before you start looking online for ways to modify it so it behaves more like you want (or are used to), I suggest you get used to how it works before potentially breaking it.  No one buys a $2000 Mac and then says, “I wish when I pushed a window to the left it would snap like it does in Windows.”  They just deal with the differences.  After all it’s not Windows. With that said, once you get comfortable, Linux distributions have the most customizable desktops of all the OS’es.  This is both a blessing and a curse.  But for those who are up to the challenge and love their computer it can be well worth the effort for a beautifully customized system. Read more: