I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

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I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby King Author » Tue Jul 01, 2014 3:38 am UTC

Tried to convert to Linux in the past, it was too hard. Maybe you can help me? First, before I get into any of the technical problems I always run into, I'll have to choose a distro. There's too many for me to try a bunch out and glean any useful information from the experience, so lemme weed a bunch out by listing what I want and need and DON'T want DON'T need (which tend to be the more important considerations) and maybe you can make some suggestions ^_^

What I Want/Need
1. Two keypresses to anything.
In Windows XP, which I'm using now, if you press the Windows button, the Start Menu pops up. If you then press a letter key, it'll open the program on the Start Menu list that begins with that letter. So for example, to launch Firefox, I just hit the Windows key, then press 'f.' I very, very want this functionality. Any program or folder, openable with two keypresses.

2. GIMP, IrfanView, GOM or similar, OpenOffice or LibreOffice (I understand there's some politics going on there), something that's basically exactly like MSPaint (i.e. super-simple, pixel-based, no fancy nonsense), similarly something exactly like Notepad (just raw text, no fancy B.S.) and a good open-source, EME-noncompliant web browser. None of these need to be built in, but they all must be available and work.

3. The netbook I use has a broken screen. I have a CRT monitor attached via the VGA cable. I need this to work with very, very minimal finagling and knowhow on my part. It also goes without saying that my netbook has wireless internet access, which I also need to work. I also have a USB optical mouse hooked up, which I also need to work. I can get you the specs on these if you need them (slash if you tell me how to look them up, lol).

4. Configurable everything. Strike that -- EASILY configurable everything. And I don't mean drag-and-drop buttons so help me god. I mean control over how windows appear, what appears in menus including context menus, and I also need a high-contrast display option because I have wonky eyes. (I've stuck with XP instead of upgrading to 7 or 8 because XP is the most and most easily customizable. 7 took out most customization options in the name of "user-friendliness" slash not confusing old people. *rolleyes*)

4b. The ability to turn off, hide, disable, remove and otherwise get rid of ANYTHING. If there's something in the OS I dislike and I say "how do I get rid of X" and the answer is "you can't get rid of X" then I'm walking away.

What I DON'T Want
1. A fancy, schmancy, pretty, witty "Web 2.0" "user-friendly" "intuitive" UI. The fewer moving parts and pretty transparent borders and widgets and wodgets and nonsense, the better. Windows, and text-based menus are all I need.
My computer is not a fucking iPad, and I don't want it to be.
My desktop is not a media center, and I don't want it to be.
I don't need news feeds and temperature guages and search bars on my desktop.
I don't need some kind of fancy floaty "App pinning" sort of thing.
I don't want to HEAR the word "App." Okay? They're programs, and I don't need them to constantly bounce around and animate and shove information in my face. I want my desktop to sit there and shut up, and just hold a few icons for folders/programs I use all the time.

(Case in point? This shit is absolutely out of the question, and anything that looks remotely like that. I don't even want multiple desktops. WTF do I need multiple desktops for? At the very least, if the OS has the ability to do multiple desktops, I don't want to use or look at them. I don't want them to be displayed.)

2. Resource-intensive...ness. My computer is old, crappy and slow, and that's fine because I don't need it not to be. All I do is browse the internet, read and write text files and pdfs, view and create the occasional image, listen to music and watch videos. And not gigapowered HD videos, either. Well, some are HD format, but they aren't 120-gigabyte, 3000x2000 resolution behemoths.

The less my computer is doing behind the scenes, the better.

3. Faux-customization. Windows 7 has what I call faux-customization, and is part of why I hate it so passionately. Faux-customization is crap like "managing themes," which amounts to a pretty but obnoxious method of changing the desktop wallpaper and color of windows. When I want to customize something (let's say change the default size of newly-opened windows) I just want to pop that info into a text entry field somewhere and be done with it.

Firefox's Australis's "customization" is also the sort of thing I loathe. Billed as "intuitive," it's just frustrating that the only way of interacting with the customization is by dragging-and-dropping buttons and resizing things. I need the precision of text and lists, of entering precise numbers.

* * *

That's already quite a lot to swallow, so I'll stop here and see what people suggest. (Besides "quit being an old fogey" and "lighten up, sourpuss.")
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby ahammel » Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:06 am UTC

None of your requirements have much to do with the distro. If you don't like the default desktop environment you can always just install a new one. (Cinnamon may be to your liking.) The important differences between distros are to do with the install process, the package manager, and the documentation, IMHO. Ubuntu and Fedora are both fine (although I suspect you'll hate Unity). I've never used Mint, but it comes in Cinnamon flavour and had a reputation for user friendliness.

I'm unaware of any DE that has the start menu functionality that you describe, but there are plenty of similar program launchers. Press hot key, start typing name of program, tab to auto-complete, settled.
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby King Author » Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:28 am UTC

ahammel wrote:None of your requirements have much to do with the distro. If you don't like the default desktop environment you can always just install a new one.


I forgot that that was a thing with Linux. The only problem I can forsee there is the level of knowhow necessary to change something like that. Linux has one hell of a learning curve.

How exactly does this work? Are Linux desktop environments completely interchangable? Like, is the DE a totally separate thing from the OS? How easy is it to switch DEs? I'm used to Windows -- I download everything to my desktop, double-click it to run it, and it does whatever it's supposed to do.

ahammel wrote:(Cinnamon may be to your liking.) The important differences between distros are to do with the install process, the package manager, and the documentation, IMHO. Ubuntu and Fedora are both fine (although I suspect you'll hate Unity). I've never used Mint, but it comes in Cinnamon flavour and had a reputation for user friendliness.


I looked at a screenshot of Unity, and it looks nice. There was basically nothing to it. Wifi, Volume and Settings button in one corner, Trash Bin in the other, and a few icons. Provided those icons work like icons on a Windows desktop (i.e. I can place them wherever, they aren't some "App bar" like in Windows 7), I don't see a problem. Well, I hear Ubuntu is one of the Big Linux distros, so I assume it's probably hells of resource-intensive.

Just checked some screenshots of Cinnamon. Looks pretty much like Windows 7 :/
I do like the um, task bar type thing at the bottom. Provided all the things that appear on it are customizable/removable/hidable, I might give it a whirl.

Oh god, I forgot about the package manager >.<
That was perhaps my most hated thing about Linux :(
From Windows, I'm used to downloading zips or exes from websites and double-clicking them to run them. The "package manager" concept is so difficult and cumbersome, as I recall.

ahammel wrote:I'm unaware of any DE that has the start menu functionality that you describe, but there are plenty of similar program launchers. Press hot key, start typing name of program, tab to auto-complete, settled.


Ew, no, I don't like the "type" style launcher, that's one of the things I hate so much about Windows 7.

We're talking Linux here, though. Isn't there some program that like, lets me create system-level hotkeys? Surely there's some program that lets me configure an arbitrary "Super + (key)" combination, and configure it to open anything I want?

Oh! Question! 'cause I'm Googling and running into something I forgot and dislike about Linux. No address bar! I like the address bar, I hate how Windows 7 got rid of it. I WANT to see the full address of the current window. Are there any Linux DEs that do that?

(Also thanks for actually reading my super-long cranky post and responding ^^)

EDIT: Oh my golly!
http://zorin-os.com/gallery.html
http://zorin-os.com/images/screenshots/XP.png
A Linux DE (or OS, or both, I'm still fuzzy on terminology) which has a mode that mimicks Windows XP! If that thing displays the full address in windows and allows me to open start menu items with keypresses, I'm frickin' sold!
http://zorin-os.com/images/screenshots/DarkTheme.png
It even has a really good-looking Dark Theme for my awful eyeballs!
Not thrilled about the "ring window switcher" (which I hope against hope works by holding Alt and pressing Tab), and I really need more customization than this, particularly I need to work with precise numbers and such as I said.

Also, I'm slightly concerned about how resource-intensive this'll be. I mean, my netbook runs Windows XP wicked-fast. But in my experience, Linux tends to be very resource-intensive :(

Okay, well, if I can figure out how, I think I'm gonna give this Zorin thing a spin...
...
...tomorrow. Too tired right now.

Quick question for anyone who might answer it -- looking at the Zorin home page, as with many Linux distros, it touts all the many programs it comes pre-installed with. I don't want or need tons of programs. Is there any effortless way I might simply tell it not to install those programs in the first place? Not a big deal, I presume I can easily uninstall everything I don't want once the OS is installed, but still. I kinda wish more Linux distros came with an "empty" version of the installation, that didn't come with anything pre-installed except necessary system tools.
Last edited by King Author on Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:45 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby EvanED » Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:34 am UTC

1. Depends on how picky you are about 2 keypresses. Can you live with a Vista/7 style search? You'll usually have to type a couple more letters, but you'll also be able to launch way more with just a few keystrokes and you don't have to worry about two programs starting with the same letter. (I suspect your definition of "anything" differs from mine...) If so, that's common.

I don't think I have good overall suggestions though; your WM desires are... very different from my own. :-) You'll probably want one of the light-weight WMs like XFCE, Fluxbox, or something. (Don't take my word that either of those are any good.)

Well... I do have one other thought. I suspect you won't like this idea after I elaborate, but I'll throw it out there. How keyboard driven do you like to be? Are you willing to try something completely and totally different than what you're used to?

2. For a Paint replacement, if you enjoy the Qt/KDE look, try KolourPaint. If you're more GTK/Gnome, try Pinta. (The latter's from a search and I haven't used it.) I'm not sure what to suggest for an IrfanView replacement. For a Notepad-alke, you can use GEdit; it's way more featured than Notepad but unless you mind tabs, it'll stay out of your way. I also saw a reference to "Leafpad." KDE's standard text editor I think is Kate... but I suspect you won't be a fan.

3. The monitor shouldn't be a problem. The wireless probably won't be, but the occasional adapter is notoriously difficult to get working. The mouse won't be.

4. Most programs won't give you control over what goes in menus. So... I'd say don't expect that to much of a greater degree than on Windows. Some WMs let you say what goes in a context menu you get if you right-click the desktop -- e.g. shortcuts to program launchers and whatnot.

Window decorations though I suspect you'll be happy with the configurability of (at least if you don't give up with Unity).

4b. You don't want Unity. :-)

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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby EvanED » Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:42 am UTC

King Author wrote:How exactly does this work? Are Linux desktop environments completely interchangable? Like, is the DE a totally separate thing from the OS? How easy is it to switch DEs? I'm used to Windows -- I download everything to my desktop, double-click it to run it, and it does whatever it's supposed to do.
If you install from your distro's repository, simple. You'll get a little radio button or something at the login screen (if you use one) that will let you switch between the options.

I looked at a screenshot of Unity, and it looks nice. There was basically nothing to it. Wifi, Volume and Settings button in one corner, Trash Bin in the other, and a few icons. Provided those icons work like icons on a Windows desktop (i.e. I can place them wherever, they aren't some "App bar" like in Windows 7),...
Unity's configuration dialog looks like the following:
Spoiler:
Givingthefinger.jpg
Credit: Wikipedia.
(OK, that's a little unfair. A little.)

Oh god, I forgot about the package manager >.<
That was perhaps my most hated thing about Linux :(
From Windows, I'm used to downloading zips or exes from websites and double-clicking them to run them. The "package manager" concept is so difficult and cumbersome, as I recall.
A lot of people find it in reverse.

Ew, no, I don't like the "type" style launcher, that's one of the things I hate so much about Windows 7.
Yeahh, we definitely have different tastes in desktops. :-)

We're talking Linux here, though. Isn't there some program that like, lets me create system-level hotkeys? Surely there's some program that lets me configure an arbitrary "Super + (key)" combination, and configure it to open anything I want?
This is something that I suspect you'll find easily configurable in both Gnome and KDE, and doable in varying degrees of difficulties on other WMs. (Maybe generally simple if there's some global program you can just start up.) Both have a global dialog for setting hot keys. What I'm not sure of is whether the actions are all predefined or you can add your own "run this command" ones.

Oh! Question! 'cause I'm Googling and running into something I forgot and dislike about Linux. No address bar! I like the address bar, I hate how Windows 7 got rid of it. I WANT to see the full address of the current window. Are there any Linux DEs that do that?
I think Konqueror, KDE's file explorer, does. There are "third-party" file explorer programs too.

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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby ahammel » Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:49 am UTC

King Author wrote:
ahammel wrote:None of your requirements have much to do with the distro. If you don't like the default desktop environment you can always just install a new one.


I forgot that that was a thing with Linux. The only problem I can forsee there is the level of knowhow necessary to change something like that. Linux has one hell of a learning curve.

How exactly does this work? Are Linux desktop environments completely interchangable? Like, is the DE a totally separate thing from the OS? How easy is it to switch DEs? I'm used to Windows -- I download everything to my desktop, double-click it to run it, and it does whatever it's supposed to do.
If you know how to to type 'sudo apt-get install cinnamon', you know how to install a new DE on Linux. Yes, you can install whatever DE you like on whatever distro you like, it's completely separate from the kernel. (I'm pretty sure it's also completely separate from the kernel on Windows, but you don't notice it because there is only one Windows DE).

ahammel wrote:(Cinnamon may be to your liking.) The important differences between distros are to do with the install process, the package manager, and the documentation, IMHO. Ubuntu and Fedora are both fine (although I suspect you'll hate Unity). I've never used Mint, but it comes in Cinnamon flavour and had a reputation for user friendliness.


I looked at a screenshot of Unity, and it looks nice. There was basically nothing to it. Wifi, Volume and Settings button in one corner, Trash Bin in the other, and a few icons. Provided those icons work like icons on a Windows desktop (i.e. I can place them wherever, they aren't some "App bar" like in Windows 7), I don't see a problem. Well, I hear Ubuntu is one of the Big Linux distros, so I assume it's probably hells of resource-intensive.

Just checked some screenshots of Cinnamon. Looks pretty much like Windows 7 :/
I do like the um, task bar type thing at the bottom. Provided all the things that appear on it are customizable/removable/hidable, I might give it a whirl.
I really dislike Unity, but I don't much like desktop environments in general, so maybe you shouldn't value my opinions of them too highly. Install them both and try them.

Oh god, I forgot about the package manager >.<
That was perhaps my most hated thing about Linux :(
From Windows, I'm used to downloading zips or exes from websites and double-clicking them to run them. The "package manager" concept is so difficult and cumbersome, as I recall.
It installs software. If the software has dependencies it installs them too. I'm not sure what you find difficult or cumbersome about it, you just type 'sudo <name of package manager> <name of thing you want>'

ahammel wrote:I'm unaware of any DE that has the start menu functionality that you describe, but there are plenty of similar program launchers. Press hot key, start typing name of program, tab to auto-complete, settled.


Ew, no, I don't like the "type" style launcher, that's one of the things I hate so much about Windows 7.
Then I'm actually not sure what kind of launcher you're describing.

We're talking Linux here, though. Isn't there some program that like, lets me create system-level hotkeys? Surely there's some program that lets me configure an arbitrary "Super + (key)" combination, and configure it to open anything I want?
Sure. That's either part of the DE or you can write a config file that does that on the OS level. Haven't used Cinnamon in a while, but I think it's baked into that.

Oh! Question! 'cause I'm Googling and running into something I forgot and dislike about Linux. No address bar! I like the address bar, I hate how Windows 7 got rid of it. I WANT to see the full address of the current window. Are there any Linux DEs that do that?
Don't think I've ever used one, but just googling around I see that the XFCE window manager seems to have an address bar (and XFCE is quite lightweight, which might be a bonus for you).

If there's no one DE that meets all your requirements, it's possible to mix and match desktop environments and window managers to a certain extent. This can be more or less painful depending on the WM and the DE. In general, the more heavyweight and feature-full the desktop environment, the more difficult it is to switch out the window manager.

EDIT:
King Author wrote:Quick question for anyone who might answer it -- looking at the Zorin home page, as with many Linux distros, it touts all the many programs it comes pre-installed with. I don't want or need tons of programs. Is there any effortless way I might simply tell it not to install those programs in the first place?
Probably not, but you might be able to select what packages you want installed by default at install time. You can also pick a distro that installs pretty much nothing by default and then install all the packages you want by hand if you really want a minimal set-up. That's what I do, but I don't really recommend it to beginners.
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby EvanED » Tue Jul 01, 2014 5:01 am UTC

ahammel wrote:(I'm pretty sure it's also completely separate from the kernel on Windows, but you don't notice it because there is only one Windows DE).
That's more-or-less true. Know Lightstep? :-) That used to work in the days of Windows 98, and I suspect things have only gotten more compartmentalized since.

The important differences between distros are to do with the install process, the package manager, and the documentation, IMHO.
I would definitely include default DE with that. Basing a distro choice in part on that is a pretty reasonable thing to do.

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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby King Author » Tue Jul 01, 2014 5:12 am UTC

EvanED wrote:Well... I do have one other thought. I suspect you won't like this idea after I elaborate, but I'll throw it out there. How keyboard driven do you like to be? Are you willing to try something completely and totally different than what you're used to?


I have a joint disease that makes using the mouse painful. Granted, I've always preferred keyboard to mouse (that's what being raised on Tandy does to ya :p) but nowadays, it's not so much a preference as a necessity. Though out of pure curiosity, what are you referring to?

EvanED wrote:2. For a Paint replacement, if you enjoy the Qt/KDE look, try KolourPaint. If you're more GTK/Gnome, try Pinta. (The latter's from a search and I haven't used it.) I'm not sure what to suggest for an IrfanView replacement. For a Notepad-alke, you can use GEdit; it's way more featured than Notepad but unless you mind tabs, it'll stay out of your way. I also saw a reference to "Leafpad." KDE's standard text editor I think is Kate... but I suspect you won't be a fan.


Thanks for the suggestions, I'll check them out. But wait. IrfanView...replacement? I thought there was a Linux version!

EvanED wrote:3. The monitor shouldn't be a problem. The wireless probably won't be, but the occasional adapter is notoriously difficult to get working. The mouse won't be.


We'll see. If I have problems when I try Zorin, I'll post about them.

EvanED wrote:4. Most programs won't give you control over what goes in menus. So... I'd say don't expect that to much of a greater degree than on Windows. Some WMs let you say what goes in a context menu you get if you right-click the desktop -- e.g. shortcuts to program launchers and whatnot.


I mean like, when I "Right Click > Send To" on Windows, it has a list of stuff to Send To, and I can edit the registry to edit that list ('cause by default it doesn't include the things I want and does include stuff I don't want). Or like, standard "View" stuff, letting me show or hide menu buttons and such. By default, Windows has like fifty freaking buttons on the Windows explorer thing itself. I don't even want any of them showing up: I use keyboard shortcuts for it all.

EvanED wrote:If you install from your distro's repository, simple. You'll get a little radio button or something at the login screen (if you use one) that will let you switch between the options.


I don't know what a repository is, heh.

EvanED wrote:This is something that I suspect you'll find easily configurable in both Gnome and KDE, and doable in varying degrees of difficulties on other WMs. (Maybe generally simple if there's some global program you can just start up.) Both have a global dialog for setting hot keys. What I'm not sure of is whether the actions are all predefined or you can add your own "run this command" ones.


*crosses fingers for arbitrary "run this command" hotkeys*

EvanED wrote:I think Konqueror, KDE's file explorer, does. There are "third-party" file explorer programs too.


What do you mean by "third-party?"

ahammel wrote:If you know how to to type 'sudo apt-get install cinnamon', you know how to install a new DE on Linux. Yes, you can install whatever DE you like on whatever distro you like, it's completely separate from the kernel. (I'm pretty sure it's also completely separate from the kernel on Windows, but you don't notice it because there is only one Windows DE).


I don't know how to do that, but if it's that simple it shouldn't be a problem. How would such a command know what to look for, and where, though? Who determines what words are reserved for what programs? What if there's a game called Cinnamon, how would it determine whether I'm trying to install the DE or the game?

Also, I'm a bit worried about a command line instruction being able to apparently connect to the internet. 'cause presumably if I type that command, it starts downloading cinnamon. Do most Linux OS's have download managers, where I can see what's downloading and where it's stored and such?

ahammel wrote:It installs software. If the software has dependencies it installs them too. I'm not sure what you find difficult or cumbersome about it, you just type 'sudo <name of package manager> <name of thing you want>'


Well, first I didn't know about command-line stuff, I was trying to use the graphical package manager, and it was obnoxious on every distro I tried. Secondly, it's just uncomfortable and claustrophobic to use one of those manager programs, and even worse to do it from command line. I like going to a website, browsing around, reading about something before I download it. It's just weird and invasive to have this thing on my computer that downloads something with one click, without providing a lot of information about it.

I totally see how, if you were an old pro at Linux, and knew everything about all the programs from memory, it'd be a fast, great way to quickly set up a new system. But for a beginner, I'd prefer installing stuff by downloading stuff from websites.

ahammel wrote:Sure. That's either part of the DE or you can write a config file that does that on the OS level.


Sweeeeeeeet! Being able to create OS-level hotkeys? So awesome! I understand config files in Linux are human-readable. Would even an utter novice like me be able to understand and write such files, then?

ahammel wrote:Haven't used Cinnamon in a while, but I think it's baked into that.


I see what you did there :)

ahammel wrote:Don't think I've ever used one, but just googling around I see that the XFCE window manager seems to have an address bar (and XFCE is quite lightweight, which might be a bonus for you).

If there's no one DE that meets all your requirements, it's possible to mix and match desktop environments and window managers to a certain extent. This can be more or less painful depending on the WM and the DE. In general, the more heavyweight and feature-full the desktop environment, the more difficult it is to switch out the window manager.


Alright, if I don't like Zorin's default stuff, I'll see about installing XFCE or something.

ahammel wrote:Probably not, but you might be able to select what packages you want installed by default at install time. You can also pick a distro that installs pretty much nothing by default and then install all the packages you want by hand if you really want a minimal set-up. That's what I do, but I don't really recommend it to beginners.


Well, it depends on what you mean by "pretty much nothing."

I want any system-necessary, ultra-basic stuff to load automatically, including the DE, file manager and so forth. But stuff like web browsers, media viewing programs, certainly stuff like games and specialty utilities, I'm just gonna end up uninstalling anyway.

But either way, no big deal. If it installs a bunch of stuff I don't want, I'll just uninstall them. Though I'll have to figure out how, first.

Thanks again, both of you!

(srsly going to bed now, lol)
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby EvanED » Tue Jul 01, 2014 6:26 am UTC

King Author wrote:
EvanED wrote:Well... I do have one other thought. I suspect you won't like this idea after I elaborate, but I'll throw it out there. How keyboard driven do you like to be? Are you willing to try something completely and totally different than what you're used to?


I have a joint disease that makes using the mouse painful. Granted, I've always preferred keyboard to mouse (that's what being raised on Tandy does to ya :p) but nowadays, it's not so much a preference as a necessity. Though out of pure curiosity, what are you referring to?
I'm trying to decide if I should suggest a tiling window manager (*cough* awesome *cough*). Like I said, it would be very different, and both because of that and because they're just plain harder to get to do what you want (lots of text-based config that almost acts more like light programming than cofiguration), it'd take a while to get the hang of. I'm not getting the sense that that's something you'd like. And of course I'd offer no guarantees that you'd even like it in the end. It also runs afoul of at least one of your don't wants -- which is multiple desktops. Tiling WMs basically demand that you have them, and lots of them. But they also make them easy to manage. On the upside, you'd get the configurability that you want. You don't have to worry about having extra widgets and stuff you don't want. And they're very keyboard-focused.

How annoyed do you get moving windows around to not overlap, pick the window you want to work with, etc.? Not at all or a little, or if you think about it, is that something you'd want to be able to speed up or make more comfortable my moving to the keyboard? If it's "not much" then I should drop it. If you're curious, I can tell you more.

Thanks for the suggestions, I'll check them out. But wait. IrfanView...replacement? I thought there was a Linux version!
Oh, no clue. If there is, then there's nothing to do. :-)

I don't know what a repository is, heh.
It's a big pile of software. :-) Your distro will run one (or actually, probably multiple of them, e.g. for different licenses) containing the software that distro maintainers have packaged for your distro.

What do you mean by "third-party?"
If you're using a DE like Unity, Gnome, or KDE, it will come with a file explorer just 'cause that's part of the "E" in DE. (That would be "environment.") By 3rd party I mean not your DE's file browser. Lighter-weight WMs won't come with any file explorer, so in that sense they're all 3rd parties.

I don't know how to do that, but if it's that simple it shouldn't be a problem. How would such a command know what to look for, and where, though? Who determines what words are reserved for what programs? What if there's a game called Cinnamon, how would it determine whether I'm trying to install the DE or the game?
This goes back to the repository thing. Rather than everyone distributing their own software, a very large percentage of the software that you're likely to want to run has already been packaged by your distro. Because that's a centralized authority, they get to pick the names so they don't conflict; in your example, whichever came first would probably get the package name 'cinnamon' and the second would get 'cinnamon-wm' or 'cinnamon-game' or something.

Every once in a while you might run across something your distro hasn't packaged. Often that means it's closed-source. In that case, you'll likely just download and run it like you would on Windows.

You can also often download and install software packages (often websites will have .rpm or .deb packages), but this is less than ideal compared with installing from your distro's repositories. (In particular, Linux packages aren't usually shipped with all their dependencies, so you have to make sure they're on there separately. That's the job of the package manager.)

Also, I'm a bit worried about a command line instruction being able to apparently connect to the internet. 'cause presumably if I type that command, it starts downloading cinnamon. Do most Linux OS's have download managers, where I can see what's downloading and where it's stored and such?
For your package manager command, the command won't exit until the download is done. (background tasks, screen, yadda yadda yadda) So you'll just be able to watch it download in the terminal. Your browser or whatever will just do what you're used to in all likelyhood.

Well, first I didn't know about command-line stuff, I was trying to use the graphical package manager, and it was obnoxious on every distro I tried. Secondly, it's just uncomfortable and claustrophobic to use one of those manager programs, and even worse to do it from command line. I like going to a website, browsing around, reading about something before I download it. It's just weird and invasive to have this thing on my computer that downloads something with one click, without providing a lot of information about it.
Many programs have websites too, of course. You can still look around there, then go to your package manager to install. It leaves the step of finding out the package name, but usually this isn't much of an issue.

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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby King Author » Tue Jul 01, 2014 9:50 am UTC

Oh, nooooo! Zorin has a free version and a "Premium" version T.T

I'm no Richard Stallman, in fact, I think he's an extremist and I don't agree with the FSF on many issues. However, I don't know if I can support an OS that uses the free/premium model :(

Especially because you can't permanently upgrade to Premium! If you buy the Premium version, and there's an update for it, you don't get it for free, you have to pay for the upgrade @_@

Granted, using Zorin Free is a definite step up from using Windows XP in terms of free software, open source, etc. But the whole reason I wanna move away from Windows is to embrace those very ideals. I can't find exact details, but it appears Zorin's Windows-looking desktop thingy is proprietary and closed source :'(

Also, Zorin is based off Ubuntu, and apparently Ubuntu has spyware? Aww man. This is so disappointing. I thought I found the perfect Linux distro :(

EvanED wrote:I'm trying to decide if I should suggest a tiling window manager (*cough* awesome *cough*). Like I said, it would be very different, and both because of that and because they're just plain harder to get to do what you want (lots of text-based config that almost acts more like light programming than cofiguration), it'd take a while to get the hang of. I'm not getting the sense that that's something you'd like. And of course I'd offer no guarantees that you'd even like it in the end. It also runs afoul of at least one of your don't wants -- which is multiple desktops. Tiling WMs basically demand that you have them, and lots of them. But they also make them easy to manage. On the upside, you'd get the configurability that you want. You don't have to worry about having extra widgets and stuff you don't want. And they're very keyboard-focused.


I looked at that link, and I looked at the Wikipedia article for Tiling window manager, and I still can't figure out exactly what it is and how it's different from traditional windows (other than obviously always being maximized, with no minimization/resizing options).

I defs like the idea of text-based config, but the overall thing seems very mouse-based, so...probably not for me.

EvanED wrote:How annoyed do you get moving windows around to not overlap, pick the window you want to work with, etc.? Not at all or a little, or if you think about it, is that something you'd want to be able to speed up or make more comfortable my moving to the keyboard? If it's "not much" then I should drop it. If you're curious, I can tell you more.


I never move windows around not to overlap, because I never have cause to view two windows at once. I just AltTab to the window I want. And if I'm moving files between two folders, I use CtrlX and CtrlV, I never drag-and-drop files.

What are people DOING even that they need six windows open at once? I suspect nobody needs so many windows on screen at once. Then again, I'm no power-user.
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby Xenomortis » Tue Jul 01, 2014 11:08 am UTC

My home desktop runs Windows 7, my laptop Debian Linux (well, Win7 is there too, but I've booted into it once).
At work I use RH Linux on the desktop and Windows 7 on a laptop.

Spoiler'd my experiences with the linux systems I use (it's not long, but clutters the post more than I want).
Spoiler:
Honestly; I don't have problems switching between them. The main differences are the amount I use the file browsers (Explorer / whatever it's called in gnome / xfce) and the terminal.

On my linux machines I rarely use the directory browsers - the only times I use them are for copying files between distant locations (eclipse preferences mostly), or for installing a package I just downloaded because it's easy to get to the "Downloads" directory and they tend to have irritating to type names (and I can never remember the precise command).
All the applications I need are either on the applications tab on the task bar or easily launched from the command line (although you may need to twerk your PATH variable; just as you would with Windows if you ever use the command line a lot).

On Windows, I typically only use the command line for running a compiler and any command line program (i.e. the thing I've just compiled).

Perhaps this is a matter of scale; there is a lot more on my home Windows desktop than my other machines and sometimes quickly exploring the file system is the only way I can find, run or manage things, and the start menu quickly becomes cluttered with so much crap.
Whereas with my linux machines, I tend to know more precisely what I want to do and what I want to run.

Getting Debian running on my laptop was relatively straightforward; but this was my second time around and the first time was more painful.
Getting the wireless drivers required an ethernet connection and google, but that was it.
The only issue I've had so far has been getting WINE to work reliably - running Hearthstone on it requires me to perform some magic voodoo ritual dance.


King Author wrote:What are people DOING even that they need six windows open at once? I suspect nobody needs so many windows on screen at once. Then again, I'm no power-user.

Six? Basically never; I can't hold that many things in my head at once.
But two or three? Frequently; I have dual monitors on my desktops for a reason.
But I'm a programmer and there are times when I want to view several files at once

King Author wrote:I totally see how, if you were an old pro at Linux, and knew everything about all the programs from memory, it'd be a fast, great way to quickly set up a new system. But for a beginner, I'd prefer installing stuff by downloading stuff from websites.

That... seems backward.
It's much easier to have the dependencies managed for you - I find the name of the package I want, type "sudo apt-get install [package-name]" and any weird libraries it needs or such get handled for me, without me trying to run it, discovering it doesn't work, and having to do another internet search to discover "oh, you need this, how come you didn't have this ubiquitous library you pillock".
Downloading everything manually isn't for the beginner.

If you're worried that these automatically downloaded packages are "controversial", they'll be listed before the download begins (you're prompted) and you can inspect them if you want.
Furthermore, if you use Debian, they place guarantee on anything in their repositories fits their definition of "free software" (check their social contract).

The ecosystem is different, so there will be a period of acclimatisation - hopefully it'll be painless.

King Author wrote:I like the address bar, I hate how Windows 7 got rid of it. I WANT to see the full address of the current window

You know you can change that, right?
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby eviloatmeal » Tue Jul 01, 2014 11:42 am UTC

King Author wrote:What are people DOING even that they need six windows open at once? I suspect nobody needs so many windows on screen at once. Then again, I'm no power-user.

Sure, you don't NEED to have those windows open, you could close them and reopen them constantly. But that would be cumbersome.

At work I have right now: Browser, Indesign, Illustrator, image preview, a folder, e-mail, and Not Tetris 2 (for multislacking).

At home I usually have: Browser, video player, IRC client, command line, gnuplot chart, video game all separately, and stuff like Steam, folders, task manager, more browser windows will go under / over as necessary.

There's something addicting about having more screen space, and dual screens. It's such a convenience to be able to glance over at another window without having to alt-tab back and forth, especially when you have fullscreen stuff like a game or a video. I'll regularly have my 16:9 filled with a video, while reading something or browsing something on my 8:5. (Having a portrait aspect ratio monitor is another thing that you don't realise you miss until you've tried it. Long images, pages of text, arcade video games, there are so many things that fit great in portrait.)

By the way, Linux has come a long way in the last few years. Well, at least it had last time I was using it.

If you have a spare computer or laptop, I highly recommend putting Linux on that, so that you can mess around with it, and spend some time figuring out all the "how do I do equivalent to X?" type things, while not losing the ability to do day-to-day stuff on your regular computer.
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby EvanED » Tue Jul 01, 2014 1:59 pm UTC

King Author wrote:I looked at that link, and I looked at the Wikipedia article for Tiling window manager, and I still can't figure out exactly what it is and how it's different from traditional windows (other than obviously always being maximized, with no minimization/resizing options).

I defs like the idea of text-based config, but the overall thing seems very mouse-based, so...probably not for me.
It's not mouse-based. Well, it doesn't have to be. If you're comparing to working with a traditional WM with only maximized windows, the way I'd think of it is that you could set it up so that you have a shortcut key to switch to Application #n immediately rather than hitting Alt-Tab-Tab-Tab-Tab to get to the thing you want. With Awesome you can also easily display two programs at once if you want to, e.g., copy something from one to the other, then switch back to just one. (This description is pushing things a bit, but it works out if you put one program per desktop which much of the time is reasonable.) What made me think of it is that Awesome lets you specify rules like "windows from such-and-such a program always are displayed on desktop #n" and, I think, "at position X,Y with size W,H", since it can also function more like a traditional WM. (Though I wouldn't recommend it if you wouldn't want to try the tiling. There are probably better choices, even though I think the authors are trying to discard the moniker of a tiling WM to be more encompassing.)

What are people DOING even that they need six windows open at once? I suspect nobody needs so many windows on screen at once. Then again, I'm no power-user.
At work, mail client, IRC client, Spotify, and web browser take more than half of your "six windows" before even getting to any "real" work. For each task I usually have 2-3 SSH windows open. I often have several tasks "in flight" at once, switching between them during the day. For example, I might be working on a feature and a couple bugs, and each of those will get a desktop that I put related windows on. Keeping them open means I get things like task-sensitive command history, sets of files opened in emacs, directory stack, etc.

I don't need 6 windows visible at once, but almost always have more than twice that many open at once. And since they're open and you occasionally want to use them, you need to manage switching to/from them as needed. And for me, virtual desktops for starters and tiling WMs to continue make this very nice. (For instance, my office machine is currently Windows, but I use an add-on virtual desktop manager. I'll give each task its own desktop -- so when I want to go work on Feature B, all I do is switch to Feature B's desktop and the related windows are there (I don't have to go digging through a stack of SSH windows to find the one where the environment is set as I want) and just as I left them for Bug A.)

Xenomortis wrote:
King Author wrote:I totally see how, if you were an old pro at Linux, and knew everything about all the programs from memory, it'd be a fast, great way to quickly set up a new system. But for a beginner, I'd prefer installing stuff by downloading stuff from websites.

That... seems backward.
It's much easier to have the dependencies managed for you - I find the name of the package I want, type "sudo apt-get install [package-name]" and any weird libraries it needs or such get handled for me, without me trying to run it, discovering it doesn't work, and having to do another internet search to discover "oh, you need this, how come you didn't have this ubiquitous library you pillock".
To be fair, you don't have to do that typically on Windows, because programs come packaged with their dependencies. This has upsides and downsides.

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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby ahammel » Tue Jul 01, 2014 2:19 pm UTC

King Author wrote:Also, I'm a bit worried about a command line instruction being able to apparently connect to the internet. 'cause presumably if I type that command, it starts downloading cinnamon. Do most Linux OS's have download managers, where I can see what's downloading and where it's stored and such?
You get a little text-based progress bar to watch the download happen. The package itself (i.e., the file that gets downloaded) is usually deleted after the install process. If you're worried about where the installed files are going (you don't normally need to know), I think that most package managers have something that will get you a list of the files after the fact.
Well, first I didn't know about command-line stuff, I was trying to use the graphical package manager, and it was obnoxious on every distro I tried. Secondly, it's just uncomfortable and claustrophobic to use one of those manager programs, and even worse to do it from command line. I like going to a website, browsing around, reading about something before I download it. It's just weird and invasive to have this thing on my computer that downloads something with one click, without providing a lot of information about it.
Nothing to stop you from browsing around the websites of the stuff that you want if the package manager doesn't give you enough information. More Linux-friendly pieces of software will even have a page like this, so the whole process is the same except that instead of clicking to download you copy-paste a couple of shell commands.

I strongly recommend using the command line at least to install stuff.

Sweeeeeeeet! Being able to create OS-level hotkeys? So awesome! I understand config files in Linux are human-readable. Would even an utter novice like me be able to understand and write such files, then?
Possibly. Here's mine:

Code: Select all

# Increase volume
"amixer set Master playback 2+"
    m:0x0 + c:123
    Alt + XF86AudioRaiseVolume

# Decrease volume
"amixer set Master playback 2-"
    m:0x0 + c:122
    Alt + XF86AudioLowerVolume
The stuff in quotes is the actual command to be run. The weird things starting with 'm:' are the keycodes for those keys for my particular keyboard (I used a helper program to figure those out).

I'm given to understand that this program (Xbindkeys) also has a GUI to make the config file if you don't fancy hacking it by hand.

ahammel wrote:Haven't used Cinnamon in a while, but I think it's baked into that.


I see what you did there :)
Unintentional, I assure you.

Well, it depends on what you mean by "pretty much nothing."
I mean this:

Spoiler:
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby EvanED » Tue Jul 01, 2014 3:17 pm UTC

ahammel wrote:More Linux-friendly pieces of software will even have a page like this, so the whole process is the same except that instead of clicking to download you copy-paste a couple of shell commands.
Eh, in the interest of full disclosure I feel like much more often than that I see something like "most distros have packages of our software; see your distro for details" and then you have to go and figure out with apt-cache search or a GUI package manager or just Google what the package name is. (Though often they'll have downloadable RPMS or DEBs, as I mentioned above, I am generally down on using them for various reasons.)

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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby King Author » Wed Jul 02, 2014 2:04 am UTC

Wow! Okay, wow, holy jeezezus wow. Do me a favor. Go here...
http://zorin-os.com/contacts.html
...click on "forum," go to Zorin Chat or whatever the subforum is called. I registered an account on the board called CautiousCanary, you should see a topic I made, possibly. I asked a few questions about Zorin and they permanently IP banned me @_@

They are fucking insane over there. It's like a cult. They're incredibly rude and unhelpful, they're very hostile towards questions, they treat people with utter disdain and arrogance when they have legitimate installation and usage problems. It's ridiculous.

DO NOT USE ZORIN OS!

I take back everything positive I said about it, those guys are fucking psychos.

~ ~ ~

Xenomortis wrote:You know you can change that, right?


*nods*
Doesn't stem my volcano of hatred for the abortion that is Windows 7.

Despite this one quote, I did read your whole post, heh. Thanks for sharing. Didn't know the package manager gives you additional info about what dependencies etc. are being installed when you use it.

eviloatmeal wrote:If you have a spare computer or laptop, I highly recommend putting Linux on that, so that you can mess around with it, and spend some time figuring out all the "how do I do equivalent to X?" type things, while not losing the ability to do day-to-day stuff on your regular computer.


That's actually what I originally tried, and got so frustrated with my inability to do or understand anything that I gave up entirely.

Re: Multitasking -- I guess I'm just not that kinda user. No offense intended, but can you actually enjoy any one thing when you're simultaneously consuming five things, or are you stimulated by the act of multitasking itself? How can you play Tetris and read and watch Netflix and IRC chat and all that at once, and actually pay attention to and enjoy any one of those things?

EvanED wrote:It's not mouse-based. Well, it doesn't have to be. If you're comparing to working with a traditional WM with only maximized windows, the way I'd think of it is that you could set it up so that you have a shortcut key to switch to Application #n immediately rather than hitting Alt-Tab-Tab-Tab-Tab to get to the thing you want. With Awesome you can also easily display two programs at once if you want to, e.g., copy something from one to the other, then switch back to just one. (This description is pushing things a bit, but it works out if you put one program per desktop which much of the time is reasonable.) What made me think of it is that Awesome lets you specify rules like "windows from such-and-such a program always are displayed on desktop #n" and, I think, "at position X,Y with size W,H", since it can also function more like a traditional WM.


Gnome's Activities can do that. Maybe not the position/size parameters, but you can create Activities such that N window will automatically go to M desktop.

But again, I'm not a power user or anything, so all this is overkill for my needs. Here's what I typically have open on my computer.
1) Just Firefox OR
2) One folder window and Irfanview OR
3) One folder window and GOM OR
4) A computer game.
And the Advanced Volume Controls may be open in conjunction with any of those except 2.

I quite dislike clutter (even in my regular life; I own very few possessions, I just don't like having lots of things) and I like to savor an individual experience, one at a time, so I tend towards doing a single thing at a time.

On rare occasion I like to do some amateur programming so I have Firefox, a Help Doc, the program itself and its main folder open, and maybe I open Paint now and again to twerk some of my dummy graphics, but that's as intensive a user as I am, heh.

EvanED wrote:At work, mail client, IRC client, Spotify, and web browser take more than half of your "six windows" before even getting to any "real" work. For each task I usually have 2-3 SSH windows open. I often have several tasks "in flight" at once, switching between them during the day. For example, I might be working on a feature and a couple bugs, and each of those will get a desktop that I put related windows on. Keeping them open means I get things like task-sensitive command history, sets of files opened in emacs, directory stack, etc.

I don't need 6 windows visible at once, but almost always have more than twice that many open at once. And since they're open and you occasionally want to use them, you need to manage switching to/from them as needed. And for me, virtual desktops for starters and tiling WMs to continue make this very nice. (For instance, my office machine is currently Windows, but I use an add-on virtual desktop manager. I'll give each task its own desktop -- so when I want to go work on Feature B, all I do is switch to Feature B's desktop and the related windows are there (I don't have to go digging through a stack of SSH windows to find the one where the environment is set as I want) and just as I left them for Bug A.)


*nods*
Yeah, I can understand how that would be super-useful for work. My point of confusion, I guess, was that I think of computers as entertainment/communication machines, not work machines, since I've never had a job where I used a computer.

Goodness. Now I'm wondering how people got along before multiple desktops and tiling window managers! They sound all but necessary for productivity.

ahammel wrote:You get a little text-based progress bar to watch the download happen. The package itself (i.e., the file that gets downloaded) is usually deleted after the install process. If you're worried about where the installed files are going (you don't normally need to know), I think that most package managers have something that will get you a list of the files after the fact.


I don't need to know, but I think I'd like to. One of the unsavory things about Windows is the sheer amount of stuff that happens behind the scenes, without you being able to see what's going on. If for nothing other than transparency for transparency's sake, I'd like a little more, uh, transparency in Linux.

ahammel wrote:Nothing to stop you from browsing around the websites of the stuff that you want if the package manager doesn't give you enough information. More Linux-friendly pieces of software will even have a page like this, so the whole process is the same except that instead of clicking to download you copy-paste a couple of shell commands.

I strongly recommend using the command line at least to install stuff.


Even over package manager software? What advantage does the command line have over that?

ahammel wrote:Possibly. Here's mine:

Code: Select all

# Increase volume
"amixer set Master playback 2+"
    m:0x0 + c:123
    Alt + XF86AudioRaiseVolume

# Decrease volume
"amixer set Master playback 2-"
    m:0x0 + c:122
    Alt + XF86AudioLowerVolume
The stuff in quotes is the actual command to be run. The weird things starting with 'm:' are the keycodes for those keys for my particular keyboard (I used a helper program to figure those out).

I'm given to understand that this program (Xbindkeys) also has a GUI to make the config file if you don't fancy hacking it by hand.


:o~

Oh, I fancy doing them by hand. I fancy that a lot! I've been using AutoHotKey in Windows for awhile, and it basically works the exact same -- a few lines of plaintext code in a txt file to define what a keycombo should do. Being Windows, all the keys are standard, so I don't have have to use charcodes, but I've done a bit of amateur game programming, so I'm familiar with the concept.

Holy crumpets, I could basically map my entire keyboard exactly how I want it with that! Thanks for turning me onto Xbindkeys ^_^

ahammel wrote:
Well, it depends on what you mean by "pretty much nothing."
I mean this:

Spoiler:
Image


Ohhhohoho. That is...very appealing to me.

What, precisely, am I looking at? What can be done from that command line? Only installing packages? Does that basically have, like, nothing nothing? No internet connection, no networking, no GUI, no DE, nothing other than the bare necessities to get that screen to run?

I don't think I'm gonna go that route right now, obviously, just simply because I'm a total Linux newbie, but in the future, ufufu...that'll definitely be the way I go. Oh yes...that nearly-blank screen pleases all my aesthetics and sensibilities.

(Though one potential hiccup -- do only certain Linux distros distribute "bare" versions like that? Or could you start out with that with any distro you please?)
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby EvanED » Wed Jul 02, 2014 3:01 am UTC

King Author wrote:But again, I'm not a power user or anything, so all this is overkill for my needs. Here's what I typically have open on my computer.
1) Just Firefox OR
2) One folder window and Irfanview OR
3) One folder window and GOM OR
4) A computer game.
And the Advanced Volume Controls may be open in conjunction with any of those except 2.

...
*nods*
Yeah, I can understand how that would be super-useful for work. My point of confusion, I guess, was that I think of computers as entertainment/communication machines, not work machines, since I've never had a job where I used a computer.
Fair enough. If that's the way you use the computer, you won't benefit much from a tiling WM and the added complexities (like programming your configuration... as in, in a real language) make it way not worth it.

Though even at home, I have a browser, Spotify, and Thunderbird open basically constantly. Not so I can pay attention to more than one (except, e.g., Spotify + browsing), just so I don't have to be closing and reopening.

I don't need to know, but I think I'd like to. One of the unsavory things about Windows is the sheer amount of stuff that happens behind the scenes, without you being able to see what's going on. If for nothing other than transparency for transparency's sake, I'd like a little more, uh, transparency in Linux.
One thing to be aware of is that, for all but a few non-mainstream distros, the package installation layout differs dramatically from Windows. On Windows, when you install something it puts the program, graphics, data files, etc. all under the same directory (well, there are exceptions here, e.g. sometimes programs inexplicably install things under c:\windows or whatever), and then different programs have different directories.

For various reasons, on Linux, everything is smushed together, and files are grouped by purpose. All executables will be in /usr/bin for example. (YMMV with weirder distros.) You can always track from package name -> files and I think file -> package, and the package manager makes it so that you rarely have to worry about where files are, so practically speaking this doesn't usually make much of a difference. Where it does make a difference is if you install something other than through your package manager, because uninstalling such packages range from mildly annoying to "the easiest way to uninstall this is to rm -rf /usr and reinstall your OS"1 if you dump them in amongst other packages. That's why I don't like installing pre-built packages other than through the package manager. If you build your own, you can tell it to put the installation elsewhere (the traditional location for doing this would be /opt/whatever-program-1.2.3/) and then uninstallation is just deleting said directory.

1This is much simpler and less work than a typical Windows reinstall, but is still not exactly something you'd choose to occupy your leisure time unless you're somewhat deranged. :-)

Even over package manager software? What advantage does the command line have over that?
Arguably faster for many common use cases.

What, precisely, am I looking at? What can be done from that command line? Only installing packages? Does that basically have, like, nothing nothing? No internet connection, no networking, no GUI, no DE, nothing other than the bare necessities to get that screen to run?
What you can do from just a command line depends on what you install of course, but there are text editors and such. You can even do some nominal webbrowsing with Links or Lynx. (Or emacs+w3m :-)) Lots of relatively basic manipulation of text files. More specialized tools like compilers. You won't get any graphics to speak of though, and you won't be able to do things like display "fancy" documents with anything but basic text formatting though, look at graphics, videos, etc. You may be able to play audio though with the right program... never tried it from outside of X.

(Though one potential hiccup -- do only certain Linux distros distribute "bare" versions like that? Or could you start out with that with any distro you please?)
You definitely have to be a little choosy. For instance, Ubuntu won't give you a basic install unless you choose the server disc. If you did want to go that way, Gentoo would probably be your best choice. You could also look up "Linux from scratch," but that's probably excessive.

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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby ahammel » Wed Jul 02, 2014 3:44 am UTC

EvanED wrote: If you did want to go that way, Gentoo would probably be your best choice.

Strongly disagree. Arch's install process is significantly less complicated, the documentation is excellent, the package manager is the best I've ever used, and I have never been convinced that there is a significant benefit to compiling everything from source (although if you love waiting for gcc to do stuff, Arch has a ports collection). Debian has a minimal spin as well, if I'm not mistaken.

That said, I don't really recommend either of those for a first time Linux user.
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby King Author » Wed Jul 02, 2014 10:15 am UTC

@EvanED: Hmm :/
Not sure how I feel about the way Linux handles installing stuff. One headache on Windows is uninstalling stuff. Besides the install folder, there's typically stuff in appdata and the apocryphal registry, and even if I manually delete all that, I'm never quite 100% sure something is totally wiped off my hard drive. I was kinda hoping Linux would be much simpler. Like, here's one folder with absolutely everything related to the thing I just installed, and if I simply delete that folder, poof, it's gone.

@ahammel: I think I'm gonna just go with Trisquel, and then browse DEs until I find something I like, and see how that goes. I didn't realize that what we commonly call "Linux" actually contains nonfree binary blobs. I don't think it necessarily has an adverse effect on anything, I think the FSF's opposition to Linux distros that contain that blob is a bit on the extremist and purely rhetorical side. I don't see any arguments that suggest the nonfree blob is actually harmful.

But still. If I like Trisquel, better to use it than something less-than-perfectly free. If I don't, no biggie, I'll keep shopping around.

So I guess my big task now is deciding upon a DE...

EDIT: Quick question. Are most Linux DE's configurable via text file like this...?
https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=74599
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby Xenomortis » Wed Jul 02, 2014 10:40 am UTC

King Author wrote:Like, here's one folder with absolutely everything related to the thing I just installed, and if I simply delete that folder, poof, it's gone.

So long as you used the package manager to install it, you can use the package manager to remove it.
e.g. "sudo apt-get purge [package-name]" will remove the package and all configuration files that are not in your user area (which is your personal space that you are responsible for).

If you don't use the package manager, things become more difficult.

King Author wrote:I didn't realize that what we commonly call "Linux" actually contains nonfree binary blobs. I don't think it necessarily has an adverse effect on anything, I think the FSF's opposition to Linux distros that contain that blob is a bit on the extremist and purely rhetorical side. I don't see any arguments that suggest the nonfree blob is actually harmful.

But still. If I like Trisquel, better to use it than something less-than-perfectly free. If I don't, no biggie, I'll keep shopping around.

The binary blobs are redistributable firmware support.
You can strip them out (Linux-libre, which is what Trisquel uses, has them removed), but there is a chance that getting some devices working (i.e. network cards*) is going to be harder.

And FWIW, you should be able to use Linux-libre with other distributions.

*It's always network cards that fail.
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby ahammel » Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:40 pm UTC

King Author wrote: Quick question. Are most Linux DE's configurable via text file like this...?
https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=74599

Many are. You can use conky (the status overlay thing in the thread you linked) with pretty much any DE and it's configured with a text file. I think KDE is configured with a text file, but not the Gnome family or Unity. The lightweight DEs are almost all text configured.

DWM (the subject of the thread you linked) is kind of a weird case in that you don't so much configure it as hack on the source code and recompile.
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby King Author » Thu Jul 03, 2014 12:36 am UTC

Xenomortis wrote:
King Author wrote:Like, here's one folder with absolutely everything related to the thing I just installed, and if I simply delete that folder, poof, it's gone.

So long as you used the package manager to install it, you can use the package manager to remove it.
e.g. "sudo apt-get purge [package-name]" will remove the package and all configuration files that are not in your user area (which is your personal space that you are responsible for).

If you don't use the package manager, things become more difficult.


Guess I'm using the package manager, then. And I guess I'll pay attention to changes in the usr folder. Depending on how big and messy the user folder gets...is there like, a program I can get that I can have "monitor" a folder for changes, and list those changes to me like in a text file or something? Almost sorta like the changelog on a Wikipedia page. "12:03:44 UTC: M file deleted, N folder created."

Xenomortis wrote:
King Author wrote:I didn't realize that what we commonly call "Linux" actually contains nonfree binary blobs. I don't think it necessarily has an adverse effect on anything, I think the FSF's opposition to Linux distros that contain that blob is a bit on the extremist and purely rhetorical side. I don't see any arguments that suggest the nonfree blob is actually harmful.

But still. If I like Trisquel, better to use it than something less-than-perfectly free. If I don't, no biggie, I'll keep shopping around.

The binary blobs are redistributable firmware support.
You can strip them out (Linux-libre, which is what Trisquel uses, has them removed), but there is a chance that getting some devices working (i.e. network cards*) is going to be harder.

And FWIW, you should be able to use Linux-libre with other distributions.

*It's always network cards that fail.


I'm not sure I have the knowhow or patience to change the kernel of a given Linux distro. I recognize the inconsistency in my saying that right after professing a desire to install everything manually from a clean install, heh. But also I won't know if a given Linux distro's included software is free. I could look up every single one, but that'd be a hassle. With Trisquel, I know everything it comes with is free. If I like a given program on it, awesome. If not, I can get rid of it and look for a free replacement for that one thing. Less work.

Of course if I hate Trisquel, heh, I'll have to scrap the whole thing. Still. Seems like the least amount of work this way.

(Ugh, I know about the network cards. Even using regular Linux, I couldn't get the internet to work last time I tried Linuxing. To be fair, I was trying out Linux on a 2001 laptop I got for $30 off ebay, and it didn't have any default wireless internet, I was connected through a PCI card slot Wifi adapter which, even in Windows, needed a special driver to function. But it was frustrating 'cause Linux wouldn't even detect that there was anything inserted into the PCI slot. So it's like, how was I supposed to get Wifi working?

Now I'm using a 2009 or 10 or something Acer Aspire One netbook, whose built-in wifi thing will hopefully work out of the box. But we'll see.)

ahammel wrote:
King Author wrote: Quick question. Are most Linux DE's configurable via text file like this...?
https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=74599

Many are. You can use conky (the status overlay thing in the thread you linked) with pretty much any DE and it's configured with a text file. I think KDE is configured with a text file, but not the Gnome family or Unity. The lightweight DEs are almost all text configured.

DWM (the subject of the thread you linked) is kind of a weird case in that you don't so much configure it as hack on the source code and recompile.


Nice, neat. I probably won't use DWM (I'm quite afraid of recompiling at this point) or even conky. Actually I thought they were just configuring their desktops, I didn't even realize it was an overlay program thing.

~ ~ ~

Hmm...new question. You know how I said I like to get rid of excess clutter? (Is "excess" clutter redundant? Whatevs.) I assume that a package manager downloads packages from the internet. Is that not true? Are the packages all included on a Linux distro, and you essentially just "enable" what you want, and the packages you don't install sit there in your filesystem?

Anything I don't use, I want to wipe off my disk. When I purge something using the package manager, does it actually do that? Delete it from my hard drive?

Also, another question -- what's a "file manager?" Is that different from like, just opening up folders and browsing your files?

BTW, I haven't actually tried any distros yet because I'm trying to install Linux to a netbook, and it doesn't have a CD drive so I can't do a Live CD, and I don't have and don't want to buy a USB CD drive, and I currently do not have a proper thumb drive. They're cheap enough so I'll buy one next time someone goes to Walmart or something, and then I'll use this...
http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/
...to start trying out distros. That'll work for any distro, right?

(Thanks again for all your help, guys ^_^)
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby ahammel » Thu Jul 03, 2014 1:53 am UTC

King Author wrote:Hmm...new question. You know how I said I like to get rid of excess clutter? (Is "excess" clutter redundant? Whatevs.) I assume that a package manager downloads packages from the internet. Is that not true? Are the packages all included on a Linux distro, and you essentially just "enable" what you want, and the packages you don't install sit there in your filesystem?
That is true unless you go out of your way to make it untrue. (A ports collection will put actual program files in your file system, but even those aren't the actual binaries, they're just scripts that download, compile and install stuff. Most Linux distros don't have one, and if they do then you have to go well out of your way to write the whole collection to your HD.)

Anything I don't use, I want to wipe off my disk. When I purge something using the package manager, does it actually do that? Delete it from my hard drive?
Yes.

Also, another question -- what's a "file manager?" Is that different from like, just opening up folders and browsing your files?
No, a file manager is just a program that does just that.

BTW, I haven't actually tried any distros yet because I'm trying to install Linux to a netbook, and it doesn't have a CD drive so I can't do a Live CD, and I don't have and don't want to buy a USB CD drive, and I currently do not have a proper thumb drive. They're cheap enough so I'll buy one next time someone goes to Walmart or something, and then I'll use this...
http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/
...to start trying out distros. That'll work for any distro, right?
Yes. The distros which are supported out of the box are listed here. Tirsquel is not one of them, but you can also supply your own .iso file (which is the thing that you would be burning to a CD if you weren't using a USB install).

Booting from a USB is much, much faster than using the CD, by the way. I recommend booting into a live environment to make sure everything works OK before installing anything.

(Thanks again for all your help, guys ^_^)
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby King Author » Fri Jul 04, 2014 1:15 am UTC

ahammel wrote:No, a file manager is just a program that does just that.


Oh. Crudsicles. That's another thing I'm gonna have to look up and choose between.
OS
DE
FM
Well wait then. What's the difference between a File Manager and a Window Manager? They sound the exact same.

You know, I'm starting to think I may very well just want to do my own completely custom install. As I'm checking out screenshots and videos, no one distro looks exactly like what I want; I'm seeing a lot of good stuff here and there. It'll take a lot longer, but I'm house-bound with medical problems anyway -- I literally have all the time in the world.

~ ~ ~

Redundant question for clarification -- if I'm only ever really going to be interacting with the DE, and probably won't notice the underlying OS, then...what difference does it make what OS I choose? I mean, if any DE runs on any OS, why choose one over the other?

The only concern I can think of is performance. Especially since I'm running on a netbook, I guess I should just choose whatever OS runs the fastest on my machine? Or is there some significant difference between OSes that I'm not realizing?
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby EvanED » Fri Jul 04, 2014 3:04 am UTC

King Author wrote:Well wait then. What's the difference between a File Manager and a Window Manager? They sound the exact same.
Not at all. The window manager is the program that actually lets you interact with windows -- every program's windows -- in terms of moving them around, minimizing & maximizing, drawing the window borders, showing and hiding windows as you change virtual desktops, etc. If your window manager dies (it can happen), whatever programs you had open will still be there but you won't be able to move them around or whatever. (The preceding sentence may be a lie.) Depending on how you looking at it, you're either never explicitly using the WM or pretty much always using it. :-) When you start a file manager, the file manager's windows are drawn by the window manager, like every other program.

Adding to the confusion is "desktop environment", which is basically a WM plus some other related things like taskbars and program launchers that you usually associate with being part of the shell. You could probably consider supporting apps like the typical file manager (Nautilus for Gnome, Dolphin for KDE) as part of the DE; they're usually bundled together (at least for some definition of "together"). The line between WM and DE and DE+other stuff is a bit fuzzy, the term WM often is used to include DEs, and in some sense it doesn't matter; you'll pick WM you want, and if it doesn't provide some part of the experience that a full-blown DE would, you just get it from somewhere else.

Redundant question for clarification -- if I'm only ever really going to be interacting with the DE, and probably won't notice the underlying OS, then...what difference does it make what OS I choose? I mean, if any DE runs on any OS, why choose one over the other?
What do you mean by "OS" here?

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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby FLHerne » Fri Jul 04, 2014 8:32 am UTC

If you only ever have a couple of windows open (and no-one should ever have more, because you can't look at them all :P ) perhaps you should look at tiling window managers? I use XMonad, but i3 is supposedly neat too. Essentially the idea is that, rather than dragging windows about by space-cluttering titlebars and then stacking them on top of each other in a useless way, you just tile them to exactly cover your screen with no wasted space or overlap. :wink:
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby King Author » Fri Jul 04, 2014 11:24 am UTC

EvanED wrote:
King Author wrote:Well wait then. What's the difference between a File Manager and a Window Manager? They sound the exact same.
Not at all. The window manager is the program that actually lets you interact with windows -- every program's windows -- in terms of moving them around, minimizing & maximizing, drawing the window borders, showing and hiding windows as you change virtual desktops, etc. If your window manager dies (it can happen), whatever programs you had open will still be there but you won't be able to move them around or whatever. (The preceding sentence may be a lie.) Depending on how you looking at it, you're either never explicitly using the WM or pretty much always using it. :-) When you start a file manager, the file manager's windows are drawn by the window manager, like every other program.

Adding to the confusion is "desktop environment", which is basically a WM plus some other related things like taskbars and program launchers that you usually associate with being part of the shell. You could probably consider supporting apps like the typical file manager (Nautilus for Gnome, Dolphin for KDE) as part of the DE; they're usually bundled together (at least for some definition of "together"). The line between WM and DE and DE+other stuff is a bit fuzzy, the term WM often is used to include DEs, and in some sense it doesn't matter; you'll pick WM you want, and if it doesn't provide some part of the experience that a full-blown DE would, you just get it from somewhere else.


@__@

Okay, how about this. If install Foo Desktop Environment and love the look of the windows but hate the way files are browsed, can I get a different File Manager while keeping the same everything else?

EvanED wrote:
Redundant question for clarification -- if I'm only ever really going to be interacting with the DE, and probably won't notice the underlying OS, then...what difference does it make what OS I choose? I mean, if any DE runs on any OS, why choose one over the other?
What do you mean by "OS" here?


Like, Gnome, Ubuntu, Fedora, etc.

I know (kinda) that pretty much every major Linux distro has its own DE it uses. Unity, um...another one I heard of.

But oh, that's a good way to phrase the question -- say I loved Unity. If I had, I dunno, Puppy Linux installed, could I install the Unity DE?

(btw got my hands on a thumb drive, gonna try some stuff. its only 4 GB hopefully that's enough)

@FLHerne: Already covered, heh.
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby ahammel » Fri Jul 04, 2014 1:11 pm UTC

King Author wrote:
EvanED wrote:
King Author wrote:Well wait then. What's the difference between a File Manager and a Window Manager? They sound the exact same.
Not at all. The window manager is the program that actually lets you interact with windows -- every program's windows -- in terms of moving them around, minimizing & maximizing, drawing the window borders, showing and hiding windows as you change virtual desktops, etc. If your window manager dies (it can happen), whatever programs you had open will still be there but you won't be able to move them around or whatever. (The preceding sentence may be a lie.) Depending on how you looking at it, you're either never explicitly using the WM or pretty much always using it. :-) When you start a file manager, the file manager's windows are drawn by the window manager, like every other program.

Adding to the confusion is "desktop environment", which is basically a WM plus some other related things like taskbars and program launchers that you usually associate with being part of the shell. You could probably consider supporting apps like the typical file manager (Nautilus for Gnome, Dolphin for KDE) as part of the DE; they're usually bundled together (at least for some definition of "together"). The line between WM and DE and DE+other stuff is a bit fuzzy, the term WM often is used to include DEs, and in some sense it doesn't matter; you'll pick WM you want, and if it doesn't provide some part of the experience that a full-blown DE would, you just get it from somewhere else.


@__@

Okay, how about this. If install Foo Desktop Environment and love the look of the windows but hate the way files are browsed, can I get a different File Manager while keeping the same everything else?
Absolutely.

King Author wrote:
EvanED wrote:
Redundant question for clarification -- if I'm only ever really going to be interacting with the DE, and probably won't notice the underlying OS, then...what difference does it make what OS I choose? I mean, if any DE runs on any OS, why choose one over the other?
What do you mean by "OS" here?


Like, Gnome, Ubuntu, Fedora, etc.

I know (kinda) that pretty much every major Linux distro has its own DE it uses. Unity, um...another one I heard of.

But oh, that's a good way to phrase the question -- say I loved Unity. If I had, I dunno, Puppy Linux installed, could I install the Unity DE?
I hear Unity is pretty difficult to get working on non - Ubuntu systems, but in general yes, you can install Gnome or KDE or XFCE or Fluxbox or whatever regardless of your distro. Or you can install several of those and switch between them as your whimsy takes you.
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby Xenomortis » Fri Jul 04, 2014 1:30 pm UTC

King Author wrote:Like, Gnome, Ubuntu, Fedora, etc.

GNOME is a desktop environment, not an OS.
You almost certainly will not like GNOME 3.

Quick breakdown and some examples

Kernels (low level engines):
Linux
Linux-libre

Distributions ("Operating Systems" - the set of software you get):
Fedora (commercially backed by Red Hat)
Debian (community run)
Ubuntu (backed by Canonical, derives from Debian)
Arch linux (community run)

Desktop Environments / Window manager ("how your desktop/windows look and behave")
GNOME 2 and 3
KDE
Cinammon (fork of GNOME, because everybody hates GNOME 3)
Xfce (known for being very lightweight)

File Managers (programs that provide a way to navigate the filesystem):
Nautilus
Konqueror

I believe file managers are typically tied to the desktop environment (GNOME uses Nautilus for instance), although I suspect there is some way to change the file manager used by a particular DE (and it may be as simple as installing one package and removing another); this isn't something I've looked into myself - most of my navigating is done through a terminal.

King Author wrote:But oh, that's a good way to phrase the question -- say I loved Unity. If I had, I dunno, Puppy Linux installed, could I install the Unity DE?

Well Unity itself is specific to Ubuntu, so I doubt many distributions have support for it.
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby EvanED » Fri Jul 04, 2014 2:13 pm UTC

FLHerne wrote:If you only ever have a couple of windows open (and no-one should ever have more, because you can't look at them all :P ) perhaps you should look at tiling window managers? I use XMonad, but i3 is supposedly neat too. Essentially the idea is that, rather than dragging windows about by space-cluttering titlebars and then stacking them on top of each other in a useless way, you just tile them to exactly cover your screen with no wasted space or overlap. :wink:
I already semi-suggested that (my recommendation is always Awesome; I've used XMonad but not i3), and I don't think it's the right option any more. I'd also argue that if you only ever have a couple of windows open, the benefits of a tiling WM are minimal -- where they shine is if you have a lot of windows open, because that's when tracking and managing the windows is an actual task.

Besides, I and others already said why "no-one should ever have more [than a couple windows open]" is, I think, BS.

king arthur wrote:Okay, how about this. If install Foo Desktop Environment and love the look of the windows but hate the way files are browsed, can I get a different File Manager while keeping the same everything else?
Yep. Depending on the DE it may be somewhere between "extra work" and "impossible" to replace the file manager in all contexts (I've never tried) so you'll never open the DE's default one, but you can always install a separate one and replace ank links you have in your launcher, on your desktop, etc. with that.

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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby ahammel » Fri Jul 04, 2014 4:55 pm UTC

Xenomortis wrote:Well Unity itself is specific to Ubuntu, so I doubt many distributions have support for it.

Arch is the only non-Ubuntu distro I'm aware of which supports Unity.
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby Diemo » Fri Jul 04, 2014 5:47 pm UTC

I would suggest that you use some distro (doesn't really matter which one, but I sugest Puppy Linux) and then use Icewm. Icewm has all of the things that you require, as well as a fully customisable number of workspaces. Note that I have not used Puppy myself, but it seems like it meets your criteria.

Two keypresses to do anything: Fully customisable in ./icewm/keys

Something like MSPaint and Notepad would be distro-specific, but IceWM works on Ubuntu, OpenSuse and Puppy (and probably others).
MSPaint: Puppy supports mtPaint as well as GIMP.
NotePad: Puppy Linux supports gedit, which is basically notepad with lots of extra functionality under the hood (e.g. colour coding of .f90 files, you can use it exactly like notepad if that is what you want).

Wireless: Puppy provides support for wireless connectivity. I have not used it myself.

Monitor: Getting a different monitor to work on Puppy could be difficult. Instructions are here. And if you are using another distro this should be pretty easy.

Configureable everything: Look into IceWM themes.

4b. Again, this is distro dependent. Don't know what is available in Puppy, and what you can get rid of, but most of it should be very customisable.

You can set up IceWM to only have one desktop if you want to. It is really easy. I generally have nothing on my desktop at all. You can set up a menu button on the bottom which opens (on my machine) with Ctl. + Escape, but this is cutomisable. What goes in the menu is also customisable (So I have Mozilla, a terminal and gnome-settings). These are all customisable with text files in the /home/yout_profile_name/.icewm/

If you get over your hatred of firefox, and really want to go the keyboard only route, then you can use firefox and Vimporator. I don't know about something like that for other browsers, but here might be a good place to start.
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby King Author » Sat Jul 05, 2014 5:03 am UTC

Ugh, still haven't gotten to try any Linux yet. My nephew's downloading seven years worth of Team Fortress 2 updates and it's eating up all the Wifi -- my 500 MB Trisquel Mini download is taking forever.

Oh, heh, and a funny thing I noticed. When you search for "Linux DE," whether via duckduckgo or youtube or whatever, you return a lot of Spanish results. Get it? "de" as in the particle in Spanish?

ahammel wrote:I hear Unity is pretty difficult to get working on non - Ubuntu systems, but in general yes, you can install Gnome or KDE or XFCE or Fluxbox or whatever regardless of your distro. Or you can install several of those and switch between them as your whimsy takes you.


Alright, cool. Thanks.

Xenomortis wrote:
King Author wrote:Like, Gnome, Ubuntu, Fedora, etc.

GNOME is a desktop environment, not an OS.
You almost certainly will not like GNOME 3.

Quick breakdown and some examples

Kernels (low level engines):
Linux
Linux-libre

Distributions ("Operating Systems" - the set of software you get):
Fedora (commercially backed by Red Hat)
Debian (community run)
Ubuntu (backed by Canonical, derives from Debian)
Arch linux (community run)

Desktop Environments / Window manager ("how your desktop/windows look and behave")
GNOME 2 and 3
KDE
Cinammon (fork of GNOME, because everybody hates GNOME 3)
Xfce (known for being very lightweight)

File Managers (programs that provide a way to navigate the filesystem):
Nautilus
Konqueror

I believe file managers are typically tied to the desktop environment (GNOME uses Nautilus for instance), although I suspect there is some way to change the file manager used by a particular DE (and it may be as simple as installing one package and removing another); this isn't something I've looked into myself - most of my navigating is done through a terminal.


Ah! That's exactly what I needed, thanks ^_^
(I really wish doing "Linux from scratch" was as easy as selecting options from a few categories like that, heh.)

Diemo wrote:I would suggest that you use some distro (doesn't really matter which one, but I sugest Puppy Linux) and then use Icewm. Icewm has all of the things that you require, as well as a fully customisable number of workspaces. Note that I have not used Puppy myself, but it seems like it meets your criteria.

Two keypresses to do anything: Fully customisable in ./icewm/keys

Something like MSPaint and Notepad would be distro-specific, but IceWM works on Ubuntu, OpenSuse and Puppy (and probably others).
MSPaint: Puppy supports mtPaint as well as GIMP.
NotePad: Puppy Linux supports gedit, which is basically notepad with lots of extra functionality under the hood (e.g. colour coding of .f90 files, you can use it exactly like notepad if that is what you want).

Wireless: Puppy provides support for wireless connectivity. I have not used it myself.

Monitor: Getting a different monitor to work on Puppy could be difficult. Instructions are here. And if you are using another distro this should be pretty easy.

Configureable everything: Look into IceWM themes.

4b. Again, this is distro dependent. Don't know what is available in Puppy, and what you can get rid of, but most of it should be very customisable.

You can set up IceWM to only have one desktop if you want to. It is really easy. I generally have nothing on my desktop at all. You can set up a menu button on the bottom which opens (on my machine) with Ctl. + Escape, but this is cutomisable. What goes in the menu is also customisable (So I have Mozilla, a terminal and gnome-settings). These are all customisable with text files in the /home/yout_profile_name/.icewm/


Whoa, neat. Especially the system keys! I wouldn't even need to download Xbindkeys ^_^
Holy Ra, I love customizaton <3

I'm suspicious of "Themes," which is something I'm seeing/hearing a lot about with Linux distros in regards to visual customization. When I see "Themes" I automatically think of Windows 7's godawful, highly-restricted "customization" (which amounts to selecting from a pre-defined list of stupid, pretty, flashy-looking nonsense).

One thing I adore about Windows XP is the Advanced Appearance Settings. You can change the color, text font and size and color, line width and color, background color, etc. of absolutely every element of every window that appears on your machine.

I need that level of customization. I'm running almost entirely black-and-white due to my bad eyes, and need to replicate that on any system I use. Do Linux "Themes" offer THAT level of customization?

I should probably just upload a few screenshots of the setup I've got going now. Of course, I'm way too lazy to sign up for photobucket or anything like that. Wait, can I attach images here on the board? Oh! I can! Here, I'll attach some pics of what I'm staring at right now. Check it.

kavisuals1.PNG

My semi-restored Firefox. Note the system colors.

~ ~ ~

kavisuals2.PNG

Normally I have the "Back, Search, Folders" etc. buttons turned off, so it's just the file menu things and address bar. Note, very importantly, that I don't have that obnoxious side pane open. That shows other places/folders? I hate that. Most Linux distros/DEs/WMs/whatever seem to have that. I'm hoping/trusting I can turn it off.

Also note here the bold, simple text, no transparency or nonsense, simple icons, lack of clutter.

~ ~ ~

kavisuals3.PNG

This. I need THIS level of customization plz. It's fine if I have to crack open a config file and do it by hand, but the point is, I need to be able to adjust every last element of everything that appears on-screen.

So...can I make IceWM look like that? What about xfce or LXDE?

Diemo wrote:If you get over your hatred of firefox, and really want to go the keyboard only route, then you can use firefox and Vimporator. I don't know about something like that for other browsers, but here might be a good place to start.


Hey, I don't need to get over my hatred of Firefox, Mozilla needs to stop supporting EME. Also that browser doesn't appeal to me anyway. Thanks for the heads-up, though.
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby EvanED » Sat Jul 05, 2014 5:28 am UTC

The problem with that request (re. customization) is that different programs use different widget sets, so I don't think there's a way to theme things internal to programs (e.g. dialog buttons) in a uniform way. (I could be wrong here I guess... never looked into it much.) But you'll probably be able to get at least GTK programs and Qt programs acceptable, just via separate mechanisms, and that will take care of the majority of programs. (It's really the same on Windows -- I'm guessing you occasionally hit a program that ignores your color settings, but probably more common on Linux to hit a non-GTK, non-Qt program.)

(GTK and Qt are the libraries that provide UI elements and other stuff for programs. GTK was written for and used by Gnome; Qt by KDE. This doesn't mean that you can't run GTK programs on KDE or Qt programs on Gnome or either kind on a different WM -- all programs will run on whatever WM you use, modulo very rare edge case bugs you probably won't hit. The choice of library affects the program's look and feel, where you would change the look and behavior settings, and really nothing else.)

That said, I actually haven't done that kind of customization for many years, and not even using Linux at the moment except via SSH. So what I say could be out of date.

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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby King Author » Sat Jul 05, 2014 8:12 am UTC

EvanED wrote:The problem with that request (re. customization) is that different programs use different widget sets, so I don't think there's a way to theme things internal to programs (e.g. dialog buttons) in a uniform way. (I could be wrong here I guess... never looked into it much.) But you'll probably be able to get at least GTK programs and Qt programs acceptable, just via separate mechanisms, and that will take care of the majority of programs.


Oh. Wow. That might be a dealbreaker. My eyes are too jacked-up for bright colors. There's no getting around that.

EvanED wrote:(It's really the same on Windows -- I'm guessing you occasionally hit a program that ignores your color settings, but probably more common on Linux to hit a non-GTK, non-Qt program.)


Nope, never come across a program that ignores my color settings. Some programs use large images rather than properly using the window features, and of course I can't change image colors, but backgrounds, buttons, borders and text are universally what I set them as.

EvanED wrote:(GTK and Qt are the libraries that provide UI elements and other stuff for programs. GTK was written for and used by Gnome; Qt by KDE. This doesn't mean that you can't run GTK programs on KDE or Qt programs on Gnome or either kind on a different WM -- all programs will run on whatever WM you use, modulo very rare edge case bugs you probably won't hit. The choice of library affects the program's look and feel, where you would change the look and behavior settings, and really nothing else.)

That said, I actually haven't done that kind of customization for many years, and not even using Linux at the moment except via SSH. So what I say could be out of date.


Here's hoping, 'cause my Trisquel Mini just finished downloading. Now I just gotta download UNetbootin, skeebop it and boot up Linux.

*big breath*

Let's hope this isn't as problematic as it was last time...
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby Diemo » Sat Jul 05, 2014 10:51 am UTC

I am pretty sure that you can customise to that level with the themes. Don't confuse IceWM themes with windows themes, they are two different beasts! I do know that one of the themes that IceWM offers out of the box is the default Windows XP look, so depending on how much you have customised XP you could go that route.

I am not at my computer at the moment (it is the work one) so I cant test out the different themes (I didn't really use that feature, I like IceWM for allowing you to have as many desktops as you want) but as far as I can remember you can adjust all that. I am 100% certain that you can adjust the colour of everything. I would expect that you can get that level of customisation with IceWM.
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby King Author » Sat Jul 05, 2014 1:49 pm UTC

Tried Trisquel Mini.

:/

Well, on the positive side, it runs super-fast. The instant I tried opening anything, boom, opened in a flash.

But dat LXDE. Mm-mm, no sir. Not for me. First off, it looks like Windows 95. I like minimalism, but that was a bit much. Second, I think it was running in 256 colors. I noticed weird pixeley color gradients. I couldn't find a place to change the color settings, only the resolution. Additionally, and I don't know if this was LXDE or Trisquel, but I tried playing a video and the playback was...really grainy. Not artifacts, just...the playback seemed fuzzy. Looks fine in XP, it's not the video.

That's all basically tolerable, but there were some intolerable things.
1) Very little in the way of customization anywhere.
2) Can't get rid of that side-navigation panel in the file browser. Indeed can't customize its look at all.
3) Can't drag around files. They're always auto-sorted and unmovable, like in Windows 7. Absolutely loathe that.
4) While you can change the color of windows, backgrounds, etc. in the visuals customization of LXDE, you can't change the color of font! You can change the system font type, size and boldness/italicization, but not color. So if you make the background all-black, you can't see any text @_@ So dumb!
5) The bottom bar thing ("tray" or whatever its called; you know, where the Start Menu is in Windows) can't be moved, adjusted or HIDDEN. It's an utter eyesore having that thing up all the time, not to mention that it actually takes up screen space.
6) UGH! When you're in the file browser, and start typing, it brings up a friggin' search bar >_< Hate that! I want it to work like XP where it just zaps you to the first matching file for what you're typing.
7) When you press the Super key just by itself, it does nothing. I'd prefer it to bring up the Start Menu, or whatever it's called.

Also, when I tried to take a screenshot by pressing Print Screen, it tried to open some program and threw an error at me. And as I predicted, my wireless was not auto-detected. That may've been because of Linux Libre, I'll have to try a non-Libre distro. How would I get my wireless working if I wanted to use Libre, though? I'm using an Acer Aspire One netbook. I can look up more specific info about it if you tell me how.

Okay, gotta make a gameplan. Oh, okay! Question -- if I download IceWM here while I'm using XP and put it in a folder somewhere, when I live boot a Linux distro from my USB, can I browse to that file and activate it? Like I said, Trisquel ran like a charm, LXDE was just very not to my liking. Though Trisquel Mini is 444 MB. I'm gonna try out smaller distros still, see if they work well. I'll go with the smallest distro that I can get IceWM running on (presuming I like IceWM, which I strongly suspect I will) and my Wifi detected with.

(How cray-cray is it that Windows XP is the most highly-customizable OS I've ever used?)
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby ahammel » Sat Jul 05, 2014 3:23 pm UTC

King Author wrote:1) Very little in the way of customization anywhere.
2) Can't get rid of that side-navigation panel in the file browser. Indeed can't customize its look at all.
3) Can't drag around files. They're always auto-sorted and unmovable, like in Windows 7. Absolutely loathe that.
4) While you can change the color of windows, backgrounds, etc. in the visuals customization of LXDE, you can't change the color of font! You can change the system font type, size and boldness/italicization, but not color. So if you make the background all-black, you can't see any text @_@ So dumb!
5) The bottom bar thing ("tray" or whatever its called; you know, where the Start Menu is in Windows) can't be moved, adjusted or HIDDEN. It's an utter eyesore having that thing up all the time, not to mention that it actually takes up screen space.
6) UGH! When you're in the file browser, and start typing, it brings up a friggin' search bar >_< Hate that! I want it to work like XP where it just zaps you to the first matching file for what you're typing.
7) When you press the Super key just by itself, it does nothing. I'd prefer it to bring up the Start Menu, or whatever it's called.

It didn't take me very much googling to figure out how to do most of those things.

1) [a][b]
2) [c] or you can install gtk themes.
3) Not sure about this one, but there seems to have been a bug in earlier versions that prevented this from happening, so an update might fix it.
4) [d]
5) [e] or a more brutal solution: [f]
6) Not sure whether pcmanfm supports the behaviour you want.
7) [g]

But yeah, if LXDE doesn't do it for you because of 3) and 6), by all means try some other DE.

As for your network card: open a terminal and paste in this command

Code: Select all

sudo lspci | grep -Ei 'network|ethernet'
Paste the output here (in a [code] block, please) and we'll see what we can do.
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby King Author » Sun Jul 06, 2014 1:58 am UTC

ahammel wrote:
King Author wrote:1) Very little in the way of customization anywhere.
2) Can't get rid of that side-navigation panel in the file browser. Indeed can't customize its look at all.
3) Can't drag around files. They're always auto-sorted and unmovable, like in Windows 7. Absolutely loathe that.
4) While you can change the color of windows, backgrounds, etc. in the visuals customization of LXDE, you can't change the color of font! You can change the system font type, size and boldness/italicization, but not color. So if you make the background all-black, you can't see any text @_@ So dumb!
5) The bottom bar thing ("tray" or whatever its called; you know, where the Start Menu is in Windows) can't be moved, adjusted or HIDDEN. It's an utter eyesore having that thing up all the time, not to mention that it actually takes up screen space.
6) UGH! When you're in the file browser, and start typing, it brings up a friggin' search bar >_< Hate that! I want it to work like XP where it just zaps you to the first matching file for what you're typing.
7) When you press the Super key just by itself, it does nothing. I'd prefer it to bring up the Start Menu, or whatever it's called.

It didn't take me very much googling to figure out how to do most of those things.

1) [a][b]
2) [c] or you can install gtk themes.
3) Not sure about this one, but there seems to have been a bug in earlier versions that prevented this from happening, so an update might fix it.
4) [d]
5) [e] or a more brutal solution: [f]
6) Not sure whether pcmanfm supports the behaviour you want.
7) [g]

But yeah, if LXDE doesn't do it for you because of 3) and 6), by all means try some other DE.


Yeah, 3 and 6 are dealbreakers. I absolutely, positively, 110% hate search-as-you-type, it's too much of a hassle for me to work around it, and not being able to drag files around is equally intolerable. I'm gonna give IceWM a try, anyhoots, so it's all good. Thanks for googling all that for me though, heh. I assumed it was all impossible because it's not default behavior. Although 4 didn't work for me; I don't see any way to change the font color, only the face/etc. Unimportant, though. I strongly suspect I'll like IceWM.

ahammel wrote:As for your network card: open a terminal and paste in this command

Code: Select all

sudo lspci | grep -Ei 'network|ethernet'
Paste the output here (in a [code] block, please) and we'll see what we can do.


I actually found a way to get the info while in XP...
intel wifi link 1000 bgn
PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_0083&SUBSYS_13058086&REV_00\4&20975680&0&00E1

However, I already googled and apparently, it uses proprietary software so it simply will not work in Linux-Libre. Everyone on the FSF forums and such just says to buy a USB wifi thingy :/

I'm in the process of installing Puppy Linux to my live USB. I'll see if it auto-detects. It probably will.

Though even Trisquel Mini came with a large amount of software I'll never use. I may do Linux From Scratch after all, just because all distros seem to come loaded with tons and tons of programs I don't want. Sure I can delete them all, but if I don't know that there's a program on my machine, I can't delete it. If I hand-select what to install from the get-go, I'll know exactly what's installed.

(P.S. I googled and found out I can manually install IceWM with the following terminal commands...
tar xzf icewm-1.3.8.tar.gz
cd icewm-1.3.8
./configure --help
...I hope it works. Wish me luck!)
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Re: I wanna try Linux. Again. (x4).

Postby EvanED » Sun Jul 06, 2014 4:02 am UTC

Since you're building IceWM yourself (if you follow those instructions) I recommend installing to a different directory, as I mentioned above. You do that by passing --prefix=(thedir) to configure. So it'll look something like ./configure --prefix=/opt/icewm-1.3.8, plus any other options you want to pass.


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