About 6 years ago, I wrote an article about why I felt that installing software in GNU/Linux was broken. It pains me to say that the situation is, sadly, exactly the same:GNU/Linux never made it to personal computers, really, and at this point it looks like it never will.
When it comes to file managers, Linux users are spoiled for choice. But that doesn't stop developers from building tools for juggling files. Take Sunflower, for example. This file browser is built for speed, and it will appeal to fans of the twin-panel interface. Indeed, Sunflower's unobtrusive and lightweight interface allows you to manage files with consummate ease. Although Sunflower is designed to play nicely with the Gnome desktop environment, the file manager doesn't look out of place on other desktops, including KDE.
There is no shortage of backup software in GNU/Linux. From full clones of hard drives to browser bookmarks there's something for everyone. However, sometimes you just need to be more selective about what you backup.
If you want to backup your precious desktop settings, you should try Ubuntu Tweak: it is bundled with a host of really useful features, it's been around for a while and it's up to version seven. You might find a version in your distro's repositories but if you're out of luck, download it from the official site.
One of the first things that newcomers to GNU/Linux learn to do is to bypass big Start menus and blank screens (like Fluxbox) and use
ALT+F2 to launch an application by simply typing in its name. Every desktop ecosystem has its own way of implementing this feature and I was pleasantly surprised, after a long absense from the KDE desktop, to see how it could be used to do some really clever things. Here's five of them.
If you hated Ubuntu's Unity desktop then the shock of your first encounter with the Gnome-shell likely caused your entire digital weltanschauung to implode. Make no mistake about it, it takes you right out of your comfort zone to a strange and unfamiliar place even if you've already tried Unity and decided to throw it back or put it in the keep net. Be shocked, very shocked.
The Xfce desktop environment comes with Xubuntu and is also available in the Xfce versions of Linux Mint, Fedora and other Linux distributions. Using Xfce, you can easily set up a highly functional but completely blank desktop - no icons, no menus, nothing. Just a blank screen or a favourite wallpaper, ideal for the user who hates distractions or loves simplicity. Here's how to do it.
The Open Desktop communities Open-PC project is now offering three different models of open computers with turn-key GNU/Linux and KDE installations based on OpenSUSE (or Ubuntu). These systems could provide real competition with pre-installed Windows or Mac computers, overcoming some of the most frequently-cited problems with GNU/Linux on the desktop. The systems are now available from vendors in Europe and the USA.
Someone in my LUG posted this last week:
A long time ago I gave my retired father a computer. Having previously given my mother a computer with Windows 98 on and not being a success for my father I planned things differently and achieved a quite different result.
I wrote my story and ideas down in various places, giving a talk at my local LUG and even getting a short paper published in the British Human Computer Interactions Group "Interface" magazine.
Is it possible to develop full GNU/Linux desktops that run on the web and can therefore be accessed from anywhere? We already have a flavour of this with web-based services such as Google's Gmail, Google Docs and online storage space but these are run from the user's own desktop and are restricted to bespoke services. What about full desktops? Enter Ulteo, created by Gael Duval.
Debian is well respected as a stable server distribution, and most of the reviews focus on aspects appropriate to server deployments. This article covers Debian on the desktop. It is not a step by step tutorial, but focuses on the highlights of the recent Etch release.
Free software is great, so why not run it on a free PC? Here’s how to get a free PC and configure it with free software to perform many tasks as well as a newly-purchased computer.
Sniffing out a PC
Free software advocates, including myself, like to pontificate about how free software is a good business model. We like to hold up companies like Red Hat and show them off like a bright cliff-top lighthouse that shows the way to profitable free software. And, in passing, we like to name-drop companies such as IBM, HP, Oracle and Sun, rabbiting on about how they are all benefiting from a free software model. However, each of those four companies have closed products that are cash cows, the only truly 100% (ish?) free software oriented company being Red Hat. How much of a broad successful business model is free software in fact? Does it really work in real life? Ask no further, for I am about to put to the test that which myself and others have been advocating for years...
Last month I wrote a piece saying that I was going to try KDE for a month (I’m a big GNOME fan!) and then report back on my experiences. I must admit I’m feeling relieved to be back with GNOME as I never really felt comfortable with KDE, but that’s not to say it was all bad.
An oft-trumpeted home triumph in technology discussion sites isthe conversion of friends or loved ones to a GNU/Linux desktop. “Iwas tired of fixing Windows on my kid's/grandmother's/in-law'scomputer, so I set up a Linux desktop. They love it! It's so easyto use, and I don't have to do anything to maintain it! No ad-wareor viruses, and best of all, it's free!” It sounds almost too goodto be true.... has the free desktop revolution arrived? I recentlyfound myself in a position to find out first hand.
Since my first exposure to an Apple ][ in sixth grade, I haveinteracted with computers primarily through a text-basedinterface. From my first `PR#6' command to this little journal entry(I tend to use Emacs for writing), I eschew fancy heavy-weightprograms in favor of the simplest program possible. (I know, I said Iuse Emacs. Within that contradiction is the essence of simplecomplexity. Substitute vi if you wish.)
I am planning on changing the world with this article. I can’t do it on my own: I need your help.
Well, I must admit that changing the whole world might be a little ambitious. For now, I will settle for the “computing world”.
Right now, the following factors are true:
- Linux has a very viable desktop and office suite—for free. OpenOffice being bloated is basically not an issue anymore, since even a basic computer today will run OpenOffice completely fine. Thanks to Ubuntu, end users can now use Linux and not notice the difference.
Having been engineering director at one company that became public, and a founder and CTO of another, as well as a long time professional software engineer working at such companies as Matushita Electric (Panasonic), and even Rand McNally, yes, the people that make maps, I must admit, in all those occupations, I have at most rather infrequently encountered these Microsoft Windows operating systems I hear so many people talking so much about.
I still see people arguing about whether GNU/Linux is “ready for the desktop”. The truth is, it really depends...
For me, I switched almost “cold turkey” from Microsoft Windows 3.1 to Debian GNU/Linux 2.1 “Slink” in about 1999 or 2000 (at the time, I liked to say I “upgraded from Win 3.1 to Linux”).