Hidebound blogger tries getting hip with new OS

posted at 10:20 am on October 19, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

I’ve worked with computers for almost a quarter-century, but with the exception of some mainframe management in SCO Unix, I’ve been a PC/Windows adherent.  I used to build my own PCs until about ten years ago, when it got too cheap to buy custom PCs to make it worth all of the effort to assemble them myself.  I’ve mostly bought laptops in the last few years, which got me out of the self-build mode altogether, but I’ve always wanted to try something new.

I’ve had an old IBM Thinkpad laying around gathering dust for several months.  It came from a consulting relationship with my last corporate employer, but they haven’t needed my services in a long time, and it ran on Windows NT, which is next to impossible to customize.  I figured it would make a good environment for an experiment in Linux, which I’ve never used.

After starting off with a trial version of Red Hat, which I botched completely, I installed Ubuntu.  This looks like an easy-to-use entry level Linux OS.  It has a point-and-click environment and many native applications, and it also has OpenOffice embedded in it.  I switched to OpenOffice a few months ago when I gave up on the resource-hogging Microsoft Office, and I have never regretted it.  Firefox came installed, and I added Thunderbird  — and after several attempts, finally figured out how to import my settings from my other laptop.  I’ve even managed to impress my son, who didn’t think I’d ever get adventurous enough to defy the corporate control of Microsoft, or something.  I couldn’t quite make out what he said through his laughter.

Now, though, I’m a little at a loss.  I don’t know the command-line protocols very well, having forgotten almost all of my SCO Unix, which is probably not very applicable anyway.  If the laptop will be my back-up, I’ll need a good photo and video editor as well as a better RSS feedreader than Newsfox (Omea doesn’t have a Linux version, unfortunately).  I’d like to hear from Hot Air readers using Ubuntu.  What are your favorite apps, especially in these categories?  What tips or tricks do you suggest?  And what in Ubuntu works better than Windows, and what doesn’t?

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gh on October 19, 2008 at 12:05 PM

Linux Mint is an Ubuntu derivative. Check their “about page.”

WinXP Pro still blows it away all day long for now.

ex-Democrat on October 19, 2008 at 12:33 PM

Fixed.

Kaptain Amerika on October 19, 2008 at 2:37 PM

The NSA has their own Linux distribution. Using the term “homemade” is rather ignorant.

jdkchem on October 19, 2008 at 5:48 PM

I switched to OpenOffice a few months ago when I gave up on the resource-hogging Microsoft Office, and I have never regretted it.

I switched about 90% of my work over to Google Docs, since Microsoft Office is a resource and $$$ pig. The Google spreadsheet app is one of the most impressive Web 2.0 apps I’ve used, and its market data formulas are useful features that Microsoft doesn’t have. Most important, the Google suite gives you instant collaboration, ability to work from multiple machines and fewer worries about lost work from a hard drive crash.

dedalus on October 19, 2008 at 5:48 PM

The NSA has their own Linux distribution. Using the term “homemade” is rather ignorant.

jdkchem on October 19, 2008 at 5:48 PM

Not quite. You are thinking of SELinux, a mandatory access control (MAC) overlay which was developed by the NSA, but which is now maintained by the open source community. SELinux is, by default, part of Red Hat Linux and Fedora. Ubuntu has SELinux as an option — the Captain can fetch it down using Ubuntu’s apt-get protocols, but it is not installed by default under Ubuntu.

Captain, to install SELinux under Ubuntu, use the following command:
sudo apt-get install selinux

SELinux is needed if you are going to install a webserver which will use php, python, java, or some other interpretive language to generate its pages, or which will use CGI. SELinux prevents (or, rather, helps prevent) a hacker from turning your webserver into a bot by denying use of resources normally not utilized by your webserver.

For desktop users, it prevents execution of programs not placed into certain directories, and prevents access to data not normally associated with the program being executed.

I would not recommend that the Captain try it until he is familiar with a few other knobs and whistles on his new Ubuntu system.

Oh, to remove it:
sudo apt-get remove selinux

unclesmrgol on October 19, 2008 at 6:25 PM

oh shut the hell up, retard.

Diogenes of Sinope on October 19, 2008 at 5:45 PM

Same to you, you can go f**k yourself also

sheebe on October 19, 2008 at 7:02 PM

I’m sure it’s much better now, but I tried linux a few years ago (Red Hat 9 and Mandrake 10 ?) and found the quality of the open source software varies a whole lot. The fun stuff is very good because there’s lots of interest. The boring stuff leaves a lot to be desired. Very hard to find drivers for hardware that’s not dead common.

RBMN on October 19, 2008 at 8:13 PM

Hidebound blogger…

So that’s it ! I thought a much. It’s the hide-binding that causes the reflected glare on camera.

eeyore on October 19, 2008 at 8:47 PM

I use Kubuntu and BackTrack mainly only for pentesting and cracking passwords etc. I write my special needs appz and shell scripts on my redhat linux servers However, since I use Illustrator, Photoshop, PSP, Autocad and all kinds of developement tools I cant switch over completly. I wish I could but that damn Bill Gates has me hook line and sinker.

When you make your living on a computer like we do, you can’t just retool it just aint that easy.

TheSitRep on October 19, 2008 at 10:45 PM

Get a Mac.
Less “geeky”

Nuff said.

Over.

1GooDDaDDy on October 19, 2008 at 10:35 AM

I think that is why Liberals like Mac, it requires no thought.

TheSitRep on October 19, 2008 at 10:49 PM

And what in Ubuntu works better than Windows, and what doesn’t?

Network Security.

I have been using Linux since 1999. My computers (2 Windows 1 Linux (Redhat) and 1 Solaris) sit behind a firewall.

I have been using Linux/Mythtv as my Tivo for at least 9 years.

Since I travel having a internet connection to home is a must have.

I would never allow my Windows computers to be directly accessible over the internet, however I have no problems leaving ssh on my Linux machine accessible.

I locked down ssh so only one user is allowed to login (AllowUsers), I use public/private encryption keys to authenticate, and you have 2 attempts to get the username/passphrase right, if you don’t my linux machine is programed to ignore any other connection attempt from you using fail2ban.

That said it is easy for me to connect (takes less then 30 secs) once I am connected I use ssh port forwarding to connect to my Windows host and ssh again to connect to the Solaris host.

That is something you can not do from a Windows host.

F15Mech on October 19, 2008 at 11:00 PM

Ed Morrissey on October 19, 2008 at 11:04 AM

OK, sir. Sorry for my impatience.

jgapinoy on October 19, 2008 at 11:06 PM

I have been using Linux/Mythtv as my Tivo for at least 9 years.

Correction I have been using Linux for 9 years and mythtv as my TiVo for roughly 3 years.

F15Mech on October 19, 2008 at 11:34 PM

oh shut the hell up, retard.

Diogenes of Sinope on October 19, 2008 at 5:45 PM

Same to you, you can go f**k yourself also

sheebe on October 19, 2008 at 7:02 PM

Shame you can’t read and aren’t intelligent enough to recognize satire even when it is labeled as such… Guess it shows the IQ of the typical Windoze user.

Diogenes of Sinope on October 20, 2008 at 12:25 AM

Shame you can’t read and aren’t intelligent enough to recognize satire even when it is labeled as such… Guess it shows the IQ of the typical Windoze user.

Diogenes of Sinope on October 20, 2008 at 12:25 AM

oops, I use Linux most of the time. I am sorry. Had some devastating news. Then read your answer. Got mad and realized might not have been meant the way I took it. I apologize.

sheebe on October 20, 2008 at 1:44 AM

Try a little wine with your dinner, er windows programs.
http://www.winehq.org/ for the home page.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wine_(software) for an overview.

I understand The GIMP is quite capable. But I’ve never had reason to dig into it. I write software (on windows) rather than edit pictures. I use Linux for a backup laptop OS as well as a test install for the firewall machine before I upgrade distros. I manage the home network, on Linux, for around 40 different odds and ends on the network here from Ethernet to DMX converters to the firewall and mail server.

One of these days I’m going to give “MINT” a try as a Ubuntu spin-off distro. It looks interesting. (I am not a fanatic about Open Sores er Source distributions. I see nothing wrong with asking for something in return for writing software others can use. It eats months of my life during which I have to eat, too.)

{^_-}

herself on October 20, 2008 at 2:04 AM

Well welcome to us Geek’s . Before we know it you’ll be writing code and doing your own Scripts for Ubuntu. Have fun with it .. also there’s some good books out there I’ll be glad to direct you to them if Needed..

randynacol2002 on October 20, 2008 at 5:52 AM

freespire.org

Ubuntu based, with a really cool application installing online service (free!)

I’ve never looked back.

Sinner on October 20, 2008 at 10:03 AM

I understand The GIMP is quite capable. [herself]

I’m by no means a professional image editor, but the Gimp has worked well for the little photo editing I’ve done.

Jens on October 20, 2008 at 11:13 AM

Now this is my home turf ;)

I’ve been involved with linux ever since Linus released the very first attempt at a kernel. It’s been a wild ride watching it grow up.

Ubuntu seems like a popular choice for people that wish to reap the benefits of stability and performance that come with linux, yet aren’t concerned with the technicalities.

Red Hat has become a serious ‘corporate’ contender, and I have Red Hat Enterprise 5 on some serious hardware. They are intentionally ‘behind the curve’ technically, in order to ensure that only mature, established, stable technology is incorporated into their product. They’re not *that* behind, however….

Fedora is a bleeding edge distro. I love Fedora 9 and am eagerly awaiting 10 – it is expected to dramatically improve webcam integration, something you will potentially find troublesome with current distros. Fedora span off from Red Hat, and is essentially their hardcore R&D lab. Red Hat tends to be 1-2 releases behind Fedora.

I have not used or needed Windoze for many years (OK, I confess to having a variety of ‘doze versions running through VMWare, but that’s only for cross-platform testing, honest)

Recent advances in linux are reaping serious benefits for the overall distro. Between Mac (based on FreeBSD) and modern linux, I reckon you’ll come to find that you can reestablish yourself on a much more powerful platform.

Chin up, stiff upper lip, jolly hockey sticks eh what?!?!?!

LimeyGeek on October 20, 2008 at 11:18 AM

BeOS, bitches!

saint kansas on October 20, 2008 at 2:05 PM

The NSA has their own Linux distribution. Using the term “homemade” is rather ignorant.

jdkchem on October 19, 2008 at 5:48 PM

“Homemade” is referring to the fact it’s a base not a full OS with all the user tools most expect… and you have to build it at home… hint hint for the “ignorant”

to make it even more simple for you to understand… it’s like buying an engine and a frame on tires with a steering wheel… sure you can call it a car… but it sure doesn’t
drive like my mustang… or in a Mac’s case like a Yugo…
p.s. if the government chooses it, it must be the wrong choice… argue that…

Kaptain Amerika on October 20, 2008 at 4:33 PM

For my RSS (news) feeds, I use Google Reader. A local computer-based RSS program (like Firefox or T-bird, for instance) will not be in sync from computer to computer unless you have the two computers synced. I do not have to worry when accessing GReader from either home (my desktop pc) or on the road (my portable pc). Google Reader will be in sync without my having to jump through hoops to do so.

This is like accessing email through IMAP rather than POP. With IMAP, email will sync up ragardless of where you are accessing it from if you use a program like T-bird or Outlook. Also, your email provider will maintain your emails rather than you having to back them up all the time in case of a computer crash.

The downside of IMAP vs. POP is that not all email providers offer both. Gmail and AOL now offer IMAP and both are free. Other providers do not offer IMAP or their service may not be free.

Also, as I understand it GIMP (for your graphics needs) has both Windoze and Linux versions. This should enable you to switch between Windoze and Linux while not having to know 2 different programs.

Finally, looking forward, Firefox Labs has Weave. This is a Firefox extension that will enable you to sync your browsers across multiple computers and locations (if you are on the road). Weave can be set up to save and sync bookmarks, browsing history, passwords and saved form data, as well as cookies and open tabs. The last two have been troublesome for me so I do not opt to save/sync them.

The downside is that Weave is so new that the Mozilla Labs folks have so little server capacity that if you do not already have a server account, you probably cannot get one for the foreseeable future.

Wildcatter1980 on October 21, 2008 at 11:25 AM

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