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Archive for January 2011

Sprint Mobile broadband is really awful here in the USA

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Ok… so I decided to upgrade my 3G modem to whatever they (Sprint) recommend. Total fail… even with Windows 7 this did not work. I must wait until Sprint is open for business for support…  All I did was upgrade to the next better modem. It did not work with Windows 7, and even Mint so far seems recalcitrant.  I’m thinking complete fail on Sprint’s part.  I mean, if you are gonna sell me on being able to at very least upgrade Windows 7 to get some joy, and then grab all possible upgrades… it just plain does not work. I am utterly unable to connect my desktop using the new modem, and the old one only works if I disable it in more than one way. I know I am not all that knowledgeable, but seriously….  I am only connected now because I know how to uninstall what doesn’t work and reinstall what does. In other words, the old modem works, this new piece of crap does not. One more gigantic thumbs down for Microsoft, because only a downgrade of software allowed me even to connect.

Written by claudecat

January 19, 2011 at 1:38 pm

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Ok, I must start with a review of Linux Mint 10

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Linux Mint. Now number two on distrowatch’s  list. Is it just another Ubuntu knockoff, or does it really offer something that sets itself apart from the crowd of Pinguys, Zorins, MoonOS’s and untold others? Well, for my money (ok, there’s no money involved), Mint is by far the most advanced and “out-of-the-box” usable distro available. So… you need multimedia codecs, proprietary drivers for your video card or wireless… the best menu system ever? Mint is for you. The install is just as simple as Ubuntu… and since I’m new at this whole blogging thing, I’ll not be providing screen shots. The only hard part for the great unwashed may be disk partitioning… and even here, Mint offers to resize your windows partition and install side by side. It could not possibly be easier. For serious geeks, there is no LVM or entire disk encryption, but seriously, do we need to confuse the yokels with that? When you first boot into the newly installed system, you will see a boot menu that allows you to fall back to your warm and snuggly windows home (which will work perfectly) or maybe actually try Mint. Ok… now it’s possible that your graphics card wasn’t properly configured. You have two options here. One is to wait for the handy behind the scenes wizard thing to ask you to search for the appropriate driver. If you don’t wanna wait, just click on “Hardware Drivers” under the administration menu and you become golden. You just clickety-click and bang zoom, upon a reboot (yes, a reboot, rare in linux, but necessary for this purpose) you will be happy. Now you are a linux user… My first move would be to run Synaptic Package Manager and click on “Status” and then grab all updates. After that, the Mint Software  tool is your buddy. You can search for whatever you might need or want and be satisfied almost always. Me? I prefer Synaptic, but I’ve been doing this for quite a while now.With the Software center you’ll be able to browse by category, read user reviews, etc. Probably best for the uninitiated. Synaptic is superior in that it allows you to update ALL of your software with just a few clicks… but I have probably said enough on this topic.

What can Mint do? Well, upon initial install you will be able to play multimedia content like all get-out, open pdf files no problem, play dvds, surf the web and use youtube thereon. This is a lot, considering that if you install WIN7, some of this functionality will not be there without extra effort. Also, Mint (and any other linux for that matter) really doesn’t need anti-virus, anti-spam, anti-malware, firewalls or anything else of the like. When you install it, it will ask you to create a user account (note… USER account… not an administrative account like is the default even for Win7). If you provide a halfway decently strong password, you need not worry about being pwned by some Croatian or Nigerian dude or dudette. If you need to make serious changes to something that requires administrative privileges, you’ll need to type in your password… not just click something as in windows 7.

What  differentiates Mint from plain old Ubuntu (a word that many even in the windows world may be aware of)? Well, Ubuntu is pretty cool, but seems to want to become OS X (Snow Leopard) aka “the Mac” lately. Also, there are some pretty huge changes coming in the next version of Ubuntu, which will almost certainly break many users’ computers. Mint has committed to stay with what works to a large extent, and may ultimately usurp Ubuntu’s spot at number one on Distrowatch for just this reason.

As further background, I have installed Mint 10 on my main desktop (Compaq Presario with an nvidia graphics card), my laptop (Toshiba 4036 with amd/ati graphics), and my fave little computer, an Acer Ferrari 11.6 inch (netbook, but not really – dual core Athlon processor and 4GB ram, along with ATI Radeon HD 3200 Graphics). It all works with absolutely no command line fiddling, as so many windows adherents will tell you is necessary with linux. And I haven’t even mentioned yet that this is all free… as in you don’t pay, and you are free to improve anything you want (in most cases) and post the results to the entire world of linux geeks… who will more than likely to improve upon your improvements and make program x work better within hours of your suggestion. Granted, most of us (certainly me) don’t have the skill to do this, but it really does happen on a daily basis, unlike windows’ bi-weekly, maybe we’ll fix a huge hole that was opened several months ago a few Tuesdays from now.

In summation, Mint, and even plain old Ubuntu or their rivals Fedora, openSUSE, or even Slackware or Debian all mostly work out of the box. It’s only the fact that windows comes pre-installed and configured by OEMs that makes people think that windows is superior in hardware detection or general usability. The truth is the exact opposite of this. Linux will find and work with more of your hardware than a raw windows install in many cases, and is so much more secure that it becomes a serious question… why would you run the world’s most hackable and insecure OS when there are so many great alternatives? The main one being Mint 10? Mostly it falls back to ignorance, fear, uncertainty and doubt. All keystones to Microsoft’s modus operandi.

Mint 10 is for my money (or lack thereof) the best OS ever. There are limitations (Netflix does not work on any linux, and if you actually need MS Office rather than the pretty decent openoffice, you are mostly locked in to the evil empire… oh, and all you idiots that play games on windows? well, yeah… you deserve whatever malware you acquire, but then, if you can afford sli/crossfire insanely fast machines, you should be prepared to lose it all to some hacker in Algeria with mad coding skills). Just my 2 cents… and I can barely afford that.

I remain – claudecat

Written by claudecat

January 6, 2011 at 4:05 pm

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LMDE is not so great

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Ok, for the uninitiated, LMDE means Linux Mint Debian Edition. While Debian is seriously cool on several levels, this version of Mint is flawed. Upon installation and a reboot, I had no wireless, and my graphics card (NVIDIA 240 something or other) was dead in the water. The ubiquitous “hardware drivers” Ubuntu app thingie? Not there. While I applaud Mint for at least attempting to break from Ubuntu, this is pure shiite.

Written by claudecat

January 1, 2011 at 9:22 am

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Ok, I’m here

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I am an ex-musician (mainly acoustic blues, though electric paid the bills towards the end nicely). I am now a working stiff with above average, yet still limited computer skills. I love linux and free software and have been playing with it since before Redhat and Fedora were separate entities. Currently, I LOVE Linux Mint, PCLOS, openSuse, and various other distros (yes, even slack). My aim in this blog is to point the potential linux convert in as easy a direction as possible. Again, I am not a geek, and I always look for distros that make it really really easy for windows users to take the plunge. As of right now, that would be Linux Mint 10.

Written by claudecat

January 1, 2011 at 9:00 am

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Who I am and what I hope this will become

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Greetings and a very happy new year to all. Basically, I am a non-geek as compared to so many linux devotees. I have no knowledge of programming, avoid the command line whenever possible, and gravitate towards distros that work “out of the box” with my hardware, which currently includes an aging Compaq Presario desktop with an added nvidia 240 something or other graphics card and maxed out 4GB of memory, a Toshiba mid-range laptop with 4GB ram and nvidia graphics, and maybe my favorite little beast, an Acer Ferrari 11.6″ netbook on steroids that uses ATI Radeon graphics, also 4GB ram. All of these machines “just plain work” with my preferred distro, Mint 10 (not the one based on Debian).

What I’m getting at here is that my perspective on linux may be quite different than most, in that I see myself more as an average joe, with limited technical skills, trying to get the most out of whatever distro I may grapple with, with as little jumping through hoops as possible. Let me add that I have had at times over 30 distros installed, fully working and updated to the gills – all residing on my main two drives. The fact that I have close to 3TB in drive space (1.5TB or so devoted to collected music and video) still makes me agog in wonderment, as my first PC (a Tandy) had a 120MB hard drive and 4MB of ram, along with Windows 3.1.

Speaking of Windows, I’ll admit to actually rather liking Windows 7 Ultimate. I use it mainly for Netflix (when will they finally get their act together with that?!?!?!). But for everything else, I boot Mint or PCLOS or openSUSE or Fedora or Squeeze or Aptosid or… well there are just too many “ors” to fully delineate.

Oh, and for the cognoscenti that may see me as just a bit too dull to be able to, as time goes on here, review and maybe even offer intelligent advice on a given distro? I have and still do use Slackware (current). It’s insanely easy… I can’t imagine why some are still intimidated by it. Just because the installer is not “graphical” doesn’t mean it’s not doable by even a Windows person. And yes, I have compiled a kernel or several in my day. Way back in the RedHat 4 era, but it really isn’t necessary anymore.

Which brings us back to the real point of this blog. While linux may never usurp the evil empires that are MS and Apple, it remains a choice for those that choose not to kowtow to the corporate bullies (let me just add Oracle to that bunch). It is entirely possible to do ALL your computing on linux these days, provided you don’t need some bizarre and proprietary software to design those patterns the Nicaraguan children need to make their 28 cents a day. Oh yeah, and Netflix.

Until next time gentle reader, I remain claudecat.

Written by claudecat

January 1, 2011 at 8:36 am

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