Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Moving to Linux, at least temporarily

Something was up with my Windows install, and for the life of me I couldn't figure it out. The sound was very choppy, Windows startup time and Internet browsing were incredibly slow. I ran every virus/spyware/malware scanner I could think of, cleaned the registry out carefully with CCleaner, reinstalled my sound card drivers, removed always running apps that I didn't need, defragmented the hard drive, defragmented the page file and registry hives, etc, and still had the same problem.

About to reinstall Windows XP on my 10-year-old computer, I decided to give Ubuntu another shot, pledging to boot only Ubuntu for a week, and attempting to fix whatever issues came up. I had tried it at v7.04 and was generally impressed, but eventually scrapped it mostly because Windows was working fine for me, my Digital Audio Workstation wasn't supported, and there were no "killer apps" I could think of to keep me on Linux.

So I installed Ubuntu 9.04, and was about as impressed as I was with 7.04. I worked through a few initial issues, but everyone in the forums I was reading said something like, "[whatever issue] isn't a problem on Linux Mint". After reading that for about the 5th time, I decided to make a Live USB of Linux Mint 7, and was completely blown away. Pretty much everything just worked out of the box, and the interface looked absolutely stunning and more user-friendly. What really sold me, though, was that it was based on Ubuntu 9.04, so it's got lots of built-in support.

So I wiped Ubuntu and installed Mint, and mostly haven't missed Windows at all. I still do have a full-screen video issue using the generic video drivers - the "nv" drivers work, but only give me a resolution of about 320 x 240. UPDATE: Installing the latest nv driver fixed this.

Most of the programs I want are available on Linux - Firefox, Photoshop (via Wine), Picasa, and Netbeans, mostly. But I can't find a DAW that supports MIDI to work. I spent quite a bit of time reading up on this, and it looks like I need a realtime Linux kernel, which can be installed with apt-get, but it seems like nobody can get it working with Linux Mint. I did find this video, but it looks very complex (though promising). I've got to spend a lot more time with it, but I may just set up a Windows partition with only my DAW on it.

The "killer app" for me so far is not having to really worry about viruses, spyware, etc. nearly as much (the computer is used by a number of people). I do have ClemAV running now, and am looking into whether or not I need more protection, but I like what I've read so far - that Linux out-of-the-box is leaps and bounds above Windows in regards to these things.

And my son LOVES the Linux Education games - GCompris and Childsplay. To my surprise, he was WAY into the Childsplay letter finding game, which is great because he's working on his lower case letters now. I can't wait to hack these games a bit and put in some customized graphics for the kids.


ghettodev said...

I tried Linux for a while but setting up wireless is what did me in every time. Maybe I will give it another shot.

Dave Gruska said...

I couldn't get wireless working with Ubuntu 7.04 a while back (I tried for days), but it worked out of the box with Linux Mint when I used a Live CD in my laptop. There's a package called Windows Wireless Drivers, which is included with Mint (might be included in Ubuntu now as well - didn't check).