On the subject of Linux evangelism

The other day I made a post about bringing my Aunt Jean into the fold after her spending years and years being exclusively a Windows user. I gave my reasons as multipronged, namely that I have found over the years that supporting friends and relatives who insist on using Windows is a frustrating, tedious, redundant pain that I’d prefer to avoid, and that I’m actually doing Jean a favor by transitioning her to a platform that, while very different from what she’s used to, will ultimately be a better one for her to use.

I thought I’d touch on the subject again briefly today, because I think it bears some clarification. Before you go out knocking on doors and handing out Ubuntu disks and asking people if they’ve discovered the glorious world of Free/Open Source Software, read on and adjust your plans accordingly.

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One more Linux user, one less Windows support headache

If you’re reading articles other than this one here on The Linux Critic, you are probably technical on a level which other people have noticed, i.e., you get asked by the occasional relative to provide assistance with technology, be it “hey, help me get my new printer working”, “HELP! WINDOWS WON’T BOOT!”, or even “I’m buying a laptop, which one should I get?”.

I have a few thoughts on that subject, mostly brought up by a recent experience, and I thought I’d do a writeup to share them with others.

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KDE 4 Fanboys: seriously, knock it off.

When I say “I’m looking for a way to make KDE 3.5.10 work on Slackware 13″ or “I’m looking for applications to replace the ones I’ve gotten used to using in KDE, since I won’t be installing KDE going forward”, what does that mean to you?

I know what it means to me… it means I’m looking for some procedural help to accomplish a task, help from some other technically minded individuals who may offer some useful suggestions on how to make something work.

It means I’m looking for ideas for what kind of applications to try, since the open source universe is a big one, and while I try out and use and write about a lot of apps, there’s no way for me to be up on EVERYTHING.

To me, both of those things seem pretty clear and apparent. But based on what I keep seeing in response to things like that, I guess they somehow aren’t that clear.

So, to clarify, here’s what questions like that DO NOT mean.

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The first time I’ve ever been disappointed by Slackware

DISCLAIMER: Be prepared. There is whining ahead. I want to preface this by saying that I’m not interested in having a discussion about why I don’t gush with love over KDE 4, and I’m not particularly interested in suggestions for forcing it to work for me. This post is more about me wrapping my head around planning for how my use of Linux is going to change now that I’m going to have to re-think a lot of things about what has been my favorite Linux distro for years.

Why I’m disappointed

I guess I probably shouldn’t be too surprised, because I knew that Pat Volkerding has been working with my least favorite desktop environment and it’s been in /current for a while now.

But I guess a part of me still was holding out a childish hope that KDE4 was going to be included in /testing only, and that the default version of KDE for the Slackware 13.0 release would be KDE 3.5.10, the last decent release of that desktop environment. Given Patrick’s tendency to play it safe in regular Slackware releases and stick with only stable, fully-developed and thoroughly tested applications and desktop environments, I would have thought that something like KDE 4 — a desktop environment that’s still easily a year’s worth of hard development away from being a suitable replacement for KDE 3 — would be back-burnered in Slackware in favor of what is known to work and work well.

I probably shouldn’t be upset about this; it’s Linux… if I don’t like it, I can just make my own distro, right? If I want to spend the hours and hours it’ll take for that, sure. Well, I’m not to the point of making my own distro yet. But this does mean I’m going to have to significantly change my Linux usage, starting with replacing a bunch of stuff.

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5 reasons why I love Linux

Every so often while I’m working on something, I’m struck by how satisfying it can be to be running Linux as my operating system of choice. No, this isn’t about beating up Windows or tearing Microsoft down any notches… as much as I tout the benefits of Linux and as much as I dislike some of Microsoft’s practices, they have their place in the grand scheme of things.

No, this is about the actual good things that come to mind for me when I say “I love Linux”, and why you should too.

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Linux and my search for the perfect MP3 player

I’m a huge music fan. I pretty much have music playing all the time, in some form. As such, I like my MP3 player. Like many music lovers, I became enamored with the concept of having my entire music library at my fingertips at any time, so the MP3 player as a concept really appealed to me when they began to appear with larger capacities several years ago.

However, as a Linux user, there are some hurdles in choosing a portable digital music device, which limits one’s options, and then there is the simple fact that manufacturers have radically cut down on the products offered, which limits one’s options even more.

This is my discussion of that plight.

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Firefox 4.0: IE7 revisited?

I saw the Firefox 4.0 screenshot mockups today and I have to say, it reminds me of Internet Explorer 7 more than anything else. Check out this side-by-side:

Ugh. I really don’t get it. Do they really need to dumb down the Firefox interface even more than it already is? I seriously hope that the final release of it includes an option that lets one bring back some of the stuff they seem intent on removing (like menus for basic things… “file”, “edit”, “view”, et al?). I mean seriously… even IE7 lets one do that much…

I know it’s not open source, but I still prefer Opera as far as an interface goes. I can rearrange, add, remove, or tweak various elements of it to work exactly how I want, and it doesn’t fight me every step of the way. It already includes functionality for which (to make it equivalent) I have to install no fewer than 5 extensions to Firefox 3.5, and is a smaller download, uses far less memory, and is faster on top of everything else.

I wish Opera would GPL their browser… if they did, it’d be the perfect choice for me.

Or, alternatively I could make this request of the Firefox developers. Guys, if you MUST emulate someone else’s proprietary browser’s interface and functionality, might I suggest NOT emulating Microsoft’s back-assward response to your OWN efforts from 5 years ago? IE7 has always seemed to me like a really bad Firefox 1.0 Beta. WHY on earth would you want to emulate that?

I’m positively baffled here, guys. Seriously. I understand that you’re just brainstorming, but don’t even joke about this as a starting point.

And another thing. If you decide NOT to emulate IE7 (like in the first screenshot), PLEASE don’t emulate Google Chrome by making the tabs at the top (like in the second screenshot). That’s even worse, in my opinion.

Thank you.