Time for a Linux laptop

I’m guessing some of my regular readers are thinking “Why don’t you just rename this blog to Linux Mint Critic and get it over with already?“, right?

Well, I’ve been discussing Linux Mint a lot lately, because it’s the distro in which I have the most interest at the moment, but I do still have other topics.

Like Linux laptops. I’m buying a new laptop in April, and I’m not exactly floored by a dizzying array of options. As if I already hadn’t come to the conclusion that I needed a new laptop, my old laptop completely locked up on me while I was writing this post today. So I’m definitely in the market. Read on.

Continue reading

Swiftfox: a fast Firefox alternative for Linux users only

In my ongoing search to find the perfect browser, I’ve generally stuck to Opera for the past several years, on Windows and on Linux.

I’ve used Firefox of course, but I’ve discussed a number of issues that I’ve had with Firefox over the years, and in my hunt for a great browser, I’ve always found myself going back to Opera.

Well, today, I’m here to report that this situation might well have changed, due to something called Swiftfox.

Continue reading

An open letter to Dell regarding Ubuntu, or “go big or go home”

Dear Dell,

I know that in the past you have offered a handful of paltry Ubuntu options, though I confess I don’t understand why you bothered at all.

With the exception of your two netbook offerings, I have yet to have seen you offer anything else that indicates to me that you have any intentions to make Ubuntu a real option for your customers.

Oh, I know… for a while you offered Ubuntu on your Inspiron 15n laptop, and there was even an XPS M1330 notebook for a brief time available on your website.

But both of those were very limited in what was available for CPU options and RAM upgrades. Even the desktop option you offered for a little while was an underpowered, unimpressive castoff compared to what’s available elsewhere on Dell.com.

Continue reading

Linux Mint 8 Fluxbox CE review: Lightweight, fast, surprisingly cohesive

As I mentioned on February 12th, the long-awaited Fluxbox Community Edition of Linux Mint has been released, and I’ve had the opportunity to install it on my laptop to give it a whirl.

I promised @Kendall — the man who picked up the Linux Mint Fluxbox CE torch and ran with it to keep this project alive — a review, so here goes!

Continue reading

Linux Mint 8 Fluxbox Community Edition is out!

I’ve been following the development of this for some time, being a longtime Fluxbox enthusiast, and a relatively recent Linux Mint convert. This combines two of my favorite things in the Linux world, Fluxbox and Mint!

According to the official announcement:

“This release has been built with the emphasis on a lightweight and yet fully functional desktop centered on the Fluxbox window manager. Even though we strive to provide out-of-the-box readiness for all your hardware and common computing tasks, Linux Mint Fluxbox CE is easily configurable to run on lower-spec hardware with the tools needed for doing so readily available.”

Here’s a little version of their screenshot of how it looks out of the box (click for the full size image):

Considering the wonderful performance I’ve noted with the regular Linux Mint 7 and 8 releases on my aging hardware at home, I’m guessing a release optimized for performance with Fluxbox as its default window manager will be screaming fast.

I gave the release candidate a whirl the other day on my old Toshiba laptop in VirtualBox, and I was surprised at how fast and snappy it was even virtualized.

I can’t wait to get this installed natively on that laptop to see how it performs!

Anyway, I had to give preliminary kudos to Kendall for what is looking like some really great results from all of his hard work lately! Thanks to him for picking up that ball and running with it!

The ongoing role of my old Toshiba laptop

Bet you guys thought I forgot about this blog, huh?

Well, as I mentioned in my last post (ugh, all the way back in November already?), I’m gainfully employed again, and busier than a one-legged man in an…. well, you get the idea.

I get home from work and the LAST thing on my mind is writing any kind of intelligible technology articles.

That said, I DO need to start contributing some content to my own Linux blog again, so here goes.

Continue reading

The good news and the bad news

Hi all, Trent here with a long-overdue update.

As those of you who have been following The Linux Critic blog for a while now probably already know, I was unemployed for a good chunk of 2009, and one of the things I did to keep myself sharp in the world of technology was this blog.

Well, I have some good news and some bad news.
Continue reading

Wow, 15,000 hits in one month!

You know, when I started this blog a few months ago, I figured it would be a good place for me to gather my thoughts on a subject in which I have a fair amount of interest, and serve as a kind of howto repository for myself.

I keep a lot of notes when I learn things in the Linux world, and I considered The Linux Critic blog to be an extension of that.

Sure, I felt at the time that others might get some benefit out of my howto posts, and on my other posts where I review applications, wax philosophic on the subject of open source, get snarky on aspects of technology about which I feel strongly… well, I thought that anything that fosters discussion and in some cases “says what needs to be said”, regardless of how unpopular the opinion, still furthers the cause of making things better for those of us using Linux and free and open source software going forward.

That said, I honestly didn’t expect this much traffic. I figured the only people who would pay this any attention would be me and a handful of geeky friends of mine and that’d be about it.

Well, last month I had around 9,000 unique hits on The Linux Critic, and this month I’ve had over 15,000 unique hits, and I gotta say, I didn’t think that anyone but my friends and I would be interested in reading any of this.

So for those of you who have been reading the occasional post here, following regularly, or just popping in while doing a search for how to do something, thanks!

And for those who have bothered to take the time to pound out a comment or two, thanks again! I like the comments, I love the discussion, and I’m thankful, even to those of you with whom I don’t agree. Really.

Cheers!

Remote X

Over at The Complete Geek my friend Jered posted a really nice howto on remote X11 forwarding the other day.

Like many of the uses of Synergy, remote X can be extremely useful when you’re working with multiple machines, or even if you’re working with a virtual machine and need to run some of the applications on the host without constantly flipping windows back and forth. One other useful application of remote X can be if you’re using a machine low on resources, it can act as a terminal of sorts, running remote X applications from other workstations.

Jered also points out how useful it is if you’re standing with one foot in the Windows world and one foot in the Linux world, because remote X can make that easier as well.

Give it a read, it’s a great writeup. The post can be found here: Remote X11.

Help a fellow techie out?

The primary way I have the time lately to write so much here at Linux Critic is largely due to the fact that I’m currently unemployed.

Now, I’m the kind of guy who’s normally used to having a lot of irons in the fire. I’m always tinkering with things, finding better ways of doing things, and I troubleshoot stuff that I find wrong pretty much compulsively. I normally work in IT (of course), specifically support/helpdesk. In fact, my last “real job” had me managing a helpdesk at a company that hosted hundreds of Windows Terminal Servers for thousands of end users, and I liked it a lot.

Yeah, I know, it was an almost 100% Windows shop, but for what that company does, it’s the Right Tool For The Right Job — that’s still important, remember?

Anyway, being unemployed for an extended amount of time when one is used to that kind of high pressure, fast paced work environment as the norm doesn’t exactly scratch the usual technology itch for me. That’s a big part of why I started this blog to begin with; I’m a very passionate person when it comes to technology.

As I told my wife not too long ago, not only do I like digging into tech and then writing about it here… I have to. It’s part of what I am. I MUST keep moving forward, I HAVE to keep learning more about the world around me, particularly when it comes to technology, pretty much of ANY sort. Linux and open source software is an area of enormous personal interest to me, so it’s a natural choice to scratch that itch for me.

So, with that said, I still need income.

I know, the market sucks right now, and there’s a lot of competition out there. But the only way I’ve ever gotten worthwhile jobs has been networking, and what better way to network than with a technology blog read exclusively by techies?

So if you would be willing to help a fellow techie out, I need a job. I realize that you guys are far-flung, all over the place (there was an argument that at least in part took place in what I think was Hungarian yesterday!), but if any of you know of a job that might be a good fit for a professional troubleshooter and technology expert such as myself that happens to be in the Central Minnesota area, or at least willing to let someone like me telecommute, please let me know.

My email address is Mr.Shifty@gmail.com.

I’m open to temporary positions, consulting, and permanent positions. If someone out there is actually interested in hiring me directly, send me an email and if it’s for real I’ll send you back a copy of my resume and we can talk about it.

Thanks, all!

And thanks for reading! When I started Linux Critic it was really more of a way for me to organize my thoughts on what I’ve been doing in the Linux world lately, and give me something to do… I never thought I’d be getting 12,000+ hits a month with it.

So thanks for the attention, and even more so, thanks for the comments. I love and appreciate the input! Take care!

Trent