03 Jan 2000 @ 4:26 PM 

Here’s my account of Linux-only for a four-day weekend. Still not perfect, but it seems to be good enough for most folks right now. We’ll see what the next year brings, eh?

Thursday, 1999.12.30

2215 – Leave Windows for Linux Weekend.

2225 – KDE has 384kb of swap used, and I just booted into it. Maybe KDE is a memory hog, as the Gnome fans claim.

2240 – Netscape locks up KDE. Using CTRL-ALT-Backspace, reset X and keep playing.

2245 – Set up a cron job to wake up with. CRON has a very cryptic and non-intuitive format. All dates and times are reverse order. Minutes, then hours? huh?

Friday, 1999.12.31

0900 – Wake to Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic. Wondering whether mpg123 can play a full playlist, so I check out mpg123 --help and find the answer. Sweeet!

0905 – KDE using 20,712 kb of swap. Seti@Home is a big memory hog, but is running “nice” so not noticeable.

1000 – Surfing with Netscape, listening to KDGE via Real Player G2.

1130 – Inexplicably, KFM now locks up when I try to view my home directory. Whether I look at it via root account or my own, it stops functioning. Waited 30 minutes to see if it would ever move again. No luck. Kill KFM via Ktop, then restart it. Processor usage drops to 3% Probably just make a new user and be done with it…

1430 – After creating a new user, TARring the old info, trying to rebuild the new user, discovered the real reason behind the lockup. Not really a reasonable reason, but what can I do? It seems that one of the Symlinks I had in my home directory pointed to a directory on my FAT32 partition, and kfm wouldn’t show that dir. Oddly, I can go to that directory via any terminal, and there seems to be nothing amiss with it. I can even grab files from it via other programs. The Kpanel application allows me to surf through that directory and grab files, or even open some of the subdirectories within it. AND, I have another symlink to an MP3 directory on that same FAT partition, and it works fine. There is apparently something about the file path /d/Graphics/Stills and /d/Graphics/Stills/Cartoons that KFM doesn’t appreciate. Very Very odd.

1700 – Got mail bounced from AOL. Some cryptic message about DNS failure. Well, I knew it wasn’t MY DNS failure, so it must be that AOL doesn’t like my sendmail configuration. Oddly, I’ve sent mail to AOL users before, without a problem. Soooo, away I go to figure things out in the Sendmail help file. I just set up a rule that sends all mail destined for AOL through my ISP’s SMTP server first. Problem solved. Only took 30 minutes of searching to figure that out. In defense of the Linux email system, I could just have ALL my email sent through my ISP, but then why run Unix, if I have to depend on someone else to do everything for me? hehe

1730 – While attempting to open a Word file, I noticed that it wasn’t associated with any MIME type (equivalent to a file association in Windows). When you try to open an “unknown” file type in X, nothing happens. Here’s something they could definitely swipe from Windows: if I try to open an unknown file in Windows, the system prompts me for which program to run it with, and then asks whether I want to ALWAYS run it with that program. You have to manually add a MIME type or extend an existing MIME type to do the same thing in X. Not for the newbie. And, why didn’t Star Office or WordPerfect (I’ve got both on my system) make that association? They certainly know that MS Word does not exist on Unix. 🙂

1905 – Netscape randomly disappears, while attempting to follow a simple link. Clicked on a normal hyperlink online, and suddenly I’ve got no Netscape window. Check Ktop for status of Netscape; no trace running at present. Wonder why Linux geeks all say Netscape sucks…

2020 – KDE now using 20,204 kb of swap space. Netscape locked up again, so I “Xkill”ed it.

Saturday, 2000.01.01

0015 – KDE has 21,680kb swap used, and 12Megs are from Seti@Home. Everything else is looking good. Setting up a cron job to wake me in the morning. CRONs are still too cryptic.

0920 – Wake to Slick Rick. KDE’s swap usage at 17,452kb, still because of Seti@Home.

0930 – Tired of the same look I’ve had in KDE for a month, I change the theme. Now, my tray icons have disappeared, so I reset X (takes 8 seconds). All better. Resetting X doesn’t kill the Seti@Home task, since CRON set that up automatically every hour in the background.

0950 – Poorly behaved Arkiver program seems to be the culprit in completely locking up the system. Waited 5 minutes, tried CTRL-ALT-BS and CTRL-ALT-DEL to no avail. Hit the power switch. *sigh*

1000 – Rose Parade. 🙂

1530 – Went to AudiUsa site, following link from Slashdot. It immediately told me that I should download Flash or I’d not get the most from the site. Oddly, I have Flash installed. Another site that checks your OS, not your browser capability. “Not Windows or Mac: must need Flash” Send a quick email to webmaster, mentioning that Macromedia’s site seems able to tell that I have Flash installed, why can’t his?

1545 – Swing by Slate to see what’s new in The Papers. Notice there are some interesting commentaries available only if you use Windows Media Player. Fire off a POLITE email to webmaster to ponder the thought of a Real link too. Make it lower quality, so you can still bow to your Microsoft bosses, but at least have an option!

1930 – Found a GUI frontend for Seti@Home. Very sweet, and includes much more info than the “official” Windows client. The Windows client shows the progress via cool looking graphs, but not a view of the SKY. DUH?

tkSETI in Linux

SETI in Windows

2200 – Netscape commits suicide again.

2210 – Annoyed by the Windows Character Set artifacts in the Xlibris web site, email the webmaster to discuss what a standard is and why they are useful.  The Smart Quotes feature in MS products does not reproduce well on non-Windows platforms.  Nice question marks, eh?

StarOffice2240 – Loaded up StarOffice. Takes a few seconds to load, and (according to Ktop) uses 15+ megs of Resident memory, with a total footprint of 42megs. Ouch!

2350 – Off to bed, with yet another Cron set up for an alarm. Nope, sure can’t just let the same one run every day. Why would I want the same song every morning? hehe

Sunday, 2000.01.02

0945 – Since I was already up and playing tunes, the CRON job that I had set for my alarm generated an error to my email. Nice error-handling. No crash, just a message.

0950 – Netscape stops rendering pages correctly. When I close it normally via the “X” widget, it still hangs out in memory. I checked in Ktop, cuz I was curious. So, I explicitly killed it in Ktop. When is Opera bringing out their Linux browser?

1030 – Netscape suicides again. Gotta give it one thing: most of the time when it commits seppuku, it cleans up after itself.

1200 – Playing with other windowmanagers. Don’t like AfterStep; seems like too much work just to get it to do what I want. Never been fond of Gnome; it’s a big pig and slower than KDE. Since the whole “start menu” thing is not something I’m wedded to, I’m playing with WindowMaker now. I think I can get used to this very quickly. We’ll see what I think about it next week. 🙂

Dock 1920 – Here’s an unusual thing to note. Seems that most Linux geeks must not like to read their email in X, since there are so few X email programs. I personally never liked the MAIL program when I had to use Xenix years ago, and I have gotten very used to a reasonably useful GUI. So, I had to find a decent X email program that would work outside KDE, which has a very nice email program. Found one called TkRat that looks decent.  Loving the WindowMaker dock system.  Check out what I’ve done in just a few hours!

2010 – Reboot into Windows to play a game. *sigh* Need more Linux games.

2345 – Back in Linux for a while now, and Netscape kills itself again. Very frustrating when you’re attempting to find something online…

Monday, 2000.01.03

1200 – Noticed as I was making this latest entry (via GnotePad, rather than StarOffice) that when I last opened this for editing (Netscape Communicator), the editor stripped out all the ending paragraph tags. Very odd. So, I’ve got a bunch of P tags, but not the /P tags. Whatever.

I’ve decided that I really like WindowMaker. Not much like Windows or CDE, the previous two environments I’d become familiar with, but very very flexible, which I like. I’ve added a cool pseudo-transparent terminal emulator, just for kicks. Kinda pointless, but if you’re going to use Linux you might as well look cool doing it. 🙂

I’ve spent the morning tweaking things for no apparent reason, just so I could have my system exactly the way I want it. Adding things to a new menu item is easy, as is plugging in new dock applets. Well, easy if you know how to use a command line. So, not so easy for newbies. But, newbies probably should stick with one of the mainstream shells, like KDE or Gnome. Fortunately, most of the Gnome apps work in WindowMaker. The KDE apps tend to load KFM when they run, so I’ve been avoiding them until they learn to play well with others. Got a new email program called Postilion. Silly name, but useful program. Even lets me use the mailboxes from Kmail, so I can switch back and forth if I want. Time to investigate filters soon, though. I don’t want to use procmail, but I may have to.

Summary: While I can do most of the things I normally do in Linux, there are still some significant lapses. Most people I know use their computers to check email, surf the web, and (the advanced users) balance their checkbooks. All of those things are available and faster in Linux. The problem I see is that most people get a machine with Windows pre-installed and never add to it. If they got a machine with Linux pre-installed, they’d do the same thing.

I’ve added another page with more screenshots and such, if you’re interested in that stuff. Just follow the link

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 05 Jun 2004 @ 07:49 AM

Categories: Linux, Random Thoughts


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