Wednesday, December 30, 2009

From Linux to Windows

Picture of Windows 7 Ultimate boxwell.. not really.

I've used Linux for a while, and my home computer systems are running Linux most of the time, and Windows only as needed (Skype, my son's Digital Camera, etc.).  In approximately 1 week, though, I will have my Windows 7 DVD and Christmas has been good for me as my brother got me enough RAM for a system to be able to run it (1 GB min requires) as well as XP Mode ( 2 GB min required for system)!  Thanks J.!

Picture of Windows 7 Home Premium box
Yes, I am pretty excited.

For the past 7 + years I have been installing and re-installing Linux distributions on just about any computer I can get my hands on.  Each time I am trying to see what works, what doesn't work and pursuing my experiment to find out if I can completely replace Windows with Linux in my home life. 

I used to run into a lot of roadblocks, but 2 things have changed which has led to this experiment to success;
  1. Linux has been getting better this whole time (Red Hat 8 -> Ubuntu 9.10/Fedora 12/openSUSE 11.2 = "you've come a long way baby")
  2. I am being more realistic as to what am I going to do with the darn computer! (Like why install Eclipse since I am not actually going to be doing any programming while at home. If I do, THEN install it, but no sense killing myself I am not actually going to USE it.)
Picture of Windows 7 Professional boxFor me, trying and testing Windows 7 is going to be like testing another distribution, except it is another operating system.

Windows 7 is going to be compared to some very tough competition; Linux.  I will be dual-booting Windows with Linux so that if Windows cannot hack it, I will be able to keep using Linux. Since the system is able to hold 2 hard drives I am planning on making it dual boot with each hard drive running a different OS. That way, if I remove one hard drive (or in case it fails) then the other system will purr along as if nothing has happened.  Plus, both OSes will enjoy the advantage of the 2.5 GB of RAM!

Meanwhile at work, I am looking forward to re-imaging my laptop and seeing if that will help to improve the performance that it really should have.

It will still be running XP, but when a system with less than 1/2 the power of it can boot up, install a DV Edit program (Kino) and start capturing video from a camcorder before the Windows system is booted and ready to go (not including connecting ot the network) then something is terribly wrong.

So this too will be an experiment of sorts, as I not only try being productive with approved applications and nothing else (well, maybe Paint.NET because I do need to manipulate images once-in-a-while).  Having come from open source and Linux I have gotten pretty used to having choices of multiple applications for a purpose.  This time around, though, I am going to try and hold off the best I can.

This means such things as using Internet Explorer ONLY; no Firefox, Opera or Chrome.  This alone will be an adjustment, but a  good experiment.  It also means only one image editing program but anything that I don't need, I am not going to get.

Only applications that are an extension of Microsoft official applications such as OGG Vorbis codecs so Windows Media Player can play OGG files, or applications (.NET) and scripts (.bat, .vbs) which I develop myself will be acceptable.

I think this will be an exciting experiment, and it does not mean I am leaving Linux. As I said, the home computer will be dual-boot with Linux as the primary system and my laptop will continue to be running Linux for my own personal uses as well as my home server.  In fact the old desktop may be upgraded and moved into the role of server(s) opening up a whole new range of possibilities such as a personal cloud?

Check back, and see how things go.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fedora 12 and Broadcom wireless works out-of-the-box

Wow, what a past couple of weeks!  First Ubuntu 9.10 comes out, then Mandriva 2010 followed by openSUSE 11.2 and it ends with Fedora 12!

While Karmic is as impressive as any Ubuntu release the one that has really gotten me this time is Fedora 12. Fedora 12  Most specifically, the thing that got me initially "hooked" or interested is that my Broadcom wireless card worked in Fedora 12 out-of-the-box!  No hunting or downloading and cutting the driver! I wasn't even plugged into the network and I was able to connect to the wireless system while running the LiveCD.

I am using a laptop I received, which replaces the one that had and unfortunate accident with a cup of water a while back. Due to issues with the external CD-Rom drive I was not able to even boot up Ubuntu Karmic, or any other Ubuntu when I had a chance to try things out.  I was left with a blinking NUM and CAP LOCK indicators instead.

So I went ahead and installed Fedora 12 on the hard drive and started fooling around with it.  For the most part, it was as expected, with a different list of applications and what-nots, and using PackageKit makes updating and installing an easy prospect though not as easy as Synaptic in Ubuntu.  What did impress me was that not only did Fedora 12 recognize and enable my wireless card out of the box, but it worked better than it did in Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope!  I would have the system on for hours and I never lost a signal.

When I first got the laptop, I was planning on replacing the Broadcom wireless with an Intel one I had in a Thinkpad T40 and hope that they are compatible enough.  After seeing Fedora handle it out of the box I decided it wasn't worth the risk.  Ubuntu and openSUSE did not detect the wireless card, which is expected.

I believe what I get to attribute the wireless card for working is Fedora including the OpenFWWF open sourced drivers.  I hope that development continues and that other distributions start including it so as to help alleviate the wireless hell that so many people go through.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Netbooks + Google + Linux = Great Cloud system

Beyond just the issue of running better on low-spec machines and the argument of better screen layouts compared to Windows 7 and Windows XP (don't have to worry about OS X since Apple doesn't have a Netbook and don't seem to have plans for one either), there are some cool reasons why Linux is a good choice for Netbooks especially if you have a Google Gmail account. Considering Google is working on their own netbook-friendly operating system (Google Chrome OS) plus their phone-based operating system (Android), both of which are Linux-based, the compatibility between desktop and cloud applications should only get better.

First off, the idea of a Netbook is to be a portable laptop-like device which connects to the internet and runs common activities such as email, browsing, instant messaging and more. To help with the portability it uses an energy efficient Atom processor which runs currently around 1.6 GHz (not talking about the dual-core variety here yet).  Actually, a Netbook is more powerful than most of my computers (sad, isn't it?).  At least I have finally moved away from the machine with specs less than that of Motorolla's newest Droid phone!

Anyway, as the purpose of the Netbook is to interact with the internet from just about anywhere, yet many, if not most, people prefer the feel of running native apps yet still want to have things accessible via the web from other machines. This way you can, say, work on a presentation in Google Docs or Zoho, on the desktop with a nice screen and keyboard, yet pull it up on your portable Netbook for the actual meeting without having the lug this huge desktop or even supersized laptop around!

Email is probably the easiest to coordinate since it is pretty much everywhere and everyone has it.  I'm not sure about Outlook Express or Live Email (or whatever it's called), but I know that the cross-platform Thunderbird can and my choice on Linux, Evolution, can access my Gmail account via IMAP.  The wonderful thing about this is that just about any changes I make with my mail, move, mark as read/unread or delete as well as every email I send is ultimately stored on the IMAP server and thus is accessible from all machines I connect to it.  It is also fully realized through the web interface.

What Thunderbird provides, with the Lightning add-on, and Evolution provides out of the box is the ability to connect to my Google calendars and while I have had mixed experiences, I have managed to successfully connect to my calendars in a bi-directional manner. This means, I can add/change/remove an appointment on my local client and it is changed on the server so the next manner I connect to it (application on another machine, over the web, etc.) the change will be present.

Also with an add-on in Thunderbird or included in Evolution is the ability to sync one-way all of your contacts.  This is great in centralizing your contacts so you don't go to a machine to email somebody only to find out you added them on another machine instead.  The shortfall of this, as far as I can tell, is that it is only one way. To add a contact you may have to go to the gmail web interface or Google Contacts and make your changes there.

So with something like Thunderbird, or Evolution and Google account you can almost have a Microsoft Exchange-like functionality without shelling out a lot of cash.

So now we turn towards files and the cloud because let's face it, while email and personal information management (PIM) usage is fine it still doesn't help when you need to create a presentation or invoice for somebody.

So this is where Google Docs and google-docs-fs comes in.  From the project website:

This project aims to allow you to connect to Google Docs and treat it as a file system. Combine the portability of Google Docs with the flexibility and power of using the office suite of your choice.

This will allow you to mount your Google Docs account as you would a normal filesystem. You will then be able to use it as if it were a file system on your hard disk, with all operations being transmitted seamlessly to Google Docs.

So in theory you can open your Google Doc with OpenOffice on your local machine and when it saves, it saves in the cloud!  How cool is that?

Of course you'll have to keep an eye on compatibility if you plan on accessing it via the web interface but if it is only being accessed by a local client app whether from one machine or another then it may not make any difference if you add a few things that Google Docs can't handle.

Either way, I will have to test this out and get back to you on how well it works, but I'm excited.

The last piece, though, is a little bit trickier and doesn't quite work in Linux at this time.  I do hope that the Linux clients will get this functionality in the near future though because I've been using this in Windows for a while and there are some really nice features missing from the Linux variant.  I am talking about Picasa and Picasaweb.

The current model of these online galleries is that you import your pictures into your local computer and then you upload what you want to the Picasaweb gallery.  This is great, but you don't necessarily have the originals on your local system. If you were to take your netbook on vacation with you and upload your pics from that machine, the originals are not available on your desktop to view on the larger monitor unless you use a USB thumb drive to transfer the files from one machine to another.

Yet with Picasa 3 in Windows you can not only upload your pictures, but download the entire album as well.  In this manner it matters less as to who has the original (and I would back up the originals regardless) as any system can download the entire album onto the local machine.  I do not know if PicasaWeb handles RAW files.  I would understand if htey do not because those files will quickly fill up the space limitation.  On a good note, they just dropped the price on how much memory you can store. You get 1 GB for free and for $5 per year you can increase that by 20 GBs (so $25 per year will give you 101GB!).  For a shutterbug this may be well worth the cost.

Last is something that hooks up to Google Reader.  I'm practically addicted to Google Reader and the idea of entering all of those feeds into a local client sounds daunting. Not to mention applications like Liferea only mimics the Google Reader, does not actually integrate.  The best reader, and the one I'd install in a heartbeat, is the one that would work WITH my Google Reader. This way, if  I read an item in the local client, my Google Reader item is marked as read, and if I read it in Google Reader then I don't want my local client to show it if I have filters to only show unread entries.

There is a project, though, which utilizes Adobe Air (which there is a Linux variant) to connect to Google Reader, called ReadAir.  While it is focused on the Windows and Mac version I really hope that they don't leave Linux out in the cold.  I'll have to research this some and see how it works.

In conclusion, there are a number of apps, at least for Linux, to take your Cloud life and bring it back onto the desktop!  Since I am not so keen on having dozens of web browsers opened in order to do something I like the idea of integrated native apps on the front end, but fed from Google Cloud where I can always access via browser if necessary, or another computer.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

If Ubuntu 9.10 Tarnishes Linux's image, community needs to fix it.

So it sounds like Ubuntu is getting a bad rap with its latest release, 9.10 Karmic Koala. This isn't good right now because while Linux was making gains as Vista was failing and products like Netbooks, which Vista did not work on, were growing today the market has switched around. While Linux made some modest gains, this reversal of fortune could end up un-doing those gains and make it harder to pull people back since now its a fresh memory of the issues and not some long standing ones from when Linux was only a command-line operating system.

Windows 7 is still getting good reviews overall with the most significant piece being that it is stable, and "just works" for the most part. Considering this was one of the biggest issues with Vista and something people have gotten used to with Windows XP, it sounds like Microsoft has finally gotten something right for the time being. Of course there are issues, but the one beneift of it coming after Vista's marketing and technical difficulties is that the bar Windows 7 has to overcome is so much lower than it was after Windows XP.

Linux, on the other hand, still has to reach up to that bar and has been doing a very admirable effort in reaching that bar! I think Linux has reached heights only dreamt of in years past and still has momentum and opportunities so long as they, and the users, don't dwell on issues that have come up.

One good piece of news is that Ubuntu is just the first distribution to be releasing a new version. Mandriva has just released 2010 today, in one week openSUSE releases 11.2 and just under 2 weeks from now Fedora will release 12. So from a technical perspective Linux has 3 opportunities to "fix" its image with rock-solid and secure releases. I think Fedora can probably bring the most to help this image.

Fedora is long thought of as an unstable, bleeding -edge type distribution and testbed for a major North American Linux Vendor (yeah, Red Hat.. I just like the mysterious "major North American Linux Vendor" since I saw it on the CentOS website), so if Fedora can come out with a stable, up-to-date release it would mean more than if a distribution with a standard stability reputation comes out and says they are stable.

So what can the community do about this? Actually the community can a vital part in maintaining and/or helping Linux's image.

The process people will go through will be the same. Newer users will have questions and go to the forums for answers. The key, though, is that the community needs to be patient, upbeat and helpful to give people a reason to stick with it. A user will be much more interested in sticking with it if they see that they can still get help, that people are not upset or emotional about it and if these people helping the user are sticking with it why can't the user?

Remember, it is only 6 months until the next batch of releases, Ubuntu and Fedora at least. This next release from Ubuntu is also a Long Term Support (LTS) release which means it had better be more stable than the Karmic release because this one will be around for longer and has the more important users; companies. While having general users is all good and well, companies and enterprises are the ones that will bring in the money. If Dell were to stop or scale back providing computers with Ubuntu installed due to these issues then there goes one potentially important avenue of revenue, marketing and availability. And if Dell won't carry it then why would a business trust it?

So the community needs to stop complaining and work together to help those people in need as much as possible. In time this will be sorted out and honestly, by December or January I expect a lot of these issues to be addressed in one way or another. Will anybody retract their statements at that time? Of course not, so Linux needs its community members to push through this with a smile and helpful hand until such time as these issues are addressed in the next couple of months.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Unconditional Love

Unconditional love, for obvious sake, means to love somebody unconditionally.  This can mean for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health... you get the idea. Unconditional love is the basis of a marriage and when most people say "I do", I believe they feel that they do love each other very deeply, but is it unconditionally?

Let's take an example:
Say you are going out on a date with your significant other after the two of you have been going crazy with work, school, kids, etc. So you take this opprtunity to "gift" your partner by getting all dressed up, and even wearing that heirloom piece that isn't your style, or isn't very comfortable. Hopefully this isn't your wedding band, but if so then that counts.

When you finish you seek out your partner to show off the glamourous or dapper "you"! For some reason, though, your love of your life doesn't take much notice or doesn't seem very excited, even at the self-sacrifice of wearing their heirloom trinket you really cannot stand!

Do you feel hurt? resentful? unappreciated?  These are valid emotions, ... except in the case of unconditional love. That is not to say that unconditional love means you should suffer just because your prince (or princess) charming needs a good solid whap upside the head with a cluebat!

The issue, though, is that it wasn't done with unconditional love; there were strings attached.  You had unwittingly attached the strings of being wow-ed over and flaunted with affection and admiration from your lover and when you didn't get it your felt hurt.  You actually did it all for you, and for your own pride and when it wasn't received you threaten a form of retaliation such as not showing any affection for the rest of the night or by not allowing them (and you) from enjoying the night because of a storm cloud over your head all night.

Doing it with unconditional love means that no matter what or how much you do in the name of love, there is no recourse or punishment if it doesn't work out as you expect. You give, and that is the end of that and if anything comes of it great, but otherwise you don't hold anything in your heart if it does not. In this, the only ones that need to know how much effort and sacrifice you put into this effort is you and God.

Ideally your partner does notice your effort and does praise you accordingly.  In this situation you have your full rights to enjoy every ounce of praise and flaunting! In this manner, the praise you receive are more genuine which makes them a thousand times more powerful than one guilted out of somebody against their will.

Did I say it was easy?  No, it is not easy and is especially hard when there is a disconnect or there are issues in the relationship.  Even in good relationships, this level of giving of yourself is not easy to do and is even harder to do it every day.  To love unconditionally means with no strings attached, no expectations and no regrets.

On the other hand, when two people love each other unconditionally is not only a beautiful thing, it forms a union stronger than the sum of the parts.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

I have to laugh. Microsoft marketing is such a crock!

Microsoft first touts that they will allow Windows 7 to run on Netbooks, but only 3 applications at a time.  Now they are considered more serious and competitive that they have lifted that restriction?!!  It's still the most basic version of Windows only, and without the cool features that the higher-end versions will include.  Plus, while Windows may take less resources, you still have to get all of the security applications (anti-virus, anti-spyware, etc.) which will take their chunk of resources leaving little for the applications you want to actually DO anything!

Meanwhile, Linux is running and as full-featured as the desktop versions you want and runs better on the lower-memory systems than the cluster-f$#% Windows that has had to be ripped apart to work on something so small!  It can run with the latest kernel with applied patches and applications of your choice. 

While I may not recommend running Blender 3D animator on a Netbook, if you really want to ... you can.  For many applications, too, not only are there alternatives, there are alternatives geared to being lighter on resources which may fit the bill.

Sad thing is, people are buying Microsoft marketing.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

UbuntuOne Online Storage

Canonical is launching a beta version of it's UbuntuOne online storage!  Sounds interesting so far even if it parallels the existing, cross-platform DropBox.

Already, the Dell Mini 9 was sold with free DropBox accounts, a great idea for a netbook with a minimal SSD drive to store everything.

Apple has had something like this for a while, called MobileMe (formerly MobileMe includes Microsoft Exchange like features such as email, contacts and calendars which can be synched between systems as well as an online photo gallery and the iDisk online storage.  All of this for $99 per year.

Google has been offering something almost like this for a much better price; free. The Gmail, Contacts and Calendars can be accessed either online or client applications by IMAP (for mail) and various plug-ins.  They also include an online photo gallery through Picasa Web and integrates with Picasa on the client.  Unfortunately it only works with Windows as far as I know.  The only other downside seen with this system is that some personal information may be gleaned off of your content for directed advertisements and interest-gathering.

Microsoft has been making moves with its Live system. Admittingly, though, I don't know enough about what it offers, though the applications that will integrate with it will surely be Windows-only.

So now Canonical is offering its own online drive space only and at $10/month for 10GB, or 2GB for free, it makes me wonder why?

Why would Canonical do this?  I have a theory.

UbuntuOne is an added benefit for using Ubuntu that doesn't require tinkering with the operating system itself. It is an add-on that people can choose to use or not use, and it isn't being forced upon anybody which would surely raise howls of protests from some Linux users.

It also begins a platform for offering other features in the future, whether free or paid for, such as an email account (, calendar, contacts, to-do's and such which actually integrates with Linux email clients without a lot of tinkering.  Imagine opening Evolution (Gnome's default email client) and being able to select UbuntuOne as the provider, enter your username and password and that's it, it's done?!

At the same time, this provides a perfect example for demonstrating the power and capabilities of Ubuntu Server and how it can be used for typical uses with alarge loads.

Canonical is shaping up to be a flexible company that seems to be taking pages from other company's playbook and is positioning itself very nicely.  They aren't as stogey as Red Hat yet they offer a solid Server contender. They aren't as flashy as Apple but are closing the gap of out-of-the-box usability, pre-installed channels and user-friendliness.

Of course, don't forget that there have been mention by Mark Shuttleworth about "blending" the desktop to the web. Combine this with the Cloud Computing ambitions with Ubuntu Server and I see UbuntuOne as the ante-up for Canonical to take this and go

I'm hopeful for this, and I hope I am granted a beta account. This could be the beginning of a whole new world.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Remind me, how is Windows the dominant OS?

It doesn't take long to come around and realize how easy Linux has made some otherwise mundane tasks. Let me back up a little.

This weekend our church is running its annual flea market and auction and for the auction we have a pretty slick deal.  We use multiple laptops including one in the auction audience which enters the winning number and amount once the auctioneer yells "Sold!".  So by the time the person gets out of their seat and walks to cash out the information is already entere!  The beauty of wireless technology.

The problem is getting enough laptops to all communicate wirelessly, as one has to run as the database server while each of the clients have to run their own copy of FileMaker Pro. Thus, we need all of the systems to run Windows or Mac.

That's the issue.  All of my home systems, and laptop, run Ubuntu or a special-use Linux. I have been Windows free for a while now.

So last night I took an extra hard drive I have for the laptop, and installed Windows XP on it, which was the operating system the laptop originally came with. Once it finished and I rebooted, that's when the difference between Windows XP and Linux became visible.

While I managed to install Windows on the laptop, it didn't include many important drivers such as the video, Ethernet, modem and wireless.  I was stuck in a 480x640 resolution with no access to the internet! Even clicking on the Internet Explorer icon displays a "What do you want to open this with?" dialog box!, this laptop does not have any exotic hardware. I believe it has an Intel graphics and Broadcom ethernet and a Broadcom wireless card. It is a Dell Latitude D400.

Using a seperate computer I tried to download the drivers from the Dell website, place it on a USB drive and move it over to the crippled laptop.   When I tried running the self-extracting .exe I get an error that RPC (Remote Procedure Call) server is not running?!

So now, with one day to go, I have to try and find these drivers and install just the bare minimums so I can install FileMaker Pro and connect to the other computers on the network.

What gets me is that with Linux, and especially the later versions of Ubuntu, I have not had any show-stopping errors during installation or even running the LiveCD!  Linux has detected my display adapter and I get my 1024x768 resolution. The Ethernet is detected and turned on immediately so I can get online, updates, whatever immediately. The wireless drivers, I know, need to be downloaded but between the handy hardware drivers application that lists everything needing a proprietary driver, and that my ethernet connection is humming along nicely, getting the wireless to run is a snap!

For all those people talking about how difficult Linux is to install, have you really tried installing Windows lately, or is Windows easier only because somebody else (as in the manufacturer) did all of the work?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

An Atom-based NetTop from System76

After the initial lust after a Netbook, I started thinking how cool a NetTop would be!

A Netbook is a power-sipping laptop that handles most basic tasks people use. It is geared to longer battery life over horse power (CPU speeds).  The biggest limitation is often the small size of the screen or keyboard.

At home, though, we have a spot where the laptop goes now where it is always plugged in. It's in our "Command Center" which is the center of activity in the house, next to the phone and next to the official (paper) calendar. I've always thought about replacing the laptop with a flat screen monitor and a basic desktop computer.

The problem has been not only space, even though there is space under the counter it can go, but having another computer on is a draw on electricity and after changing out all of our incandescent light bulbs for florescent I don't want to eat those savings with a desktop basically checking email and doing some browsing!

Since I'm already running Ubuntu on the laptop, desktop and server, I looked into System76 to see what they have available. System76 is a computer manufacturer that sells laptops, desktop and servers with Ubuntu installed. In fact they do not sell anything with Windows installed so you know they have to make sure the necessary drivers are installed.

Enter, the Meerkat NetTop.

It comes with an
  • 8 Watt Atom processor at 1.6 GHz (which is 0.2 GHz more than my laptop)
  • 1 GB of Ram  with space for an additional GB (my laptop is 512 MB)
  • 80 GB hard disk upgradable to 750 GB (beats out my 30 GB disk)
  • Available CD-RW, USB Wireless, and up to 3 yrs Ltd. Warranty and Technical Support
Not a spead demon or computational-crunching monster but definately adequate for what we would use it for, especially considering it's more powerful than what we're using now.

Then it got me thinking...

Why not set it up as a low power-consuming home server for files and stuff that uses more electricity for less power like the current Pentium IIIs I am running?  I definately do not need the high-end full-fledged "servers" and can easily set it up with Ubuntu Server or even CentOS (the Red Hat clone from Red Hat's own source code)!

Most home systems don't have RAID setup anyway.  Heck, could probably run two of these for less voltage than my Pentium III (and I have 2 of them running anyway) or run one with an external USB hard drive (1 TB?!) for backups!  Add a battery backup and see how long this sucker can keep going!

If all I do is max out the Ram (2 GB) and Disk Space (750 GB) it still costs less than $400!

Combined with the starting price of just over $300, I could get 2 basic setups to replace the laptop and desktop ($600) and a Server with max Ram and Disk Space ($400) and replace all 3 systems for a little more than $1,000 (plus tax, title and insurance...).  And the whole system would use less electricity to boot!

Then again.. maybe for a little more I can also get a System76 Netbook when they come out.. for me!

Friday, February 20, 2009

My KDE Experiment: prelude

I have long thought that a good Linux distribution with a stable and feature-rich KDE 4 environment installed on a good computer, like a laptop, with all compatible hardware would be able to compete with the latest from Microsoft of Apple.  Naturally, openSUSE is the first that comes to mind since they are the largest supporters of KDE and even innovations like the slab menu found in KDE 4 was available in openSUSE's KDE 3!

So to find out if this is true or not I decided to try a little experiment. I have an extra desktop around and I am going to install openSUSE 11.1 with KDE 4.2 and see how the overall experience is on a couple of different levels.

Of course openSUSE will be tested on its technical merit as I meander through the requirements for administrating the system after the installation. While this may be of interest, this is actually a very minor focus of the experiment.

The main focus, by large, is the supposed "consumer experience" one would have if they were to receive a comptuer system with openSUSE pre-installed and configured.  How does it look how responsive is it, how easy is it to customize, can I do all I want to do with it?  These and more questions will be looked at.

KDE is built from the Qt programming language and has spawned a huge number of applications in and out of the official "KDE Family".  Just about any application that is posed will have some form of KDE/Qt equivalent.  The advantage of using these is consistancy as is enjoyed with Microsoft products (well.. maybe except for Office 2007), where configuration files and settings are in the same location across most, if not all, applications! If I want to change a setting in the application I go to the Configure menu just as I would Tools > Options in Windows.

In order to do this, I will be using KDE or Qt based applications whenver possible, such as
  • Krita instead of Gimp or Photoshop
  • Konquerer instead of Firefox or Opera (though I will keep Firefox for website compatibility issues)
  • Kontact instaed of Evolution or Thunderbird or Outlook
  • Kopete instead of Pidgin
  • KOffice instead of OpenOffice or MS Office
  • Amarok instead of Banshee or Rythmbox
  • Quanta Plus instead of Bluefish or Kompozer or FrontPage (unless I really need Kompozer)
  • Karbon 14 instead of Inkscape
  • DigiKam instead of Picasa or F-Spot
So not only is this going to be a test of the KDE desktop experience but also to put KDE applications through the test!

I am hoping, though, that my inexperience with KDE (let alone KDE 4) will be a benefit more than a limitation as it means that I will be learning the system just as somebody new to Linux will be learning the system. Who knows, maybe my family will like it better than their current Ubuntu Gnome sessions?... ;)