My linux history and favorite tips

I have been using windows for almost all of my life. It came installed on every computer or laptop, and seemed to be the only viable option, as far as I knew. I started thinking of alternatives when I started building custom computers.

I did some research, and learned that buying a copy of windows would set me back by about two hundred dollars. This alone was a strong incentive to search for alternatives. I read about ubuntu, and it sounded great. The downside was that it could not run the games I was designing the computer for in the first place.

Fast forward four years, and I found myself in college, with little or no linux experience. To change that, I looked into configuring a dual boot for my laptop between windows 7 and ubuntu. I succeeded, but was completely new to ubuntu, and would become more and more familiar with it as time went on.

Present day, I find I prefer linux over windows. I had been told windows was “bloated”, but never realized how much until I was accustomed to ubuntu. It takes a few seconds to boot to ubuntu, and at least a full minute to boot to windows. This includes every optimization that I could do to windows to increase boot time. I find that I boot to ubuntu in all of my classes but one, for the sole reason that I cannot get the software we occasionally use in class to run on linux. I would stop using windows entirely, but I still require it to run certain programs for school, and video games. I have heard of wine, a compatibility layer for windows on linux, that may allow me to do more of what I want. I believe I will look into it and include my preliminary results in my next blog post.

I suppose I can share some of the tips and tricks I’ve picked up on in my time using ubuntu. Three of my personal favorites follow:

First off, if you use google chrome and can’t live without it, I recommend using the chromium web browser, not google chrome. I started on google chrome and found it crashed and was pretty unstable in ubuntu, whereas chromium has been working perfectly. The only difference is that chromium is a blue tinted logo and works much better. However, it has been a long time since I tried google chrome, and they may have since fixed the bugs.

Also, if you use google drive, the folder synchronization is not supported on linux. To get around that, I created a dropbox account and set its location to be within my google drive. This allows me to keep documents in the cloud but still access them using my google drive as opposed to dropbox.

If you find yourself needing to navigate to distant directories in the terminal, you can make a set of scripts to get you there faster. Rather than typing cd Projects/IntrotoUnix/mult, you can simply type bash mult_goto.sh. Make the name of the target directory first, so you can start typing it and complete it quickly with tab. I’d like to even have an icon on the desktop to open the terminal and navigate to directories for me with the click of a button. I’m sure it wouldn’t be difficult, but I’m lazy and/or busy and haven’t gotten around to it yet. I probably will and will visit that for my next blog post.

 

If anyone has additional tips or better ways to do things, please add them in a comment!

4 thoughts on “My linux history and favorite tips

  1. Good tips!
    The way I like to handle directories deep in my path are with symbolic links, so for instance I might have
    ~/Documents/ECE2524/Fall2013
    and I will run
    ln -s ~/Documents/ECE2524/Fall2013 ~/ECE2524
    so each symester I just change the sybolic link to have ~/ECE2524 point to a new location so I have an archive of past years if I need to get at it, but the current semester is just one level deep in my home directory.
    I do similar things for current projects I’m working on in my lab.

  2. I have a similar opinion to you as to when I’d want to use it and think that it might be great for programming. My biggest issues come from incompatibility with some of the required formats for our classes. Open Office can open a .docx file but I can’t save one.

    I still don’t have a strong conviction to use Linux as many functions of the system have left me unimpressed http://blogs.lt.vt.edu/benbear/2013/01/31/not-quite-impressed/

    I’ve already switched to Chromium as you advised, but find that it often crashes and, get this, crashes more often because of basic memory issues. I’m still a bit dubious about how to keep it working when regular google chrome can open my daily 24 tabs at once with little more than a flash hiccup in Windows.

    Any ideas as to how to make it provide this “better performance” that Linux claims to have on most machines except mine. The boot up time might be shorter but I find that windows comes ready to work, while Linux constantly penalizes me by making me install a new program to do things like open music. I don’t know Wine, but I think the easiest way to go to Linux for gaming has just arrived as Steam came out for Linux Today http://steamforlinux.com/?q=en/node/169. I know Steam has done a great job of supporting games that would require dosbox and other emulators for me on windows and will provide similar service for Linux.

    • I am using ubuntu 12.04, which has proved itself remarkably stable. As for the newer builds, I have no idea and would expect them to be more unstable. I would try switching to 12.04, or trying a different distribution. Also I prefer ubuntu not coming with everything installed, because many of the programs I would never personally use.

      My understanding of steam on linux was that it was shipping with a very limited library of compatible games, all of which were comparable to simple flash games. I play games with large-scale 3D environments like Skyrim or Fallout: New Vegas, which are not supported. I have read that it is possible to get them to run using wine, but even the most successful installations still do not reach complete functionality.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *