On The Rebound

going for the rebound in basketballIt’s a fact of life that after a break-up we all look for a rebound. It’s human nature. We want hope. We want to know that “we still have it.” That there is still a chance at that fairy tale happy ending, even if we know the originals were dark and rarely with the Disney Happily Ever Afters. We want to feel the things we miss most about being in a relationship.

After my decision to walk away from Windows completely, I checked out a lot of Linux options. As I stated previously, I decided that Zorin and Mint were at the top of my rebound list. If you are still unsure about ditching Windows and making the leap of faith to a Linux distro check out both of these:

Linux Mint OS

and

Zorin OS

When it came to Mint, I loved the clean modern look and the DE (desktop environment) options. I also, liked that they had different options for differing machines/systems and one of the most active support forums of all the distros available. Almost all previous versions of Mint can still be found for download. Also, Mint always has a LTS (long term support) version, as well as beta/developer versions for advanced users. In addition, right out-of-the-box there are lots of ways to personalize everything about Mint. These were the reasons that Mint was on the top of my rebound list.

But, so was Zorin.

The first thing that any long-term Windows user will notice when checking out Zorin’s website is how comfortable it is. You get a very Windows’ish sense about everything and that is intentional. Zorin is the brainchild of two brothers from Ireland. Their whole concept is to create a Linux distro that the ordinary, non-tech Windows user can master as easily and comfortably as Windows.

One of the things that, I think, really sells Zorin are their focused versions. They have a Lite that is very basic and designed for older machines, think Windows XP systems, still hanging on. They have other versions that can be just as easily compared to Windows’ versions. If you are a simple Windows Home user then Zorin Core would be the cross-over for you. However, if you are a hard-core Windows Pro guru you will be impressed with Zorin’s Ultimate version. It comes packed with all the business, entertainment, gaming and content creation programs and apps you need. Zorin also has an extra version that is virtually ignored by all other OS teams, which impressed me greatly. Zorin Education comes pre-loaded with lots of programs and apps for learners of all ages and most interests. Of course their strongest areas are math, science, and programming, but they do have other areas covered or easily added.

For me, the advantage went to Mint, as my tech rebound.

Why, you ask?

The biggest reason, even though I found Zorin much more appealing and their Education version melted my heart, I was not, yet, quite ready to have a Linux relationship on my own. I needed the security of a loving safety net and D at the time was using Mint. So, I went with the safety and security of Mint. After all isn’t that what rebounds are all about?

It was a good choice for me. With blogging, taking classes, running FB groups and other ‘online needs’, I just wanted to get back to focusing on what was important to me, instead of having Windows changing my system when it suited them and creating chaos seemingly for their own entertainment. It was also an easy way for me to dump Windows without excessive stress; since I could always ask D to bail me out or make it work for me. Yes, I can be spoiled by D!

But, like all rebounds, comfort with Mint was a temporary fix for a growth problem. And after catching my breath and regaining my confidence, I knew that I wanted more than the comfort of Mint, especially as that comfort recreated some of the same annoyances that Windows had.

Don’t get me wrong, Mint is one of the most popular and widely used Linux distros available. And for most non-techy and tech savvy users alike it is a great choice and can provide many years of great computing. It just didn’t meet my needs after getting over Windows!

Windows Walk Away

despair nytimes

All the love that you had for Windows, got you in a downward spiral of betrayal? Are you so spent having your every second watched and followed and sold that you dread logging on? Does the mere thought of going online make you cringe? We all know that Windows is not the only “eyes” watching our every move, but when you have to have/use a Microsoft Account Login to even set up your new laptop, it does put Windows at the top of the Most Dreaded List for most users. In addition, their change in their Terms Of Service (TOS) policy that states they will restrict or freeze your account if they do not like or agree with things that you say online, is about as Orwellian as you can get. So much for free speech!

Of course the best step is to not have a Microsoft Account, however, if you really need one for your work or Skype or gaming, then the next best thing is to limit you dependency to only those required apps and use non-Microsoft services and programs for as much other stuff as possible. Previously, we have discussed the first-step away from Microsoft via the use of Open Source Programs. And I really encourage you to explore any of the Open Source options that you might need to accomplish your same daily grind in a more relaxed and private environment. Yes, there will be a learning curve; but first, anything worth having requires work and second, how many times have you had to relearn your go to Microsoft program because some update changed everything on you?

Somethings that you need to keep in mind, especially if you try out some of these programs while still using Windows….the layouts might be different once you switch to Linux, but you will in almost all cases (I cannot think of any that do not apply) have all the same things, and the big plus is that you can change and modify and tweak your options and layouts and tool bars to suit you personally!
Another thing to keep in mind, is that Linux has some options, such as WINE and Play On Linux, for setting up a virtual space to run Windows programs, however, it might not be easier than learning an open source version or you might be reverting to an older version of a program to have success.

I confess, that I personally do not have any luck with using any of the virtual Windows options on Linux distros. That being said there are lots of users that use them daily. For my part, while there are like maybe 3 programs that there is not true matches to my liking in Open Source offerings, those 3 programs are not important enough to me on an often enough basis for me to put the effort into figuring out how to make them work.

To share, they are OneNote, which I do really miss and really wish that there was a true ‘copy’ version in Linux. Linux does have a couple really good note-taking options, that are not geared towards devs, so do not restrict their ‘pages’ to using markdown, but are instead WYSIWYG UIs. CherryTree is probably the most popular or best known option. However, there is always new code being written and someone wanting something different or better and thus you can always find new stuff. When I was first looking, BasKet was the actual closest Linux version of OneNote that I could find, however, it does not appear that BasKet is being maintained anymore. That is another issue that you need to be aware of, making sure that programs are still being supported. In spite of that, like I said there are always options to try out such as those listed here, one of my go to sources for finding new options for old habits! Furthermore, OneNote does have a browser option, I did consider this, however, I had been using, if memory serves, the last stand alone version of the program, before it went into Office/Cloud only subscription basis, and my old notes would not upload into the browser version, no matter how I tried, as I had back-up of my notebooks in all formats available.

Another program that I really liked was PhotoScape. I used it to make really quick and easy collages. There are versions that do work in some of the ‘Windows on Linux’ programs, however, they were older than the one that used and so not as fast and easy as what I had been using. All that being said, I can, absolutely, use other programs to do the same thing, in most cases with more options and features and versions to create much higher quality output, thus, I am fine without PhotoScape. As, it really was a quick and easy version to throw some images together without any effort.

As we move forward in our journey, I will share my experiences and thoughts on my individual searches for specific replacement programs, what I was looking for, what was more important to me, and how the options stacked up with those goals. Finding all your individual best fits is probably the best and worst thing about making the switch to Linux.
The best, you do have the option to find the program/option that works best for you.
The worst, you have to find that bast option by searching all the available options that Linux has to offer, which is quite literally, on par with searching for the perfect piece of straw in a haystack!

Fear not, it can be done and you are not alone in your journey! If I, just another ordinary her in the world looking for techno utopia can do it, so can you! And to make sure that you can, I am here to help you along the way.

Photo Credit: NY Times

First Step – – Open Source

Open Source Logos

I know that one of the hardest challenges to dumping Windows is the fear of not having what you are used to anymore. The fear of the unknown and the fear of thinking that you are going to lose everything that you have can be paralyzing. But, we are going to help you with that aspect too.

We all have our favorite go-to programs and apps that we do not know what we would do without. I completely understand that. So let’s look at some of the most common types of software and apps that we use daily. But, before we do that, let me introduce you to the 2 broad types of software and apps.

The 2 basic types of software:
1) Closed Source or Proprietary software; think of them as high-end brand names. Microsoft and Apple are the largest, they keep their code ‘secret’, another words it is not readily or openly available to other programmers and coders.
2) Open Source; think of these as the upstart and generic brands. And just like with other industries, if you are willing to take the chance you find out that most of these products are as good as if not better than the big boys. These programs have ‘open’ code, another words the companies and writers using Open Source make their code readily available to everyone.
And as we go on you might be surprised at the number of Open Source companies and products you are already loyal to.

Why might knowing about Open Source companies and products matter for ditching Windows, cause chances are you will find that at least some if not all of your favorite apps can go with you! You might recognize some of the logos in the picture above, but, did you know that all those companies and more are Open Source and can go with you to Linux!?!

Let us briefly list some of the most common Open Source products out there;
Browsers: Firefox, Chrome, Vivaldi, Yandex, Opera, Pale Moon, and Epic, just to name a few off the top of my head. And for every one that I did name there are a dozen more that I did not.
Office Suites: By far, the top two are Open Office and Libre Office. The former was my first step away from MS Office, however, the later is my long time favorite! Again there are others and some distros are creating their own in-house suites.
Mail Clients: Thunderbird, Mailspring, Claws and Geary are probably the most common but several of the Open Source browsers have their own as well. For example Thunderbird is part of the Firefox services from Mozilla and SeaMonkey has a whole range of products in addition to their browser.
Audio/Video: Most of us have heard of Audacity, and VLC, there is also Blender, OpenShot, Clementine, Audacious, and many others depending on your needs, from listening to mixxing to creating/composing. As with Microsoft and Apple most distros have a music/video/media player included.
Graphics/Publishing: Here we have GIMP, Inkscape, Blender, and Scribus. Plus tons more for specialized needs from artist sketching to scientific publishing and everything in between. There really are too many to mention here, especially since most are niche focused. The ones I have included are standouts in their respective areas. In addition some of the suites and browsers have applications that cover basic needs.

If eBooks are your thing how bout Calibre. Into gaming, you will not lose Discord and Steam has its own Linux OS. Into communicating 20 different ways there is Slack and Franz and Rambox, along with lots of linux versions of common VoIPs such as Skype and Viber and IRCs too.

So as you can see there is absolutely no shortage of cross-over programs and there are a multitude of Linux specific programs that will seriously meet all your needs. As a matter of fact, the sheer volume of Linux options can be downright overwhelming. Not to worry, H and I have sifted through most of them for you already in our own journey. Part of the reason that we are here, to help you transition more easily.

Photo Credit: via linuxrocksonline

 

Where Do I Start?

No-Windows-10

So you are fed up with Windows?!?
Take heart! You are not alone! So many others, including my boyfriend and myself, have been exactly where you are!

Updates dropping our favorite features!
Options we used all the time, gone!
Programs we relied on daily being dropped!
Or worse, everything is a “Cloud Only” Subscription!
Instead of Opt In you have to find the secret location to Opt Out!
Privacy is now a joke!

You have thought about switching to Mac….but, there isn’t much difference. Apple was the proto-model for cloud only storage, and the price of iAnything is the top end of the retail market!

The only other option you have heard of is the mysterious Linux. But, isn’t that only for computer hackers and tech geeks?
It’s complicated and you have to type commands and such!

What if I told you that is not the case any more, or at least not the whole truth of Linux today!
Today there are lots of different Linux distros for the non-tech savvy user to choose from. Matter of fact, most new to Linux refugees find the number of options to be daunting and overwhelming!

Fear not we are here to help you navigate and understand the options.

First there are two major styles of Linux; debian and arch.

For most of us ordinary users debian will be our choice. But, that being said, do not totally discount arch! (We will surprise you in a future article)
So let’s talk a little bit about debian.

While, Debian is a distro in its own right, it is more commonly a term to lump all the distros that are built on debian together. What that means is that most of the distros that you will consider have taken the debian foundation and built on to it and packaged it with different features and options to focus on differing priorities.

It is basically the same thing that Microsoft did with DOS and Windows. DOS was the structure and Windows was the facade or decoration that you saw, used and interacted with.

In addition, the debian tree has several large branches that split off and have many smaller branches sprouting from their larger branches all the way down to individual leaves or versions of distros.

Feeling overwhelmed yet, trust me, H and I know just how you feel. Being a man, H was less concerned with knowing if he got the perfect distro right off the bat. I on the other hand, read and read and Googled and watched more videos than I had watched movies and TV in the same amount of time and still was not truly sure of my choice.

Solution: “Babe, make a few LiveUSBs and test them out and then go with the one you like. And if you change your mind in the future, switch!” He’s great! And correct!

That is the best advice that you can be given when it comes to wading into the waters of Linux. Don’t worry we are going to give you some help and our opinions and advice about different distros and where to start in future articles, but, it is best with Linux, to create a few LiveUSBs and really test them out, get a feel for them and see if you like them at all.

There were several that upon reading all about them, I LOVED! Then I tried them and guess what….. not so much love all the way to hated it!
That being said, there is a distro for everyone and we will help you find your perfect match!

Photo Credit: via Calibre Computer Solutions

Dear Windows, Good-Bye, Without Love

goodbye microsoft love linux with heart

Hi, my name is Cassi and I am a Windows survivor! In the beginning Windows seemed so perfect. It made my life easier and gave me an easy to use interface so that I could be more productive without having to be a programmer.  And it even still gave me my DOS command window. It allowed me to organize and tweak my OS environment to suit my needs and my skill level. So as we progressed, we settled into a normal regular routine.

Oh, sure we had our ups and downs I mean, all relationships do. I don’t think ours was any worse or more than anyone else’s. I still remember when Mac, the new guy in town showed up. Oh, he was a slick one, turning heads and promising everything Windows had, only newer and cooler and stronger! And I admit that Mac got one of his new friends to try to show me how cool he was; but, while his looks were impressive, I was comfortable with my own Windows, besides, if it ain’t broke why fix it, right.

To make matters worse, how was I to know that my beloved Windows would go through a mid-life crisis with the turning of the century and never come out of it!

First he, decided that he needed a new look and then he needed a new title and couldn’t settle on one…are you 2000 or Me? Do you even know who you are or what you want anymore? Why are you changing? What was wrong with the way we were? I was happy! Oh, sure I changed the desktop and background from time to time, but, I didn’t get all mid-life crisis on you just cause the 1900’s became the 2000’s! Oh, no you had to go and throw it all away! All the hard work and the building up and the years of ups and downs. So I let you have your wild ride for a few years until you stopped supporting my (XP)memories of the way things used to be!

Then you got all security conscious and protective with your Vista! So we did nothing but fight. I begged and pleaded and finally you said you saw the light and gave me 7! I could see the effort (at least I thought it was sincere at the time) and compromised that while it was not my beloved XP, it at least was not Vista. So we created a fragile balance of co-existence until you decided that we need a WHOLE NEW EVERYTHING!

So what do you do…..BOOM here’s 8, slamming through the fragile peace like Johnny through the bathroom door! I cannot find anything! I cannot change much of anything! All my favorite parts are gone and nothing is the way I like it! What happened to the WE in this relationship…..when did it become all about YOU!!! Oh, that’s right way back when you bullied all the hardware makers to ONLY load your OS on their mass produced products and I didn’t balk cause I was happy back then and I trusted you to like me happy! Instead I now have a tyrant telling me that I am happy cause you say so! NO! NO! NO! I am NOT happy!

So I pack my bags and hand you divorce papers and what do you do…..you promise me to make it all right and to do it for FREE! For my loyalty you give me 10! You tell me that you have super improved it for my ease of use and syncing and that EVERYTHING you do, you do for ME and my joy! But, what you have done is built me a golden cage! You track my every move! You watch my every moment! You force updates and installs against my will! With you No doesn’t mean no, it doesn’t even mean wait, stop, think about it, promise me more….it means yes to you. No matter how much I screamed NO! DON’T! STOP! You are killing us! You kept right on……

but, I had heard rumors of a hero in the night….

I dug in my memories for those whispers in the dark. Those breathy comments by the rebels of the web! Linux was the name….but, it seemed so strange and foreign, it looked so alien and complex. What was a girl to do?

I decided it couldn’t hurt to look, right? I mean I was in a broken relationship with NO hope, the worst place I could be, so what did I have to lose? Besides, I had always had that part of me that walked on the darkside; just cause I had been a longtime Windows OS girl didn’t mean that I was a total Microsoft mistress. No, in fact, I had always loved those Open Source guys! They knew how to give a girl what she wanted and more and usually always for FREE!

So I took a walk down Linux lane looking for my new beau and what did I find??? I found more options than I could count and more looks and styles than a 5th Ave Fashion Week! WOW! What had I been missing? How do you pick? How do you choose? I was dizzy from all the options; but, I was determined cause once a girl looses hope in her guy…..she has no option but to find a new hero! So I read and read and read some more….

I read and watched more reviews and compares and contrasts than there are sports teams in the US! And slowly and surely I weeded out the ones too techy for me and the ones too Mac’y for me. I listed all my must haves and then the extras that would melt my heart…..so my short list came down to finally 2 ……. Mint and Zorin……and I will give each their due coming up……. see who wins my heart and who gets my system for keeps or at least for right now!

It’s all about chemistry!

periodic table linux

Too much of anything can make you sick, even the good can be a curse.  Switching to Linux was supposed to be an easy thing to do. If you feel like you’re being stuck in a bad marriage with either Windows or MacOS, than you know it’s time to leave things behind and move on.

Before you decide to move on and what to do next, much like with any relationship, you ask yourself hundreds of questions but here’s what you know for sure:

  • You are tired of being controlled by what you can and can’t do.
  • You are tired of being spied on and having your every step followed and analyzed.
  • You are tired of spicing up relationship (upgrades) which do nothing except create burden on you (your system), lagging, slowing you down and showing no progress.
  • You are constantly forced to accept new rules in the relationship which only favor the aggressor (Updated polices) and leave you no room to breathe.
  • You want your system to reflect your habits and lifestyle and to be able to adjust it to your liking, not to spend a lifetime of being in the same house without being able to even repaint the wall.

So, if you answered YES to all of the above then it really is time to move on. Yes, it can be scary, but just a bit, because you are about to land in an ocean filled with all sorts of fish. They are still a fish, but different kinds, some are fancy, some are robust, some are functional and organized and some are simply byproduct spin-offs of the major species of fish.

If you really want to look up genealogy of Linux species, I suggest you start with graphic representation on Wikipedia, which traces back to it’s origin. However be ready to get confused and scroll and scroll. Still, by then nothing will be clear to you and you may feel like you regret your decision to leave the aggressor; but don’t! Because that’s exactly what happens when you enter the dating ring after being absent for so long. There’s still hope. Big one, at that.

First you need to decide what you want and what you expect from a new relationship, are you looking for a fancy, robust, functional, sleek, average, simple, complex, brain-challenging, just watching movies and play music and or do basic office/home work, accounting, media production. You will feel like a kid in a candy store. You get to pick, experiment, learn, and test the waters until you find what works for you.

Much like I did, you may have read countless articles on the web which distro is right for you, writing down comparisons, getting stuck with stats and numbers, lack of support, big community, abundance of apps in the store etc…

By now you have probably asked yourself a question all of us who transitioned from Windows/MacOS to Linux already have – How do I pick (the) one? Well, my answer to that is above – you date! You become a distro-hopper (or worse distro-whore) until you find what works for you best.

You may start by narrowing down your likes and dislikes and look for options. Within that range you can download several LiveUSBs; test them out and see how it works for you. I know this is not a moral thing to do, but if in any way you depend on one of the “bad guys” you can cheat for a bit and have “dual-boot” until you decide to boot the other one for good.

I kicked it off with Linux Mint and Deepin, my girlfriend ventured out with different distros. Unfortunately due to the nature of my business and government regulations, I kind of had to go back to my ex-bad-guy for business purposes, but I still have a “side chick” and that’s not going to change until I find a more permanent solution. And I am so looking forward to it.

Until next time,

$sudo-apt-install-happiness