When I first got in touch with computers which I used exclusively for playing games I realised that the computer would become slow after a few months of use due to a large no of useless software leaving their remnants in the registry. Also their is a chance that  the disk would become fragmented  resulting in sluggish performance and  disk wear and tear. Besides viruses would creep in from out of the blue causing more irritation than damage.  So the only choice was to perform a format of the C drive in XP. This was what everyone was telling me and so I did not think otherwise.

It  was time consuming requiring atleast 2 hours for careful backing up of data , then followed by  an hour of actual partitioning  and installing  the OS  and  an another  hour  for finding and running the correct drivers.  Then I would have to reinstall all  my favourite programs including the anti virus software which was more of a necessity.

Finally I would have to restart the cycle again after 3 or 5 months depending on use. I accepted formatting as a necessary  evil and a mandatory one since I wanted to keep my pc up and running without any glitches and due to fact that I  considered myself a pc geek and  due to the fact  that  I was learning to be a computer engineer.(A bit of arrogance!). And true to the header of this  post it was becoming a kind of festival.

Well that’s all in the past now. Its been about 6 months since I have done any formatting. Its been a year and a half  since I moved to Linux and the only reason I did any formatting during that  time was to try out new Linux distros that were coming out every  5 months. Yeah trying them out can be very addictive and you get  a better one after each install absolutely free!

So to put things in perspective a Linux user doesn’t have to do a format  of the system every now and then.  The reason could be that it doesn’t use a  registry system as Windows and maybe it helps to have a superior journalling filesystem that doesn’t  cause  fragmentation and its robustnesses against  viruses or maybe because it is just my plain luck.

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Tata Photon in Linux Mint.

Posted: May 26, 2010 in Linux Tips

Recently  my friends laptop which came with Vista pre-installed got corrupted by a Rootkit. Boy was he mad! He didn’t expect it to flunk so easily. He tried to install XP in the lap but as Vista was a higher version than XP it wasn’t possible. He couldn’t reinstall Vista as he didn’t have the original CD as it was an OEM version.

Seeing no other option he asked  me to help. I suggested him to install Linux Mint. I gave him a Linux  Mint. Helena CD. He really wanted XP but since he had no choice Linux was the only option. To be frank I did not expect what happened next.

He installed  Linux by himself. Partitioning was a breeze since it had a graphical installer although there was a few hiccups. So installing Linux was easy.  Well I thought here comes the hard part- ‘Finding the right drivers’.

Turns out the lap had an Intel chipset. So there was no need to install 3D drivers.Bluetooth connectivity was there by default. He was amazed! No more searching for the right drivers and that too in Linux!

However it was too early for rejoicing,The big problem was that he used Tata Photon USB wireless modem for connecting to the internet. On Vista the ISP provided the USB driver. They never accounted for Linux. So he brought it to me. I thought  ‘Oh boy. That’s done for!’ If he couldn’t connect to the web in Linux all effort would be in vain.

Then the amazing thing happened. I knew where the network manger was. I simply doubled clicked on it expecting nothing. Suddenly an option for a CDMA wireless USB connection caught my eye. Clicking on it I was presented with an option for selecting the present country and then to everyone’s amazement  it  showed an option for selecting the ISP with the correct name Tata Photon plus in  plain English. Clicking on it the connection was established in a few seconds. No driver installation or configuration or any other hassle. The ultimate freedom!

Linux has poor driver support. The myth was shattered!

We didn’t need to install 3d drivers, Bluetooth drivers or a USB CDMA modem driver . This was in contrast to the defacto OS.

Needless to say my friend was converted immediately to Linux. He didnt want anything else. And I?  Well, I was humbled that day. It threw my small misconception of Linux out of the Window. Literally.

What is Grub?

Posted: May 15, 2010 in Demystify Linux

Linux has lots of programs and software with strange names. Grub is one of them.

Grub stand for GRand Unified Bootloader. Grub is a Bootloader,  a program which loads the OS onto the main memory aka ram when the computer boots up. Hence the name bootloader.

Suppose you have more than one OS  installed in your hardrive. How will you choose which OS you want to use. Grub  solves this problem by giving us an option at boot time to select the OS of our preference.

Moving to Linux from Windows

Posted: May 14, 2010 in Linux Tips

Let me make it clear. I am not  a Linux fanatic. I too use Windows but mostly for playing games. I have successfully run  several windows games in my Linux machine. For those that don’t work I use Windows.I have installed  both XP and Linux on the same harddrive.

I want to advocate the same tactic for other users who want to try out Linux. Don’t remove Windows completely and jump into Linux all of a sudden. I know all people don’t want to follow the open source principle. They just want to get the job done as quickly as possible.

If you are such a user keep using windows for a while.Why should you remove it since it is helping you do your task  quite well?

However just give Linux a try. It will be new territory and it will be unfamiliar. Just assign Linux to a small partition in your harddrive. The rest could be kept for Windows. That way if you become confused you can fallback to another more familiar OS. On starting the system you will be given an option to choose either Windows or Linux.This practice is called Dual booting.

Okay Linux is such  a great OS, so then why is windows so popular?  Apart from good marketing tactics the No 1 reason for windows succes is that it is so incredibly easy to use.

For users who are new to computers, stability isn’t an issue,neither is the fact that the OS is proprietary or Free software, nor is security an issue. The only thing they have in mind is to learn to use the computer in the most easiest way and in the shortest possible time.  Using the computer in Windows is so easy. No need to even use the Keyboard. Everything is just a couple of mouse clicks away. They even have named the class of their OS after the main feature of a GUI – Windows!. In  one word Windows is user friendly.

Windows was built with the customer… I mean the user in mind. Linux was built with the system in mind as most people using Unix was usually an engineer at MIT or a computer science student. Thats why Linux is so successful in the server market where stability and security are relevant whereas the same criteria makes it unsuccessful in the desktop world.

However the scenario is changing fast. Linux has become a lot more user friendly than in the past while still maintaining its strengths.

If you have been reading through my posts you might get the idea that I am a Linux fanboy. I am today, but four years ago it was a different story.

My first experience with Linux was anything but positive. Actually I hated it in the beginning.

I had a spare HDD about  10 Gb  and decided to install Linux on it. The HDD had a few problems and a few bad sectors so what better place to install Linux!! The distro  I  used was called Open Suse. (I thought  it had a pretty strange name). I successfully installed it as it was a full install and there was no need for partitioning it. I didn’t like the look of the OS. it had a crude feeling  about it. I decided to install some programs on it but lo and behold I couldn’t even begin installing it as those program only ran on windows. The only software that was familiar to me was Firefox and thankfully I could browse the web with it.  Well that was it. After that I sold the drive to one of my friends.

Well afterwards I never seriously thought about using it again let alone waste my time blogging  for it.

The fundamental difference of Linux from other Operating systems is.

  • Linux is licensed under the revolutionary GNU General Public License.
  • It is maintained by a team of developers from all parts of the world, some are volunteers others are paid programmers working together over the internet. Nobody really owns it, but everyone is part of it.

Linux is also has other features that make it special.

  • Multiuser
  • Multiplatform
  • Interoperable
  • Scalable
  • Portable
  • Flexible
  • Stable
  • Efficient
  • Free. (Free as in Freedom of Speech and as in Free Lunch)

Linux crashing???

Posted: May 4, 2010 in Linux Tips

In all the 3 years that I have used Linux, I have never seen it crash once. Oh yeah I have seen a few programs running on it crash. But those are just programs and not the OS. I can just fire up the system monitor and kill the crashed program and thats it. No need to even restart the system.

Maybe thats why it is used in almost all the servers in the world that serve millions of requests at a time. A crash could be fatal.

Everyone expects Linux to be the same as Windows. This is one of the greatest sources of frustration for new users who have recently moved to Linux. A copy can never beat the original.
Linux is Linux in its own right. It has areas were it beats Windows hands down and others were it has to do better

There is a good post on this subject

http://linux.oneandoneis2.org/LNW.htm

Installing Packages in Ubuntu

Posted: December 24, 2009 in Linux Tips

Software is usually known as  packages in Ubuntu. There are two ways to install  packages in Ubuntu

1. The Hard way

2. The Easy way

The hard way is by using the terminal. You have to remember that the definition of hard depends on th user.

Go to Applications->Terminal. Type the name of the package you want. Suppose I want to install VLC media player.I type the name vlc in terminal. This is to check if the name I have typed is correct. If it is then the terminal will give the prompt

The program ‘vlc’ is currently not installed.  You can install it by typing:
sudo apt-get install vlc-nox
Just folow the prompt and type the line and it will install the package for you after typing the root password.
The easy way  is using the Synaptic package  manager.
Go to System->Administration->Synaptic Package manager. It will prompt you for the passsword.
In the quick search bar type the name of the required package. Right click on the check box of the required package and select Mark for installation. Then finally click on Apply and you are done.