Pardus 2008.2 Part 2

As I discussed in my last post, just getting to the point where I had actually booted into a working Linux environment seemed a rather difficult task.  But, nontheless, there it was, Kaptan asking me for information.

Kaptan is Pardus‘s welcome screen, and it allows you to select the way your mouse (or trackpad) will work, the desktop theme, the way menus will work, and other initial settings.  It’s slick, and seemed to work with no problem.

The other thing you’ll notice with Pardus is that it uses the KDE environment (the official release says KDE 3 is installed by default), which some people don’t like.  I am somewhat ambivalent.  It definitely looks similar to XP (and you can make it act like Vista), but it also appears to be more extensible than either.  What I like about it is that the network icon on the bottom right-hand side is right there to click on, and I was able to set up my wireless network by entering in the WEP key.  And it worked.  “Out of the box.”  Fantastic!  Now, that’s why I chose Pardus in the first place, because I had read somewhere that it may be one of the only distros that plays well with my particular card.  And true to form, it worked perfectly.

So I launched Firefox, and the next thing I knew I was able to bring up pages.  What a nice thing to be able to do.  Flash was also preinstalled, because pages with Flash objects were not presenting any problems.  Now, certain things about Firefox for Linux bother me a little.  For example, I’m used to being able to click on the address bar once and have the whole address get highlighted.  That doesn’t happen for me.  Also, double-clicking on just part of a URL doesn’t segregate just that part of the URL.  (e.g., if I double-clicked on cmchoatelaw in the URL above, I’m used to it highlighting just cmchoatelaw, so that I can replace it with www instead if I need to log in to WordPress.)  But these are minor complaints.

Other things that are nice about Pardus:

Frozen Bubble game, which is ridiculously addictive; GIMP; codecs; Karamba Themes; Amarok; TASMA; PiSi (though it is bereft of certain things); Turkish support; it’s built from the ground up (i.e., not based on another distro); OpenOffice.org; and a bunch of other stuff.

What’s not so great?  OpenOffice.org.  This is because it isn’t the most recent version (3.1) but rather is v2.4.  Not the biggest deal-breaker but it would be nice to have the most recent version of the suite.  It’s common knowledge that installing software on Linux is a lot easier when you’re using a package manager, and PiSi does a good job of doing that with the software in its repository.  The problem is that OOo3.1 isn’t in the repository, near as I can tell.  There’s a PiSi link out that apparently you can use, but from what I’ve seen it’s somewhat crippled.  And trying to install OOo3.1 without a package manager has proved to be a nightmare, with it not recognizing that I actually DO have a directory called usr/java on my system.  But whatever.  It’s an irritation, but it was free, you know?

And I apparently only need to wait a few more weeks for Pardus 2009 to come out, which apparently has these improvements:

Latest stable release of KDE family version 4.2.4 is available with enhancements for Pardus. Pardus 2009 Beta comes with many new features of base tools PiSi and COMAR, the installation program YALI, Pardus manager family and KAPTAN. The new version contains up to date packages like KDE 4.2.4, Linux kernel 2.6.30_rc8, OpenOffice.Org 3.1.0.6, Mozilla Firefox 3.5 RC1, Gimp 2.6.6, Xorg 1.6.2pre, Python 2.6.2 and many more in just one CD. (From the main Pardus site)

Pardus also has the benefit of feeling swifter than XP; I get less hiccups with it than I was having with XP, but to be fair, I have far fewer things installed at this moment.  We’ll have to see if that makes a difference as I play with it some more.  One thing I know for certain, though, is that I feel like I could use Pardus every day if I wanted, and I think that’s saying an awful lot.

Is it 100% Perfect?

No.  But, after spending all day trying to get Fedora installed on my laptop, I’m happy to report that it’s 95% awesome.  And it’s hella faster than running off a live CD.  Right now, I’m running Fedora 9, installed on my laptop, in its own partition, and it’s FAST.  I chose the 64-bit install, which I’ve read perhaps doesn’t really do that much for me.  But I bought this laptop a couple of years ago because it had a 64-bit processor, and dammit, I’m going to do something with it! Anyway, likely due to the fact that there’s hardly anything installed, from power on to login, it’s probably, what, 90 seconds or so?  Maybe less?  That’s a far sight better than my bloated XP installed.  Even after I uninstalled all the bloat I could.  Anyway, what a nice experience.

Are there problems?  Yes.  Screen resolution continues to be an issue.  I get 1600×1050 on my external monitor, but I also get the same thing on my 1280×800 laptop screen, which obviously isn’t cool.  If I try to turn off my lappy’s monitor, the external monitor actually shuts off.  Also, Fedora thinks my external is only 19″, when it’s 20″, and it’s not like size matters, but… And I haven’t tried to deal with my external devices, like my printer, my external HD, my external DVD burner, or my webcam…

Cool things tonight, though: sound’s there; wireless mouse and keyboard work flawlessly (haven’t tried multimedia capability yet) (even scroll wheel works pretty well); bootup is super fast; GUI is already way slicker than XP; Firefox works no problem; satisfaction of knowing that I am doing something on a non-MS rig is waaaaayyyy high.  But, as I’ve spent pretty much the entire day doing this, and it’s almost midnight, I’m calling it quits for the night, and will continue to play with it tomorrow.  I’m looking forward to seeing if I can get OpenOffice 3.0 installed and then duplicate my table of authorities “hack” using Linux, and moving one step closer to being an open source office.

Table of Authorities and OpenOffice–How-To

This morning I was griping about operating systems, and I mentioned that I would like to use Linux, but OpenOffice seemed a limiting factor in that decision, because of the near impossibility of easily generating a Table of Authorities. Well, after playing around with the latest version, 3.0, available here, I can firmly state that I have generated a Table of Authorities, and it wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be. It’s not quite as simple as using Word or WordPerfect, but, let’s be honest, it’s not like those programs were really that easy to learn and use; we’re just more used to them.  The “How-To” is after the jump.

Read more “Table of Authorities and OpenOffice–How-To”

The Redmond Underdogs?

Well, I guess it’s happened.  The conventional wisdom in the OS world appears to be that Apple has truly won the OS wars.  Not from a distribution standpoint, of course, but from a “who makes the best OS?” standpoint.  (Of course, Apple fans will say that this has been the case since before OSX came about, but I would definitely not agree with that.  In fact, I would say that it was only after Apple decided to use Intel that the true power of OSX was apparent; PowerPC chips were pretty pitiful.  Would I have preferred Apple use AMD?  Yup, but you can’t have everything you want in life.)

Anyway, my point was that Vista has been a marketing failure, and a technological disappointment.  There are things under the hood in Vista that make it more than Windows XP SP4, but they are incremental changes that didn’t really change the way that people interact with the computer, the way that using OSX is such a change.  And the new “features” in Vista, such as always asking if you really want to do that, are just annoying as hell.  (Of course, if you’re running an aggressive firewall on your machine, you essentially get asked that question all the time, too, so….)  So, Vista as a brand is gone:  “Microsoft introduced what it said would be a slimmer and more responsive version of its Windows operating system on Tuesday, while unceremoniously dropping the brand name Vista for the new product.”  So sayeth the New York Times.  And the tone of the article definitely suggests the folks in Redmond have essentially conceded the best-OS argument, and now see themselves as the underdogs:

Mr. Sinofsky took the stage and issued an apology of sorts for the problems and frustrations associated with Windows Vista. He said the company had listened to and was responding to the feedback.

“We got feedback from reviews, from the press, a few bloggers here and there, oh, and some commercials,” he said, with a nod to a lengthy Apple advertising campaign that has mercilessly poked fun at Microsoft’s woes.

I don’t know if Windows 7 is going to be any good.  I happen to not mind Vista all that much, where I’ve worked with it, but it isn’t very interesting.  By the same token, I’m not that big a fan of OSX–it’s pretty and all, but there’s just something about it that doesn’t satisfy me, though if the OS were sold on its own, without being tied to the hardware, I might be tempted because of BootCamp and/or Parallels.  I’d be really interested in Linux distros–and since I don’t really do much gaming on my PC, that’s an option that could work for me–but there’s one thing that would be much more difficult if I went that route: having to use OpenOffice, which is a really good program in so many respects, but there’s one crucial flaw.  Do you know how difficult it is to make a Table of Authorities in OpenOffice, and how easy it is in Word?  From what I’ve seen, there may be a way to do it using the bibliographic function, but I don’t think it’s the same thing.  The best thing would be a triple-boot system where I could play with all three whenever I wanted.

Update:  I figured out how to do a Table of Authorities in OpenOffice. The How-To is here.