Migration to LinuxI switched to Linux after using Windows for ten years. The reasons for my move to linux are described in this article SUSE 9.0 -- a desktop review
I decided to try a completely free and open source Operating System to do my everyday tasks....This small review has been done during evenings while watching TV or chatting on MSN. I have been taking notes on my notebook while playing with SUSE. I hope that this may convince you to give SUSE or Linux in general a try.
Your Linux experience will vary depending on the hardware you use (and the availability of drivers for that hardware). This is my test system.
Mainboard Nvidia Nforce 2 ASUS A7VN8X deluxe|
2 integrated ethernet card
6 USB - 2 Firewire
On Board soundcard
Harddisk IBM 120Go UDMA 133 (primary master)
Harddisk IBM 80Go UDMA 133 (primary slave)
CDR/RW 16x IDE noname
Geforce FX 5600 256Mb MyVivo
Athlon XP 1700
overclocked at 3200 with watercooling
512Mb DDR Dual Channel mode PC3200 (new)
SUSE Linux 9.0 and the KDE 3.1.4 desktop
All these Screenshot have been created with KSnapshot. Finding this application was quite easy (although it may be buried in the menu under a lot of other entries). You can locate it under Utilities -> Desktop -> KSnapshot. I must admit that even with the huge number of shipped applications, SUSE has done a good sorting job in this menu. Of course you must know what you want to acomplish before choosing the program to do it with.
I browsed the documentation of KSnapshot but did not find any
shortcuts/hotkeys to trigger the screenshot....Naively, I 've tried the
magic windows key combination, ALT-PRTSC or PRTSC, but it does not
work....so I decided to search on google.
"ksnapshot shortcut" give me the answer, CTRL-SHIFT-S which is documented in the "KDE-cvs-digest" as a "backdoor".
I see here the potential for some more documentation :-)
Setting the resolution of screen
To change the resolution of the screen I used YAST. Using YAST requires you to switch to root mode. I was quite impressed by the list of available monitor drivers (I have a SyncMaster Samsung 191N) but was sad to see that mine was not on the list (the 181 version was though...). I decide to browse through the list of available brands, searching for a generic driver like in windows advance control panel. Bingo there is a "->LCD" monitor section! Restart the desktop engine (X server) by logging out and that's done. It seems that there is always a solution to problems with Linux, all you have to do is to search a little bit. This is good because _you can only become a better user_...
Since I have installed SUSE in a multi boot system, in Kexplorer (both a browser and a file manager and... see section below) not all windows drives are visible in the /mount directory like on any other linux system but grouped in a /windows/ This disturbed me for about 10 seconds but was no real problem in the end.
As default you can not write on NTFS drive (Note kernel 2.6 should support full read/write operation on NTFS), so I decide to activate this feature since SUSE 9.0 supports it (SUSE brings some new features from kernel 2.6 back to 2.4.21 like 64-bit support, journaling file system, improved security, low latency scheduling, power management for notebooks and improvments in the sound-system architecture. Trying to be a good user, I started the SUSE helpCenter and searched for an article concerning NTFS..
I found the only recommendation for resizing or formatting the system should occur during installation. One solution among others is to move all data from NTFS drive (full NTFS read support) to a Linux partition then format the NTFS partition to FAT32... This can be done with Konqueror, the file manager. Even so, I prefer to have a clone of Norton Commander.
Konqueror, the default internet browser, fully supports Java, but it was not the case of the third party browser Opera. Or to be more precisely, Opera did not correctly locate the default JRE (Java Runtime Environment), so I needed to install the latest Java VM manually. Checking Konqueror settings shows that java is installed in /usr/lib/java2/bin/java.
Go to www.java.com and download the self installer (2 links are provided a .bin and a .rpm. Both files are self extracting, a little bit confusing...), I choose the .bin file and that forceed me to set the attribute of the file to "executable" (right click on file then properties) to uncompress the .bin
In linux (or indeed unix) systems, a file can only be executed, if it has its X flag set to 1.
User is the currently logged in user.
Group is a set of users, Others are ...others!
If you get a file with an extension .rpm, there are many alternatives, choose one of the 3 below you prefer.
1. Open a Terminal, log a root (type # su ) then type
>> rpm -iv filename2. You can use Konqueror and right click open with... Kpackage, a small utility, then enter root password.
3. You can use Konqueror and click directly on the rmp and YaST will start up.
Anyway, I choose one and continued my tour... In opera I changed Preferences -> Multimedia -> Java Path to /usr/lib/SunJava2-1.4.2/jre/lib/i386 and then finally java appeared on my homepage. Done!
are done through ....YaST of course,(YaST I'm still getting used to that
Choose Software -> online update to get the latest recommended patches and security fixes from one of the available SUSE servers. 15 servers are available: 13 are located in Europe and 1 in USA. The last server is a free choice, you can also define your own server. I choose 3 different servers (primary in Germany) and all were working.
Another way to be always informed about the status of possible update is to look at the SuseWatcher icon in the system tray, identical to the windows update icon. The icon color will change if an update is available on the server.
I like Opera so much that I have acquired a licence (previously for Windows and now for Linux), I have also chosen Opera under Linux and I do not regret it, even if it is not open source.
Under Internet -> Chat you can find a lot of tools installed as default like:
- Gaim,Kopete, gnomeICU which are multi protocol instant messaging,
(I decide to choose Kopete, but I will try all others in the future)
- Or some specifics application related to specific protocol:
- KVIrc, KSirc, XChat IRC (IRC)
- KXicq2 (ICQ)
- others Kinkatta, Kit, Konversation
A set of interesting plugins is provided as default: encryption, emoticons, history of messages, web presence (upload your IM status to a homepage or a server)...A lot of features, but Webcam and Whiteboard capabilities are still missing. For sure there will be a plugin soon or at least a GNU tool for this somewhere in SUSE
For me, Instant Messaging is ok and I can live with Kopete.
mp3 and audio content
Using Konqueror, I tried to locate my favorites mp3 directory in order to
launch some mp3s, XMMS starts as default. I've heard that this player is
quite good, the default skins is based on SUSE colors, mainly green with
a chameleon (see pic), This skin is acceptable for a user but not for
someone who has already use Winamp's MMd3 or EMP skin (but this is a
personal preference). I loaded google to see if there is something else to download.
The official homepage is http://www.xmms.org/skins.php but skins section is down (after a disk crash but it will reopen). Winamp skins seems to be incompatible with XMMS and there is no converter available
Viewing files using Konqueror
Konqueror is the default file manager and web browser. It is a central
application in the KDE desktop. It has a lot of functionnalities (some
people may say too much), and its own control panel.
Viewing pictures with it is "slow" (dir has 26 pictures, mean size is 80kb) and it took several seconds (I am not comparing to Windows thumbnails feature, but with ACDsee). Entering twice in the directory does not create additional performance loss, since images are cached (default cache size is set to 1Mb) Windows, ACDsee and others tools use the same tricks.
Hovering over pictures and files create a autozoom...this is a nice feature (working with txt file, configuraton, pdf) and is fast, during the build of a directory, the auto zooming display some strange result (especially if you have different file type like pdf, txt, jpg all together in one directory), but it is working and has not crashed during the past 10 days (some people might say I'm just lucky)
|Contextual menu||Hovering over images|
|Hovering over file||Konqueror settings, hierachical panel due
to huge number of options.
- I still prefer a Norton Commander (because of the dual panel), so I am hunting on internet and found XNC 5.0 but no precompiled rpm for SUSE. this oblige me to compile the source code...
- Path to file is difficult to keep in mind (mainly because there is no more drive letter, I only need some practice...), but you can define favorites
|My first compilation of a package|
Source code tarball installation must be done under root user:
PS: If you have troubles compiling XNC try run
Midnight Commander is a clone of Norton Commander running in a terminal (just type mc)
USB support (Key)
I tried to mount a USB Key brand Apacer AP-MKSRU10 (impossible to find a picture on internet) which uses a Sony Memory Stick http://www.memorystick.com/ , and after a beep, the drive was recognized and in use. An icons was created on the desktop. The beep is immediate but it take sometimes several seconds till the removable drive is available. No problems, transfer rates seem to be exactly the same as under Windows 2000.
Usb key support, only the mounting name is strange
Security, password policy, settings and firewall
- Can be done in YaST, all setting are always done with the help of assistants, meaningful documentation is always displayed on the left. No need to push a button or to hover on some part of the GUI like in Windows control panel.
- NAT (Network Adress Translation) which consists of hiding the real internet adresses of your machine by hiding it behind the firewall address is supported with a checkbox
- You can block some Linux services (Webserver, Mail Server) or define your own.
- I am still searching in the YaST GUI for port forwarding capabilities and firewall rules (TCP-UDP and direction). It seems that you must deal with the config file of the firewall directly. (/etc/sysconfig/SuSEfirewall2)
|Security settings is a part of YaST||Password is limited to 8 character in DES mode.|
Firewall settings are not complete. 4 Steps is clearly not enough
Even if the first part of the setting is done with an assistant, I think that SuSE need to enhance the configuration of it's firewall. I do not want to dedicate a machine for running my firewall even if it is does not give the same security. My router is a Netgear 614 without firewall, but my other PC uses a Netgear 634g which has one...
YaST the configuration utility, but what can YaST do for You?
A lot of things, see below the table. Clicking on a subsection always start an assistant that drive the user and give him succinct but understantable explanations.
Security and Users
Don't laugh! A good screensaver is part of a personal computer even if it no more needed (TFT screens are good enough to not be damaged by a fixed picture)
- Suse has a lot of screensavers, a lot of them seem to be quite old or were created to use on low end PCs
- Those I prefer are all GL (Glide undestands OpenGl accelerated) based: Euphoria, Flux, Lament, Solar Wind
- I like Vector Balls and Particles system since I've seen them on Amiga: Flow, Particle Fountain.
- Matrix is provided as default!
Who is using emule under windows? hum? not You? so jump to the next section.
- Install Lmule
Install these 3 rpms in this order by typing rpm -ihv --nodeps filename.rpm OR clicking on rpm file in Konqueror:
wxGTK-2.4.0-1.SuSE81.i386.rpm wxGTK-devel-2.4.0-1.SuSE81.i386.rpm lmule-1.2.1-1.SuSE81.i386.rpmChange to /usr/bin and type ./lmule
- Install Emule under the Wine emulator
This does not work with all versions of emule, so it's not an option just yet
- Install http://sharedaemon.sourceforge.net
The core engine is not available, expect delivery in Q1 2004.
- Use http://xmule.org version 1.7.1
- Use http://amule.sourceforge.net It is working!!!!
2. Click on each of them in Konqueror but install first GTK librairies
3. After the install of amule.rpm, you can start it under the menu -> internet -> More Programs -> amule
You can reuse the uncomplete part and .met files from the emule windows version
- OVERNET, another P2P network under Linux
Go to www.overnet.com and download the core (an executable file running in command line mode).
You need a GUI, this one is available at http://ed2k-gtk-gui.sourceforge.net/download.shtml, it is a rpm.
Start the gui by typing /usr/bin/ed2k_gui in konqueror.
The tool asks you to locate the core, here I save it under /home/elta68/.overnet/core/overnet0.51.2
Choose a user name, a password and click "spawn core" then "go", you are now connected, share some files and here we go, download!!
CD Burning tools can be found under Multimedia - CD/DVD Burning. Two
software solutions are installed as default: K3b and cdbakeoven.
The about K3b displays the release number 0.10! This disturbs me, is it stable when you ship anything with 0.10?
- Following CD projects are possible: Audio CD, Data CD, Mixed mode CD, Video cd, eMovix CD, Data DVD, eMovix DVD. As you see everything is also present.
- What is unknown is the abilty of K3b to handle protected CDs. Of course none of us are using CloneCD, AlcoholSoft, NeroBurning to copy protected CDs... so it's not really an issue is it?
- Of course I need to burn more than 2 CD to be able to give an opinion on K3b, and I am convinced that it is easy to find some better reviews on internet. What I can say is that K3b will cover my personal use
- Creating CD is as simple as with EasyCD Creator or Nero
- For resuming, whaouuuh so much functionnality for a release 0.10 ...
DVD, multimedia, Divx, Xvid
For some obscure reasons (judical) It is not possible to play encrypted DVD on linux, if you search on http://www.google.com you will find a lot of tutorials and the librairies. Here is an extract of the manual:
"For the playback of encrypted DVD movies you need a CSS decoder and the codecs (video format files) for ac3 (Dolby Digital) and mpeg2, which we cannot enclose with SUSE LINUX for legal reasons."
Kaffeine is a GUI for Xine library (the video engine), for the same reasons, divx drivers are not shipped with SuSe (in windows it is the same...)
Use the site rpm.pbone.net to locate
the XVID drivers or use the site of packman ftp://ftp.links2linux.de/
and more precisely ftp://ftp.links2linux.de/pub/packman/suse/9.0/i586/.
I choose the XVID 0.9.2
In order to read and write compressed AVI files (indeo and divx), Linux can reuse the Win32 library of Windows Media Player 9 (wmv9dmod.dll wmvdmod.dll wma9dmod.dll wmadmod.dll wmspdmod.dll), You can find them at http://avifile.sourceforge.net/ in the file "wm9 DMO dlls", just copy them to /usr/lib/win32/ and Kaffeine will find them (Operation done as root user and do not forget to give read and execute rights on file chmod 655 *.dll). If you want a more complete package, packman has all dlls required (9.2mb) at http://packman.links2linux.de.
I encountered a lot of difficulties, and 70% of my videos were not working, I decide to install the latest xine librairies (1.1rc3) and the latest kaffeine (0.4.1) AND NOW EVERYTHING IS WORKING great, I hope that suse will provide it with an update as soon as possible...
Put the CD in the drive and it begin to play automatically.
Windows network connectivity
It seems that connecting SuSE to another remote windows desktop is not
as easy as in the windows world...I found the icon "Local
Network" but nothing was found. There is interesting documentation in
the help center "Linux in the network" speaking about Samba (a layer on
top of TCPIP) which helps to connect heterogenous computers (MAC, Windows,
Linux, others which have this layer). Microsoft implemented this layer
after pressure from IBM....:-)
What I want are the following two functions
1. How Linux can access to a Windows machine on the network/shares/printer/internet?
A lot of FAQ and Howto can be found with google, use the keywords: "linux windows smb howto"
- In Yast go to "Network Services" then "Samba Client"
and enter the name of your windows workgroup.
- Then Open a terminal and test if your client (Linux) can see some
smbclient -L ipadress(giving the computer name does not work for me, my pc is named "Raptor")
- or use Konqueror and type in the adress bar:
You can then add this share as favorite
2. How Windows can access to Linux machine on the network/shares/printer/internet?
In Yast go to "Network Services" then "Samba Server" and enter the name of your windows workgroup
On the second page, click advanced and define all share directory Windows shall see only regret, you can not set rights (read only, read write) as if you open directly the file /etc/samba/smb.conf
[myMP3] comment = My collection of MP3 browseable = yes guest ok = yes printable = no
XMMS was not able to remotely open an mp3 using a samba share, but copying the same mp3 locally works...strange.
http://www.art-events.de/systeme/texte/000621samba.htm A tutorial in German
http://www.bnro.de/~schmidjo/index.html LinNeighborhood is a tool to display the network neighbourhood like in windows explorer.
publishing, deploying web content
http://www.suse.de/en/private/support/online_help/howto/webeditor/ A very good review.
A friendly task manager
Since I was a windows user, I've been looking for a graphical program to allow process monitoring and manipulation. For chance, there is a default "task manager" coming from the base installation of KDE, it is located in System -> Monitor -> Kde System Guard
- It is a more user friendly way to monitor (and kill!) process or watch memory, cpu than in a terminal.(with command top or ps -ef | grep username)
- Only regret it can not reside in the system tray and wait there when you really need it.
- You must filter in the process table, otherwise you will see a lot of process running in the background (KDE has a lot of process alone).
A powerful calculator: HP48-HP49
I still have 3 HP calculators and was a developer on ASM-RPL.SYSRPL (from 1993 to 2000), I use EMU48 each day under windows, see Here
- X48 seems to be the answer, even if it is not so polished and rich in features as EMU48.
- A rpm can be download from http://rpm.pbone.net and roms from
(no more legal issues, roms can be copied freely)
- Again, great difficulties to locate a rpm for SuSE on internet, Redhat and Debian are available.
- No great skins are available, but it do its job
My webcam, a Philips PCV680K vesta pro
Plug and wait, after some minutes (I was playing with the mount command, maybe it can shorten the process if you log as root (type su) and try to force mount of all devices mount -a)
- In google "linux webcam philips" give me this page: http://smcc.demon.nl/webcam It seems that these is now a part of the kernel since 2.4.15
- It place an icon on the desktop "webcam" clicking on it starts Gnome meeting, you have then 7 steps to complete before using this tool.
- It only allow you to use it between other gnome meetings instance, kopete, the Instant messaging has no webcam plugin, and do not recognize that a webcam was installed.
- The desktop is user friendly, at least for me, for example: saving some of these screenshot, under the save as windows, right clicking provide a menu to create, sorting or add directory.
- The responsiveness of GUI is good if you consider that the 3D and all 2D tricks are maybe not supported by the driver. Of course this depend a lot of your graphics cards. Trying to start XP on a integrated graphic VXX chipset with shared memory is the same (was using a IBX notebook 2 years before switching to a Compaq NX7000 with a Radeon 9200...).
- It's quite good to have the possibilities to reuse some win32 librairies (codecs) because they are stable and working. A bravo to the open source community!
- Till now I have encounter no real difficulties, I must admit that www.google.com is a must, and so fast for locating a solution (on forums, tutorials, howto, personal webpage....) as long as you use the right keywords. If you are already a good user of Windows, you will have no problem to switch to SUSE 9.0 TRUST me and make a try!
- Having many rpm version for each distribution (even if you are on the same cpu plattform) or sometimes compile from the source code is the worst experience for me in linux. Only solution is to pray that someone or better SuSE provide you all rpm on a internet site (but you will always have to wait).
- Suse do not provide for legal reasons enough packages (better said packages that are a must), but it is not diffcult to locate them on other homepage (libcss for decrypting dvd for example)
Thanks for reading... more to come in the future
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