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My Ubuntu: What Changed and Why

As several people have reminded me, I did promise a quick run through of some of the changes I made following the Ubuntu upgrade. As I mentioned in that post, I have a black listed graphics card and an older machine, but I don't believe I made any of these changes due to hardware issues. *Begin rant* I do enough hacking for others people. I have ZERO desire to do it on my own machine. If something doesn't work out of the box or with only a minimum of tinkering, the chances are pretty high I'll ditch it or never try it. This means I prefer to install all of my software from either repositories or .deb installation files. There are legitimate reasons for doing this other than ease of installation.*End rant*

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Back Ups

For several years now, I've used Flyback for backups. I love the way it creates incremental backups that can be read on any machine with or without the Flyback software. However, Flyback is normally started from a prompt or a manual addition to the Application's menu and the project no longer has active development, at least not anywhere I found. I swapped to Back in Time, which is like Flyback, but it installs to Applications > System Tools without any hassle and it's automated scheduling works. (I had to use a word around to get Flyback to do this on my machine.)

Email Client

For several years, I've used Evolution, the default Ubuntu email client. I liked it, it worked, and it had the entire kitchen sink plus the pantry. The day after my update Evolution crashed three times. I installed Thunderbird with the Lightening extension for scheduling and tasks and didn't look back. (You can install both of these from the repositories. System > Administration > Synaptic The only thing it doesn't do is memos and I never used that feature anyway. I like the interface and it just plain works. (I used several extensions to integrate it with Remember the Milk. Maybe at some point, I'll get around to writing about that, but right now my life revolves around contracted writing and the next installment in the Knitter's Guide to Inkscape.

Code Editor

For a long time, I used Emacs, primarily for web coding. Then I began using the Firefox web development extension to code css. I'm a visual person and flipping between two programs so that I can see what the changes really look like seems a little absurd, but the extension wasn't quite up to level I needed it to be. After a lot of thought and some exploration, I swapped to Kompozer for intricate css work (i.e. the kind that you really need to see it while you're doing it and you'd better be looking at in something other than your head) and Bluefish for everything else. I have noticed an increase in my efficiency as a result of this change. Some of you undoubtedly believe this is sacrilege, but look at this way. At least, least I didn't change to Vim.

Dock

(In case you're wondering what a dock is, it's the handy set of application icons that Mac became famous for a few years ago. Gnome-DO + Docky takes this idea and moves it up a notch. My installation started with awn, which always seemed a little sluggish to me, probably because I was permanently swapping from one of those shiny Macs, I mentioned earlier. (No, I wasn't new to Linux. I've been using Linux either as dual-boot or on a separate machine since 2001, but I wasn't enough of a Linux die-hard to give up my little mac. The mac sort of died. (It still runs, but using it takes a lot of effort and some tape.) But the damage was done. I refuse to use anything that doesn't have a dock. The two extra clicks it takes to click applications, the category, and then program are two too many. And running them from terminal is just as much work. I'm lazy. The dock encourages my laziness in an efficient manner. Enough said. After awn, I used cairo-dock for about nine months. I was happy with it. Then a friend suggested Gnome-DO. It took me a few weeks to get used to it. Then I was hooked. Docky houses my frequently used applications and a simple windows + shift will let me run any application, search for and open any file, and, as an added bonus, it Remembers the Milk, tweets, searches my bookmarks, and it has a dictionary. I think I'm in love. Note: Gnome-DO comes with Docky, which is a Gnome-DO theme. To get to it, start Gnome-DO. Right click and go to Preferences > Appearance.

Web Browser

I still have Firefox installed and I do use it on occasion, but it is no longer my main web browser. I use Opera. It has a basic email client, bit torrent, a tea timer widget, and my daily crossword puzzle. I use it for the tea timer and the crossword. Oh, and the user agent switcher is built in, unlike Firefox which requires a plugin. While I personally despise anyone who says we only support IE and Firefox on computers running Mac and Windows, these sites are sometimes a necessary evil. I'll lie to them in a heartbeat. 99% of the time, everything works. This does bring me to another change. Most of my blog posts we're written using the ScribeFire extension. I swapped to Bilbo. (ScribeFire always seemed to make my Firefox a little unstable (probably due to a conflict with another extension). So even though I resisted this change at first, Bilbo's working out better for me. (Bilbo is technically a KDE app, but I've had no problems installing and running under Gnome exactly like I would any other application. Like Back In Time, it appears to be under active development.)

VMWare to VirtualBox

I heard VirtualBox was faster. I tried it. On my machine, it is so I swapped. I use it to test sites with Internet Explorer and to run BitNami virtual stacks for an experiment I'm currently working on. I'm also toying with the idea of swapping distros (again). I'm currently working my way through Debian, but I don't see any advantage to making the swap as of this writing. A quick note about BitNami, installing Drupal on XAMPP (the old version because the new one uses the wrong version of php) took me about 40 minutes from the time I downloaded it until I finished the basic installation. This is not including the configuration tasks that you have to do after the basic install. Using a BitNami Native LAMP stack and Drupal module. I had a working localhost Drupal installation in a little under 5 minutes. Even though I've since swapped to a virtual machine for this project, I'm sure you can see the why I like the concept behind BitNami. This brings me to a soapbox moment. If you're encouraging someone to swap to Linux or are thinking about making the swap yourself, install VirtualBox on their (or your) computer and download the distro you're thinking about using. Install it on the virtual machine and play with it for a while before you partition your hard drive or wipe out your existing operating system. Find out if you (or they) can live with the restrictions of Linux (and believe me, there are almost as many restrictions as there are freedoms). Your favorite Windows programs may run perfectly under WINE or Crossover Office, but there's also a chance that they won't. Find out beforehand and get some hands on experience with the alternatives. Now, before this post runs away from me, I'm stepping off the soapbox.

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Inspirations For This Post

https://www.fitteddoors.co.uk - Your pictures ended up being amazing!

Posted in Home Post Date 12/14/2016


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