Author Topic: Making the switch.  (Read 1577 times)

BROJ

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Making the switch.
« on: March 09, 2009, 11:35:42 pm »
I'm making the move from Vista to Ubuntu 8.10; Vista has just lost it's appeal. There are a few reasons why I've decided to move: I don't play too many PC games (with emulation being the only exception), so I don't need the most up-to-date video drivers; for every emulator I use Windows-side, there is a Linux equivalent; what applications I do use that are Windows-only (Photoshop, Winamp, etc.) can easily be run through Wine; and generally I feel I've gotten complacent with Windows by not being forced to learn enough -- I realize Ubuntu isn't the best distro to this end, but still...

So, what are your thoughts? Any advice as I make the move?

Radical_Dreamer

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Re: Making the switch.
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2009, 02:27:15 am »
Do you have any experience with Linux? Ubuntu comes with Gnome as the default desktop. If you like KDE better, Kubuntu comes with that as the default desktop. Also, Launchy is apparently now available for Linux; I find that program very helpful on Windows.

BROJ

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Re: Making the switch.
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2009, 02:36:40 am »
Do you have any experience with Linux? Ubuntu comes with Gnome as the default desktop. If you like KDE better, Kubuntu comes with that as the default desktop. Also, Launchy is apparently now available for Linux; I find that program very helpful on Windows.
Nope, this is my first time using any Linux distro. However, I have used a Unix terminal a number of times before, and I don't mind using a CLI.

What are the notable differences between KDE and Gnome that you've noticed -- what makes either ostensibly better than the other in your opinion?
« Last Edit: March 10, 2009, 02:38:48 am by BROJ »

Uboa

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Re: Making the switch.
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2009, 02:50:23 am »
I have no problem with the gnome desktop that comes with ubuntu, even though I used to use strictly KDE before.  It's a solid distro, and I've seen great reviews of the latest release, Intrepid Ibex.

There are some hardware support issues with most Linux installations, but if you're lucky enough to happen to be using a Dell most of those could be smooth sailing if you go with Ubuntu.  A lot of Dell's choice hardware is supported on Ubuntu now because they have a little "thing" going on.

As far as linux experimentation in general goes:  If you can either dual boot or test your linux OS on a spare box you have lying around, it's better to get a feel that way then to switch to using -just- linux cold turkey.  Also, get a feel for Wine, the windows "emulator" in case you can't live without some windows apps.

I'll be happy to try to answer any other questions you've got.  Good luck with it!

Edit:  On differences between gnome and kde (because I realize I didn't answer the question before!):  Gnome is an interesting interface.  Think XP with two bars -- a task bar and a programs bar.  It seems a little more user friendly in that it spreads out the usually condensed information in the single task bar + single programs menu interface.  KDE, on the other hand, is very XP-like in that it has the single taskbar interface going on. 

There are programs that are "for" gnome or "for" kde, but they can be interchanged pretty easily.  I use KDE software on my gnome desktop and barely notice any loss of performance.

For Ubuntu, my advice is just to stick with the Gnome desktop.  It gets the jerb done.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2009, 02:57:15 am by Uboa »

BROJ

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Re: Making the switch.
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2009, 03:20:20 am »
I have no problem with the gnome desktop that comes with ubuntu, even though I used to use strictly KDE before.  It's a solid distro, and I've seen great reviews of the latest release, Intrepid Ibex.

There are some hardware support issues with most Linux installations, but if you're lucky enough to happen to be using a Dell most of those could be smooth sailing if you go with Ubuntu.  A lot of Dell's choice hardware is supported on Ubuntu now because they have a little "thing" going on.

As far as linux experimentation in general goes:  If you can either dual boot or test your linux OS on a spare box you have lying around, it's better to get a feel that way then to switch to using -just- linux cold turkey.  Also, get a feel for Wine, the windows "emulator" in case you can't live without some windows apps.

I'll be happy to try to answer any other questions you've got.  Good luck with it!

I conveniently happen to have Dell, so that's cool.

As for experimenting -- the thing is, I've lost complete interest in Vista, and Windows in general, inasmuch as I don't even really mind giving up my 'Windows-only' apps. Windows has become too lackluster and banal, and is made even more distasteful due it's EULA(s). I guess I just want variety, a sense of adventure, when I turn on my computer -- something Windows isn't able to do. So, it isn't as much 'cold turkey' as it is 'something new' to save me from the clutches of boredom.

With that said, has anybody any recommendations on post-installation software?

Jutty

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Re: Making the switch.
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2009, 04:14:19 am »
I have no problem with the gnome desktop that comes with ubuntu, even though I used to use strictly KDE before.  It's a solid distro, and I've seen great reviews of the latest release, Intrepid Ibex.

There are some hardware support issues with most Linux installations, but if you're lucky enough to happen to be using a Dell most of those could be smooth sailing if you go with Ubuntu.  A lot of Dell's choice hardware is supported on Ubuntu now because they have a little "thing" going on.

As far as linux experimentation in general goes:  If you can either dual boot or test your linux OS on a spare box you have lying around, it's better to get a feel that way then to switch to using -just- linux cold turkey.  Also, get a feel for Wine, the windows "emulator" in case you can't live without some windows apps.

I'll be happy to try to answer any other questions you've got.  Good luck with it!

I conveniently happen to have Dell, so that's cool.

As for experimenting -- the thing is, I've lost complete interest in Vista, and Windows in general, inasmuch as I don't even really mind giving up my 'Windows-only' apps. Windows has become too lackluster and banal, and is made even more distasteful due it's EULA(s). I guess I just want variety, a sense of adventure, when I turn on my computer -- something Windows isn't able to do. So, it isn't as much 'cold turkey' as it is 'something new' to save me from the clutches of boredom.

With that said, has anybody any recommendations on post-installation software?

I hated Ubuntu. If you want something better than Vista grab Windows 7. Much less demanding.

BROJ

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Re: Making the switch.
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2009, 04:21:27 am »
Nah, I'm planning on leaving the Windows scene, if not completely, at least as my primary OS. Besides, Windows 7 doesn't look like it will bring anything significant to the table that would change my mind anyways.

BROJ

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Re: Making the switch.
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2009, 06:33:40 pm »
If anyone is privy, what is the status of Temporal Flux under WINE? If it is not functional, are there any plans to compile it for a Linux distro? I ask as I will likely need to be able to use TF before too long.

Ramsus

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Re: Making the switch.
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2009, 02:16:38 am »
You want to try getting Temporal Flux running using Mono's .NET implementation. I'll boot into Debian and test it this weekend.

Later I'll post some tips on making your life with Linux much simpler.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2009, 02:18:29 am by Ramsus »

BROJ

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Re: Making the switch.
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2009, 04:36:57 pm »
You want to try getting Temporal Flux running using Mono's .NET implementation. I'll boot into Debian and test it this weekend.

Later I'll post some tips on making your life with Linux much simpler.
Thanks for the help. I'm currently inventorying and backing up files off my HD to get ready for the switch.

Ramsus

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Re: Making the switch.
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2009, 05:34:57 pm »
The GUI on Linux, like most Unix-like operating systems, is based on the X11 protocol and its server/client model. The protocol has been around for a long time, and standardizes a lot of interesting features like network transparency (so you can run applications on another computer with the windows being drawn on your workstation), but it also lacks in a lot of areas that didn't matter when it was created (3D graphics, display hotplugging and live reconfiguration, changing screen resolutions, screen rotation and multiple monitor support, etc.). As such, a lot of extensions have cropped up over the years to handle these features.

The first real gotcha to watch out for is with dual displays. In the past, you used to use multiple graphics cards hooked up to different screens and the Xinerama extension. Nowadays, you use Xrandr with any video card that supports dual-head, and you change you screen settings using the xrandr command. Most of the open source video drivers that support Xrandr only have accelerated 2D graphics though, so unless you're using an older ATI Radeon card, you'll want to use proprietary drivers for 3D. If you have an NVidia card or an ATI card, you use their proprietary drivers and NVidia's "Twinview" or ATI's "MergedFB" extensions for dual display setup.

However, the problem with Twinview and MergedFB is that you can't load individual ICC profiles for each screen, so if you have a screen calibration tool and make custom color profiles like I do, then you'll have to use Xrandr with either an ATI card with the open source drivers for lower-performance 3D accelerated graphics, or stick to 2D graphics. Otherwise, you'll only be able to have one screen calibrated at a time.

The other thing to watch out for with dual-display setups is getting wacom graphics tablets to work correctly. Some of the options don't work as documented -- you can just set the tablet to work with one screen, but usually whichever screen is detected as screen 0 will be the one it works on. However, there's a lot of room for bugs to occur.

I had Xinerama set up with NVidia's drivers in Ubuntu so I could load ICC profiles (at the cost of no 3D graphics), and no matter what I did, the tablet would draw on half of one screen and then half of the other, skipping the center halves of both screens, but drawing in the GIMP worked as though the tablet's area were stretched over both screens, making the brush appear at a different point from the cursor.

However, as the Xrandr extension becomes the standard way of doing things, and proprietary drivers begin to implement either Xrandr or some of its color management features, these problems should disappear.

If you use wacom tablets, another gotcha to watch out for if you use anything other than Ubuntu is a resolution bug between the X11 display server and the wacom driver. This stuck around all of last year, since very few programmers and distro maintainers had any clue how tablets were supposed to work, or what kind of quality users were supposed to get in the GIMP, so when things broke and everyone started getting really wavy lines with the GIMP's ink tool, they assumed that's the way it worked and told people to just zoom in to 200% to get smooth lines. Later it turned out that the bug was due to conflicting assumptions and changes between the X.org X11 display server and the linuxwacom drivers concerning the XInput extension that made all tablets super-low resolution, killing everyone's line quality. The only distro to include patched drivers was Ubuntu, so pretty much every 2008 version of every other distro has broken wacom tablet support.


If you stick to one screen and don't use a drawing tablet though, you should have an easy time, especially with Ubuntu. If you have a color calibration tool like the huey Pro or a Sypder, you can even do color management using Argyll CMS.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2009, 05:37:13 pm by Ramsus »

Ramsus

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Re: Making the switch.
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2009, 02:05:23 pm »
Turns out there's a big gaping Xinput/core pointer coordinate bug in Gtk that crops up whenever you use Xinerama and devices like wacom tablets. Fortunately, someone posted a working patch a few years ago, but unfortunately, the fix never made its way into the actual GTK project source code.

Also, looks like Temporal Flux won't work in Mono, since one of the libraries it uses makes use of some Win32 API-specific stuff. The .NET framework and WINE still have issues, so that route wouldn't be too pretty.

You might take a look at VirtualBox. If you have a newer processor, it can run a completely virtualized hypervisor that provides pretty much direct hardware access to the OS running under it, so you won't lose much performance. It's also a bit easier to use than KVM. Just install a stripped down copy of Windows XP on a 5GB disk image, and use that for TF.

Radical_Dreamer

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Re: Making the switch.
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2009, 02:29:00 pm »
Is VirtualBox appropriate for gaming? Mind you, I'm not talking about first person shooters with all the settings maximized, but I'm thinking of using a Linux host when I build my next computer, but I'm worried that for something like StarCraft II (when it comes out) a virtual OS won't be able to have the performance necessary to play with decent settings and framerate.

Ramsus

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Re: Making the switch.
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2009, 03:38:55 pm »
I wouldn't use VirtualBox for serious 3D gaming. You'll only have a mere fraction of your video memory in the virtualized OS, and I think it only guarantees OpenGL 3D acceleration.

On the other hand, WINE is pretty solid with DirectX 9 stuff -- I actually played through all the Half Life games and Half Life 2 using Crossover Games, which is a tweaked version of wine aimed at gaming. When stuff works, it works really well, but I suggest having a decent NVidia card if you want good performance.

Unfortunately, as more and more new games use .NET and DirectX 10 features, WINE compatibility will start hurting until the WINE developers have had time to catch up.

Uboa

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Re: Making the switch.
« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2009, 04:31:03 am »
Wine update:  Poser 7 -almost- works well in the latest wine.  The poser 6 features run decently, but it started misbehaving when I tried implementing the new hair features.

It's also uncomfortably slow.

Looks like I'll have to pay attention to my windows partition after all.