July 03, 2002

Tux tales

It has been a struggle all right. With a crawly dial up and an internal modem the lofty aim of setting up the cute penguin as my main OS has not been a cakewalk by any means. But it has been entertaining and also very informative as to why as things stand Linux will never make it to the average Joe's desktop.

Yes, I will hear lots of howls about Mandrake and Suse, but what I am aiming here is a desktop/development environment that will at least equal what I have with my Windows 2000 setup. As an out of the box install it might be okay, but if you want to customise and use the set of tools you love having, it is a steep climb even for those people with an adventurous spirit.

This is where things stand: Very happy with mail, browsing etc....... Can pick and choose from the brilliant Opera to the okayish Mozilla to the sluggish like an ambie Konqueror browser, things are pretty much hunky dory.

Bundled software: Love Apache, love MySql, love PHP, love PostgresSql, love Perl......... I can go on and on. No, I do not use pre compiled binaries for most of the stuff. They suck and suck like bad, I want all my stuff in /usr/local dammit and not all over the damned directories.

Development tools: Zillions of them come bundled with every distro and frankly I cannot be bothered by them at all. Do not have the time or inclination to use any or most of them. But for anyone who wants them it is a dream.

Windows software: Yep, this is a major cribbing point. Some of the best software out there comes only for Windows and if you use MSN messenger to keep in touch with people, then you are in for a major troublesome ride.

To a certain extent this issue has been managed by Wine: Have managed to get Trillian running on it, so that takes care of all the IMs and I use Codeweaver's wine. My experience with it has been very good. The latest build is from February 2002 I believe, but is stable enough for me.

Aside: Everybuddy, the best integrated IM for Linux segfaults for me. Have not bothered with it ever since as I have Trillian on Wine :)

I miss my Dreamweaver. Period. Wine simply refuses to run Dreamweaver. Hand coding HTML, yes I am all for it, but no way I am going to do that on a page with more than 800 lines of code on it. Adobe's GoLive installs and runs on it, but it is so slow even on my P-IV rig with 256 megs of RAM and 32 megs on the AGP card, that even a single mouse click takes ages to make the software respond.

One major gripe I have with Linux are the RPMs, supposedly the Linux equivalent of the Windows installers. But, I am sorry to say they just do not make the cut. I prefer the source installs any given day. Combine moronic RPM's with thoughtless implementations of software really makes life one huge mess for the poor penguin trying to become the desktop star.

For instance. You want to install Nautilus, the droolable file browser for Gnome. Anything less than the Redhat 7.2 [I use 7.1] distro and the source/RPM will tell you that you need to upgrade your version of ORBit to 2.x at least coz poor package_config is lost out there trying to fish it out coz the damn thing is not installed. So you hunt down ORBit 2.x and try installing it, there comes another dependency unresolved..... you need the latest version of Linc, to install Linc you the latest version of Glibs and the tale goes on and on. And all this to install something that is supposed to make life easier for the average user. I rest my case.

Otherwise things have been very good. Following the dependency trail for Nautilus I decided to go all out for Gnome2 and its libraries, no point in installing half the packages needed for it and then to have a broken install of the older Gnome. So I have been downloading Gnome2 packages over the past week and I should be through in a week or so [Remember I am on a humble dial up that gives me a max of 12 kbps for a couple of fleeting seconds].

One of the main reasons why I want Gnome2 is because of anti-aliased fonts among other things. Yes KDE gives me that already, but somehow Gnome is faster and stabler. And going by what KDE looks with AA Gnome should be heaven as far as I am concerned.

If all of you have not been bored to death and fallen asleep on the keyboard by now, I really do admire your resilience.

Must leave now. Some other time. Now you know what has been keeping me away from these parts.