Nov 172011

One week after Fedora 16, the OpenSUSE project released its new version: 12.1. A bit strange to release 12.1 (instead of 12.0) but I am sure they had good reason(s). New features include GNOME 3.2, several cloud computing enhancements, snapper (btrfs snapshots) and Tumbleweed enhancements (rolling distribution repository)

OpenSUSE was one of the distributions that did not make the final cut in my Switching To Linux series. But like Fedora I will be keeping a close eye on this release and I will test it in the near future.

Downloads can be found on OpenSUSE has different versions available: DVD, Live Gnome, Live KDE and Network. Chose the one you like, download it and give it a try.

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Nov 082011

The Fedora Project released version 16 of their distribution today, code named “Verne”. Among the many new features are Kernel 3.1, Gnome 3.2, KDE 4.7.2, better cloud computing integration and support for Grub2.

Although Fedora 15 failed to impress in my Switching To Linux Series, I am still open minded towards all new distributions and I will test this new release shortly.

The downloads can be found on But, as always on release days, the downloads are a bit slow.  Fedora comes in many flavors, called “Spins”. So if you don’t like Gnome, you can chosse KDE, LXDE or  XFCE

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Chapter 9. When I started the testing I would have never expected that Ubuntu would be the winner. Asked for odds I would have said Arch (5), Mint (3), Xubuntu (1) and Ubuntu (1). I really liked Arch, it ran very well in a virtual machine. But on real hardware only Ubuntu could shine.

It was the only distribution that appealed to me and that I could see myself using for months. I’m sure other distributions work just fine, they just did not for me. Ubuntu had one advantage: version 11.10 was brand new and thus up-to-date.  On the other hand, since both Arch and Mint are rolling distributions they are or should have been up-to-date too.

The appeal of Ubuntu is hard to explain. It’s also very personal, just like the choice of a window manager. A large part of the choice are the looks and Ubuntu certainly has them. The functionality of Unity is a great source of discussion. For me it works, sure there are still a few minor bugs to iron out, but at least I got it running on my computer. Continue reading »

Oct 282011

Chapter 7.After all decisions made in the previous articles, we can now focus on the actual testing of the distributions. There is a lot of testing to be done, with 8 distributions in the running. However if I were to detail all setup steps for each distribution in the article, this would be one long article indeed.

So detailed setup instructions will be the subject of another series of (future) articles, for now I will focus on the general options and the differences between the distributions. All distributions will be judged on how well they meet the criteria set in the previous article: Switching to Linux: Expectations and Criteria.  In preparation of this article if have prepared 8 identical virtual machines and will install one distribution on each of them. As an install image I will use whatever the manufacturer wants me to download. Continue reading »

Oct 272011

Chapter 6.Now that we have established how we are going to set up each machine in Virtualbox and what distributions we are going to install, it is time to take a look a what my expectations are for each distribution. Because I included a wide range of possibilities, it would be unfair to compare them through a general set of parameters. Arch Linux for example is a do-it-yourself distribution and can hardly be compared with the installation comfort of a graphical installer.

This article tries to describe what I expect during the installation and what criteria I will judge by once the installation is finished. This gives me the opportunity to test all different distributions fairly. To that end, I will not use a points system, I will just take in account how good a certain distribution fulfills a certain expectation. So if a feature is not in the distribution, this will have no impact on my eventual choice. Continue reading »

Oct 262011

Chapter 5
.For this chapter of the series we’ll take a look a the virtualization setup I used for testing. I went for VirtualBox and this is the setup I used to test the distributions I selected as candidates. To keep things fair I tested one distribution at a time with the same general parameters for each virtual machine.

The hardware settings were exactly the same for all tests. Of course I did select the correct distribution in the first step of machine creation. This changes the options in the next screens to optimal values for each distribution, but I made sure that all hardware parameters where the same for all tested instances. Continue reading »

Oct 262011

Chapter 4.Over the years I have tested and used a lot of distributions. For the “Switching to Linux” article series I wanted to pick the distribution that suited my needs best. Usability was the primary concern. A close second was looks, I have always been a sucker for eye candy. Things like installation and configuration where less important.

I consider myself (fairly) experienced in Linux, having setup a good number of servers and desktops. I have been using Linux as a secondary desktop for a number of years now. So I did not expect much problems in the distribution step towards my ultimate goal: a perfect Linux desktop, suitable for everyday use both professional and private. Continue reading »

Oct 252011

Chapter 3. As discussed in the first article in this series (Switching to Linux: The Start), our first real task – after deciding to switch – is to make a list of software and functionality we really need. This should done carefully and with some reserve. The best way I have found is to work with your computer like you normally do for one week and keep a list of all programs you use and what you use them for.

The second part is to take a long, hard look at the list of software that are installed on your computer (Control Panel -> Add/Remove Programs in Windows). For each program you need to determine what it does and if you use it. If you really don’t know what an entry is for, then you probably don’t need it.

Next up you have to think about those things you do once a month or even once a year (like filling out your taxes). Do you need specific programs to accomplish these tasks? If so, do not forget to include them in your list. Continue reading »

Oct 252011

Chapter 2. Before starting this series or even before starting the switch to Linux, I did a lot of research on the internet. One of the inevitable hits on search engines are the “Top xx reasons (not) to switch to Linux” topics. For this episode of Switching to Linux I started reading up on them.

I soon realized that almost all these posts seem very polarized: both the pro and contra camps have their arguments. Most arguments make a return in each article. However, what I did not find was the middle ground. Apparently you are either against Linux or against Windows. And that is where this article comes in: I use both and will continue to do so in the future. Here are my personal reasons for doing so and not doing so.

Before listing my reasons, I have to make one thing clear. I switched to Linux on my main workstation. This means I simply shifted focus. My biggest focus is now Linux, but I still use Windows too.

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Oct 242011

Chapter 1. When I recently started thinking about buying a new computer, I wanted to realize something I had been thinking about for a long time: switching to Linux as my primary operating system.

This article is the first one in a series that describes how I replaced Windows as the primary operating system on my workstation with Linux. This series is not meant as a “look how great Linux is” vs “Windows is the root of all evil“, quite the opposite in fact. The articles are meant as a continuing story of my adventures with the Linux operating system and to document how I did things.

I will detail my reasons in a future post, but let me make one thing clear: I have nothing against Windows or Microsoft. In fact I make my living installing and maintaining mainly Windows systems. I just want to try something different and new.

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