Linux Mint And My First 45 Days Reviewed

On Wednesday, the calender on my phone alerted me that it had been 30 days since I wrote my 15 day review of Linux Mint. So for the past 48 hours or so, I have been trying to decide what I should write about. Last night I emailed reader Richard Krohn asking him how his adventure with Linux Mint was proceeding. He stated the following:

“I haven’t used it much. Got everything working ok, but once again critical applications are keeping me from using it full-time.  I need to have the time to set aside and learn the Linux replacement applications. But that is really time-consuming.  It’s just a matter of a lot of work, or rather, organization.  I have to decide what applications I use most often and find and learn the Linux equivalent.  I am starting a list of applications I really need and some simply cannot be replaced.  There is no substitute.  That’s why I was interested in VirtualBox, or VMware.  I will have to keep an instance of XP as a guest OS.”

So why am I sharing what Richard has stated about his experience? Because of his final statement:

“The only question I’m asking myself now is if it is worth the effort.  I probably need another Windows screw-up to motivate me.  It’s a lot of work.”

Yes, it is a lot of work. One does have to decide for him or herself if it is worth the effort. Also one needs to determine if Linux Mint has the available software to replace the software usually used with Windows.

So how has the experience been for me? It has actually been easy. Easy because I have found that my requirements for Linux or Windows are actually minimal — the basic software that either came with Mint, or that I upgraded and installed myself. The software I added were the additional applications for Open Office, GnuCash to replace Quickbooks, Google Earth, and a few games to entertain myself when boredom strikes.

Firefox is handling my browsing needs nicely and Thunderbird has my emails covered for three accounts.

But I have covered all of this in my one-week and two-week reviews. So what is new after using Linux Mint for another 30 days? Not much. It just works.  In fact I have been using Mint steadily for six weeks and rarely boot into Windows 7. But, like Richard mentioned, I have one piece of software I need in Windows that is not offered for Linux.

I am also going to try a VirtualBox or VMware, but, also like Richard, this will be when I have the time and energy.

Because of this, I won’t be reporting back on Mint for about five months. I’ll set my calender as a reminder.

Comments welcome.

OpenOffice – Could It Be Right For You?

I have been using Microsoft Office for about 15 years and have always found it a very good software product. Yes, there have been some minor issues, but for the most it has been a very useful products. On the Windows side of my system I continue to use Microsoft Office 2007 Ultimate and thus far I have enjoyed the product. But since I am also booting into Linux Mint, I have also used OpenOffice, which is the default product that comes with Mint.

I am using OpenOffice version 3.2, which, as I stated, was the default that came with Mint. OpenOffice is a complete suite of products that is very similar to what Microsoft Office offers. Though the product names are different, the Calc spreadsheet is similar to Excel, Writer is similar to Word and so forth. The basic functions are the same. Notice the word basic. Because using OpenOffice is basically the same as Microsoft Office, so the learning curve I found was minimal.

There was one thing I discovered about myself and my relationship with either Office products. I have changed how I use Office over the years. There was a time I used mail merge, spreadsheets, and made presentations. But that is no longer the case. I basically use Word for creating documents which require minimal functions. I also find that I use .pdf documents the most for receiving newsletters from other organizations.

I copied over all of my Word documents from Windows 7 to Mint. OpenOffice had no problem opening any of them. In fact, OpenOffice also allowed the saving of the document in either Microsoft Office file formats or its own file format. Compatibility for me wasn’t an issue.

The best way to find out how well OpenOffice.org 3.2 can work for you is to download it and give it a try. Versions are available at the link below and versions are available for 32 bit and 64 bit Windows, Linus, OS X, and also for Solaris.

After using OpenOffice, along with Mint, I discovered that OpenOffice has everything I needed. Your mileage may vary.

Oh, I almost forgot the best part. OpenOffice is free. :-)

Comments welcome.

Download OpenOffice from here.

Linux Mint 10 Reviewed – Part #2 – It Is Only Getting Better

This is a followup review to Part #1 which can be found here

In my quest to make Linux Mint 10 by sole operating system, I needed to bring over two contact lists into Mozilla Thunderbird, which is the default email software installed with Mint 10. I have been using Mozilla Thunderbird on my Windows 7 system and I found that I like T-bird very much. I exported both of my contact lists from Outlook 2007 and T-Bird and copied the files over as .csv format. Before importing the files, I opened both and trimmed down the majority of fields, since I just wanted the names and email addresses of my contacts. The import went well and after merging both contact lists, I had the names and email addresses I needed.

Next, I transferred my entire Documents folder over from Windows to Mint. It was 281MB of stuff. It is funny. Once I looked at the stuff you have accumulated a good cleaning was in order. It reminded me of Hoarders. We love to keep the gunk and junk that we may need someday but rarely do. The first thing I needed to do was open two .pdf documents and one document created in Microsoft Word 2007. No problems here. The .pdf documents were handled by Document Viewer, Word documents were handled by Open Office Writer [no formatting issues were noted] and .jpg pictures were handled by Eye of Gnome. There may be better software out there but these worked just fine.

What also impressed me was that Open Office Writer asked if I wanted to keep the original .docx extension or convert it over to .odt. Either way I was able to view all of my documents without issue.

When you use the built-in Update Manager software, make this change. Open the software, go to Edit, Software sources. You will see a listing for Download From. From the drop down menu select other. You will be presented with a list of servers near you with one being recommended. I chose the recommend server and it has been working great. The auto update feature works fine and thus far the updates have not caused any issues.

Another nice feature that I have not noticed before in any Linux version I have previously used . When you pop in a disk, CD, DVD, DVD DL the system provides an icon indicating what the disk is. Even if it is a -R or +R. No biggie, just a nice feature. :-)

Last evening I had received a DVD PowerPoint Presentation and using Brasero was able to make an exact copy of the disk. I also tried a little experiment using Brasero. I took one of my own DVD Movie disks that I bought and tried to make a copy of the movie. I copied the disk as an image to the system and then burned the image to a dual-layer disk. It worked just fine. Before I go on any further, I do not condone nor recommend violating copyrighted material. I just wanted to see if it could be done using the software that came with Mint by default.

This morning I received an email for a posting over at Scots Newsletter Forum. It was a link to Dedoimedo with an article ‘And the best distro of 2010 is ….” At first I was a little disappointed since no where is the review was there any mention of Mint. But at the end of the article was this:

And the GRAND winner is …

You haven’t seen it listed above, but it would feature under the glorious title of best all-arounder. And that would have to be Linux Mint. While it did underperform in the spring, the autumn release is just splendid. It’s a perfect 10 for the tenth release.

Linux Mint Julia has the best overall combination of ingredients. The best desktop theme and menu, the best combination of programs, the best package management. It’s the most usable distribution out there, and it’s just a pleasure to run.

The article goes on to state that while Mint is based on Ubuntu, the developers have done something that I believe is worth mentioning. They have included software that makes it easy for the new Linux user to use and more importantly understand. So simple is the GUI and features included with Mint, that I was actually able to put software icons and what is called the panel aka in Windows taskbar. This gives my desktop the clean look I like with no icons visible.

There was also this statement:

Everything works out of the box, every little detail is carefully placed and designed, there’s practically nothing bad you can think of.

This is the real beauty of Mint. It works.

I haven’t used Microsoft Windows 7 for well over a week and I am not missing it at all. What I am enjoying is a fast system that is not bogged down by anti-virus software and other junk. Is there a difference in RAM usage? Yes there is. I would normally use about 1.5G to 1.8G of RAM running Windows while using Firefox and Thunderbird. That has dropped to about 500MB.

Comments welcome

Source

Linux Mint 10 Reviewed – Part #2 – It Is Only Getting Better

This is a followup review to Part #1 which can be found here

In my quest to make Linux Mint 10 by sole operating system, I needed to bring over two contact lists into Mozilla Thunderbird, which is the default email software installed with Mint 10. I have been using Mozilla Thunderbird on my Windows 7 system and I found that I like T-bird very much. I exported both of my contact lists from Outlook 2007 and T-Bird and copied the files over as .csv format. Before importing the files, I opened both and trimmed down the majority of fields, since I just wanted the names and email addresses of my contacts. The import went well and after merging both contact lists, I had the names and email addresses I needed.

Next, I transferred my entire Documents folder over from Windows to Mint. It was 281MB of stuff. It is funny. Once I looked at the stuff you have accumulated a good cleaning was in order. It reminded me of Hoarders. We love to keep the gunk and junk that we may need someday but rarely do. The first thing I needed to do was open two .pdf documents and one document created in Microsoft Word 2007. No problems here. The .pdf documents were handled by Document Viewer, Word documents were handled by Open Office Writer [no formatting issues were noted] and .jpg pictures were handled by Eye of Gnome. There may be better software out there but these worked just fine.

What also impressed me was that Open Office Writer asked if I wanted to keep the original .docx extension or convert it over to .odt. Either way I was able to view all of my documents without issue.

When you use the built-in Update Manager software, make this change. Open the software, go to Edit, Software sources. You will see a listing for Download From. From the drop down menu select other. You will be presented with a list of servers near you with one being recommended. I chose the recommend server and it has been working great. The auto update feature works fine and thus far the updates have not caused any issues.

Another nice feature that I have not noticed before in any Linux version I have previously used . When you pop in a disk, CD, DVD, DVD DL the system provides an icon indicating what the disk is. Even if it is a -R or +R. No biggie, just a nice feature. :-)

last evening I had received a DVD PowerPoint Presentation and using Brasero was able to make an exact copy of the disk. I also tried a little experiment using Brasero. I took one of my own DVD Movie disks that I bought and tried to make a copy of the movie. I copied the disk as an image to the system and then burned the image to a dual-layer disk. It worked just fine. Before I go on any further, I do not condone nor recommend violating copyrighted material. I just wanted to see if it could be done using the software that came with Mint by default.

This morning I received an email for a posting over at Scots Newsletter Forum. It was a link to Dedoimedo with an article ‘And the best distro of 2010 is ….” At first I was a little disappointed since no where is the review was there any mention of Mint. But at the end of the article was this:

And the GRAND winner is …

You haven’t seen it listed above, but it would feature under the glorious title of best all-arounder. And that would have to be Linux Mint. While it did underperform in the spring, the autumn release is just splendid. It’s a perfect 10 for the tenth release.

Linux Mint Julia has the best overall combination of ingredients. The best desktop theme and menu, the best combination of programs, the best package management. It’s the most usable distribution out there, and it’s just a pleasure to run.

The article goes on to state that while Mint is based on Ubuntu, the developers have done something that I believe is worth mentioning. They have included software that makes it easy for the new Linux user to use and more importantly understand. So simple is the GUI and features included with Mint, that I was actually able to put software icons and what is called the panel aka in Windows taskbar. This gives my desktop the clean look I like with no icons visible.

There was also this statement:

Everything works out of the box, every little detail is carefully placed and designed, there’s practically nothing bad you can think of.

This is the real beauty of Mint. It works.

I haven’t used Microsoft Windows 7 for well over a week and I am not missing it at all. What I am enjoying is a fast system that is not bogged down by anti-virus software and other junk. Is there a difference in RAM usage? Yes there is. I would normally use about 1.5G to 1.8G of RAM running Windows while using Firefox and Thunderbird. That has dropped to about 500MB.

Comments welcome.

Source – Dedoimedo

SlideBurner

Even though we may make a lot of jokes at the expense of PowerPoint, the truth is that slide show presentations are still just as important as ever as long as they’re informative and engaging. In fact, the people who take the greatest number of cheap shots at PowerPoint are sometimes the very ones who rely on it the most. Slide show presentations aren’t going away anytime soon, but the way in which they’re presented and shared is evolving. A presentation in this format is traditionally given live and in person in front of a group of people, but with online services such as SlideBurner, presentations can also be an online affair.

Once you’ve created your PowerPoint or OpenOffice.org presentation, using SlideBurner is as simple as uploading your presentation and selecting who can see it (public or private). As soon as the presentation is in the system, you can then navigate through it using their online interface that resembles YouTube. All of the associated social aspects of rating, commenting, sharing, and embedding are also included. If you decide to place your presentations online and let others view them in this way, then you may actually forget how to present your presentations, but that’s a problem for another day.

[tags]SlideBurner, PowerPoint, OpenOffice.org, Slide Show, Presentation, YouTube[/tags]

The ODF Toolkit Project, OpenOffice.org

From an OpenOffice.org press release:

The future of OpenOffice.org extends beyond the office suite. With the creation of our new ODF Toolkit Project, which we are announcing today, we are inviting developers everywhere to take the source of the world’s leading Free and Open office productivity suite in bold new directions. These may include technologies that engage tools for collaboration, communication and content creation of every kind; tools that will complement and even transcend the already powerful productivity suite. The anchor of this new project is the OpenDocument Format (ODF), the ISO and OASIS standard format for office applications and the most flexible and adaptable format for the future.

Any application can be engineered to express its files in the ODF and any application can open and edit ODF files created by another compliant application. Vendor lock-in, in which the user must continue to use expensive and proprietary software only because the files created using it are unreadable by other applications, has been the bane of governments, businesses, and individuals for at least the last twenty-five years. With the ODF users reclaim their works and vendor lock-in is eliminated. It is for this reason that governments and businesses are looking to the ODF and OpenOffice.org. The stakes are too high.

The ODF Toolkit Project takes that freedom even further. Developers are not bound by the legacy constraints of the office suite; they will be able to more easily include ODF in their applications or create new applications that use ODF. It does not matter whether it extracts, manages, creates, or integrates information. The ODF Toolkit Project lowers the barriers to working with and implementing the ODF for all.

–The OpenOffice.org Team

About OpenOffice.org
The OpenOffice.org Community is an international team of volunteer and sponsored contributors who develop, support, and promote the leading open-source office productivity suite, OpenOffice.org. OpenOffice.org\’s leading edge software technology (UNO) is also available for developers, systems integrators, etc. to use in OpenOffice.org extensions or in their own applications.

OpenOffice.org supports the Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) OASIS Standard (ISO/IEC 26300), as well as legacy industry file formats and is available on major computing platforms in over 90 languages. OpenOffice.org software is provided under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) and may be used free of charge for any purpose, private or commercial. The OpenOffice.org Community acknowledges generous sponsorship from a number of companies. Users will obviously benefit, and almost immediately. To give just an example: The future of collaboration and communication, not to mention much of commerce, depends on applications that can exchange files without the hassle of incompatibility; the future depends on truly open and flexible standards and formats. But much of what is created today and almost all that is exchanged uses proprietary formats, effectively limiting collaboration.

With the ODF Toolkit Project, any suitable application, large or small, will find it easier to implement the ODF, allowing users to create and exchange, collaborate on or simply save their files as they please, without the fear of vendor lock-in or file obsolescence.

Developers and others interested in contributing are invited to join us now and make something new!

To learn more, go here.

[tags]openoffice.org, free office suite, open source, bill webb, bill’s web, office alternatives, open document format, ODF[/tags]

The Open CD

I’ve been playing around with a software distro called The Open CD. If you’re interested in Open Source, or perhaps in alternatives to the usual software applications, it’s a learning experience and resource that you shouldn’t pass up.

Open Source programs are freeware, but not all freeware is Open Source. In order to qualify, an application’s underlying code must be available both actually and legally for anyone who wishes to examine or modify it. Various organizations have slightly different definitions, but they all have that underlying principle in common. Some of the better-known Open Source outfits are The Gnome Foundation, The Apache Software Foundation, LiveJournal, OpenOffice.org, MozDev, and Google. (While Google isn’t totally Open Source, since it has its proprietary search algorithms to protect, it nonetheless provides access to many of its application codes, such as Google Earth, and strongly supports the O/S concept.) The basic idea is that anyone who doesn’t want to pay for software ought to be able to find something of comparable quality for free.

The Open CD is a project to distribute Open Source to the masses by allowing us to download a CD .iso file (about 650 MB) that can then be burned onto a CD to provide access to the software. (You cannot use information from an .iso directly; it must first be burned onto a CD, and then accessed in the usual manner.)
Continue reading “The Open CD”