Saturday, 3 November 2012

A Weekend and Two Days of Pain

Well last weekend I decided to make the leap and install Xubuntu 12.10. I will have to say Xubuntu installed like a treat. It is remarkable quick and responsive and was a pleasure to use.

I did customise it a bit though to get it to my liking. One of the things I did replace was Thunar with Nautilus. Thunar is nice and has some good features but it is also lacking in many other areas. One of the annoying things was that it lacked a feature to trust an executable file such as a .jar file. It was also not quite so easy to share files across the network. So this is why I had to go for Nautilus.

Another change I had to make was to remove the bottom panel and I replaced this with Docky which worked like a charm, although it did occasionally seem to crash but I think that was related to what came later.

The third change I made was to install GnomeDo which replaced the functionality of the Unity Dash which I really liked. I then installed all of my other software via the Ubuntu Software Centre which made life a doddle.

Xubuntu worked really well for me and as a desktop for productivity it is great, however the pain came when I went to install an AMD Graphics driver. Ubuntu 12.04 offered to install the driver for me but Xubuntu 12.10 did not. I thought this was initially a thing with Xubuntu but I later discovered it was not.

So I first downloaded the .run file from AMD's website and went to install the driver. After I had rebooted my screen it was set to the wrong resolution and registered that my monitor was running at 0 Hz. I found a way to uninstall this, after doing a bit of research and when I rebooted the screen was back to normal. So I decided to download the driver directly from the Ubuntu Software Centre. Again on the reboot the same thing happened. I once again uninstalled it and after a reboot installed a version of the driver which I had with Ubuntu 12.04. The exact same thing happened.

I did find that I could play Minecraft without the additional driver, however performance was poor and if I wanted to play a more intense game then I would need a dedicated 3D graphics driver. So after wasting a good part of my afternoon and evening on it I decided to try out another OS.

The choice I went for was OpenSuse 12.2 with the KDE desktop. Again the install was great and after booting up I removed all the fancy effects. Although KDE takes up more memory than XFCE I found that once I had removed the fancy effects it was pretty much as fast to use as XFCE would be.

I thought to myself so far, so good. I also found that I could install the latest driver for my graphics card without a problem. I also installed the Java run time so that I could then run Minecraft. Oddly enough I found that the .jar file would throw an error and when I ran this through the terminal I could see what the error was. After doing further research on this I could not find a fix that worked for me. By this stage I had wasted another afternoon and evening.

Again with OpenSuse running KDE was a wonderful desktop if I was just using it as a straightforward work environment, however I want my Minecarft! So I decided I would try the latest Ubuntu 12.10 and thought that it could not fail me. Sadly I was wrong.

Ubuntu 12.10 installed without a problem and when I booted up into the Unity interface I really liked the looks of it. I have to admit that I really like some of the small tweaks that the Ubuntu team had done since 12.04. Sadly though my time with Ubuntu 12.10 was met with more pain as I tried to install the AMD graphics driver. I found it suffered with the same problem as Xubuntu which to be honest did not come to me as a huge surprise given that Xubuntu is Ubuntu but just running the XFCE desktop pretty much.

I will have to say that the Ubuntu community are superb and there is a lot of support there. Sadly though time was ticking on and I needed to do something. By now it was Monday evening and I was stuck to know what to do next. I waited for a day and by Wednesday I decided I needed to do something. What I decided would be heretical in the eyes of the Linux community in general.

You see at work I use Windows 7 and with the advent of Windows 8 coming out I realised that I could be supporting customers using Windows 8 in the near future. Now granted I do not support Windows but I need to know my way around it. With Windows 8 being so different I thought that I would need to get to grips on how it works, so that I do not appear to be like an idiot to my customers. I already have Windows 7 on another hard drive which I sometimes use for games. It would only cost me £25 to upgrade. So taking in consideration the trouble that I have had and the practicality of having Windows 8 for work reasons I decided to upgrade to it. I ended up formatting my Linux partition to NTFS as well.

I have not used it too much but all I can say so far is that it is by far the best Windows OS I have used. Granted it takes a little getting use to but since I have used so many different environments in the past I am fairly use to change.

I will have to add though this is not to say that the Linux OS' are rubbish as I still have 5 machines that run different flavours of Linux and I have had no problems with them. Just for now though I will be sticking with Windows 8 on my main computer.