E July Update

Another hot and humid work week is coming to an end. It’s been raining a lot, and that hasn’t cooled things off. It’s just steamy. The warm weather won’t be around for too much longer, we’ll just transition into cold and snowy soon enough.

It’s a good time to get out and about and try to enjoy the warm weather if you can. I like to have a lite weight laptop with me most of the time, but I’m not too keen on taking a very expensive one out into the somewhat harsh environment. Especially if I can get some productivity out of an older less expensive unit. Looking at the prices on the new MacBook Pro configurations makes me hesitant to upgrade my old MacBook Pro. In fact, I’ll usually take my sub $200 IdeaPad or my long in the tooth netbook. They still work, and if either gets dropped or soaked – it’s not that tragic. If I ruined a brand new $2000 laptop out in the swamp I’d probably feel a little nauseous for days – and I’d be noticeably displeased for quite some time.

Fortunately, there are still some well supported Linux Distributions that enable many users to get a lot of functionality out of older or less expensive hardware. This doesn’t mean you need to forgo any decent level of security or reliability. Ubuntu 18.04 and Mint 19 XFCE distros work quite well with lower system requirements, but I have similar results with Windows 10.

Yes, I do get a lot of usefulness out of my iPhone and I know lots of people who use their iPad as their main mobile productivity tool, but they can be a little pricey too if you’re on a limited budget. I shouldn’t leave out Chrome-books, but I don’t have a lot of experience with using them. I don’t see why I would when I can run Linux.

I’ve used the Lenovo IdeaPad 110s for over a year. I added a 32 GB micro SD card and it works great. It’s very lite and I have used it many times for trying out various distros.

At the moment I’m running the latest Mint 19 Tara. There was Grub loader issue on an earlier installation iso image, but the latest iso installed very smoothly. I have been impressed with how well even Audacity works on this laptop. Add a decent USB microphone and you have a nice little podcast production studio.

You can do a lot of the same things with just an iPhone, but I can also run Wireshark on the IdeaPad, which is kind of handy. It’s not only better for your budget to extend the life of older or less expensive laptops – it’s probably better for the environment.

The basics you may require a laptop to support are: Wifi and hardwire Ethernet. Basic command line tools including SSH and Putty Tools, Wireshark, Web Browser, Text editor, Calculating spreadsheet, Python and/or Powershell, Audacity, Skype.

Usually, all are available either in a decent Linux Distro – or available in supported repositories.

Windows basic install supports most of these requirements, including some usually available in the “Microsoft Store” – which is similar to Ubuntu’s Flagship Distro software “Store” I’m not a fan of either. You may find yourself filtering or trimming out some unwanted commercial applications.

I recommend keeping an eye on your resources – CPU and memory impact under normal operating conditions. If your system is slow responding crashes too often, then maybe it is time to upgrade – by how much will be dependent on your current and future needs, but if most of your needs are fulfilled by a web browser or at a shell prompt – you probably can get a lot done with a limited system.

Chains breaking

Breaking the Chains

Lately I have become less enchanted with Windows 10 per each update. It might be the weird mood in the air this summer. Updating an Arch based spin always feels like an improvement rather than a “HotFix” for something that needs “fixing”.

I know Linux updates are intertwined with numerous fixes, but there’s something enlightening and less mysterious about updating from a repository with “Paceman“. I sense something about Windows that feels like I have less control over my computer than I do with Linux. Aside from all the privacy and system reporting tweaks when installing Windows you are allowed to do. There are still some veiled baked in settings that you get hard coded just for you. It’s like the system is telling you what is good for you “We know what’s best for you…just check yes for every question we present you Ah ha ha”. (Overly dramatic) Windows is a good operating system, I have no doubt about that since I’ve had to learn to work with it. Of course I’ve gotten some things accomplished with Windows because that is what I was “given” to work with.

I’ve duel-booted Windows and Linux out of convenience, but lately that seems unnecessary.

Windows 10 doesn’t feel anywhere near as streamlined or respond as quickly as an Arch based Linux Distro. Windows 10 is still a big improvement over 8,7, Vista, and dare I say the “Legendary” XP that some Microsoft users tend to frequently reminisce about.

On the other hand Ubuntu, and Fedora based Distros also feel a bit soggy and often somewhat lethargic. (This is just my opinion of course) I know a lot of people who love both of those Distros and won’t stop talking about them. It’s almost as bad as Mac users who stare me down and wonder why I spend so much time working on my system instead of just using it. (I would think Mac users must eventually get bored having their systems continuously work all the time.)

A lot is also dependent on the hardware you’re using, but running the same systems on the same machine duel booted and single OS boot over time is very useful if only for an eye opener.

Don’t remind me that I could run virtual machines with different operating systems instead regular drive installs.

I’m not a fan of Virtual Box

Mostly because of the resource limitations of your memory and processors. I guess if I were to use a much more powerful machine as a daily driver I would have a slightly more tempered opinion, but I use what I have, and usually it’s adequate for what I need. I just prefer to get the most out of my OS as do many other Linux users. I’ve worked with Unix, and Mac OSX. Both very stable and solid operating systems, but neither fit well as a daily driver.

I just have a hard time totally eliminating my reliance on Windows. It’s like a habit that’s hard to give up. Every time I think I can totally eliminate Windows from my life, something inevitably comes up and once again I’m drawn back into the Microsoft universe. A little voice in the back of my head whispers: “buy yourself a fully loaded new computer and maybe you’ll appreciate Windows 10 more” but I already have a nice wimpy under powered computer that works fine with Linux. I don’t want to buy a new computer every year. I just want to get stuff done.

why don’t you use your Mac?

That’s a Good question. I don’t know, no wait a minute, I know; it was very expensive and I don’t want to drop it and break it. Is that a good answer? No, it’s because I live to fix things and there’s not much to fix on the Mac. I’m probably just procrastinating from actually doing anything productive by continuously changing operating systems.

I think it would be much easier for me to go 100% Linux if I could convince the rest of the world to run Linux, but that isn’t going to happen. Let’s face it, Windows runs the world. I’m just so tired of being told not shut off my computer because Windows is updating…, and updating….. and updating.

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