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Old 08-20-08, 03:11 AM   #1
mustang1
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Linux / OSX / Vista / some thoughts (long)

My Vista laptop has broken down and requires repair. It is NOT Vista's fault, but instead it appears to be a hardware problem (probably loose connection to the display on my laptop that randomly causes vertical bars). Here goes, in no particular order:

FIRST, LINUX.
For the last few weeks I've been using Ubuntu on my 7 year old 2GHz P4 + 1GB RAM PC. Installing apps under Linux is currently a pita. I'm sure it's not that difficult and I can learn how to install, but why should I? I much prefer the Next.. Next.. Finish simplicity of Windows. And I dont think it has much to do with me not being accustomed to using Linux's (new to me) install method; afterall when MS introduced the Install Wizard, it was new and I wasn't accustomed to it, yet I liked it. But not so with Synaptic Package Manager and install routines and... like I said, I could learn it, but I'm not sure I have the time for that. The end result however is I did install a few apps and the install was ok, but I had to spend time finding stuff out. When MS intro's Install Wizard, I had no problems with it.

Still haven't got my loudspeakers working too well (actually I only spent 30 mins attempting to fix this problem - I could schedule more time to do so, but why should I?

Overall, I do like Linux, a lot. I like using Terminal, I like VI, I like the sense of freedom and lack of restrictions (I haven't actually experienced this freedom yet, it's just a perception right now). I need to make a backup of a really old DVD and I doubt I'll have any problems. And it works superbly on my old PC. I need to play around with NTFS-3G to read my USB NTFS HDDs. As long as I keep this old computer, I'll keep Linux on it. I like what the Ubuntu guys have done for a user of my level and they should keep up the good work.

SECOND, VISTA
I've used it constantly for 9 months. I tore my hair out before SP1. It wasn't that bad, I just wanted it to be so much better. I braced myself before opting for a Vista laptop and figured if I dont like it, I'll install Ubuntu (which I have done) and buy a Mac (which I'm thinking of but am too cheapskate). After installing SP1, it is better, it's the product MS should have released in the first place. I still dont like it though but the reasons for not liking it are rather superficial: I usually dont care about marketing BUT those darn Mac adverts have really got under my skin and I just want a Mac. Vista IS somewhat slow and cumbersome (I swear I felt like Linux was flying on my 7 year old PC and so much faster on my new Dell laptop). It's like, well I cant quite fathom it, but it felt like I had to wait a while before Vista responded to my commands (laptop spec = 2.2 core 2 duo, 2GB Ram). And that damn anti-virus software keeps popping up. And I try and un-install it (ok, I only spent 2 mins attempting an uninstall, but it runs with an account that has higher privileges than ME, and truth is, I dont wanna spend time fixing that. I'm not lazy, I just dont wanna fix it).

So why is Vista good for me? Well, I bought it for .NET, Adobe PhotoShop Elements, Adobe Premiere Elements, iTunes, Flight Simulator, and some other stuff I like to run. But it kept on crashing, and freezing. I done Win Update, it was already up to date. I went to Dell's driver's page. Holy crap that page is a mishmash of dog poo (I was too lazy, I was tired of having to fix stuff by then). In the end, just before I had enough and decided to install Linux, it was a hardware error (and hence not Vista's fault) that got to me. But the problems with Vista, then the hardware fault, it pushed me over the edge. So I started looking at alternatives. And I really dont wanna blow money when I know I can fix the problem. Oh but those Apple adverts...

THIRD, APPLE
Ah, Apple, portayer of all things simple and the tag line "it just works". After playing with a Nokia N95 and the 1st gen iPhone, the Nokia used to freeze once in a while (and I only had it for 2 weeks and it already started reminding me of Vista). The iPhone which I used on/off for 6 months (it belonged to my company) never froze. And this was a FIRST gen product! So I bought an iPhone 3G for myself and it's worked perfectly, not as many functions as an N95, but what it did have, it worked well. I also have an Airport Extreme, also works well (as does my old NetGear) and was simple to set up (NetGear was simple too, but I knew a lot more about networks back in those days and was more 'familiar with stuff' (read, I was younger ).

So hence my experience with laptops got me thinking about Apple (again). I like the hardware, I occasionally use it at work, seems like a nice OS. But where are the apps? I read so much about all the apps are available on Mac that you could possibly need. Then where is PhotoShop Elements (ok ok it's out now, and I think it runs natively on OSX now too)? And where is Premiere Elements? Do I really have to spend £130 for Aperture 2? Ok £130 isn't that bad, but I get the feeling it's a photo manager application rather than a photo editor (someone correct me, I've done so much reading up I've forgotten what app does what). iPhoto just doesn't do it for me after using PhotoShop Elements for some time. And iMovie? I'm not sure that has half the features of Premiere Elements. Ok I understand the price difference, but the end result is the standard set of apps pre-installed on a Mac aren't gonna do it for me, I'll have to spend more. And I sure cant find anything that's better than iPhoto/iMovie without going to PhotoShop Elements and Final Cut Express (£190 together). Then I'm not sure how well PSE and FCE is integrated (PSE and Pr El are made by the same company and work great together, the complete bundle is £100).

I can live without .NET, no big deal, but I dont know about the photo and video editors. I thought Mac was supposed to be awesome for this kinda stuff, and at the higher end it probably is. And at the baby level it's fine too. But I need something in between before I spend $$$ on a Mac. Sure I mentioned PSE for Mac and FCE for Mac. But I'd like to know how well they integrate (can I take photos from PSE and put them into FCE?) I just heard these things about FCE not being too great for prosumer level stuff.

SO WHAT AM I GONNA DO?
Well, I'm gonna stop using my heart and leave that to do what it's supposed to do... help me cycle up great mountains. Instead I'll use my head and get my Dell laptop fixed up, re-install Vista on it (oh god I'm already getting anxiety just thinking about it, again, it's a superficial thing, I dont know why I'm getting this anxiety), and, well, just work with it for the same reasons I first bought it.

Having written that though, I do like the idea of having an iMac as a desktop machine, maybe I dont need a 24", I'll just get a 20", and play with PSE and FCE, but only if they run natively on Intel Macs. I could then get Apple TV to showcase my (amateur level) videos on the main TV...
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Old 08-20-08, 03:23 AM   #2
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Wow. It must have taken you over 30 minutes to type all this - with no question asked or response apparently desired.

Why?
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Old 08-20-08, 04:00 AM   #3
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BTW: Apple uses the same hardware as every other computer company, but charge twice the price
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Old 08-20-08, 04:51 AM   #4
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BTW: Apple uses the same hardware as every other computer company, but charge twice the price
But... but... it's white and has that cool logo on it!!!
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Old 08-20-08, 05:07 AM   #5
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Mmmm...I like apples...especially in pie, cobbler, as a sauce....oh, wait. We're not talking about the same thing are we?
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Old 08-20-08, 05:25 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USAZorro View Post
Wow. It must have taken you over 30 minutes to type all this - with no question asked or response apparently desired.

Why?
a good novel, or even a bad one, doesn't necessarily ask a question, yet reviews are still written, comments are still made. A response has been elicited.

Ps: I was gonna post this to some OS-related forum, but figured it'd be better here on BF. Besides, I hate signing up to new forums. And actually, you're right, it took me about 30 mins to write that on my way in to work (I didn't have much else to do at that point).
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Old 08-20-08, 05:26 AM   #7
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BTW: Apple uses the same hardware as every other computer company, but charge twice the price
Incorrect. I would say maybe 20% more.
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Old 08-20-08, 05:55 AM   #8
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mac prices are pretty much retail Vista + OEM hardware price.

There is an application called WINE / Cedega / Cider that emulates windows environments on linux/mac.
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Old 08-20-08, 06:16 AM   #9
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I have similar reactions to both Vista and Ubuntu. I've never used an Apple but I too wonder about buying a premium machine and then not getting the apps I want. MS always seemed natural to me because I used it at work and as the family PC at home. Finally, with XP it even seemed to achieve an acceptable level of stability if you kept up with antivirus and spyware. Then Vista - ugh. Seems to work OK but it just sucks - can't even explain why.

Linux - I have run it for 12 years: Red Hat, Suse, Fedora, recently Ubuntu. I ran web servers, firewalls, intrusion detection, and vulnerability scanners for the learning experience (which is great - free tools, tremendous community support) but I just never got comfortable with it as a desktop replacement. Ubuntu comes close but I miss Photoshop (Gimp is good, but a PITA to use). Linux has gotten pretty good with drivers as well, but can be a huge PITA if your device isn't recognized. I disagree on the new app installation - the package manager seems easy to me (if you can find a package for what you are looking for). Installing from a tarball and managing dependencies is a whole nother thing -- I gave up on that years ago except for a few things I just had to try that were not available via package.

Last edited by donheff; 08-20-08 at 06:20 AM.
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Old 08-20-08, 07:01 AM   #10
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What could possible be so difficult in typing,' apt-get install <packagename> '
????????????

Did you actually say you LIKE vi
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Old 08-20-08, 07:31 AM   #11
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Hey! Don't diss VI - the greatest thing in computing

I've used Vista, OS X and various flavours of Linux (Fedora, Ubuntu, Slackware, Zenwalk, Gentoo, Vector etc) and FreeBSD. I migrated away from MS during the WindowsXP years. I don't have much against the business model of Microsoft, but I did have an issue with unstable applications, and an OS that handled memory as badly as XP did. Vista seems to be a bit better, and I did like the interface....for about a day; after which it started to get in the way, and there was little I could do about it. I still use it occasionally, and I don't really have anything against it, except that I'd rather use something else.

OS X is great, and I do like my MacBook. The interface doesn't get in the way while I'm working, and the applications work well. I have yet to find an application I need that is not either released for OS X or does not have an equivalent available. I'm not too bothered with the 30 mins it takes to read a manual and figure out how to run another application. That being said - while I like OS X, it is just too uncustomizable for me. I like having the ability to use different interfaces, and modify my window manager, for example - to suit my work habits.

That brings me to Linux and FreeBSD - both of which I'll discuss together, though there are some differences. First off - I don't use the heavily GUI-ised distros, as they always install crap I don't need, and it takes me a long time to take off what I don't like. Slackware is it for me. It works brilliantly! I get to install what I need, and control how things work. If I don't like something, I generally have the expertise to change it, or, if not, someone else 'out there' has already taken care of that for me (usually anyway). I can do almost everything I need to (for work etc.), with one exception (access a database at work - my sole use of Windows). Most importantly, I get to interact with the OS on my own terms, and not using something designed by some dude at Microsoft or Apple. Linux is not flawless, but there's the chance to guide the direction of change that's attractive to me.

Now I know that these are personal choices, but that's what all the computers I use are - Personal computers. YMWV
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Old 08-20-08, 01:21 PM   #12
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Good responses here. I'd be more concerned about what you are using the laptop for and make your decisions around it.

You could install VMWare ESXi, and have Linux and a copy of Windows running at the same time. ESXi is licensed at no charge.

Personally, I would go with either a high end (think business, not personal) class laptop such as Dell's Latitude line, or equivalent from HP or Lenovo, or a MacBook/MacBook Pro. The reason is not MacOS, or what type of hardware the box has, its because Apple in general [1] has better and more accessible service than the other guys in general. With some PC vendors should something like the motherboard or LCD have problems, you have to send the machine into a repair depot and wait 2-4 weeks. Other vendors make you wait a day for a service tech to come out, and there is a high chance they may have misdiagnosed it. Apple, you just hit a "Genius Bar", and they can do repairs there and then, for the most part [2].

[1]: There are always horror stories around. YMMV is the key for this attempt at advice.
[2]: Genius bars are good for problems you can point to definitely such as a cracked LCD, but if the problem is complex (intermittent stuff), or you are using specialized software, it may not be worth going there.
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Old 08-20-08, 02:50 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfmckenna View Post
What could possible be so difficult in typing,' apt-get install <packagename> '
????????????

Did you actually say you LIKE vi
nothing wrong with Vi once you learn to use it. Which isn't that easy ...
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Old 08-20-08, 03:31 PM   #14
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"FIRST, LINUX.
For the last few weeks I've been using Ubuntu on my 7 year old 2GHz P4 + 1GB RAM PC. Installing apps under Linux is currently a pita."

Synaptic is yer Friend!!
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Old 08-21-08, 06:56 AM   #15
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You could install VMWare ESXi, and have Linux and a copy of Windows running at the same time. ESXi is licensed at no charge.
.
What is ESXi? I use VMWare Server on my laptop to run win xp as a guest in case I need it.

Quote:
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nothing wrong with Vi once you learn to use it. Which isn't that easy ...
I hate it. First time I used it I think it took me an hour to figure out how to quit the damn thing And every time I used it there after I had to search through a cheat sheet.

Nano/Pico for me
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Old 08-21-08, 10:54 AM   #16
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ESXi is a small 32mb hypervisor that's first to boot, then it runs many OSes on top. Much faster than VMware Server which runs on top of Windows. I've got one HP DL360-G4p thats running the latest freeware ESXi and is running Win98, Win2k, Win2k3r2, WinXP, Vista, Ubuntu and OSX-10.5 simultaneously. Only problem is ESXi doesn't have console display of these OSes, so I just remote into them using RDP/VNC from a laptop (the server sits at the bottom of a closet anyway).

To the OP, you don't need Aperture from what you're saying. Adobe Bridge works well with Photoshop, Premiere and FCE. You can drag and drop documents between different applications pretty seamlessly, something that's not easily done in Windows. Adobe Lightroom also works well, although that's more comparable with Aperture; both of which are specialized more for photography than video.
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Old 08-21-08, 10:55 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfmckenna View Post
What is ESXi? I use VMWare Server on my laptop to run win xp as a guest in case I need it.



I hate it. First time I used it I think it took me an hour to figure out how to quit the damn thing And every time I used it there after I had to search through a cheat sheet.

Nano/Pico for me
I like EE too. But Vi isn't evil, its just difficult
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Old 08-21-08, 02:30 PM   #18
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I hope you're using vim and not vi.
(Its author is a work colleague ).

As for Linux vs Mac vs Vista..
I've never used Vista, so cannot comment.
Used Linux (mostly term-based remote access, rather than desktop) since 1992, and run it on my wife's desktop for the last 3 years. It offers everything she needs - that is to say, web, email, office apps (Google's Apps are great!) and instant messengers. It also loves my ancient hardware which wouldn't even be *able* to boot Vista.

For work, I use a MacBook Pro. I'd never used a Mac before, and it took a week or so of getting used to, but I tried to use a Windows machine a few months ago at a friend, and realised then how absolutely horrid the UI is. As for package installations etc - it's incredibly simple, and I haven't found it lacking any utils that I require (although most of what I do is either HTML-based or predominantly in an ssh terminal). Which brings me to the best part about OS X ... it's based on BSD, and has all the unix and GNU apps you may need, and you can compile any you don't have ...

G
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Old 08-21-08, 02:35 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfmckenna View Post
What could possible be so difficult in typing,' apt-get install <packagename> '
????????????

Did you actually say you LIKE vi
Hey now. vi is the best editor hands down. Even the vim port for Windows rules.
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Old 08-21-08, 03:45 PM   #20
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You're not a real power-user until you master vi... and sed.
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Old 08-21-08, 05:46 PM   #21
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You're not a real power-user until you master vi... and sed.
Rather than sed, if you can do reg ex in your sleep or if use perl as your shell you are an uebergeek
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Old 08-21-08, 07:20 PM   #22
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Why don't you install Xen Server from Citrix and then just run each OS as a virtual machine? I think I'm about to do that myself actually. Of all the free hypervisor's I hear its pretty cool.
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Old 08-22-08, 12:51 PM   #23
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Xen's a lot tougher to set up than VMware...
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Old 08-22-08, 12:55 PM   #24
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I haven't set it up yet (although I have a cd sitting here next to me at the moment). VMware isn't free I don't believe. Plus you have to have a host OS. The advantage of Xen is that it is basically a really really light linux distro whose sole purpose is to host VM. From what I've heard from a co-worker who is using it is that it gives the virtual machines near native like access to the hardware.
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Old 08-22-08, 01:42 PM   #25
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XenServer 4.1 requires about 1gb to install. VMware ESXi 3.5u2 requires 0.033gb and does not run on top of any OS. Its hypervisor is even lighter and tighter than Xen, having lower surface-area for attacks. Here's what you do:

1. go to VMware website and follow "Go Virtual for Free - ESXi"
2. register with your name and email
3. Download the "ESX Server 3.5u2" ISO image and burn to CD
4. boot your server with the CD and pick the default install options (15-minutes)
5. re-boot server at end, eject CD, assign it IP address of your local subnet

6. download the FREE VMware converter (what Xen converter is free???)
7. install it on the machine you wish to capture & virtualize (use local-admin account)
8. run the converter and pick "Physical Computer -> ThisLocalMachine" and point it at your VMware host-server you just created
9. hit FINISH at the end and your machine will be captured and virtualized just like that (goes at about 40gb/hr)


I'm managing 250-servers on VMware and about 120 on Xen. I can assure you that you will not have any easier time than this with Xen. Aside from the higher cost of having to buy capture/conversion tools. Cheapest is PowerConvert PlateSpin which charges $100 per conversion.



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