January 5, 2015
Two and a half years of Linux

1. Two and a half years of Linux 


This is a Nederlog of Monday, January 5, 2015.

It is not a crisis file but a brief documentation of my using Linux now for more than two and a half years.

There may be another Nederlog today, but I am not certain since I am still recuperating from repeatedly sleeping too little the last eleven days.

Also, I should say that the MM-icon seems to work again: It didn't this year, but I overwrote the one I used with another one, and that worked.
1. Two and a half years of Linux

I switched to Linux from Windows 7 in May of 2012. I wrote 7 Nederlogs about Linux then - you can find them here - but I did not write much about Linux since then, mostly because I also got serious problems with my eyes that same month ("dry eyes", and quite painful in my case) that kept me from sleeping well the next 15 months.

This is a brief progress report on Linux, that in my case is still - to write it out in full - GNU/Linux/Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, that is to say the system offered by Ubuntu from April 2012 onwards, that will be taken care of for the five following years, that is, till April of 2017. (There are many later ones, including one from
2014 that also will be supported five years. I did not install it because the system I have is quite satisfactory.)

I have followed that release ever since, which is a bit different from Windows in that I started on Ubuntu 22 and am now, two and a half years later, 53 updates further, namely at Ubuntu 75, while that switching to the next version generally takes about 5 minutes - and that includes downloading.

In 2012 I installed Ubuntu with a dual boot option, with Windows 7 available on my hard disk, and this still is the case, although I used Windows all in all some 5 times the last 2 1/2 years, quite briefly every time, and never with internet - and indeed I also could not get the things done in Windows that I wanted to do with it.

So Windows is essentially dead for me: I don't need it at all, and the few times I tried to use it, it didn't work.

What about Ubuntu? I am still a quite satisfied user of it. Here are my main reasons:
  • it definitely is a better OS than Windows
  • it is free and open source
  • it does everything for me I could do with Windows
  • it has better programming facilities
But I have a few criticisms that I will give after saying what are my usual programs.

Normally, I have the following programs active:
  • Firefox (presently: 34.0): To browse the internet
  • Thunderbird (presently: 31.3.0): For emails
  • Nautilus (for the file-system): For files and directories
  • Zim (0.61): For making notes
  • WS95 using Wine Windows: To upload my site
  • KompoZer: To write my site
These tend to be open all day every day. There are quite a few other programs I use, but generally not every day, and they are usually started from Nautilus.

Firefox is basically OK (always: so far as I can see), and indeed I have been using it as my favorite browser for something like 12 years now, also on Windows.

Incidentally, one reason to use Firefox is that is has many Add-ons, notably NoScript, Ghostery, BetterPrivacy and Nuke Anything Enhanced, each of which make it a considerably better browser, and especially the first two.

I do have some criticisms, notably that I cannot save the files I found anymore using their web-addresses: it gets automatically converted to the title given by the user, which is extremely irritating in case you want to make a link, and makes the use of Zim (see below) quite necessary to keep score of the titles and the web addresses. (I have written about this, and have e-mailed Firefox, but got no reply: they should give you the choice, but they do not.)

Also, there is the criticism by the Free Software Foundation that it incorporates programs by Adobe and others that are closed source and proprietary, with which I agree on the one hand - but on the other hand I do want to see films etc. and I can see no other way to do this.

And I find the Help in Firefox pretty awful: Why am I sent to the internet everytime, to some general outline also, if I ask a specific question? (This is much better regulated in SeaMonkey, that is the other webbrowser I've got installed that I sometimes use, which has excellent help and also a decent html-editor, for example.)

Thunderbird works and there seems to be nothing better on Ubuntu, but I don't like it. For one thing, the Help is as bad as in Firefox, and for another - a recent "improvement" also - I have to click or move four times to change to another directory, which is extremely silly, and used to be much better regulated.

Nautilus is OK except that it totally refuses to maintain my settings for its windows: I want the proper filenames much rather than the user's titles for html, and I also use a fairly small monitor, but no: it always starts as if I have broad monitor and as if I am using titles. But apart from that, it is mostly OK.

Zim is a quite nice program that is very handy and quite powerful. I like it a lot and use it every day i.a. to keep track of both titles and web addresses (that are missing from Firefox), and I have only one criticism: It writes every pasting I
do into KompoZer explicitly in the html-file, from which I have to remove them
every time (before uploading, if I remember). I would like to have the choice
that they are not also remembered in the html.

WS95 I use this - on Linux with the help of Wine Windows, since it is a Windows-program - since 1996 to upload my site, and I am still using it simply because I have grown quite used to it. There are similar or better programs on Linux, and I may one of these days switch to one of these, but there is no need, for this all works as I expect it to work.

KompoZer is both a quite good and a very bad program. It is quite good because it is quite powerful and pleasant to work with as long as it works well; it is quite bad because it is quite bugged: it doesn't remember cursor positions in files (normally, switching to another file and then back moves you to the top of the first file in KompoZer, that may be quite frustrating) and it does not do quite a few other things properly, including - sometimes - copying. Also, parts of it sometimes simply stop working, which require you to restart it. (In fairness, the version I use only is a "Preview Release", but there is no later one and the earlier KompoZers are considerably less powerful.)

I am using it now since 2012, because there is nothing better on Ubuntu, and meanwhile I have learned quite a few workarounds for the bugs, but it is basically a quite good tool with a considerable number of quite bad bugs, and the last need a lot of experience to learn to work around. (And no, in case you ask: I do not want a html-editor that forces me to write html-code. There are some quite good ones on Linux, but these are not the tools I want to use on my 500 MB site.)

Finally about KompoZer: I am sometimes forced to use SeaMonkey's html-editor, which is quite OK, but considerably less powerful than KompoZer, and I am looking forward to SeaMonkey's integration of the KompoZer I use as its editor, which would be a considerable improvement, and is promised by the developers of SeaMonkey. (This might indeed switch me over to SeaMonkey as my favorite webbrowser.)

Apart from these programs that I use every day, there are quite a few others I use regularly, mostly for programming (especially in Python, Smalltalk and C++, and then using respectively Spyder, Squeak and Qt) and these all work quite well.

O, there is one more thing, though that is personal: I am very glad that Ubuntu has an inverse setting, that switches black and white in all menus and most programs, as compared with its normal (non-inverse) setting.

It is this feature that enabled me to keep using a computer in 2012, after my eyes got quite bad and quite painful, and in fact I am still using it and cannot do without it, though my eyes are less bad and are still slowly improving.

Finally, in case you want to try Ubuntu, start at the last link. I found that the version I use - which will be updated until April of 2017 - was quite easy to install, and indeed it is, at least according to the Wikipedia, still the Linux systen with the fewest bugs or issues.


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