Replacing Windows with Linux

Quite a few times I have been asked about Linux and why I use it in preference to Windows.

There are quite a few reasons which I will attempt to explain without going into any technicalities.

It's not technical

Probably the biggest fear people have is that they have heard about Linux in the past and that it's "all technical" and they have visions of having to type in reams of commands to do anything.  Modern Linux distributions are nothing like that at all.  Not only does the modern Linux distribution have a desktop that will immediately be familiar to any Windows user, it actually proves a whole series of desktops, such as KDE, Unity, Cinnamon, Mate and many more to suit the user's taste.  Probably the biggest criticism of Windows 8 was its desktop, and Windows 10 still provides only one – if you don't like it, that's too bad.  That problem doesn't exist in Linux.

Our Windows user will be immediately familiar with the desktop layout.  It has all the usual features such as the desktop itself, the task bar at the bottom and the "Start" button.  One thing that is different is that programmes tend to be grouped by function, so media programmes will be grouped under "Sound & Video". games under "Games" and office suites under "Office" which makes programmes easier to find.

Price

One enormous advantage of Linux is that it is of course free.  Not only is the base operating system free but also the vast majority of the applications and programmes.  Do you want a programme for a specific purpose?  Search the repositories [a very simple procedure] and install it.  It really is that simple.

Updates

Possibly my greatest frustration with Windows is the Update.  Every time I fire up Windows [a rare occasion these days] there are updates and patches to be applied to the operating system.  These invariably are very slow to download but nearly always require a lengthy reboot during which, a power outage can destroy the whole system.  Windows updates are frustrating in the extreme.

Linux updates are a different matter.  A little icon on the panel [Task Bar] informs me there are updates available.  I click on the icon, provide my password and off it goes.  I can continue to use my machine without interruption.  When the update is installed, that's it – no reboot except on extremely rare occasions.  And not only does Update take care of my system, it also updates all the programmes I have installed.

Security

Another downside to Windows is security.  Only the foolhardy will run Windows without an anti-virus programme [some are free but most you have to buy].  That anti-virus has to do its work every time a programme is run, a website opened or a file downloaded.  This of course slows things down.  Under Linux, they can send me all the .exe and .scr files they want and none of them will affect my system, as Linux doesn't run .exe or .scr files.  None of their viruses will run, and even if somehow a Windows virus did end up an my system it would find a completely different environment and wouldn't be able to do its nasty stuff.

Compatibility

Probably the biggest real fear people have is that their programmes and files won't work under Linux.  This is true, and it isn't!

Most files created by Windows products such as Microsoft Office files can be opened, read, edited and saved without any loss of compatibility.  All your Word Documents and Excel files are safe and are compatible with OpenOffice or LibreOffice.  There are some provisos though.  For example, Office macros won't work under Linux.  So what happens if you really need Microsoft Office [or indeed any other programme that is only designed for Windows]?  There are two options.  One is to try installing your programme using Wine [a Windows emulation programme], or if you want to be really fancy, you can install Windows within Linux!

Installing Windows within Linux may sound crazy but it has its advantages.  Using a Virtual Machine programme such as VMWare, you can create a virtual PC and can install any version of Windows [or indeed DOS] on it.  So for example if you really had to have AutoCad, you could install it on its own Virtual Machine and run it on that – no reboots, and you can switch tasks between your AutoCad and any other Linux programme you happen to be running.

Try it out

Most Linux distributions [as far as I am aware] will run directly from a DVD.  All that is necessary is to download the distribution, burn it onto a DVD and then boot into that DVD.  The distribution will happily run and give you the chance to play around with it and examine its features.  Granted that has its limitations – you can't for example install any software as it is running purely off memory and DVD, but it does give a chance to get the feel of the distribution and possibly allay any fears.

Several years ago, I tried it.

I installed it.

I never looked back!

Photos not displaying in Google Earth Linux Mint 64-bit

UPDATE WARNING:

Recently [5th June 2015] the repositories released Google Earth V 7.1.4.1529.  This overwrites the fix below and breaks it once more.

The fix is to just repeat lines 6, 7 and 8 below.  [With thanks to KirkM below in the comments]

———————————————

I finally discovered the fix to enable photos and Panoramio images in Google Earth running on Linux Mint 64-bit.

sudo apt-get install libc6:i386 lsb-core

wget -O google-earth64.deb http://drive.noobslab.com/data/apps/google-earth/google-earth_amd64.deb

sudo dpkg -i google-earth64.deb

rm google-earth64.deb

sudo apt-get install libfreeimage3

cd /opt/google/earth/free

sudo wget https://googledrive.com/host/0B2F__nkihfiNalQzN0ZmcjBPTGs/ge7.1.1.1580-0.x86_64-new-qt-libs-debian7-ubuntu12.tar.xz

sudo tar xvf ge7.1.1.1580-0.x86_64-new-qt-libs-debian7-ubuntu12.tar.xz

sudo apt-get install gufw

sudo apt-get install flashplugin-installer

Connecting Mint to an Android device

I recently got myself a Samsung Galaxy Trend Plus mobile phone.

I also bought a 32Gb microSD card with a view to storing some sound files.  However, on connecting the device to my laptop I discovered that though I could see and read files on the SD card, I was unable to transfer files onto it.  The only way to load files to the SD card was to physically remove the card and plug it into the laptop using a card adaptor, which was messy and tedious.

There is a solution however, and that is to install gMTP.

First run the following –

sudo apt-get install libmtp-common libmtp-dev libmtp-runtime libmtp9 mtp-tools gmtp python-pymtp

Then this –

sudo apt-get install libusb-dev

You should now see gMTP available on the main Menu (under All Applications).

Connect the phone and run the programme.  Click "Connect".  In the event it says that no RAW devices are found, just wait a few seconds for it to detect the phone.

Once connected you will be presented with an drop-down option of connecting to the phone or the card.

Files can now be transferred as normal.

From AVI to MP4

I have quite a few video files which I like to watch fro time to time.

I used to use an XBox 360 as a media player but that finally gave up the ghost.  I switched to an original XBox which I got from a good friend.  That too recently died the death.

A couple of weeks ago I invested in a WD TV Media Player, which is essentially a solid state interface between a file store and  TV.  On screen it is very similar to XBMC.   

It claims to play all flavours of video.  Their list states it will play AVI (Xvid, AVC, MPEG1/2/4), MPG/MPEG, VOB, MKV (h.264, x.264, AVC, MPEG1/2/4, VC-1), TS/TP/M2T (MPEG1/2/4, AVC, VC-1), MP4/MOV (MPEG4, h.264), M2TS, WMV9 and FLV (h.264). 

I did however have some problems with some AVI files (I'm still waiting from a response from their Support on this).   The files would play for about three to four minutes before dropping out without warning or error.  The files in question play perfectly in my laptop Media, so I reckoned on a problem with the file format. 

I tried converting them to MKV using HandBrake but while the resulting files apparently worked they crashed again around the thirty minute mark.

I decided to try converting to MP4.

After a lot of research and a few program downloads (that either didn't work or wouldn't do batch processing) I came across WinFF.  On the face of it, that would do everything I required.  However it failed on my first attempt.  The solution is to install an extra package – libavcodec-extra.

I ran a test on one of my dud files and the resulting MP4 worked perfectly.

I now have a spare PC sitting quietly in a corner working its way through all my AVI files.

I reckon that will take a while!

Running KDE programs in Linux Mint 7.1 Cinnamon

I have just upgraded to Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon 64bit.

For various reasons, I did a complete format and install, so the following may not affect those just doing an upgrade.

There is a small problem with running some KDE applications.  As an example, I installed KNetWalk [a small timewaster!] and this is the menu bar that is displayed –

Dud KDE Menu

With a bit of research, I found the answer as submitted by Clem.

sudo apt install kdelibs-bin kdelibs5-data kdelibs5-plugins

To install the icons –

sudo apt-get install oxygen-icon-theme*

Rerunning the application, this is the result –

After

Just in case anyone has similar problems…….