I found a comment in this site’s spam area yesterday.
It surely must be in the running for a prize as the longest single spam comment?
Did he seriously think I was going to publish that?
Three hundred lines of links?
He must think I’m daft!
An errant post appeared here for some strange reason.
The Internet is a queer place.
The post in question is over on Smoking out the Truth
For the last week or so I have been messing around with a couple of pre-release operating systems.
The first one I tried out was Linux Mint 12. As I am a fan of, and use Linux Mint, I like to know what’s coming down the road.
The most significant change that I can see is the new Gnome desktop.
For some reason they have shifted the main menu bar to the top of the screen, and I haven’t found any way (yet) to change its location. Anyone who has driven a car will know that such items as the steering wheel, brake and accelerator pedals are in much the same position no matter what make of car. Computer interfaces should follow the same pattern, and finding the menu bar is to me like finding the steering wheel on the passenger side of the car.
However, Mint 12 does offer an alternative interface they call MATE. I booted into that.
This at least has the menu in its old familiar place, but is a bog standard Gnome menu. I like the Mint menu system that they currently use and can only hope that it will be imported into Mint 12.
The next system I tried out was Windows 8.
To an old fogey who has been used to everything from Windows 3.1 onwards, this is a massive departure from normality. The first thing that greets you is a desktop and clock.
Notice that there is no Start button, or anything resembling a menu? They are gone. To get to the next stage you have to scroll with the mouse wheel. That brings you to a login screen where you do the usual validation. If you are expecting a normal screen to appear then, forget it. What you get is a horizontally scrolling screen filled with “Apps”. ( I have a personal hatred of that word App, and seeing it plastered everywhere offends my senses!)
Clicking on any one of the tiles will launch that programme. If you do want to get to the standard desktop you have to either click on its tile or hit the Windows key.
One thing that has virtually disappeared is the Title Bar. Run any programme from its tile and the Title Bar is absent. The problem then is that there is no Minimise, Resize or Close buttons. I have yet to find a means of shutting down a programme that is supplied with the OS.
Shutting down Windows 8 is another nightmare. The only way I can find is to go to the tile screen and to click on the User name. This gives you the option to log out or switch user. Choosing log out will eventually bring you back to the original login screen and here is where you find the close down button.
I don’t know how close this version is to the final release but as it stands I hate it. It is full of bells and whistles that look flashy but lack any kind of function or intuitive use. Extra steps have been introduced for no reason that I can see,.that just make a simple task more complicated.
It looks like I will be staying with Mint 11 for the foreseeable future.
I decided to try a simple little experiment today.
My laptop is dual boot with both Windows 7 and Linux Mint 11 installed. My little personal challenge was to boot into each, with a target of launching Firefox and visiting a particular website.
The first one to go was Windows 7.
It was slow, but it booted up reasonably well. Soon I had my customised desktop, but then it went through a process of loading some background programmes. It also updated the anti-virus software. As soon as it looked reasonably stable, I double clicked the Firefox icon. Nothing apparently happened, so a short while later I double clicked again. After another pause, two Firefox sessions started! I closed one. I then had to wait while all the tabs in Firefox loaded. Eventually it allowed me type in my chosen address and I accessed the site.
Time taken? 4 minutes 35 seconds.
I then powered down and tried Linux Mint.
It booted up and went through that little unnerving bit where the screen goes totally black. Eventually the desktop appeared and I clicked on the Firefox icon. As soon as the programme had loaded, I typed the target address, and accessed the site.
Time taken? 1 minute 40 seconds.
Quite an impressive difference?
I first installed Linux about six weeks ago.
It is really quite remarkable how easy I have taken to it. I rarely use the Windows setup these days, and only boot into it if there is something specific I need to do, such as running Photoshop, as my Gimp skills are still not fully developed!
What has surprised me is the way I have started to experiment. Last week for example, I scrapped my installation and did a fresh install of Linux Mint 10 Julia, which is still at the Beta stage. It is only released with Gnome, but comes in both 32 bit and 64 bit flavours. I decided to go for broke and install the 64 bit flavour.
The first thing that strikes me (apart from the very nice graphics) is the speed. The developers have trown in a load of fancy gimmicks that allow your windows to dance around the screen or act like jelly, and I tried a few of them out. The developers needn’t have bothered. The system is so fast that I never get a chance to see the gimmick before the window closes.
Up until now I had been using KDE as my front end, but I am getting very used to Gnome at this stage. Just for the craic, I installed KDE into Mint 10, and it works very well but does have a few minor quirks, which I would expect. One major quirk is the inability to shut down. It allows for Sleep, Hibernate and Log off but there is now way to shut it down without using the command prompt, or switching user (from myself to myself) and selecting Gnome.
There are a few things I really miss in Linux though. The biggest one is probably Windows Live Writer which I used for all my blog posts. The nearest in Linux is Blogilo which is very definitely the poor brother. It lacks most of WLW’s features, and to my disgust, I can’t get even that to run under Gnome (and believe me, I have tried). I have had to fall back on Scribefire which is a Firefox plugin and therefore platform independent.
If there is anyone out there who hasn’t tried Linux, I would suggest giving it a bash (hah! Linux joke!). Like other flavours of Mint it can be installed within Windows so no partitioning, or allocation of diskspace is required.
Go on. Give it a try. You never know – you may become a convert?