Saturday, November 26, 2011

linux for the rest of us!

This is not going to be another one of those posts deriding Ubuntu that have become the norm of late. Yes I am unfortunately leaving my beloved Ubuntu, but it is not because I am this way or that way about Unity, etc. For the record I would like to say to all those tech pundits and geeky know-it-all's, get some sun light and shut the f**k up already. Make your brownie points off something else.  That said, I have to admit that 11.10 has let me down.

I have used Ubuntu since 7.04. It has always just worked, even when back in that day I had to google and forum search to find out how anything worked. Can anyone remember installing Google Earth from a bin file? How about Real Player? Things are so incredibly easier today, and I think that contributes a lot to all this hoopla on pipe these days.

Ubuntu 11.04 worked for me. My machine is an Asus netbook. It has to be. I travel, and weight and space are major considerations. I am not a web designer or some such thing as that, just an ordinary writer wannabe. Bottom line, my needs are not overwhelming but there are some important items that are must haves, mainly battery life. I can remain disconnected from the web for extended periods, so extending the life of my battery is a number one priority. Right up there with usability is compatibility with my work style. I took to 11.04 quite quickly. I have an open mind to new fangled things, and can usually get a handle on something pretty quick. The combination of keyboard shortcuts, a new thing for me, and the multiple desktops, made a nice boost to my work flow. But I hated Banshee with a passion. At the time I had just the one gig of ram and Banshee grayed out constantly. But at least, with an emphasis on patience, I could work with it. Trying to nip this problem in the bud, I installed a two gig stick before the release of 11.10.

So imagine my total surprise and udder disappointment when I found the release to be horribly buggy. On top of which Banshee would not play at all. Well, to be fair it would, if I held my mouth right, and the moon was in a favorable phase. It refused to play on battery power all together. Now i can tolerate a lot of BS, but this was simply outrageous. There were just too many bugs. And this has led me to reopen an old mental thread of mine to the effect that I fully believe that many interface bugs are due to the developers not actually using the product they are working on in their day to day activities. Food for thought.

Part of the planning for my next vagabonding adventure have more or less took for granted that I would have the next Ubuntu LTS on my hard drive. Unless things take a radical change for the better, that now seems unlikely. I feel Ubuntu will straighten out and fly right in several more iterations, but I need something stable and dependable now. So i now found myself distro hopping again. It is not quite the same as it use to be, knowing what I know now. But it has been eye opening.

I fiddled with the RPM releases (you know who you are) but I just do not like them. Everybody has a preference. Some prefer blonde's, some brunettes, some go for any ole thing (dogs), but I know what I know. Know what I mean? So I needed a Debian based system, that had the tools on board or in the repos, and would give max battery performance. And the list dwindled down quickly to three: Crunch Bang, Linux Mint Debian, and Lubuntu. Then it got whittled to two: Linux Mint Debian, and Lubuntu. Then finally to one: Lubuntu. Why?

Glad you asked. Because its my machine and I'll do what I want. Just kidding. No it was just some simple observations. Crunch Bang is an old favorite, but Corenominal is not at present actively maintaining it. I felt the release is too old, for a rolling release distro, to install. Linux Mint Debian is my secret fave. The gnome version had some kind of weird stability issue on my netbook, but xfce ran like a champ. And two amazing things happened. The first was that upon detecting my proper screen resolution all the fonts and windows were resized properly. A feat of magic that seems to be beyond the developers of other mainstream releases.  And, heart stopping as it is, Banshee actually worked. Couldn't believe it. It is still the slowest damn piece of work to open though.

But Lubuntu won because it gave the best battery performance out of the bunch. Let me break it down for ya:

  • Windows 7 Starter = 3hrs with power saver mode in eee super engine 
  • Ubuntu Unity         = 2hrs and 20min with Jupiter installed and whitelisted
  • LMDE xfce            = 3hrs with Jupiter installed and icon in tray
  • Lubuntu lxde          = 3hrs and 48min with Jupiter installed and add to session startup

In finding out how to add the syndaemon to disable the touchpad in Lubuntu, I also found out how to get Jupiter running. I added it to the /etc/xdg/lxsessions/Lubuntu/startup file. Who knew? Of course I do not have the systray icon, but it is not a deal breaker as the syndaemon works also.

wrong using Linux Mint Debian. Another small issue that I have with rolling release model is the possibility of breakage during an update. It is low, especially with mint, but none the less, I cannot see risking it in my particular situation.  For the rest of you though, that should not be a deal breaker.

Lubuntu is performing like a champ. It is fast and the battery performance amazing. I have access to all the apps that I use and I am on somewhat familiar ground. It could use a better login screen, something more efficient would be nice. I hope the LTS will be a good fit. If so I can see myself running with it on my netbook far into the future. For any thing larger though, my money is on Mint, for now.

Travel in peace.

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