as you may remember, in my last thread I talked about switching over my computing to Linux. A few days have passed, and I'm know typing this on a Linux installation that is happily doing its thing - and that can finally be dual-booted to windows for possible gaming needs.
Since I figure that it's always interesting / amusing / cringeworthy to read about a noob fumbling his way through sophisticated software environments, here are a few (barely coherent) thoughts about my experience so far.
Well, this escalated quickly or: not so great
Following empty's recommendation, I decided to have a look at Ubuntu Gnome. To be honest, I was not going to really use Ubuntu. Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, shows an attitude towards my data (say, search requests on my system) which i consider not that far removed from the companies I'm trying to get away from. Well, unfortunately with Ubuntu gnome, my keyboard didn't work. Just not recognized, at all. I couldn't even log into the system. Same for linux mint. Same for Elementary OS. Just no keyboard. Tried different USB ports. No keyboard.
Several hours of searching the net for solutions (using my windows Laptop) suggested that it might be a problem with my Logitech G19 keyboard not being supported by the kernel or a bios setting. I messed around with my Bios. No keyboard. So I decided to try an entirely different, non-ubuntu, non-debian based distribution. Mageia looked good. Well... no keyboard. At this point, I was getting a bit worried about my Linux adventures being cut short by failure to support basic input devices. So, fresh out of ideas, I decided that obviously repeating the same behavior might just produce different results. So, I plugged my keyboard into a different USB port again and... bam, recognized, everything working, no keyboard problem ever since. Never happened to me with Windows - and I still have no idea what was wrong or how / why it was fixed.
Well, since Mageia isn't Ubuntu based and I had heard good things about it, I decided to use it as my OS of choice for now. Things initially went quite well. Turns out, I really actually like Gnome3. Well, that is, I really actually like Gnome3 ever since I found out about extensions. They have this really neat web based interface which allows me to add or remove features and behavior to my OS simply by toggling a big switch. I can deal with big switches (as long as they only have two positions.)
Unfortunately, while Gnome was playing nice, Mageia itself soon started to show some worrying behavior. One of its big draws for me was the Mageia control center, which it apparently inherited from Mandriva/Mandrake. This is the kind of control center which I always missed on other Linux distros. Plenty of settings and customizations which I always thought really should be available in a GUI on a modern OS instead only via the terminal. Well, trouble was, the control center would randomly fail to start. It'd just not react to my attempts to launch it. The only solution I found was to log out and back in - no worst case scenario by any means, but troubling as far as stability was concerned. Apart from my gnome customizations, I really hadn't messed with the system so far. Next, the system failed to react to me plugging in my usb stick. Or my android phone. The devices would show up as long as you knew the right terminal command (lsusb) and at least the stick could be mounted fairly easily (once I had figured out how to do that from the terminal), but the phone just didn't want to talk to my computer, no matter what I tried. Matters were made worse by the general assumption being that this should just work, there just wasn't a lot of support here. People also often suggested using "sudo" to get stuff done - except sudo wasn't configured in a usable way for my user. Again, solved within maybe an hour or so - turns out there is this nifty tool "visudo" which made it quite easy to get sudo going. I got the feeling that I was probably messing up the distro's security concept, though.
Oh, and turns out, the installation process actually wiped out Windows's boot partition. However, that definitely was me being an idiot. Turns out, mounting that boot partition as /boot/efi/ at install time actually is a thing now. Unfortunately, grub2 couldn't be convinced to do anything with that silly Windows data sitting on that stupid other ntfs hdd. When I used the Windows repair console to fix the mbr, it somehow mixed up "fix the mbr" with "break grub entirely, but don't let me boot into windows, either".
Well, I won't pretend that there wouldn't have been a way to fix those problems with Mageia. In fact, compared to the effort put into this distribution by the people who built and maintain it, not putting in that effort seems, in a way, somewhat insulting. But I really didn't feel like messing around with a fundamentally broken system that didn't work the way I wanted it to in the first place. So... time for fresh installations. New windows installation first, then that other OS which is supposed to have a really nice "control center"-type application. Plus, geckos. Enter Opensuse 13.2.
Light at the end of the actually not all that dark tunnel or: Suse.
Well, in light of my dual-boot failure, I made sure to closely follow a tutorial this time. My partition setup is a lot more complex than the one assumed there, since I am carrying over existing NTFS partitions and I'm using a SSD for the system but a larger HDD partition for /home. Still, this time there were BIG. RED. ARROWS. reminding me to freakin' mount that /boot/efi/ partition. I also got to choose which repositories I wanted to have active during installation - and those were actually named and described in a way which made me intuitively understand which ones I was likely to want for now. Well, installation went well and upon reboot - yes, grub menu offering Suse and Linux.
Well, I went with the Gnome option, again. Therefore, customizing the place was more or less simply a matter of repeating what I had done before under Mageia. Yast, the control center, is everything I had hoped for - they even have a graphical sudo configuration tool in there. The repositories (especially the community ones) are really quite impressive. Software can be installed with one-click installs offered by the OpenSuse community - I'm not sure I trust the process yet, though.
Quite importantly, stuff is working 1)fast and 2)stable and 3)actually working. When I plugged in my USB stick, a notification popped up and asked me what I wanted to do with it. Same with the phone - plugged in, magic, phone storage is there.
So, with stuff actually working the way I expected it to (and yes, I realize that this has more to do with my expectations than with the quality of an OS), I proceeded to get slightly more involved stuff going. Like, install KeePass 2, which requires a full Mono environment, and making it talk to the Firefox extension "Keefox", which really doesn't seem to have been built with penguins in mind. Which worried me, a lot. But as it turns out, all I really had to do in the end came down to: 1) Add mono community repository and install both mono and Keepass from there, 2)Install the extension, grab a file from its installation folder within firefox and put it into Keepass's directory (which turns out to be in /usr/lib/, but also turns out sudo just works, as does gnomesu).
I then remembered that installing the proprietary Nvidia drivers might be an okay idea. A few years ago, when I worked with Ubuntu for a while, this involved exiting into the terminal (the real one, alt+f2 I think), stopping the GUI, installing the driver, doing some voodoo in configuration files ("this vi editor thing works in strange and unexpected ways"), starting the graphical stuff again and hoping for the best - until a kernel update happened. This time, it involved adding the Nvidia community repos and letting it update. Magic magic magic - and installed.
So, currently, I'm am quite happy with my environment. Enthusiastic, even. Right now, everything works. Which means I now get to tinker around and break the system in creative and hilarious ways. But I don't have to do that. As far as I'm concerned, right now, the system does everything I need it to do. It didn't tell me that it was allowing itself to collect my data, send it to its home servers and sell it off from there. It also didn't mention that it was going to fuck around with my private files if it decided that doing so would be "in good faith". This system respects me so much that it will happily let me screw it up entirely if I decide to be an idiot... and that's awesome.