COMPUTER LINUX REFERENCE LINKSJump to: Opensuse 12.1 problems | | Using Irfanview with Linux
If you wish to get away from that other operating system, Linux is an alternative, although many options may confuse you. There are two ways in which programs are delivered, as debs or rpms - debs are for versions of Linux related to Debian, such as Knoppix and Ubuntu, rpms are associated with Red Hat. Opensuse uses rpms. My preference was for rpms. If the first Linux variant you get your hands on is a stinker for you, there may be another better suited and easier to use.
There are two major desk top environments- KDE and Gnome- each has their fans, It is not such a major choice as most distributions support both. Each has its own suite of programs, but if you choose KDE you can still run almost all Gnome programs and vice versa.
As I needed narrow band dial up, and I wanted rpm package management, my choice was Suse (OpenSuse). This uses the program kinternet, which calls on smpppd and wvdial. These remain available in version 11.4. Run and configure kinternet, which will need to know your modem (eg modem0) and your provider details. (Opensuse 12.1 is not really finished and 12.2 is delayed for a rethink). Not sure if 12.3 still has kinternet available. If you now have to use Network Manager, that is not so easy to use with dial-up.
Red Hat (Fedora) was not at all easy to use with dialup.
The draw back to opensuse is its short life before you need to upgrade to the next version- if you install a couple of weeks before a new release, your version may be supported for under 12 months - and it can take six months to sort out problem areas!
I also used Knoppix from the start, as that was one of the easiest to use Debian packages, and at that time had a good set of programs and could use narrow band dial up. Today it is not supportive of dial up connections, and on my hardware fails to properly detect my monitor or mouse - and the program count has been reduced to make way for the bloat of some of the major programs. Knoppix 6.2 live CD also allows you to boot into DOS (Balder version) by typing dos at the boot prompt instead of knoppix. If you boot knoppix from the live CD, insert some USB memory, and in a console type flash-knoppix, you will create a bootable usb stick and -if your bios allows it- be able to boot from the usb stick. The default is then to use the memory stick as your home directory to keep any settings you make.
I've looked at Ubuntu and did not like it as it just felt too slow, heavy and clunky compared to the other Linux variants I have used. Set up seemed especially hard. It too has its fan base though.
Currently for a live Linux DVD my preference would be for the Live KDE version Linux Mint, which although based around Ubuntu is quite a different and more friendly build. It correctly detected my monitor and mouse (unlike Knoppix) and also includes dial up support. My one whinge would be that it damaged my hard drive files - it automounted a Reiser file system, but then failed to unmount it even when "unmount" was clicked several times. Possibly a rights issue. I need to look into this more closely before continuing with Mint - the damage was not severe as Reiser is a journaled file system and on reboot the journal put things right. Opensuse has the disadvantage of only offering security support for each release only for a year, remarkably little time, and moving on to the next release may sometimes be rather hard due to various changes and regressions. But it is possible and I have moved onwards from 9.1 to 11.1
OpenSuse 12.3 has dropped support for sysvinit and requires the use of systemd.
The systemd boot mechanism is monolithic and has some horrible hacks and errors and forces some system settings you may not want. It may need to be recompiled by sysadmins who wish to change certain processes.
We have experimented with 12.1 on an ancient 486 with 128MB ram- it can be done, so long as you avoid gnome and kde, using a text install and a few low mem hacks. The elderly machine can be linked to an X11 session on an over spec machine and take advantage of its CPU and memory. The desktop we have used is not very reliable on some applications but you can play Cuyo remotely.
Using most Linux distributions:-
you can safely write to any FAT or Linux partitions- writing to NTFS partitions may be hazardous.
I have loaded Word documents using OpenOffice, and played Windows 3.1 games - using WINE which allows you to use SOME Windows programs. Most of my old DOS games (including several pinballs) run very well using dosbox.
I initially got my Vn 3.4 Knoppix working on a bare system very quickly, and was on line just as fast (I have always used a manual DUN setting in Windows). Note that as Knoppix is a rare Linux build using a mixture of stable and unstable software releases, it is not recommended for a "proper" hard disk install but as mentioned you can boot from a CD image on the hard disk. Vn 6 has dropped the easier kppp narrow band dial up but still has the tools to allow those knowledgable to get on line (eg wvdial).
I do a lot of image processing and the GIMP meets most of my needs. For panorama joins, fotoxx before vn 12 was best (I cannot use fotoxx Vn 12 due to bloat, unfriendly interface, and the new requirement for min 2gig ram for quite moderate sized images- it ignores swap! and insists all operations are in real hardware ram). For colour adjustment showfoto is excellent. I also find myself using the Windows program Irfanview quite a lot for viewing, and as the most easily used means in Linux to modify and view image metadata-
Although Irfanview is written for Windows, I was surprised to find many parts of Irfanview work fine in Linux using Wine - there may obviously be problems with files that use external viewers which are less receptive to Wine. After version 3.95 most Irfanview downloads were self-extracting executables which rely upon a Microsoft component distributed with XP and later. There ARE standard ZIPped packages available if you look, which unpack and run fine with Wine. I have found quite a number of 8BF filter files to add to the many image changes Irfanview can make and even the new OCR works.
A lot of folk are coming here looking for Linux/MAME- well, my preferred Linux solution is GXMame as a front end to xmame - these use the standard mame rom zips. My xmame is in two packages- xmame-base and xmame-SDL, and my xmame and gxmame are Mandriva plf builds, which I use in opensuse with no difficulty. You may like to try Knoppixmame. Note that Linux versions of MAME just use the usual game ROM ZIP files. The sites offering ROM files for Mame tend to change a great deal- I can only suggest searching! Many users will much prefer the output from Mame before version .107, graphics changes were made which are not nice.
Linux also has software which lets you play those old Infocom text adventures (frotz or xzip).
RPMSeek- or rpmfind - or rpmsearch - search for rpm and deb packages.