Monday, January 30, 2012

Making the transistion from Windows to Linux

For those of you reading this blog who have not yet made the transition from the world of Windows (or Mac OS) to Linux yet, I thought It was time I got down to some practical articles about making the move, and particularly what software I use in Linux that replaces common Windows/Mac applications.

Lets be realistic, these days the most common use for a PC in most households is surfing the internet and social media. Have no fear on this score, Linux has versions of all the main Web browsers, Firefox, Opera and Chrome, it is even possible to get Internet Explorer working in Linux through WINE, but that is for another day.

The screen shot shows Firefox running in my install of Mint 11. In all the new user friendly distributions of Linux, Surfing the internet, watching 'U Tube' video, and accessing your web mail, and social media sites is a simple as it is in Windows. In some distributions you may need to add the flash plug-in the first time you try and run a video but this only takes a few minutes and your up and running. With Mint you will not even have to do that.

OK so we can access the internet, lets look at the next most common use for a home PC, opening documents such as those produced in Microsoft Office. Letters Spreadsheets and Power Point presentations. Bring on LibreOffice.

This is a fully functional (and powerful) Office application suit. It includes applications for producing, Word, Spreadsheet and presentation documents, it can also open and save to the Microsoft Office equivalent formats including the later versions such as .docx, .xlsx and .pptx. It also can open documents from other more obscure office applications such as those created in Microsoft Works as I recently found out when I was sent a document created with this package. As well as word documents the other common format that is often sent or downloaded is those in Portable Document Format (pdf) fear not Linux has several tools that can view these documents, and LibreOffice can even create pdf documents for you to send to others without the worry they will change it in any way.   

So we have software in Linux that can do some common tasks that you may already be doing in Windows. The difference is that LibreOffice will not cost you the £100+ that MS Office will cost you. If you want to give it a go there is a Windows version, you can download it here:

In the next Blog I'll look at Music and Video play back in Linux.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Blackpool Linux Use Group - Todays meeting

Well as usual Saturday morning was filled with geeky goodness in the form of the regular Blackpool LUG. This morning we did quite a bit.

I helped my fellow member configure Hangout video conferencing in Google+ as he wanted to make sure it was all in working order in preparation for an interview he will be having in cyberspace on Monday evening,
Good luck to you Les.

Les also provided us with some goodies in the form of some new stickers to adorn our various bits of tec, these are of the new LUG 'Special Projects Group' logo that has been designed for us, and also the #geekupthetower Logo for the Blackpool Geekup group.

My self and Arron were fooling around making Ascii Art using figlet to then paste into the new RIC chat room we have running.
Simon a new member of the group was testing out his battery on his Aser Aspire One Net Book to see if it was duff or worse the charger circuit had failed, as it turned out it was the Battery, while not cheap to replace, a far simpler fix than the alternative. Simon also put the new Beta of Ubuntu 12.04 onto the Acer and was having 'fun' trying to get to grips with the UNITY interface.

I've said it here before, I feel these type of desk top environments are very well suited to touch screen devices, but PC's that use a keyboard and mouse not so good. (Me, an old stick in the mud, Never!!!)  

Finally as you can see from the pictures I was shown how to put images into a Blog post.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

How lucky I am to use Linux

As this post is supposed to be about Linux this will not be a long Blog but I just wanted to let my readers know how lucky I feel to have discovered Linux when I did. Occasionally I do a little freelance computer work repairing family and friends PC's (to say I'm freelance generally means 'free') as they know I have some knowledge and can fix simple hardware issues and reinstall Windows if needed.

Well last week a work mate asked if I would look at a laptop with Windows XP installed on it that was full of viruses, the task being to rescue the data and do a reinstall of Windows. Once I had my hands on the PC I booted it up with a Live image of Linux Mint 11 just to make sure all the hardware was working, which it was, and while in Linux I copied all the data that needed to be saved onto an external Hard drive.

That's when the fun started, I reinstalled Windows but it has taken me 2 days to find all the necessary drivers, partially as Toshiba have not put the correct LAN driver on the download site and having installed windows XP SP3 before I activated the sound driver, I found that this would not work with SP3 installed unless the driver has been installed with the SP2 instillation which is what the PC came with originally. This resulted in having to do the reinstall twice. At least the second time around I had all the divers so was able to do the whole job in about  4-5 hours, including copying the data back to the PC after virus checking it in both Linux and with MS security essentials.

If I had been doing a fresh install of Linux Mint on the same PC I would have had a fully installed and updated machine in less than 2 Hours.

Hence my gratitude to having found Linux