Monday, February 25, 2013

Ubuntu 12.04 Mostly Pleasant To Use - UPDATED

Ubuntu Linux 12.04.2 LTS continues to be mostly satisfactory to use, enough so that I can foresee using it for the approximately 4 years remaining in its support period (if I live that long).

The interface is attractive. Somehow I could never find it in myself to say that about any Windows system. This one is colorful and (depending on how you set it up) relatively tasteful. Does that matter? Ask anyone in the arts if it matters. Things I like about the interface:
  • The Dash, a launcher after my own heart. Type a few letters of the name of the app; The Dash shows you icons for all apps matching what you typed. Click one; Dash disappears and the app starts. For elderly command-line jockeys like me, this is just about the ideal blend, and a lot less fussy than a large main menu stuffed full of entries.
  • Thanks to the Workspace Switcher, I am actually inclined to make use of workspaces for the first time. Before, it was too easy to lose track.
Things I don't like about the interface:
  • The main launcher bar (I don't know the proper term yet) is a single column of buttons that holds perhaps two dozen or fewer launchers. Within limits, you can set the size of the buttons, but if you want more than will fit in that one column, you have to place the launcher on the desktop instead. Windows users will be fine with that; Linux/Unix users are generally less inclined to clutter the desktop.
  • When you use any given app, its navigation bar, document information (e.g., URL textbox), etc. are across the top of the app's main window... all except the app's main menu. That appears at the very top of the display, and appears only when you're running that app and hover the mouse there. It's a little disorienting if you do much with the menu.

The office suite, LibreOffice 3, does things a little differently from MS Office, but most of the functionality is there. As with most Linux software, it's free; just install it and use it.

The default browser is Firefox, currently version 19.0, so far satisfactory. This box is just enough faster than the old one that there's no longer a "Firefox penalty" compared to Google Chrome. That said, I'll still install Chrome before long; it is always good to test things in at least two browsers.

The only email software installed is Thunderbird. If you have a major email provider, it's probably great. If you have a provider too small to be in Mozilla's database, the auto-account-creation tool is so dysfunctional it will send you screaming when you try to create an account. I've put it aside for a rainy day, and am using my email host's (very well-implemented) webmail for everything at the moment.

The photo manager, Shotwell, is new to me as of tonight, but it is a great improvement over their previous offering. You could call it "F-Spot done right" and not be far off the mark. It isn't exceedingly feature-rich, but it does the things a manager needs to do, and makes it easy to offload genuine editing to a real editor. I chose GIMP for that purpose... appropriate for a cripple, eh? ... and familiar to me from a couple years' use. Note: tags, an essential tool, are done right, something F-Spot could never claim.

I'll post interesting things as I find them. Perhaps when you get old, you, too, will want to change to a truly free operating system with free software. I did, and I have few if any regrets.


LibreOffice 3 Writer, like its OpenOffice predecessor, will produce various MS Word-format files, as well as .PDF files.

Google Chrome works like a champ (no surprise there), but for various reasons I'll probably keep Firefox as the default browser.

I resolved the problem with Thunderbird: I had misread something in my mail host's documentation, so it's not really Thunderbird's fault (though that auto-account-creation process is a PITA unless you use a major email host... at the recommendation long ago of the NearlyFreeSpeech guy, I use, a commercial (and industrial-strength) mail host, which is not tiny and is very reliable, but not major enough to make the cut to be in Mozilla's database. Thunderbird made another major improvement: they ditched that combined-inbox feature; each account now has its own inbox and every other folder, corresponding to the IMAP setup of each account. Whew! I don't miss the combined inbox!

Now I need to find a suitable calendar... it doesn't have to be Thunderbird-integrated, just clear and reliable. And free!

1 comment:

  1. I use T-Bird on my 12.04 install and didn't have a problem with it, but I did the accounts manually. I only work with POP3 and SMTP and the port 110 for POP3 and 587 for SMTP worked without a hitch. I don't think you can get much smaller than the server.

    As I remember I checked FAQ at the email server and it provided the numbers and protocols used.

    I wish there was a Linux version of Pegasus, but it's free, and you can't push people to work for nothing.

    I've been happy using the system, I just wish the few clients I still do some work for would change, but I don't push because they are struggling to stay alive like all small businesses.



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