I hope everyone is spreading joy and celebrating with friends and family this holiday season. And don’t forget to donate to a project or a charity this season too.
I like installing directly to the hard drive as it was designed. But there are alternative methods to use Linux and I’m not opposed to them. For instance, I use flash drive installs all the time. Ubuntu has a method for Windows users called Wubi. They have had it since version 10.04 so I think it has had a bit more time to mature. I can only say this because of what I have read on this post from the Bibrarian’s blog. I read this and I come away with the feeling Linux or specifically Ubuntu 11.10 is running pretty darn well in Wubi.
Has anyone else had a similar experience? I tried Wubi in the early stages of its development and really didn’t care for its performance. But that was nearly two years ago and Canonical has had more time to work on it.
You will find me in the $5 range way down the page on the Linux Mint Blog. I give because I believe in the project. I wish I could give more they deserve it for keeping so many different Mint editions active and updated. Kudos to Clem Lefebvre and his team.
For most of us the mere installation of a Linux distribution will bring all the applications we need. But there are always exceptions and that is the focus on this post. I have yet to find a single application for Windows only that I could not find a replacement for. I will say upfront that I still run Windows in a Virtual Box for MSMoney. But it is not for a lack of choices, I’m just a bull-headed person who doesn’t want to change as far as my finances are concerned.
Back to the subject at hand here. You have in the Debian repositories (repos for short) over 29,000 apps. I’m sure in other Linux versions there are just as many but this number gets thrown around quite a bit so I’m throwing it out there too. The biggest hurdle I have had is finding the application I want from all the many choices. From weird names and hundreds of choices per application, it is enough to make anyone’s head spin.
So how do you make good choices for choosing apps? First thing I did was I browsed the software manager and read descriptions. This is time consuming and doesn’t always lead to the best choice. Next in line and a better choice is to search for what you want to do. This will lead to millions of hits if going the search engine route and you still have to decide who’s opinion is the right one.
That leads us to a great site I have used often, Linux App Finder. This site has the applications broken down into categories, good descriptions and members can review or rate the application. You can even install from here but I suggest you stick to your own repos for this since you lessen dependency issues this way. But if it is the only way and the only app for the job, give it a try. Another feature of the site I like is the Alternatives. This is the place to find what you need to replace that one of a kind application you thought could not be replaced. As in my example MSMoney, there are no less than 10 examples for applications to replace it. I have tried a few and in this case so far HomeBank has me the most interested. Now there is no excuse to not trying something new or replacing an app you thought you could not live without, unless you are just bull-headed like me.
I use Linux Mint LMDE and all of the Mint family of distros come with a terrific Software Manager. The Software Manager is extremely user friendly and easy to use. All the applications are broken down into categories and users who register in the Linux Mint Community can rate and review the software. Ubuntu users have a similar tool but I prefer what the team at Mint has done to theirs by involving the community. I have also not been a Ubuntu user for quite sometime now so this may have changed so if it has let us know in the comments. But many distros do not have a tool like this but either rely on Synaptic or Pacman or some other tool. Both of these tools work great too but are not as user friendly for the new Linux user. I have used both but I often find myself back at the cli once I know what package I am looking for is named. I like to use apt-get or aptitude for installing much of my software.
This was a basic introduction for finding and installing Linux applications. I hope I shed some light on how and where to find what you need. If there is something I missed or you need more information or I am just plain wrong, let me know in the comments.
As we know the release of Linux Mint 12 Lisa arrived last week. The onslaught of downloading began at once and the Mint team had to shut off services on other areas of the community in order to accommodate all the downloads. The downloading of version 12 has not stopped but one of Mint’s sponsors, eUKhost, provided the project with another server. The Linux Mint Blog covers it here. In addition to being a sponsor eUKhost also hosts some of the projects servers as you might have guessed. This was an extremely generous move on their part and they should be commended.
So what does all this have to do with transmission you may ask? Well as part of the community that is getting free software we can take a bit of the heat off the servers and help seed the torrent files. You can do this in two ways. First method is to download your new copy of the ISO of your choice using Transmission. Simply click on the torrent link and if you have not changed the default program for handling torrents Transmission will be offered as the method to save the file. Once the torrent is downloaded, takes only seconds, click start. You will have a screen similar to this:
In this example I have two torrents that have completed the download and I am seeding for others. The default selections will set all the options but it is very simple to step through the options either per torrent by right clicking the properties or via the preferences menu which is a global setting. My personal choice is to limit upload to 100kb per torrent and I usually seed until I hit a ratio of 2.00. Often I come back to the torrent and increase the ratio and re-start the seed. By sharing a bit of your bandwidth, especially when the release is new, you can help the projects and others to get the download faster. Before seeding it is a good idea to verify your local data. Right clicking on the torrent and choose verify local data. There is no sense in seeding a bad ISO.
The second method is exactly the same after you create the torrent file. By clicking Add, a normal dialog box appears and simply browse to the location of the ISO file. Follow the usual save routine and a torrent of the ISO is created. Once again it is a good idea to check the file before seeding. Md5Sums are usually provided at most download locations and if using a download tool can be added in at the start of the download for automatic checking.
Another cool option is you can pause the torrents and re-start them at any time. This applies for both uploads and downloads. So there is no need to leave the computer on full-time unless it is something you already do. I my case I use a laptop and I have some concern about it getting too hot. So I pause at the times I shutdown. Don’t worry about the warnings for connected users. The beauty of torrent is they are probably connected to several at once anyway.
So now you have a method to obtain the latest release for almost all distros and at the same time participate in the community by sharing back some bandwidth and the seed. If you are behind a modern router, you should be able to do this seamlessly and be relatively safe. If security is a concern Google the options for using a proxy or placing more limits on time and logging in the router.
The image above is hosted by Image Shack and my html skills are not good enough yet to allow a link to the full size image and their website. Check them out as they have many options for hosting images and video.
Lastly I should mention that Transmission is hardly the only torrent client out there. They all work in a similar fashion but the options may differ. Transmission is simply the default client for Linux Mint. If you like a project and want to help this is a great way to do it.
Update: The ratio I used above is the default ratio for downloads to uploads. When I can I up this ratio and start the torrent again. I am up to a 11.7 ratio now but before you go hog wild, check with your provider on upload limitations. This is entirely legal but some providers place caps on your upload speeds and bytes. You don’t want to push the limits just to be kind to a project or nothing will go out. So check your plan first then help when you can.