Stop shattering Windows!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Don't worry guys. No more geeky posts after this one. At least not for a few months.

Why Linux?

Windows, no doubt, was the first OS we as kids were introduced to. The GUI of Windows made it the most popular OS in use. And it is still the most popular OS available in the market. But are we satisfied? After spending lavishly on Windows, and on the Anti-virus software; and on the various proprietary software, all that we as users wish for is an easy way to get our job done. Strangely, this does not happen. We get bogged down by various errors and viruses in Windows which in turn results in discontentment. I still remember the day when my teacher introduced me to the world of computers. The first thing he mentioned when the Windows screen appeared was The Three Finger Salute(CTRL+ALT+DEL). Haven't we used this legendary combination umpteen times! Why not try something different, something more flexible, something free of cost!

On technical grounds, the word Linux refers to a set of programs which is known as the kernel. But the vast public think of it as a complete OS. Nevertheless, this article will concentrate on How a new user can get used to Linux. As Ubuntu is the most preferred Linux-based OS, I recommend working on it. Firstly, any OS requires installation. Really? Well, it is possible to run Ubuntu through a live CD/DVD. It is similar to a test-drive wherein the user can check for both hardware compatibility and driver support. All this without installation, isn't that great folks! Ubuntu can even be installed within windows(Wubi installation). A clear, detailed and sophisticated installation procedure is given in

It is after the installation that many users feel a little out-of-place. Most of us already have the misconception that Linux is complex and is only for the developers and advanced users. It is high time we fine-tune our thoughts if we are uncomfortable with Windows.

Certain steps after installation:

When it comes to GUI, Windows and Ubuntu are similar. The flexibility though in the case of the latter is a big plus. You can start by exploring the default applications available. You'll find that there are alternatives for most of the common applications used in Windows. GIMP instead of Photoshop, Open office for Microsoft Office, Rhythmbox music player for Windows media player, Firefox web browser for IE, Pidgin Messenger which clubs most of the popular messengers, VLC media player, Transmission Bit-torrent client and many other such important and daily-used applications.

Add/Remove programs and Synaptic Package Manager
Add/Remove programs under Applications is an extremely useful tool. It allows you to add or remove applications at the click of a button. You'll be surprised to see the variety of applications available under each head. You can browse thorough the categories to find the required applications or search using the Search box available. However, for more advanced needs the synaptic manager is used.

Ubuntu Tweak
Ubuntu Tweak allows you to tweak your system settings, all in one place. You can install new applications, customize your desktop settings, configure your start-up applications, change the system file type association and many more tweaks in this single application. Image tools, video tools, emulators, file-sharing tools, instant messengers, FTP tools, CD/DVD tools and many more applications pertaining to our needs can be easily downloaded with the click of a button. It is fully user-interactive eliminating the use of command line. To install Ubuntu Tweak, use Terminal.

Applications → Accessories → Terminal. Enter the command:

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-tweak

Then access it through Applications → System Tools → Ubuntu Tweak
Install applications like Compiz Fusion, Gnome Do.

System → Preferences→ CompizConfig Settings Manger

Explore the various options to make your desktop look envious! Desktop Cube, Rotate Cube, Expo, 3D Windows, Wobbly windows, Ring switcher are very impressive.

Getting connected to the Internet
It is not unusual to have a lot of doubts in the beginning. Internet is one of the best sources to access for information/clarifications. The recent versions of Ubuntu support all major Ethernet cards. Possibly, you'll get connected to the internet automatically if you are using plug-in-play modems. But in case you have the settings in a manner that you manually connect to the internet keying in username and password in Windows, then you'll have to configure once in Ubuntu.
Open terminal. Type

sudo pppoeconf

An interactive blue screen appears. It scans for the Ethernet cards available. Proceed to the screen wherein Username is asked. Specify your Username and Password. At the verge of completion, it asks if you would prefer the saved settings to run during boot time. Choose Yes. Internet is up and ready! Those interested in working with the terminal, can also try the following

sudo dhclient    (or)
sudo pppconfig (an interactive approach appears)

sudo pon dsl-provider for connecting to the internet
sudo poff dsl-provider for disconnecting from the internet.(Usually, it is not used. The cable is simply plugged out)

WiFi is automatically detected. And in the case of broadband, once connected, it is not necessary to type in the command line for getting connected to the internet again.
Getting used with the terminal:
Terminal is the command line. It is similar to the Command Prompt in Windows. Most of us are scared of using the command line. I was very reluctant to use the terminal in the beginning. The reason being obvious- the pointing and clicking of buttons with the mouse for very many years. Using the terminal can save ample amount of time! I'll give shoot one of my experiences- For downloading anything, for instance Firefox, I have to run a search engine and then perform 5-6 clicks whereas a single line would perform the same in the terminal.

sudo apt-get install firefox

Ubuntu Forums is of great help when it comes to using the terminal. The terminal can be used for configuring printers, cards, etc., almost everything is possible in the terminal, from editing, creating, moving, copying of files to the opening of applications by simply typing the name of the application.

Nautilus and Gnome Do

Nautilus is the official file manager for the Gnome desktop. It is similar to the Run application in Windows. The recent folders can easily be located thorough Nautilus. Alt+F2 is the combination for invoking Nautilus.

Gnome Do, an application launcher has the potential to amuse anyone! It is elegant, very stylish and the best thing is it can help us perform things as quickly as possible. Do away with the mouse and start Gnome Do! Gnome Do is readily available for installation in Ubuntu Tweak. Starting an application, opening a file, tweeting, chatting, searching for files, mounting drives, playing music , searching Google maps, opening an URL are some of the basic features possible using this addictive application launcher. With a vast variety of plug-ins, Gnome Do is simply irresistible.

Sytem → Preferences → Keyboard Shortcuts is used to define user-defined short-cuts for the most-used applications. It is a good practice to have short cuts for invoking Terminal, Gnome Do, etc.  

Ubuntu(Linux) is fun. We have spent years and years on Windows and yet many of us are oblivious of the ways that Windows functions and the causes for so many errors. Let's try Ubuntu for a couple of days; maybe a week or two alongside Windows and feel the difference.

Note: If you are impressed and wish to give a shot at Ubuntu, be careful during the installation process. Don't land up clicking the wrong options and losing your Windows!

I have included a few command lines for fun, with no intention of scaring anyone! :D
Happy Diwali to all you wonderful people...