Mike's Land of Linux

I'm still what you call a linux noobie but after almost four years of using Linux Mint (Cinnamon) I guess I'm not so noob. Currently I'm using Mint 20 Cinnamon on three desktops and one HP laptop. I really do enjoy using Linux. Using it makes me happy and I have never sworn at Linux unlike the many times I have cursed at Windows.

I started out with Linux by accident. I had an old 2 core desktop that I advertised on FB but nobody wanted it and I was a day from bringing it to the local recycling station when I read a FB page done by a computer teckkie who wrote about giving your old computer a new lease on life by installing linux and Mint in particular. That caught my curiosity and I looked into Mint, downloaded the .iso file, burned that to a DVD and installed it. The rest is history.

As of January 2021 I have Mint 20.1 running on three Dell desktops: two i5s, one i7 and one HP Elitebook laptop. Two desktops are running dual booted with Windows 10 on separate drives


In the past i've tried Ubuntu 20, Manjaro XFCE, Linux Lite, Mint XFCE, Zorin XFCE, LMDE4, Ubuntu KDE Plasma, MX Linux and most recently, Ubuntu Budgie. My favorite still remains Linux Mint. My next favorite distro would have to be Ubuntu Budgie. And I did another go round with Linux Lite on a USB and I'll say that I enjoyed that one quite a bit. If I were moving from windows, I'd seriously consider that one also.


WHAT DO I WANT FROM LINUX?

That's a good question because what I want may not be what you want. What I want from linux is an operating system that doesn't force updates on me. I want to be able to do them myself whenever I want to do them. I don't want updates that take an hour or more to complete. I never want to see the operating system update when I turn on the computer or when I turn it off. I want an OS that's responsive, not sluggish or slow, taking it forever to load a stupid program. I never want to see those dreaded words "DO NOT TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER!" I want an OS that looks and acts like Windows out of the box. I don't want to have to find and change a bunch of settings to make it that way before I use the system. I want one that is easy to learn, stable and lets me do most (or all, ideally) of the work I was doing with Windows 10. And I want it to be customizable. For me, Mint (which comes with the Cinnamon desktop) does all that and more. It's perfect for me.

SOFTWARE

If I'm going to be running Linux instead of Windows, I'll need software that will do the same job as the software I use on Windows. Luckily, 90% of the time there's no problem and you can find much of what you need in the Mint Software Manager, which is a repository of linux software unlike Windows, where you have to run around the internet downloading .exe files from various websites. In linux there are no exe files.

Some of the software I use daily...

  1. Shutter. This is the equivalent to Windows Snipping Tool. It's easy to use and I do like it. Download it from the shutter site or enter the three lines below to install it.
    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:linuxuprising/shutter
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt install shutter
    Once you install it you will find it in the Mint main menu.


  2. Software. I do publishing so I need something that works good with MS Word. I've tried LibreOffice, Textmaker by FreeOffice and WPS Office. The winner for me is WPS Office. I just think that LibreOffice has an "old" feel and seems clunky. FreeOffice is a little better but WPS reminds me of Word and does work smoothly. I find that a document created on any of the three will look good on MS Word, but a complex document made on MS Word might look a mess if viewed on any of the three. I found that a document with lots of formatting and graphics may look ugly when viewed on WPS Office but will appear correctly with LibreOffice, so check them all and see what you like best. You can get LibreOffice and WPSOffice from the Software Manager and Textmaker from the FreeOffice website. All are FREE.


  3. PDF Editor. I need something that works like Adobe Acrobat and I've searched and searched. I almost paid $100 for a pdf editor that I didn't really like but thought I couldn't find anything better. The answer was right under my nose. The answer is LibreOffice Draw. The name is misleading. Yes it's a drawing program but you can change the menu items to turn it into a pdf editor. You can edit text, you can insert graphics, you can move text and graphics around. In short, I can do about all I can do with Adobe Acrobat. I just wish LibreOffice would change the name.


  4. MS Paint!! You can have an app that's pretty darn close and just as easy. What you need to download is Kolourpaint. You can find it in the software Manager. If you like MS Paint you should like this. The graphic at the top of the page was made with Kolourpaint. Not too shabby, either.

  5. NEOFETCH. This is a neat little utility I think everyone should have on their computer. Download it from the Software Manager. You can launch it by typing "neofetch" (without the brackets) in your terminal. What you find listed is your Operating System, Kernal and shell type, graphics and amount of RAM in your computer and more. Neofetch tells you quite a bit about your system.

  6. RESCUEZILLA! When something screws up (or when you totally screw up your system so it no longer works) you need it fixed fast! I really believe in disk imaging to get you back up and running quickly. Clonezilla does disk imaging, but Clonezilla is a pain to use and I've been scared silly at times trying to either create a disk image or trying to restore one. Clonezille is one of the most complicated imaging programs I've ever seen. Rescuezilla changes all of that and makes it simple. Just download it and put it on a USB drive. Boot your computer from the USB drive. Once Rescuezilla loads, select your source drive and target drive and create your disc image. No sweat. To restore your image, again select your source and target drives and click on restore. Unless you have some unusual need, you can forget Clonezilla. Rescuezilla makes disc imaging easy!

  7. One thing that has always annoyed me about linux, is that thing called the cursor I-beam. The I-beam is that thing you get when you place your cursor over text, or in the address bar of your browser, or in some field where you need to enter data and click. In windows, it's very narrow. In linux it's too wide I-beam and looks like a fat dog bone. If you need to enter data or edit/insert letters or text, that fat I makes the process harder than it should be. But there's a fix for this. What you need to do is put another cursor package in your home directory at home/username/.icons. You should find the .icons directory there but you may not. Remember that the .icons folder is a hidden folder because it begins with a dot. Make sure your home folder shows hidden folders and files by pressing CTRL-H first. If you don't find the .icons folder,then make one. An excellent cursor package can be found here. Another cursor set that will work just great is here in the gnome look site. The two right folders in the graphic below are the folders you need. Normally in the .icons folder you'd just see a default folder. Choose the one you like best.

    Cursor Set Your next step is to download the file into your download folder, right click and extract it. Then take the resulting folder and move it into home/username/.icons. Once that is done, go back to Mint and your main Mint menu. Go to themes. Then go to cursors, click and select the set you want. At this point, you are done. Enjoy your new I beam!

  8. LINUX MINT 20.1 ULYSSA (Cinnamon)

    January 2021. I upgraded all my computers to Linux Mint 20.1. These were done through the Update Manager. I made disc images for all computers before I did the upgrade but found that I didn't really need to. Each upgrade was 15 minutes or less and all went very smoothly.

    LINUX MINT 20 ULYANA (Cinnamon)
    Summer 2020. Linux Mint 20 is now out and rather than wait for the upgrade option, I decided to do clean installs. My first install was on a Dell dual core desktop. The install went flawlessly. So, after the good experience with that, I did a clean install on my HP Elitebook laptop. That one also went flawlessly. And so, to build on that, I did another clean install on our Dell i7 desktop. That also went perfectly. Finally, for my last install, I went back to the first Dell dual core desktop, wiped the disk, installed Windows 10 2004 and then installed Mint 20 Cinnamon and converted its 160GB drive to a dual booter. It was a quick and easy install which installed effortlessly. And I'm glad I took the time to do this instead of waiting for the official upgrade instructions because I'm reading that some users have had problems with it. It was tempting to just wait for the upgrade because upgrades generally go much faster than clean installs, but I learned a few things about MBR and GPT formats and just how easy dual booting can be, at least in a desktop and one laptop.



    One of my other hobbies is DXing, or tracking down TV, FM and AM stations from far away. Because of that hobby I have a real interest in software devined radios, or SDRs. If I can find anything that will help me or others to track down these stations using linux Mint, I will post the information here. GQRX how runs on Mint 20.1 and I assume Ubuntu 20.1 also. I've taken it from Mint's Software Manager and installed it on one desktop and one laptop and it works fine. I don't have the RSP1 anymore so I don't know if it works with CubicSDR. It didn't with the RSP2.

    USING CUBICSDR WITH YOUR RSP2 SDR

    USING GQRX WITH YOUR AIRSPY MINI OR DISCOVERY

    USING SKYWAVE LINUX TO ACCESS KIWI AND WEB SDRS

    Skylinux

    I've become a fan of DXing remotely using Kiwi SDRs. Skywave Linux has dozens of Kiwi SDRs and WebSDRs for you to listen to plus tons of other stuff using their version of Firefox. My favorite is in Iceland. If you are interested in this, download Skywave Linux (an Ubuntu dirivative) and use USB Image Writer in your Mint Menu to burn it to a bootable USB stick. I have had no problem using it with an HP laptop but get no audio with my Dells. This seems to be a known problem, so keep this in mind. Also know that you will need to enter your network password every time you start Skywave Linux. If doing this every time becomes annoying, consider creating a "persistent" bootable USB using a program called mkusb. This method saves your network setting to the USB so you don't need to do it yourself every time. To install mkusb just click on the link above and enter the three commands into your terminal, then find mkusb in your Mint Menu under Accessories and click on it. Follow the prompts in the article and create a persistent USB. It's easy to do; it just takes a while. (Notes on Skywave Linux: Win+R shows and hides the menu. Use ENTER to select Firefox or whatever. CTRL+ALT+DEL exits Skywaves Linux. Click extreme upper right side of the window to enter your network data. CTRL+ALT+T shows terminal if you should need it for anything.)

    Thanks for reading!


    BACK TO MIKESDX HOME PAGE

    (c)2021 M.Bugaj

    Last updated 4/15/21