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Help for a Linux beginner
  • I am prepping for a journey to Factor e Farm for a dedicated project visit.  Unfortunately, the resouces at Factor e Farm make running my desktop there impractical because it is too much of an energy hog, so I will be limited to my laptop.

    My laptop has only a single core, 1.6 GHz, and out of concern about what limitations I might have, I decided the Windows 7 installation I've had since I bought the laptop 2 or 3 years ago should probably get cleaned ... unfortunately I've downloaded, tried and uninstalled quite a few programs, Firefox has especially become bloated and unresponsive, and I felt the best solution would be to wipe the Windows installation and re-install ... except I was unable to locate my system disc.  I decided to give Ubuntu a try ... it took several attempts (did not like trying to boot from CD, so I went from a thumb drive).

    Anyhow, I finally have Linux running.  I installed wine so I can run Google Sketchup ... but unfortunately it is running very slow.  I have Ubuntu 11.04 installed.

    I noticed it seems to use a Windows Aero-like interface with some sort of alpha channel shading ... is there any way to alter this, use a simpler graphical interface that might reduce the overhead on my CPU so running Sketchup via Wine might be more responsive?

    Thanks, and looking forward to meeting other OSErs at FeF ...
  • 5 Comments sorted by
  • Vote Up0Vote Down
    September 2011
    From your description, I'd guess that your laptop isn't really lacking in CPU power, so much as it is lacking in GPU power -- the graphics hardware is not very powerful.

    When you installed Ubuntu, you could have chosen a custom installation, and picked a less resource-hungry shell, and I think you can still switch to a different desktop/shell too, but I haven't tried that version of Ubuntu yet, so I can't give you specific instructions on how to switch it.

    Linux has the ability to run on much lower resources than Windows, but the typical desktop installation will default to trying to keep up with the 'Jones', so to speak, and add every bell, whistle, and the kitchen sink, just to show how it can do more than Windows (or Mac), if you let it, and it may take some experience to get used to corralling it to your specific needs.

    Try checking the help and/or Google for alternate desktop environments for Ubuntu (Their forum is also a good resource to search).

    How soon are you expecting to go to FeF?

    Good Luck,

  • Unfortunately, not being familiar with the builds, I'm not sure how to configure it on installation to be resource-lite.

    The graphics chip, an ATi HD3200, is heads and tails above my last laptop which had an <snark>"advanced accelerated 3d graphics"</snark> Intel graphics chip.  I know when I hooked up a monitor and dual-screened between my laptop and desktop LCD screen, there was no noticeable degradation in performance, at least not in Windows (granted, the first thing I did in Windows upon buying the laptop with Windows pre-installed was to disable Aero).

    The 1.6 GHz single core I think is probably the weakest point.  No, the laptop isn't suited for modern graphics-intensive gaming, but I know CAD modelling (which is something I will need to use it for) tends to be more CPU-intensive than graphics chip-intensive.  I already know it won't be capable of smooth video editing, just from attempting to record a simple video with my webcam for Youtube on it.

    I expect to arrive at FeF Wednesday or Thursday.  Most of what I bring will be going there, so I'll drop my bags, but the desktop I am bringing will be going to my friend David's 5th wheel 10 miles or so from FeF for me to use when I have work I could only do there (video editing, probably, hopefully I'll be able to do Sketchup on the laptop but not if its laggy to the point of being fruitless ... Sketchup's user friendly 'pull/push' facing is nice but needs mouse responsiveness which can be susceptible to overall computer lag) queued up so I won't be making a lot of trips there.

    I have money coming to help me out on the trip, but it isn't here yet, so I'm probably going to put off getting the gear I need to buy (steel toed boots, hearing protection, etc.) until after I arrive.  It tends to take me awhile to get my bearings in terms of how to get to the store, post office, etc. (and find my way back, heh) unfortunately.  I do plan to count on needing a day or so to snooze off the rigors of the road.  Google Maps reports the journey at around 1,840 miles and its driving time is estimated at 1 day, 5 hours, which I think would be safest to spread over 3 days (I used to do crazy 30+ hour straight driving in my early twenties ... I'm not that stupid anymore!  Rest stops are my friend now!).

    My most abundant resource is time ... I've been out of work for 3 years, have no spouse nor dependents, so I can stay there as long as I'm useful and wanted.  Hopefully I can bring my skills up to speed quickly, and get over-the-Internet collaboration going.  I think a lot of folk on the website, who can't really spare the trip there or there just isn't enough room at FeF ... I think if I can find ways to spread the work, not only will it save time to get the documentation done, but I think it will help the energy of the project that some collaboration is going.  Makes me feel bad that I can't really think of a way Internet collaboration could help with the builds now, though when the documentation bridge is built, of course, that's when other teams elsewhere can start building and come up with improvements on the builds.

    I am very honored and excited to be invited, and I look forward to the long fumbling, stumbling process of learning everyone's names. :)

    And thanks for the luck wish.

  • Vote Up0Vote Down
    October 2011
    I would advise linux mint. It's built on much the same foundation as ubuntu, minus the fluff. Here's a VERY thorough review with screenshots. 

    In fact you might like reading his other reviews. . .
  • I have not used mint but have heard good stuff about it.  The biggest thing you can so with your ubuntu to speed it up is  install lxde.  The gnome desktop that ubuntu uses is very resource heavy.  lxde is much lighter and it feels like a new computer again!  If you type in lxde meta-package in your synaptic package manager, mark it for instalation and install, it will install what you want. There is also an even more lightweight verision of it.  Lxde can also be installed from the ubuntu software center. You just type in lxde in the search box.  To get to the lxde desktop, you type your login name or login name and password in the first log in box when you get on the computer and before you click return, there are buttons at the bottom to change to gnome,  openbox, or lxde.   Lxde is the quickest and openbox is probably second quickest.  With lxde you might still be able to run firefox.  I believe you can use lxde under mint too.  Extra ram also will help a lot but installing ram is a bit scary for me.
  • Vote Up0Vote Down
    October 2011
    The big thing when recommending to newbies, is you want to really make it simple. Keep a distro that is clean, easy to navigate, hardware friendly, stable, and well supported. 

    Ubuntu strives to be an friendly distro (and Unity is getting there), but there are still rather glaring annoyances to be dealt with under the hood. For example: the monitor calibration settings are over-simplified, making it impossible to tweak color on an HDMI monitor without a pre-loaded profile. Well, being a new tool, there really aren't many functional profile available. Too much green on your tv? Too bad, Sam I am.  And if you don't have the proper resolution available pre-selected, you are S.O.L. , as xorg.conf is no longer the go-to solution for screen issues. I am glad ubuntu is moving away from xorg, but can the user be trusted to tweak his own monitor settings, please ubuntu? 

    Hey, if it worked, I would have no problem. But it doesn't quite mesh properly together yet. Add in a community filled with half-baked CLI instructions to fix common issues, and you have the perfect recipe for hysterical support calls.

    Meanwhile, Fedora comes with gnome 3 standard, which evokes a mediocre response at best, so the two biggest distros are trying a bit too much to squeeze out of the "gnome 2" bin a bit too quick. If you personally want to impress me, get a team together with Steam so I can has my favorite games on linux. I would cry for joy.  

      **For the record, I do like LXDE. I wish E17 was more common. Bhodi linux has a well done e17 setup built on Ubuntu base,  so that will be an interesting project to follow**

    but i digress.... 

    Any open-source project such as GVCS needs to focus on these big 3 things.
    1 Reliability
    2 Cost
    3 User Friendliness

     Drop any of those big 3 and the project will grind to a halt as people give up. Ubuntu is just not there yet. It's got reliability and cost covered. But in the attempt to do everything for the users and keep them out of trouble, it makes simple problems difficult to fix. 

    So as of now, I cannot recommend Ubuntu main, although i will gladly give it credit and recommend many of its forked projects. 



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