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Thursday, 10 July 2014

Introduction

A couple of weeks ago I was informed about "Geekness Day" which is coming up on the 13th July.

I was asked to answer some questions to prove my geek factor and to show how I embrace my geekness.

So without further ado here we go...

What makes you a geek?

I have always been a geek. When I was younger being a geek was not considered  very cool, yet nowadays it appears to be something that everyone wants to be.

So what makes me a geek?

It all started at a very young age.

My parents used to take my sister and I on holiday to the Isle of Wight, just off the south coast of England.

Every night we would go for a walk along the sea front to the pier and my parents would give us £1 each to play on the machines.

My sister always chose to play the penny fall machines or the slot machines.


I was only ever interested in the games. Space Invaders, Pac Man, Punch Out, Out Run and my personal favourite Track and Field.

Track and Field was a game based on athletics and the idea was to compete against a computer opponent in a series of events and if you beat the opponent or beat the qualifying times you were allowed through to the next event.

To play the game you repeatedly hammered two buttons as quickly as you could and the more speed and rhythm with which you hit the keys the faster you ran. Other events required you to use a third button for releasing Javelins, jumping into the sandpit or leaping hurdles.

Playing computer games isn't particularly geeky but the fact that as a child I could play Track and Field for an hour with £1 and still come back with 90 pence in change has to give me some merit points.

Over the years my game playing has cost me dozens of broken joysticks, loads of money and an inordinate amount of time.

When I was younger it was Jungle Hunt on the Atari 2600 and then Manic Miner, Jet Set Willy and BMX Simulator on the Sinclair Spectrum.

Through my late school and college years it was Sensible Soccer, Cannon Fodder and Road Rash.

I remember having a period of playing Bubble Bobble with a friend in our local club and we managed to complete 67 out of the 100 levels. There were people looking over our should as we rapidly fired out bubbles desperately evading the killer shark.

At college we used to have Sensible Soccer competitions, Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter battles.

I still enjoy retrogaming today and I have the Blaze Ultimate handheld gaming device for playing Megadrive/Genesys games, an OUYA and a Raspberry PI for games emulation.

I was one of those kids at school that did everything in my power not to have to be outside of a lunch hour and so I enrolled in just about every kind of club there was. I joined chess club, music club and computer club. I even enrolled in a school play.

I started programming when I was 11 using the Sinclair Spectrum. Like most kids, my early programs were written in BASIC by copying reams of code out of magazines only to be disappointed by the fact that I could always get them working. POKE this and PEEK that.

After leaving college I started work at Data Sciences which was later bought by IBM. I worked as a software developer in London working on large financial systems and then I joined Systems Union working on one of the largest accountancy packages.

I have worked as a software developer, SQL Server DBA, SQL Server developer, software tester, applications support consultant and configuration analyst. I am currently developing an allocation management system for a large oil company in the UK.

I have programmed in COBOL, C++, Visual Basic, PERL, PHP, ASP and nowadays .NET.

I first tried using Linux in the early 2000s and I was delighted when I managed to get Mandrake working with full internet access, a working printer and scanner.

Mandrake still didn't satisfy all my requirements and the world was still at the stage where websites were made for Internet Explorer and everything else was an afterthought.

A couple of years later I tried openSUSE for the first time and it was just what I was looking for. It was at this point that I decided to go full time with Linux at home and I have never really looked back.

I have now tried dozens of Linux distributions on multiple platforms including netbooks, laptops, Chromebooks and MacBooks.

Absolutely none of the above is what makes me a real geek though.

What I think makes me a geek is the fact that for every problem I try and think of a way of programming a solution to it.

For instance imagine I have a folder with 100 files and I need to change 1 line in each file but there is no particular rule as to which line that is.

Any normal person would open each file one by one and edit the one line, save and move to the next one. The task probably wouldn't take more than an hour or so.

My mind doesn't work like that. I can't think of anything more tedious that editing 100 files. I therefore have to find the programming solution. The programming solution might take 5 times as long to produce but it means I didn't have to edit those files by hand.

Worse than that though, after running the program and achieving the original intended aim I will then edit the program and refactor it again and again until it is as optimised as it can possibly be.

The pointless thing is that the program will probably never be required ever again.

Now that is what makes me a geek.

What is your proudest geek moment?

A difficult question this one.

I remember feeling pretty chuffed when I posted my article about finding my lost cat using my Raspberry PI.

The Raspberry PI developers liked the article and sent me a camera board to go with my Raspberry PI.

As a blogger it was great when I reached 1,000,000 page views and then 2,000,000 and now over 5,000,000.

It was also pretty cool when I was asked to be a guest on the Everyday Linux podcast.

From a programming point of view I remember being called to a customer site in Edinburgh where a client had a report that was taking 36 hours to run. I optimised the queries and the report ended up running in less than 2 minutes.

From a gaming point of view there is no prouder moment than when you win the league for the first time on Championship Manager.

What is your geek motto/favourite geek quote?

I don't have mottos as such but I do have a couple of theories.

1. The application life cycle

All applications start as spreadsheets.

Generally the office expert creates a spreadsheet and they add macros and VBA code to the spreadsheet.

That person generally leaves the company and the next person in line looks at the spreadsheet and asks the question "which muppet produced this?" and their solution is to turn it into a Microsoft Access database.

The Access database works for a little while but then somebody else suggests writing a dedicated application with a SQL Server database used for storing the data.

Once the application is written somebody says "This is all well and good but it would be better if we could export the data to Excel".

2. Programmers would rather program anything than the thing they are supposed to be programming

My day job is all about developing software that tells the Oil company that I work for how much oil and gas is being produced.

Give me any other reason to write code and I will take it and I am not the only one.

Programmers are always looking at their colleague's projects and issues because the thing they are developing always looks more interesting.

I know of one contract developer that wrote a program that calculated how much time he spent in the bathroom at work during the course of the year so that he could show the company how much it costs them.

4. Who is your geek role model?

I guess everyone wishes they were the person that came up with Facebook and so Mark Zuckerberg is an obvious choice.
 From a Linux perspective I like the stuff that Jim Lynch writes and I love the Linux Outlaws and Ubuntu UK Podcasts.


In the UK we have a television program called The Gadget Show and I doubt there are many true geeks that wouldn't want to be in the same shoes as Jason Bradbury or Jon Bentley.

Finally there is a guy called Larry Bundy Junior also known as Guru Larry who used to run a show about retro gaming on British television. I loved that show.

5. Which SingleHopper geek do you most relate to?

I had to read a fair few SingleHop blog posts to work this one out but I reckon that Dennis Guzman would be the blogger I relate to most because of his affiliation to retro gaming.

Of course though some people will see a striking resemblance between me and  Adrienne Wicklund.

6. How familiar are you with Singlehop's product offerings?

I am not particularly knowledgeable about Singlehop in particular but I am aware of the sort of products on offer such as cloud hosting.

Unfortunately it isn't the sort of service I have had much of a need for.

7. Anything else

Well I have added what makes me a geek. It is now up to everyone else to tell me what makes them a geek.

Use the comments below or use the hashtags #everydaylinuxusergeeks and #singlehopgeeks.

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter. @dailylinuxuser






Celebrating Geekness Day

Introduction

A couple of weeks ago I was informed about "Geekness Day" which is coming up on the 13th July.

I was asked to answer some questions to prove my geek factor and to show how I embrace my geekness.

So without further ado here we go...

What makes you a geek?

I have always been a geek. When I was younger being a geek was not considered  very cool, yet nowadays it appears to be something that everyone wants to be.

So what makes me a geek?

It all started at a very young age.

My parents used to take my sister and I on holiday to the Isle of Wight, just off the south coast of England.

Every night we would go for a walk along the sea front to the pier and my parents would give us £1 each to play on the machines.

My sister always chose to play the penny fall machines or the slot machines.


I was only ever interested in the games. Space Invaders, Pac Man, Punch Out, Out Run and my personal favourite Track and Field.

Track and Field was a game based on athletics and the idea was to compete against a computer opponent in a series of events and if you beat the opponent or beat the qualifying times you were allowed through to the next event.

To play the game you repeatedly hammered two buttons as quickly as you could and the more speed and rhythm with which you hit the keys the faster you ran. Other events required you to use a third button for releasing Javelins, jumping into the sandpit or leaping hurdles.

Playing computer games isn't particularly geeky but the fact that as a child I could play Track and Field for an hour with £1 and still come back with 90 pence in change has to give me some merit points.

Over the years my game playing has cost me dozens of broken joysticks, loads of money and an inordinate amount of time.

When I was younger it was Jungle Hunt on the Atari 2600 and then Manic Miner, Jet Set Willy and BMX Simulator on the Sinclair Spectrum.

Through my late school and college years it was Sensible Soccer, Cannon Fodder and Road Rash.

I remember having a period of playing Bubble Bobble with a friend in our local club and we managed to complete 67 out of the 100 levels. There were people looking over our should as we rapidly fired out bubbles desperately evading the killer shark.

At college we used to have Sensible Soccer competitions, Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter battles.

I still enjoy retrogaming today and I have the Blaze Ultimate handheld gaming device for playing Megadrive/Genesys games, an OUYA and a Raspberry PI for games emulation.

I was one of those kids at school that did everything in my power not to have to be outside of a lunch hour and so I enrolled in just about every kind of club there was. I joined chess club, music club and computer club. I even enrolled in a school play.

I started programming when I was 11 using the Sinclair Spectrum. Like most kids, my early programs were written in BASIC by copying reams of code out of magazines only to be disappointed by the fact that I could always get them working. POKE this and PEEK that.

After leaving college I started work at Data Sciences which was later bought by IBM. I worked as a software developer in London working on large financial systems and then I joined Systems Union working on one of the largest accountancy packages.

I have worked as a software developer, SQL Server DBA, SQL Server developer, software tester, applications support consultant and configuration analyst. I am currently developing an allocation management system for a large oil company in the UK.

I have programmed in COBOL, C++, Visual Basic, PERL, PHP, ASP and nowadays .NET.

I first tried using Linux in the early 2000s and I was delighted when I managed to get Mandrake working with full internet access, a working printer and scanner.

Mandrake still didn't satisfy all my requirements and the world was still at the stage where websites were made for Internet Explorer and everything else was an afterthought.

A couple of years later I tried openSUSE for the first time and it was just what I was looking for. It was at this point that I decided to go full time with Linux at home and I have never really looked back.

I have now tried dozens of Linux distributions on multiple platforms including netbooks, laptops, Chromebooks and MacBooks.

Absolutely none of the above is what makes me a real geek though.

What I think makes me a geek is the fact that for every problem I try and think of a way of programming a solution to it.

For instance imagine I have a folder with 100 files and I need to change 1 line in each file but there is no particular rule as to which line that is.

Any normal person would open each file one by one and edit the one line, save and move to the next one. The task probably wouldn't take more than an hour or so.

My mind doesn't work like that. I can't think of anything more tedious that editing 100 files. I therefore have to find the programming solution. The programming solution might take 5 times as long to produce but it means I didn't have to edit those files by hand.

Worse than that though, after running the program and achieving the original intended aim I will then edit the program and refactor it again and again until it is as optimised as it can possibly be.

The pointless thing is that the program will probably never be required ever again.

Now that is what makes me a geek.

What is your proudest geek moment?

A difficult question this one.

I remember feeling pretty chuffed when I posted my article about finding my lost cat using my Raspberry PI.

The Raspberry PI developers liked the article and sent me a camera board to go with my Raspberry PI.

As a blogger it was great when I reached 1,000,000 page views and then 2,000,000 and now over 5,000,000.

It was also pretty cool when I was asked to be a guest on the Everyday Linux podcast.

From a programming point of view I remember being called to a customer site in Edinburgh where a client had a report that was taking 36 hours to run. I optimised the queries and the report ended up running in less than 2 minutes.

From a gaming point of view there is no prouder moment than when you win the league for the first time on Championship Manager.

What is your geek motto/favourite geek quote?

I don't have mottos as such but I do have a couple of theories.

1. The application life cycle

All applications start as spreadsheets.

Generally the office expert creates a spreadsheet and they add macros and VBA code to the spreadsheet.

That person generally leaves the company and the next person in line looks at the spreadsheet and asks the question "which muppet produced this?" and their solution is to turn it into a Microsoft Access database.

The Access database works for a little while but then somebody else suggests writing a dedicated application with a SQL Server database used for storing the data.

Once the application is written somebody says "This is all well and good but it would be better if we could export the data to Excel".

2. Programmers would rather program anything than the thing they are supposed to be programming

My day job is all about developing software that tells the Oil company that I work for how much oil and gas is being produced.

Give me any other reason to write code and I will take it and I am not the only one.

Programmers are always looking at their colleague's projects and issues because the thing they are developing always looks more interesting.

I know of one contract developer that wrote a program that calculated how much time he spent in the bathroom at work during the course of the year so that he could show the company how much it costs them.

4. Who is your geek role model?

I guess everyone wishes they were the person that came up with Facebook and so Mark Zuckerberg is an obvious choice.
 From a Linux perspective I like the stuff that Jim Lynch writes and I love the Linux Outlaws and Ubuntu UK Podcasts.


In the UK we have a television program called The Gadget Show and I doubt there are many true geeks that wouldn't want to be in the same shoes as Jason Bradbury or Jon Bentley.

Finally there is a guy called Larry Bundy Junior also known as Guru Larry who used to run a show about retro gaming on British television. I loved that show.

5. Which SingleHopper geek do you most relate to?

I had to read a fair few SingleHop blog posts to work this one out but I reckon that Dennis Guzman would be the blogger I relate to most because of his affiliation to retro gaming.

Of course though some people will see a striking resemblance between me and  Adrienne Wicklund.

6. How familiar are you with Singlehop's product offerings?

I am not particularly knowledgeable about Singlehop in particular but I am aware of the sort of products on offer such as cloud hosting.

Unfortunately it isn't the sort of service I have had much of a need for.

7. Anything else

Well I have added what makes me a geek. It is now up to everyone else to tell me what makes them a geek.

Use the comments below or use the hashtags #everydaylinuxusergeeks and #singlehopgeeks.

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter. @dailylinuxuser






Posted at 23:24 |  by Gary Newell

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Introduction


In previous articles I have shown how to install Ubuntu Linux alongside Windows 8 and how to dual boot Ubuntu with ChromeOS on the HP Chromebook.

This time I am going to show how to install Linux Mint alongside OSX on the MacBook Air.

Linux Mint has been top of the Distrowatch rankings for the past year. Whilst the rankings have to be taken with a pinch of salt there is clearly merit in writing an article showing the best that Linux has to offer working on hardware that oozes quality.

The actual installation isn't too difficult but there are some challenges on the way and the steps highlighted are the steps I used to complete the task. As always if there are better ways to achieve the same goals please feel free to leave a comment.

What you will need

  • A MacBook Air - If you don't have a MacBook Air you can pick one up from here.
  • A USB drive
  • Time and patience
Optionally you might look into purchasing an Apple USB Ethernet cable as it will help when setting up the internet.

Back up your drive

The first and most important step you can take before undertaking any of these steps is to back up your drive.

One thing I really like about the MacBook Air is the fact that if you completely destroy your operating system it is always possible to get back to a point where the computer is working again. The chances of you turning your MacBook Air into an expensive brick are highly unlikely.

If you have been using your MacBook Air for some time you will probably have accumulated some data and you will have installed some applications which you probably want to keep.

Therefore before we start partitioning drives and changing boot settings let's look at backing up what you have.

The MacBook Air that I am using is new and therefore I don't have much installed. The size of the recovery drive is showing as 16.7 gigabytes.

On a fairly vanilla system you could therefore get away with backing up to a 32 gigabyte USB drive. If you have lots of data then you might need a bigger USB drive or an external hard drive which is what I used for the task.






Insert a blank USB drive or external hard drive into your MacBook Air. A message will be displayed asking whether you want to use it as a recovery drive.

Click the "Use as Backup Disk" option.



A message will now appear asking whether you are sure you want to use the external drive as a backup disk.

If you are sure click "Erase".

Note: All data on that drive will be deleted so make sure you use a blank drive



The "Time Machine" software will now start backing up your system to the external drive.

Note: You can also run the "Time Machine" software from the "Applications" menu and you can then choose the drive you want to backup to.

Download Linux Mint

The current version of Linux Mint is version 17 and this is the long term support release with 5 years of support.

If you are looking for stability for your computer then Linux Mint 17 is definitely a good choice.

To find out more about Linux Mint visit http://www.linuxmint.com/.

To download Linux Mint 17 visit http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php



There are a number of different download options available. The version I installed was the Cinnamon 64-bit edition.

Cinnamon provides a modern take on the traditional desktop. What you end up with is something familiar looking but very stylish.

The MATE, KDE and Xfce editions will all work equally as well but you should always pick the 64-bit version and there is no merit in going for the no codecs versions.

Create a Linux Mint USB drive


In order to install Linux Mint you will need to create a bootable Linux Mint USB drive.

Insert the USB drive into one of the available slots in the MacBook Air.

The tool I used for this job is called the Mac Linux USB Loader.

Click here to download the Mac Linux USB Loader.


When you run the Mac Linux USB Builder a message appears stating that you need to install Java. (Unless you have already installed Java previously).

To install Java click "Install".



A license agreement will appear and you must click "agree" to continue.


Click the "Create Live USB" button. You will then be shown a window which enables you to find the Linux Mint ISO downloaded in the previous step. Click on the "Downloads" option in the left pane and then select the Linux Mint 17 ISO.


Now all you have to do is click on the "Make Live USB" button.



A progress bar will appear and a message will appear stating that the USB drive has been created.


Partition the drive

Normally the disk partitioning is the trickiest part when it comes to dual booting.

The disk utility within OSx makes the task incredibly easy.

To run the disk utility click "Go" from the menu and select "Utilities" and then click on the "Disk Utility" icon.





The "Disk Utility" shows the states of each drive and can be used to create recovery partitions, erase disks and restore partitions.

As you can see from the image above I have three disks. One is the Apple SSD drive which comes with the MacBook Air. I also have the 8 GB USB drive which now has Linux Mint on it and another 8 GB USB drive used for storing the images for this article.

To create a partition for Linux Mint on the Apple SSD all you have to do is select the drive and click the "+" symbol under the disk layout.





The disk will be split right down the middle. You can adjust the new partition by increasing or decreasing the size.

You should format the disk to "Free Space".

Once you have the disks looking as you want them to click "Apply".


A warning message is displayed and if you are unsure as to whether you want to go ahead then you should click cancel.

If you are happy to continue click "Partition".

The partitioning process takes a little while to complete.

Booting into Linux Mint Live

To boot into the live version of Linux Mint reboot your computer and hold down the "Alt" key.

















When the computer boots you will have an image similar to the one above. The number of icons will depend on the bootable devices available.

Click on the drive that represents your USB drive. Which one is that? In theory if you have just the Macintosh HD (The Apple SSD) and your USB drive you need to click on the drive that isn't the "Macintosh HD".





















Install Linux Mint

When the Linux Mint Live USB boots into Linux Mint you will see an icon on the desktop called "Install Linux Mint". Click on this icon.


The installation is now fairly standard. Click the language to be used for installation purposes. If you feel like a challenge try Welsh (Cymraeg) otherwise I would select the one you are most comfortable with.

The next screen shows you how prepared you are for installing Linux Mint.

It is a good idea to have the MacBook Air plugged in during the installation and you must have at least 8.6 gigabytes of disk space. The internet connection is optional and for reasons I will explain later quite tricky to achieve.

Click "Continue".























You are now given the option of replacing OSX or installing alongside it.

Normally I recommend choosing the something else option and creating separate root, home and swap partitions but as Linux Mint 17 is going to be around for 5 years I chose the "Install Linux Mint alongside Mac OS X" option.

Click on "Install Now" to continue.























In the next step choose your location by clicking in the appropriate position on the map.

Click "Continue".























Almost there now.

Choose your keyboard layout from the list and then click "Continue".























Enter your name, pick a username and enter a strong password.

Note that the computer name has junk in it so change the computer's name to something more meaningful.

Click "Continue".



























The files will now be copied to your MacBook and once the process has finished a message will be displayed saying you can now reboot your computer.





Click "Continue Testing" as there is a little bit more work to be done.

Fix the boot loader

If you restart your computer without following these steps then you will boot straight into OSX.

To fix the boot order open up a terminal window. You can do this by clicking the 4th icon from the left in the panel at the bottom of Linux Mint. (Black background with >_).

Type the following commands:

sudo apt-get install efibootmgr
sudo efibootmgr


As you can see from the image above my MacBook Air is going to boot 0000 first and then 0080.

The labelling of the disks is shown underneath. Boot0000 is Ubuntu and Boot0080 is OSX.

Note that it says Ubuntu and not Linux Mint but it means the same thing.

If the boot order shows Ubuntu as 2nd in the boot order you need to run a command to put it in 1st position.

sudo efibootmgr -o 0,80

The above command will put boot0000 first and boot0080 second. If your disks are the opposite way round then you will need to switch the 0,80.

Now when you reboot your MacBook a menu will appear with options to boot Linux Mint and OSX.

If you choose Linux Mint then it will work perfectly fine but if you choose OSX it will fail.

You can boot into OSX by pressing the escape key at the menu and then type "exit". This is not the best solution though and the next part of this guide will provide a slightly better one.

Fix the Grub boot menu

From within Linux Mint (not the live version, the installed version) open up the terminal window again (4th icon from left on the bottom panel).

Type the following:

sudo nano /etc/grub.d/40_custom

When the editor opens enter the following lines at the bottom:

menuentry "Exit to Mac OSX" { exit }
 
Press CTRL and O to save the file and then CTRL and X to exit the file.

Now run the following command:

sudo update-grub

Reboot your computer and you should now have a new menu option called "Exit to Mac OSX". If you want to use Mac OSX select this option.

Connecting to the internet

Connecting to the internet is usually incredibly easy but the MacBook Air uses Broadcom for connecting wirelessly and this has always caused issues for Linux.

I have read a number of guides for resolving this issue and none of them worked for me, so here is the way I did it.

The main issue is that to connect to the internet you need to install the Broadcom driver but to install the Broadcom driver you need an internet connection.

Normally you could get around this by connecting your computer via an ethernet cable but the MacBook Air doesn't have an ethernet port.

You can get around this issue by spending £25 at your local Apple Store.

All you have to do then is connect USB cable in to the MacBook Air and an ethernet cable from your MacBook to your router. You are then able to install the correct drivers by using the driver manager within Linux Mint.






 
There is another way though that costs no money at all which is the method I used.

The required Broadcom drivers are available from the Linux Mint ISO downloaded earlier and so by loading the ISO as a CDRom it is possible to install them. 

First of all boot into Mac OSX and then copy the Linux Mint ISO to a USB drive (just copy the ISO, don't use the loader).

Reboot into Linux Mint and copy the ISO from the USB drive to your home folder. 

To do this click the file manager icon which is available on the bottom panel (5 from the left, looks like a folder).

Click on your USB drive and then drag the ISO to the "Home" folder.

Click on the "Menu", select "Administration" and then "Software Sources".



Click on the "Additional Repositories" tab and then click in the CDRom box. 

Close the "Software Sources" icon and then open up a terminal window.

Type the following lines into the terminal window:

sudo mkdir /media/cdrom
cd ~
sudo mount -o loop linuxmint-17-cinnamon-64bit-v2.iso /media/cdrom 

Finally, open up the driver manager by clicking "Menu -> Administration -> Driver Manager".


Ignore the warning. 

Click "OK" and then select the "bcmwl-kernel-source" radio button.

Click "Apply Changes".

If everything goes well you should now be able to click the network icon in the system tray and a list of wireless networks should appear.





















Summary

The biggest challenge to installing Linux Mint 17 on a MacBook Air is trying to get the wireless working.

I have tested many of the other features of the MacBook and most things seem to work well such as audio, the trackpad, recovering from sleep mode etc.

If you have found any issues whilst following this guide leave a message in the comments section and I will try to help solve them.
 
Thankyou for reading.

How to install Linux Mint alongside OSX on the MacBook Air

Introduction


In previous articles I have shown how to install Ubuntu Linux alongside Windows 8 and how to dual boot Ubuntu with ChromeOS on the HP Chromebook.

This time I am going to show how to install Linux Mint alongside OSX on the MacBook Air.

Linux Mint has been top of the Distrowatch rankings for the past year. Whilst the rankings have to be taken with a pinch of salt there is clearly merit in writing an article showing the best that Linux has to offer working on hardware that oozes quality.

The actual installation isn't too difficult but there are some challenges on the way and the steps highlighted are the steps I used to complete the task. As always if there are better ways to achieve the same goals please feel free to leave a comment.

What you will need

  • A MacBook Air - If you don't have a MacBook Air you can pick one up from here.
  • A USB drive
  • Time and patience
Optionally you might look into purchasing an Apple USB Ethernet cable as it will help when setting up the internet.

Back up your drive

The first and most important step you can take before undertaking any of these steps is to back up your drive.

One thing I really like about the MacBook Air is the fact that if you completely destroy your operating system it is always possible to get back to a point where the computer is working again. The chances of you turning your MacBook Air into an expensive brick are highly unlikely.

If you have been using your MacBook Air for some time you will probably have accumulated some data and you will have installed some applications which you probably want to keep.

Therefore before we start partitioning drives and changing boot settings let's look at backing up what you have.

The MacBook Air that I am using is new and therefore I don't have much installed. The size of the recovery drive is showing as 16.7 gigabytes.

On a fairly vanilla system you could therefore get away with backing up to a 32 gigabyte USB drive. If you have lots of data then you might need a bigger USB drive or an external hard drive which is what I used for the task.






Insert a blank USB drive or external hard drive into your MacBook Air. A message will be displayed asking whether you want to use it as a recovery drive.

Click the "Use as Backup Disk" option.



A message will now appear asking whether you are sure you want to use the external drive as a backup disk.

If you are sure click "Erase".

Note: All data on that drive will be deleted so make sure you use a blank drive



The "Time Machine" software will now start backing up your system to the external drive.

Note: You can also run the "Time Machine" software from the "Applications" menu and you can then choose the drive you want to backup to.

Download Linux Mint

The current version of Linux Mint is version 17 and this is the long term support release with 5 years of support.

If you are looking for stability for your computer then Linux Mint 17 is definitely a good choice.

To find out more about Linux Mint visit http://www.linuxmint.com/.

To download Linux Mint 17 visit http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php



There are a number of different download options available. The version I installed was the Cinnamon 64-bit edition.

Cinnamon provides a modern take on the traditional desktop. What you end up with is something familiar looking but very stylish.

The MATE, KDE and Xfce editions will all work equally as well but you should always pick the 64-bit version and there is no merit in going for the no codecs versions.

Create a Linux Mint USB drive


In order to install Linux Mint you will need to create a bootable Linux Mint USB drive.

Insert the USB drive into one of the available slots in the MacBook Air.

The tool I used for this job is called the Mac Linux USB Loader.

Click here to download the Mac Linux USB Loader.


When you run the Mac Linux USB Builder a message appears stating that you need to install Java. (Unless you have already installed Java previously).

To install Java click "Install".



A license agreement will appear and you must click "agree" to continue.


Click the "Create Live USB" button. You will then be shown a window which enables you to find the Linux Mint ISO downloaded in the previous step. Click on the "Downloads" option in the left pane and then select the Linux Mint 17 ISO.


Now all you have to do is click on the "Make Live USB" button.



A progress bar will appear and a message will appear stating that the USB drive has been created.


Partition the drive

Normally the disk partitioning is the trickiest part when it comes to dual booting.

The disk utility within OSx makes the task incredibly easy.

To run the disk utility click "Go" from the menu and select "Utilities" and then click on the "Disk Utility" icon.





The "Disk Utility" shows the states of each drive and can be used to create recovery partitions, erase disks and restore partitions.

As you can see from the image above I have three disks. One is the Apple SSD drive which comes with the MacBook Air. I also have the 8 GB USB drive which now has Linux Mint on it and another 8 GB USB drive used for storing the images for this article.

To create a partition for Linux Mint on the Apple SSD all you have to do is select the drive and click the "+" symbol under the disk layout.





The disk will be split right down the middle. You can adjust the new partition by increasing or decreasing the size.

You should format the disk to "Free Space".

Once you have the disks looking as you want them to click "Apply".


A warning message is displayed and if you are unsure as to whether you want to go ahead then you should click cancel.

If you are happy to continue click "Partition".

The partitioning process takes a little while to complete.

Booting into Linux Mint Live

To boot into the live version of Linux Mint reboot your computer and hold down the "Alt" key.

















When the computer boots you will have an image similar to the one above. The number of icons will depend on the bootable devices available.

Click on the drive that represents your USB drive. Which one is that? In theory if you have just the Macintosh HD (The Apple SSD) and your USB drive you need to click on the drive that isn't the "Macintosh HD".





















Install Linux Mint

When the Linux Mint Live USB boots into Linux Mint you will see an icon on the desktop called "Install Linux Mint". Click on this icon.


The installation is now fairly standard. Click the language to be used for installation purposes. If you feel like a challenge try Welsh (Cymraeg) otherwise I would select the one you are most comfortable with.

The next screen shows you how prepared you are for installing Linux Mint.

It is a good idea to have the MacBook Air plugged in during the installation and you must have at least 8.6 gigabytes of disk space. The internet connection is optional and for reasons I will explain later quite tricky to achieve.

Click "Continue".























You are now given the option of replacing OSX or installing alongside it.

Normally I recommend choosing the something else option and creating separate root, home and swap partitions but as Linux Mint 17 is going to be around for 5 years I chose the "Install Linux Mint alongside Mac OS X" option.

Click on "Install Now" to continue.























In the next step choose your location by clicking in the appropriate position on the map.

Click "Continue".























Almost there now.

Choose your keyboard layout from the list and then click "Continue".























Enter your name, pick a username and enter a strong password.

Note that the computer name has junk in it so change the computer's name to something more meaningful.

Click "Continue".



























The files will now be copied to your MacBook and once the process has finished a message will be displayed saying you can now reboot your computer.





Click "Continue Testing" as there is a little bit more work to be done.

Fix the boot loader

If you restart your computer without following these steps then you will boot straight into OSX.

To fix the boot order open up a terminal window. You can do this by clicking the 4th icon from the left in the panel at the bottom of Linux Mint. (Black background with >_).

Type the following commands:

sudo apt-get install efibootmgr
sudo efibootmgr


As you can see from the image above my MacBook Air is going to boot 0000 first and then 0080.

The labelling of the disks is shown underneath. Boot0000 is Ubuntu and Boot0080 is OSX.

Note that it says Ubuntu and not Linux Mint but it means the same thing.

If the boot order shows Ubuntu as 2nd in the boot order you need to run a command to put it in 1st position.

sudo efibootmgr -o 0,80

The above command will put boot0000 first and boot0080 second. If your disks are the opposite way round then you will need to switch the 0,80.

Now when you reboot your MacBook a menu will appear with options to boot Linux Mint and OSX.

If you choose Linux Mint then it will work perfectly fine but if you choose OSX it will fail.

You can boot into OSX by pressing the escape key at the menu and then type "exit". This is not the best solution though and the next part of this guide will provide a slightly better one.

Fix the Grub boot menu

From within Linux Mint (not the live version, the installed version) open up the terminal window again (4th icon from left on the bottom panel).

Type the following:

sudo nano /etc/grub.d/40_custom

When the editor opens enter the following lines at the bottom:

menuentry "Exit to Mac OSX" { exit }
 
Press CTRL and O to save the file and then CTRL and X to exit the file.

Now run the following command:

sudo update-grub

Reboot your computer and you should now have a new menu option called "Exit to Mac OSX". If you want to use Mac OSX select this option.

Connecting to the internet

Connecting to the internet is usually incredibly easy but the MacBook Air uses Broadcom for connecting wirelessly and this has always caused issues for Linux.

I have read a number of guides for resolving this issue and none of them worked for me, so here is the way I did it.

The main issue is that to connect to the internet you need to install the Broadcom driver but to install the Broadcom driver you need an internet connection.

Normally you could get around this by connecting your computer via an ethernet cable but the MacBook Air doesn't have an ethernet port.

You can get around this issue by spending £25 at your local Apple Store.

All you have to do then is connect USB cable in to the MacBook Air and an ethernet cable from your MacBook to your router. You are then able to install the correct drivers by using the driver manager within Linux Mint.






 
There is another way though that costs no money at all which is the method I used.

The required Broadcom drivers are available from the Linux Mint ISO downloaded earlier and so by loading the ISO as a CDRom it is possible to install them. 

First of all boot into Mac OSX and then copy the Linux Mint ISO to a USB drive (just copy the ISO, don't use the loader).

Reboot into Linux Mint and copy the ISO from the USB drive to your home folder. 

To do this click the file manager icon which is available on the bottom panel (5 from the left, looks like a folder).

Click on your USB drive and then drag the ISO to the "Home" folder.

Click on the "Menu", select "Administration" and then "Software Sources".



Click on the "Additional Repositories" tab and then click in the CDRom box. 

Close the "Software Sources" icon and then open up a terminal window.

Type the following lines into the terminal window:

sudo mkdir /media/cdrom
cd ~
sudo mount -o loop linuxmint-17-cinnamon-64bit-v2.iso /media/cdrom 

Finally, open up the driver manager by clicking "Menu -> Administration -> Driver Manager".


Ignore the warning. 

Click "OK" and then select the "bcmwl-kernel-source" radio button.

Click "Apply Changes".

If everything goes well you should now be able to click the network icon in the system tray and a list of wireless networks should appear.





















Summary

The biggest challenge to installing Linux Mint 17 on a MacBook Air is trying to get the wireless working.

I have tested many of the other features of the MacBook and most things seem to work well such as audio, the trackpad, recovering from sleep mode etc.

If you have found any issues whilst following this guide leave a message in the comments section and I will try to help solve them.
 
Thankyou for reading.

Posted at 13:27 |  by Gary Newell

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Introduction

Last weekend my daughter, who is almost 7 years old, asked to go to the library so that she could get some books about the Loch Ness monster.

I looked out of the window in our house in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and realised that my original plan of painting the fences outside was now going to be put on hold due to the heavy rain falling from the sky.

I looked at the weather forecast for Inverness and it seemed that they were going to be having a much nicer day than we were and so as the old saying goes "if you can't beat them, join them".

I therefore said to my daughter "I can do one better than find you books about the Loch Ness monster, we can all get in the car and visit Loch Ness".

2 and a bit hours later we arrived at Drumnadrochit and we entered a museum/exhibition that showed us all about the search for the Loch Ness monster.

Following on from the museum we decided to take a boat trip and we managed to get on a small boat with a guy called Dick Raynor. (www.lochnessinvestigation.com).

If you have ever researched the history of Loch Ness then you will know that one of the authorities on the subject is a guy called Adrian Shine. Adrian Shine has written many books and appeared in many films about the subject. Dick Raynor also appears in a number of the books and claims to be one of the only people still actively looking for the mythical creature.

During our tour of Loch Ness, in the small vessel which bounced to and fro on the waves, it became clear that Dick doesn't really seem to believe anymore (if he in fact ever did) but he still strives to answers the mysteries of the Loch.

Ok, so there are a number of you probably wondering what any of this has to do with Linux.

Last week I received an email from a guy called Andrew Bernstein and the first line of the email read as follows:
"Hi Gary, my name is Andrew Bernstein, me and my team of developers are currently trying to create the ultimate linux distro"

Hopefully you can see the tenuous link. Is it really possible to create the ultimate distro? If you asked 20 people they would all come back with a slightly different answer in the same way that if you asked 20 people to look at something in the Loch and describe what they are looking at they would also come back with different answers.

The Plan

How are the Operating System U team planning to create the ultimate operating system ever.

Operating System U will use Arch Linux as the base distribution and the desktop will be a customised version of MATE with less bugs and more features.

In addition, Operating System U will be dispensing with the XOrg system and will instead be using Wayland which is apparently less clunky and it directly renders with applications.

OSu (A shorter name for Operating System U) will also have something called Startlight which is akin to the Windows Start button fused with Apple's Spotlight. According to the website this will make the system easy to use and familiar to most users.

OSu will be a partial rolling release and the main concept appears to be around consistency. The look and feel won't ever change based on the developer's whims unlike certain other operating systems such as Windows.

Possibly the most ambitious plan is that the developers plan to have OSu pre-installed on laptops and available for sale in shops.

The developers acknowledge the fact that this will be difficult to achieve in places like Best Buy and PC World so they are targeting different outlets such as pharmacies, newsagents and supermarkets.

The Team

As mentioned before the person who emailed me is called Andrew Bernstein and I was shocked when I read his profile:
As the Founder and CEO of Operating System U, I hope to bring Linux to the mainstream. I'm 17 and have a fiery passion for open-source, Linux and entrepreneurship.

17 years old!!!

I looked at the list of developers currently associated and there are currently around 10 of them and I was expecting that the rest of the team would be around the same age and that perhaps they were a group of friends daring to dream the dream and become the next Mark Zuckerbergs.

However it is fair to say that the team is incredibly diverse with varying skill levels ages, backgrounds and nationalities.

For instance, second on the list of developers is Diego Woitasen, an Argentinian developer who has over 10 years Linux experience and has worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Argentina.

There is Ioan Calin Borcoman who has been using Linux since 1997 and he has been an active Debian developer maintaining packages such as the VDK library.

Christian Fernandez is another name that jumps out having worked on the gNewSense project and the kgNewSense project.

As a team it doesn't look like a bad starting point although their website clearly states that they are looking for more developers on a volunteer basis.

The Catch

Big claims and a fairly decent set of developers on paper. So what is the catch? Where is the ISO? What about the source code? How far have they got?

In order to ride the unicorn and develop the ultimate operating system the Operating System U team are starting a Kickstarter campaign and they are asking for $150,000.

You can also donate $10 for which you will receive access to the full documentation. (When the documentation is created).

The Summary

Dick Raynor said during our tour of Loch Ness that it isn't his job to say whether the Loch Ness monster does or doesn't exist and likewise it is not for me to say whether OSu can ever be the ultimate operating system.

The plan is certainly incredibly ambitious and my immediate concern is the amount of money they are trying to raise via Kickstarter.

$150,000 is a large sum to generate but it is also probably not going to go that far when you consider the amount of money that Canonical have ploughed into Ubuntu.

Is it even possible to define the ultimate operating system? Some people would say that Ubuntu is pretty close whilst others would say that Ubuntu is about as far away as you can get. Likewise, there are users of Arch, Gentoo and Slackware that would say that their distros make their versions of Linux the best that you can get. Other users would say they are just too intense.

Apple users certainly become evangelical about their devices and operating systems and Android users are almost as bad.

I think with $150,000 you will be able to create a decent operating system that large numbers of people will think is great but having a mission statement saying that "the aim is to create a good operating system that some people will like" isn't exactly aiming for the stars.

I wish the Operating System U team all the best with their project and hope that one day they achieve their objectives, in the same way that I hope one day Dick Raynor finally gets a glimpse of Nessie.

To read more about Operating System U visit http://www.operatingsystemu.com/

And finally and completely off topic...

If you ever find yourself in Fort Augustus (and you should because it is truly amazing) and you decide to head back towards Aberdeen at night make sure your car has plenties of petrol and don't head into the Cairngorms in an attempt to cut across.








Whilst the views of the Cairngorms are truly spectacular it is a bit unnerving when you are travelling along the winding single track roads with a quarter of a tank of petrol with absolutely no idea where the next 24 hour petrol station is.

I finally ran out of petrol in a place called Aberlour. I would like to say thankyou to the Aberlour Arms Hotel for allowing me to use their phone and to the AA guy that came out at 2 a.m with some extra petrol.






Is it possible to create the ultimate operating system?

Introduction

Last weekend my daughter, who is almost 7 years old, asked to go to the library so that she could get some books about the Loch Ness monster.

I looked out of the window in our house in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and realised that my original plan of painting the fences outside was now going to be put on hold due to the heavy rain falling from the sky.

I looked at the weather forecast for Inverness and it seemed that they were going to be having a much nicer day than we were and so as the old saying goes "if you can't beat them, join them".

I therefore said to my daughter "I can do one better than find you books about the Loch Ness monster, we can all get in the car and visit Loch Ness".

2 and a bit hours later we arrived at Drumnadrochit and we entered a museum/exhibition that showed us all about the search for the Loch Ness monster.

Following on from the museum we decided to take a boat trip and we managed to get on a small boat with a guy called Dick Raynor. (www.lochnessinvestigation.com).

If you have ever researched the history of Loch Ness then you will know that one of the authorities on the subject is a guy called Adrian Shine. Adrian Shine has written many books and appeared in many films about the subject. Dick Raynor also appears in a number of the books and claims to be one of the only people still actively looking for the mythical creature.

During our tour of Loch Ness, in the small vessel which bounced to and fro on the waves, it became clear that Dick doesn't really seem to believe anymore (if he in fact ever did) but he still strives to answers the mysteries of the Loch.

Ok, so there are a number of you probably wondering what any of this has to do with Linux.

Last week I received an email from a guy called Andrew Bernstein and the first line of the email read as follows:
"Hi Gary, my name is Andrew Bernstein, me and my team of developers are currently trying to create the ultimate linux distro"

Hopefully you can see the tenuous link. Is it really possible to create the ultimate distro? If you asked 20 people they would all come back with a slightly different answer in the same way that if you asked 20 people to look at something in the Loch and describe what they are looking at they would also come back with different answers.

The Plan

How are the Operating System U team planning to create the ultimate operating system ever.

Operating System U will use Arch Linux as the base distribution and the desktop will be a customised version of MATE with less bugs and more features.

In addition, Operating System U will be dispensing with the XOrg system and will instead be using Wayland which is apparently less clunky and it directly renders with applications.

OSu (A shorter name for Operating System U) will also have something called Startlight which is akin to the Windows Start button fused with Apple's Spotlight. According to the website this will make the system easy to use and familiar to most users.

OSu will be a partial rolling release and the main concept appears to be around consistency. The look and feel won't ever change based on the developer's whims unlike certain other operating systems such as Windows.

Possibly the most ambitious plan is that the developers plan to have OSu pre-installed on laptops and available for sale in shops.

The developers acknowledge the fact that this will be difficult to achieve in places like Best Buy and PC World so they are targeting different outlets such as pharmacies, newsagents and supermarkets.

The Team

As mentioned before the person who emailed me is called Andrew Bernstein and I was shocked when I read his profile:
As the Founder and CEO of Operating System U, I hope to bring Linux to the mainstream. I'm 17 and have a fiery passion for open-source, Linux and entrepreneurship.

17 years old!!!

I looked at the list of developers currently associated and there are currently around 10 of them and I was expecting that the rest of the team would be around the same age and that perhaps they were a group of friends daring to dream the dream and become the next Mark Zuckerbergs.

However it is fair to say that the team is incredibly diverse with varying skill levels ages, backgrounds and nationalities.

For instance, second on the list of developers is Diego Woitasen, an Argentinian developer who has over 10 years Linux experience and has worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Argentina.

There is Ioan Calin Borcoman who has been using Linux since 1997 and he has been an active Debian developer maintaining packages such as the VDK library.

Christian Fernandez is another name that jumps out having worked on the gNewSense project and the kgNewSense project.

As a team it doesn't look like a bad starting point although their website clearly states that they are looking for more developers on a volunteer basis.

The Catch

Big claims and a fairly decent set of developers on paper. So what is the catch? Where is the ISO? What about the source code? How far have they got?

In order to ride the unicorn and develop the ultimate operating system the Operating System U team are starting a Kickstarter campaign and they are asking for $150,000.

You can also donate $10 for which you will receive access to the full documentation. (When the documentation is created).

The Summary

Dick Raynor said during our tour of Loch Ness that it isn't his job to say whether the Loch Ness monster does or doesn't exist and likewise it is not for me to say whether OSu can ever be the ultimate operating system.

The plan is certainly incredibly ambitious and my immediate concern is the amount of money they are trying to raise via Kickstarter.

$150,000 is a large sum to generate but it is also probably not going to go that far when you consider the amount of money that Canonical have ploughed into Ubuntu.

Is it even possible to define the ultimate operating system? Some people would say that Ubuntu is pretty close whilst others would say that Ubuntu is about as far away as you can get. Likewise, there are users of Arch, Gentoo and Slackware that would say that their distros make their versions of Linux the best that you can get. Other users would say they are just too intense.

Apple users certainly become evangelical about their devices and operating systems and Android users are almost as bad.

I think with $150,000 you will be able to create a decent operating system that large numbers of people will think is great but having a mission statement saying that "the aim is to create a good operating system that some people will like" isn't exactly aiming for the stars.

I wish the Operating System U team all the best with their project and hope that one day they achieve their objectives, in the same way that I hope one day Dick Raynor finally gets a glimpse of Nessie.

To read more about Operating System U visit http://www.operatingsystemu.com/

And finally and completely off topic...

If you ever find yourself in Fort Augustus (and you should because it is truly amazing) and you decide to head back towards Aberdeen at night make sure your car has plenties of petrol and don't head into the Cairngorms in an attempt to cut across.








Whilst the views of the Cairngorms are truly spectacular it is a bit unnerving when you are travelling along the winding single track roads with a quarter of a tank of petrol with absolutely no idea where the next 24 hour petrol station is.

I finally ran out of petrol in a place called Aberlour. I would like to say thankyou to the Aberlour Arms Hotel for allowing me to use their phone and to the AA guy that came out at 2 a.m with some extra petrol.






Posted at 22:10 |  by Gary Newell

Friday, 27 June 2014

This is just a quick update highlighting what is coming up in the next month.

July will concentrate mainly on reviews starting with Handy Linux but closely followed by Linux Mint 17, Bodhi and many more.

Also coming up is a tutorial showing how to install Linux onto your Macbook Air.

There will be more articles about the KDE software released with openSUSE.

I also have a few Raspberry PI articles in the pipeline.


A quick update

This is just a quick update highlighting what is coming up in the next month.

July will concentrate mainly on reviews starting with Handy Linux but closely followed by Linux Mint 17, Bodhi and many more.

Also coming up is a tutorial showing how to install Linux onto your Macbook Air.

There will be more articles about the KDE software released with openSUSE.

I also have a few Raspberry PI articles in the pipeline.


Posted at 21:41 |  by Gary Newell

Introduction

To complete the series of articles about Lubuntu here is a guide showing how to upgrade from Lubuntu 13.10 to Lubuntu 14.04.

Backup your files

The first thing you should do before upgrading your system is to backup your important files such as photos, music, videos, documents etc.

Consider using a service such as Dropbox for synchronising all your data. This service lets you back up your files to external servers.

Using Dropbox gives you two levels of safety. If Dropbox ceases to exist you still have the data on your computer but also if you lose all your local files (perhaps to disk failure or even worse a fire) then you will be able to download the files from Dropbox again.

If you prefer to keep your data where you can see it then you can use DVDs, USB drives or external hard drives/NAS drives.

Update your system

Before you can upgrade your system you must update it.

To update your system select "System Tools -> Software Updater" from the menu.






The "Software Updater" will check to see what needs to be updated.



A list will be displayed showing how much data will be downloaded and also you can see which programs and files will be updated.

To update your system click "Install Now".


The updates will now be downloaded and installed.

Upgrade to Lubuntu 14.04

To upgrade your system from 13.10 to Lubuntu 14.04 select "Preferences -> Software and Updates" from the menu.


If you have updated then you will see a message stating that you can now upgrade.

To upgrade click "Yes, Upgrade Now".





A welcome message will appear telling you what you will get from Lubuntu 14.04.

Click "Upgrade".




The upgrade will now start to take place.




After all the files have been downloaded you will be asked once again whether you want to upgrade. (safety first I guess).

Click "Start Upgrade".




Towards the end you will be asked whether you want to remove obsolete packages.

You can click on details to see exactly what will be removed but I would err on the side of caution and just not bother removing.

The remove procedure as stated in the message is very time consuming and all you gain is a bit of disk space.



When the upgrade has finished click "Restart Now" and you will have Lubuntu 14.04.

Post Installation Tasks

It is worth following my guide "5 things to do after installing Lubuntu" as there are a couple of issues you might notice after rebooting.

The first is that the network manager icon will be missing from the panel and if you are from the UK then you might be stuck with a US keyboard layout.

Summary

This article concludes the series on Lubuntu for now.

I hope that you found them useful.

All the how to articles will be added to the tutorials section shortly.











How to upgrade from Lubuntu 13.10 to Lubuntu 14.04

Introduction

To complete the series of articles about Lubuntu here is a guide showing how to upgrade from Lubuntu 13.10 to Lubuntu 14.04.

Backup your files

The first thing you should do before upgrading your system is to backup your important files such as photos, music, videos, documents etc.

Consider using a service such as Dropbox for synchronising all your data. This service lets you back up your files to external servers.

Using Dropbox gives you two levels of safety. If Dropbox ceases to exist you still have the data on your computer but also if you lose all your local files (perhaps to disk failure or even worse a fire) then you will be able to download the files from Dropbox again.

If you prefer to keep your data where you can see it then you can use DVDs, USB drives or external hard drives/NAS drives.

Update your system

Before you can upgrade your system you must update it.

To update your system select "System Tools -> Software Updater" from the menu.






The "Software Updater" will check to see what needs to be updated.



A list will be displayed showing how much data will be downloaded and also you can see which programs and files will be updated.

To update your system click "Install Now".


The updates will now be downloaded and installed.

Upgrade to Lubuntu 14.04

To upgrade your system from 13.10 to Lubuntu 14.04 select "Preferences -> Software and Updates" from the menu.


If you have updated then you will see a message stating that you can now upgrade.

To upgrade click "Yes, Upgrade Now".





A welcome message will appear telling you what you will get from Lubuntu 14.04.

Click "Upgrade".




The upgrade will now start to take place.




After all the files have been downloaded you will be asked once again whether you want to upgrade. (safety first I guess).

Click "Start Upgrade".




Towards the end you will be asked whether you want to remove obsolete packages.

You can click on details to see exactly what will be removed but I would err on the side of caution and just not bother removing.

The remove procedure as stated in the message is very time consuming and all you gain is a bit of disk space.



When the upgrade has finished click "Restart Now" and you will have Lubuntu 14.04.

Post Installation Tasks

It is worth following my guide "5 things to do after installing Lubuntu" as there are a couple of issues you might notice after rebooting.

The first is that the network manager icon will be missing from the panel and if you are from the UK then you might be stuck with a US keyboard layout.

Summary

This article concludes the series on Lubuntu for now.

I hope that you found them useful.

All the how to articles will be added to the tutorials section shortly.











Posted at 21:35 |  by Gary Newell

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Introduction

This is one of those reviews that should be really easy to write. Just last week I wrote an article listing 5 reasons why Lubuntu would be good for Windows XP users. Therefore with this in mind you might think that this review would list all of Lubuntu's good points and paint a positive picture.

Unfortunately it isn't that simple. As far as I am concerned Lubuntu 14.04 feels like a step backwards when compared to Lubuntu 13.10.

There is nothing that is so broken that makes it unusable but I would have thought that because Lubuntu 14.04 is the long term support release it would have had less obviously visible bugs when it was first released.

System Requirements

The full system requirements can be found on the Lubuntu Wiki page.

The bare minimum that you can use is a Pentium II with 128 MB of RAM but this would not hold up well for daily use.

The system becomes more usable with 256 MB of RAM and with 512 MB of RAM you should be able to use the system without too many problems.

Realistically speaking 1 Gigabyte of RAM would be more of an ideal starting point.

Lubuntu really is one of the best solutions for older computers and for all those netbooks that were released earlier on in the decade with those Atom based processors.

The Aim Of Lubuntu

The objective of the Lubuntu project is to create a variant of Ubuntu that is lighter, less resource hungry and more energy-efficient by using lightweight applications and LXDE, The Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment, as its default GUI.
Lubuntu is targeted at PC and laptop users running on low-spec hardware that, in most cases, just don't have enough resources for all the bells and whistles of the "full-featured" mainstream distributions. 
The above text came from the Lubuntu Wiki. The aim therefore is to provide a lightweight operating system for older low-spec hardware.

How to get Lubuntu

You can download Lubuntu from https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Lubuntu/GetLubuntu.

After you have downloaded Lubuntu you can create a Lubuntu DVD or USB drive.

If you have a slow internet connection you might wish to buy a Lubuntu DVD or USB.

Lubuntu is available in 32-bit or 64-bit format.

Installation

As part of the Ubuntu family of distributions Lubuntu shares the same installer and this therefore makes it very easy to install.

The steps for installing Lubuntu are basically as follows:
  1. Insert Live DVD/USB
  2. Boot computer
  3. Choose language
  4. Choose whether to boot into Live mode or run the installer
Once the installer starts
  1. Choose your language 
  2. Make sure your system is ready (plugged in, connected to the internet, has enough disk space)
  3. Connect to the internet, choose whether to update during the installation  and choose whether to install Fluendo which enables you to play MP3 files
  4. Choose whether to install alongside your current operating system or replace it
  5. Choose your timezone
  6. Set up a user
  7. Wait for files to copy across
  8. Reboot
The following guide shows how to replace Windows XP with Lubuntu

First Impressions























For somebody who has used Windows XP for a while the look will be almost instantly familiar.

There is a panel at the bottom with a menu in the bottom left, quick launch icons and a system tray in the bottom right.























When you click on the menu icon it opens out into a series of categories with the actual applications listed under those categories.


There are some quick launch icons next to the menu button. These can be customised but by default open the file browser, the web browser and iconify all windows. You can also toggle between virtual workspaces.







The system tray has icons for selecting your language, adjusting the volume, adjusting keyboard layouts, power settings, network settings and a clock. Again these can be customised.

Customising the desktop





The default Lubuntu wallpaper is fairly bland. Most people using Lubuntu will be using it on their own machines and people like a bit of colour.

To change the default wallpaper right click on the desktop and choose "Desktop Preferences".

Click on the open folder icon to choose a new image.





Lubuntu ships with other wallpapers and you can scroll through them with your mouse. A preview image appears in the top right corner.

Click "Open" to change the wallpaper.























I know that when I write these reviews I quite often get the response that a review is more than just showing off a few wallpapers but I just happen to think that the image above makes a much nicer first impression.

One of the best features of Lubuntu is that because it incorporates the LXDE desktop it is highly customisable.

This guide shows you how to customise the LXDE desktop.

Connecting to the internet

In my review of Lubuntu 13.10 I wrote the following with regards to connecting to the internet.

As Lubuntu is based on Ubuntu it is very easy to connect to the internet.

Simply click on the network icon and choose the wireless network (or indeed wired network) that you wish to connect to.

You will be prompted for your password and then you will be asked for the security key to the network.
You would therefore think that connecting to the internet is as simple in Lubuntu 14.04.

Unfortunately though the network icon is missing from the system tray and so setting it up means jumping through a few hoops first.

I have added the solution to an article listing 5 things to do after installing Lubuntu.

I am a little bit surprised that this managed to get through testing. Did nobody install Lubuntu from scratch and try and connect wirelessly?

What is interesting is how many Firefox releases there have been since Lubuntu 13.10 was released.

In Lubuntu 13.10 the Firefox version number was 24. The version in Lubuntu 14.04 is 30.

Flash and MP3

Rest In Peace Rik Mayall - One of the finest British Comedy Actors




















In order to be able to play Flash video files and MP3s within Lubuntu you will need to install the Lubuntu Restricted Extras package.

The process of doing this is also listed in the article 5 things to do after installing Lubuntu.

Applications

As mentioned before Lubuntu is designed to work on computers with low specifications. The applications included are therefore less on the glitzy side and focus more on basic functionality.

Accessories

  • Archive Manager (Zip file management)
  • Disks (Disk management)
  • PCManFM (File management)
  • Galculator (Calculator)
  • GPicView (Image Viewer)
  • Leafpad (Text Editor)
  • XPad (Note Taking)

Graphics

  • Document Viewer (PDF viewer)
  • mtPaint Graphic Editor (Graphic editor, think MS Paint on drugs)
  • Simple Scan (Scanning Tool)

Internet

  • FireFox (Web Browser)
  • Pidgin (Instant Messenger)
  • Sylpheed (Email Client)
  • Transmission (Bittorrent Client)

Office

  • Abiword (Word Processor)
  • Gnumeric (Spreadsheet)

Sound and Video

  • Audacious (Audio Player)
  • Gnome MPlayer (Media Player)
  • Xfburn (Disc Burning)
For general day to day use most of these applications are perfectly usable. Abiword isn't a real replacement for Microsoft Word or LibreOffice Writer but if your only requirement of a Word Processor is to type the odd letter then Abiword is just fine. Hey, I used Abiword to write a short story whilst on the train to the Gadget Show Live.

The same can be said of Gnumeric. It is fine for basic spreadsheet tasks such as creating basic budgets but it is no Microsoft Excel.

If you need something more powerful then it depends on your computer what you can afford to do. You can either install LibreOffice (assuming your computer can handle it) or you can use Google Docs.





Audacious is a functional audio player and includes the basic items all audio players should have including the ability to import files into collections and create playlists. Again it isn't as good as some other audio players but it does the job.

Sylpheed is a decent enough email client and if you have a GMail account it is easy to set up.

One thing with Lubuntu 14.04 is that the games section has gone. I remember asking the question does anyone ever play the KDE games? The response was a resounding yes. The question therefore has to be asked "Will Lubuntu users miss the LXDE based games?".

Installing Applications

If you do miss the LXDE games then all is not lost, you can always use one of the package managers available to install them.




















In theory the best method for installing software would be by using the Lubuntu Software Centre.

I don't really like the Lubuntu Software Centre. I mentioned in my Lubuntu 13.10 review...


The search function starts searching after just 300 milliseconds of typing. So if you haven't finished typing your search term in that time then you have to wait for the search to complete before you can enter the rest of the search term.

This behaviour hasn't changed.

The problem with the search function is that users of Lubuntu are going to be on older hardware and so the responsiveness of the computer might not be that great and maybe you can't type your search term in 300 milliseconds. The search box is therefore clunky.

It would be better if the search box let you finished typing before attempting to return results.

I also noticed that when I ran the Software Centre the first time it wouldn't return all the results. Only after hitting the reload button in the Synaptic Package Manager did the Software Centre then start showing everything. Why not add a reload button to the Software Centre?



I still think that the best way to install software is by using the Synaptic Package Manager. It may not be pretty but it works.

New for Lubuntu 14.04

All the new features for Lubuntu 14.04 can be found in the release notes.

The best new feature is the fact that Lubuntu 14.04 is an LTS release providing support for 3 years. That is a big thing as it means  you can install Lubuntu 14.04 and it should still work in 2017.

There is a new version of PCManFM, there is updated artwork and a new version of LXSession-Default-Apps.

Gaming

STEAM is available via the software centre and you can also install PlayOnLinux and WINE for playing Windows games.

It is probably worth noting that the majority of modern games will struggle on older hardware.

Known Issues

I have already mentioned the network manager issue whereby the icon is missing from the panel.

Another big issue (especially for users in the UK) is with keyboard layouts. When I installed Lubuntu 14.04 I chose the UK as my country. After Lubuntu loaded the keyboard layout was set to US English which has the effect of turning pound symbols to hashes and various other inconsistencies.

I covered this issue in the article 5 things to do after installing Lubuntu and that shows how to resolve the problem.

You can view more known issues here.

Summary

Despite the issues that I have highlighted through this review I would still recommend Lubuntu for older hardware and netbooks over most other distributions.

The network applet and keyboard issues were slightly disappointing and I would like subtle improvements made to the Software Centre.

And finally..... why and where have the games gone?

Thankyou for reading.

If you liked this article

share it with other people via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, LinkedIn, and Pinterest?










An Everyday Linux User review of Lubuntu 14.04

Introduction

This is one of those reviews that should be really easy to write. Just last week I wrote an article listing 5 reasons why Lubuntu would be good for Windows XP users. Therefore with this in mind you might think that this review would list all of Lubuntu's good points and paint a positive picture.

Unfortunately it isn't that simple. As far as I am concerned Lubuntu 14.04 feels like a step backwards when compared to Lubuntu 13.10.

There is nothing that is so broken that makes it unusable but I would have thought that because Lubuntu 14.04 is the long term support release it would have had less obviously visible bugs when it was first released.

System Requirements

The full system requirements can be found on the Lubuntu Wiki page.

The bare minimum that you can use is a Pentium II with 128 MB of RAM but this would not hold up well for daily use.

The system becomes more usable with 256 MB of RAM and with 512 MB of RAM you should be able to use the system without too many problems.

Realistically speaking 1 Gigabyte of RAM would be more of an ideal starting point.

Lubuntu really is one of the best solutions for older computers and for all those netbooks that were released earlier on in the decade with those Atom based processors.

The Aim Of Lubuntu

The objective of the Lubuntu project is to create a variant of Ubuntu that is lighter, less resource hungry and more energy-efficient by using lightweight applications and LXDE, The Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment, as its default GUI.
Lubuntu is targeted at PC and laptop users running on low-spec hardware that, in most cases, just don't have enough resources for all the bells and whistles of the "full-featured" mainstream distributions. 
The above text came from the Lubuntu Wiki. The aim therefore is to provide a lightweight operating system for older low-spec hardware.

How to get Lubuntu

You can download Lubuntu from https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Lubuntu/GetLubuntu.

After you have downloaded Lubuntu you can create a Lubuntu DVD or USB drive.

If you have a slow internet connection you might wish to buy a Lubuntu DVD or USB.

Lubuntu is available in 32-bit or 64-bit format.

Installation

As part of the Ubuntu family of distributions Lubuntu shares the same installer and this therefore makes it very easy to install.

The steps for installing Lubuntu are basically as follows:
  1. Insert Live DVD/USB
  2. Boot computer
  3. Choose language
  4. Choose whether to boot into Live mode or run the installer
Once the installer starts
  1. Choose your language 
  2. Make sure your system is ready (plugged in, connected to the internet, has enough disk space)
  3. Connect to the internet, choose whether to update during the installation  and choose whether to install Fluendo which enables you to play MP3 files
  4. Choose whether to install alongside your current operating system or replace it
  5. Choose your timezone
  6. Set up a user
  7. Wait for files to copy across
  8. Reboot
The following guide shows how to replace Windows XP with Lubuntu

First Impressions























For somebody who has used Windows XP for a while the look will be almost instantly familiar.

There is a panel at the bottom with a menu in the bottom left, quick launch icons and a system tray in the bottom right.























When you click on the menu icon it opens out into a series of categories with the actual applications listed under those categories.


There are some quick launch icons next to the menu button. These can be customised but by default open the file browser, the web browser and iconify all windows. You can also toggle between virtual workspaces.







The system tray has icons for selecting your language, adjusting the volume, adjusting keyboard layouts, power settings, network settings and a clock. Again these can be customised.

Customising the desktop





The default Lubuntu wallpaper is fairly bland. Most people using Lubuntu will be using it on their own machines and people like a bit of colour.

To change the default wallpaper right click on the desktop and choose "Desktop Preferences".

Click on the open folder icon to choose a new image.





Lubuntu ships with other wallpapers and you can scroll through them with your mouse. A preview image appears in the top right corner.

Click "Open" to change the wallpaper.























I know that when I write these reviews I quite often get the response that a review is more than just showing off a few wallpapers but I just happen to think that the image above makes a much nicer first impression.

One of the best features of Lubuntu is that because it incorporates the LXDE desktop it is highly customisable.

This guide shows you how to customise the LXDE desktop.

Connecting to the internet

In my review of Lubuntu 13.10 I wrote the following with regards to connecting to the internet.

As Lubuntu is based on Ubuntu it is very easy to connect to the internet.

Simply click on the network icon and choose the wireless network (or indeed wired network) that you wish to connect to.

You will be prompted for your password and then you will be asked for the security key to the network.
You would therefore think that connecting to the internet is as simple in Lubuntu 14.04.

Unfortunately though the network icon is missing from the system tray and so setting it up means jumping through a few hoops first.

I have added the solution to an article listing 5 things to do after installing Lubuntu.

I am a little bit surprised that this managed to get through testing. Did nobody install Lubuntu from scratch and try and connect wirelessly?

What is interesting is how many Firefox releases there have been since Lubuntu 13.10 was released.

In Lubuntu 13.10 the Firefox version number was 24. The version in Lubuntu 14.04 is 30.

Flash and MP3

Rest In Peace Rik Mayall - One of the finest British Comedy Actors




















In order to be able to play Flash video files and MP3s within Lubuntu you will need to install the Lubuntu Restricted Extras package.

The process of doing this is also listed in the article 5 things to do after installing Lubuntu.

Applications

As mentioned before Lubuntu is designed to work on computers with low specifications. The applications included are therefore less on the glitzy side and focus more on basic functionality.

Accessories

  • Archive Manager (Zip file management)
  • Disks (Disk management)
  • PCManFM (File management)
  • Galculator (Calculator)
  • GPicView (Image Viewer)
  • Leafpad (Text Editor)
  • XPad (Note Taking)

Graphics

  • Document Viewer (PDF viewer)
  • mtPaint Graphic Editor (Graphic editor, think MS Paint on drugs)
  • Simple Scan (Scanning Tool)

Internet

  • FireFox (Web Browser)
  • Pidgin (Instant Messenger)
  • Sylpheed (Email Client)
  • Transmission (Bittorrent Client)

Office

  • Abiword (Word Processor)
  • Gnumeric (Spreadsheet)

Sound and Video

  • Audacious (Audio Player)
  • Gnome MPlayer (Media Player)
  • Xfburn (Disc Burning)
For general day to day use most of these applications are perfectly usable. Abiword isn't a real replacement for Microsoft Word or LibreOffice Writer but if your only requirement of a Word Processor is to type the odd letter then Abiword is just fine. Hey, I used Abiword to write a short story whilst on the train to the Gadget Show Live.

The same can be said of Gnumeric. It is fine for basic spreadsheet tasks such as creating basic budgets but it is no Microsoft Excel.

If you need something more powerful then it depends on your computer what you can afford to do. You can either install LibreOffice (assuming your computer can handle it) or you can use Google Docs.





Audacious is a functional audio player and includes the basic items all audio players should have including the ability to import files into collections and create playlists. Again it isn't as good as some other audio players but it does the job.

Sylpheed is a decent enough email client and if you have a GMail account it is easy to set up.

One thing with Lubuntu 14.04 is that the games section has gone. I remember asking the question does anyone ever play the KDE games? The response was a resounding yes. The question therefore has to be asked "Will Lubuntu users miss the LXDE based games?".

Installing Applications

If you do miss the LXDE games then all is not lost, you can always use one of the package managers available to install them.




















In theory the best method for installing software would be by using the Lubuntu Software Centre.

I don't really like the Lubuntu Software Centre. I mentioned in my Lubuntu 13.10 review...


The search function starts searching after just 300 milliseconds of typing. So if you haven't finished typing your search term in that time then you have to wait for the search to complete before you can enter the rest of the search term.

This behaviour hasn't changed.

The problem with the search function is that users of Lubuntu are going to be on older hardware and so the responsiveness of the computer might not be that great and maybe you can't type your search term in 300 milliseconds. The search box is therefore clunky.

It would be better if the search box let you finished typing before attempting to return results.

I also noticed that when I ran the Software Centre the first time it wouldn't return all the results. Only after hitting the reload button in the Synaptic Package Manager did the Software Centre then start showing everything. Why not add a reload button to the Software Centre?



I still think that the best way to install software is by using the Synaptic Package Manager. It may not be pretty but it works.

New for Lubuntu 14.04

All the new features for Lubuntu 14.04 can be found in the release notes.

The best new feature is the fact that Lubuntu 14.04 is an LTS release providing support for 3 years. That is a big thing as it means  you can install Lubuntu 14.04 and it should still work in 2017.

There is a new version of PCManFM, there is updated artwork and a new version of LXSession-Default-Apps.

Gaming

STEAM is available via the software centre and you can also install PlayOnLinux and WINE for playing Windows games.

It is probably worth noting that the majority of modern games will struggle on older hardware.

Known Issues

I have already mentioned the network manager issue whereby the icon is missing from the panel.

Another big issue (especially for users in the UK) is with keyboard layouts. When I installed Lubuntu 14.04 I chose the UK as my country. After Lubuntu loaded the keyboard layout was set to US English which has the effect of turning pound symbols to hashes and various other inconsistencies.

I covered this issue in the article 5 things to do after installing Lubuntu and that shows how to resolve the problem.

You can view more known issues here.

Summary

Despite the issues that I have highlighted through this review I would still recommend Lubuntu for older hardware and netbooks over most other distributions.

The network applet and keyboard issues were slightly disappointing and I would like subtle improvements made to the Software Centre.

And finally..... why and where have the games gone?

Thankyou for reading.

If you liked this article

share it with other people via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, LinkedIn, and Pinterest?










Posted at 23:29 |  by Gary Newell

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