Linux to every home. Which distribution to choose?

    This article is an attempt to share personal experience in choosing a Linux distribution, indicating a few unexpected, as well as quite expected, rakes. image
    Its writing is caused by the formed and demanding opinion about whether it is worth using Linux at home.


    Somehow it happened that Win XP was banally tired, and my greed did not give money for Win 7 (the illegal version does not allow me to put an insolent conscience lately).
    I wanted something airy, beautiful and free ... well, I wanted adventure too, which finally pushed me to an attempt to completely migrate to Linux.
    The computer is an ASUS F8Sg laptop with the following devices on board:
    • integrated camera
    • Intel Wireless Adapter AGN4965
    • Realtek RTL8111 / 8168B network card
    • card reader Ricoh
    • NVidia G9300M graphics card
    • sound - Intel HDA 82801H
    • bluetooth adapter

    As the first distribution, a fresh brainchild of the French community was chosen under the caressing ear called Mandriva 2010.
    image

    This choice was made mainly because Mandriva 2008 for a long time stood as the second system on a laptop, however, for informational purposes only, on a 10GB partition (which I eventually safely removed and fed it with an insatiable Windows).
    Deciding what to experiment - so experiment, the version downloaded x86_64, of course, PowerPack.
    Well, now point by point.

    Appearance


    The default Mandriva "sneakers" are bright, brilliant and multi-functional. Convenient (IMHO) file manager Dolphin, heaps of plasmoids, gadgets, widgets, etc., allowing clutter to decorate the desktop.
    BUT: plasmoids that require an Internet connection (for example, viewing the weather forecast) at startup do not allow the desktop to appear until they establish their network connection. Those. when the Internet is turned off, we observe a black screen with a mouse cursor 3-5 minutes. The system is fully functional. And if the Internet falls off during work, then the desktop freezes, although all running applications are available. There are probably methods to get around this problem (maybe this is generally a special case of my system), but the very fact of the possibility of such a bug in the office. The release is slightly perplexing.

    Software Installation and Upgrade


    The software installer in Mandriva RPM-based is quite convenient.
    BUT: tinkering with the crackle of sound in .mts format videosand having read that Pulseaudio can do harm, I decided to tear down the latter. And, unfortunately, through the GUI. He checked, clicked the delete button and calmly walked away to pour tea. My surprise was great when, in the deletion status, I saw the drakconfig package, which could not go with Pulseaudio in any way. He stopped the process, as a result - half of the packages related to KDE turned out to be safely vaporized. My eyes after that became approximately like a penguin from the Mandriva logo. Someone will say - through the console you need to delete, or look in the list of dependencies. But then again - the system does not have the right to be called "Linux for all" if it conceals such, to put it mildly, chilling rake with teeth really half a meter in length. All KDE should not be depending on one side package, and no one is required to do something through the console,
    The next problem - attempts to install the second package immediately after installing the first (through the GUI) lead to a warning about missing packages and the installer GUI must be restarted. A confirmed bug is in errata , but still not cured.
    Yes, I was also pleased with the timely proposal to "upgrade" to Mandriva 2009.1 at the first start of the system. But this, in principle, is not scary, the elimination is in the same errata .

    Network


    Access to the Internet by my provider is organized as follows: through the wire (as a prettier option - from a wireless access point), a LAN is distributed, to exit "to the world" a PPPoE tunnel is established.
    I won’t talk about PPPoE under Linux - the topic is quite beaten and all the rakes and ways to catch them jump over are described in more than detail for almost all distributions. Everything worked, in general, chocolate.
    BUT: Wi-Fi - and here is hello, a new rake, maple. When connected to the Internet through an access point, the provider detected a subsidence of speed at irregular intervals. Speed ​​sagging was not detected in the output of the iwconfig command, but was more than noticeable. Tests on speedtest.netshowed 0.6 / 0.3 Mbps instead of the set 6/6 Mbps. The only cure was getting the wlan0 interface down and reconnecting again.
    A bunch of various diagnostics, experiments and excavations in the system logs showed that the problem is with wi-fi, not with pppoe or the provider as a whole. Bottom line: congratulations to all the lucky owners of Intel AGN 4965. The standard iwlagn module supports it crookedly up to the current stable kernel 2.6.32.2 (judging by the forums). One salvation is ndiswrapper. Well, or the rejection of radio waves in favor of the good old copper.
    Ndiswrapper for x86-64 managed to get to work (not through the curve of the GUI installer, but through the console), but only WinXP-shy 32-bit drivers of the 4th version from Intel (NETW4X32.INF) went. The process with the active use of the network ( download like us, download better than us!) loads the second core of the CPU up to 80%.

    Video


    Proprietary drivers installed without problems, Compiz and others like it worked adequately. Launched under wine HOMM 5, Half-Life 2 went quite playable (this also applies to sound - there were no problems). The only thing was that with the pixel shaders turned off in the wine settings, there were problems with the graphics in the Valve product - for example, the lack of a light spot from the flashlight. If the pixel shaders turned on, then the fps dropped sharply. It was decided by setting the -directx 81 flag when starting the game.
    By the way, if anyone does not know - winetricks utility is very convenient for installing all kinds of trash, including and DirectX.
    As a result, .mts clips were best played by Dragon Player, which comes with the system. My favorite smplayer video stream mercilessly accelerated, and it was not treated in any way, and VLC periodically issued miserable artifacts and color defects of the image.

    Sound


    There were no general problems, even under wine everything went with the default settings - no shamanism with the emulation level and driver type. I was very surprised.
    But Amarok seemed a completely crooked divide. It just hangs at startup and that’s why it was quickly and mercilessly sent to / dev / null, the benefit of alternative players in bulk.

    Equipment


    There were no complaints to either Bluetooth, or to the card reader, or to the camera, or to the wired network card. Everything started up at the first start and never forced to rummage through the community forums with the subsequent "witches" in the console.

    Additionally


    Flash - earned with terrible bugs, including installing the latest 64-bit Adobe Flash Player for Linux.
    KDE periodically, without any external influences, tearing down the tower and the working space corny suspended. GNOME, of course, could be delivered, but everything else discouraged the desire to do this.
    The list of applications bundled with PowerPack is very impressive. Whether this is considered a plus is a personal matter for everyone, but sometimes it saves time on the final choice of a utility for a specific task.
    Yes, and yet - the speedboot system, positioned as an accelerator for loading the OS, in addition to giving bugs from time to time , also (subjectively) doesn’t accelerate anything.
    In general, from the errata listI didn’t catch everything, but there’s no point in telling something, since it’s not too scary and quickly removable.
    However, the above, in my opinion, make Mandriva 2010 unworthy of the slogan “Linux for all”, which they have proclaimed for themselves. Still, this is an official release, and be so kind as to cut out at least those shoals that arise already on a completely fresh, without additional packages and settings, system. Otherwise, do not even offer to buy such an craft, albeit under the pretext of constant support.
    The result of all this fuss was the opinion that, it seems, in vain I took the 64-bit version, of course, but anyway, I don’t want to experiment with Mandriva at all. And the time has come to choose a new system for trying to give it a human face.
    Not wanting to hear the affectionate “bubuntoid,” he decided to mislead and take not quite Ubuntu, but Linux Mint. Again, because I had already encountered it (on usb-live), and here the domestic release of Rosinka arrived in time.
    image

    There were already several articles on the habret on the experience of using Mint Rosinka ( one , two ), but after all, the more opinions - the better, right?
    Go.

    Appearance


    The default GNOME is not as defiant as KDE, but it is more stable and less demanding on resources. Nautilus is not as flexible in settings as Dolphin, gadgets / widgets and the like are less junk, but there are no adventures with plasmoids and desktop freezes without the Internet. The only thing - it seemed that the widgets for monitoring the system’s resources themselves were pretty good at hitting these resources, except perhaps for the simplest applet from the default set.

    Software Installation and Upgrade


    The software installer is convenient without glitches detected (unlike Mandriva). But installing applications from the console using apt-get is still more convenient and faster. Updating the kernel from 2.6.31-14 to 2.6.31-20 through Ubuntu Tweak was simple and without surprises.

    Network


    With wi-fi, the problem, of course, did not evaporate anywhere (but there was still hope for a miracle). And a new problem was added - wireless networks refused to work with the standard NetworkManager. Moreover, I don’t understand how, but I didn’t manage to configure wlan0 through the console if NetworkManager was installed in the system (it was probably influenced by the small but still available radius of curvature of the hands and too lazy to understand). I solved the problem radically - sawing out NetworkManager and installing an alternative in the form of Wicd. Grace immediately came, wicd in all respects is more convenient and better.
    Ndiswrapper also installed through the console, the driver went the same as under Mandriva (NET4X32.INF). It was necessary to additionally blacklist the standard iwlagn module in /etc/modprobe.d/, otherwise ndiswrapper was ignored by the system.
    The process, when using the network actively, loads the second CPU core up to 80% in the same way.
    And just recently, for no reason, the wireless network, as they say, suddenly stopped working. Neither reboot nor rollback to the iwlagn module with the subsequent return helped. Only reinstallation of the win driver for ndiswrapper saved. Still, ndiswrapper is a crutch, albeit with hydraulics and airbrushing, but a crutch.

    Video


    There were no problems with proprietary drivers.
    With the launch of Half-Life 2, everything is similar to Mandriva. You can play after a little dope. But the other is not to be expected, and Wine developers deserve a monument during the life and fierce hatred of the whole Microsoft company.
    In the end, .mts clips are best played again by some plain-looking player that comes with the system. A strange situation, if someone managed to get smplayer to play them normally - please let me know.

    Sound


    There were no general problems, but the default settings did not go under wine, it was necessary to set the OSS driver instead of ALSA and full emulation. Even so, the sound periodically crackles.

    Equipment


    Everything started up immediately and without tricks.

    Additionally


    The built-in tools by default allow you to conveniently adjust the processor frequency, while in Mandriva you had to install cpufreq-utils and process them with a file.
    With Mint GNOME, there is a feeling of speeding up the system and reducing its workload, even with all sorts of tricks like Compiz.
    Downloading without any speedboot affects its speed (15 seconds), the machine turns off for 2-3 seconds (Mandriva is an order of magnitude longer).

    And finally, the conclusions


    Mandriva 2010: for me it was still FAIL .
    Linux Mint Rosinka: WIN has become for me . Apparently, the concept of Ubuntu is closer to me (as the vast majority of home Linux users).

    And now a little bit of lyrics


    I am tough against win-linux holivars. For some reason, many IT-related and ardent supporters of Linux are either out of a desire to troll, or out of sincere beliefs, they are always and everywhere firing anti-Windows battles. At the same time, they also curse in vain the “blond accountants” and other “office plankton” for curvature and woodenness, forgetting that the skill in computer skills is not genetically embedded in a person, that his absence is not an indicator of mental development. In the same way, a financier or lawyer may consider an IT guru to be a club of steroids due to the fact that he has no idea about debits / credits or the fifth amendment to the third article of the constitution.
    While Linux configuration will be associated with digging in numerous configs, regularly picking at the console, parsing logs, etc, it will be in demand only among very inquisitive users with a tendency to enjoy the above processes.
    Can my wife use Linux at home? Yes. Does he suit her? More than. But would he set it up so that he could work comfortably and spend time watching movies or surfing the Internet? It is doubtful. She wouldn’t configure Windows, of course, but here every win-user has a friend / brother / matchmaker / neighbor, whose playful hands will overpower at least installing drivers, codecs, etc.
    However, for example, it’s easier: to explain to the user by phone where to download such a utility, which buttons and in which case to click in it, keeping the GUI of the same utility in memory, or to turn the user into a kind of KVM switch that introduces to the console the necessary commands and reporting the output? A colleague who recently encountered linux-station escorts was convinced of the effectiveness and simplicity of the second method. Yes, and my wife is quite capable of overpowering the input of a dozen teams into the console under the dictation, there were precedents.
    Linux is certainly great. It really gives a feeling of freedom. And I already chose it for myself. But even having IT preparation, when I was faced with setting up servers for Linux and FreeBSD at work, knowing a bunch of people who have been administering * nix for a long time and successfully, I have not finished bringing my home system to a completely satisfactory form (and not only because that the possibilities of Linux are endless). So Linux gives freedom only to those who really need it.
    Well, Windows is not evil. The popularity of this system is based on its most user-oriented philosophy, and so far it is invincible. For me, Windows was generally very boring, because I saw the blue screen once in my life, and a serious virus itself caught on the last time at school, when the words firewall and endpoint security did not even exist in the lexicon. Everything was set up once, quickly and for a long time.
    However, recent trends still allow us to hope that HE is coming. And it’s definitely nice to become one of those who decided to switch to the “bright side” :-)

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