failing like never before


Ubuntu – Squishy Snake

I was riding my bike to the library today, when I happened to notice what appeared to be a brownish hose lying on the road in front of me. Since I have a mountain bike, I usually just run over small stuff like hoses. But as I got closer, I noticed all of a sudden, that it was not in fact, a garden hose, but a snake all coiled up and enjoying the morning sun. Instinct took over.

You see, I live in a fairly rural area, where rattle snakes, deer, and wild turkey are common. Something, every teenager learns when learning to drive in my town, (although technically, we're too small to be a "town") is that if a wild animal or domestic pet runs out into the road in front of your car, don't try to swerve out of the way, just hit it. It happens all the time; someone tries to swerve out of the way of a wild turkey, only to hit a tree, killing themselves and the turkey at the same time. So my instinct when I see an animal in my path, is to slow down a bit but keep going straight (a strategy which has no doubt saved my life but ended that of many a squirrel).

I cannot lie; at the last minute, I pulled my feet off the pedals, held them in the air, and screamed like a little girl. Which was probably a good thing, since the snake make a solid, squishy, sort of noise as both wheels of my bike went over it. It was kind of like the sound a large bug makes when you squish it, only less crunchier. I did not turn around to check if the snake survived, but snakes are quite resilient creatures so perhaps it still lives yet.

Ubuntu has always used alliterations in naming their releases, the distribution name taking the form of <adjective> <African animal>. I therefore propose that a future release be named Squishy Snake, in remembrance of the snake that I killed today.

Just think of the artwork that people could make for it.

I know you're all jealous of my amazing drawing skills. No eight-year-old can rival my genius artistic talents.


Ubuntu to Mepis

So just last week, after I finished up my last midterm of the week, I installed Mepis 7.0 on an extra partition I had on my hard drive. Previously, I've been running Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon. One of the first things I did after installing Gutsy was to install Enlightenment 17, which I feel is possibly the best windows manager around. The only quibble I had with E (as Enlightenment is so often called) is that it is still alpha and bugs are therefore quite common. Eventually, I forced myself to switch over to using Gnome, which is the default windows manager for Ubuntu. I was annoyed by the fact that Gnome sucked tons of memory (especially when compared to E) and didn't look nearly nearly as good. Because I have a relatively old ATI graphics card, I had to install fglrx and xgl in order to get Compiz Fusion working. Xgl had a memory leak that would become extremely prominent after a few days. At first startup, Xgl would use around 20MBs of RAM, but after a few days it was up to 90, and by the end of the week it was using about 150. The end result was that I had to restart X ever day, which was a bit of a minor annoyance. I did try running Gnome without Compiz Fusion but the shiny 3D effects were just too cool to pass up.


Picking a Linux Distro

I don't consider myself to be a linux expert, but I've using various linux distros for a couple years now and I can find my way around the command line fairly well.

I started off my foray into linux with Mandriva, which gave me some amazing horrid problems. I couldn't get the drivers for my ATI Radeon X800 XL to work so I never got to see a GUI. So I wiped Mandriva off my hard drive and installed Fedora Core 5, which worked beautifully. FC5 quickly became my default operating system and since then, I rarely boot into Windows XP. During my time with FC5, I also experimented with XFCE and KDE. XFCE gave me a noticeable boost in performance over GNOME and KDE, however I continued to run GNOME as my default manager because I was so used to it.

From FC5, I upgraded to FC6 and then started experimenting with Damn Small Linux. Mind you, I never ran DSL as my primary OS, it was always just something for me to play with whenever I wanted to run linux on another person's computer.

I had heard alot of hype about Ubuntu so I decided to try it out. I installed Ubuntu Feisty Fawn on an extra partition and found it to be very user friendly and easy to use. A couple months after I installed Feisty, I heard about a distro called Mint. Mint is essentially Ubuntu with all the proprietary codecs and licensed materials added in (alot of distros choose not to include these because of legal issues. Nonetheless, its quite easy to add support for these things in Ubuntu). Deciding that it could be worth a shot, I wiped Ubuntu off and installed Mint. Really, there wasn't much reason for me to install Mint, but I think it would be a very nice distro for the linux newbie. After all, the first thing I did after installing FC5, was to install all the media codecs (mp3, avi, wma, etc.) and other stuff like Flash.

I attempted to install Xubuntu Feisty Fawn on my dad's old 400mhz AMD Duron a few months back, but found that it ran far too slowly. Instead I installed Damn Small Linux-Not, which is essentially a beefed up version of DSL. DSL-Not runs fine on the old Duron, but I'm thinking about trying out Puppy instead.

I reccently upgraded to the KDE version Fedora 7. In version 7, it became simply Fedora, and not Fedora Core. The KDE version of Fedora 7 is very pretty and nicely configured. However, it runs quite slow. I've also had a few weird experiences where performance of the operating system drops in the crapper and opening another tab in firefox ends up taking 5-10 seconds. Granted this may be because I'm running KDE which, because of the way it was written, will naturally run slower then GNOME.

Speed has reccently become a bit of an issue for me. One of the reasons that I first switched to Linux was because I wanted better performance because I was tired of the bloatwareness of Windows. But Ubuntu and Fedora are quickly becoming bloatware and I'm pretty sure that modern linux distros are going to exceed my computer's capabilities very soon (I have a 3ghz Pentium 4 with 1 gig of ram, and an Intel 925 motherboard). Thus, I'm thinking of shifting to a lighter weight distro.

Generally speaking, what I want, is a distro that runs XFCE by default, is reliable, has good hardware support, and isn't too difficult to get around with.

I've taken a look at DreamLinux, which has a really pretty Mac OSX-like interface and runs on XFCE. However, it too looks to be heading down the path of bloatware. Also, I've heard some issues about its stability.

OpenSuse and PCLinuxOS looked pretty interesting, but they aren't as slim as I would like.

Finally, after reading through pages of reviews lists of distros, I've settled on Zenwalk. I like Zenwalk because it defaults to XFCE, has all the media codecs already installed, includes neccessary programs but doesn't include multiple programs that all do the same thing, has a decent package system, and best of all, its very slim with an ISO image of around 420mbs.

So I'm downloading Zenwalk 4.6 now and will hopefully be posting a review of it very soon.