Kicking and Screaming into the Future: Part 4, the Journey Arrives

Well,here we are in the future, and it’s not as bad as I feared. That’s not to say that it’s great.

TL:DR Summary for this Series: if you have to do a full install to upgrade your OS, then buy a new hard drive and install it there. You’ll have to redo all your bookmarks and passwords anyway, and the old drive can act as an archive.

As part of my build-a-little, test-a-little approach to life, I dug out an old Linux box to try some installs on. How old? Thirty-two bit old. Ethernet port doesn’t work old. It already had OpenSUSE on it, from needing to run some simulation software that didn’t like Ubuntu’s version of Java. I plugged in my new TB drive and installed the latest version of SUSE (“Software und System-Entwicklung“, meaning “Software and systems development”, it’s foreign). That’s when I was reminded that it was a 32-bit system. I won’t go into all my trials and tribulations — reading about someone else’s OS installs is as bad as watching them happen. Suffice it to say I that over the course of the last 48hrs I’ve done five OS installs on two different machines.

The final installs went easy. First, I moved my new drive to my production machine. Did you know that some PC power cable builders alternate the direction of the notches on their daisy-chained plugs? First one has them pointing down. Second one, three inches along on the cable, has them pointing up (as if you were going to install the drive upside down) and you have to rotate the already-short cable to attach them. Just thought I’d mention that. Then I installed Ubuntu 14.04 from disk. Then I had a fight with the boot loader over which drive to boot from.

It turns out I like U14 even less than I like U12. The icons are obnoxious. It forces Thunderbird on you. It … I can’t remember all the reasons. The reason being, it took me about ten minutes to decide to dump Ubuntu for OpenSUSE*. Two hours later, and I have an operating operating system.

OpenSUSE isn’t perfect. They let you log in as root instead of forcing sudo on you, a dangerous practice. Their fonts are too small. The KDE desktop organizer is a little funky. The way one finds applications to run is also odd. The screen saver settings aren’t cooperating, so it still blanks out after five minutes. I have not yet tried to get the mailer working. I still have to install Chromium. Anki doesn’t have a version of their flash card software for OpenSUSE like they do for Ubuntu, so I’m using the browser version (and have installed the desktop version on my Windows machine).

On the other hand, Firefox works, and Opera (except that they’re not using the latest Flash plugin), and I can see the old drive, so it was a trivial matter to copy all the files over to the new Home folder. The user interface has a nice retro-unix feel to it, with grey pulldowns and raised check boxes and radio buttons that show a black dot when selected. Takes me back forty years.

Complete with chameleon mascot

Complete with chameleon mascot
(click to embiggen)

* I decided not to go with Mint, because they’re a Ubuntu variant, and I wasn’t sure what baggage that would involve.


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2 Responses to “Kicking and Screaming into the Future: Part 4, the Journey Arrives”

  1. Kurt Kremer Says:

    What differentiates openSUSE from the rest, other than GUI (and the root issue)?

    • FoundOnWeb Says:

      As far as I know, and that’s not very far, SUSE assembles their own distro, while Ubuntu is based on Debian. SUSE uses YAST as their package manager, and is designed to support KDE out of the box. Ubuntu uses APT and Gnome. For what that’s worth.

      From a software standpoint SUSE seems to have all the standards — LibreOffice and such, but most of the utility programs are part of KDE. So the DVD player is Kaffene (but it needs additional codecs, that I haven’t had time to look for), and the mailer is KMail, etc. I’m still learning. All the usual browsers are available. I’m running Firefox and Opera and Konqeror. I could also add Chrome.

      BTW, I’ve solved the screen-blanking problem. There’s two places to look. One is the desktop configuration tool, which sets when the system rolls over to the screen saver (for me, 30min), and what that screen saver is. The other one is under the power control tool. That one was treating the system like a laptop and blanking the screen after five minutes. So after five minutes the screen would turn off, and 25min after that, the OS would start feeding flying toasters to the dead screen.

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