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Linux Discussion - Anybody use Linux for work or daily computing?


Justin
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Is anybody here running Linux on your desktop? I’m looking to hear experiences and input from people who use Linux for their daily desktop computing. People who use a Linux setup to send email, write documents, compile spreadsheets, surf the web, enjoy life. Programming is a plus! What version of Linux do you prefer and what hardware is it running on? What are your preferred software programs? And how many of you have a Raspberry Pi running Linux? Not looking to hear stories about mobile or handheld gaming.

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I have used Linux in the past for home use on older laptops.  It works great *if* you are fine with limited usage.  For example, open source office suites (LibreOffice is great), web browsing, and e-mail.  The issues arise if you want to do anything beyond that, like games on Steam, or a remote login to a work Windows machine. 

Frankly, it can work a lot like the Apple Mac OS, which is also built on a Unix platform. 

Things can get hairy in installing hardware drivers for things like printers.  But other than that, it's not too hard to figure out and configure. 

If you are considering it, let us know what hardware you are considering, as that plays a huge part in what version you choose.  You might also consider that pre-configured USB memory stick for the Atari VCS to give it a go. 

 

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I have Linux on my desktop as a virtual machine, but my current computer doesn't have much horsepower to run it at the moment. In fact, I believe I have three Linux machines of different Linux flavors. MacOS seems easier to understand to me. but, Linux has promise. Interesting stuff in Linux, for sure. :O)

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I got the new PC-Mode USB from Atari for the VCS which uses the latest version of Debian. It is very snappy for the Office compatible applications (LibreOffice), web browsing, and YT (via browser). I also messed around with GIMP and it worked as well as it does on my PC.

I don't see it replacing my super fast Razer Windows laptop but if I didn't have that already the VCS with Linux could easily be used for productivity applications, emulation and light gaming.

I'd add that it's fairly easy to make a USB image of something like Debian or Ubuntu for use in the VCS. I picked up Atari's branded USB just to check it out.

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Thank you everyone for the thoughtful input!

18 hours ago, RickR said:

I have used Linux in the past for home use on older laptops.  It works great *if* you are fine with limited usage.  For example, open source office suites (LibreOffice is great), web browsing, and e-mail.  The issues arise if you want to do anything beyond that, like games on Steam, or a remote login to a work Windows machine. 

Excellent suggestions @RickR, THANK YOU! I've heard good things about LibreOffice. For me to start with Linux would be with daily personal computing, which to a degree could be limited usage. I would be using it as a second machine, so if I ran into a roadblock of something I was unable to do easily with Linux I would have an alternative.

Do you have recommendations for web browsing and e-mail on Linux?

 

18 hours ago, RickR said:

Things can get hairy in installing hardware drivers for things like printers.

That was one of my concerns, and was hopeful that the Linux community had developed easy solutions.

 

18 hours ago, RickR said:

If you are considering it, let us know what hardware you are considering, as that plays a huge part in what version you choose.

That would be my biggest question. I'm curious what you guys are using, and what is commonly used among Linux users for daily computing. It becomes both confusing and incredibly interesting when looking at what hardware to start with, because there are so many options and yet there's no "Linux Store" at the mall. I've seen Bitcoin miners running on classic DMG Game Boys somehow running Linux. I don't see how that's even possible or how that would work for me. The VCS is an option. I've also seen $99 Raspberry Pi keyboards running Linux and able to perform every function of basic personal computing - LibreOffice, web browsing, e-mail and more, all in a low priced "keyboard". It's like the modern equivalent of what an Atari 8-Bit or C64 served, as a low-cost alternative to an expensive IBM. I think of Chrombook as being in this same category as well.

I was thinking of taking an older machine - let's say a 5 year old desktop or laptop in good condition - servicing it and installing Linux on it. Not sold on the idea yet. I'm also not opposed to buying a brand new machine, but I should probably try Linx out first and see if I like it.

 

18 hours ago, RickR said:

You might also consider that pre-configured USB memory stick for the Atari VCS to give it a go. 

That's an excellent suggestion and I may go that route as I want to spend more time enjoying the VCS. I hope they keep the VCS around for a long time.

 

18 hours ago, RickR said:

Frankly, it can work a lot like the Apple Mac OS, which is also built on a Unix platform.

15 hours ago, DegasElite said:

MacOS seems easier to understand to me

I prefer Unix-like systems, and primarily use macOS. I'm very happy with it and there's not a pressing need for me to switch, but I'm curious about Linux, and Linux has been rock solid over the years with the servers I've worked with.

 

15 hours ago, DegasElite said:

I believe I have three Linux machines of different Linux flavors.

What are the three Linux flavors if you don't mind me asking, and is there one you prefer? I'm looking at Kali. I'm also curious about Debian and Ubuntu. What are the pros and cons?

 

2 hours ago, Sabertooth said:

I got the new PC-Mode USB from Atari for the VCS which uses the latest version of Debian. It is very snappy for the Office compatible applications (LibreOffice), web browsing, and YT (via browser). I also messed around with GIMP and it worked as well as it does on my PC.

I don't see it replacing my super fast Razer Windows laptop but if I didn't have that already the VCS with Linux could easily be used for productivity applications, emulation and light gaming.

I'd add that it's fairly easy to make a USB image of something like Debian or Ubuntu for use in the VCS. I picked up Atari's branded USB just to check it out.

That all sounds fun! Part of my curiosity in in the "is this really better, faster, safer" aspect of it all, and "what can I do with it?"

 

My computing history was always ambidextrous, I grew up using both macOS and Windows, (and of course using both Atari 8-bit and Apple II in the early days). I’ve always appreciated the “home appliance“ closed design of systems like Atari and Mac, while simultaneously appreciating open architecture hardware design and open source software. I also like Unix-like systems. Lately I’ve been looking at adding Linux to my daily routine but I wouldn’t even know where to start. I’ve worked with Linux servers but I’ve never had a basic Linux PC on my desk for personal computing. I thought someone in the forums may have taken an old beat-up Dell laptop and repurposed it into a lightning fast Linux machine they could show off. It's a fun idea to play around with.

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59 minutes ago, Justin said:

Do you have recommendations for web browsing and e-mail on Linux?

Here's what's interesting....once I tried Linux, I realized a lot of the same programs are available on Windows and Mac.  So even on my Windows machine, I use LibreOffice.  It's really good and FREE. 

As per your question, I always use Thunderbird for e-mail.  It's based on Mozilla code, so I use "Firefox" for web browsing.  However, if you want to cast to a TV or other device, install Chrome too.  Again, I use these same applications on Windows. 

59 minutes ago, Justin said:

That was one of my concerns, and was hopeful that the Linux community had developed easy solutions.

You are on the right track.  If your device is common, there will be on-line guides and it will be no issue.  Do it once and then never worry again.

59 minutes ago, Justin said:

I was thinking of taking an older machine - let's say a 5 year old desktop or laptop in good condition - servicing it and installing Linux on it. Not sold on the idea yet. I'm also not opposed to buying a brand new machine, but I should probably try Linx out first and see if I like it.

The "5 year old desktop or laptop" will be perfect and I would start with that route.  Some Linux distros have the ability to run off DVD so you can try it first without installing it.  It's slower because there is no hard drive, but this is a great way to determine if the old desktop is fully compatible.  I highly recommend trying this. 

I'd say the demarcation point you'll want to watch for in old hardware is the CPU...Core 2 duo is as old as you'll want to go, and that old technology will work fine but will limit which distro you will want to choose.  Once you get into the more modern Intel i3/i5/i7 and the newest multi-core AMD chips, you can run any distro you like. 

59 minutes ago, Justin said:

I thought someone in the forums may have taken an old beat-up Dell laptop and repurposed it into a lightning fast Linux machine they could show off.

I've done that!  But it was probably @MaximumRD.  His posts about finding old hardware at the recycling bin and putting Linux on them are pure gold. 

I will add that I too use Linux on servers for coding at work.  Much easier to work with than Windows IMO for that purpose.  But things are different for desktop usage as look and feel are so important.  Nobody really wants something different and quirky in that regard.  Luckily, most of the most popular Linux distros are designed to look and behave like either Windows or MacOS. 

 

Edited by RickR
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I appreciate the mention and vote here Rick and yes, I have dabbled with many Distros for years and even currently loving PopOS on my 2011 Macbook but, and this is why I didn't chime in earlier, I could not claim to know much beyond basics about using it for a daily driver of any sort. Meaning I don't really fit for the info Justin is inquiring about, I install a Distro on some old laptop or desktop hardware and because it is old or basic hardware it is with no intention of really using it for anything more than basic Web Browsing, no documents, spreadsheets or coding and honestly, though I used Thunderbird back in early days for my Email client I've not even dabbled with that since I gave in years ago and started using Web Based Emails in browser so even that I am rusty on, which is funny because back in the 2000's you could not force me to use Web Based ANYTHING let alone Emails. Pretty much Rick you have already given advice and contributed far better than I could, even things I am proud of doing like using Terminal to update a broken WiFi driver for the MacBook I tend to stumble through only after hours of frustration searching and researching until I find the answer and am successful after which I couldn't even give someone a clear instruction on how I managed it,  😆while I enjoy tinkering and can be stubborn to a fault until I am successful, my brain is always kind of in that moment and then it seems to just purge every step afterwards so I wouldn't even begin to know how to instruct someone else on my methods. Sorry I could not be of more help, I will keep an eye on the topic and contribute IF I think I can add something from this point on but I suspect you guys got it. 😎

Edited by MaximumRD

I am Rob aka MaximumRD aka OldSchoolRetroGamer and THIS is my world http://about.me/maximumrd

"For you, the day Bison graced your village was the most important day of your life. But for me, it was Tuesday."

 - M. Bison

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5 hours ago, Justin said:

What are the three Linux flavors if you don't mind me asking, and is there one you prefer? I'm looking at Kali. I'm also curious about Debian and Ubuntu. What are the pros and cons?

Ubuntu Studio, ArtistX, and Jagbuntu. Jagbuntu is a variant of Kubuntu Linux especially for Jaguar game development by the Thorup Brothers, who created Flappy McFur. It is an older variant of Kubuntu. It doesn't seem to be online anymore on the BitJag site, but I have a copy floating around for my own personal use and to experiment with. ArtistX is a variant of Ubuntu also. I just put them up there on VirtualBox as virtual machines to try them out. By the way, of course, VirtualBox is freeware and not trial-ware. I can use up to version 6.1 on my current computer. It's an old MacIntel, soon to be deprecated by Apple Silicon machines, but it still works for me. They still have Linux scripts for Jaguar development by the Removers on their site for free download. It's interesting. :O)

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I was doing some testing with Debian 11 (Bullseye) today running as a "virtual machine" on the VCS. Using a fast USB, the VCS ran it like a champ. It was very quick for basic productivity apps and I ran a few modern games off of it without issue. I was actually surprised to get that performance out of the USB boot drive.

It was also cool that it recognized my VCS Classic and Modern Controllers via BT. Those Controllers need to be wired for Windows/XBOX Mode.

Edited by Sabertooth
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While I am still currently enjoying ZorinOS on the old Macbook I just seen THIS video and liked the look enough that I am currently downloading the ISO to install and check out in VMware. KaOS Linux Distro, I like the clean design and less is more idea (not being overwhelmed by options) it was this video I just stumbled across that made me decide to check it out. I think also if I like it enough I will consider installing it on the little small form factor HP desktop in the bedroom, again I rarely use it beside testing purposes but right now I have installed ChromeOS Flex which has been good enough for just the light browsing (specs are an old i5 cpu, no gpu, 4gb ram, small 120gb hdd) as it is really not suitable for anything other then the most basic of tasks so maybe I will see how this runs on it IF I can manage to install it natively, it's been a very flaky machine in regards to what OS it will even allow to be installed resorting in having to jump through some hoops to get anything installed on it. 🤷‍♂️;

I know I am not really adding anything of value to this thread and said I would not post otherwise but thought you might want to see this video as something to consider:

 

I am Rob aka MaximumRD aka OldSchoolRetroGamer and THIS is my world http://about.me/maximumrd

"For you, the day Bison graced your village was the most important day of your life. But for me, it was Tuesday."

 - M. Bison

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1 hour ago, Justin said:

YES you are.

 

KaOS has got to be one of the coolest name for an operating system I've ever heard. I love it! 

Thanks, yeah the name grabbed me right away, honestly I might not of even watched the video otherwise and so far pretty nice in the VM form my little time with it, I like while it is installing it asks you to choose between a couple options so once installed you are pretty good to go. I will likely play around with it and decide if I will install it natively on that old bedroom desktop sometime in the New Year. 

I am Rob aka MaximumRD aka OldSchoolRetroGamer and THIS is my world http://about.me/maximumrd

"For you, the day Bison graced your village was the most important day of your life. But for me, it was Tuesday."

 - M. Bison

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