Full Migration from Windows to Linux - Report #4 Choices

Better part of 6 months has passed from my last report and I sure do feel it. Now my last report was about distribution and how I'm cozy in Fedora. Fedora is a fantastic distro, it lets you do anything to it. Even if you want to shoot yourself in the foot, it will hand you the gun and watch you do it. I highly recommend using it if you want to learn the in & outs of everything Linux has to offer with fairly fresh updates to pretty much everything.

Which brings me to my next point, I'm using Linux Mint 18 on both of my machines.

Why the flip flop around distros? Because I'm still learning and also I'm realistic.
To further elaborate, I'm not completely aware of how all of the gears work in Linux so when things break it takes me a bit of time to check everything. While Fedora is quite stable overall, lots of little things would pop out or something handy with a GUI breaks so I have to command line it (for instance the GUI for dnf was broken and figured it was my fault somehow but nope, recent update broke it). While I do enjoy fixing things or finding out something new about the thing I use every day; I've got shit to do.

Just to bring this all around, here are a few things I've discovered while using Fedora in the widest case possible.

  • SELinux is fantastic to make sure your system is nice and secure, however it prevents a lot of games from steam and some other games from launching, so had to disable it most of the time anyway.
  • Over time I was getting worried about executing a 'dnf upgrade' command as something would be fixed but then something else would break in turn.
  • Installing Nvidia drivers. Biggest pain in my ass, no matter how many guides I looked up and following to the letter.
  • I'm used to old guides from other versions not working on my current version of whatever, but Fedora with it's 6 month cycle makes it hard to dig up information about that "one" thing only you seem to have a problem with.
  • Fedora out of the box is not very usable with multimedia support and have to cram it full of non-free repos right away to get started with anything.
  • Most companies that supply software support for Linux only package for DEB and not RPM, making the pool of software available to you smaller.
  • All of your pulseaudio underruns are belong to us.

While it may sound like I'm picking on Fedora, I'm not, I learned quite a bit in the few months I used it and better for it.

So Linux Mint. This was pretty much my pick after deciding to switch over (again) mainly because it's based off of an LTS (Long Term Support) version of Ubuntu 16.04 which is supported until 2021. The only downside to an LTS is that some programs don't receive even fairly fresh versions in the repository of that LTS version for a long time (if ever). But if the program in question is something you want updated quite often then you have 2 good options; Build it from source or PPAs.
As I'm a lazy person who wants to get things done, 99.9% of the time I use PPAs.
PPAs (Personal Package Archive) are pretty much someones tiny repo to plug into your own, it's not as secure but it's better than downloading a random deb package from the net and hoping it's the real deal.

I'm sure there are more experienced Linux users who will call me out on some detail or how pumping my distro full of proprietary libraries and software hurts my digital freedom. However where I was at the start of this year compared to now is vastly improved, recently received my final email from Adobe about how my Creative Cloud subscription has run out. Even though I cleaned out everything adobe months ago, it's just refreshing to see something that I had to sign a EULA and pay a bill on top of just be done with.

Recently I had a good chance to really push my photography in my new world without Adobe software, here are some Flickr album links of two countries and the photos taken there. Just about everything was done in Darktable, anything else that required touching up I popped into GIMP.


While the learning curve to new software has been fairly close to ripping duct tape off of a hairy leg, I will say there are features I never knew to think about. To many little details to mention them all here but one in particular really sticks out. The watermark, now the Iceland photo has this website while isn't a tricky detail but it's able to pull meta-data from the photo and include it, which I find just fantastic! No extra step required on my part, just needed to make an SVG vector file with some text tags that darktable knows about and done. You'll notice that the Scotland one only has the website, this is because it's an HDR photo and meta-data for shutter speed, ISO, ect. is blanked out after it's exported.

Overall I'm very pleased with how everything worked, and to make note I was working on my laptop, an Intel i7-4600U with 8GB of ram. Did just fine editing photos while traveling. For HDR and panoramic I'd recommend something a bit more desktopy unless you like the sound of a laptop fan on high in a small room for hours on end.

My choice to go full Linux has really come through, the more I keep reading, the more options I keep finding on how to do something better and faster than before. Just recently I looked at my Steam library, a total of about 700+ games and when I first started this it was around 200+ Linux/SteamOS games, now it's 383! Thats a huge jump and quite frankly I wasn't expecting that number to grow quite so fast but you can be I'm happy about it.

UPDATE: I found a nifty website to check your steam library for Linux compatible games.
One thing I forget about when counting my number is that once I feel I'm pretty much done with a game, it goes in the hidden section of my steam library so the numbers above are actually fairly inaccurate however keep in mind I did see a few bits of DLC in the quick and dirty linux checker site.
So in total, 1041 games, 471 of them on Windows, 493 on Linux/SteamOS and it also lists 77 of them as unknown, there were a couple of linux games in that unknown list but just as many windows titles as well. Overall I'm even more delighted to know these numbers! 47.4% for Linux, 45.2% Windows & the 7.4% of unknown.
It's been a while sense I've cleaned my library list and backlog, will be going into that at some point.

Full Migration from Windows to Linux - Report #3 Distribution

Sense my last report quite a bit has gone on in my migration and how I've managed to make it complicated, though better for it overall. With just about three months passed, a whole lot has happened in both the Linux world and the Windows world.

Windows 10... oh my. So the main thing that fueled this train-wreck towards Linux was my laptop. It had Windows 8 on it, so moving to 10 didn't seem like a big decline, in fact a major improvement to get rid of the metro screen! Before making the move however I looked around online but only for the things I was looking for (which is a major pitfall when trying to see if you like something or not), mainly benchmarks for games and overall performance. Was seeing if there was another Vista situation going on.

The big picture of Windows 10 didn't seem bad at all, so when the upgrade was ready for my laptop I took the dive. With Win8 I used the BitLocker function to encrypt my laptop, it's a portable system with my information on it so making sure all of that is safe even if I loose the laptop is a pretty high priority to me. After downloading and some "Yes I Agree" buttons I was finally able to enter information about encrypting my drive. This is the very moment I can recall flipping the table.
The Bitlocker was telling me to have my device encrypted, it must back up a unlocker key to Microsoft. No, this isn't Microsoft's laptop it's mine.
Spent the better part of an hour searching everywhere to see if skipping this was an option but no it's not an option.

After that hair-pulling event, everything was reverted back and for the most part left alone until I can "deal" with it later. Then the events of what was brought up from Report #1 happened and knew that learning Linux had to happen now.

To top everything off I've been discovering that Windows 10 tracks, well everything there isn't any part of the system where it isn't collection analytic data about what you're doing, sure it has some switches to toggle it off but that's putting trust into the system that it's keeping it's end of the bargain and with updates you have no choice but to accept immediately whats to prevent it from turning them back on. Then the ads. I go out of my way to pay for services or a product to make sure ads are ass far removed from my life as possible, putting them right into my desktop is just pure anger.

Sure I could go through the hassle of installing 3rd party tools in preventing the tracking of every single thing I do and block ads but Microsoft will go out of it's way to subvert such things and the problem is, I shouldn't have to. Before with installing Windows from disk/usb was the clean install, now it comes hard coded with bloat already on it.
To be honest as well, I'm tired of using a large swath of 3rd party tools over the years. Trying to make Windows my machine, well that's just chasing the dragon, you'll never reach it but it feels so close.

With most Windows users (I assume) the first Linux distribution to try is Ubuntu, which does it's best to be as user friendly as possible, sadly as a windows user it felt like I was just only using a reskinned Apple UI with about the same kind of frustrating (lack of) utility.
Luckily there was Kubuntu. I did use this for nearly 2 months and was a great platform for learning Linux while having the safety bubble of having a start menu and overall similar layout. However I was using Kubuntu 15.10 and things were bleeding edge with the new Plasma desktop and it was pretty much just as crashy as Windows Explorer. It was a bit more bloaty than I was really comfortable with, sure it ate memory but it wasn't that, it was the fact Plasma had so many extra functions I didn't need.

Kubuntu wasn't doing it for me so I had to find a solution. Linux Mint used Cinnamon as the desktop which gave me a nice warm blanket feeling but it always felt behind in both Linux Kernel version and program repositories. Even after all this I went back to Ubuntu (by this point it was 16.04) and ripped out the Unity Desktop and put in Cinnamon, I did my very best to try and make it work seamlessly, but even after looking up all sorts of fixes and work around the community tried to come up with I wasn't able to get Cinnamon to work as cleanly as I'd hoped. For example the desktop icons would vanish and the background would change (I found the fix for this but still it didn't hold that well), then there was when I tried to shut down from the menu it gave me this.

Needless to say I was tired feeling as if getting back on track using my computer would never come. The main thing that kept me from looking at other distros is that I enjoyed the LTS of Ubuntu based distros, but it wasn't working for me, so I had to give up LTS and PPAs and get myself something that made me happy to use.

After a few days of looking other distros I've finally came to the choice of using Fedora, it's sponsored by RedHat and they became the first $2 billion dollar open-source company, why not give this a try then. It uses GNOME 3 as it's desktop but if I was going to make a major change in how I use my PC already, might as well go all the...wait, whats this I found; Fedora Spins!

Now this is just fantastic, they offer Fedora pre-packaged with KDE Plasma, XFCE, LXDE, Mate, Soas and even Cinnamon!
The overall opinion I got from most people is that Fedora is semi-close to bleeding edge in it's repositories so it can be breaky at times but not majorly so from the sounds of it lately. This also works greatly in my favor as the major reason I used PPAs in Ubuntu was to have the latest release of things like Darktable and Kdenlive.

Fedora's repositories however are more strict on being free and open-source than other distros so to install something like, Steam I had to get, Fedy which you can grab here. It also lets you install things such as Adobe flash, different types of archive formats, DVD playback, Google chrome, Multimeda codecs, ect. Just lots of useful things for a modern workstation tip toeing on the line of free and open source but you know, functional with everything else. Though I do use OpenJDK for Minecraft rather than Oracles close source one. Even did a test with both of them and the frame rate is the same and in fact I'm pretty sure the OpenJDK loads complicated large chunks faster than the closed source one, so I'm good with that.

Reading the wiki on Fedora there is quite a bunch of interesting tid bits. The main one that caught my eye is that code changes are made upstream to other communities working projects so that any Linux distro benefits, unlike say Ubuntu which has been doing more of it's own thing lately. The lifespan of each Fedora version is fairly short, about 13 months, which at first made me a bit paranoid but with the amount of PPA's I had running before it was pretty much the same.
Every now and then I catch myself typing sudo apt install rather than sudo dnf install but that's just muscle memory tripping me up, I just find that amusing.

Fedora with Cinnamon has been a fantastic treat as it has exposed me to even more different sort of things in the world of Linux and lets me keep my warm blanket feeling complete with hotkeys that I'm already used to.
Wasn't aware of how much in the Ubuntu bubble I was in, until installing this distro.
Some neat-o features is that Fedora comes with SELinux (Security Enhanced Linux) and with a Firewall turned on by default. I am the sort of person to scoff at the notion of some sort of virus or spyware for Linux but it pleases my tinfoil hat to see these things here and that Fedora is thinking about the day when that sort of thing could happen (scoff).

Now to be fair Windows in general is not banished from my life entirely, my S.O. uses Windows as her daily driver with her desktop box and laptop. While she doesn't plan on moving to 10 at any point she can't migrate over as disruption in her workflow would cost money. Also I'm not willing to give up a large portion of my games but I'm not willing to dual boot either. I had built myself a MiniITX SteamOS Box from stuff I could find on sale or craigslist finds, works rather well as a SteamBox but I'm realistic and had to install Windows 7 on it. After installing 7 though I stripped it clean of everything possible, even the pretty eye candy (and sticky keys, nothing but pure hate), so it looks more Windows 98 than 7 at the moment but I'm fine with that, all it has installed is drivers and Steam, which boots at start up then right into big picture mode.
Everything is disabled so it won't randomly become 10 by "accident". For good measure I've also installed Aegis, if you need to hold onto 7 or 8.1 for a while longer I recommend using it.

Finally to bring this all around.
My laptop was the last device of mine to get Linux on it as I needed to make Lightroom backups just in case, changing any PSD files gimp can't open properly (such as CMYK files) and just for putting out fires whenever I needed it.
But at last Fedora 23 was to be installed on my Thinkpad Yoga! During installing I was more than pleased not having to agree to a EULA then being able to encrypt my entire drive and now it feels much more that I own this machine both hardware and software wise.

Slowly catching on to all the little nuances that is Linux, even went as far as to compile Darktable from source and use it without any problems. That was actually quite enjoyable.
In my next report I'll go over what software I've found works best for me and in fine grain detail.
Also a good book to get really into the terminal and understand how things work is The Linux Command Line, it has really cleared a few things up for me rather than trying to search for every single little thing the CLI in Linux can do.

Full Migration from Windows to Linux - Report #2 Software

What makes or breaks a platform? Software.

What gets people to use your software? Marketing.

Something I've noticed among every group of people, even ones that have some difficulty using a computer. They know the term "Photoshop" and at times it's not even directly related as the program itself in the name, it's now a term or lingo to call something Photoshoped. Pretty sure that there are some out there that use the term without knowing about the software in the first place.

So with that in mind...I'm an adobe junkie, been using Photoshop, Lightroom & Premiere sense the early 2000's moving away from that much to learn a new chunk of software is hard, hell a new workflow. That sounds harder!

But I've made a move and started using Kdenlive on Linux Mint 17.3 to edit videos of my sister and I playing video games (not original sure, but we have fun doing it). The first thing I tried was to simply load in the recorded video plus audio from the mic and dive face first into editing it and attempting to do all the same things I do with my editing style with Premiere. This includes just simple stuff as fading from and to black, audio dips in keyframe moments (when coughing) splicing the video when cuts are needed and fading into other video (example on a video here) and laying video over other video in a lower corner. Simple things sure but I found all of these things and more within Kdenlive, even a few things I wish Premiere had but I guess that isn't a problem any more! As for diving in face first you'll just waste time, find someone who has put up a tutorial (I found this guy who goes into some nice detail but do look at several videos). Even if you know how non-linear video editing works in practice the software is an entirely different tool even if it's doing the same thing.
There are different video editors for linux as well such as OpenShot and Flowblade, in the end you'll have to try them out to see which works best for you.

The video editor was the first thing I looked for to replace the windows end of things and after uploading the finished video it felt fairly easy that it was edited, rendered and uploaded all within some other software that I've never used before.
It's been a long time sense I've had to learn and use new software so this has brought back some old excitement to me from when I was learning all of this stuff back in the early days of windows about the only thing missing is the huge amounts of time I found myself with back in the 90s.

As things are going along now I've actually learned quite a bit more than the video editor but I'm slow to write this stuff. But the above is what I found and felt during all of that. Now to get into stuff that might actually be more useful.

I've been looking into a lot of different software to replace just about everything I do and as the name of some chunk of software is the first tricky step (at least it was for me) I figured sharing everything I found would be helpful to other trying to make a switch.

The left side will be the windows software to be replaced, the right side will have the replacement.
This is my personal list of what I found works for me.

  • Photoshop - GIMP + MyPaint
  • Lightroom - Darktable
  • Adobe Bridge - Shotwell
  • Adobe Audition - Audacity
  • Premiere - Kdenlive
  • Sketchbook - Krita
  • Winamp - Clementine
  • Imgburn - Brasero
  • Illustrator - Inkscape
  • cuetools - Flacon
  • Indesign - Scribus
  • ZBrush - Blender

With Photoshop and Sketchbook it's actually split between GIMP, Krita and MyPaint. With these different tools they are more powerful in the regards of what I'm after in the end.
There was also quite a few tools I used in windows that were already packaged for Linux such as Hexchat, Handbrake and Steam but thats another subject.

Now not everything either works out of the box or just in a different package ready to go. There are two programs I was nail biting over as they are less work-ish but can be seen as work however bring me great joy. FL Studio and Hammer (map making tool for source engine games). But there is good news everbody! They work just fine in WINE, FL studio took installing quite a bit of extras from WineTricks but I loaded up a huge demo project and plays just fine. Hammer was the one I was really freaking over but it ran and compiled a map just fine, the only thing I wasn't able to get going was running CSGO to let hammer see all of the resources but thats because I'm doing all of this testing on a Thinkpad X220 laptop with an Intel GPU and WINE makes fun of the Mesa drivers, however on my main machine with a Nvidia GPU I'm quite sure it will run perfectly fine but even if it doesn't I'll just have to manually tell hammer where to do everything.

I'm sure in time there will be different programs I try or even shift to and with that I'll do my best to post progress on it as I haven't seen very many people document this kind of shift and even as I write this there are other things coming to mind about what kinds of programs that can run on the penguin. Firefox and Chrome for example, sure anyone just loading up about any distro of Linux will see that Firefox or Chrome(ium) is loaded up but it's there and almost taken for granted.

Now for a change of pace. Originally I was going to go with Linux Mint and call it a day but I've been using the same semi-bland looking OS sense the age of time and while Mint is much prettier than windows I wanted some major eye-candy but it still needed to be highly functional. At one point I almost went for Debian and pump it full of themes but I'm lazy and I like PPAs that ubuntu based distro can use. With that I've found that Kubuntu is what calls to me, currently I'm using 15.10 and that has KDE Plasma 5.4.2, I've changed the overall look to Breeze Dark and oh my it sure is pretty.

Yeah I'm a sucker for 75% grey-blues with minimalists look to it. Down the road I'm sure that it will be changed to something more green with simple icons but thats an easy change for when I'm really settled in. There was a part of me that just wanted to load in Ubuntu and roll with it but KDE has everything I need along with that very familiar shart button in the lower left. And I can't get used to the window buttons being on the left, always feels like I'm borrowing another persons computer. One thing to note however is that by default single click acts as a double click when opening files and folders, I tried very very hard for a week to get used to it. Just Can't Do It. However it's an easily changeable setting in the mouse options, along with acceleration for whatever reason is a thing on by default as well.

Currently my plan is to install 15.10 on my main machine then roll it over to 16.04 in April, it seems Linux Mint can't do that sort of self upgrade yet though they did mention version 18 should be able to handle that. I will say for anyone migrating from windows, Linux Mint really is the easiest way to go as it even uses nearly all of the hotkeys I was used to, where as with KDE 5 I'm having to manually put in stuff like Meta+L to lock the desktop when I get up, or even just hit the Meta key for bringing up the shart menu to start typing in a name of something (which I use a lot rather than icon hunting with the mouse, though again this works in Linux Mint out of the box!)

This is everything I've discovered so far, once more things get moving there will be more updates to come. Hope this was helpful or just interesting.