Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

A tale of two Linuxes

So, almost exactly a week ago, I blogged about getting a used PC for eighty bucks, and installing Crunchbang on it -- a type of Linux.

To recap:  about two weeks before Dec 3, my laptop (which I had purchased used, more than five years before), had finally stopped working.

I believe it was Sunday, Nov 30th that I picked up the used Dell desktop PC and installed Crunchbang Linux on it.  The "distro" (i.e. "flavor") of Linux was intentionally bare-bones.  It had some quirks -- but I got used to them.


I was trying to convert some audio files to mp3 format.  Under my laptop running Mint Linux (was it v. 15?), Soundconverter worked just fine.  But under Crunchbang, it would start, but then lock up.

So I downloaded and installed an alternative:  WinFF.  This, too, would start and then lock up.  So, that's no good.

I also didn't like the way thatCrunchbang treated copying folders with the same name as existing folders:  instead of warning you that "a folder with that name already exists", it would just copy the "new" folder over the existing folder -- asking if you wanted to have the "new" files within the folder over-write the existing files of the same name.  I didn't like that.

It also didn't have a built-in "control the 'repeat' speed of your keyboard" app:  I had to do a web search, then install the app for that.  And even when I adjusted the settings, I could barely tell the difference in the "repeat" speed.  Huh.

But the final nail in the coffin was that Crunchbang lacked important safety protocols.  I had a dodgy USB flashdrive.  I was was attempting to clean it up, and when I turned the PC back on the USB flashdrive was already in a USB port.  The computer asked for my login, accepted it -- and then got stuck.

When I powered down, removed the USB flashdrive, and tried to reboot, I couldn't successfully get past the login screen.  I checked the BIOS, and the boot sequence had the USB ports as source #4.  So, as near as I could tell, the PC booted, let me log in, started loading up various devices -- and when it got to the "bad" USB drive, instead of shrugging and moving on, it someone allowed the USB drive to damage the installation.  So in otherwords, Crunchbang appears to lack a safety "diversion" that lets it retain its integrity when it encounters bad devices on startup.

And I could never get it to work again.

Luckily, I had done a full backup just the night before.  So except for a handful of Linux-related webpages I had saved -- largely in response to the "mp3 converter not working" situation -- I didn't lose any work.

So:  I'm back to Mint Linux.  Installed it Sunday, Dec 7th, during the afternoon and evening (I got interrupted a little).  This time I'm using v. 17, because that's what was on the installation DVD-ROM that I had.  Looks the same as the version I had on my laptop, near as I can tell.

And the Soundconverter actually works!!!

And I've adjusted the (built-in) "keyboard repeat" speed -- and it is noticeably faster, once I adjusted it.

So, ha!  Sorry, Crunchbang:  you still need some work.  :(

(Pretty sure is was v. 11, but I don't know the sub-version:  whatever version was current as of Nov 2014.  32 bit, and this is a 64bit machine:  could that have been the problem?  But all the other software seemed to work...)

Interesting to use, though.  But I can't afford the time it takes to rescue delicate OSes:   It took most of a day to install it, and then a full evening to install and set up its replacement.  Plus the lost time trying to get the audio files to convert to mp3.

And I did enjoy its simplicity.  Even though I had to learn how to use "sudo apt-get update" and "sudo apt-get install NameOfSoftware".  I might actually get to use that with Mint Linux, if I ever want something that's not in the official repository...


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