Tag Archives: win

Windows & Linux – myths and facts

Recently, I’ve been using Ubuntu (a Linux distribution*, not Ubuntu Cola 😀 ) quite a lot lately.
My main operating system is Windows 7 and I have Ubuntu as a backup. Anyway, I’ve heard a lot of “Linux is easier and better” crap, but is that really so? I’ll analyse such claims a bit in this post, name pros and cons of both systems and say some general info about Linux.
Since I’m not an advanced user myself and often find “explanations” like Dude, do you speak English? I’ll try not to go to technical details. If you do find something too technical, just screw it 😀

Desktop screenshots can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Free and freeware

The main pro of Linux is that the distributions* are free. Not just freeware, but free. What’s the difference between free and freeware software anyway? Free means it’s totally open without any kind of limitations (e.g. Mozilla’s Gecko engine). Freeware, on the other hand, is free of charge, but has some licence restrictions. That is the crap you just click Accept to without reading it. Basic restrictions are, for example, using a certain software for private purposes only, one licence per computer etc.

*Linux Distributions

Linux is no single software, but rather a family of operating systems called Linux distributions. Because the source code of Linux is open to everybody (unlike that of Windows), everyone is allowed to create an “operating system”. Thus, there are hundreds of different distributions. Currently, the most popular are Ubuntu and Fedora, and, of course, Google Android. Yes, Africans, Ubuntu takes its name from African life philosophy of ubuntu (Zulu humanity to others). The creator of Ubuntu is a South African.
Distributions can be based on one another. For example, Mint is based on Ubuntu which is based on Debian. Distributions can be connected to each other more or less closely. For example, due to a dispute between Mozilla and Debian Project, Mozilla software can’t be installed on Debian. Instead Mozilla clones are used (like Iceweasel* instead of Firefox), which are pretty much the same as their Mozilla counterparts. Now, both Knoppix and Ubuntu are based on Debian. However, Mozilla software is in normal use in Ubuntu while Knoppix uses the mentioned clones.

Distributions can be specialized (e.g., science, education, network, notebooks etc.) or general. They vary a lot and you are bound to find a distribution that is going to work on your computer, no matter how powerful it is. An example of a distribution that works on weak computers is Damn Small Linux. This Wikipedia article offers general information about many distributions.
Most distributions are multilingual, but there are some that aim only towards one region and thus only in one or a limited number of languages.

Note that the popularity of a certain distribution varies through time. Ubuntu, one of the most popular distribution today, was released in 2004 while the first Linux distribution was released in the early nineties. The popularity of Linux Mint has been growing quite a lot lately.

*Check the subquest for more info about Iceweasel 😉

Desktop Enviorment

Desktop environment is a graphical interface of Linux and defines the appearance of Linux. Unlike Windows, Mac OS and similar OS; which pretty much have a defined interface and the appearance pretty much varies only from version to version; Linux distributions are not environment bound though certain environments are developed for one distribution (e.g. Unity). Basically, different distributions can use the same desktop environment and thus look the same.
There are a lot of desktops environments, like GNOME, KDE*, LXDE, Unity, Cinnamon… Like the distributions, environments can be based on one another (e.g. Unity and Cinnamon are based on GNOME).

Usually, a distribution comes with a default desktop environment, but others can be installed. There are also different releases of the same distribution with different environments. The name of such a release usually differs only by one letter. For example, the default environment of Ubuntu is Unity. You can run KDE on Ubuntu – you can do that either by installing KDE on Ubuntu after you install the operating system, or you can simply download Kubuntu, which of the default environment is KDE. Kubuntu comes without Unity but the environment can later be installed, just like KDE can on regular Ubuntu. Basically, Kubuntu and Ubuntu are the same thing, just “look” different. I use KDE – my Ubuntu is Kubuntu.

Desktop Environments come with certain software, but that software can be run on other environments too. For example, GNOME Media Player works on KDE flawlessly.

Environments can be further personalized. Well, at least KDE can – I made windows MS Windows-like and icons Unity-like.

LXDE on Knoppix

Both of these pics show KDE on (K)ubuntu. The above pic shows the default look of KDE and the one below is my personalization.

Speaking of environments, all environments come with a start menu. Those menus don’t look exactly like Windows Start Menu, actually, their look varies from environment to environment. The name of a menu can vary from simply Menu to Kickoff (KDE), but its function is the same – it’s a start menu. Anyway, I can’t remember when is the last time that I saw a PC keyboard without a Win Key ( ) [the one(s) that look like Windows logo]. Anyway, their purpose is opening Windows Start Menu. Now, some environments do recognize the key(s) and use them to open the start menu. Others, on the other hand just don’t (e.g. KDE, LXDE). The developers of such environments must have a serious religious issue against the Win Keys for not making them initiate start menu… I have to enter some codes in the terminal every now and then to force a Win Key recognition on KDE and the codes make KDE recognize only one Win Key.

*You can install most (useful) KDE programs on Windows with KDE Windows Installer. Yes, the programs are free.


Knoppix distribution deserves a special paragraph or two 😀

Knoppix is a live Linux distribution (the first one I think). Live distributions are booted from an optical disk (or a USB flash drive) – a live CD. Now, most distributions have an option to be booted from the installation disk, so people can try out the distribution without installing it to a hard drive first. Thus, pretty much every distribution today is a live distribution.
What makes Knoppix special is that, unlike most others, it is intended for live usage (although it can be installed on a hard drive*).

Knoppix is updated regularly since the software on Knoppix can’t like be updated all the time. Furthermore, you can’t install anything on the live CD (nor can you save settings on the live CD) though there is a way to save Knoppix settings on a hard drive. Well, if you do that, Knoppix kinda looses its purpose – emergency backup operating system (very useful for retrieving data).
The distribution detects pretty much any kind of hardware though you might have to wait for a release of Knoppix after the release of the thingy it fails to detect. It can be run on old computers smoothly. Note that the waiting time is caused by the fact that the operating system is being read from an optical disk like all the time. Knoppix comes with a wide rage of software – it can read pretty much everything. It comes equipped with a software centre** or two and Debian packages** work on it. Though, as I said, everything you additionally install is lost upon system shut down unless you save settings to a hard drive.
The default desktop environment is LXDE, Though, some others can be loaded (e.g. KDE and GNOME).

Let’s discuss regional/language settings now. Knoppix is named after it’s creator, Klaus Knopper. Klaus Knopper is German and thus Knoppix is a German Linux distribution. For international (i.e. nonGerman) purposes, there’s an English version. To save the (limited) space of a disk, no other language is supported (there are, however, Knoppixed based localized distributions). There are separate disks for each language. However, each language can be loaded on the other language disk by starting the console and writing crap before Knoppix loads (e.g. you write lang=de**** on the English version to load the operating system in German).
Regional settings of the German version, are naturally German (including the keyboard layout 🙂 ). English version, which should be international, is totally Americanized. The default keyboard is basic American which is so bloody limited that you can’t even type the Euro symbol (€). American International was used in older versions. I don’t know why it’s not used any more. American International has the basic input the same as basic American, but allows easy access of certain other characters (e.g ÄÅÉÖßØÑ£€¥…). Sure, basic is enough for English (actually, you can’t even type English words like cliché, résumé… decently), but English is hardly the only lingo on the planet, so if you ask me American International should be used. Furthermore, the default (short) date format is mm/dd/yyyy (e.g. today is 9/25/2012) and not only that yyyy/dd/mm (e.g. today is 2012/9/25) is international, but mm/dd/yyyy is used only in the US (and partly in Canada). Moreover, the measurement system is also American. Not only that metric is international, but the American system is used only in the US and Liberia. Okay, these settings can easily be changed in the System Settings, but why favour Americans?! Especially since they’re not the majority (and the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few 😉 ). I mean, I don’t care what measurement system you use, but metric is international, and you should be able to use it. It’s simple anyway – the base is the bloody number 10. If you are annoyed by the system that much, you can just switch to your in the System Settings…
The default spell checking language is also American English. I think that the default spell checking language of the English version should be Canadian English. Canadian spelling allows both English spellings – Commonwealth  and American. We, international fellows, don’t much care whether it’s colour or color – all the same to us, so underlining certain, correct (one way or the other), spelling can be annoying. Besides, this way native speakers get their way too – Yanks get their color, and Brits and others get their colour.
Well, all that regional settings can be modified, so no biggie; I Just think the default settings should be international or, at least, follow the rule needs of the many outweigh needs of the few 😀

Other than bitching about (the default) regional settings, I can’t say anything bad about Knoppix. On the contrary, the distribution kicks ass 😀 There are a few bugs in version 7.0.4 though, like not being able to change keyboard layout in GUI (you have to type some crap in the console to change the layout and even then you can use only one layout at a time, you have to type crap again to switch). Now, since Knoppix is for short use only, you shouldn’t care much (I even have American layout printed above my desk so I know what to type when the situations calls for it and again, it would be easier if the international variant was used), but sometimes you just need to use different layouts in short time periods (sometimes, I keep switching between Croatian, Greek and even Serbian Cyrillic). Hopefully, the bugs will be fixed soon.

The thing I must commend is the help you are provided. You’re not toyed around on a forum or with a costumer service You can even email Kluas Knopper himself. I did a few times and he replied each time (most recent being the code you type in the console to change keyboard layout) and Klaus Knopper seems to be a really busy man.

Visit Knoppix homepage.

*If you want Linux on a hard drive, install a different distribution (e.g. Ubuntu).
**I’ll talk about software centres and installation packages later.
***Note that the keyboard input of the English version (before loading German) is American. Continue reading


Windows Live Mail

I’m writing this post because I’m frustrated by the incompetence of Microsoft in dealing with their users to fix a program.

I’m talking about Windows Live Mail.

Since March last year (I think the exact date of the issue being reported is March 20th 2011, but I’m not sure exactly) WLMail keeps freezing when a accessing Facebook notification. People have been complaining to Microsoft (just look at these threads on Microsoft Answers), but not only that the problem hasn’t been fixed (after a year and half!), but Microsoft actually keeps toying with their answers. When they notice people are sick and tired of their games, they just lock the topic giving a stupid explanation. What’s worse, they even marked a few threads as solution(s), but after spending hours going through them, you find shit of a solution.
We have, similarly, tried asking Facebook, which really has crappy help center, for help. They were so helpful, that people created the Facebook group Facebook Notifications Crash Windows Live Mail… Windows Live Mail versions facing the issue are 2009, 2011 and 2012 (probably even older versions, I just haven’t tried them). The last version, 2012, was released well after (i.e. a year and four months after) the issue was reported and the issue persists. Even the version 2011 had been updated like a million times after the report, but no bloody fix in a single update.
I even wrote about the issue on Wikipedia Windows Live Mail article a few times, but admins deleted what I’d wrote. It’s interesting how Wikipedia is supposed to be a free encyclopaedia which everyone can edit, yet my edits are gone… Since my claims can easily be validated by simply creating an email account of an address which receives Facebook notifications on WLMail, my guess is that Wikipedia doesn’t want go to Microsoft disfavour.
And no, this shit isn’t just happening to me on my computer. I have tried it on other computers too and the same thing happens. I reinstalled Windows and even reformatted my hard drive(s) a few times – same shit. As I said, switching back to old versions doesn’t help either and even if it did, all Windows Live programs must be the same version (e.g. you can’t have WLMail 2009 with WLMessenger 2011). Besides, if I were alone, there wouldn’t be the mentioned Facebook group, which I didn’t found, but joined only recently.

Now you see why Microsoft is a piece of shit, and people give them money… Spoiled rich bastards…
Anyway, it’s time to show you that Windows Live Mail is a piece of shit.

This is another issue, for which Microsoft has done shit to solve…
In To and From columns certain characters are not displayed. The problem is not in the encoding ’cause all letters are shown everywhere else correctly. For example, according to Windows Live Mail, Ivana eo sent me an email and not Ivana Šešo. Depending on your language, this might be a minor inconvenience because you might encounter the “chosen” characters rarely. Suffice it to say that the mentioned Š is quite common in Croatian. Like with Facebook notification, this issue is present in nearly all, if not all, WLMail versions (I know that it is present in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 8.5 if I remember correctly).

The above picture shows a mailbox in Windows Live Mail. The bottom picture shows the same mailbox in Outlook.com with the From column as it should be. Click on the images to enlarge them.

The last issue I’ll mention was actually fixed in version 2011. Strangely though, when I had reported it before the release of the version 2011, responses were like What the hell are you talking about?! Anyway, if you set your default spellchecking language to Croatian [probably other languages too – I know I tried Bosnian and Serbian (Latin) – same thing], the program would crash just a few seconds after you type something. I had to set the default language to English to avoid the crashes, which was an inconvenience ’cause although, I use English often, I mostly use Croatian.
Generally, switching to another language (i.e. one that’s not default) is totally screwed – you have to change the keyboard input to the desired language. That’s quite annoying because of two reasons. One, seeing every bloody word underlined is really annoying. Two, if you do want to spellcheck the text not written in the default language, you have to use a keyboard layout you’re not used to. The trick is to simply write your email in another program, which has easy spellchecking language switching (i.e. every bloody program, but WLMail), and then copy the text to WLMail or simply write the stuff in WLMail and then copy the text to another program for a spellcheck.

That’s it, people. Conclusion: Windows Live Mail is the biggest piece of shit of an email client you can find.

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Is all of Microsoft incompetent (and rude) or just Windows Live Team?

The question says it all – Windows Live Team is totally incompetent (and rude). The real question is does that incompetences and rudeness extend to the whole Microsoft.

An issue (yeah, one of many) of Windows Live Mail has been on going since March 29 last year – the program just keep freezing when ever it opens a Facebook notification. The cause of the issue was quickly identified, which is HTML code of Facebook notifications. However, there’s no sing of a fix yet. Yes, it’s true that this is Facebook’s fault too and they should be doing something as well (if nothing else, switch to the old code which is visually the same and worked fine), but the behaviour of Windows Live Team is uncivilised to say the least. There are two threads (I think) on their forum about it. I started complaining a month ago when I got pretty tired of going to Work Offline mode to check my messages ’cause I don’t want the thing to freeze (yes, if a Facebook notification is selected and Work Online mode is enabled, Windows Live Mail is going to freeze). Windows Live Team kept “collecting” info of the problem (almost an year after the issue had been reported and the cause was identified soon after). I went along with it for a couple of weeks when I realized they were going to do shit. Another example is this – they wanted me to upload a .dmp file for them. The .dmp extension is not supported on the(ir) forum. They told me to zip the file. The size was too big to upload on the(ir) forum (yeah, even after zipping). That’s when I fucked them off (wanting something, but not supporting that something on your forum…). However, one guy kept humouring them, so he split the file [he didn’t know how to do it and Windows Live team kindly suggested him to use WinZip (a shareware program) instead of 7-Zip (a freeware program)]. When splitting a .zip archive, the extensions are going to change (the suggested WinZip can create only .zip archives). Naturally, the new extensions are not supported on the forum, so Windows Live Team kindly told him to use SkyDrive. There was some crap accessing the SkyDrive. The story goes on and on (for weeks with no solution)…. You can see what I mean by reading this** thread (yeah, it’s very  long, so it’s a waste of time reading it all). March 29 (2012) is approaching and I wanted to wish the issue a happy anniversary, but Windows Live Team locked the thread [yes, they probably don’t want to hear further (justified) teasing] saying Please create a new thread so that we can effectively assist facilitate you individually (dunno what’s unclear in current thread’s title – Facebook messages freezing Windows Live Mail…).

Lemme just say why I keep using Windows Live Mail and don’t just switch to another client (e.g. Thunderbird). Windows Live Mail is the only email client with 100% synchronization with (Windows Live) Hotmail (i.e. the messages you mark as read/unread or flag them are like that in webmail when you do it in WLM; likewise, they’re like that in WLM when you do it in webmail).

Now, I’ll list a few other unresolved Windows Live issues, which shouldn’t occur on a decent program at all, but should at least be easily fixed:
Windows Live Mail just doesn’t display letters Š and Ž in the “From” and “To” column. For example someone named Žarko Šešo “is” arko eo. It’s quite possible that such issue occurs with other letters, but I’ve noticed just these two ‘cuase other Croatian letters (and those few foreign I encounter) are displayed correctly. I reported that a long time ago and saw the same issue on other computers, still nothing;
Some contacts can’t be communicated with on Windows Live Messenger (i.e. they see you, you don’t see them and you’re not on their block list nor are they on Appear Offline; they can message you and you can do shit to reply) even though they can be communicated with when you’re connected to Windows Live network through another messenger (e.g. Ebuddy, Xfire and Pidgin);
You are supposed to be able to connect to Facebook chat with Windows Live Messenger. Anyway, that does not work properly – you see some of your Facebook friends, while you don’t see others, that you normally see online on Facebook. The “others” see you online and when they message you, a Windows Live Messenger window pops up and instead of saying who the friend is, it says something like Someone from Facebook network sent you a message. That “someone” is never even recognized, not to mention being added to WLM. Of course, Microsoft is always bragging about their “Facebook chat ability”;
Sometimes you can’t add contacts to Windows Live Messenger on Windows  Live Messenger, so you must connect through another messenger (e.g. Xfire) to add people. Bloody hell, it’s really hard to believe that Windows Live Messenger is the most popular instant messenger…
Windows Live Support forum keeps reloading on a nontrident* browser making it impossible for you to scroll down unless you use a Trident based browser;
The Ajax features of Windows Live Hotmail are sometimes facing issues on nontrident* browsers.

*Nontrident browsers are probably all nonWindows browsers. Actually I think Internet Explorer and Avant Browser are the only Trident based browser. There’s a work around – IE Tab (the link is that of a Firefox add-on). Naturally, as soon as I mentioned a work around, Windows Live Team hasn’t lifted a finger to solve the issues (like they’d do it anyway…).
**The footnote above explains this footnote ×D

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