Trying to Get Back on Track

Sunni's picture

I am continuing to make good progress on getting things working on my machine. Late last night, I got my PGP keys imported successfully, and appear to have them working with KMail again; that was the last “must-have” functionality on my list. So now I’m going to turn my attention to trying to get various projects back on track; but that said, many items have fallen behind schedule. Sunni’s Salon will be late, for starters; and despite having many ideas nagging me for release via blog entries, I expect substantive blogging will be light until my workload lightens up.

One more time, because my recent bout of computer woes might be misunderstood: despite all my problems (which we’re pretty sure stemmed from an atypical installation environment, rather than problems with Kubuntu itself) and the time invested into re-re-installing the OS and copying over vital files, I am a satisfied Kubuntu user. When I unknowingly deleted the font files and directories critical for the X server, a little probing of the machine told me what I’d done. Online research provided me the steps to take to fix it. Under Windows, I’d probably have faced just a BSOD or an enigmatic error message that I might or might not have been able to find help for online (that was my experience, anyway). I’d much rather fiddle with small problems and learn how to fix them myself rather than doing a full reinstall for every little problem. I am learning a lot more about how my machine works, and while I will almost certainly never become a deeply geeky Linux chick, I’m satisfied with my progress, and eager to learn more.

Even though there are small frustrations—like trying to set font sizes for certain programs, and learning that the system settings may override one’s tweaks of individual programs—I already appreciate the amount of control, and the number of choices I have available. And a lot of it is fairly readily available, which was not my experience with Windows software. Yes, there are bugs—sometimes big ones—but last I looked, no system is totally bug-free.

I’m not expecting to change anyone’s mind with my comments; and that isn’t my intent, anyway. My intentions are to make my record as clear as possible in case these posts start showing up in searches; and to reassure anyone considering making the change to Linux that it can be done, and is worth doing. Believe me, if I can accomplish the things I have in the past two days, ‘most any moderately competent computer user can achieve them too.

non-standard installs

I understand the frustrations that come with a non-standard install. Since I have such an old machine, I have to pick and choose very carefully which apps to install, because some things run too slow on this machine. Such as my problems with video skipping frames with Kaffiene and some of the latest high-graphics games. I can't use things like Beryl at all. But I am running the latest release of Kubuntu Linux, with the most recent Firefox and productivity apps, and have the video problem solved by running Totem. I am very happy with it. I have even found that if I do decide to open an online bookstore, I can run the accounting well with GnuCash. No more Quickbooks tied to Windows!

As far as windows goes, nothing later than Windows 2000 would even install on this machine, let alone run well.

Security shouldn't be non-standard.

Trying to get some basic security for the entire drive was the hangup with my install, and that’s especially frustrating since that should be a fundamental element of good computer hygiene these days. As far as other apps goes, I’ve become spoiled by Firefox and didn’t do well with Konqueror as my browser while I was without it; and Thunderbird simply doesn’t have the features I need as well. While I’d originally enthused about Beryl, and still think it offers some nice functionality, it is way too buggy and resource-intensive for me to justify adding it to my install. Maybe somewhere down the line it’ll become stable enough for me to change my mind.

I still need to work on the extras, like flash, movies, and music. I had all but the first working before, and know I can accomplish all three, but I’ve been playing catch up in other areas than computer stuff today—fairly successfully too, I’m happy to report.

I know, but....

Full hard drive encryption for PC's is relatively new. Until recently, it was limited to the CIA and like government agencies. I'm sure that the feds would like to still keep it that way. Most people unfortunately think that password level security is "good enough." They don't consider somebody getting physical access to the drive. That, in combination with the fact that the 64 bit platform is still a minority platform, and y'all can have a few headaches. I think that you will see a great deal of advancement in this area over the next year or two.

I think that the slow development of encryption is maddening. Forget politics and just consider just everyday data security. In this area recently, employees at Boeing have had laptops stolen with the personal data of 382,000 employees on them. With NO encryption whatsoever. Ridiculous. I know the feds have done everything they can to slow development in this area, but I'd still like to see more done to improve encryption, and I'm impatient..


I’m not sure what you consider “relatively new”; my former machine had a fully encrypted hard drive, and it seemed pretty old to me when it was retired (but, given your previous comments, I’m fairly sure you wouldn’t describe it as such), but you’re right, it isn’t something that catches many individuals’ attention—even those who should be paying attention, as you demonstrated. Consider also that major players routinely include back doors for the feds, and I doubt anyone would fault me for not seeing this as a genuine, positive development.