If I ever had any regular readers, I’m sure I’ve lost them all by now! We had a bit of weather in Connecticut, as you might have heard; putting up hurricane shutters, and later taking them down, brought me into an uneasy truce with some long-forgotten muscles. I decided to take a night course or two. I’m processing my long-departed Uncle Jim’s thesis into publishable form (it’s about John Milton; or, more precisely, it argues that Milton’s poem Paradise Regained has been consistently underappreciated and misunderstood), which (and this is the point) is handing me a good excuse to learn LaTeX. And I’m doing some Linux-oriented volunteer work, too; I’ll blog about that when I understand it a bit better.
But also, I’ve gone through a temporary lull in distro-hopping. I installed a couple and had trouble with them. And before I write anything negative, I want to start over again and see if any of the problems were self-created. (Gee, ya think??) I did successfully install one and found that I haven’t had a lot to say about it so far. Thursday was Big Bad Beautiful ‘Buntu Day, though, and I’ve got K* and X* all CD-R’d up and ready to roll.
Mostly, though, it’s because I’ve been very happy with Mageia. I decided that I wanted to get better acquainted with the KDE way of doing things. In my Mageia blog post, I went on about how that has been easier than I would have anticipated, and it certainly hasn’t gotten any more difficult. One thing that is different from the Gnome way is that, in Mageia, the screensaver settings are under “Display and Monitor” in System Settings, whilst “Power Settings” has its own entry. For some reason, I can’t keep that in my head, and when I installed Mageia on the “Play Computer” I spent a lot of time looking for how to change the screensaver settings (which default to 5 minutes, which is rather quick).
But running actual applications isn’t much different. A lot of the stuff I use—Emacs, Opera, Claws Mail—is desktop-independent. I’m running version 3 (yeah, it’s for Gnome 3) of gLabels in Mageia, and it runs at least as well as gLabels 2.28 did under Gnome 2.xx, which was pretty darn well itself. The same goes for Rhythmbox, which has been, if anything, more stable in Mageia than it was even in Ubuntu or Linux Mint.
I haven’t committed myself to the KDE lifestyle just yet. I still boot into Foresight Linux and Xubuntu from time to time, and I keep the activities of the Xfce development team under surveillance via the mailing list. (I still keep wanting to call them Listservs, but I do enough to date myself as it is!)
Xubuntu. I haven’t mentioned it very often, so here’s a quick survey. I installed the 11.04 beta on the Play Computer, and it was so stable that I never wiped it and installed the official release; I just kept accepting updates as they arrived. I admired it as a smooth, finely tuned distro that served not only as a highly-functioning desktop but as proof that Xfce could be elegant and hi-toned. I stayed mostly with Foresight Linux during my bout of Xfce exclusivity, partly because I had something invested in it (some active bug reporting & contact with the developers) and partly because, for reasons I couldn’t quite articulate even to myself but had something to do with requiring just the right amount of tinkering, I liked it more than Xubuntu. But Xubuntu has its own considerable merits—those great and groovy ‘Buntu repos, intuitive LAN sharing, a remarkably smooth out-of-the-box look ‘n feel—and I hope to slobber in public over the new version real soon now.
Mageia now regularly supplies updates of various kinds, which it didn’t do for about a month after I installed it. The original release had KDE 4.6.3, and we’re now up to KDE 4.6.5; I’d be quite surprised if the Mageia packagers push this distribution release up to 4.7, but I’ve noticed incremental 4.6.5 updates come down the pike.
Here is one peculiarity. For purposes of working on Uncle Jim’s thesis, I downloaded AUCTeX, which adds (La)TeX prowess to the simmering cauldron of goodness that is Emacs. AUCTeX was in Kubuntu’s repository; but I had to download, ./configure, make, and make install it in Mageia. In Mageia, when I open up Uncle Jim’s thesis, AUCTeX recognizes it as TeX; in Kubuntu, AUCTeX recognizes it, more properly, as LaTeX. I don’t know why. It’s no biggie; John Milton gives me an excuse to spend some time in Kubuntu, that’s all. (And if John Milton ended up where he thought he would and is reading over my shoulder, he’s probably wondering what he did wrong. OK, Johnny, since I got your attention…I’ve read some of your stuff, and you’re IMHO a bit of a windbag. Did anybody ever call you up and say, “Hey, Jack, bro, wanna go catch a couple of frosties?” Betcha they didn’t, LOL!) Someday, for purposes of self-education, I’ll find out why this is so and what I can do about it. I mean find out about AUCTeX, not find out why John Milton never shut up.
Finally, I’ll mention one other change within Mageia. On the “Fun Computer”, the time between the KDE desktop finishing loading and the network coming up used to be about one second, maybe two tops; now it’s about eight. (It’s an Ethernet network. For whatever reason, wireless doesn’t work well in our house.) It seems to only affect Mageia, not any of the other distros installed on the Fun Computer. And it never happened on the laptop. I don’t really care. After I turn the computer on in the morning but before I check my email or my Postcrossing group, I go feed Lily (a dog of average intelligence), so it’s not like I’m in a big hurry or anything. I just mention it because I don’t know why it started doing that.
Within a few days of installing Mageia, I decided that it was one of the finest distributions I had ever spent time with. I still do!