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What next for the Linux desktop?

I was browsing Distrowatch this morning just having a look at what is new in the world of Linux. Something hit me when I was looking at the list of distributions and their page hit ranking (don’t actually take notice of the ranking personally). Most of the distributions are desktop based.  Yes you have RedHat, CentOS, Debian and Ubuntu (last two make good desktop distros too) and a couple of others which are server based but the majority are desktop distributions.


As the PC market is shrinking and more people turn to tablets and smartphones to access the internet and carry out their tasks is Linux in danger of becoming marginalised and only being used on a shrinking platform?

Now before anyone mentions it I know about Ubuntu and Mozilla pushing into smartphones and the strength of Linux based servers and I am not disputing this. I also know that Android is opensource (ish) but do we really need another Ubuntu based desktop distribution or should Linux now be aiming for the tablet world instead.

What do you think?

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to both business and personal clients in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

Is Android finally a viable alternative as a desktop OS?

I read a post a couple of weeks ago by a fellow member of a LinkedIN group who was asking  “Can Android replace Windows on the Desktop?” (Thanks for posting Alex) to which I replied no.  I was then asked the same question by a client last week which made me reassess my answer.


To fully answer the question I decided to have a look at what hardware was available at the moment. After a quick google search I came across the new HP Slate 21 Pro and the new Lenovo N308.  The Lenovo is more home orientated while the HP is aimed straight at the business user.  Looking at these two offerings I am beginning to understand why people (and maybe small businesses) might be taking the Android on the desktop seriously.

Android is king (at the moment) of the smartphone wars.  It is very intuitive to use and you can get an app for almost anything through Google Play.  In the home people are switching from the more traditional laptop and PC to tablets and smartphones and most of these run Android.  It would not be a huge leap to start running an Android PC in the workplace as chances are the user would be already familiar with the interface.  Bring Your Own device (BYOD) is alive and well in the business world so a user wanting to work on an Android device is a real possibility.

Now it does all depend on what you do on a daily basis.  If you spend most of your time using web based applications and emails then an Android device could well be the device of choice (or even a Chromebook?), however if you spend all day using Microsoft Office to produce documents and spreadsheets then maybe Android wont do (Office wont run on Android for example).  There are alternatives like Office 365 which is web based and Kingsoft Office which can produce documents just fine but they aren’t “traditional Office” and to some people that is all that matters.

Then there is the little matter of printing.  Printing from a laptop or PC is a doddle but on an Android device it can be a bit cumbersome.  Saying that HP have a cracking app called HP ePrint which allows you to print to any HP wireless printer but not all printer manufacturers provide Android printing support (please correct me if I am wrong).

Another thing to think about is the hold that Microsoft has at the moment in the business space.  To the best of my knowledge Android and Active Directory are not the best of friends and don’t play nicely.  You can administer Active Directory from an Android device but it doesn’t work the other way.  If your IT infrastructure includes Active Directory then this might be a game stopper.

So what is the answer to the question “Is Android finally a viable alternative as a desktop OS?”

The answer is yes it is, however saying that it may not be the best OS for your current working environment.

 About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to both business and personal clients in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

Why hasn’t Linux broken through on the desktop?


Lets get the preconceptions out of the way first.  Linux is a very viable option on the desktop. All the major distributions are easy to use, do not require you to learn the command line and long gone are the majority of hardware issues that plagued Linux in the past.  But, and it is a big but, why hasn’t Linux broken through on the desktop then? Lets take a look.

1. Microsoft

By the time Linux came onto the scene Microsoft had already cornered the market.  Windows was coming preinstalled on almost every PC and laptop and Microsoft had the backing of all the major manufacturers.  Since not many people change their operating system on their laptop or PC it was very hard for Linux to gain traction.

2. It was and still is seen as a techies plaything

Perceptions can be good or bad and in Linux’s case it hasn’t really helpt that it is seen as an operating system for techies.  This was maybe true at the start but over the years distributions like Ubuntu have tried to bring Linux to the masses with new interfaces and less command line stuff.  Peoples perceptions though are very hard to change.

3. It’s free

When people see FREE they usually think what is the catch.  It is the same with businesses. In this case FREE means no licence fees and the freedom to do anything you want with the operating system (unlike with Windows).  You pay for support if you want it in the same way as you do with Windows, however again due to peoples perceptions FREE is seen as not very good and only for techie minded individuals.

4. Windows Vista

Windows Vista should have been Linux’s finest hour.  Surely with so many people hating Vista there was an opening for Linux to go mainstream?  Well not quite.  As it turns out people and businesses turned back to Windows XP in droves, hence hardening their commitment to using Windows.  Manufacturers weren’t convinced about Linux’s viability as a desktop operating system enough to start preinstalling it on their hardware and instead went back to XP.  The opening had gone.

5. The iPad

Back in 2007 the netbook was born with the introduction of the EeePC 701 and it came preinstalled with Linux.  The market immediately took off and for a time suggested Microsoft’s dominance could finally be challenged.  In 2010 Apple released the first iPad and killed the netbook off overnight.  It had better specifications than a netbook but more importantly it had WOW factor.  Once again Linux had been thwarted.

So what now for Linux? Everyone should try Linux at least once and I can assure you any preconceptions you may have will be blown away.  It works and it works very well.  The year of the Linux Desktop however has long gone.  The PC / laptop market is shrinking and consumers are switching to tablets and smartphones.  In the business environment most businesses are so entrenched in Micrososft products that it would be very difficult for them to switch over to Linux.  But there is one shining light and that is tablets.  Most tablets on the market use Android which itself is based on Linux so the year of the Linux Desktop may be gone but the Year of the Linux tablet is coming!!

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

 

 

The PC in your pocket


Now I already know that that the newest smartphones on the market are pretty powerful and can do almost everything that a user would need however there are times when a full desktop or laptop fits the bill rather better. Trying to type a document on a smartphone can be rather tedious when compared to a laptop with its full office suite (whether it be Microsoft office, Libreoffice or something else).

Now with processing power and memory increasing every year on smartphones I think we have reached the point where they are approaching the processing power of laptops 5 years ago and this got me thinking.  Is there a way to to have the best of both worlds?  What I mean is a desktop when you need to ‘get things done’  and a phone when out and about.  To this end I scoured the internet to see if such a thing was on the cards and found the Ubuntu Phone.

ubuntu-touch-preview-431x269

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyone who knows anything about Ubuntu knows that they make a really good opensource operating system for desktops and laptops.  Recently they have decided to have a crack at the phone and tablet market with Ubuntu touch and the initial progress looks very promising. Basically what they are trying to do is have a Ubuntu smartphone when out and about but when the phone is plugged into a docking station, and a keyboard and monitor added, you get a full desktop version of Ubuntu full of all your favourite productivity tools – Libreoffice, GIMP and so forth.  Sounds good hey?

They are aiming for the phones to be out towards the end of 2013 and good luck to them.  If they can pull this off then the market could be turned on its head overnight.  Surely this is the way forward where we just have one powerful device which when docked (in an office, at home etc) expands its abilities and allows us to be productive rather than one device for this and one device for that.

Me I am waiting patiently to see how this pans out but the Ubuntu Phone is a very tempting prospect.

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I am Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more!!

 

 

How to install a desktop on Ubuntu server 12.04

When you install Ubuntu Server 12.04 the default is for it to install with no desktop which is usually fine however there are times when you might want a desktop environment so today I will show you how to install one.


If you want the default Gnome 2 desktop then type:

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop

For Xfce type:

sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop

If you fancy KDE instead then type:

sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop

And for something very lightweight (LXDE – one of my favourites) then type:

sudo apt-get install lubuntu-desktop

All the above commands install all the desktop addons like Evolution, Libreoffice etc so if you would rather not have them then add  –without-recommends.  So for example the default Gnome 2 command will become:

sudo apt-get install –without-recommends ubuntu-desktop

About the Author

Hi I am Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in and around Stirling.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more.

Running Cinnamon on Linux Mint 12


I have been using Linux Mint since Mint 8 and I love it.  I run Linux Mint 13 in the office and it covers all of my day to day needs.  It is fast, slick and generally a pleasure to use  because it just works.  However, recently there are some small issues with the new desktop which has made me think about tweaking it a bit.

You see when Mint changed the default desktop to Gnome 3 with Mint Gnome Shell Extensions (MGSE) from Gnome 2 I was as sceptical as the rest.  Overtime you get used to the new interface and begin to appreciate the finer points (e.g attaching applications to the favourites bar and showing all open windows at once to name two) but I still miss the ‘traditional’ interface of Gnome 2.  So this is where Cinnamon comes in.  The Mint developers decided that Gnome 3 isn’t really their bag so they have started a project called Cinnamon which uses Gnome 3 technology but looks more like the Gnome 2 desktop.  And yes you can run the current stable release on Mint 12!!

Open up a terminal and type:

sudo apt-get install cinnamon

When prompted enter your password.  When the software has been downloaded and installed you need to logout.  When you see the login screen click on settings and choose Cinnamon from the choice of desktop environments and voila you are now running Cinnamon!!

Word of warning here.  Although Cinnamon is classed as a stable release it is still undergoing development so it might still be rusty around the edges (I have had no issues so far though).  With Cinnamon you lose the top panel (never did like being able to load applications from the top or bottom) but retain the ability to view all open windows on one screen.  You still get the traditional Menu button which allows you to launch you applications and desktop effects come as standard.

So far my first impressions of Cinnamon are positive.  Don’t take my word for it go and have a play.

About the Author

Hi I am Chris the owner of ComTech. I provide IT Support, Laptop repairs and Computer repairs to both personal and business clients in and around Stirling. For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find my blog, testimonials, services and much more.  Start supporting a local business today so I can start supporting you.

If you found this blog useful then why not sign up to my RSS Feed for news, tutorials, views and general techie stuff!!

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