I’z finally done did it — set up a Linux machine

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Hi everyone. So in the past, my relationship with Linux consisted mostly of running distros in virtual machines or dual-booting. But I finally decided to get a little more serious — I purchased a refurbished Dell OptiPlex and put Ubuntu on it, so it’s a dedicated machine.

The Dell came with a Core 2 Duo, 4 GB of RAM, and a 160 GB traditional (platter) hard drive. I put an additional 4 GB of RAM in it and also installed a dedicated (but entry-level) graphics card.

I’ve got to say, setting up was very easy and Ubuntu has been running well. The only criticism is it would be faster with an SSD, obviously, but I had to stop somewhere. Doing basic gaming on it is a piece of cake (I even have Steam installed).

I’m pleased with how popular apps are becoming more available. Spotify, for instance. And I can access other things via the web, like my OneNote notes.

So what’s the point of all this? Tech curiosity, mainly, and to be able to say I’m familiar with more platforms than just Windows. Linux’s UNIX underpinnings are quite fascinating the more I study it.

I’ve even started porting some of the games I’ve written to Linux. So this is the farthest I’ve ever gone with it. How about you guys — are you curious about Linux, or do you use it yourself in your own life? How about those of you that prefer it and use it at home, and just Microsoft stuff at work? Any, heh, “switchers?”

Some pics:

Comments (39)

39 responses to “I’z finally done did it — set up a Linux machine”

  1. Brad Sams

    Neat, thanks for sharing.

  2. Tim

    I dual boot Windows 10 and Ubuntu 16.04 on my desktop, and run ubuntu on an old Yoga laptop I own. I can't help myself...everything just kinda works. Except Skype. Skype on Linux does not work.

    • ErichK

      In reply to Tim:

      Seems like it's come a long way, that's for sure. I used to think Linux in general wasn't for the common person, but I think nowadays with distros like Ubuntu and Mint, tech individuals like us can probably set up other people with a Linux environment they can use day to day on older hardware.

  3. Tony Barrett

    I think many would be pretty surprised how easy it is to setup and use Linux these days. Full GUI installers, easy to use familiar desktops, plenty of free apps and importantly, almost totally secure and no data collection. Updates are an absolute breeze too - and quick. We're familiar with Windows, and people naturally don't like change, but Linux has reached a point where it truly is worthy of serious consideration.

  4. Winner

    My assumption is that once Win 7 is unsupported, I might move whole hog to Linux and run Win 10 in a VM if/when I have to.

  5. Oasis

    When my Vista Business(Dell Q6600) EOLed, I put Lubuntu on that machine along with the neutered Vista and XP(scanner) that are on the machine. Only the Lubuntu is internet facing. I could probably do without anything else but i have 3 other W7's and an W8.1, so I am good up till 2023 on Windows. Maybe they will finish W10 by then ....

  6. WP7Mango

    Do all Linux distros install and run ok in a Hyper-V VM on Windows 10? The only Linux I currently use is on the Raspberry Pi


    • hrlngrv

      In reply to WP7Mango:

      I wouldn't try distributions targeted at ARM processors.

      I'd be surprised if any distribution for Intel/AMD in DistroWatch's top 50 wouldn't install and run in a Hyper-V VM. You could always try Live ISOs attached to VMs as bootable optical drives. If they run Live, they should run installed on a VHD.

  7. skane2600

    If you do port your games to Linux, I'd be interested in how the experience of making your games available to the general Linux public goes (assuming your games aren't just for your personal use).

    • ErichK

      In reply to skane2600:

      If you visit my software page here:


      http://erichkohl.blogspot.com/p/my-software.html


      I have at the moment three games so far that can be downloaded and are ready-to-run as Linux executable binaries, Battle Task 2153, Chopper Attack, and Super Space Cadet.


      Depending on the language, the amount of effort varied. Usually some minor changes needed to be made, but nothing too drastic, and then I would just specify a Linux target when I compiled.


      Since the files on my software page are hosted on MediaFire, I can see the download results, and it looks like people are grabbing them. I just haven't gone to the step of hosting them in repositories yet (I don't even know how to do that, or if I will).

      • skane2600

        In reply to ErichK:

        Thanks for the response. So currently potential users need to know about your software page or find your programs on MediaFire (which I didn't know about). It's good that there are methods for making Linux software available outside "official" channels.


        I appreciate that you make your software available for free, although it would be nice to know that people can make a living writing software as an independent (I'm sure there's a few).

        • ErichK

          In reply to skane2600:

          I hear you. One should definitely be able to do that, but I think that's just not in the cards for me, so I do it as a hobby. Back when I *did* charge for some of my games in the Windows Store (during Windows 8's reign), I made about $20 over the course of two years (selling games for 99 cents). But then, that was a side thing too. Again, maybe if I dedicated all my time and effort to it, maybe I could make decent money, but I just don't know.

          • skane2600

            In reply to ErichK:

            It seems like succeeding would be like winning the lottery. I doubt that the level of effort put in would make all that much difference. I suspect that most people who make a living writing apps are being paid to create business apps that the company offers to the public for free.

  8. Bill Russell

    If you can, have 2 machines. Forget VMs. Make the Ubuntu one your primary machine and rdesktop to your windows one. Attempt to do as much as possible from the Linux side - online stuff, since much less worry about ransomware, etc. Do your chrome or firefox browsing from there. Maybe have a KVM switch if you need to access windows directly like for games.


    I have been using exclusively Linux (and chromebooks) at home for years, but recently got a Hackintosh (Sierra) going (on a circa 2009 motherboard). I was never really an Apple guy (historically due to expense and more software was available on windows) but after appreciating Linux I then found Mac more appealing, as its Unix. Now I can potentially use photoshop and commercial video and audio software (protools), which is more scarce on Linux, as well as Xcode and android studio (which of course is cross platform).


    But it seems more and more real desktop applications are being released for Windows, MAC and Linux. Typically these are written in Qt, a true "universal" cross platform GUI toolkit in C++. Some programs use Java, like Eclipse, Netbeans and IntelliJ/Android Studio.


    • ErichK

      In reply to Bill_Russell:

      I'm just not ready or willing to bump Windows down into 2nd place yet. At the very least, I want to keep paying attention to this Linux tower that I got going and show some support to the community or evangelize the platform when it proves its worth during my use of it.

      • monkeyboy

        In reply to ErichK:


        I would ditch Ubuntu and just go with Linux Mint. It's basically the closest to Windows overall, and is built on Ubuntu (which in turn is built off Debian) and here's the kicker: Ubuntu Desktop's desktop environment is going to change COMPLETELY this month. You couldn't have picked a worse time to choose Ubuntu - they are ditching the "Unity" desktop that's been around since 2010 and are switching to GNOME...which is disliked by many. Linux Mint and its "Cinnamon" desktop are what you want.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to monkeyboy:

          It ain't exactly rocket science to add Cinnamon (or any other DE) to Ubuntu or any other distribution. For Ubuntu, http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2017/05/install-cinnamon-3-4-ubuntu-ppa.

          [Written, FWLIW, by a MATE and LXDE user.]

        • ErichK

          In reply to monkeyboy:

          I've used Mint before, and I considered it this time as well. Actually, my first intention was to run Lubuntu, but I went with regular Ubuntu instead.


          Of course, nothing's written in stone, so I could always switch over to Mint in the future if I wanted to.

  9. jimchamplin

    Just a tiny nitpick :)


    Linux doesn't have any "UNIX underpinnings." It's a separate entity from UNIX as much as NT is. It's simply designed to operate the same way, and to be interoperable. Linux and BSD - which is a UNIX - look similar but are very different underneath. And they too are both different from other *nix systems like macOS - which is Mach, not UNIX - and Minix.


    If you're getting into it, it's good to know the details :D


    Aside from that, it all looks awesome!

    • ErichK

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      Confusing family of operating systems. ;-)


      But thanks. Would it be safe to say it's "Unix-Like?"

      • jimchamplin

        In reply to ErichK:

        Very definitely! With *nix systems, the kernel is the important part. The Unix-like OS you're using is GNU/Linux. Linux is the kernel, and the GNU tools make the userland. It's a slightly different concept than in Windows where kernel and userland are more... mixed.


        If you want to experience some vintage UNIX, I suggest your first big compile...


        https://sourceforge.net/projects/cdesktopenv/


        CDE was the desktop used in HP's HP/UX, SUN Solaris, and several other workstation-class UNIX desktops. If you can get it running, it's really fun. My suggestion is bare-bones Debian, since the instructions on the site work great for Debian. Don't install any desktops in Debian. Don't even install X11. Just install a basic command-line system and go from there. You will learn a LOT! You might even start loving the terminal. There's a huge amount you can do just from the terminal that you'd never expect.


        Have fun, and don't be afraid to experiment. If you want to try a new distro - like I'm suggesting with Debian - feel free to try it in a VM before you go whole-hog. One day when you're really feeling gutsy you can try FreeBSD! :D

    • skane2600

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      There's no technical definition of "underpinnings", but there's no doubt that Linux would not exist if there hadn't been Unix. While kernels are obviously important ultimately an OS is judged by it's overall characteristics.

      • jimchamplin

        In reply to skane2600:

        K. Thanks. See the rest of the conversation. Thanks again. K.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to skane2600:

        Would Windows have existed had there never been MS-DOS? Would MS-DOS have existed without CP/M? Would CP/M have existed without VM-CMS/CP? VM might have existed independently, but would CMS have existed without OS/360 or IBM DOS before that?

        However you are indeed correct that OSes are judged by their overall characteristics, which is why it'd be fascinating to find out how many multiples more Windows Services for Linux users there are than wine users.

        • skane2600

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          I fail to see the relevance of your questions to the issue at hand. I'm not making any claims here with regard to those other OS's.


          I'm not sure what you were getting at in your last paragraph but Wine is failure as a general purpose way to run Windows programs on Linux and its failure was inevitable.

          • hrlngrv

            In reply to skane2600:

            wine has run every bit of portable Windows software I've used with it. Failure how?

            • offTheRecord

              In reply to hrlngrv:

              WINE is what initially enabled us to quickly move most of our data production processes off of Windows to Linux (Windows 10 pretty much forced the move). We had a lot of specialized and customized Windows utility programs that run just fine in WINE.

            • skane2600

              In reply to hrlngrv:

              WTF does "portable" have to do with it? Success would mean being able to run ALL Windows programs. It never has and never will. That's why the developers have a database of Windows programs that can run using it.

              • hrlngrv

                In reply to skane2600:

                Fine. I don't run any Adobe software. For me, wine has worked with every Windows software title I've tried except MS Office. MS Office 2000 and 2003 would install and run, but the VBA Editor wouldn't. I've never had any success with more recent MS Office versions.

                Portable has the following relevance: wine handles Windows system calls reasonably well except for development environments, and it handles simpler installers well, but that definitely doesn't include MSFT's own installers.

                Apparently you're defining success as able to run everything Windows can. No partial success for you, not even 99.99%. If you wish to be so exacting, you're certainly free to do so. I'll just close by mentioning that wine can run 16-bit and old 32-bit Windows software which Windows 10 can't.

                • skane2600

                  In reply to hrlngrv:

                  I didn't say that there aren't uses for wine. I said  "Wine is failure as a general purpose way to run Windows programs on Linux" which it is.


                  Backward compatibility is a different issue, but wine can't run all Windows programs no matter what version of Windows those programs were targeting.



                • hrlngrv

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  I don't use any Adobe software, but I've heard it doesn't install under wine. I do know about MS Office, and more recent versions don't install under wine. Neither does Visual Studio. If that spans half or more of the Windows software you believe people would want to run under Linux, then wine would be a failure. Otherwise, much less of a failure.

                • skane2600

                  In reply to hrlngrv:

                  Please read carefully "Wine is failure as a GENERAL PURPOSE way to run Windows programs on Linux" emphasis added.


                  Your personal experience running some Windows applications on Linux using wine is not in any way in conflict with my statement.

                • hrlngrv

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  For you general purpose means able to run any & every piece of Windows software? If so, only Windows itself would be general purpose.

                  What's remarkable is the breadth of Windows software wine does run. The commercial product Crossover, based on wine, runs more Windows software than any other compatibility layer for Linux. For me, that's close enough to what could reasonably be expected for general purpose.

                  Note: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/general-purpose doesn't appear to restrict the meaning to universally effective.

                • skane2600

                  In reply to hrlngrv:

                  "For you general purpose means able to run any & every piece of Windows software? If so, only Windows itself would be general purpose."


                  That's why I said the failure was inevitable. It's not a knock on wine developers. Windows Services for Linux would also fail given the same criteria (i.e. run any and every Linux program). The only difference is that users of WSFL for the most part only care about a fixed subset of Linux anyway.

                • hrlngrv

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  Semantics. You're personal meaning for general purpose is way too restrictive.

                  wine is a failure for you, but it seems not for many others.

                • skane2600

                  In reply to hrlngrv:

                  First definition on Google of "general purpose":


                  "having a range of potential uses; not specialized in function or design."


                  I would consider targeting specific Windows programs while not supporting them all "specialized in function or design", but you might disagree.


                  The point is that if someone asked you if they could run their Windows programs on Linux using wine you couldn't answer definitively without knowing which programs or perhaps trying it out. Early PC clones had the same problem with partial incompatibility with the IBM PC and it was only after they achieved true compatibility that the market took off.


  10. ErichK

    I should add, one very important thing I do on my W10 machine is audio production and MIDI sequencing. Although some steps have been taken, I'm not sure if Linux is there yet.

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