The new computer is a few weeks away but already I am wondering. Ubuntu or Mint? There are many other options of Linux to look at but those are the two I’ve tried so far.

Ubuntu looks the more powerful of the two in my limited (two days) experience and the new computer is powerful enough to let a Lex Luthor type take over half the galaxy.

On the other hand, Mint looks very similar to Windows XP which was where I stopped – apart from the Gateway laptop which has Vista. Having been Windows-run since the early 90s, the transition to Mint looks so easy, but will it waste the power of the new machine?

Ubuntu 14.04 looks rather like a cross between Windows and that Apple stuff. It has nothing to do with Apple, of course. If it did I wouldn’t have bought the book-plus-disk in Poundland. Apple once stated that their warranty was invalid for smokers in case a molecule of nicotine in the device wiped out their entire repair department. If there is one thing I can do with a grudge, it’s hold it. Really tight. Forever. I own nothng made by Apple and never will.

But Ubuntu feels like it can do so much more with a big machine than Mint.

I have Mint running delightfully on my Acer Aspire and that has only 8Gb of solid-state hard disk. Mint comes with the full office package, word processor, spreadsheet, PowerPoint lookalike (don’t need that so much now I’m not lecturing) and Firefox. It also has GIMP for photo editing and VLC media player that plays pretty much anything. I don’t see any immediate need to install anything else.

Ubuntu has all the Office stuff and Firefox but then the GIMP and VLC options are free downloads (I already have) so that’s not an issue.

This computer is at least ten years old. It has a 160 Gb hard disk. I have used 90 Gb. There are a hell of a lot of photos. Loads of text but that doesn’t take much space. A mass of music and video files. I nick old music videos and films from YouTube using RealPlayer because someone always pops up  with some copyright issue and gets them removed. Are the Animusic ones back on there, I wonder? Anyway, VLC can run RealPlayer video files too.

You can get a Terabyte external hard disk now that is even within a part time janitor’s salary range. I just don’t know that much stuff! I still recall hard drives of one or two megabytes that were unaffordable to  a research scientist. That was in the 1990s, hardly the middle ages. Times are changing, fast.


There is another decision to make. In the upcoming Scottish Independence vote I can have a vote if I want to use it. Having no known Scottish heritage means I could just be an independent observer.

I was determined to vote ‘No’ because Oily Al and his Spiteful Nannying Puritans hate me. But by supporting No, I would be on the side of the Cleggeron Coagulation and the Ed Miller Band, and they hate me too. Both sides want me either controlled or dead and they don’t care which.

Why do they all hate me? Because I choose to live my life my way, not their way. It’s why they all hate you too.

Having read the comments here and Jerub-Baal’s return to Blogland I am havering. If ‘Yes’ wins there will be chaos. Not just in the UK but all over the EU as separatist movements get a surge of optimism. Not even Obama can bomb them all.

If ‘No’ wins then Osborne has a whole raft of Tory promises (otherwise known as lies) that are even more wildly uncosted than Oily Al’s idiot plan to run the country on hot air and costly bird-choppers.

It’s chaos either way. If the Coagulation get the ‘No’ vote then all those promises will be ‘in the future’ as in ‘in yer fekin dreams. pal’. The ‘No’ win would leave things just as they are but not quite. A ‘No’ will embolden Wastemonster to fuck up Scotland royally until the EU make it a region anyway.

A ‘Yes’ win (in Glasgow you tick the ‘Aye right pal’ box) would finish Cameron, smack Eddie Moribund down hard and Clegg… well who cares? Oily Al would ooze smugness right up to the point where he gets voted out forever because he is, basically, a git.

So now I am forced to decide between chaos and utter chaos. Between Ubuntu and Mint.

Two major decisions, in one month?

Men are not equipped for this.



31 thoughts on “Decisions.

  1. Yep. I remember the one meg drives at $5,000 a pop.

    Today you can get a Terabyte drive (maybe even a 2T drive?) for $100.

    At the old prices, a terabyte of storage would have cost…

    $5,000,000,000 — Five BILLION dollars! In 1987 only a few dozen people in the entire world could have afforded a terabyte drive!

    – MJM

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heh. I remember reading about one and two megabyte drives for the Amstrad PCW and thinking ‘Who the hell neerds all that space?’ The PCW was a CP/M machine that could address a whole 64 kilobytes of memory.

      Now, ‘How many megabytes can this thing handle?’

      ‘How many can you afford?’

      The operating system takes up most of it anyway…


      • I still own (it’s in my Main Lower Library, on a shelf somewhere) the 5Mb “Hard Disk” bought for me by my work in about 1983 or 84. I think it had to be shipped from California, and it cost thousands and thousands of Dollars…I think the interface is ESDI, or even the one before that.


        • I used to have a filing cabinet made out of a doube disk drive. Once I’d taken te guts out, the drawers were just the right size.

          I have no idea how much storage that thing originally had, but I’d bet it was in the kilobytes.


  2. You don’t know a lot about Scotland, do you. Me? I was a bus conductoress out of Ibrox many years go. And they were all lovely to me with my ghastly English accent. No raving drunk ever got anywhere near me because even the half raving drunks were protecting me.

    Anyway. I am an Apple Mac person. You could not ever sell me anything else. I don’t even discuss it.
    My first one lived for nine years at about one thousand pounds. And I have just spent another one thousand pounds. So, very little more.

    PS. Did you want to know this?


    • I had an iPhone for a couple of years, but I didn’t like it. And Apple won’t let you go inside their gear to repair it either or change the batteries (which seems mad) but I did manage to repair a school’s AppleMac power adapter (the magnetic connector one) by sawing it open and doing a soldering job.

      The problem with Apple corp is that they are smug, self-regarding, self-satisfied prats. And their shop (they don’t call it a shop do they) assistants sneer down at you if you’re thinking of looking at stuff. So I don’t.

      Anyway, what’s wrong with Windows? it works, doesn’t it? And the hardware’s cheap and replaceable, isn’t it? If it was that bad, then why does the world contain more than 26 billion Windows devices, and rising? Why isn’t everyone running unbuntu or whatever, or Linux, etc, even though it’s free? if it goes wrong, you just re-install stuff….so what? Where’s the problem?

      Or is it the age-old upper-middle-class-intellectual lament…?


      Liked by 1 person

      • I care nothing for Bill of the Gate.

        Windows XP worked well for me for years. I wasn’t so keen on Vista and haven’t tried anything more recent.

        However, XP is no longer supported by Microdaft so I have a lot of obsolete machines that mostly don’t work at all. I could pay wads of money I don’t have to buy new versions of Windows and to upgrade the machines to run it, or I could make some working old-machines and just give them away. If I’m going to give away the old ones then obviously I don’t want to spend money on them.

        I can see why most people want to just get it out of the box, plug it in and have it working. Most people are normal. I like to fiddle with gadgets. I’m a weirdo, but if you’ve read here for more than a week yoiu already know that.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I really liked XP. I kept it on my work PC for as long as I could, despite protest from the IT dept. It was very sweet of them to indulge me for so long.


        • I agree about XP. It was good, and it more or less worked all the time. In fact this machine running W7 was overlaid by my older boy as soon as I bought the thing, to show all the open windows inc the desktop as if it was still running XP. It shocks people desperately to see it, which is very very funny indeed, and I gloat.

          But yes, I am one of those sad people that just want to

          (1) get the gear out of the box
          (2) plug the stuff in
          (3) turn it on
          (4) install a few legacy progs I need
          (5) tell it to find our wireless LAN
          (6) get the rest of the progs back off the www,
          (6a) do stuff.


    • I’m Welsh so know more about Wales than Scotland. The people I’ve met in my many years here are really nice (the proportion of gits is the same as everywhere else) but the independence vote isn’t about the people at all. It’s about political maneouvers.

      I won’t ever buy an Apple product since they declared their warranty void for smokers. That’s my grudge and it never goes away. I don’t care if they change their minds, mine is made up.

      Unlike the antismokers, antidrinkers etc, I have no interest in forcing anyone to abide by my decisions. So anyone who likes Apple, fine, no problem. You just have to know you’ll never sell one to me.

      Real apples are very good for your guts. There is a reason that, after many years studying gut bacteria, I gave space in my little garden to two apple trees…


  3. There are different flavours of interface for Ubuntu and Mint, and this is more critical to detemine look and feel.

    I can take Openbox window manager and pimp my “dull” enterprisey CentOS distribution to look to all intents and purposes to be an “edgy” Archbang installation.

    Community support is also important in your choice. Arch has about the best. Ubuntu forums are full of kiddywinkies and no-nothing blatherers who suggest fixes they have not even tried.

    Arch can be harsh, but the dudes tend to know their stuff.

    I run i3 on my Arch and am going to get it running on my CentOS7, but it is hardcore tiling, not an icon based clicky-draggy affair, so Enlightenment, KDE or XFCE should suit.

    In fact for your old machine, XFCE UI on Ubuntu or Mint should be possible.


  4. I use Ubuntu Studio on an old Samsung R60 (my main battlestation), and Puppy Linux on an Elonex Webbook. I have a crappy Zoostorm desktop that seems to struggle with Ubuntu so I’m gonna try Lubuntu on that and if there is no improvement I’m gonna stick Puppy on it.


  5. To me, the linux distribution doesn’t matter. What matters is whether things like the following work: wifi, return from sleep/hibernation, sound, video… and these things are more to do with interaction between linux drivers and hardware. I have used various linux systems for over 20 years, and various unix systems for about 15 years before that; I’ve wasted (and continue to waste) quite a lot of my life tinkering with low level things to overcome exasperating low level problems. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is; it’s just the case.

    My advice is to equip yourself with a variety of “live CD”s of the major distributions, and checkout how they cope on your new computer. Choose one which with the fewest fundamental problems — and if there’s more than one, the one with the prettiest colours/sanest Gui.

    Nowadays, for real life, I (reluctantly) use mac equipment. They make the hardware & the software, and usually (not always) basic things work. Moreover, the OS is a variant of unix, and so I more or less understand it. I find Micros**t operating systems completely baffling.


  6. On ‘puters: I agree to a point with Hankenstein. Try a few configurations out first. As for computing power, I can assure you that once up and loaded any modern system will spend 99.99% of its time waiting for your next key press or mouse click/move. Yes there is some work to do playing video and music but all computers can now do this with ease and it is again 99% handled by the graphic card. The other time it will spend is waiting for t’internt even fast adsl/fibre really won’t tax a modern machine’s ability to process and display that data.
    Linux: get the installation and software right and it will run for years without trouble (My work involves running Linux & Windows Servers). A linux machine recently died on us from hardware failure until then it had run from literally first boot for 3 years and it was doing real work 24/7. We have a few like that. No virus implications (To date, for the nerds I’ll give you heartbleed which was not a virus.) so once settled no real need to update it.
    Windows: 3 years running (while doing real work) just doesn’t happen you need a regular reboot schedule of about 6 months, they still just “eat themselves” eventually 😦

    On Scotland: I’m English, living in England. Say no more I don’t get a say. If I did I’d vote for them to stay part of the Union.


  7. Look, if it makes Legiron happy to run zazzy stuff on old well-used machines, then i’m happy for him too.
    But for most of us, all we want to do is get hold of a computer, turn it on, and then “use” it. We don’t want to, and can’t spare the time trying to understand how to, “set up configurations”, or whatever it is. I’m a scientist like Legiron, but I haven’t the time to get into that.

    I’d rather simply
    (1) buy a machine I can afford,
    (2) buy or port over the progs I want, and then
    (3) just, er, ummm, run them.

    If the battery fails, I can get another drop-in batt for £14.99 on ebay. I’m on my third one, on this 5-yo Packard-Bell. What’s an Apple iBook 9is it called that?) battery-change cost then? there aren’t even any screws so you can upgrade the RAM, HD or whatever.

    Oh, and it’s now a criminal offence to smoke near any Apple product. If British, but not German, you can get extradited to a USA jail for that.


  8. Thanks for including the clip on the differences between men’s and women’s brains. It made me laugh, so I watched the whole presentation. Most enjoyable.


  9. Hi Leggy,I have been a lurker for years from Down Under.
    Umbutu vs Mint ?
    I am using LMDE,Linux Mint Debian Edition.Lmde updates just like Windows so you don’t have to reinstall every six months,although when it does have a new edition, it is big,up to a Gig.
    I run it on my old laptop with a SSD which speeded things up.On my Desktop I have two hard drives in an open test bench case.One has windows 7 x64 and the other Lmde x64.To avoid the duel boot problems I simply plug in the SATA cable to the drive I which to use.
    I boot Windows on patch Tuesday to update,other than that I don’t know why I still have it.I even got my Brother MFC to work by downloading a driver from their site and some console work.
    In summary,Linux is fast,free from virus and does not come with Windows paranoid copyright spyware.
    As for Scottish independence,does Scotland really need the Crown and the City of London,both institutions that are above the Law.


  10. There are other very good choices…. I find the flexibility, power, speed and design of Gentoo GNU/Linux amazing.

    In politics I find that the Green Party now offers a coherent and rational programme (go figure! Who would have thought 10 yrs ago?). There is also the little detail that I brew and don’t want my ground water fracked away…

    Turnout in elections are too low. No wonder we feel messed about because we give em a free run!


  11. The only thing I like about Ubuntu is that you can install propriety video card drivers(not open source) easily, other than that I like fedora as it does not spy on you like Ubuntu does.
    isn’t Linux fun 🙂


  12. Leggy, you seem to be making the age-old mistake of confusing the fancy front end of the computer for what it can actually do. Linux Mint is actually mostly Ubuntu with a window manager which is a fork of the old Gnome 2 desktop; Ubuntu uses either the Unity desktop (hated by many, to be honest) or the Gnome 3 desktop which is almost as dire as Unity.

    The programs and architecture behind those fancy front ends are fairly similar in all respects. The package managers in both instances are the Debian-derived apt system, and the internal architecture is also Debian-like in both cases.


    • I’ve been trying both and am veering towards Mint. It seems the easier to get used to after decades of Windows.

      Yes, I did have that bit of confusion there. The assumption that the harder it is to use, the more powerful it must be, is a tough one to get over. Also, Mint works on the old machines that can’t handle Ubuntu.

      I’ll keep that one laptop with Ubuntu/Windows until the day I decide to totally wipe the disk and start from scratch. There’s no rush, there’s a new machine on the way.


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