Many of you will consider this a huge step backwards. I consider it a small step forwards, and this fuzzy terminal grab is the reason why. Permit me to explain — but first, a quick refresher…
This refugee from Apple bought a Linux-powered Eee PC last spring, and promptly swapped out the default Xandros OS for the awesome Easy Peasy — basically the current Ubuntu Netbook Remix Edition with all the restricted media codecs pre-installed.
Then, this past April I went 100% Linux with a Lenovo all-in-one desktop computer running Linux Mint — a very slick spin on Ubuntu, again with the media codecs included from the get-go. Seeing a pattern here?
Over the past week I’ve been giving the latest and greatest KDE desktop a play on my Lenovo, and the lightweight PCLinuxOS ZenMini a trial on my Eee PC. As of this morning, I have nuked both drives and put Ubuntu proper on the desktop and Xubuntu on my netbook.
The ZenMini spin on PCLinuxOS was very impressive; my only issue was with streaming video to it from my NAS using Samba, a file sharing protocol developed for Windows computers. I think I found all the codecs I needed, but the playback of my (legal) BitTorrent downloads was jerky, and sometimes didn’t work at all.
On the KDE side things were even worse. Kaffeine, the default video player for KDE, has zero Samba support (nor does VLC, in case you were wondering). Same story with Dragon Player, the app bundled with Kubuntu for netbooks.
I could, of course, roll up my sleeves and at least attempt to solve these issues without changing distros, but then I started to think about why I was distro-hopping in the first place. The beauty of using Linux is that there’s literally something for everyone — and I think I’ve figured out that my baseline needs include the ability to stream media from my NAS without issue.
The ZenMini spin on PCLinuxOS remains a very elegant GNOME-based solution for low-powered netbooks, while using KDE literally felt like witnessing the near future of desktop computing firsthand. In the same vein, both Easy Peasy and Linux Mint will be the distros that I continue to recommend to new Linux users without hesitation. But it’s the official Ubuntu releases that feel like the right choice for me — right now, at least.
That’s the progress as I see it — installing codecs on my own, rather than having that done for me. Even if it’s just a command or two, that’s still a small step forward, isn’t it? Please?
Come on, I need this…