Filed under: Technology
So, I've been into the Linux world for a wee little bit now and I feel the need to talk about it. One of my favorite things to do is help people out and be a decent-to-good source for newbies on various different technical topics, and that's kind of what I aim to do with my anecdote here, lol.
The first and only distro I've ever tried was Debian, and I started with Debian 9. This was an awesome decision, because I did it on impulse during a phase of worrying about internet security. I did what any good citizen would do and backup my Windows installation and save my MAJOR documents to an external hard drive. Since I just decided to wipe my entire drive and replace it with Linux (as I knew nothing about partitioning), I had a hard time starting. In fact, my first issues came with not knowing how to install proprietary drivers, namely my wi-fi drivers. I was fully preparing to give up and switch back to Windows when I realized 1. my Windows image was corrupted and 2. most of my saved documents (other than my art) were also corrupted. I was really in it now…
I think the first lesson we can learn from this is: DO NOT WIPE YOUR WINDOWS INSTALL IF YOU'RE NEW TO LINUX.
Anywho, after a few days of being connected by an ethernet cable and tons of googling for solutions, I generally got everything working smoothly. I had a nice Cinnamon desktop and was able to complete basic tasks using apt. I could even add new repositories, given that I was handed the exact command. However, I quickly ran into issues regarding Wine.
A common mistake you'll hear Linux vets say newbies make is trying to run all their Windows applications on Linux through Wine or something. I hate to say it, but they're right that it's a huge mistake. As a freelance artist, I really need my access to my art programs… which are actually Windows-only. I attempted to use Wine to no avail. I attempted to run a virtual machine to no avail. This is mainly because I don't understand how these things work, but it's also worth mentioning that Clip Studio Paint is hard to emulate on Linux in general (apparently). After a while, I decided to face the facts: I needed to get my Windows install back.
Here is my second lesson for any newbies: DO NOT BOTHER GIVING YOUR PC TO A REPAIR GUY TO REINSTALL WINDOWS.
Honestly, if you're completely dumbfounded by tech stuff, you might want to do that. If you're installing Linux though, I assume you at least have a decent amount of knowledge on how computers work. You're much better off foregoing the fees + time away from your computer and just figuring out how to do it yourself. Don't believe me? Listen to this harrowing tale…
My computer was at the repair place for about a month or two. All I had asked was for them to make my computer a dual-boot system (Windows 10 and Debian 9). I honestly don't know why it took so long, because they only seemed to get to work on my laptop once I called them about two weeks in. I had literally sent another computer to them in the past and got a response in about a week, so… I'm not sure what was going on. The guy I got claimed it would be hard to find an image for Debian 9 since it was an older version… which I guess isn't completely false, but if you've been on the official site, it's really not that hard to find. It took them TWO WEEKS for them to actually finish the install; I bet you it was only because I kept calling in every other day.
The story doesn't end there, though.
One thing I enjoyed doing on my Windows install was making everything look like Windows Vista. I'll probably write a post about how I managed this later, but suffice to say I got it pretty close right now. A main thing I desired was an icon set based on the icons in Windows Vista (I love Aero theme, especially those green folders <3)… so I downloaded this archive which would install the icons for you when you ran the .exe in the zip folder. This all ran so smoothly…
UNTIL IT BROKE MY WINDOWS INSTALL.
I'm assuming this all went wrong because of a Windows update, the usual suspect. I don't remember exactly what happened, but I spent a very long time having to log into my Windows partition using Safe Mode. And believe you me, I did everything I could to fix it. I ran those system scans in Powershell/Command Prompt. I searched for a restore point and couldn't find one. I downloaded a fresh Windows image and wasn't able to repair the system files with it.
Once again, I had to wipe my Windows install. This time, I built it off the Windows image I downloaded and, honestly, was able to reinstall it pretty easily. For a while I had some problems logging into my Debian partition because… I dunno, something happened to GRUB. I don't remember what I did to fix it, but I didn't have to reinstall the operating system and just followed some guides I found online. Must've had something to do with BIOS settings, I dunno.
As for the icon pack, it doesn't work (as of writing this) on the most recent version of Windows 10. This error "The system cannot find the batch label specified - Reboot2" just pops up in the Command Prompt and that's that. Nothing changes. This kinda solidifies in my mind that everything broke because of the icon pack. A depressing development, I know. On the other hand, I should just be glad that running the .exe again didn't brick my computer or something.
I digress. You see what I mean, though? Comparatively, I have not had so many OS-destroying woes on my Linux install. I know it's mainly because Debian is SUPER stable, but also just because Linux doesn't actively seem to work against you when you want to customize your system. I like how things to seem relatively consistent even when they update. The biggest problem I've had is accidentally locking myself out of the OS because I accidentally filled up every last byte of the partition's drive space, but I was able to solve that by deleting some files through GRUB. Pretty neat!
Ever since then, I've made a decent amount of progress in understanding my system better. I have a few favorite CLI applications: namely amfora, vim, and cmus. I also can do some pretty basic file operations from the terminal and finally learned about aliases. I have installed some new desktop environments and mainly run XFCE4, purely because I wanted to use the Chicago95! theme. This required some more pain trying to figure out panels, but I think it was worth the time and effort I put into it.
What's next? Well, I honestly kinda want to install Manjaro. I've heard a lot of good things about it from TRUSTED SOURCES and like the idea of it being less annoying than Debian. I love Debian's stability and all, but the non-free repo nonsense and all that is a pain. That's not even to mention the fact that SOOO MANY packages are just OLD!!! They're ancient and haven't been updated in years at times!! I would much prefer a more modern experience, so I've been kinda rotating the idea in my head the past week or so.
I've learned my lesson from last time and WILL NOT just completely wipe my Debian install, especially since it took me forever to properly customize everything the way I want it. What I might do is find me an old or cheap laptop to install Manjaro on and see how I feel about it then. I also have the option of a live boot, obviously, but I really just wanna jump right into it (safely).
Ideally, I'll eventually be able to switch full-time to Linux. Since I enjoy me some Windows-only software now and then (like foobar2000, Clip Studio, etc.), as well as gaming, that may be a long-term goal requiring tons of experimenting with Linux packages. Oh well! We'll see where this strange journey takes me.