Ohh.. I expect some flames on that title! Lolz! Defend your camp is you wish, whether Linux or Windows. And yeah, when I say Linux here, it mostly refers to Ubuntu and its derivatives, considered as one of the friendliest distros, and a pioneer in bringing Linux to new users.

1. Linux = FREE!

Absolutely right! And in all senses! Firstly, Linux is free. You don't pay a cent to get it. You just go to a distro's website or ftp, and leech it off there. Burn it on a CD or DVD, try it via LiveCD and after you are satisfied, you can install it, and send the LiveCD to your friends to convert them. Oh yeah, subsequent upgrades are free too! You get a complete OS, fully functional and many times (IMHO!!) better than Windows, and that without spending money. Isn't life generous? Another kind of freedom is that you are free do do whatever you want to Linux. Copy the disks, give to your friends, modify each and every part of it, take a look at the internal codings. In general, there's very little restriction placed on you.

Considering Windows, you will have to spend money to get each and every new version. You can't copy the disks and pass on to your friends. You cannot see the code. And you can hardly modify it to suit yourself. Is this what you want?

2. Linux is (relatively) safer

Quick! Name me 10 Linux viruses. "Uh..."? Right. Good answer. These things are rare. The last famous one, if I remember correctly, was Bliss. Even then, it couldn't propagate as easily as Windows viruses and had to be executed willfully by the user. Today, it is considered as a research curiosity. Since then, I've not heard of any major, chaos-causing ones.

Now. Another exercise! Name me 10 Windows viruses! "Easyyyy!" Yes! Nimda, ILoveYou, Blaster, Slammer, SoBig, MyDoom, Klez, Melissa, Stoned... and the list is very very long, and it gets longer everyday. This goes without considering the other kinds of malware floating around, that love Windows so much, and jump at the first occasion to infect your machine. You can get trojaned, wormed, keylogged, backdoored. All these terms mean one thing: you are in serious trouble once it hits you. Who would like to see his/her hard-drive completely wiped after installing something called YourFreeSoft.exe or similar. Ouch. That's about viruses. Some fun for you: List of Windows Virii vs List of Linux Virii

Now, in Windows, you often see people logged in as Administrator to perform their day-to-day tasks like browsing. This is serious liability, as all programs run can do admin-class things to your PC, like killing your files. Under Linux, you never login as admin. When you want to do something admin-like, you sudo it. “SuperUser Do it”. What happens is that you explicitly give admin privileges to your programs, so that they can't do weird stuff without you being aware.

No OS is totally safe. I don't say Linux is flawless and impenetrable. But considering the number of vulnerabilities in Windows (think WinME, MS denies its existence :D ), you are a lot safer in the Linux camp. You can even browse around the Internet unprotected, knowing that none of those .exe malware will ever hit you. That's a big part of the population. And even if the malware tries to find the registry or “system32”, they won't be able to find those! You could say your data is a lot safer when entrusted to Linux.

3. Linux is made by users, for users.

That's a definition of democracy, the OS way. When users develop things, they know exactly what other users might know. They are users themselves, and sometimes they look for certain features. If they cannot get these, they try to incorporate them into their software. I've searched for a transparent, auto-hiding and nice-looking launchbar for Windows like forever. After hours of searching, I found RunMe. The funny thing is, under Linux, that feature is already included!

Under Linux running GNOME, I created a panel, set its background color to transparent, set it to auto-hide and modified its size. That's it. I got myself an auto-hiding, transparent and cool-looking launchbar that matches my theme. What more could I ask of.

Another example? Windows networking. Whenever you are roaming, you will often need to change your IP address to match that of your home or office. It happens loads of time. I wanted a program that could keep "profiles" of my network settings, and apply them at the click of a button. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any free software that did this for Windows. Under Linux, KDE's network manager has that feature built-in. Useful!

And finally, yet another example for the unconvinced. Haven't you ever required to re-arrange your windows in your taskbar? Maybe switching between browser and wordprocessor, and you wanted those 2 windows to be side by side in the taskbar? Windows requires additional software to handle this. Linux handles it natively. Just click and drag the windows, and arrange them as you want.

Like this, there are many many useful features for you to discover, and you will probably say “why can't Windows include that?”. That's because Windows employs developers to write software for users, whereas Linux “employs” users to write software for users.

4. Linux is not resource-demanding

That's a ~50MB distro's desktop - Damn Small Linux's desktop

Right. I agree that it does demands resources. But this depends on which distro you are using. Distros like Kubuntu or Sabayon indeed demand loads of resources for KDE and the effects they use. But have you ever used Puppy Linux? Damn Small Linux? Feather Linux? PCLinuxOS Mini? Or any of those Mini distros? No? Then do try. These things run with the bare-minimum resources. People often install those on an old PC at home and turn it into something useful. Linux allows you to revive an old machine, say around 300MHz. Forget games and all, but at least your old box will be able to handle word processing without lagging, and without fear of BSODs. You could, for example, turn an old computer into a sort of "download server" to handle your long downloads. This will allow you to cut on electricity bills (maybe), and extend the lifetime of your "new" PC while the old one handles the long uptimes, and without fearing the risk of catching something nasty online. And hey! You are running a full OS, up-to-date on an age-old machine. Be proud!

5. But Vista has coooolll effects!!

Then my friend, you have not seen Compiz Fusion in action. Just watch the video below, and if your jaw doesn't hit the floor, then I dunno what would surprise you... Compiz Fusion's effects are simply amazing. The effects are not just for eye-candy. There are actually some use to them. One simple example that I often use myself is the transparency. When I need to refer to one window, and type in another, I put the typing one as "always on top" and make it semi-transparent. Then place my reference window just below. Then, I can "see through" my typing window, without the need to constantly switch between windows.

Alright, wobbly windows and flaming windows when closed may not be totally useful, but at least it's cool and can help turn your friends to Linux. The Cube is useful to quickly see what's all around your desktops. Yes. DESKTOPS! Linux supports virtual desktops natively.

If you still cannot cope with the mouse flaming trails, you can still turn off the effects you don't want. But rain falling on my desktop.. Looks peaceful! :P

That's part #1 if this article. I decided to split it up cuz it was just too long. Part #2 will be for another occasion. After I complete it, it'll be here.. But first, Intrepid Ibex requires my attention :D

Additional reading:

We can say that Vista is just out of the box (or maybe not, there's even a how-to about opening the Vista box), but anyways, many people now want an alternative to Windows. This alternative is called Linux. Some others went to Mac and its Leopard. Enthusiasts choose BSD or some other flavor of Open-source OS. I chose Linux. I dunno why. I haven't tried BSD yet. (Selven keeps convincing me. I gotta submit one of these days and give it a try). I am therefore writing this post for people who want to move from Windows to Linux. It covers what they should expect, and what is expected out of them.

1) Linux is NOT windows! AGAIN!

It can't be stressed enough, but still new users keep making the mistake of comparing Linux to Windows. Come'on folks. We are speaking of two different worlds here. One is like Pokemon, cute and fluffy, while the other is like 300, harsh and cold. Windows is about pointing and clicking. Linux is about typing. In Windows, you are usually accustomed to having a GUI for nearly every task you can think of. Linux doesn't offer a GUI everytime. For some tasks, you will need to get dirty and use command line. And no. It's not weird. It's not ugly. While new users love the GUI, a Linux power-user will vouch for the CLI. I use both, using the GUI where I can, and if it's not available, I use CLI.

When you first move to Linux, don't complain that you have to type commands, and that commands were used in prehistoric ages of computing. That's plain bad attitude, and I had that attitude too when I begun. Now, I'm a bit more comfortable in Linux, I stopped complaining and saw the numerous advantages of CLI. One simple example? Using a SINGLE line of command, you can backup your whole Linux system. With another command, you can remove EVERY file that is on the Linux file-system. What's those commands? I leave it for you to learn.

Stop complaining and accept the differences. Only then you will be able to progress in the Linux world.

2) Choose an appropriate Distro

Linux comes in many many many many flavors, each with its own spices and ingredients. The trick is to go Distro-shopping until you find one that suits you. How do you do that? Try going over to Distrowatch, and try out the Top #10 distros, and pick one that you like. A good place to start is Ubuntu which is often thought as the most user-friendly distro, or maybe PCLinuxOS that recently stole the crown of Ubuntu in Distrowatch. You could also try one of the mini-distros like Damn-Small-Linux or Puppy Linux just to test. After you find one that you like on Live CD, give it an install and try using it to its full potential. Be careful of how you install though, you could wreck an existing install (maybe Windows), but it's kind of rare. My recommended distros: Ubuntu or its variants (Xubuntu/Kubuntu), Sabayon Linux (if you want eye-candy), PCLinuxOS (if you want a near-complete system out-of-the-box) and Puppy Linux (if you want a portable Linux install). I am currently using Linux Mint, and here I reviewed it.

3) In simple terms, "Google is your friend"

And how true this is! While using Linux, you will encounter several issues. Your devices may not be recognized. You want to change a setting, but don't know how to do it. You want to install something, but can't figure it out. Had it been Windows, you could have phoned Tech Support. This is not the case with most Linux distros. Only a little minority of them offer live tech-support, and the rest leave you on your own. So how do you get help?

Here comes the tagline "Google is your friend". Use it! Google your problem and I am sure you will find solution. Google something like "install open office linux" and see the number of results you get. If Google doesn't point you to anything, try going over to your Distro's forum and ask there. Ubuntu forums is like a vault full of help and tips! If that doesn't work, get an IRC client and connect to their channel and seek help. If that still doesn't help, consult your friends who have working knowledge in Linux. Still no help? Try the "man" -manual-command in Console/Terminal. If all those fail, I dunno what you are trying to do. Maybe have Linux make coffee for you and do your laundry?

And when you do receive help, be polite and thank the helpers. If you can't get help, don't go on a ranting spree, and complain about lack of help and whatever. Always remember that Linux is free software. Most of the time, people do not get paid to develop it. They do it out of their own time, for pleasure or otherwise. By ranting, you are not doing justice to these people's efforts. Instead, be grateful for what you have, and try to help them create what is not already available. How? Donate, code or even beta-test software. Maybe you could provide information? But don't just complain. And if you still can't resist, then maybe Linux is not for you. Use Windows where you can get all the support you need. See pt.5

4) Not everything works under Linux

Upon your first boot, your Wireless connection might not work. You may have weird screen-resolution problems with your blazing new graphics card. Your webcam will almost certainly not work. These are common driver issues, issues which you do not have on Windows. This is a major outcry coming from new users: "My device XYZ refuses to work in Linux. Linux sux! *rant* *rant*!!"

Get this right now. Manufacturers provide drivers for Windows. Not all manufacturers provide drivers for Linux. So, if your device works, be grateful and thank the volunteer(s) that wrote that driver. Almost surely, that volunteer did not get any remuneration for his/her software, while manufacturers pay their developers to write drivers.

If one of your hardware doesn't work, either make do without it, or try looking online for a solution. Maybe somebody got a guide or solution for you. If nothing is available, don't complain. Make do without your hardware, or mail the manufacturer asking for Linux drivers. Or code your own, if you got coding skills. You can also pray that the next version of your distro supports the hardware. Most do after a version change-over.

What you can do? Try posting in your distro's forum. Describe the hardware, what the issue is, and what you want. Provide as much detail as possible. It might help a developer develop a driver one day, who knows.. :P

5) Use Windows

Weird point... Right. If after giving Linux a genuine chance and attempted to use it to the best of your efforts, you still cannot use it, then go back to Windows. Or try other distros. Maybe you will get lucky with other flavours? Try BSD or other variants. If nothing works, Windows is here.

Nobody forces you to use Linux. You chose to move to a new OS, a free OS (cost and copyright). You have nothing to lose, right? If you get something for free, you cannot complain that it doesn't work, or that it has flaws. You got it for free, you either use it or scrap it. Depends on you. But please, don't criticize it uselessly.

Well, this was my thoughts on moving to Linux. Maybe it will help new users make a choice. Maybe it will get buried somewhere in the vastness of the Internet, never to be read. But anyways, if you have read it, then I thank you! As always, comments appreciated. :)

If, like me, you do a big amount of searching on various sites, Firefox includes a nifty, in-built tool that should greatly facilitate your searching. This tool is called "Add Keyword for this Search".

How to use it? The process is simple and is described below. What it does? It allows you to search directly from your address bar, and to any custom search engines you will define. It may not work for all (eg. Yahoo didn't work for me), but works for most.


1) First, find the search you want to "tag" as I will refer to it. I am using google here.

2) Right-click on the search box and select "Add Keyword for this Search"

3) You will be presented with this window. Type the name of the search engine in the Name field. Eg. Google. In the Keyword field, type a word or letter that you will use to identify Google. You might choose something like "goog" or even "g" as I did.

4) Save the bookmark in your chosen folder. I saved it in the Quick Search folder. If you don't have one, you can create one in Bookmarks - Organize Bookmarks.

5) Now, to make use of your new tag, simply type your Keyword in the address bar, followed by your search query. I used "g testsearch" as I wanted to search Google for the query "testsearch".

6) As you can see, Google returned results for "testsearch".

7) Now, you can go to your favourite sites, and tag their search boxes. This makes searching easy and direct from your address bar. I find this method easier than adding custom search boxes to Firefox.

8) Some useful sites you might want to tag, and suggested keywords:

- Google: g, goog, ggl
- Google Images: gi, ggli, googi
- Wikipedia: wiki, wp, enc
- Ebay: eby, eb
- Amazon: ama, az
- DeviantArt: da, dart
- Last.FM: lfm, lf, fm
- Youtube: you, yt, ytb

You can define almost every search engines and your own keywords. Go figure which sites you want to "tag".

Hope this tip helps you. Comments appreciated! :)

Title sounds weird right? It is! The trick is that even if your headphone doesn't have a microphone, you can actually speak into the earpiece (the thing you put over your ear to listen in) and it will act as a microphone. I know it sounds strange, but it's tried and tested, and worked with most headphones I tested with. I mean headphones, NOT earphones!

It worked with my cheapish China-made headphone, so give it a try if you want.

How to make it work?


1. Plug in the "out" jack, usually green in color, into the microphone hole, usually pink or red, in your soundcard or laptop.

2. Step 1 is correct! I'm not dumb! I said, plug the line-out jack into the line-in socket! :P

3. To test it, fire up Windows Sound Recorder or any sound recorder you might have at hand. Try Audacity if you ain't got anything. It's freeware.

4. Now, increase your volume either in windows, or on the headphone itself, or even both. Just set all mixers to high.

5. Speak into the headphone's earpiece. Righhht... Strange huh? Try! You should see Sound Recorder picking up a sound. I'm not joking! Proof: (You can't know how much I had to maintain my shout to get a good shot! :s )

6. You can try speaking into the right and left earpiece to see which is better.

7. Save the sound and replay it. You should hear what you said in your recording.

My guess on how this trick works:

When you are using the headphone normally, the line-out is plugged into the line-out socket and all, your soundcard sends electric pulses which represent the sound, and a membrane vibrates creating the sound.

Here you are reversing the process. When you are speaking into the earpiece, your voice makes the membrane vibrate. This vibration is translated into electric pulses and sent to your soundcard. Since you have the line-out (that feeds the earpieces) connected to line-in, these pulses are interpreted as an input signal and your voice gets recorded. If you hadn't reversed the jacks, ie. line-out to line-in socket, it wouldn't have worked.

And yeah, don't bother plugging your line-in (microphone) into line-out socket. Your mic cannot play sounds! :P

Try it for yourself. If you got any question, or comments, you are free to comment! :P I wanted to share this trick that I read somewhere, maybe on a forum, I forgot! :)

PS: I know there is now a huge delay in my postings! Uni resumed and I am kinda busy. I will try to post as often as possible, but no promises! :)

OMG, it's been almost a month since I last blogged! I'm really not finding enough time since Uni started again.. :(

Anyways, something weird happened today. Cyclone Gula was near to Mauritius, even if there was no gust or rain or anything at my place, it was still close. In fact, it was absolute calmness. Just like a normal day.

However, there was a Class 3 alert in the morning? Then? At around 8h, the class 3 was removed? WTF does that mean? The cyclone vanished? The maps do not say so! Then what happened? Check how close that thing was to Mauritius!

What I personally suspect is that there is some kind of political or other kind of pressure to take out that Class 3 so that normal working resumes. What resulted out of this? Massive chaos in the country! Streets were clogged with traffic jams. People were being battered by heavy rain while waiting for their not-arriving bus. In 1 word: chaos. Even Uni resumed at around noon, though I suspect there were only a fistful of students there.

This is the kind of thing that really annoys you. Why did Mauritian meteorological station put Class 3 when it was going to be removed 40 mins afterwards? Plain stupid. This caused most workers in Mauritius to rush to their work-place, causing a huge influx of traffic.

Another weird thing is our Cyclone warning system. We go from Class 1 - Class 2 - Class 3 - Class 4, but afterwards, jump from Class 4 - Class 0 (no cyclone)... That's just abnormal. Imho, we should regress back from 4-3-2-1 then zero. It can't just jump like that. This system would also ease up the transition...

Class 4 - Class 3: Emergency services operate and started cleaning up broken branches and wires and all the mess.
Class 3 - Class 2: Workers go back to check their workplace
Class 2 - Class 1: Students resume school
Class 1 - Class 0: Cyclone is no longer a risk.

This system makes a better sense to me, than just jumping from 4 to 0.

Anyways, today was just plain LoL seeing the mess meteo caused! Pity the folks who got out of their homes only to get wet.


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