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Submit Response is a weblog by Jack Mottram, a journalist who lives in Glasgow, Scotland. There are 1308 posts in the archives. You can subscribe to a feed. This post was made on and belongs in the mac category. The previous post was , and the next post is .

Woof Woof

I’m posting this from my old iBook, which is now running Yellow Dog Linux.

Amazingly, installing it was a breeze - I was under the impression that Linux was a text-only hell where a careless bit of typing could make your computer turn into a frog, but it turns out everything is GUI’d up the wazoo nowadays. The Yellow Dog installer even recognised my Airport card, and configured it correctly, so I was on the internet as soon as I booted up. Nice.

Other things, though, have had me tearing my hair out. Since I’ve never used anything but a Mac, everything seems wildly counter-intuitive. For example, when I put a CD in the drive, I pretty much expect an icon to show up on my Desktop so I can start dragging files off it. This is not the Linux way, and it took the assistance of the geekiest man I know to get a CD working at all (cheers c0NZ!). For the record, you have to type mount -t iso9660 /dev/cdrom mnt/cdrom. Which is not exactly something you’d guess by yourself.

Once c0NZ gave me a couple of tips, though, everything started to fall into place a bit, and I’ve now sorted out accessing files from my new iBook over the WLAN, and am happily playing MP3s and audio CDs as I type. Funnily enough, it’s simple things like that that are hard on Linux (or at least this version of it) while complicated things like getting an Apache webserver running are a piece of cake.

Despite all the head-scratching, installing Yellow Dog looks like it will be worth the effort of getting used to Linux beyond the occasional bit of tinkering in the Terminal on OS X, simply because the computer is now lightening fast. When running OS 10.3.4, my old iBook (a Graphite SE with sod all RAM) wasn’t exactly speedy, but now it’s snappy as can be, only getting a wee bit sluggish when launching big applications like OpenOffice or the GIMP (the Linux equivalents of Word and Photoshop).

Apologies in advance for the inevitable slew of posts in the coming weeks about just how fabulous and exciting Linux is.

Posted at 6pm on 30/07/04 by Jack Mottram to the mac category.
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  1. Hey cool - Yellow Dog is an excellent distro.
    Are you running KDE or Gnome? KDE is definitely cooler, although this subject does generate some controversy I’ve noticed. The CD thing and USB drives etc can best be done in KDE by creating a desktop shortcut and include the command to mount the device in the execute part of the properties of that link. Then you can right click to unmount.

    It is not all that different from that old bugging problem on macs when you had to drag a mounted device to the trash or else you would get a fuzzy icon that was basically a future headache.

    KDE also has the excellent Kate editor which is ideal and intuitive for PHP and web scripting which I am guessing you do too.

    Posted by Luke at 11am on 02.08.04

  2. I’m running KDE - mainly because it was the default option, and since I was rather confused by all the controversy over which one to use it seemed easier just to go with the one suggested by the installer…

    Funnily enough, I was just reading about making shortcuts last night, and I’ll be sure to have a look at Kate (one thing that’s annoying me is the way there’s so many different apps provided with the distro, I haven’t even come across that one yet!)

    Posted by Jack at 11am on 02.08.04

  3. I installed YDL on my iMac a while ago and was really glad I did. I learnt a hell of a lot about Linux and and Unix in general, which I was then able to apply when using OS X. There’s no reason I couldn’t have learnt as much using Apple X11/Fink etc, but running YDL forces you to get your hands dirty.

    I went for GNOME on my install so I’m not familiar with KDE. I think they’re pretty similar to be honest; they’re both Windows/OS X like environments. The truth is you’re spoilt for choice with window managers. I quite like Fluxbox (, a really minimal window manager which is highly configurable just by editing a text file (much like editing CSS). Let me know if you have any problems, especially with installing stuff using YUM or RPM. It can be a real nightmare, especially with resolving dependencies etc. Although in theory, YUM does all that for you (much like Fink). Sometimes it’s easier to install stuff the good old fashioned way.. ie. ./configure, make, make install

    Anyway, good luck with it.

    Posted by Matt at 5pm on 02.08.04

  4. I might just take you up on that offer of help, Matt - yum and rpm, and apt-get as well, are proving difficult (yum just times out, rpm always tells me I need things that are already installed, apt-get is, um, a bit wiggy). I’ve had no bother installing a lot of stuff in the old fashioned way, though, so maybe I’ll stick to that for the time being…

    The main problem seems to be finding things that will work with YDL - sometimes stuff meant for Red Hat just works, sometimes not, and there doesn’t seem to be much out there specially compiled for YDL. Which is a bit like being a Mac user in a PC world, I suppose…

    Posted by Jack at 2pm on 03.08.04

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