[ubuntu-us-mi] Might switch; questions...

Larry David larrydavid07 at comcast.net
Mon Jan 12 19:28:51 GMT 2009

Hi everyone - just subbed to the list.  I am hoping someone(s) here  
can answer a few questions for me.

First, to help better understand where I'm coming from, a little  
background.  I studied EE in the 80's, using DOS, Mac, and Unix  
machines.  DOS was ok, Mac was cool, and Unix was awesome (and  
Windows, when it arrived, was a blatant and poor rip-off of Mac OS -  
and still is!)  Later in the 90's I worked at GM for a while and used  
a proprietary GUI (maybe by HP?) over Unix, and I was in heaven.   
Terminal right there when I needed it (which wasn't all the time - I  
was a user, not an admin or programmer), and a nice, uncluttered, non- 
resource-wasting desktop - with switchable workspaces(!) so I could  
have all kinds of windows up at once and stay organized.

At home I have had Macs since 98 or so - haven't owned a windows  
machine since, to my great joy.  I like Macs a lot, but there are  
drawbacks, not the least of which is the price.  (Also Apple's social/ 
political worldview is sometimes in conflict with my own, but that  
has yet to keep me from buying their stuff.)  I think Apple computers  
are worth every penny they charge, but they are like Cadillacs, and I  
drive a Daewoo Kalos (called an Aveo in the US). :-)

So my G4 powerbook is showing its age and I am thinking of a new  
laptop.  I use it for work (teaching math part-time, 80 hours a week,  
since losing my job along with half the state), and rely on it  
daily.  I can't really afford a new macbook (though they look really  
cool) - I've considered a refurbished one, but they are still a  
little pricey for me.  Long story short, I checked into Linux again  
(knew about it for years, but never had a reason to investigate as I  
was happy with Macs when I could afford them).  Linux on a cheaper  
laptop sounds promising; if it works and if I don't have to become a  
programmer get software and hardware to work with it.  (I'm also kind  
of excited by the idea of FOSS - mostly the open source part, but  
won't take the time to get into that now.)

Which leads to my questions:

1. I am under the impression that Linux (ubuntu in particular) is  
much like the GUI-on-top-of-Unix OS that I loved at GM - only on my  
little laptop and not a $30k workstation, and its "GNU Not Unix", and  
its open source, etc.. - but the general idea is the same.  Is this  
the case?  (This aspect of OSX is the main thing I like about it,  
though the GUI is more than a bit overdone for my tastes.)

2.  Does ubuntu use less system resources for the GUI in particular,  
and generally have less bloat, than Windows and/or Mac OS?  (I am  
thinking about the built-in obsolescence of proprietary OS machines  
and hoping that a Linux machine will have a longer lifespan and be  
more tweekable to that end.)

3.  Is there a good web filter for Linux?  I use K-9 web protection  
on my macs and it seems to work fine (but they don't seem to have a  
Linux version, though it is freeware) - I like to have a filter to  
help me and my kids avoid all the crap I don't want to run into on  
the web...

4.  Does anyone here do music on a Linux machine?  What SW/HW do you  
use?  Ardour looks cool, but its hard to believe that it could be  
really useful *and* free.  (I use DP 4 on my G4s with an 828mkII, I  
don't need all of its capabilities - but I do need a MIDI sequencer  
and 24+ tracks of audio, with plug-in capability - and the ability to  
use soft-synths would be nice too.)  I have checked the alsa and  
ffado sites for HW compatibility and all the devices listed seem  
several years old - and many of them are "unkown" or "untested",  
which makes me leery to be the guinea pig.  At this point I would  
still have my G4 desktop, but I am thinking about switching all my  
machines to Linux, since I don't want to buy a new machine/software  
every few years just to be able to do the same thing I could years  
ago.  (This question may best be taken off-list if people don't want  
to hear about it - I don't know how much traffic there is, etc.)

Well if you've gotten this far, thanks for reading!

Larry David


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