A Year of Linux, January 22: Crashing at Linux’s Place!
The old plan: Ring in the new year by switching over to Linux for a week, documenting each day of the transition. To read that first week, click here!
The new plan: Keep using Linux for the rest of the year, giving periodic updates on my experiences, all of which you can read here!
January 22: Crashing at Linux’s place!
As readers of my first week know, Linux and I had a tumultuous relationship for our first period of time together. There were ups and downs, tears and laughter, romance, action and suspense, and in the end everyone involved learned an important, heartfelt lesson about pre-marital intercourse. (The lesson: don’t do it or Linux will burn your car down.)
But like all goodish things, that week had to come to an end. Linux and I packed up our stuff, said our goodbyes, deleted each other’s numbers from our telephones, stomped on the phones as hard as we could until they stopped working, held them next to an incredibly powerful electromagnet to ensure no information could ever be salvaged, then got Alishyana the Mystical Psychic Gypsy Fortune Teller (call 555-5-GYP to set up an appointment) to cast an ancient telephone-disabling enchantment on them.
As you can imagine, I thought my relationship with Linux was over. But like all firey, passionate, Latin couples, no matter how much we fought and yelled and stabbed one another with rusty pairs of Fisher Price scissors, we ended up coming back together.
The circumstances of our reunion are familiar to all of us I imagine: after an extended period of time searching my soul while doing some of the extremest sports known to man on the highest snow-capped mountains and most remote, crocodile-infested tropical islands, I returned home to find that my landlord had evicted me.
With no place to stay, I turned to Linux. “Please, Linux! I’m out on the streets with no way to process words, or even browse social networking sites to read incredibly boring minutia about the lives of people I haven’t talked to in years,” I whimpered. “Take in this tired, old sky-diving rocket-roller-boarder one last time.”
With a sigh, Linux agreed to let me sleep on its couch for an indefinite period of time, so long as I didn’t invite too many people over or eat all of its eggs.
So join me as I crash at Linux’s place!
Now that I’m hanging out at Linux’s place for an extended period of time, I figure I might as well make myself at home. So my first order of business is to get all my mail sent to Linux, because I am a very important person who gets a lot of mail.
Fortunately, Linux doesn’t seem to have a problem with this; it gives me a touch of the evil eye as I write my name on its mailbox with a permanent Sharpie, but other than that the process goes flawlessly.
Setting up my gmail and school email in the pre-packaged Evolution Mail program seems to be no different than doing the same thing in Mozilla Thunderbird, and before I know it I am flooded with hundreds of pieces of wonderful electronic mail. As such, I get straight to the important task of highlighting each one, clicking Mark All as Read, and ignoring everything that was sent to me.
Now that I’ve very carefully inspected all 963 pieces of mail asking me for a monetary donation to the school that sapped me of tens of thousands of dollars and forced me into a massive, overwhelming, depression-inducing student loan-based debt, it’s time for me to rearrange Linux’s place a bit and make it more comfortable. I mean, this place has some seriously harsh feng shui, bro, and I just can’t chill if there’s bad chi-flow in my living space, you know?
So while Linux is at work I decide to completely rearrange its desktop. I’m sure it will be happy with my changes when it gets back, because I have a lot of experience with rearranging friends’ places without their permission.
First, out with that dirty, brown, coffee-stain desktop background (that I spilled my drink on a piece of old parchment paper look is so last week) and in with a stunning, minimalist, black background that is sure to impress all my post-modernist friends.
For the next step in my Desktop Makeover (official TV series debuting this fall on The Style Channel) I decide to change the theme. The Mist one looks nice, and its blue colour pallet will go well with my black background, and will maybe take some attention away from those hideous curtains that Linux insists on keeping around. (Honestly? Just because your grandma gave you those curtains literally seconds before she died a horrible death doesn’t mean you have to keep them up forever. Especially when they clash with, like, everything, girlfriend.)
The final step in project Desktop Makeover: change the desktop icons. I prefer to change all of my desktop icons into question mark boxes from Super Mario Bros. 3 and give them blank spaces for file names, so that anyone who uses my computer gets hopelessly lost and confused and runs away befuddled before they can snoop around at all. (Password protection is for narcs, man.)
This one will probably take some work, as I am unfamiliar with Ubuntu’s icon system and what special file-type Ubuntu uses for icons. So it’s off to the Internet for some research!
After about 16 hours of digging through dead-end links and unrelated information in a search for Ubuntu’s special icon file-type, I figure out that Ubuntu doesn’t actually have a special file-type for icons; any suitably sized .png file will work just fine.
This is a refreshing change from Windows XP, which required I go through a very long bureaucratic process in order to obtain the proper authorization for changing icons, and insisted I fill out reams of paperwork that proved I wasn’t an icon terrorist before it let me actually make my own icons.
So with that I open GIMP and get to work making my custom icon. Another 16 hours later (what can I say, I’m no graphic artist) and I finish screwing around with alpha channels and layer merges and a bunch of other stuff I can’t really get to work because I don’t even know what any of it is, until I get an icon that pretty much looks the way I want it to, even though it is entirely jury-rigged and wouldn’t work for anything but a perfectly square picture.
It is right about this time, when I am continually right-clicking the eraser button in GIMP to try to force it through attrition to erase to a transparent background, that Linux comes back from the office and sees what I have done.
“What the hell did you do to my desktop?” it yells. “And why are the entire contents of my fridge arranged into a happy face on my living room floor?”
“I made a happy face because happy faces are good karma, dude!” I yell back. “And I had to rearrange your desktop because I can’t take my mid-afternoon power-nap unless all the energy lines on my desktop are facing north! It’s common knowledge that energy lines should always face north!”
Oh man is Linux pissed off now; and right when I was about to install Java so I could get my important accounting websites working.
After our fight, Linux doesn’t seem to want to cooperate any more, and also responds to everything I ask it to do by calling me a dirty hippie.
I go to Add/Remove Programs, and Linux gives me a host of different Java installations, including Sun Java Runtime, Icedtea Java Plugin, OpenJDK Java Web Start, You Are a Dirty Hippie, and OpenJDK Runtime. Since Linux isn’t being any help, I decide to install the Sun Java Runtime, because it sounds most familiar. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to work, because none of my Java-requiring sites function.
With that I check the manual, which Linux has clearly gotten to, because it mostly just says “you are a dirty hippie” over and over. It also tells me to install the Sun Java package, then go into Firefox and type a command into the address bar to make sure Java is installed. Once you have confirmed that Java is in fact installed into Firefox, because this process is absolutely flawless, the manual explains that you will then prance around in a Java-filled wonderland, executing Java script at will and rolling around in endless Java flower beds.
Unfortunately, Firefox indicates that Java is not installed, and also indicates that I am a dirty hippie. The next step, according to the manual, in getting Java working in Firefox is apparently to do nothing at all, because the manual’s instructions end after telling me to type the command into Firefox. This further reinforces my suspicion that Linux is still angry at me for that whole thing where I smashed every one of its eggs to make sure there were no baby chickens mistakenly trapped inside, trying to get free.
Thinking it must be a problem on Firefox’s end, I decide to install the Java plug-in from within Firefox’s plug-in menu. Unfortunately that doesn’t work either. But I think I’m getting through to Linux and making some progress, because it doesn’t call me a dirty hippie this time. (It just spits on my shoe and kindly informs me that I have spit on my shoe, and that I should probably clean it up.)
At this point I’m starting to get a funny feeling that Linux needs some space and time alone (my friends at the weekly seances tell me I must be psychic or something, because I get feelings like that all the time from everybody) so I head to the old forums to drown my sorrows in a few beers. When I get there, I notice a few people talking about having the same problem as me.
The first suggestion I get is to download the Java plug-in’s binaries straight from the Firefox website, then do something involving an alien to install them, which sounds more ridiculous than anything I can imagine, but is actually pretty much what it said.
Being absolutely terrified by this course of action I check out what other advice is available. Someone else mentions that they got Java working with Firefox by downloading a file-package from the Synaptic application after they installed the Java Runtime, so I go for it too.
Success! When I head to one of my Java-based websites to check if it worked, the site instantly crashes instead of doing nothing at all, showing that Java has been perfectly integrated into Firefox.
Being the stubborn person I am, my next step is to change absolutely nothing at all, load up Firefox again, and try a different Java-based site.
This time it works! Hooray! Linux must have finally forgiven me for catching all its furniture on fire with my patchouli incense!
The process is so obvious; how did I not figure it out earlier? Installing Java just required me to install the Java Runtime from the Add/Remove Programs application, then go to the Synaptic application and install a different Java package that didn’t mention Firefox at all! What a fool I am.
With that I move back into Linux’s place, although I still don’t feel entirely at home. My desktop has been configured to my liking, but Java is hit or miss with particular websites, meaning I’ll have to use other operating systems if I want to use online banking to transfer money out of the savings account my mom set up so I can buy a new hacky sack for the jam-circle this weekend.
Also, the process of getting Java installed in the first place was pretty obtuse: the manual didn’t even begin to help, Firefox’s plug-in menu didn’t work, and all the most obvious courses of action were ineffectual. What I did finally do wasn’t really, you know, explained at all. Oh well!
And thus concludes today’s article! Stay tuned for me next article, which will occur some time in the future!