So far on my 1-year Linux Challenge

Well, I started Linux in Sep, 8th 2016. I started on plain old Ubuntu. Fun start if you ask me.

First right off was a pain.

Linux would set up, but then wouldn't boot into desktop. Just boot into a black screen after grub. (Have to use grub for windows games)

Let me tell ya, this almost took me off Linux right off. But I persisted, looked around. Googled alot. And I mean alot. Watched YouTube vids on similar problems.

Eventually I found the culprit, and the fix. It was my gpu. Apparenly, with a dual monitor setup, or if you're using dvi Linux's video software can't map the outputs or something similar. It gets confused. The OS still boots, but you see nothing. I would even hear the startup sound. But the display wouldn't come up. And what was wierd about that, is that you could still just Ctrl+Alt+Del and the system would just restart. It was as if it was hung \ not hung during boot. Something was amis.

The solution was going back into the Grub boot loader, pressing e right away and editing the line of the main ubuntu startup to set it to nomodset or nomodeset (one of the two) until I got back in and could get the video drivers installed. Once the Nvidia drivers were installed there was no worries.

Then I decided around Dec, or Jan, (can't remember which) to switch to Ubuntu Mate. It seemed more friendly, and more toward my tastes in liking. Till now I had been just putzing with stock Ubuntu so I saw no reason why I shouldn't just nuke whole Linux install and not save anything and install Mate.

This led to a whole SLEW of new problems that were pretty much connected.

Ubuntu Mate, once installed, never booted. I'd get it to boot, but would end up with a screen that said grub rescue>. That scared the ever living crap outa me. I'd never just installed an OS, and it not work right away. Never. I was at a complete loss and didn't know what to do. And googling it didin't help at first because I was typing the error and symptoms in wrong. I nearly nuked everything and said fuck it. I'd only been a few months in.

But then reading some posts on here about how great Linux is, and how people have fixed this and that on their own I couldn't back down. So I stuck my heels in and kept with it. I didn't sleep that whole night. Hell I didn't sleep the day after either. Cause now I couldn't boot into ANYTHING. Not windows, and definitely not linux cause it wasn't booting.

Eventually I found this webpage:

Almost exactly what I needed. And when I upgraded this last week to 16.10 it helped me again.

Somewhere in that span of time, I think it was a week after I installed Ubuntu on my main machine, I installed Ubuntu Mate on my wife's laptop. Mainly because she wanted more harddrive space, and Windows was sucking up so much space on her machine. She was already using the Windows version of LibreOffice for her writing on her laptop. The only thing holding me back was a program that was writtenn specificaly for her work. It was written at her work, and isn't distributed anywhere. And every time I had tried to run it on Wine on my machine, it would say the version didn't match. No matter what I did. That was just because I was an idiot and didn't realize you can set what version of Windows that Wine is repicating. After I figured that out, found out that her program for her work would work as well, and her whole laptop became Linux only. And she loves it. She thanks me at least once a week. She no longer loses pages from her book she's working on, and no longer has to reboot every 3 days.

Once I get my kid's pc running, I'm gonna try to find a kid friendly version of Ubuntu. He's only 9 years old going on 10. I want something that isn't gonna confuse the hell out of him. But something he can learn with as he grows.

I want to try a new distro here eventually. Ubuntu Mate just isn't doing it for me aesthetically. But I'm scared.

Ubuntu just works for the most part. Everything I need works, all my hardware is supported, and even though I'm forcing myself to learn the terminal, it still scares me cause of how powerful it is, and how much of a clutz I am. Until I'm more comfortable with trusting myself with the CLI or Terminal, I want something that is easy to use graphically.

So far I'm not grabbed by anything. Eventually I will be I suppose. But I'm more of a casual user who knows a little bit about computers. Well, more than a little bit, but less than most of you. I guess I just want stuff to work. And deal with problems as they come up. But definitely not until they come up. If you get what I mean.

That's my Linux story. I hope you all enjoy it so far. Undoubtedly there's more to come so stick around!


Isn't peer pressure awesome? :wink:

I forget the thread(s) name. But I think we had thread(s) about this. I think the distro(s) that were recommended were not Ubuntu based tho.

I would say Elementary OS. It is Ubuntu based and is dumb-ed down a bit.

Also, congrats!


Glad you kept with it.
I really enjoy Linux and usually only Nike it if there is a game I want to play.
I try other distro but always seem to fall back to mint. Using mate at the moment you could also try xfce I am a big fan of that once it's set up.

I am working with 100% Linux (at home) since February 22nd and I am more than happy. Before I was using Mac OS X, but since Apple put the last nails in their coffin for me when they released the new MacBook "Pro"s with "no ports" and the lack of a battery indicator, it was time to look for something better.

I never really gave Linux the attention that it deserves but after forcing myself to move out of my comfort zone, I learned to adjust my habits slightly and now it's the perfect OS for my use case.

It might be too much right now, but not too long from now, when he can leverage a better OS, there is an education oriented version of Ubuntu, which might be worth a try. However, I never tried it myself.

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Recommend Fedora 25 highly, it seems to have the "just working thing" down to a tee.


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I have to agree. I was blown away recently, when I wanted to pair my Bluetooth speaker with my computer and it just worked. I paired the Bluetooth and switched the audio source in system settings and it was running perfectly.

I remember when I tried the same on Xubuntu and I had to mess with it for 5 minutes every time to get it working.

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I feel your pain. TS/L1T(Wendell) was my inspiration to try Linux. My first post on this forum was me ranting on about cutting edge hardware, UEFI and 64bit problems with Linux. But I took the 1yr Linux challenge and prevailed. Been on Linux for over 2 years now after breaking through the stained windows to finally see the field of unicorns beyond.

Once Linux is setup and you don't constantly upgrade and tinker with things, it's rock solid. I only have plans to move people to the system, but it is difficult knowing the dark depths of uncertainty the OS introduces newcomers too. It's a tough nut to swallow telling someone how great a thing is but you know it's like wrestling a bull to the ground.

Glad you stuck with it.

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The awesome things with your aesthetics problem with Linux is that you have a lot of control over how it looks. There isn't a standardized "go here to do X" between different Desktop Environments, but once you figure out where all of the menus are and how to adjust them it will become second nature to pop in to a fresh install and get everything set up the way you like it.

There are lots of ways to add things that will work across multiple DE's. You can add docks like Plank or Docky, create all kinds of different status displays and more with Conky, add new visual effects with Compiz, and plenty more. When I first started, I was on Mint Cinnamon edition and used Gconf/Dconf to go through and change stuff around. It kind of reminded me of the registry editor in Windows, but with very verbose descriptions of what things are, what they can or can't do, and the range of acceptable input values and how they affect things.

That's one of the best parts of Linux - getting real information that either tells you directly how something works, how to fix a problem, or what the general problem is so you can search it to find an answer. I seem to have very few 'not working, no clue why' problems in Linux because many things are well explained.

If you are interested in seeing not just what DE's look like unmodified, but what they can become, then there are a few places you can check out. YouTube has a bunch of people who do a lot of videos on theming and icons and other desktop modifications (Chris Were, Jeff Linux Turner are ones I follow). You could check out a list of DE's like The Arch Wiki Desktop Environment Page to see what is out there and do an image search or check out videos to see how they look and what people think of them and how they modify them. The Arch Wiki is one of the best sources for explanations of all things Linux, and is very useful for help in other distros besides Arch. has thousands of desktop themes, icon sets, wallpapers and more. There are a bunch of sites under their umbrella such as, and others, so you can do a search of themes for your specific distro.

One tip I figured out to help me remember terminal commands is to go through the command history. I occasionally open up a terminal and hit the up arrow. This will go through all of the commands you have previously entered. Trying to read a command on a web page when you have never used it is very dry and difficult to consume. Going through your history and remembering, "Oh yeah, I had problem X and had to do this to solve it" helps attach the command to a memory so you might remember it better, or remember enough to punch in a search engine and find answers. It can also help if you only remember roughly how long ago you did something so you can go back through the entered commands and find what you did.


I guess here's what I'm meaning about aesthetics;

Look at the taskbar. This is what I thought was so AWESOME about XP when it first came out. the taskbar was VASTLY DIFFERENT than it was in the previous release in Windows. This was exciting to me back in the day.

But now look at Ubuntu Mate:

It's like we've gone backwards. Everything else about Ubuntu Mate I like. But the UI is just.. flat. It's I guess got no flair. I don't mind the colors. It's much easier to look at. But again, the panels are just flat. there's no aesthetic to them.

I wish I could, I don't know... make them pop like the taskbar did in XP back in the day.

Im an openbox guy, so we dont have to deal with panels and stuff.

But doesnt themes change the way the panel looks? Or does it only apply to the window?

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IIRC you can use transparent pictures as a kind of a texture in the settings to make it look neat.

From the little bit of digging I've done, it only applies to the panel I think. I could be wrong.

EDIT: Not panel but windows.

That's just the default. You can change it. A main point of open source is to do what you want with it. Keep in mind that Mate is a lightweight DE that isn't going to be flashy or have a lot of eye candy out of the box.

I agree to an extent about the flat stuff. I read something once where a person argued that all icons and themes had gotten as good looking as they could, and that going flat with pastels was the best solution moving forward. I sure don't buy that notion. Unfortunately, almost all of the people I see on YouTube messing with themes and icons tend to lean towards flat and pastel which I just don't like.

You really should look into other DE's and themes and what others are doing. Instead of wiping your whole system, try a VM. VirtualBox works really well and for browsing through desktop environments and messing with menus and such, it really is easy. The best part is when you are done playing around with it and want to do your normal computer routine, you just close the VM and go back to your system. No installing a bunch of programs and adjusting all of the non-GUI related settings each and every time you want to try a new DE.

If you don't want to do that then run distros right off a USB stick and mess with settings in a live environment. If you bork the system you just reboot back into your familiar OS.

There are themes out there that directly mimic XP, Win 10, Mac, and more. If you don't like the way something looks, it is up to you to hunt down what you need and 'Make It Happen!" If you want a feel similar to XP then Cinnamon was pushed in that direction specifically to pick up people displaced by MS when they cut off support for XP. I was one of those people.

It isn't much to look at, but this is my HTPC with LXLE (Lubuntu respin) -

The bottom center panel auto-hides and has most of the programs I ever use so I can just hover and click to open stuff. Many panels allow transparency and you can find or make pictures as the panel background. The 'Start" menu icon is a picture that you can change to anything on many panels. I added the big bright power button next to it to save a few clicks if I need to run off somewhere. Or take Goalkeeper's suggestion and give up the panels all together.

It took me close to a year before I gave up on the horizontal panel and 'icon with descriptions' in the taskbar. It actually happened because a friend of mine gave me an Atom netbook with a 1024x600 screen and I needed every one of those 600 pixels to make the thing usable. I settled on this setup and it spread to every one of my computers. I didn't happen overnight, but once I found what worked for me I was glad I tried it.

I don't know why, but I liked the look of Unity, but it somehow was bogging my system down. And my system is no slouch. 6 core Phenom II, 16 gigs of ram, and a GTX 970. So I switched to Mate and no problems.

I sort of like the look of KDE, its not flat. Or at least it looks like it pops off the desktop, but I've only ever seen KDE panels in that god awful off white color. Or a flat black.

I'm not much of a software person to be able to change a lot, but if there was a tool, that let me totally customize stuff. That would be awesome. And I'm not meaning like, just change a color or two. I've actually got experience with Gimp and or Windows Paint, and some old version of Photoshop. I could make a killer looking panel, if I knew how to put my art on top of the panel and it not look like I just put a picture under a flat looking panel.

I love recommending Linux Deepin. Look into it and I think you will be pleasantly surprised.