Tryout out Linux on my 300€ laptop for the first time

I'll just say sorry right now as the formatting of this is extremely bad. I wrote this in LibreWord on my laptop while waiting for class to start..

Let me first give you my specs. I believe this is all you might want to ask for. It's nothing fancy just enough to watch some YouTube, movies and write stuff... like this...

CPU: Pentium N3530 2.53GHz
GPU: Intel HD
HDD: 500GB
Screen: 15.6” 1366x768

I haven't used Linux before (much; I have a RaspberryPi running RasPlex, which I have used as a torrent box for a bit before this with Deluge, PuTTy and VNC running.) and never had it as my primary OS on a desktop. I have only used Ubuntu through VMs or live USB. First off as I got this laptop I installed Windows 8.1, but it felt quite sluggish. I'll blame the slow 5400rpm HDD for that. My first thought was to install Ubuntu on it to speed things up. I installed 14.10.1 LTS version as it was the latest. Install went smooth and for the most part everything seemed okay, but I had some issues with it. I didn't really know what I'm doing, but I found Xubuntu somewhere and the WM seemed a bit nicer. Being a noob I am, I decided not to fuss about with WMs but rather just install the new OS on it, since that seemed like the easier option at the time and the installer did everything for me.
In no time I was running Xubuntu and it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for.

The first program I decided to install was WhatPulse, which is what I like to install on all my machines quite early on, so I can keep the statistics of how many keys I pressed and how many times I clicked. Also the network statistics are nice to have. I didn't really know what I'm doing, the terminal was something I didn't really know how to use; not even to extract the tar.gz files with it, although I have done this before with my RaspberryPi (to be fair I just copied everything from the guides I found around the internet). The WhatPulse website offered two installers, one which was Debian and one which was Ubuntu based. I downloaded the Ubuntu one and didn't really know what to do now. There was a readme file in there and it stated I need some additional files for it to work. I followed the online guide on their website, but it didn't seem to work as I couldn't install one of the packages with apt-get command. Then I found a guide online that said I need to actually install the debian package, which I did and then change some .sh files somewhere. It worked as it should and I managed to get WhatPulse working and it automatically opened on start-up; exactly what I wanted.

Next I found out a problem that is still bugging me. The Fn keys worked with all shortcuts, but brightness keys are switched around, so that left arrow key would increase the brightness and right arrow key would lower it. Also it goes to 0% brightness which makes it impossible to see anything if you press left arrow key too many times. I tried a few different fixing methods I found on the internet but none seemed to work, so I'm still looking for a fix as I'm writing this.

Now if I had possible a hardware bug, I have another one that is most likely software based. After logging out (or suspending) the login screen is black. I used to be able to log back in only by typing my password, but that doesn't work anymore for some reason. I tried a different WM (gnome) to see if maybe that would change anything, but looks like the login manager is not bound to WM so that didn't fix it.

Yet another annoying thing I found it that sometimes upon booting the machine, instead of actually booting it might give an error and go black screen with fan at 100% or I wouldn't even get an error. This would result in me having to take out the battery or cutting power. I haven't found a fix for this either and it's just probably hardware problem. After restarting it sometimes wouldn't work the second try either, but picking a different kernel to boot from it always worked so far.

I'm now in the process or trying to learn terminal stuff a bit more, I try to install all the things through sudo apt-get install option if possible. The biggest issue I had installing something was definitely Java, because the version I installed from god knows where was version 7 and for what I was trying to use it I was required to use version 8. Some googling after I added a repository and downloaded it from where ever the guide told me to.

I have also installed quake, which is a quake-like terminal. Instead of pressing Ctrl + Alt + T all I have to click to open the terminal is tilt key now. I tried setting it to launch as system boots, but the option in the program doesn't do anything. I still have to manually start it. I will need to find a way to add this to startup programs. The 'Session and Startup > Application Startup' seems like a good place to start with this. Actually I'll add it right now.... I have no clue what command to run, but adding a link to guake terminal seems to run command 'guake', so I'll try to add that to it and see if it runs the next time I boot up.

Running games actually isn't that hard it seems. I have installed Wine and PlayOnLinux, but I haven't tried those out yet. Before installing Steam, I actually tried pirated version of Torchlight II, which seemed to run quite badly on my system (yes, I have legit version of it on Steam...) Installing Steam was a breeze and I have about 48 games I could install, but most of them are too hard for my system to run. I tried Shadow Warrior and Super Hexagon, which both ran okay for the most part. I found out some weird tearing in Super Hexagon however.

Talking about games, this reminds me of another issue I'm having, which again is probably Acer's fault. The touchpad doesn't seem to work right as I can't properly drag and drop or right click, which is really annoying when I don't have my mouse near by. It's hard to explain exactly what's wrong, but basically the whole touchpad is a big button and only one finger seems to work at a time. This makes dragging slightly weird, as I'm used to press on lower left half and use another finger to drag files, now I have to go to whichever corner the file is and press there to drag. Right clicking is even more annoying as I have to be touching (not pressing, it doesn't work, it still acts as a left click) lower right portion of the touchpad, click somewhere on upper part of the touchpad and hope it won't automatically click the first menu option, then without stopping pressing down the touchpad click on what I want to. Sometimes the menu stays open so I can select what I want without click-dragging (did I make up a word here? Maybe) but letting go would most times click the first thing anyway.

I know I have been going on a lot about my issues that I'm having, but without knowing how to fix them, it will be some time before I actually manage to do that. Being used to windows and having used it for years, I know the Windows OS quite well and switching to Linux seems(ed?) a bit intimidating.

But what are my final thoughts on the system? Will I keep using it?

Yes, I will keep using Linux. The strongest point of it seems the whole open-source scene, which seems to be growing like crazy. The whole github thing seems to have a bunch of new things daily and it seems to me like most of them are written especially for Linux. Not all programs that I use on daily basis on Windows are available for Linux, most noticeable is the lack of good video editing programs, but I hope these will be pushed more towards Linux in the future. Having Handbrake and IFME is great and I really love the Linux renaming, which is miles ahead of Windows in every way. Now I need to use FileBot and other renaming tools much less if at all. [edit:] And files don't get locked even if in use! Oh my god, why the hell doesn't windows have this. How hard is this to implement?!?

OBS is also one of the programs I tend to use a lot and it seems to be working okay-ish on Linux, but the preview is still broken and it needs some more time to get to where Windows version is, but I think Linux will be a viable platform for most anyone soon. I would actually switch to it today on my primary machine, if I could use Adobe Suite (I use it a lot!) and to be able to play all the games I do.

I might be building a media server PC sometime soon and I will definitely use Linux on it with Plex Media Server. It might not be much, but one machine at a time and Linux will eventually rule the world! evil laugh.
Oh almost forgot to add that I love the xfce WM and the ability to change all the tray icons. These CPU and RAM monitors are great so I know exactly whats going on without having to open more windows.