Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Linux Thoughts

John B. Marine | 8/28/2019 09:14:00 AM | | |
Most of us either use Windows or Mac. Most mobile users use either Android or iOS. Some desktop users use Linux. After losing interest in developing for and using Android TV, my attention shifted to Linux. More importantly, trying to get the same kind of Android TV set top box experience but for another alternative PC experience. So I began looking at Linux and researching what all is possible with Linux. This blog post primarily looks at some of my earliest thoughts concerning possibly giving Linux a try.

Before I Begin...

I had no idea that Linux celebrated its birthday on August 26 or so. Linux's roots dates as far back as August 25, 1991. Through further research for this topic, I learned its roots go back even further- as in various AT&T employees back in 1969 coming up with the concept of Linux well before Linus Torvalds unveiled Linux to the world. Linux is NOT UNIX. So anyways... happy belated birthday, Linux! :D

Looking Into Linux

My latest story in my blog concerns getting into Linux. So let's set the mood here.

Linux Tux
^ from: (Wikipedia) - You know you are dealing with Linux when you see Tux, the penguin mascot of Linux.

Since about 1996, I have had more Microsoft Windows experience than using Apple or some other interface. I have used Windows a lot since using Windows 95 on my old Hewlett-Packard computer with 8 MB of RAM, a 75 MHz processor, and a 14.4 kbps dialup modem. I then started using Windows 98 on an eMachines computer that had about 32 MB of RAM, a 300-something MHz processor, and a 56K modem. Then came an HP computer with roughly 390 MB of RAM (before I upgraded it) using Windows XP. And today, I am on an Acer PC that had Windows 8 until I upgraded to Windows 10. Never have I consistently used any other operating system from any company other than Microsoft. I think I even used Windows Millennium Edition at my community college back in 2001 also, when I was taking some classes to help out my chances of graduating from High School. I have not had any kind of non-Microsoft interface that I regularly use besides Android on the mobile side.

Because of this, one would wonder why now would I look at something other than Microsoft Windows? Well, you know that some people have no problem going against the grain or being some kind of rebel. You are not monopolized into using Windows (or even Mac). So think of all the people who want to take an experience outside of the mainstream. Enter Linux. Installing and using Linux is a way to enjoy basic computing without having to worry about some of the different areas of concern when using something like Windows or Mac. The way people have made Linux work and the community supporting it is incredible to say the least. While Windows and Mac are better supported and vastly used, some prefer Linux for its capabilities and what it has to offer outside of its more popular counterparts. Some people even are compelled at what Linux has to offer that some people even put both Windows/Mac and Linux on the same PC and want to dual-boot between the two operating systems if they so choose. There are also those who will use Linux for things like KODI/XBMC.

Let me explain based on recent thoughts of mine...

The Fascination of Linux.

Allow me to set up why I am looking into Linux. This all ties into what I hope to do in the future, so read on...

I was fairly pleased when I bought a Google Nexus Player a few years ago. I was intrigued mostly about having an Android experience outside of my Android devices then. It was the kind of experience outside of using my portable media players as well as my OUYA Android gaming console. As much as I enjoyed the experience with the Nexus Player, I had a number of issues. For one, I thought it was disappointing not many mobile applications for Android could also be used on Android TV. Keep in mind- Android and Android TV are two different interfaces. You probably wouldn't be able to play most games or applications on Android TV as you could on an Android-powered smartphone or tablet PC. Also, the Nexus Player wasn't too keen on things like external memory or piling on different devices. Unless you had an OTG cable, you were out of luck adding more accessories or even memory to the Nexus Player. So this prompted me to look into other Android TV set top boxes.

After a while, I began to look into the Xiaomi Mi Box. Early on, I was disappointed completely when I ordered a Mi Box from Wal-Mart online with the box not having anything from the Mi Box and with crumpled up documentation. I took it back and then later ordered a Mi Box S that was recently unveiled at the time. This time, everything- including the hardware- was included. The Mi Box S was great for me because I could actually plug in some USB devices without needing an OTG cable. Months later, I noticed my Mi Box S having some display trouble. It would produce a blank screen, and I would have no choice but to unplug the Mi Box S and plug back in to see everything again. This began a point where I started thinking less and less of trying to enjoy a rarely-supported Android TV experience. I now started to think about some other options as having a media experience outside of Android TV set top boxes.

And therefore... enter Linux.

Fueling Fascination for Linux.

I do not have Linux experience prior to this blog post, but I have played some Linux-based games that was made available for Windows. Two such games are SuperTux and SuperTuxKart. SuperTux is like the premier Linux platform game similar to the Super Mario Bros. series. SuperTuxKart is a cartoon kart racing game more along the lines of modern Mario Kart games. Both games were Linux originals before they found their way outside of Linux. While I downloaded another Linux game called Trigger Rally, I have not installed it or used it on my W10 PC. I would be completely remiss if I failed to mention my music-making with Linus MultiMedia Studio (LMMS). The fact LMMS is free makes it great for producing music outside of a more popular program like FL Studio. Then too, you can use your material from FL Studio in LMMS for more music producing power. I was going to publish my blog post on Linux without mentioning LMMS, but I remembered it at almost the last moment.

Linux is free and open source (or FOSS in Internet lingo). It is an operating system that could be customized to any extent if you have the proper knowledge to do so. I have read builds of Linux could be installed even on older computers because Linux is so lightweight on resources. So if I could, I could take my previous HP computer and install a build of Linux on it. Funny enough, I even saw one website with an article on certain Linux distribution programs and some of the PC requirements to run certain versions of Linux. One of these distribution models (commonly called "distros") was so light that it required only 48 MB of RAM to run! It is then possible Linux can give new life to old PCs and laptops. Through my research, Linux along with certain Distros is like having Android with a certain system attached to it (kind of like Touchwiz on Android-powered Samsung devices, for example).

As an Android user, I learned Android is loosely based on Linux. So if you like to think of Android as putting Linux into every mobile device, then you could say Linux is everywhere! Android is still very much a proper mobile platform even from its Linux roots.

Next section features more information about my looking into Linux and what I hope I can accomplish in trying out something new.

My Linux Intentions

Let me go into detail in what I want to accomplish in possibly going into Linux.

Linux: Hardware Intentions.

I don't want an entirely new PC equipped with Linux. Instead, I am more about having a quality alternative PC experience much like when I've used Android TV set top boxes for a few years. I began looking up mini PCs already equipped with Linux. Most of these were kind of foreign PCs that you would likely find on sites like Alibaba or DHGate. A few of these mini PCs were even spotted by me on the likes of Amazon and eBay. I have my qualms to an extent regarding hardware I am not familiar with from companies I am familiar with.

Some set top boxes come with no RAM or no OS. These would be perfect to try to install Linux onto a Mini PC style system. However, it would mean spending a little extra money to basically complete an incomplete PC. More proper mini PCs usually start at a range of about $150 USD to almost $200 USD. For reference, my Acer desktop PC cost about $330 USD from a Wal-Mart. So would I want to have an experience that would overwhelm my main PC?

Some of those mini PCs can be attached to your modern HDTV with mounts on the back. I wonder how that is all going to work if I did go for one of those Mini PC units.

Linux: Software Intentions.

I mostly plan to look at Linux as an alternate PC experience as well as possible game development. I probably would want to look at this for watching videos and streams as well as chatting. I almost basically want to enjoy what I did with Android TV but in Linux. In addition to what I enjoyed about using an Android TV set top box, I think I could enjoy a few more freedoms about not having everything so Android or mobile exclusive on this other device.

The only thing I am a bit uncertain of is what Linux distribution I would want to use. I am looking at Ubuntu, but Mint also looks rather handsome.

Linux: "What If?" Situations?

What if my main PC stops working or if I want to get a new PC? What if my primary computing duties have to be fulfilled through Linux? Can I really live using a mini PC equipped with Linux? I am looking at Linux as a secondary computing platform; NOT a replacement. Then too, could it be possible I could have a better experience with a more capable mini PC that could have some better specifications than my main PC? I am looking at this in the sense of if I could run some programs better on a smaller PC. For example, what if I could run a game like Assetto Corsa on a mini PC better than I could with my main PC?

I am not willing to completely give up on Windows, so I am not going to that sort of extreme of being full Linux and never touch Windows again. I am mostly just looking at Linux as an OS to handle a mostly media-focused mini PC. I gave up on Android TV and want to go with something else. As for which Linux Distro, I may be looking at Ubuntu. Maybe Mint.

Final Thoughts to come...

Final Thoughts on Linux

It is amazing how an operating system like Linux can be so successful outside of the usual Windows or Mac crowd. While my plans are not to abandon (in my case) Windows forever, I do find intrigue and interest in Linux. I am still going to to need to familiarize myself with Linux for if and when I do decide to join the Linux ecosystem. I am fairly certain I can get a lot of Linux help and assistance if I look in all the right places and talk to the right people.

For More Information...

Do you want to install Linux on your PC or laptop? You may for more information, or you may look for various Linux distributions by going to Download Linux | You may also help support open-source ecosystems through Linux's initiative at

I guess I've said enough regarding Linux for someone possibly looking into using a Linux system in the future. I mentioned mini PCs a lot here also, which I may blog about in the future on "John's Blog Space" as well. Stay tuned for that if I do post something about any related topic here.

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