Linux on the Desktop?

Bodhi

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My Windows 8 trial is about to expire and I'm all out of "resets" so I thought I'd take this opportunity to try out Linux on the Desktop again after a fairly successful experience on my Microserver.

I've been looking at distros and it looks to be a decision between Ubuntu and Linux Mint. Normally I'd just go for Ubuntu but the last time I used Unity it made the baby Jesus cry, but just wondering if anyone's running Desktop Linux and had any suggestions?

I'd like to keep the Windows way of working as much as possible which is what put me off Unity, but it still needs to look modern.

I'm also a bit unsure what the best music player to go for is? Would need to be able to play local content and stuff from my media server, and if it could sync stuff to my phone that would be ideal.
 

TdC

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I've been hearing "Elementary OS" being name-dropped. It's pretty but fairly new. Download elementary OS
other than that I don't use linuxes on a desktop.
 

Bodhi

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I will admit it does worry my slightly when one of the forum Linux gurus says he doesn't run it on the Desktop :(

Am I about to enter a world of pain and Google?
 

TdC

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I will admit it does worry my slightly when one of the forum Linux gurus says he doesn't run it on the Desktop :(

Am I about to enter a world of pain and Google?

heh, thanks. I'm certainly not as guru as I used to be. these days shit just has to work, and I really don't have time to sort things out via Google or whatever. that said, I don't use Linux on my desktops because I hated the Linux "desktop wars" back in the day. Once apon a time, I actually did run desktops and I was a supporter of uber minimal things like the BlackBox window manager. Note there is a difference between the X-Server, which is the thing that manages the protocol suite that lets your keyboard, mouse, graphics and other such inputs talk to each other, the Window manager, being the thing that tells the X-Server to draw the pretties on your screen and the Desktop Environment which is basically the collection of programs chosen by your OS builder to let you work in a graphical environment.

Anyway, I liked BlackBox because it basically didn't give you anything and you had to sort everything out yourself. I chose it over the bigger Environment offerings because there usually was something in there I disliked, and I really hate things that are engineered up to only work with the chosen programs bundled. E.g. if for example I disliked...um...a bundled graphical file manager and wanted to use another one -for example swap out something like Nautilus for Krusader- it would often look really naff and/or wouldn't work and/or I'd have to download and install gigs of libraries just for this one thing. Which made me unhappy. Anyhoo, my primary development environment is a non-desktop Linux VM running in a larger non-desktop Linux host. It has an X-Server installed so the graphical programs I do use I can client/server up and run on an X-Server running in my laptop while I sit on the couch in my living room rather than in my office :)

IF I were forced to choose a Desktop, I would choose a Debian clone like BunsenLabs Linux. This is basically Debian, which I have used for years now, with a pretty desktop provided by OpenBox, which is a lightweightish BlackBox derivative. I'm curious how ElementaryOS will pan out, but it's young and I'm old fashioned :)
 

MYstIC G

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Sick to anything Gnome based. Personally the new SUSE releases look good.
 

Bodhi

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Went with Kubuntu in the end, seems pretty good now I've got it up and running. Still can't get any official ATi Drivers to load for the GFX, but it's an old Integrated Solution and isn't part of Catalyst any more (same on Windows). I've found an old release I can use, but it isn't compatible with the version of XServe I'm using, so meh. I've got a Radeon 5850 I can use that is supported, once I get a proper size case I'll put it back in again.

Main issue I've found so far is that I have to use Firefox and Plex to listen to music, as VLC won't pick up my Plex Server (over DLNA) and Amorak doesn't support DLNA :/
 

TdC

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dunno about that chum. vlc should be able to see your dlna source. according to t'internets:

View -> Playlist -> Local Network -> Universal Plug'n'Play to get the DLNA devices on your network
 

Bodhi

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It should be able to, but for whatever reason it can see it but not access it. It's not a Linux issue either, as I had the same problem under Windows - Media Monkey would pick the DLNA Server up fine, VLC wasn't a fan.

In fact I've been having some odd results with DLNA - all devices on the network can pick up the Plex Server using the Plex Client, but my TV and PC have some issues. Anything on WiFi works first time, but anything wired seems to be a bit flaky - Plex Server is on wired as well.
 

Deebs

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It should be able to, but for whatever reason it can see it but not access it. It's not a Linux issue either, as I had the same problem under Windows - Media Monkey would pick the DLNA Server up fine, VLC wasn't a fan.

In fact I've been having some odd results with DLNA - all devices on the network can pick up the Plex Server using the Plex Client, but my TV and PC have some issues. Anything on WiFi works first time, but anything wired seems to be a bit flaky - Plex Server is on wired as well.
Any firewall/AV trying to be clever? On both the client and Plex Server?
 

Bodhi

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Any firewall/AV trying to be clever? On both the client and Plex Server?

All switched off as far as I can see - interestingly my TV could pick up the DLNA Server when it was running on my Windows 8 PC, no joy on the Ubuntu box :/
 

Deebs

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What you could do is this, get IP of client PC, go to Plex server and run tcpdump host <ip address of client PC> and then start VLC on client and see if you get any traffic hitting the Plex.

Also, what OS is Plex Server running on?
 

Bodhi

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Just to add to the fun, it's running on Ubuntu Server (14.04).

Weird thing is on the devices that don't like DLNA (TV and PC), the Plex application works fine and connects straight away (if a little slow). Fire up the DLNA Client however, can't see a thing.

Is it safe to assume DLNA and the Plex Client use similar ports?
 

Deebs

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on the plex server type
Code:
iptables -L {Enter}
netstat -ln {Enter}
Paste the output here.
 

Bodhi

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Will do later on this evening :)
 

Bodhi

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After the day I had yesterday I wasn't feeling like sitting in front of a PC, but will be checking later on. Just need the missus to stop watching COme Dine with Me so I can get access to the device in question :)
 

Bodhi

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So netstat gives me

bodhi@TheVault:~$ netstat -ln
Active Internet connections (only servers)
Proto Recv-Q Send-Q Local Address Foreign Address State
tcp 0 0 0.0.0.0:1854 0.0.0.0:* LISTEN
tcp 0 0 0.0.0.0:9091 0.0.0.0:* LISTEN
tcp 0 0 0.0.0.0:139 0.0.0.0:* LISTEN
tcp 0 0 0.0.0.0:10000 0.0.0.0:* LISTEN
tcp 0 0 0.0.0.0:32400 0.0.0.0:* LISTEN
tcp 0 0 127.0.0.1:52241 0.0.0.0:* LISTEN
tcp 0 0 127.0.0.1:32401 0.0.0.0:* LISTEN
tcp 0 0 0.0.0.0:32469 0.0.0.0:* LISTEN
tcp 0 0 0.0.0.0:51413 0.0.0.0:* LISTEN
tcp 0 0 0.0.0.0:22 0.0.0.0:* LISTEN
tcp 0 0 127.0.0.1:631 0.0.0.0:* LISTEN
tcp 0 0 0.0.0.0:445 0.0.0.0:* LISTEN
tcp6 0 0 :::139 :::* LISTEN
tcp6 0 0 :::51413 :::* LISTEN
tcp6 0 0 :::22 :::* LISTEN
tcp6 0 0 ::1:631 :::* LISTEN
tcp6 0 0 :::445 :::* LISTEN
udp 0 0 0.0.0.0:47518 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 192.168.0.20:35231 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 192.168.0.20:37342 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 0.0.0.0:631 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 0.0.0.0:9273 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 127.0.0.1:60630 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 0.0.0.0:5353 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 0.0.0.0:60890 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 0.0.0.0:32410 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 0.0.0.0:32412 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 0.0.0.0:32413 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 0.0.0.0:32414 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 0.0.0.0:10000 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 0.0.0.0:1900 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 127.0.0.1:40853 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 0.0.0.0:51106 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 0.0.0.0:68 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 0.0.0.0:47221 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 192.168.0.255:137 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 192.168.0.20:137 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 0.0.0.0:137 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 192.168.0.255:138 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 192.168.0.20:138 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 0.0.0.0:138 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 0.0.0.0:51413 0.0.0.0:*
udp 0 0 0.0.0.0:51506 0.0.0.0:*
udp6 0 0 :::35216 :::*
udp6 0 0 :::37565 :::*
udp6 0 0 :::5353 :::*
Active UNIX domain sockets (only servers)
Proto RefCnt Flags Type State I-Node Path
unix 2 [ ACC ] STREAM LISTENING 10751 /var/run/dbus/system_bus_socket
unix 2 [ ACC ] STREAM LISTENING 10787 /var/run/sdp
unix 2 [ ACC ] SEQPACKET LISTENING 10310 /run/udev/control
unix 2 [ ACC ] STREAM LISTENING 1006417 /var/run/samba/nmbd/unexpected
unix 2 [ ACC ] STREAM LISTENING 10845 /var/run/avahi-daemon/socket
unix 2 [ ACC ] STREAM LISTENING 9651 @/com/ubuntu/upstart
unix 2 [ ACC ] STREAM LISTENING 11205 /var/lib/samba/winbindd_privileged/pipe
unix 2 [ ACC ] STREAM LISTENING 13497 /var/run/acpid.socket
unix 2 [ ACC ] STREAM LISTENING 11203 /var/run/samba/winbindd/pipe
unix 2 [ ACC ] STREAM LISTENING 14037 /var/run/cups/cups.sock

Quite worryingly, the iptables command brings back a whole lot of not much.

target prot opt source destination

Chain FORWARD (policy ACCEPT)
target prot opt source destination

Chain OUTPUT (policy ACCEPT)
target prot opt source destination
 

Deebs

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Plex is certainly listening on most of the ports it needs to, some are missing but that could be due to some settings in the plex server itself, see here for more details : What network ports do I need to allow through my firewall?

The iptables output is simple saying that there are no rules and all traffic is being allowed both in and out.
 

TdC

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Tbh only things I can come up with is routing on the plex server being incorrect, eg wifi requests getting replied to over the wire, or somehow SELinux getting in the way. Can you type sestatus as root on your new desktop Bods?
 

Bodhi

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It says SE Linux is disabled on the Desktop, and not installed on the server.

I'm starting to wonder if it's DLNA Client specific, as VLC couldn't connect properly (or Windows Media Centre for that matter), but Media Monkey had no issues.

I've also noticed that my TV keeps the details of any previous Media Servers in memory, and there are quite a few now, so I wonder if its out of room. Off for more testing!
 

Bodhi

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TV won't pick up the Meeja Server on me phone either, looks like memory is full. Just resetting it now....
 

TdC

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Good luck chum. Glad you seem to be on a lead to a fix!
 

Bodhi

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Ah you bastard thing. Clear the memory of the Media Player on the TV, it picks Plex up straight away. Think we can call that fixed!

Anyway seeing as I'm going for some triple post dribble thought I'd update after a week of Kubuntu. Main thing is it's still installed, there's been no hasty retreat back to Windows as of yet. Only real issue has been the display drivers, which I'll happily blame AMD for - I appear to be one generation behind what they support on the newest version of Linux - you need an HD 5000 Series minimum and I'm on an HD 4200 :/ I'm going to get a new case soon as I can't fit a proper GFX card in my current box (reusing an old HTPC) then put my old 5850 back in, should sort that issue. Just means I have no hardware acceleration until then, but as I don;t play games on this, no biggie.

Other than that it's been reasonably plain sailing. I haven't found a Music Player as fully featured as Media Monkey (although am just installing Tomahawk which seems highly recommended), but the other equivalents seem pretty useable, and I'm getting much better results with Handbrake on Linux than I did with Windows.
 

Bodhi

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Thought I'd provide an update on this, my experiment with Kubuntu went so well that I am currently downloading the Windows 10 Evaluation to try that out instead. Linux on the desktop was nice and all, and there was a lot I like about KDE, unfortunately there were just too many issues to deal with for a good experience. Bearing in mind the last time I booted the desktop up was 3 weeks ago before I left for California, the issues from memory were:

- Bad graphics tearing on the desktop. Could probably be fixed by installing the correct drivers, but as my GFX card is from the generation before AMD support under Linux, that was going to be a ballache so I didn't bother.
- No decent music players. Couldn't find anything that played DLNA properly, so was using Plex in a browser - not my favourite solution as the sound quality wasn't great.
- Couldn't manage files on my phone properly. It would see all the contents fine, but as soon as I tried to copy a file over it failed, and left a 12Kb file fragment on the phone.
- The Office packages sucked big time
- Couldn't get work's VPN Solution - Network Connect to install properly. From what I can gather the issue for this lies with Juniper, but it's still some critical functionality that I need that doesn't work.

So thanks Desktop Linux, it was fun, but you still have far too many rough edges to put up with to make the good bits worthwhile. Linux on my home server is still running a treat and that won;t be changing, but the Desktop is going back to Doze. I'll maybe set up a Linux VM to tinker with in future, but for now, it's not really an option.
 

caLLous

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I absolutely adore Ubuntu Server as a server OS but there's just no way I'd switch my main PC from Windows to Linux. I just know Windows too well and it's just so supported and good at what it does, despite all of its annoyances.

FWIW, here's a summary of Linux graphics drivers:

Ql1dsZC.jpg
 

MYstIC G

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Thought I'd provide an update on this, my experiment with Kubuntu went so well that I am currently downloading the Windows 10 Evaluation to try that out instead. Linux on the desktop was nice and all, and there was a lot I like about KDE, unfortunately there were just too many issues to deal with for a good experience. Bearing in mind the last time I booted the desktop up was 3 weeks ago before I left for California, the issues from memory were:

- Bad graphics tearing on the desktop. Could probably be fixed by installing the correct drivers, but as my GFX card is from the generation before AMD support under Linux, that was going to be a ballache so I didn't bother.
- No decent music players. Couldn't find anything that played DLNA properly, so was using Plex in a browser - not my favourite solution as the sound quality wasn't great.
- Couldn't manage files on my phone properly. It would see all the contents fine, but as soon as I tried to copy a file over it failed, and left a 12Kb file fragment on the phone.
- The Office packages sucked big time
- Couldn't get work's VPN Solution - Network Connect to install properly. From what I can gather the issue for this lies with Juniper, but it's still some critical functionality that I need that doesn't work.

So thanks Desktop Linux, it was fun, but you still have far too many rough edges to put up with to make the good bits worthwhile. Linux on my home server is still running a treat and that won;t be changing, but the Desktop is going back to Doze. I'll maybe set up a Linux VM to tinker with in future, but for now, it's not really an option.
Give PC BSD a try ;)
 

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