Boise Linux User Group January 2nd Meeting Notes

Another great meeting!  As announced, we focused in Linux versions that are focused on providing a Window's like experience for new Linux users.  We started at about 6:25 with Ed W. who had brought in a Desktop system that we was building for use as a Network Storage system (Network Accessible Storage or NAS).  It was recommended that he set up as a Samba or CIFS server as that is the common storage system that is easily accessible from Windows and Linux based devices. It should be noted for legal purposes that as used in this article, Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and other countries. Turning to our topic for the evening, Hugh S. was already familiar with Zorin, a very Windows like desktop that is Ubuntu Linux based and it ready to demonstrate to the group on his laptop.  He commented it that he had loaded it on a laptop for a friend of his that was moving from Windows and his previously non-linux user was very happy with Zorin.  Noteable in Zorin is the start menu structure that looks like Windows, even the catagories like accessories contained what you would expect to find on a regular Windows desktop.  Zorin is also a complete desktop with everything needed including LibreOffice, Chrome, Media players including playing those commercial DVDs including Blue-Ray. Zorin comes in a number of flavors, the free version, zorin-os-7.1-core-64 - 1.8 GB download, burn to DVD and the nominally priced Premium versions (Business, Gaming, Multimedia and Ultimate).  Hugh was showing the Ultimate version (a 3.7GB download, recommended that Firefox be used to download) and costs $13.95 US and download link takes you directly to Paypal where you can use a credit card or your paypal account.  Hugh also noted that he is moving all his Windows based servers to Linux due to high risk and infection rate of the CryptoLocker. CryptoLocker is a ransomware trojan which targets computers running Microsoft Windows and requires you to pay a ransom to get back your data or lose it!

The LinuxlFormat Christmas 2013 (LXF178) provided the foundation for our demonstration of Linux versions that provide an complete Windows out-of-the-box-experience (OBE) and Zorin was one of two top recommendations.  In 1st place was PinguyOS, also a Ubuntu based version, that weighs in at 2.6 GB and is free to download.  On the surface, as a LiveDVD which is what Clint demonstrated, it looks very good, however both Hugh and Clint attempted to install from the Magazine's DVD, three different systems, and it failed to install (installer failure).  We both downloaded it and had issues with installing the latest 13.10 version therefore, even though LinuxFormat rated #1, we can recommend it but who knows, you might give it a try.  Hugh tells me that he downloaded the 12.04 version and then did an inplace upgrade to 12.10 (Ubuntu versions of PinguyOS) but when he attempted to go to 13.10, video locked up.  He really likes Zorin and has loaded it on both his and his wife's laptops.  Clint is staying with NetRunner KDE as his desktop of choice as demonstrated at last months meeting.

Both Zorin and PinguyOS are available in 32 and 64 bit versions.

Also mentioned in the LinuxFormat article was Pear Linux which is target at migrating Mac Users to Linux with a similar look and feel as a Mac.  If you or a friend are Mac user, you might want to take a bite out of the pear instead of an apple.  You can download Pear OS 8 at download. Pear OS came in as 4th in the LinuxFormat article, mostly because it is a work in progress and support is minimal from Pear OS (they do have a blog and a forum on their website).  However, it is also built on Debian/Ubuntu but they have their own tools.  Also, available in 32 and 64 bit versions.

We then had a conversation on multi-boot USB drives where you can "boot" different flavors of liveCD's from a USB flash/thumb drive.  Hugh had more than a handful of USB devices so configured which he uses a lot in helping others with their systems. Hugh recommends using YUMI from Pendrive and can be found at the home page for YUMI.  As part of the conversation, Ed W. started up his "Desktop" system that doesn't have  a CD/DVD drive in it and he boots it from USB for installation purposes; Ed took a some time in demonstrating how to access the BIOS and the configuration options of the newer bios's that support not only legacy system but also UEFI boot loaders.

We also had a conversation on Home Directory encryption technologies and why you would do it, how it works.  Clint provided a short overview on LUKS (LinuxUnifiedKeySetup) which encrypts the underlying partition, making it in-accessible unless the system is booted  up properly and with the correct password.  Clint verified that LUKS Cryptsetup utilitity is available on Ubuntu.  LUKS encryption is a one way street, once a partition is encrypted, the only way to reuse that partion for something else is to delete the partition and recreate it.  Ubuntu supports home directory encryption as installation time. There is no performance downside to LUKS as once the encrypted partion is opened for use, it behaves just like a normal linux file system.

Finally, revisiting the request to move to a different meeting night, we hope to do that for our February meeting so look for  a different meeting date in February.  This will be a trial so that we can see how many come out for the meeting.