Linux Mint LMDE, Gstreamer, and Drive /Data

This post is about Linux Mint LMDE, an upgrade problem (solved) with Gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad, and the addition of /Data drive during install to store music and other large files for easy access.

Not to many posts ago I am bragging up Open Suse 11. OpenSuse released an upgrade which means it was time for me to upgrade. I downloaded the new OpenSuse, did and install.  I understand Gnome and some distributions wish to make the desktop more Windows user friendly.  I appreciate the idea but not when it makes for more mousing and clicking. The new desktop is not to my taste. I found the newest Gnome desktop had me mousing all over the screen to run the programs I wanted to run. Ymmv of course.

I downloaded the newest Ubuntu, installed and did not care much for the Ubuntu desktop either,  I really did enjoy my OpenSuse experience. Other than the qwerky (for me anyway) install OpenSuse is a great distro.

It was time to distro hop again. I used to run Debian Linux, but Debian Stable while being rock solid runs a little behind the rest of the world in the software area. This is not a fault of Debian. It is just the way it is. I like Debian. Debian is fast, small, and agile. Unfortunately, as the Debian Version 6.0 review over at Distrowatch states: ” I’m of the opinion Debian isn’t one of the better Debian-based distributions.”

I had tried the Mint Linux  Debian Edition a while back, but it did not like my wireless card, or perhaps it was operator error, but I  was not able to get my wireless working. I thought I would give Linux Mint LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition) another try and downloaded the iso.

This time around, I used a simple partitioning scheme with one new addition. I made a swap, root, and home drives. I had read about using /Data for storing files and folders, so I also created a very large /Data drive.

The Linux Mint LMDE install was flawless. After reboot it was time to upgrade. I needed to update about 400 packages. After they downloaded and started to install, I received an error about Gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad. went to the Mint forum, and it seems a few Mint LMDE users have this same problem. I read the plugin is not critical, so I unmarked it for install and restarted the Upgrade Manager. After the upgrade and a reboot, I marked Gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad for upgrade in the Upgrade Manager and it installed without issue. I think I remember reading Gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad needed the kernel upgrade that had not occurred when it wanted to install.

The last bit of information to share is the addition of /Data drive. I read in passing that /Data can be used to store files and folders on. It is always a pain in a single user system to have a xxx gigabyte home and the install allows you xx gigs.

Creating a large /Data drive and a reasonable /Home directory solves this problem. All that is needed to be done after install is make user a member of  www-data group in Users and Groups. At first I was confused because even though I was part of www-data I could not write to the drive.

Turns out it was this users ignorance in progress. The drive /Data belongs to Root (/). What was not obvious to me was what changed when I assigned myself as part of group www-data. When I assigned myself to www-data, drive /Data was added onto /Home like magic, giving me the biggest /home directory possible. In my case I added over 400 gigabytes of storage space! Of course creating your own /Data drive will be dependant on how much space you can allot to your own /Data drive depending on how large your drive is and how much  hard drive space is needed for other uses.

One last thought. Debian does not require a reinstall as new releases arrive. Debian is always up to date whenever you update your system. There is never a need to reinstall Debian under normal circumstances. Also the software lag is not as large using Linux Mint LMDE as it uses Debian Testing repositories instead of stable.

That being said,  there is a possibility of borking your install, but with the Mint Upgrade Manager log, you can uninstall, and wait a week or so for the bug to get worked out. The Linux Mint Forums are also a great source for upgrading information, and of course other questions or problems you may encounter.





Suse 8.2 to Windows 7 to Open Suse 11.04

I have passed on my imac as painful as it was. I always had a love/hate relationship with my Mac. I love the way it is built. I love the way software works flawlessly. I love the no virus to worry about problem. Most of the software I used was either free or low cost.

I was however sold on the siren song of Windows 7 from using it on my laptop. Windows 7 is nice OS. Nothing to complain about, almost. Just some niggling stuff. Windows 7 complains about the lack of virus protection and I need to buy third party software to have virus protection. Yes, there is free anti virus, but that is not the point. Two included text editors without spell checking? File encryption built in, but turned off unless you have the most expensive version of Windows 7?

These shortcomings are not big things by themselves. They are greed driven things. They are small items that should either be included in Windows 7 when purchased as is. I am all for making a profit. If companies did not make a profit, none of us would have work to do for our money. Like it or not we need to work. But come on, having to pay some serious dollars for the privilege of having file encryption, and a spell checker? That goes beyond making a profit.

I tried hard to enjoy Windows 7. I like it on my laptop for the most part, but my laptop is only used occasionally, I use my desktop a lot more often. As much as I would like to use the space a desktop takes up for something else, a laptop without adding more hardware, does not a desktop make.

After a week it became apparent that life with Windows was only a more polished version of previous life with Windows. Nothing changed really since I left Windows behind some years back. Virus checking, defragment hard drives, wondering how downloads and web sites were giving away presents I did not want. My virus checker confirmed nothing really had changed in the Windows World except the cost of Virus Checking went way up.

I had enough, and it was time to go back to Linux. I tried my favorites, but seeing my desktop is recently off the shelf and 64 bit, my favorite Linux versions did not fit well with one piece or another of my desktop computer. After trying six or seven of my old standby Linux flavors, I went back to my Linux beginnings. Every 32 bit Linux distribution installation was generally happy after install except my LAN and Wireless card which would fail to work after a few minutes.

My first experience with Linux was an off the shelf computer store purchase for $42.00. For my $42.00 plus tax, I had a three Cd set and a Magazine. I had purchased Suse Linux 8.2 for my hard earned money. I never looked back from Linux, even though Suse 8.2 never made my favorites list.

Back then, as now Suse was/is a little confusing to install. Back then because I had no clue, this time around with Open Suse 11.4 because I had a empty one terabyte hard rive, and only wanted to use part of it for Linux OS.

I eventually came to terms with what the install process actually wanted rather than how I thought it should be done. and my Open Suse installation went smoothly. Almost anyone should be able to install Open Suse Linux. It may be daunting for a new user, or perhaps perplexing as it was for me, trying to install Open Suse on an empty hard drive, but there is a wealth of information on the Open Suse web site to ease anyone through the process.

My perspective has changed over the years. When I installed Suse 8.2 I did not appreciate how rigid the structure seemed to be. The mousing was to precise, I could not install any old program I wanted, and I had to learn how to do things the Suse way. Now some years and scores of Linux distributions later, I am typing this in LibreOffice running on Open Suse, Funny how all those original faults I thought I had with Suse Linux, I have now come to value.

There is not a lot to say about Open Suse, that has not been said already. It is a well made, well contained distribution, and if you have been a distro hopper like myself, you will appreciate the precision and care taken with Open Suse. I installed the KDE Desktop, but Gnome, LXDE, and perhaps other desktops are available.

There were a few things I wanted to change. Minor personal nits contained within KDE itself. I have never been a big KDE desktop fan. It is alright, but it is not my first choice for a desktop. I appreciate K3B, a few games, and the wallet, but after that I am indifferent to what KDE has to offer.

After I did not locate what I wanted in the repositories I did what I should have done in the first place. I went to the Open Suse home page and started looking for answers there. Of course everything I wanted to change, was there as other Open Suse users also want something different than the stock DVD. Within thirty minutes, I made all the changes I wanted.

I mentioned I am typing this post in LibreOffice Writer, and it is as snappy and more powerful than any text editor I may use. I have not used the other parts of LibreOffice, so I will leave them to others to write about.

There are numerous reviews about Open Suse, and the newest release is currently getting ready to replace the version I downloaded a few weeks ago. I understand from what I read, there is an upgrade path available for those that want it. I back up what is important to me, and now that I understand the Open Suse way of doing a Linux installation and upgrade or reinstall, either method will be painless.

Open Suse is one of the most popular Linux Distributions in the world. The days of needing everything about your hardware to do an installation have gone the way of my first Linux, Suse 8.2. If you have not found a Linux distribution that reaches and grabs you, you may want to give Open Suse a try. I am happy I decided to give Open Suse a visit.


Erase Hard Drive & Install PCLinuxOS LXDE 2011.06, My Notes

Erasing Hard Drive and Installing PCLinuxOS LXDE 2011.06, my install notes.

Following my warnings and comments are written instructions for installing PCLinuxOS LXDE 2011.06.

I am posting these notes for a friend to print, who until recently had never seen and only heard of something called Linux. He wants to install PCLinuxOS LXDE 2011.06 after trying out PCLinuxOS LXDE 2011.06 as a live CD, and ensuring everything works correctly. His Windows OS is corrupted and can not be salvaged. In short his old computer is a paper weight, and he has nothing to lose by trying to install PCLinuxOS LXDE 2011.06 on his old computer.

I wrote these instructions out as I completed an install on my laptop. Following these instructions will erase everything on your single hard drive, and if all goes well, install PCLinuxOS LXDE 2011.06 as the only operating system.

The only certainty, or guarantee my notes comes with is you can read the rest of the post. Trying to follow my notes may destroy your computer. Following my instructions may turn your computer into a non working paperweight, a recyclable object.

Important Key words: Erases Hard Drive, No Windows, No other Linux, No files, No Pictures, No Programs, No Important Files, Nothing On the Hard Drive Except PCLinuxOS.

These instructions assume (think about that word) you have an older off the shelf Vanilla PC or Laptop with nothing unique added to it. These instructions also assume you have hard wired internet access.

If you ruin your computer by following these instructions, lose your operating system, your files or data, I am not responsible.

If any of the above does not make sense stop reading here, and find help from a close by knowledgeable Linux user who can help you install Linux to your computer. These instructions are for a friend who has decided to try to install PCLinuxOS LXDE 2011.06 on his personal computer. Follow them at your own risk.

These instructions are not associated in any manner with the fine website PCLinuxOS, its software, or any of its related websites or activites. On PCLinuxOS website are installation instructions that have been verified and used thousands of times. I recommend you go there and follow them.

Once again, I am posting this for a friend who until recently had never seen and only heard of something called Linux. He wants to install PCLinuxOS LXDE 2011.06 after trying out PCLinuxOS LXDE 2011.06 as a Live CD, and ensuring everything works correctly. His Windows OS is corrupted and can not be salvaged. He has no programs or files on his computer which he still wants. In short his old computer is a paper weight, and he has nothing to lose by trying to install PCLinuxOS LXDE 2011.06 on his old computer.

If you are unsure about doing an install, please read everything over from the top.

You need to think if you choose to follow the notes below. Following my notes are from an install on one computer only, and have not been tested on any other computer. If something is not how I typed it out, there is no one to help you.

These instructions are only for installing PCLinuxOS LXDE 2011.06 as the only operating system, erasing everything on the hard drive in the process. These notes may or may not be complete.

Before you start the Install you will need: 

1. Password for the Admin (Root); 2. One User Name and Password for each person who will be using the computer including Root who will generally use the computer as a normal user unless doing administrative tasks.

1.  Insert Cd and boot off of the Live PCLinuxOS LXDE 2011.06 Cd.

2.  When PCLinuxOS menu comes up, arrow key down to the last option, Install PCLinuxOS and press.

3.  It will take some time while PCLinuxOS boots from the Cd. Eventually you will be asked to choose your keyboard layout.

Click on.

4.  A graphic with “PCLinuxOS” Installation Wizard will appear. Click on.

5.  A screen with, “Here is the content of your disk drive”, will appear. There should be four choices for installing “PCLinuxOS”, you want to click in the third radio button which reads, “Erase and use entire disk”. You only want this option because Windows is no longer usable. If this is not true, press cancel on the bottom left.

6.  Once you have clicked in the radio button which is followed by “Erase and use entire disk”, press the Next button.

7.  A screen will come up warning you that “PCLinuxOS” is going to install to your whole hard drive. This will erase everything on your hard drive from your selection the on last screen. Press “next” to continue.

8.  A new graphic with “Installing PCLinuxOS to your computer”, will appear with a bar below the graphic showing your the install progress. This portion will take anywhere from ten minutes to many minutes depending on the speed of your computer.

9.  When the install is almost completed, a screen will appear with the word *Bootloader on the top left. Below *Bootloader is *Main Options” with the sentence “Delay before booting default image” followed by the number 10. Click where the ten is and change the number to a 3.

10. Click.

11. The next screen will start with the letters, “Here are the entries…”. Click onon the bottom right.

11. A sentence, “Bootloader install in progress”, will appear. Be patient it will seem like nothing is happening. This step may a few minutes to complete. All you will see is an empty screen.

12. When the previous step completes, a screen with the sentence, “Please click finish, restart your computer, and remove the LiveCD media when prompted”. Press, the “Finish” button.

13. PCLinuxOS will shutdown and a screen will appear saying, “Restarting the system”. Once it is done the screen will turn black and an instruction, “Please pressonce the LiveCD is removed.” Your CD tray should pop open. Remove the CD and press.

14. The system will reboot again and the PCLinuxOS Splash screen will appear. There will be two options and the top option will be grayed, press.  This is the end of the physical install, now the setup portion will begin.

Setting up the system

1.  The system will start to reboot. The first screen to appear will ask for time zone, slide the slide up and choose Denver. Click on next.

2.  The computer is most likely set to local time which is the top option. Below is NTP Server, click in the box, Automatic time synchronization…. Click on the triangle to the left of North America. Click on, “All Servers”, then click on.

3.  Enter Roots password, twice and click on. Do nothing with “Authentication method”

4.  Enter the first User name using no capitol letters and no spaces. Press thekey. Enter the user’s password, press tab and enter it a second time. If they match, press “Next”.

5.  This screen is the Logon screen. Click on the user listed, enter the password, and press.

6. If you are using a wired internet connection, your internet should be connected.

Software update and install

7.  Click on the ‘Start’ button which is a Round button with “PC” in it. Highlight “Software Center” and then click on “Update Package Sources List”.

8.  If your Internet is connected click ‘Ok’. Two more screens will appear, click ‘OK’ for each one. The next screen will have the word “Repo: at the beginning. Linux is timing the software servers speed. This process may take a few minutes to complete.

Once it is complete, a new screen with, “Select you preferred repo…” will appear. Highlight the top entry and click ‘OK’.

Click okay for the next screen too. Two more screens will appear, click ‘OK’ and the click “Yes”.

You will be asked for the Root password, enter the Root password and click, ‘OK’.

9.  A new screen called ‘Synaptic’ will appear, this is the screen where you will download software from and add and remove programs through.

Click, ‘OK’ on the next screen.

10. On the top right of Synaptic is a red arrow and the word ‘Reload’ Click on ‘Reload’. Synaptic will update it data base from 14 different repositories. This will take a few seconds to complete. If Synaptic gives an error and says it could not retrieve all repositories, wait a few minutes and try again. This error happens rarely.

If there is no error, Synaptic will appear again.

11. Click on ‘Mark All Upgrades” which is next to ‘Reload’. Click on, ‘Mark’ on the screen that shows up.

12. Going to the top of Synaptic, there is a green arrow and the word, ‘Apply’. Click on Apply. A screen will appear asking you if you want to: ‘Apply the following changes?’ Click, ‘Apply’

Synaptic will now download and install all program updates. This may take anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour or more. If Synaptic reports any errors, it will ask if you “want to continue anyway?”. Click on no, and try later. If all goes well a screen will appear where all you need to do is click on ‘OK’

13. On the bottom left of Synaptic, there is a button named,”Sections”. Click on this button.

the left side of Synaptic will change to labels containing software that are part of that section. You can go through here and select software you want to install. Here is an example.

A. Go down to the section labeled, “Games/Other” and click on it. and click on the label,

B. On the right side of Synaptic games will be listed. Go down until you see, ‘gnome-games’. Click on box with a star in it in front of ‘gnome-games’.

Click on, ‘Mark for Installation’ and click again on the box that appears with ‘Mark’ on the bottom right of the box.

C. Repeat using the same steps you used with the choice called ‘gnome-games-extra-data’ which is below ‘gnome-games’.

D. The Green Arrow and Apply button are no longer grayed out and are waiting to be clicked on.

Synaptic will now download and install some more games. This may take anywhere from a few minutes to longer. If Synaptic reports any errors, it will ask if you “want to continue anyway?”. Click on no, and try later. If all goes well a screen will appear where all you need to do is click on ‘OK’

This is the process you will follow to add more programs or games.

When you exit this time only you will be asked if you want to remove the repository speed test files, click ok.

Adding more users:

1. Click on the icon on the bottom left with the screwdriver and wrench in it next to the Start (PC) button.

2. Enter Root password

3. You are now in the PCLinuxOS Control Center

4. Click on System in the middle of the choices on the left.

5. On the bottom left click on the icon, ‘Manage users on system’

6. Click on, ‘Add User’

7.  Enter User name using no capitol letters and no spaces. Press thekey. Enter the user’s password, press tab and enter it a second time. If they match, press “Ok”. Continue for all users.

8. When done click on the X on the top right.

Setting up the Firewall

1. With the internet connection on, do a one click on the icon Firewall Setup, wait a few seconds and enter Roots password.

There will be three screens, read and if you agree press, ‘OK’ on each one using the default settings. Click, ‘Ok’ all the way through the Shorewall needs to be installed screen. There will be a delay while it downloads and installs  the Shorewall program. Click ‘OK on last time.

Office Software

1. If you want a free Office Suite type software installed, click on LibreOffice Manager icon and follow instructions. This is a pretty slow install and will take up to an hour.

Localization Icon

This icon can be deleted, unless you want PCLinuxOS in a language other than English.

Firefox has links all set up to bring you to PCLinuxOS website, where there are free monthly PCLinuxOS magazines, manuals, and forums. Do not delete the links until you are comfortable using PCLinuxOS.


Portable and Temporary Cross Platform Note Taking


I was looking through my notes for the wireless network password at one of the centers I volunteer at, and could not find the correct scrap of a note in my traveling pile of notes. The way I find a needed note away from home is I pull out all my scraps and folded pieces of paper out of a shaving kit bag. I look through the pieces of paper until I find the scrap that has the password written on it. When away from home all my paper scraps and needed CD’s were kept in a shaving kit.

On my Mac I went through this process of consolidating my notes twice. The first notes collection was for large and stagnant writings I have collected over the years. The second notes  cleanup was to clean up the stacks of little pieces of paper laying on my desk. If you have a Mac you can read about my final choices for quick notes, perhaps one of them will work for you.

I selected these programs for notes rather than using paper scraps to write quick temporary notes with. My temporary notes are generally needed for few weeks, and then are no longer needed. The problem is paper scraps have two sides, so I usually have a note I want on one side, and an old note on the other.

Because Windows is what is, the numbers of software choices for notes is enormous. Note taking programs of all manner are available. Ranging from very simple sticky notes, to installing and using the world famous Wiki software that powers Wikipedia to track my notes with. A little overkill for my needs, but many serious writers and researchers are using these very powerful Wiki Software Programs to manage their extensive, detailed notes.

My situation is closer to yours. I want a smaller notes program. I want a workable notes program whether I am using Windows, Mac Os, or Linux, in three or more different physical locations on many different computers. I think I have found a solution that seems to work for me and perhaps will work for you too.

Many people are using internet based applications, or syncing their files through a website on the internet. These systems or applications are great for many users, and they are valuable for those users. Sometime the internet is not available, or we feel better having our notes stored locally.

On the public laptops I monitor, syncing software is a form of bloat ware. No one using the community computers has expressed any interest in collecting, keeping, or syncing data. Any software I install would become bloatware as the curious will click on the icon to see what it does. Keeping remote notes and data off the community laptops is a better option for healthy computers.

I prefer notes software that operates in Windows the same way Notational Velocity works on my Mac. Notational Velocity is a simple note taker that is url aware. Notational Velocity stays out of the way until I hit a key sequence to bring it out of waiting. I got on the net and searched for a Windows Notational Velocity type program. I ended up with these software options:

From there it is a toss up between the two programs. Both programs do a great job. On my Mac I use Notational Velocity. I chose Resoph Notes for my Windows Laptop. To be honest, I never made it further than Resoph Notes. Resoph Notes claimed to do everything I wanted a simple notes taking program to do. I installed Resoph Notes, and it does what it claims, so why complicate my choices?

The only problem left to be solved was how to accomplish reasonable note taking and saving on the community laptops where I volunteer. After looking at Wiki software I found three interesting possibilities. One is the original web page software, and the other two are children of the original. They each are editable web pages.  Web Pages they do not care what the operating system they are being used on.

The first program, and I use that term loosely because it really is not a program but a portable web page  named TiddlyWiki. TiddlyWiki is a pre-made web page that can either reside on your hard drive, or in my case on a thumb drive or memory stick. TiddlyWiki opens in your favorite browser, and you add non linear random notes, and daily journal entries.

I have limited experience with web page design, so I spent some time reading before I understood enough to realize how perfect TiddlyWiki is for portable notes. What makes TiddlyWiki or one of its siblings great is those notes I need where I volunteer are a small slice of all my notes. My portable notes only need to be about the laptops where I volunteer. I loaded TiddlyWiki to a thumb drive and I am all set.

While I was reading web pages for TiddlyWiki I found another portable web page named Wiki on a Stick (WoaS), a self acknowledged child of TiddlyWiki, and also Book on a Stick. Book on a Stick is a child of Wiki on a Stick and grandchild of TiddlyWiki. All three programs are the same, yet different. Depending on how you think and work, one will stand out from the others as your personal  favorite.

Using TiddlyWiki is really quite simple, though you may need to read some as I did to make it understandable. There are several links and a small manual available to get you started. Once you play around with them, any of the three Stick programs are easy to use and understand.

The first thing I did with TiddlyWiki was identify myself to the program/web page. Enter your name in the block and save it. Next I used the menu to create a Tiddler. A Tiddler is nothing more than a random piece of information with a name. There is also a Journal option which brings up a screen similar to a Tiddler but uses the date instead of having you provide a name.

For now, if you find temporary notes are a problem, you now have a couple of options that are easy to use, and in the case of the Web Page Wiki’s, they are also portable. All they need is a few minutes of periodic cleaning, deleting, and combining to keep all your notes under control.



Mepis 11 – Debian Done Right for an old PC

I used SimplyMepis when it first arrived n the Linux scene – back when I first learned enough about Linux to be able to Distro Hop. Distro Hopping is for those of us who for one reason or another always want to install and try another Linux Distribution. Mepis was never too much fun because it was always well built. With Mepis you install and start using it after minimum set up. The included software covers almost any need, and because of Mepis repositories, there is a plethora of general and unique software for every purpose imaginable.

I downloaded Mepis 11, a few weeks ago intending to install it on some faster laptops. Before I started the download I double checked the minimum requirements to ensure Mepis 11 would be a good fit. Here are the minimum requirements from the Mepis website for Mepis 11:

“For Mepis 11.0 we [recommend] at least the following:
•    Intel Pentium or equivalent including Xeon, AMD or AMD64 processor
•    A bootable DVD drive
•    4 GB available hard drive space
•    512 MB RAM”

I thought these were loose and generous requirements, and I had this little voice in the back of mind wondering if maybe Mepis stretched the requirements just a little? After all Mepis uses KDE Desktop which is not known for light resource use. Add that to the KDE-Centric programs that every KDE user loves to use, and I wondered once again if perhaps Mepis had not gotten around to updating their minimum requirements for a few or more releases.

I have my old Sony laptop with a Mobile Celeron processor, and 512 Megs of ram. I decided I would call Mepis on their minimum requirements. When I went to download Mepis, I was sure my hunch was correct. Mepis is not a small download. The Mepis 32 bit iso which I needed was 1.3 gigs on the mirror download index. I am used to distributions that load on a CD. Mepis was going to need a DVD. Fortunately my laptop has a DVD player. I was going to be able to call Mepis on their update miss after all.

The download was fast, and painless, as was making the DVD iso. Now came the test. I use and external mouse on my laptop which uses some of the memory. Mepis is a live DV, meaning you can try it by running off the DVD without making changes to your computer. If it works, and you like it, you can install it.

Everything was still painfully slow, as in thirty or more seconds to do anything, but Mepis was running, sort of. I decided I would complete an install to the hard drive just to see how badly Mepis would perform. One of the great things about Mepis installs, is Mepis has always gone out of their way, from very early Mepis releases ensuring the install process is as clear, and easy as possible. That has not changed over the years and releases. Mepis is still one of the easiest Linux Distributions to install. Except on my struggling laptop.

I booted off the DVD to run Mepis in Live mode. It was slow going, but eventually everything loaded and the DVD ground to a halt. It was very painful with the mouse attached. Nothing wanted to work and the DVD spun forever, it seemed just trying to move the curser. I called it quits and set the DVD aside. Then a few minutes later I removed my external mouse, and rebooted the Mepis DVD.

This time my old laptop booted Mepis, but when I hit the install icon everything spun and nothing seemed to happen. I stopped this attempt, and started a second thinking the DVD errored out. On the second install I was called away to attend another matter for a few minutes. When I came back, I was greeted by the install screen.

As I mentioned earlier, installing Mepis is as easy as it gets. Mepis holds your hand during the process as well as any software is able to. The install time for my old laptop was a little long, but that was no fault of Mepis, but rather my laptops very limited memory (512 megs). Eventually the install announced it was completed. I removed the DVD and rebooted.

Once Mepis was on the hard drive it was a totally different Mepis. Keeping in mind Mepis is running in limited memory on an old, slow, memory constrained laptop it runs surprisingly well. Not at the speed of VectorLinux, or Puppy, but considering my old hardware and the KDE Desktop, it moves right along. I have been happy enough with Mepis that it has lasted over two months on my laptop. For me and my distro hopping ways, that is a long time for any Linux to hang around.

I don’t mind the KDE desktop, and I love some KDE programs, but in general KDE is a heavy weight desktop suited for newer computers, except when Mepis sets it up. Mepis will happily chugs along in 512 megs of ram, and not much more than a Pentium cpu. Mepis will surely fly on a newer computer, laptop or not.

I recommend Mepis as a good solid all around Linux Distribution for any computer meeting those minimum requirements. Be aware that on older and slower hardware like mine, Mepis is not a speed demon with only the minimum requirements met, but neither does it crash or hang.

KDE and Windows desktops have a lot in common, and most of KDE setup is well thought out, and easy to modify to the way you like it. The Debian repositories which Mepis uses have everything almost any program for any user needs available for download and install. If like me, you are running older hardware, you may wish to be selective about what you want to do. If cpu speed and memory is not an issue, Mepis should suit you well and will be as fast as almost any Linux distribution.

Mepis Home Page

Official Mepis Community Forums

AntiX, a very light Mepis for very old computers



Recumbent Trikes – Bicycling for Bad Backs

After weeks of waiting my Recumbent Trike finally arrived! In two days and two rides, I put on a little over sixteen miles with no pain in my back, no shoulder or hand pain, no sore bottom, no pain anywhere! A Recumbent Trike is definitely a great choice for someone suffering with back pain. I think it is the reclined riding position that makes a difference. The seat is reclined  so most jarring from road conditions is absorbed differently from a two wheel bicycle.

I have a 2011 Catrike Trail. Catrike has been in the Recumbent Trike business for a while, and their trikes have an excellent reputation for quality and value. My Catrike Trail looks like the picture. The frame is handmade and the rest of my Catrke was hand assembled at Catrike Florida Company headquarters. Catrike is a success story being one of those few products that can claim, “Made in America”.

Riding a Recumbent Trike is a whole new experience from riding a bicycle. If you have ever ridden a go-kart or a kids Hot Wheel it is almost the same. Body english is important if you are going faster than an upcoming turn permits. Add a little gravel on the trail and get ready to slide a little. In two short rides I have found riding a Recumbent Trike is fun!

When I tired of peddling it did not matter, in a worst case all I would slow down gradually with no worries about balance and forward movement. I was able to talk on my cell phone, drink water, or put one hand across my midsection while riding on the bike path. My feet stayed on the pedals using pedal clips, and the reclined position is relaxing as I pedaled along.

Today, riding my few miles on a major bike path was interesting. There is some talk about Recumbent Trikes being slower than bicycles, and I think that is true to a point from my one hour observation ride. I was passed four times, and I passed four riders. That put me in about the middle of the pack speed wise. That was okay considering today was the fastest I have gone in quite a while anywhere outside of a car and only the second day of riding in over a year.

I averaged about ten miles per hour comfortably which was about the speed of most of my bicycle riding a few years back. With a Recumbent Trike wind resistance is cut way down, no worry about keeping your feet on the pedals, and no balancing and otherwise adjusting as you ride along.

Speed bumps and curbs which were a major concern for me due to what seems like very limited ground clearance of Recumbent Trikes, turned out to be a non-issue. The curb drop from my driveway,and multiple speed bumps on the street getting to the bike trail may as well not even of been there as I rolled right over all of them.

I also had concerns about metal pipe/posts placed across trail entrances to keep vehicles out and off of walking/biking trails. These too are not a problem. There is a few inches of extra space to get through the posts and on to the trial.

On to the differences if you are used to riding a two wheel bicycle. On a recumbent trike you are in a very relaxed position, almost as if you were sitting in a reclining chair. You are also sitting only a few inches from the ground. The view is quite different, and makes me think of what the world view is like for small children. You need to pay attention to where the rear wheel is in relation to the surface you are on. The front wheels seem to absorb road bumps much better than the rear wheel does.

My only major concern at the moment is rear vision. If you look at the picture on the handles you will see the trike in the pictures has twist shifters, Normally mirrors are mounted on top of the hand grips above the twist shifters. My Trike has Bar End shifters so that inch circle of real estate is used by the shifters. I am considering either those little glasses mirrors or a mod of some type. You Tube and the web are full of trike mods so maybe with a little research I will find something simple and effective for mirror mounts.

If I feel I need more shock absorption I can put on fatter tires which add cushioning. I can also add some padding on the seat, and adjust the seat recline to different positions depending on my mood.

Going down hills brings back that thrill from when I was a kid! Being so close to the ground and picking up a lot of speed due to low wind resistance adds a new level of fun to bicycling!

I am not sure at this point if I would take my Recumbent Trike out on the streets in heavy traffic. When I was riding my two wheel bicycle(s) regularly, I was hesitant to take them out in traffic most days too. I think the traffic question depends on rider, traffic, and specific situations.

I am something of a speed junky, and from what I read flat peddling on a Catrike Trail, top speed is between twenty and twenty-five miles per hour. I thought that was rather slow, and it may turn out it is. Fortunately like any two wheel bicycle there are modifications that can be made, mostly to the gearing. Recumbent Trikes have one more advantage over bicycles. The rear tire may be removed and a larger wheel and frame installed. Doing this increases top end but  the price is paid at the low end. If hills are not an issue a larger rear wheel may be a good option.

Lastly, and a big concern for many is price. Any Recumbent whether a Recumbent Trike or Recumbent Bicycle is more expensive than a comparable two wheel bicycle. In the case of Catrike and many recumbent trike or bicycle companies, Recumbent Trikes are made individually by hand. Hand made means more expensive than average because the building is completed one Trike at a time, to order..

For many Recumbent Trike Riders higher price meant going without for a time to be able to afford a recumbent. In my case, at the present it was worth it. My back is happy, I am happy to be riding again, and so far my Catrike is more fun than a two wheel bicycle, and better built than many bicycles on the market.

There are more expensive and less expensive Recumbent Trikes out there, depending on your wants and needs. The other brand I was seriously considering was Terra Trike. They make a quality product and have been in the business a long time. They are less of a hit in the wallet which makes them an attractive purchase. In many areas when comparing, I thought when it was a coin flip between the two companies Trikes.

I included these links if you may want to look further at Recumbent Trikes. I have no relationship with either company, other than satisfied customer.

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