All of my music and my images are backed up onto a small NAS I have at home. Simple! I thought daftly. Mount the NAS, copy the files into My Music and carry on. Again, so very wrong. Copying a single folder works, trying to copy all of them at the same time doesn’t! This is very annoying! How would I go about mending this in Linux? 3 lines of bash, or… rsync!
Googling around, I found that windows has a command in the command prompt called robocopy (I’m on windows and forced onto a command prompt, go figure) The command seems to be “robocopy z:\ c:\Users\Matt\Music /MIR”, and this seems to be working!
Windows Media Player seemed to pick up all of my MP3 files relativley quickly, and found/retrieved the album art where it was missing as well. However, all of my Ogg files where not found and not playable. A quick google around for an ogg codec for windows finds vorbis.com and a codec for “DirectShow based players”. It seems to imply WMP is one of these, so I grab it, install it, and can play my Ogg files! Although it doesn’t show the total running time in the playlist like it does MP3s for some reason. Never mind!
The only other music I tend to listen too is from Spotify. A quick trip to their website to grab the Windows client, and that wors straight away. Nice and easy
Photo’s are a completley different kettle of fish. I have a total of 56.7GB of photos on my network storage. When I’m in Ubuntu I tend to only keep a smallish selection of these on the laptop. So for the purposes of this experiment, I’ll just import the ones from this year. At a mere 6.67GB, this should take about an hour off the slow network storage. I left this to copy, came back and tried to find some photo management software. Windows 7 seems to come with the “Windows Live Photo Gallery”, so trying to use the default software I fired this up. It asked me to sign in with my Windows Live ID (which I have courtesy of my XBox 360) and the quite quickly shows me all the photos I’ve just imported.Helpfully it also throws me a message saying it can’t open some file types (namely my Canon RAW files) and I need something called a “codec” to view them. It then takes me staright to the Canon download site for the raw codec. Quite handy. A 28MB download later and a reboot, all my pictures are now visable and viewable.
This seems to be just as usable as Shotwell, I can tag pictures, browse by dates, see the various metadata for each image, there is a small amount of editing possible. It feels a bit clunky though. Occasionally you can’t double click to preview a photo, you have to right click then go preview. Otherwise it seems more than capable for my mediocre photo managing tasks.
Tomorrow, I’ll attempt something a bit more taxing. I’ll try and get the printer working and have a look into application development in Windows.
To replicate a new users experience, I thought I’d start by restoring my laptop back to just having Windows 7, as factory default. Since Ubuntu takes about 10 minutes to install this should be easy, turns out this was a bit of a mistake.
Modern computers don’t tend to come with any recovery media, just a partition on the HDD to recover your system if it’s broken. Mine had a Utility to create some DVD’s to replicate this if there was an issue with the drive itself. Now the recovery partition on my laptop is apparently corrupt So I dug out my DVD’s I created when I received the machine, popped disk one into the drive to find that the DVD had perished sitting in the drawer for 14 months or so. “No worries!” thought I, Packard Bell support should be able to ship me some recovery media!
A 20 minute phone call later (at 10p a minute) and they offer to ship me the recovery media for the bargain basement price of just £51.16. Considering I could buy a new copy of Windows for £60 I wasn’t impressed at all and promptly told them so. After failing to justify the charge for software I already own, I gave up. About to consider the whole thing a waste of time, someone offered to loan me a Windows 7 OEM install DVD that I could just type my serial number into. The serial number would be on the sticker on the laptop, “Huzzah!” I thought.
But no, the sticker has in fact worn to the point it’s unreadable. Now completely stuck, I went to bed with the thought of giving up on the whole thing. If I was an average user I’d either have been stiffed for a charge of £51.16 now, given up and bought a new laptop, or just given up completely.
As I slept I had a dream…. many moons ago, when I created the recovery DVDs I vaguely remembered making ISO files of each one. Rummaging through my assorted boxes/drawers of old computer kit I found my old external hard drive (without the case, which had failed). Popped it into a USB SATA dock and found the ISO files. How a non-technical user is supposed to get through all this rubbish I have no idea.
DVD’s burnt, I popped them into the laptop. An hour and 2 dvd changes later, the system reboots to a “Starting Windows” screen, then reboots again. Another windows loading screen with “Preparing your system for first use” appears, then “Setup is checking video performance”. Then, a miracle happens! Something actually worked and I can setup a username, password, timezone, security settings and network. Windows goes away for a bit to “Finalize settings” , pops to a welcome splash with a symbol of a clock and “2 min” underneath it. 3 minutes later I’m presented with the chance to register my laptop (which I decline) and the chance to activate my free 60 day trial of Norton antivirus (which I decline). Then I have a desktop!
Since I told Windows to download important updates it goes away and does so immediately after the preinstalled rubbish passes. While it’s doing that I promptly remove Norton and start removing the preinstalled rubbish that Packard Bell decided to bundle with the machine. After loading the control panel, I’m immediately interrupted by “Launch Manager” installing something…. Apparently this is PB preloading more rubbish I probably don’t want or need. Best to wait for that to finish I think. Oop, and thats decided to reboot the machine for me. Good thing I did wait in the end. After that reboot, I set about removing all the packard bell rubbish, and Norton Antivirus. About half an hours work there to get it all off the machine, and in that time Windows has downloaded yet more updates. A reboot to install those and clear out the last of the preinstalled gumpf, and I have a clean Windows 7 install! Check the windows update status, 82 more updates to install. Button clicked, sit and wait. Another reboot, and I get a box asking me to choose my browser. I ask it for firefox and it goes away and downloads the setup program. I install firefox, just clicking next, then browse through to get AVG (the free virus scanner). Download and install and windows pops up telling me more updates are ready to install. Install those, reboot again, and I appear to have hit the last of them! Finally!
Now! All of my documents are in ODF format, so a quick trip to the Libre Office website and …. the machine hangs. HDD spinning, but UI unresponsive. Shall leave it a little while to see what happens. Oop, it reboots and tells me it’s not shut down normally. Let it boot backup normally and try again! It appears it was installing new updates again. Let it update and rebooted again. Install LibreOffice.
This time all is successful, and I have what I consider to be a useful desktop machine! Now to just use this now and see how things go.
Having recently read this article about a journalist trying to use Ubuntu for 30 days, and having seen similar articles in the past, I’ve decided on an experiment.
For the past …… many years I’ve used Linux (of various flavours) as my primary desktop OS. I’ve used Windows in the past for games and the like, but haven’t used it for anything else since Windows XP was new. Very ingrained in my mind these days is the “Linux way” of doing things. If something’s broken, try and fix it, help others fix issues they may not be able to resolve themselves and so on.
The experiment I propose is this, I intend to reverse the article quoted above. There are a few caveats on this however, I’m a slightly more advanced user than the chap writing that article, and have used Windows before (sometime in the past!). I’ll try and keep this more or less regularly updated with how things go with various productivity tasks and my day to day jobs. Hopefully the things I learn will be useful somewhere!