Testing Linux (Ubuntu 9.04 - update: Ubuntu 10.04)

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Testing Linux (Ubuntu 9.04 - update: Ubuntu 10.04)

Post by NikonWeb »

For those interested, and as a reminder to myself:

With some spare time on my hands, I finally decided to test Linux - something I've planned to do for years. Not because I'm especially unhappy with Windows XP - simply because I like to play with computers (once in a while) and test new stuff.

Downloaded Ubuntu 9.04 from http://www.ubuntu.com and burnt the ISO image to a DVD. Booting from the DVD, I was able to test Linux without having to install anything (you get a choice if you want to install or simply run the entire operating system from the DVD). Having recently formatted my C-drive and reinstalled Windows and all my software from scratch, I didn't want to mess anything up.

Much to my surprise, everything worked immediately! I just inserted the DVD and rebooted. No questions, no extra steps neccessary. It just worked. When I reinstalled XP a while ago, I had to dig out old CDs and install a bunch of drivers before I could finally change the screen resolution and make the network card work properly. Using Ubutnu, everything just worked. No messing around with anything. Amazing!

I was also impressed to see that several must-have tools are preinstalled (i.e. part of the Ubuntu package). In all modesty, I consider myself an expert computer user, but I've never used Linux before - and was happy to discover that there was a very small learning curve. The most important thing for me was to figure out how to install new programs. Turned out to be very easy: Just select Applications > Add/remove from the main menu and the rest is more or less self explanatory (the list doesn't include everything available, but it's a good start).

Image

Managing and editing photos

One of the first things I did was to double click on a JPEG file. Opened in the Gnome image viewer. Right clicked to open in Gimp (which I tested years ago, but never liked). After a brief test, Gimp is apparently a lot better than it used to be, but it's still a far cry from Photoshop. No surprise, really. Unfortunately, it won't open Nikon RAW files.

Did a quick Google search, installed UFRaw (ufraw.sourceforge.net) - problem solved. Browsing and organizing your photos? Again, no problem. Just install the free digiKam application (http://www.digikam.org). Didn't work with these two programs long enough to say how good they are, but the first impression was pretty good.

(And remember, all this stuff is completely free!)

Ubuntu comes with a scanner program (XSane). The first time I ran it, it discovered my Nikon Coolscan, but it didn't work (apparently, it's possible to make some Nikon scanners work, but I didn't bother messing with it). Instead, I installed Vuescan, a relatively popular scanner program available for several different operating systems, including Ubuntu. Vuescan found the Coolscan and did what it's supposed to do. Again, I'm impressed. Under Windows XP, you need to install drivers and (sometimes) reboot a few times to make it work. Note: Unlike most of the Linux software you'll need, Vuescan is not free (a standard license is $39.95).

I'm writing this text in gedit, a nice, simple text editor that's included in the package. Reminds me of Textpad, my favourite Windows editor. The screen shots below were captured with the included screen capture utility (Applications > Accessories > Take Screenshot). The Evolution e-mail client looks like a usable piece of software, but unfortunately I couldn't import my old Eudora mail boxes. Too bad.

I also installed Wine, which allows you to run Windows programs from within Ubuntu. Tried a few programs, which seemed to run fine. Photoshop CS 4 didn't work (nothing happened), but there may be some special tricks or requirements I don't know about?

Another thing that didn't work was playing mp3 files. Apparently, mpeg support is not included because of licensing issues. Installed VCL Media player, which will play practically every media format (audio and video) you'll ever come across. There's also versions for Windows, Mac and several other operating systems, if you want to try it out. Highly recommended (the interface is kind of dull, but it's an amazing program).

Ok, that's about it. I haven't used Ubuntu long enough to say anything conclusive, but I must admit that I'm impressed. Imagine a free operating system with a great user interface (probably just as good as Windows or Mac), plenty of free high quality software and excellent support! Sounds too good to be true. And maybe it is..

Not being able to run Adobe Photoshop is a deal breaker for me. There are also other Windows programs I would miss. Some of them may run under Wine, but it's not the same. Ubuntu reminds me of a similar experience many years ago, when I tested IBM's OS/2 for a week or two. It was pretty good, it worked, but I kept asking myself - why bother? Ubuntu is probably just as good as Windows (many people will tell you it's much better), but since I already have all the Windows software I need - why should I bother?

For a second or third PC, being used for online browsing, e-mail and typical "office" type work, Ubuntu is probably everything you'll ever need.

And maybe we'll see a Linux version of Photoshop at some point? I wouldn't be surprised. Until then, I'll stick with the vintage Windows XP (from 2001).

A few screenshots:

UFRaw:

Image

DigiKam:

Image

Jarle - posted from Ubuntu 9.04 (using Firefox)
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Ubuntu 10.04

Post by NikonWeb »

For those interested, there's new Ubuntu version out. Feeling adventurous, I installed Ubuntu 10.04 on my main desktop PC today (alongside Windows XP). Previously, I've only tested the Live CD option, running Ubuntu from the boot CD.

Had some serious installation issues (blank screen), but found a solution:

http://www.ubuntugeek.com/how-to-fix-ub ... artup.html

Apparently a nVidia issue. I've included the above link in case someone else reading this experience the same frustrating problem.

Will try to manage without Windows for a few weeks and see how that works. So far, I've installed a couple of free RAW converters - UFRaw (which I've tried before) and RAW Therapee, which seems like a very capable program. Reminds me of RawShooter, which (unfortunately) was bought by Adobe in 2006.

Both programs - UFRaw and RAW Therapee - feels a little slower than Adobe Camera Raw which I'm usually using on Windows. On the other hand, they're no slower than Nikon Capture, which I haven't used in a long while.

I'd be interested to hear from other people using Ubuntu or other Linux systems as their main photo processing platform.

You can download Ubuntu for free at http://www.ubuntu.com

Jarle
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Re: Testing Linux (Ubuntu 9.04)

Post by nikonnl »

Thanks Jarle, for your experience report. I always wanted to test and/or use Linux as Windows is giving to many problems. At the moment my PC's and laptops are running under Windows XP. On some of them it is nearly impossible to remove Windows, format all HD's and reinstall any other OS. It's even worse; overhere you can't buy a laptop without an installed OS! I've just bought a new laptop with Windows 7 and I can't get it off. Even Killdisk doesn't work.
Now I have a few questions. Since I am webmaster of several websites I wonder if Macromedia Dreamweaver is working under Linux. Is Linux influencing htm-files? Photoshop I need as well, although I sometimes use a very old imaging program (Photostacker Pro), which does the basic adjustments very well (except RAW-files) and has a nice and simple stitch-feature. What about Nikon View? Since I make most pictures with my D1-series I need Nikon View 6.x.x . RAW-Pictures made with D2 and newer cameras can't be opened in View 6 but only in View NX (very annoying). Than there is Nikon Scan 4; does that work under Linux? I know Silverfast might be of help, but also under Linux?
A lot of questions (on a rainy Sunday), I know, but maybe interesting for other viewers as well.
Thanks in advance.
Regards,
Nico
D1/D1X/D1H/D2H/D2X etc.
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Re: Testing Linux (Ubuntu 9.04)

Post by NikonWeb »

Hi Nico,

I'm a novice Ubuntu/Linux user myself, but I'll try to answer your questions the best I can:

Windows programs on Linux

Apparently, it is possible to run both Dreamweaver and Photoshop on Ubuntu, but it requires some extra steps. To run Windows programs under Linux, you'll need Wine: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Wine

..or VirtualBox (haven't tried this myself): https://help.ubuntu.com/community/VirtualBox

Using Google, you'll find several how-to guides on how to install Photoshop and other programs. The process appears to be a little clumsy, but I haven't done this myself. Personally, I'd like to avoid running Windows programs under Ubuntu - ideally I think it's better to run native software (regardless of OS). Unfortunately, Photoshop is a must-have program, and this is one reason I'm running a dual boot setup, with both XP and Ubuntu on the same PC.

Scanning software

You can probably forget about Nikon Scan, but fortunately VueScan (http://www.hamrick.com) seems to work perfectly, at least with my old Coolscan IV-ED. I didn't like it much when I tried VueScan a year ago, but this time around I think it's pretty nice. I may even prefer it over Nikon Scan.

Nikon View, browsing (raw) images

You don't really need Nikon View in my opinion. There are several other file browsers/converters you can use. Right now, my favourite (on Ubuntu) is Raw Therapee: http://www.rawtherapee.com - which includes its own browser. Nice program, producing great results. As a bonus, it can also read and convert older Kodak DCS files: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=508

digiKam is a popular Linux photo management program, but I haven't had a chance to test it properly yet. At first, you'll need to scan your photo folder(s), which - on my system - it painstakingly slow (even on a relatively modest folder structure with approx. 3000 photos - a mix of JPEG and NEF files). Could be a deal breaker. Too bad, because it looks like a nice program: http://www.digikam.org/

For webmasters

HTML files are plain text, so it doesn't matter if you edit them on a PC, Mac or Linux system. I use Filezilla as my favourite FTP client on both Windows and Ubuntu, btw.

Installing Ubuntu

Shouldn't be too hard to get rid of Windows. In fact, I believe Ubuntu can take care of everything during the installation process (but you may want to set up a dual boot system first - or test the live CD option).

Performance

Still trying to figure this out. In some ways, Ubuntu appears to run faster and smoother than Windows XP on my oldish, no longer state-of-the-art desktop PC. But not always. File management operations, browsing and navigating files and folders, sometimes feels a little sluggish with Ubuntu - where XP is lightning fast. Perhaps because I'm still working on a Windows NTFS file system? No big deal - just an observation.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any further questions.

Jarle
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Re: Testing Linux (Ubuntu 9.04)

Post by nikonnl »

Thanks very much for your help Jarle!!
I will let you (and others) know what my experiences are with this Linux software. I first have to make backups etc. I don't think I will run two different OS on one PC. I am just hesitating whether all my software I am using since years, will run under Linux. I probably will keep one PC with Windows, just in case.
Thanks again and warmest regards,
Nico
D1/D1X/D1H/D2H/D2X etc.
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Re: Testing Linux (Ubuntu 9.04)

Post by NikonWeb »

nikonnl wrote:I am just hesitating whether all my software I am using since years, will run under Linux. I probably will keep one PC with Windows, just in case.
You're welcome!

As a starting point, you should be prepared to abandon your favourite Windows software and find new, similar Linux tools instead. So far, I'm only missing a few Windows programs - Photoshop being one of them (I'll probably try to run it under Ubuntu later, when I find some spare time).

Good luck!

Jarle
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Photoshop CS4 running on Win XP on Ubuntu 10.04

Post by NikonWeb »

Installed VirtualBox OSE (easy: Applications > Ubuntu Software Center > Search for VirtualBox and click Install button) which allows you to install and run other operating systems in their own virtual environment.

Having installed Windows XP (again - very easy), I then installed Photoshop CS4. In other words, I can now use Photoshop from within Ubuntu. Works perfectly so far:

Image
(This is a Kodak DCS720x photo opened in Photoshop CS4 running on Win XP via VirtualBox on Ubuntu - how cool is that?)

To be able to access your regular drives from within VirtualBox, you'll need to install the so called "Guest Additions". Again - it's pretty easy. Just open Devices > Install Guest Additions in the VirtualBox menu. More info here:

http://ubuntuforums.org/archive/index.p ... 37402.html

Jarle
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Re: Testing Linux (Ubuntu 9.04 - update: Ubuntu 10.04)

Post by RonaldSica »

nikonnnl wrote:Thanks very much for your help Jarle!!
I will let you (and others) know what my experiences are with this Linux software. I first have to make backups etc. I don't think I will run two different OS on one PC. I am just hesitating whether all my software I am using since years, will run under Linux. I probably will keep taking Testogen just in case.
Thanks again and warmest regards,
Nico
Thanks Webmaster. Wine looks quite complicated to install but I'm going to give it ago. Yours is one of the most helpful posts I've seen so far.
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