Living with Linux, Part Three (Finally, books!)

More Linux, I hear you cry? When are you going to get to the humorous, thoughtful, witty reviews of books? Well, I need some more Linux to get there.

Here’s how is works. I’m going to need Calibre, which is where my ebook library is stored. My calibre library is stored in my Dropbox. Actually, everything is stored in my Dropbox—my work files, my research stuff, my teaching stuff. Hence, getting my Dropbox up and running is next on the list.

Oh, and an update: it turns out that gedit (part of the standard Ubuntu installation) has nice LaTeX highlighting, which would have worked too. There is no immediate way to typeset files, so I’ll stick with TeXWorks for the time-being.

Dropbox is in the Ubuntu Software Centre, making life easier. Also nice is that the Dropbox website gives the command-line commands. (About seven thousand files sync’d later….!)

Calibre is in the USC, however “Canonical does not provide updates for Calibre”. As the packaged version is 0.8.38, and the latest stable is 0.8.66, I’ve decided to go with the manual install. Happily, there are instructions at the Calibre website. Copypasta’ing a line, and a script does its thing.

My Calibre library loaded fine, the interface looks the same as it did on Windows (that is, ugly but functional—sorry Calibre devs! It’s not really a criticism.) And the question now becomes, what next? That will be another blog post, I feel.

Update: my week with Linux-only didn’t really hold. It became too much of a hassle to take my laptop into work each day, so I went back to using my work PC with XP. However, I’ve been trying to keep the programmes that I use the same as what I use in Linux: Thunderbird, Firefox, TeXworks, some kind of JRE (though I suspect I’m using the Oracle version rather than the FOSS alternative), and that’s essentially it.

Living with Linux, Part the Second

Continuing from last time, I have a working Linux installation (Ubuntu 12.04), I have feet up on the coffee table, and I’m starting to work out what will be required to do my work tomorrow on this laptop. (The whole using Linux for everything includes work, and hence I need my laptop to be ready for this.)

As I write, Ubuntu Software Centre is downloading and installing TeXLive. There are apparently plenty of options to get a TeX-system up-and-running with Ubuntu. However, I wanted to just use the USC. No command-line, no compiling my own package, no arcane editing of host or .conf files or whatever else.

There is an interesting thing, however; the TeXLive system on the USC is the 2009 version. That’s seriously out-of-date. I’m curious as to whether this is going to be a problem or not. If it is, I suppose tomorrow will see me reading forums and help pages and goodness knows what else. There is a forum thread on the official Ubuntu forums, regarding this, a bug on the tracker, and a variety of ways that involve the command-line.

At this moment, Ubuntu Software Centre is telling me that TeXLive has been downloaded and installed, and … I have no idea what to do next. Searching for TeX, LaTeX, texlive (and a wide variety of capitalisations of those themes) in Dash Home shows nothing. How on Earth am I supposed to launch the programme now? Off to the internets, but surely there has to be an easier way to do this. I thought Ubuntu was supposed to be user-friendly.

Apparently it’s installed. If I write a small .tex file, navigate to it in the command-line, and type latex test.tex something happens, and then typing xdvi test opens it. There has to be a better way. (By the way, we’re at about forty minutes of internet-searching at this point. I’m rather annoyed.)

Alright, I’ve installed TeXworks, and apparently I can process standard .tex files.

That was ridiculously more complicated than it needed to be. Maybe I should help with documentation. If only I knew what I was doing, so I could write about in the documentation.

Next, getting the cloud happening. (I read a statistic today that more than half of Americans think that poor weather negatively affects cloud-computing. I’m sure that’s made up, but I want to believe. <cue the X-Files musics>.)

Living with Linux Part One

For a blog ostensibly about books, why am I writing about living with linux? (Should that be capitalised? Hmm…. Off to the internets! Apparently it is, as it’s trademarked. And it should be GNU/Linux, else Richard Stallman will get all worked up.) The reason that I’m living with Linux is because my laptop and Windows 7 decided to have something of an argument. Windows 7 went to sleep one night (it may have updated, I’m not sure), and wouldn’t wake up the next morning. Cue some tremendous annoyance, especially as I was due to leave town for five days shortly afterwards.

It wasn’t the RAM, the hard-disk was alive, as I loaded a live-boot virus scanning CD that was built on Linux, and managed to navigate the old file-system, and I couldn’t work out an obvious cause. The recovery partition didn’t work. So, I downloaded a legal .iso file for my version of Windows 7, as computer manufacturers have this annoying habit of not shipping with install discs! (See here, via PC-World) And it didn’t work. I tried a few other things, and finally grabbed the latest Ubuntu (definitely a proper noun) from (12.04 Precise Pangolin in a 32-bit flavour). Put it on the thumb drive, and the computer booted. My relief and happiness was tremendous. I bit the bullet, and told it to install the hard-disk, and I’d work it further from there. Slight issue that when the laptop required the thumb-drive to be plugged in to boot in Ubuntu, but I think that the bootloader was installed on the thumb-drive rather than the hard-disk. Simple fix by executing “sudo grub-install /dev/sda” (without the quote marks) in a terminal window.

So. I reached the point where I had to decide to reinstall Windows 7 again now that I had a working laptop. Or do I bite the bullet and go with Ubuntu? I’ve been a luke-warm fan of the FOSS movement for a while, but I’d never managed more than dipping my toes into the water. I have some Warty Warthog Ubuntu CDs kicking around, I installed Fedora on a desktop box in 2006 for a few days, my laptop still wants to boot into Linux Mint, but I’ve never really followed through. Microsoft Office drives me crazy, but SunOffice,, LibreOffice and GoogleDocs were just too buggy.

I’m going to make a serious go of it this time. I’m going to live with Linux for a week. For everything. Everything! Including actually starting this blog. This is a terribly roundabout way of saying that I’m writing about Linux because I need Linux to write about books.