Today has been a lot more productive. The development environment I set up yesterday is working very well. Having Apache, MySql and PHP on a Linux computer is about as close as you can get to your web hosting environment. I spend the early part of today using “Blue Fish” to finish my layout. All I am really doing is creating a template that will be used by my PHP script.
When ever I am working with PHP and a layout I always create a full template then split it out into header and footer files. Many people simply think the header is what is displayed at the top and footer is what is displayed at the bottom. If you have a template and know where your content will go simply use everything in HTML above the content as header and everything below the content as footer. Its a quick and simple way to use a layout with PHP.
Bluefish is a nice editor, if you already have a fairly good understanding of HTML/CSS. This may pose a bit of a problem to newbies, but I think if anything it gives you a lot more potential to learn. In a Windows environment there are a lot of good WYSIWYG editors. They help with productivity, but they also hinder your learning experience. As you point and click do you really know whats going on behind the scenes? I know any good developer will check code view and carry out any fixes, but if you where learning to design pages, what will keep you right?
With blue Fish there is no point and click. If you want it to do something you have to create the code. The editor does help you by streamlining the process, but at the end of the day you are learning to use REAL CODE. I already feel as if I am getting out of some bad habits.
One small annoyance I discovered in Blue Fish is the preview in browser button doesn't work. To be honest this isn't much of an issue. All you need to do is start your browser and go to localhost. Every time you make a save and want to view your changes simple click refresh on the browser.
For part of the layout I needed to create a simple logo. For this I was able to use “The Gimp” To be honest when you are inside the Gimp's UI you could easily forget you are not using a Windows based machine.
I have always been the type of person who enjoys a fairly minimalistic interface, but I have to admit I do like the 3D desktop effects that are available through Gnome or KDE. If you're anything like me you will probably have about a dozen applications open at a time, and sometimes this can get a little bit confusing. I have been “playing” around with Compiz fusion and I have to say I am impressed. It has to be said a lot of these type of interfaces are designed to be eye candy, and may not be embraced by the power user, but having the ability to simple view all your desktops in a 3D environment and pan around to what you want is in my opinion a great tool.
On my laptop install the usability of Compiz is very limited due to the systems hardware, on my main machine it runs very well. You can view all your desktop work spaces in a cube or sphere view and use the mouse to navigate to the desktop you want to use. You can also use a 3D flip effect to sort through open applications/documents. You can take it a stage further by setting a sky dome as your 3D background, but for me I just like the “basic” ability to treat my four virtual desktops as one large 3D desktop.
This is something that cant be stressed enough. Linux is just like any other system. If your hard disk goes the chances are you have lost your data. To be honest there isn't a lot that I need to backup yet, so I have simple make a copy of my Public_html folder do flash media. This is a very simple process, it is almost the same procedure you would use within a Windows environment. Plug in your flash drive, when it is connected the OS will detect it and alert you to the new drive that has been mounted.
You can then access the drive using a file explorer. The default file explorer that runs from KDE is “Dolphin” it is actually very user friendly, and simple to use. Anyone who has used Windows Explorer will have no problems using Dolphin.
So far I have had no problems connecting devices to my system. My flash media was detected by the system as was my memory card reader.
I did however have a bit of a brain failure late on last night and wrongly blamed the OS for my own stupidity. :)
I was trying to play a DVD and for some reason my DVD drive wasn't being mounted. I spent about an hour debugging this issue before realizing my DVD rom was SATA and I had not enabled SATA/ATA within my bios. Once this was connected the drive was recognized right away by the OS.
Playing DVD media
Anyone who has used Linux in the past will probably have experienced problems playing DVD's. A DVD will play with no system modifications required if it is not encrypted, but lets face it all commercial DVD's are encrypted to limit the issue of piracy and to restrict the devices that can play the media.
In the latest Ubuntu build the same problems exist but there is however a very simple workaround. Simple open a console and run the following
$ sudo apt-get install libdvdcss2 && sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/./install-css.sh
You will be asked for your user password unless you are already logged in as su
Once you have done this you may need to restart your system, but you should now be able to play commercial DVD's. Many people will probably wonder, “Why doesn't this just work, it does with Windows?” This is a very good question. The answer comes down to the price you have paid for your OS. With Microsoft Windows you will have support for most media out of the box, because you have paid for it when you licensed your copy of Windows. Most Linux distributors are simply not allowed to freely ship the software required to enable instant support for DVD and other media types.
There is a packages called “Ubuntu restricted extras” and “Kubuntu restricted extras” within the Ubuntu software manager. When you install these you will get immediate support for a wide range of media formats such as Mp3 and flash.
I have to admit I am quite a keen gamer on my Windows machine, and to be honest my games are the only thing I am missing. I am a long time fan of Microsoft Flight Simulator, have been since 2000. If only that would run under Wine hehe
So far happy!