Thursday, 16 October 2008

Diary: 16th October 2008

My First Steps with Linux
I have not been having much luck in my first attempts to get to know Linux. There are a number of problems which together conspire to deter the newcomer to this Operating System:

1. There are just too many flavours of Linux to choose from, and there is no clear guidelines on which one to choose, or how to go about choosing, other rather reading the documentation of each and every one of them. If you ask in the #opensim irc channel 'which one?' you will likely get as many different answers as there are people in the channel.

2. Linux users (at least in the #opensim irc channel) tend to be developers, rather than pure users. Consequently they speak a language all of their own, which no newcomer can understand, even if they declare themselves to be newbies.

3. Some also like to try to convert users into developers. They abjure the use of binaries, and encourage you to compile and build your own OpenSim software, using terms such as 'svn', 'trunk' and 'bleeding edge', which may mean something to them, but means absolutely nothing to me.

4. Many also seem to have a strong dislike for any kind of Graphical User Interface, GUI, (which is what Windows and Macs use), and prefer you to get a flavour of Linux that has no GUI and instead you need to learn the command-line usage, with all of its syntax and switches to remember, reminiscent of the old DOS.

So, I need to make it completely clear, I am not a developer, nor do I wish to be. I want to be a user, nothing more. My raison d'etre is the social interaction within my Opensim. In order to experience that I must engage in some designing, building, scripting, animating, texturing, which I enjoy, but are secondary to the primary reason. As far as the software itself is concerned I have no interest at all (except to report bugs, or wish lists). The only interest I have in which Operating System to use lies only the fact that if I choose one over another I will save money and have a faster system.

Now, having said that, let me be equally clear on what my requirements are:

I want my Opensim to be hosted on a dedicated server, so I can have it available 24/7, and my friends can visit without being lagged to death. It is noticeable that servers are much cheaper when the default Operating System on them is Linux (no license fee), rather than Windows (which requires a license fee). I am also told that Linux is much faster than Windows, as it has much less overhead (fewer processes going on in the background), and thus takes up far less valuable resources, such as CPU time and RAM.

However, I do not want to learn Linux from scratch (for the reasons stated above), I just simply want to get up and running as quickly as possible, to enjoy my Opensim, and be reasonably confident of knowing what to do if a problem should occur.

Therefore, I would like to take a server service that uses Linux, to save me money, but with a Windows-like GUI, such as Kubuntu or Knoppix, so I am not outside of my comfort zone.

Having decided that, I now need to know how to load OpenSim onto a Linux server. With Windows I know what to do, I go to the OSGrid website, download the latest binary and unzip it, edit the OpenSim.ini file, double-click the OpenSim.32BitLaunch.exe file, and I am up and running. I want to do the same with Linux, so how is that done?

Does anyone compile the OpenSim software and provide a binary for Linux users, in the same way as binaries are provided for Windows users? I shall investigate, and report my findings.