Now I have used Linux, Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE), as my daily computer driver for about two-three weeks.It works fine!

I have returnedat least once to my previous daily driver, macOS on a macMini, to use a software that is not available for Linux. The software is FrontBook, a software to make photographic material from Crimson. I am not sure how I should do next time I need it, if the online version is good enough, if it may work with Crossover/Wine or if I will use macOS or Windows.

Last years I have had a strategy to switch over to softwares that are available on multiple platforms including Linux. It has been a long term strategy to make this walk to Linux possible and will of course also make it possible to return to macOS or Windows in case I want to. I favour free and open source software but I do not mind to use some non-open source softwares as well.

At the beginning of December was the Linux kernel 6.1.64-1 released. I installed it shortly after it was available in my LMDE Update manager. However, soon it was reported that that there might be an ext4 data corruption issue with the kernel. I had that kernel for about two days until a fix was released in a new kernel release. Ext4 is the file system I use, the most common for Linux operating systems. I am not aware that I have had any issue with data corruption on my computer.

LMDE has very many good softwares included in the installation. However, I need more and I have started to install them. I will talk about four I have installed so far.

I have installed Calibre e-book management (as deb from the repository). I have used Calibre also on macOS. From Calibre on my macMini I did an export, and now I imported the same file into Calibre on LMDE. It works. Calibre is a software to manage a library of eg books and articles in epub and pdf formats. In its database it is easy to manage metadata. Calibre stores a copy of the documents in its own library. Calibre is an excellent free and open source software.

Another excellent free and open software I really like is digiKam photo management software. I use it firstly for its catalog capabilities including face tags. But it also has photo editing, importing, exporting capabilities and more. I used Adobe Photoshop Elements (PSE) for many years. PSE is defintely not available for Linux, hard to see it ever will. I also got somewhat disappointed of the need to buy a new release when their geo-feature depending on a Google-connection stopped working due to a Google change. My by time older version of PSE also crashed quite often last years. It was a big job to get my meta data migrated. After trials, I managed relatively well via first importing to Lightroom. I wrote about the migration in length, in Swedish: Byta fotokatalogprogram till digiKam från Photoshop Elements och Lightroom Classic. The very "tired" and slow PSE catalog on my macOS became a fast digiKam catalog on macOS without crashes! I have used digiKam both on Linux and macOS and I was considering if I should import my old Linux settings, but decided I will do a fresh start. Data was migrated from my macOS to LMDE by the meta data in the photo files and/or the xmp sidecars, i e none of the data bases were exported - which would be difficult or impossible in my understanding. This way also made it possible for me to rearrange my photo folders structure. I installed digiKam as an AppImage from their web site. DigiKam has a very active and good support forum in form of an e-mail list. Not at least the main developers are very active in the support forum. Before you start to use digiKam, consider how your current tool manages metadata in databases, photo files and sidecars, and how you want digiKam to behave. For example I have, for time being, decided to use sidecars but instead of digiKams default file scheme *.*.xmp (eg photo1.jpg.xmp) I use the standard format *.xmp (eg photo1.xmp), which digiKam refer to be aligned with commercial softwares.

Next software I want to mention is the Joplin note-taking software. I have used it on various platforms for a couple of years. It is free and open source. I have set up sync with end-to-end encryption via Nextcloud. It was somewhat difficult to set up sync and E2E encryption first time, had to read the info, but not more complicated than I could do it. I think it may be easier now. Today it is also possible to buy a cloud sync from Joplin. Joplin works well for me, especially I like the desktop version. I use some basic markdown to support my writing and sometimes attachments. Joplin has many extensions available, one is a webclipper to save web pages. Like digiKam it comes to Linux as an appimage. But I install it differently by a bash script provided on their website. The script is used both for installation, check for udate and execute any upgrade.

Finally in this review over my activities on my new Linux LMDE daily driver is the chat tool WhatsApp from Meta. Several unofficial WhatsApp softwares are available in the LMDE/Debian repository. However, I am uncertain which of them if any I want to use. Instead I decided to install WhatsApp as a webapp. This means that I make the web application from WhatsApp to work as a "real" application by using Linux Mint Webapp manager. I needed to include navigation list, but now it works very well.

Henrik Hemrin

20 December 2023

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