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schwern (1528)

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Schwern can destroy CPAN at his whim.

Journal of schwern (1528)

Tuesday November 08, 2005
12:06 AM

I *unf* Ubuntu

[ #27508 ]

With my laptop out of action, I scraped together my old PC only to find the primary hard drive containing Windows and my root Debian partition had developed a sufficiently bad twitch that I had to junk it. Replacing it with a spare drive, I decided to give Ubuntu a try. Its Debian with sugar on top.


* It came on a single CD. Fedora needs THREE (or is it four?)
* It automagically discovered all my hardware and drives (the only exception was my Linksys wireless card, there's no Linux drivers for it. But as ndiswrapper is already in the kernel, adapting the Windows drivers was easy)
* It automagically configured X and sound flawlessly.
* Its still Debian under the hood which means excellent inter-program integration and smooth upgrades. For example, install a new graphical program and it instantly appears in your menus.
* Once the Ubuntu universe and multiverse repos are included there's 17,000 (!) packages available.
* The Ubuntu Wiki has answered my questions easily.
* It looks good, it makes me not hate the GUI. For the first time I'm actually using a graphical file browser on Linux.
* Setting up the network connection was trivial with a little GUI.

What really makes me UNF Ubuntu is this: I downloaded the Ubuntu LiveCD ISO so I'd have something to use in case I screw up the bootloader. Now I'm faced with the horror of burning a CD under Linux. I brace myself for the worst and look up the instructions on the wiki: 1) Find the ISO in the file browser. 2) Right-click and select "Write to Disk". That's it. Hell, that's easier than on my Mac.

Here's the minor bumps I've encountered so far.

* As mentioned, the wireless card gave me some trouble but its not really their fault as there's no Linux drivers. But as the kernel is precomipled with ndiswrapper I could use the Windows drivers.
* The included movie player, Totem, came with no useful codecs. It couldn't even play an mp3 or an mpeg even though it was the default player for them. Finding the codecs was not straightforward as they are not "totem" packages but "gsplayer". Both mplayer and vlc were available as packages and installed fine. Changing the default player was easy.
* There's hot buttons in the toolbar for Web, Mail and Help but not one for a terminal. Strikes me a little weird.
* I had to add the security, universe and multiverse repositories to the package manager. It wasn't a manual process, but its odd they were turned off by default.

This is possibly the smoothest Linux install yet. No fighting with the X configuration or sound drivers. The default GUI is pleasant and usable. The underlying distribution (Debian) is very robust. Support is well organized in the form of a wiki.

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  • While I agree with you that it's a tad irritating that some things are missing by default, I can see why they'd be missing:

    • The extra repositories are missing presumably because they aren't Ubuntu-supported software. By using these you have to take more responsibility for knowing what you're doing and looking after your computer, so it's good that people can't use them accidentally. By default users will only install software that Ubuntu know how to support.
    • The codecs are missing presumably because of
    • Yeah, that's what I figured, too. The fact that the problems were so minor is a compliment. But I like to look at UI issues with a very selfish eye. Particularly things associated with licensing issues, in an ideal world it should not impact on my end user experience. Alas.

      And to further compliment, I tried the most obvious thing to put a terminal button into the menu bar... I opened the applications menu and dragged the terminal icon into the menu. It worked!
  • I've always done perl development on my Windows XPO installs just so I could play all my games. my servers were also FreeBSd, and I had a FreeBSD partition on my laptop as well.

    Last month I went to the Ohio Linux Fest where they were handing out Ubuntu CDs like they were water. I've been running Ubuntu on my laptop ever since.

    The wireless stuff in Breezy is still a little flaky. A lot of people seem to be having problems with the verison of the madwifi drivers in the kernel...things like network not startin