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Ubuntu Linux on the laptop

December 29, 2008

You may not have gotten up this morning wondering; “What is Linux up to these days?”  But while we weren’t looking, it began seriously kicking windows’ ass.  Or at least Windows XP; my laptop doesn’t meet the minimum requirements for Vista.

My laptop is a tiny, tough little Lenovo X40, designed to run XP and survive hard use.  And it has done both: for almost four years it’s been bouncing around in my backpack as I bike all over Normal.  But a few months ago Windows began to drag so I erased the hard drive and reloaded it.  For a while, it ran OK, or so I thought.

That was because I didn’t have anything to compare it to.  Recently I installed Ubuntu Linux on it – the same OS that works so well on my desktop machine at home.  But the desktop has a dual-core processor, and my old laptop is just a P4 Centrino with 1.5 gigs of ram.  I set it up with a dual-boot configuration so it will run either Ubuntu or Windows depending what I’m working on.

Here’s what happened: when I run Ubuntu, the old laptop is lively – it does what I tell it to do, right away and without complaint.  But there is an unexpected side-effect: lately when I boot into Windows I find myself getting frustrated.  Another hourglass!  What is it doing?  Oh crap, it’s frozen again!  Arrrgh!

Not everyone has this experience – Les Jenkins over at SEB has had poor luck with Ubuntu, so your mileage may vary.  But he may be running different applications.  And Windows handles multimedia more smoothly than Ubuntu (and less smoothly than a Mac, from what I’ve seen.)

There certainly was a learning curve.  And there are still a lot of things I know how to do in Windows (system and network administration, mostly) that I don’t know how to do in Linux.  There are some applications for which I have not found perfect Linux equivalents.  My Linux wish list includes: Linux-native versions of XnView, Notepad++, and Picasa.

On the other hand, you don’t have to use the current incarnation of Open Office before you start to find Microsoft Office annoying.  Kinda like Linux and Windows.

Have you used Ubuntu?  What was your experience?  What’s on your wish list?

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. December 29, 2008 at 12:44 | #1

    I use FreeNAS currently. It’s not Linux, but a flavor of FreeBSD which is a Unix distro. Basically what FreeNAS does is allow you to take an old system and turn it into a NAS (Network Attached Storage). FreeNAS is an entire OS on a CD. When installed it takes up about 32mb and after configuring the NIC, which is done via a wizard that walks you through the steps, you can administer it via a web GUI interface. Configuring FreeNAS is simple if you follow the setup guide on the website.

    I also use Ubuntu 8.10 64bit at home for playing around. I think I am going to install Ubuntu though and then run my VMs inside Ubuntu instead of running them inside Vista.

  2. Lucas
    December 29, 2008 at 17:53 | #2

    I haven’t used Notepad++, but I really like gedit.  It’s Ubuntu’s default editor: Applications->Accessories->Text Editor, or you can type “gedit filename.exn &” at the prompt. 

    It has syntax highlighting for just about every programming and markup language.  It’s fast, small, and pretty customizable.

    I’ve found Ubuntu’s media support to be awful, borderline unusable.  I really like how easy it is to install and use mathematical applications, programming support.  And the games that are available for Ubuntu are a lot of fun (but I’m a weirdo who has only enjoyed about 3 games post SNES).  Openoffice crashes every time I open it, but I don’t really want to use it for anything.  It’s definitely faster than Windows XP on the same laptop.  For most people I think Windows or OS X are much better options, but it has gotten dramatically better since I first played with Linux in the late 1990’s.

  3. December 30, 2008 at 07:55 | #3

    The closest I have gotten is loading open office on my mom’s machine. GRIN.  I have a machine that is marked for linux of some type… but still need a monitor for it.  Happy New Year and Merry Christmas.

  4. Settepunti
    December 30, 2008 at 12:38 | #4

    Actually Google provides Picasa for linux, and it is pretty easy to install

  5. December 30, 2008 at 13:16 | #5

    I’ve been on Linux for a few years now and I cannot imagine going back; when I have to reinstall XP machines at work every few weeks I keep pushing to move to Linux, but not yet.  No one seems to believe me that its *that much better* or they’re not willing to spend the one-time learning curve, rather they’d fight the daily minor frustrations.  Oh well, I keep trying.

    I am on Debian Testing nowadays, after too many issues with Kubuntu (and I dislike Gnome so I avoid Ubuntu).  Multimedia support seems, to me, rock solid.

  6. harman
    January 8, 2009 at 22:06 | #6

    Learn to use vim =) You will be happy once you have.

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