Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My Ubuntu Chronicles Thus Far

For Christmas, I got an Acer Aspire One (D250) netbook, and took over most of the hard drive with Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR), leaving just 25 gb to Windows XP in case of Windows-only software or catastrophic Linux failure. This is my first time using Linux, so I was hoping for an easy time of it. I have experienced a few highly annoying problems, yet despite that, I find I prefer it to Windows by a wide margin. Not that it takes much, as I've been primarily a Mac girl since 2007. Unix and I just get along (serious props to Bill Joy).

So. Problems:
  • -When I was first attempting to install UNR via Live USB (as this netbook has no optical drive), it absolutely would not work. "Help" and "default" gave me command lines into which I could not type, and no error messages, even when I tried re-downloading the ISO in case it was corrupted. I finally tried hitting tab for more options, since that was about all I hadn't tried, and it brought up a command line into which I could type. The H in "Help" looked highlighted, so I thought I'd try typing that into the command line. Suddenly, it went into boot mode and I was able to install Linux. This should not have worked and makes no sense to me. God smiled upon my computer that day.
  • -Then I couldn't get my wireless to work. It worked in XP, so I knew my hardware wasn't broken. I tried different drivers, this and that, using Synaptic Package Manager to update everything imaginable, until eventually, in Hardware Drivers, a new driver mysteriously showed up, which I tried, and it worked. Go figure.
  • -Now, UNR works flawlessly, except that it doesn't always feel like booting. If it doesn't boot right away, I get a little blinking hyphen and I can't type anything, so I just reboot or shut down/start again with the power button, and eventually I can get it to boot. I don't have this problem with XP, so it must be Linux-specific. It may be related to whether it's hot or cold. I have no idea. I am willing to take suggestions, by the way--this is UNR Karmic Koala. Judging by the solutions to my last two problems, this one probably will be solved by a ridiculous stroke of random.
  • -Ubuntu Software Center has just put the entire world at my fingertips and most, if not all, of the available programs appear to be free. I haven't installed any yet but I am in love with the possibilities. I can do anything. Thank you, Linux community.
  • -The version of Firefox it came with seems to have a European spell-checker. It gets sad when I use "honor" instead of "honour" or "center" instead of "centre." OpenOffice and gedit, however, recognize the American versions and not the British versions. Fascinating.
  • -The interface is extremely intuitive. I haven't gotten hopelessly lost yet.
  • -I wasn't expecting it to come with as many games as it does. Fantastic time-wasters, those. Fortunately, I think I will be able to avoid them quite well. I am looking forward to trying out the chess program, to see if I like it as much as the Mac one. I'm no chess guru (I'm actually painfully bad at it), but I go through occasional spells where I think I want to get good at it, and those chess programs are great for practicing with something that can't think poorly of me.
  • -The battery life on this seems to be absolutely insane. I can't help but wonder if the meter is inaccurate. I haven't yet tried to use it for seven to eight hours straight, you see; that will likely occur during the coming semester, and I will know if it is lying to me.
  • -Did I mention Ubuntu Software Center?
That essentially sums up my Ubuntu experience so far. Mercifully, it has been positive, despite many warnings that suggested it would be painful. Here's hoping for all the best, as I continue to use this thing!


thedavemyster said...

Sparks, I want to get into Ubuntu for the cloud computing aspects of it; the japanese are way into it, and it appears to be the future *shrugs* which i guess puts you way ahead of the game! :::>

Rae Botsford said...

I don't know a lot about cloud computing just yet, but it seems to be a huge buzzword (buzzphrase?) right if Ubuntu is good for cloud computing, then I'm glad I'm on it already!