If you tell enough stories, perhaps the moral will show up.


Geek Alert

The shed computer has been on my queue for a very long time. It was running an elderly Kubuntu (6.04?) and I've never found it entirely satisfactory -- Konqueror is not supported in Google Docs, I couldn't get Firefox to install and in fact I couldn't get anything to update or install. Well, I can see which way the world is going, so I wanted to put a current Ubuntu, and I've finally done it. It wasn't easy. The PC is a Dell Latitude PIII. It was classy in its day, but I think it has problems, especially with the CD drive. The steps I've had to take to get it installed are these:

  • Switch off the Hot-Switchable Floppy option in the BIOS. I don't even have an FD, but with the switch on, the boot was delayed for tens of minutes negotiating /dev/fd0 errors.
  • Don't even try to boot the live CD into safe video (forcevesa). It would boot, in an hour or two, but it was continuously frobbing the CD and it would be impossible to get to the fourth screen of the installer. And the bars ar the top and bottom of Gnome were lost.
  • And I gave up on the live CD. The text mode install CD (select it with the check box on the Ubuntu download page) installed first time. The live CD install failed at random points copying files to the HD. My burn of that image passes the veracity test, and I exchanged HDs, and the problem was still there. But the text installer just works.
And once it's up, it's pretty good. I was notified of 16 updates, all of which applied even though one was for Firefox which was open at the time. I've added MPEG codecs (which I suspect are excluded from the build to preserve its freehood -- Fraunhofer have some MPEG patents) directly from the player, mc (which I have to have) through apt-get, and Penguin Command (which I've missed ever since I tried Suse 7.2) through the Synaptic package manager. It all works. The only real hiccup was the networking -- it needed a few restarts to work -- I think it wasn't playing nicely with DHCP on the firewall. I've tried tuning the display, but the automatic setting seemed best. Sudo works nicely. It's not quite as responsive as W2k but it is all so much better done than I remember -- and I don't miss KDE at all. Best of all -- malware won't run. I can browse on! Oh -- and on the whole, I don't think it's as stable as Windows. The kernel is better (though the scheduler is cruder) and the management GUI and command-line stuff is fine, but in userland many of the third-party apps can silently disappear.

No comments: