a week of humanity

January 12th, 2005

At the turn of the new year I resolved to be a better human being. And the best way to begin this arduous journey was installing Ubuntu linux, a distro for humans.

Since it has been slightly more than a week with the distro, I thought I’ll jot down some of the pros and cons. My system is an IBM Thinkpad R40 with 512MB RAM, 16MB ATI Radeon 7500 Mobility graphics card, CD-RW+DVD Combo drive and 1024×768 LCD. I had a WinXP installation and FC3, both of which I wiped out. I first installed XP and later popped in the “only” Ubuntu install CD to begin the installation.

The install process closely follows the standard Debian install of first doing a base install, reboot and finally package configuration. And going by the installer, I must say the ncurses based Debian-installer is going to be a great relief from the earlier command-line install. The installer recognized the ethernet card and the Intel 2100 wireless card (surprise!!), and gave me an option of choosing the primary network card. The installation was uneventful and some 30 minutes later I was greeted with the default Ubuntu human theme for Gnome 2.8. A quick enabling of the security repositories, updating packages and I was ready to go.

Now for the pros, the power of Debian on the background gives me access to over 15000 packages. I chose to install the restricted formats following the unofficial starter guide. To install Java head out here and follow the instructions. If you are not particular on mplayer, totem and xine should keep you happy. As for mplayer, I found the best way to get everything working, including the plugin for firefox is to compile from source (yes it is sad that the packages on the mirror are broken :( ). The highlights of the distro was that I could just plugin right about any device and it would show up on my desktop. I have tried two different brands of USB hard drives and my Ipod. The most wonderful thing was the powernowd daemon regulating my system perfomance. I switch on the Gnome frequency applet to see the CPU speed being regulated along with the change in demand. And the system runs for almost 3.5 hours on battery. I will not get into detailing the nice things about Gnome, for fear of sending out a flame invite (esp. from antrix ;) ).

Now the for the cons, which are very few by the way. I would like a control over the start-up services, which are way too many currently. The present way of disabling them using chmod -x servicename and patching rc.d sucks. The fonts in Gnome aren’t rendered too well, but a workaround is posted on the Ubuntu linux forum and this enables autohinting. Well I really cannot think of any other drawbacks that would affect the everyday usage.

Ubuntu is a really slick distro and goes a long way in making Linux friendly to the everyday user. The next release is slated to have X.org and Gnome 2.10, which should help you have a bagel for lunch on your desktop.

One comment to “a week of humanity”

  1. ROhan Kini said:

    I currently have moved over compeltely from WinXp to FC3 .. and Im totally impressed with the improvements. The last time I had used Linux was in college some 3 years back..

    Linux Rocks man !!!