The plan: Ring in the new year by switching over to Linux for a week, documenting each day of the transition.
Day 7, Final impressions and a stunning conclusion!
This last linuxy week (well, 9 days actually, because of my laziness) has been quite the adventure. We’ve laughed and cried, felt happiness and despair, vomited and vandalized, and most importantly of all, we’ve… loved.
Linux and I have gone through a lot together, and I dare say we might each have grown just a little bit. We’ve both learned from our mistakes, learned from each other, and, in a touching twist, we learned to forgive. If only Morgan Freeman were here to narrate today there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house. (Goddammit Morgan, why do you demand such an exorbitant fee for appearances? And why does your rider require that so many rare Australasian mammals be in your trailer? You know I’m allergic!)
It’s sad to see it all come to an end, but it must be done; kind of like finally putting your favourite blanky in the garbage before your first day of University. (Oh how I miss you Mr. Doctor Snugglesworth! Obtaining a higher education was definitely not worth losing you!) So for my last day I’m going to look back on all the times we’ve had and give my final impressions on what I liked, what I disliked, and what I learned.
Unfortunately I didn’t have the resources to make a wicked-awesome montage, so I’ll just have to make do by summarizing. And what better way to summarize than with a summary! So join me for my final impressions and a stunning conclusion!
What I don’t like:
- The confusing amount of different names for things: KDE, Compiz, Compiz Fusion, Wubi, Gnome, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, tomato, tomato, tomato, tomato, potato. It’s good to give features catchy names, but for the beginner it’s a bit overwhelming reading about all these different features and add-ons when you have no idea what’s going on. It’s a minor quibble, and each of these things does deserve its own name, but making it a bit more explicit what each of those things is would help newcomers feel a little bit less lost.
- Open Office’s spellcheck: It doesn’t work! I thought this problem was unique to my Windows installation of Open Office, but apparently it’s ubiquitous. It’s not Linux’s fault obviously, but it’s still strange; how has nobody noticed and done something about it? “Hey Doug, I got the spellcheck finished! Huh? Does it work? Well, no. But it’s done!” Or if it’s some sort of option you have to fiddle with, why isn’t it on by default?
- The wallpaper: I can’t seem to change the wallpaper of different desktops individually; If I change the desktop background it applies to every one. Maybe it’s just that I have almost no short-term memory, but I think I could better differentiate between different desktops that I was shifting between if I could give each one its own wallpaper. Plus then I could make one desktop say “You” and the second desktop say “Suck” so if anyone used my computer and switched between desktops they’d realize that they suck. Oh man, that would show them!
- The hardware issues: The first computer I used Linux with didn’t seem to want to cooperate at all, and I couldn’t use the wireless adapter or the graphics accelerator. Even the computer that did cooperate with Linux seemed to have some weird issues with various desktop effects; the computer kept telling me to tell Desktop Effects that it wouldn’t talk to Desktop Effects, and at one point Desktop Effects even drew a line down the middle of my apartment and threatened to “delegitate” the computer if it ever crossed it. Of course I imagine this is one of the hardest things for the developers to account for, given the myriad of different hardware configurations out there. I look forward to seeing the developers broaden Linux’s hardware support.
- Getting stabbed in the face with a number 2 pencil.
- Getting stabbed in the face with a number 3 pencil.
- You know what?: Getting stabbed in the face in general is something I don’t like. Just pretend that for every object that exists there is a line that says, “Getting stabbed in the face with a X,” where X is any physical object at all.
What I like:
- The speed: This is something I haven’t really mentioned before, but Linux is fast. I didn’t even notice until I went back and used my stupid Windows PC, which apparently confers to an international committee that must perform an arduous deliberation about whether to open Firefox every time I click the icon. Every operating system should run this fast.
- The comprehensive antivirus software: Which doesn’t exist because Linux doesn’t need it! Half the reason my Windows PC is so slow is because my antivirus software performs an unwarranted anal cavity search on every program I even think about running. It defeats the purpose of even having antivirus software, since it makes my computer run just as slow as if it were bogged down with all the junk it protects me from. With Linux there are no worries about that sort of thing, and it brings quite a peace of mind.
- The fire-writing desktop effect: How did I not notice this earlier? There is nothing more potent than the ability to write on your desktop in pure fire. Although I kind of half expect my computer to start sending me creepy messages about unsolved murders if I leave this effect on.
- The cost: Nothing! It’s, like, totally free! Like, free as hell, man. Its free-ness is akin to the freedom of not wearing pants when you’re home alone. If it were any free-er it would probably give you money.
- The clock: It lets you show you the calendar date, and even the weather! I could never understand why XP and the Mac OS never let you show the calendar date next to the time. It’s a little thing, but it’s those sorts of little details that make an operating system that much nicer. I mean, I don’t have to double click on the calendar hanging on my wall to check the date, do I Microsoft? Get with the times! (Pun totally intended, even though it’s really not very good.)
- File name-changes: When you change a file’s name Ubuntu doesn’t highlight the file’s extension. This is another detail that just shows the developers’ attention to usability. Give me one reason why I’d want to change the extension of a file every time I changed it’s name, XP. What’s that? That’s right, you can’t give me any reasons. Now go to your room!
- The pre-loaded software: Every operating system ought to come with basic office tools and programs. It just makes sense.
- The Add/Remove Programs application: Another feature that just makes sense. Hey other operating systems, why not include the option to quickly and easily obtain useful applications? Are you trying to hide something from us? Now go to your room!
- The soft purr of Sir Alphonso, my incredibly fat cat: As it eats three-day-old cheetos off my floor. Aw, you probabwy have diabwetes. Yes you do! Yes you do!
What I learned:
- Don’t install Linux straight from the Live disc onto an external hard drive? Um, that’s pretty much it. What can I say? I’m a crappy student. G for effort though!
In the end, it looks like I’ve found a third operating system to use. I definitely am not going to stop using Windows or my Mac, because both serve important purposes, and because I am open to poly-amorous relationships.
But Linux is perfect for doing simple things like web browsing, text-editing, and so on, due to its speed, simplicity and dependability, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up doing those things more with Linux than I do Windows. Of course, many things still require Windows, and I imagine that it is going to stay that way for quite some time. Nonetheless, I look forward to seeing how Linux improves its compatibility with all the hardware and software that is out there.
So for now I’m just going to sit back and use Linux for every day stuff, like a normal person. During this week I’ve had to cram a lot of Linux use in, all while writing stirring, compelling and dramatic posts about it, and it hasn’t left me with the leisure to casually explore a lot of Linux’s possibilities like a person typically would while using a computer. I had to avoid quite a few options for the sake of getting a story done, and sometimes didn’t get as in depth with some applications and features as I could have if I was just sitting around in my underwear with nothing to do.
So while my week with Linux is over, I plan on staying intimate with Linux, getting a new, more casual perspective on it, and some time in the future revisiting this series with some new impressions (most likely with a weekly feature.). So stay tuned for that! And of course in the mean time I’ll still be writing about other non-Linux stuff. (But I’ll be thinking about you the whole time Linux.)
And with that concludes the chronicles of my adventure-filled week with Linux!
Wait, there was supposed to be a stunning conclusion, wasn’t there? Um, so at the end I have to travel back in time to save Linux, but then it turns out that Linux in the past is actually just me when I was young, and Young Linux Me is forced to kill Old Me, and so it’s this crazy twist but it totally ties everything together so it all makes sense and some really sad violin music plays.
The plan: Ring in the new year by switching over to Linux for a week, documenting each day of the transition.
Day 6, Hooking up with some KDE!
Like all domestic pairings, my long and storied relationship with Linux has had its ups and downs. Words have been said, dishes have been broken, mistakes have been made, and 1984 Dodge Caravans have had their tires slashed and then been doused in industrial-grade kerosene and set on fire. You know, the usual stuff.
So after the dust of yesterday’s indiscretions settled I made a decision: I can’t be boxed in any more. I need room to breathe. I feel so stifled sometimes, Linux, and I just have to be with myself for a while. Where’s the love we used to have so many years ago when I first asked to install you at the drive-in movie theatre?
With this in mind I’ve decided I’m going to hook up with some KDE! So come join me!
The fact of the matter is that the spark me and Ubuntu Linux used to have is gone, and I need to see some new things and experience what the world has to offer. It’s not you Linux, honestly. It’s me that’s causing all the problems.
Well, it’s me that’s causing the problems and also my computer, which refuses to cooperate with Linux in any task that’s more complex than opening a text file while rubbing its tummy. (I have no idea where my computer got a tummy. It’s a little bit disturbing, actually. Maybe that’s why it can’t get my graphics drivers working. Do tummies interfere with graphics drivers? Hm, my copy of PCs for Tummies doesn’t have a section on tummies. That’s weird. Oh wait, it says PCs for Dummies… I really should have paid more attention in grade 10 computer science class.)
Actually, scratch all that stuff about it being my fault. It’s totally just the computer’s fault. Seriously, it was all its idea. It’s such a bad influence on me. I mean, every time I tell it we’re going to the park to drink Colt 45s and set garbage cans on fire it just says, “OK.” Can you believe that!? “OK!” What an enabler it is. Always just… enabling. It should be ashamed.
So with all this in mind I’ve decided to become a Linux bachelor, put myself out onto the scene, and try to hook up with some sweet younger computers with supple graphics cards that can process some more attractive desktop effects.
My first step is to ask one of my friends if he knows any cute computers that are looking to party. He responds by asking me what the hell I’m talking about, telling me that I’m a weirdo that he never really liked hanging out with in the first place, and accusing me of a wide variety of perversions, most of which I cannot name here.
It looks like I’ll need to differ my strategy a bit, possibly towards a more standard approach that is based on the assumption that my friend doesn’t understand the narrative of my imaginary relationship with an operating system. (He’s so dense.) “Can I borrow your new computer?” I ask him. “Also, please stop dialing the police and put down the phone.”
He responds. (Nice! I got a response; I should try asking people questions that aren’t insane more often.) “Absolutely not,” he says. “And put your pants back on.” Drats! That move usually works great.
Clearly he’s a crafty one and is well prepared for my ingenious tactics. So, I make one more slight adjustment to my approach, this time away from the whole asking strategy, and towards a marginally more grab his computer and run out the door screaming “he touched me in an inappropriate manner!” strategy.
Now that I have no friends any more I have plenty of time to mack on this computer Linux-style. So I plug my Linux hard drive into it and see if I can seduce it into performing some crazy graphical effects.
To my surprise the wireless adapter and graphics card are immediately recognized in the hardware application, and they install flawlessly. Wow new computer, you do things that my old computer would never even think about doing, even if I begged!
Now that I have a functioning graphics card in Ubuntu it’s time to try installing some sexy new desktop effects. Although apparently I enjoy thinking outside of the box and taking unique approaches to this sort of thing, because I installed everything completely backwards.
My first step was to go into the Add/Remove programs and look for Compiz. The first thing I noticed was the Compiz tray icon, and thinking that it was the only Compiz app available I installed it. After messing around with it for a while and noticing that it didn’t do anything, I went back to Add/Remove program, where I found some other Compiz apps.
The next step in my wonderful plan was to install the Compiz Effects Settings manager, and then install the actual Compiz Effects tool. With these tools installed I decided to follow the Roomba method of trying to get them to work, randomly clicking on everything on the screen until I had exhausted every imaginable possibility through trial and error. After about six hours of this I noticed nothing had actually changed, so I moved on.
It was at this point that I realized that the Compiz installer mentioned something about it being designed for KDE, which is the secret code name for Kubuntu, I think. So, after a bit of looking around I figured out how to install KDE and restarted my computer.
It was in this roundabout way that I came to meet pretty little Kubuntu, with its sleak blue design and tempting desktop effects, beckoning for me to dive in and try them.
My next step is to immediately pounce on the Compiz settings manager to see what is available, where I find an overwhelming amount of different effects. But one in particular catches my eye: the jiggly window effect.
In my opinion the jiggly window is by far the most ingenious and practical of all desktop effects. I say this because I spent at least an hour grabbing windows and shaking them around like bowls full of jelly, giggling with glee at their playful, flirtatious movements. If I spent that much time with the jiggly window plugin it must be important, because I am a very important person who only spends time on important things.
Unfortunately the desktop cube and desktop wall effects don’t seem to work (maybe because I installed everything in the exact opposite of the intended order? Naw, that’s impossible.) Also, some of the effects seem to have a strange relationship with my new computer’s graphics card, because they work at incredibly high speeds and over-respond to my input.
For example, the spinning effect when I switch between different desktops rotates roughly one million-three-hundred-and-sixty-two times with one press of ctrl-alt-arrow, making my eyeballs comically spin 360 degrees inside my head if I try follow it.
But so far I’m enjoying the bachelor life with my new mistress, Kubuntu. I’ve got plenty of mind-expanding exploration and self discovery to do, and all kinds of crazy effects to cuztomize and try out. I’ve seen what life is like for users with computers that actually work with Ubuntu, and I’m never going back to the life I had with that other prudish harpy I was shackled to before.
Overall I was very impressed with KDE in Ubuntu. Not only is it a pretty nice looking desktop with some fun and neat Mac-like effects, but installing it into Ubuntu was very easy. I’ve never used an operating system before that so readily accepted modifications like Ubuntu accepted KDE, and I’ve also never seen an operating system that had mechanics built in for switching between different desktop configurations in such a straightforward way; simply selecting KDE at login did it.
I’ve also finally seen what it is like when Ubuntu just works, with no tinkering. I look forward to the days when even more hardware works in this simple way with Linux.
And that concludes today’s break up with Ubuntu and new relationship with Kubuntu! Tune in tomorrow for the stunning conclusion to my week!
The plan: Ring in the new year by switching over to Linux for a week, documenting each day of the transition.
Day 5, A torrid affair with Windows virtualization!
On day four I let Linux think it was in control by cleverly allowing it to verbally abuse and gas pedal me for the entire day, firmly establishing my dominance over the foolish operating system. (“Stupid operating system! You think you’re getting the better of me by stomping on my crotch and calling me deeply hurtful names, but little do you know this is all part of my master plan!… Oh god the pain is unimaginably horrible.”)
Although the tactics I made use of last day led to my resounding and indisputable success, today I’d like to try executing some strategies that result in at least a little bit less excruciating groin-pain (a truly bold move in operating system configuration, I know.) So join me today as I try to sneak around Linux and cheat on it in its very own house, in my torrid affair with Windows virtualization!
Before I begin I must extinguish any doubt in my mind that this is anything but a ridiculously fantastic plan. As such, I must convince myself that emulating a Windows operating system in Linux, when I have a perfectly functional, loving, tender, beautiful, and committed Windows PC literally right next to me, isn’t an inherently ridiculous idea.
To prepare the process of wiping my guilt-ridden mind of these thoughts, in order that I may go through with this dirty, adulterous deed, I begin my Patented Psych-Up Method of Self-Deception(TM), which is a process that involves punching myself in the face repeatedly as hard as I can while sobbing uncontrollably.
And… success! I still can’t shake the feeling that emulating Windows in Linux is kind of like buying an AIBO electronic dog to replace Sparkles, my actual real dog that can already run Winamp just fine. Also, my face kind of hurts. But other than those two problems it seems my patented method has succeeded and my guilty thoughts have been purged from me. I am free to act in as much of an amoral manner as I please!
But pulling this off isn’t going to be easy; it was hard enough hiding my Linuxy indiscretions from my Windows PC, but now I have to hide the virtual affair I’m having with Windows from the very Linux that is hosting virtual Windows, while still hiding real Linux from real Windows. And on top of all that, Derryck got Sheila to make Rolanda break up with Bobby, and now Bobby and Derryck are going to settle it with a drag-race through the old abandoned reservoir! Drama!
So, the first step in my clandestine scheme is to get Wine set up. I chose Wine mainly because its site is more appealing looking than VMware’s, which has all the sleek design features and well-considered organization of an expired domain name, and also because I am an inveterate alcoholic (I don’t have a problem. I jush… I jush like virtualizing! I can schtop when… whenever I wanna… Wheresh the toilet?)
According to the site’s instructions I will have to download Wine, which apparently involves using an application downloader, called Software Sources, that is built in to Linux.
I’m glad Wine has brought my attention to the Software Sources application, because it helps to widen my understanding of how Ubuntu is set up: First there is the Add/Remove Applications program, which is designed to allow you to Add and Remove Applications.
Second, there is the Synaptic Package Manager, which allows you to Manage Packages (in a manner that is uniquely synaptic, apparently) or Applications as some might call them, by allowing you to Add and Remove them.
Finally there is Software Sources, which, if Wine’s installation instructions are any indication, provides Sources of Software, filling a glaring gap in Ubuntu Linux by allowing you to Add and Remove Applications.
With my mind expanded by a better understanding of the inner operations of Linux I continue with my covert operation. I follow the instructions closely, which take an interesting approach to instructional flow by telling me at the very end that I should first use Add/Remove Applications to install Wine before I go about installing Wine. I guess I should have seen that coming?
I now realize that the Wine installation guide has tricked me, and that Software Sources is just for installing the update-frameworks for applications. Too bad, because I like redundancy almost as much as I like redundancy.
Once I finish severely flogging myself with an old shoe and recover from the deep sense of self-loathing and disappointment that overcame me when I made the redundancy joke, I update Wine. It goes smoothly, and I get to loading up my first Windows program.
I decide on using Winamp, which is the only mp3 player that is so very Windows that it has an abridged version of “Windows” in its name. A word of warning to any programs that think that you can compete with Winamp in this regard: If you want to be a Windows program, but do not have “Win” in your name, then you had better stop fronting, sir, because Winamp has the real Windows rep.
I quietly slip an Isaac Hayes CD into the tray, light up some candles, and open up Winamp. To my surprise it loads perfectly, and begins to sing me some smooth R&B classics. I did it! I got away with it and Linux is none the wiser!
Emboldened by my deception of Linux I try to get a bit farther with Windows. It can play music, but can it get graphic? I decide to test my luck and load up Spelunky, my latest video games addiction. I download the program and run the .exe, and it teases me by giving me a glimpse of the intro screen. I feel a rush of adrenaline as I realize I’m getting away with my unethical plan again, but then disaster strikes. The game rats me out, and my whole screen turns black, leaving me unable to alt-tab out. And I didn’t even get a chance to try sticking my gaming controller into the USB slot!
I’ve been caught red-handed! I’m trapped in a black screen with a Windows application in the background wearing nothing but a loading screen, and when Linux finds out its going to kill me! Given my situation I do the only reasonable thing: I panic, run around in circles screaming and sobbing, hit the power button on my computer, then sit in the shower with my clothes on, trying to wash away the stink of my shame. Later, when Linux asks me what happened, I deny everything and cry myself to sleep on the couch.
My moral indiscretions were fun while they lasted, but like so many things they couldn’t last forever. I got away with running some programs behind Linux’s back, but I paid for my inconsiderate actions in so many ways.
Winamp, which I thought was the perfect crime, doesn’t always run perfectly and crashes at times; oh paradise, I thought I had found you! Also, many video-based Windows programs refuse to run as well, presumably because they’ve gotten wind of my reputation as a playboy-heartbreaker extraordinaire. Prudes…
In the end I learned my lesson: it’s everyone’s dream to be with two operating systems at once, but it’s always too good to be true. Eventually one of them will find out about your indiscretions and threaten to cut important parts of you off with a well-timed crash, and then you’ll get a virus from a Windows application and end up with more groin pain than the old battleaxe you’ve been stuck with could ever give you.
In the end I don’t really mind that Windows applications don’t run perfectly with Wine; I’ve never had a problem with using multiple operating systems, since each has its own strengths, so it seems kind of silly to try to make Linux into Windows. The temptation of virtual Windows was strong for a little while, but I’ve still got my dedicated Windows machine waiting for me in my room, willing to run just about any program I want. Plus if I left it, it would get half of my stuff. (Damn you prenuptials!)
And that concludes my fifth day! Stay tuned for my next day, when I test my copy of Linux on another computer! (Because I have Linux on an external harddrive!)
Day 4, A feeble attempt at breaking Linux in!
On day three I got all snuggly with Linux on the couch and we just talked, you know? We got to know each other better and, among other things, I wasted some time playing video games. I’ve wasted time playing games before, but they were never quite so Linuxy. The memories of me and Linux frolicking together in the sun of day three will stay with me forever.
And now that we’re close friends it’s time for the next logical step in our relationship: that’s right, it’s time for me to break Linux in like a mule, pummeling it about the head and neck regions until it bends to my will, obeying my every command. So come join me on my joyous and celebratory feeble attempt at breaking Linux in!
First up is to address the issue I’ve been having with my wireless adapter. The issue is fairly simple: my wireless adapter does not even kind of work a little bit. It won’t even show up when I supplement my right click of the network icon in the taskbar with a commanding and powerful “pleeeeeeeease?”
So it’s time to sift through the electronic dirt and muck that is the Internet for some drivers. First I decide to check the Ubuntu documentation for some advice. The documentation and I have never met before, and I can only assume it is jealous of the loving relationship that Linux and I have developed, because it doesn’t seem to want to help me at all. It even calls me a “shifty-eyed grifter” at one point. Harsh.
The only thing I can get out of the documentation is that I should enter a command in the console to find out the status of my wireless card. According to the console report my wireless adapter is apparently “UNCLAIMED,” which just means I’m going to have to hit it in the mouth with a club, throw it over my shoulder, and drag it back to my cave, making it CLAIMED as my own.
The next step in my kidnapping scheme¢â‚¬â€I mean… my scheme that has nothing to do with kidnapping¢â‚¬â€is to head to Synaptic to get the very sexily-titled ndisgtk. (Oh ndisgtk, your name has such an unreasonable amount of consonants! It’s so hot.)
After I’ve installed ndisgtk, Ubuntu informs me that I “can close the window now,” as if to imply that it wouldn’t have been an option unless Ubuntu had been gracious enough to let it happen. I see my brutal taming of you is going well, Linux.
The rest of the stuff in Synaptic looks pretty scary and technical, (except the very cute sounding Amateur Radio section, which I can only assume has something to do with the Ham Radio and Linux Enthusiasts Convention I’ve heard so much about,) so I nobly flee as fast I can to look for the .inf file I need to install.
At this point I’m beginning to think that maybe my plan to bust into Linux Town and unilaterally occupy it is maybe back-firing a bit. But like all the best conquerors I ignore my signs of failure and move on. So I locate the .inf file for my wireless card in the Windows Wireless Driver app that I installed, load it up, and watch intently as it does exactly nothing.
There is still no option for wireless connections in my taskbar, and even the tried and true method of restarting my computer and yelling, “Look out, Linux, your arms are on fire!” just as the wireless drivers are loading doesn’t seem to do anything. (Don’t worry, Linux’s arms weren’t actually on fire. It was just a clever ploy to make it lose focus.)
With the bittersweet, and surprisingly salty, taste of defeat in my mouth I head to the forums, where I find that apparently many people with the same wireless adapter as me have had the same problem. Unfortunately there seems to be at least four or six or three different potential solutions or something-elses to the problem, the success of each of which is determined by the drawing of tarot cards and your performance of a very particular ritual sacrifice. You win this time, Linux…
Now that I’ve established my sheer dominance over Linux in the area of wireless driver installing, it’s time to conquer sound recording. Audacity installs with no problems through the Add/Remove programs app, and I jump in to see what recording is like in the world of Linux.
My recording hardware is a USB pre-amp with some super-duper proprietary drivers, so I get the feeling that there’s a better chance of me winning the Pulitzer for my gripping journalism than this working. (Seriously, they are way proprietary, dudes.)
To my surprise the pre-amp does show up in the input menu… sort of. I can select it as the input, but I can’t specifically select the second input of the pre-amp, which restricts my recording options pretty badly. A bit of messing around reveals what looks like a possible solution, until I realize that it was actually just a glimmer of hope that was caught in my eye.
I wipe the hope away and callously discard it. There may be a way of fixing this issue that I’m not aware of, but for now it looks like I won’t exactly be smashing my Mac with a hammer in favour of recording in Linux. (The only way I can record music is if I smash every other computer in my room with a hammer first. Call it one of my lovable quirks.)
With my dominion over sound recording in Linux firmly established and the population of Linux Town kneeling before me, it’s time to march into the realm of video graphics drivers, so I can get some of those sweet desktop effects working.
This time I skip the documentation and go straight to the forums, which experience has shown is the hangout of the most hardcore advisers and their customized leather jackets. Unfortunately, the process of getting my video drivers working seems similar to the process for fixing my wireless drivers, only with way more ritual sacrifice and just a little bit more baby-eating.
Apparently the simple answer to my problem is that Linux already includes my drivers, except for the minor caveats that they don’t show up, don’t work, can’t be found by me, and don’t actually exist. The more complex answer has something to do with restricted drivers, which sound a little bit dangerous (and kind of kinky.) With my formerly massive ego now reduced to a mere infinitesimal point by the untameable stallion that is Linux, I decide to leave graphics drivers for another day.
My last project is to try printing. Weary and battle-worn, I skip all the advice stuff and haphazardly plug my printer into the USB slot. I jump into openoffice, type up some gripping literature, and try to get it working by sheer force of will alone. Unfortunately the process fails catastrophically, melting my… wait, it worked! I clicked print, and it printed!
TAKE THAT, LINUX! BOOYA. Ash: 1, Linux: Some other number that isn’t 1! That’s right Linux, I’m number 1!
My campaign of Linux domination has truly succeeded beyond all expectations. Today was a wonderful triumph, worthy of sitting next to the achievements of Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great in the annals of history. Nay, it ought to sit on top of their achievements, like a king sitting atop his throne.
Yes, tales will be told of these events for ages, and… Oh, who am I kidding. Linux folded me up like a fleshy pretzel and dribbled me around like a basketball, ceasing its humiliation of me only to dunk me into a garbage can full of proprietary drivers and shame.
All joking aside, I’m not worried that any of these things didn’t work that well, and I didn’t really expect them to go off without a hitch anyways. Ubuntu is still a developing OS, and there’s loads of hardware out there for the developers to account for and get working.
PCs are unique machines in that almost no two are alike, and programming an OS so that every little piece of hardware works and every driver is supported is a daunting task to say the least. The fact that sound recording worked at all with my pre-amp, even in its limited capacity, and that printing worked flawlessly, were both pleasant surprises. In order to get my pre-amp working at all on my Mac I needed to install some drivers in a decidedly un-mac-like way, so the fact that Linux recognized it right away is quite impressive.
Further, people with the same hardware as me had the same problems, and the forum inhabitants were diligently working away on it. I imagine it’s only a matter of time before the developers work out these particular issues. With enough work I might be able to find an answer myself, given that I’ve only had one day to mess around with these issues.
And with that comes the end of Day Four. Stay tuned for my next day, when I mess around with virtualization, maybe!
Day Three, Screwing around with some more pre-loaded Linux stuff!
Yesterday I finally scaled the mountain of Linux, and when I reached the peak I claimed it as The Republic of Me. Unfortunately I only had time to do some basic things like word processing and internetting, so today I’ll get a (very) little bit more in depth. So join me as I screw around with some more pre-loaded Linux stuff!
Being the rogue maverick loose-cannon that I am, my first order of business is to update my software. (No self-respecting rogue maverick loose-cannon would ever risk missing an important update! It would be downright irresponsible.)
This updating is exhilarating stuff! Riding on the high of clicking on my updater and seeing that it will be finished downloading roughly next millennium, I decide I’ll try to figure out Ubuntu’s keyboard shortcuts. Luckily Linux still runs perfectly smoothly with the updater running in the background, so I get to work.
The keyboard shortcuts menu is easy enough to find, and they have a little bit of a learning curve, but for the most part are very similar to the XP or Mac shortcuts. Before I know it I’m ctrl-alt-shifting that shameful update window over to the next desktop. See you in the distant future, update window, when I am long dead and apes or robots or ape-robot hybrids or something have taken over the planet!
Having tasted sweet, sweet Linux shortcut keys for the first time I begin searching for some more user-interface options, and quickly find that there is a visual effects tab in the appearance menu. As far as I can tell it allows you to visualize your desktops on a little cube with each face being a desktop. Sounds fancy!
Unfortunately I will get to experience no fanciness today, as I either need to update the drivers for my video card or my computer is simply too much of a piece of garbage to run the effects. (Don’t worry, it likes it when I call it a piece of garbage: it’s a term of endearment.) Either way I’m not quite willing to go through the trouble of mucking with drivers or anything right now; I like cubes as much as the next guy, but there’s work to be done!
Um, that is, just as soon as I log on to an instant messaging program to exchange very important information over the Internet with people I see face-to-face pretty much every day. I’m glad to see that Ubuntu has provided me with the ability to reduce my productivity by 1000 percent, as they’ve included Pidgin, a universal IM program. I’ve never heard of Pidgin before, but I’ve used other universal IM services before and they never quite did it for me.
Pidgin seems very straight-forward and simple, and looks like it does pretty much everything I want it to with minimal annoyances. It includes connection capability for every IM program I use, and some I never even knew existed.
It also didn’t require any weird configuration like other IM programs I’ve used. I’ll have to use it a bit longer to see if it holds up, but so far I am content with it, and happy to be free from all the ads and junk that come bundled in MSN. (No, I don’t want to watch Rihanna’s latest video, MSN. Thanks for asking though.)
After some rousing conversation the next order of business is to realize how much time I’ve wasted, panic, and begin to hyperventilate furiously. As soon as I wake up from my fainting spell it’s time to get back to work.
That is, as soon as I play a few games. First on the docket is something called Klotski, which I’m assuming is an Eastern-European word that means “free game that comes bundled with Linux.”
After a bit of playing I realize that all the unfamiliar games that come bundled with Ubuntu were actually designed by an alien race possessing of a completely foreign form of logic and reasoning.
I manage to figure out that the point of Klotski is to integrate the hyper-cube into the goal sector via some form of psionic manipulation, but I have yet to translate the mysterious goals of Robots, Tetravex, or Tali. And what the hell is this Sudoku stuff? Like a game about numbers or some junk is going to catch on.
After Robots rewarded me with a spine-tingling scream the umpteenth time I lost, I decided it was time to move on from the games. It is at this point that I realize that I really don’t use my computer for very much: give me a web-browser, a word-processor and a warm blanky and I’m ready to go.
But that means I’m also kind of running out of ideas for what to do with this OS; so far it seems to be working fine, but where’s the adventure?
With that I venture into the Add/Remove programs application to begin my quest for shiny new programs. Before I know it there is a veritable pantheon of programs laid out before me, waiting to be gotten.
The pleases me: I’m no stranger to looking for apps on the web, but it gets tiresome sometimes. Let’s face it, all that clicking, typing, and observing: way too much work. And it seems like it might be especially tiresome looking for Linux apps on the web, given its thinner distribution, so this simple feature is very welcome.
In my journeys I find 7zip, a compression app that I have absolutely never used to unzip copies of SNES Roms, DOSBox, a very solid DOS emulator I’ve used many times to play some of my old favourites, ZSNES, a program I’ve absolutely never used to play the aforementioned Roms that I’ve absolutely never played, and ScummVM, a fantastic emulator designed specifically to play some great old adventure games.
But what I’m most interested in is sound recording software. I find a few mulitrack programs, such as Audacity and Muse, both of which I’ve never heard of, which I’ll have to try later.
Overall I’m very impressed with Add/Remove programs feature. The comfort of knowing that a myriad of programs, which can sometimes be a chore to find, are available at my fingertips ready to be integrated into the OS is quite nice.
It is a very clever feature that other OS manufacturers ought to look into, although I can’t exactly see Microsoft picking it up any time soon. (“So why do we want to put this feature in again? Uh huh, so you’re saying something about it making it easier for people to get programs, but you’re also saying it won’t make us loads and loads of delicious, beautiful money? I’m really not following. You’re going to have to go over this whole thing again.”)
And that’s about it for today. I’m getting a bit deeper into Ubuntu, and the memories of our tumultuous relationship are starting to fade into the past.
So what’s next? I’ve had a few people recommend I try Wubi, another form of Linux that installs along with Windows, and I’m thinking about trying some virtualization software, to see if I can run a few Windows programs in Ubuntu. Any suggestions from readers about what sort of things I can do with Linux next are very welcome!
Stay tuned for my next day when I do something with Linux that is as of yet undetermined!
Day Two, Installation Continued, Pure Linux-using Bliss (Hopefully).
Yesterday was a bit of an ordeal, but I’m ready to forgive, forget, and move on. So today I log on to the forums to see what the linuxperts have to say. (I thought up that word myself, and if you use it I’ll sue the hell out of you.)
We exchange a few posts and I do some stuff that is really not worth talking about. (It was, like, super-boring.) My computer chugs away, working on what I set it to do, and I head to the kitchen to reheat some crispy squid from last night while I wait for Mr. Forum Guy That Knows Way More Than I Do to get back to me. (The crispy squid was delicious, but could definitely have used some sweet and sour sauce, or perhaps a nice hoisin, if you must know.)
Forum Dude gets back to me, and it looks like that option to try using Ubuntu without installing that I ignored as hard as I could is not only pretty clever, but is also actually useful! It turns out I’m going to have to load up Ubuntu in test-mode, where I will venture into the dreaded lair of my nemesis… The Console.
I begin to panic, sweat, and vomit uncontrollably at the thought of using a console again. (Or is it the reheated squid? No time to think about that now, must start consoling.) As I watch that dreadful cursor blink menacingly at me I experience intense flashbacks of my DOS console telling me that Ultima.exe has failed due to insufficient virtual memory. I muster up the courage to bring my fingers to the keyboard and begin to type about grubs and roots and sudos or something.
Success! The memories are fuzzy, but according to Super Forum Guy I just reconfigured the boot loader on my Ubuntu drive. Next I just have to go into my BIOS, make sure it’s set to boot from a USB drive, and reboot so that it can… Error 23.
Ah, Error 23: the old middle finger and crotch thrust again. I think I’m starting to understand your language, Linux. Your a feisty one, but I like your moxy.
My next step is to contemplate suicide for a moment. Once I’m done reflecting on flinging myself off of my balcony onto the Geo Metro below my window, I head to the forums again. And… you know what? This is, like, getting super-boring again. I’m just going to fast-track this whole deal to the part where I get it working. For those of you who enjoyed reading the minutia of my mental ordeal, feel free to pretend there is a bunch of writing and bad jokes in between this paragraph and the next.
[A bunch of writing, bad jokes, and three or four fantastic adventures]
Success! I finally did it! I got Ubuntu Linux working! The best part was definitely when I had to switch the Golden Idol for a suitably weighted decoy so that my Linux distro wouldn’t breathe fire on me.
My first point of order is to check out what writing programs there are on here, so that I can write. (That’s what I do, in case you didn’t know.) To my delight Open Office is already installed. This is a fantastic feature, as I’ve always believed that every OS should come with something as basic as a word processor by default. I’m pretty sure the PC industry is the only one in which it is perfectly acceptable to charge someone hundreds of dollars to be able to write. (Oh, you want to write with your typewriter? You’ve got to buy the $400 MS Typewriter Suite if you want to do that, mister. Duh.)
After a bit of writing I decide to take some screenshots, and I am delighted once again when I find out that pressing the print screen button in Ubuntu automatically saves your screenshot as a .png, circumventing the need to do all that copying and pasting; a very nice feature, and one that you’d think would be common place by now. Next step is to edit the images I just captured, so I head to the Gimp, which was also included with Ubuntu. Gimp seems to be much better than MS paint, and slightly better than the nothing that is included with a Mac. Besides, I love Gimps; they’re such cute little creatures.
Finally I must head to the Internet, so I look for whatever browser is included. When I do find the browser I am thricely delighted; Firefox, everybody’s favourite browser, comes pre-installed. And here I was worrying that Internet Explorer might be installed, and I’d have to go and delete everything associated with it except for the Internet Explore .exe file which Windows forbids you from tampering with, on punishment of slapping you on the wrist and telling you, “Bad computer user!”
And with that I log in to WordPress and begin typing the very article you are reading right now. Overall I must say I’m very impressed with Ubuntu; everything a person expects a computer to do can be done with Ubuntu, given that everything you need is already pre-loaded. I’m a firm believer that when you buy a computer it should just work, and that includes having fully functional versions of programs that do basic things like word-processing, web browsing and image editing. Although me and Ubuntu had some tumultuous times early in our relationship, I think we’re starting to see eye to eye.
In the short time I’ve used it today I’ve found that Ubuntu is easy to use and has lots of neat features. It even told me that my battery might have been recalled and that I might need to replace it, instead of just letting it explode in my face like that jerk Windows would. True friendship is, after all, not letting something explode in your friend’s face.
So that’s it for today; tune in tomorrow, when I do more stuff with Linux!