Clean Bunts

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been playing around with Ubuntu.



For those who don’t know what that is, it’s a version of Linux, a Unix-like Operating System … a completely free alternative to Microsoft’s Windows or Apple’s OSX.

That’s right: free.


In fact, technically, it’s better than free. It’s Open Source.



‘Ubuntu’ is pronounced ‘oo-boon-too’, and is named after the South African philosophy of humanity towards others. ‘Linux’ is pronounced ‘lynn-ux’, despite being named after Linus Torvalds, which is confusing, because I always thought ‘Linus’ was pronounced exactly as it’s spelled. Of course, Linus Torvalds himself pronounces his own name as ‘lynn-us’, so there you go. Oh, well … to paraphrase Linus from an old Peanuts cartoon, ‘Awl thees spellyng is haard on mey ehys’.


We’ll Do It Live!



Ubuntu wasn’t my first time trying to delve into the Linux world (but it’s been the most successful).  In the past, I’d seen nice, shiny magazines in the papershop, bundled with a Live CD/DVD.  Since they weren’t too expensive, and since I’ve sometimes got that whole ‘Ooh! Nice! Shiny!’ magpie thing going on, every so often, I’d buy one and give the disc a go.  Kind of counter to the whole free software thing to pay money for a magazine with the CD/DVD in it, I know, but I almost never go about things in a logical manner …


Live CDs/DVDs

Live CD/DVD is a way of testing software first, meaning you can plug the CD or DVD into your machine, reboot, and have a play with your new OS.  Because it works off the CD/DVD, it doesn’t write to your hard drive, so there’s no risk of rooting up your existing OS or files.  The downside is that you’re unlikely to be able to use it forever, since it’s not writing to anything but your RAM: When you turn your computer off, you lose your data (although this is changing, since some allow a USB stick to be used as Live CD/DVD with file storage).


Spin That Wheel

Thanks to a magazine, I tried the Live CD/DVD version of PC Linux OS (another version of Linux) not long after it came out, which – while fast and good looking – couldn’t detect my wireless modem, rendering it kind of useless to me (though it did have a lot of neat stuff in it).

Still, it got me a little more interested in the world of Linux Operating Systems, so I started doing some research, and found a website with a different version: Puppy Linux.



A ‘Distro’ (short for ‘Distribution’) is simply another version of a Linux-based Operating System.

Being Open Source, people who know what they’re doing can actually tinker with the source code behind the OS and make entirely new versions of a Linux-based OS with different features and looks.

Ubuntu originally grew out of a Distro of Linux called Debian.  Other Debian-based versions (often called ‘Flavours’ or ‘Derivatives’) are Linux Mint, CrunchBang, etc.  And each of these Derivatives might have several different Iterations, too.

In the case of Ubuntu, there’s Ubuntu 4.10 (Warty Warthog), Ubuntu 5.04 (Hoary Hedgehog), Ubuntu 5.10 (Breezy Badger), Ubuntu 6.06 LTS (Dapper Drake), and so on.

In actuality, it can all sound a little complicated, but if you were to vaguely trace a kind of ‘family tree’ of Ubuntu, you could go from Unix (OS) > Linux (OS; Unix-Like) > Debian (OS; Linux-Based Distro) > Ubuntu (OS; Grew from Debian Source Code) to, say, Ubuntu 5.04 (OS; Flavour of Ubuntu, still uses some of the basic Debian Source Code, but imparts its own look and way of doing things).

I think. 😆

Point is, you wouldn’t believe how many different versions of Linux are out there! 😯


Back in the Doghouse

So … Puppy Linux.  I downloaded it, made a Live CD out of it and … unfortunately, had the same wireless modem detection problem.

And the same again for another Distro, Damn Small Linux.

Given these failures, I was reluctant to download larger distros (Debian, OpenSUSE, Fedora, Mandriva, etc) and try those out.  In fact, until this latest try, I’d pretty much given up on the idea of Linux altogether.


Wubi-Dooby, Wubi-Dooby, Wubi-Dooby, Wubi Dooby, Dooby-Do-Wah-Do-Wah-Do-Wah

Then I found myself randomly browsing websites one day and stumbled upon some information regarding Wubi, a little program which enables a person to easily install a particular Linux distro (depending on which version of Wubi and which distro you use) and have it dual boot with Windows (meaning you can choose which Operating System to use on bootup).

As opposed to using a Live CD/DVD, actual installation of Linux in the past had always been a scary concept for me.  I apparently had to play around with partitions, allocating space for the new OS, and risk the possibility of overwriting some of my Windows data if I didn’t know what I was doing … which I didn’t.

But Wubi took care of all this for me, quickly and easily!  Live CD/DVD? Not being able to write to the disk?  Risking the possibility of rooting up my Windows data?  Nope: A safe, clean, dual boot machine was on the cards!

Now, given that my Vista Basic system was taking longer and longer to boot up over the years, and the fan would chug away more and more often, even when the computer was just sitting there not particularly doing anything (despite there being no viruses, spyware, crap files, etc … at least, none that came through Comodo Firewall, or that I could find with Avast Anti-Virus, MalwareBytes Anti-Malware, CCleaner, etc), and given that using Wubi was so easy, I thought I’d give it a go.  After all, if it didn’t work, removal was as easy as going to Add-Remove Programs in Windows!


Wubi and Distros

A lot of people figure they can just use Wubi to install any version of Ubuntu, but that’s not the case.  Each version of Wubi specifically installs a specific version of Ubuntu, so – if you’re interested in dual-booting Windows and Ubuntu – make sure you get the version of Wubi for the version of Ubuntu you want to install.


My New OS?

The particular iteration of Wubi I found myself looking at was for Ubuntu 10.04.3 LTS Lucid Lynx.

Now, Ubuntu has a 6-monthly release cycle, and (at the time) two more versions had come out since Lucid Lynx (at present, it’s three).  But Lynx had something called ‘LTS’, meaning ‘Long-Term Support’.

Realizing I didn’t know what I was doing, I figured the words ‘long-term support’ sounded pretty good.

Of course, now that I know that all releases of Ubuntu (and, indeed, flavours of Linux) have support of varying lengths, it’s not really an issue.

But at the time, LTS sounded pretty good … so Lucid Lynx it was!

(I’m sticking with it until the next LTS release, though, which is due to be released in April, 2012, but that’s only because it’ll be easier to upgrade from one LTS to the next, and because I’ve got a lot of reading material for Lucid Lynx to get through, and I’m kinda OCD about that sort of thing). 😆

Anyway, I downloaded it all and went to work …


He Bunts, He Scores!

In a surprisingly short period of time, I was booting into Lucid Lynx!  It was fast, my computer’s fan wasn’t whirring away, and – wonder of wonders – it detected my wireless modem, the first time any of the Linux distros I’d tried had done so!



Cast a Cold Eye …

There’s been a bit of a learning curve, but not so steep as you’d imagine.  I found excellent documentation within the OS itself, books in the library, more bright and shiny magazines in the papershop, and bunches upon bunches of tutorials and answers to questions online, so there’s no problem finding information and help!

Now, naturally, the first thing I did was look to see how it compared to Windows …

Windows, of course, comes in different versions.  Using Vista as my yardstick (since it’s what I’ve also got installed), you’ve got Vista Starter, then, for a little more money, you’ve got Vista Home Basic.  Dig a little more out of your wallet (or purse as the case may be) and you’ve got Vista Home Premium.  Run a business?  One of your expenses may be licences for Vista Business or Vista Enterprise.  Then, if you’re feeling particularly flush, you can get a copy of Vista Ultimate.

Each of these versions have different features, of course.  A great ‘for instance’ would be the lack of the famous Windows Aero theme in Vista Basic.  Bells and whistles, sure, but if you want ’em, you’ve gotta pay for ’em.

Not so with Ubuntu.  If your hardware can handle it (and most can, even older machines), you get cool translucency, wibbly wobbly (but not timey wimey, I’m afraid) animation of screen elements, multiple virtual desktops, various ways of moving to those desktops (animated cubes and whatnot) etc., etc.  With Ubuntu, you’re not forced to pay extra for a particular feature; it’s just there if you wanna use it.

Unlike Windows, Ubuntu comes ‘out of the box’ with pretty much everything you need, installed and ready to go.  For instance, once upon a time, in Windows, if you needed office-oriented programs, you had to buy a copy of Microsoft Office. In Ubuntu, OpenOffice is installed and ready to go (though this has changed to LibreOffice in the later versions).  Of course, OpenOffice and LibreOffice are available for Windows users as well (and – whether in Windows or Linux – all versions are strong on compatibility with Microsoft Office files), but the point is, you don’t have to faff about finding and installing it.  In Ubuntu, it’s there, and you just get to work.

As is the case with versions of Windows, different functionality with Microsoft Office comes at increasing price.  Need a database program in Microsoft Office?  Get ready to rummage around in those pockets, because you’re not gonna get it in Office Starter, Office Online, Office Home and Student, Office Home and Business, or Office Standard.  You will get it with Office Professional.  Or you’ll get it as part of OpenOffice or LibreOffice … for nothing.

There are bunches of programs ready to go in Ubuntu, but if you want more, you can find thousands and thousands through the Software Centre.  Hitting Applications > Ubuntu Software Centre brings up links to a central repository of software ready to download and use.  For instance, in my version (I’ve added a few repository addresses to it, thus increasing the packages available), I’ve got 33,495 software packages I can choose to install.  No more hunting all over the Internet for software to do that particular thing!  It’s all in one place.

Here’s a few worth the download. (You can use these on Windows, too, BTW):

Wanna do some really advanced image editing? Got a few hundred (or thousand) dollars for Adobe Photoshop? No? Then use GIMP for free.  Not as disabled as it sounds, the GNU Image Manipulation Program is a completely open source graphics and photo editing program that’s right up there with Photoshop.



Need to do some vector art?  Still paying off that credit card and can’t afford a copy of Adobe Illustrator?  Try Inkscape.



Excellent examples of artwork created using GIMP and/or Inkscape can be found here.

Feel like getting into 3D art?  Or animation?  You could lash out and spend, literally, thousands on software like Autodesk 3DS Max, but if you just wanna see if you’ve got a talent for it, or have a play, you’re not gonna want to do that.  Try Blender.



These Open Source programs aren’t somehow lesser versions of their commercial cousins, either.  Example?  This was made using Blender!



Still, there’s a few things I can only do in Windows …

When I want to quickly rename a handful of files, instead of firing up some sort of batch file renaming program (like CKRename, for instance), I’ll do it by hand.  F2 works when you click on a file in either Windows or Ubuntu to allow you to start renaming the file, but I can’t then hit TAB and go to the next file; I’ve gotta click onto the next file with my mouse to continue, or – upon clicking enter – the file sorts itself automatically how I’ve told the file browser to sort it (alphabetically, for instance) – a problem if you have hundreds or files in the folder and just want to move on and rename the next one.  As far as I know, there’s no TAB equivalent in Ubuntu to simply move on and rename the next file, which kind of interrupts the workflow.

In Windows I can tizzy up my folders by selecting pictures for icons (say an Opera logo for a folder full of things to do with the Opera browser, for instance).  There’s a great deal of customization for Ubuntu, and – for all I know – I can do this in Ubuntu as well (though I haven’t figured out how yet).

In Windows I can make custom menus on the taskbar and put links directly to files in there.  In Ubuntu, it seems, I can’t do custom panel folders (I can customize them, sure, but not with files, only locations and programs).

In Windows I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to use Paint Shop Pro and Photoshop (yeah, I know I can run ’em through Wine or virtualization, or whatever – I’m still learning about that).  In Ubuntu, I’ve gotta try and get used to GIMP.  Don’t get me wrong: I’m looking forward to it!  It just works a little differently, but it’s a powerful program!

I’ve customized Microsoft Office Word 2003 to within an inch of its life to make it the way I want it.  Sure, I can do this with Open Office or Libre Office, but I spent a long time making it the way I wanted Windows, so I’ll have to spend a long time doing the same thing in LibreOffice.

I have links to any possible file or folder I might use or refer to throughout the course of my day.

Opera is configured exactly how I want it.  Theoretically, I can import my Opera settings from Windows via Opera Link, though this didn’t work worth a damn for me, unfortunately.  If I could actually delete what’s already stored there and maybe start from scratch … and if things kept the same damn order I placed ’em in, instead of appearing in a random jumble, I’d consider trying it again.

On the other (Ubuntu) hand, Gwibber (Ubuntu’s social networking client) didn’t work worth a damn for me, either.  I couldn’t even add my Twitter account to it for a while, although I found a workaround … sort of.  But then I got tweets from months ago, instead of the latest ones!  Yeah, I know there’s bunches of support out there, but I’m going with Turpial as a Twitter client on Ubuntu.

And I’m using Pidgin for instant messaging instead of the built-in Empathy (hey, I’m using Opera instead of the default Firefox) because Windows Live Messenger breaks every time they have an update, and none of the so-called ‘solutions’ out there ever work for it.  So at least I’ve got IM again.  Now if I only had people to talk to … 😕

There’s a few other little bits and pieces, but this is turning into a really long post, and it wasn’t meant to be.



And the Verdict is …

So .. after all this, what’s the verdict?  Am I a convert?  Will I be completely erasing my version of Vista and taking up the Ubuntu banner?

Now, before I go any further, I will say that I’ve been spending more and more time in Ubuntu, primarily because it’s much faster.  I turn the computer on, choose Ubuntu as the OS I want to use and I’m in, connected to the internet and computing away in 30 seconds, tops.  In Vista, I’d turn the computer on, go to the loo, come back, log in, go make some coffee, come back, get all comfortable, turn the TV on, flick through some channels until I found something I could stand as background noise, then sit and wait for the firewall and anti-virus icons to finally appear before getting to work.

And I’m not even joking.



So, yes, that’s the main reason I’m in Ubuntu so much now.

But there are folks out there who are absolutely rabid in their support of varying operating systems, and some of them would be completely gobsmacked at what I’m about to say next:

I like both.



That’s right.  I’m happy either way.  So long as they’re both working right.

Ubuntu has some more advantages over Windows (you don’t have to pay more money (rather, any money) for different versions to get the eye candy, for a start). But …

I’ve spent years getting everything set up in Windows just the way I want it.  It works for me when I’m in there (even if it is slower than Ubuntu).

(Of course, if I’d started out with the decision to dual boot, I’d have organized things differently, but I didn’t, so I haven’t).

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that there’s a lot of learning, customization, organization and general farting about … but I suppose that’s true of any computer or Operating System.

Soon I’ll be getting a little netbook computer (paid in installments starting earlier in the year) with Windows 7 Starter on it, which I’ll use as an ersatz eBook reader, and I’ll have to do some learning, customization, organization and general farting about on that to get it the way I want it.

(Okay, maybe not customization, since Windows 7 Starter apparently doesn’t allow much in the way of customization).

But, yes …

I like both.

But I’m spending more time in Ubuntu …

Although … if there’s one thing regarding Ubuntu that I have a real problem with, it’s how much time I spend faffing about with it!  I haven’t done anything resembling actual work since I put the thing on my computer!  I’ve been spending all my time learning, customizing, organizing and generally farting about with it! 😆


23 thoughts on “Clean Bunts

  1. David, I've been using Linux for a while now. I tried several different distros just to see which ones I like best. On this machine as we speak I have triple booted Vista, Linux Mint 10 Julia and Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal). None used Wubi. I tried that once upon a time and it didn't work for me. Just know that you always need to install Windows first. Mint is an even easier-to-use distro built on top of Ubuntu, and it is my favorite. I like Ubuntu, also. On one of my computers I have dual booted Linux Mint Kde with Linux Peppermint. Peppermint is a light, fast fun little distro that doesn't take up much space but it does what the big dogs do. I had been warned against Wubi by some Linux geeks because it doesn't always work right, so I learned to do my own partitioning tables.I like Open Office. Libre Office seems to be pretty good also.I have two computers set up and have a wireless home network set up so I can share between the two computers. I just recently bought a new computer that has Windows 7 Home Premium. Don't really like Windows anymore but I use it sometimes. I love Linux. It's fast, secure, stable and FREE, and the problem of incompatible hardware has been solved just about with all the Linux distros in the last two years. I had hardware incompatibility problems when I first started trying to use Linux, but no longer. As soon as I install a new distro now, I am immediately online with no problems. And my network is accepted more quickly by Linux than by Windows.So, generally speaking, I prefer Linux over Windows, but will use both for different things.BTW, Mad Scientist and Dr. John v. Kampen are Linux geeks and can help a lot with any questions you might have. Tamil, too.

  2. Now that's something I've never gotten into, despite some thought on the matter, as it's something that is just too much damn effort and risk for the price we pay for computers (about half the price of a good phone with half the functionality too 😉 ).We stay with Windows because it's basic and easy and does what we want, and we have no need for anything else. I'm sure we'd be the same about Linux if it came pre-installed, but it's too much effort to try out when we're already happy enough.

  3. Dennis,Apparently he's left Opera. All I saw was a tweet about how he's 'sick of being screwed over'. Maybe it was something to do with the recent upheaval in html/bbcode? Not sure. Karen'll probably know …But he's still on Twitter (and probably still using that Google-Math-Sign thing the youngsters have nowadays, too 😆 ). Linda,You sound quite a bit more advanced than me (which wouldn't be difficult)! :lol:I'd love to try a bunch of different distros, but I've only got an 80Gb hard drive to try 'em out on; all I could spare for Ubuntu was half my free space (about 15Gb of 30Gb). I know things could fit into smaller spaces than that if needed, but I like a lot of space to fill up with programs that I won't ever get around to learning how to use properly. :lol:One day …I mentioned to Aadil not so long back that I was playing with Ubuntu. During the course of the conversation, he said:Originally posted by qlue:

    if you install the Lxde desktop or Lubuntu, which is based on Lxde, you have mostly the same elements as are Found in Crunchbang. Just add vlc, tint2 and Conky, then select 'openbox session' at the login prompt. (bottom of the screen under sessions) Then you need to configure your Conky and tint2 and configure your openbox menu. .Or just use the Lxde desktop which should be a good primer.

    I really hadn't the slightest idea what he was talking about back then. 😆 Funny thing, though, is that it's looking kinda familiar now! :left: :right:(Curiously, LXDE didn't recognize my wireless connection! :doh: I can't figure that one out, because it should have nothing to do with which desktop environment I'm using! Oh, well, back to Gnome … )Mik, A lot of computers are coming with Linux pre-installed on them these days (as well as Google OS and such), though they're a lot harder to find outside the US, I suspect. But I get your meaning. I doubt I'd have tried it if I didn't have a Tb drive to back things up to beforehand and some Vista recovery disks …

  4. I've been playing around with Ubuntu for a while. And for the most part it's been no more painful than using Windows. I have a laptop that dual-boots with Win 7 and an old desktop that is pure Linux. Interesting what you were saying about upgrading. I never knew that you only go from LTS to LTS versions. I have had a few problems, but with each new version it gets easier and smoother. On a related note, if you upgrade online I suggest you do it with a wired connection rather than wireless. When I went to 11.10 the update disabled my laptop's wireless connection halfway through and then it couldn't download some needed files at the end. It did finish successfully but it was just extra hassle. The desktop, on a wired connection, went through just fine.

  5. Originally posted by H82typ:

    Hey! What happened to Conor?

    A particular person pissed him off…which was the last straw, I guess. He said he's, "Sick of being fucked over by people", so he deleted his account on here. *shrug*

  6. I suspect I'll just get the download and put it on a DVD (or find one on a shiny new magazine from the papershop). That way, if it roots itself, I'll have the other one to fall back on.I can upgrade through the other versions to the next LTS if I so choose, but to skip all that, it's easier to wait for the next LTS. And I'm just starting to get Gnome the way I want it … I'm not too eager to have to do the same with Unity. 😆 (I know I could get back to Gnome instead of Unity if I wanted on the newer versions, but what's the point?)

  7. Such a short-time user of Ubuntu and I'm (vaguely) considering the possibility of alternatives once the next LTS comes around and Lynx isn't supported in the current repos anymore (meaning I'll have no choice but to use Unity). The latest PCLinuxOS is very nice looking … :whistle: :lol:From what I've seen, Unity seems to be more steps to doing the same thing you used to do with less in Gnome. And a little less customization, too (though I could be wrong). Might have a play around with a Live CD for a while and see. I've already developed some fledgling Ubuntu loyalty, it seems. 😆

  8. I read through most of it, and liked it. I am hooked on Fedora, but am not really happy with their wifi-support. Is it better on Ubuntu? I might try Ubuntu on my netbook then… :)Cheers for this! Highly enjoyable.

  9. :happy: Thank you. :happy:Ubuntu seemed to be the only one to detect my wireless modem (which is really why I went with it). Of course, a lot of distros are probably capable of that nowadays (it's been a couple of years in some cases since I tested some of those initial Live CDs/DVDs). I found a Live CD/DVD of the latest version of PCLinuxOS (2011.6) in a recent issue of LinuxFormat, and that worked quite well. A lot of people who've been put off by the later versions of Ubuntu's use of Unity are going to PCLinuxOS, apparently. Or Linux Mint. In fact, Mint has recently edged out Ubuntu for most favoured distro (according to DistroWatch!)

  10. I remember when I got my first Mac; I turned it on, and it was on, and I thought; what now? I'd spent so much of my XP time just keeping the damned system working.I'd love to try Linux, but it would be mean buying a P.C.

  11. David, I think you would like Linux Mint. As I said, it is built on top of Ubuntu, but it is more user friendly for a Linux novice. And I think it is better organized than Ubuntu The menu is simpler for sure. I've heard many adverse comments on the Unity desktop for Ubuntu. I have the new Ubuntu, but am using the classic Ubuntu desktop, which is an option when you install Ubuntu. Some of the older graphic accellerators and graphics cards will not support the complete Unity desktop features.The machine I'm on has 320GB harddisk, and my new Windows 7 pc has a 1TB hard disk so I don't have to worry about space for each distro. And I too like to have apps installed that I don't always learn thoroughly how to use.

  12. I think Mint will be one I'd like to try at some point in the future. Maybe when Lynx stops being supported and if I end up hating Unity. 😆 The way I figure it, Unity is just a different way of doing things. I didn't know how to use Ubuntu a couple of months ago, but I'm learning (which is quite nice … each day I'm learning something new and putting it to good use … it's satisfying, somehow). I figure the same will apply for Unity. I'll learn about it, play with it, give it a chance (once the next LTS comes out in April). If not, I suspect I'll end up being one of the people who migrate to Mint. :)(I've only got an 80Gb hard disk, otherwise I'd be trying out bunches of distros simultaneously). 😆

  13. Great post! :hat: .Gavin, the latest Mac computers are Intel based and can run Linux. Although why someone using a Mac would want to run Linux on it is beyond me. 🙄 . An older 2nd hand PC would be a better choice for experimenting with Linux. :up: .David, the WiFi issues that plague the Linux World are partly related to the drivers needed for some brands of Wlan cards, and partly related to slightly different specifications used for WiFi in different parts of the World. The Canonical team in to great lengths to make certain that Ubuntu doesn't have these problems. :up: . Since Lubuntu is officially part of the Canonical family now, (since Oneiric) it should detect your WiFi properly with the next LTS release. :up: .I don't do upgrades as I've found that results can be unpredictable. I save my various data files, movies, porn etc. (did I say porn? I meant educational films :whistle: ) then I do a fresh install of the latest version of whichever Distro I'm using. :up: .I find that Ubuntu is too bloated with stuff that I don't need and don't use. I also find that Nautilus File Manager tends to bog things down after a while. (it's a vital part of Gnome, so you have to have it if you're using Gnome. :up: )I've never owned a Windows based PC so I can't compare. But I sometimes get asked to help others with their machines and I always struggle with Windows. :shrug: .

  14. Originally posted by qlue:

    Great post!

    😮 :happy:Yesterday I decided I wanted to try upgading to 10.10 … ಥ_ಥToday, I'm back in Lynx, reconfiguring all my settings, having to rewrite/re-edit/reconfigure the few dozen documents I lost 'cause I'd saved 'em to my /home/david/documents directory instead of my external hard drive … Wonderfully stable system and I'm having a lot of fun with it, but it's not a good thing if you try to upgrade without backing up first. :doh: :lol:You figure I'd learn. Lift with your knees, not your back …Touching an electric fence is not fun …Back up your files and settings before an upgrade …

  15. Yeah, like I said, I'd only do it if I had a P.C. to play with. I have an old power mac, an Intel, and this iPad. Linux is not in the running.

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