Sunday, February 06, 2011

Ubuntu Linux

I'm feeling pretty chuffed with myself.

I've got an old Asus Eee 701 netbook, which has been gathering dust for a while. Originally it had Xandros Linux as an operating system (OS), which was OK, but not great. I eventually took the plunge and after much tweaking managed to install a very cut down version of Windows XP on it. That gave me the comfortable Windows interface, but to be honest it wasn't much fun on a 7" screen. Additionally the arrival of a 13" Macbook Pro consigned the Eee to the furthest corners of the study.

Recently, I got it out and was fiddling around, and decided to have a crack at installing Ubuntu's netbook Linux edition on it. Ubuntu is now one of, if not the Linux distro of choice for many, and has come a long way from the old command line only interfaces of Linux variations of yore.

So armed with a USB flash disk to download the distribution and act as the install disk, I duly cracked on. In the end, it was pretty painless - I consider myself an experienced rather than advanced user, and I can follow instructions, and it was straightforward. The Ubuntu interface was a revelation after my previous (albeit limited) experience of Linux. It's far more "Windows" like, and the Ubuntu software centre in particular does away with all that synaptic and repository stuff for installing software. which had previously put me right off. It's there hidden away if you want it, as is the terminal console - but I don't particularly.

It hooked up to my network like a dream, and I installed OpenOffice with no hassles - all this on a netbook with only a 4GB SSD mind you.

So, I've got a working Ubuntu netbook. Next up, though I wanted to connect my printer. This works over a wireless network, and the Ubuntu software centre didn't find the relevant printer drivers (it's a multi-function Canon MP560. So I downloaded the drivers after a quick google. I hadn't a clue what I was supposed to do, so double clicked a bunch of files, seemed to extract from the archive, tried to open/run some files that looked like executables and got a few errors. Another google suggested I had to edit an install executable. So I found a text editor, edited the offending line as instructed, and via a quick trip to the terminal window (really, this is gobbledy gook to me too) and a comand line instruction - bingo! Installed. Not only working, but I can print and scan - first time. Brilliant (considering I'm flying by the seat of my pants).

I've also just installed the brilliant Dropbox that allows you to store files "in the cloud" and then sync them and make them available to any device you install Dropbox on.

That just about does it for the moment. I've now got everything I need. A small, robust device, running a tidy OS that's Internet connected, I can print from and has all my key documents available to me via Dropbox.

If you're a real tech-head, this probably doesn't sound like very much of an achievement. Believe me, installing ANY OS is often fraught, one you are unfamiliar with is often treacherous. To get everything up and working, almost first time is an achievement, especially when you have to go digging in executables and editing files.

So all in all I'm very pleased with myself. I can now truly say that I am diversity personified when it comes to computing. I've got a Windows 7 desktop PC, a Macbook Pro laptop running Snow Leopard, an Ubuntu Linux driven netbook and an iPhone running iOS4.2. A tool (and OS) for every occasion!


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