Ubuntu - someone convince me to change...

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Thurston Garden
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Ubuntu - someone convince me to change...

Post: #60666 Thurston Garden
Thu Jun 07, 2007 9:25 am

We only have one machine (4 year old Vaio PCG-K215B), and it's on lots (no TV here). It is getting slower and slower. Having turned our back on Explorer in favour of Firefox worked wonders. I kick myself for not changing sooner.....

I dread a clean install, but it's looming, so, should I change to Ubuntu? There's not much info on the site that I spotted, but there are clearly some techno geeks on here hehe.

email & t'internet are priorities. we also have a Squeezebox running via Slimserver for streaming music - this is nearly as important as t'internet.

I do a lil bit of consultancy so the ability to open word and excel files would be handy, but not essential. Reading my excel accounts would be though.

So come on.......someone sell Ubuntu to me!
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Post: #60677 catalyst
Thu Jun 07, 2007 11:17 am

i've been using ubuntu for a couple years, and cant knock it in any way.
i recently ordered a free disk of the latest version, and it just seems to pick up all my hardware, no probs.
when i first looked into linux, i had to try to install about 5 different versions until i found one that found my monitor and modem, but ubuntu is much more sophisticated than any i was using then.
benefits: lots of communities on the internet, whenever i have a prob i just google it and always find advice from someone.
no viruses etc
free, and free software.

i dont know about squeezebox, perhaps google squeezebox and linux for ideas if it will work fine?
email and internet, i use firefox and opera, all good.
ms files: openoffice will open all excel etc, i do our accounts in OOffice and save as an excel file for the accountant.

its just all, wellll, better :)

you can download or order a free cd here:
http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu/download

another option is to go for one of the commercial linuxs, then you'd get support. cheaper than windows.

heres a list of the top distros:

http://distrowatch.com/dwres.php?resource=major

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Post: #60680 Muddypause
Thu Jun 07, 2007 11:37 am

Well, I think you may already have made the decision - you just want someone to confirm it.

I've already said elsewhere that I had some tough times getting any version of Linux to work on my machine. Personally, I found it an extremely frustrating learning experience - this was due entirely to a combination of ignorance, stupidity, and an old machine.

But I finally have Ubuntu working without problems, and I think I could now install other flavours OK. Google should find you a few installation guides, but I found that, of course, nothing will specifically address my particular machine. I found it helpful to keep detailed notes of what I did that worked during the installation of the OS and applications, so that I can repeat it more easily if I cock up somewhere. The thing that constantly confounded me was that, on some older machines, you have to set up a separate boot partition quite near the start of the hard disk drive, or the BIOS won't find it. This would only be a problem in a dual boot with Windows.

It has to be said, Ubuntu (with the Gnome desktop) is a fairly Windows-like experience - and as a confirmed point-and-click person, a desktop interface is really the thing that makes Linux something I can consider using. Installing new applications is also pretty simple, provided you want something that is available as a package from the list. But you will need to come to terms with the geeky command line at some stage.

If you dual boot with Windows, you can set up a shared disk partition so that you can access data files from both systems. I think it's a good idea to set up a complete partition scheme first of all. If you need to compare notes on this bit, check back.

Open Office should be able to run both Excel and Word documents (although a friend of mine has just junked Linux because, apparently, it won't handle heavily formatted Word documents properly). As OO is also available for Windows, you could familiarise yourself with this first. There are one or two other spreadsheets and word processors, too.

I haven't really found an email client that I like - but that's just personal preference, and a minor detail. It is a bit of a chore having to learn how to use new applications, too. For me, the greatest difficulty is not having anything that will properly run a Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet (in a funny way, Microsoft even manage to control the alternatives, too). At this point, my 1-2-3 files are the only real reason I have to keep nipping back into Windows. It will be a mammoth task to hand-convert all my spreadsheets to OO.

Edit to add:

I found the Live CD to be a complete waste of time. This is probably because my machine is very slow by modern standards - it would take a full three minutes between clicking on an icon and a window opening. This effectively makes it impossible to use and install from. If this proves to be a problem for you too, get the Alternate CD, which will simply go straight into an installation, without trying to run the operating system from the CD first.
Last edited by Muddypause on Thu Jun 07, 2007 11:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post: #60681 Thurston Garden
Thu Jun 07, 2007 11:55 am

Thanks for both detailed replies! I think the thing that's putting me off is having problems and then not being able to use the machine for a while. The laptop is used for about 3 hours during th day and all evening, but either one of us. There are times when we both want to use it, but cant/wont justify a second machine.

Our HD is on 40Gb and, in Sony style, is already partitioned in 3. C: which has programs and files on, D: which is mp3's (and full) and a back up OS somewhere else. Do I understand that I can further partition C: to install Ubuntu on - how do you select how you want the machine to start?

I have a sneaking suspicion the OH will totally resist any change, so me running Ubuntu and him running Windows might be a good option!

I forgot that I recently 'acquired' Autocad 2007 and want to learn to use it. Probably another reason for keeping some sort of Windows somewhere.

Oh, and having checked, Slimserver is Ubuntu friendly!! http://www.slimdevices.com/su_downloads.html

Perhaps all I need is a rainy day?????
More rubbing of the chin required though!
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Post: #60684 catalyst
Thu Jun 07, 2007 12:09 pm

normally if you try to install ubuntu on a system that already has windows, it will give you options to make a new partition etc....
and then a screen will come up when you boot asking you which OS you want to use this session. i often have several versions of linux running on different hdds in the same machine.

if your computer will run from a livecd this is a great way to introduce yourself to linux, and make sure it picks up your network etc...

rainy day, yes :)
have fun

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Post: #60685 Thurston Garden
Thu Jun 07, 2007 12:10 pm

I have just requested the CD :cheers:
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Post: #60691 Muddypause
Thu Jun 07, 2007 12:43 pm

In terms of setting up partitions, I found it easiest to do all this first - this seemed to make the installation a whole lot easier (although the installation program does include a partitioning tool of its own).

Get hold of a copy of GParted, which I have found to be an excellent partitioning tool. It runs from CD, and will show you graphical images of all the partitions on your disk. You can resize them, move them, delete them, and create new ones. It's pretty safe to use - nothing it committed to disk until you give it the final say so, so you can plan it all out on screen first.

In your case, I think I would consider doing something like this:

Dump all the mp3s onto CD,
Empty the D: and E: drives
If you want to have a shared partition, transfer all the data you would like to access from both Windows and Ubuntu into the D: drive
Delete the E: drive (using GParted) and use that space to install Ubuntu. You can further refine this scheme - others may have better ideas, too. I'm happy to go into more detail about my install, but I'm by no means an expert.

When you install Ubuntu, it will add a little program called Grub. This will display a screen when you first boot up your machine, and will give you a choice of which operating system to boot into.
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Post: #60696 Thurston Garden
Thu Jun 07, 2007 2:07 pm

I don't have an E: perhaps you mean the windows recovery software partition?

If I had a spare £100 (which, sadly I don't) I would buy a networkable HD and have all my music and photos on there.
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Post: #60704 Muddypause
Thu Jun 07, 2007 2:47 pm

Thurston Garden wrote:I don't have an E: perhaps you mean the windows recovery software partition?


Dunno what a 'recovery software partition' is. I had assumed you simply meant you had three partitions visible from Winders. If it's an important thing, you can still resize your other partitions (subject to them not being full) to make room for Linux.

If I had a spare £100 (which, sadly I don't) I would buy a networkable HD and have all my music and photos on there.


It does become hard to justify that sort of money when you can now buy a complete system for £300. Last year I bought a 250GB HDD from Ebuyer for about 70 quid. They are half that price (or twice that size) now. If you have a look around their site, you can get a decent 80GB drive for £25 - 3.5" IDE, so prolly no good for a laptop, but get a caddy for it for a tenner and use it as a USB external drive. Or for 40 quid get a ready made 60GB external drive. Or have a look at the laptop drives for an upgrade.

I did my first experiments with Linux by unplugging my HD, and using an old spare drive I had. That way I could figure out how to do an install without risking anything.
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Post: #60706 Thurston Garden
Thu Jun 07, 2007 3:11 pm

Now an 80Gb drive is tempting! Would I just power down, unscrew the back, unclip/plug the old HD and stuck th new one in it's place? Is it that easy? If so I might have to have a rummage down the back of the sofa and see how much money I can find.....

Given that we just have 40Gb now, that would be a very economical way to pep things up!
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Post: #60722 Muddypause
Thu Jun 07, 2007 6:37 pm

If laptops are similar to my desktop PC, then pretty well all you do is swap it over. Make sure you get the right size and type, though - it'll prolly be a 2.5" drive (my desktop PC uses 3.5" IDE drives). You may need to format the drive (see below) if it's not already done. The Bios of the computer should then tell you the spec of the new drive when you boot up. Wulf, or others, may be able to go into more detail, but I don't remember it being more involved than that.

May be a good idea to visit the website of the manufacturer and see if there is any software to help with installation. My Western Digital drive just slotted in to where the old one was, but the WD website did have some useful tools that helped - most importantly, it has to be formatted, or the OS won't see it, and possibly partitioned (you could use GParted to do all this - see earlier post).

Some more software from their site enabled me to copy the contents of the old drive straight over onto the new drive (bootable system and all). The software to do this was put onto a floppy disk, the computer booted into MS-DOS, and the software run from there - it has to do this because it can't copy or format a drive that is in use. Obviously to copy stuff over you will need both drives connected at once - a desktop PC has enough connectors to do this; dunno about a laptop. If you are doing a clean install from scratch, you may not even need to format the new drive, because the OS should do it.

If there is room in the laptop for both drives, it may be sensible to put Windows on one drive and Linux on the other.

I have a sort of long term view of hard drives - data is only ever going to accumulate; never decrease, and even if this computer finally dies, the hard drive can probably be put into a new computer, simply transferring everything onto the new machine with it. That's why I went a little mad and bought such a big drive, even though Windows can't actually see all of it. Even more madly, I've got three HDDs installed ATM.
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Re: Ubuntu - someone convince me to change...

Post: #60757 urbanwookie
Thu Jun 07, 2007 11:49 pm

Thurston Garden wrote:We only have one machine (4 year old Vaio PCG-K215B)


Right...I hate to be a wet blanket but installing Linux on a laptop is not the same as installing on a desktop. Laptop hardware is FAR more proprietary than most of the chipsets that end up in big name desktops. Sony are perhaps the most protective of all the major laptop vendors - you even have to prove ownership in order to download some drivers from their web site.

I'd hate for you to wind up with a machine that is unusable and have this failure be your first impression of Linux so I'd strongly advise you have a look at the available documentation before starting.

First of all, have a look at the Ubuntu Sony Laptop page - https://wiki.ubuntu.com/LaptopTestingTeam/Sony

Also check the Linux on Laptops site - http://www.linux-on-laptops.com/sony.html

The most common problem is onboard modems, ethernet cards are usually less troublesome.

Once you've had a look around for compatibility issues, try booting a LIVE CD version of Linux - Ubuntu seem to provide one - and check that it boots up and that your hardware is detected. If it doesn't work out of the box, you might need to try another Linux distribution or start reading...Linux WILL work but it might need you to work too!

Other than that I wish you every success. I've been running Linux for years now and have yet to find anything better but I don't run it on my laptop!. I still have to use Windows for one or two work applications - funnily enough, one is a CAD package too - but generally I find I miss the Linux apps more when I have to work on Windows than the other way 'round.

The real beauty of Linux is that there is usually a simple way to accomplish things that would require expensive third party applications on Windows. A random example is the ability to capture streaming radio and convert it to MP3 so I can listen to it on my audio player while working in the garden. I've got a 3-line script that does it all automagically using a couple of freely available tools. There are other tools that'll crop, rotate, resize and watermark a directory full of photos from a single command line.

Some of the graphical applications native to Linux are also available for Windows so you can get a taste of what Linux provides. Audacity is a great audio editor, GIMP is a professional level image editing package. Dia is a diagramming and flowcharting utility. Inkscape is a scalable vector drawing package. And then there are the big guns like Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird and OpenOffice.org that everyone knows.

Might also be worth checking with your local LUG too: http://www.lug.org.uk/lugs/scotland.php

I hope this helps?

urb

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Post: #60771 revdode
Fri Jun 08, 2007 6:50 am

I'm runnning the latest version of Kubuntu (Ubunutu with the KDE desktop - Linux is all about choice) on a laptop. It has some cranky crippled hardware which has given me problem in the past. The latest version picked up everything* and it just runs now. Kubuntu now comes as a dual live and install CD/DVD, you boot the system test everything then if you are happy that all is working backup your data and click on the install icon.

Laptops tended to have less generic hardware than desktops in the past although I think that is changing with many commodity laptops coming into the market built pretty much to a formula. I bought a cheap Acer 1692 initially had some graphics problems, and issues with the wireless connection. These have all been resolved and even running KDE the machine is faster running Linux than it was with XP.

I also dip back into windows on the odd occasion to run CAD packages, Alibre and Solidedge mainly sadly I haven't been able to get my hands on a copy of ProE for Linux:(

*There is an exception - the build in memory card reader doesn't run on Linux at all, on windows it caused frequent crashes and lockups so I use an external USB reader instead.

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Re: Ubuntu - someone convince me to change...

Post: #60780 Thurston Garden
Fri Jun 08, 2007 7:55 am

urbanwookie wrote:
Thurston Garden wrote:We only have one machine (4 year old Vaio PCG-K215B)


Also check the Linux on Laptops site - http://www.linux-on-laptops.com/sony.html

urb


Ah, one page is in French (perhaps th OH can decipher it) but I can see enough minuses and only one plus hehe.

Maybe booting from the disk first is the best option, and if it aint gonna play, then nothing is lost.

We might not cope (even for a few days) without the laptop!
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Post: #60834 catalyst
Fri Jun 08, 2007 2:29 pm

i know this is off topic, but i just installed the latest ubuntu, feisty fawn, and i have to say it is fantastic.... and with easyubuntu it all just a breeze!


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