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Ubuntu Update

Having used Ubuntu as my primary Operating System without a glitch for over a week, I’m beginning to make preparations for establishing it as my primary OS on my laptop, alongside with a small clean install of Windows XP.

While Ubuntu may not work for everybody, it works for me.  Over the years, I have installed numerous versions of Windows and numerous versions of Linux, and Ubuntu has been the easiest OS to install that I have ever come across.  These screenshots are very representative of the experience I had.

While apparent registry corruption is the immediate cause for my switch from WindowsXP, the real root cause is much deeper.  For starters, I don’t like being frisked by things like GenuineCheck and legitcheck whenever I simply want to install a new package.  Second, the trade-off of being the same as everybody else — which affords me the ability to run a few more applications at the expense of being increasingly subjected to a wider range of viruses, spyware, and anti-viruses and anti-spyware — has become increasingly lopsided over the past few years.  Finally, my perception is that the center of innovation, in particular in terms of Internet based applications, has moved away from Windows.

Simply put, I like being able to say things like

apt-get install subversion

Accordingly, my primary development will now be on an Ubuntu based laptop, connected to my Debian server, my service provider's RedHat server, and the ASF's machines, mostly running FreeBSD.

Typically once the OS is installed (and all the fixes applied), the installation is only just beginning.  There are additional products to install, many from third parties.  With Ubuntu, one starts out with a minimal but workable system, complete with graphics, Internet, office, and media applications.  And with Synaptic Package Manager, literally thousands of additional packages can be installed with of a few clicks.

While point and click installation on top of a distribution that is refreshed twice a year solves a number of Debian issues, it doesn’t replace the command line.  The command line has a role for both the most experienced user and the least experience user.  The latter class of users can view the command line much like they view the address bar in their browser: as the target of a cut and paste operation.  A quick search on Ubuntu turns up a pretty comprehensive starter guide for most things you might need.  Each instruction amounts to a series of cut and paste tasks.

Those tasks don’t cover corporate specific requirements.  In my case, this reduces to three items: I need a VPN.  I need access to SameTime.  And I need access to Notes.  For those within IBM, I placed my experiences here.

The size of the starter guide mentioned above is quite surprising.  One would have thought that this list would shrink with every release.  In many cases, the reason why this is not done is not technical, it is because of policy.  I believe that this is the true limiting factor in ease of use, in both Windows and Linux.

The use case that drives this point home most is DRM.  Variations of Cory’s bad for society scenario, but this time involving software – particularly software that involves viewing media.

As I mentioned above, the last time I tried to install something on Windows, I first had to prove that I wasn’t a common criminal.  This involved a GenuineCheck, followed by a legitcheck.  The latter involved me turning my laptop upside down and copying and correctly typing twenty five random characters.

The comparable experience on Linux occurs when you want to try to install something that is “non-free”.  Typically this requires finding instructions on the Internet that require you to directly edit a configuration file, and then issue a series of commands on the command line.  And the results may or may not be stable.  Nor can you file a bug report on such matters.  Essentially, non-free is the darknet equivalent for GNU based software distributions.

Within the domain of restricted formats, things vary.  For example, Macromedia made Flash very simple: if Flash is not installed, when you browse a page that requires Flash, you see an icon that directs you a page that downloads the software.  For Java Applets, you are directed to a similar page, but after you press Next to install this plugin, you are told that it is not available, and that a manual install is required.  This appears to be more than a simple technical issue, i.e., it is a policy issue.

I fully realize that each of these policies are based on sound moral principles.  And that in the fullness of time, everything will be subsumed into the one true operating system, or become truly Free, and all these problems will go away.

Meanwhile (i.e., for the foreseeable future), these policies place an upper limit on simplicity and ease of use.  For some, this is a necessary trade-off.  Other users may not even realize that their concerns were involved in a trade-off made on their behalf.

Sam Ruby on Ubuntu

Sam Ruby: "Having used Ubuntu as my primary Operating System without a glitch for over a week, I’m beginning to make preparations for establishing it as my primary OS on my laptop, alongside with a small clean install of Windows...... [more]

Trackback from Randy Holloway Unfiltered


Sam Ruby on Ubuntu

Sam Ruby: "Having used Ubuntu as my primary Operating System without a glitch for over a week, I’m beginning to make preparations for establishing it as my primary OS on my laptop, alongside with a small clean install of Windows......

Excerpt from Randy Holloway Unfiltered at

No luck with the following address:

in the line “For those within IBM, I placed my experiences *here.*”

Posted by DeanG at

DeanG, that link is intended “For those within IBM”.  I apologize for that, and there really aren’t any deep dark secrets there, merely links to where you can get the specific packages that do things like VPN and how to configure them.  I thought about not including that link, but I really wanted to reach out to those within IBM who might be contemplating something similar, and provide a pointer to a place where they could contribute.

Posted by Sam Ruby at

Sam Ruby: Ubuntu Update

Well I must be right in choosing Ubuntu! If it is right for Sam Ruby (Ubuntu Update) it must be right for me ;-)... [more]

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Hi Sam, out of curiosity, why are you using Google redirectors for your links?

Posted by Jonas Galvez at

Please, for those of us who use IBM software but work for other organizations, try to post (a potentially scrubbed version) of your Sametime and Notes instructions somewhere where we can see them.

Posted by Kyle at

Sam Ruby: Ubuntu Update


Excerpt from at

I agree that Ubuntu is the easiest Linux desktop to use so far.  But there’s one last hurdle for laptops: no suspend/hibernate, at least not on my Compaq n610c.  This is showstopper.  My Windows box can easily suspend or hibernate.

Posted by SM at

I just erased XP and installed Ubuntu. Unfortunately it did not recognize my built-in Ethernet adaptor, nor did it recognize my PC Card Ethernet adapter, nor my 802.11g wireless PC card. Then I spent $70 for a new adapter that it also would not recognize. Thus I erased Ubuntu and am back on XP. A computer without network connectivity is pretty much worthless. Everything else looked great and I’m deeply disappointed that I cannot use it on my old laptop...but not so disappointed that I’m willing to keep dropping $70 for new hardware until I find something that works.

Posted by Eric Burke at

Sam Ruby likes/uses Ubuntu too

Sam Ruby likes/uses Ubuntu too. I’ve been using Ubuntu as my main OS for a few weeks now, and I’m not going back to Windows. I haven’t even booted Windows up in a few weeks. For a bunch of people Ubuntu seems to be the first Linux distribution that...

Excerpt from Keith's Weblog at

For those not quite so adventurous, I’d recommend sandboxing everything in VMware.  The new version has some great capabilities for incremental sandboxes - equivalent to version control for VMs...

Posted by directorblue at

I also switched over one of my PCs to Ubuntu last week. I definitely agree that apt-get is very cool, but in all fairness not everything is so easy to get working. Trying to get a fairly recent version of Mono with XSP running on Apache2 is tough, for example. If you add the back-ports and breezy cvs to sources.list you may get all kinds of library problems with all sorts of common things (like aspell). Linux is truly still a tinkerer’s OS. IMO, most run-of-the-mill users are better off staying on Windows for the foreseeable future as is anyone needing to work on the same project as people who use Visual Studio for .NET development - despite the ubiquity of spyware and the unfortunate but understandable legitcheck.

Posted by Christian Romney at

Jonas: fixed.  Thanks!

DeanG, Kyle: I’ll follow up with more information in another blog posting.  It may not be until next week that I get around to it though.

SM: I can suspend and resume using these instructions.

Eric: It certainly sounds like trying the live CD first is prudent.

Christian: Is trying to get a fairly recent version of Mono with XSP running on Apache2 something that most run-of-the-mill users are likely to do?  What impresses me about Ubunto is that, modulo the non-free library issue, what you get with the standard sources is access to a fairly recent, complete, and coherent system.  On the other hand, I would agree that this is value statement, i.e., one where different people will place different weights on different aspects of the equation.

Posted by Sam Ruby at

Anne van Kesteren : Ubuntu Update - With all this positive noise around Ubuntu I?m thinking about giving it a try. After all, Windows is not everything?...

Excerpt from HotLinks - Level 1 at

Sam Ruby’s Ubuntu update


Excerpt from B. Adam (Howell) at

Sam Ruby’s Ubuntu update


Excerpt from B. Adam (Howell) at

I have been using Ubuntu for almost a year now on a second desktop at home and I share your experience and enthusiasm about it. The only thing that concerns a bit is the amount of memory some of the simplest GNOME apps take (Yes, not much to do with Unbuntu itself, but it is a Ubuntu choice). Not sure if the GNOME platform is to blame here or the bad design/implementation of some of these apps. So I recently decided to install Kubuntu even though I had to give up Firefox and Thunderbird for a much buggier Konqueror. My experience so far is that is feels lighter and more responsive.

Posted by Yuri de Wit at

I have been using Beatrix for quite a while now and i really like it. It’s an linux based on ubuntu, but way smaller. I did run ubuntu and its all good. It’s just too packed with apps and goodies for me. I like to have it plain and decide myself what to run on it.

Nonetheless, once you get the hang of Linux, the fun really starts.

Ubuntu us a good choice. A point on the side, update your sources list. It’ll give you access to more packages.

Posted by mstyle at

Warms my heart to see a JSPWiki URL :-)

Posted by Janne at

We all like Ubuntu

Sam Ruby likes Ubuntu. I like Ubuntu too: it’s been my primary server and desktop OS now for a couple of months. It’s one of the easiest distros to install and is (apart from Red Hat’s commercial offerings) the least user-hostile Linux to date that...

Excerpt from ButtUgly at


Sam Ruby: Ubuntu Update...... [more]

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While installing (k)ubuntu I came across this gem of a page ...
UBUBTU does NOT provide DEB access to non-free products

I followed the how-to and got a surprisingly complete, usable installation.

FYI: Firefox + mplayer was flaky - I installed VLC and everything works great; except no sound under Firefox! Ah! As this http stated - install win32codecs.

(k)ubuntu rocks!

Posted by Lindsay Keir at

Ubuntu,this debian based distro works great,took about a week to configure all I needed for work and all windows based games for the gnomes ,in the house, work great.  I previously used red hat,mandrake,knoppix,mandriva and I find ubuntu the easiest to configure,the windows based games were actually ,the ones that took the longest to set up.

Posted by anonymous at

Boughs, Oranges, and Switching: Considering OS X and Linux

“One of the things I’d like to do is to show people how to start "positive” epidemics of their own. The virtue of an epidemic, after all, is that just a little input is enough to get it started, and...... [more]

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After a while of experimenting, I made Ubuntu my primary OS. First I used Kubuntu, but because KDE is a real memory hog, I switched to the Gnome version.

There really isn’t anything to dislike, except maybe the lack of certain windows software that I was used to. Offcourse everything is replaceable.
- Outlook changed to thunderbird, and now I even use thunderbird on my small Windows system :-)
- Fireworks changed to Xara XL (Xara is FREAKING fast)
~ I do miss dreamweaver... Haven’t got it to work with wine... yet...

OK, The first time you start an application, it is slow. But there are things you can do to speed up your system. The information you find on is limitless.

I also have to configure my wifi card, but again the information is available on the wiki.

The restricted media formats (MP3, Flash, AAC,...) are easy to install. Just follow the instructions on the wiki. It takes about 5 - 10 minutes, and anybody can copy/paste commands, no?

Other things I use are
- Adblock Plus (extention for Firefox)  // @Yuri De Wit : Firefox is also available in Kubuntu, you just have to install it
- IPCop as a firewall / proxy / ...  It is a dedicated machine that you configure through a webinterface, so you don’t need a screen, keyboard or mouse for that machine. // It is realy nice if you have to do the updates of ubuntu on multiple machines. IPCop caches the updates so they only have to be downloaded once. The other machines get the updates at networkspeed.
- Tidy-based HTML verifier (extention for firefox)  // Yes, I’m a webdeveloper. :-)
- Amarok

I also add a new repository:
It has many newer updates, and it fully compatible with everything.
More installation info can be found in the following url : [link]

Posted by Prince at

I have been impressed with Ubuntu and I have been using it at home for over a year. (I have been using linux for the last 3 years) I still have windows installed for 1 game I play, Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion. Since I don’t really have time for games, I don’t ever turn on windows.  Ubuntu all the way! I’m looking forward to the next release, 6.10 “edgy”, because it will include a flash, java, wmf, and other proprietary stuff installer.

“rockin' in the free world!”
  — neil young

- Vlad

Posted by Vlad at

Some nice comments here - I particularly like the point about having to turn the laptop upside down to read off a squillion-digit license key and all the levels of checks the user gets taken through. In fact my girlfriends proper legitimate installation of windows went bad just a few weeks ago and started reporting that it was not genuine and that she would no longer receive updates from Microsoft.. followed by non-stop bubbles from the system tray and complaints at startup. She swears she paid for her windows licence, but who knows if the guy in the pc shop down the road was actually ripping her off with a duff copy - And why should it run just fine for years and then just start complaining out of the blue?

Well anyway, I dual-booted the machine with ubuntu and her experience so far has been great. We can share desktops so easily and everything just works.

As for your comments on VPN, I recently threw together this howto on: setting up vpn on ubuntu  . Hopefully that’ll help anybody else trying to get VPN working with ubuntu. The Cisco VPN in my eyes is just plain bad, so this fix with vpnc was just what I needed.

anyway.. back to work...


Posted by christo at

Now I am back to work
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