A note on Fathers Day and Ubuntu upgrades…

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…it was seamless. It was easy. It was not scary.

My poor dad. I invited him for Fathers Day lunch. He stood out in the rain and barbecued the guinea fowl I had marinated in hot spices, rosemary, lemon juice, and olive oil (the result totally rocked, by the way). Then he hung up curtain rods, only to have to rehang them when I decided they were too high… then he had to drill a hole from my bedroom to my office. You see, my bedroom is pretty much the only room in the house that has a phone jack and electrical outlet side by side. Now that the hole has been drilled I can run the wires through the hole so that the modem can live in my office and my desktop (yeah, the dinosaur I referred to in my last post) can be hardwired to the Internet.

Yay. And dad really loved having an excuse to use the 2 foot long drill bit, I know it.

So last night I upgraded from 11.10 to 12.04. Then from 12.04 to 12.10. Then from 12.10 to 13.04. I stopped there because, well, there are no more Ubuntu versions to upload to. At least, not until October when 13.10 should be released :)

It was such an easy process and everything works.

I <3 Ubuntu.

(though the Unity interface still bugs me. I feel like I have a layer of stuff between me and my computer. And it keeps asking if I want to install apps. Apps are for tablets. Apps are for phones.)

Ubuntu Server in the house…almost

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So, I’ve been threatening to host my own domains for a while, I dabbled in it in the past but always ended up going back to an outside host. This summer I plan to do so for real.

HarrumphI have a desktop that is doing NOTHING. Nothing but collecting dust and mocking me out of the corner of the room. Mocking me how? I imagine it scoffing at the smart phone, laptop, tablets I use. Harrumphing at this ‘new technology’. So grandpa, I’m going to put you to work. You will be the backbone, happy?

I found this post –> Ubuntu 12.04 for a basic home server that should help me through the process – he made a checklist for setting up an Ubuntu server! Awesome! And I plan on calling on my good friend Cyrille over yonder in Rouen, France. He has helped me out of Linux scrapes more often than I can count!

Now, if I am attempting to pull this off then you know for sure that Ubuntu is mos def not scary.

Updatelette on the Unity Experiment

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It’s not so bad. Didn’t think you’d hear me say that but it’s true. Not that it’s my ideal desktop, far from it. But it can be used.

At first I didn’t like how I don’t have immediate visual access to my system’s ‘tree’ – the structure that allows me to see where everything is via folders and sub-folders. But I quickly got used to the search feature. Right at the top of the Unity dock is a grey box, click it and you can search your system for anything. I especially like it because I can find those things I install too quickly and then ask myself where the heck I installed it to…

BUT.

Yes, there is a but.

I still feel like there is a layer between me and my system. As if Unity is somehow laying there between us, hiding us from each other.

I’m going to test out ElementaryOS Jupiter – based on Ubuntu 10.10. It’s downloaded, just need the time to make my install disk and install. The only catch is I believe they are releasing a new version in April, which will be based on Ubuntu 12.04. Unity may just rear its ugly head.

Be calm, carry on…Ubuntu is NOT scary :)

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As I wrote in my last post, I decided to reinstall Ubuntu 11.10 via live CD. I had to do this because I tried to be fancy and modify the installation I already had and really messed things up. Luckily, it proved to be easy to reinstall.

Once I made the CD (easy-peasy – follow the instructions on the Ubuntu website), I popped it in and restarted my computer. It whirred up and I was quickly greeted with 2 options:

  1. Try out Ubuntu with the live CD – this allows you to play with Ubuntu without making any changes to your system
  2. Install Ubuntu

I chose to install and was pleasantly surprised with 4 options that made the installation process easy and worry-free

  1. Erase Ubuntu 11.10 and reinstall – this option included a warning that all existing files and settings (on Ubuntu) would be erased
  2. Upgrade Ubuntu 11.10 to Ubuntu 11.10 – sounds redundant but this allows you to update the installation without erasing your files and settings
  3. Erase everything and reinstall – this option also included a warning that everything on the whole system would be erased, not only on the part of the system that Ubuntu currently lives (remembering I have Windows 7 and Ubuntu 11.10 living side by side on this system)
  4. Something else – this allows you to resize the partitions on your system if you want to

So I chose the first option and after a few questions

  • Location (for date & time)
  • Keyboard layout
  • Name and password
  • Login options

the installation began at 8:25 and completed at 8:51 with a prompt to restart.

Voila. Ubuntu 11.10 has been reinstalled alongside my existing Windows 7.

And yes, I am not removing Unity (yet :) ) So far, I like that it hides. I seem to remember it not auto-hiding on earlier versions, taking up too much valuable screen-space – especially on my Dell mini 9. So the auto-hide is a good thing.

Starting over with Ubuntu 11.10

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Ok. I’m about to reinstall Ubuntu 11.10 and, as promised, try Unity for a full month!

I’m doing it via live CD (so easy to do, just follow the instructions here).

I’ll let you know how it goes and if we can reclaim the notion that no, Ubuntu is not scary :)

Ubuntu is not always easy. There. I said it!

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Warning: uber geek alert. This is not your grandma’s user-friendly blog post…

This blog seems more of an anti-Unity blog than one that promotes Ubuntu but really, it is such a pain. With all of my going on about how Ubuntu is not scary, well, Unity makes it a bit scary. At least, if one tries to get rid of it.

I had started using Xubuntu because I just didn’t like how Unity made the Ubuntu I knew and loved so… different.

But I soon missed my good old Ubuntu, so I uninstalled the X and reinstated the latest version of plain old Ubuntu (11.10) but there was that nasty Unity! So I followed the directions found here…and borked it all up. DON’T follow these directions. Just DON’T. But here they are –> Remove Unity and use Gnome Classic by Default

At this point I can no longer boot Ubuntu, it gets stuck at the splash. And I can’t even alter anything in recovery mode as root because… no Internet before logging in, it seems! Urgh. Looks like I will have to do a fresh install. What a pain.

And I have decided to try Unity out for at least 1 full month. Yes! 1 full month. Things can’t always stay the same. Maybe it is time to embrace the change.

We’re back online + Ubuntu 11.04

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I’m finally getting around to reinstating my blogs after the account suspension fiasco. Lesson learned – be extra vigilant about blocking spammy comments, I believe this is how some malicious code wormed its way into one of my blogs resulting in the shutdown of ALL of my blogs.

Luckily my hosting company, HostPapa, sent me a copy of my cpanel (the previous backup I had made would not open!) and I’m slowly slogging through the MySQL databases to recover my posts. Good thing this blog is a newish one with relatively few posts, I was able to go through each of the tables and files in the database to ensure that nothing out of the ordinary was there so I could safely use it. With some of my other places it is proving to be more complicated.

So…what’s new? I am now using a desktop as my primary computer. It’s new to me, my father bought himself a new one and so I inherited his old one. It has a nice solid motherboard and he even gave me a 750 gig hard drive. We formatted it with Ubuntu 10.10 and I have now updated that to the 11.04 Beta.

You may be surprised that I like 11.04, given that it uses Unity and I have been pretty clear about how I feel about THAT. What a waste, BUT luckily you can switch between Gnome and Unity at the login screen. Even as a beta, everything has worked smoothly from the get-go. No problems setting anything up so far. I like that RythmBox is no longer the default music player, it used to always crash for me and wasn’t intuitive at all. I haven’t yet fully explored Banshee, though I’m not so thrilled with the amazon mp3 link that comes as a default on it’s homepage. In general, I’m not really a fan of music players that automatically scan your folders and such. I usually use something simpler like VLC but that is just my preference.

I’ll update the blog as I explore 11.04 further, maybe I’ll wait until the full release is out since things can definitely change between beta and full release. In the meantime, does anyone have any 11.04 opinions they’d like to share?

Unity? Feh. Try Xubuntu for the Netbook

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So, as my last long time ago post stated, I wasn’t at all happy with Ubuntu’s 10.10 Netbook OS. Yucko to Unity, sorry. I’m now running Xubuntu on my Dell Mini 9, I think it’s been a few months now, and have to say I’m liking it.

What’s different about Xubuntu? The difference between regular Ubuntu and Xubuntu is that Ubuntu uses Gnome as its desktop environment and Xubuntu uses XFCE.

What is XFCE? It’s basically a lightweight desktop environment that is still very usable. This is why I chose to try it on the mini 9 – being lightweight is uses fewer system resources.

Another difference – a huge one, if you ask me – has to do with the use of Unity in the latest Netbook version of Ubuntu (version 10.10) (and rumour has it that Ubuntu may use Unity instead of Gnome for the desktop as well in its next version, scheduled to be released in April of 2011. If that is true, I may go to Xubuntu on my main computer as well.)

What’s wrong with Unity? I don’t like the interface. It is not intuitive. I find the side panel it uses for quick links is obtrusive and really don’t like that it can’t be made to disappear – it takes up a lot of valuable real estate on my mini 9! It’s slow and the interface does not make it easy to locate programs at all.

Hopefully Ubuntu will go the way of Fedora and openSUSE (two other linux operating systems) and drop major Unity development.

It seems to me that improving what you have rather than creating something new would make more sense for Ubuntu. As Jim Collins says in Good to Great – the companies or people who have moved from good to great are the ones who quietly focus on one thing and make that their priority. Unfortunately this shift in focus from Ubuntu’s main thing (Gnome) to Unity slides Ubuntu from great to not-so-good in my books.

In the meantime, Xubuntu is answering my needs on the Mini 9.

Ubuntu on the Netbook

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I have too many computer-type things. I haven’t been using my netbook much at all since I won an Ipad whilst filling out an Etsy survey this summer. While the Ipad is fun to play with, it is limiting since it works on Apple’s proprietary laden OS (operating system).

Over the weekend, @Linda704 hooked me up with @hellomyavocado who was/is searching for an open source OS for her netbook. She’s been doing as I did last spring, trying out a whole whack of different operating systems.

For some reason I thought I had installed Ubuntu 10.10 (netbook edition) on my netbook when it was released a little while ago but on turning it on I saw the 10.04 interface. So I installed it last night :)

Installation went through without any glitches though it took quite a while, a few hours. That did include downloading the updates. While I usually prefer doing a fresh install of new operating systems, especially when there is a huge change like there is between Ubuntu 10.04 and 10.10 (10.10 uses a new netbook environment called Unity), I was lazy and decided to upgrade instead, figuring that if the upgrade seemed wonky I’d have created myself a report card writing procrastination device in needing to re-install :)

I must say that I need to play around with 10.10 a bit more but at first glance it seems too…. restricted in its interface. I want to be able to customize my desktop and haven’t yet found a way to do so outside of the Unity framework (like I said, I need to play around some more. I’ve only barely started to try).

So, at first glance, Ubuntu 10.10 is cute though doesn’t seem very customizable. Not much fun for an open source OS! I will look into the options that are available with 10.10 and if I’m not happy I just may then explore creating my own custom lightweight desktop environment, as explained in this article.

Open Educational Resources

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What are they? They are part of the whole ‘open’ movement. So far I have mentioned open source, where a program developer or writer allows the source code (the blueprint, let’s say) of their program to be freely available for anyone to use or modify. Well, open educational resources (OER) adhere to the same ideals, they are resources for education – everything from whole courses to lesson plans, to handouts and more – that are made freely available by their creators or developers. All in all, very cool for educators!

If you want a snazzier definition, here is one from the OER Commons, found via Doug Belshaw and the OER infoKit:

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials that are freely available online for everyone to use, whether you are an instructor, student or self-learner. Examples of OER include: full courses, course modules, syllabi, lectures, homework assignments, quizzes, lab and classroom activities, pedagogical materials, games, simulations, and many more resources contained in digital media collections from around the world.

The aim of the infoKit seems to be as a guide for people who want to be or who are involved in using OER. My personal favourite page is this one – the guide to finding OERs :)

The OER infoKit is aimed at sites of higher education. There are OER for us in lower educational contexts ;) A future post will collect some information and links about those.