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A short Ubuntu love story


Last weekend I decided to test out a new operating system on my netbook (a Dell mini 9). I thought I would try out a completely free system, meaning that nothing on it would be proprietary – licensed for my use from a company that still maintains control over how I use it.

So I started by trying out gNewSense and then a few other systems – Puppy Linux, Xpud, Trisquel, ArkLinux, Damn Small Linux (dsl)

Installing Puppy Linux completely messed up my video card, it is touted as easy to install? No.
Xpud wasn’t bad – the wireless worked! Then I realized it wasn’t using free software…
DSL wasn’t bad, but certainly not intuitive, and there’s an issue with my wireless card that makes it irrelevant for my needs.
Trisquel just didn’t work, even as a live cd.
ArkLinux didn’t work at all. Couldn’t get past the boot loader. AND when I wrote to the address on their website for help I never received a response beyond the ‘we got your email you should hear from us in 24 hrs’ form letter.

gNewSense will most likely be the distribution I go for. It, like Xpud, also has wireless issues. Actually, it is my computer that has the issues – not gNewsense! The thing is, my Dell Mini 9 came with a Broadcom wireless card, it is a card that requires a proprietary driver so free systems don’t work out of the box with it. During the week, I found this article, which outlines how I may possibly get the wireless to work through gNewSense. I’m crossing my fingers it will work.

I imagine that gNewSense was so easy to install because it is created on Ubuntu. It is basically Ubuntu with no access to non-free stuff.

Here is where my love story starts. After all of the frustrations of downloading operating systems, creating an installer disk, trying to install with no success for 2 days and THEN having Puppy Linux (or my misguided attempts at installing it through their vague installation guidelines) go completely wacko, I decided to install a copy of Ubuntu Netbook Remix to try to clean up my system a bit. It installed like a charm in under 10 minutes.

I love Ubuntu.

What I may do, if gNewSense doesn’t pan out for me, is try to use Ubuntu without enabling any of the non-free repositories (the places from where you can download software, programs, drivers, and such). I’ll probably still end up with the wireless card issue. Hmmm. Any ideas on how to solve this?

Ubuntu is not scary

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Really. It isn’t.

Especially now, this latest version of the Ubuntu operating system (known as the latest ‘release’) was so simple to install. It took barely a few minutes and I was good to go. AND that was with a development version, meaning it isn’t even the full release! There have been times in the past where a lot of tweaking had to be done to make things work but with each release that has improved and so far I have had to do no tweaking to make this one work for me. None. It’s working right out of the box. Amazing.

The full release is scheduled for the end of April, 2010. Ubuntu always names its releases after when it is released. So this one will be known as Ubuntu 10.04 aka Lucid Lynx. The previous version was Ubuntu 9.10 aka Karmic Koala, which was released in October, 2009.

My mission with this website is twofold:

1) to dispute the argument that Ubuntu is too difficult to use compared to the alternatives. If I can figure it out, anyone can!

2) to help others by sharing how I use and learn about Ubuntu and other open source projects.

Read on if you care about my own story with Ubuntu…
I started with Ubuntu in February of 2007 and haven’t looked back. Really. At first I was very lucky to have friends like Cyrille (in French) and John who helped me understand the things I didn’t. And of course I spent a lot of time on the Ubuntu Forums finding solutions to my questions. I was amazed at how the Ubuntu community immediately stepped up to help someone they didn’t know. And that is where I discovered the true value of Ubuntu. Not only is it an operating system that I trust to work how and when I want it, but I believe in what it stands for, its philosophy.

Ubuntu is an African word meaning ‘Humanity to others’, or ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’. The Ubuntu distribution brings the spirit of Ubuntu to the software world.