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Microsoft Software Linux

The Clueless Newbie Rides Again 636

Posted by Zonk
from the i-want-a-clean-thread-no-eye-gouging dept.
overshoot writes "Anyone remember The Clueless Newbie's Linux Odyssey? As it happens, she's come back to have a go at Ubuntu Feisty. 'Four years ago I tried about a dozen Linux distributions, to see if they were ready for an ordinary user to install as an escape from the Windows world. None of the distros performed well enough for me to recommend them to a non-geek unless they were going to hire someone to install it. After hearing Dell's recent announcement that it will sell computers with pre-installed Ubuntu Linux, I decided to see if Ubuntu was user-friendly.'"
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The Clueless Newbie Rides Again

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  • And? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Colin Smith (2679) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @01:25PM (#19132975)
    WTF? You don't expect me to go RTFA do you? That's what all those high UID peons are for. Someone post a cogent summary.
     
    • Re:And? (Score:5, Informative)

      by rbanzai (596355) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @01:27PM (#19133015)
      From the final page:

      "I think Ubuntu Linux is definitely ready for almost anyone with a Windows system who is tired of havig their computer infested with spyware and viruses. It is also a way to avoid Microsoft's "activation" demands. It's free! It's good! It works!"
      • Re:And? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Kesshi (990960) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:06PM (#19133715)

        From the final page:

        "I think Ubuntu Linux is definitely ready for almost anyone with a Windows system who is tired of havig their computer infested with spyware and viruses. It is also a way to avoid Microsoft's "activation" demands. It's free! It's good! It works!"


        I could be considered a "clueless newbie" when it comes to *nix. Sure I know how to ls, I know what grep does, I understand what man is, and I've even heard of chmod and used a bit of vi ! But that's about where my knowledge stops. I imagine that a lot of other "average users" are very much like me, or worse, have less knowledge than me. No, I'm pretty sure the "average user" has less knowledge of computers than me; I've been configuring home NT networks since the first release of NT4.0 in the mid 90s. Even with this knowledge and experience *nix has always scared me.

        I've only ever used DOS and Windows my whole life, but after reading this article I feel comfortable to give UBUNTU a shot. And I like that.
    • Re:And? (Score:5, Informative)

      by gbjbaanb (229885) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @01:53PM (#19133503)
      summary: she likes it and would install it over Windows ... except for 2 items: the default gnome font (white with a black dropshadow) isn't acceptable for her as she's partially sighted. However she said she'd dump Gnome in favour of KDE so that's not a show-stopper.

      The show stopper was the lack of an outline feature for Openoffice. Until that 2000/2001 bug report gets resolved, she'll remain dependant on Office and so cannot get rid of Windows.

      Ubuntu came out with a big gold star though.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rindeee (530084)
        Hmmm...I'm dependant on MS Office as well. And IE6 (for certain work related web sites). So I installed the former using WINE in about 10 minutes (Office 2003) and the latter using IEs4Linux in about 2 minutes. And for the record, neither took any amount of special 'skillz'...nun-chuck or otherwise. While one could argue that a newbie couldn't do it, I found that two quick Google searches produced step by step instruction for each that were about 3 steps per install.
    • Re:And? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Enry (630) <`enry' `at' `wayga.net'> on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @01:55PM (#19133539) Journal

      WTF? You don't expect me to go RTFA do you? That's what all those high UID peons are for. Someone post a cogent summary.

      Exactly. Let me know when you're done, newbie.
  • Wonder how well it works with laptops? My problem has always been Broadcom wireless network cards and Brother Multi-function printers...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by insanius (1058584)
      That problem unfortunately still exists.
    • Re:Encouraging... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:09PM (#19133771)

      My laptop works better out-of-the-box in Ubuntu than it does in Vista (I installed both, dual-booting, this past weekend).

      Of course, I should probably mention that I cheated: the laptop in question is a Thinkpad x60 Tablet, and Thinkpads are almost always well-supported in Linux. It's got Intel graphics, a screen with a weird resolution (1400x1050), Atheros WiFi, a Wacom digitizer, extra buttons next to the screen, volume buttons, a fingerprint scanner, and a hard drive accelerometer. Here's what worked, and what didn't:

      Windows Vista

      • accelerated graphics: worked, but Windows Update prompted me to install a new driver anyway
      • screen: worked, but sometimes switches to 1024x768 when waking from sleep
      • WiFi: worked
      • digitizer: had to be recalibrated
      • screen bezel buttons: had to install a driver from Lenovo (not Windows Update)
      • volume buttons: STILL DON'T WORK, even after installing every Lenovo driver that looked relevant! Grr...
      • fingerprint scanner: not listed in device manager until I installed Lenovo driver; haven't tested it yet
      • hard drive accelerometer: had to install a driver from Lenovo

      Kubuntu Linux

      • accelerated graphics: worked (even with Beryl!)
      • screen: worked
      • WiFi: worked
      • digitizer: worked
      • screen bezel buttons: needed to use xmodmap to assign actions to them, and copy a few scripts to implement those actions
      • volume buttons: worked, except the "mute" button mutes but doesn't unmute (the "volume up" button works fine for that, however)
      • fingerprint scanner: probably doesn't work, but haven't looked into it
      • hard drive accelerometer: driver is broken, from what I've heard

      I should note that this page [no-ip.org] was extremely useful.

      Overall, both Kubuntu and Vista work pretty well. Vista has a few unresolved annoyances though, such as the non-working volume keys and the fact that the screen orientation doesn't automatically change in tablet mode (note: I had to add acpi actions to do that in Linux). If it weren't for the lack of tablet-friendly applications in Linux, I wouldn't have Windows on here at all.

  • by geek (5680) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @01:27PM (#19133019)
    I installed it on my windows laptop not too long ago. Things in Edgy worked fine but as soon as I went to Feisty I started having issues. Like my wireless card suddenly stopped working. Feisty is riddled with bugs, especially for laptop users. The Dell deal will probably solve that problem on Dell hardware but for most of us Ubuntu needs some more Q&A. I was very disappointed when they released a kernel update that killed most peoples installs while Feisty was in beta, and then had a full Feisty release the next week. Hardly enough time to repair and test the fixes.

    Ubuntu isa nice distro but it needs work. I will continue to use it but nly beause I know how to tweak and fix things. Your average user does not. IMO software installation on Linux needs a lot of work. f we could get it to the point of ease that Apple has then I feel Linux would be a real alternative to windows.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I experienced the exact opposite.

      I installed Edgy on a Dell D800 laptop with okay results - networking was spotty and wireless didn't work at all (i tried every trick in the book). Feisty fixed all of my problems - every piece of hardware was identified correctly. Wireless and wired networking works perfectly. Feisty is weird.

      I'll be installing the new Ubuntu Studio [ubuntustudio.com] for my video/audio/image editing needs in lieu of a Mac.

      I know I sound like a fanboy, but Ubuntu is the linux distro i've been waiting fo
    • by kalidasa (577403) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:07PM (#19133729) Journal

      If we could get it to the point of ease that Apple has then I feel Linux would be a real alternative to windows.

      Can't be done. Too many device drivers to worry about to get the kind of stability you see in OS X, and that means installation and device use will never be as smooth as Apple. However, it is a worthy goal - so long as you understand that you'll never quite achieve it with an open device ecosystem.

  • by iknownuttin (1099999) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @01:27PM (#19133025)
    Keep in mind that she has done the Linux Community a great service by documenting her trials and tribulations.

    For those of you in the F/OSS community who want to make their products more mainstream, here's a free user test and feedback.

    I take it as a great compliment to you folks in the F/OSS community that someone like her is attempting to install and run your products! It means you are becoming a real alternative to Windows and this editorial is a wonderful way to continue and expand on your excellence.

    Just my opinion.

    • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @01:41PM (#19133253) Homepage Journal
      The fear she felt when Ubuntu's installer did not give any sign it was aware of, and respecting her Windows partition.

      This is the kind of UI point that developers easily miss. They know what is going on under the UI, and therefore they are unaware of what the user is going to think when confronted with the interface.

      I wouldn't be surprised if many newbie Linux experimenters are deterred part way through the installation process by something like this. It really is a pain to reinstall Windows.
      • by Hijacked Public (999535) * on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:09PM (#19133777)
        Ha, I felt that same fear just this weekend.

        While cleaning out my hunting cabin I found a Dell Latitude LS that I thought I'd lost. Nice small laptop but it had Windows 98 on it.

        Since my current laptop needs are met by Apple I thought I might as well see how Ubuntu will run on it. During the install I was concerned that it might somehow think I wanted to keep the Win98 partition despite the fact that I specifically asked it to use the entire disk. It never really did confirm anything.

        Much to my relief Win98 was gone upon reboot.
    • by cultrhetor (961872) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @01:47PM (#19133369) Journal

      Agreed, and well stated, sir. In her original article [archive.org], she anticipated the attacks/questions/loudly shouted advice for which nerds are so (deservedly?) known:

      I can hear some of you now:
      * "The newsgroups are where you should go for help!"
      * "Website 'A' has the documentation you need!"
      * "You have to read the man pages!"
      * "Use 'apropos'!"
      * "It takes an expert to install and configure an operating system!"

      This caution, which was followed by a lengthy explanation that the article was written to address the feasibility of Linux as a viable mass-market (read: installable by idiots) operating system, was completely ignored in many of the flames that were posted. Let's hope she gets a fair shake this time.

  • Nice... (Score:4, Funny)

    by MeanderingMind (884641) * on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @01:29PM (#19133061) Homepage Journal
    ...but does it run lin... er... WoW... I mean... nevermind.
  • by ericrost (1049312) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @01:31PM (#19133077) Homepage Journal
    NORMAL USERS don't install OS's. If you install your OS, you have progressed to POWER USER. Windows "normal users" call a computer shop to reinstall their OS. I know, I'VE GOTTEN THE CALLS!

    Also,

    If you don't want to change, don't change, Linux isn't windows, it's not trying to be, it's something different.

    Now flame me, please.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770)
      Just because you get the calls doesn't mean there's quite a few normal users that do their own reinstall of Windows. Unfortunately for them, unless they get some professional help with automatic updates / firewall / anti-virus / anti-spyware they're extremely likely to end up where they started. Hell, I've seen users where the first thing they do is install the same crapware-infested "free" gizmo that'll invite all its friends back in. Either that or the "poweruser", or shall we call it "powerwarezer" who'l
    • by slackmaster2000 (820067) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @01:55PM (#19133533)
      Have you ever noticed that you can buy Windows at Target and Walmart? Plenty of normal users install Windows on their own. Some have trouble and call you, others don't. In my experience with colleagues and friends, quite a number of people attempt to reinstall or upgrade Windows all by their lonesome.

      You're sort of setting an arbitrary line between "normal" and "power" users, based on your own criteria, and then making your argument based upon this assumption. A computer user who can boot from a Windows CD, follow a few instructions, and install Windows is not a terribly special case. Lots of boneheads can do it. I know, they're my friends and family.

      Really, the only difficult question that the Windows installer asks is about partitioning and formating. If a user can get past that one, they're in most cases home free.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by massysett (910130)
        A computer user who can boot from a Windows CD, follow a few instructions, and install Windows is not a terribly special case. Lots of boneheads can do it. I know, they're my friends and family.

        You're right, lots of boneheads can do that; the problem is that installing Windows takes a lot more than what you have described. Windows doesn't come with a lot of the drivers that you need, so getting the printer, video, network, etc etc to work requires rounding that stuff up and installing it all. Installing Lin
    • by Trojan35 (910785) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:06PM (#19133707)
      If you don't want to change, don't change, Linux isn't windows, it's not trying to be, it's something different.

      You're kidding right? Almost every single new feature of linux is basically a copy of something on Windows. I'm a supporter of Linux, but that whole "it's not trying to be windows" argument is just people keeping their heads in the sand.

      The linux distros that are meant for end-users are trying to be exactly like Windows, but free/stable/secure.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ericrost (1049312)
        Really,

        What in windows is Network Manager? Have you used a Wireless Network with Windows? Beryl and Compiz go the opposite direction (Windows was playing catch-up on the whole composite desktop front). What other "new features" ie things that haven't been a core part of every GUI for 3+ years are you referring to?

        And then you have MySQL, Apache, etc on the server side, which Windows has been playing catchup with for years.

      • Windows and OS X have been copying features from Linux for years. In fact, all of them copy from everyone else.

        Notice how the default Ubuntu desktop has a very Windows-like taskbar at the bottom, for minimized stuff, and a Windows-like system tray in the upper right, and an OS9-like menu bar at the top left... Notice how we also have virtual desktops, which are a hackish addon everywhere else but Leopard, which isn't out yet...

        Notice how we also have things like package management, which does not exist ANY
  • by DrDitto (962751) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @01:31PM (#19133083)
    The author tries to act like a newbie in the first couple pages. But by page 3, the words "driver", "Wine" (as in the emulator), "partition", and more start to appear. Newbie?!! Are you kidding me?

    When my Grandma sat down at a computer for the first time a few years ago, she tried waving the mouse in the air to make the pointer move. That is a computer newbie!
    • by Durrok (912509) <calltechsucks@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @01:42PM (#19133265) Homepage Journal
      I installed Ubuntu FF on one of my roommate's PCs since he was always having problems with various forms of spyware and general sluggishness. The install was fairly smooth but not smooth enough that he could have done it on his own. After that everything worked at startup, I restored his data from the hard drives we had backed it up to (NTFS even, very nice), gave him a tour, turned on beryl, and let him at it. He didn't ask me any questions for a week. I came up and saw him about 9 days after the install and he had a terminal open and installing some multimedia recording software that he had found on his own. When I asked him why he wasn't using synaptic he said that "Sudo apt-get whatever is just a lot easier if you already know what you are looking for".

      Don't know what it is or why but Linux makes people want to become power users. He has since upgraded his box to Ubuntu Studio and fixed a few networking problems that he was having. Sure, he probably googled most of it, but he actually felt the need to learn more instead of just scratching his head and offering me beer to fix his problem. I do miss the beer though :(
      • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @01:46PM (#19133339)
        Sure, he probably googled most of it, but he actually felt the need to learn more instead of just scratching his head and offering me beer to fix his problem. I do miss the beer though :(

        Ahhh, yes, when "free as in beer" means the end of free beer...
      • by powerlord (28156) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:32PM (#19134181) Journal

        Don't know what it is or why but Linux makes people want to become power users.


        Thats easy. With windows people take things for granted (like the OS crashing, but coming back after a reboot), and that "any software will run on it.

        With Linux there is a cognitive break with their "Windows Knowledge", so the user feels they need to learn in order to make sure they don't "mess it up".

        Of course once they start learning one of two things happens:

        1) They get overwhelmed by bad/wrong/lots-of information and ask someone else to help (similar to lots of windows folks).
        2) They find that it makes sense, they can do what they want without problems, and their system doesn't keep crashing. Once they no longer have to husband the system and be afraid that anything they do will make it crash, they can actually start to have fun with it.
    • by kindbud (90044) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @01:45PM (#19133327) Homepage
      Not only that, she knew her computer was 64-bit, and chose to install the 64-bit Ubuntu distro. That this was the source of the only real problems she had - lack of commercial vendor support for 64-bit Linux - also indicates she has graduated from the newbie state to the knows-just-enough-to-be-dangerous state.
    • by jomama717 (779243) <jomama717@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @01:53PM (#19133495) Journal
      I completely agree! She sounds just as savvy as some of the card carrying "geeks" (antonym of "newbie"??) I know. This line hit me right off the bat:

      My current system is a reasonably powerful, home-built one:
      I think home building a box disqualifies you immediately from newbie status.
    • I am a technical writer: I think like a Clueless Newbie when I am testing user documentation. My biggest gripe with the Linuxes of the first article was mostly that it was impossible to just RTFM and accomplish things because it depended on arcane knowledge and there was no FM to R. My goal with this project was to see if Ubuntu was something that a minimally competent computer user could install on their own, and end up with a working system. Point and click and copy and paste ... the basic skills. BTW: Ubuntu's GUI and help pages talk about drivers and partitions and Wine. I was surprised ... happily surprised ... to see so much clearly written, useful information in one spot.
  • by monkeyboythom (796957) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @01:32PM (#19133103)

    As one person trying to migrate off of Windows (XP and Win2K user), I liked the features of Feisty Fawn running from the Live CD that I wanted to install it to the hard drive.

    If we want Ubuntu to move forward, the developers need to recognize the thousands of people who will see it as an installation on top of Microsoft instead of getting a fresh clean installed image from Dell. Get these people comfortable and then the others will follow.

    If screen four can be made a little more clear of explain that it has detected a Windows OS and lead the user from there, then we have a wonderful comfort level even before they get to see how Linux is so much better than Windows.

    For /. readers, this may be a slow and cumbersome process but then again, if you can have the CD help Mom and Dad install Linux instead of you doing it for her, then there is one less family help desk call you have to make. Also, it makes them feel like they can actually maintain and operate there own systems.

    Don't worry, they will still love you, even if they don't need your help anymore.

    • by smooth wombat (796938) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:44PM (#19134389) Homepage Journal
      If screen four can be made a little more clear of explain that it has detected a Windows OS and lead the user from there, then we have a wonderful comfort level even before they get to see how Linux is so much better than Windows.


      I have never contributed to any OSS project so this will be my first. Anyone working on Ubuntu who reads this, or if someone can pass this along to the appropriate person, you have my unconditional permission to use what I am about to say about this VERY important comment.

      DO NOT simply say on the screen something to the effect, "Another operating system has been detected. Do you want to keep it or install over it?" 'Keep' 'Install'

      If a newbie reads this, their first question will be, "What's an operating system?" The next question will be, after clicking 'Install' because they are installing something, "What the fuck happened to my stuff!?"

      Instead, the message on the screen should read something to the effect:

      The installation has detected that you already have a working system. Do you want to keep all your files and settings?

      Selecting 'Yes' will keep everything you already have and allow you to load this copy of Linux without affecting your current system.

      Selecting 'No' will erase all your files and settings and load this copy of Linux in their place.

      By using the above phrases, you are telling the user in a clear and concise manner what will happen if they click Yes or No without them having to understand what an operating system is. Yes, those who install Ubuntu will probably get a chuckle out of the warning but then they already know what they are doing.

      If the linux community wants the average user to try out a distro, making clear, concise but easily understandable comments such as the above will go a long way to making the transition easier.

  • I did RTFA... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by evilpenguin (18720) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @01:37PM (#19133161)
    And even though I really dislike people who say things "I have no idea what it did, but that's the way I like it," The review is favorable and correct. I tend to use Ubuntu and Fedora the most these days, and the article (I think) correctly shows that Ubuntu is a very good distro for the user's user, someone who doesn't really care to learn their operating system, let alone to learn programming. (Ubuntu is plently good for techies too, make no mistake).

    What I can't figure out is why the reviewer discusses Ubuntu *installation* when they claimed that the reason they decided to check was Dell's announcement that they were *preloading* Ubuntu on PCs and laptops.

    Ubuntu desktop Linux is undoubtedly a great distro for end users. And it shows why Microsoft is pulling out the patent crap now. Linux distros are now at a point where, for most users, there is no reason to prefer Windows. Only hardcore gamers have a reason to stick with Windows at this point.
  • by TodMinuit (1026042) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (tiunimdot)> on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @01:40PM (#19133219)
    The ultimate in easy-to-use Windows-to-Linux distributions would be one that's custom built for each user. You'd download a small program to Windows that'd scan your system looking at hardware, software, and configuration information. It'd then download all the needed drivers, equivalent open source software, and backup your system and software configuration information (converting it to Linux, of course.) Even give them the option to backup all their personal files. Then it'd build you a custom installation ISO, just for their system.

    As much as possible would be brought over from Windows. Network configuration information, browser favorites, email client configuration, desktop icon layout, even the desktop wallpaper -- anything to make Linux feel more like home. It's all there, just the way they like it, why not copy it as much as possible?

    If there's any problems, they can be found and addressed while the user is still in the safety of Windows.
  • by sconeu (64226) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @01:45PM (#19133313) Homepage Journal
    The author was surprised that Ubuntu didn't clobber her Win2K partition.

    Maybe she should realize that there's only ONE COMPANY out there that assumes it owns your whole PC....
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tsu Dho Nimh (663417)
      Some of my previous Linux experiments clobbered the existing OS. Red Hat did, and IIRC "Linux for Windows" did it by default.
  • Edited title (Score:5, Informative)

    by overshoot (39700) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @01:45PM (#19133317)
    Actually, I submitted it as "The Clueless Newbie Rudes Again."

    Some spelling errors aren't.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      What does "Rudes Again" mean?
  • by twitter (104583) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @01:53PM (#19133499) Homepage Journal

    Holy crap! a complete newbie installed a complete 64 bit system and it worked with a few minor problems with non free software not found in 32 bit versions. She had trouble with DVDs, Nvidia drivers, Flash and Picasa, and did not like the GDM login fonts. She was able to solve the Nvidia problem without too much trouble and seems to have made DVDs and Adobe Flash work. All of this with less effort than she would have put into a Windoze box. One reboot and everything "very automatic".

    Her comments about non free software are scathing:

    Adobe's Flash video player was extremely difficult to install. I have a 64-bit microprocessor, and installed 64-bit Ubuntu. Although 64-bit Linux has been available for more than five years, Adobe hasn't bothered to develop 64-bit version of Flash for Linux yet. My live-in geek tracked the problem down for me, and Adobe is reportedly working on 64-bit software.

    The [Picasa] problem is Google, not Ubuntu. Instead of writing real Linux software, all Google did was take their Windows version and wrap it in WINE (fake Windows) to make it work in Linux. I expected Google to do better than that.

    This is really cool and shows a good grasp of what free software is all about. She figured out that the non free parts were the problem, not the free parts. This kind of enlightenment from a non programmer is great to see.

    Her conclusion is an uncompromising endorsement:

    I think Ubuntu Linux is definitely ready for almost anyone with a Windows system who is tired of havig their computer infested with spyware and viruses. It is also a way to avoid Microsoft's "activation" demands. It's free! It's good! It works!

    The more I think about it, the nicer the article is. This is a picky user and she's been satisfied. Many of her fears, such as the complete loss of data and OS overwrite, came from M$ use, so her opinion is likely to improve.

    • Hyperbole (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dedazo (737510) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:44PM (#19134391) Journal
      What is the point of all this hyperbole and creative spelling?

      Her comments about non free software are scathing ... shows a good grasp of what free software is all about ... figured out that the non free parts were the problem, not the free parts

      And when someone criticizes free software (with reason), do you find that "scathing" as well? There's a lot of "non free" software. Are you implying that because Flash (!) doesn't work on 64-bit Linux then all "non free" software is a problem? Seriously?

      This is a picky user and she's been satisfied

      That's interesting, because when she first published that initial article she was branded an idiot - predictably, I might add. But now everything's A-OK and she's picky and satisfied.

      such as the complete loss of data and OS overwrite, came from M$ use

      Yeah, I completely lose data all the time under "M$ Windoze" and have never lost any under any other OS. After all, backups are for pussies. Might as well just hope your OS is perfect.

      And BTW, in all fairness if someone wants to switch away from Windows to something else because of activation then more power to them. Microsoft deserves to lose them. Activation and "genuine advantage" are a pain that each person needs to decide whether or not they want to put up with.

      But "infested with spyware and viruses"? Please. If your computer is "infested" with anything then the most likely cause can be found between the chair and the keyboard.

  • Wireless Networking (Score:3, Informative)

    by SpzToid (869795) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @01:55PM (#19133543)
    For anyone trying the latest K/X/Ubuntu flavor, or Debian 4 for that matter (as I did), wireless networking is easy, and cheap too, of you don't stray too far from these instructions.

    1. Choose hardware from this madwifi/ Atheros list: http://madwifi.org/wiki/Compatibility [madwifi.org]. Last week I picked up two El Cheapo Sweek 802.11g cards for 20 euros each, and Ubuntu flashed its restricted driver message at one once, I accepted, and it just worked, even with WPA2 + TKIP encryption at the router. Note there are no USB wifi dongles supported. But PCI & pcmcia, etc.

    2. Part of the above is working with Gnome NetworkManager.

    Stay focused on 1 & 2, and don't use little USB wireless sticks, and wireless on Linux IS easy.

    disk encryption: bonus points for starting with Debian 4, since the EZ installer gives you the option to encrypt the whole (laptop?) disk from the Get Go. I opted for Debian's easy disk encryption (Ubuntu doesn't offer it, really) and chose to fight the wireless puzzle. It was a hard fight, but I think I picked the correct battle to fight. So now just add a nice rsync backup to my http://www.dreamhost.com/r.cgi?134994 [dreamhost.com] Debian server's non-public disk-space for $7 a month, and well that's a secure, yet functional laptop.

    Oh, and www.Hamachi.cc makes for easy newbie intranets, and Firestarter is a nifty newbie GUI for IPTables.

    - --

    You can't be ahead of the curve if you're stuck in a loop.
  • by bcrowell (177657) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:08PM (#19133753) Homepage

    The article matches up fairly well with my own experience, although I think the contrast between her earlier trial and the current one may be a little overstated. I just did an install of ubuntu on a laptop yesterday, and I was impressed that (a) the system was installed successfully (not so long ago, installing linux on a laptop was unlikely to work without major pain and suffering), and (b) the wifi card automagically worked. This is in contrast to the situation a year ago, when I installed ubuntu on my daughter's desktop machine, and had to spend a weekend messing around before I could get her wifi to work.

    One thing that I think is not acceptable yet is printing. Within the last few months, I got my vanilla laser printer working on my linux box. It was a truly nasty and time-consuming process. This is not a case where you can blame patents and proprietary interfaces, etc., either. The printer is a Brother HL-1440. Brother hired the CUPS developers to write GPL'd linux drivers. The problem is mainly just that the linux implementation of CUPS is a disaster. (The MacOS X implementation seems fine, AFAICT.)

  • by mpapet (761907) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:11PM (#19133833) Homepage
    I read the article. She had some requirements up front that exclude her running Etch.

    It should not come as a surprise that she is really indifferent to Free (as in speech) software. She wants her hardware to "just" work. This unfortunately excludes a default Debian Etch. I've been through Sarge and Etch and I think Ubuntu competition has only benefited the Debian project because Etch is a far superior release of Free software. Yes, non-free is out there and relatively painless, but it still requires some stuff that she specifically did not want to do.

    I would encourage potential Ubuntu users to give Debian Etch a spin first. It's much, much more reliable, has many different installers including the excellent graphical installer and is a huge improvement over Sarge, pretty much blowing away the old complaints about Debian.
  • by markbt73 (1032962) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:45PM (#19134411)

    in light of the ongoing battle over DRM:

    Although CDs played immediately, to play DVDs I had to locate and install some files that bypass content protection coding. The website I acquired them from, www.getautomatix.com , warned me that I might be installing something illegal, but I said, "Yarrr, matey", and clicked the install button. Automatix installed itself, then I selected what I needed. More files were downloaded and installed ... really automagically! After that DVDs worked. I have no clue what it did, and that's the way I like it.

    IOW, normal usage of the DVDs (not even gray-area "fair use" copying, but normal playback), on her fully-owned and legally-obtained system, was broken until she installed something that "may be illegal." This is a point we need to make noise about: DRM can make it impossible to simply watch a purchased movie.

    I know, not exactly news (to readers here anyway), but it's another opportunity to point it out.

  • by MarcoAtWork (28889) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @03:53PM (#19135631)
    ... and I really, really, really don't belive it's ready for non-technical users at all unless they have a fairly basic PC configuration: I have two (older) video cards in my linux box, and there was absolutely no way to get ubuntu to actually initialize/configure them both in dualscreen/xinerama without serious editing of xorg.conf (basically creating the device entries for the non-detected card from scratch and configuring xinerama etc.).

    Having been using linux since the 1.2pre days I do know how to gets my hands dirty, but if I had been a non technical user there'd have been no way I could've managed. On the other hand the networking and general system configuration was quite painless, automatix and synaptic have been a pleasure to use and the install was very straightforward, even to the point of putting my 2k partition in the grub boot menu (and it actually working, which is definitely a new experience).

    With a slightly more robust x configuration (quite a few folks nowadays run dual screen, most developers for sure) it would be nearly perfect.
  • Picasa and Ubuntu (Score:3, Informative)

    by Wannabe Code Monkey (638617) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @04:03PM (#19135787)

    Problem 5: Google's Picasa does not work. Every time I launch Picasa it locks up my computer and sends the CPU utilization to 100%. The problem is Google, not Ubuntu. Instead of writing real Linux software, all Google did was take their Windows version and wrap it in WINE (fake Windows) to make it work in Linux. I expected Google to do better than that.

    I tried Google's Picasa offering for Linux a week ago when I wanted to upload like 50 pictures to a web album. It ran fine, but the version Google decided to Linux-ify with wine didn't have web album upload support. I downloaded the latest windows version and installed it with wine and it runs wonderfully. I was able to upload the photos to my picasa web albums and haven't had a single problem. Everything that I tried just worked, it was a lot slicker than the version specifically for Linux.

    This is with: Ubuntu 7.04; wine 0.9.33; picasa 2.7 (build 36.4000,0)

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