Living with Linux: Ubuntu with a ‘K’


(The KDE Desktop, as seen from the Konqueror start page…)

For anyone playing along at home, here’s a quick recap of my Linux adventures this past week…

The overwhelming brown-ness of Ubuntu started to get to me after only a few days. I know that Ubuntu is billed as “Linux for Humans” and all, but all those earth-tones seemed a bit out of place on the virtual desktop of a computer screen.

A little Googling informed me that Ubuntu uses what’s called the Gnome desktop environment, which works fine and well, but for a design snob like myself is a little sparse in its implementation. Lo and behold, there is another desktop evironment for Linux (actually there are several) called KDE—chock-full of beautiful on-screen fonts, bouncing icons and flashy window effects. So it was with great anticipation that I once again wiped clean the hard drive of my mighty Inspiron and loaded up Kubuntu, or Ubuntu with the KDE desktop.

Actually I took the opportunity of a clean install to first try out OpenSUSE, the most popular Linux distro with KDE. But after 5 CDs I couldn’t get the damn OS to properly configure my WiFi card, so Kubuntu it was.

At the heart of KDE is Konqueror a combination file and web browser much like Internet Explorer, but without the nasty ActiveX. The Mac OS would do well to learn from these hybrid browsers; the “Finder” is a mere file browser after all—why not just build Safari into that? Then you could go “on Safari” for that lost Word document or email attachment someone sent you months ago and now you can’t find ‘er—oh, now I get it.

Anyway, now that I’ve settled on a distro I can get down to work and see what the latest Linux can really do. Stay tuned…

Living with Linux: Distro Distractions


(No, that’s not the new black MacBook… It’s the mighty Dell Inspiron 7500 kindly donated for my adventures in Linux.)

It’s only now, after my second install of Ubuntu, that I can appreciate what a user-friendly Linux distro it is. I had installed for the first time without a WiFi card present, and—big surprise—when I slapped the card in the next day I found that my networking options were, as the kids say, ”borked”.

For the record, the message I was getting was ”SIOCGIFFLAGS error: No such device”. I have no idea either… And after patiently waiting for help on I realized that I could probably fix things myself if I just reinstalled with the WiFi card present.

Of course, wiping a hard drive clean and starting anew presented an opportunity to try out some other Linux distros as well. Some casual Googling informed me that Slackware was supposedly a great choice for older machines, so on my Mac I downloaded burned the four install CDs via BitTorrent. But the install process proved so daunting that I instead turned to the most popular Linux distro, Fedora.

After more than two hours of installing and configuring I was all ready to boot up into Fedora when I got the same networking error that I had in my previous install of Ubuntu, so I slid in my single Ubuntu installer CD and half an hour later was back up and running with no apparent networking issues. The computer successfully synched with the Ubuntu clock server, and upon log-in I was immediately presented with a list of software that needed updating. I hit “OK”, and after a quick reboot had an optimized Linux OS ready to go!

It’s an interesting coincidence that this Dell laptop has roughly the same specs as my old iMac. also in the above photo. In my usage thus far, Ubuntu seems just a tick faster than Mac OS X Jaguar on that machine…

Living with Linux: The Ubuntu Filesystem


You’re looking at a screen grab from the Ubuntu filesystem. Yeah, I can’t make heads or tails of it, either…

I’m trying to make good on a New Year’s resolution to have a go at Linux, and an ancient Dell laptop kindly donated by Kathleen Howell and fiance Terry Irwin kind of forced the issue.

The initial install went fine, but without internet access I was left to play Solitaire and the like until a refurbished WiFi PC card arrived from Future Shop. I got that up and running and I’m actually posting this via Linux, but beyond my web browser there is so much that I don’t understand. Stay tuned…

Mac vs. Windows… And Maybe Linux Too!


(Read this Wikipedia entry or load up this very long page if you are confused by the above…)

Just like last December I’ve had to get a new hard drive for my PowerBook, and its battery—which currently holds about a 7-minute charge—is probably due for a replacement as well. Anybody who knows me has had to endure my Macintosh zealotry on at least one occasion, yet if you peruse the Mac-related posts on this humble site you’ll see that I’ve had more than my share of issues with the platform.

In my decade of Mac experience the software has gotten better and better, but the hardware has gotten steadily worse.

Consider my recent history with Mac computers:

  • October, 1999 – iMac DVSE: FireWire not working out of the box.
  • January, 2001 – Power Mac G4: Unable to sleep out of the box.
  • May, 2001 – iBook: Built-in speakers busted out of the box.
  • December, 2003 – Powerbook: Dead pixels out of the box.
  • April, 2004 – Power Mac G5: Logic board not working out of the box.

Not a great track record if you ask me…

And yet, my few shares of Apple stock are still skyrocketing while folks everywhere are touting the touting the superiority of the Mac platform.

My dream come true would be a release of Mac OS X that I could run on any machine I want. Sadly, even though Apple is switching to the Intel chip-set, we’ll likely not see a generic OS release until Steve Jobs finally decides to retire on a big bed of money from faithful fan-boys like myself.

I’m waiting to see what gets announced at the MacWorld keynote in January. If it’s not a generic release of OS X for Intel or at least an iBook that can run Windows, I’m buying me a notebook with XP Pro. Give me some time with it, and I’ll be able to say with at least some certainty which platform, if any, is ultimately better, and for what. Oh, and if I have enough hard drive space left over I may even install Linux on a separate partition, just for kicks!