Monday, April 21, 2008

Successful Ubuntu migrant

Nick contacted me a few months ago about getting a new PC for cheap. I kept my eyes out for a cheap system, and found a barebones Shuttle open box for cheap. I called him and he ordered it with some RAM and a few other parts. For under $300 he had himself a new machine. I shipped him an Ubuntu CD for the OS. His previous computer was Windows 95 on some old hardware and complete with a virus.
There was an initial problem where he put too much gunk on the processor and it wouldn't start. Our cousin, Mike, discovered and fixed the problem.
Next came the install. It didn't go so easy either. The Ubuntu disc would not boot in to the graphical installer. If he chose the low graphics option it was worse. From the normal install option we could get to a command line by pressing ctrl+alt+F3. I thought for sure there was a command line installer, but apparently it is only available by downloading and burning the alternate install CD, which wasn't a very good option. Finally I found that by running /etc/init.d/gdm start we could get the graphical installation up. From there the installation was painless.
Once it was fully installed I helped him setup a few things like get Firefox extensions setup and install GCompris and Child Play for the kids to play.
Ashley is not quite sold on it yet. All she really does is go to MySpace and YouTube, so I'm not sure why she should care that much, as these two functions work really well in Linux. I imagine it is just the jump to using something new and unfamiliar.
Nick said she did have one problem where she was trying to change her MySpace background and got a message that it was only available in Windows. I'm not exactly sure what she was doing, but there are some programs that you can put in your username and password, and then configure your MySpace page with a GUI tool that is more simple than using MySpace's configuration options. One problem is that many of these programs either have virii or hijack your account and randomly post SPAM on the bulletins. So in a way they are probably better off that she was unable to do that.
I got Nick started with setting up VirtualBox so that he could create a Windows 98 virtual machine, but I haven't heard back from him on that. The good thing about virtual machines is that it is easy to create a restore point so that if it got infected you could just revert back to the restore point. VMs are endless fun.
Apparently one of Nick's work buddies is a Linux enthusiast and was excited to see he was running Ubuntu. It is nice to see that when you mention Ubuntu people kind of come out of the woodwork to show their excitement. I did warn Nick that he is likely to run in to people with all sorts of attitudes, Linux is stupid, Windows id stupid, Mac OS is stupid, whatever. I told him he should just use whatever works for him and ignore anyone who disagrees. I told him if he decided he didn't like it it wouldn't hurt my feelings if he bought a copy of Windows.
The good news here is that aside from the installation problem, everything else has been pleasent. Hardware support, ease of use, stability, all have made Nick very happy with his new computer. I am going to advise him against upgrading to the new version that comes out this week. I don't think it is going to offer him anything extra that he will find useful.