Monday 18 February 2008

I installed Ubuntu on my laptop

If you read the first two posts on this blog you might notice a discrepancy. In the first post I identified that I only know how to use Windows. But if you take a look at the second post, I did not propose a remedy. I'll be honest - its because I really did not want to learn Linux. I am unable to give a good reason for this so how about a bad one: fear of change. The thing is, this entire project is about moving outside of my comfort zone and learning Linux is no different so I bit the bullet on Friday night and burned the iso for Ubuntu 7.10. (Random aside - it was a cd iso but I tried burning it onto a dvd, and surprisingly it worked! I was expecting a coaster.) I was immediately impressed. I had no idea that you could boot and run some Linux distributions directly from the disc (perhaps some of you are rolling your eyes at my ignorance? If so, get used to it - there is plenty more where that came from!). The ability to preview an operating system without installing it certainly has some merits. I was able to establish that my wireless would work fine and investigate the options the installer gave me all without making a commitment. I played around for an hour or so and then proceeded with the installation. I had the option to do a "guided" install which would resize some of my partitions but it failed to inspire much confidence so instead I did some reading and set the partitions up manually. Configuring dual boot required zero intervention on my part as it was all automatic and best of all it worked first go. As a basic user, I would say that the two most confusing things about Linux are user permissions and the file system. If I want to copy things to certain directories it seems I have to use a command line and execute the command as the root user. But what if I want to use the nice explorer-style gui for doing this stuff? Figuring out which directories to actually put stuff in is also difficult as there is no obvious program files location. There are definitely things to like as well. For example, I like being able to install applications via a single command such as "sudo apt-get install sun-java6-jdk" ( now I finally understand this xkcd, yay!). Its quite convenient! The small memory and disk space footprint is obviously great. I only set aside 15gb for the Linux partition and it looks it will be more than enough. There are some random quirks that I sort of expected when using a laptop without all the custom driver stuff. Last night I discovered that my brightness-up key doesn't work but the brightness-down key does - I ended up having to reboot the darn thing because my random mashing had made the screen so dark. I've done a bit of googling and it looks like there are pages out there with specific instructions for running Ubuntu on an A8Js so I expect with time I'll be able to iron out most of the quirks. In summary this experience has been remarkably positive. Its great how easy it is to get a taste of the "other side" without making a commitment. If you are at all curious why not just burn an iso and pop it in your drive? I should have done this sooner!


  1. I've been thinking about setting up a dual-boot thing with a Linux dist and Windows, but was scared off by some of the Googleing I did which suggested it would require a lot of fucking around to get it to work. Your post seems to indicate that it's actually easy as piss, so I'm not sure what the people on these forums I Googled were talking about now. I'll have to give this a go.

  2. Yeah it was surprisingly easy. I did backup my stuff before I made the attempt and would suggest you do the same. Let me know how it goes.