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Ubuntu Is One Geeky OS

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I’ve finally got Ubuntu (7.10) up and running. I tried, and failed, to get it running under Paralles a while back and finally took the time to try again. This time on a Windows machine that had some extra space.

Overall the install was great, but once up and running there are a lot of items that are just to complicated. I understand that Ubuntu is a great alternative, but until it becomes more user friendly in some aspects, it’s going to be a hard sell.

First off, the install was simple. Easy and straight forward. Before to long, Ubuntu was up and running. Not as fun as installing OSX, but way better than installing XP.

The interface is clean and is a mixture of the Mac menubar and Windows task bar. It’s not overly complicated to get use to, but it does have it’s own way of doing things.

If you turn on the fancy window effects, the animations and Jello like windows are quite fun. It’s makes for some nice eye candy. 😉

Ubuntu has all the basic applications like Firefox, Pidgen (IM), Evolution (Email) and OpenOffice (Word & Excel). It installs all the necessary applications to get most users up and running.

However, installing additional applications is to difficult. I wanted to install Firefox 3 and Prism, but once downloaded, it just showed the package contents. No application. Even when I tried to update Firefox 2 and that wasn’t an option in the browser itself.

It seems Ubuntu controls everything via an applications area and you either install or upgrade what they recommend or you have to go to the terminal and figure it out. This applications area is great for any applications in list, but if you want something that’s not in the list, you better know how to install it via the Terminal. And the terminal is uber geeky. I just gave up on installing additional apps.

I also wanted to install the Flash plugin in Firefox. Unfortunately it didn’t install through Firefox and I had to do it manually. After lots of Googling and trying to understand tutorials I finally got it installed via terminal commands and frustration. It’s actually quite simple, but no one tells you that.

How to Install Flash in Ubuntu the Easy way.

Go to Adobe.com and download the tar.gz choice. When the Ubuntu opens the tar.gz file drag the install folder to your desktop. Double click on flashplayer-install and choose run in terminal. Follow instructions.

That’s it! Now, everyone else’s way seems much more complex. But that’s my main issue with Ubuntu; it’s to geeky.

Now, I’m a geek and I’ll admit that. But having to do most everything via Terminal isn’t my thing. I will follow simple instructions, but I’d rather run an installer or copy and program to my applications folder.

I did have a lot of terminal fun though trying to get wireless internet via TrendNet’s USB adapter to work. It’s not officially supported, but through a handful of terminal commends, a lot of Googling and some swearing, it’s possible. This tutorial helped a lot to. Not as simple as it states, but maybe I screwed it up a time or two before getting it right.

Overall, Ubuntu is pretty nice. It’ll be interesting to see where they go with it and I’m just happy to try it out. It won’t be my main OS, but it’s fun to play with. Hopefully some day it’ll be a bit more user friendly for those that aren’t fond of the Terminal.

These are just my personal experiences and thoughts. This is not a professional, in depth, well tested review. Just my first thoughts. If I’m missing some importing things, do share in the comments below.

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15 Responses

  1. Jim Powell says:

    Ubuntu: Been there, done that, glad I did it. But it gets tiresome going into the shell every time I need to change something. PCLinuxOS or Mandriva (among others) would be a better introduction to Linux for non-geeks, or even Mac-geeks!

  2. xangua says:

    There is a more easy way to dothat you know, in Aplications menu_Add and quit
    you need to unmark some extension that come in firefox’s ubuntu; just show “installed aplications” and type “fire” and unmark the ubuntu’s extension, then you only install flash via the Add and quit or directly from firefox

  3. Greg says:

    Sound exactly like my experience. Ubuntu was the first distro I installed as I heard it was the most user friendly and god for people new from windows. It only lasted 2 weeks on my system and Ive been happily running PCLinux since. With PCLinux for the most part you only have to use the command line when you want to not because you have to.

  4. Hope you enjoy Gutsy Gibbon. Right now it is my favorite OS. You can hit mozilla’s site to download the Firefox 3 binary and install it (no pkg here). I think that you can just unzip the firefox 3 folder wherever (I recommend /usr/local/bin) and do ./firefox Good luck!

  5. lefty.crupps says:

    Look into the Add/Remove Software program (Synaptic on Ubuntu, I believe) and turn on the Additional Repositories for a lot more software. Universe and Metaverse they’re called; also look into adding the Ubuntu Multimedia repository for more goodies.

  6. Jim Campbell says:

    Thanks for giving Ubuntu a try. Regarding trying to install different applications, I agree that it can seem overwhelming trying to figure out which applications to install at first. In the long run, though, once you get familiar with things, you’ll find that it is much easier to be able to type a command or click a few buttons to install a program than to have to go to a website, download a file, click the file, and then click through an installer that requires you to accept their license agreement.

    Also, you may find it useful to glance through the Ubuntu documentation. It’s available through the red and white circle (looks like a floatation device) in your menu bar. The docs should help you with installing programs, including installing any multimedia functionality that you want. Best of luck!

  7. Daniel says:

    Nice post, but your issues seem kind of minor… I’ve found installing to be way easier than Mac and Windows. It’s just different. As for installing, a terminal is by no means required, just faster.

    As for flash, just enable the universe and multiverse repositories (System > Administration > Software Sources), then find ‘flashplugin-nonfree’ in Synaptic (System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager).

    If you want FF3, enable the backports repository. Then turn it back off, so you don’t get unstable software. It’s called firefox-3.0.

    I’m glad you like Ubuntu, however. It’s my only OS, and very fun to use.

  8. Caraibes says:

    -Have you ever heard of Medibuntu ???

    See it here:
    http://www.medibuntu.org/

    Also, just open Synaptic, and search te term “restricted”… It gives you all the nasties…

    You shouldn’t post such an article when it is clear you haven’t done the most basic homework…

  9. Charles says:

    You should try Linux Mint 4.0. It is based on Ubuntu, but you don’t have tinker with it to get it play mp3’s, wmv, etc. And you can install Nvidia or ATI drivers using Envy.

    Linux Mint is what Ubuntu should be.

  10. Chris Lees says:

    This post is a very good illustration of one of the biggest obstacles to Linux adoption. Although most tasks are at least as easy to accomplish as on Windows, the system works in a very different way, so new users get confused. They try to apply their Windows knowledge to Linux and have troubles.

    Maybe Ubuntu should have a little guided tour thing during the installer that tells you some of the ways that Linux differs from Windows?

  11. Sam says:

    I use (K)ubuntu and I’ve had a nice experience with it. However, it is a distribution focused on stability (like its daddy, Debian) and not on bleeding-edge. This is why there isn’t an official Firefox 3 package. There will be as soon as there is a 3.0 non-alpha/beta/theta/gamma/whatever (stable).

  12. MilesTeg says:

    as mentioned above:
    -search in synaptic for the desired app and turn on the “restricted repositories”
    if that’s not working look at

    http://www.getdeb.net.

    They have a lot of .deb files (similiar to setup.exe in windows) with pretty uptodate software!

  13. Thomas says:

    Thanks for all the great feedback. One major issue I just came across was my wireless. I spend hours getting the TrendNet USB wireless to work and I was successful. Then I turn on the machine last night and all my hard work was gone. No wireless. 🙁

    Is it just inactive or do I have to spend the time trying to re-configure/install it all again?

  14. Jason says:

    Actually, xubuntu is almost /exactly/ like windows. Just rearrange some of the bars, and presto, WINDOWS!

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