"Then it is dark; a night where kings in golden suits ride elephants over the mountains." - John Cheever

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Ubuntu

Has anyone tried using Ubuntu ? We've got a couple of old (4-5 yrs) laptops at work that are a bit knackered, and I was wondering whether they might run a bit better on Ubuntu than Windows (2000 in their case)? Providing they meet necessary system requirements. John? Seumas?

15 comments:

Colin said...

Or perhaps I should be looking at Xubuntu, since they're a bit past it?

seumas said...

Well, it'll only cost you a couple of cd-r to try out, so I reckon try Ubuntu and if it doesn't work out, go for Xubuntu instead!

Try running from a live-cd and see how it goes. Obviously, it's going to be slower than running from the HD, but at least you'll be able to see if all the hardware works properly and nothing is changed if you decide to go back.

What make/model are the laptops anyway?

Colin said...

Ah, good idea, thanks Seumas. It's a Dell Latitude 640.

Not sure I know how to run it off a CD - is it fairly straightforward, or do you have to be clever about such things like you and John?

Colin said...

Ah - Live CD

seumas said...

It should be easy. Just pop the CD in the drive and reboot. It might ask you to press a key to boot from CD or something.

From what I can gather from a quick google, Latitude 640 should work fine, so you should be all right there. Anyway, let us know how it goes!

Just one thing concerns me: you have checked that the software you require to run is available for Linux, haven't you?

Colin said...

Don't worry, it's just for word processing and stuff, so we can use Open Office. They will only be used as spare computers in emergencies.

Colin said...

Ah, couldn't get it to install. Won't have any time to try again for a while now.

seumas said...

Where did it fail? Wouldn't boot from the CD, or booted from the CD but then wouldn't install?

Colin said...

It just took a very long time to run from the cd, then kind of got stuck when trying to open the Install menu/window. However, I made a Xubuntu CD before I left this evening, and was able to play around with that from the CD without any problems, so perhaps the old thing just wasn't up to Ubuntu. I'll have a go at installing X when I get the chance. I was kind of hoping to do a dual boot install with partitions on the single laptop hard disk - trying to run before I can walk (or crawl) no doubt.

seumas said...

Ahh...possibly low on memory. Did Xubuntu work with everything alright? Like detect network and sound and all?

Colin said...

Well, I've managed to install Xubuntu on one of the laptops (along with win2k), and am using it now to write this post. Yay!

seumas said...

Good stuff! I don't know much about Xubuntu. You should write up a review!

Colin said...

That might take a while! I now realise that quite a lot of knowledge is required to figure out your way around - how to use the commands, find drivers, build software, figure out the whole directory system etc. A long term project I think...

seumas said...

Well, I was thinking of a review from a first-time user perspective, rather than an experienced user (there are already plenty of those).

The directory structure can look a little intimidating, but it's not that bad once you're used to it. For the most part, you only really need to know that your system config files are in /etc and your own files are in /home/colin (or whatever username you picked). You rarely need to worry about the rest.

While I wouldn't want to put you off trying to compile software if you want to, I recommend that you try and use your package manager (does Xubuntu use Synaptic too?) for installing software. I think this is one of the things that trip people up who're new to Linux. Rather than going to a website, downloading and installing software from there, you should just install it from your package manager (Ubuntu has an "Add-Remove programs" that lets you do this, dunno about Xubuntu). If the software isn't in your software repositories, you should add a repository that contains it. You can often just download and install, but it shouldn't be your first choice!

Not sure what other things are useful to know, but feel free to ask if anything's confusing you.

Colin said...

Thanks Seumas. Didn't realise what that package manager thing was - will give it a go. It's certainly involves a bit of trial and error, but good to know a little bit about how it works.