Saturday, August 26, 2006

Life with Ubuntu

A week ago or so I decided to ditch windowx xp on my machine. I would install one of the many popular Linux distributions floating around on the net and mentioned in distrowatch, a site I always visited for the fun of it. Anyway, windows saw the last of me some time ago, and I decided to install the Zenwalk linux distribution, which is based on Slackware linux, but I had some problems with it, regarding it's hardware detection (sound), and its bootloader (lilo). The thing is that Zenwalk made things harder for me, because when it installs lilo, it gets stuck on your hard drive's mbr, and won't go away, so I had to boot up with a windows 98 (gasp!) boot diskette to erase the mbr, which is my rather primitive way of doing it.

Anyway, after wiping clean my mbr I installed ubuntu, the 6.06 LTS release. I was planning on using the xfs filesystem, as its very efficient and has support for ├╝ber large files, but a bug in the installer, related to grub I guess, prevented me from using that filesytem. Anyway, after settling on reiserfs all went smoothly.

After the initial setup, I went ahead and began to use the preloaded software. The distro is not bloated, it has one application for each use, and its very easy to install new software by using the synaptic package manager or the terminal (a wee bit more advanced). What impressed me was the automatic updates and that the system notified you if you had packages that could be upgraded, but this proved to be hell when the dreaded xorg update came about, but that's another story.

The main problem with ubuntu was its instability concerning the nvidia driver setup, because everything was correctly configured, yet it wouldn't load with the correct screen resolution and it became quite annoying.

To make the long story short, I ended up screwing the system, rendering it unusable, and then I tried reinstalling, but the same problem kept happening. So I decided to download the alternate install cd image, which provides a text installer rather than the live cd graphical installer. I fired it up in expert mode and it gave me the choice to configure my xserver beforehand, so I just picked the resolutions I wanted and presto, on the first boot I had my precious resolution correctly set up and working! After that all has been ubuntu love!


Bryce Leo said...

$vim /etc/X11/xorg.conf

(i may have the capitals wrong but inside that file is all you need to change for resoluyions :-D

Anonymous said...

Linux is hyped as the new shizzle on the desktop. Ubuntu is the overhyped shizzle. Just one of my many issues with linux. I dare not criticise of course because that would be heresy, but linux is not mature as a desktop platform and it's a naive and common assumption in lay circles you can just grab a distro and fire it up with no worries.

Linux is fool-tolerant but not fool-proof.

Linux gives you all the more power to screw things up with in spectacularily new ways.


Arturo said...

I know Linux is being hyped like hell right now, but really, I find ubuntu quite stable and it suits my needs. I'm an advanced user, so no worries there.

You'd think an advanced user would pick a more 'complicated' distro, like Slackware or Gentoo, but really, I've been through the most complicated 'distro': Linux Froms Scratch.

When you've been through that you really appreciate a distro that you can install and your hardware just works properly. That's Ubuntu's advantage to my eyes.

Anonymous said...

simply boot zenwalk from grub ;-) You can easily skip the "install lilo"

lilo will take very long on some filesystems (especially reiser4, but also xfs) so i use my grub-installation for more than 5 years (in fact i've already forgotten how to install grub, so i wont remove it ;-) )

Of course linux is not fool-proof but the only guys who really claim this is the ubuntu-freaks. Linux should be preinstalled (as windows does) this is the only way to gain popularity.

Anonymous said...

rant mode on:

I have worked with Linux for the last 10 years and I was also involved in Windows tech support for about 5 years during the '90s.

Since I first started using Linux it has come on in leaps and bounds. I have always used Debian, but after a friend showed me Ubuntu, I think I might switch.

However Linux (forget about distributions now) is not, and I hope it never will be, a Windows desktop replacement.

This is because you can never make anything fool-proof because fools are very clever at breaking things in o so stupid ways and then blaming everything but themselves.

People who adhere to the "I don't know and don't want to know" philosophy of computing are just accidents waiting to happen so just let them slag off Windows when they break it (mostly through their own fault).

If you are someone that knows, then use Linux, if you are someone that want's to learn or requires something specific, then use Linux because you have an incentive to RTFM, otherwise stick with Windows and tie up Redwood's tech support and not mine!

rant mode off:

Gerald said...

I'm having the same problems installing Ubuntu, and I'm wondering where exactly do you set the resolution for xserver before installation... I've been hunting for help and haven't found it yet.

Arturo said...

The installer should drop you into the xorg configuration at some point, and that is where you can set the proper video resolution. If not you can always edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf and make the proper adjustments there, post-installation. That's the way I usually do it now, because I have to install the nvidia driver first, and then configure the x server.