Tag: Geeky

A Note on Ubuntu vs. Windows

I have a duel boots system (this means I have both windows XP and Ubuntu installed on different parts of my hard drive and a spot in the middle that both can access.)  Today out of sheer necessity I had to run Windows after a week of not (I don’t have the printer set up yet and I needed to use Paintshop Pro to edit my header since it was originally made in Paint Shop Pro.)

I had been wondering why I seemed to spend less time working on my computer recently.  I have the same amount of things to do, the same amount of work, yet somehow I am spending much more time doing other things.  I couldn’t figure it out.

Today I saw it.  I loaded Windows XP–which took a while.  I waited 5 minutes for my anti-virus software to update and run, I waited a few more minutes for all the other little programs that feel they need their shot (and I have this machine stripped down to the essentials).  I waited for Thunderbird and Firefox to boot up and I had to wait for Paintshop Pro.  Then I spent a whole lot of time waiting for Adobe to open so I could view and print a PDF.  All those programs wasted 20 minutes of my life that I will never get back.  I run the same sorts of software on Ubuntu and yet it only takes me a minute to get them all up and running–and they can do it at the same time.  No wonder I have so much more free time!

Ubuntu (circa 2008) vs. Linux Red Hat (circa 2001)

So here I am once again working on a Linux box. When I have spent a little more time using it and get over all the initial ooing and ahing I will give you a run down of Ubuntu vs. Windows XP service pack 2.  So far everything is so incredibly wonderful and super great as in “Oooo–look how fast my mail gets sent!”  and “Ahhh–I just opened 30 tabs in Firefox and my system didn’t barf” and I want to have time to find some flaws so I can give you a real comparison.

It has been 7 years since I first installed Red Hat Linux on my new OS free computer.  That computer ran Red Hat Linux for a year until we could finally afford XP so I could run all my kids’ games. (I should note here that that old computer is once again running Linux–that is the poor old machine that I put Edubuntu on for the kids. Talk about ironic.) Six years ago I quit using Linux in disgust.  Mind you I loved the OS–LOVED IT.  It didn’t crash and when something worked it really worked.  The problem was the lack of standard user information and of quality GUI interface (the stuff was designed by geeks with no artist in sight–it was pretty crappy).  Back then everything was installed via the terminal (similar to installing from DOS) and the only people using it were supergeeks who couldn’t possibly explain things in terms that a stay-at-home mom who could fix Windows machines and code in HTML could comprehend.  I spent hours hanging out on Slashdot and internet forums trying to glean information that actually was helpful and not too dumbed down or too over my head.  Fear of the Blue Screen of Death kept me hacking away trying to figure it all out.

Nowadays things are different in Linux-land.  Ubuntu is an easy to use OS with plenty of auto-installing programs in the database plus a huge wall of forums full of all sorts of useful information and simple walk-thrus.   Instead of spending my time searching the internet for the .roms I need for the specific install and trying to decipher cryptic terminal codes I do a quick Google search for the walk-thru I need, copy and paste the details and wa-la it works.

It also helps that most open source projects are available both on Linux and Windows.  Despite my install of Windows XP I never went back to Microsoft for most of my programs.  Outlook Express and Internt Explorer were never used–even when it meant that Flash and Shockwave didn’t quite work (they do now).  Thunderbird, Opera, Firefox, Winamp, OpenOffice, as well as many wonderful programs found at tinyaps.org graced my computer.  When I did buy something  (like Paintshop Pro) it was never Microsoft and seldom the big expensive companies.  Not only was it a way of encouraging the little guy but it also was a way for me to test out programs that others may need so I knew what to recommend when I was helping others with their computers. Since my husband is a programmer we are very anti-piracy.  Instead of recommending that somebody go out and buy an expensive memory hog software from Microsoft or Adobe I would encourage them to try Opensource or small company software that took less space, cost less money, and was less likely to let viruses and malware run rampant in their computer (which is usually why they called me in the first place.)

Back then I could not recommend Linux (or at least that flavor of Linux though at the time it was the most user friendly) to my mom, mother-in-law or anyone else who didn’t have a higher than standard comprehension of computers.  It took all my background and ability to research to make it do what I wanted to do.  With Ubuntu I feel I can finally recommend Linux to most users.  Nowadays you can find software for practically anything you need your computer for–and you can auto-install and it just works.  The plethora of educational resources available on it are an added plus.

Running Edubuntu from a Live CD

logo.pngFor screenshots of Edubuntu check this out.

So, with  all this talk about Edubuntu, I realized that maybe I should explain how to go about downloading and running it.  In fact, there is a bit of a trick to it which I have messed up more than a few times because I am a ditz like that–enough so that I went ahead and made a few cd’s for people who want them instead of explaining to my less technically-minded friends how to go about it.  (I have wasted plenty of cd’s because I “forget” how to burn an image.)

Before you download and run it there are two things you need to do.  (It doesn’t take much space to run so most people will not have issues with that.)

  1. Reboot your computer.  When it is starting up there will be a splash screen that tells you what type of processor you have.  As long as it doesn’t say 64 somewhere in there you should be good with the regular install.  (You can also check this by going into your control panel, system, and looking at your computer info.   AMD 64 requires a different setup which is the second one listed.)  Most people have a regular 32bit chipset and can run the first version.  If you can’t tell I suggest downloading and running the first chipset (or if you aren’t sure, email me and I will be glad to make you a cd and send it to you or you can order one from their site.)
  2. You need a cd burning software that can burn a cd image.  You are not burning data or an audio file you need to burn an .iso which is a disk image.  Nero Burning Rom can do this as can Sonic.  More than likely the program that came with your cd burner can burn a disk image but you need to tell it that is what you want.  DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT try to burn it as a data cd.  It won’t work.  I know because I ALWAYS forget and mess this up several times before remembering that I need to “Burn Disk Image”.

Now you can go the website and download.  You want the personal version, not the server.

Once you have downloaded and burned the cd all you do is put the cd in the cd/dvd player before rebooting.  Reboot and if your computer can boot from CD then it should automatically take you to the Edubuntu screen.  There it will give you several options but you likely won’t have to do a thing.  It will auto start in 30 seconds.  It will sit there a while–remember, you are running an entire OS from a cd, but it will start.  Just wait (probably about 3-5 minutes, on older machines like ours it takes a bit longer).  Once it boots you are good.  The screen looks quite a bit like a Mac (at least what I remember Macs looking like–it has been a while.)

Now you can play the games and run the programs without needing to install the software.  If you decide you love it you can install from there but I wouldn’t advise it unless you don’t mind losing what is already on computer or have everything backed up and I would recommend reading the docs on the site before doing so.  You can’t run Microsoft programs on an Ubuntu machine and have to convert your mp3s to .ogg format.  It is great if you don’t use Microsoft software and tend to use open source anyway or if you have a second computer for the kids (like us, we have 4 computers, two are old ones that belong to the kids.)

There are a few games that say they are missing bits.  If you install, it is easy to update those–they use other software that is normally already installed on a Linux machine.  If you don’t install you can’t update those but the rest is still well worth it.

I will talk a bit more about the games available in a future post.