mack - 7:59 pm on Mar 8, 2010 (gmt 0)
In my previous post I wrote up a very brief summary of my findings when I swapped from Windows XP to Ubuntu Linux.
At the end of that thread I mentioned I would set of a fair comparison, bu running nothing but Linux for a week. The aim being that as I discovered problems I would try and find solutions, in the hope that these ideas may be of use to other members.
In my previous post I simply installed Ubuntu Linux on my laptop. My laptop if about 5 years old, so this probably wasn't an exactly fair comparison. Today what I did was convert my main desktop machine from Windows to Linux in order to provide a much more balanced comparison. My laptop because of its age will be a limiting factor, my desktop on the other hand is more than up to the task of equal comparison. I have been using this machine for about 18 months as my main work machine. In terms of specifications...
Gigabyte motherboard, external ATI graphics card, 3000+ AMD cpu (duel core) and 3 gig of ram. It's not exactly cutting age by todays standards, but it more than handles what I want it to do.
The main point I had to consider was this is my main work machine. I need to be able to revert back very quickly to my original configuration. Currently my machine has two hard disks, one is used for the main Windows OS disk, the other is installed as a backup disk. The backup disk I use to do nightly copy pastes from my main drive. This is not my only backup, but its the local backup I use on the machine.
What I have done is backed up all documents from both drives onto a combination of DVD, SD memory and external drives. In total I have three backups and have verified them all so that I know they will work. Technically I won't need them, but it always pays to think ahead.
First thing I had to do was download a Ubuntu ISO image. The image can then be burned to CD or in my case loaded into a flash drive. I prefer using a flash drive because it doesn't involve using a CD, and I also feel it is a lot quicker. First you need to find out if it is possible for your machine to book from Flash media. This will be possible on most modern machines. You will be able to check and configure their on your BIOS.
A word of warning.
When ever you make changes in your bios it effects the way your computer responds at boot up time. If you configure your bios wrongly it can prevent your system from booting. If you have never used or edited your bios before I recommend you spend a little time researching your bios. Search for your PC make and model and see if you can learn anything about the bios.
In very general terms insert your USB drive into a USB slot before turning on your machine, you access the bios by pressing F2, F8, F10 or Delete at system start. There are probably other combinations for various systems but these are the most common. Once you are in the bios you will have a number of different areas where you can make changes. The area we are looking for is “Boot priority” USB drives will either be displayed as a hard disk, or USB ZIP. If is is shown, then you will later be able to boot from this.
In order to use Ubuntu or any form of Linux you need to download an ISO image. The image we will use to boot from Flash drive will be the very same ISO you would use to create a boot-able CD or even a live CD. You can download the latest version from [ubuntu.com...] from there select your download location and click download.
The download is around 650meg so depending on your connection speed this can take quite some time. Whilst you are downloading it is probably a good idea to read through the install tutorials on the Ubuntu site. There is a very detailed explanation of the process, and there is also a download to obtain the software needed to create your boot-able flash drive. Once the ISO and the PenDriveLinux creation tool has been downloaded, you can use the PenDriveLinux tool to create your boot-able drive. This process is very simple, all you need to do is run your PenDriveLinux tool, and select the version of Linux you wish to use. You can then browse for your ISO image and click go. The entire process takes about 10 minutes. This will depend on your PC.
I think it is very important at this stage to test your flash media. What I would recommend doing is shutting down your system, and setting your bios to boot from flash, then when the system boots select “Run Ubuntu from this flash drive”. By doing this it will not install anything on your hard disk, and it will allow you to see if the Ubuntu version of Linux will work with your machine.
Do not select install unless you are prepared to loose everything that is on your hard disk. There is an option within the install to set up a duel boot, but I have not tested this. Always make sure you know what you are doing before actually installing. I took quite a lot of precautions to make sure all my existing data was safe, and that my existing OS disk was removed from the system.
Installing Ubuntu us extremely easy. Insert your flash drive, boot the system and select “Install to hard disk” from the menu. When you do this the rest of the install is automated except for a few simple questions. What disk to use, your name, login and password. On my system the entire install took around 10-15 minutes. This will depend on the speed of your system and also the speed that data can be read from your USB flash device. When the install is finished you will be presented with the default desktop environment Gnome [gnome.org...]
Gnome is a free and open source windows manager and is very popular. My own personal preference is to use a windows manager that has the same sort of look and feel to a Windows based system. For this reason I installed the KDE environment [kde.org...] KDE is another great example of a windows manager.
By installing KDE you will be able to select your desktop environment from the login screen. Installing KDE is extremely simple and almost entirely automated. At the very top of the Gnome screen there is a “?” icon, this is the help resources. Open help and type KDE into the search box. Click customizing Ubuntu and there is a link you can click to install KDE. You may think I am being a little bit pro KDE by explaining how to install this, but If you do install KDE you will have the choice of launching Gnome or KDE every time you launch the system. I have actually spent quite a lot of time playing with Gnome. It is a very powerful and user friendly environment. I am glad to be able to use both. It's a little bit like having two operating systems from an interface point of view. If you choose to use Gnome your closing and launch screens will contain the Ubuntu logo and sound effects. If you are running KDE the OS launches as Kubuntu( Ubuntu with KDE)
I have now carried out two installs, on my laptop and also on my desktop. What amazes me is that on both occasions everything has worked right out the box. My past experiences with Linux have always been problematic. Sound drivers that either don't exist or cant be installed. Or other hardware items that fail to be recognized by the OS. In this case everything just worked from the moment I booted, Linux is certainly coming of age. Even when I install Windows on this hardware I need to install a wide range of drivers for my graphics hardware and my motherboard. Your millage on this may vary, but so far I'm impressed with how Ubuntu detects hardware.
This being day one of my Windows free week. I spent quite a bit of time getting used to the system and getting it set up more or less as a clone of my laptop. Same wallpaper, same menu configurations same software.
The rest of my day was spend doing some link development so all I needed was an email client, a web browser and a spreadsheet application. I choose to use Firefox as my browser. Ubuntu comes with two browsers installed Firefox and Konqueror. My reason for choosing Firefox was simple because it has exactly the same look and feel of Firefox on Windows. When you're using the browser you really could forget you are not on a Windows machine.
For Email I used ”Kontact” Kontact is a very nice contacts manager that looks a lot like Outlook. It has the address book and reminders that will be very useful. It also has very nice integration with Kmail.
For recording link progress I normally use a spreadsheet. My preferred choice on Microsoft Windows is Open Office. The very same software is included with Ubuntu so I was able to use Calc. Although it is now called Open Office SpreadSheet.
All in all, today was very uneventful. I was more or less doing the jobs I would normally do and using tools I was familiar with.
This thread will be continued on a daily basis, explaining what I have been doing and what tools I used to achieve it.
Scary week ahead :)