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jawtheshark's Journal: Windows 1 : Linux 0 30

Journal by jawtheshark
I have been trying Ubuntu Linux for a while now. I was positively impressed: clean user interface (exactly as I would organize a system), a basic set of tools, works out of the box (for most hardware, I'll come back to that later). All in all: the "Wow" factor was high. But....

I'm typing this on a Ubuntu System right now: I built this system from scratch last friday, and installed Ubuntu on it that day. This system is not for me, it is for the uncle of SmilingGirl. My reasoning for installing Linux on this machine was: he never used a computer and since Linux is ready for the desktop, I'll try it. Besides, that way I won't have to pirate Windows (or bill him more for a Windows XP... I only bill the parts I bought, btw...) I even bought a real external serial modem (which is three times more expensive than WinModems) in order not to enter in WinModem hell.

Indeed, I never entered WinModem hell.... I entered two other hells: codec hell and CD/DVD hell.

Let me first be positive:

  • All hardware in the computer was detected
  • NVidia binary drivers work well (even though TuxRacer displays wrong, but it seems I'm not the only one having this problem)
  • Clean interface: it's the way the start menu in windows should have been. Neatly categorized entries instead of Company/AppName/TooMuchCrapForOneProgram.
  • OpenOffice, Firefox, The Gimp, Lots multimedia proggies included.
  • While nothing for the newbie: Synaptic is a neat packet manager

First impression thus was: "Linux is ready for the desktop!"

How wrong I was... You know: when I install a machine I always check everything that I expect to be possible from a basic machine. Let it be reading PDF's, surfing the web, etc... It has to pass this test or I won't give the machine in the hands of the end-user.

The first big problem
The first big problem I encountered would have been unsolvable for a newbie. Is it the fault of the Ubuntu team, or the fault of XFree or even the fault of the monitor manufacturer? I don't know: what I know is that the "Model String" stored in the monitor seems to be "CMC 17" AD". Whoopsie! See that double-quote after 17? Well that fucks up the XF86Config file. Manual editing is the only way out. (Which I do manage easily, but newbies are out!)

The first big annoyance
Why do I have to enter the keyboard encoding type? That's bollocks! Give me a choice "Swiss-German" and I'll be happy, thank you very much. Luckily I know that Swiss is "CH". (Luxembourg uses the Swiss-German or Swiss-French layout)

Second big problem
Let me call it "codec hell". Yeah, I know: it's Debian. No patent-encumbered formats for Debian. That's very nice from a philosophical standpoint but at least make it easy to go for the "practical" way. I managed to get Rythmbox to play MP3 but I found it that you can't change the ID3 tags of the file. Nice!!! NOT! Developpers: it looks like iTunes but the visual aspect is really not enough.
I wond't start about DVD playing: I just worked around it and installed VLC. As for other formats: I have no clue... I didn't do any p0rn surfing (yet) to find out.

Second big annoyance
So this thing doesn't ship with Thunderbird? Okay? The alternative is the Outlook-clone called "Evolution". Okay with me! Problem: no way in hell to configure it with the gmail account I created for SmilingGirls uncle (he doesn't know he has it yet, it "comes with the computer")
I ended up installing Thunderbird and removing Evolution (I removed it because it was possible to call it by double-clicking in the calendar) Thunderbird configged and you have a happy shark.

Third Big Problem
Now, you know: modern computers come with at least a CD-RW drive. Don't be surprised but I installed a DVD-RW in that machine. It seems that Linux developpers think that those two devices are novelties that only those new-fangled-newbies would like to use. Well, go wonder: this old fox likes to be able to burn CDs and DVDs.... oh, and while I can do it from the command line, SmilingGirls uncle is going to moan and complain if I tell him to type "cdrecord" on the command line.
I tried installing K3B, which didn't work well because it was unable to run the K3BSetup thing. Ubuntu is sudo-only, and logging in as root defeats the purpose right? Anyways: "sudo sh" didn't work either: it couldn't execute some command. I didn't activate the root account, because I don't know how to deactivate it again.
XCDRoast: yes... fine... if you know how to burn a CD it will work. It is absolutely non-newbie friendly. DVD burning would work with some kind of hack, but it seems to be bound to a license key which expires next March. Nice... NOT!
DVDShrink does install under Wine, but complains about lacking ASPI. Installing ASPI was a failure. Forget DVDShrink/Wine. Besides, it a DVD backup program and not really authoring software. (Still a native "DVDShrink" for Linux would be a great thing)
The only thing I can do is give a F- on this part. Sorry, a modern desktop must be able to burn CD's over a graphical interface.

So all in all: Ubuntu Linux might work for light-use corporate desktop, but most definately not for the home desktop.

I might have taken the wrong approach, or I took the wrong distribution (which I partially acknowledge because of the codec hell), I could use advice. Lots of it. I know other distribs have less probs with the codec thing (Mandrake, being a French distro) and perhaps less because they can run K3B. However, the distribs that use KDE as primary window manager are too confusing: too much choices, usage of programs is not clear, etc... (I think this as a long-time computer user)

I tried thinking as a newbie during the whole process of installing and using Ubuntu.... Windows XP now really starts to look like a good alternative. (Well, okay, Windows is crap doing all this stuff on itself too: it needs third-party software, but at least I know where to find that third-party software)

Over and out...A pissed and disappointed Shark...

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Windows 1 : Linux 0

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  • but maybe you should check YOUR gmail account, punk!
  • I'll give a nod of acknowledgement about CD burning, I've had nothing but issues with it on my linux system. None of the apps are friendly for doing so, and I don't want to deal with the command line when it's something that's done so simply and easy on windows with Nero. Nero's nailed it, so why isn't there a program that does it better on linux?

    That's my only complaint though. I have mplayer on my system, and maybe it's just because I'm not on a debian distro, but every single video file I've tried to pla

    • by nizo (81281) *
      I have been burning CDs on linux for ages. Granted it is from the command line, but I have had almost no problems at all with this. Yeah I know people hate to type stuff in, but dang you can cut and paste most of it (Note these work on Fedora Core 2 and 3):

      mkisofs -r -o cdimage.iso somedir

      where somedir is a directory full of crap, and cdimage.iso is the name of the iso file you want to create.

      cdrecord -v driveropts=burnfree speed=48 dev=/dev/hdc cdimage.iso

      Note that /dev/hdc should be your cd rec

      • by nizo (81281) *
        dmesg | grep ^hd | grep -i rom

        This might be a more noob friendly way to find which device the cd writer is (yeah it is a command; run it right after you boot into linux)

      • It isn't so much even that I dislike the command line. I love it. It's just that, say, I want to select 4.7 GB of music to stuff on a DVD to take to work and play off my machine over headphones, it isn't easy to compile that way. I could possibly duplicate it somewhere, make the iso out of it, and then burn it, but that's unnecessary copying and just a pain, and ends up consuming some 9 GB of space more than just the files.

        I want to select from a directory tree the files I want to plop down, burn them on th

      • I think both dead sun and I know how to do this. That's not the problem. The hdX is easy, heck I understand how OpenBSD does it, I have used SCSI machines (where it is very different) and I have used SCSI emulation to burn on IDE CD's. It all doesn't matter. Heck, I made my WinXP pirate ISO by using "dd" on my iBook. Talk about doing strange things ;-))

        The problem is: I will not be using this machine. A guy with no prior computing knowledge will. Now let's even assume that I can teach him to do thi

    • You analysed correctly: the problems I faced in Codec hell were solved. I could search a few more evenings and iron it all out. I wrote this journal after I got fed up with CD/DVD burning. (Summarizing all gripes I had with Ubuntu)

      I can learn the command line for burning CD's.... but picture any random uncle of yourself: could they? If the answer is "Yes", then you are lying to yourself, if it is "No" then you are before the problem I am.

      The alternative? Well, let me first tell you this: you don't ne

      • I guess I was counting in the cost of Windows, since I don't have business copies myself. Sure, piracy isn't difficult, but I'd be uncomfortable charging even cost for a computer and including a pirated OS. The whole charging and including illicit goods makes me nervous.

        Other software isn't so bad, especially thanks to OO.o, but I've had some issues with free software ports to win32. I think it was the gimp that was a royal pain to get working right on win32 last I tried, though it might have been something

        • I'd be uncomfortable charging even cost for a computer and including a pirated OS.

          Charging??? Who talks about charging. I'm only going to ask exactly what the pieces have cost me. Hours invested by me 0$, including assembly and OS installation. This is really the infamous free lunch. Well, okay, he could buy me a case of beer but that's all I gonna accept.

          Gimp has come a long way, by the way. I have it on my "for school laptop" (Only Free Software except Office 97 and Win 2000 -- And Office 97

          • Yeah, charging. While charging 0% markup and $0 labor, I still view it as a charge when I have to buy the parts. A basic statement that what I'm giving you is what you've paid for, no more or less. I draw a distinction between somebody heaping a bunch of hardware on me and a pirated copy of something and saying they want something built opposed to purchasing hardware, supplying pirated anything and passing it off as a finished good, even at no markup. Merely an odd logical distinction, there's little differ
            • Yeah, I understand your logic about charging. Heck, I realised that it is impossible to compete with 800€ machines even when building yourself. There were times that it wasn't this way. I just should have bought a 800€ machine and install it correctly.

              Heck, if I didn't have bought those damned pieces in december (only got them last week! They were kind of slow... *sigh*), I'd have bought a Mac-Mini. I would have had a legal machine with a nice 17" LCD screen for less. I just can't run out

              • The only plus to building a machine around that cost these days is that you can ensure that some of the components are high quality. It certainly helps to have a decent power supply at least. That is one of the biggest problems with low cost commercial computers it seems. If anything hopefully you won't have to play tech support for the computer you build yourself, opposed to one bought outright.

                The mini is certainly tempting though, and is probably going to play a little havoc with low end PC suppliers.

                • The mini is certainly tempting though, and is probably going to play a little havoc with low end PC suppliers.

                  *only* if it gets enough commercials. My girlfriend saw my iBook and wondered why she didn't buy a Mac. Well, actually she explained it herself: she didn't know it existed and all machines sold were Wintel. (She's got a P-IV 2.8GHz HT with WinXP Home in German... I do not want to know what she paid for that two years ago)
                  I'm still hoping: I'm downloading Mandrake now....DVD version... I'm c

                  • Maybe I've just been around computers for far too long, but it surprises me that anybody wouldn't know about Apple. It seems along the lines of somebody not knowing there's a soft drink manufacturer besides Coke. Well, there's the crazy Georgians (coke being from Atlanta and all) who call everything a Coke, but when they say they want a Coke they expect the question "What kind?" to which Pepsi is an acceptable answer.

                    I mean, I realize Apple's market share is tiny, and I had always been disturbed about the p

                    • Uhm, listen.... You have been too long around computers. Apple is unknown, especially here in Europe. Not much marketing. I saw my first iPod in use last weekend. The first Apple I saw in use was my own.

                      I quote my girlfriend: "No commercial talked about Apple, I didn't know it existed. I went to Auchan and they only had PC's" (Note: Auchan is something like Wallmart) Apples are not expensive if you actually count the experience you get. It would be the same as saying that Porsche is expensive becau

                    • I probably have been. I know my experience is severely different than many people's, but, but, still. I guess I just made a bad assumption there.

                      Maybe I was thinking along those car analogy lines. Porsches are expensive, it's just many people would love to pay that expense to get that car. A Yugo will get you from point A to B, even if the experience isn't the same. Still, despite a relatively small number of Porsches in comparison to other vehicles on the roads here in the US, everybody and their mom has h

  • It seems like you have some valid complaints, and some not so valid complaints.
    • X configuration. Is Ubuntu really still using XFree86? I thought pretty much everyone had ditched that by now. This one does look like a genuine bug. Maybe it's fixed in the latest X.org release, maybe not. It's definitely a bug, though, and should be logged. It may not even be an X fault. I'm not sure what Ubuntu uses to generate its X config, but that's where the problem lies.
    • Keyboard encoding? Looks like you're using the w
    • XP supposedly writes to CDs out of the box through explorer. I say supposedly because every burner I've ever bothered to use with windows came with Nero. I can't imagine a program making burning a CD easier than Nero, so I've never bothered with windows' burning stuffs.

      I think linux's CD burning is terrible, but that's my opinion. I guess it's just that I feel it should be as easy as Nero makes it. Select files, click burn, be done. But then I've also had some weird issues with cdrecord flaking out on me to

      • XP does write CD's out of the box... So does Ubuntu. It works fine... for Data CD's. but what about Audio CD's; DVDs? As you said: in Windows I have Nero for that....

        We need a Nero for Linux... I have been buring since the early SCSI-only burners. Back then it was with Easy-CD creator and even that was 10x easier than what Linux offers. Back them you couldn't burn MP3's directly to CD and had to expand them to WAV first. Hey, in order to get MP3s, you had to extract the WAVs and compress them with

    • I knew I could count on you for Linux questions.
      • Yes, Ubuntu still does... That's because it is based on a Debian that didn't come with X.org. It is a bad bug though.... I marked this as big problem only because I found it a very bad bug. Once I fixed XF86Config everything ran fine and dandy.
      • Installer bug. I didn't notice it the first time I installed it because my personal machine has a US keyboard to avoid this crap. The strange thing is that it asks you the way Fedora does (only in ncurses m

  • I am still reconfiguring my ailing machine.. I tried Ubuntu which runs nice and clean, but it refuses to detect my RAID controlled disks. So no VM-Ware jokes.. I then tried to install XP on an NTFS next to Ubuntu on the same disk. XP recognises the disk controllers in *A DIFFERENT ORDER THAN * w2K, which essentially means your boot partition is suddenly another boot partition on another disk, which means I can`t get it to boot on and of itself! So get this: If in the bios I boot from DISK-0 or DISK-1, t
    • Just a question: Why don't you stay with W2k? That's what I do. I just don't like XP. W2k does what you expect it to do....

      One question: did you partition with Linux (or any other Opensource OS?). I personally had the order of Win partitions fuck up because of that. It seems that the partition table need to be "in order" for Windows Operating systems. It's odd...

      My favourite OS is still Windows 2000.... Ubuntu comes close, but it's not for newbies without DVD burning software.


      • Yes well development is no longer supported on w2k, and devkits are close to requiring us to switch to xp. Company also asked my to switch to XP, and it has been running fine so far.. then it`s only logical I switch on my home system as well. The first thing I did after setting the screen resolution is to throw out all the UI fancyness of the GUI. After installing XP, I downloaded no less than 14 security updates from win-update. Also, installing XP is a neato excuse to install that Office XP I`ve had l

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