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Automatix Kicks Ubuntu into Gear 349

With the growing amount of talk on the usability of Linux for beginners, there have been quite a few people who have mentioned a script called "Automatix" for Ubuntu as a means of easing the average joe into a life of Linux. Linux.com's (a Slashdot sister site) Tina Gasperson takes a closer look at Automatix and how it could help soften the blow of a Linux switch, at least in the short term. From the article: "Automatix lives up to its reputation. It's worth any time and small frustration it might take to get through the script. And it's even worth that 'over-the-shoulder' time you might spend with a new Linux user to walk them through it. I don't see any reason why a beginner would not be delighted with Ubuntu after a magic touch from Automatix."
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Automatix Kicks Ubuntu into Gear

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  • I tried it out, and it was easier than installing Mandrake for me, and I am a total newbie to linux. One thing though - I am having a lot of trouble with LDAP.
    • Ubuntu craze (Score:5, Insightful)

      by porkThreeWays ( 895269 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @04:40PM (#14936979)
      Disclaimer: I've been using Linux and Unix in general for many many years.

      That being out of the way...
      I don't find Ubuntu all that revolutionary in user friendlyness. It's never detected a piece of hardware most others couldn't (for me). The installer isn't anything special (ncurses based). It doesn't play patent encombered media types. It uses a dickload of ram. On top of all that, they didn't even put any good eye candy.

      I mean its not bad, just not revolutionary like everyone would have you believe. I find Fedora and Suse to really be of equal quality (I generally use Debian anyway).

      I know I'll get flamed as a troll, but please enlighten me how Ubuntu is light years ahead of any other distro in user friendlyness. I'd like to believe it's some great leap forward (and I run it on a couple of machines myself), but I just don't see it.
      • Re:Ubuntu craze (Score:2, Insightful)

        by OMRebel ( 920875 )
        I run SUSE on my desktop, and tried SUSE on my laptop, but it just ran way too slow and seemed to be unstable. I installed Ubuntu Breezy on my laptop, and it runs great. I don't have any slow response times, and never have had a single lockup like I did with SUSE (most lockups occured when either running Firefox or listening to MP3's with amaroK). Granted, that may have just been KDE causing the problems, and it's more of a KDE vs Gnome issue with my laptop. But, my laptop is an older laptop (P3 600 wit
      • by CarpetShark ( 865376 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @05:27PM (#14937336)
        Why is Ubuntu user-friendly? Because it's Debian, and Debian has the best package installation/management system on ANY platform. It's years ahead of the rest. Problem is, most people tried Debian years ago, didn't know it was easy to install now, and also didn't know it was easy to upgrade to the latest software. So debian + an ubuntu splashscreen + the latest software makes what the rest of us know and love available to them.
        • by cyxxon ( 773198 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @06:35PM (#14937780) Homepage
          ...that is what I really think about Ubuntu as well, and I have both Debian (my machine) and Ubuntu (girlfriends machine) here in our flat. The packaga manager is just different than Debians, the installer is the same, and well, the preselection of apps was a little more thorough than in sid. But I also had to install a lot of extras (what is now done by Automatix), so I also do not see what the real fuzz is, especially compared to recent SuSE offerings for example (running on machine of my girlfriends mum).
        • I still don't understand what makes apt-get years ahead of something like urpmi. Both seem to just work, and do about the same sort of thing. I don't have problems with either.

          I have a feeling that most of the people who keep mouthing off about how .deb is so superior to .rpm haven't tried anything like urpmi, and are stuck with the impressions of RPM hell from many years back.

          At one time apt-get was revolutionary. Now everyone has either copied its ideas (yum, urpmi, etc) or ported it to their system (o
          • by 51mon ( 566265 ) <Simon@technocool.net> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @07:45PM (#14938178) Homepage
            "I still don't understand what makes apt-get years ahead of something like urpmi. Both seem to just work, and do about the same sort of thing. I don't have problems with either."

            I don't think "apt-get" was ever that revolutionary in a technical sense. Coming from an HP-UX background, I was using Software Distributor, that did a lot of the things that "apt" did years ago, including clearing out superseeded packages from repositories, and such like. Okay it wasn't as "web ready", but then the web wasn't so important then.

            The thing that distinguished Debian is both the quality of the packages (in terms of how well packaged, not the software contained), the variety of packages (in official archives with set standards of quality and support), and that they have long been used with reliance on the dependencies, and their automatic resolution. So when you type "apt-get install libapache2-mod-perl2" you do get the right set of packages underneath to make it "just work".

            Sure the tools to do this in the RPM world have been catching up, but I doubt if you take a vanilla system minimal install with most of these distros, and type a selection of similar commands to the above, that you'll get them all to "just work" as slickly as Debian Sarge will. But that is nothing to do with the tool itself, just the data it has to work with. Although some of the RPM tools can be painfully slow (don't mention yum).
          • "I still don't understand what makes apt-get years ahead of something like urpmi."

            Well, the package lists take too long to load in urpmi unless you remember to download the compressed version, which is an extra non-obvious step for a newbie. Then you don't get much info on each package. A better solution would be to download more detailed package info for an individual if and when you click for it rather than all n-thousand of them at once.

            Also the Mandrake mirrors aren't stable. The paths on the mirrors ke
      • Re:Ubuntu craze (Score:4, Informative)

        by dreemernj ( 859414 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @05:37PM (#14937387) Homepage Journal
        I am a n00b when it comes to Linux.

        I've installed Ubuntu a ton of times on relatively ancient computers (p2 233s come to mind) and its always very easy to do, and very easy to get help with from Ubuntu's user forums.

        I've more recently tried out Fedora on a couple of higher end comps (I have no $$ for computers so higher end might mean P3 700 )to act as servers to small groups of the Ubuntu comps and really enjoyed that as well.

        I think there is a nice feeling to Ubuntu, its labeled, packaged, and branded very well. But, at the same time, I'm a complete Linux newb and I set up Fedora (plus suse just to try it out) and had no more problems with any of them, well actually I didn't have any problems with any of them. After I got used to it a bit more, I prefered working in Fedora to the others.

        I think its image more then anything. People don't feel as threatened by Ubuntu. Linux can seem daunting sometimes and Ubuntu has built an image and community to get people past that painlessly. I never got the same impression from the other distros I've tried (not saying there aren't others out there that do this, just not ones I've tried).

        In the end I think it comes down to Ubuntu defining their target audience differently then most other distros, and the audience they are (successfully) appealling to is a pretty large one.
      • by Pausanias ( 681077 ) <pausaniasx@gmail.GAUSScom minus math_god> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @05:46PM (#14937456)
        1) Like Debian, has apt, there is so no dependency hell when you install new packages or upgrade

        2) Unlike Debian, has regular releases (every 6mo or so), so you can regularly get quality-tested new software. Plus the Ubuntu unstable is usually usable three months into development.

        3) Newb-friendly community; people will go out of their way to help newbs, not flame them. Yes, even if they did not RTFM. They believe that you deserve help even if you don't RTFM. Can you imagine that?

        4) Plus, the forums provide an environment that newbs are comfortable in. Check out the other distro's forums and you'll see the difference. Admittedly this is tied to their considerable financial resources.

        4) Most people (including myself) report superior hardware detection to Fedora/Suse. On my laptop it detected everything perfectly. I am not sure how it compares to Debian.

        5) They will mail you a free CD. Anywhere you are in the world. And the whole distro fits on a single CD. It truly aims to be a universal distribution, for everyone. The whole community treats itself/Linux as gospel to be spread, especially to Win users, which I think is a good thing but you may not.
      • Kubuntu (and i am pretty sure Ubuntu too) will have a graphical installer for the live cd; Espresso [kubuntu.org] It will even include a GUI tool to resize and edit partitions and the default option is no longer to format the entire harddisc.

        And when Automatix is concerned, EasyUbuntu [freecontrib.org] has the advantage of being able to install ATI drivers (or at least they claim so) and it works for Edubuntu and Kubuntu too (though unsupported).

        But you to get it to work on Kubuntu, you need some Gnome packages, so you might want to
    • "I am a total newbie to linux"

      Wow... you're new here, aren't you? ;)
  • Not just for newbies (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rabeldable ( 851423 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @04:03PM (#14936677) Homepage
    I contest this is a very handy tool for anyone that wants to setup multi-media, web browsing, plugins and more.

    I setup most of my system without it and when I finally found it I was trying to setup Java plugin for firefox.... needless to say I kicked myself a few times, realizing that I could have saved myself days of configuring.

  • Uhh... (Score:5, Informative)

    by jb.hl.com ( 782137 ) <joe@joe-baldwin . n et> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @04:09PM (#14936721) Homepage Journal
    I could share files using a Gnutella client or a BitTorrent client; Kino imported my digital video files directly through Firewire; and as a bonus, Automatix even installed OpenOffice.org and Thunderbird.

    Ubuntu comes with a BitTorrent client, and OpenOffice.org, and Thunderbird. No script needed.

    I don't see the point personally.
    • Thunderbird is not installed by default. Yes, one could simply install it using synaptic, but that's one of the points of Automatix - to install the packages you will need anyway.
    • Re:Uhh... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by OMRebel ( 920875 )
      The point is for newbies to Linux, like myself, they are able to get everything installed with a single script that would take hours and headaches to get setup. I'm sure I could have gotten all of the codecs installed manually by taking the time to research and install everything by hand. However, with Automatix, I was able to get all of my codecs, firefox plugins, MS TTF, Java, and DMA done in one easy move. If I were try to just get those items installed and setup with my limited knowledge, I would hav
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16, 2006 @04:09PM (#14936724)
    I don't trust the guy that wrote it, I've read some of his how-tos on the ubuntu forums, and some of them offer very bad advice. Also note: "If u type liek this i think ur more liek jeffk and u want to hax me!"... and well...thats pretty much how he types.

    User beware, Just because it's free or opensource, doesn't mean it's safe.
    • I dunno, I trust him more than the guys at Microsoft for some reason....:P

      I though Automatix is open source - can't you just open it up and see what it does?
      • by Red Alastor ( 742410 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @06:48PM (#14937847)
        Many people have but the creator and maintainer refuses to do anything about it.

        http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=122797 [ubuntuforums.org]

        Anybody still wanting to use Automatix after reading this thread is helpless.

        • http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=122797

          From that thread:

          LordHunter317: I'm then going to write a through paper on every flaw on Automatix, both real and thereotical, along with outlines of how to fix them, and provide it to the public. It'll be submitted both at these forums, to popular news sites like /., and to security-related mailing lists (for security issues) like full-disclosure. At that point, we can see if I'm just "moron" or not.

          Did he ever follow through with this?

        • I disagree,

          His distractors are just as bad as he is. I mean "LordHunter317:Obviously, that statement is contradictory with reality so your claim is invalid." Yeesh, classic post based high handed snobery. He offers a "patch" that he never provides, then gripes about how Automatix isn't right - which his patch would fix. If LordHunter317 has a better plan - then produce it - bitching about how someone else does it is not only disingenuous but anti-productive. In short, yeah Arnie types like a l33t hacker,
    • I ran the script. It spent a long long time downloading KDE debian packages. I must have reinstalled 2/3rds of KDE in the process. When it was all done my time zone was set to Moscow! That is a long way from California.

      In the end it did a good job setting up everything though. It is a painless way to get the missing parts of the(K)ubuntu desktop installed.
    • I took the Slashdot summary and removed a few words to make it more interesting:

      "With growing people who have mentioned a means of easing into a sister look at how it could help soften the blow of a short and small frustration. And it's even worth that 'over-the-shoulder' time you might spend. I don't see any reason why a beginner would not be delighted after a magic touch."
  • Dominatix (Score:5, Funny)

    by dotslashdot ( 694478 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @04:11PM (#14936743)
    In other news, Automatix was so successful in making Ubuntu the dominant Linux distribution, she changed her name to Dominatix, making every Linux user LILO under her bootp. Sorry!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've used it and I have to it's a fantastic script/app!
    It installed and configured things like setting up the audio and multimedia codecs, properly setting up amsn(it crashed when i installed it through synaptic) configuring ctrl-alt-del to show the gnome system monitor plus num lock on when gnome starts and eject cd when i click the drive. And Firefox 1.5 install was the really easy!

    It made things that I could have accomplished if I searched forums and mailing lists but this made me jump those hurdles and
  • Hehe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Z0mb1eman ( 629653 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @04:17PM (#14936776) Homepage
    I had to chuckle at the irony of a script to ease a newbie into Linux... script and newbie don't tend to go together in my mind :p

    I love the instructions for installing Automatix:
    wget http://beerorkid.com/automatix/automatix_5.6-2_i38 6.deb
    sudo dpkg -i automatix_5.6-2_i386.deb
    Yes, it's simple enough, and yes, it seems like that's the most complicated part of the entire process, but again I had to chuckle at the image of asking a newbie to open a terminal and type that in.

    The script itself sounds great though... I wouldn't mind having something like that for Windows.
    • Re:Hehe (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Syberghost ( 10557 )
      The script itself sounds great though... I wouldn't mind having something like that for Windows.

      Imagine if installing a new game could silently downgrade your DirectX to version 7.0, suppressing all prompts that the DirectX install would like to give you to make sure you want to do this.

      That would be Automatix for Windows.
    • I had to chuckle at the image of asking a newbie to open a terminal and type that in.

      The point you seem to be missing with terminal commands is this:

      Nobody has to type them in. You paste them in.

      I do a lot of support, and the first thing I explain to the people I work with is

      1. how to open a terminal (or "Command prompt" etc.)
      2. how to paste a command into it (presumably from an email I sent them)
      3. how to copy the (text) screen to send it to me if needed.

      It's so much easier than this endless hunting around the GUI to find the application, listen to a full explanation of what is on screen, having the user find the correct menu/tab/whatever to continue, listen to what is on the screen, etc. etc.

      The GUI changes all the time, and when you have to deal with it in different languages (I have users with German, French and English systems), it is a nightmare over a phone, it takes ages, and the user gets frustrated.

      With a cut/paste of CLI commands, it is simpler and faster, and user appreciate it.

      Admins also constantly paste commands from web pages into the shell, because it's the easiest. Why would they suggest to users to use the hard way instead.
  • Not Troll, I Swear (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bombula ( 670389 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @04:18PM (#14936787)
    As a non-computer-person hoping to shortly shift to Linux, here is what I and my fellow newbie dummies want/need:

    1. Insert CD.

    2. Click OK.

    3. Done.

    I'm sure that's pretty obvious, so the question is: how close are Linux distros to being to that level, and if the answer is 'not close' then what are the obstacles to getting there and how are they being addressed?

    • by twbecker ( 315312 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @04:26PM (#14936846)
      What do you currently use? Because installing Windows isn't this easy. Both Ubuntu and Fedora are pretty easy to install, with Fedora asking a few more questions but also having a friendly GUI installer. (K)ubuntu's is text only, but still very easy.
      • by Bombula ( 670389 )
        Well, I use Windows, but it's there when I pull the PC out of the Box from Dell and turn it on. (Told you I was a dummy!)

        Another thing about Linux that people like me are aprehensive about is the idea that once the OS is installed, it takes a lot of knowledge and work tweaking it to get everything running properly - drivers for hardware, setting up a home network, and so on. Maybe that is no longer an issue for some distros, but the fear lingers...

        • To answer you question, Yes....with distros like Ubuntu, it's almost that easy. The installer holds your hand and guides you through everything you need to do, and you can even keep your old Windows partition in case you're not ready to commit ;)

          As for jumping through hoops to configure things, this is exactly what Automatix, or Easy Ubuntu [freecontrib.org] (which I personally prefer) are there for....so you can get all the proprietary/non-free drivers and whatnot installed with little to no hassle.

          So, there you have
        • You can buy your linux machine with linux preinstalled from various major linux vendors depending on where you get the box from too.

          You have to compare apples to apples. You're saying, "well I don't have to do anything to make windows run since I paid dell to install it" versus "I have to do something (whatever that thing is) to get linux on it."

          That or reinstall a copy of windows (a real new, store-bought copy; not the "I destroy everything on your hard drive" so-called recovery CDs manufacturers ship).
        • by Pastis ( 145655 )
          First you are comparing apple and oranges. Buy a PC preinstalled with Linux to compare it to your preinstalled Dell. And if you want a preinstalled Dell ask Dell.

          And now even if you want to compare your pre-installed Dell to your Linux installation CD, your job isn't done with your Dell: it doesn't come with all the software you will need on your PC.

          What about this driver for your wifi card you just bought (XP is not that knew)? What about Firefox, iTunes, gaim, etc...

          From there, Linux wins hands up. It's
        • by Clith ( 5063 )
          Then buy a Linux box from Wal-Mart. It's there when you pull the PC out of the box and turn it on. Then when you decide to install Windows on another partition or drive, come back and tell us how easy that was. :-)
        • I find that most of the time with windows (even XP) i'm stuck installing drivers, whereas with linux the driver comes with the OS. Windows XP doesn't ship with scanner drivers, because they expect that you have the CD. Linux on the other hand knows that your scanner vendor doesn't ship drivers for linux, so they include them with the OS.
      • by greenrd ( 47933 )
        And if you want to dual boot, say, Windows 2000 and Fedora, you won't get any help from the Windows installer. Microsoft is, or at least was, last I checked, fanatically opposed to you running another operating system, and the installer doesn't even acknowledge that you might want to dual-boot with any other operating systems. This is symptomatic of their anti-competitive behaviour towards their competitors - and they've had competitors on the PC platform almost from day 1.

        • Microsoft is, or at least was, last I checked, fanatically opposed to you running another operating system

          That's very true. On a dual boot system, try installing Windows AFTER installing Linux and see what it does.
      • " What do you currently use? Because installing Windows isn't this easy."

        Yeah, see, he's using a Mac. ;)
    • Not Troll, I Swear
      Are you sure about that?
    • Ubuntu is getting very close. Try out a LiveCD and decide for yourself, perhaps? You can get CDs sent to you for free.
    • by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @04:34PM (#14936922) Journal
      Many distros are at this level, if you don't mind blowing away anything that's on the hard drive. Not quite literally, because one-click installation, while theoretically possible, is not feasible. While the cost/benefit curve of a given installation question slopes off sharply as the number of questions increases, there are some things that sometimes need to be asked. One of them, for instance, is "can I blow the contents of this hard drive away?" It really doesn't matter if a user doesn't understand what that means; there is no practical default that results both in a Linux system being installed and no grave data loss. Saving a windows installation takes more work because there are inherently decisions involved.

      Still, there are many distros that are much easier than Windows if have common hardware, and you end up with a lot more after the installation is done. (Don't overestimate Window's hardware support, too.)

      Be sure you try to install XP from scratch sometime for a fair comparision, too. I just did one a few weeks ago, and along with a number of questions the installer asks, you also have (IIRC) a minimum of three "Update, Install, Reboot" sequences before you're fully up to date. (Fortunately, they've done a bit of work to keep that down. I believe there was one time period when the minimum was four, late in the Service Pack 1 time frame.) And when you're done, all you have is Windows XP, and about all it can do on its own is browse the web. Wordpad's your document editor, Paint your graphics editor, and Solitaire your game.
    • 3 step install? one click interaction? You realize that windows doesnt even install that easy right? Its an OS install. it shouldnt be as easy as installing MSN, or people will start fucking themselves. no prompting for formatting hard drives? yeah that will work real well.

      last time i installed fedora, it seemed mighty simple to me. The only tricky part was selecting what packages you really _need_. Windows just installs all the packages it has, but since linux is not just the OS files, that would take up a
    • Actually, the Click OK part isn't necessary with the Ubuntu (and many other distro's) Live CD. All I need to do is put the CD in and reboot. After 3-4min (slow cd-boot) I'm at the Gnome desktop, my sound works, my (wired) network is working. I can run OpenOffice to write up a document, open up the web-browser, open my webmail account and mail it out. I can play a dozen variations of solitare. I can do this without going through a single program installation process nor a single registration form to fil
    • by hahiss ( 696716 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @04:40PM (#14936974) Homepage
      I can't give you an authoritative answer here (in part because I've been a computer person for a long time, and I run GNU/Linux and FreeBSD systems), but let me say this:

      First: Can you do this with Windows? (I mean, really just click ok and be off and running.) OR do you have to know how to do some stuff? (For example, install drivers or software for word processing, games, web browsing, security, and the like.) When they installed my department's new printer, all the windows computers had to get new drivers, whereas the guy running OS X was ready to go through rendezvous and my CUPS drivers were fine.

      If you switch to a GNU/Linux system, you'll have to learn some things because it works differently---both in terms of the graphical interfaces that come with a distribution and in terms of the way unix-like OSes work. You probably won't have to learn EVERYTHING all over again (wordprocessors do function broadly the same, firefox is identical), but some things will be different.

      Some distributions require a lot of hands on stuff (gentoo and linux from scratch, I'm looking at you), while others are pretty neophyte (I hear this about ubuntu, pclinuxos, and suse).

      My biggest piece of advice: find a live cd distro and try that out on your hardware. Play and WORK with it for a while, see if you think it is doable.

      I should add that there are some rewards to switching. Your computer will be more stable, you'll have access to a HUGE amount of free (and gratis) software that can easily be installed, and you'll be a bit more computer literate (what can I say, I'm a philosopher, so knowledge counts for something). You'll also be supporting liberty, and, let's face it, everyone knows that having a GNU/Linux sticker on your car/bike/bookbag/laptop is guaranteed to get you laid.*

      Hope this helps.
      *Guarantee not valid anywhere. Your mileage may vary.
      • I should add that there are some rewards to switching. Your computer will be more stable, you'll have access to a HUGE amount of free (and gratis) software that can easily be installed, and you'll be a bit more computer literate (what can I say, I'm a philosopher, so knowledge counts for something). You'll also be supporting liberty, and, let's face it, everyone knows that having a GNU/Linux sticker on your car/bike/bookbag/laptop is guaranteed to get you laid.*

        The problem is, the average Joe has ten to f

    • Ubuntu already approaches this. What Automatix does is allow you to take your habits with you. Say you need opera. It's a somewhat complicated process to do correctly; you add the repo to sources.list, you apt-get install opera, and from now on every update includes opera in the mix from that repo. It lets people jumpstart the process of tweaking their computer. The default system is pretty usable, but it doesn't do things like distribute patented software they don't have a liscence for (ie mp3 players). Au
    • by PitaBred ( 632671 )
      But will you bitch when you can't save your documents from Windows? Or should it resize the Windows partition by default and make your system dual boot? Or perhaps a LiveCD would be more your speed.
      I suppose that my point is that if you are so lazy and stupid that you can't go to the trouble of understanding just a little bit about your machine, stay with Windows. My mom could stick the ubuntu disc in and follow a printed-out install guide fairly easily. If you can't, you're the kind of person that dri
    • how close are Linux distros to being to that level

      Three words for you: Damn Small Linux [damnsmalllinux.org] I have a copy and it almost is that easy. I think I had to answer about three questions, and one of them was to choose a password. Of course it's a tiny distro, but for your average script-bait user who just needs to surf the web and play a CD, it's perfect. In fact, it does make for a complete distro, as long as you don't want to do anything crazy like program something. Puppy Linux is another one. Puppy is well-known

    • by RedBear ( 207369 ) <redbear@redbearne[ ]om ['t.c' in gap]> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @05:53PM (#14937507) Homepage
      As a non-computer-person hoping to shortly shift to Linux, here is what I and my fellow newbie dummies want/need:

      1. Insert CD.

      2. Click OK.

      3. Done.

      I'm sure that's pretty obvious, so the question is: how close are Linux distros to being to that level, and if the answer is 'not close' then what are the obstacles to getting there and how are they being addressed?


      The sad thing here is that both of us need to preface our remarks with "this is not a troll, I swear".

      Sorry to disappoint, but you will not find a single Linux distribution like that, despite what many people here will tell you. I've used Linux full-time as a desktop off and on for years, from straight Debian (hard) to Mandrake/Mandriva (fairly easy). I even tried Ubuntu/Kubuntu, the most recent release. Everyone who ever says Linux is easy really has no clue what easy means to non-technical people. I mean, come on, you have to find and run a special script just to get support for playing DVDs and configure other simple things that are essential for a typical desktop user. If you're not lucky enough to have heard of this special script you get to spend hours on the web learning about obscure and difficult to find packages like libdvdcss, blah blah blah. Your typical geek will wade through it all with infinite patience, not having a clue how difficult this stuff is for non-geeks. Then they proceed to tell everyone how easy it is to use Linux for anything and everything.

      If you (a non-computer-person) are serious about switching away from Windows you need to get yourself a Mac, because "desktop Linux" has a loooong way to go in terms of polish. I'll keep checking it out myself every year or so, but so far I have not been impressed with the progress and I'm sure a person like you won't be either. Of course, it's a free country, so feel free to download a couple dozen distros and find out for yourself just how ludicrous it is to say that Linux is ready for the mainstream desktop.

  • And it works great. Just make sure you back up your Firefox and Thunderbird files before using this. Also, I can no longer get enigmail to work. Other than that, it provides a nice addition to Ubuntu Breezy.
  • DONT USE AUTOMATIX! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FunnyLookinHat ( 718270 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @04:26PM (#14936851) Homepage
    Has anyone here been to the #ubuntu channel on irc.freenode.net? YOu will find that Automatix is regarded as THE WORST option for ubuntu users. It has huge security holes, overwrites configs, and uses very risky command line options. Instead you should use easyubuntu. http://easyubuntu.freecontrib.org/ [freecontrib.org]
    • Too bad it does not upgrade firefox too.
    • by Chanc_Gorkon ( 94133 ) <gorkon@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @07:37PM (#14938137)
      From what I saw on the ubuntu forums, the guy who wrote this has no idea how apt is supposed to work. He's using things like --force-yes in his script....you should NEVER have to do this. It's basically telling apt to shove it and install anyway.....never do that on ANY Debian box unless you know what your doing. As he's asking new users to use this, it should NEVER do things that may break the system. It's not like it's really hard to write the script to do it right even. The biggest reason he used those flags was to avoid having to load the GPG keys in the apt keyring.....apt has this for a REASON! I can understand if it had a pop up and ask you to approve it if there was a BADSIG issue in the repository (there was one this weekend in the Debian sid repository....). Just ignoring it to begin with is VERY bad form.
  • by xenocide2 ( 231786 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @04:27PM (#14936856) Homepage
    Pretty much what Automatix does is route around the usability problems in the GUI apt systems. Automatix is good for two reasons: firstly, it hides the apt-get frontend. It handles adding unofficial repos, installing, and configuring the packages. Secondly, it takes the massive array of software ubuntu inherits from the Debian infrastructure and selects some useful stuff they think people might not know about but likely want or need.

    This stuff is useful, but things could be better if a lot of effort was put into synaptic and the default repos. Some of this stuff should make its way into upsteam, in this case, base-config and ubuntu-desktop. NumlockX enabled on startup is simply a good idea and a cheap and trivial fix. Ubuntu should be working on getting permissions to distribute the official JVM as part of Ubuntu, and gftp is pretty useful so I don't see why it shouldn't be thrown in. Obviously some of the stuff Automatix does is dangerous or illegal (installing mp3 support) and thus won't ever make it as part of Ubuntu proper, but I'd like to see them cherry pick some of the better ones. The benefit is that everybody gets these improvements rather than just those who've heard of automatix.

    The second part of what Automatix does is a very important and thus far unaddressed problem in the Debian model. The ubuntu-desktop virtual package mildly alleviates this problem by selecting a few of the most basic applications you'd want. Plenty of packages are provided, but there's no way for users to know what's useful to them. If you think of synaptic as a software sales tool every bit as a package manager, it's doing a horrible job on the sales front. From a beginner usability standpoint, if Synaptic presented a a list of say the 10 most popular packages you don't have installed, that would improve things a lot. Debian / Ubuntu have a lot of great things packaged, but they have a hard time promoting the use of any particular software they actually distribute. The good news is that a lot of the tools to accomplish this already exist: popcon is a system for reporting software installs back to the central server. One of the most popular installs is the acrobat reader and plugin. On the one hand, reporting this information may be dangerous and also requires an mailer service. On the other hand, raw package downloads don't tell us information like "people who've installed acro-reader also have acro-reader-plugin" or "people who have blah installed usually don't have blah." Much of this will be obvious, but sometimes these sorts of Bayesian inferrences are important. It allows you to say things like, 'hey we noticed you have acroreader-plugin installed, would you like to try out the firefox plugin to mplayer?'
    • It handles adding unofficial repos, installing, and configuring the packages.

      The biggest problem with it being, it adds unofficial repos, installs things from them, and configures them.
    • NumlockX enabled on startup is simply a good idea and a cheap and trivial fix.

      Its a terrible idea on a laptop.

  • Satire? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lord Bitman ( 95493 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @04:27PM (#14936860) Homepage
    This is satire, right? It certainly seems to be a huge "stay the hell away from linux!" warning message.
  • by Benanov ( 583592 ) <brian...kemp@@@member...fsf...org> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @04:27PM (#14936862) Journal
    This script installs Free implementations of patented algorithms, proprietary codecs, Sun's Java, P2P file sharing programs, non-free programs like Adobe Acrobate, MS true type fonts (unsure about Tahoma; you need a Windows license to use that one), non-free-illegal-in-US codecs, non-free Nvidia binary blobs, and makes some GUI behaviors mimic a W32 environment.

    In short, it takes away the Freedom portion of a GNU/Linux system and makes it Yet Another Windows Competitor.

    About the only thing I like from that list is disabling CD-ROM drive locking, turning DMA on, and the ESD sleep fix. I'm not sure about the locking, either. Ctrl-Alt-Del bringing up the task manager seems kinda nice, but I would rather just discover keybinding on my own.

    Then again, I'm not this script's target audience.
    • This is an excellent point.

      I installed Ubuntu this week for the first time (I've tried LiveCDs before but I had a spare PC that needed an OS and Ubuntu was the frontrunner in the absence of Windows licenses). I was disappointed to see that, out of the box, I couldn't play any media (even MPEGs!) but then I remembered that these generally include patented algorithms.

      After some Googling, I found a resource on the Ubuntu site that explained how to get it all working. What impressed me though was the fact that
  • Don't use Automatix (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tomcat666 ( 210775 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @04:30PM (#14936883) Homepage
    I'm not familiar with the details of automatix, but I lurk quite much in the Ubuntu channels, and it's generally seen as some virus-like script with all kinds of disadvantages and shortcomings.

    Or to make it short (from IRC):
    [...] !automatix
    [ubotu] it has been said that automatix is unsafe, it overwrites configuration files, and does things like "echo -e 'ynYn'" that are considered risky. Please do not use it. There are alternative applications, but it's often best to read the documentation.
  • by ChrisCampbell47 ( 181542 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @04:32PM (#14936905)
    Here was my initial problem with Automatix when I first encountered it months ago: they say it doesn't support AMD64.

    Now, that could mean ONE of two things:

    1. It doesn't support the 64-bit AMD64 distribution of Ubuntu Linux.

    or

    2. It doesn't support the 32-bit i386 distribution of Ubuntu Linux if it happens to be running on an AMD64 chip (i.e. in i386 compatibility mode).

    I'd bet money that it's #1, not #2, because I have yet to encounter an app that cares that I'm running an AMD64 chip under my regular 32-bit Ubuntu. It's running the standard i386 instruction set, maybe with some accelerated functions, and that's that.

    They really need to be a hell of lot clearer on that, because it's a big source of confusion. Word choice matters.

  • by Yo Grark ( 465041 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @04:40PM (#14936976)
    One word. Ubuntu.

    For those who read Slashdot regularly, the subject may sound familiar. I was the window user who commented on why the average user DOESN'T switch.

    I'm full time Ubuntu at home now.

    I have everything working that I had on my windows box. I may have a learning curve when it comes to using new apps, but the point is, I switched almost painlessly.

    Hardawre worked out of box? Check
    Re-installed all needed software? Check
    Printer installed? Check
    Kick ass support system in #ubuntu-support? Check
    kick ass add/remove program clone? Check
    Plays Movies? Check
    P2p? Check
    Finance software? Check
    Remote administration? Check
    Virtual Machine Capable? Check
    Free Free Free? Check

    Best of all is the performance. I've heard that Gnome is slow overall, but man o man, my xp box always BOGGED down after about a year of use to the point I have to reinstall. Hope that doesn't happen with Ubuntu, but in Xp, I was getting "buffer" errors with windows due to too many tcp/ip calls. I had 8 apps that used the internet open. I had mysterious IDE errors with no resolution...I had explorer and svchost issues, Now, I have NO problems and my speeds are incredible.

    While it's STILL not ready for primetime for mom and dad (cept for simply browsing...can you believe my wife found firefox, surfed and printed without even knowing I had switched the pc?), I would recommend it for anyone who remembers how to use limited command line options, can follow instructions and who is interested in change.

    Sure I had to Sudo apt-get this, and tar xvf that (still don't REALLY know what I'm doing when I use these options, but I'm sure there's a HOWTO when I get a moment) but like I said, I'm HAPPY with ubuntu, the first distro I've found to satisfy my curiosity of Linux and delight me with it's power and ease of use.

    This script just makes it LEAPS and BOUNDS simplier than it already is.

    Kudo's!

    Yo Grark

    P.S. Completely separate topic, I'm looking to hire a website developer/programmer to implement a backend to a new e-business, any idea on where to start looking?
    • Just as a quick question, what financial software are you using?
      that is one thing that still keeps me on windows at least part time, no decent quickbooks/quicken replacement...
    • Sure I had to Sudo apt-get this, and tar xvf that (still don't REALLY know what I'm doing when I use these options, but I'm sure there's a HOWTO when I get a moment)

      x = extract (extract the files from the archive) v = verbose (show the filenames while doing so) f = filename (you specify the name of the tar file after the f)

      so 'tar xvf filename.tar' eXtracts (Verbosely) from File filename.tar

      you may also have used the z (use gzip compression) or j (use bzip2 compression )options - eg,

      tar zxvf filenam

  • So ready for beginners includes such niceties as failing without warning and running it three times in succession as a leap of faith to getting things finished? Don't get me wrong, I like Ubuntu, but I'm a techie.

    I know for sure that the software I produce can't have gotcha like that and still be considered 'ready'
  • Not gonna happen. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by PhoenixPath ( 895891 )
    Like my parents would *ever* download something from a site called "beerorkid.com".

    Give me a break, this is professional? This is for the average Joe? CLI installation and unprofessional URLs do not a professional program make.

    Perhaps...

    As an OOBE automatically launching immediately after install on first boot, before the desktop loads.

    Otherwise, it's crap for "new users" or "the average Joe".

    A lot of us will use it, and it may get even more popular, but calling it a tool for new users and the average Joe
  • Sigh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FishandChips ( 695645 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @05:33PM (#14937369) Journal
    Ok, good idea, kudos to the author. However, Ubuntu need to sharpen up a bit if they want to get into the corporate market and play for the bigtime, which they say they do. Using a third-party script, however useful, comes over as a bit amateur. (Some might say the strange new tangerine theme in the Dapper Drake edition comes over in the same way, but that's another story.)

    Automatix sounds a good half-way house that will become better as it gets refined and polished. But the real question is why this stuff should have to be downloaded separately in the first place. I know it is not Ubuntu's fault and is common to Linux generally, but until desktop distros knock this missing multimedia and non-free apps issue completely on the head to the point where it is just history, there will still be hassles for new users. The write-up for Automatix mentions the dread word "terminal" which is enough to make plenty of new users feel queasy.

    Perhaps Ubuntu should step back, stop trying to reinvent so many wheels and come up with something really new and worthwhile such as an improved apt which offers more granular choices and clearer explanations of what programs do what. If I am new to Linux and I want a suite of best of breed apps, I will still be Googling next month before I work my way through all the mysterious items thrown up by Synaptic. For example, Ubuntu installs Evolution by default. But what would I get (or lose) if I opted subsequently for Thunderbird or Sylpheed-Claws? All good programs, but it shouldn't be too hard to build some kind of "guidance" into apt to help me make some better-informed choices from a smaller list of options. The same is true of, say, Xine, MPlayer or VideoLan and many other things.
  • by krazikamikaze ( 888506 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @05:58PM (#14937551)

    I downloaded Automatix and used it to install a few things, but I didn't use their GUI. I just went through the script and manually executed the commands that installed the components I wanted. I heard a lot of things about how Automatix can screw up your system, but this way I knew exactly what it was doing, and it really didn't take that much more effort than the GUI.

    I think the best part of Automatix is it's basically an aggregation of procedures to install the most popular non-standard components. Instead of making a google search and spending 15 minutes copying commands from a howto, I can just copy a whole block from the Automatix script. I highly recommend it even if you're experienced with linux. Just give the script a once-over to make sure you're ok with what it's executing.

  • by Geekrob ( 633085 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @06:39PM (#14937799)
    There are a couple of other options that have worked for me, I had some issues with Automatix.

    If you are using Breezy try out Easy Ubuntu http://www.ubuntuforums.org/forumdisplay.php?f=86/ [ubuntuforums.org]. Installed on about 5 machines with almost no problems.

    If you are using Dapper try out BUMPS http://www.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=13888 9&highlight=bumps/ [ubuntuforums.org]. I have a lot of success with this. The author (Ian Alexander) is always soliciting suggestions and has nade quite a few updates in just the last couple of weeks.

  • by Enrique1218 ( 603187 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @06:52PM (#14937880) Journal
    The second she mentioned command-line was when Automatix died as an easy to use tool for the average. My sister can't even configure networking in Windows or update her virus scan, yet she is suppose to bring up the command-line. Ok, I have been reading slashdot for years and Linux has been over-optimistically touted as the alternative to Windows year after year. Yet, we are in 2006 and Linux is still just a hacker OS. What is the hold up? Ease of use by itself won't bring users but Linux has to claim that before it even tries. Oh well, better luck next time
  • AMD64 anyone? (Score:3, Informative)

    by dwater ( 72834 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @11:45PM (#14939492)
    Automatix :
    "It doesn't support Dapper, PPC, or AMD64..."

    EasyUbuntu :
    "...supporting all the three architectures Ubuntu supports - x86, PPC and AMD64."

    Nuff said.

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