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A Diehard SUSE User Tries Ubuntu 6.10

Fast, Carefree Installation

November 7, 2006

Unless you are living under a rock, you probably know production Ubuntu 6.10 was released on October 26. I'd heard that it was a nice package, but really haven't spent much time with it. SUSE Linux and I have been together for quite a while and when you have something that works, you stick with it. Many readers are probably in the same boat.

Nevertheless, curiosity got the better of me, so I figured an Ubuntu review from a SUSE user's perspective made sense.

With my foot in the carburetor (that's hot-rod lingo for moving forward quickly), I went ahead and downloaded the 64-bit ISO for my HP Athlon 64 laptop, as well. Go big or go home.

Downloading and burning the ISO onto a DVD was a breeze with K3B and SUSE Linux 10.0. Some download servers are faster than others, so shop around to find the best one. I ended up with a 400-500 KB/second connection, so it only took a few minutes to get the 690 MB ISO onto my hard disk.

Be sure to use the "Burn DVD ISO Image" button under the Tools menu. Life will also be much easier if you boot your new DVD while your Cat 5 cable is plugged in and working.

Ubuntu installs while you are running in Live CD mode. The machine will boot and eventually you'll get a desktop. Here, you can either just work using the Live mode or click on the "install" icon at the upper left hand side of the desktop. You'll go through a few screens asking for your language, time zone, user name, password, and so on. Fill everything in and then select the option to re-partition the entire disk. In contrast, the SUSE Linux installation (9 and 10.0 series) gives you a bunch of options for installation, but didn't have a live mode.

After Ubuntu goes through its installation, you can remove the DVD and restart from the hard disk.

One difference that I noticed was that Ubuntu uses the same password for the installation user (in my case "rreilly") and root. SUSE requires that you fill in the regular user and root's passwords during installation. Change root's password under System -> Administration -> User and Groups.

Another stark departure from the SUSE way is the GNOME desktop in place of KDE. The task bar has slightly different labels and is placed at the top of the desktop. Must we have so many options? To ease the pain of being KDE-less, I grabbed the GNOME tool bar and moved it down to the bottom of the screen.

Don't get me wrong, GNOME is a solid desktop manager, just like KDE. Both are stable and reliable. Operations are also similar. GNOME seems to start faster, although my KDE setup does automatically start OpenOffice.org, Firefox, and a few terminals. And, you could even install KDE on Ubuntu if you really wanted. (See my mention of the Synaptic Package Manager, later in this story.)

Before I could talk to anything on my network, I went into System -> Administration -> Networking and plugged my Earthlink DNS server addresses into the wired (eth0) network's DNS form. Strangely, after a reboot, the DNS entries reverted to my router's address (192.168.2.2). In any event, I was able to connect to everything.

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