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A Diehard SUSE User Tries Ubuntu 6.10 - page 2

Fast, Carefree Installation

  • November 7, 2006
  • By Rob Reilly

Ubuntu detected my Ethernet chip, CD/DVD drive, 1280x800 wide-screen LCD, generic wheel mouse, and the mouse pad. Imagine my surprise, upon pushing the "WWW" laptop button, Firefox 2.0 popped up on the screen. I was happy to see that the volume control and mute buttons worked, too. I had none of those out of the box with SUSE.

Ubuntu is right up to date with the latest software. Firefox 2.0 is there, as is OpenOffice.org 2.0.4. Those of you that need a raster graphics package will appreciate The Gimp version 2.2.13. All of these worked without hassle.

GNOME didn't seem to remember what applications were running after a desktop restart. I had to restart OpenOffice.org and Firefox manually. Surely, there is a way to get programs restarted automatically. SUSE repopulates all your desktop windows, as they were in the last session, most of the time.

Connecting to a Samba share (could be a Windows file server) worked, too. Go into Places -> Connect To Server and fill in the form. Select Windows (aka: Samba) share. I put in the server IP address, share name (as defined in the /etc/samba/smb.conf file on the Samba server), the user and domain names. When the connection comes up, it will ask for the user password and then connect. The connection is persistent across desktop restarts and reboots.

As I've come to expect with any Linux installation, the Broadcom WiFi, won't work. Fact of life. Some day the vendors will realize the merits of providing Linux drivers. It looked like Ubuntu tried to install a driver for the wireless, but it failed. I tried installing the ndiswrapper binary, but didn't get very far, due to an error. I suspect the binary isn't compatible with this installed kernel. Although a show stopper for portable operations with a laptop, the wired Ethernet connection worked fine.

While I've been a fan of the YAST package manager in SUSE, Ubuntu's Synaptic program was a joy to use. In typical Debian apt-get style, you pick the packages you want to install in Synaptic and it goes out and grabs the latest revisions from the servers, then installs them. Dependencies are checked and resolved, making the whole process quick and transparent. YAST is easy, but being RPM based, has occasional dependency hiccups or conflicts. I did have to go into the Repositories screen and check the Community Maintained (universe) and Software Restricted By Copyright (multiverse) boxes to get the full complement of software choices.

Another thing that didn't work was 3D acceleration for my nVidia GeForce4 440 video controller. The problem was quickly solved by installing the current version of nvidia-glx and changing the Driver="nv" in /etc/X11/xorg.conf to driver="nvidia". A restart brought up the video card in 3D mode and then I installed Tuxracer for a test. Both myself and my kids have fun flying the slick little bird down the icy mountains and gobbling up herring. The process was considerably less seamless with YAST and SaX2 in SUSE.

Other programs that aren't loaded by default include XMMS, inkscape, or Bluefish. I use all of these on a regular basis, but loading them through Synaptic is fairly painless.

I would have also liked to have seen a terminal screen somewhere on the desktop. Experienced users accustomed to using the command line, will need to round up a terminal from the menu tree and drag it out to the desktop.

You might want to pick up a copy of Sams Publishing "Ubuntu Unleased" by Andrew and Paul Hudson. It covers version 6.06 LTS. I saved a lot of time during this review because answers to questions on installation and configuration were easily found in the book.

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