Ubuntu Linux – First Impressions
Yesterday I installed Ubuntu Linux 7.10 on my new computer. The installation was as easy as an installation can be – no annoying questions, no tough and unexplainable choices. Just some simple steps (like setting the correct time zone) and it’s done. The nice thing about the Ubuntu Linux installation CD is that it’s also a Live CD, which means you can actually play around with the operating system and see that it works fine even before you decide to install it. However, this may be confusing to some people at first because when you first boot from the CD, immediately everything seems like it’s installed (even though it’s just running from the CD).
I wanted to partition the hard drive manually, however I was met with two questions that I didn’t know the answer for:
- Which partition should be primary and which should be logical?
- What does it mean to put a partition at the beginning or at the end?
So I decided to let the installation do whatever it wanted to do, and it just created one partition and put everything on it. Shouldn’t be a problem.
The installation also tried to access the Internet to get updates, which is a good thing. However, expecting a home user to be constantly connected to the Internet at installation time is not so realistic (specifically here in Israel, but I think this is the common case). After the installation failed to access the Internet it told me something like “I added commented out lines to /etc/apt/sources.list”, which is really not a very nice thing to tell a new user. Later on, when I had the Internet connection working, I uncommented the lines.
During the installation I was asked to give a user name and a password, a normal thing for every installation, be it Linux or Windows. Later on, to do some changes from the command line (like editing the /etc/apt/sources.list file), you have to switch to being root. But my user’s password didn’t work for root, so I had to go to the user manager and set a root password (luckily, I was able to do that). I don’t know if that was the right thing to do, but it worked for me.
At the end of the installation, I got a message telling me that it’s time to restart the computer, but that I had to make sure there was no CD during the next startup, or otherwise Ubuntu will start from the CD again. I ejected the CD at the point where I got the message, but apparently it was a mistake because the computer wouldn’t shut down and I had to manually reboot it. Everything worked fine after that, as the installation correctly identified my hardware and so the computer was ready to work immediately after.
Ubuntu Linux is a great distribution. One of my pet peeves about Linux distributions was always the many choices of the same thing: multiple consoles, multiple office suites, multiple everything. Ubuntu has one choice for each function, making the menus small and easy to understand. Anything else can be installed using the “Add/Remove…” applet, which is very well organized and comprehensive.
Setting up my Internet connection wasn’t easy. Having a cable modem that uses PPTP, I tried to install the PPTP client as described in the PPTP client website. After I installed it (that required going back to my Windows computer and downloading the network-manager-pptp package) I couldn’t get it to work according to the instructions in the PPTP client website. So I tried to look for specific instructions for Israel and found Carmit Levi’s PPTP GUI installer for Israel (Carmit is a manager in the Nana Linux forum). After I followed the GUI’s instructions, the script it created was still missing my password so I added it and the connection worked.
All this was very frustrating – going back and forth from the new computer to the old one to download files, burn them on a CD and try and retry. I hope both Ubuntu Linux and the Israeli service providers (in my case, NetVision) will be better at this in the future.
With the Internet connection working I updated all the packages and also installed NVIDIA’s non-free driver for my video card, and now my desktop has some bling, too :) My efforts will now concentrate on moving my Windows installation and files from the old computer the Linux computer (as I said before, I intend to run Windows in a virtual machine. Hopefully I can move the entire thing intact without a problem)