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New Ubuntu User

Bob Crabb

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One of my projects this weekend has been to repair and restore my wife's HP Mini 210 Netbook. Two months out of warranty, the hard drive shot craps a few days ago. What a bummer that was; she really liked the computer. It was perfect for her, and she wanted me to either fix it or replace it with a new one of the same model.


After doing a little research, I found that buying a compatible replacement HDD locally was a no-brainer - the local Best Buy stores stock a couple of Western Digital Scorpio Blue notebook compatible SATA drives for about $60, and physically removing and replacing the drive is about a 5 minute job. The problem is that we didn't have any recovery media for the little computer. I had all the data backed up on another computer, but had no way to re-install the operating system.


Once I replaced the drive, and successfully ran all the diagnostics, I really wanted to move on and get this thing running. Searching the HP website, I didn't see an option to download a disk image of the installation media. The best I could do was to pay $40, and wait a week for them to mail a USB drive with the recovery media (the netbook doesn't have an optical drive). I figured that paying the $40 was just paying for my mistake of not having created a recovery disk image back when the computer was running, so I was resigned to part with the cash, but I really didn't want to have to wait.


Then I remembered talking with a few people in the past who have converted to Ubuntu. I went to the Ubuntu website, downloaded an installation disk image, burned it on a DVD, plugged a USB DVD reader into the netbook, fired it up, and the operating system installed flawlessly. After installing, it took a while to get used to the navigating, but by the time that I reinstalled the programs that she needs, and transferred her images, videios, music, and data, I felt pretty comfortable with it. The biggest setback was when I set up the Japanese language input method editor, and accidently switched all the menus to Japanese. That took me about an hour to figure out how to undo what I had done, slowed down by having to pick through the menus and translate enough to figure out where I was in the settings utility. Oh well, it gave me a chance to learn more about using the operating system.


After all that was done, I gave my wife a brief tutorial on navigating the new operating system, and she has been using it now for the last day and a half. It seems like a really nice OS, and operationally, she likes it better than Windows 7, and finds it easier to use overall. :thumbup1:

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It makes me glad when someone seems to be having a good experience with one of the linuxes.


I've been using Ubuntu Jaunty ever since first trying it about 2 1/2 years ago. It's well past its support period and feels creaky (with Firefox 3.0 when I've got FF12 in Windows XP), but, at the time, I downloaded every software package I thought might ever be of interest, 2000 of them, 2GB+, which took two weeks on dial-up. I'd like to try Debian, but am not anxious to do a two-week-installation repeat and don't want to risk having no working linux because I quickly discovered that once I had it, I needed it.


For website stats I use a MySQL database that currently has over 5 million rows and still runs smoothly.


There's a bunch of nifty utility programs in linux. I found Windows versions of many of them at the Sourceforge GNUWin32 project, so now I can use Windows (where I am most of the time) without feeling deprived except in the area of text editors.


Notepad++ is a real pull back to Windows. It's not available for linux. Ubuntu has several very good editors, but they all have a combination of strengths and weaknesses, and no single one rivals Notepad++.


My "last hope", which actually seems to have a very good chance, is gVim, which I've spent the past 2 weeks learning. It works very differently from most editors, but might be more powerful than any of the others, and has the advantage that it will work exactly the same in either Windows or linux, so I won't have to care where I am.


I'd swear Ubuntu makes my sound card sound better than Windows does. Haven't thought of a reason why that could be.


It's too bad there's no speech recognition in linux, but its automatic command completion (when you press TAB) is extremely useful, and in OpenOffice, once a document has a lot of words in it, the same thing (pressing TAB or another character of your choice, I think) works very well there, almost compensating for the lack of speech recognition. Sometimes I start a document with a copy of some other big document just to get the word completion feature, and then delete all the extra text when I don't need it anymore.


Hope there might be some useful tips in there. I found learning Ubuntu a lot of fun, and two+ years later it still is.

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All -- thanks for the feedback and the advice.


Bala -- I think that I might have already stumbled upon and installed the ubuntu-restricted-extras package. I'll check it out, and if I haven't then I'll install it. Thanks for the suggestion.


Steve -- Thanks for sharing your experience. I think that I would also find it difficult to do without Notepad++. If I install Ubuntu on one of the computers that I frequently use (which I surely will eventually), then I would need to find a good, free alternative. Also, I would need to find a good, free alternative to Paint.net. The Paint.net alternative might already be there, and I just haven't dug into already installed software to use it. My first goal was to get it set up with applications that my wife uses, and turn it over to her.


So far, my wife hasn't identified any shortcomings. She uses her netbook primarily for internet access, image/video storage and viewing, word processing and spreadsheet. Since we use Open Office on all of our computers, including the one in her office, I was glad to see that there is a version of OO packaged with Ubuntu, so that document exchange between our computers is not an issue. It is interesting that you mentioned the sound. One of my first observations was that the sound and image quality seemed to be better than when it ran Windows 7 Starter. I didn't know if that was a valid observation, or if my perception was being skewed because I was just so happy to have found such a great, free alternative to Windows.


This has been, and will continue to be an interesting project. I really appreciate the feedback and advice, and if you guys think of anything else that I should be aware of, please let me know.

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If you want a simpler alternative for paint try "GNU paint", although I like Bruce use GIMP.


For notepad++ try "Geany" which is an IDE, probably the closest to notepad++, or you can add the various plugins to Gedit.

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Ritsuko, my much better half, really likes her newly resurrected netbook running Ubuntu. This evening, I finally convinced her to let me use her computer long enough to check out some of the programs that you guys have suggested. Installing software is amazingly simple! I had enough time to install GIMP. I'll have to experiment with it a bit before having an opinion. I'll use it some more when I have time, and then I'll check out the text editors.


This is great! I'm really happy to see that there are so many here who have experience and expertise with Ubuntu. :thumbup1:

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Up to now, gedit has been my favorite all-purpose text editor in Ubuntu. It came with a few plug-ins. I enabled some of them, but my memory is that most seemed fairly minor, so maybe there's a bunch more available that I'm not aware of?


I like Geany, too, and Bluefish, but haven't used either of them often enough for their intended purposes to have a valid opinion. I think one of them allows selecting text and clicking a button to surround the text with HTML tags (which a Notepad++ plugin does), and the other allows clicking to create empty HTML tags which you can then fill with contents. Either way, I'm all in favor of anything that helps avoid typing <> and </> because they're awkward keystrokes that produce repetitive stress symptoms if you have to type them often enough. Come to think of it, I'm in favor of anything that reduces the keystrokes needed to get the text on the page.


I'm not sure either of those can be a candidate for my go-to editor, a favorite for all types of text files. gVim looks like it has the potential. Yesterday, I opened a ".txt" file in it. It recognized from the contents that it was a "diff" listing, and applied the appropriate syntax highlighting. Very nice.


For anybody who runs across this thread later, gVim is the GUI (menus and mouse) version of Vim, which in turn is a clone with enhancements of Vi that Bruce mentioned. Vi's been around since the 1970's, which is what inspired me to give it a second look. It still has lots of users and is in active development after 35 years? Had to check that out! That's like discovering there's a version of WordStar for Windows 8.


In my earlier post, I made an edit that accidentally ended up saying the opposite of what I meant! You probably realized it, but I didn't. Should have been:


...without feeling deprived. except


In the area of text editors, Notepad++ is a real pull back to Windows...

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