An update on the wife's computer - Ubuntu does it again

An update on the wife's computer - Ubuntu does it again

Summary: Here's a quick update on my wife's computer. As you probably remember, an increasingly kludgy Vista Home Premium install finally irritated us enough that I installed OpenSUSE.


Here's a quick update on my wife's computer. As you probably remember, an increasingly kludgy Vista Home Premium install finally irritated us enough that I installed OpenSUSE. The install went fine, but without a lot of fiddling, the Broadcom wireless card just wasn't going to do its thing. My wife, ever the aesthete, just couldn't tolerate the Ethernet cord, so I figured I'd give Fedora a shot. DVD-Rs are cheap, right? Besides, I haven't played with Fedora for quite a while.

Unfortunately, although it looked like all was going well (the fw-cutter software floating around on the Net in fora for folks like me trying to figure out why Broadcom won't open source their drivers installed without a hitch), the wireless never came up. Again, I could have dug in and Googled some time-consuming solution, but my emphasis with Linux has always been to find easy, mainstream, Windows alternatives for the broadest cross-section of users. That means minimal fiddling and maximum working. Don't get me wrong: I'm not averse to fiddling in the name of free (as in both beer and speech), but when it comes down to it, I just want something that satisfies as many requirements as possible out of the box.

It's one thing to fiddle with a computer at home; it's quite another to fiddle with 30 computers in a lab. I briefly flirted with the idea of just giving her Vista Business (an upgrade to Home Premium, at least), but then I couldn't resist pulling out the Ubuntu CD I had used for my oldest son's computer last night. 45 minutes later, Ubuntu was installed and updates were flying down. A quick restart and Ubuntu was telling me that proprietary drivers were available for a Broadcom wireless card. Enable the drivers, restart, and presto! Ubuntu did it again. Everything just worked.

This is why we still use Macs in Ed Tech. Yes, they're a bit pricey, but more often than not, they do precisely what we ask of them with no real fuss. As fellow blogger, Paul Murphy, noted recently,

MacOS X is the no brainer option...[it] mostly just stays out of the way of knowledgeable users. In fact, for many it meets the IT ideal: it works so well, they don’t know it’s there or doing anything to help them - they just click and expect it to work; because, well, it just does.

When Linux can do that too (and Ubuntu brings us pretty close), it makes it ever harder to justify licensing Windows. Now if the educational software vendors can just become platform agnostic, I'll be a happy camper.

For now, the wife should be a happy camper at least, since seat-of-the-pants impressions suggest a real performance boost on her computer, wireless is working sans problems, and mutlimedia support was just a few clicks away. Keep in mind, by the way, that this was all from a beta version of Ubuntu 8.10.

See updateIt’s official - my wife likes Ubuntu, too

Topics: Software, CXO, Hardware, Linux, Networking, Open Source, Operating Systems, Wi-Fi

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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  • An update on the wife's computer - Ubuntu does it again

    And still nobody cares about your crusade to install linux on your family's PCs. Making them suffer through the process should have been a red flag in your household.. As to be expected you ran into more problems with linux, took up more time, what is it, a week now just to get the system running? The easiest solution would have been to reinstall Microsoft Windows Vista and your whole family would have had a working system within an hour or two. Now imagine if you actually had a real job and was trying to do this... you'd be fired after day 2 when the systems weren't working properly. I'm still imagining this scenario happening when your boss finds out you want to do this with all the PC's at your school system.

    I like how you left out the part about the troubles your wife will have with trying to print, play more than one sound at a time, try to view any content ona a site with flash or shockwave, or run that fun cute little game that her friends will send her. Oh she won't be able to run that game and be left out of the clique, all thanks to your prophecy.

    Now that it took you a week to just get her PC set up with linux, do you really expect her to check all 500+ software packages that are installed then go to each vendor's site and look to see if there is an update, find the download link, try to figure out which file is the latest and download the source, save it, bring up a terminal window and know the complicated commands used to extract the source, then use a series of complex commands and switches several times over until she gets the right set to make it compile cleanly, then let the file install into whatever directory it feels like, then try to find that directory, run the executable just to have it segfault and lead to a kernel panic. I really really don't see her going for that and its going to be really hilarious listening to you try to explain it to her.

    You did no one any favors by trying to switch the whole family to linux. In fact you actually put them behind the curve because they will not be able to open and share documents with the rest of their friends, go to websites that are anything more complex than simple html, or run any applications they want to share with their friends.

    Keep going on with your prophecy, its only a matter of time before it backfires on you and I'll be here to laugh at you all the way.
    Loverock Davidson
    • get out more!

      Haha. I'm running Ubuntu 7.10. I can view flash, shockwave, and play any browser based game you'd like to mention.

      His wife WON'T encounter any of the steps you mentioned for updating packages because Ubuntu automatically downloads STABLE updates for the system and allows you to install them when ever you like with 2 clicks.

      The fam won't have any issues with documents either. OpenOffice can read any MS Office document (including 2007) and can save as office compatible documents. ADDITIONALLY, OpenOffice can save and edit PDFs-- try that one in Office.

      Before you spout pages about how things "won't work", why don't you take a few minutes to check your facts. Go scan your PC for malware, sir.
      • I get out quite a bit

        Lets look at your statement. Its full of lies. First, you can't use shockwave on linux. Second, you limited yourself to web based games, but there are plenty of people who play games outside of their browser. What are you going to tell your friends when they point you to the download link for the new cool game and you tell them you run linux and are incapable of playing it? They will tell you thats too bad and that you are missing out.

        His family is going to have major issues, from upgrading and installing patches to opening documents. Everyone claims that openoffice can open ms office docs but have you ever tried it? It looks terrible! The document gets mangled in openoffice. As for updates, since the source is available you need to download and install it. This has been explained already.
        Loverock Davidson
        • Getting out . . .

          Going from the Basement to the Kitchen doesn't count . . .
          • Sure doesn't

            That's why I am active outside the house unlike most linux users.
            Loverock Davidson
          • And that's how you managed to...

            Make the first post on a Linux thread.
          • Getting out . . .

            sometimes he does post sense (rarely,but the normal distribution curve does have to have a far end), most of the time you get the feeling he's gnawed through the straps and injured some care workers to get to an internet connected PC in the home....
    • You couldnt have put it better

      I totally and completely agree. This guy sees Linux as a solution to all his problems, which it clearly is not. It will introduce problems, as you have clearly outlined, in areas that just work out-of-the-box for Windows.
      • Please take a look at other comments

        OMG. Please sir dont post so naive, antediluvian comments. And do take a look at the other reply s. Also specially get out a bit more and keep your eyes open. Ubuntu is the solution not the problem. Thank you.
        • Not the solution

          How is ubuntu the solution when it took him a week to get linux installed? That in itself is a problem.
          Loverock Davidson
          • A week?

            Where do you live? Took him two hours tops maybe. ]:)
            Linux User 147560
          • Took him a week?

            You should re-read the article again! How exactly does the 45 minutes it took him to install Ubuntu equate to a week?
      • Exactly! (NT)

        Loverock Davidson
    • Nonsense

      It's clear your goal here is to attempt to scare those who have never actually tried Linux recently. But you're only providing comic relief, i'm afraid.

      I have 5 PCs at the moment - 2 dual boot Ubuntu and XP, 2 run Mandriva, the last one runs Vista Ultimate. I use FF3 as my default browser on all platforms. I have ZERO problems when it comes to surfing the web using Linux - in fact, Linux gives me several advantages over windows - multiple desktops on a single monitor, more available ram, no need for antivirus or anti-spam are just a few. My printer just works without any driver installation. i watch DVDs in full 5.1 surround sound. And i can use a virtual machine to run any software i want inside Linux. So lets stop with the BS about Linux shall we?
      • Not nonsense

        My goal here is to warn about the dangers and hassles you will encounter if you use linux. Mr. Dawson clearly outlined all the troubles involved with trying to install and run linux on any PC.

        What you listed is not advantages over Windows. Multiple desktops? There are applications that do this for Windows but people don't need them or use them. Memory management in Windows works better than that of linux. Windows doesn't need anti-virus, but its a good idea to have it to ward off any potential threats. You can't do that with linux so you will never know if your system is infected. Anti-spam? Your kidding? Linux machines are the biggest producers of spam because they all feel the need to have a mail server installed which then gets hacked and turned into a spambot. Since Windows doesn't have a mail server installed by default this simply can't happen on that platform. The ONLY reason you can watch DVD's is because some hacker cracked the encryption, but linux lacks a decent dvd player, and being able to play only 1 sound at a time severely limits your dvd watching.

        Given these facts there is no BS being spread about linux, just hard cold truth. You would be good to just accept these flaws in linux.
        Loverock Davidson
        • As has been said before . . .

          Mike Cox you ain't . . .He, at least, is funny and the sarcasm is obvious.

          -15 (And sinking . . .)
          • As has been said before . . .

            Nor am I trying to be...
            Loverock Davidson
        • Windows doesn't need anti-virus.

          Now I've heard it all lmao.
          • I guess that makes me a genius.

            I've securely used Vista w/o AV software since I got it and it's security is rock solid, does that mean I'm a genius? <br><br>
            Most people have no problems with Vista or XP security-wise, it's the people like Dawson's Son that practically try to infect their PC that we're talking about here and that makes this blog a joke. <br><br>
            Btw, i hear you have to key in your root password when you want to run any system utility. That must suck. My Vista machine auto elevates if I'm not online and of course runs as std. user if I'm running any user application. <br><br>
            Must suck having all those distros to choose from and none of them being completely compatible with each other, that's what killed Unix as a SMB player.
          • If it does

            Its a genuine miracle.
            Ole Man