Calling Linux users - Let's create a resource for Dell/Ubuntu owners

Calling Linux users - Let's create a resource for Dell/Ubuntu owners

Summary: This blog is attracting a lot of attention from hardcore Linux users - well, I now need your help. Let's get a little group project going that'll help some of those newbies to Linux who've bought an Ubuntu-powered Dell.

TOPICS: Dell, Linux, Open Source

This blog is attracting a lot of attention from hardcore Linux users - well, I now need your help. 

Let's get a little group project going that'll help some of those newbies to Linux who've bought an Ubuntu-powered Dell. 

Yesterday Dell put the new range of Ubuntu-powered rigs on sale at a price that's pretty competitive.  Many of the users who buy these PCs will be old hands and Linux and know exactly what to do to get them up and running and doing what Windows-based PCs can do.  But there's going to be people who buy these that aren't that familiar with Ubuntu and who might feel a little lost.  To help these folks I thought it might be a cool idea to create a little island of resources to help these people.  You know, info that gets them started and let's them set up their systems and getit doing what people expect of a Windows-based PC.

So, what are your tips for Linux newbies?  Here are some questions that I'm sure some people will be asking:

  • What are the basic info I need to get started? 
  • What setting up should I be doing?
  • What additional software should I install?
  • How can I get QuickTime working?
  • How can I play WMA/WMV/MP3 ...?
  • How can I play DVDs?
  • How can I ...?
  • How do I ...?

If we get a decent list of tips and links together I'll post them separately and do my best to attract attention to them so that we make it easier for people looking for help to be able to find it.  Just chuck any info you feel will be useful to new users in the TalkBack thread below and I'll organize it later.  Anything will do ... hints, tips, thoughts, links to software, finding drivers, workarounds ... anything you think will be useful.  Don't worry if it's too geeky or jargon-filled, I'll either try to clarify it myself or post for clarification.

Fire away!

Topics: Dell, Linux, Open Source

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  • Meet the community!

    Every new Linux user is welcome to meet the community at

    A huge source of knowledge. Friendly, helpful people, ready to answer every question you may have. Their motto: there are no dumb questions!

    Greetz, Pjotr.
    • But some answers are Dunb

      While there are no dumb questions, far to frequently the answers provided presuppose prior knowledge that isn't there. As a Linux newbie, I have posted questions only to get answers that only increased my angst because I had no idea of what they were referring to or how to execute the suggested solution. Newbies sometimes need hand holding and step by step instructions to accomplish a task that is second nature to long time users. If simple tasks prove too arduous then many new Linux users will quickly become former users.

      BTW after finding that Vista ran too slowly on a new Dell E521, I did a dual boot install of WinXP/Kubuntu Linux. It took me several tries and multiple ruined CDRs to get a distro that would burn an ISO that worked. Kubuntu loads nicely and has a decent GUI, but common tasks such as installing JAVA or getting a newsreader to open a list of headers or view a message are extremely hard. As you may note, I am using Windows OS to compose this reply because for common Internet tasks, Windows is easier to use.
      • Actually, it's a two-way street

        One who is a smart cookie can find a
        reliable source for information, while
        one who is a not-so-smart cookie won't
        know a dumb answer from anything else.

        An information source has no way of
        knowing what you need to know unless you
        ask specific questions.

        Most of the time, (I know there are
        exceptions to every rule, but as a
        general rule), the reason one gets a
        dumb answer is because one asked a dumb
        Ole Man
  • first thing is to...

    install automatix. that'll give them most of the the stuff you were asking about, such as dvdcss and ability to play wmv as well as a lot of other stuff (including the proprietary nVidia drivers)
    • automatix link
      • Good tip!

        Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • Nice idea

    Hey, Let's call the website uh..., or, say,
    oh this is good..catchy phrase like goo guh no, google? yes, that's IT!

    and let them type stuff there. Right?
    D T Schmitz
    • Oi

      Man, Sometimes reading the comments from all sides of the linux vs mac vs windows arguement makes me sick. People use what they want to use, and enjoy what they use. No need to be asses about it.

      I deal with people trying to use windows every day, who don't know what version they're running, and can barely operate internet explorer, let alone connect to a wireless network. ( for that matter, I get plenty of Mac users who don't know what version of their OS they're running and trying to walk them through connecting to wireless is like trying to herd cats.)

      "I'm at a hotel and I don't know how to get online!"

      "Open your browser."

      "My what?"

      "..Internet explorer? The big blue e icon."

      "Oh, hey, I'm online!"

      And so on, about 30 times a day.

      They wouldn't know how to do a google search if it bit them in the ass. I'd pray people who get Ubuntu on dell would be a little more savvy, but even then, no guarantees there. I think a central resource, specifically for dell systems running Ubuntu, would be a wonderful community effort.

      I like helping people, and wouldn't mind the resource myself (as I'm dual-booting (k)Ubuntu on my dell laptop). Users paying 800 for a computer should have a central resource to go to, not have to scramble around trying to find answers.
      • for those people...

        what they really need most is scripts to take away the work...

        a central website, on its own is a good thing... to improve it? improve the resources it offers...

        I also am a dual-user with (K)Ubuntu, and would love to help out with any such project...

        the main view as I see it, is users would want something like automatix, without needing to have to follow complicated instructions, or whatnot... ie. have a shell script which they download, and run. since we know they're using ubuntu, we know they'll have apt, and thus, it would be very easy... and there would be a very simple answer to the "how do I use..." or "how do I play..." questions... after all, how do you play quicktime files? download this item, then run it. easier than 1,2,3...
    • Not that I don't admire your enthusiasm

      However, new users aren't always the smartest lot. Infact, how many people know the acronym JFGI. Kudos to all those who Google the information and discover the true meaning.

      Some people aren't willing to search for the information although I believe the first thing to be pointed out in most classes is where to find the help files.

      That is why the support industry is so huge. That and some of the worst manuals written are programmers.
  • Spare us all please...

    On my way out the door for a long weekend of BBQ'ing with my rep, I read this? The resource we should create is a URL to purchase Windows Vista Ultimate Edition so they can immediately "wipe and load" these Dell computers with a real OS. To make matters worse, Dell sent out an unsolicited email to me entitled "Dear IT Decision Maker" and went on to discuss Ubuntu loaded PC's. My Dell rep called me and told me he received an NDR and I proudly said to him "Our Exchange 2007 servers IMMEDIATELY DENY entry to any message with the words Linux, Ubuntu and Open Source in the message body or header. I then also told him I was debating going to a new OEM because Dell was wasting too much time with Linux and was making my rep and I angry. What a shame that on a weekend where we celebrate patriotism we need to deal with Linux PC's from Dell.
    Mike Cox
    • Huh

      I fail to see how patriotism has to do with, well, any of this.
      • Don't worry, he's harmless

        Mikey's a bit of a satirist on these forums, poking fun at the Microsoft monoculture. Many of us who've been around long enough like to rate his posts just for fun. Speaking of which... I was going to rate a 3 or 4, but since Mike caught a fish I give it a 6.
        Tony Agudo
      • And he scores!

        Mikey done gone fishing on Memorial Day weekend and reeled one in first thing!
        Yagotta B. Kidding
        • Hah

          I'm afraid I've never read anything of his satire before.
          • Welcome!

            D T Schmitz
          • Some background material for you

            [i]"I'm afraid I've never read anything of his satire before"[/i]

          • One of my favourites from last November



            To: All MCSEs, All MCSDs, Other IT
            From: Mike Cox (CIO)
            Subject: Thanksgiving hours


            As we all now know, Vista, Office and Exchange updates will be released on November 30th. Our rep has told me we will get the "gold bits" right before Thanksgiving holiday. As per our contract with Microsoft, we need to deploy this software the day we receive it. Therefore, all IT staff will need to come into work Thanksgiving Day, the day after Thanksgiving and the Thanksgiving weekend. I will be at home and can be reached on my cell phone. Leave a message if I do not answer.

            Our company and I thank you. We will send in some Turkey Pot Pies like we did last year.

      • er ah whah?

        get the gaf!
        D T Schmitz