Linux Try #12

Spent a hour or two tonight trying to get Ubuntu running on my laptop, unfortunately I ran into all the problems described here. The blank-screen experience was a little overly minimalist even for me. Tomorrow I’ll try going full-screen with VirtualBox, like some people in that thread had luck with, as a baby step to a full Linux switch.

65 thoughts on “Linux Try #12

  1. Good that you’re poking Unix-like systems, VirtualBox is ok, but I’d really really recommend getting it as the main OS on an old spare PC.

    Use it whenever possible to maximize fun and learning experience, or you could end up doing all the important stuff out of the virtual machine.

    1. Indeed, I have an old..not even a box.. old AMD 3400+ board and PS and all laid out on the desk as my Ubuntu box, serving a few websites, running a game server.. It’s incredible what the ‘box’ will do and the abuse it will take. On the other hand I have a Virtualbox Ubuntu on my Win7 box that runs beautifully as well.. gets a little confusing though with 50 ffox tabs open in each and 2-3 mysqld’s .. I <3 the old linux box.. if you can, follow Slashfoo's advice and put Linux on an old comp and mess with it mercilessly.

  2. Definitely helps to plan in advance when it comes to laptops and Linux. Finding something with an nVidia graphics chipset is definitely a good call seeing as, shock horror, nVidia have actually got decent (read: any) support for Linux.

    Things are getting better all the time. I’d love to switch to Ubuntu full-time, but over the years I’ve built up quite a collection of music production software that’s Windows/OSX based and will be unlikely to ever reach Linux (at least in the foreseeable future).

    I did run a dual-boot for a while. Linux for web development, Windows for music production, but then I found myself installing a Windows virtual box in Linux to utilise Illustrator as Inkscape just wasn’t up to the task and then I realised I was running three operating systems instead of one… it seemed a little silly.

    1. Have you ever tried running it through wine? i have some music software such as reason and cubase and im curious to find out how the software runs through the compatibility layers for stuff like recording and general synth style stuff. 😀

    2. I totally agree with you Alex. I dual boot Ubuntu and XP on my Vaio laptop and find that I tinker around mostly w/ Ubuntu when I want to play around with ssh, and get all crazy with bash commands server-side on my website.

      I too would love to convert full-time to Ubuntu, but being a stubborn do-it-yourselfer leads to longer learning curves for me.

    3. What worked for me was essentially cold turkey. I blew out all other partitions and just run Ubuntu or Fedora full time.

      I will say though, certain things like Photoshop, Illustrator and Flash CS4 I sometimes need for work. Then I just use VirtualBox with XP and they run perfectly at almost native speed (if not just as fast).

      OS X was a crutch essentially and while I still have to use it at work, all my home computing is done on Ubuntu and it works just fine (for a designer/developer type like me)

      1. Ubuntu does have a proprietary tie-in, in the form of Ubuntu One. WordPress has Akismet and Gravatars by default though, so I imagine that’s okay with you. And Ubuntu and WordPress both put lots of emphasis on usability!

        Good luck, and have fun with it!

    1. Proprietary, definitely.

      As proprietary, no, because you’ve already suggested there is a spectrum by writing “as” 😉

      Mac’s have an open source core, and other sub-systems, full open source command line tools, and multiple ports of Linux/GNU/UNIX tools to choice from.

      I also suspect there is more open source software written for Mac than for Windows.

      Mac is the pragmatic choice for *me* *currently*.

  3. Ah man that sucks. I used Ubuntu for a while, but Linux does just give you nothing but trouble. As much as people bash Windows, they’ve taken an immense job (getting an OS to work well on a vast range of hardware with innumerable configurations of software) and done it incredibly finely.

    One has to admire Apple’s approach of controlling the hardware so that the software’s relationship with it can be near flawless, but I prefer Windows openness (albeit that’s oxymoronic).

    Without the financial backing, Linux won’t ever become the average person’s desktop of achieve even close to Windows’ market share.

    Anyway, VirtualBox is great software, I used it just last week to recompile PyKeyLogger without the nag screen for a 32 bit system on my 64 bit laptop. Works very smoothly. Good luck!

    1. I was burned by Linux a few times too, years ago.

      But Linux is absurdly easy to install and use these days. Recognizes hardware now too. It was a pleasant surprise.

      Financial backing is there too.

  4. Ubuntu seems very popular, but I’d recommend Fedora. My understanding is most of the Ubuntu code comes from Fedora/Red Hat. Also Red Hat is a strong publicly traded company and their software is used by many governments around the world.

    I use it on a VPS (Linode) to serve all my blogs and I use it at home too. I recently installed Compiz and now I have a cool 3D desktop that will make any fanboy cry for mercy.

    For editing PHP code I recommend gedit’s “Oblivion” color scheme 😉

    1. Actually, Ubuntu is based on Debian GNU/Linux (unstable branch), not Fedora. Fedora, coincidentally, is generally considered the “test bed” for Red Hat’s Enterprise Linux spin.

      1. When I said “from Red Hat” I was talking about the Red Hat corporation–they’re contributing the most code to the core of Linux, right? Cool, I didn’t know Ubuntu is derived from Debian.

        The way I see it, Red Hat the corporation bankrolls a big chunk of Ubuntu. I admit, a big factor for me choosing Red Hat was my brother’s recommendation–then later I started researching $RHT for a business class. Fascinating stuff.

        You got me searching in Google and I see Intel is investing a lot of money into Linux now. What’s that all about?

  5. Good luck! I switched to Linux Mint (an Ubuntu derivative) about a year ago and love it more and more each day. The only thing that bugs me is not being able to use Netflix instant watch or use Photoshop.

    1. Then why can I click a .deb and have it install in 2 clicks but an .rpm in fedora 13 almost always fails/does nothing forcing me to install via cli yum? I am genuinely interested and if I could solve this, I would literally switch back to f13 after I switched from ubuntu. @carlrice if you know the answer

  6. I tried Ubuntu yesterday:) Try to create a USB live Ubuntu CD. as virtual and in menu of ubuntu you can create one. Tutorial how to create Live USB CD on ubuntu homepage didnt work for me. I get blank screen too. From USB you can boot live or install on HDD.

  7. I’d be happy to help you install Debian Squeeze on your lappy.

    Some say it’s not as easy to install as Ubuntu, but really that’s just a myth.

    Visit the Debian forum, and take a look around —

    I hang out there a fair bit, as bluesdog


  8. I switched from win to ubuntu last month
    Its simpler with the wubi…
    I downloaded the 10.04 LTS cd burned it and ran it on a blank hard disk, I suggest u too using a blank HD so that u dont end up deleting all data 🙂
    after using Ubuntu for like 2 hours, I did some search joined the #ubuntu IRC and I was ready to let go off WIN 🙂
    I can give u my aptonCD if u want that will set u up with a basic LAMP server and also give u some additional softwares which might be helpful…
    btw congrats on WP3.0 🙂 I tried it and it feels good

  9. Dude, get a Dell. If you want Ubuntu (or Linux) to be easier, get it on hardware from a vendor who makes sure the hardware is fully supported. (Just don’t get a Dell Mini 10). Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for a Linux #13 post down the road.

    On the other hand, if you enjoy “figuring shit out”, carry on.

    p.s. I’ve had good luck with ThinkPads.

  10. I wish you all the best with Linux! I’ve been a fanboy for 8 years or so and will never look back. It just so happens I’m on my first fresh install of Ubuntu… on a laptop. I must say Ubuntu is so user and hardware friendly compared to the “power user” distros I’ve ran and built in the past. Might not look back again.


  11. The one criticism I would have of Ubuntu is the way it doesn’t appear to try very hard to find a default display resolution that works during the install. On some LCD displays you just get a blank screen (not a problem if you have an old multi-sync CRT lying around as a temporary display) and even if it does display, it can overlap the screen to such an extent that the setup process is done blind.

    These issues may not be important to a seasoned Ubuntu installer who may know any workarounds, but they certainly hamper new adopters.

  12. I know everyone is on about ubuntu. May I suggest soemthing a little more … established. I used to use slackware a long time ago. It’s considered a bit bloatware for a linux distro however its solid and it comes with a great deal of good software. When you feel more comfortable you could make a move to any Debian base without issue.

  13. I recently decided to migrate from Windows to Linux on my desktop… so based on Ubuntu popularity I went for it… but unfortunatelly Ubuntu did not know how to deal with my RAID 10 configuration… failing the installation.
    I went then for Open SUSE and big surprise: apart of few basic question like language, country, password settings, etc, it installed perfectly without any technical question about my hardware and everything works fine, the RAID, the wireless network, the printer… SUSE is also a big surprise in terms of look&feel and functionality… it’s fast, clean, secure and powerfull… you should give it a chance!

  14. Hey Matt,
    I’m an Ubuntu user for a couple of years, if there’s something I can help with ping me, I’m hanging on wp irc channels most of the time.

  15. I got openSUSE running on an old Dell Latitude, and I’ve since learned that Linux distros tend to prefer certain laptop brands and processors. I tried Ubuntu on this and couldn’t even get the install to finish. It would probably run great on some other hardware.

      1. Tanx! 🙂

        As my mom says, “My favorite food is what somebody else cooked”… likewise, my favorite themes are the ones somebody else made, and I just personalize them.

  16. Did you first tried LiveCD or preinstalled USB thing? In my system i have it installed with Windows 7. For Dual Boot Instal Win 7 first. keep raw unpartitioned space like 15GB, then install ubuntu 10.04, use “/” as mount point and gave like RAM*2 space as Swap. You will be good to go.

  17. I never had a problem installing Ubuntu. I pretty much used default settings every time and it seemed to install just fine on every laptop I set it up on. It’s weird to hear about it failing.

    1. I recommend trying ubuntu 9.10 before 10.04. 9.10 ran perfectly on my old HP dv1000 laptop. 10.04 had kernel issues causing my screen to come up all black after boot. I was able to boot into a low graphics mode (safe mode) and use the PC.

      1. I used wubi to install 10.04, on my HP dv1000, and am expericing the black after boot screen. Will you be kind and reply and let me know specifically what to do to boot into a low graphics mode (in ubuntu).
        My XP install still works fine.

  18. I tried every major flavor of Linux over the years. My experiences ranged from good, bad, ugly, and abysmal. Eventually I settled on Ubuntu (9.10 and 10.04 LTS work flawlessly for me).

    I really like Fedora too, but my Broadcom wireless card is such a pain to get working under Fedora whereas it works under Ubuntu from the get-go.

  19. Ubuntu seems very popular, but I’d recommend Fedora. My understanding is most of the Ubuntu code comes from Fedora/Red Hat. Also Red Hat is a strong publicly traded company and their software is used by many governments around the world.

    Ubuntu is based on Debian, not Fedora. I currently use Ubuntu Lucid on two Dells (one 32-bit laptop, one 64-bit desktop) and it works fine. Some problems with 64-bit Flash on the desktop (although even that is less true recently) but mostly not too much trouble at all.

    Fedora is basically the test-bed for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and I’ve always found it somewhat unreliable (one version — Fedora 10 if I remember right) had a kernel that didn’t support the ATI drivers for months, for example). Its update and install tools are nothing like as pleasant to use as Ubuntu’s, in my experience.

  20. Give it some effort and it will be rewarded. After being on/off for some years (yes, I meant years) I am now a Ubuntu user for over 9 months on my most demanding Thinkpad: my work-issues one… I admit there are a (very) few apps that I miss (Cisco IP softphone, but there are other -better?-alternatives)
    Also I admit there are Win7 and XP machines in the house, and FreeBSD (FreeNAS) but that’s more my wife’s choice.

    I simply love the fact that I have an idea, say BT lock of the machine, incremental hourly backups or MP3 management, I google a bit and there is something out there!

    Regarding distro’s I tried RH, but found Ubuntu is the friendliest on the HW and the user. After two days all met workstuff was running sweet and with all the eye-candy. Wobbly Windows, rotating cubes, etc. etc.
    The basic work stuff was setup within 3 hours, including download and set up VPN and mail and stuff!

    Give it some time and intelligence, thou shall be rewarded…

  21. Hi Matt.

    I strongly support your effort to get to know Linux, especially Ubuntu. Not 6 months ago I too tried Ubuntu for the first time. Today I use Ubuntu 95% of the time compared to 5% of Windows XP.

    What helped me most is using Ubuntu persistently installed on a 4GB USB Flash drive. A great tutorial on that can be found here:

    I hope it will help you as well!

  22. I also dual boot XP and Ubuntu (for about a year now), and I love Ubuntu. I installed it without any previous experience with Linux, and found that it was simple to use, relatively attractive, and faster even than XP on my older machine.

    The only reason, at this point, that I haven’t switched completely over to Ubuntu is that Photoshop doesn’t run smoothly under WINE for me, and GIMP just doesn’t cut it (lack of adjustment layers being my biggest complaint, but there are several).

    I’m already using open-source software for most of my other needs, so it was a pretty easy switch to make. I wish that Adobe would just get on the wagon with Linux (although I understand why they don’t).

    I’d second the suggestion to try installing version 9 of Ubuntu, though.

    – Matthew Gore

  23. First of all I’m surprised. Surprised that somebody who is so obviously pro open source, (and has been for a number of years now) doesn’t already use Linux as their main OS.

    I’ve been using Linux exclusively since 1996. I hope it hooks you like it hooked me all those years ago, mate. Keep at it!

    Kind regards,

  24. I love open source, such as Linux and WordPress.
    More than two years, I use Linux as my primary operating system, but I am just a beginner in Linux… 🙂

  25. I’ve been running 6 virtual machines on an old $300 Compaq for a couple years.

    I have the base system locked down only manageable from the internal network, while the virtual machines are my test beds, completely open. Going virtual is great because you can test drive just about anything you want.

    For reference here was a post I wrote while back about setting up an open testing Windows virtual machine that I could communicate via ssh with my other virtual machines:

    I’m a big fan of Red Hat and Fedora mostly because I believe their organization and package managers are sooooo much easier and intuitive with less bugs.

    Don’t get me wrong Ubuntu is a good flavor, and getting shinier with each release, it just didn’t blow me away.

    Take it from me, when choosing a particular distribution, it’s all about two things, the package manager and virtualization.

    (Unless you are prepared to install and manage everything from src, and if so then have fun 😉

  26. Did someone say after two days ? If it took two days to get a windows system ready for use people would litereally ‘process’ bricks.