I've gotten over $200 in cash back from them at places I would have shopped anyway! Ebay, Staples, more! I put it at the top because they ROCK. Basically, you get a kickback from Ebates when buy.com or whoever pays them. Win-win. If you like throwing money away, don't use them!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ubuntu 8.04 Mini-Review

Ever wonder why my reviews are mini? Because I'm too lazy to do exhaustive reviews. You're going to look for more reviews and not base it solely on my experience anyway, or at least I'd hope you wouldn't. :)

So.

Here's what's happened so far. I just installed Ubuntu 8.04 'Hardy Heron' alongside Vista on a real partition (7 gigs, just to play with) and I'm posting from it now.

Done:
Installed the Nvidia restricted drivers. They don't like my monitor. I'd like 70-75Hz refresh rate (it's an old 17" CRT type) but it gives me 1280x1024 with a GROSS 50hz refresh rate or 1024x768 with 60hz refresh that looks horrible for some reason. Can't select higher. Hmm. Works, but not quite like I want. I don't want a headache, thanks.

Update 3 May 2008: My monitor was detected as Generic for some reason. So I had to tell it the brand and model (you could pick something with similar refresh rates. Run this command from the terminal:

sudo displayconfig-gtk

And my monitor and model was already available to pick. Again, don't make me Google to much or visit the command line to fix what should be easy. I now have a more ergonomic 72 Hz refresh rate. Close enough, but 75Hz IIRC is supported by my monitor.

What works:
Internet, sound, networked 930C attached to a Windows XP Pro box. So out of the box you can get stuff done. Printer install was easy.

Bluetooth. I bought an Azio BTD-V201 because it's about the smallest you can get, and I'm hoping it works out of the box with an Asus eee.

Here's a photo of how small this dongle is:

That's an SD card of course. It stick out about 2mm plus the black plastic part, so the silver USB plug part is not fully concealed. However, it will be unobtrusive on nearly anything. And sure would be easy to install in an eee or any other device via an internal hack.

It worked with no configuration on Ubuntu 8.04. No protracted tests, but I transferred a 4.8 meg file from my Cingular 8525 to the Ubuntu desktop after plugging it in and 1 minute setting the desktop to accept file transfers, be visibile etc. Ubuntu's Bluetooth control panel suits fine for this. Actually, it is very easy to use. Kudos on that. Beats the various Bluetooth stacks I saw in XP. More direct than OS X's Assistant. Don't need that level of handholding, Apple.

System is:

ECS 7050VT-M with 2 gigs RAM. This board has everything for a basic office or gaming system built in.
Celeron 430 1.8 ghz stock overclocked to 2.4 ghz by raising the FSB to 1066.
40 gig PATA (I had it lying around)
Floppy

To love:
All the free programs of course! Basics come installed, and TONS of other stuff available.

Surprises:
Mozilla Firefox 3 Beta 5 is installed by default. Beta? Really? Would Microsoft or Apple install beta software or any serious computer company? I want it to work, not make me bleeding edge. File this under gripes too.

Skype was pretty easy to install (you want the .deb download) and my Webcam, a cheap Emprex PC-10AP worked out of the box! I had to fiddle with the sound inputs with the Volume Control applet and plug my mic into the front panel but I got it working. So, webcam and sound and mic work in Skype at least. :)

Neat graphic effects if your card supports it, ala Vista's Aero, Ala Mac's Expose, etc.

Who's it for?
Hobbyists, curmudgeons, cheapskates, new computer users.

Gripes:
The monitor issue. For Linus' sake, please don't make me edit a text file to fix this. Soooooo 1990.

So far, all the solutions to things I want to do or fix seem to require command line usage. Can I? Yes. Do I want to? NO. I can Google and do darn near anything as always. Sigh.

The Totem Movie Player for DVD playback. I downloaded the codecs which it did fairly automatically, a few clicks here and there, and played the title about not airing it in public.

So now what? 'Go' to the various DVD menus isn't working. The Warning movie is over. I just wanna play the frickin' DVD. This is why Linux isn't on top folks. Skipping doesn't work. The help file says to go to Movie->Play disc. It ain't there.

Ooooh. I restarted the app and now it works. Coulda said that. Menus still don't work. But I can play the entire disc.

Verdict:
Can't do better for free. Make sure you have a geek around to help. We're not cheap, but we can be had. Fun to play with. I'd hate to have to reinstall and figure stuff out again. Nightmare mode. Reinstalling XP is bad enough.

Links:

Some Dude. Like this approach: sit your average user down (his girlfriend) and see if they can do simple tasks. Also taught me a few things.

Quote:"Linux won’t truly be ready for the desktop until someone computer illiterate can sit down at a the computer and with little effort do what they want to do. Erin’s intelligent, quick to learn and is reasonably well-acquainted with modern technology. If she had as much trouble as she did, what chance to the elderly or at least the middle-aged stand?"

Ditto.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Saw your review of Azio on newegg. Thanks for the pic.

Fadumpt said...

I love the "grandma" basis...because there are so many grandma's installing Windows XP/Vista on their PC's :)

When you come down to it, Windows, Mac or Linux....there is some geek or computer nut doing the install/setup for the person...and how well they do setting it up is how well the OS looks to the user.

So...the real thing is that when people can finally throw out the Grandma double standard of computer installation, Linux will finally see acceptance :)

 
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