My own Ubuntu Experiment

It seems that I’ve been reading a lot of “Ubuntu Experience” blog entries lately. I decided that, with the arrival of my new laptop, I’d do the same.

I recently acquired a brand spanking new Dell Latitude D820 laptop. It’s quite nice and is seriously loaded. The installation of Ubuntu was painless. I quite like their concept: the Ubuntu CD boots your machine into a more-or-less complete working Ubuntu desktop; from there you can install. This is nice, because it gives you a chance to determine how much trouble you should plan on dealing with (if, after booting the CD, your monitor isn’t quite right, for example, you know that you’re going to have to spend a little time sorting that part out). In my case, the initial boot and the installation process was very smooth. It even properly detected and configured my super deluxe GL-6000 widescreen LCD.

I initially installed Ubuntu 6.10 because I happened to have that handy on a disc. After installing, I was prompted to upgrade to 7.04 (Feisty Fawn) and did so. The upgrade process worked flawlessly.

I installed Eclipse 3.3M6 along with Mylar and Web Tools from the Europa update site, and the latest version of the PHP Development Tools (PDT). I also setup the XAMPP LAMPP stack. I use this combination of software to work on the website. Aside from some bizarre configuration issues getting a small collection of virtual hosts working on Apache, everything went very well.

I recall reading somewhere that it’s probably not a good idea to move an Eclipse workspace from one workstation to another. I can’t remember where I read that, but I decided to try it anyway. All of the workspaces that I’ve copied from my old Windows laptop appear to work fine on Ubuntu. My first project with the new configuration—to finally automate the population of a test resources database for local testing (available in the phoenix project under “resources”)‐was successful.

Ubuntu’s “Synaptic Package Manager” has a package for Eclipse 3.2.2 that I haven’t checked out yet, but I’ll probably add that to my list of things to try at some point in the future. It’s nice to see that the forward-thinking folks at Ubuntu have chosen to include such highly-regarded world-class software.

I also installed Eclipse 3.3RC2 and have started migrating my projects over to it. Again, everything is running without problems.

Not everything has been perfect. At first, I had trouble getting Skype to hear me. It turned out to be PEBKAC that was easily resolved once I found the “Capture Mux” setting in the volume controls. I had some trouble finding a driver specific to my laser printer; I solved that one by using a generic PCL5e driver that my friend Google helped me find. I haven’t yet sorted out the wireless access since my hardware doesn’t seem to support 802.11b (which is all I have running in my home). I’m a little worried about this last part as I’m pretty sure that a lot of places that I visit haven’t moved on to later versions of the standard. Based on some cursory searches, I’m pretty sure that I’ll be able to sort out the wireless (I’m sure that I can pick up an 802.11b PCMCIA card for cheap). I also have to sort out the process of connecting this beast to an external projector.

Probably the biggest roadblock was email. At the start of this little experiment, I had about two years worth of email stored in Outlook. I installed Thunderbird 2.0 on my old laptop (still running Windows) and used Thunderbird’s import function to copy all my messages and addresses from Outlook. I then copied the resulting folders over to my home directory in Ubuntu. It worked flawlessly.

All-in-all, the experience has been positive. I’ve been noticing a bunch of little things that bother me. Windows still has way better polish, but Ubuntu is catching up. I find Ubuntu very usable.

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20 Responses to My own Ubuntu Experiment

  1. HelloWorld82 says:

    ah. I recently installed windows Vista. (I need it for cross-platform development). I had the impression that Ubuntu has way better polish as Windows. However I come from the Linux world, so my impressions may differ from yours. We certainly consider different features as important.

  2. mickek says:

    Is it possible to use latest PDT with Eclipse3.3? I’m currently using similar configuration, but with Eclipse 3.2 becouse of problems with PDT installation 😦

  3. Wayne says:

    PDT doesn’t work all that well with Eclipse 3.3 yet. Some of the functionality works, but not all. Syntax highlighting appears to work, as does folding in the editors. The outline view doesn’t work quite right and code complete results in an exception.It’s probably a little early for me to be trying to use PDT with 3.3. Maybe this is a good enough reason to load the Eclipse 3.2.2 package from Ubuntu…

  4. James says:

    Hi Wayne,It’s great to hear that you’ve had a mostly positive experience with Ubuntu.My home system has Ubuntu 6.10 but I mostly don’t program there anymore. I’ve ordered a zareason laptop with 7.04 pre-installed which I intend to setup with development tools.I’d love to hear how the eclipse package works for you. And if you have comments or questions about java related packages #ubuntu-java on freenode might be a good place to bring them.Regarding importing your email, I’ve read that a direct install of 7.04 will do that and more. But it sounds like you don’t need it anyway.If you have any questions please feel free to ask.Regards,-james.–

  5. D Holton says:

    I got a D820 laptop for my job about the same day you did.You have to follow these instructions to get your wireless card working:'t worry, those instructions are up to date (except that ndiswrapper is now at version 1.47 instead of 1.46), and they use the proper dell drivers (R151517.EXE at the moment).I haven’t tried anything serious with it yet, just finally got net access today after moving the past few weeks.

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