Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Ubuntu experience for a beginner

There have been a lot of news regarding the new Ubuntu release 7.04. As I have tried the previous Ubuntu 6.10 liveCD before, I thought I'll give 7.04 a try by full install into my Dell 640m laptop.

1. Patient
First thing on trying to get my hands on Ubuntu is not the CD or the software itself but by acquiring the habit of being patient. Yes, it's required a lot patient by just downloading the software (I think I'll need it more when installing and configure the hardware). The file server available for download the CD does not seems to be stable. It keep breaking up my Ubuntu downloading process and I have to keep searching for file mirrors to resume my file. The whole downloading process took me 2 days but it seems it can be done in one day. Finally, I have manage to download a copy of it without any file corruption.

2. Read
I have my WinXp Home installed in my laptop without any more free space for Ubuntu because laptop came with preinstalled with WinXp Home. In order to solve this problem, I went to the Ubuntu support site and checked out the forum. It did provide me a solution on how to dual boot Ubuntu along with Windows.

It's called SystemRescueCd. I've download the Linux ISO and burn it into a CD. I've booted it up with the CD and trying to follow the instruction provide in the Ubuntu Forum. It was a mistake. It stated a command I need to key in once the rescueCD is booted and blind me, I tried for 4 or 5 times and it didn't work (Here is what I mean in point 1: Patient). So, I started to read what's provided on the screen in the boot menu. It shows that the command has changed. After carefully read the instruction on the boot menu, I finally got it boot to the option I want and successfully resize my NTFS partition.

3. Backup
Guess what, I partitioned the disk with only partial backup on my windows data. I was risked of having all my recent data lost but somehow after reading the forum from Ubuntu, I found it can be done without backup since someone has successfully dual boot their PC (Don't try this at home). After resize the partiton, next thing is try boot up windows and make sure it still working correctly (with my finger crossed). It worked and I could see the free space available using the windows disk manager.

4. Installation
The installation was easy by just following the Wizard. Boot into live, click on install, and follow the installation wizard instruction. Easy. After the laptop was rebooted and I was in Ubuntu environment, I was surprised that the laptop customized buttons and the FN key was working correctly. So, the next thing is how to get it log on to the internet.

5. Wired and resolution
My home has a wireless router that connects to the internet. The router was configured using the WPA encryption, which is more secure than using WEP encryption. Anyway, Ubuntu wireless setting comes with default WEP encryption and I have to find a way to configure it to use WPA setting. So, I need to switch back windows and get online to check on the instructions for it (Again, point 1: Patient). After one day doing that, I thought why not just use the wired connection. So, I got my laptop connected to the router using wire and started the firefox browser.

It blows me away. The webpage is loaded way much faster than windows version (Perhaps I have too many extension installed in my windows firefox or personal firewall was slowing down my window's connection). So fast that it feels like just a snap of a finger (Maybe I was exaggerate; perhaps it was 2 snaps of a finger :P)

Then it's the screen resolution. The default screen resolution supported was 1280 x 768, 800 x 600, 640 x 480. My laptop optimal resolution is 1280 x 800; another 32 more wider is required. Again, point 1 is required to search for solution on the internet.

Summary: Almost a near window experience
In conclusion, I would like to see there is a driver support page for linux. With this, it will solve most of my problem mentioned above: the display resolution and the wireless configuration. The problem is that it's free for everyone and what more can I complain about that. :P

P.S: More information I just found
Seven post-install tips for Ubuntu 7.04

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