Why I’m using Ubuntu now

June 23, 2010

Well, the main reason is because trying out different Linux distributions is so much fun, isn’t it? There was nothing really wrong with Fedora, in fact it did a lot of things right, but I wanted to configure my file server with a lightweight environment and then leave it alone. I’ve spent too much time on that thing already.

Firstly, I replaced Ubuntu with Arch and LXDE, to see if I could get it working with anything else than Ubuntu. I’ve installed Arch probably 50 times before, but this time I couldn’t get the keyboard layout right in X. Hal should take care of that, and yet it didn’t. Also, the screen resolution was way off, and I couldn’t get the nouveau drivers configured, while the chipset was too old for the regular nvidia driver. Exit Arch.

I remembered I had that Fedorea XFCE spin lying around, and I tried that along with Chris Smart’s tips. I got the thunar shares plugin configured, but the share didn’t show up. Using the Samba tool both Windows 7 and my Fedora desktop could SEE the share, but failed to mount it. Both gave an error that the share didn’t seem to exist.

Finally, I slapped regular Ubuntu on the server, and shared both a folder and the printer, which worked immediately. Again, I don’t know how Ubuntu does it, but it does it right. Afterwards I uninstalled things I didn’t need like OpenOffice etc, installed Lubuntu-desktop, and finally got a compromise I’m reasonably happy with. I’d still prefer it if I knew what was actually happening there, but for the moment things work so I’ll leave them alone.

Now, because my (L)Ubuntu cross-breed worked well on the server, because Fedora had one or two niggling problems (it saw two shared printers, but only printed to one and cups crashed if I tried to use the other, and Nautilus and the panels apparently had crashed the day before), and mainly because I hadn’t installed the final version of Ubuntu yet, I installed it on my main desktop.

As always, installing and using Ubuntu is a very agreeable experience. As with Fedora, all hardware worked out of the box, and installing extra codecs and suchlike was a bit easier. It doesn’t look as sleek as Fedora, but it doesn’t look bad either. A bit heavy for a theme called “Light”, but otherwise okay. I do think the focus on looks is a good thing, and I must admit that picture of a PC that runs Ubuntu looks very good.

There was a bit of confusion the first time I had to use the Close-Minimise-Maximise buttons the the top left corner, but it’s something you soon get used to, so I left them there. I didn’t enable the nvidia drivers…I don’t care for desktop effects anyway.

I know I said Ubuntu wasn’t for me a couple of months ago, but I also said things change rapidly…and in fact, there’s still an Arch + LXDE partition on my hard drive, where I have Virtualbox installed so I can study for those Window7 exams…


How does Ubuntu do it?

June 15, 2010

I have an old PC that serves as a file and print server (see what I did there?). It holds a 120 GB disk drive, divided in an NTFS partion, and two others for root and swap.

It used to run Ubuntu 9.04. I had tried to install Arch and a lightweight DE (my boy sometimes likes to use the PC for games), but I couldn’t figure out the Samba settings back then, so I just slapped Ubuntu on it, mounted the ntfs partition, rightclick, share, be advised that a change to smb.conf is needed (in the [global] section), adjusting smb.conf, done. It worked very well, but the OS was aging a bit, and of course a full GNOME desktop was overkill for something that essentially just needed Samba, a browser and some games.

Because of my recent infatuation with Fedora, I tried using that, with XFCE. The experience was frustrating, to say the least. Installing Samba is no problem. Neither is adding a share via the Samba config tool. Nor opening the firewall to allow Samba traffic. However, although the share could be seen on the client PCs (one Fedora, one Windows 7), it could not be mounted. It failed in Nautilus, using the fstab, mounting it manually…nothing worked. The error was something along the lines of “share doesn’t exist”. Trying to edit smb.conf manually didn’t work. Using Ubuntu’s smb.conf, which I had backed up, didn’t work.

Sharing the printer worked beautifully though.

Trying Fedora GNOME didn’t do it either. Then I tried Ubuntu server, and installed ubuntu-desktop on top of it.

Which is an insane thing to do if you just need a file server.

I’m again stuck with a full-blown Ubuntu desktop, full of goodies I don’t need and running much slower than I could make it run. But here’s the maddening part, it works. Right-click folder, share, adjusting smb.conf, done. Even worse, I can’t find any reference to my share in smb.conf ! If I knew where the right config is saved, I could simply copy/paste it to a leaner system, but now I can’t.

Curse you Ubuntu! Curse you for making my life so easy and so difficult at the same time!


PS: Obviously, any help would be appreciated…

Distributions I’m looking forward to

September 21, 2008

I’m back. Since I’ve spent a week outside visiting castles, ruins, museums and bookshops, there isn’t much I can write about…I haven’t tinkered, not even a single little tink. But I am looking forward to the upcoming releases of some distributions, some of them old favourites, some of them I’ve never installed before.

Debian 5.0

I have never installed Debian before, which seems crazy even to me. I think my reasoning was “Well, I’ve installed Ubuntu, and Ubuntu is Debian, right? Right? Hello? Anyone?”
Anyway, since I’ve installed almost any well-known Debian derivate, except the all-father itself, that’s what I’ll do when it comes out. That should be this month.

Mandriva 2009

Mandriva has been a favourite of mine. As a everything-and-the-kitchen-sink, I thought it came very close to Ubuntu. That’s why I tried a few betas of the next release, and to my surprise I didn’t like them at all. Installing software proved to be impossible, and using the nvidia driver didn’t work either. I hope these issues won’t show up for me in the final release. It’s scheduled to show up on the servers early next month.

Ubuntu 8.10

This one’s a given. As I mentioned before, I think Ubuntu does the best job in providing an OS for the “normal” PC user. By that I mean someone who doesn’t want to know about computers, and instead just use them. Unlike previous releases, I haven’t tried a single alpha. If any of the betas have the final new artwork, I probably will install that. Ubuntu will hit the download mirrors somewhere in the final week of October.

Sidux 2008-04

Another one I haven’t tried yet, but a distribution that seems to have a very loyal fanbase, at least judging from the comments on various newsboards. On the surface, it doesn’t have any special feature that really grabs my attention, but it’s said to be fast and stable. We’ll see. Like Ubuntu and Mandriva, it should appear somewhere next month.

Fedora 10

Fedora Core 1 was one of the first Linux distributions I ever installed (and messed up completely). Since then, I switched to other distributions, vor various reasons. One is the love of Fedora for bleeding edge software…I like a bit of stability on my PC. Another is the fact that it’s RPM based, which to me has always been slower than pacman or apt. But since it’s been a while since I tried Fedora, I’ll probably give it a go when it comes out, which should be November 18th.

PCLinuxOS 2008

Ah, the distribution that is slowly becoming legendary by not appearing. In the last month, I’ve noticed quite a lot of grumbles about the delay, which is a change of pace for the once fan-favourite number one of the Distrowatch rankings. Of course, PCLinuxOS is supposed to be a rolling release OS, but downloading a 600+ MB ISO, and having to download an additional 600 just for updates isn’t really everyone’s cup of tea. Apparently, it’s “very close to release”, but it has been very close to release for a while now. Fingers crossed.

And last but not least:

TinyMe 2008.1

Interesting, because it’s based on PCLinuxOS 2008 (or 2008.1?), which doesn’t exist, and even more interesting because it offers LXDE, which is Openbox made easy. There aren’t many distros that offer Openbox as the default WM, because, let’s face it, Openbox is for geeks 😉 LXDE tries to make it a bit easier while maintaining the obvious Openbox advantages of simplicity, configurability and speed. I’m curious to see how TinyMe holds up against my own Arch + Openbox configuration (which I think is absolutely perfect for me, but did take some time to get right).
The first alpha release of TinyMe has just appeared, so I guess the final release is still some time away.

In any case, I have some busy months ahead of me 🙂