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Ubuntu: An Excellent Beginners Distro

Discussion in 'LOS Archive' started by Mpemba Effect, 1 Oct 2004.

  1. Mpemba Effect

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

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    I've started my vmware distro install-fest for the reason a) I can get a first hand view on poplular distro's on offer b) It'll be easier for me to help forum members with their distro if I had the same distro they're using - and perhaps explain a distro specific GUI method of doing something rather than the usual CLI method I explain (plain because thats the only thing thats common thoughout all distros).

    Well after Robmiller mentioned Ubuntu as a up and coming distro gaining good replutation I took al ook at their website. Based upon Debian I figured that it must be at least half decent so I've decided this will be the first distro of many to be vmwared.

    Installing-wise couldn't be easier, it doens't use a graphical interface ala Fedora, Mandrake or SuSE but uses a text based menu system like on slackware and freebsd. Nevertheless the install procedure is as easy as they come, very straight forward, I didn't at any point need to go back and redo anything (I should have took some screenshots, I did think about but then didn't). Typically a beginner would just choose the automatic install procedue like I did rather than the manual method of choosing packages, and automatic really is automatic, there was hadly anything to type in, eveything was auto detected and installed - it even detected that I was using vmware and used vmware drivers for XFree.

    Upon installing everything Ubuntu ask wether it has a direct connection to the net. If you choose "yes" (which is recommended) it automatically syncs with it's ubuntu servers and uses apt-get to update the entire system. After about 10mins you're presented with the funky looking ubuntu login screen.

    Honestly I'm impressed, it looks nice (plenty of eye candy) but at the same time the GUI doens't feel too bloated (and we are talking about gnome here) theres no clutter of menu and icons that all do the same thing, it's just feel simple and nice. I'm yet to work out how to use apt-get but really I think this is the distro that I'm going to be recommending to beginners from now on :)

    Here is a good starter guide for Ubuntu :)

    [​IMG]
     
  2. robmiller

    Capodecina

    Joined: 26 Dec 2003

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    Location: London

    The first disc image I downloaded was corrupt, so I've redownloaded and am burning it now, coincidentally. Going to install it for my mum, seen as she's got relatively used to Mandrake.

    Edit: By the way, here's a thread on SA about Ubuntu; "Ubuntu Linux is Stupid Proof" :)
     
  3. FishFluff

    Soldato

    Joined: 7 Nov 2003

    Posts: 5,344

    Location: Deepest, darkest Leeds

    I'm gonna try this on my Thinkpad this weekend since it's supposed to be very good for laptops.

    I didn't know you were a SA regular mr miller :)
     
  4. robmiller

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    I don't have an account - I've lurked there since about 2001, I've just been to lazy to sort PayPal and stuff out :o
     
  5. Deadly Ferret

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    Joined: 11 Apr 2003

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    Location: London

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I like the look of this! When I saw the first picture, I thought 'typical! No doubt one would end up with the American locale, location and keyboard settings, and have to change them when installation completes.' I then saw the next picture, and was pleasantly surprised. :)
     
  6. wesley

    Soldato

    Joined: 29 Jul 2003

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    downloading at the mo and will give it a try with VMware :)

    most people recommended fedora and mandrake for newbie but what does make it special for newbie? i guess cos more friendly to use? like XP? lol

    thanks for letting us know about this distro :)
     
  7. Mpemba Effect

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

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    I prefer to call it windows friendly or windows user friend rather than user friendly since user friendliness depends on the user :) But yes certain distro such as fedora and mandrake are recommended to beginners since they are more windowsish, in that they have lots of control panels and wizards.
     
  8. gazflat44

    Wise Guy

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    Mr mpemba, what features can this distro offer? I usually have a spare rig which needs to be put to good use.
     
  9. Mpemba Effect

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    Not quite sure what you mean by what features. It has all the usual features and apps typical of other distros. But Ubunto has a really good feel to it. Apt-get is one of it's selling points, it's an excellent package manager compared to rpms.
     
  10. dirtydog

    PermaBanned

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    Location: Essex

    Okay I've just tried Ubuntu this morning and I'm afraid I have to disagree with the 'excellent beginners' distro' tag. People new to Linux are still better off with Suse or Mandrake in my opinion.

    I installed on my single HDD, which is already partitioned with two Windows partitions, two data partitions, a Windows programs partition and three for Linux (boot, root and swap).

    Upon starting the installation of Ubuntu I am offered the chance to delete the entire HDD, or manually partition. I selected the latter, and then had to manually choose the boot, root and swap partitions. Now yes this was easy enough but I knew what to do; a total Linux novice would not. Suse or Mandrake would have selected those automatically and it would have been the default unless I had overridden it.

    The initial install was fast but then it needed to spend 1/2 hour downloading, which wasn't optional. In Suse and Mandrake this is optional; the install CD/CDs can be used on their own and no internet updates are forced on you (yes of course they're advisable but it's a choice).

    At the end of the install I have to select a screen resolution for Gnome. It started off at something huge like 2500x1400, and I had to scroll down to 1024x768. No hardship for me, but computer novices don't know what their screen size is, and may have just pressed enter at this point, and end up with a blank screen.

    Once Gnome started the screen was running at 60Hz. Okay, even Windows XP does this. But in Windows, and more to the point in Suse and Mandrake, changing it to 85Hz for my monitor is quite easy. In Ubuntu, there was a drop down box for monitor refresh rate but the only option was 60Hz! So what next? Do I need to install a new monitor driver, or a new graphics driver or what? Yes I could work it out but this isn't what a novice needs, nor me for that matter.

    There is no GUI 'add/remove programs' or online update a la Windows Update like Suse and Mandrake both have.

    These are my initial thoughts on Ubuntu. It may be an excellent distro but for pure beginners Suse and Mandrake are better imho.

    edit - oh yes, and font antialiasing is turned off by default in Ubuntu unlike Suse and Mandrake which have superior looking fonts out of the box. Ubuntu did score over Suse (but not Mandrake) in getting my Audigy 2 card working out of the box though.
     
    Last edited: 2 Oct 2004
  11. Mpemba Effect

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    I Must admit, I did a fresh install on a virtual machine so no dual boot. Possibiliy this is an issue if it doen't automatically recommend you a partition setup.

    You were given a choice with ubuntu just before it started downloading. This update imo is a good thing, it ensures that upon install you will have the latest system unlike alot of people who will wait for the next release of the distro before updating anything. How do you keep you mandrake applications up to date and bug free?

    I think not, if you take a careful look at that section screen you will see that the highest resolutions are at the top and the lowest at the bottom. However the top ones are NOT seclected but ubuntu has auto selected some of the lower resolution screens automatically. That screen is more of a "confirm" the auto detecttion process rather that "input your resolution". If you just clicked "yes" you will be fine, if you chose the highest resolution you will also be fine since X will fail and it will fall back to the next selected resolution (which will be the ones ubuntu have enabled). The only way you will get a blank screen or an X error is if you selected the overly high resolution and manuallly de-selected the ones at the bottom. I think it's unlike a novice who doesn't know their arse cheek from their monitor resolution will do that, more likely they'd just hit the ok button.

    Granted that could be a problem, it looks like the folks at ubuntu need to add some modeline to the XF86Config file. They're moving to Xorg so may be they'll sort that in a later release. But refresh rates is no big issue and is defaintely a common problem with alot of distro's, the amount time someone has asked how to fix a refresh rate problem on this forum is quite lot.

    I see one (Computer > System Configuration > Synaptic Package Manager)

    [​IMG]

    Besides being debian based apt-get is one of it's advantages. If you want to install an app called scrot you type:

    apt-get install scrot

    it gives you a list of dependencies scrot uses and asks for a confirmation to continue. You type "yes" and it does everything for you.

    edit: I've only just found out that Synaptic is the GUI frontend for apt-get, so so when you install though Synaptic you will always install the lastest tested stable version and also you don't need to use the commandline to install apps

    Can't really say but AA seemed to be working straight out of the box here, look at my screenshots - I've changed the fonts to something more to my taste but I haven't plasyed with any AA settings.
     
    Last edited: 2 Oct 2004
  12. dirtydog

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    Oops I missed that then ;)



    Ah I missed that too :o It didn't seem as intuitive as it perhaps could have been.



    Indeed - as when Windows XP first came out too. There's probably a simple way of doing it in Ubuntu - when you know how!



    Something else I missed :D I did only play with it for 5-10 mins after installing though (maybe I should have used it longer before posting my comments eh). Yes it seems as easy to use as Suse's Yast does :)

    Looking at it again you are right, AA is enabled, I had just thought it wasn't due to the way the fonts look in Firefox, not very nice compared to Windows certainly (or Suse/Mandrake although Windows is the clear winner arguably) :-

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Mpemba Effect

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    To get AA working you need to use truetype fonts and I don't think the default serif or san serif fonts used in firefox are TTF. So the user will have to manually change the fonts.
     
  14. dirtydog

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    SuSE will download and install the MS Core font pack, maybe Ubuntu will do that too - otherwise I could copy them from Windows I guess.

    If you work out how to change my refresh rate I will give Ubuntu another try but it hurts my eyes to use it for long at 60Hz.. I suspect changing the monitor type would do the trick. There is a Windows-like Device Manager but a quick look in there didn't reveal the monitor although I may have missed it.

    Another thing is that my FAT32 and NTFS partitions weren't automatically mounted by Ubuntu - or I just couldn't find them :)

    Another observation is that every folder you open, opens in a separate window, Windows 95-style, rather than in the same window. It's either like that by default or I chose that option somehow. I know it can be turned off though - if I can find it :p
     
    Last edited: 2 Oct 2004
  15. dunc

    Mobster

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    I am just about to replace my RH9.0 with Ubuntu following the glowing reports. Hope all goes well.

    If not I am sure I will be back ;)

    Dunc
     
  16. Mpemba Effect

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    I don't think it does, it doesn't have any microsoft font on it. But yeah you can copy over the fonts from windows or install the MS core font pack. However I haven't found it in Synaptic.

    There is screen resolution manager but like you said it only shows the current refresh rate and theres no t any others selectable. The reason for this is that X don't have the exact horizontal and vertical refesh rates for your monitot so it uses rather conservative values (so not to damage your monitot) as a result you may have poor refresh rates. I can't currently see anyway to set these values in the GUI tool. I'm thinking maybe there was an extra option at the screen where you choose resolutions during install to manually input your monitor specs rather than choosing from the list. Anyway I don't have a GUI fix for this but I can talk you though how to fix this via editting your /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 file.

    yeah, I can proberbly believe that if the install procedure only give the options to wipe the disk or manual config. Since you chose manual config I can only assume you'll need to manually config your windows partition too. Does the bootloader dual boot ok?

    Yeah I think this is a gnome thing, It's really annoying, I'm trying to fix that. I know theres a way to change that behaviour so it opens the folder in the same window but I just don't know how to do it yet <---- gnome noob :)
     
  17. Deadly Ferret

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    Having done that, would 'apt-get uninstall scrot' be a valid command, or would one go about uninstallation in a different manner? :)

    I like the idea of being able to install or uninstall with such a simple command.


    PS: Did anyone else think, when seeing the name: Ubuntu, Ubuntu, they drink it in the Congo? :D
     
  18. dirtydog

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    lol that was my first thought actually - Umbongo or whatever it's called :D
     
  19. dirtydog

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    Is it easy to do? :o

    Here's my XF86Config-4 file:-

    I presume it's the bit in bold that needs editing? :)
     
  20. dirtydog

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    Oh another question! Ubuntu didn't prompt me for a root password during installation, so how do I log in as root?

    btw Mpemba Effect, yes the dual boot works fine although you have to press ESC sharpish during boot ;)
     
    Last edited: 2 Oct 2004