Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Ubuntu on my home desktop

So, in my urge to find an all-GPL distro, I went out looking for all-free distros instead and landed up installing Ubuntu on my desktop at home. I repartitioned my hard drive using Partition Magic, and then installed Ubuntu on the new partition. The install went off remarkably smoothly, and a functional system was up and running quite quickly (functional = net connectivity, audio acccess, and a screen resolution that looked good). The two old partitions were visible (as HDA1 and HDA2) and readable (but only by root). I copied over some .mp3s to test mp3 playback and got a string of errors. So, I tried installing xmms the hard way (not having realized the power of apt-get), and found out I didn't have gcc. But the next day, things got better. I learned how to use the Add Applications command, added xmms, learned the power of apt-get (and used that to install a bunch of other useful programs including a developers kit that included gcc) and then with Scott, figured out how to make the two partitions readable/usable by users other than root (we changed /etc/fstab - I'll explain more in a later post and include those entries as well).

So, now, I have a functional system: I have net connectivity, I have personal productivity applications (read "office"); I have Latex; I have mp3 playback. I have a nice screen resolution. Bravo Ubuntu! I'm now planning to stay with Ubuntu and see if I can contribute to user forums in a meaningful way (including learning enough to make this my system for all work). Tonight, on returning home, I'll see if I can get DVD playback working. I can't imagine its going to be all that difficult.


Anonymous Benjamin Mako Hill said...

Ubuntu is not all GPL. No distribution is all GPL. X is distributed under the X11 license. Many other pieces of cpre OS-level software are licensed under the BSD, Apache, Artistic, and MIT licenses. Even core GNU projects like the GNU C Library are released under the LGPL.

What I suspect you mean is "completely free software" or "completely open source." For the purposes of this type of usage, the two terms are completely synonymous.

Of course Ubuntu is not even entirely free although it is much closer than most. Ubuntu contain software in four areas: main, restricted, universe, and multiverse. The first two are enabled by default. Restricted contains non-free binary-only firmware and drivers. Multiverse is not really part of Ubuntu but also contains non-free software that can be distributed without cost.

If you want a completely free software you should not enable multiverse (this is already default) and should disable and uninstall restricted. Be careful turning off restricted though. Some of your hardware, like your wireless card, may stop working.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Fernando (Nerd Gaucho) said...

Nice blog you have there. I wish I had enough time to do as much blogging as I´d like to...

I see you have discovered Ubuntu and you like it. Well, I played with Ubuntu for a while, but then when I decided to test 5.10 for AMD64 I realized that a lot of sofware is not available in 64bit flavour (starting with OpenOffice).

So... when I attempted to install 5.10 in 32-bit version Ubuntu refused to load after reboot, with GRUB displaying a message like "can´t find /dev/hdc !!" and hanging.

I got really annoyed and kissed Ubuntu goodbye.

A really nice, even better distro than Ubuntu, if you ask me, is BLAG. It´s made in the UK, it´s very similar to Ubuntu (also based on Gnome) but with Red Hat Fedora Core 3 (FC3) as its foundation instead of Debian.

I really like it.

Check it out when you have the time

More importantly, the users forum at the Blag site are really great and I always received answers to my questions in a matter of hours, not days.

12:08 AM  

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