10 Simple Methods for Happily Running Ubuntu

Adopting a Linux distro, even a user friendly one like Ubuntu, requires some gumption and a few helpful pointers.
Posted October 16, 2008

Matt Hartley

Matt Hartley

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Switching to Linux. We are either talking about it or simply telling people to do it. Yet despite this all this "action," it seems that we have somehow forgotten to include the "how" when it comes to this life changing switch.

In this article, I will not only demonstrate how it can be done, I will provide you with the tools to make it happen after for your household after you finish reading this.

For those of you willing to step up, to start off with a can-do attitude, making the switch is not so much difficult as potentially troubling. For example: being told that some non-compatible hardware or habits will need to be dropped off at the curb. Yet there are ways to make the switch painless.

1) Stop expecting the OS to behave like Windows.

Seems obvious enough, yet for some reason, new users expect – no, demand – that Ubuntu run with the same perceived ease as Windows. Here is an important question – do these same individuals expect OS X to run like Windows?

Why not? Perhaps it’s because the same user was asked to buy a new hardware product that looks and feels very little like a Windows box. So it is safe to say that much of this belief system is in the heads of many otherwise tech-savvy newbies.

The solution: treat Ubuntu with that same respect and understand that you – not it – will need to do some adjusting. This is not to say that Ubuntu, among other distributions of Linux, do not do things that seem mindlessly foolish sometimes. But in the end, you have the freedom to fix any boneheaded problem dropped onto the OS.

Whether this be through hiring a programmer to create a fix for you or simply choosing to do it yourself should your skill set allow. Because in the end, if it’s that bad, switch to one of the distros based on Ubuntu that are not as bleeding edge. Even better – stop upgrading with every new release! Stability is in the control of the system admin.

So to make this simple: find the release that works for you and stick with it. Think this is mad? Why do you think Windows XP users are so hesitant to upgrade? Because it works well.

2) Look at the Windows sticker on your PC.

Read it very slowly: which OS is it clearly designed for? Well, in most cases its Windows XP or Vista. This means that installing Ubuntu on it is a complete game of chance. This is not through any fault of Ubuntu’s creators, rather due to the fact that you are expecting Ubuntu to flawlessly detect everything – while knowing fully well that most of the hardware detection was done as a community effort with little involvement with hardware vendors.

With Ubuntu, you’ll find that 99.9 percent of everything works really well. I mean, I not only have USB headsets, a wireless guitar for the Wii, and a Bluetooth dongle along with my Wacom tablet on a box with Ubuntu 8.04, I’m writing this on a dual monitor setup that was configured easily using a GUI tool called Nvidia-settings.

Clearly, the user must examine what they’re trying to get out of their Ubuntu experience. Are they willing to put the money they would be spending on an OS into a compatible HP all-in-one? Or a wireless USB dongle such as Zyxel G-220 (any version works)? Or the Edimax ew-7318usg (no revisions to worry about).

These devices work out of the box and devices cost a lot less than a new notebook PC, too.

Now to be fair, I’m not going to say that wireless is all that great with Ubuntu. Not because the support is not there. Quite to the contrary.

No, the problem is the consistent effort to support people who cannot read the OS compatibility sticker on their computers and realize that it may be best to move beyond their integrated Broadcom chipset. Those struggling with Intel chipsets, however, are forced to either use the provided drivers or blacklist the Intel modules themselves. Only then, can Intel users enjoy the fruits of the two USB alternatives above.

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Tags: wireless, Ubuntu, Linux desktop, nVidia

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