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January 19, 2005

Ubuntu and Libertarians

About two months ago I ordered some free Ubuntu disks, and I mean "free" as in "free beer" because I didn't even have to pay for shipping. I was just going to order 1 to give it a try, but they recommend 10, so I let them ship me 10. It's really creepy because about the same time I was ordering the Ubuntu disks, I also ordered some information from the Libertarian Party which also arrived today.

The quest for Libertarian info sprang from election day when I saw so many Libertarian candidates on the ballot. I didn't vote for any of them because at the time I thought they were just fruitcakes who found the Democratic Party "too conservative". When I got home I did some research and found out they manage to be insanely capitalistic and rabid civil liberty advocates at the same time, so naturally I loved them and put myself on their mailing list.

So anyway, if you order any Ubuntu disks or Libertarian propaganda expect delivery in about two months.

Each of the 10 installation packs I ordered are actually made up of a live CD and an installation CD. Ubuntu is a Debian-based distro that, with the exception of some drivers, is made up of all free software. The Ubuntu community strives to create a distro based on the Free Software ideals and focuses on translations and accessibility.

What follows is by no means a comprehensive review of Ubuntu, especially since so far I've only played with the live disk. It is more like a collection of thoughts and first impressions.

Ubuntu DesktopI'm making this post using the live CD. After having spent a few minutes with it, I must say there is a lot to like. Ubuntu uses Gnome which was nice because it has been a while since I got to play with anything other than KDE. After booting into the CD I clicked on the globe icon at the top which launched Firefox 0.9.3 and I found that Ubuntu had already detected my internet connection and was ready to go. I then went to the "Network" section to see if it detected my network and sure as shit, there it was, including the Windows boxes. This actually chapped my ass because of all the work I had to do to get SUSE and Samba to play nice with my Windows machines (even now with SUSE I have to disable the firewall to access the Windows boxes despite having opened nearly every port I could imagine). It was a little odd because when I go to access the Windows shares a pop-up comes up asking for my username and password; I can leave it blank and click "OK" and am still granted access. I'm sure that's just a matter of configuring something; my local network can afford to be pretty open electronically speaking because it's physically protected by several locks and a gun.

By default I have to double-click on icons to open them and each double-click spawns a new window. Gnome's Nautilus uses that spatial "thing" where icons and folders are grouped logically as opposed to the file structure navigation used by KDE and newer versions of MS Windows. Before I knew it, I had 30 windows open; I don't like it, but it's supposed to be better for accessibility considerations and new users; and changing it to behave the way I'm used to just takes a few clicks.

It also mounted my hdd automagically. I was able to browse and manipulate files almost without issue; I was, however, unable to play any mp3s from my hard drive that worked fine in SUSE. I didn't spent too much time on it, but I'm guessing it was a permissions issue that I can fix.

Ubuntu comes with OpenOffice, Rhythmbox for music, Evolution for email, The GIMP 2.0, Gaim, and a lot of other software to meet nearly any need; and that's just the live CD. According to the Ubuntu site, there are over 1,000 applications loaded on a default installation.

I'm going to try and talk my Mom into letting me install Ubuntu for her on her home PC. She only uses it for the internet and email, so I'm thinking she'll be able to adapt to Linux without too much trouble. I'll post again about installing Ubuntu for her if anything amazing or horrible occurs. It will give me a chance to see how updating and managing software with Ubuntu goes.

So far I haven't seen anything to make me switch from SUSE but I'm definitely adding this CD to the stack of Knoppix, SUSE, and Damn Small live CDs I find myself using from time to time. I'm also going to consider making the switch to Gnome on one or more of my SUSE boxes to see how it feels.

So after keeping one of the installation packages for myself and giving one to my Mother, I've got eight more to put to constructive use. I've got a few geek friends who use Windows...down to five.

Back to the Libertarian "thing", Americans, please support independent and third-party politicians. Everyone else: please try not to hate us because our politicians have been clowns for the past twenty years.

Oh yeah, from the "Oh Dear" Department, a little "Easter egg", if you will: There's two chicks on the cover of the Ubuntu disk's package; the one in the red must have been cold.

Posted 15 years, 9 months ago on January 19, 2005
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