Ubuntu: My Favorite Linux

I have tried my hand at several distributions of Linux over the years, from Red Hat to Fedora, Suse and OpenSuse, Knoppix (briefly), and now Ubuntu. I’ll choose Ubuntu over all the others. I’ll tell you why.

Fedora is very barebones. You have to do a lot of tweaking and manual labor to get it the way you like it. That said, it is a solid OS. Suse is easier in the sense that it takes a lot of that work away during the installation, even automatically mounting Windows partitions. It tries to be more user-friendly. Ubuntu, however, out shines them both. It is the slickest, easiest version of Linux I have ever installed. I am running v6.06 (Dapper Drake). This new 6.06 has been billed as LTS (Long Term Support), with updates and patches for three years on the desktop.

Instead of downloading five CDs worth of programs, all I needed was to download and install a single CD. It is a “live” CD where you can boot from the CD and use the operating system to try it out before it ever writes to your hard drive. After that, installing the OS is dead easy. There is a link on the desktop to install. The single CD has most of the tools you’ll need to be up and running. If you want more, you download them via an interface much like the Windows “add/remove programs”, but this pulls all of the software from online servers. I found the software and libraries to be shockingly up-to-date when I first installed the OS, even though it supposedly came out in June of this year.

The update icon on the desktop actually works! Unlike the other distros, this one actually reports and updates correctly from the taskbar without any command line entry. Finally! In fact, I haven’t needed to use the command line hardly at all. Everything is pretty much perfect as-is. Adding to my amazement, when I put the Ubuntu Live CD into my Dell laptop, the wireless net connection worked instantly with no questions asked. I was stunned! Never in any other Linux distro was I ever able to get wireless networking to actually work.

To make life even easier, some folks have put together a package of goodies to install to your Ubuntu system in a single swoop. It is called Easy Ubuntu and installs things like java, flash, acrobat, audio/video codecs, etc. It is awesome!

I am very satisfied with this Linux build. I have been reading about how a new version is supposed to be released this October. This is my first experience with Ubuntu, and from what I’ve seen, their slogan “Linux for Human Beings” actually holds true. If you want to try Linux, this is the one to get, hands down.

Links: Ubuntu, Easy Ubuntu, Ubuntu Guide

The .org Domain

I have received a comment regarding my registration of a .org domain name. People may think that the domain is exclusively for organizations and not for personal use. This just isn’t so. The .org domain is a generic top-level Internet domain name. Anyone can register it and use it for any purpose. To enlighten yourself further on the matter, check out the information for .org at Wikipedia.

Cobian Backup

I have always been a little lax about backing up files on my computer. I have finally found an easy solution for everybody. First off, I make sure that I store all of my working files in the My Documents folder. That way you only have to backup that one folder. It may take some tweaking to get every application to store files there, but it makes things easier.

What I used to do was this: Simply zipped up all of the contents of the MyDocs folder. I then burned this single file on DVD or stored the file on my second hard drive. Let me stop and say that if you have some extra cash, it is worth it to buy a second hard drive to put in your computer. It comes in very handy for backups.

I have found an awesomely easy backup tool. Best of all, it is free, open-source software. The program is Cobian Backup. It runs in your system tray and backups up files on a schedule. You can backup files to another drive, network drive, or FTP server. Compression is available. I set the schedule on this to backup once a week. Choosing files to backup and setting profiles of backups is easy. It automatically does for me that I was doing manually before. Once in a while, I take the backup compressed file and burn it to a re-writable DVD.

It is reliable, painless, and free. If you aren’t using a backup routine of some sort, this is an easy way to go. The only downer about the program is that two system processes run in the background at all times, which suck up a combined 20 MB of memory. That seems somewhat unnecessary, considering what I am using it for. The two programs are cobian.exe and cbinterface.exe which boot with the PC.

iPod Shuffle

For my birthday, Laura bought me an iPod Shuffle! I absolutely love it. I used to own a small Phillips mp3 player that I’d bought years ago. That player only had 128 mb of storage and the controls were clunky. The one AAA battery didn’t last as long as I hoped, either.

But since using my new 512 mb iPod, I can see why it is above and beyond its rivals. Sure, the Shuffle doesn’t have a screen, but its simplistic abilities and size were my primary reasons for wanting this particular model. The player just plain works, and works well. Managing my music library and playlists is so brain-dead easy with iTunes that I can’t imagine going back to using any other software. It is so smooth and slick, it makes others in its class seem clunky and complicated.

The iPod has a few noteworthy cool things that I doubt you’d find in other players. For instance, if you are playing music and your headphone cord is pulled out, it automatically pauses the music for you. The built-in rechargeable battery never needs to be swapped out; only charged with a powered USB port. The device also doubles as a portable storage drive for any kind of data, not just music files. The onboard USB plug gives you freedom from having to search for the right cable to connect the iPod to the computer all the time.

Overall, I am very satisfied with it. Now that I am a proud iPod owner, I have moved up to the ranks of the elite class of music lovers. I can wear my white earbuds with pride.

"Cyber" Products

Do you ever see these cheesy magazine ads for computer equipment or electronics that are made by companies like Cybertron or CyberPower? How lame. Why would anybody want to buy these products? How can you have any confidence in something that has such a cheesy name? If they didn’t put any effort in forming their company, what makes you think that the stuff they are selling is worth anything either?

The next time you see an ad for a “Cyber” anything, be sure to laugh and think of me…because you heard it here.

Tablet PCs

I am assuming that you know what a tablet computer is. It isn’t a new concept anymore by this time, but I want to comment on it. By this point in time, most computer manufacturers have at least one tablet PC in their lineup. If you don’t know, it is a notebook computer that has a swivel screen so you can literally write or draw on top of the LCD with a special pen. Creations display on the screen underneath as you do it, live. I admit, it is an interesting idea, but does anyone honestly need one of these things? I cannot imagine a single instance where anyone’s productivity is going to increase by having this kind of computer.

I saw an ad for one of these in a magazine recently. It showed a group of corporate-types sitting around a large desk and one young smart-ass looking guy is holding up his tablet computer, and he has just circled the profit graph that he had on screen and drew in an upward arrow. Now come on. If that is all it is good for, nobody needs such a device. What is the point of any of this? It doesn’t serve a purpose. Myself, I have tried one at a local store and found the “fun” factor of this feature to last all of five minutes.

I do not have any evidence of this, but I would imagine that over time, the LCD screen of this tablet would start to show wear and tear from the pen motions. I would like to know the sales record of these machines. Who is buying them? And I would like to survey the owners a year later and ask them how many times they have used the tablet feature. It probably drops off to none about a week after ownership. I could be wrong, though.