Ubuntu and the written word

I’ve heard a lot of things said about Linux. One of the things which I’ve heard a few times, and treated with some scepticism, is that most Linux releases are “less buggy than Windows” and crash less often too.

I’ve managed to install Ubuntu on my PC, and I reckon it’s got more bugs in it than the Amazon rainforest. It also crashes a lot – I wouldn’t ever let it borrow my car – though it’s stopped doing that so much that now I’ve moved from dial-up to Broadband. There are a number of Good Things about Ubuntu, though, which have persuaded me to stick with it through this teething period, and have encouraged me to learn more about Linux to get the most from my new found friend.

  1. Gnome. The whole desktop experience is a pleasure. Especially the little GEyes, watching over me…
  2. Debian’s packaging tools, which combined with Gnome allow me to click, download and install more applications than I have time to shake a stick at.
  3. XMMS, which the Debian packaging thingy has mysteriously updated so that it can play MP3s.
  4. Ubuntu is fast. It takes so little time to load anything up – OpenOffice, Evolution (an Outlook clone), Firefox, games… anything!
  5. Gnome comes with maybe 50 addictive Solitaire card games and about 12 other simple time-wasters.
  6. OpenOffice does what I actually tell it to, instead of trying to guess all the time. Plus it can read MS Word 2003 files, which most MS Word programs fail to accomplish.
  7. All the information on Ubuntu is written for newbies like me. Simple step-by-step instructions for everything.
  8. I can still play nethack (anyone know how to turn the graphical tiles off in X11?)

The other good thing about OpenOffice is that my novel-in-progress actually looks as though it’s printed on the pages of a book. I know I can do this in Word, but for some reason it doesn’t seem as real, and Word has never been able to keep up with my typing in page layout mode. It’s amazing how different writing looks when it’s laid out on a page. That alone makes this worth the pain.

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3 Responses to Ubuntu and the written word

  1. untermensch says:

    Hmm, it’s strange to get any crashes at all on modern operating systems these days!

    In my experience though, Linux is still that much more stable than any flavour of MS Windows I’ve ever used – when you start to talk numbers, and compare uptimes of heavily used workstations and servers – but the difference in stability is hardly ever noticeable to me because I usually schedule a reboot once a month, either for Windows Updates to install, or because I’ve downloaded a new kernel or whatever.

    It’d be interesting to see how Ubuntu has managed to configure your hardware on a kernel and driver level. I’m not used to having a Linux distribution do this for me – instead I’ve always compiled my own kernels and modules since the ’90s so I suppose I’m out of touch 🙂

    It’s great that you’ve mustered up the courage to try this sort of thing out (it’s not for the faint-hearted) and I hope you manage to find some useful tools along the way!

  2. icklemichael says:

    When you say linux crashes what do you mean? Can you still ssh into it?

    Most problem I have ever had on my desktop have been down to X (these have got worse recently as Xorg really seems to dislike all motif applications – though I haven’t got round to investigating this properly), if the machine is completely locked up, logging in from another machine and killing X usually solves the problem.

    If you can get to a virtual terminal then it’s usually an app fucking X over, just killing the offending app will make everything well again.

    Even if you’re machine isn’t responding to ssh I’d guess it’d still be an X problem, you’re probably using the ATI binary drivers or something? [1]

    We don’t have non-hardware-related problems with our linux servers.

    [1] Though this is equivalent to someone telling me that XP on my laptop is stable, it’s just my graphics cards drivers which aren’t

  3. sirenian says:

    Well, Gnome was hanging when I was using dial-up, which was the most annoying as I didn’t even have a spare machine to SSH into it. Occasionally the programs crash, or fall over. Sometimes on boot-up the hotplug subsystem refuses to install and it hangs, and has to be restarted in recovery mode.

    ‘Scuse me… my ‘H’ key has just come off the laptop (you don’t want to know how hard it is to type this) so I’m going to stop typing now…

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