So, Naturally, the First Thing I DId Was Break It

Then I fixed it.

The new laptop arrived Friday afternoon. I spend Friday afternoon and evening doing basic configuration and Saturday fine-tuning it.

Laptop on My Grandmother's Desk

It came with Ubuntu 8.10. I made sure it worked; the wireless, the webcam, and everything else worked flawlessly.

It did not come with a restoration disk, though it did come with a disk and a sofware disk, which I haven’t even bothered to look at I. It did come with a utiity to burn a restoration disk, so I burned two copies and copied the restoration *.iso over the network to another box.

Then I broke the .

I was toying with the idea of putting Debian on it, so I did (I have a minor quibble with how Ubuntu handles the su logon). The wireless didn’t work. I knew I could get it to work, but I decided it wasn’t worth the effort, so I restored the manufacturer’s image from one of the DVDs I had burned.

Here’s the box with the Ubuntu load (the background is a picture I took at the meditation area at the A. R. E.)

Gnome menu

As soon as I got Ubuntu working again, it wanted to update itself from v. 8.10 to v. 9.04, which took about an hour and a half, because it was a major revision change.

There was no big change to the interface, but lots of updated programs. The logout menu got moved from the “System” menu on the left to the right; other than that, there was no pointless tinkering with the menus to convince you that you had something new unlike Micros–oh, never mind.

Gnome Logout

Once that was done, I copied my backed up files from my file server. I included my hidden configuration files for the Pan newsreader, the Opera browser, OpenOffice, and Fluxbox. Putting them in place ensured that, once I installed those programs (none of which, except for Open Office, are part of the Ubuntu’s out-of-the-box version of the desktop), I would have my mail and newsreader logons and databases, my wordprocessor templates and preferences right there without having to do any reconfiguration.

Copying Files with Nautilus

Most of the programs I wanted I could find through the Synaptic Package Manager. I checked the box, told the computer to install them, and there they were (by the way, you don’t have to reboot a Linux box after installing programs). Some of the free but non-open-source programs, such as , were not in the repositories (“repos”); I had to download them and install them manually (I know that could sound impressive, but it really isn’t; it’s sort of like downloading an executable to a folder on a Windows box and double-clicking it and then following the directions).

I could not find , which I planned to use for day-to-day computing, in the Ubuntu repos; that I had to compile from source. Again, to someone not familiar with Linux, that might sound impressive, but it’s not–it’s just a matter of following directions.

Once I installed Fluxbox, it automatically appeared on the “Change Sessions” menu which can be accessed on the login screen. When I have to do something (primarily administrative stuff) that might be easier in Gnome, I can easily change interfaces.


I’m still tinkering with stuff–the Samba networking needs tweaking and LISa has been decrepated in this version of Ubuntu, so I need to find a substitute for it. But it’s pretty much ready to go with Fluxbox. Here’s a picture of the webcam under Fluxbox; the background picture is the sky over Virginia Beach, Va. on a unsettled day:


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