Monday, September 20, 2010

Trying Out Ubuntu 10.04 On A Desktop PC - Part One

As mentioned in several of my previous blogs, I use Ubuntu Netbook Remix exclusively on my netbooks (a Lenovo S10-2 and an HP Mini 2140). After playing around with the relatively new UNR 10.04 on the HP, I grew to like the OS - so much so that I decided to install it on a spare PC that I had around (which was mainly used for testing) and play around with it some more. The PC is built around an Asus M2N-E motherboard and the CPU I had installed is an AMD Athlon 64 X2 5200+. The amount of RAM on the motherboard is 8 GB of DDR2-800. Clearly the 64-bit flavor of Ubuntu 10.04 was the choice of OS here. To top up the hardware, I also installed a ATI HD 4670 video card, a 550W power supply and a 320GB SATA hard disk. The display was an Acer 23 inch wide screen LCD. With all the hardware pieces in place, I ventured into the world of 64-bit Linux computing. This blog and more will describe my journey in that world.

After downloading the ISO image of the DVD, I burned it to a disc and used it for the installation. The actual installation was painless - the only unusual item of note is that I partitioned the hard disk manually and used ext3 filesystem instead of the default ext4. I also used my normal (normal for me, that is) partitioning scheme - i.e., a small boot partition, the root partition, a swap partition and a home partition. The reason for using the ext3 filesystem was mentioned also in my previous blog - it enables me to backup or clone my hard disk using the Arconis Home 2010 software, which at the moment can only handle ext3 type filesystem.

The first boot-up went without any problem and after logging in, was presented with the purple-colored desktop. The first thing I did was to change the screen desktop background to a more pleasing one - right-clicking on the desktop and selecting 'Change Desktop Background', I was presented with several choices. I selected 'Maraetai before sunrise' as my background - at least it does not hurt my eyes as much as the default! :)

The second thing I did was un-mute my sound system, which, for some reason or other, the Ubuntu team decided to initially start off muted. I also adjusted the volume level sliders to a reasonable value. Note that the 'Sound Preference' dialog box that appears upon clicking it, do not have the option to test the sound levels - a shortcoming which I urge the Ubuntu team to fix.

The next (and somewhat irritating) thing I fixed is the placement of the windows control (maximize, minimize and close) buttons from the top left side of the windows to the usual (and familiar) top right side.

As with my previous installation of UNR 10.04 on my HP netbook, I was prompted to update my system and it also indicated that propriety drivers were available for my system. Putting aside the drivers for the time being, I updated the system via the Update Manager - which took a while since there was a fair amount of updates that needed to be applied. Once completed a re-boot was required - this was done and the system restarted - this time it was accompanied with the Ubuntu startup sound.

The Firefox Browser

The first software I tried out on the Ubuntu 10.04 was the default web browser that come with it - the Firefox. I started it and changed my home page to and then checked the installed plugins by executing 'about:plugins' via the address bar. All the necessary multimedia and java plugins were installed except Shockwave flash-player and pdf-reader plugins.

The Shockwave flash-player plugin package (named flashplugin-nonfree) can be installed using the Synaptic Package Manager but note that this is a 32-bit plugin - the 64-bit one is still in beta and was not included in the standard installation of Ubuntu 10.04. As it is a 32-bit package, there was a lot of dependencies for it - the major ones being 'nspluginwrapper' and 'ia32-libs'. These are required to make the 32-bit plugin work on 64-bit Ubuntu. A lot of work to get one plugin to work - I just wish Adobe would get the 64-bit one working as soon as possible. However, the plugin worked - I verified it by playing a YouTube movie (my favorite HQ movie of Sarah Brighman singing Harem). The command 'about:plugins' also verified that the shockwave flash is indeed installed.

The pdf-reader plugin, on the other hand, is not such a simple package to install. First the lucid partner repository need to enabled - this is done by editing the /etc/apt/sources.list file (as root) and un-commenting the two lines for the lucid partner repository. Then the Synaptic Package Manager need to be restarted and the package database refreshed by clicking on the 'Reload' button. Alternatively, the command 'sudo aptitude update' can be run from a console. Then a search for 'acroread' need to be done and once found that package need to be installed. Note that this will also install the free Adobe Acrobat Reader and if you choose so, make it the default pdf type file reader. Once the plugin (and reader) has been installed, the Firefox browser has to re-started. The command 'about:plugins' has also to be executed to verify that the pdf plugin is indeed installed - which in my case, was. In order to test the plugin I used a web page containing a pdf test document and it verified that the installed plugin worked. However, for some strange reason, the Acrobat Reader was not listed in the 'Applications' menu list. Loggin out and then back in solved this - 'Acrobat Reader 9' was now listed in Applications -> Office.

Next I installed some extra essential (to me!) plugins - Adblock Plus, Download Statusbar, Webmail Notifier and Yoono (a social neworking app to mintor my twitter and facebook account). Once these were installed I now have the Firefox browser that I can use productively. In fact, I use the same setup for my netbooks and my Windows 7 workstations. Later I get my bookmarks synchronized across all my computers. I wonder if there is an application that will allow me to do so.

Next, I will check out the multimedia capabilities of Ubuntu 10.04 ... stay tuned.

No comments:

Post a Comment