Roads Less Taken

A blend of programming, boats and life.

Ubuntu Just Works

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A friend of mine is having a less optimal experience with Linux, and I realized I could jot down my experience for the last few years.

I have been using Linux on my desktop for a long time now, about 10 years I think. Early I played “distro jumping” and used Lunar Linux for quite some time on my older Zepto laptop.

But at some point I just decided that, nah, source distros are huge time sinks. Not necessarily because they have issues, but because they are fun to tinker with. I also felt it was “smarter” to know a mainstream Linux well, so I decided to go for “least friction”, and moved to Ubuntu. When Unity hit I did contemplate using something else, at least an alternative shell, but decided to just “hang in there”, and now I tend to like it. Recently I upgraded to Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, it was pretty eventless.

My main laptop is a Lenovo X220 with a Samsung 840 Pro SSD disk. Its easily the best laptop I have ever had and runs Linux extremely well, and it has a REAL DAMN KEYBOARD.

Sleeping works, just close the lid and open it to wake up. External screen works perfectly, I have an external monitor in addition to the laptop with a shared desktop - just plug in (or out) the cord and Ubuntu detects and adjusts. Just move windows between them and so on. And the little function keys for screen brightness, the little LED light, sound volume buttons etc - all seem to work fine.

Stuff I use all the time:

  • Chrome and Firefox for browsing. Sometimes one works better than the other.
  • Thunderbird for email. Sometimes goes busy, busy on the CPU, but otherwise copes fine with my three accounts, 10 mailinglists and about 70000 emails? Or more perhaps.
  • Gedit for text editing, its simple and works fairly nicely. I am not an Emacs/Vim guy.
  • Shotwell for handling photos. It imports easily from phones too, including iPhone (doing it as I write this actually).
  • Skype and Pidgin for chatting. Pidgin tends to bomb out when waking up from sleep, but otherwise works fine.
  • Gimp for image editing.
  • LibreOffice for those kind of documents.
  • Evince or Acrobat Reader for pdfs. Evince is often better.
  • Tons of terminal windows, I should learn to use tabs in the terminal though.
  • Gnome Screenshot for taking (duh) screenshots and SimpleScreenRecorder for making screen capture videos.
  • VirtualBox running Windows XP, various Linuxes etc. Even accelerated 3D works in XP.
  • VLC or Totem for watching movies, both work very well.
  • Transmission for bittorrents.
  • Remmina for VNC/RDP sessions to other machines.
  • OpenShot for editing videos, mostly my daughter’s figure skating competitions :)
  • Pharo and Squeak for Smalltalk development.
  • ack-grep, nano & apt-show-versions :)

Now, its true that I am a fairly experienced Linux user by now, but I really do feel “shit just works” these days.

Happy hacking!