Saturday, February 12, 2011

My family is now powered by Ubuntu

The Hardware
The family computer has been getting on in years so I offered to help upgrade it. Here are the specs, if you are interested:
After splitting the order into three different websites, it ended up running a tab of $337 after shipping. Not bad for everything except a monitor, mouse, and optical drive.

Anyway, since I decided to upgrade the HDD, I decided it's time to switch the house to Ubuntu, since the one who uses it the most is my mother, who basically just uses Firefox and Thunderbird, both of which are available on Linux, meaning ideally, even the transition would be easy.

The Initial
The install was dirt simple, as it always is with Ubuntu. It took 1/6 of the clicks and 1/4 of the time of a Windows install, and it booted up completely ready to use.

Of course, I still had the completely functioning Windows XP on the old HDD and so I tried booting into that. Windows told me that I needed to activate my already activated Windows install. And this wasn't a nag, this was a "Hey, I'm not going to log you on, enter in the code." This would not piss me off except for the fact that for some reason related to the new hardware, the USB keyboard and mouse wouldn't even work. Then I got a P/S2 keyboard and discovered that -guess what- my ethernet port wasn't working. So Windows wanted me to register without internet, in a system that I could not log into to get my internet working. Absurd.

So in short, I bailed on that attempt. I then just set up everything: migrating Firefox and Thunderbird and even setting up a Virtualbox with a Windows XP install. As far as I remember, it was pretty seamless.

The Problems
Everything worked great except for stupid stupid Rosetta Stone and some other school software my brother needed, specifically Switched On Schoolhouse (ugh). SOS gave me a crap-ton of issues, all because the .NET 3.0 that they included with the software that is required isn't even the right version! As soon as I downloaded 3.5 in a Windows update, it worked fine. But seriously. If you're going to bundle software on the CD, make it actually work.

As for RS, let me say that this software is hell to use and hell to get working. The software itself is fine, but it is so picky on the CD. You can't create an ISO because they purposely put in bad sectors on the CD to prevent it. You can't just copy the files and then create an ISO because RS will know that it's not a real CD. Long story short:
  • You have to have CD/DVD pass-through enabled
  • You have to have the CD/DVD mounted or it will freeze your system -even the host
I tried it with WINE and could not get it working. Despicable.

I know I personally haven't switched to Linux because honestly, I faced way too many problems just setting up my mom's PC which is needed for pretty trivial things (web browsing, e-mail checking, a few Windows apps) that I'm not ready to commit my life to constant troubleshooting. Occasional troubleshooting is fine for now.

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