Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Kubuntu Clash: Should I stay or should I go?

Over the past month or so I have been dipping my big toe into the Linux pool, just testing the waters. The reason for a move to Linux isn't one based on the love of open source, free choice or free software, the reason is far more capital, the devil drives when the bills need paying, work. Anyway, over the past weeks of swimming with Linux I've had less sleep than I have in a long long while, I've been more frustrated, argumentative, pounding the keyboard and flicking the finger(s) at the screen. Is this the norm?

Having trawled the forums and google'd a lot, I came across Ubuntu, no groans please, quiet at the back, and I found it quite easy to install and use. There was but one minor problem, the buttons on dialogues wouldn't render properly and left screen poo that cleared when mouse over. On reading through a few forums and a post on ubuntuforums instantly answered, (a little knowledge is a dangerous thing), I managed to break it with ATI fglrx drivers. Goodbye Ubuntu?

Further reading led me to slackware. On Friday night after work, gym, swimming, steam and sauna, feeling energised and refreshed from a tough week and traffic jams, I starting installing the said beastie. A couple of times I had to refer back to net for info on what I was being prompted for, but in any case the install went through fine. The final reboot and up came the prompt, startx brought up the nice blue screen, tons of stuff installed. One problem, no network. The pc is a laptop with a wireless card, not a bad spec. P4 2.8ghz, 1gb ram, 60gb HD, DVD rewriter. Previous experience had taught me about ndiswrapper, so I looked on the CD for it. Nope, not there. I looked on other CDs (I've lost my USB memory key), no luck. I changed the screen res and broke it. Fiddling with xorg.conf brought it back. Still no wireless. I managed to get the ndiswrapper installed by downloading again (after much fiddling to get the modem working) and burning to CD. It was late now. Midnight had just gone. Down at the prompt I issued the appropriate commands, lspci - yep, it "knows" about the wireless card, it even says it's a Marvel chipset 802.11g wireless. If it "knows" about it there then why won't it use the bloody thing? I copied the drivers from the netgear CD to the HD, entered the directory, ndiswrapper -i WG511v2.INF, a happy report came back. Ok, ndiswrapper -m, and another happy report. Finally, modprobe ndiswrapper. The lights came on but nobody was home. The laptop locked. I came, I saw, I rebooted.

3 hours of messing around with numerous permutations of enable/disable, network settings, wireless config and still nothing. So it was 3am. Back to the study, XP on the dell dimension and a stupid thought, I wonder if Kubuntu would be any different? By this time I would be happy to put up with the screen poo under the ATI drivers of Ubuntu. I downloaded it and I once again bulldozed the laptop. The installation finished at 5.30am, it was light outside and I was starting to see double, either because I was tired or I had resorted to Jack Daniels to numb my install despair. I went to bed to a comatose wife and dreams of KDE blue and easier days of XP (I was in despair and that’s not a good place from which to send postcards, wish you were here? Wish I wasn’t!).

Later that day, after 4 hours of shuteye, back to it. Another battled ensued, me vs. KDE and the Wireless drivers (not a rap band). The card was recognised, and so was the built in wired one (can't use wired, my router is wireless only). Kubuntu refused to let me disable the built in one and chose that one as the preferred connection, totally ignoring the wireless config. It was a case of disable that, start that. So many times entering the password into the "administrator password" box, so many times it ignored my card. During this battle of wills I had failed to notice that Kubuntu had no screen poo and had set my ATI graphics to hardware rendering. Bonus! After reading many forums and going cross-eyed over reading so much with lack of sleep plus the remnants of Jack Daniels, I managed to tweak the config files, lo and behold, wireless working. Off to the French restaurant to celebrate! (actually, spend some time with my wife; she was giving me the evil eyes for spending all this time doing what she basically sees as nothing!)

The cannard was tasty, as were the escargot starters and the chocolat fondant dessert, Provence's finest chateauneuf du pape was simply sublime. The credit points with wife were accumulated with great speed! Back home I finished installing some basics from the very easy to use Adept (similar in use to synaptic), I edited the sources.list file, adding in automatix, apt-get install automatix and it's warp factor nine Mr Sulu, fire all phasers Chekov. Firefox, streaming media, KDE update, Amsn, the full monty. My wife started to watch Aeon Flux on satellite, Charlize Theron in leather, install halted, bad movie. Eta plocha, ochen (very bad), visually stunning (movie too) but naff, naff, naff. It had to be, Johnny Lee Miller was in it and he hasn’t done anything notable since Trainspotting! (Byron was interesting though).

On Sunday I installed everything else I needed, Netbeans, eclipse, Java 1.5, Java SDK, MYSQL administrator, Evolution (I prefer to use this), I even managed to get it to sync with my HTC phone (pocketpc 2003)! Amazing! I did have to borrow some of the gnome libraries to make it work properly. Speaking of gnome, I was a fan, I liked the interface from trying Suse and Ubuntu, and I remembered KDE being very "clunky" from red hat (5.?). This surprised me, it was polished, well rounded and very good to use. Very tweakable. I left it on Sunday night (we had a birthday gathering of the Russian kind to attend, about 50 miles from home, I had to drive this time having been in bad books for a very embarrassing alcohol experience the other week, of which I remember zilch, nada, nothing, neechevo!).

Big surprise yesterday, I received a message from my wife, "I love this Kubuntu". She hated Ubuntu interface, always complained she preferred XP (no hate mail please, her words not mine). She likes the loveliness tweaking factor, colours, themes, desklets. I even managed to get it to stream MP3s from my server rather than download and cache before playing, all it took was a bit of fiddling inside KMPlayer and Xine.

There's still a long way to go in terms of learning how all these things work, not just Kubuntu but Linux in general. For now I'm just happy to have an OS that works, looks good, has the "pretty" approval from she that must be obeyed and is very quick. It flies on the laptop. The only down side is that I have no excuse not to do the work now! Also noted that the fans are not running at dyson vacuum cleaner strength. Ubuntu seemed to have them working overtime. All in all, looks like Kubuntu is on there to stay. (at least until I break it again!). Nice to be blue.

Added bit: A few days have passed since the above, and this happened:

Kubuntu: Updates Available
Me: Give me updates
Kubuntu: Installing
Me: Thank you very much
Kubuntu: All done
Me: I’ll reboot
Kubuntu: Rebooting but I’ll give you the update in exchange for your wireless Connection!
Me: Bloody small print!

Yep, the kernel update ran, as did a load of other security updates. After a reboot the wireless disappeared. Scream? Did I scream? I never knew I had such a fluent capability for profanities (well I tell a lie, I am a driver on UK roads!). I had to swap the wireless card out, the natively supported WG511V2T for the marvel based WG511v2 which meant back to ndiswrapper. The battle of discovery ensued with all guns blazing. It ended when I uninstalled everything to do with wireless and installed them again. Everything now runs fine when loaded but on boot Kubuntu hangs around the hardware init for an age (30 seconds). When it’s finally booted everything is fine and running at difference engine full steam, clackety clack.

Will Kubuntu stay? Well for now it has to, I need to get some work cleared using netbeans/eclipse and mono but after that, well we’ll see. Mepis is looking worth a prodding but I don’t know how many credits I have left with my better half and the beach in Egypt beckons next week.

More in Tux Machines

Open source docks with mainstream vendors

Open source and mainstream are joining forces this week as the Docker software containerisation platform comes under the spotlight at technology-focused network and information sessions in Cape Town and Johannesburg. "The diversity of our partners at the event − Docker, Microsoft Azure, Atlassian, SUSE and HPE – is a clear indication of the excitement around the Docker platform," says Muggie van Staden, MD of Obsidian Systems. Read more

What’s the best Linux firewall distro of 2017?

You don’t have to manage a large corporate network to use a dedicated firewall. While your Linux distro will have an impressive firewall – and an equally impressive arsenal of tools to manage it – the advantages don’t extend to the other devices on your network. A typical network has more devices connected to the internet than the total number of computers and laptops in your SOHO. With the onslaught of IoT, it won’t be long before your router doles out IP addresses to your washing machine and microwave as well. The one thing you wouldn’t want in this Jetsonian future is having to rely on your router’s limited firewall capabilities to shield your house – and everyone in it – from the malicious bits and bytes floating about on the internet. A dedicated firewall stands between the internet and internal network, sanitising the traffic flowing into the latter. Setting one up is an involved process both in terms of assembling the hardware and configuring the software. However, there are quite a few distros that help you set up a dedicated firewall with ease, and we’re going to look at the ones that have the best protective open source software and roll them into a convenient and easy to use package. Read more

Zorin OS 12 Business Edition Launches with macOS, Unity, and GNOME 2 Layouts

Three months after launching the biggest release ever of the Ubuntu-based operating system, the Zorin OS team is today announcing the availability of Zorin OS 12 Business Edition. Based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) and powered by the long-term supported Linux 4.4 kernel, Zorin OS 12 Business Edition ships with the innovative Zorin Desktop 2.0 desktop environment that offers multiple layouts for all tastes. These means that you can make your Zorin OS 12 desktop look like macOS, GNOME 2, or Unity with a click. Read more

GNOME and Other Software

  • Nautilus 3.24 – The changes
    Since Nautilus was created, if a user wanted to open a folder where the user didn’t have permissions, for example a system folder where only root has access, it was required to start Nautilus with sudo. However running UI apps under root is strongly discouraged, and to be honest, quite inconvenient. Running any UI app with sudo is actually not even supported in Wayland by design due to the security issues that that conveys.
  • GNOME hackaton in Brno
    Last week, we had a presentation on Google Summer of Code and Outreachy at Brno University of Technology. Around 80 students attended which was a pretty good success considering it was not part of any course. It was a surprise for the uni people as well because the room they booked was only for 60 ppl.
  • Peek Gif Recorder Gets Updated, Now Available from a PPA
    Peek, the nifty animated gif screen capture app for Linux desktops, has been updated. Peek 0.9 reduces the size of temporary files, adds a resolution downsampling option (to help the app use fewer resources when rendering your gif), and introduces fallback support for avconf should ffmpeg be unavailable.
  • Cerebro is an Open Source OS X Spotlight Equivalent for Linux
    Billed as an ‘open-source productivity booster with a brain’, Cerebro is an Electron app able to run across multiple platforms. It’s an extendable, open-source alternative to Spotlight and Alfred on macOS, and Synapse, Kupfer, Ulauncher, GNOME Do, and others on Linux.
  • JBoss Fuse 6.3 integration services for Red Hat OpenShift released
    Red Hat announced the latest update to the Red Hat JBoss Fuse-based integration service on Red Hat OpenShift. With the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud-based SaaS systems, and new data streams, organizations can face increasing pressure to more quickly deliver innovative new services. Traditional centralized, monolithic ESB-style integration approaches are often ill-suited to support the business in responding to this pressure.
  • Fedora 25: The perf linux tool.
  • Meet the chap open-sourcing US govt code – Paul, an ex-Microsoft anti-piracy engineer [Ed: Used to work for Microsoft and now spreads the GPL ("cancer" according to Microsoft) in the US government]
    The manager of the project, Berg said, really wanted to release MOOSE as open source, but didn't know how to do so. As a result it took 18 months to traverse government bureaucracy and to obtain the necessary permissions. It's now available under the GPL 2.1 license.