I’m writing this from a brand-new installation of Kubuntu 9.10. This is the third time since I bought this netbook earlier this year that I’ve reinstalled Linux. I seem to be pretty good at blowing up operating systems.
I really liked (K)Ubuntu 9.04. It worked, it was nice looking, and hey, free is good. I learned enough about bash (the command-line terminal) and sudo to make myself dangerous, and the forums would help me out when I inevitably got in trouble. I’m still a Windows guy, and was very excited about Windows 7, but I don’t currently have enough licenses to put it on this computer. I installed the Win7 release candidate, but didn’t really play with it that much, as I am learning the Drupal content management system and playing with it on Linux. So I decided, since there wasn’t much on this machine anyway, I’d do an in-place upgrade from 9.04 to 9.10.
It seemed to go easily enough, with only a few simple questions. Since they were so simple, I didn’t pay enough attention to the boot menu choices. I was dual-booting with Windows, so I told the installation program to keep my current settings. The install continued, and at reboot time…
There was no option for 9.10. I selected the default 9.04 and it booted normally. Except, the touchpad (mouse) wasn’t functioning. Our friendly Google search revealed I should rebuild my xorg.conf file, so off to the command line I went (sudo dpkg reconfigure xserver-xorg). Then, when that didn’t work, they said to edit the xorg.conf file to manually include the touchpad. Then I found out that xorg.conf isn’t really used in this way anymore, and everything’s done with something called HAL, shades of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
So I have to find out where HAL is, gain permission to access it, then hack the file to find out that didn’t work, either. This is when I went into pseudo-panic mode, typing anything into the command-line Terminal I found that seemed related. I only succeeded in facing the infamous “Checking Battery State…” bug, or issue, so now I was staring in the face of a command line, not able to get into the Kubuntu shell. The problem is, there’s almost too much information out there. I decided at some point that this fight was not worth my time, so I attempted to back everything off the machine and clean install Kubuntu 9.10. That’s where I ended up this morning.
Of course, the Kubuntu Live CD, installed on a USB flash drive, sets itself to read-only, so I couldn’t copy the files I needed to my USB drive. I had to wait to get home last night (because, being offline, the propietary wireless network card drivers trying to install completely froze the machine), connect directly to my router to install the network drivers, and then copy everything to one of my home PCs. Thankfully, there’s really only one folder structure you need to back up – the Home/username folder. The Samba networking client works really well out of the box; transferring files was quite quick. Chalk another one up to home networking.
I really like Linux. I just can’t see myself using it daily, as the Gimp is not Photoshop and Inkscape is far from Illustrator, and at this point there’s no complement to Adobe Framemaker, which I use for my job. Until the command-line Terminal goes away completely, Linux won’t be ready for the mainstream: people who use Internet Explorer, are afraid to edit their Start menu, and have no idea what Windows Explorer is. Kubuntu 9.10 seems to hide the command line, and you will always find people who maintain that you don’t need the command line, ever. But when problems occur, and problems always occur, the command line and config files are still the primary option. So I think this time I am going to avoid Terminal as much as possible, and look at Kubuntu from the GUI only. I’ll let you know how it works out next time I format my machine.
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