My experience with Ubuntu

I recently purchased a new 250 GB hard drive. After several days of procastination, I finally upgraded my desktop ( a dell Dimension 3000) from a measly 40 GB to 250 GB. Now since I had so much space, I decided to dual boot my Windows XP Pro installation with Linux. I have been hearing several good things about Ubuntu, so I decided to give it a shot.

Downloading Ubuntu was quite painless, I used a torrent and was able to download the iso in under an hour. I burned a CD on my Mac (I don’t have a CD burner on my desktop), and booted my desktop from the CD.

Partioning the hard driver was quite painless. I just had to specify that I wanted to use only a small portion of my hard drive and the installer took care of the rest. I think I was presented with a login screen under 15 minutes and after one reboot.
Once I logged in I realized that I was running at a horrible 640 x 480 resolution. A little bit of googling led me to this solution

In terminal type: gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf
In /etc/X11/xorg.conf under the line Option “DPMS” (use the find option) just add:
HorizSync 28-49
VertRefresh 43-72
Save and reboot your system.

This worked like a charm. This fixed the screen resolution. Then came the part I was really scared of, configuring my wireless card. I have had bad experiences in the past with wireless cards and Linux, and I thought that this time would be no exception. I have a D-Link wireless card (AR5212 802.11 abg NIC). Anyway surprise surprise, Ubuntu recognized the card and configured it impeccably. I just had to enter my wireless authentication and I was good to go. However, I would like to point out that the key should be entered in Hexadecimal and not in ASCII, else it does not work. I was impressed.

Next step, my Dell 720 color printer. This printer has been a pain. It works only on Windows and refuses to connect to my powerbook. Anyway a bit of googling, led me to this website. Once I was done with the steps mentioned there, I restarted my computer (maybe logging off would have been enough, but face it, I am coming from Windows. I restart everytime I install a Messenger, so a printer is a HUGE thing). Then I opened the printer utility (System->Administration->Printing). I clicked Add Printer, my printer was shown in the list of detected printers. I selected my printer type as Lexmark, and the printer driver as z600-v1.0. Voila, my printer now works.

Overall I am pretty pleased with the distro. Everything I wanted worked out of the box with minimal work required. Compare this with Windows where I had to install drivers for my video card, sound card, wireless card, ethernet adapter and printer. Now if I did not have another computer this would not have been possible because Dell did not provide me with CD’s for the drivers. I instead had a restore CD which I did not want to use.
I am still trying to get a hang of Gnome. I can install KDE, but then I think I should give Gnome a fair chance. I will try to boot into Windows as less as possible. Next step, installing Mono on Linux. That will be a story for another day.

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