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Glossop, United Kingdom
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Monday, October 06, 2008

Kubuntu : it just works!

My experience with Kubuntu

I have had a varied life with working and using PC’s (not always the same thing) since I was a teenager. I used to have an old Sinclair ZX81 which were very very basic, had some good games when you could get them and introduced me to computers. Since then I went to college and used a variety of computers ranging from BBCs Amstrads, Apples and then PC’s


Today I use them at work and at home using pretty much what most people would call the ‘usual’ packages based around email/internet/music/office/video/messaging and a few others. At work we use Microsoft Windows run machines which are locked up tight to prevent all manner of problems and or misuse so they are little fun and allow for very little learning. I learnt most of my pc skills at work using whatever ‘they’ would provide and testing the barriers of what was supplied. I taught myself excellent Microsoft Windows based skills that have been transferred to my home usage.

At home my first pc was a Time pc pre built affair back in 2000 which was an old ish pc with dial up internet and worked….most of the time. It was a Microsoft Windows machine as that is what it came with. Several years and several bit by bit hardware upgrades, more software rebuilds than I can remember I got so cross at using Internet Explorer with all the problems with pop ups and spyware I was getting that bit the hand off of friend when introduced to Firefox which worked. Period. It was so easy for me to use, adapt and enjoy that I tried the Thunderbird email package which also worked with little problems. What problems I had were sortable via online discussion groups and free software updates.

I had up until that period been using old versions of Microsoft Windows that ‘friends’ had given me and felt rather guilty at trying to running key generator programmes to try to hack them in order to get them updated. So I stopped. I stuck with a system for as long as I could and shut my eyes to updates. I needed to fix a Microsoft office problem and could not without the old hacking methods and was rather stuck for a solution. Help wandered in with Open Office which I immediately found to be actually better for me than MS Office and easier to adapt. My family were mixed about it as the kids had used sun office products before at school while my wife struggled at first as it was …different and she had little time to experiment

SO I was using open source software and signed up to the idea completely …except my operating system. A neighbour had ubuntu and worked in IT. I had seen him use the console and that turned me off as it looked a little clunky but when he showed me a live cd I was impressed but thought better of it. It was not long until desperate upgrade problems forced my hand and I installed Ubuntu (Dapper Drake)

I knew I had used all the programmes on there that I needed before ( Open Office and the Mozilla suite) I was guided around early install issues (connectivity/sound/printers/scanners etc and got amarok working with MP3s which look ok. My Mp3 player would not work with the software and so I had to use Gnomad to connect it up which at first was tricky. However it was easy to maintain and I soon forgot how much time and effort I wasted defragging and virus checking etc

After a few months my neighbour who had been very supportive asked if I actually liked it. My response was a classic as I had been experimenting and trouble shooting as much as possible and I said that I liked it and could I upgrade it to Feisty


I had by that time somehow ( and I cannot remember how!) switched to Kubuntu which I just found a little more user friendly (only slightly!) with KDE resources and was a very keen learner. I wanted to upgrade myself using this new auto upgrade that was much heralded but problems with my hardware really really hindered the process and the adept manager crashed halfway. Never mind thinks I, off to the konsole and do it manually which worked eventually after I realised I had to sit and wait with it with the various yes and no it would require. I had it upgraded and up and running perfectly for a few weeks then my pc died (temporarily)

In waiting for help for a few weeks I had no pc save a Microsoft Windows spare from a relative. I was at home on leave at the time following a cycling accident and needed a pc for music etc to help relieve the boredom. I failed to get kubuntu running on the pc which was an XP system but would not boot the live cd ( still do not know why). In the few months I had it, it was like turning back the clock…..things just did not work, mp3s dvds, printers etc (actually my printer worked faster in Microsoft Windows but only in standard option. I could change so little and adapt barely anything to suit me that it drove me nuts. It looked klunky, ran real slow and I never even dared run any updates.

Eventually my old pc came back with a nervous neighbour who was convinced that I would not want the linux back. I had it up and running in minutes with a new ‘feisty’ package and was beaming. I could not get over how much I had missed the software which was so easy to use, easy to change and adapt and so permissive to anything I threw at it.

An example..I had a phone that did small and horrible quality films…..useful for capturing drunken moments with relative etc. Microsoft Windows…plug in …er whats this, what is 3gp..er….not allowed…er codecs er crash. I tried to get software to convert. Nope. Tried to get different media players…Nope. Back in Kubuntu land: Plugged in.Played!

I do like Amarok

Case number two. I mainly use my pc for music. My music from my cds. Try and rip them to flac files and then play them in Microsoft Windows took me days to sort just to play. I could not convert them without more useless software and the old drivers for my mp3 player were not available so that was goosed


When I had my kubuntu pc back I had them ripped to flacs, converted straight to mp3s, tagged and on my creative jukebox that never used to work via amarok in under an hour. Easy.

Last case. I had my new system up and running and then updated in less than an hour on software that had just been (ie that week) upgraded. My Microsoft Windows pc was running software that was maybe 6-7 years old on the pc and developed a way before that.

The big test came for me with the new version of Kubuntu 8.04 . Should I upgrade??? Or get my mate to do it?

I felt really guilty at mothering him yet again so went at it (saved all my important stuff – ok my music on external Hard Drives). I tried the adept tool again which worked! This time I ran it in the background while doing some work on another project. It took no time and then I was there at restart option…cripes!. Off it went

When it restarted it was fine..looked nice too. I ran some updates etc and this worked fine as well. I then restarted again and the first victim was my wireless card ( which was already not supported save a bash script my mate wrote). I was goosed…again and offline. Quick thinking ensured my daughters wireless usb went in as a reserve with everything crossed for good luck. I guessed I would have to get some updates, twiddle but the knetwork manager woke up..oh , wireless…yeh we do that, erm who do you want to connect to?

What?? No software CD, no stuff, no swearing???

It just worked!

These three words are for me what makes Linux, Ubuntu and in my case Kubuntu the only viable option for me. It just works.What ever I chuck at it.

Since then I have been a little more adventurous and tried the safer KDE4 desktop which never got fully working with my pc as the components are a little old now even nearly all of them have been upgraded sometime since 2000 they are a little old. I uninstalled that and went back to KDE 3.5.9 which is just great for me right now.

I do get problems but I can share them with the wider community and I get help either via the ubuntu/kubuntu forums or sometimes via irc message boards.

I have much to learn. Always will with this but I still enjoy it. Just bought my own broadband in after sharing it for years with my neighbour (yes he knew already !!) and that worked 100% with my usb wireless first time..yes it just worked.

I would like to thank all the people that contribute to Ubuntu/Kubuntu and KDE and I would like to help where I can. Although I try to help people where I can on the boards my knowledge is still limited but here is another thing. With Microsoft Windows when did I ever give back or even want to?

I would like to see a smaller buddying system if possible via virtual networks a little lie you get on some larger companies web who can via perhaps IM keep in contact on a 121 basis.

What is next?

Well it is about time I upgraded the hardware and I am firmly committed to getting it if I can supplied with ubuntu pre installed to help encourage suppliers to produce more machines. If I cannot get this sorted straight away then I will have to get new system then convert. I will not be going back to Microsoft Windows. I have to use it at work and that is bad enough. Why use that when I can use Kubuntu?

Kubuntu just works!

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