Ubuntu from a newbies POV, and why I advocate FOSS

I’m writing this with assumptions on how this latest Ubuntu might appear to newbies primarily because of our long term plan to create a distribution for local internet cafes. In this respect, I’m hoping to create a one – size – fits – all (or as many as possible at least) distributable, bootable image that contains the most practical apps an icafe might need.

I’ve completely installed Ubuntu Horny Herod and here are my notes. BTW I know that’s not the name, I’m just protesting against the downright fugly name. Can’t they give it a proper, cooler name? I mean, ‘Hardy Heron‘?! I can’t imagine the general populace to get turned on by that name, really.

Anyway, here’s some thoughts:

  1. Downloading the Ubuntu Torrent was a breeze. Installation isn’t for newbies as I chose to do manual partitioning instead of the guided stuff, which confused me more than helped. I had two 40gb. partitions and I wanted to install Ubuntu on the first (NTFS) partition, while retaining access to the 2nd (FAT32) partition. Otherwise I kept the rest at default (monitor, keyboard, network settings, etc.) and that’s fairly a no brainer. Newbies won’t have a hard time installing on a fresh machine and IMO, this is just as easy or easier than Win.

  1. On the other hand, updating after installation took an hour ++, which again can turn off newbies eager to get going. I played around with it a bit then realized that Update Manager had something like 129 updates raring to go, so I scheduled to do that when I watched TV instead.
  2. The default burnt orangey theme is ugly for lack of a better term. It dawned on me that Kubuntu (KDE powered Ubuntu) might’ve been the better choice, because KDE was (is?) known to be the prettier one and Gnome the more hardcore. I’ve switched to the clearlook theme and its prettier, but to get really mainstream, we need ‘stunning beautiful’ rather than just ‘passing good to look at’. Need to check options here.
  3. For my own needs, I immediately installed Bluefish, which I’m using to write this. From what little I’ve used, it’s just as intuitive as my previous favorite, Homesite. Also installed Filezilla, and then realized I didn’t back up the URLs and passwords of my FTP accounts. Brilliant. Spent an hour or two setting that back up to spec.
  4. I thought I’d get working on WINE to get Photoshop 7 going, but I worked on GIMP a while ago to resize a few pics and, true enough, (some) of the keyboard shortcuts and commands (seem) to be applicable. I really need to figure out whether Photoshop will really work on this or not so I have to install it, but if GIMP can do the everyday stuff without me having to relearn everything, hey why not?
  5. This package bundles Firefox 3 Beta 5, which improves on auto – complete when you’re typing in a URL on the browser, giving you lots of choices, which is cool. I certainly hope Firefox improves from the extremely buggy previous versions I was using the last time. For a previously no – name browser brand to make it in the cutthroat industry they’re in, they’ve gotta not drop the ball. Unfortunately, I’ve been less than happy with previous versions so I’m hoping this one doesn’t suck.
  6. The most contentious issue that needs to be dealt with is that of the instant messengers, which if we’re gonna introduce to internet cafes need to act and look as much like Yahoo, MSN or Gtalk as much as possible. Without which, we’re gonna have some issues. I’m trying Pidgin right now, and Kopete afterwards, so we’ll see.
  7. Lastly, gaming needs to get done, so I’ll try Warcraft first, and maybe some other popular thing like Counterstrike later.
  8. I’m due to upgrade my PC soon, so I’m really looking forward to getting a better video card to handle Gnome’s fancy window switching and other effects. Now that’s seriously cool stuff. Dragging and dropping windows and coolly moving across windows can really get people’s eyes popping. Even I’m kinda floored by it all, moving things around this way and that. But it’s a resource hog, obviously, and one that my 4 year old PC can’t hardly hack sometimes, especially, I assume, if I start using WINE and such. At any rate, that’s in the works.
  9. Incidentally, as mentioned the video card issues are my biggest problems. Scrolling up and down gmail is a pain, as it struggles to cache. I’m positive the issue is either on a setting or a different driver altogether (I’m using something that sounds like an alternative ‘try if you dare’ video card driver), but right now it’s extremely sucky and slow. I’m sure there’s a fix somewhere, it’s just a matter of Googling.
  10. And finally, I need to start learning keyboard shortcuts asap. Keyboard shortcuts is possibly the single best technique one can do to improve productivity. You can cut down the speed of writing a blog post by at least half by learning how to quickly turn on / off apps, move them around, resize them, etc. I think it’s this single thing that kept me from doing the switch. The idea of relearning years of shortcuts made me ache. Right now I’m trying to figure out how to assign shortcuts to apps I put in the panel, and the help is annoyingly unhelpful.

The PLUG plan to introduce a distro specifically for internet cafes was instigated by myself, really, and was brought about by clamors from a cousin who owns a cafe and some people in the mailing list as well.

To my mind, I cannot see a better purpose for the Philippine Linux User’s Group other than to embark on, albeit ambitious, projects like these. I’ve decided I wanted to embark on an advocacy, and as such promoting FOSS and Linux seems to be right up my alley – something that I think I can contribute best in. I say this in the light of the fact that we, as individuals, have the opportunity now more than ever to join and / or to start in a plethora of choices of activities such as these. While I can, for example, spend time in charities and such, I think my effectiveness doing so would be limited. On the other hand, promoting Free and Open Source is something I can really sink my teeth into. Something that I understand and therefore can see that I can make a big difference at.

And so we start with this, one user (me, today) at a time. This’ll take at least six months or so, given work schedules and such, but we’ll get there. In iCafe parlance, all their bases will soon belong to us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *