New Convert to Ubuntu from Windows XP: Day 11

After using Ubuntu for almost 2 weeks now, here’s some different things that I’ve noticed as a former and current Windows XP user:

I started in Ubuntu 10 and after several automatic upgrade cycles, I’m now using 11.10.  The first thing that I noticed was that, as an XP user, I generally hated the “Unity” interface.  Not everything has to try to copy Microsoft’s newest “innovation”, and I was glad that with a little work it could be switched back to the GNOME classic view (here’s how).

Before doing this upgrade, I noticed that Quake Live (about the only 3D game I ever play) ran quite choppy.  Something about the drivers I assume.  After unsuccessfully trying to upadate the driver, I was frustrated. Apparently 11.10 has better support for my Radeon card found in the Lenovo Thinkpad T60.  Performance is markedly better after this upgrade.  For that matter, since the upgrade, the center trackpad button on my Lenovo T60 works correctly for scrolling by default.  What a great upgrade!

Bootup is fast, and it connects to my wireless network very quickly.  It also seems to access the HDD less than under Windows, which should mean better battery life.  Also, it seems to come almost instantly out of “suspend” mode, which is quite nice.

Ipod functionality is one thing that I’m still on the fence about.  The included “Banshee” media player seems meant for this, but the podcast transfers to my Nano wouldn’t play correctly.  iTunes seems like it was easier, but it was a pain to set up as well (I thought Apple products were supposed to be easy to use?).  I’ll give it another try, but I may use another computer for this.  The “Pitivi” Movie editor has been harder for me to use than the built in Windos XP video editor, but like Banshee, this could just take some getting used to.

Firefox has a couple of things that will be weird to Windows XP users, such as the backspace not going back one page and when the browser bar is clicked, not everything is highlighted.  The fix for both of these is to type “about:config” where you would normally type in the page you wanted to visit.  This will take you to a menu where you can modify the backspace per these instructions, and change the address bar to highlight everything on it when clicked per this page.

One thing that’s a bit annoying, but may have a good reason for it, is the lack of administrator access by default.  When trying to copy files for Inkscape’s GCodetools extension I had to open Nautilus (a file manager like Windows Explorer) in the terminal using the command “sudo nautilus” granting it administrator access.  Coming from Windows, my general assumption is that as it’s my computer I have the right to ruin it.  Linux seems to protect you a bit more.

Empathy Internet MessagingA nice little program that I’ve started using is called “Empathy Internet Messaging.”  It’s been a long time since I’ve used any sort of IM program that much, but the nice thing about this program that comes with Ubuntu 11.10 is that you can program multiple accounts into it such as: Facebook, GTalk, and AIM.  I have two Gmail accounts that I use quite a bit, so I may end up using this to combine all these accounts (even if I haven’t used AIM in years).  You can also turn each account on and off selectively which may also come in handy.  I’m sure there’s some Windows equivalent, but I haven’t seen it.  Feel free to IM me on AIM at “jscook55″ if you still use that service.  Also, check out my first impressions at day 3 of Ubuntu Linux if you like.


  1. Glad you are getting along somewhat. I also do not like unity, but what’s this about copying microsofts latest invention/inovation? I don’t think MS innovated all methods for optimizing a UI for touch interfacing…

    • Maybe that’s a bit unfair to say they’re trying to copy MS. What I meant to convey was that they’re taking a very usable GUI, like XP, and changing things like Windows 7 or 8. I have very little experience with Mac products, but maybe that would have been a better parallel.

      On the other hand, there would be no progress without a little learning curve, so maybe it really is better…

  2. Hi,

    About that sudo thing you mentioned. It is a kind of access control thing which is the main reason why writing viruses for linux is hard. Since, normal users cannot touch a file to which they have no permission, the security is enhanced by the fact that the only kind of exploits that can be carried out are bugs in the programs.

    Now-a-days, Windows 7 too uses a similar access control system for changing files.

    You may want to read up the following for better clarification:
    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superuser
    2. http://tldp.org/LDP/intro-linux/html/sect_03_04.html
    3. http://www.omnisecu.com/gnu-linux/redhat-certified-engineer-rhce/introduction-to-linux-user-administration.htm
    and lastly
    4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudo

    • Hi Jayesh!

      Thanks for the response! After getting a little more used to it and having most of the stuff I want installed, it’s definitely not as annoying. And it’s really nice to think that my system is more secure (I think).

  3. You don’t need to use sudo. Contrary to the gcodetools instructions, you shouldn’t go messing with stuff in /usr/share. This directory is managed by your package manager.

    Fortunately, most sane programs know how to load stuff locally (per-user), and since you’re the only one using the computer, this is just as good as a global install. For inkscape, you can install extensions to $HOME/.config/inkscape/extensions.

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