So Far, So Good

This is part 2 of my Linux journey. See what you’ve missed

Ubuntu installed without any problems. Upon restarting, I logged in with the account I configured during the installation. The first order of business was fixing the video settings. I was stuck in 800×600 mode, because the installer didn’t correctly identify my video card. It took a little Googling to get it resolved, but essentially I just needed to tell it to enable the higher resolutions. While it was frustrating, it wasn’t any more of a pain than installing a fresh copy of Windows to find I’m in 640x480x16 mode because it doesn’t have a graphics driver.

FireFox UserOnce that was resolved, I moved on to setting up email. I toyed with the idea of using Evolution, but since I’m happy with Thunderbird on Windows, I thought I’d start there. I was pleasantly surprised that the web site auto-detected the OS I was using, and it gave me the right installer.

I was a little confused about where to install it. Normally, on Linux systems, I would put applications in a folder like /var/local. But since I’m not running as root, I don’t have access to that location. There doesn’t seem to be a Linux equivalent to “Program Files,” where regular users can install software. In the end, I created a folder called “apps” in my home directory, and put everything there. I know this may cause problems down the road, but for now, it’ll work.

So I launched Thunderbird, and got the familiar “gee, it looks like you’re new here, would you like to configure an account?” dialog. I didn’t really want to set up all my various email accounts and RSS feeds, so I cheated. On my Windows computer, I found the Thunderbird profile in c:\Documents and Settings\myusername\Application Data\Thunderbird. I copied this folder to the Ubuntu machine, and put it in my home directory. Then, I renamed it “.thunderbird,” launched the program, and it loaded with all of my settings and messages intact. Cool! That just saved about an hour’s worth of work. I did notice that it’s not working with my Gmail accounts, but I haven’t had a chance to troubleshoot that yet.

Next up: the browser. Firefox was already installed, but, like Thunderbird, I had customized it to a considerable degree on the Windows computer. So I copied the profile for that over, too. Upon launching Firefox, I found that I had all my settings, including the add-ons I had installed. The toolbars were properly arranged, and it even restored the session from the Windows computer.

My next-most-used application is probably Putty. I manage most of my servers from the command line, and Putty does the trick. This isn’t a problem in Ubuntu. I can just open up a terminal window and secure shell to the servers. No special software is needed. I added a terminal icon to the Gnome panel to make this faster, and was all set.

Now, it’s time for some more challenging tasks. I have a Palm LifeDrive. On a good day, if the stars are aligned and the gods are smiling, I can eventually make a Palm talk to a Windows computer without my kids learning too many new words. I’ll be amazed if I can get it to work with Linux any easier. After that, it’s time to start playing with audio. Stay tuned…

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Author: John Schinker

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