not an April Fool

Though it should probably count as one.  But then, sharkipedes are well known for occasional foolishness.

Everyone knows that the love of my computerized life (since I got it for Christmas) has been my little Eee PC ultracompact.   It’s small, it’s light, it has reasonably good battery life, and it does pretty everything I want right out of the box.  I can take it anywhere I can take a standard hardcover book, and for me that’s just about everywhere. 

This great little computer runs on Linux; a very odd, quirky proprietary version of Xandros.  A visit to the Eeeuser forums  http://www.eeeuser.com/   will show that even Linux experts have to jump through hoops themselves to get the Eee to do any fancy tricks.   I’ve always been vaguely interested in Linux, and the Eee has made me want to do more with it. 

But I knew I had to start with an easier setup.  I asked around, did some research, and decided Ubuntu was the best distribution to get my feet wet.  Mr. Shark downloaded the ISO and burned me a disc, and I started looking for a cheap used laptop to put it on, since there is no available table space for another desktop here at Sharkipede HQ.

Then on Sunday morning Mr. Shark and I wandered into our local Best Buy for some pointless reason.  And I found this laptop … a discontinued Toshiba Satellite with 1 G of RAM and a 120 GB hard drive, looking oddly like what I’d specced out for a used laptop to play around with Linux on and also marked down from $499 to $285. 

I’m an idiot.  I bought it.  And yesterday we started it up, checked it out, admired the vast array of crapware that came preloaded with Vista, and shoved a Live CD of Gutsy Gibbon into the drive. 

I don’t know what I was expecting, but everything ran flawlessly, exactly as described in the pages of “Ubuntu for Non-Geeks”.  I looked at some of the sample files, ran the video and music clips, opened some of the software– it’s all there and looks fine.  Mr. Shark and I looked at each other.  Vista was poky and looked awful.  We have the recovery disks.  I closed up the example folder and hit “install”.

And a half hour and a few simple questions the dog could answer later,  I have an Ubuntu laptop.   I played some games, and made and colored a little scribble in the GIMP– nothing earth shattering but it all works. 

Things aren’t perfect– I’m going to have to download some “codecs” to get my DVD player to play, and there’s some other software I’m going to want.  This is going to be tough without a broadband connection at home, but I may be able to borrow one.   
I’m going to have a lot more questions, but it’s going excellently well so far.  This beast won’t replace my Eee, that’s for sure– it’s huge, heavy, noisy and eats batteries, so it’s been christened “Osborne”.

So now its time for anyone else out there who knows about Linux to come out of the wordwork to offer advice and suggestions.  Any beginner tips?  Software recommendations?  Books to read?  Websites and forums to check out?

And the most important question of all : am I becoming a late in life geek?

 Sharkipede 

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Published in: on April 2, 2008 at 9:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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