Saturday, December 03, 2005

Henry's Damn Ubuntu Review - Part 2

My name is Henry the Adequate, and I am a superhero.

This is part two of my fantastic review of Ubuntu 5.10. In part one we discovered that this version of the operating symptom does not work on older computers with megaraid controllers. We also discovered that it doesn't work all that well on one that has been hacked into smallish pieces with a very large axe.

Now it is time for a second attempt, for as we all know Henry the Adequate is no quitter.

A friends gave me this "Pentium three" computer. Well ok he didn't "give" it to me exactly. More like loaned. Ok, so he left it with me for safekeeping while he's away on business. Apparently it contains extremely inportant and sensitive information of some kind. Which reminds me, what the hell did I do with those backup tapes of his?

Anyway, it has a CD thing, a floppy thing, some buttons and lights and is much smaller and quieter than the Dell Powerdge I used in part one.

I stick the CD in the drive. I have recently discovered that it is possible to do this without dismantling the computer and CD drive. I should probably publish this discovery somewhere, since not everybody has my enormous intellect. All you need to do is rip the front off the CD drive and then, if you do it just right, you can jam the CD right in there.

So up comes the pretty Ubuntu screen, same as before, and I start hitting Enter repeatedly, just like before. This time I come to a screen that has some stuff about partitioning on it, only now there is an option to "Erase entire disk". This sounds like a good idea, so I select that one.

Then pretty soon it's doing stuff, and there's a kind of a red bar thing going accross the screen and it seems to be taking a while, so I go and do something else. On my return I get this "Select timezone" thing. The tricky bit here is that the up and down arrow keys move the red bit up and down, which changes your selection. Nifty, isn't it.

Then I get to "Set Up User and Passwords". I use "Henry" and "Henry" because you need something really easy to remember so that it's secure. You know, otherwise you'd have to write down the password, and that's not secure now is it.

Then there's a bit of other stuff going on. Apparently something that's very Apt at this stage of the process. At least that's what it says.

Wooo, the cd just popped out. I grab it before it hits the floor, then press Enter and the computer restarts and it goes into doing something called "installing packages". Didn't it already do this?

Eventually I come to "Configuring Xserver-Xorg" whatever that means. I hit Enter, and it's back to "Installing Packages" again. How many times does it need to do this? Weird. This is taking ages and ages, so I hit the computer a few times with my axe - nothing too hard - just to give it a sort of kick start. I've found that this really helps.

Using Ubuntu
Suddenly I'm at this brownish screen and it's asking me for a username. I type Henry, then Henry for my password. Then I'm into the system. Ok, now to see what kind of secret foreign government documents are hidden on this CD...

But wait! There's this thing that pops up, and it says there are updates available and do I want to download them. Freaky. I say no because I don't want to risk losing any of the data on my friend's computer.

Time must be running short - presumably the CD will self destruct before too long - so I start looking for those elusive foreign secrets. Clicking on "Places" this thingy pops down and I see "Search for files". Excellent, I'll try that.

Now I have to choose where to search. The first option is "Home". That can't be right - if the document were at my place all along, what what I need this CD for? I select "File System", since I'm looking for secret files. First I search for "porn", just as a test, to see how it works. Instantly it says "no files found". This is way way way too quick, so I suspect the computer is lying to me. I type "Give me porn now!" This does not work either. Then I get really cunning and search for "pron" instead. Still no luck. I notice that I can search for files that contain certain text, so I look for "secret government stuff", and "really secret", and "boobies". This takes a lot longer, still without success.

It is beginning to seem as if this Ubuntu thing might also be a dead-end. I look to see what else is on it. There is something called an Open Office (actually it appears there are 2.0 of them) and a lot of other stuff (what is a Gimp anyway?). At first all the stuff seems to work really well. There is a movie player, but it won't play any of my porn... uh.... educational WMV files. Damn. This is frustrating. Actually it is kind of annoying. Actually it is a little bit infuriating.

I take my axe and smash the computer into many small pieces.

This Ubuntu 5.10 may be one damn fine operating symptom, but it doesn't seem to contain any plans to soviet nuclear facilities, and it won't play my, um, instructional videos. Also it caused my friend's computer to spontaneously explode into tiny fragments for no readily apparent reason. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Coming Soon: Henry's Damn Windows XP Review. Also, Henry's Damn VAX Review, and Henry's Babbage Analytical Engine Review.

Interpreting Henry:
This is the boring bit. If you just want a laugh please stop reading here. Actually if you came here looking for a laugh you're probably kicking yourself by this point.

Ubuntu would not install on the first test machine due to issues with the megaraid controller (see Part 1). It has been suggested on the Ubuntu forums that the solution is to install the 5.04 version, then upgrade to 5.10 while keeping the older kernel. While I would be prepared to do this if necessary, it was a bit beyond Henry.

Installing on the second test machine (a Pentium 3/733 with 256MB ram, Soundblaster Live, Geforce2 GTS, Realtec NIC) was dead easy - even Henry could do it. Afterwards I configured Apt to use the Marillat repositories, and installed the w32codecs - trivial, if a bit much for Henry. Nvidia 3d drivers are available in the Ubuntu repositories.

PCLinuxOS users who are now crowing about their distro, and how it includes every driver and codec ever invented: Big deal. This is not rocket science, chaps. Millions of clueless Windows users (present company excluded, naturally) have to hunt down drivers for their hardware every day of the week, and they manage somehow to do so with no more tools at their disposal than three neurones and Google.

Ubuntu on the P3 seems fast and responsive. Look and feel is excellent. Package selection is good, with just about everything else available in the Universe and Multiverse repositories.

Ubuntu is one fine piece of work.
- Ben


Blogger Lorraine said...

mmm Nothing I like better than walking up to laughter and total confusion but I've only had 5 cups of coffee. Oh Henry...

11:32 pm  
Anonymous peekj said...

But wait! There's this thing that pops up, and it says there are updates available and do I want to download them. Freaky. I say no because I don't want to risk losing any of the data on my friend's computer.

That's the funniest thing I've read all day. Great job on the review! I've posted a link to it on my site,

3:50 am  
Blogger corpus said...

I want to watch "Office Space" now.

4:09 am  
Blogger Ben said...

Lorraine: Thanks. I gave up coffee because it makes me write strange things.

peekj: Glad you liked it. Thanks for the link.

Isis: What is "Office Space"? Wait, I'll take a look myself... Yeah, ok, well, have fun then.

6:56 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

no one should ever give up coffee. it gives us special powers. For example, on this single cup of coffee, i will now have enough brain to attempt to install "linux from scratch" or LFS for short. you should all check it out.

12:28 pm  
Blogger Ben said...

I installed LFS and BLFS version 5 on a vmware VM. It was fun and interesting, and I learned how to mindlessly follow instructions.

I don't think Henry will be attempting it any time soon though, since it requires the ability to read at something higher than a preschool level.

In fact Henry's next review is of "Windows XP Linux". Coming soonish.

12:45 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey, i found the guy who's walking the street giving these discs away.

9:29 pm  
Blogger Ben said...

Helios is also a superhero.

10:09 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome review man. I enjoyed it very much. Too bad their more people who review like you do.

2:23 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Their aren't*

2:24 am  
Blogger Ben said...

Thanks Anon. Oh, and FYI Henry has moved to a new home at

Coming soon: Henry's Fedora Core 5 Install Guide.

7:01 am  

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