Cool things Ubuntu does #164

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I noticed a nice feature of Ubuntu today when I plugged my iPod in to one of my PC‘s USB ports for a quick charge and logged in to do a bit of emailing.

Our PowerBook is the computer I use for most things, so my iPod is Mac formatted, and this means that Windows XP doesn’t even recognise it as a formatted drive (it offers to format it whenever I plug it in). Ubuntu recognised it, brought up the RhythmBox audio player, and started playing audio streamed from the iPod! Unfortunately I could only play MP3 files initially, but a quick web search revealed that I only had to install some extra ‘gstreamer’ codecs to play the AAC files which make up most of my library, and I was able to do this using the ‘Add/Remove Programs’ applet.

Just another of the things where Ubuntu says to Windows "Anything you can do, I can do better!" I’m finding myself doing more things with Ubuntu now than Windows. I’m even IMing again, and that’s saying something!

Feisty Fawn Installed!

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My home PC is now sporting Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn). Unfortunately, the installation took about 4 hours, so I didn’t get any time to play with it. About 3 and a half hours of this was downloading new packages, so I think a lot of other people must’ve been doing the same thing!

The update used an easy upgrade utility, which was pretty much a ‘one-click’ installer built in to the software update utility in version 6.10, and ran with very little user intervention (the odd ‘yes or no’ question). All seemed to go smoothly, although I only tested as far as booting up… Rumblings on the Interweb suggest that this release runs a little faster, which would be welcome on my creaky setup.

Ubuntu 7.04 Released Today

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Version 7.04 (AKA Feisty Fawn) of Ubuntu, the open-source operating system, comes out today. I recently installed Ubuntu 6.10 (Edgy Eft) on my home PC after three-or-so hours of updating and patching on a fresh reinstallation of Windows XP caused what looked like premature OS-decay. Is this a sneaky way of encouraging upgrades to Vista? ;)

Ubuntu is designed to bring open-source software and Linux, traditionally the preserve of those who enjoy getting their hands dirty with their PCs, to the masses. The OS comes as default with various Internet, media, office and utility packages for a set-up that does virtually everything the average user needs from the off. It runs well on modest hardware (such as my ‘elderly’ Celeron 900MHz), includes drivers for most common hardware, so there shouldn’t be any messing with those, either. It is still extremely versatile, though, and can be used for anything ranging from a home desktop machine to a web-, file- or print-server.

I was pleasantly surprised how easy and quick it was to install Ubuntu, which I have sharing a hard drive with XP. I was even up and running on my wireless network in no time at all. The interface is anything but foreign to users of Windows or Mac OS, and only those with advanced requirements need to open up the terminal for some command-line action, as the OS and its environment can be controlled from the GUI. If you need something that isn’t part of the default installation, installing new packages is often as simple as opening the included ‘Add/Remove Programs’ utility, which downloads and installs the desired software.

Ubuntu is an attractive proposition for anyone who would like to ‘dip their toes’ in to Linux, but is fearful of the command-line, or who doesn’t want to abandon Windows completely. It can be installed from a single CD (download or request from the website), and will sit quite happily alongside your existing Windows installation (although some changes to your hard-disk partitioning may be necessary during setup). I’m looking forward to what Feisty Fawn has to offer.

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