I’ve switched to Ubuntu Linux

One of my goals this quarter was to finally ditch the last piece of non open source software on my computer… the Operating System.

Last week I did it.  I switched from Windows XP to Ubuntu 6.10.  I had tried Fedora Core about a year and a half ago, but couldn’t get it to push the right resolution to my wide-screen monitor (1680×1050), so at that time I reverted back to XP.  I had similar problems this go round with Ubuntu, but I decided to not let it stop me.  Jesse helped me figure out that Linux support for the on-board video card on my Dell motherboard just sucks.  So I went out and purchased the cheapest Nvidia video card that they have at PC Land… and voilà, now everything just works!

Why Ubuntu? and Why now?… To avoid restating what has been said by many, I’ll quote a post from Jeremy Zawodny last year:

Ubuntu is the first real "desktop" Linux I’ve ever seen. There’s a lot of polish to it, most of the "right" things have been hidden from non-Linux geeks, and it just works. …  If you’ve been waiting years and years for desktop Linux (or laptop Linux) to finally arrive, give Ubuntu a shot. Seriously.

Once I got over the video card silliness, I spent a while (a bit too long) customizing things.  Below are my tweaks, so now whenever I need to do this again I can look back at this post:

– Made the "panel" look like what I was used to with my Windows taskbar.  Moved it to the bottom of the screen.  From left to right I have: programs menu, separator, quick-launch icons (file browser, show desktop, terminal, firefox), shortcut menu with more quick-launch icons (gaim, terminal server client, calculator, gedit text editor, openoffice docs & spreadsheets), open windows list, desktop switcher, system tray icons (aka notification area), trash, system monitor, clock (format: 9:12 PM).

– To make the shortcuts menu that I mentioned above, I added a new submenu to Applications, assigned it an up-arrow icon, and put the programs listed above into it.  Then I went to the main menu on my panel, went into Shortcuts, right-click, Entire menu > Add this menu to panel.  I could have accomplished the same thing using a "drawer", but drawers load the program list slower then normal menus for some reason.  And I hate slow desktop features.

– Configure /etc/fstab to auto-mount the "U: drive" (the Webmail.us samba file server),

– Auto-start Gaim: ~/.config/autostart/gaim.desktop
  [Desktop Entry]
  Name=No name
  Encoding=UTF-8
  Version=1.0
  Exec=gaim
  X-GNOME-Autostart-enabled=true

– Gaim preferences:
  send unknown slash commands as messages
  tabs on left
  no sounds
  log IM sessions
  auto-away: 5 min
  Plugins: buddy state notification, history, iconify on away, message notification, system tray icon,

– Install Firefox extensions: google toolbar (if Firefox would add a "search site" button I wouldn’t need this), google browser sync, nagios checker, download manager

– Preferences > Preferred Applications: Mail Reader = Custom, Command = (empty)  one day we’ll figure out how this can be webmail

– Turned off text under application icons (Preferences > Menus & Toolbars)

– ~/.bashrc: alias ll=’ls -l’

– added additional software repositories to Synaptic Package Manager

– Install vim-full (why isn’t this the default?)

– Install Sun Java JRE

– Install MS TrueType core fonts

– Install Wine

– Install Beryl so that I can be like all of the other cool kids.  Hmm… too damn slow.  Annoying .25 sec pause when switching windows.  Turned off, until I have a faster machine.

– Install VMWare Server and Windows XP virtual machine (for testing stuff in Windows)

– Preferences > Font:
  Application font = Bitstream Vera Sans Roman, 8
  Document font = Bitstream Vera Sans Roman, 8
  Desktop font = Bitstream Vera Sans Roman, 8
  Window title font = Bitstream Vera Sans Bold, 8
  Fixed width font = Bitstream Vera Sans Mono Roman, 9
  Font Rendering = Subpixel smoothing (LCDs)

– gnome-terminal preferences:
  disable menubar
  Font = Bitstream Vera Sans Mono Roman, 9
  Forground/Background = White on Black
  Color Palette = Xterm
  Scrollback = 5000 lines
  Keyboard shortcuts:
    Ctrl-t for new tab
    Ctrl-n for new window
    Ctrl-x copy
    Ctrl-v paste

– gedit preferneces:
  disable text wrapping
  highlight current line
  enable automatic indentation
  disable create backup copy of files before saving
  Font = Bitstream Vera Sans Mono Roman, 9
  Added plugins: change case, sort

So far the only thing I miss from Windows is a text editor that can do column-mode editing (block copy/paste, insert column of incrementing numbers, etc).  While I love vi, I’d still like to use a text editor with a decent GUI from time to time.  I wish gedit had column-mode features.

Anybody know of a good text editor that has column-mode editing?

9 thoughts on “I’ve switched to Ubuntu Linux

  1. Will

    Check out kwrite and kate, both are pretty nice editors that should do what u want. The downside is you’ll have to install tons of KDE libraries to get them.

    Reply
  2. Bill Boebel

    You know, with 10 years of using Unix/Linux systems, I’ve never used emacs. So I played around with emacs-snapshot-gtk a bit this morning, and man… I’d rather use GVim.
    I’m going to try Will’s suggestion next.

    Reply
  3. Kenneth

    Regarding using webmail as default mail application, I put a tiny shellscript in my home-dir to use Gmail.
    Put this in ~/bin/webmail:
    #/bin/bash
    EMAIL=`echo $1 | cut -f2 -d:`
    firefox “https://mail.google.com/mail/?view=cm&to=$EMAIL”
    -and then change “Preferred mail application” to:
    /home/username/bin/webmail %s
    And viola! Clicking on mailto:x@y.z will open Firefox or a new tab if its already open, and load the Compose page of Gmail, with the recipient address already entered.
    Cheers,
    Kenneth

    Reply
  4. Bill Boebel

    Nice.. this works. It just doesn’t close the window after it sends. I’ll ask the webmail team to fix that…
    #/bin/bash
    EMAIL=`echo $1 | cut -f2 -d:`
    firefox “https://beta.webmail.us/mailbeta-b/p/compose/compose.php?send_to=$EMAIL”

    Reply
  5. joe joy

    I am having same issue with my widescreen E207WFP monitor with an in board intelG695 chipset on my Dell E520.
    Do you which specific NVIDIA card did you buy?
    256MB nVidia GeForce 7300LE turbo cache?

    Reply

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