Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Running Linux on My Laptop

Since I knew I was going to the K12 Open Minds Conference in Indiana last week, I thought I'd better get my laptop running Linux full time before I found myself embarassed by using Windows at some inauspicious moment.  I have a Toshiba Portege tablet, and while I have been set up with Ubuntu for dual booting for some time, there have been a couple of reasons that I have kept firing up Windows most of the time.  Primarily, it has been the inability of Ubuntu to recognize my microphone... And my now almost total dependence on Skype has meant that without microphone capability, I just couldn't make Ubuntu a regular part of my day.

So, imagine my delight when I booted into Unbuntu a couple of weeks ago, allowed the system to update itself, and found the microphone working.  Hurrah!  Emboldened by this good news, and with Skype working well, I then checked on my next critical application:  Flock.  (There is something of a theme here--the applications are so critical, that they are driving the choice of operating system.)  Flock is a web browser based on Firefox, but with some very handy media functionality built in.  While I've been a faithful Firefox user for a LONG time, I'm finding Flock indispensible for the ability to easily pull in photos from my Flickr stream, to drag and hold photos or images into the media clippings sidebar, and to post new photos to Flickr from just by dragging them into the photo uploader.  Flock also seems to accomodate almost every good Firefox add-on that I like and have become dependent on (my Verizon minutes alert, session manager, Twitbin /Twitterfox, and Diigo).  So when I was able to get Flock running in Ubuntu, I knew I had it made.  I spend 95% of my time in my web browser.

But the coup-de-grace was getting my Verizon broadband card working.  Wow.  Huge thanks to Tina Gasperson and others who have posted how to do this on the web.

I've been operating almost 100% in Unbuntu since that time, making the conference a much better experience, and also just my day-to-day computing.  Booting up Ubuntu takes just about exactly 60 seconds, from start to productivity.  My Windows XP machine, unfortunately, takes 6 or 7 minutes to really get going.  (I'm not even going to mention the Windows automatic reboots after security updates, since they really tick me off... oh, I guess I just did...)  I spent some of the plane rides reading through the above Ubuntu Hacks book, and was able to implement about a dozen useful tips, and save four or five more for when I want to be really bold.  My next steps are to tackle the tablet computing--I needed help in Indiana to actually take out the pen from its holder and to see that Ubuntu already recognized it (sheepish smile), but need to be able to rotate the screen--and then hook up my DV camera or webcam to be able to "ustream."  

Thanks, Mark Shuttleworth.

Blogged with Flock


  1. I'm trying to convince my wife to port her wimpy laptop over to Ubuntu, but she's in need of a good iPhoto-like image manager. Any suggestions?

  2. I forgot to mention that I was also able to load Google Desktop and Google Earth on my Ubuntu machine--without any special hacking. Just download and go. I notice that Picasa is also available--will try now and report, Darren.

    What else does iPhoto do?

  3. In researching it further, I've learned that "Fspot" comes built into Ubuntu (who knew?) - and it has features that are very comparable to iPhoto (basic editing, rotating, tagging, even red-eye removal).

    Now if I can only convince my WIFE to use a program with that kind of name. :)

  4. Just remind her that photo buffs like me immediately think of "F" for f-stop for "focal ratio."


I hate having to moderate comments, but have to do so because of spam... :(