Recycled Computing

Xubuntu on Pismo: It Works, but It's Not as Easy as the Mac OS

- 2008.06.16

Report from the Xubuntu front:

Okay, there is no trash can or recycle bin. This means that you haveto use the file manager to delete things you don't want. Since there isno temporary trash can, once they are gone, they are gone. It's alittle like using a tightrope without a net.

I really am used to the Mac OS. If I want to put somethingsomewhere, I usually just drag it over. To be fair, this was an issuewhen I took a course in Microsoft Access. The other students would usethe keyboard commands and wonder why I was dragging and droppinginformation into various fields: Old dogs and new tricks.

A number of alert readers pointed out to me that Xubuntu is notgoing to continue its commitment to the PowerPC chip.* Yep, but Iwanted to take a look at this software, and the Pismo was the only thing I hadto try it out on. I really imagine it being useful if someone hands mean old Windows laptop - or maybe trying to install it on a Kanga or WallStreet. Every once and awhile you have to try something new.

I had a difficult time getting my wireless network connectionsworking. Xubuntu recognizes my AirPort card, but it does notautomatically lock on to my wireless network at home. It doesn't seemto want to use WPA.

My work network is open, but I have to direct the network connectionto latch on to it. Mac OS X jumps from one to the other with nohiccups.

I have decided to explore the packaged software - I am usingAbiWord to write this documentand will use Thunderbird to email itto Low End Mac. Xubuntu comes with Firefox and a Gnumeric Spreadsheetprogram as well as Orage, a calendar program. Orage is no iCal, and Ihave yet to use the spreadsheet. Given those limits, I can still seeloading Linux on a old Windows or G3 laptop or using it on anultraportable. On an ultraportable computer, Xubuntu would be great fora smaller (and lighter) laptop configured to be a word processor,emailer, and web browser.

This is my first experience using Linux, and I have to say I wouldrather use it than Windows. I haven't had to really customize it yet,so maybe after I attempt to get the wireless set up for my homenetwork, I might have a different point of view. But all in all, thesystem works fine, performance is a little faster than OS X10.4.11, and it has the stability of Unix software.

What we take for granted is the amount of thought and work that goesinto building the Mac OS. Apple has created an operating system thathides most of the grunt work that other systems require the user to do.A Mac is the equivalent of a toaster. You just turn it on, and itworks. You don't have to think about it. It is, indeed, the computerfor the rest of us.

Just a brief note after watching the Keynote presentation on thelatest iPhone: I can foresee a day when children will be issued iPhonesat birth. LEM

* PowerPC support will continue, but it's communitybased, not done by Canonical, the company that oversees the Ubuntufamily.

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