This is my experience with Linux, in an attempt to divorce myself from Microsoft Windows.


After studying it some time, online, I found that Linux Ubuntu was probably the version most suitable to the needs of myself and most other folks.

UNFORTUNATELY: As "David" put it, "if they want the Unwashed Masses to use Linux, they will have to concentrate a LOT MORE on making it EASY TO USE; as it is now, it seems the developers are geeks who think that every other person is a true 100% geek as well. They are blinded to the fact that this is not the case."

And this is my experience precisely. NOTHING works right away and almost nothing works without a huge amount of help from people who have been involved in Linux for a long time. Without all those great folks in the Ubuntu forum and the ELUG, I'd have quit Linux much sooner.

The "Bottom Line" is at............. uh...... well, the BOTTOM of this page....duh!

When I got into Linux Ubuntu, version 8.10, "Intrepid Ibex" was the current version. If you don't know what an IBEX looks like, here is one I "borrowed" from the dub-dub-dub:

intrepid ibex

My humble THANKS to Linus Torvalds and developers of this Operating System, worldwide.

"Live CD:"

I found that it is possible to download it and burn it to a CD from which you can run it, without touching your Hard Disk. Just insert the CD and run Linux.

That sounded safe and easy so I did that and am glad I did. I now have a "Live CD" which I can insert and run Linux.

Using a live CD means that Linux will be running on your computer without installing anything. It's a riskless way to try and see what Linux is.

That got me seriously interested and when version 8.10 of Linux Ubutu came out, I got "down to brass tacks" again.

But if you want to simply "try" Linux from a "Live CD" you can do that too.

Installing Linux Ubuntu a new laptop computer:

The latest version of Linux Ubuntu is 8.10 at this time (Dec. 2008). They recommend these minimum requirements:
* 700 MHz x86 processor
* 384 MB of system memory (RAM)
* 8 GB of disk space
* Graphics card capable of 1024x768 resolution
* Sound card

So I got an eMachines (Gateway, which is owned by Acer) Laptop for only C$400. at FutureShop which is owned by BestBuy. Nice unit but I hate the "curved" keyboard.


It has Windows Vista Home BASIC installed so I made a backup on two DVDs with the idea of never using that Operating System but keeping it on the unit "just in case."

some of that laptop's specifications:
- Network Adapters:
Atheros AR5007EG Wireless Network Adapter
Generic Marvell Yukon 88E8040 PCI-E Fast Ethernet Controller
- Emachines 14.1" Laptop (EMD620-5772) Model MS2257
- OS: Vista Home Basic
- Hard Drive Speed/Capacity 120GB 5400RPM
- Mfr. Part Number: LX.N230Y.041
- Optical Drive Dual Layer 8X DVD+/-RW With DVD-RAM
- Processor Speed 1.6GHz
- Processor Type AMD Athlon 2650E
- RAM 1024MB
- Expandable Video Memory Yes - Up To 1919MB
- Graphics Chipset ATI Radeon X1200
- Integrated Video Memory Yes
- Native Screen Resolution 1280 x 800
- Audio Chipset AMD RS690MC
- Audio Output Stereo
- USB 2.0 2
- Ethernet Port 10/100
- Integrated Bluetooth No
- Integrated WiFi 802.11 b/g/Draft-N
- Processor Cache 512KB L2
- System Bus 800MHz

Here is what I did; hopefully it will help others. As it happens, I did all the following steps in a different computer; just convenience for me. When the CD had been burned, step 13 below, I moved to the new computer.

1. I downloaded Ubuntu from: (699Mb) The file is "ubuntu-8.10-desktop-i386.iso" and I made sure to save it to my desktop.

2. Next step is to check the download for accuracy as explained at specifically the section at "MD5SUM on Windows" and used the link in this line: "Download and install winMD5Sum, a free and open source hash verification program."

This put a 180Kb file on my desktop, named install-winMD5Sum.exe and I installed it.

On the desktop, I right-clicked the ISO file and chose "Send to" and picked "winsMD5Sum" and then waited until the dialog box came up:


3. went to and picked the line corresponding to the name of the large file I downloaded:


4. copied and pasted that code into the little dialog box and clicked "Compare" and they did compare:


5. clicked "OK" and Exited the checksum dialog box

6. Next I had to burn that file to a CD in 'IMAGE" rather than in "Data" format. My NTI burner, it seems, cannot do that. There are notes about this part of the process at

7. I went to and downloaded the free burner at this line: "Download version 0.46.1 for Windows 2000/XP/Vista (3.19 MiB)."

8. I ran it and opted to install ONLY the "Start menu shortcut" and none of the other 3 options.

9. I ran the file "InfraRecorder" and that brought up this:


10. I put a blank CD into the drive and chose "Write Image" and browsed to and clicked the iso file:

run Linux

11. clicked "open" and came up with this:

run Linux

12. I changed it to a write-speed of 8x and burned the CD:

run Linux

13. When that was burned, I closed the InfraRecorder and the CD ejected.

14. I put the new CD into the new computer and in a moment the menu came up; I chose "Run umenu.exe" and that brought up this box:

run Linux

Of course, I chose the second option, entered a password 2x and let it install with the defaults listed. I made sure to hit "tab" on the keyboard after each of the 2 times I typed my password.

When it was done installing, it ejected the CD and told me to reboot which I did by clicking the "Finish" button. When it booted up I was able to choose "Ubuntu" and I did not enter the menu when asked if I wanted to enter that. Then Ubuntu booted up and it went through "Installing system" again.

Finally it booted up and accepted my password and I was finished.

NOTE: this caused me frustration. It will ask you FIRST for your "Username" and THEN for your "Password" one at a time; you don't see both onscreen at the same time, unfortunately.

Here is the desktop; it has one icon on it here:

Ubuntu desktop

Here is a better look at the taskbar at the top with a bit of the menus:

Ubuntu desktop

So much for installing Linux Ubuntu 8.10 on my new laptop. That was the easy part.

Then the GRIEF started,

I installed Ubuntu on the new laptop but had never yet had it online (wirelessly) except after booting into WINDOWS (Vista).


With my Asus Eee netbook running Linux Debian (I think), it was so easy; all I did was right-click the WIFI icon, tell it to show the wireless networks it could find, click on my own, enter the 10-digit security code and I was online.

I spent 3 full days with help from numerous good helpful people all over the planet but could not fix this problem. During the process, I plugged the 'puter into my modem and it went online instantly and automatically and told me I needed 189 updates. And that is after downloading Ubuntu only 4 days earlier! So, I clicked "OK" and let it do all that. NO problem.

On my fourth day of struggling with the problem of going online via my WLAN, I was about ready to forget Linux and stick to Windows.

THEN Gordon Haverland took pity on me and came to my house. He has an incredible talent for figuring out what to do and very soon he had me up and running wirelessly. Check him out; you might want to hire him.

Running my Linux Ubuntu:

Ubuntu comes complete with some programs including the Firefox browser, Evolution E-Mail program and Gimp Image Editor.

Little Tricks I've learned:

1. Copying from Ubuntu to Vista: IT LOOKS LIKE you need to drag, in Ubuntu, the files to the ROOT of the flash drive and NOT into a folder on that flash drive. Then it will work and you can open them in a Vista or XP machine.

2. Copying from Vista (or XP) to Ubuntu: My data was on a flash drive used on the Vista or XP machine. As soon as I put the flash drive into the Ubuntu machine, an icon for it appeared on the Ubuntu desktop and I could double-click it to open the folders. Images showed fine in Ubuntu and when I clicked a txt file (made in Notepad in Vista) the way to open it, from the several options provided, was to "Display" it. It was possible to drag images off the thumb drive window to the Ubuntu desktop.

3. Screenshot: Take a picture of your Ubuntu desktop: press "print screen" on your keyboard and in a second or two the "Save Screenshot" dialog box will appear. It will save the image as a ".png" by default. If you want to save it as a JPG, save it on the desktop, right-click it and choose to open with GIMP. In Gimp, File | "Save as" and in the "Save Image" dialog box, change to JPG in "Select File Type....." and it will be required to "export" the image first. You can then, if you like, drag/drop the JPG into the GNU window to manipulate it. NOTE: THIS WON'T WORK IF YOU HAVE ANY DROP-DOWN MENUS OPEN. If you want to take a screen-shot WITH any menus, do this: Applications | Accessories | Take Screenshot and then set it to take the shot, say 10 seconds later. Then open the menus you want and wait for the shot.

4. Ubuntu Updates: When you see an orange 10-sided star in the taskbar next to the WIFI icon, that means updates are ready; just click it and let them install.

5. Desktop Background: To change your desktop background image, you first need to get the images into the Ubuntu system. Put some images from another computer onto a flash drive, and insert it into the Ubuntu machine. As soon as you insert it, its icon will appear on your Ubuntu desktop. Go "Places | Pictures" and drag the images from the flash drive to the Pictures folder. Then close the flash drive and remove it. Now: "System | Preferences | Appearance" and choose the Background tab. Click on the first image file, hold down the SHIFT key and click on the last one; now all are selected. Click the "Open" button followed by "Close." Note that you can click "Style" and change the layout; I like "Centered." Close all.

6. Adding items to the taskbar: If you want, for example, faster access to your Text Editor, "Applications | Accessories | Text Editor" and right-click that and choose "Add this launcher to the desktop." This will put an icon for it on the desktop; simply drag it up to the taskbar and drop it.

7. E-Mail: The "Evolution Mail" system is extremely similar to "Outlook Express" or "Windows Mail" so won't cause you any difficulty at all if you have used e-mail in Windows. Setting up your email accounts might be a bit tricky. This is what worked for ME; YOUR mileage will vary. Open "Evolution" the email system, and "Edit | Preferences" and in the resulting dialog box you can enter your email account data. Here is what I entered in the tabs:
a. Identity:
Name: whatever name you want to call this account, e.g. "investing emails"
Full Name: your own name, e.g. John Doe
Email Address: the address of this particular account, e.g.
Reply-To: I left this line blank
Organization: I left this line blank
Below that you can use the buttons to make up a signature that will appear on all emails you send.
b. Receiving Email:
Server Type: POP
Username: yourname (same as the first part of the email address
Below that: "No encryption" and "Password" and "Check for Supported Types" and a check-mark below that
c. Receiving Options.............. whatever you like
d. Sending Email:
Server Type: SMTP
Use Secure Connection: No encryption
Type: PLAIN and "Check for Supported Types"
Username: first part of email addy again
and a checkmark below that
e. Defaults: I did not change anything on this tab
f. Security: I did not change anything on this tab

8. Adding folders: Suppose you have downloaded some files from the internet to your desktop and you want to save them in a folder. By default, folders have been provided for "Documents" and for "Music" and "Pictures" and for "Videos." See them in the Places menu. Click "Places" and then "Home Folder" and then "File | Create Folder" then type a name (e.g. "Downloads") and press Enter. Then you can drag and drop the new folder to the left panel, below "Videos" and then drag the downloaded file from the desktop to the new folder.

9. "Gnome" refers to the desktop; see link below for info about it. I had a frustrating problem where all the windows on my desktop would suddenly, and for no apparent reason, slide off one side or the other, sometimes gone for good. I was trying to enter my email data into Evolution. Suddenly the whole dialog box seemed to slide off to one side very fast, and disappeared. Two little tiny blank boxes flashed and disappeared and then all was gone and I was back at my desktop. This happens a lot and it is no doubt something VERY basic to Ubuntu but I just have not seen a note on it anywhere. Seems to me I'd like to turn it off; whatever it is. I tried this: "System | Lock Screen" and hope that helps.

10. Windows "Fly off my monitor!" This was a great frustration for me; for no reason windows just flew away. Earlier I had seen an icon in the bottom-right corner, next to the "Trash" which seemed to offer multiple desktops which I did not want, so I removed the icon. But this problem continued. A lot of good folks tried to help me and finally, via the ELUG (Edmonton Linux Users Group) I got this:

Oh, no problem. You must be running Compiz with all that eye candy fluff. When you're running compiz the number of workspaces setting is disabled in the switcher applet. The only way I know of fixing this is to right-click anywhere on your desktop and select "Change Desktop Background", then select the "Visual Effects" thumb-tab and then change your effects to none. Then the number of workspaces option should be available in the workspace switcher applet. Change it to one and then go back and re-enable your visual effects. :) Keehan.

11. Installing programs: You can add/remove applications with "Applications | Add/remove" and also with: "System | Administration | Synaptic Package Manager" but these are not the same; here is a description provided by Keehan:

The Add/Remove menu is meant to be less confusing (more intuitive?) than the Synaptic Package Manager. In the Add/Remove programs application, you only see the whole application which you can install with one click and relatively (hopefully) trouble free. In Synaptic Package Manager you see the application and all the associated libraries and extra associated programs that are needed to make the Program you're trying to install work.

In Synaptic Package Manager, if you go to install an application, sometimes a dialogue box will pop-up stating that the following packages X, Y and Z need to be installed too. In the Add/Remove application you don't see that at it's done for you.

Also, in the Add/Remove programs application, the choices have been limited to the more popular applications that are usually easy and trouble free to install. Synaptic give you open access to the tens of thousands of applications available in the Ubuntu repositories. There are the regular official and then there's also the non-official (third-party) repositories too which you can add.

12. Playing Music: Ubuntu came with a music player included, called Rhythmbox. But it will not play any music for me. STILL TRYING TO FIGURE THIS ONE OUT.

13. Screenshots: To take a screenshot, press the "PrtSc" key on the keyboard and then wait several seconds and a window will pop up prompting you to save the screenshot.

14. FTP: I finally settled on gftp to upload my website files to my server. "Albinootje" in Holland, via the forum, told me to put this in a Terminal window: sudo apt-get install gftp.

15. WINE: This term refers to a tool which helps Linux to run Windows software applications. Wine headquarters is at

16. Irfanview: My favorite software is Irfanview and my next chore is to get it running with my new Ubuntu. This site explains it: but I need a bit more detail. I put my detailed notes HERE. UNFORTUNATELY, I was never able to get it running with Ubuntu.

17. Gimp Image Editor: This one comes with Ubuntu and one person told me it was a "reasonable substitute" for Photoshop. Hmmmmmm; that sounds impressive so I downloaded the book from

18. CaSe: Linux is CaSe SeNsItIvE!

Some useful Linux links: Ubuntu Brainstorm "Full Circle" magazine" Ubuntu documentation Linux alternatives to Windows software forum notes Linux alternatives to Windows software all about the Linux desktop Linux alternatives to Windows software Linux groups lot of guides transfer or convert Windows files & settings Compare Ubuntu Gnome and Ubuntu KDE Ubuntu HowTos,48.0.html Web Digity All about the Gnome Desktop; probably far too technical for many of us.

how to get Diamond Willow

in fact, tell EVERYBODY!

Diamond Willow Sticks

back to page top

The Bottom Line: (YMMV)

After all that I finally learned my lesson: Linux is NOT FOR ME; I'll have to leave it to the geeks and get back to USING my computer instead of TRYING to make it work. Yes, this means going back to WINDOWS which suddenly, after all this, has never looked so good. And from early reports, it looks like Windows 7 will be a great success; not the dismal failure of Vista.

I sent this email to the ELUG mailing list:

Dear friends................... with a heavy heart I will end my foray into the Linux world. I just cannot see trying to reinvent that proverbial wheel. It just is not what I had hoped/expected. Even getting IrfanView running seems to have become a federal case whereas in Windows, downloading, installing and running it takes no more than 3 minutes. And all of it works. There are so very many great programs out there that I know I'll never be able to use again without Windows.

It's like cars.

Some folks like to get an old wreck of a car and spend all their time fixing it. And that's super if that is what they enjoy. I'm different; I prefer to buy a (newer) car and use it and enjoy it and let "The Guy" do the fixing if needed.

I do thank all of you for your patient help. AND I wish you all a super year; particularly Rene; I hope you will soon be dancing, running and tying your own shoelaces again; by spring if not sooner.

I am convinced that Linux will NEVER be "ready for prime time" in my lifetime and not likely in the lifetimes of my grandchildren.

Sure; Windows costs $$ and Linux is FREE but "you get what you pay for."

I sure wish all the developers ALL THE BEST in trying.

Anybody want to buy a laptop; only 3 weeks old? $350?