Jumpstarting Ubuntu 7.04 "Feisty Fawn"

Tired of the Micro$oft monoculture? Tired of buying new versions of Windows every few years, only to find the new version won't run on your current hardware? Wishing for something better/faster/cheaper? The latest distro from Canonical, Ubuntu 7.04 "Feisty Fawn", is an amazing Linux desktop package. It's a complete operating system that can install right along side your current copy of Windows, and it can even read and write files in the Windows NTFS partition. If you do not have high speed Internet, then you probably should stop here. The Ubuntu download is a little over 700M -- pulling that over a modem is too painful to contemplate, even if the phone company cooperates. Too, once it's installed, there are all sorts of things you are going to want to get -- they are all free, but you have to request them from Linux repositories (online libraries of software -- lots of software). If you want to try Ubuntu out, you don't have to fear it. It's a single boot CD, so you can try it out on your hardware before you install it. You can download the .iso file from http://www.ubuntu.com/ . Remember that this is an .iso and you do NOT burn it to CD the same way you do music or photos. An .iso file is a CD image -- your burning software will have a way to burn images. The Ubuntu web site also has a copy of the documentation. You might take a moment to read over some of it, particularly the Linux Basics. Another site you should visit and read -- and bookmark for later reference -- is Switching to Ubuntu From Windows . Spend a little time reading the Ubuntu 7.04 Feature Tour . Dr. Bob Rankin wrote a nice piece for newbies getting into Linux -- look at Dr. Bob's Lowfat Linux . This is another site you need to bookmark, because you will be coming back to it often. Once you have the CD, restart your PC and boot from it. It's going to be slow, but that's only because you are executing the operating system from the CD and not your hard drive. Running Ubuntu from the CD will NOT change your hard drive in any way -- and it gives you a great way to poke around in it. The default desktop is Gnome, and it looks more like an Apple than a Windows desktop. There are only two icons on the desktop: Install and Samples. Keep your fingers AWAY from the Install icon for now! Open samples and click on the various icons. Are you able to play the music and videos? Probably so -- Ubuntu does a great job of locating the necessary drivers and getting everything hooked up. Examine the hardware settings by clicking on System --> Preferences --> Hardware Information. Examine the Device List, looking for things that did not get installed. If all looks good, and you were able to play the music and video samples, AND you are ready to install Ubuntu, then click the Install icon on the desktop. Ubuntu is going to ask you a few questions about your keyboard and mouse, and what time zone you are in. If you have Windows all ready installed, it will detect that and ask you how you want to partition your hard drive. I have a test PC that had XP installed, taking up the entire hard drive. Ubuntu asked me how much space to set aside for Linux and then shrunk the Windows partition down, making room for Linux. It also installs Grub, a Linux boot manager, that lets me decide when I turn the PC on whether I want to run Windows or Linux. Once the drive is partitioned and Ubuntu is nearly installed, the Migration Manager steps in. You now have a chance to copy all of your favorites and email from Windows into Ubuntu. I skipped this, because Ubuntu can read and write files in the Windows partition -- if I really need it, I can still get to it. Now would be a good time to go back and read Switching to Ubuntu From Windows again. Ubuntu has a great Help button -- it's on the right end of the string of icons, upper left corner of the screen. It can get answers for you quickly, once you get used to using it. OK. You have Ubuntu installed on your PC, and you are ready to take your first steps. Stop right there. You need to read this article at Lunapark6 . It's going to start out talking about the desktop and how you can change it up by adding eye candy. I recommend you skip that. You have multiple desktops available in Gnome -- it's a much more powerful GUI than Windows ever had. Get used to how that works before plugging in eye candy. I found Ubuntu mounted my NTFS volume, so I skipped over that, too. I did modify my desktop a bit using gconf-editor. Feel free to work with it and get used to Gnome. I also added a Terminal icon to my desktop, just to make the Terminal easier to find. The article goes on to describe how to install Automatix2. Do that! It will make your life SO MUCH easier! Automatix2 can get all the common Firefox plug-ins in one step. It will update your Java stack and get Adobe's Acrobat Reader for you. It will grab all your audio and video CODECS. It does all this with a simple mouse-click. When you are getting started, Automatix2 is Your Best Friend. I skipped the rest of the article, but if music players and such are important to you, then you might find it useful. I moved on. Matthew Newton over at PC World has written Seven Post-Install Tips for Ubuntu 7.04 . Great stuff. I didn't need Step 1, and I suspect it's hardware dependent. Likewise Step 2. Step 3 describes once more how to get Automatix2, and for some this description may be easier than the one from Lunapark6. Read it over and you decide. I jumped right to Step 7 and the FSF/UNESCO Free Software Directory . OK. You got your feet wet without getting in over your ears. Keep exploring, keep learning.

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