Monday, March 12, 2007

The Ubuntu Experience, Part 1

PC World recently did a feature article on Operating Systems, and named Ubuntu as their favorite Linux distribution. I decided to document my experience working with Ubuntu, and this first article, Part 1, will detail my experience installing and updating Ubuntu. I'm using the latest version of Ubuntu, 6.1.

Installing Ubuntu

Installation was rather straightforward, and finished quickly in comparison with other OSs, like Windows XP Pro. I only had to fill in a few small details at the beginning; it then did the rest of the work, allowing me to get in some study time in the process. The only thing worth writing home about was how amazingly easy it was. Like, really: is it legal to make an installation so smooth?

Updating Ubuntu and Applications

The next step was to install security updates (which Ubuntu nicely downloaded the info for without me having to do a thing). There were how many updates (to the OS and the applications that came pre-installed)? 139. That meant I had to wait for two hours (over a satellite connection) for 139 files (some as large as 30 MB, some as small as 180 kB) to download. About half way through, however, there was some kind of hardware failure, and I had to restart. Had it saved the downloads? Nope.

So I downloaded them all again. This time they all downloaded, and then another box came up, which proceeded to install each individual file. About half way through, disaster struck: another hardware failure, and I was forced to reboot.

This time, however, the GRUB boot loader tried to use the new kernel (.11), which failed. I rebooted. It failed again. I loaded the old kernel (.10). This worked. I then tried to repeat the update process, but it said my system was fully updated. I knew this was false, however, since it had crashed half way through.

So I opened the System menu, then Administration. I saw an item named "Synaptic Package Manager", and I clicked on it. An error message popped up (surprise surprise). It said something like this:

"The main package system is corrupted. You must manually run 'dpkg --configure -a' to correct this problem."

So I opened a terminal and (after doing a "su -" command and entering the root password) pasted that text into it and hit enter. Tada! It proceeded to fix all the problems. Now I can load the new kernel and use all my programs successfully.

So far, so good. I was able to figure out what to do (probably luck). This part could have been smoother, but I suppose you can't make everyone happy.

Coming Up

In my next article (Part 2), I'll be talking about normal use of the Ubuntu OS, and how it measures up. Until then, submit your comments below to let me know what you think.

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Blogger nejode said...

Stange about the part where you were downloading the updates and got the hardware failure, apt-get should had saved the already downloaded packages in /var/cache/apt/archives (that's the default behavior), and when you resumed the download apt would continue where it was interrupted... It's happened to me a couple of times, and it doesn't download everything all over again.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007 11:59:00 AM PST  
Blogger Cubex DE said...

Yeah, I expected it to just start up where it left off, but no such luck.

It didn't have to redownload everything after the second failure though.

Also, to clear up any misunderstandings, by "hardware failure" I mean it wasn't Ubuntu's fault. Still, it should have been able cope with these better.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007 2:22:00 PM PST  

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