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Posted on February 10th, 2011 by Barry Collins

Live blog: running PC Pro on Ubuntu

white blank book brochureTo mark the Complete Guide to Ubuntu feature in the new issue of PC Pro – on sale today – we’re attempting to run our magazine and website on Ubuntu 10.10 for one day only.

Every website story and review we write, every email we send, every picture we edit will be completed on a PC running the popular Linux OS. Click here for full details of the challenge.

We’ll be updating this blog throughout the day with our experiences – good and bad – of running our office on Ubuntu. You can also follow our updates on the PC Pro Twitter account, using the #ubuntupro hashtag.

The latest updates will appear at the top of the page:

6:30pm – Barry Collins writes: And that’s it folks. We’re calling an end to a fascinating day. Many thanks for all your comments and contributions on Twitter. Many thanks also to Jonathan Davies, the poor support guy parachuted in from Canonical to give us a hand. We’ll sleep on it, and come back tomorrow with a blog on the lessons we’ve learnt from our day of running PC Pro on Ubuntu.

6:01pm – Barry Collins writes: Microsoft (inadvertently, I should add) gatecrashed our Ubuntu party this afternoon, by coming into talk about the launch of Internet Explorer 9. I didn’t waver from our mission: Microsoft’s man bought his own laptop, and I watched him demo the new browser, while tapping notes into my Ubuntu laptop.

All was fine and dandy, until I’d just finished writing the IE9 launch story, when my browser suddenly started slowing to a crawl, and then suddenly the laptop crashed. Now I’m faced with a series of unintelligible error messages about a missing boot device every time I try and reboot Ubuntu.

So Microsoft comes in, and I’m forced back to Windows. There’s one for the conspiracy theorists…

5.49PM – Kevin Partner writes: So much more of my work is achieved these days using a browser (usually Chrome) that moving over to Ubuntu for most purposes has been easy today. For PHP programming, I’m using the excellent and free Komodo Edit (which I also use in Windows), TweetDeck works a charm, OpenOffice for word processing and spreadsheets and FileZilla for FTP.

I expected to have trouble setting up my Samsung CLP320N Colour Laser Printer over the Ethernet connection but it was actually easier than in Windows. Ubuntu is more responsive, boots up in 30 seconds and has the excellent Software Centre so it has a lot going for it for general purpose use. And it has the lovely swishy swashy window effect!

The stumbling blocks for me are image editing (The GIMP is idiosyncratic and idiotic) and the lack of a decent Flash development environment. However, I suspect I’ll find myself using Ubuntu for most work and switching to Windows only when necessary.

When push comes to shove, however, the fact remains that I could manage without Ubuntu but I couldn’t manage without the programs that only Windows supports.

5.46PM – Jon Honeyball writes: In the spirt of joining in the fun, I decided to install Ubuntu into a VMware Fusion virtual machine session running on my desktop MacPro. Installation is a breeze, and took a few minutes from ISO to running OS. All the drivers were there, and the only real thing I could criticise was the Zombie Purple background colour scheme.

However, I went to install the VMware Tools. This lets you resize the window on the fly, add in seamless mouse support and so forth. Normally you choose the menu item in the VMware Fusion app to do this, and it mounts a virtual CD-ROM drive containing the driver code and setup routine. With Ubuntu, I just got a .tar.gz file dumped on me. Opening this provided a SETUP program which did nothing.

Turns out that Ubuntu has the wrong sort of installer packages. Or VMware does. Or some other inane mind-numbingly boring excuse. Over in the AppStore, guided by Twitter friends, I found the open source VMware compatible installer which I ran. This installed fine, except at the end it didn’t tell me to reboot the machine. After an inspired moment of clarity, I rebooted the VM and everything came up just fine.

I could get to like this OS, colour scheme notwithstanding. But it’s hard to get excited about OSes by themselves. Sorry. And any glitch on basic setup, whomever is responsible, is simply not good enough in 2011.

5.10PM – Tim Danton writes: My biggest problem remains email. I’ve installed Wine and stuck my Office 2010 disc in (rather optimistically) but hit a brick wall saying it “requires that MSXML version 6.blah be installed on your computer”. Which, strangely enough, it isn’t.

I’ll be trying Outlook 2007 as a standalone install soon…

3.57PM – Mike Jennings writes: Ubuntu has several advantages over the likes of Windows, but two of the most important are its community and versatility. I’ve just seen a prime example of both: I tweeted using the #ubuntupro hashtag that my usual habit of pressing the Windows key to bring up the start menu didn’t work in Ubuntu and, within minutes, readers had flocked to my feed with potential solutions. @jgomo3, @jontheniceguy and @blazemore suggested Alt+f1, which brings up the application menu and Alt+F2, which unveils a search box, and @omahn sided with deputy reviews editor David Bayon and suggested downloading GNOME-Do, an app that allows you to quickly search for applications, files, bookmarks and more.

Linux legends @blazemore and @zeitan then stepped forward with a load of code to bang into the Terminal, before @benb3342 waded in with some more code to change the Windows key’s mapping. So that’s four solutions in as many minutes – I can’t argue with that!

3.51PM – Tim Danton writes: A couple of people wondered what graphics driver I was using and whether that might be causing the slideshow effect in the movie player. Turns out I was using the generic driver, but even the ATI/AMD “proprietary FGLRX graphics driver”, which is meant to offer better 2D and 3D acceleration, hasn’t improved things. In other news, now trying to install Outlook under Wine.

3.35PM – Darien Graham-Smith writes: As you’ll have seen from Barry’s photo below, I’ve installed Ubuntu on an iMac (just to be different). Rather than dual-booting, though, I’ve set it up in a Parallels Desktop virtual machine. Even though I’ve only been able to give it 1GB of RAM, everything seems to work well and very smoothly – a testament to both Ubuntu’s light footprint and Parallels’ impressively snappy virtualisation. Parallels even detected the OS version and automatically set up some nice features, including dynamic screen resolution (so I can have my Ubuntu desktop running in a resizable window).

Sadly, Parallel’s “Coherence” mode – which allows you to hide the guest desktop entirely and view applications on the host desktop as if they were running natively – only works with Windows. They tell me that a similar feature is available for Ubuntu in VMware Fusion, but Parallels happens to be the package I have here.

Since I’m doing hardware testing in the Labs today, I haven’t had much opportunity to put Ubuntu through its paces; but it’s good to know you can explore very effectively within the safety of a virtual machine. And of course, this approach isn’t limited to the Mac: see p152 of the new issue of PC Pro for a guide to setting up a virtual machine in Windows using the free VirtualBox host.

3.25PM – Mike Jennings writes: Not long after installing Tweetdeck, reader @davmor2 suggested that I try Gwibber, the social networking client that’s built in to Ubuntu – so that’s exactly what I’ve done. Like Tweetdeck, it works with several social networks, although Gwibber’s scope is far broader: as well as support for Twitter and Facebook, it’ll handle Digg, Google Buzz and Flickr accounts alongside less popular networks like Qaiku, StatusNet and FriendFeed.

Adding my Twitter and Facebook accounts was easy enough, and its interface is simply enough to decipher, too: messages appear in colour-coded bubbles, with your own updates on the left-hand side on the main window and updates from elsewhere slightly indented. I like the layout, too: people’s real names appear instead of their their handles, and different social networking accounts are displayed on the left-hand side of the window.

A few minutes with Gwibber also revealed that, when compared to something like Tweetdeck, it’s horrendously limited. Twitter can only update once every minute – an eternity for someone used to Tweetdeck’s real-time updating – and there’s no sign of multiple accounts, timed tweets or picture attachments, which are the kinds of features that I take for granted even in mobile apps these days.

It’s good to see that Ubuntu is included these kinds of apps natively, of course, but they’ll have to be a lot better than this if I’m going to switch from my usual software.

3.13PM – Tim Danton writes: As Barry mentions below, Jon has kind of sorted out my FLV playback problems. But not wholly. He installed a bunch of codecs from the “restricted library”, and that enabled me to view the FLV in Totem Movie Player rather than VLC. While I don’t get any of the horrible graphical glitches (see my 10.40am post) anymore, it’s still a slideshow and I still can’t check whether the video is all correct.

3:01PM – Barry Collins writes: Jonathan Davies (who we’ve been mistakenly calling ‘John’ on the blog all day, like a bunch of Del Boys addressing a foreign barman), is our Canonical tech support chap for the day.

Aside from being a thoroughly nice chap, Jon’s helped us with a variety of issues today, including Tim’s Flash video playback issue, how to use the command line to make HD video play smoothly on Jon Bray’s machine, and other minor issues.

He couldn’t solve Mike’s graphics card issues, nor coax my Vodafone broadband dongle into life – although we did pop a 3 broadband dongle into my laptop and it worked first time, which suggests the drivers for the ZTE K3570-Z stick may be wonky.

We ran out of problems for Jon to solve, so he’s popped back to Canonical HQ with our thanks.

2:56PM – Nicole Kobie writes: I’ve been using Ubuntu happily enough to do my work since this morning, but have run up a bit of an unexpected problem with screenshots. Using the “Take Screenshot” tool, I snapped the eBay homepage for a feature I’m putting online:


It took a picture of the screen, but inexplicably also captured a faint image of the screenshot tool window itself. Anyone have any suggestions for alternative screenshot tools?

2:52PM – Mike Jennings writes: After having a fight with the Terminal I’ve managed to get TweetDeck working, but my day with Ubuntu isn’t going as smoothly as I’d like. Evolution is so far behind Microsoft Outlook that its name seems ironic: my emails take eons to load, if they do at all, and I’m currently using webmail to communicate with my colleagues.

In the meantime, I’ve busied myself with installing Steam. That was easy: search for Wine in the Software Centre, click install – authenticate, obviously – and wait for it to do its business. Then download the Steam client and use Wine to install that. Easy enough, you might think, but I’ve just clicked on the Steam icon and been greeted with a message informing me that there’s no internet connection. Despite the fact that I’m using webmail and updating Twitter.

The friendly Canonical engineer has also been trying to solve my graphical woes. My ageing work desktop runs an AMD Radeon HD 4550, and every time I try to activate the existing driver the system reboots and greets me with a blank purple screen. The engineer stepped in, muttered something about “purging the system” and typed in a few odd-looking commands. My desktop then appeared but, when he tried to enable the graphical effects that numerous folk had told me were so impressive, the PC still wouldn’t play ball – and the driver still wasn’t listed as being activated. The engineer, John, has retreated for lunch, and I can’t say I blame him.

2:45PM – David Bayon writes: Thanks to @blazemore for suggesting I install Banshee. It’s not the prettiest of media players, but it sure packs a lot in.

bansheeAside from basic music and video libraries, it’s great for podcasts and links directly to Amazon’s MP3 store and several radio hubs and guides. I already like it at least a hundred times more than I like iTunes, let’s put it that way. I have no idea if the Miro guide is a big thing, but come on Ubuntu people: just the one five-star rating? Where’s the PC Pro podcast love?

Lack of PC Pro love

1:59PM – Barry Collins writes: One area that definitely lets Ubuntu down is its dual-screen support. Once you’ve downloaded the Nvidia graphics driver, Ubuntu can handle an external monitor for your laptop. But if, like me, you’re constantly yanking the monitor cable out to head off to another meeting with your laptop, Ubuntu fails to recognise the screen’s been detached and you end up with a weird double-desktop on your laptop. So far, the only way I’ve found to get around it is to reboot – it’s even stumped Canonical’s tech support chap.

It’s a good job Ubuntu doesn’t take long to reboot…

12:59PM – Mike Jennings writes: Things are looking up! I’ve continued along the open source theme by writing my Android App of the Week blog, and I’m now able to send email to my colleagues as well as wade through my 17,000-strong inbox.

Google Chrome’s superb syncing feature also means that I’ve got access to all of my bookmarks instantly, which is enormously helpful. My next goal is to get some of my other favourite apps running: Tweetdeck is a vital part of my working environment, and I might even install Steam to see what sort of gaming options are available for Ubuntu users.

12:35PM – David Bayon writes: I have to say, my instant favourite is undoubtedly the Software Centre. It’s like an app store made by people with brains who don’t find fart noises funny – and I’ll freely admit a good number of the obscure titles in there go right over my balding head. I’ve just been looking through the Science and Engineering category: star charts, protein visualisations, even cave surveying! I’m sure I could find these things online for Windows, but they’re right there for me, ready to go. I feel like there’s a little Ubuntu alien inside my laptop telling me to learn things and stop playing Solitaire – and that’s precisely what it makes me want to do. I’ve only skimmed through a couple of the categories so far, so throw your recommendations my way in the comments.

12.12PM – Tim Danton writes: Thanks to John, our friendly Canonical engineer, I can now view Flash on Chrome on my 64-bit installation of Ubuntu 10.10. I’d already downloaded the beta Flash 10.10 plugin from Adobe Labs, but couldn’t find where to put it. John created a new folder in the Mozilla Firefox Plugins directory and plonked the file in there. Chrome cleverly picked it up and now I can view our Flash videos in all their glory!

12:02PM – Barry Collins writes: So we’re coasting towards lunchtime, and despite migrating the entire office to an entirely new OS in a single morning – a task no IT manager in their right mind would undertake – it’s still pretty much business as usual. Yes, we’ve had teething problems (as you’ll see below) and John, our Canonical support guy, is currently working on solving Tim’s video issue as I type. But the website’s still up and running normally, the team can still pass copy to the production desk, everyone’s email is working, even if they do have to dip into Outlook webmail.

As nejode remarks on Comments below: would things have gone as smoothly if we attempted to migrate to a new version of Windows en masse. It’s certainly questionable…

11:39AM – Nicole Kobie writes: Our tech support from Canonical has arrived. His first challenge is sorting out Mike Jennings’ graphics card woes. We’ll see how it goes…

11:26AM – Mike Jennings writes: I was so close to writing something nice about Ubuntu. So very close. After my reinstall, everything seemed to be working. I’d received some handy graphics driver tips from Ubuntu veterans on Twitter, and I’d actually started doing some work inside the unfamiliar OS using OpenOffice.

I then attempted to install the 300MB of updates that I’d tried before. Figuring that it was the graphics driver rather than these more prosaic updates that were causing problems, I installed them – this time, a window actually appeared to tel me they were downloading – and rebooted.

Cue dozens of error messages, and another reboot – this time into the older version of the OS, where I can at least do some work.

11:02AM – Jonathan Bray writes: Just for the day I’ve installed the Linux version of TeamViewer 6, which allows me to get back into my main office PC for anything I can’t get running in Ubuntu today. It’s working beautifully so far.

On a side note, how good is Ubuntu’s keyboard layout selection? Bear with me: not only do you get a list of countries to pick from, but there’s also a visual layout to go with each entry, so you can check you’ve got exactly the right one. Much better than the Windows equivalent.

11.01AM – Mike Jennings writes: Ubuntu wants me to authenticate absolutely everything. Installing the latest version of the OS is easy: download Wubi, run the file, pick a password and wait for it to complete. It doesn’t take too long – about the same length of time as a fresh Windows 7 install – and while it’s loading I was able to watch a slideshow that demonstrates Ubuntu’s many talents.

Not that I’ve seen many of those talents yet. Updating graphics drivers, installing apps and downloading standard updates requires me to authenticate it every single time, even when I’m entering passwords seconds apart, and there’s no way to tell if the authentication has been successful; instead of disappearing, the box often just sits there, silently mocking my dependency on Windows.

Oh, and I’ve now reinstalled Ubuntu four times. It’s all the fault of the graphics driver. My modest work machine uses an AMD Radeon HD 4550, and a box informed me that activating the existing driver was only a click away. I authenticated, obviously, and it downloaded, before telling me to restart to complete the installation. Ubuntu then booted to a blank purple screen (a nice shade of purple, admittedly) and hung.

10:55AM – Barry Collins writes: Here’s something to give Steve Jobs and colleagues sleepless nights: Ubuntu running on a Mac, courtesy of Parallels Desktop.


(Image edited in the Ubuntu version of Google Picasa)

10:45AM – David Bayon writes: I’m up and running and all seems fairly straightforward, yet the single most irritating thing so far is also something Ubuntu is so praised for: security. Basically, I’ve had to enter my password at least ten times already this morning. I know that’s because I’m installing applications, and on a normal day this wouldn’t be the case, but it brings to mind the more logical approach taken by iTunes on my phone. There, once I’ve entered my password to authorise something, it remains authorised for the next few minutes, or until I lock the phone. That doesn’t seem to loosen security too much in my eyes. Can this be altered?

10.40AM – Tim Danton writes: This morning, I had one key job to do while travelling in on the train: to watch through some videos and make sure they were suitable for loading onto the website.

The first task was to load VLC onto my ThinkPad X100e before heading home last night, and it was an absolute pleasure: Ubuntu Software Centre is a brilliantly simple way to add software, far simpler and safer than downloading from a random site as you sometimes do in Windows.

Actually using VLC was less pleasant, as the screenshot below reveals:

VLC media player in progress

While the video played fine when nothing was happening, as soon as someone started to move the whole screen was corrupted, making it impossible for me to check if everything was as it should be.

10:25AM – Jonathan Bray writes: After several weeks without a problem, the Ubuntu installation on the laptop I was intending to use for day  decided not to work this morning. So, like the sensible IT journalist I am, I decided to uninstall it in Windows (that’s the joy of Wubi), and reinstall again. Anyway, everything is back up and running again now. Oddly, though, when I attempted to install the drivers for the ATI graphics chip in the laptop again, like a small child refusing to finish dinner, Ubuntu stuck out its bottom lip, stamped its tiny open-source foot and refused to start. Fortunately, this machine has dual graphics, so a quick boot into Ubuntu’s equivalent of safe mode later and I’m back with the safety of Intel HD Graphics. Phew.

10:20AM – Barry Collins writes: Canonical have found out about our Ubuntu experiment, and are sending over a support engineer to help us through any tech difficulties. In the interests of full disclosure, we’ll reveal any problems the engineer solves and share them with you.

10:00AM – Barry Collins writes: We’re having all sorts of bother with IM clients. Nicole has Pidgin up and running, but her recipient isn’t seeing her messages. Meanwhile, neither Empathy or Emesene are playing ball for me. Emesene says “connection refused”. Does it not know who I am?

9:32AM – Nicole Kobie writes: Just a quick thought on Ubuntu’s looks: I’m not a big fan of the nasty purple theme, but I love the fonts. They’re much easier on the eyes than Windows’ default characters.

9:17AM – Nicole Kobie writes: It’s taken longer than expected for me to get write this first update, as I have no idea what any of my passwords are — the biggest pain hasn’t been using Ubuntu, but the fact that all of my settings and saved passwords are gone. Otherwise, this early morning news shift has gone surprisingly smoothly.

As I got settled in this morning, I realised I hadn’t figured out how I was going to communicate with Stewart Mitchell, our contributing editor who lives in deepest, darkest rural France (aside from writing news and trying to sort Ubuntu this morning, he’s also welcomed two new lambs). Normally, we use MSN Messenger. While pondering what I should download, I logged into my Hotmail account — only to have a cheerful “Good Morning” message pop up from Stewart. I’d forgotten Messenger is now built into Hotmail (or Live or whatever it’s called) so we didn’t need to download a thing. While we’ve now switched to GMail’s web-based messaging, does anyone have any suggestions for messaging clients we could try?

9AM – Barry Collins writes: So #ubuntupro day has got off to a bad start for me. I’ve grown used to logging in with my mobile broadband dongle and checking my email and the day’s news on the train to work. But I can’t get my dongle (a ZTE K3570-Z running on Vodafone) to work in Ubuntu 10.10. The software that comes on the stick doesn’t work, and while the Ubuntu Mobile Broadband wizard promisingly detects my modem and even allows me to pick my network and tariff (i.e. contract, prepay etc), I can’t make a connection. Anyone got any advice before I start trawling forums?

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114 Responses to “ Live blog: running PC Pro on Ubuntu ”

  1. Indian_Art Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 6:34 am

    Fantastic, heaven knows free software needs this push. :)

    What PC Pro is doing is commendable.

    Although millions use Ubuntu its almost like a closely guarded secret for most. This move from PC Pro will help spread the word.

  2. Haroon malik Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Sorry to hear about the bad start, but confused as to how you willbe trawling websites when the issue is you cant get net access?

  3. Neil Adamson Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 9:23 am

    As an operating system for business I have been depressed with Windows for years and years. (Hands up, I am a mainframe man.)

    Some of my colleagues are total Linux bigots, so given a new laptop at the end of 2009, I installed Ubuntu 10.4 beside XP SP3. I was assured that if I gave Linux two weeks I’d never go back.

    I persevered for six months until I finally got fed up of application software for Linux not working as it did with Windows and eventually I had to go back.

    I do really love Linux as an operating system which scales right up to run on System Z boxes, but until third party developers write software that works on Linux, unfortunately I am stuck on Windows.

  4. Cyberindie Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 9:25 am

    From a business perspective what would be interesting is how much more efficiently you run under Ubuntu. I’m talking about freeing up time by increased productivity – the biggest cost to businesses. It will be interesting to know how many hours were saved time wise by switching to Ubuntu rather than say Windows 7

  5. PatrickEB Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Hi there,

    Here’s some information that may be of assistance :)

    Having not used a dongle at any time, I cannot say I have any experience of use in this instance.

    :) )

  6. Zabadda Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 9:30 am

    You can use MSN chat with the built in Empathy chat client, just click the envelope on the top right and select “set up chat” then choose the accounts you wish to use.

  7. Paul Cupis Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Nicole, Ubuntu has an instant messaging client built in, called Empathy. In the top menu bar on the right there should be an icon (like a speech bubble) to set this up.

  8. Markus Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 9:34 am

    You might want to check a shell script available from here:

    I had a problem with a dongle in Portugal and this resolved it. It claims to cover 44 countries, so good luck!

  9. matt Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 9:35 am

    @nicole – Pidgin works quite well, and will talk to most IM services quite happily.

  10. Ed Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Empathy comes preinstalled with Ubuntu which will give you access to many different IM services, such as MSN, GTalk and Facebook.

    If Empathy is not to your liking, you should be able to find Pidgin in the Ubuntu Software Centre!

  11. Barry Collins Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Haroon – I’m now in the office, so can get a connection off the LAN.

    PatrickEB – thanks for the tip, I’ll give that a crack.

  12. Andrew Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 9:36 am

    for IM (msn, gtalk, etc) use the Pidgin client. It should be in the repositories.

  13. Jonathon Moore Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 9:43 am

    I used ubuntu exclusively on my laptop for around 4 months, it wasn’t a dual boot.
    It was fine, but that’s about it. All the applications did what I needed and I had everything that was required to get along.

    The problem was that it just wasn’t quite there… if you know what I mean.
    My laptop had some problems with graphics and hibernation that required me to fiddle with config files and the command line to get working. This was ok, I work in IT so found my way pretty easily.

    I eventually went back to windows 7 because I was getting a windows phone and wanted to use zune without having to mess with WINE.

    It was like a breath of fresh air, everything just worked, no command line config stuff, my laptop sleeps when I close the lid and is awake within 3 seconds when I tap a key, it was lovely.

    This is how a user experience should be… just easy.
    Not that ubuntu is difficult to understand, it just doesn’t seem to have that final coat of polish that makes things effortless.

    This is of course, entirely my own opinion. I expect some will disagree and that’s cool.


  14. Foz Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 9:45 am

    @nicole, click your username in the top right of the menu bar, click Chat Accounts…, click Add…, choose MSN from the Protocol list (or Google Talk if you prefer), fill in your credentials and apply.

    You will now be able to access your contacts by clicking the envelope icon (again, to the right on the menu bar), and then Chat.

  15. matt Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 9:45 am

    I might have to re-install ubuntu…its been a while since I played with it

  16. alewis Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Welcome to the most frustrating aspect of Linux – a lack of working drivers. I’m not an M$ or Mac fanboi – I love the speed of Linux vs XP on comparable hardware. But in 12 years I have never, ever, had a trouble-free install, or a “wholly working from the box”. And almost every time, its network related. Dunno the answer, I’ve been banging my head with the same USB dongle since mid-Dec, and the forums are less than helpfull…

  17. Nicole Kobie Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Thanks for all the IM tips. I installed Pidgin, but it can’t connect to MSN (or vice versa). So I then tried Empathy, which let me sign in easily, but Stew isn’t getting the messages. Any ideas? Back to web-based IM at the moment…

  18. Dave Morley Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Everyone is correct for simple messaging needs empathy is in the default install. For anything more advanced you might want to look amsn

  19. Nelviticus Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 10:12 am

    It’s a great idea having a Ubuntu day but you really need to do it in two stages, as when you switch operating systems and apps you’re going to run into headaches no matter what you switch from and to.

    You should spend today getting over all the inevitable problems that arise from a change, then do it all again next week once you’re familiar with how everything works.

    I had my work PC re-built last week so I went from Windows to Windows and even then I lost half a day getting everything working.

  20. Ummar Mahroof Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 10:18 am

    some grievances I can understand about the usb dongle and driver issues, but the irratating feeling I am getting of all this is the lack of planning or preparation for this exercise. Maybe all your articles are done on web based CMS and therefore you thought no issues, but stuff like email and IM clients not being configured and setup is just careless, not only does this leave a sour taste in the end users mind the frustrationg being AIRED to the whole world are another reason why people afraid of linux. Windows doesnt “just work”, people plan deployments and configurations and overtime that has become second nature and built into the OS. This test should really be extended to a week atleast.

  21. keithrider Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 10:44 am

    My large sata hard drive has all my files, docs, photos, etc, on it. I have plug in hard drive caddies with Ubuntu 10.10, XP Pro 64, Vista.

    I find that I usually use Ubuntu now.


  22. Camel Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 10:46 am

    I use linux mint a distribution based on ubuntu but with codescs , flash player and another app. installed, is great is my favorite os and i still use win7 just for games

  23. Jon "The Nice Guy" Spriggs Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 11:03 am

    10:45AM – David Bayon writes: “but it brings to mind the more logical approach taken by iTunes on my phone. There, once I’ve entered my password to authorise something, it remains authorised for the next few minutes, or until I lock the phone. That doesn’t seem to loosen security too much in my eyes. Can this be altered?”

    Any time it asks you to enter your password, it starts a “sudo” [1] session for that application, which stays active until either the session times out (I think it’s a couple of minutes), or you close the application. If you’re having to enter your password a lot, it’s probably that you’re closing the software centre between application installations.

    [1] sudo is an application which escalates your privileges to being the “root” user.

  24. Markus Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Try smplayer (in the repos) for the videos – but it might be a driver problem. For what it’s worth I have a full HTPC 1080p for movies and music running on ubuntu with XBMC without problems – and an nvidia card. ATI’s rep with Linux is that they have more problems…

  25. Dave Morley Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 11:06 am

    David bayon the for the passwords all the time is to allow temporary admin access to install the application. Once the job is finished it then drops admin rights. This is a security feature.

    You will find this to be the case for any comupter wide task, I.e. effects all users on your system.

  26. russv Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 11:21 am

    You should try Windows XP (LOL), it’s a very mature product, has a huge installed userbase, is supported by a large multi-national

  27. Virgil Brummond Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Until hardware vendors stop being strong-armed by Microsoft we will not have drivers to make our laptops suspend right. Most do any way. At least we do not use the same exact setup as every one else. It is so happy to be just another windows user? With open source we can build our machines to do what we want. Free and secure. – posted from my laptop running Debian, with working suspend.

  28. Duncan Murray Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 11:52 am

    The password authentication is irritating when you’re setting up the computer, but once it’s how you want it, it’s pretty rare to require it again. To be fair, this is the downside to the built-in security. They say that linux is the silent sort – it doesn’t bombard you with pop-ups or needless messages unless something goes wrong.

  29. nejode Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Could you imagine a company that only runs Ubuntu on a daily basis trying out Windows for 1 day… purchasing the licences, installing windows, finding the drivers CD, then the office suite, then the PDF reader, then the findind the phisical media to install all the other apps… and everything before mid-morning and without killing their current Ubuntu install!!! jajaja I’d like to see that!!

  30. Ummar Mahroof Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Although am ubuntu fan, I have to say that some of those points are redundant as windows, especially installing apps, since you could use the very excellent to automate it all. Although ubuntu has this already thanks to plenty of clever scripts and tools (ubuntutweak) for installing all the essentials inc codecs if you do a quick google.

  31. rs Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    I was pleased to see PC-PRO publicising UBUNTU. But then reading the comments of your staff I realised how ill-prepared they were, and that this exercise was inevitably going to generate bad publicity. Do you really think you could use Windows for the first time without problems? That’s not been my experience. The motivation behind this “experiment” and the expected outcomes are unclear.

  32. Stuart Auton Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    A nice idea but this doesn’t feel like a very fair test. Will you be running another where you start the day installing Windows (with everyone’s memory wiped of which application they use for IMing)? A more realistic test would have started the day with everyone’s machines set up ready for work and then assess the impact on productivity. Personally, I’m not biased either way as I have my machine set up as a dual boot (Win7/Ubuntu10.10 both 64-bit). Have fun with the rest of your day.

  33. Lestibournes Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    At first I read this post in reverse, due to having the odd habit of reading English text left to right, top to bottom.
    About the password thing: there are 2 systems used for authentication: gksu which is an app that runs other programs under another user’s account, normally that would be as admin (root). Then there is PolicyKit which performs specific actions as admin, and regulates user privileges. I’m guessing the system that gave you grief is PolicyKit, gksu lasts until a few minutes after the program is closed and there is often no need to use it to input a password again during that time. Ubuntu should consider relaxing PolicyKit’s security standards to match those of gksu. As it is, different actions will require the user to input his password once per action type (so once for installing software, once for removing it) and will expire after a few minutes even after the program that performed the administrative actions is still open. IMO this is definitely a deficiency that should be addressed, along with the less than optimal performance of both the PolicyKit and gksu dialogs.

  34. David Riley Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    How the fk do you follow a ‘hashtag’ lol. Ahh twitter. Never have, never will.

  35. nejode Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    …I can imagine it,
    The windows installer saying “What do you want to do, resize your current Ubuntu install to obtain free space so you can install windows as double boot and select which Operating System you want to use at boot time?” LOL
    …or better: “Would you like to install windows inside your existing Ubuntu system, WindowsWubi will do that for you” jajaja

  36. AdamH Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Don’t forget – a good way to try out Ubuntu (or any other Linux variant) for the first time is to install it within a Virtual Machine (e.g. VMWare Player or VirtualBox, both free software), inside Windows or Mac OS X. There are so many ways of running Ubuntu: with Wubi as an app installed within Windows, inside a VM, as a dual-boot installation, live from the CD (good for rescuing a non-booting Windows system), even from a USB memory stick or external drive (which enables you to install apps and customise the system). Because the drivers are built-in, a USB install is portable between PCs (no activation etc). It’s so flexible, and even if Windows is your main system, it’s a good idea to have Ubuntu as a rescue CD or USB install.
    Personally, I currently run Windows 7 as the main OS on my laptop (though will soon add dual-boot Ubuntu) and Ubuntu 10.10 within VMWare Player, and on my Acer Aspire One netbook Ubuntu 10.04 is the OS (with Windows XP running within a VirtualBox VM). Soon I’ll add an Aspire Revo as an Ubuntu Home Server.
    Good luck to PCPro with your Ubuntu experiment!

  37. pops Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    The preparation & indeed the deployment for this experiment seems a wee bit lacking.
    I dont work in the I.T field myself so the closest i can liken this to is installing a default XP(un-slipstreamed) for a not so tech savy relative then leaving them to figure out the drivers & software for themselves.

    Knowing how perplexed most are if i forget say WLM or even just the right keyboard layout then i cant imagine it being a great first impression.

  38. HuwJ Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    I have Ubuntu 10.10 as a dual-boot on a laptop. I find it OK for doing ‘fun’ techie-stuff (Python, TeX etc) but the limitations always make me very happy to get back to Win7. I simply cannot install it on my main desktop – major driver problems mean that it can barely function there (this goes back to version 8.10). Even on the laptop I can’t print to my wireless printer, which is a real pain. It’s also a bit poor on the gaming side imho, and using the ’synaptic package manager’ usually leaves me giggling at the utter incomprehensibility of it all. The software centre is easier, but what a bizarre range of stuff – the ‘Aven Cave Surveying Tool’? Really?
    Sum up – OK if the drivers are here, otherwise otherwise, as the Ubuntu documentation puts it, be prepared to ’sudo gobbledegook blah_blah -w -t -f’ until your eyes bleed…

  39. Lestibournes Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    There is no native Steam client for Linux. Only Macintosh and Windows are supported. Maybe it will work with WINE.

  40. VinceMarsters Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    For Tweetdeck try the Tweetdeck Chrome App – works really well.

  41. Cyberindie Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 1:18 pm


    Not sure what version of Windows you tried but I recently installed Windows 7 64 bit on a bare bones PC without any driver issues – all were included on Windows itself.

    It is true for more functionality – such as with my Samsung printer/scanner I had to download the driver from Samsung – this only took 10 mins to download and install.

  42. Ummar Mahroof Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    I must admit thought, this is the most interesting and fascinating thing to follow for a geek like me. This is really commendable work by PCPRO. I’m thoroughly enjoying following the tweets and blog.

  43. Steve Cassidy Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Nejode’s description of a Windows 7 install requiring a “driver CD” is out of date. At most – on older machines – I have to get a small USB key out for the LAN driver download, and then it all just happens. Applications that come on CD are on servers. In fact the biggest problem for most people looking at Win7 is that it doesn’t make clear the process for upgrading in place from XP (err: you can’t).

  44. Simon Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Word of warning to users of your Ubuntu disc: recently downloaded and having trialled it from disc chose to install ‘alongside currnt operating system’. Except it didn’t – it wrote over the whole 1TB hard disc including two data partitions and wiped Windows off. Many, many days later I had managed to recover a fair proportion of the files but huge hassle. To make it even worse, this turns out to have been a ‘known’ pitfall with the wording of that version’s screen instructions – not what I would expect from the open source community as I thought response time to critical faults was a feature…

  45. jon honeyball Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Am running Ubuntu in a VM window. The VMWare supplied vmware tools dont install or work. But I grabbed some other tools from the app store and installed them. This required reboot which it didnt tell me about. But its working ok now.

  46. Simon Hiscocks Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    This is fascinating stuff. I’m not a techie – more marginally adanced home user, running W7 and a Mac.
    Have had stabs at Linux before, unsuccesfully – too “dark art” for me. Recently installed Ubuntu netbook on an Asus Eee 701 (which was easy), and I’m hugely impressed. Interface clean, altogether much more polished and Windows like than my revious experiences with Linux. Even managed to install my Canon multi-function wireless printer. Love the Software Centre. It won’t replace Win for me – yet, but it’s much, much, closer and a very viable alternative (for me).

  47. AdamH Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    @Steve Cassidy
    Well, I had a hell of a time getting all my hardware working on my Dell Vostro 1500 laptop (2007 vintage, so not that old) on Windows 7 – numerous things (including the nVidia graphics card, Synaptics touchpad, webcam, card reader, etc) required ages to hunt around manufacturers websites (Windows 7 couldn’t find the drivers via online Update). I had to use Vista drivers for some things. In contrast, when I installed Ubuntu 10.04, everything worked out of the box – I even had 2 finger scrolling on the touchpad, which no longer works in Win7. I’m now regretting installing Win7 over Ubuntu, and will soon add Ubuntu 10.10 as a dual-boot install (or may wait for 11.04).

  48. Baz Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Great to see, but as others have said just a day is too short. One day to get set up and 1 day to use it. Have to say that I have never had a problem with installing, just with video drivers. Yesterday started upgrading in place a 10.04 install (dual boot)to 10.10. My USB stopped resonding (as it does in windows as well) and I had to restart the machine. Bit of a fiddle to get Grub working but the system then just continued the upgrade. Very impressed. I also remember connecting my E51 to get online with ubuntu and it just worked. This after spending months trying to get it to work with windows.

    Using Xmarks in Firefox eases the pain as well when switching.

    For a business though, could you use Ubuntu and Terminal Services to get those windows only programs?

  49. Jeff hancox Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Good effort, much more of this and I’ll have to start buying the mag again! I migrated to linux about four years ago, and my Pcpro buying slowly fizzled out.

    I can see the journalistic reasons for doing this over one day, but I’m sure you realise to settle into and tune up a new OS to your needs will take longer than that.

    Tim, make a couple of staff hold on to it for a few weeks. And I can recommend crossover office as worth getting. I run Office 2007* plus a couple of engineering apps on it without any problem.

    *Not to say Open Office is insufficient, but I still have issues communicating docs with MS Office using colleagues when I’m using Open Office myself. But that is with complicated engineering spreadsheets.

  50. nejode Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    @Steve Cassidy @Cyberindie
    Sure, that’s the idea… sometimes it works… sometimes it doesn’t. I have 3 desktops at home, 2 “only Ubuntu 10.04” and 1 running Ubuntu 10.10 and win7 dual boot. Have 2 laptops, 1 Lenovo with Ubuntu 10.10 only and 1 HP dual booting Kubuntu 10.04 and win7. On the 2 Intel based graphics desktops, I had no issue whatsoever, everything just works. On the kids dual boot gaming desktop, The win7 install went great, and for Ubuntu I only had to install the ATI graphics driver, and that is almost automatic with the built in restricted driver utilty. The Lenovo laptop has been running Ubuntu great since 8.10 with everything working “out of the box”. On the other hand, in the HP laptop I had to install the Broadcom wireless firmware (that you can do with the restricted driver utility too) and some Fn buttons don’t work. On the win7 side, I upgraded from XP and I still have a nice yellow question mark in the device manager on an “unknown device” for which I cannot find a driver. In the office I have a Compaq desktop that was a real pain to find a suitable driver for the onboard ATI X-200 graphics.
    What I’m trying to get through is that nothing’s perfect… if you want a trouble-free operating system, buy a box with the software pre-installed. If PCPro would have borrowed some Ubuntu pre-installed machines from, let’s say, System76, I bet that hardware related driver problems would be cut down to a minimum… and with free software.

  51. dan Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    @Barry collins – for issues with dual screen support start up the nividia-settings gui (in the admin menu). You can then drag screens around, disable, enable them etc. Then click apply and it will run as you want. Because you’re not saving the change when you reboot you’ll be back where you started.

  52. pH7 Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    @Barry Collins:
    You don’t need to reboot, just restart the display manager:
    sudo service gdm restart

  53. Phil Walton Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Great to see you trying this out.
    In our office we have half on windows and half on lunux (ubuntu mostly).

    There is nothing the linux side cannot do, spotify, HMRC paye software and many other esentials to an office all come in Linux flavour. If its not then we use wine and it covers everything.

    There is one difference. Those that pay £ for windows do get extra tea and coffe breaks as it either dies or just fails to respond… Where as us on the free software tend to have longer working days as the bootup is quicker and we don’t get the slowdowns or crashes, but if you are prepared to have less time drinking tea then paying nothing for your entire setup is an alternative!

  54. Zeb Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    @Barry – could your dual screen removal problems be caused by the closed-source nVidia driver? If so, it’s not really Ubuntu’s fault!

  55. Barry Collins Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Thanks for the suggestions on the screen issue.

  56. dany Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Since Ubuntu 10.04,and now on Ubuntu 10.10,I have no any problem with hardware.

  57. Dave Morley Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Nicole you can set the timer to 3 seconds plus it means you lose that issue plus you can drop down menus etc in the delay

  58. Lestibournes Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Games I bought for linux:
    Penumbra Collection (Overture, Black Plague, Requiem)
    World of Goo
    Samarost 2
    Ultrabundle (Utratron, Droid Assault, Titan Attacks)
    Revenge of The Titans
    Little Space Duo
    And Yet It Moves

    I also pre-ordered the following:
    Cortex Command.

    Note that I got 11 of these 21 games through the Humble Indie Bundle. Shameless self-promotion: you can still get the HIB 1+2 from me on ebay here:

  59. laolitan Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    @Nicole Kobie.
    With regards to the screenshot tool:
    Try adding a couple of seconds to the timer, it may clear the ghosting effect.

  60. Bari Pollard Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    Cheers for this guys, I took the whole reason for this exercise was to see how easy it is for a normal user to get to grips with Ubuntu. I have it on my Netbook and a desktop machine. However I find myself always gravitating back to Windows 7.

    Simple things like asking for the password irritates me, oh and no drivers for my Dell printer. I know I can go in Sudo and add a Fuji printer but I can go into Windows and I have full functionality.

    All in all it is good, just needs to have more driver support and same conventions for everything. Deb etc… Just adds to the confusion for me.

  61. Lestibournes Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    If you want to get full multimedia support and don’t care about legal restrictions, copy and paste the following lines into the terminal (full instructions here: Enter your password or other info when prompted:
    sudo wget –output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list$(lsb_release -cs).list && sudo apt-get –quiet update && sudo apt-get –yes –quiet –allow-unauthenticated install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get –quiet update

    sudo apt-get –yes install app-install-data-medibuntu apport-hooks-medibuntu

    (the above is in that howto. Now what you actually need):

    sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras libdvdcss2 non-free-codecs

    This gives all what you need for full multimedia experience on Ubuntu, illegally in some places. If you want legal support, buy the Fluendo software from the Ubuntu Software Center.

    About drivers, my attitude is that if I can’t get it to work easily then it’s broken and I leave it at that. Perhaps you should adopt that attitude and just get on with life.

  62. Lestibournes Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Doesn’t OSX come with an X server? If so you should be able to install an ssh server on Ubuntu, then from OSX run
    ssh -x
    to login an launch apps on Ubuntu which will appear on OSX instead. It should give a somewhat similar experience.

  63. Ken VanDine Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Mike Jennings: Far points about Gwibber, but please not url shortening is automatic. If you paste in a URL it automatically gets replaces with a short one.

    We have plans to support twitter realtime and image uploading, but not ETA yet.

  64. dan Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    What’s with all the use of Wine?
    I thought this was supposed to be a test of Ubuntu, not Ubuntu trying to be Windows.

  65. laolitan Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    @ Tim Danton,
    In some Linux circles, ATI = A Thousand Irrirations…..
    Hope you get it sorted.

  66. Richard Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Let us know if you can find any way of getting Outlook running under Wine. It installs but won’t run. That, and the fact that Wine Excel graphs have no legends, mean that I spend my day switching between Windows & Fedora. Yes I can have Fedora running in Virtual Box under Windows but its not real time enough for my software development tasks, and I can have Windows XP running in a Virtual Box under Fedora but its a process hog and slows the machine down. Sometimes you just can’t win.

  67. Mike Jennings Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Ken VanDine – thanks for your reply about Gwibber and sorry for getting that incorrect; I’ll change it :)



  68. Alan B Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    This is basically all echoing my experiences of Ubuntu. If it does what you want out of the box, or what you want is an official repository, and you’re on an LTS version, you’re largely laughing. Otherwise be prepared for a lot of hair-pulling. This is the simple fact of the matter, though the situation gets better all the time.

  69. Richard Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    Jeff hancox,
    Just read your comment.
    I see you are running Office. Do you have Outlook running OK? If so how did you manage it. I can’t get it to work and WineHQ at has no help

  70. Jeff hancox Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Outlook 2003 runs fine with Crossover Office on Ubuntu 10.04LTS

  71. Jeff hancox Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    sorry mate, didn’t see your question, I was replying to Tims post. No effort needed to get it running, install crossover, install Office within crossover. Oh, I should have typed Office 2007, that is the version I’m using, not 2003. Need to keep up with the times.

  72. Ummar Mahroof Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    How come Thunderbird wasnt used? although it does lack the integration into Ubuntu of Evolution, its very slick and obviously has alot more plugins to make it what you want?

  73. HuwJ Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    OK Guys – let’s see you review today’s hardware accelerated IE9 release candidate using linux…

  74. Jeff hancox Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Personally I only ended up with Outlook over any other email client because I carried out a complete install of Office 2007. Didn’t give it much thought to be honest.

  75. Melvin Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Try installing windows software with Play on Linux. It’s a front-end for Wine and it configures everything for you. I used it to install MS Office 07 on my machine.

  76. Oli Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Tim: Wine+Outlook just won’t work.

    Save yourself some time and download CrossOver Linux. It’s by the same people as Wine but it’s a much more stable version aimed at supporting a select few applications (including MS Office). It should install alongside Wine just fine.

    Wine is good for games, etc but CrossOver is usually better for the applications it supports.

  77. Tim Danton Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    @Oli Thanks for the tip, I’ll give that a try.
    @Melvin Will give that a go as well!
    @Ummar Thunderbird doesn’t appear to support Exchange, or at least not our version.

  78. stokegabriel Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Pretty much mirrors my experience, with drivers being a problem. The one thing that windows does better is to go on-line and automatically grab most drivers that it needs.
    I recently tried the Ubuntu netbook variant, and it all worked flawlessly apart from the wireless lan. I just couldn’t get it to work, it saw my network, I clicked on my ssid name and entered the passphrase and then nothing. No useful feedback to give me any idea of why it isn’t working.If the netbook version of Ubuntu won’t allow a netbook to work using a wireless connection it’s no good. Liked the look of it though, very easy to navigate, better performance than on Windows also.
    The main problem is that like you, I have spent years with Windows and Ubuntu is quite unsurprisingly different. If I had years of experience using Ubuntu, I guess I would find using Windows a very odd experience.
    But the main advantages for business are that the whole Ubuntu desktop and server package is free, so no more bothering about user licences etc.
    Of course you have all missed one big trick that Ubuntu has, a manual, as in a real book, ok you have to buy it but at least it’s available, which is more than any version of Windows can claim.
    I don’t think Ubuntu is quite ready for the mainstream yet, it’s just a little too raw, and leaves you scratching your head a bit too much, unsure as to what the problem actually is, which makes resolving glitches time consuming. However business is either going to upgrade to Win7 sometime soon, or wait for Win8 (which I know many businesses are going to do), if you are going to go through all that upheaval and training, switching to Ubuntu is an attractive proposition. However running into problems on day 1,that an Ubuntu engineer can’t solve isn’t a promising start.
    So to summarise is Ubuntu a viable alternative, most definitely, would I switch right now, no I would wait for another build or two, to iron out the wrinkles.

  79. Lestibournes Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    “Sorry. And any glitch on basic setup, whomever is responsible, is simply not good enough in 2011.”
    You try doing things the windows way after being warned that it may work differently, you fail, and it’s Ubuntu’s fault? And this when the software Ubuntu ships with does work? The only fault here is that they didn’t write in the one and only place you looked, the package description, a complete howto which actually doesn’t belong in the package description but in the online documentation. Also, anyone who knows anything about Linux knows that the system needs to be rebooted in order for changes to the kernel, such as newly installed drivers, to take effect.

  80. Martin Owens Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    @Lestibournes – not strictly true, you can just modprobe the right module and be away with it. It’s probably only a dkms package anyway.

  81. Steve Cassidy Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    @JonH – see the pre-cooked “appliance” installs for VMWare at . Far as I can see there’s nothing in it when it comes to the matter of unsupported hardware. Some machines exist which won’t do Win7; others won’t do Ubuntu or BSD or what-have-you. Given the existence of Fusion, though I cannot see the point of the rip-out install on a Mac, of any of them, any more.

  82. Lestibournes Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    @Martin Owens:
    You’re going over my head there (do you mean that the OS should probe the hardware and then install the package automatically if it detects that it’s in a virtual machine?). My problem wasn’t with the technicalities but with the attitude of just blaming Ubuntu because it’s easy, not because it’s the right target as illustrated by the sentence I chose to quote. If Ubuntu can detect that it’s inside a VMWare VM and does nothing about it when it could then of course it’s Ubuntu’s fault and it should be criticized, but it shouldn’t be criticized for not having documentation in the package description or not working right with a 3rd party solution that was installed in a non-standard way when there is a package for it in the USC.

  83. Ummar Mahroof Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    I posed this question yesterday and referred to this earlier today at the start of this project. How much prep was done for this? was the purpose to show how quickly you can switch to ubuntu and get up and running? in which case you did admirably, if the purpose was to actually see how well ubuntu is used then you’ve probably done as much damage to ubuntu’s PR as you have done good.
    If you started a new company you would plan, prepare and test a office environment and configure the software and OS before letting staff loose on it, no matter how technically savvy. You would standardise emailing software, IM clients, graphics apps etc and all the issues mentioned. To moan and whine about things not “just working and they would under windows” is unfair if the same level of planning was not put into it.

  84. Markus Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    About glitches on install, try this – had a dual boot Vista and Ubuntu Lucid. After booting into Windows to do updates (I was usually in Linux) – my motherboard got fried. Had to replace it – and it needed new, better, memory. And I took advantage to change the graphics card. Figured it was no use to try booting Windows, and I was right. It needed a complete re-install.

    Ubuntu just booted right up.

    And along the same lines, I rehabilitated an old athlon 2600 with Lubuntu (a lighter variant), then was given a Pentium M. Combined the two computers – video and wireless cards from the first. CPU, motherboard and memory from the second.

    Thought I would try to boot up from the first hard disk and see if I was lucky – worked first time! I mean, new motherboard, memory and CPU and the system just gets back to work.

    Try that with Windows!

    But I did follow your experiment with interest and it was nice to see it being done, despite the fact that there was a bit too much trying to get Ubuntu to be Windows. On the other hand, a full day in a business environment – quite a daring switch, so I applaud you for that!

  85. N.C. Weber Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    I’m glad someone discovered Miro Internet TV. I’m addicted to that thing. I watch the Tech News Today video podcasts daily. Just so you know, there’s a Windows and a Mac client available.

  86. Luke Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    For a tech mag, the staff seem oddly ignorant of how to solve the small issues that arise — most, if not all of their problems could be solved by a basic Google search, and they fail to mention the built-in tech support that comes as a by-product of the healthy Ubuntu community. One guy hadn’t clicked the blinking button that appears when you first run Ubuntu asking if you’d like to install proprietary drivers, and then went on to complain that his video card wasn’t working. They also spend an inordinate amount of time complaining that they can’t get Microsoft software to run smoothly (I can’t install Outlook… Oh noes!) and neglect to mention that many of their problems arise because they’re running Ubuntu on virtual machines instead of a real install.

    Ultimately, their complaints have far more to do with their own dependence on proprietary software than anything else.

  87. Andrew Hayzen Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    @Kevin Partner

    You said you were using FileZilla for FTP access for your web development. Why not use Ubuntu’s build in tools?
    Places->Connect to server. Then enter the correct details and the server appears infront of you like a normal folder! This was one of the main reasons for me to use Ubuntu over windows as I use an SSH connection to my server.

    Hope that improves you experience with Ubuntu and well done to PCPRO for trying Ubuntu for a day.


  88. Johnsie Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    No IT manager would go about rolling out a new OS this way!!! In the office where I installed Ubuntu I made sure everything was up and running to the users needs before I let anyone near it.

  89. Johnsie Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Oh and you shouldn’t shoehorn things… Where I work I only install Ubuntu on machines that it will work nicely on, not anything that requires special Windows software.

  90. Sam Browne Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    You can integrate Thunderbird with Exchange Server via DavMail, works a treat.

    Plenty of guides on Google…


  91. Richard Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    @Ummar Mahroof
    “If you started a new company you would plan, prepare and test a office environment and configure the software and OS before letting staff loose on it, no matter how technically savvy.”

    Ummar you sound like you either work in the public sector or you are a student whose only experience of business startups is reading about them in textbooks!

    Non of the many small businesses I’ve been involved would dream of doing the sort of prep. you envisage, they just wing it, and hope for the best! So the PCPro trial is much more realistic than you give it credit for.

    To PCPro, excellent blog, found it really interesting!

  92. Martin Owens Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    @Lestibournes – It would be possible to detect the VMWare host, it’s got signature device ids and such. But installing the right things is quite fancy for a VM. Maybe next release if PCPro submit a bug report?

  93. Richard Smith Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Any business setting up with Windows machines would not be starting with random bare metal and a stack of Windows install CDs. They would start with pre-installed machines loaded and prepared with the required drivers by the manufacturers. That was not what was done in this experiment.
    But it was fun and I guess everyone learned something – well done PcPro! Invite Canonical back for a debrief, and make sure they know you will repeat the exercise with the next version.

  94. Rev. Spaminator Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Great for the real challenge. Remember when you didn’t have a choice? You had the OS your computer came with and if you wanted something done, you just had to figure out how to make it happen. Try fixing on a *nix distro and MAKING it work, permanently. Best decision I made. Computers are geeky fun again. Linux full time at home since 2004.

  95. Alex Moldovan Says:
    February 10th, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    @ Nicole Kobie -You can use the delay or install Shutter (it’s the best)

  96. Shawn B. Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 2:21 am

    It’s going to take more than a day to get used to Ubuntu. You guys seem to be thinking everything works one way or another (e.g. Mac vs Windows).
    I’m actually disappointed in this review as it seems like your complaining and finding only faults which vary from computer to computer. For example: GIMP – it was hard for me to use at first, now I use it a lot.
    Flash software, talk to Adobe, the community does have someone creating a flash like software for it, granted it’s not perfect it’s really good so far – Synfig Studio.
    Outlook, if you don’t like Evolution, use Thunderbird, install add-ons. Most of us use winetricks, which allows you to install things like msxml and that easily.
    Also Chrome comes with flash by default. Unless you want to beta the 64-bit version, install the 64-bit flash.
    There’s more to Ubuntu than meets the eye. I’d give it a try for a week and then give a full article on it.

  97. madhi19 Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 5:31 am

    Now that you tried Ubuntu for a day and got must of the kink out. I dare you to stay with it for a week.

  98. Cyberindie Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 7:28 am

    It sounds like a great geeks operating system. Wonderful for those who love tinkering with the OS to an extreme degree.

    If you’re not a geek but just consider a computer a tool to get something done then all the faffing around with drivers and having to have a full time techie in is not appealing.

  99. russv Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Despite my frivolous comment yesterday I don’t think this experiment proves a lot. Most large businesses will be running many PCs but only a limited number of model types. By using Ghost or something similar it’s possible to build a working image (with commons apps) for each type and roll that out. I can only assume PC Pro staff are mostly freelancers who use their own (and differing) equipment. .

  100. David Wright Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Jon Honeyball hit the nail on the head.

    The underlying operating system is pretty irrelevant. Its job is to be transparent to the user, allowing them to execute the applications they need to do their job or the task at hand.

    If you have to spend more time dealing with the operating system than actually working, then either you are using the wrong operating system or the operating system isn’t up to the job…

    That said, you need to plan such an update in advance and have the correct drivers ready – and ensure that your hardware is supported.

    I’ve had problems with Linux, Windows and OS X, where hardware wasn’t supported or I had to wait months for drivers to become available. I think my record is 18 months, for ATi to bring out a driver for the X800 Mobility chipset!

    I used Linux as my primary desktop between 2002 and 2006 – XP put me off Windows for a long time. I then switched to OS X in 2006 and then Vista won me back to the Windows fold, it was a breath of fresh air compared to XP – it allowed me to work smarter and didn’t get in the way as much, Windows 7 was another small step forward.

    Today, I still use SUSE, Windows 7 /Windows Server 2008R2 and OS X on a daily basis. I don’t really notice the difference, switching from one to another. Which one I use depends on what I am trying to achieve and, more often, my mood.

    As to the 1-day challenge, it isn’t very realistic and doesn’t prove much. A better test would have been to use it for one complete magazine cycle. Then the little teething problems, which aren’t an every-day experience woudn’t matter so much, it would be more “is the OS a suitable replacement?” As opposed to “does it even work?”

  101. Lestibournes Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 10:17 am

    That is unfair. They were installing it on random hardware and some of them had problems because the hardware wasn’t supported. If you subtract those cases then it’s just a matter of some missing application.

  102. John Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Large businesses and most government institutions would not have done this without previous testing and planning being done beforehand.

    A small or medium sized business that already has the hardware in place would probably do this gradually, ie. making new-starts use Ubuntu and giving them limited access.

    Forcing a switch-over in one day and using hardware and software that Ubuntu was not designed for is a really bad idea.

    And finally, Ubuntu isn’t ready for the Office. As stated in the blog, Evolution does not cut it comapared to Outlook and Exchange server. A few people mentioned Thunderbird here…. That is also not as useful in a medium or large business. It’s all to do with integration and having a server based address book that can be sync’d.

  103. Stokegabriel Says:
    February 11th, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Choice is always a good thing to have and this little experiment shows that Ubuntu is rapidly becoming a viable choice. Not quite there yet, but then Vista wasn’t either. In the end Microsoft eventually got there and I’m sure Ubuntu will also.
    So you ran into a few problems, that’s to be expected, but if you don’t think Windows users run into problems, then why does PCPro need a Help Forum?

  104. Former Ubuntu user Says:
    February 12th, 2011 at 11:44 am

    “how to use the command line to make HD video play smoothly on Jon Bray’s machine, and other minor issues.”

    Using the command line to view videos is a minor issue? How many commands do you need to run in the terminal in Windows or OS X before you can view HD video?

  105. fred Says:
    February 12th, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Linux has been getting “quite there” for more than a decade. In my experience, running Linux on a desktop is a huge waste of time. That’s why I went back to Windows, where believe or not, actual progress happens.

  106. Harold Sharp Says:
    February 12th, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    I’m running 6 different versions of linux on 4 computers, and I find I enjoy it more than I did Windows. I am self-employed and find that I can run my small business fully on Ubuntu 10.04 with available software.

  107. Peter Hotham Says:
    February 13th, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Some of the problems reported seem endemic, which put me off Ubuntu as a fairly untechnical home user. Tried Ubuntu in WUBI a year or so ago on a redundant laptop with 256MB memory. Had problems with a large update trashing the installation. Had to uninstall and try again – seems familiar? Tried it on a dual screen Dell desktop. Could not get both screens to work satisfactorily – seems familiar? No drivers available for Canon i9950 – seems familiar?
    Decided to uninstall, but it failed part way through. I still have a WUBI screen during start up that I don’t know how to remove!
    Distinctly nervous of trying it again even in a home environment, never mind business.

  108. Ian Jameson Says:
    February 13th, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    I currently run 3 computers at home, 2 with OpenSuse 9.2 and one with Kubuntu 10.10. All dual-boot with XP.
    All the Linux setups went smoothly, with no driver issues and run everything I need, with one exception (high-end games designed for Windows), flawlessly.
    I have worked with Windows since DOS days, so I have no problem when Windows crashes. Not mine, but in the last 3 weeks, I have had to help 5 friends whose Windows machines had gone down due to viruses etc. So much for reliability. Plus the one who couldn’t live with Windows 7 constant popups and security requests I also had problems with Vista/7 and regressed to XP. As for your implication, at my last work before retiring, we installed Syspro on an large XP network. It took 3 MONTHS of training before commisioning, and a further 3 months before it was embedded. And you tried to set up a new OS in 1 DAY? I think you had an amazing success story.

  109. Roy Hocknull Says:
    February 14th, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    As someone who has recently switched from Windows to Ubuntu 10.10 as my work desktop, I agree with post 102 – no viable email client (check out my blog – ) Also, you have to change the way you do things, as I tried to replicate the way i did things in Windows – which is not the right way.

  110. Stan Fraser Says:
    February 17th, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Ubuntu in a day? How many could use Windows, Outlook or any Office app, any version without trouble?
    Linux is not Windows, when help is needed go to the relevant forums etc. Yes everyone needs some sort of training to use new systems

  111. Matthew Forrest Says:
    February 17th, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Interesting experiment and by an amazing coincidence my officemate and I also installed Ubuntu on our machines today! We are already linux geeks so we had a bit of a headstart. To be honest our day was painless, we even installed network printers without needing to install the Novell iPrint client which was lovely. We installed 99% of what we needed from the terminal using apt-get (only one password input required). I was business as usual before lunch.

    The only glitch we had was trying to get different backgrounds on different desktops, but considering Windows doesn’t even support multiple desktops it seems pretty minor.

    But, we also made what was probably a good call, we used 10.04.1 LTS instead of 10.10. Not only do LTS releases guarantee longer support (definitely a good thing when it comes to installing software effortlessly from the repositories) but they are just that little bit more polished, especially when they are incremented to XX.XX.1 releases. I would definitely recommend LTS for a production environment.

    I find it amazing that people (IT journalists!) moan about entering their passwords when installing software, that is the way things should be, even M$ came around to that in the end.

    And learn to love the terminal people! It is like speaking directly to you machine, instead of through a stuttering translator.

  112. Andy Says:
    March 6th, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Got the disk (ubuntu 10.10) from the front cover of Pc Pro magazine. I’ve tried installing it several time (full install to replace Windows) but it fails every time. A quick look around the web shows that this version is buggy and has a installation “issues”. Now, where did I put my back up? Ah, here it is. Good old Windows XP Pro; solid and reliable.

  113. Ceska Says:
    November 10th, 2011 at 3:39 am

    Like all of you when I heard the original lineup had reunited for “Astronaut” I was thrilled.
    Not quite so thrilled when I heard the disc.
    Granted “Astronaut” had some great moments but that was not the comeback I was hoping for.
    I skipped “Red Carpet” all together due to the reviews from fans and critics.
    Then without even realizing DD was coming out with something new, this caught my attention on our local newspaper.
    Not quite the hippest place to find out about a new DD album but that’s it.

  114. arturpio Says:
    February 22nd, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Amazing experience : switch the entire organisation to another environment in 1 morning, without preparation, hardware tests, data migration, user training… etc. etc. Even without to know the new software… Why nobody knows how to connect to MSN? Nobody knows Pidgin? I use it for 5 years by now…

    Nobody newer, in any business environment, would even try to imagine to do it this way!

    But, with Ubuntu it was, at least, “doable” (= “able to do it”), you did it!



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