Usability - Productivity - Business - The web - Singapore & Twins

Linux Desktop

The best of all my wifes is changing jobs, so she has to return the corporate PC. Until she might get a new one I have to provide access.
Earlier trials with unconventional computing (we tried mobile Firefox/Thunderbird on a memorystick) have shown, that she has a hand getting around.
So we decided to put her on Linux. The big question now which one: Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Suse, Knoppix, AsiaNux or...?
Any opinion appreciated. And Yes, Wine/Notes is a must.

Update: I struggled with a number of distributions, luckily all of them provide live CDs, so the effort was download, burn, slot in the CD.
This is what I tried:
  • Inside Security Rescue CD 3.14: A Linux squeezed on a credit card CD. It can read NTFS even if XP doesn't do it anymore. It found all drives, all partitions, the right graphic card resolution etc. Since it's a rescue CD this was only a test.
  • Kubuntu 5.04: While it gets all the rave I wasn't so happy. It prompted for my graphic card, which is a show stopper for a normal user. Also I couldn't figure out how to format/mount my second harddisk. Another point of grievance: I couldn't figure out how to increase the refresh rate from 60Hz to something higher, so the screen was quite flickering. The software selection on the other hand was quite complete featuring the usual suspects: Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice and all the K* apps.
  • Ubuntu 5.04: The installation worked smoothly, no prompt for graphic card. I liked evolution. However both issues from Kubuntu (Graphic card, hard disk) remained.
  • Simply Mephis 3.3.2: Following a link from linuxdesktop I found SimplyMepis. Seduced by the praise I tried it. Quite nice: the live CD also allows you to install it on the PC. It is based on Debian/KDE. The usual suspects are there and Choi Fong uses Kontakt for eMail now. It also found all harddisks and allowed me to format the second one. Connecting to my XP machine and back works fine. After setting my monitor type to generic LCD1024x768 (in a simple menu) I could set the refresh rate to 70Hz. The only drawback I encountered so far: Getting a little adventurous I checked the box "use the original NVidia drivers". They were downloaded and screwed up the settings. The system wanted to go to 1280x1024 which made the old and trusted 15" LCD scream. I fixed that by temporarily using my 17" to reset the setting. Alternatively I could have used text mode, but my VI is still limited and Midnight Command (The Linux resurrection of Norton Commander) is not installed by default).
So far so good. I'm sure with a little more RTFM I would get all of them working properly. However I switched off most of my IT brain to make sure a NDU* could handle that. Seems Linux is getting there.
Notes/Wine installation is still pending.
*NDU = normal dumb user

Posted by on 29 August 2005 | Comments (1) | categories: Singapore


  1. posted by Julian Robichaux on Wednesday 31 August 2005 AD:
    I've got Ubuntu running on my main desktop here at home, and it's pretty nice. Easy install, and you can test with the live CD first to see if there will be any issues with your machine.

    I like the concept of "one app per function", rather than the distros that dump every single bit of software they can on the ISO, so you end up with 5 window managers, 4 browsers, and 12 music players.

    I also like the fact that Ubuntu seems to have a pretty active user community, which is good from the support standpoint. Good forum fodder. It uses Gnome by default, but if you hate Gnome there's also a Kubuntu project that uses KDE instead.

    The only other distro that I have recent experience with (besides Knoppix, which is just too busy for me) is Suse Personal, which I thought was nice. It had a good feel -- I tend to think that KDE is much slicker than Gnome -- and installed very quickly and worked well out of the box. I also like Yast for package management, although I like Synaptic on Debian/Ubuntu also.

    I got Lotus Notes working under Wine on Ubuntu, and it works pretty well, although I really haven't stress-tested it much. Still have a problem with local full-text indexes (can't seem to do them), but other things work just like in Windows. So far anyway. I guess Java gets a little screwy sometimes. I can even write code in Designer.

    Anyway, I guess that isn't a recommendation so much as a rundown of what I've played with recently. Since Ubuntu, Knoppix, and Suse all have live CD options, you could always boot each of them up from a CD and let your wife choose from there...

    - Julian