Alienware 17 R4 2017 review
Over the past couple of years, Ubuntu has been developing and trying to break into the mainstream Linux market. Many people that use Linux, sing its praises and will not have a word said against it.
Personally, I've never had much success with it, generally failing to get it to load successfully. This in some part may be due to me using a multi-boot machine (five operating systems) that needs a specific boot loader position on the disk, which the Ubuntu installer didn't seem to like very much. On the one occasion I did get it to load, it was flaky and frankly, I was pretty unimpressed. I also didn't like the Gnome desktop, but that's just a personal thing rather than a criticism.
However, being a glutton for punishment and seeing the 6.10 version has just been released, I thought I would try yet again, but this time use the Kubuntu release, which has the KDE desktop and which is much closer to the familiar Windows interface. I was also interested in the 64 bit edition, as SuSE rocks on that (very unimpressed with Vista) and I wanted to see whether there was any advantage in using Kubuntu.
The fist thing I have to say is, I was very impressed with the installation. It took a total of 25 minutes (once I found my way around) to install the system and all its associated applications (web browsers, Open Office and so on) AND update the whole shebang from the internet, without any input from me (other than the original settings - time country and so on).
The boot-up time, is unquestionably, the fastest I've come across and in use (albeit for a limited period of time), it's quick as well.
It didn't load Firefox as the default browser because KDE has its own - Konqueror, but a quick click on the install programs menu and Firefox was up and running (version 2.0) with the spell checker already configured for the country that was part of the original set-up - how cools that?
It found my network and self configured to see all the shared Windows files, but not the reverse. This is not unusual in Linux, as the security built into the system generally means you have to make the Linux machine offer a local network connection. I'll work on that in due course.
Audio works straight out of the box through both my CDRW and DVDRW drives, with no help from me. Just like Windows, DVD's require extra files to play, in the same way as you may load Power DVD for example in Windows; so little difference there.
It includes a cracking CD/DVD burner called K3B, which I've used in SuSE which is comparable to Nero in most respects.
For anyone interested, click here for an image of the desktop (notice how clean the desktop is and of course it's very configurable) and click here for an image of Firefox and PCA, just to try and dispel this notion that you have to be a geek to use Linux.
As discussed many times before, if you're into games, it's not the system for you, but for a straight forward, web browsing, office machine, its got a lot going for it.
Thanks very much for this LastChip. I was about to download Ubuntu (from click here) when I came across your post.
Going by your glowing review, I'm going to get Kubuntu instead. This is going to be my first taste of Linux - hope it goes well. It'll be great if I'm able to successfully install it & get my broadband cable connection to work with it. G
P.S. If anyone else is interested to try Kubuntu click here
I too have started usibng Ubunto, first the Dapper Drake(6.06) version and now Edgy(6.10)and I find it excellent.
I have also installed it on the computers of a number of pensioner friends, initially because of the lack of cost. Almost all have reported back that they find it simpler and easier to use than the old system they were using (mainly Windows 98)
Having said that all of the installs went perfectly and easily, I then had a problem getting it to install on one of my machines, although its there now.
One of the basic problems with Linux is still there however - a lack of certain drivers. Canon don't seem to support Linux and there isnt a driver for my LIDE50 scanner. The use of the command line is also a problem for some, but I agree that its use has been minimised and most people I know are starting to revise upward their opinion of Linux.
For a number of those of us with greying hair the cost of software can be a real problem, and this latest version of Ubuntu means we can spend a little more upgrading the hardware.
If anyone contemplates downloading and installing Kubuntu, the following may be of help.
Once you've downloaded the iso it's always advisable to do an md5sum check. This has two advantages. First, it verifies what you have downloaded is the complete iso and it also verifies no one has tampered with it.
When you burn the CD, use a slow speed to burn. You have a far better chance of getting a good disk at a slower speed. For example, when I first downloaded the Kubuntu iso in (SuSE in fact), I just let the K3B burner burn the disc at its default fastest speed. In spite of the fact that it showed a correct checksum at the end (yes, K3B does this automatically if you use the verify option), I had problems loading the disc.
More about that. When the Kubuntu CD first shows a menu, it offers a disc checking facility. My advice is, don't skip that. If I'd done that in the first place, my initial problems would have never existed. It turned out, that although the information was all on the disc, a small section was not readable (not Kubuntu's fault - a fault of the disc).
A re-burn on the same manufacturers disc (Verbatim) at a slower speed, worked well, and no further problems.
The installation menu is simplicity itself, but you do need to know that you need a partition at least 2 GB in size to install on and also a swap file. The partitioner will take care of this for you and if you know your way around Linux, you can choose a custom install and position the system wherever you want. Alternatively, you could use something like Partition Magic to create the space you want to use.
The 2GB partition will act just like your C: drive in Windows, but is known as "root" and is identified simply as / The swap partition can be identified as swap.
Just as you may be familiar with FAT32 or NTFS in Windows, Linux also has a number of different options for formatting. The default is ext3 and one can use that without any problems. So / (root) will be ext3 and swap will be, swap!
The swap file size is a source of fierce debate in some parts, but is generally regarded as being twice your RAM size with an upper limit of 2GB. This is not set in stone, just a guide. Remember, in general terms, it's only used when you run out of physical RAM.
Possible trip ups (just like Windows) remember you want English UK rather than USA, when it comes to keyboard selection.
If you want the simplest default dual boot install, Kubuntu will find your Windows installation and offer it as a choice on a menu once you have installed Kubuntu during startup.
Anything your unsure about? Kubuntu has one of the best on-line communities for help, bar none. click here for people far more knowledgeable than me!
LastChip - Thanks for taking the time to post the review. I tend to use suse because of the 64 bit system being quite mature these days and aren't keen on gnome - so it sounds like giving kubuntu a go would be worthwhile.
Bandy - I have a Canon Lide 60 scanner and this works fine with Sane using the genesys driver. Just checked the Sane config and this shows that it supports the Lide 50.
I've always wanted to try Linux and the review has spurred me into action, well almost.
I have two HD's one is empty. I was going to install Linux on this and leave XP on the current HD. Would this be OK, Just asking as I'm a complete novice re LInux
Everything I'd read said that sane support worked with the Lide30 but not the 50. I'll go away and check shortly.
Pretty much the perfect setup.
Just remember, Kubuntu will want to create its root (/) partition and a swap partition on your drive. The installer will handle that for you.
Make sure you tell it to install to your second drive. If it's a SATA drive, it will appear as sdb or if it's a normal drive, it will appear as hdb (as against sda or hda which would be your primary drive). It will probably offer that option anyway.
My review was meant to be an opinion of how I found the installation and subsequent short period of use. (having said that, I haven't stopped playing with it!).
But no operating system is perfect and if my post has spurred one or two people to try it - great (power to the people - remember that!)- but please, please , please, if you are going to use a dual boot system, back up anything important on your existing system first. Just in case!
To put this into perspective, I've been a Linux fan now for probably three or four years and have never had a problem with dual or multi-boot systems, but there's always a first time.
I down loaded and burnt the cd OK.
I assume to install you put the cd into the drive and reboot the PC and then go from there.
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