And my, how incredibly easy it was.
As you might remember from earlier posts, I decided that it would be a good idea to put a more recent and user-friendly version of Linux on Sarah's computer, Larkin. It had been running Debian, which while powerful, was more complex than we needed. Also, it had not been updated any time recently, and doing so might have lead to a video driver recompile (two words: Ewww wwww).
Research and recommendations from the computer's creator led me to seek Ubuntu. Its based on Debian, but makes more things automatic, so one doesn't have to know the proper Unix commands to do as many things. Its intent is to be simple, easy to install and use, and still uber-powerful. It comes in several flavours (regular, Xubuntu, Edubuntu and our choice Kubuntu), and has a regular release cycle of 6 months. The current version, 7.04 Feisty Fawn, is 4 months old (the number before the decimal is the year, the number after is the month). Dapper Drake, version 6.06, is available for long term support (3 years). I downloaded the disc images of both. Dapper Drake was tested out first on Berman, but since its almost time for 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon to come out, I figured Feisty was safe enough.
I burned the .iso files onto disc using the Burn Image option on Infra Recorder (this is in Windows; Mac has a utility for this kind of burn built in), then put the Feisty Fawn disk into Larkin. I had previously configured the BIOS to boot from disc before trying to boot from the harddrive, so Kubuntu started right up. The LiveCD I'd created allowed me to run Kubuntu from the disc first, to make sure it was compatible with my hardware. It was. All I had to do was click the install icon on the desktop, answer some simple locational questions, pick a username and password, and define my partition (since the whole computer was to be on this OS, I could just let the machine do it for me. Kubuntu does let users make it a secondary operating system, unlike Windows). That was that. I waited half an hour, then restarted, removed the LiveCD, and there I was, with a new Linux distro.
Configuring was easy. I simply needed to know what packages to install, then use Adept to do it. I added various bits of software for development, as well as some codecs, and the GIMP. More can be added at any time. Adept also looks for software interdependencies, and will get all the necessary programs to support what you requested.
Firefox came pre-installed, and I did the usual extensions. Setting up the printer and networked storage were just a matter of pointing the system to the right place.
The only challenges I had were getting the audio to work (which required mucking around with muted values in the Mixer, and plugging the speakers into the right port) and getting Java to download (I missed the 'do you agree' checkbox the first time).
So, Linux is easy. Anyone who wants to test it is welcome to borrow (or have) my LiveCDs for either Dapper or Feisty. I'm so pleased to have pulled this off without turning Larkin into a dead pile of metal (I wasn't worried, but I certainly considered what I'd do if so). I'm also glad that I'm personally free of Microsoft. When it comes time to replace my next computer, I won't be forced to buy Vista and all its evilness; Berman has shown me the way of the Mac, and Larkin can now be my guide to the world of Linux. I suppose this makes me a computer geek.