Friday, June 4, 2010

Xubuntu goes bust

[A post in which I dis Linux (Xubuntu in particular), then return to an interest in it, then consider just going Mac and Adobe all the way now and forever, and by the end of which I turn to the reasonableness of the free Linux and Inkscape software on a less pricey self built system. Note that the idea of Windows does not crop up anywhere in the discussion. Ew.]

I upgraded to the latest Xubuntu, 10.04 (it's called Lusty Lynx or something, as each new release has an animal name associated with the new version number). Now Xubuntu doesn't boot up. Grrrr. Maybe I'll get back to it in a month or two and see if it is a bug that gets resolved. I assume it isn't something that happens on all computer systems. It's been a LOT of work though, trying to set up Xubuntu, just to see if I might squeeze some more speed out of Inkscape. I dunno, maybe I'll dip my toe into the forums somewhat, here and there, and see if I can figure it out. I can see myself one day opting for a purely linux machine, after my current iMac G5 finally goes to its grave. If I can manage to work out the kinks that seem to be a part of the deal (at least with my current hardware and peripherals), it would surely be the most economically efficient option for both hardware and software. If, that is, the time put into getting everything set up (including a driver for my Canon printer, oi, I wonder how difficult that might be) isn't too terribly much more time than I've put into it so for.

I tried the upgrade because, having had a chance recently to get back to my experimenting with Xubuntu, I tried again to get my wacom tablet to work on it. But having to again run the gauntlet of forum posts and jargon and foreign programming type instructions (much like I had to do in order to figure out how to initially install Xubuntu, as well as for getting wireless to work), I opted to try simply upgrading to the recent release of 10.04, as I already stated, hoping (?) this might allow my Wacom Bamboo to work with no special set up. If it would have done it, I can't know. It freezes during boot up.

I wonder if the love linux users have for the various flavors of linux has at least something to do with a love of tinkering and figuring out how to make it all work with various computer set ups. I can understand that, and there's a part of me that likes that sort of thing, but the frustrations that come with so much of it all being unfamiliar (and much geekier than I am presently able to understand, or at least a different kind of geek) leaves me, well, just that, frustrated. But strangely still drawn to it in some way. Are there systems that work with linux out of the box?

Then again, a new Mac, plus time put into learning Illustrator over Inkscape, just might be worth it. I'm thinking this, because the time put into one (a Mac plus Illustrator set up), might be much the same as the time put into the other (Linux plus Inkscape set up). Counting my learning of Illustrator (in place of learning how to make Linux operational), plus the time required to earn the extra dough for the certainly pricier Mac and Adobe software (in place of using the free Inkscape, plus building my own machine at a lower price, which also would require some learning time, or perhaps buying an already built machine, albeit a cheaper one than a Mac would be), it might all be somewhat even as far as time put in, whichever way I chose to go. Well, at least initially. Over the long hall, by my second or third upgrade, the Linux on a self built computer with Inkscape, would be less costly than upgrading to a new Mac two or three or four (and five and six) times. Did I lose you? Are you even reading? It's late. Good night.


Esther said...

I hate to say it but I think that a Mac system and linux just don't mix well. I'm sure a lot of the hardware under a Mac hood require proprietary drivers. There are probably some drivers out there that will work, but it will require much effort as you have already experienced.

Linux works best on very generic machines, like a cheap e-machine available at Wally World for under $400. It also works great on older systems. I run linux on a 5 year old AMD motherboard in which I have maxed out the memory capacity. Inkscape runs great on it. You can't have a system that is too old as some support drops off. Proprietary systems like Dell or Mac always have difficulty because of the brandname or proprietary hardware.

Daniel Heywood said...

Hey, thanks Esther. When I initially loaded Xubuntu from disc, I had to type in an alternative boot up command (not sure the jargon) to allow it to boot properly due to, I think, my system's video card. The alternative command was an option indicated in the text on the boot up screen when I was booting from disc. That special boot command wasn't necessary once installed to HD. Now, as I think about it, under 10.04, I'm getting what I think (it's been a while) is the same kind of freezing up as I was getting back then (booting from disc) when I didn't use the special boot command. Maybe 10.04 would work if I used that same boot up command (?). I'll have to try it out.

Other than that, and the numeric keypad not working (there's talk in the forums about that too), I don't think there has been any hardware issues (or is the numeric keypad a peripheral issue?). The wireless was actually easy once I plugged in an ethernet cable, and with that connection did whatever I did to get it working (I think the process is in my notes, somewhere, maybe). Wireless connection looked like an issue with the card brand, which is used in other non-Mac systems as well. The issue was something about having to extract firmware from the card that couldn't be distributed otherwise due to copyright. Or something. My upgrade from 9.04 to 9.10 didn't kill the wireless either, it still worked.

The issue I had yet to resolve (with less effort than I had put into all the rest) was my Wacom Bamboo, a peripheral rather than hardware issue. I suspect that my printer would require some special set up too.

So, in the end, as you suggest, some more generic machine might best work out of the box, but there's wasn't anything Mac- hardware-wise that wasn't make-workable. My biggest problem was understanding jargon and sorting through outdated information.