Friday, March 21, 2008

Ubuntu Musings

Last week I setup an old PC (2 GHz P4 with 512 MB RAM) at the office with Kubuntu 7.10. The PC was a Cisco MCS7800 but actually made by IBM.

I've been using it for web surfing on our lab network, mainly keeping Firefox open to my iGoogle and Google Reader pages. I wanted to install Gnome on it aside from KDE and was able to do so, but for some reason the default "human" theme would not load properly, even after I manually reinstalled it.

After much dicking around I decided to reimage the box with Ubuntu 7.10. While it worked better on my hardware than Kubuntu, I still couldn't get video to work like I wanted. The PC has an ATI Rage XL video card and is connected to a ViewSonic VA702b 17" flat panel monitor. I should be able to set screen resolution to 1280x1024 but couldn't get (K)Ubuntu to go higher than 1024x768. Unfortunately, at that resolution the display looks fuzzy.

The other day I finally said to heck with it, and loaded XP Pro on the machine. It went on smoothly, although I did have to manually download and install a driver for the Broadcom NIC. XP didn't properly detect the sound card so it's not working, but that isn't a big deal.

Certainly, I'd rather have some flavor of Linux on the box but I'm not going to waste time trying to get it configured if the hardware isn't easily supported. If it was easily configurable that would be different. I've got the box secured with AVG, a firewall, a hosts file, Spybot Search & Destroy, and run Firefox instead of IE. I don't engage in unsafe Internet usage, so I'm not worried about the box getting rooted.

The productivity apps which I've installed include, PuTTY, Cygwin, Pidgin, Core FTP Lite, Foxit Reader (for PDFs) and PDF Creator.

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