Some Linux loving this weekend [linux]

I have a confession. Despite my love affair with ywriter, I do miss me some linux simplicity. Not to mention protection against common viri.

So I tackled two projects simultaneously – taking an old x86 box from my friend Dan and seeing if I could work out its hardware issues, and trying out wubi on my netbook.

The secret to getting the desktop working turned out just to be running the latest version of ubuntu (9.04) – the network card was detected and working immediately (a nice feat for this crappy wifi card I picked up at newegg a few years ago on the cheap). My only gripe (now that its working) is A) the antenna is extremely temperamental and B) I suspect this thing is hogging power like a mad scientist revving up his nuclear powered time tunneler. Needless to say I need to re-evaluate this.

On to the netbook.

Wubi is a way to run ubuntu on a computer without actually partitioning it or altering your current windows installation at all. Seriously, if you dread the thought of repartitioning (and in this case I do, since I don’t want to break the netbook), this is awesomeness. The semi-technical nontechnical explanation of the process is that wubi creates an image on your disk (like a virtual machine), then hooks itself into the windows boot loader so that you can choose at bootup (and this is configurable as to which is the default) between windows and ubuntu. The ubuntu image is your normal copy, but without some of the hangups you might experience in a typical virtual machine. For example, the hardware is all available to you immediately, no shenanigans with sharing it or anything.

As a concept and execution, it ran without a hitch and worked like a champ. My only gripes (if you will), are that it doesn’t create a swap disk, and it isn’t intended (from what I can tell) to run on a netbook (at least not the acer aspire one). The swap disk bit because that means I couldn’t suspend or hibernate – both depend on a working swap space to write out the temporary image to. The latter is the reason I had to give up all together for this iteration – the fan wasn’t being activated at all, which meant the netbook started heating up horribly after a while.

I might try this again in the future, maybe next time working out how to substitute the netbook remix of ubuntu for the default 9.04 that it downloads. I’m hoping that the netbook remix will be better adapted and maybe keep the fan running. I can deal with the no swap (if I have to), but the overheating until you have a roasted piece of slag isn’t a way I want to move forward.

All in all, I’d recommend wubi to new users, and I’m going to give it a whirl again to see if I can get it smoothed out on the netbook. Sure would be nice to have a choice again 🙂