Last weekend I spend installing Linux on my laptop. Original idea was to try to Maemo SDK and try to create an application for Nokia 770. The SDK required Linux to be installed, so I freed up some space on the hard drive and burned a CD for Ubuntu installation.
Installation went surprisingly smoothly, after a few initial questions about hard drive partitioning, keyboard layout, computer name and user name and password a nice Gnome UI booted up with good resolution, sound and nice set of preinstalled applications.
I remember that using Linux as a user desktop just a few years back was a constant nigtmare of fine tuning endless configuration files just to make basic things work. Five years ago I had to spend a day just to make a new modem work with my Debian installation. Now I got my home internet working with no effort at all.
Ubuntu has Firefox browser and OpenOffice preinstalled, so most of the things I was doing with my home computer were covered. Basic configuration of the system of course took some time. Installing RealPlayer didn’t work via UI, but downloading the latest version for Linux from Real web site solved the problem. Setting up WLAN was also quite simple – I had to install drivers
manually, but entering WEP key and enabling the inteface was easily
done via UI. Configuring Russian keyboard layout in addition to a defalyt Finnish one was also possible from the UI.
However playing a DVD movie proved to be not so easy. Ubuntu support
forums have pretty good explanation of what needs to be done to enable
DVD decoding, but simple installation of libcss didn’t help to achieve
the desired result. Playback of the DVDs was jerky, so after some
googling I’ve discovered that DMA should be enabled for DVD drive, new drivers installed for my video card and new video player installed. Unfortunately I still didn’t manage to get the same level of convenience of DVD playback in Linux as in Windows.
I am really impressed by the progress that Linux made in a past few years as a desktop operating system. Open source community has a great potential in developing such projects and I am really excited by new ventures of Nokia in this area – such as e.g. 770 internet tablet.