Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ubuntu: A Fresh Perspective

I decided to replace the Fedora core 4 machine I had at home with the bizarrely named "Feisty Fawn" version (7.04) of Ubuntu, which has gotten oh so much attention as of late. Having never installed Ubuntu, I wanted to know what the big deal was.

There was only one disk to burn. That was a nice surprise. I started booting, and found that the CD I burned was actually a Live CD. It booted me right into Ubuntu. Naturally, I didn't read much about installing the distro, so I surmised for a minute that perhaps Ubuntu was just a Live CD. Not so -- after I actually looked at the items on the desktop, I found a single "Install" icon. Clicking this proceeded with the install of Ubuntu on my local hard drive.

The distro has so far proved to be very usable. There is an "Add/Remove Applications" feature which is remarkably like the "Add/Remove Programs" feature in Windows. That is very useful for users who grew up in a Windows world. My one complaint thus far is that I can't login as the root user. I'm sure that if I look around the net enough I can find a way around that :).


Greg Hewett said...

Regarding root access, many of the modern desktop unices (UNIXes), including Mac OS X, create a random password for the root user. I believe the thought is that running everyday tasks as root is dangerous. There are several ways that application can elevate privledges to the root user. When you launch Synaptic it will show a GUI prompt for you to enter your password. This is much like sudo, which you can use on the command line.

If you are looking for shell running as root, I would suggest just running "sudo bash" on the shell. I am sure there is a quick way to rig up a terminal that will elevate your priveledges similar to the way that synaptic does.

BTW, Synaptic is the package GUI package manger. It is a GUI interface to apt. If you have not used apt-get on the command line yet, it will make you an ubuntu/debian convert. I use nmap a lot, and it is never installed by default. 'apt-get install nmap' quickly fixes that!

mike macgirvin said...

I was going to upgrade all my Fedora installations to Ubuntu, except I wasn't able to find the answer to one question - Ubuntu is delivered as a 'server' or a 'desktop' disc. My question (if anybody can answer it) is if it is possible to install both.

Greg Hewett said...

Hey Mike, great to hear from you. I hope all is well.

I understand that ubuntu server is a subset of the desktop.

DreadPirateRyan said...

I believe that's correct -- I think the server is essentially == (Desktop - GUI + Web Server)

fulat2k said...

To install any desktop you want, select from the list from the command below:

apt-cache search ubuntu-desktop

It should list:

edubuntu-desktop - edubuntu desktop system
kubuntu-desktop - Kubuntu desktop system
ubuntu-desktop - The Ubuntu desktop system
xubuntu-desktop - Xubuntu desktop system

When you know the one you want, simply perform an apt-get install [desktop-name]

Done. Have fun :)

mike macgirvin said...

FYI, I'm now managing racks and buildings full of Ubuntu -

While you may be correct that server is a subset of desktop, both are very minimal Linux distributions designed primarily to fit on a single CD.

You have to apt-get a few hundred packages before you have anything resembling a 'real' Unix. php, mysql, emacs, ldap, ssh-client, yada, yada... OK, it serves basic OS needs, but only if your basic needs are writing python in nano or doing stuff in gimp or openoffice.

Granted, apt-get will get you anything. But all this stuff is already on the Debian DVD, along with thousands of other packages. Here in Australia, we pay for net traffic, so having stuff on disk is a big win.

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