Every couple of days, the hard drive of the G4 I use in work starts ‘clicking’. Well, more like ‘ke-CHUNK’ing. If I’m lucky, my computer freezes for a few minutes and comes back to life. If I’m not, I spend the next half hour or so rebooting until it goes away.
Finally, I’m facing up to the fact that my hard disk is dying and until I can get a replacement, I’m without a Mac to work on. So I’m giving [Ubuntu](http://www.ubuntu.com/) a whirl.
One of the biggest complains thrown around about ‘free’ software is that it’s only free if your time is worthless. The hours wasted getting things configured *just* the way you like them **do** add up. It’s very easy to spend an entire day tweaking your desktop instead of just acccepting what you have and getting on with your job.
The guys in Ubuntu seem to understand this – they’ve packed Debian (the smart choice of a Linux distribution) in such a way that they take all the pain out of the installation and day-to-day administration.
My personal experience is that Ubuntu has detected almost everything I’ve thrown at it – sound and video were auto-configured (and in a nice way too, any previous attempt at auto-configuring my video in the past has left me with a headache-inducing 60hz refresh rate and no obvious way to change it). Bluetooth setup was relatively painless (gnome-bluetooth and gnome-phone-manager took care of this). Today, it even auto-detected my USB keyring and auto-mounted it, putting a link to it on my desktop.
But there are also some things I dislike about Ubuntu. For example, the default behaviour for nautilus (the file manager) is a variation on the new ‘spatial’ nautilus. When you go into a child directory, nautilus closes the parent window automatically. I love spatial nautilus, but hate this behaviour. After a little bit of playing around, I found that it could be changed with the following:
`gconftool-2 –type bool –set /apps/nautilus/preferences/no_ubuntu-spatial true`
Matthew Thomas recently provided a fantastic round-up of [other outstanding issues with Ubuntu](http://mpt.net.nz/archive/2005/04/11/ubuntu).
Other nice things:
* **[evolution](http://www.novell.com/products/desktop/features/evolution.html)** has some really nice new features aimed at increasing productivity, including an ability to create a task from a message with one click
* **[liferea](http://liferea.sourceforge.net/)** has a ‘condensed view’ option for feeds, a feature I’d [previously praised](http://www.fuckcuntandbollocks.com/dorkus/2005/03/11/five-applications-i-couldnt-live-without/) in [Pheeder](http://www.pheed.com/pheeder/). Even better, this is feed-configurable, so you can set only certain feeds to use the ‘condensed view’. Liferea is still my favourite RSS reader on any platform.
* **[beagle](http://www.gnome.org/projects/beagle/)** is amazing – I know that something similar is going to be available in Tiger, but… wow.
But I still miss Quicksilver. [Gnome Launch Box](http://micke.hallendal.net/gnome-launch-box/) just doesn’t cut it.
I’ve been meaning to setup a stable RSS reading solution for myself for a while. I played around with rawdog yesterday for a while and it’s good but I think I prefer stand-alone readers + OPML exporting. I’ll give that a go for a while.
I apt-get’d liferea and I’m very impressed. On my Mac I’ve been giving NewsFire a go and it’s very slick, really makes the most of available system controls. It’s made by the same guy that makes Acquisition which is equally slick and also makes good use of UI objects but it’s a non-free P2P client and that makes it a dubious product for me.
Boy you should make this textarea bigger 🙂
My ibook hd died with much the same symptoms – on the plus side, once I left it alone for a while it worked for long enough to clone it onto the new one.