Installing Ubuntu on a new (to me) laptop

My wonderful aunt sent me a Dell Inspiron 9200 she bought years and years ago. It’s not new and it’s not very fast, but it has several advantages over the macbook I got in 2006 that is now held together with tape, courtesy of the TSA.

  1. It is not held together with tape.
  2. Tripping over the cord doesn’t lose all my work.
  3. It has a ginormous screen compared to my macbook, which is WONDERFUL for coding (and watching movies)
  4. The sound is pretty darn good for a laptop. I can eat popcorn and still hear dialogue.
  5. My aunt takes incredibly good care of her things, so it looks and feels brand new.

I have fallen in love with using a mac and thought it would be a fun project to make a hackintosh.  But after a little research, I realized that the hardware makes it impossible.  That was pretty disappointing, especially since I’d already covered the Dell symbol with an apple sticker.  Now I’m a false advertiser.

One of the things I love so much about using a mac is that I don’t have to tinker to make things work, and I don’t have to do much maintenance to keep things working.  But at one point I really did enjoy that aspect of using a computer and my idea of a fun afternoon was installing a new Linux distribution to play with.  I kind of miss it.  So, I figured this was an ideal time to jump back in.  After all, it couldn’t take me longer to get Ubuntu running than it would to install 6 years of Windows XP updates.

Installing Linux today is far less painful than it was 5 years ago.  I’d definitely recommend Ubuntu to moderately tech savvy people. I say ‘moderately tech savvy’ instead of ‘everyone’ because it does take a little more effort to get things going than a typical windows or mac install. You have to do some extra work to watch a DVD, for example. (Ubuntu tried to automate the process, but failed.) I spent more time in the terminal than I expected getting things like mp3s to play.  And I still haven’t got the wireless working after a week of tinkering on and off.