The Ubuntu and Open Office experiment is on. Are the free operating system and office programs worth it? I took a Lenovo computer I bought in 2007 to my friend's house to start the process. I went to the gym, and he downloaded the software onto a disk and then loaded the software from the disk onto my computer. The deed was done by the time I got back to his house, less than an hour.
First, a little history on this computer. It came loaded with Windows XP Professional. I originally bought it for my daughter when she left for college. I think she mostly used it for instant messaging and surfing the internet. She complained that it wasn't working very well. I took to our IT specialist thinking it may have become infected with viruses and malware. He ran all sorts of checks and diagnostics on it. No viruses, still it was a little unstable. It took forever to boot up and for some unknown reason took a very long time to shut down too. I was beginning to think that I bought a real lemon of a computer. Later I gave this computer to my wife. She is a college professor. She used it exclusively with Microsoft Word to write articles and books. It was difficult to use sometimes in her opinion. Indeed, I occasionally had to reboot and find the latest data file for her. She clearly didn't trust this computer with her valuable work.
I must admit I am very happy with the Ubuntu operating system. It opens in about 30 seconds and closes in about 5 seconds. Here is a screen shot of my Desktop.
Everything starts at the top in Ubuntu. "Applications" is akin to "All Programs" in Windows. "Places" launches an Explorer browser and "System" includes Preferences and Administration which is similar to the Control Panel in Windows. There are plenty of helps and how to videos on You Tube to help familiarize yourself with the differences between Ubuntu and Windows. I would check out Nixie Pixel. She's worth a look.
I had one small glitch when I brought the computer home. I didn't get the driver for my wireless card installed. I downloaded the driver from my laptop to transfer to the Ubuntu computer. The instructions had me looking for "Hardware Drivers" (see item 1 below from the help section).
To use a proprietary driver for a device:
- Press System > Administration > Hardward Drivers
- Find the driver which you would like to enable and read the description.
- Press Activate to enable the driver. You may be asked to enter your password.
- The proprietary driver may have to be downloaded and installed
- You may need to restart your computer to finish enabling the driver.
I had to hard wire back into the internet to download the driver for my wireless card. Once I got connected it was a breeze to download the driver, and I can now connect over the air waves.
I have just touched on the Open Office spreadsheet. One thing, it's back to the toolbars that were incorporated in the Excel version 93 and earlier. I've been using the ribbon for over three years now, and it's going to take some getting used to the old system again. More on the spreadsheet on my next post.
My wife however, has reported back to me that the Open Office word processing program is a winner. I think there was one small problem with the formatting for endnotes. Indeed, I wrote this blog using Open Office. My only concern was that I couldn't find a thesaurus. In fact I noticed my wife was using an old paperback Merriam-Webster thesaurus held together with duct tape at the binding as she was writing her article. No problem; just click on "Applications" then click on "Ubuntu Software Center" and do a search for thesaurus. Presto, I have my Thesaurus. Just highlight the word to be investigated and press Control+Alt+W. I was so excited I had to tell my wife immediately "Honey, look you don't have to use your ratty old paperback thesaurus anymore. I've installed one...see". She responded "That's OK, I think I'll just stick with my paperback version. I bought it in 1978 and it's like an old friend to me".
Academics???? I guess some habits will never die.