Well, let me just get this out there. I completely gave up on running Ubuntu on that old Dell Dimension 4100 desktop. It ran, but it was painfully slow. Less sluggish than Windows XP (even the pared-down TinyXP variant), but still too slow for normal use. I mean, at least for a computer geek such as myself.
Flash completely maxed out the paltry 1.33 GHz single-core Pentium III. Video playback was marginally acceptable for lower bit-rate videos, but anything hi-def (even 480p) dropped frames quite frequently. And anything really hi-def like BluRay rips? Slideshow! Admittedly, though, it would have been usable for anything without Flash or if I decided not to watch any videos on the machine. But that brings me back to what I primarily use my computer for: check email, listen to music, browse the web, and watch videos. Those last two items really weren’t even possible (given that Flash is pretty hard to avoid on the internet these days).
But I didn’t want this setback to cause me to give up on Ubuntu. So I decided to reformat one of my two hard drives in my main computer (the other has my Hackintosh install) and install Windows 7 and Ubuntu side-by-side. The idea being that I would still like to be able to play the occasional video game in Windows 7, but try to force myself to use Ubuntu for everything else. I split the drive 50/50 between Windows 7 and Ubuntu.
So, let’s get to the install.
Download: Ubuntu was easy to download and burn onto a CD. Still pretty impressive that a complete OS with a full suite of applications (OpenOffice, GIMP, etc) can fit onto a CD.
Setup: In preparation, I installed Windows 7 first (the Windows bootloader isn’t very accepting of other OSes installed before it). And once Windows was installed, I shrunk the partition to leave half of the hard drive as free space (not partitioned). Well, here’s where it gets tricky. I tried my luck with the suggested “side-by-side” install method. It should just use the largest block of free space available on that drive that I selected, right? I mean, it certainly recognized the free space in the partition setup part of Ubuntu.
But no, that would be too easy. Instead, it ended up selecting JUST enough space to install the OS and swap partition. How did I notice? Well, when it booted after this first install, I tried to run the Update Manager to grab the latest patches: about 200MB of data. When I click “OK” to continue, it says that there isn’t enough free space. HUH? It should have over 100GB to use! Well, it turns out that Ubuntu’s side-by-side is basically a glorified Live CD installed to the hard drive.
So after rebooting to the install CD again, I had to do a manual partition to get it to use the 100GB of free space. And you have to know enough to set the sizes such that there are two partitions for Ubuntu: the system and the swap. Oh, and you have to choose the appropriate mount point for the system partition. Which is apparently “/”. But I only knew that from lots of other linux installs over the years (short-lived installs, I might add).
Startup: Finally, once I had the partitioning sorted out, I was able to run the install. It didn’t take too long to install, and I was up and running. The Update Manager was actually able to install the necessary updates this time! As far as I’m aware, it was able to pick up all the device drivers it needed (it might have gotten some from the Update Manager), and even gave me the option to download the proprietary drivers for the nVidia GeForce 8800GT graphics card in my computer. Which is completely overpowered for a linux install. But I have ultra-smooth visual effects: superfluous eye-candy!
Next post: initial impressions.