Me and my new desktop: Ubuntu 11.04 "Natty" with Unity

Day 1: Installation and first steps

To begin my "1-month-without-Windows-and-Mac"-Test I got an ancient Computer with a Intel Core 2 processor. I put 4 GB of RAM init and a decent 500 GB hard disk drive. That was the easy part as these are things "we" are doing quite often.

The images in these article are "clickable", a click opens the image in original size.

IMAG1469.jpg The first astonishing fact was that installation ran smoothly without any fancy questions about some unknown hardware.

It recognized the network chipset on the mainboard (Broadcom), the SATA chipset (ahci), the onboard Intel GMA video device.

After installation an update orgy begins, 250 megabytes of updates - in some way it reminds me Windows Update and "Software Update" on the Macintosh.

At first sight, the new Unity desktop looks ... hem... different. Relevant menu lines are not included in open windows any more, no they're put at the top of the screen. But you won't see them until you put the mouse pointer on this top screen line or you press F10.

My old screen only has a panel of 1280x1024 pixels, so the icons on the left are far too big (for me). As I wanted to act like a beginner I did not try the typical Linux solution "Let's look in /etc and subdirectories whether we can find some XML or other text configuration file for compiz (the window manager)".

After googling around I found that a compizconfig application has to be installed, so I had to click on the "Ubuntu Software Center" icon and search for "ccsm" (CompizConfig Settings Manager).

ubuntu1.jpg
I just had to click in "Install" to install the package.

But the next problem rose very fast: How to start this new application?

It is not in the "dock" (as a mac user would name the icon bar on the left of the screen). But there is an icon with a plus sign, and a click on it reveals a nifty feature of Unity: The application inventory.







ubuntu10.jpgI entered "CompizConfig" on the search bar of this inventory and found this application - a click on it started it.

In this application I was then able to find the settings of the "Ubuntu Unity Plugin":


ubuntu3.jpg

There I could set smaller icons - that was not a smooth beginning, and I bet many Ubuntu Unity beginner users still have the same icon size on their "dock".

ubuntu4.jpg

At least, I am having now a "dock" (which is called "Launcher" I just learned from the tool tip which appeared on the window above) with decent small icons.
I am happy.


Day 2: Multimedia

The first thing to do to get some multimedia files played properly is to install the "missing codecs" - Ubuntu has made it easy to accomplish this: Just look for a package "Xubuntu" in the Software Center:

xubuntu.jpg

IMAG1470.jpgAfter having installed that I was able to watch films on Youtube.

Even in full screen and "HD" (Youtube's HD) it plays without lag or missed frames.

The picture to the right shows the "Mayday" or "Air Crash Investigation"-Opening (a fine series about airline accidents and the lessens industry has learned from them).

Youtube: Point taken.

But what about DVDs?
DVDs are encrypted in some sort with the CSS algorithm. There was a huge dispute about a CSS decoding library containing the CSS master decryption key. It was criminalized due to copyright issues.

Nowadays, the CSS "decryption" is done by "calculating" (trying) to find the right keys.

Ubuntu is just kind and nice to me: The needed tool to get this library WITH the decryption code is included in the Xubuntu package. But it is ME who has to execute it to get this file....

Legal Warning: Check with your local laws to make sure usage of libdvdcss2 would be legal in your area.


It's simple - bit it is the first time I had to open a terminal window (look in the application inventory and start it).

sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/install-css.sh

An inserted DVD just works:

ubuntu20.jpg

[Image blurred due to copyright of this DVD still image: (c) 1985,2011 ZDF Enterprises.]



Last important multimedia thing for me: music.
Happy enough, the included "Banshee" music player can read an iTunes library XML file. So I just copied the contents of the "iTunes Music" folder of my Mac to the Ubuntu machine (I used the "Music" folder) and put Banshee's nose on this file:

ubuntu14.jpg

One (!) hour later Banshee was full of music. Task completed.


Part One of my day-by-day usage works well with Ubuntu. After another day of playing around I did not even miss a feature.

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Pascal Gienger
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