Yesterday the new laptop for the media center came in. Needless to say I was (and still am) extremely excited to play around with the new machine and FINALLY get to do some real testing and configuring of Open Source media production and editing software for the PMC.
This time, we bought a laptop with Ubuntu 9.10 pre-installed from dell. We selected the Inspiron 15n (the “N” series seems to mean it has linux on it). Why Dell refuses to add linux as an option for ALL of their products (or at least more than 5), and why they try to hide them from view unless you specifically search for them I cannot say. Still, the Inspiron 15n, though it has been around for a little while now (and I suspect they are running low on models as there are now less configuration options as I have previously seen on this model), is a very good and solid machine that I’ve had the pleasure of working with before, and can’t find much better for its price range.
For the hardware tech people, here are the specs:
Core 2 Duo T6600 2.2 GHz
4GB DDR2 800Mhz RAM
250 GB SATA HDD (5400 RPM)
15.4″ WLED Screen
8x CD/DVD Burner
As I said earlier, the laptop came with Ubuntu 9.10 pre-installed. Configuring the system at first bootup was a breeze (simply involved pressing the forward button 5 or 6 times and telling it to install) and it installed very quickly. It also came with an Ubuntu 9.10 DVD, which is a bit novel to me as I’ve always just downloaded Ubuntu from their website and installed it from a burned CD or USB drive.
The version it comes with is the 32-bit version of Ubuntu 9.10, which I suppose is still the recommended version as many applications and companies still don’t fully support 64-bit OSes(Adobe Flash *cough cough*). I would have preferred a 64-bit version, as many media applications DO utilize 64-bit systems, and to have a virtualized a 32-bit system when needed. But that is easy enough to get in the future. Thus far I haven’t noticed any drawbacks to using the 32-bit version so we’ll see if 64-bit will even be necessary on the laptop.
When I did get into the system I noticed Dell had added a few things to the normal base Ubuntu. Surprisingly, everything I have found that they added has been positive (unlike is often the case with customized OSes by distributors with Windows). They included one piece of their own software (Dell PowerDVD for DVD playing), which I have no objection to, even if I likely will use other DVD software. Further, I found that, while they still used a Broadcom wireless card that required proprietary drivers, they were kind enough to pre-install said driver for me. Though, for some reason, the wireless card was by default turned-off and I had to fiddle around with pressing the wireless on/off button to get it up the first time. In addition, Dell installed Adobe’s Flash player for Firefox for me (maybe this is one reason why they ship the 32-bit OS?). Likely they installed some other add ons and configured other software that I haven’t noticed yet, but whatever such may be everything seems low-profile and minor changes that do not interfere with what I want.
One of the first things I did after playing around a bit was get system updates, and oh there were updates. Luckily I had enough going on that I could just let all that install while I did other tasks (I could still use the internet and anything else of course while the updates were being downloaded and installed). Afterwards I went to my Synaptic Package Manager and switched the system over to Ubuntu Studio. This was very easy, and for those that do not know how to change between Ubuntu versions:
1) Open Synaptic Package Manager under System->Administrative
2) Search for ubuntu-desktop, select the package and mark for removal (DO NOT APPLY YET)
3) Search for ubuntustudio-desktop, select the package and mark for installation(it should pop up a window indicating more packages will be installed, these are needed and you want them anyway so click ok)
4) Look for the other ubuntustudio packages, that should say ubuntustudio-graphic, -video and -audio (these will install the software associated with the packages, if you feel you do not want all one of the software types installed, just don’t select it, you don’t have to get them).
5) Click apply
After everything is done, restart your system and it will now be Ubuntu Studio.
You can follow this method similarly to switch back or to Kubuntu or Xubuntu, by just selecting the respective -desktop packages.
Now we have a working Ubuntu Studio 9.10 laptop loaded with lots of media software. I’ll discuss the particular media software in my next post, so stay tuned.