Ubuntu is an enigma. How can an upstart Linux project go directly to
the top in little over 2 years? In a recent survey (that we linked to
on our site here as well) on Desktop Linux News, they found that nearly
30% of respondents showed they were on board with this South African
(they claim world wide, but behind them is Canonical Ltd
, which according to Wikipedia is a private company owned and funded by South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth
The name itself is an Zulu word for "humanity towards others", and
there is a lot of graphics on the boot up screens with smiling people
holding hands and the colors reflect a more earthy feel. Even the logo
itself is three people hugging in a circle.
what really makes this distro stand out from other community projects
like openSuse, Freespire, Debian? Well, I think what pulls many is the
simplicity to the tool, how they kept true to Linux ideals by making a
software that wasn't like windows in every aspect, yet was easiest
enough to function for newbies. It was also technically capable enough
to keep the enthusiasts happy, free of most proprietary aspects to keep
the FSF happy, and just plain fun. I can say that for nearly a year,
this was the only Linux distro on my laptop and I was extremely pleased
with its function and performance. Plus, since it took nearly a month
to get the distro up and running completely (I am a persistent man if
anything) I wasn't about to just bail for something else.
took me so long was researching every little nook and cranny for how to
get my MP3's to play, movies, wireless, Wine to work, and pretty much
all the goodies I have come to know and love about my laptop. Well,
after I had gotten my system pretty much up to par with my needs, a
product called Automatix
comes along and takes all that knowledge and flushes it. As stated on their website, Automatix
is a graphical interface for automating the installation of the most
commonly requested applications in Debian based Linux operating
It currently supports Ubuntu and Mepis
which since Mepis is really Kubuntu done proprietary style it just
makes sense that it is supported as well, and although takes a bit to
install, really makes Ubuntu a rock solid platform.Details:
Kernel - Kernel 2.6.15 in many flavors
Desktop - Ubuntu Gnome, but there are the Kubuntu(KDE) & Xubuntu(XFce) projects as well
FAQs - https://help.ubuntu.com/community/HowToGetHelp
Cost - FREE!!!
Special Features - Live installer, excellent icons/graphics, clean distro with excellent hardware supportNitty Gritty:
Installation ( )
is my favorite install method, Ubuntu came out with its Dapper Drake
version a nice little live installer. Before this was possibly the
nastiest text based install ever. I mean it would take up to 10
attempts to get the older version, oddly named Breezy Badger (all the
names are odd and now seem to be following an alphabetical pattern,
with Edgy Eft following Dapper Drake, yet the first was Warty Warthog)
to get a system that actually would run when you were finished. Now,
well let's just see how she flys....
simple grub screen launcher from the Live CD gives you several clear
options to either enter the Live mode, check your CD for errors, or try
in Graphical safe mode, which is cyber speak for old crappy computer.
There are plenty of options that come along with this for language, VGA
settings an others, so you are not as restricted in Live mode as with
some distros which make all the decisions for you. This is a very good
start for our Ubuntu friends.
the Live CD, you can either take off, add some programs with Synaptic
to the Live running OS, or Install. Note if you are on a laptop, Ubuntu
has really tried to make some strides in getting more functionality by
including several key drivers in the kernel, but honestly in trying to
keep proprietary drivers out of the package most are only half way in
there, so it may light up and show a wireless card, but she isn't going
to work. More on that little snafu later.
you decide you want to install, simply double click the Install icon on
the desktop, which is an excellent little guide on getting Ubuntu onto
your hard drive. The first step is to choose a language you wish for
your permanent install and the rest of the guide. Since English in my
only option, we clicked on Forward. Please note that there are always
Back and Forward keys and in the bottom left a nice little Step counter
to let you know where you are in the process. Always happy to see those
you figure out your language, next you get to set your timezone. And in
the comical fashion of the person who set up this little program,
Seattle isn't there (guess they didn't realize that Seattle is not
Redmond), so I must select Vancouver. I don't mind being Canadian, as
long as I don't have to pay their taxes.
Now the tool needs to determine for me my keyboard layout. English again.
here is a nice packaged screen. I get to setup my user name and my
password for Root all in one. You see, there really is no Root account
in Ubuntu, as they rely on Sudo to really isolate the capabilities of
the user. They don't tell you that here, in fact when I first used
Ubuntu I was extremely upset when I couldn't SU over to root in order
to run things. However, if you simply run a 'sudo su' followed by this
password, one is in Root mode until they close that terminal screen. I
feel that this approach is excellent for newbies as then they can't
just log in as root and keep their system open and vulnerable to
attacks and take overs. Since Ubuntu worked this is, or maybe it was
just coincidince, more and more distros are doing the same thing (so
get used to it).
the installer sets up a partitioner, which will get us a hard drive
capable to install this OS on. Now, I have seen this require 2 GB, and
other places say 3-4 GB, but that honestly depends on what you intend
on adding. Say if you want KDE as well (and you didn't want to start
with Kubuntu), you can actually add that to Ubuntu by running synaptic
and installing the Kubuntu Desktop (which then in turn adds all the
basics of Kubuntu package. This does require a lot of hard drive, so if
you intend to really put all productivity and desktop options in, I
would suggest something north of 6 GB to be happy. Since this is my
VMWare machine, I get to choose all the Hard Drive, then the installer
takes us to the actual paritioner.
here is a place where I am not crazy about the fact that the installer
decided I needed to use Ext3 file system, so if you don't like Ext3,
you need to go back and select the Manual edit partition table option,
which then allows you to select one of many, such as ResierFS, XFS,
etc...why Ext3, well people generally think of this as the rock solid
option that simply works, just not as well as some of the newer
versions which are just a bit unstable. I don't ever have any issues
using Reiser or even XFS, but since we are going as a newbie might,
lets keep on the automated path and go with Ext3 for now. Please note
that there is no way to change this after, so make sure you know which
one you want or just go with the basic one.
you select Forward on Step 6, then there is no turning back. I compiled
a few view snapshots of the status windows, which break down the time
to copy the information to the hard drive with a timer, but then that
timer ends when it starts actually configuring the system and
performing the hardware detection. All in all, the system took about 12
minutes to install, which is no land speed record but is so much
cleaner than packages such as openSuse (5 CDs) or Mandriva (7 CDs).
you option is to continue with the Live CD or to reboot, which will
bring us to the conclusion of our little step by step. I can honestly
say that this is pretty simple, one of the easiest I have seen, but in
realistic terms the system that gets installed is pretty weak by itself
so we are by no means done. So far so good, I just wish they would have
put more functionality (MP3, DVD and video) inside the base system
instead of requiring people to then add on to a system. This reminds me
too much of Windows, which once you install, you can barely surf the
internet. It isn't that bad, but in today's linux world, this one is
definitely lacking. Hence the need for Automatix. Let's see what this
new tool can do for a good system?Starting ( )
Once you have Ubuntu, you have a pretty good start into the world of Linux. But as one person quoted to Automatix website, "The
truth is, Ubuntu "out of the box" is a little lacking, but with the use
of an installer script called Automatix, I now have a free, highly
functional, and stable OS."
I agree with them completely. But
Automatix comes to the rescue of newbies and Linux enthusiasts alike,
in that it is a great little package that can save you hours, if not
days, in getting Ubuntu to where it really should have been in the
Once you hit the Automatix
website you basically get the feel of professionalism even though what
they are doing is pretty basic. However, due to the demand of the
community for something like this, I am sure they are doing well and
will probably even expand this to other Debian projects (I truly hope)
in the near future.
the website, it also tells you what package are supported for install
for each distro that the tools currently supports. This didn't fit in
my snapshot, so if that tells you something, because the list is
extremely complete. Once you do get to the point where you are
selecting packages, just follow the rule, if you don't know what it
does, just don't install it.
the website you learn that you have two options to install Automatix,
one through wget (web download similar to FTP) and installing a file
via Synaptic after adding a repository. In my opinion, I would stick to
the wget method simply because I prefer not adding too many
repositories so I know where my updates are coming from.
Method with Depositories
Method with Wget and manual install in terminal
the wget method tells to run a simple command of 'wget' with the link
to the file on their website. Then you change the permissions of the
file to make it executible with a 'chmod 755' command in the directory
that the file is located. Now, personnally I don't like the 755 method,
as that is changing the modes for the various users, with the 7 being
for the owner of the file adding all functions and permissions, the
first 5 for the group members assoicated with the file providing read
and execute functions, and the same for the last 5 for any guest. Now,
since 99% of people don't have groups to contend with nor guests, this
really doesn't make much sense. This is what I would call the 'old
school' method. Instead I usually use the command of 'chmod a+x' which
simply adds the executable function to the file.
So now that our
Linux command class is over, basically once you make the file
executible, you run the file with './'before the file name. This is the
run command and will kick off the install process, which zips all the
other data that one would do with the other method into the proper
Once it is complete, you get a new drop down from the
application button in the top left, that now has system tools, and
When you first run Automatix, you get a little here is about us message and you simply acknowledge past.
oh yes, the lawyers got in there. Here you are warned in no unspecific
terms to not install this software if you intend to play music or
movies. Why is this do you ask? Well, there are licensing fees
associated with the rights to play these files. People want to get
paid. Some companies will pay this fee for you in the purchase of the
software, so if you install these you are on your own. They warned you
and now I warned you.
you are warned about Wine, which is software that allows Windows
software like IE, Office, iTunes and others to run in Linux. This is
simply stating that if you install this software you need to run the
command of 'winecfg' after in order to set up the drives for the tool.
This doesn't affect the install, just the post install work. Put up a
post it to keep that in mind for later.
the last step is to enter your root password, which provides Automatix
the proper permissions in order to do what it has to do. Once you enter
that, it takes off and runs what it needs until you get the dialog GUI
functionality. This takes a bit of time and really does similar things
that Synaptic does, by providing you the idea that you are clicking and
installing when in all actually this tool is going out to specific
locations and downloading and installing the software you need. Pretty
slick and in all honesty probably should come with Ubuntu to begin with.
software now for Ubuntu is just a click away. Simple scroll through and
select the packages you wish for your system. Most of the time the
packages you will needs include Media Codecs, Adobe, Mplayer,
NDISwrapper, Wine, and anything else you may want. Please keep in mind
the legality of the codecs again, your call but we don't recommend
stealing from anyone.
can sit and watch the files go by if you like...pay attention because
you will need to intervene every once and a while to say yes, add the
password back if it has timed out, etc...
your post it note tells you to run 'winecfg', but don't do this as
Root, you need to 'su' back to your regular login name, so that the
files are associated with your home folder and proper permissions.
is about it. You now have the system you always dreamed about. If you
have wireless, you need to add your wireless drivers, which you can
read about in my other reviews, especially Mepis, which again is just
Kubuntu with most of these packages already included and running KDE.Bonus Stuff ( )
as software doesn't offer anything special. What really sets Ubuntu
apart from anyone else is its community. There is no other distro that
has the involvement of so many impassioned people. If you have an
issue, simple start at the Wiki
, work over to the Documentation
page, or go to the community
get involved. If you can't find the answer then you can simply google
the Ubuntu question and I bet you can get more than you bargained for.
The amount of data out there is staggering, almost too much. But with a
package as solid as this, there isn't too much that you might need,
especially with Automatix.
This is truly a package that together
lives up to the hype, but alone Ubuntu is just a nice open source
distro with a great community. Together it is the real deal. I would
recommend this to either newbies or enthusiasts alike, so give it a
shot and hope you enjoy the experience as much as I did.
As always, good luck in your personal Linux knowledge search and best wishes!!!!