Linux

A Linux experiment gone horribly...perfect!

Jack Wallen rolled some dice and installed Ubuntu 10.04 on a machine for someone used to Windows Vista. How do you think this little experiment went? Read on to find out.

The other day someone who knows I am in the computer business came to me with a very sick laptop (Gateway W340 with Intel graphics chip and Broadcom wireless). The machine was a fairly innocuous little guy that had some serious issues. I'll list them out:

  • The operating system was Windows Vista (he did not want to shell out the money for Windows 7).
  • There was a root kit.
  • Numerous malware issues.
  • Chock full 'o viruses.
  • Wireless was flaky (at best).
  • Machine was horribly slow (presumably because of the above).

My usual first steps are to boot into safe mode, run Combofix, run CCleaner, boot back into regular mode, run Malwarebytes, and then run the antivirus. After this was all complete the remaining symptoms were:

  • Wireless was still flaky (at best).
  • Machine was still slow.

After doing everything I (and the consultancy I work for) would have done, I determined that the best approach was to re-install the OS. Problem is, he couldn't find his restore discs and (as I mentioned earlier) he didn't want to shell out the money for Windows 7. This laptop was just going to be his spare laptop for home use (it was his primary laptop at work).

I decided it was time for an experiment. I knew the laptop had a restore partition so if I left that partition alone we could still restore the machine back to factory defaults (if he could find his restore discs). So...it was time to bring out the big guns. Said big guns? Ubuntu 10.04. I was fairly certain 10.04 would work like a champ on the machine. It did. But the big test would be when the user had the machine in his hands and put it to use.

Naturally, before I handed over the laptop, I made sure it had everything installed he would need for home use:

  • OpenOffice
  • The GIMP
  • Gwibber
  • GnuCash
  • Google Chrome (he used Chrome when it was a Vista laptop)
  • Empathy (for chatting)
  • I also made sure Rhythmbox had everything it needed to connect with the Ubuntu One Music Store.
  • Just for fun, I enabled Compiz, because I know the person would get a kick out of it.
The last step in my plan...hand over the laptop and wait for the report. When I handed over the laptop I instructed the user on some basic Linux functions (like how to connect to wireless - which is a no brainer, and how to install applications from the Ubuntu Software Center).
To be honest, I was a bit nervous about the results of this little test. The user wasn't the most computer savvy user and was prone to have machines wind up coming back with one ore more issues. I was expecting to get call after call after call. But the calls never came. A few days passed and I hadn't heard a single word from the user. Initially I assumed he just hadn't had time to use the machine. After nearly a week without hearing from him I just couldn't take it any longer and called him. His reaction?
"Oh my God this is so wonderful! Thank you!"
I wasn't expecting that for certain. And after prodding him a little further he nearly knocked my on the floor when he asked: "Would you mind installing this Linux on the rest of my computers?"
This guy represents the vast majority of computer users in this country. People who need their PCs for about 1/100th of their capabilities. They need email, web, office documents, and keeping track of their finances. As much as we IT-minded people want to stand up and say NOONIN!, the truth is the truth and the truth is the average user can get by with the bare minimum. When this is so - why not give them an operating system you KNOW won't come back to you riddled with viruses and the client (or friend or family) saying, "I thought you fixed this?!"
What this little experiment does for me is validate what I have assumed for the last, oh, two or three years: Linux is ready for the average user desktop. In fact, within the last year I would have to say that Linux is now the IDEAL OS for the average user desktop.
Now I am not advocating that everyone start installing Linux on their clients machines without permission. But you will come across those clients that you know are ideal candidates. When you do, tell them you would like to install an operating system on their machine that you think they will like and won't give them a bit of trouble. The task just might wind up giving you a reputation as a miracle worker...as it did me.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

335 comments
jkameleon
jkameleon

My daughter, a complete computer illiterate, needed a computer for web browsing& office. I bought her a box with preinstalled Ubuntu. She found her way around immediatelly, and discovered the rest of the stuff herself (Getting pictures from her camera, Gimp, copying music to her iPod, watching movies, etc). Encouraged with that, I recommended Ubuntu to my octogenarian, technically completely illiterate father. He can't even use TV remote, yet, he decided to buy himself a laptop about 2 weeks ago, to surf the web, and write magazine articles. My son, a Windows fan, grumblingly did the installation, with my support over the phone. Despite his lack of enthusiasm, he managed to download & burn the installadion CD, install Ubuntu, and configure the laptop so, that even my father could use it (Cairo dock) in one afternoon. The final support call went as follows: "Hey, wait a minute- is it really that simple?" "Yea, it's that simple."

Slayer_
Slayer_

I have installed Mint 2 win on my laptop and it works great. I primarily use Mint now. Also tried on my desktop but it died after a reboot claiming .disk was missing... OK then... Delete :). But on my laptop, Windows almost anouys me now. Even simple things like scrolling through this web page is better on Mint. It scrolls nice and smooth whhereas on XP its freezing as if it has to keep rendering the page. Mint also seems to do a good job using transmission and downloading files, I get most movies in like 15 minutes. The desktop graphics are neat, and I have AMOR installed which the kids and my grand parents got a kick out of with the cat running around on the screen. I have installed the majority of games available for Mint, saddly none make use of my laptops old, but powerful processor and video, 1.7 duel core Intel and nVidia 7600m. Battery life however is lower on Mint and the screen brightness control is annoying, it can take a few tries to get it to brighten or darken. you will drop it to the highest/lowest setting and count to 3 and the screen will go back up/down a few levels and you need to adjust it again. This is irritating and I hope will get patched. I also notice that the nVidia conrol panel doesn't have power controls on it, nor does the Mint one. Maybe there is somewhere to switch the video card to low power mode when on battery, but I haven't found it. As a result, my aged battery gets about 30 minutes on Linux if you are using the system, 20 minutes if you are watching a movie. XP using GOM player and battery saving mode, gives you about 1hour and 20 minutes. So a big difference which leads me to suspect that the Video card is still running full tilt in Mint, even if its not rendering anything significant. The scroll bars in Mint are also a bit aggravating, in Windows, if you click the drag handle on the scroll bar and hold, you can move your mouse away from the bar to any location on the screen and the bar will follow. Very handy for inaccurate touch pads. however, in Mint, you have about a centimeter of screen width before it snaps back to where it was. Also, frequently in the start menu, the menu goes nuts flipping back and forth between categories and you have to close the menu, re open it and indifividuly click each menu option rather than waiting the time for it to span automatically. The video playing is impressive, it actually lets me watch HD movies, I cannot do this in Windows. The way file copies and transfers are handled is very nice, all in the same window with progress bars, file amount completed and occasionally it shows the speed of each transfer. I also notice my wireless seems faster in Mint than Windows. a 20mb file in Windows to transfer takes about 10 seconds, in Mint it took about 3 seconds. Mint needs to work on the "remember password forever" piece, that is very annoying to have to keep typing in my Windows login and password for every system and every share on that system. So you dbl click the computer, login and choose remember forever, and it immediatly forgets, you then open a share and type it in again. restart the computer, and it forgets again. And you cannot make a shortcut to a share either, it simply won't open till you navigate to it manually and type in your login again. Some other pieces need some work too, such as if you use the send to option on a file and send to an external drive or USB, it won't show you a progress bar, the window just appears to freeze until it is finished. It also needs some sort of task manager like Windows, though Mint it self seems stable, a lot of the programs are not, I have to terminate the MSN client almost twice a day and to do that you need to use that add on for the task bar. WINE is also bad for that, especially for full screen programs. If you full screen program, you have something like an 80% chance o fit fubaring your system, and you can't close it down, it just sits on top of everything. You basically end up hard rebooting. And its odd cause you can fire the same program in wine 10 times, and have it fail 10 different ways. is Wine running some kind of random number generator to figure out which API's to use? Why else could you get such seemingly random errors? The new package manager is a ridiculous improvement over the previous, it is now possible to actually find things and they have proper reviews and everything. But it needs some work, the search is basically a name search, so searching "FTP" will not return filezilla just as an example (Or does it...). And whenever I try to post a review, it tells me I have to login.... where???? And although it allows for multiple installs at once, you need to search each out one at a time. A queue for install would have been nice. Also, suppress the support packages for programs, why would you only download the support packages? Having them in there seriously bloats the lists and list counts. Hey look there is 1500 games, oh wait, there is actually only about 100, the rest are support packages :(. overall I like the change, and spend a large amount of time in Mint now when using my laptop. I only switch back to Windows when I want to absorb some media or play some games. 99% of my Content creation is now done on Mint. -Edited, fixed some bad typos

kalliste
kalliste

Colour me confused. You could have recovered the original Vista activation key (and keys to any other software) and simply re-installed Vista using a random Vista install disk. I've done that numerous times.

demiwebman
demiwebman

I am a full-time PC computer repair technician. To date I have installed Ubuntu 10.04 on six of my personal clients' computers after consulting with them as to the benefits of switching. To date all of them are thrilled with the results. Note that these are all casual users. Two are male, the other four female. Half are seniors. None of them consider themselves "computer people." You couldn't pay them to go back to Microsoft Windows. The only downside? I won't be getting as much business from them now! ;-)

boydowens
boydowens

I did this with my kids computer after 400+ virus's trashed windows XP. My 11 year old is now telling his teacher at school to get Linux (Unbuntu 10.04) because it is easier than windows.

devlin_X
devlin_X

My wife's friend is dumber than a box of rocks. I was always dis-infecting her system, defragging, fixing the registry, etc... one day I decided to dual partition her system and told her to try using the Ubuntu OS in place of Windows for a week, if she didn't like it she could go back to Windows and I'd stop by and wipe Ubuntu off of her computer. She is in love with her system again and I too expected a call about difficulties. I called her to tell her I was sorry I forgot to set her printer up and would do it in a few days, she informed me it wasn't necessary, the system automatically configured it. NICE! She also was very impressed with how fast her system is now and how simple it is to find and install software. Besides her, my wife and daughter both found the transition easier than either expected. My wife (the family CFO) liked the fact we weren't having to pay a yearly ransom to the security software companies....

needles1986
needles1986

I'm not trained in IT, don't know how to program, and have only a basic knowledge of shell commands. I haven't had any problems with my linux machines for the three years I've been a user. Either has my mom, who was thrilled when I resurrected her anemic windows machine with a linux install. I've given away a linux laptop to a friend for his basic computing needs, no complaints from him. Also, there's a fellow at work who's windows machine was slowly dying on him. I recommended an ubuntu install. I was slow getting around to installing it for him, and assumed he was continuing to make do. I ran into him a few weeks later only to learn that one of our IT guys had installed it for him. The fellow was thrilled. He told me his computer had never ran that fast. Linux for the desktop has been ready to go for years. People who experience it love it.

sskisuze
sskisuze

Hi Jack, I have gone through similar experiences too. One that stands out is when I had a user with major issues on his Windows XP Professional machine and after talking with him, we agreed that we try Ubuntu, at that time it was the Dapper Drake version. It has been running for more than two years without any issue. What is most interesting is that the user asked me to make that machine the backup of all his other 6 machines in the office. Two other users demanded to have linux on their machines but we held back. The other gain is that all the users are now ardent users of OpenOffice.

RedTalon
RedTalon

I too installed Ubuntu on a friends computer. A co-worker has a son who had lost his job and could not afford a new computer. He had a 13-year-old laptop that was chock full of viruses to add to the problem of antiquity. I figured I would do the guy a favor and install Linux for him, since he did not have any installation disks or money. He was an ideal candidate because he did not do anything other than web-related stuff. He claimed that Ubuntu gave him "nothing but problems". Within a week he had gone to a local computer shop to have them install Win XP for him. The tech at the shop told him Linux was for computer gurus and people with no money. When the co-worker told me this I had to bite my tongue, because the first thing that came to my mind is that his son must have had some kind of brain defect. CONCLUSION: Some people should not be allowed to own computers. It seems that when someone gets something for free they are far less appreciative than if they had actually paid for it. My time in this case. This incident (and others) has convinced me that I should not be doing favors for anyone. It's always amazed me anyway how there are so many people in the technology field that give their work away for free. I will no longer be one of them.

itadmin
itadmin

Just what I've been saying all along: Linux would do very well for the majority of computer users out there. Only, they don't know about it. I once gave a Linux CD to a Windows user and fully explained how to set up a dual boot system. However, he clicked on the "take over the whole disk" option. His Windows was gone and he had to use Linux. He quickly caught on and never even asked to have his Windows reinstalled. We lived close by, so I saw him often. There it is. I often wonder what Linux can do about it.

rasmith_z
rasmith_z

It destroyed my system. Initial install worked except for dozens of errors about no disk. Initial update went fine. Loved the boot time and general responsiveness. Hated the lack of fine controls like Windows Device Manager. Used it a bit and customized OpenOffice Writer text defaults. Saw there were updates. Selected to install all. Update stalled at same point about 20 minutes. System Monitor showed some CPU, The HDD light was on solid. All processes showed sleeping. Press the reset button & reboot seemed okay, but update manager says it can't run all updates, but proceeds. Then get an error saying I chose not to install "GRUB" to any devices (I never was given a choice), respond no to continue without GRUB (whatever that is). Then a window that looked like it should let me select the GRUB devices, but the window is unresponsive. Another reboot & there are now 2 UBUNTU's 2.6.32-21 & 24. Select 24 & update manger hangs again. Another restart and I selected recovery mode for 24 and then repair broken packages. Now the GRUB lets me select among my 3 real HDDs. I selected all 3 and after the "repair: it wants the login. I can enter a user name but can't type when it wants the password. Reboot again and see the error "no such device followed by a LONG series of letters & numbers" and the words "GRUB restore. Since I have no idea what GRUB is or what this so-called restore is I don't know what to respond - no response works. So now my system won't even show the boot menu so I can use Windows. Thank GOD for HDD Partitions and image backups. I booted my Seagate Disc Wizard CD and restored my boot partition, which has nothing but what is required to start the machine, and MBR. Back to a running Windows system and no more Linux experiments for me.

geltdrakken
geltdrakken

HA! the machine I am on now IS a Vista, dual with Ubuntu 10. I'm in U-10 mode right now and rarely use the Windows. I generally only use Vista for the games I have accumulated, and all else in under Ubuntu. I have had to reinstall Vista 3 times since the one and only time I put on Ubuntu 9 (upgraded now). All my music is on the U as well. My only complaint so far (besides tedious installations of software occasionally--tar is just a problem on the Gulf),is that I cannot find a way to have live playback of sound when I want to use voice or play my guitar online. If I cannot hear it how do I know it sounds good live. (I am not recording--I mean live performance).

alucard_v
alucard_v

Excellent.. would personally chose linux over windows. But... if he had the recovery partition there, why would he need his recovery cds ? You could have used any *nix tool to change the partition table to boot the recovery partition and not have to be so worried about handing over a different O.S. albeit I am glad it was linux you handed back. hehe =) -=AlucardV=-

Slayer_
Slayer_

Some so bad that it changed the tone of the post. You can easily tell I wrote that at 2 in the morning.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

I recommend buying Crossover from Codeweavers.com rather than trying to make Wine work by yourself. They've done the homework to determine what settings, what DLL substitutions to make, etc. for a lot of popular Windows apps. Eliminates a lot of frustration in making Win apps work. BTW, MS Office 2000 runs pretty much perfectly in Crossover. You don't have the ability to process 'docx' formatted documents, but OpenOffice can convert them for you (in a lot of cases) -- or just tell your sources to please save as 'doc' not 'docx'... If you do prefer to use Wine, though, you may wish to add the "PPA" repository to your repository list and have your system automatically keep your system updated with the "lastest & greatest" version of Wine (currently v1.3.10.) The official repository version tends to lag, as they build every two weeks.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I can't remember if Mint uses KDE or Gnome.. I think Gnome though so you may or may not have equivalents. With KDE you should have kwallet. This will hold your passwords for network shares and such. You'll be asked top open it with a password at first use each boot but then it'll provide saved passwords as needed. I'm not sure what the Gnome equivalent is but it must have something similar. task manager has several options depending on how nerdy you want. My preference is htop in a terminal window. It gives a Top like view of critical resources along with some on screen menus for sorting, killing, details and such. The old school tools would be Top, Ps, kill and whatever other cli was around. At the other end, you have KDE's System Monitor. in X, there is also the ever handy xkill (click on the window to kill the program). For package management, consider looking at aptitude and apt-cache from the command line. It'll give you the options which may be missing from a given GUI front end (does not search description and category? boo). aptitude search apt-cache search

lk_bellsouth.net
lk_bellsouth.net

RedTalon, I understand completely. I, too, was guilty of "helping" a lot of people for quite a while. When I finally announced that I was going to start charging a very nominal fee, it was amazing how quickly my circle of friends diminished. My current policy? Pro Bono work only for my wife, kid, and grand children. All others, without exception, pay my current rate. It truly works out far better that way. Take care.....Lee

jdclyde
jdclyde

is when people DECIDE not to like something, they find a reason to not like something. Bet he never had the intelligence to form full sentences to explain any specific problems he had, huh?

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Says the retail store representative that can't derive a direct profit from Linux based platforms.

radleym
radleym

Your reset interrupted your install, so it never finished. GRUB is a boot manager that lets you dual-boot multiple OS's (or, for instance, a failsafe version). The sign was the HD light. Seems I recall many minutes of no apparent activity during my last XP install, too (except for the drive light).

rindi1
rindi1

Software installation on Ubuntu is normally much easier than in windows. You just open synaptic, look for the app or apps you want, and then select install... Installing from tar is only necessary when you can't find it in the repositories, which happens only very rarely. You can probably find a tool that allows you to play live sound, just search the repositories and try them. There are different Ubuntu flavors available, like ubuntustudio, which is optimized for music stuff. It may already have installed what you need, and there are probably others not directly from ubuntu, but rather 3rd parties, but still based on ubuntu that are built for that type of use.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

If you haven't, have a look around for wintricks. It's basically a WINE specific package manager that someone wrote. Need DirectX; winetricks install dx9. It makes things easier if one is going to go it alone with WINE (though, I'm suddenly in need of checking Codeweaver's listings to see if Longbow2 was ever considered).

Slayer_
Slayer_

Though I just bought 8 games on Steam, not gonna be using Mint for a bit now except for idle browsing of the internet in front of the TV or talking to people on messenger.

rindi1
rindi1

Mint based on ubuntu comes in different flavors, with gnome, KDE and LXDE at least. The Debian version only comes as a gnome version currently. You should also have synaptic as packet manager, which in my point of view is good (don't know why they added another, newer one, as it in my point of view is far behind synaptic). Currently I'm mainly using the Debian version of Mint. I don't have any problems on my atom n280 with nvidia g105m and power-management. I did install the nvidia legacy driver, and that one has an option called "PowerMizer" where you can select "Adaptive" as the preferred mode. As far as I know the nvidia legacy drivers all have those options.

RedTalon
RedTalon

No, and I even offered to help him get started with the new O/S. Instead, he ran to the nearest comp shop and had them install the same old virus magnet.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

...your comments and information are always interesting, useful, and bring a nice viewpoint to the topic at hand. Besides, the grammar & spelling only add a nice puzzle to the mix! :^D

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

http://www.winehq.org/download/deb Which will give you step by step instructions on how to install from the developer's PPA site. A PPA is a developer's personal repository from which you can download and install the latest builds or beta versions of new things. It may tell you that this will install a beta version of Wine, but I have not had problems with them - and most experts that I've read say that it's better to keep current with Wine, as the latest versions fix a lot more than what they may break...

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

It's called "winetricks", and it can be found through winehq.org. Search on Google using "site:winehq.org winetricks" and it will take you to a page that gives you Kegel's website address; he's the author-maintainer. If you're running Ubuntu, you'd be better off adding the PPA repository for Wine (wine1.3), then updating, then installing the latest build of Wine. You can get instructions on how to do this also on the winehq.org website. It will not only keep your wine install up to date from that point on, it will also automatically install (and keep up to date) winetricks, too. Best option is to surf to http://www.codeweavers.com and buy a copy of Crossover (Std or Pro) - it's cheap, and also includes winetricks, but you get a bonus - they configure everything for you. Have fun!

Slayer_
Slayer_

Also find nothing on search. Only frontend for Wine that I see is called "PlayOnLinux"

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

I install Wine from the Ubuntu PPA repository, and found that winetricks is automatically installed along with the latest Wine build. I no longer need to download & install it separately. Otherwise, it can be found via a link on the winehq.org website.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

Crossover is available in three forms: Standard (6 mos. support), Professional (12 mos. support + a few other extras), and "Crossover Games". The "games" version supports Steam! Not only that, you get it for free if you buy the Professional package. For $80 you get all that, fewer Win SW headaches, and you're supporting a small American business that's helping the Linux cause by making it easier to become disentangled from the grip of Windows.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I finally got an Xbox first Gen. It was time to revisit Project Gotham 1/2. ;)

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

I'm used to the "/etc/init.d/gdm restart" although the 10.x versions will now tell you that it's deprecated for the "service" thing. Still, restarting gdm is a bit of a sledgehammer approach... I'm hoping someone chimes in with a more elegant technique.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Restarting gdm/kdm is something I've not had reason to deal with due to my booting too text terminal. I treat the GUI like a Win3.11/win95 GUI layer over Dos base. As a result, I'm stopping and starting my X session rather than gdm/kdm. The most interaction with kdm/gdm that I have is disabling them. /etc/init.d/something restart that's probably the most efficient over all. Most distros use the init.d type boot so you can be reasonably sure it'll work. service restart something I've mostly seen it with Red Hat and related forks. The service command pretty much does the same without tab-typing the longer path "/etc/init.d/kd..". But, you have to be on a system that uses the service command unlike the certainty of above.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

I, too, am nervous about what they may do... Many others are worried about MySQL & Java, but there's also Vbox in their grip. I use the proprietary version myself, which gives me USB support in my VM. It's a great tool. It's been fine with ext4 since at least Ubuntu 9.10; I'm running 10.10 (now that gparted is fixed :^) and Vbox 3.2.12.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

Actually, Neon, I was hoping you'd respond with a better method to recover a gdm lock-up... I've learned a number of useful Linux tips & tricks from your posts! :^)

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

But.. not everyone suffers from my particular terminal login preferences. :D

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I just had a look "host I/O cache" set by default.. nice.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I just redid my notebook (encrypted partition needed to become bigger). Virtualbox had no issues with ext4. It may be a newer version than Ubuntu 10.04 though. Debian Package : virtualbox-ose Package Version: 3.2.10-dfsg-1 Virtualbox Ver : 3.2.10_ose r66523 (here's hoping the OSE version can fork cleanly if Oracle screws VB commercial in the same way they seem to bey trying with the other Sun acquisitions)

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

My machines are always setup for text terminal login then "startx" to load the GUI if needed. If X or the GUI locks up, it's only a graphic manager over top of my text host environment. I also make four desktops a standard. If something full screen locks up, switch desktops to where I can open or have a terminal then it's htop and kill. If I can't switch desktops or can't load a terminal; crtl+alt+backspace. The nuclear key command breaks out of X dumping me back to my command line; reboot, kill processes, re startx or whatever is needed. text login and ssh-client is essential for testing new drivers also. Before the Intel drivers matures in Debian 6 Testing They hung me with a black screen. The OS would boot behind it but no text/gui displayed on the screen. SSH in, uninstall video driver, reinstall Vesa video driver, reboot. It's more pleasant than going through single sign on. In Windows, the task manager is a staple; I put it in the startup folder even. If I can't alt-tab it back into view then I'm probably looking at a reboot anyhow. (also monitory system stats and muck with program priorities depending on task) I'd see this similar to keeping KDE's System Monitor loaded and waiting for an alt-tab. In all that though, crtl+alt+backup is probably the closest to breaking out of a system with crtl+alt+del to the crisis memu. I think I've only seen a fullscreen app cut off my keyboard once. VM software with a Windows VM having a seizure over a host system sleep. GNOME should have similar. Look for GUI system monitoring apps and/or GNOME specific ones. With Mint being a second fork (or less) away from Debian, you could look at the Debian package listings (browse or search) then confirm if Mint had the package available also. http://www.debian.org/distrib/packages

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

then press Ctrl + Alt + Fx, where Fx is a function key from F1 to F6. This will clear your screen and show you a command line login. You can return to an X-windows session by pressing Alt + Fx, where Fx is F7 and up. These are X-windows consoles; the one you will have dumped out of is F7. If you Ctrl-Alt-F1 to get a console session, log in as yourself and see if you can kill the app that's hung. Use 'top', 'ps', and such to find it. If you can't figure out what's causing the problem, or killing it doesn't recover the X display manager, you can restart it by entering 'sudo gdm restart' (or 'sudo gdm stop' and 'sudo gdm start') to bring up a new session. You'll loose the other apps that were running, though... But it beats restarting the machine. :^)

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

The "bug" is really just a notification that you need to check the checkbox marked "Use host I/O cache" for your virtual hard drives in your VM. Doing so has no detrimental effect on your VM or your system's performance. Also, you can always choose to format your hard drive partitions with ext3 in the later versions, if you wish, which sidesteps the issue.

dldorrance
dldorrance

Which is based on Ubuntu 8.04, and the latter will be supported until 2013. This version works seamlessly with Intel graphics. And Mint 11, based on Ubuntu 10.04 which in turn uses a different formatting strategy then previous Ubuntu versions (ext4 rather than ext3), does not work well with virtualbox, which will report a "bug" with ext4 partitioning. Also as mentioned earlier in this thread, Ubuntu does not work well with all wireless network cards. This is not a problem with Linux Mint.

Slayer_
Slayer_

After using the new GUI version, it is million sof times better. the catigories work properly, everything is way easier to find and easier to install. the reviewing system makes it much easier to wade through the programs, the way the support packages are handles is way better and thanks to the reviewing system, it displays the best reviewed programs first... and no one reviews the support packages, so they appear near the bottom of the list, out of sight. They just need to improve the search function, but its no worse than synaptic.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Maybe I'll try an older version of the drivers. Good idea. Neon, it uses Gnome I think, but the menu is at the bottom. I do have task kill button thingy turned on BUT it is not helpful if a full screen program dies cause you can';t click it, and you can't switch out of the task. It needs something like Windows (Preferably Win95/98) where if the break key is pressed, all processes are halted and a graphic display of the current processes is displayed or blitted over top of the current display (DC(0)) so no matter what is frozen, it will show up.

rindi1
rindi1

How did he pay for that PC shop's service and for the OS? I thought you said he couldn't afford to buy the OS? Was a bootlegged version installed?