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Ubuntu on a Dime

samzenpus posted about 4 years ago | from the read-all-about-it dept.

Books 531

AussieNeil writes "If IBM had adopted Unix for its Personal Computer and supported open source so *nix desktops were the now the norm, how hard would it be to convince the population to switch to Microsoft Windows? In Ubuntu on a Dime — The Path to Low-Cost Computing, James Kelly shows how easy it is to build a computer and install a complete software suite for US$200 excluding monitor, keyboard, and mouse. You can't even buy the operating system and anti-malware protection for Microsoft Windows for that, let alone have any money left over for hardware and productivity software! Then when you install the software, you have the paradigm of having to restart the computer to complete software installation and you have to learn how to practice safe computing while budgeting for annual anti-malware software license renewals!" Read on for the rest of AussieNeil's review.Alternate histories aside, Ubuntu on a Dime is a tribute both to the skills of the author and to the decades of effort by those that have developed user friendly software and hardware, so that this 280-page book gives anyone with a reasonable level of self-confidence the recipe to build their own computer, install all the software needed for common activities, and quickly become productive.

James Kelly, spends just 30 pages in the first chapter explaining how to purchase the required computer parts and assemble a Ubuntu PC or "U-PC" computer and does it in a relaxed, easy-to-follow style. Mind, the task is simplified by choosing a motherboard with integrated sound and video, but that is exactly what you'll find in the standard corporate office PC. (Personally, I would have recommend purchasing a SATA hard drive to avoid the not-touched-on master/slave complications of using a shared IDE cable for the hard drive and CD/DVD drive.) The book is illustrated throughout with frequent, excellent screen shots as the author steps you through hardware assembly, then operating system and application installation, configuration, and use.

In chapter 2, the author explains how to install the Ubuntu operating system and keep it updated. Wisely, he has chosen the Long Term Supported 8.04 version, but has omitted mention of the different Ubuntu support periods. He has also missed an opportunity here to expand on the growing list of Ubuntu variants, in particular Kubuntu, which I would see as an easier migration choice for those familiar with Microsoft Windows.

Chapter 3 is dedicated to a definition of what the author means by "free software" and covers the costs (including the relevant security risk costs) associated with the four software categories; Pay-to-Use, Open Source, Cloud Computing, and Freeware. The remaining 9 chapters look at how to use free software — software either included in the default Ubuntu installation, or available via cloud computing — to complete common computing tasks.

In chapter 4, email using Evolution is covered and word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations using the OpenOffice.org suite is covered in chapters 5 to 7. The Cloud Computing Google Docs Office Suite alternative, with the advantages of everywhere access to your documents and collaborative working is covered in chapter 11. Web browsing using Firefox is covered in chapter 9, with most of the chapter dedicated to finding and installing useful add-ons. Google gets another couple of chapters when photo management with Picasa is covered in chapter 8 and Google Email and Calendar configuration and use are explained in chapter 10. The last chapter looks at a few other useful applications found in Ubuntu: Calculator, Text Editor, Notes, Disk Burning, Movie Playing, and Music Playing. The three appendices cover the computer parts list, three ways to obtain an installation disk for Ubuntu, and finally a bibliography of web sites, books, and must-have apps so you can extend the use of your new Ubuntu PC. The 9-page index is fairly comprehensive, considering the wealth of illustrations throughout the book.

I liked this book because it covered tasks seen daunting by many (PC building, operating system and software installation, configuration, and upgrading) in an light, easy-to-follow manner, supported with excellent illustrations. Further, the author covers a lot of ground without overwhelming the reader, taking you to a level where you can start using your computer productively and showing you how to use help files and online resources to extend your use of your excellent hand-built investment. While extolling the benefits of open source software, he hasn't labored the point. Vendor lock-in costs associated with proprietary office suites aren't mentioned, nor are the lower security risks associated with open source usage.

If you are looking for a way to reduce your computing costs, or know someone that would appreciate a gift that can help them achieve this, then Ubuntu on a Dime is well worth considering — particularly for anyone that gets satisfaction from learning via do-it-yourself.

You can purchase Ubuntu on a Dime: The Path to Low-Cost Computing from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews. To see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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531 comments

your first sentence is technically flawed (4, Informative)

rubycodez (864176) | about 4 years ago | (#31819824)

Unix wouldn't run on the original IBM PC, nor with any other cheap processor they might have instead of the Intel one.

So given the IBM PC could only run lame program loaders in lieu of an actual operating system, we got what we got.

Re:your first sentence is technically flawed (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31819858)

Why stop at the first sentence when the title is flawed? Two hundred dollars != a dime!

Re:your first sentence is technically flawed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31820114)

Or that you can indeed buy a legit copy of Windows and an AV for less than $200. If you are a student, university faculty, or your company is a big enough MS client to qualify you for their discount, you can get Windows for less than $100. There are plenty of AVs that are free, including MS's.

Re:your first sentence is technically flawed (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 4 years ago | (#31820164)

yup, and for $50 on eBay you can get Dell Optiplex desktop that includes windows and a 30 day warranty from mom & pop shop. the monitor will probably cost $60 to $80.

Re:your first sentence is technically flawed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31820204)

I suppose that depends on what is in your dime bag.

Re:your first sentence is technically flawed (-1, Troll)

tomhudson (43916) | about 4 years ago | (#31820446)

Even at ten cents, Ubuntu is overpriced because it's just so fugly-ugly, even with the "new look."

They really need to learn that "standing out from the crowd" isn't necessarily a good thing ...

Re:your first sentence is technically flawed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31819942)

Coherent and Xenix did. They weren't "UNIX", per-se, but they were a close enough for home users.

Re:your first sentence is technically flawed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31819978)

Unix wouldn't run on the original IBM PC, nor with any other cheap processor they might have instead of the Intel one.

Actually, UNIX did run on '286 processors (Microport and VentureCom's Venix), and Minix did on even older ones.

Re:your first sentence is technically flawed (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31820038)

Unix wouldn't run on the original IBM PC, nor with any other cheap processor they might have instead of the Intel one.

So given the IBM PC could only run lame program loaders in lieu of an actual operating system, we got what we got.

Well, the 68000 CPU was available at that time. The Sun-1 systems ran SunOS 0.9, a port of UniSoft's UniPlus V7 port of Seventh Edition UNIX to the Motorola 68000 microprocessor in 1982.

Xenix was running on Intel 80x86 hardware, and on 68000 & Zilog Z8001. Microsoft purchased a license for Version 7 Unix from AT&T in 1979, and announced on August 25, 1980 that it would make it available for the 16-bit microcomputer market. The initial port of Xenix to the Intel 8086/8088 architecture was performed by The Santa Cruz Operation.

A couple of years later, RISC iX was running on ARM.

LUnix can even run on a Commodore 64's 6510 CPU.

Re:your first sentence is technically flawed (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#31820160)

>>>Unix wouldn't run on the original IBM PC

That's a really bold statement. It's akin to saying "Windows wouldn't run on the original PC". Today's bloated monstrosity certainly wouldn't, but the original Windows 1 was written in assembly so that it could run on a minimal configuration (256k). Similarly the original Amiga and Mac OSes ran on 128K. C=64 GEOS on just 64k.

So why can't a 1982 programmer create a Unix that was optimized for the primitive IBM PC? True it might be CLI only but then so too was the original PC-DOS.

Re:your first sentence is technically flawed (2, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | about 4 years ago | (#31820312)

Sorry, but Unix really does require a multi-tasking capability and memory management. You can dream about some assembly-language GUI (or no GUI Unixy thing) alternative to have run on the first PC, but it would not have been Unix.

Unix *was* (barely) possible on the IBM AT, and indeed there were a couple (using kludgy trick for multitasking); I ran a Unix-like thing called Coherent

Re:your first sentence is technically flawed (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#31820394)

Indeed; ten years later they wanted to port some mainframe stuff to a desktop computer where I work, but the forty meg hard drive would hardly hold the distro (Don't remember which one, it might have been SCO), let alone the data.

Hopefully $175 (4, Insightful)

nacturation (646836) | about 4 years ago | (#31819842)

... after you buy the $25 book, that is. Anyone know if there's an open source "Ubuntu On a Dime on a Dime"?

Re:Hopefully $175 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31819974)

please set your wallet for recursion..

Re:Hopefully $175 (1)

natehoy (1608657) | about 4 years ago | (#31820144)

Computer: $200
Book: $25
Keyboard: $10
Mouse: $5
Monitor: ~$60 if you're damned lucky.
Operating system: $0
WiFi: No
Webcam: No
Portable: No
Total cost: $300

ASUS eeePC netbook: $300 (or similar - I only mention the eeePC because I have personal experience with it and Linux)
Nuke the Starter Edition of Windows 7, reload with Ubuntu, Mint, or your choice of distro: $0, in about an hour.
Keyboard: Included
Mouse: $5 (if you want an external)
Monitor: Included
WiFi: Included
Webcam: Included
Portable: Yes, ten hours of battery, and weighs almost nothing.

Both approaches have their high points, and their low points.

Netbook disadvantages:
  - Smaller screen (10"), but you can add an external one later if that bothers you.
  - Slightly smaller keyboard (though I'm 6' 4" with proportionally large hands, and I can type nearly as fast on a netbook as I can my laptop or Microsoft Natural keyboard), but again you can add one if you need it later.
  - Not upgradeable in any meaningful way.
  - You haven't learned to assemble a system yourself.
  - If you leave the Windows 7 starter, you'll need to shell out for Antivirus, etc. But Ubuntu Netbook Remix (or even Ubuntu, Mint, etc) run great on it.

Netbook advantages:
  - Includes wifi and a battery, so you can go to almost any library in the country and get on the Internet for free. That can save you a lot of dough if you're cash-strapped (example: keep a low-cost dialup plan for daily surfing, then pop down to the library for any large downloads or updates).
  - No assembly required. Ready to go out of the box.
  - Portable, both around the house and take it with you.
  - Includes a webcam for videoconferencing if you have a decent Internet connection available.

Re:Hopefully $175 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31820320)

Monitor: ~$60 if you're damned lucky.

Buy a nice CRT on Craigslist. Then change this number to $20-$40. Power requirements aren't that different, resolution and color are better. If you're cheap, you don't care that it's heavy.

Should be some amazing second-hand deals out there what with Vista and 7 axing support for them.

Re:Hopefully $175 (2, Funny)

JBrandonS (1662511) | about 4 years ago | (#31820414)

Nuke the Starter Edition of Windows 7, reload with Ubuntu, Mint, or your choice of distro: $0, in about an hour.

I run Gentoo you insensitive clod!

Re:Hopefully $175 (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#31820248)

$25 for the book plus $175 for the hardware, plus several days of labor == major headache IMHO. Again following the KISS principle, I would follow this procedure to save time (which has dollar value too):

- Buy $300 PC at staples (sale price).
- Sell the Windows 7 OS Disc on ebay for about $75.
- Install Ubuntu Linux for free.
- $225 and just 1 hour of labor spent.

Ubuntu? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31819844)

I installed the most recent version of Ubuntu recently and noticed that the software installer didn't work.

I uninstalled Ubuntu shortly thereafter.

Re:Ubuntu? (1)

somersault (912633) | about 4 years ago | (#31820294)

When you say "most recent" do you mean the 10.04 beta? Hardly a fair test, if indeed there is any truth to your post at all..

Can't buy the OS for $200? (5, Insightful)

schnikies79 (788746) | about 4 years ago | (#31819852)

I can buy OEM copies for significantly cheaper than that. Anti-virus/malware protection is a free download from Microsoft.

I use what works for me, leaving dogma aside.

Re:Can't buy the OS for $200? (2, Insightful)

nmb3000 (741169) | about 4 years ago | (#31820032)

That was my thought too.

Windows 7 Home Premium: $99.99 [newegg.com] (or Professional for $140)
Microsoft Security Essentials: $0.00 [microsoft.com]
Knowing your wireless card and webcam will work: Priceless

Hm, that's a lot less than $200.

Re:Can't buy the OS for $200? (1, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#31820188)

Once you buy and install Windows, and turn on the automatic updates, you're essentially done maintaining it.

Installing additional software is generally as simple as letting it install itself.

Every version of Linux, however, including Ubuntu, requires some expertise in configuration and management of the OS. It's not nearly as hands-off a system.

It's nice to have the source code to mess with, or to enhance. But if I have to compile a new piece of software just to install it properly the first time, that's when *nixen completely fail the end user.

Thinking Ubuntu is better because a copy of it costs less is a classic case of penny wise, pound foolish.

Re:Can't buy the OS for $200? (2, Informative)

IANAAC (692242) | about 4 years ago | (#31820356)

But if I have to compile a new piece of software just to install it properly the first time, that's when *nixen completely fail the end user.

You must not have recent experience with Ubuntu... or Opensuse, etc.

You don't have to compile a single thing to get everything working. The package managers are quite nice, really.

As far as automatic updates, it doesn't matter what operating system you use. Updates can and do occasionally hose things, whether it's Windows, OSX or Linux. So it's wise to *not* have auto updates on, rather read what each update is doing before letting it install.

Re:Can't buy the OS for $200? (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | about 4 years ago | (#31820410)

I've had more trouble fighting with drivers with Vista and 7 in the past 5 years than I have with Linux.

Linux could still use better printer, sound, wireless and webcam drivers. Don't get me wrong. But the assumption that all hardware works out of the box in Windows is pretty flawed.

With Linux and hplip, it autodetects a Print/Scan/Copy/Fax device, and sets everything up automatically. Now, try installing the same printer in Windows. See which is more of a pain.

As far as OS configuration, are you also considering all the anti-virus/anti-virus configuration necessary in Windows? What about updating all the apps in Windows as opposed to having a single package management solution?

You can make the case that Linux is easier to install, configure and support in 2010. That wasn't necessarily the case in 2000 or 2005, but in 2010 I really believe it is.

Re:Can't buy the OS for $200? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31820292)

I can buy OEM copies for significantly cheaper than that. Anti-virus/malware protection is a free download from Microsoft.

From TFS (emphasis mine):

James Kelly shows how easy it is to build a computer and install a complete software suite for US$200 excluding monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

$200 gets you the software AND the computer (sans KVM).

So who is the book for? (3, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 4 years ago | (#31819868)

Building a PC from scratch? What FOSS is? How to use Ubuntu?

I'm sorry, this doesn't sound like a particularly good book for *anyone*

Re:So who is the book for? (4, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 4 years ago | (#31820018)

I'm sorry, this doesn't sound like a particularly good book for *anyone*

If it sells enough copies, it might be particularly good for the author . . .

Re:So who is the book for? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 4 years ago | (#31820046)

indeed, better first step would be to buy a $50 used computer system including monitor on eBay from mom & pop shop that gives a month warranty. Just list what's needed for a "good enough" box as far as processor, memory, disk, cd-rom drive, have a keyboard and mouse included, etc.

Re:So who is the book for? (4, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 4 years ago | (#31820066)

If you want to make an PC from scratch, you must first create the universe.

Re:So who is the book for? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 4 years ago | (#31820202)

nah, I consider the big bang, world, global economy, my job and other people as a given, the "scratch".

Re:So who is the book for? (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | about 4 years ago | (#31820256)

I've never put a PC together or done anything with Ubuntu, but I know a lightweight Ubuntu system would be useful for some of my relatives who don't need much more than word processing and internet. I wouldn't know where to start on such a system, so I would just let them pay Dell for everything. With a book like this, I could easily set up their computer for them, and leave the book with them if they need the more basic tutorials.

If I had $200 to spare right now, I would buy the book and try this out so I would have a system to show anyone I think doesn't need to keep Windows.

Plenty of free AV options (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31819874)

I find it interesting how they add the cost of anti-malware not only once, but also say that you need to have ongoing license renewals in the yearly budget. Not only is Microsoft's own anti-malware completely free, there are other free options such as Avast and AVG as well. So technically, yes, you COULD pay for Symantec or McAfee, but adding the cost in as though it's the ONLY choice is disingenuous at best.

Re:Plenty of free AV options (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 4 years ago | (#31820020)

...except then you get into Windows-only p*ssing matches regarding what is or isn't an acceptable solution.

That fact alone should turn off anyone (with half a brain) from Windows.

There doesn't even seem to be a "one true solution" like there is for something like word processors or personal finance.

Re:Plenty of free AV options (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about 4 years ago | (#31820150)

"except then you get into Windows-only p*ssing matches regarding what is or isn't an acceptable solution."

As if there aren't still some p*ssing matches over which distro is 'best' for your purpose/skill set/relationship/age/residence.

As if there aren't still some p*ssing matches over which Window Manager is best for your purpose/skillset/artistic taste/comfort level/graphics hardware.

As if there aren't still some p*ssing matches over so much else in the FOSS world.

HA! P*ssing matches are the sole domain of the Windows world? That's rich. Don't even bother to try to escape by claiming the *nix world is a kinder, gentler place. Cross a developer and see what I mean. In the Windows world, you don't get *near* an OS developer. In the FOSS world, a few kernel devs eat each others' babies for the sake of a single patch. Fortunately, very few, but it ain't easy in the kernel world.

And it probably shouldn't be.

Re:Plenty of free AV options (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 4 years ago | (#31820288)

...which resolves this down to a question of cost.

Except you can try any version of Linux you like. It won't be some crippled version or disable itself at some point in the future.

Cripple-ware is one of those FUN bits about Windows that I really don't miss.

Re:Plenty of free AV options (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31820314)

It is disingenuous for more than one reason. If everyone ran Linux I think it is very safe to assume that the world would be full of Linux viruses. Microsoft receives the brunt of the viruses because that is what people use. Virus writers are naturally going to target a larger population. Root kits have been around for some time, so it is silly to assume you do not need AV if you run linux.

Re:Plenty of free AV options (1)

Killer Orca (1373645) | about 4 years ago | (#31820418)

To be fair, most computer users have no idea that there is free AV out there. Perhaps that is something the author could have explained for a more balanced look at costs, but for a truly novice computer user AV is something most will end up paying money for.

Its all about the command line stupid.... (-1, Troll)

Immostlyharmless (1311531) | about 4 years ago | (#31819876)

As long as its absolutely mandatory that *nix users must use the command line to do certain things, *nix will never come close to becoming a mainstream OS. No matter how much money it saves people.

Re:Its all about the command line stupid.... (3, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | about 4 years ago | (#31819920)

that's funny because back when Microsoft software became ubiquitous on PC, there was "command line" required.

Re:Its all about the command line stupid.... (2, Insightful)

mcmonkey (96054) | about 4 years ago | (#31820056)

How is that funny?

If I say you'll have no success trying to sell a car that doesn't go over 20 MPH, is it funny because 100 years ago no cars went over 20 MPH?

Re:Its all about the command line stupid.... (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 4 years ago | (#31820108)

point is command line not the issue.

anyway, can install and use plenty of Linux distros without the command line for normal household use. red herring.

Re:Its all about the command line stupid.... (1)

AcousticYorick (1787308) | about 4 years ago | (#31820252)

I wouldn't buy a computer that doesn't come with a buggy whip, even if it does have one o' them new-fangled "command lines." It's just a fad for them kids--you'll see.

Re:Its all about the command line stupid.... (1)

xaxa (988988) | about 4 years ago | (#31820284)

I dunno... If someone gave me a car that only went 20mph but cost £0 to purchase and run I might buy one.

(Except I already have a nice bicycle, which goes faster :-)

Re:Its all about the command line stupid.... (1)

pinkj (521155) | about 4 years ago | (#31820138)

that's funny because back when Microsoft software became ubiquitous on PC, there was "command line" required.

Was your grandmother trying to read her email on these "command line required" PCs? I think it's obvious to say that GUIs opened up personal computers for non-tech oriented people and that a DOS prompt didn't. If anyone needs to use the CL for anything when working on their computer, it isn't user-friendly enough.

Re:Its all about the command line stupid.... (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 4 years ago | (#31820234)

nah, she popped in the AOL CD. Oooo, so software and not the so-called OS or need/no need for command line is what makes or breaks the deal? how about them apples! there's a moral for the GNU/Linux and the *BSD crowd (and yes I'm part of both).

Re:Its all about the command line stupid.... (1)

nine-times (778537) | about 4 years ago | (#31820300)

I think the whole discussion is moot. You don't need to use the command line to use modern Linux operating systems.

Re:Its all about the command line stupid.... (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 4 years ago | (#31820086)

I use the command line to edit text and do ... some other crap. Kill off npviewer.bin to free up memory without closing Firefox (it's a Flash wrapper). Oh, and to run bc as a calculator. It turns out vim and bc are way better than gedit and gnome-calc.

Re:Its all about the command line stupid.... (2, Informative)

Jeng (926980) | about 4 years ago | (#31820268)

Many games have what amounts to a command line. I would say that a good amount of people would have no problem using a command line interface IF they knew its uses.

Re:Its all about the command line stupid.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31820420)

Even if you didn't need to use the command line so much on a Linux box, the fact you can't run most of the software that regular users want to (like games -- and no, spending hours messing around with Wine to make a game work half-assed doesn't count) makes Linux a non-starter for a large chunk of computer users.

paradigm of having to restart the computer? (2, Insightful)

Beelzebud (1361137) | about 4 years ago | (#31819880)

"Then when you install the software, you have the paradigm of having to restart the computer to complete software installation and you have to learn how to practice safe computing while budgeting for annual anti-malware software license renewals!"

Every time Ubuntu updates it asks me to reboot the machine, yet in Win7 I can update video card drivers and not have to restart. I'm not sure why you're claiming the opposite is true. Both systems require restarts for certain updates, but these days Win7 has Ubuntu beat in this area, hands down. Also there is no need to budget for annual anti-malware tools, because you can get many free AV suites. MS even offers one now, that tests better than the paid programs.

Re:paradigm of having to restart the computer? (3, Insightful)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | about 4 years ago | (#31820028)

Every time Ubuntu updates it asks me to reboot the machine

Ubuntu pretty much only restarts for kernel updates, but if you install Ksplice, even those go away.

Re:paradigm of having to restart the computer? (4, Informative)

Beelzebud (1361137) | about 4 years ago | (#31820094)

"Pretty much" is the key thing here. It pretty much only restarts for kernel updates, unless you've updated the video card drivers, the window manager, the x server, or any other complex part of the system. I run Ubuntu and Win7, and keep both up to date. Ubuntu has me restart far more than the Win7 machine.

I'm running Lucid Lynx. (3, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | about 4 years ago | (#31820206)

It's BETA software and it gets updates almost every single day.

And yet even with running BETA software and pulling patches down almost every day I am NOT rebooting the system as you claim.

Re:I'm running Lucid Lynx. (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | about 4 years ago | (#31820230)

Where did I claim Ubuntu was having you reboot every day? I didn't. I said it has me reboot more than Win7 does, and that's a fact.

Here's where you said it. (4, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | about 4 years ago | (#31820372)

Where did I claim Ubuntu was having you reboot every day? I didn't.

That would be when you posted this:

Every time Ubuntu updates it asks me to reboot the machine, yet in Win7 I can update video card drivers and not have to restart.

Note your usage or "Every time" in that statement.

I pointed out that Lucid Lynx is receiving updates almost every day. Therefore, by your original statement, I should be rebooting it almost every day.

That is not my experience. And that is with BETA software.

Re:paradigm of having to restart the computer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31820276)

It's called "logging out" after new video card drivers. That restarts X. No machine restart required. And Windows 7 has me restart nearly every other Tuesday. Ubuntu: I only restart for updated kernels. Hmm... when was the last time your Windows 7 kernel was updated?

Re:paradigm of having to restart the computer? (2, Informative)

TheCycoONE (913189) | about 4 years ago | (#31820402)

Ubuntu/Fedora do ask to be restarted after some updates. Usually this isn't required, it's just that having the person restart their whole computer is easier than explaining to them how to restart a particular process like X in the case of a video driver update.

The same can be said of Windows; it is usually just a particular service/process that needs restarted not the whole system.

Re:paradigm of having to restart the computer? (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | about 4 years ago | (#31820406)

Are you running Win7 64-bit? MS has some basic hot-swap update service that works better on 64-bit and a lot of things that would require a reboot in 32-bit or in the old XP days, no longer do so. Supposedly the x64 architecture allows for stuff like this in a safer way than 32-bit x86.

I've also been a little surprised at the lack of reboots sometimes.

Re:paradigm of having to restart the computer? (1)

iamapizza (1312801) | about 4 years ago | (#31820042)

Perhaps the book was written several years ago, when the author was living under a rock in order to get the quiet-time necessary to write his book. In retrospect, not the best move.

Re:paradigm of having to restart the computer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31820062)

You got a point. While I'm not a Windows user (aside from 8hrs a day at work) or fan, I must give MS their due on Win7. It's a very nice/solid desktop OS. Windows servers on the other hand...... :-/

Re:paradigm of having to restart the computer? (1)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | about 4 years ago | (#31820102)

This is completely false, all you need to do is shut X down, unload the driver, and restart X there is no need to completely reboot.

Re:paradigm of having to restart the computer? (2, Insightful)

Beelzebud (1361137) | about 4 years ago | (#31820168)

Yeah technically you don't need to reboot, you just have to shut everything down, exit to command line, and restart everything...

Re:paradigm of having to restart the computer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31820438)

Last I checked you can restart X with a keyboard shortcut and it takes 1/10th the time (or less) of a reboot.

The parent poster doesn't know what the hell hes doing on a Linux system I'm guessing. I've been running Ubuntu for years and I've only had to reboot to apply an update maybe 3 times. IIRC they were all major kernel updates. I've never rebooted for any updates to X or video drivers, and I have had to update them both.

Re:paradigm of having to restart the computer? (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | about 4 years ago | (#31820174)

If a file is in use by Windows or a program an installer has two choices: fail and rollback, or mark the file for replacement next reboot and ask the user to do so.

Linux transparently replaces the file as soon as it is no longer being used, AFAIK. Which is great. Only updates for Linux I've needed to reboot for are kernel updates, which is understandable. You can also get Windows to reboot less but it takes some knowledge of how and why that happens to know how to avoid it, whereas Linux "just works". If you install any Windows Updates on Windows, 99% of the time it'll want a reboot and nag you until you do so.

AFAIK only reason Microsoft caved and figured out how to make video drivers upgradable while running was to help solve an unrelated problem--poorly coded video driver crashes causing blue screens and making Windows look bad (video drivers account for the majority of blue screens). So now Windows puts the blame right where it belongs and allows you to keep working. This same mechanism allows for drivers to be stopped, replaced, and restarted to update them.

Disclaimer: I use Windows 7 almost exclusively. Hard drives died in my old computer, I plan to turn THAT into an Ubuntu box when my new HD gets here though. Microsoft Security Essentials is pretty nice too.

Don't under-estimate Acer (2, Informative)

vrmlguy (120854) | about 4 years ago | (#31819908)

build a computer and install a complete software suite for US$200 excluding monitor, keyboard, and mouse. You can't even buy the operating system and anti-malware protection for Microsoft Windows for that

Permit me to introduce the Acer Aspire REVO. The base model (R1600-U910H - 1 GB RAM - 1.6 GHz - 160 GB HDD) can be had for $199.99 or less [google.com] , and includes keyboard, mouse and Windows XP. Of course, I'm planning to install XBMC.

Re:Don't under-estimate Acer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31820172)

That does look like a good nettop, but the big difference is that your example doesn't include a monitor, which is a quite significant portion of the total price at this level.

Of course, one doesn't need a monitor, but this book doesn't seem to be aimed at those who've memorized their computer to the point of using it blind.

Had IBM used UNIX (2, Informative)

ClosedSource (238333) | about 4 years ago | (#31819914)

it wouldn't have been UNIX as you know it. The 8088 didn't have privilege levels, so essentially everything would run as root.

Re:Had IBM used UNIX (3, Insightful)

The End Of Days (1243248) | about 4 years ago | (#31819996)

Shhh, don't spoil the fun for the zealots. They love pretending that Unix folks had their shit together back then. It lets them believe that Microsoft won through some underhanded marketing bullshit instead of the fact that there were no realistic alternatives.

Re:Had IBM used UNIX (1)

cfalcon (779563) | about 4 years ago | (#31820124)

Unix did have their stuff together. Intel didn't. Protection wasn't offered until the 286.

Re:Had IBM used UNIX (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 4 years ago | (#31820198)

An x86 that can handle Unix dates back to 1985.

What was that about "spoiling" again exactly?

The fact that it took Microsoft another 10 years to catch up is really sad. Meanwhile, everyone else had better hardware and GUIs. Some of the other options were even CHEAPER on top of being better and easier.

MS-DOS had Lotus123 and the "iPhone effect".

Re:Had IBM used UNIX (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31820200)

Oh how they forget Xenix [wikipedia.org] . I know I would if I could.

Oh, and yes, it did run on the 8086 and 8088, and was available for use with the IBM-PC.

Re:Had IBM used UNIX (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31820090)

Yes, but after the launch of the 80386 (with the inclusion of paging) they could release a new version of the system with all the permission things we are used to.

PS: if they really wanted they could add memory protection to the system with the launch of the 80286, but it only supported segmentation, it would be alite bit different from what we are used to.

its hard cause its not ever polished (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31819932)

I use ubuntu every day, my wife uses 7

while I love my little nix system its hard to sell people on it when it doesnt run what they want, and what it does run is at best half finished

hell you cant even switch windows in the current ubuntu without a flight flicker in the screen

Let the FUD begin (3, Insightful)

mcmonkey (96054) | about 4 years ago | (#31819960)

You can't even buy the operating system and anti-malware protection for Microsoft Windows for that, let alone have any money left over for hardware and productivity software!

Not true.

Then when you install the software, you have the paradigm of having to restart the computer to complete software installation and you have to learn how to practice safe computing while budgeting for annual anti-malware software license renewals!"

So you're saying people who use Ubuntu don't need to practice safe computing? That's great news! Next time I get an email from a Nigerian prince, I'll make sure I send him my account information with pine instead of Outlook, so then I'll be safe.

Re:Let the FUD begin (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 4 years ago | (#31820106)

> So you're saying people who use Ubuntu don't need to practice safe computing?

Compared to Windows users? No, not really.

Of course there are scams to consider. However those really have little to do with technology. They're a pure con game that just happens to use email as the communications medium.

OTOH, you could just use the principle of "avoid Microsoft as much as possible" to whatever degree you feel that you can get away with. This could mean dumping Windows entirely or merely avoiding as many Microsoft applications as possible while still running Windows. A good start would be dumping IE. Dumping msoffice would be even better.

This rule also worked well when the issue was "crashing" rather than "being rooted" back in the 16-bit days.

What if... (2, Insightful)

singingjim1 (1070652) | about 4 years ago | (#31819998)

...Apple had licensed it's operating system to computer manufacturers like Windows did. While Windows wasn't "open source", it was certainly made more openly available. Bill Gates was just smarter at the time than Steve Jobs. You could play the what if game all day long with all sorts of scenarios.

Apple did. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31820196)

Apple tried that years ago and the clone was called the "Orange". Apple eventually killed the licensing of the the OS because it was eating into their margins for hardware; hence why Apple was able to keep their prices higher than the PC clones - until recently. (Now, for the high end all-in-one units, the iMacs actually come in a little cheaper than something like a HP.)

MS didn't have to worry about hardware. Gates wanted the hardware to become a commodity and lock up the software - it worked, obviously.

Re:Apple did. (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about 4 years ago | (#31820344)

Apple tried that years ago and the clone was called the "Orange".

I think you might be mistaken. IIRC, there was an Orange PC [wikipedia.org] card that was basically a 486 card that you could insert in your Mac to dual boot into DOS/Windows. You're probably thinking of Starmax from Motorola, Power Computing & UMAX. There were a few others, but I can't remember the names off the top of my head.

Re:What if... (0)

rickb928 (945187) | about 4 years ago | (#31820318)

"Bill Gates was just smarter at the time than Steve Jobs"

How's that working out nowadays?

- Microsoft is clinging to market share like a rat to the last scrap of cheese on the trap. How are they gonna fare over the next decade? Struggling against more and more competitors? New markets? Autosound? Set-top boxes? Doesn't sound like many game-changers our there for Microsoft.

- Apple is INVENTING new markets. How do you compete with a player that doesn't just change fields when you've finally figured out the rules, they essentially change planets...? Sony used to be good at this, but they lost their vision somewhere after the Walkman, probably right around CD players. Apple redefined the portable music market after Diamond and the bunch failed to 'get it right'. And iTunes is genius.

At the time, Jobs was still smarter than Gates. Still is. Just different games. Gates went for world domination, and got all the headaches an emperor hates. Jobs went for market domination, and is still leading in pretty much every area they care to develop in. Apple TV is the only loser I can think of, and the iPad will own that market soon enough.

and my time is $100 - $200 an hour ... (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 4 years ago | (#31820030)

So by the time I get the book and read the book I am already losing money. Thats before I do any of the work.

If i was a broke college student like Linus, then that might be another issue.

Re:and my time is $100 - $200 an hour ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31820130)

I love arbitrary "valuations" like this.

Hey, my time is $10,000 an hour, so just reading your post cost me $500.

Re:and my time is $100 - $200 an hour ... (1)

FreonTrip (694097) | about 4 years ago | (#31820222)

Or, perhaps, an average joe trying to stretch his income during the worst recession in 75 years. There are plenty of people less skillful and lucky than you, and it's a safe bet that you're outside the target market for this book.

cost of acquisition is everything, huh? (0, Flamebait)

drdrgivemethenews (1525877) | about 4 years ago | (#31820040)

No disrespect intended, but that's really naive. There are other costs, even for home users. Frustration with overly technical administrative requirements is a cost. Having to ask other people how to do stuff all the time is a cost. Listening to overbearing geeks tell you how easy things you can't figure out are, is a cost. Having to find and download "free" software to do stuff MS users get with their machines, and then finding out it isn't quite the same, is a cost. Not being able to easily exchange docs and pictures with your nieces and nephews is a cost. Do I need to go on?

Perhaps useful in High School (1)

ghetto2ivy (1228580) | about 4 years ago | (#31820074)

Perhaps this book might be useful for a high school tech club/class. I mean there already are many $200 linux computers: netbooks. I would have liked the book in HS, it would have saved me countless hours of windows reinstallation, and cursing at BSODs. (I'm now a stress free Ubuntu and Mac User).

Everyone else, the transition to Ubuntu isn't that hard, but is a learning curve. Why would one want to add building a machine to the mix? Besides by the time the ink is dry I'm sure the hardware suggestions will be out of date.

Re:Perhaps useful in High School (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 4 years ago | (#31820242)

Yup...

Like someone else said: Just buy a Revo.

The fact that such boxes are available are a revelation to most people.

They're sold at BestBuy but they are kind of hidden from view. They're tucked away in a corner so that you don't notice them as you pass by the more expensive machines.

Ludicrous (2, Funny)

Kingrames (858416) | about 4 years ago | (#31820216)

No way you could run Ubuntu on a dime. Dimes have no cpu, no video card, no ram. And where would you insert the liveCD?

Can Too (1)

kenh (9056) | about 4 years ago | (#31820220)

From the original post:

James Kelly shows how easy it is to build a computer and install a complete software suite for US$200 excluding monitor, keyboard, and mouse. You can't even buy the operating system and anti-malware protection for Microsoft Windows for that, let alone have any money left over for hardware and productivity software!

I can buy a retail copy of Windows 7 Home Premium for $179.99 at Newegg, with shipping for another $1.99[0], and Microsoft Security Essentials is free for download[1], and a very reasonable product for many users.[2]

Also, I can get an Acer Aspire REVO at Bestbuy for a nickle under $200, with a copy of Windows XP SP3 included.[3]

I can't wait to see the specs on the $200 computer build outlined in this "outdated before it was published" book... Also, didn't this book come out a while ago? At least 4-6 months ago - are the parts listed even still commonly available?

[0] http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116716&cm_re=windows_7_home_retail-_-32-116-716-_-Product [newegg.com]

[1] http://www.microsoft.com/security_essentials/?mkt=en-us [microsoft.com]

[2] http://www.winsupersite.com/win7/mse.asp [winsupersite.com]

[3] http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Acer+-+AspireRevo+Nettop+with+Intel%26%23174%3B+Atom%26%23153%3B+Processor/9535434.p?id=1218120545008&skuId=9535434 [bestbuy.com]

and... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31820296)

You also have a sound system that just works... always... for EVERY program you throw at it, and with low latency too!

Don't get me wrong, I want to get away from M$ because they sell their customers out to the entertainment industry. (http://www.afterdawn.com/news/article.cfm/2008/05/18/nbc_triggered_vista_broadcast_flag)

They also sell people an intentionally broken product and then charge another $80 to fix it. (http://www.techspot.com/guides/264-change-wallpaper-on-windows-7-starter/)

I do not pretend that Linux is a perfect alternative. Until the developers stop ramming problematic software like PulseAudio down my throat, it won't be.

Linux is still not ready for desktop use (1, Interesting)

hessian (467078) | about 4 years ago | (#31820334)

Windows persists because it's designed to be a desktop operating system. Linux is an adaptation of a server operating system. All of the software is there in Windows, and it has the nifty interface and a company backing it up by writing professional documentation, hordes of device drivers, and being there to issue updates in a timely manner.

No offense intended to the Ubuntu folks, but there's a reason the market often beats the volunteer efforts: it can pay for in addition to inspiring great performance. Open source can inspire great performance by individuals, but what makes a great OS is more than good code; it's good interface design, support and really boring work like driver development.

In addition, while I use KDE and like it, I'm never going to fool myself into thinking this software matches professional level stuff. Even Office 2007 beats the pants off Open Office, Abiword, and Kwrite, hands down. There simply is no competition once you get past the "one page document" stage.

I will always have a FreeBSD machine at home to play with. But I wouldn't want to drop it into an office. For all its flaws, Windows makes desktop computing tasks easy, fast and relatively reliable.

The cost of the OS is not the primary issue. (2, Insightful)

Delusion_ (56114) | about 4 years ago | (#31820426)

I could run BeOS for free. And on today's machines, it would play the fastest game of Tetris ever.

Jokes aside, who considers the price of the OS the primary issue? Way to miss the point. The primary issue is "does this OS run the applications I want to run".

I encounter naive Linux desktop converts occasionally. And no, that's not to suggest all Linux desktop converts are naive. It's very frustrating to hear them pontificate about their latest install Ubuntu Malodorous Moose, and then on the other hand ask "what's the Linux equivalent of [some Windows application]?" every two days.

If it doesn't run the applications I need to run, you could give me the OS for free and it still won't run them.

Throwing in red herrings about what certain security apps cost when there are free alternatives for Windows is pretty disingenuous as well.

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