Rob's Project: Getting Ubuntu Doing What He Needs

Paul Gear paul at
Fri Aug 13 14:10:57 BST 2010

On 13/08/10 20:43, Rob Farquhar wrote:
> ...
> - I'm starting to get back into serious writing at the moment, so this
> is the main thing I want from my PC. I use OpenOffice under Windows as
> well as Linux and I've been using Dropbox to ensure I'm working on the
> most current version no matter which boot I'm running. However, if I
> want to use my Brother MFC-465CN multifunction unit (printer, fax,
> scanner) I have to boot under Windows; I have no idea how to set it up
> under Linux and naturally Brother's website isn't the most helpful.

A couple of searches turned up this: 
The instructions at 
look reasonable, too.

> - While I'm writing I'd like to be able to listen to music. My main
> music collection is on Windows, managed by iTunes, which also manages my
> podcast subscriptions and syncs with my 8GB iPod Nano. I've bought a
> couple of tracks from the iTunes Store but I'm not too fussed if I lose
> access to these.

The important thing is: what format is your music in?  If it's in Ogg 
format, you've got no worries.  If MP3, you can install the 
ubuntu-restricted-extras package.  I don't know about other formats, but 
i've had problems with AAC or MP4 or whatever it is that iTunes uses.

> - Naturally, I browse the web. In theory I can do this under either
> boot, but I've noticed that Windows seems to manage the multimedia side
> of the web a little better, especially when I'm trying to play high-def
> content.

I have very few problems running anything Flash-related under Lucid.  No 
doubt Windows is better optimised, but i can live with it.  However, 
i've never bothered trying to play 720p or 1080p on my laptop.

> ...
> However, since mid-last year, Windows XP has had serious browsing
> issues. No matter whether I use Firefox or IE, it's a coin-toss as to
> whether any given site I go to will actually load:
>      * Sometimes the browser will load the page title then sit and think.
>      * Sometimes it'll partway load the page then sit and think.
>      * Sometimes it will give me a 404 or similar for a site other than
>        the one I was trying to get to.
>      * Sometimes it'll load the page source, sometimes for an entirely
>        different site than the one I was trying to get to.
>      * Sometimes it'll load a single graphic from the page and insist
>        that that's everything.
> Stopping the load and refreshing rarely works, either.
> Oddly enough, this problem started recurring within a week of the last
> time I reformatted my hard drive and reinstalled everything.

If things work in Linux OK, then that sounds like a network 
configuration issue.  If they are bad in Linux as well, i would guess 
it's a bad network card or cable.

> - I use Thunderbird under Mint, but it's still version 2 and I have no
> idea when the Mint folks will be updating Mint 8 (Helena). I was
> starting to like using Version 3 under Windows, but I'm a little
> paranoid about having my correspondence under that platform.

Thunderbird 3 on lucid works well, although it's not as stable as TB2 in 
my experience.  However, the indexed searching more than makes up for a 
restart every few days.

> - I'd like to use Skype a bit more often than I do, as I can't get Linux
> to recognise the microphone that plugs into my SoundBlaster Audigy 4 and
> I have no idea whether there's some switch tucked away in alsamixer that
> I need to flip.

I can't comment here except to say that every time i try to get Skype 
working for someone else, i gain even more reasons not to use it myself. 

> ...
> So what do you think? Can I accomplish my dream? What will I need to do?

I can't comment on your other requirements (especially the gaming 
issues), but my guess is that the best way to accomplish what you want 
is to use Windows as your primary boot environment, and run Linux in a 
VM using VirtualBox, or something like that.  If you use Windows 7 
rather than XP, you should get sufficient stability in the base OS that 
you could do this without compromising the stability of your Linux VM.

Another alternative would be to look into CrossOver, who have a 
commercial product for running Windows games on Linux.


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