[ubuntu-uk] Ubuntu/Linux is still not an OS for the masses - discuss

Paul Tansom paul at aptanet.com
Thu Oct 14 14:32:03 BST 2010

** Melv Bailey <melvbailey at googlemail.com> [2010-10-13 15:14]:
> I will probably get it to work on one of my PCs eventually when I can 
> trawl the bug lists and forums for a solution, but my Win 7 on an Athlon 
> XP2500+ and Nvidia 6800 that took less than an hour to setup is working 
> it will have to wait for some free time, but I am certain the cost of 
> the time taken to resolve it will exceed the cost of Win 7.
** end quote [Melv Bailey]

At a high level that's pretty close to the machine spec I've just installed Win
7 on (Athlon XP2500+ and nVidia 6200), however to demonstrate how much of this
is down to individual experience, mine was almost precisely the opposite.
Ubuntu (10.04 in this case) booted and worked fine off the live CD (I've not
actually installed to HD yet). Windows 7, on the other hand, took a day or so
(not continuous) of searching and experimentation to track down the problems,
get it installed and working.

The main initial problem with Windows 7 was that the DVD boot loader is
fundamentally incompatible with my motherboard. This is, it seems, a known
issue that Microsoft have ignored since the public beta versions, it was
certainly heavily discussed with solutions including burning duplicate DVDs
with alternative bootloaders (not sure how that fits with MS licensing!!). My
solution involved a USB floppy drive and an open source boot utility called
Gujin. Once installed I found reduced functionality on my printer driver and
initially on support for the scanner (although a generic series driver did

My other machine (Athlong 2800+ and nVidia 6200) had a similar experience, I
had to load in drivers for the SATA controller at boot time. Then the NIC
wasn't supported on the DVD (nothing fancy or new, just a basic SIS900). To get
the NIC working I had to load in XP drivers, connect to Windows Update and it
then downloaded the proper Windows 7 ones - well it did after a few attempts
and install failures. This also fixed the lack of sound. I have yet to sort out
my SCSI card, which is admittedly old (Adaptec 2940), but I have no intention
of purchasing a new one - I'll just access the hardware only when I'm in
Ubuntu, which installed flawlessly within an hour (10.04 again). Oh, my web cam
was incompatible too, although apparently if I download firmware for a
different model and install it I can get it working!!

With my brand new build for my dad I have the joy of sorting out his scanner,
which has no Windows 7 driver. It does, however, have a transparency adaptor
that he wants to use, and I don't think new scanners have this feature - so if
anyone knows of a utility for transparency adaptors (Epson) under Linux I'll
get him scanning in the Ubuntu boot :)

With the x86 and derivative hardware it can be luck of the draw, although
(barring brand new hardware) it does seem, form my experience, that Windows 7
now has the difficult install and poor driver support, whereas Ubuntu/Linux has
the upper hand ;)

Support wise, I can sympathise, although based on experience when asking
questions on Windows forums. The first one that comes to mind is Experts
Exchange (now a pay site and abandoned), but there have been others. I tend to
be greeted by a deathly silence. My last experience of support direct from
Microsoft when I was having problems with WGA was to find myself accused of
having purchased a pirated copy and asked to provide details of my retailer.
Once I had proved it was genuine and the error was in the MS database I was
provided with a new key to write on a sticker next to the genuine one - so it
now looks like a pirated copy!!!

The moral of the story is that any software has problems, you get them solved
by perseverance, patience, giving plenty of detail and a little bit of luck -
whichever side of the divide you fall.

Paul Tansom | Aptanet Ltd. | http://www.aptanet.com/ | 023 9238 0001
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