Cold feet

Eric Weir eeweir at
Sat Jan 12 16:10:27 GMT 2008

I've had Ubuntu and Kubuntu installed on a desktop since August. The 
Ubuntu machine is networked with a Windows machine, but I use the former 
almost exclusively. Except for three applications, a simple Windows 
personal finance manager [AceMoney], a free-form database [InfoSelect] 
and an old DOS program that I can't imagine being without [MaxThink], 
all my software is open source -- e.g., Firefox, Thunderbird, and 
OpenOffice. MaxThink runs not perfectly but well-enough in DOSbox on the 
Ubuntu machine. Likewise with InfoSelect in Wine. AceMoney runs in Wine, 
too, but I haven't been able to get it work for me. Yet. But I will, and 
when I do it will be goodbye Windows.

Recently I bought a used IBM X40 ultralight laptop with the intention of 
installing Kubuntu 7.10 on it. I've scoped the machine out on ThinkWiki, 
a wonderfully helpful website for people who run Linux on ThinkPads. 
 From everything I've read, the installation goes through smoothly and 
with a few minor exceptions Ubuntu/Kubuntu handles the special features 
of the X40 without a hitch. I've registered the machine -- it's still in 
warranty -- and upgraded all the firmware. I'm ready to install Kubuntu 
but I find myself with cold feet about going ahead.

I think the reason is that for all my commitment to, and satisfaction 
with, Ubuntu/Kubuntu, I'm a bit disappointed in my installation. Two 
things in particular bother me, the graphics and the speed. The display 
is not very crisp, no where near as crisp as it under Windows on a 
different machine is, using the same monitor. The graphics processor on 
both machines is on the motherboard, and I was told at the last 
Installfest that the Linux probably needs a new graphics processor. And 
then the machine is excruciatingly slow. The problem first appeared in 
Thunderbird, where it is literally seconds -- I can count them -- 
between a command and the execution of the command.

I did everything I could to remedy the problem with Thunderbird, from 
compacting the folders to a complete reinstall carrying over only the 
old folders, without any improvement. Subsequently the entire system has 
become much slower. EVERYTHING -- Firefox, OpenOffice, Konqueror, etc. 
-- has gotten VERY slow. E.g., when I am typing in MaxThink I can get 
way ahead of the display, especially as a file gets larger. I've seen 
what Ubuntu looks like and how it runs on other machines, and I know my 
experience is not typical. But now that I'm ready to install Kubuntu -- 
what I bought the machine for -- I am hesitant about going ahead.

I guess I'm afraid that the laptop is going to end up like my desktop 
installation. I'm also mildly worried about getting bogged down in 
getting things to work properly after the installation, which is what 
happened to me after installing on the desktop. I got real bogged down, 
and pretty far behind in my real work, trying to get the Ubuntu and 
Windows machines networked through Samba. I finally threw in the towel 
and paid a super-techie friend to do it for me.

So, long-winded way of saying I'd appreciate any words encouragement and 
reassurance anyone might be able to offer, especially any of you who 
have Ubuntu on a ThinkPad, and even more especially anyone who has it on 
an X40.

Eric Weir
Decatur, GA USA
eeweir at

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