Thursday, December 04, 2014

Kids Computer Running Xubuntu Linux

I have had great success in converting my kids' computer from Windows 7 to Linux, specifically Xubuntu. This is on a Core 2 Duo with 2GB of RAM, a machine that Windows 7 should run fine on, but kept having performance issues. I got to the point where I considered buying them a Chromebox, running Google Chrome OS. Then I thought, why do that when I can load Xubuntu? So I loaded Xubuntu 14.04.1, did the updates, and installed the latest Chrome (not Chromium) so they could watch Netflix. Now they can play all of their Flash games and watch their shows and I never have to worry about them complaining that the computer "is not doing anything."
Of course, I use the computer from time to time and have found the need to make some changes so that I can use it the way I like. I've added LibreOffice, for one thing, as I use spreadsheets all of the time. On the system side I found it beneficial to remove Light Locker and install X-Screensaver (and the extras package) to get screensaver support. Also I installed the hardinfo package so I could view my hardware specs and I installed the gnome-disk-utility package so I could easily view the SMART status of my hard drive. Finally, I installed the gufw package so I could control the ufw firewall from system preferences, and then turned it on. Of course I also loaded Synaptics before doing any of this so I am not repeatedly typing sudo apt-get blah blah blah all the time.
The only thing I miss is pointer trails. Yes I am aware of the alternatives, and no I am absolutely not going to load xeyes (really??). I want pointer trails, and I can't seem to find an X11 mouse theme that features it. Really it should be an option independent of whatever mouse theme you are using.
The one major hiccup in all of this was setting the resolution. I've worked with Xubuntu on multiple computers and it has had a dismal record of properly detecting monitor capabilities when connected via VGA. A series of xrandr commands fixes this but I am really disappointed here. The Display control panel should allow me to activate and select unsupported resolutions.

P.S. Also the package ttf-mscorefonts-installer! Nice to have the Windows fonts for word processing, but also the web looks like I am used to again, especially my blog that uses Georgia.

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