A letter to my Friend Julian on Ubuntu


This is really a letter to my good friend Julian Coccia, Linux extraordinaire, who got me to install Ubuntu

My Dear Friend:

It would be besides the point to mention how well Ubuntu installed. It took less than 15 minutes from the ISO copied CD. What you get is a bare bones system that could very well work as it stands. You get a Gnome desktop with Open Office, sleek network management, and in the development department you get the latest gcc compiler, the gnu java compiler, Python and Perl. The editor included is Vim, which could be better. I did notice the exclusion of Emacs unless you download it separately.   One thing which took me by surprise is the absence of a root user. Ubuntu works differently with no root user. You can always use sudo –i to act as administrator. But this is not obvious unless you read the manual. I am not prone to reading manuals, but in the Linux world it might become a good habit to acquire. So I started to play around a bit. By using the Synaptic Programa Manager you can download programs of all sort from the Ubuntu repository, but not all of them live inside said repository.  

  1. As always Netbeans loaded fine, along the Java 1.5 engine. But I haven’t worked my way around my path variable, so I am using the installed gnu compiler instead. It works just the same for now.
  2. Python gave me a lot of problems. And it surprises me because it is the language of choice for Ubuntu. Basically I wanted to use the SPE editor, which meant installing wxGTK (for the widgets) and wxPython (the widget binding and language set). Now, mind I don’t use wxWidgets… I know a little of TkInter – the built in graphical user widget set for Python – and I don’t have time to learn a new set. But the problem baffled me. By means of searching the net, I found out Ubuntu has problems loading wxPython, and tried many of the recipes described by people who obviously know better. I downloaded and built wxGTK from scratch successfully. I did the same for wxPython, but to no avail, as SPE kept complaining it couldn’t find the wxPython library. I was sure I was doing my ldconfig’s right, and no documentation reported the problem. I opted by mid-afternoon, after escaping my chores at the office to play with Linux, to try a new approach. I uninstalled wxPython and SPE, and used the Synaptic Manager to install a clean version of wxPython. Then I re-installed the SPE program myself, and it worked well. I guess the automatic build in .deb format had the paths or configurations right.
  3. Anjuta, the C++ IDE which had eluded me for so long, was a breeze. I had some libraries missing, but nothing that took me more than minutes to download. I became bitter when I built Anjuta from scratch in less than 30 minutes (including configure, make and make install) when it took me a year in Mandriva and never got it right.
  4. Java Studio Creator doesn’t work. Well, I am not saying it right. The IDE works, but the Java server doesn’t because I am missing two libraries which are hard to find: libstdc++ and libstadc++ -devel. There are RPM’s available from Red Hat, but I am not sure it they will work in my Linux distribution. I am also thinking about erasing the whole program, as I simply don’t get Java Server Pages. To do a simple script, you need a plethora of Java Server Pages, which in turn produce HTML pages and XML pages (and God knows I will never understand XML!). And since I am using the company laptop which has Windows installed also in the same drive, I need the space.
  5. So we have Java, Python and C! Wow, all thanks to Ubuntu. I know I have Perl installed also, and I did promise to take a look at PHP.

What is next? Picking a great topic for my Ph.D. in economics so I can get a scholarship or at least part of a scholarship. I can’t pay for the whole tuition myself. But if I get a scholarship I might just undertake the task. I want to do something related to coding and fun, since most of the time doctorates involve a lot of experimentation methodology which is plain boring.   The second plan is to recuperate the Thinkpad Fabiola is using and probably give her my brand new Acer Windows box. She basically does some work for her masters’ degree and listens to MP3 songs. The Acer is much better suited for both tasks. I want to use the home Thinkpad to make it a full fledge Linux box, probably with Debian this time. I have an ample hard drive and almost 1 megabyte of RAM, more than the company laptop. All I have to do is reallocate Fabiola’s MP3, hook a nice set of speakers to the Acer so she falls in love with it (and the 17 inch flat screen) and then play with my new toy.  Penguins included. Although for my Ubuntu wallpaper I have floating gnu monk playing the flute. Best regards!  Ariel  


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