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Wubi: Ubuntu the easy way
January 21, 2008 8:09 AM   Subscribe

Ubuntu has quickly become the number one Linux distro for the desktop. Not only is it free, but it has also made Linux easier to use than ever. Now, Wubi enables Windows users to install Ubuntu just like any other application, so you no longer have to mess around with partitions, burning CDs, etc.

Be advised that Wubi is just an installer, i.e. it still has to download Ubuntu, ca 700 MB in size, from the web. The software is still beta.

Interesting info from the Wubi FAQ:
What are the system requirements?
256 MB RAM and an 1 GHz or faster Intel/AMD processor is recommended for optimal performance, though Xubuntu might work on less. As for disk space, the installation requires a minimum of 4GB. This space is mostly used by the virtual hard disk file. Most computers purchased within the last 3 years should be able to run Ubuntu fine, and Xubuntu is suitable for older computers.


What platforms are supported?
Wubi will run on on all Windows versions from Windows 98 to Windows Vista, more platforms to come soon. 64-bit builds are possible but not yet available. Linux/*nix/*BSD are supported through Lubi (download location and guide), and Mac OSX will eventually be supported through Mubi (developers still needed).


How does Wubi work?
Wubi adds an entry to the Windows boot menu which allows you to run Linux. Ubuntu is installed within a file in the windows file system (c:\wubi\disks\system.virtual.disk), this file is seen by Linux as a real hard disk.


Is this running Ubuntu within a virtual environment or something similar?
No. This is a real installation, the only difference is that Ubuntu is installed within a file as opposed to being installed within its own partition. Thus we spare you the trouble to create a free partition for Ubuntu. And we spare you the trouble to have to burn a CD-Rom.


What flavor of Ubuntu will I get?
Most flavors, including Ubuntu (default, with GNOME), Kubuntu (with KDE), Xubuntu (with XFCE for older computers), Edubuntu (good for schools and younger users) and UbuntuStudio (for multimedia workstations). Contact us if you would like your own flavor to be available for installation via Wubi.


How do I run Ubuntu?
You have to reboot and choose "Ubuntu".


How do I run Windows?
You have to reboot and choose "Windows".


How do I uninstall it?
You uninstall it as any other applications. In windows go to the control panel and select "Add or Remove Programs", then select Wubi and uninstall it. You can also use the uninstaller that you find in C:\wubi\uninstaller.exe.
posted by Foci for Analysis (82 comments total) 58 users marked this as a favorite

 
Important to note that the same convenience - no messing around with partitions or burning CDs - is possible through free hardware virtualization apps like VMWare Server and would work for any Linux distro and any x86 operating system like Solaris or ReactOS.
posted by XMLicious at 8:19 AM on January 21, 2008


Wow, this seems like an insanely awesome way to learn linux without giving up the Windows security blanket. Neat, I think I'll install this as soon as I get home.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:28 AM on January 21, 2008


XMLicious, how is the performance for virtualized distros? Any idea how much RAM that, say, Ubuntu would require? I've been very curious about trying out VMWare Server but have been under the impression that it would scare the bejesus out of my box (Win XP Pro, 2GB RAM, pentium 4 2.66 GHz).
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:28 AM on January 21, 2008


When I had trouble getting Ubuntu to install from the Live CD on an old PC, I used Wubi and it worked nice and slick. Definitely worth using, esp. with older hardware.
posted by briank at 8:37 AM on January 21, 2008


This looks ridiculously cool. Installing now.
posted by selfnoise at 8:37 AM on January 21, 2008


You can set exactly how much RAM you want the client OS to use. So alot of it depends on what you're running in the client.

My laptop has the same specs as your system. I'm usually doing web development, so (without running X) I have had ten separate copies of Ubuntu running Apache, MySQL, PHP, and Mono up at the same time with 128Mb apiece. I can also run two copies of Windows Server 2003 at the same time (within a WinXP host) although I have to be careful what apps I open.
posted by XMLicious at 8:44 AM on January 21, 2008


Holy CRAP is this perfect. I've been trying to repartition my *%%*$&% laptop here in my spare time for weeks to install Ubuntu, as Windows no longer seems to be able to understand how the CD drive works in the infernal thing. Thanks, this is awesome.
posted by koeselitz at 8:45 AM on January 21, 2008


I'm still chuckling over Bruce Sterling's 2007 remark that, "When you see something that barely works, like Ubuntu linux you are seeing a weapon of commons based peer production. Because it stinks and it’s painful."
posted by well_balanced at 8:46 AM on January 21, 2008


Another nice tidbit is that I'm usually able to run a virtual machine successfully from a USB 2.0 external HD. (But be really careful not to accidentally unplug it.)
posted by XMLicious at 8:47 AM on January 21, 2008


I should have made clear that my comments above are about VMWare Server, not Wubi.
posted by XMLicious at 8:49 AM on January 21, 2008


Bleh, fuck Ubuntu/Canonical and their "take all we can get from open source and contribute nothing back" model.
posted by cmonkey at 8:52 AM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


My boss has been running a development environment in VMWare, Eclipse and all for years. I think he's insane of course but it seems to work for him.

What I really want to see is a common-filesystem parallel installation. NTFS should theoretically be able to be used as a root partition by linux but nobody is interested in it.
posted by Skorgu at 8:56 AM on January 21, 2008


XMLicious: My laptop has the same specs as your system. I'm usually doing web development, so (without running X) I have had ten separate copies of Ubuntu running Apache, MySQL, PHP, and Mono up at the same time with 128Mb apiece. I can also run two copies of Windows Server 2003 at the same time (within a WinXP host) although I have to be careful what apps I open.

Now that's just ridiculous. I've simply got to try it out and give OpenBSD a spin.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 9:02 AM on January 21, 2008


Bleh, fuck Ubuntu/Canonical and their "take all we can get from open source and contribute nothing back" model.
posted by cmonkey at 11:52 AM on January 21


By "give nothing back" I'll assume you mean "give nothing back except for the best linux desktop distro available. for free."
posted by shmegegge at 9:02 AM on January 21, 2008 [18 favorites]


out of curiosity, how does drive access work? do I get access to the files I normally access through windows? Will there be some dedicated portion of my hard drive that I CANNOT access through windows because wubi has allocated it? how does this work without a partition?
posted by shmegegge at 9:06 AM on January 21, 2008


Skorgu writes "What I really want to see is a common-filesystem parallel installation. NTFS should theoretically be able to be used as a root partition by linux but nobody is interested in it."

What's the point in doing all that work just to use a filesystem that doesn't support necessary attributes for *nix files?
posted by krinklyfig at 9:07 AM on January 21, 2008


I'm still chuckling over Bruce Sterling's 2007 remark that, "When you see something that barely works, like Ubuntu linux you are seeing a weapon of commons based peer production. Because it stinks and it’s painful."

I know it's called "Ubuntu Linux" to differentiate it from other Linux distros, but the phrase still sounds like "hamburger sandwich" to me. C'mon, when you say "Ubuntu", everyone knows you're talking about Linux.
posted by interrobang at 9:22 AM on January 21, 2008


By "give nothing back" I'll assume you mean "give nothing back except for the best linux desktop distro available. for free."

I said contributing, as in developing new open source code and contributing it back to the world. Which they really don't do. And while that would be one thing if Ubuntu were a purely not-for-profit distro, Canonical is trying to make money off it, but Canonical can't be bothered to give back, and that's fucked up.
posted by cmonkey at 9:27 AM on January 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


After a couple of days playing around with Parallels and VMWare, this is like a godsend.
posted by jsavimbi at 9:30 AM on January 21, 2008


I was given an older Dell laptop that wouldn't run the Ubuntu live CD because its built-in CD drive is firewire instead of IDE. I used Wubi to get Ubuntu onto it and it automatically found all the peripherals, including the wifi, which I was never able to get to work even under Windows 2000 after I replaced the bad hard drive. Color me impressed.
posted by localroger at 9:33 AM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


cmonkey: I said contributing, as in developing new open source code and contributing it back to the world. Which they really don't do. And while that would be one thing if Ubuntu were a purely not-for-profit distro, Canonical is trying to make money off it, but Canonical can't be bothered to give back, and that's fucked up.

Oh, precisely. Linux ought to be a small, entirely open-source project, used entirely by in-the-know developers and utterly unknown by the general public. Popularizers always muddy the waters, anyhow. Heaven help us if there's a company out there trying to make a small amount of money by introducing more people to our precious little filesystem. So what if they've made the user base grow exponentially?
posted by koeselitz at 9:36 AM on January 21, 2008 [11 favorites]


I like Ubuntu; with the exception of some minor tetchyness with getting a webcam to work as expected, I've had virtually no problems with it. Admittedly, it's on one of my lesser used machines, but I've also not rebooted since the initial install a couple of months ago, and it still is ticking along like a Timex, so I've no real complaints.

I may have to experiment with this new install type as an option for a couple of machines that I still need to keep Windows active on (as troubleshooting examples).
posted by quin at 9:38 AM on January 21, 2008


This tempts me to try Safari 3 in WINE in Wubi in Windows XP in VMWare Fusion in OS X. But that crosses the line between wacky and abusive.
posted by ardgedee at 9:42 AM on January 21, 2008 [10 favorites]


krinklyfig: IANAFilesystemDeveloper but I seem to recall that NTFS does actually support most of the features that linux FSs do, the hard part being /dev of course. It would be cool to have more of the linux files exposed to both OSen (with problematic /dev in a sparse image for example). Especially if you could get /home/user to map to Documents and Settings\User.
posted by Skorgu at 9:46 AM on January 21, 2008


cmonkey, I'm not clear on your objection. Ubuntu's fixes can and do get ported back to other distros. Yeah, Canonical bled off a lot of talent from Debian, but there are worse things than actually paying people to develop Linux. There are also other distros that freely base themselves on Ubuntu, and Canonical doesn't see a dime.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:50 AM on January 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


And while that would be one thing if Ubuntu were a purely not-for-profit distro, Canonical is trying to make money off it, but Canonical can't be bothered to give back, and that's fucked up.

I hear what you're saying, man, but I think that's kind of a kool-aid take on it. It's not fucked up that they're operating (as far as I know) within the licenses of the the software to make a profit; it's just not exactly the warm and fuzzy ideal state of the situation.

Fucked up was AT&T et al closing UNIX up in the first place back in the 70s. Fucked up is SCO trying to make a buck through grief litigation. But making some cash by organizing/selling stuff that's licensed specifically to allow you to make cash organizing and selling it is just business, and Red Hat's been doing it since before Ubuntu existed, as far as I know.
posted by cortex at 9:52 AM on January 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


shmegegge, you can access your full Windows installation as a drive within the Ubuntu install.

A couple things to note: disk performance is slightly reduced when running through Wubi, but you can help that out by defragging before installing. Also, you can use LVPM to convert your Wubi install to a 100% real Ubuntu install after the fact and adjust your partitions. It truly is the perfect way to painlessly get onto Ubuntu :)

Wubi for 7.10 is still alpha and I've been having trouble getting it working on my last remaining Windows PC. It seems to work for some people, but not all.
posted by stephthegeek at 9:52 AM on January 21, 2008


I said contributing, as in developing new open source code and contributing it back to the world. Which they really don't do. And while that would be one thing if Ubuntu were a purely not-for-profit distro, Canonical is trying to make money off it, but Canonical can't be bothered to give back, and that's fucked up.

For a lot of people, having source code laying around isn't a bit helpful. For them, having a complete system that is usable right out of the box is much more important, even though it might have fewer features. I like using Ubuntu because it works correctly with minimal hassle, which is more than I can say for most of the Linux distributions I've tried.

Contributions to the Linux community shouldn't be measured in just lines of code. They provide a great free service with Ubuntu releases, and why should you care if they offer support contracts for businesses on the side?
posted by demiurge at 9:53 AM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


BTW, you're also entirely at liberty to take Ubuntu, change out the graphics and call it cmonkyx and distribute it yourself and nobody could say boo at you. If that isn't free as in beer I don't know what is.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:56 AM on January 21, 2008


cmonkey, is there any project in particular that they are not releasing their fixes for? Can you back up your accusations?
posted by octothorpe at 9:58 AM on January 21, 2008


Yeah, configuration actually is a rather large part of the overall IT effort. I would say that Ubuntu IS giving something back to the community by getting things working well together out-of-the-box. All appropriate kudos to Debian for the configuration efforts and utilities they've contributed too, of course.
posted by XMLicious at 9:59 AM on January 21, 2008


How does Canonical make money? I've looked around their web site and don't see any lucrative, or even potentially lucrative profit centres.
posted by Keith Talent at 10:00 AM on January 21, 2008


know it's called "Ubuntu Linux" to differentiate it from other Linux distros, but the phrase still sounds like "hamburger sandwich" to me. C'mon, when you say "Ubuntu", everyone knows you're talking about Linux.

Some uf us think of Desmond Tutu and his reconciliation theology of ubuntu (bottom of page)
posted by francesca too at 10:02 AM on January 21, 2008


I'm confused by some stuff on the site. I have a USB 2.0 external hard drive; can I use Wubi to install Ubuntu on it? And then if I have the drive unplugged when the PC starts, will it still let me boot into Windows? I had some trouble with something similar in the past.
posted by DMan at 10:03 AM on January 21, 2008


Red Hat's been doing it since before Ubuntu existed, as far as I know.

Not to speak for cmonkey or correct what you've said here (since you are absolutely correct), I think the objection may be that there aren't any Canonical people contributing to the kernel or core utilities beyond occasional code tweaks. and on preview...what demiurge said.
posted by crataegus at 10:05 AM on January 21, 2008


I said contributing, as in developing new open source code and contributing it back to the world.

How about 'contributing, as in fixing uncounted annoying and ugly glitches in Debian's desktop so that users who want to word-process, spreadsheet, email, play music and videos, and all the other desktop stuff can do it happily and efficiently without constantly stubbing their toes on broken stuff'?

I used Debian for a year and a half, and finally switched to Ubuntu six months ago because the Debian team clearly doesn't care about the desktop. Leaving the nvidia drivers broken for six months? Leaving autohinting turned off in libfreetype6 for over a year, so that truetype fonts in OpenOffice look like pants, when they could look clean and beautiful? Leaving Wine broken for many apps for months and months, because even the Debian unstable repos were a dozen iterations of Wine behind the Wine developers? And on, and on. Ubuntu has fixed all these problems, and more. Yes, yes, I could have recompiled everything myself. And I *could* have built my car from a skid of steel ingots using a milling machine.

I have no idea what Bruce Sterling is talking about. Ubuntu neither stinks nor is painful. At least compared to Windows, which I used for years before giving up in 2006. It's a perfectly functional OS that does everything I need.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 10:05 AM on January 21, 2008 [12 favorites]


The kind of backbiting one finds from a minority of open source zealots never ceases to amaze me. Ubuntu is great.
posted by grouse at 10:05 AM on January 21, 2008


I think the objection may be that there aren't any Canonical people contributing to the kernel or core utilities beyond occasional code tweaks.

So? There are lots of other people doing that. Canonical is providing something that other people haven't—a polished easy-to-use distribution for the masses. Let the kernel hackers do the kernel hacking.
posted by grouse at 10:08 AM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


How does Canonical make money?
Easy - through volume!

Seriously though, Canonical offers several added-services, e.g. support and training for large (enterprise-level) installs.
posted by BrotherFeldspar at 10:12 AM on January 21, 2008


This is new? I remember running ubuntu in both qemu and MS Virtual PC a while ago for free. Every so often there's some new way to run a linux distro without formatting and eveyrone seems surprised again. I wonder if a lot of people try it, suddenly realize using the CLI isnt cake, and just go back to OSX/Windows waiting for the next generation of high school freshmen interested in the computers to do it all over again.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:19 AM on January 21, 2008


I would say that Ubuntu IS giving something back to the community by getting things working well together out-of-the-box.

Unfortunately, this has never ever been my experience with Ubuntu, at least not regarding hardware. I keep downloading and burning live CDs with each new release, and I keep getting excited and hoping that they've finally figured out how to set up my video properly, and they still can't do it. Even more, it got worse at it from Feisty to Gutsy, where before I just needed to do a little manual tweaking, and now who the fuck knows.

I keep hearing about these easy, hands-free-install Linux distributions, but I have yet to actually encounter one. Which sucks, because it's a great OS, once it's installed and running properly.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:22 AM on January 21, 2008


I keep getting excited and hoping that they've finally figured out how to set up my video properly, and they still can't do it.

QFT. And the fonts! Oh God, the fonts.
posted by fusinski at 10:29 AM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is new?

Yes.

I remember running ubuntu in both qemu and MS Virtual PC a while ago for free.

This isn't an emulator. Or a virtual machine.
posted by grouse at 10:30 AM on January 21, 2008


Every so often there's some new way to run a linux distro without formatting and eveyrone seems surprised again.

This cool part is that, as I understand, you can still access your Windows files from Wubi (you can from a normal Ubuntu installation anyways). Not so with Virtual PC. I love virtualization, but there are differences between virtualization and Wubi.
posted by jmd82 at 10:33 AM on January 21, 2008


An taking aside all the contributions Canonical has done, user forums, documentation, packaging, advertising, they don't owe the free software community a single LOC.

Why?

The software is free. Libre, in speech and beer. The only strings that are attached are that you follow the same principles when you make any changes to the software. There is no "If you decide to make money on OS software you have to fund developers to give code back to the community" clause in any version of the GPL. If a person uses a LAMP stack to make a website for their pet grooming business, they don't have to give anybody money or time for open source efforts. And joe blow downloading it to his personal computer certainly doesn't either.

Money doesn't change a thing. I'm all for hating on corporations when they screw up, but it seems excess to call it "fucked up" when they don't give enough cool stuff away for free.
posted by zabuni at 10:35 AM on January 21, 2008 [5 favorites]


All this Linux fundamentalism's a bit weird. Ubuntu's free and it's pretty cool. Probably doubly so if you live in a developing country where Windows and Office really really hurt your pocket (assuming you don't pirate them). Hell, they'll even send you a free CD anywhere in the world if you can't download it.

Personally I like it. Possibly because I have only a tourist's interest in deep tech. The aggravations (ATI card problems, the odd bug) are more than offset by it requiring very little security and starting up much faster. Not sure I'd bother with wubi, but hey, if it introduces more people to life beyond Bill, so much the better.
posted by rhymer at 10:45 AM on January 21, 2008


Anyone know if there's a way to make Wubi use the 64bit version of the install that I downloaded instead of using the regular version it wants to download on its own?
posted by Dave Faris at 10:50 AM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dave Faris, according to the FAQ, "64-bit builds are possible but not yet available".
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:56 AM on January 21, 2008


thanks
posted by Dave Faris at 10:57 AM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


I pretty much hate ubuntu for actual usage, but the forums are great. You can often find solutions to *other* Linux distro's problems there, even. So I have kind of mellowed out on my ubuntu hate. FYI, it's not because I'm an open-source fundamentalist (my favorite OS is AIX...), it's because ubuntu just isn't an industrial OS.

Anyway, this wubi shit is pretty neat, I will probably install it on my XP machine later. I have to concur with the above comments on VMWare, check it out if you are interested in running a dual-OS machine. You even get some performance enhancements for the Linux guest (not sure on the terminology here, I run virtualized linux on a mainframe), if you have enough hardware resources to support it, since Window's HAL-layer shit is so much better than ubuntu's.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 11:07 AM on January 21, 2008


Cool, I had been using cygwin to make my own electric sheep animations, but this just might convince me to go with a full on ubuntu installation. Thanks!

Also, is it pronounced "woobie", like a security blanket? You know, like from Mr. Mom?
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:30 AM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Skorgu writes " krinklyfig: IANAFilesystemDeveloper but I seem to recall that NTFS does actually support most of the features that linux FSs do, the hard part being /dev of course. It would be cool to have more of the linux files exposed to both OSen (with problematic /dev in a sparse image for example). Especially if you could get /home/user to map to Documents and Settings\User."

Well, get cracking, then! Nobody's going to do it for you!

Seriously, though, there is a NTFS project with a stable driver. NTFS isn't nearly as good as most *nix filesystems as far as fragmentation goes. I'd rather run a server on ReiserFS. The only advantage I can see is compatibility.

I want to know what will happen when I write a script and chmod 744. Will that give me rwxr--r-- ? I better not have to use the stupid Windows shell commands.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:32 AM on January 21, 2008


>how is the performance for virtualized distros?

Well - if your CPU is new-enough to have virtualization extensions, I am finding that at least in the Windows world under VPC there is no real performance penalty for running in a VM...
posted by jkaczor at 11:35 AM on January 21, 2008


cmonkey, is there any project in particular that they are not releasing their fixes for? Can you back up your accusations?

The only time Canonical engineers work on something is to make projects work on Ubuntu - I've seen this first hand. They contribute patches that only benefit Ubuntu, usually to make it easier for them to build a project. But they do not contribute back with engineering efforts that benefit all Linux users. If you don't care about that, that's fine. But as an open source developer, who quite happily has several packages in Ubuntu, it gets pretty grating to see Ubuntu getting warm and fuzzy acolades when they act in such an openly selfish manner.

Yeah, Canonical bled off a lot of talent from Debian, but there are worse things than actually paying people to develop Linux.

They don't pay people to develop Linux, they pay people to keep Ubuntu in sync with upstream changes.

An taking aside all the contributions Canonical has done, user forums, documentation, packaging, advertising, they don't owe the free software community a single LOC.

All of those "contributions" are solely for Ubuntu, none of it benefits users of other distros.

There is no "If you decide to make money on OS software you have to fund developers to give code back to the community" clause in any version of the GPL.

You're right. But it isn't unreasonable to expect a distro with corporate backing to contribute back to the open source community it owes everything to. They have a take-take-take model, and that's fucked up.
posted by cmonkey at 11:49 AM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


This looks cool, but honestly, what's with this analogy/simile from the FAQ?

What is the relationship between Linux and Ubuntu?

Ubuntu is an operating system that includes a lot of free and open source applications and uses Linux as its core. Linux is like this amazing solar-powered engine that can be used in a street car, in a F1 or it can be daisy chained to drive a truck or an airplane. Ubuntu is like a car using the Linux engine, a zero emission, fully accessorised and easy to drive all-terrain, with power, acceleration and looks matching far more expensive supercars... Imagine something like that... ...for free.


Linux is a fancy-pants engine from the future and Ubuntu is an amazing free car? What?
posted by dosterm at 12:06 PM on January 21, 2008


cmonkey, Canonical have developed and released Bazaar (GPL) and Storm (LGPL).
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 12:10 PM on January 21, 2008


All this Linux fundamentalism's a bit weird.

Well, it's an odd place we're in now where Linux is getting away from the hardcore roots it grew up out of to a degree that people are genuinely discussing/using it in a much broader, more casual user-space context than I think has happened before.

Still pretty nerdy, but a lot less specific or constrained nerdiness afoot. And so the folks who've been chewing on (and in some cases contributing directly to) the real core of the idea of Linux / OSS dev community are becoming less well-represented in any given conversation about it. So you take someone who is legitimately and passionately interested in not just linux-the-userland-OS but linux-the-idea and drop them into conversations with people who are looking at it more pragmatically from a utility-driven perspective, and bam. Culture clash all over the place.

I used to be kind of zealoty about Linux stuff, but stopped following it so closely several years ago. I can understand where the fundamentalism comes from, even if I get that it looks weird in broader conversations. The ethos, the Big Idea of it all, is intrinsically tied to the actual successes from the last ten, twenty odd years of development, and so now that those successes are widening the scope of the conversation the people who really love it are being kind of socially marginalized by the same successes they've been pushing for.

And that kinda stings, dammit.

Linux is a fancy-pants engine from the future and Ubuntu is an amazing free car? What?
posted by dosterm


Heh. Bias! Unstated bias!
posted by cortex at 12:17 PM on January 21, 2008 [4 favorites]


Cheers for this. My newest laptop didn't like my fiesty fawn CD (my last thinkpad was dual booted), so I'm going to give this a bash.

This sort of post, to me, is what the blue should aspire to (not that I've read anyone's comments).
posted by chuckdarwin at 12:25 PM on January 21, 2008


Shouldn't let this close without a mention of coLinux, which is a different model than all the above. Unlike Wubi it's not dual-boot, you run Linux alongside windows. Unlike vmware there's no virtualization involved, and unlike cygwin, you're running a real distro with a kernel, not just a bunch of ported command-line tools. I haven't tried it yet but a bunch of my peers have started using it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:31 PM on January 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


Just dropping another note in support of virtualization, for those that have modern CPUs. I've been running Windows XP in VirtualBox and the performance penalty is negligible. The only thing XP doesn't get is direct access to hardware, so you can't do gaming or anything that requires DirectX. But it's great having access to both environments at the same time, rather than having to dual-boot. Come to think of it, since VirtualBox is released under the GPL, it should be possible to make a spinoff that bundles it with Ubuntu to run on Windows as an application.
posted by Loudmax at 12:38 PM on January 21, 2008


Sweet. Now I can put Ubuntu on my old laptop without worrying about trying to connect to my WPA wifi network.
posted by ryoshu at 12:44 PM on January 21, 2008


Installed this on my laptop. Zero hassle. Works like a charm.
posted by signal at 12:57 PM on January 21, 2008


You're right. But it isn't unreasonable to expect a distro with corporate backing to contribute back to the open source community it owes everything to. They have a take-take-take model, and that's fucked up.

Why is it not unreasonable? Why does "corporate backing" make any kind of fucking difference? If I sit by the side of the road, giving away free pizzas, and someone comes by, takes several, and sell them down the street with soda and breadsticks, how am I lessened? Especially if these are super magical pizzas that self replicate, and I told everyone that they could do anything they want with the pizzas, as long as they gave the pizzas away for free. The beauty of open source software is that everyone can take-take-take, because the software can be infinitely copied.

What's the damage? How does someone making a cool open source distro, and charging for support, diminish Linux? All I see is a new Linux distribution with a focus on user friendlyness and client support. Net gain in my book. And if the free development process looks like Debian, I'll take a non-contributing corporation any day.

As far as Ubuntu changes only supporting Ubuntu, I would think that those changes would improve any user facing Linux distribution, Ubuntu or no. Certainly the increased documentation and user-friendly polish would. It may not be kernel hacking, but should that be the purpose of an organization dedicated to a user friendly Linux distribution?
posted by zabuni at 1:10 PM on January 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


They have a take-take-take model

What did they "take", exactly? Is something gone? Are you out of pocket in some way? Is anyone else? Somewhat the reverse, I suspect Ubuntu has increased the prosperity of the Linux economy by making it easier to adopt and convert to from closed OSs, allowing people to put their money back in their pockets. And if some of that ends up in Canonical's bank account through perfectly honest consulting, and this in turn pays the salaries of Linux developers who used to have to work some other kind of day job, good all around.

Now PHP, on the other hand, is fucked up: the free part is a loss leader that sucks you into the paid stuff when you try to go big time. A piss-poor, fantastically irregular language, slower than Java even, and when you realize you're going to need their nonfree optimizers and caching components you're probably not going to be in a position to do a rewrite for a real free environment in time to meet your goals. Ka-ching.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:29 PM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Shouldn't let this close without a mention of coLinux

Goddamn it, I just got over the whole Gutsy thing and now you're going to have me fucking around with this for the next two days while my wife wonders why I've stopped speaking.
posted by middleclasstool at 1:31 PM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm interested in this media workstation version of Ubuntu I hadn't previously heard of. I'll try this when I get home from work and see how it does.
posted by shmegegge at 1:53 PM on January 21, 2008


Goddamn it, I just got over the whole Gutsy thing

Pfft, you're still on Gutsy? I'm already on Wretched Wren, and let me tell you it's really something. I'd skip Torpid Tapeworm, though, it doesn't automount the flash drive while it's still in your pocket and the bittorrent integration in Nautilus is a little flaky.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:56 PM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Torpid Tubgirl was a messy install.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:11 PM on January 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


I feel Canonical and Ubuntu have been pretty positive for Linux, and I say that as someone who first began dabbling with various Linux distributions in late 2003/early 2004, tried the first preview release of Warty (4.10) and has pretty much stuck with Ubuntu ever since. There have been occasional problems--I've been hit by upgrade bugs more than once--but I've shifted from running it on a single older secondary system (while keeping XP on my primary one) to using Linux basically full time.

I'm currently running one system with Feisty (7.04) as a home file/media server + MythTV backend, two with Linux Mint (a Gutsy/7.10-based derivative distro) as MythTV frontends/backup desktops while dual booting between XP and 7.10 (64 bit version) on my laptop. My main desktop's currently running Arch64, which is a completely different flavor of Linux (very nice but not one I'd be likely to recommend to most newcomers).

Wubi is a pretty nice way to play around with Linux--I tried it briefly during its development out of curiosity and was fairly impressed. It's another good addition to the list of ways to experiment without diving into a potentially scary full-time commitment (other ways: running off of live CDs, dual booting, virtual machines or using secondary computers--all of which I did at one point or another).
posted by Pryde at 2:25 PM on January 21, 2008


Well, I spent the better [art of the day downloading and configuring the whole story, and it's awesome.
posted by jsavimbi at 2:52 PM on January 21, 2008


By "give nothing back" I'll assume you mean "give nothing back except for the best linux desktop distro available. for free."

Hrm, who made this very nice distributed revision control system I use for my projects in FreeBSD.. oh, that's right:

Copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 Canonical Ltd.
http://bazaar-vcs.org/


Then there are things like Launchpad ("we have committed to making Launchpad Free Software.") which is used by a number of other open source projects like Miro and AWN.

Also, I find it hard to believe they maintain their own patches to everything and never bother trying to push anything appropriate upstream, because that's just retarded and unmaintainable.
posted by Freaky at 4:01 PM on January 21, 2008


Canonical have done one thing right - they've taken debian's base, polished it, made it work, and built a support community that doesn't make me run screaming every time I visit it. I still haven't run a debian system because I'm scared of seeking help from the community - and I've had linux of various types on my desktop for 12 years, and I'm posting this from a continously upgraded 5 year old gentoo install.

Turning debian into a distro that actually excites normal people? That's something, right there.
posted by ArkhanJG at 4:25 PM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


@WolfDaddy

Thanks for the electric sheep link. I had not heard of it and will give it a try.
posted by wastelands at 8:09 PM on January 21, 2008


I've been running linux on the desktop and laptop for a over ten years now and I have to say that Ubuntu is really the distro that I've been waiting all that time. I've run Debian, Storm, Redhat, Fedora, Mandrake, CentOS, Suse, Gentoo, Xandros and Lycoris and they all sucked in different ways. Debian started out a dozen years ago with a great package architecture and has farted around since then and and never managed to release a version that was stable and reasonably up-to-date at the same time. Ubuntu has taken Debian and actually made it work, whatever you feel about their fealty to the open-source movement, you have to give them props for doing that.

It's not perfect, Gnome is still pretty crappy and sometimes you need to reboot when you move to a new network and hibernate sometimes fails but it installs easier than Windows and finds every part of the hardware on my Thinkpad without any tweaking. I use it for work and at home and it does every thing that I need of it without any hassle. And it's free. I'm not sure what more you'd want out of an OS.
posted by octothorpe at 8:25 PM on January 21, 2008


They couldn't have googled their Pokémon name to see if it was already taken?
posted by eritain at 11:10 PM on January 21, 2008


I have a USB 2.0 external hard drive; can I use Wubi to install Ubuntu on it?

as far as i can tell after an hour of messing with it - it installs alright, but it won't actually boot

i haven't yet figured out the magic incantation or if there is one - seems to me this is such an obvious way to want to do this that they would have made it possible, but ...

even when i changed the boot.ini entry from c:\wubildr.mbr="Ubuntu" to r:\wubildr.mbr="Ubuntu" it still didn't work

(warning - you can break things, like your windows installation, by editing boot.ini - know what you're doing and double check)

And then if I have the drive unplugged when the PC starts, will it still let me boot into Windows?

it's allowed me to with the power strip for the usb drive shut off - still, without being able to boot into ubuntu, it's not very interesting, is it?
posted by pyramid termite at 11:11 PM on January 21, 2008


In fairness, there are/were several other distros on similar tracks of creating a nice, smooth experience out of Debian before Ubuntu first came out. I'm thinking specifically of Mepis and the now-defunct Libranet, but there were others too. Having a fabulously wealthy founder has certainly given Ubuntu a leg up in terms of the resources required to even get to the point of self-sustainability.

RE running Wubi from a USB drive--I think the problem is that the Windows bootloader can't see a USB storage device at that stage of the startup sequence. With a lot of effort one *might* be able to adopt parts of this guide to make it work but it would probably be a lot easier to install Ubuntu itself onto a USB drive without Wubi.
posted by Pryde at 12:50 AM on January 22, 2008


"Unfortunately, this has never ever been my experience with Ubuntu, at least not regarding hardware."

I've been more disappointed in seeing the "LTS Server" releases already getting left behind in the dust in favor of the 'bigger, better, newer, shinier" mentality. That is exactly what drove me far far away from Gentoo Linux after years of using it.

This Wubi thing looks pretty cool, but if you're just wanting to 'try out Linux' then what's wrong with something like Knoppix instead?
posted by drstein at 7:30 AM on January 22, 2008


I can hardly wait to try this, but it seems I'll have to:

194.8 MB (28%) of 686.0 MB @ 5 kB/s (26:33:40 remaining)

And that's after starting the download at around 2200 last night, 9 hours ago, and letting it run on a cable intarweb connection.

Urf.
posted by scrump at 7:34 AM on January 22, 2008


Well, I've done it. Took about 20 minutes to download and install (sorry scrump) and now it's doing updates. Can't yet run at the maximum screen resolution my monitor will allow, and there's some other weird little things going on, but I'll figure them out in due time.

Thumbs up. Most painless o/s installation EVAR.
posted by WolfDaddy at 7:48 AM on January 22, 2008


That download was deeply...unhappy for some reason. I restarted the setup, and now I'm looking at something like a couple of hours. Still, yeesh.
posted by scrump at 4:38 PM on January 22, 2008


cmonkey writes "All of those 'contributions' are solely for Ubuntu, none of it benefits users of other distros."

I don't want my distro developer to benefit other distros. I want him/her to benefit me. If he wants to benefit other distros on the side, that's great. If the choice were "Ubuntu" versus "some other well-polished, easy-to-use distro which also gives back to the community", I'd go with the latter instead of Ubuntu. But currently, the choice is EITHER "developer who wants to benefit the user" OR "developer who wants to benefit other distro developers". In that case, I'd go with the former.
posted by Bugbread at 7:56 AM on January 23, 2008


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