Idiot goes Open Source

It seems that even the cat is using Ubuntu… the kids have seemingly seamlessly adapted to Open Source Software. My computer has also taken sides and is so slow it’s definitely trying to tell me something. Finally I’ve admitted defeat and have had to ask Al to make the change, with one caveat – that I can still use iTunes. A robotic sounding “virtual machine” is apparently the answer – it will pretend to run Windows in a little bit of Bill-space and iTunes will be none the wiser that I’ve actually left the Dark Side at last.

I know my new look will take some getting used to and I just have to get familiar but it definitely feels quite different. The icons look more home-made and the whole thing seems less slick. I keep repeating “Kill Bill” and “It’s Free”. I know I will get used to it but at the mo I could almost say I felt sad although probably remembering the “helpful” paperclip will remedy that – Yes, that’s done it – I will give it a chance.


This is an excerpt from my ramblings on going over to Open Source Software. My husband (The Open Sourcerer) has persuaded me to put it on here but I’ve really no idea why. He said “people will be interested, you’ll be surprised.”

….surely they have better things to do??? I’d be interested in the work/chore that is so bad you’d rather read this than do it.

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  • Nithin says:

    Have a bright ubuntu future!

  • Nigel says:

    Great to see you in Ubuntu 🙂 Have fun!

  • woodsy says:

    The icons look more home-made and the whole thing seems less slick.

    Strange you should say that; it’s exactly the same feeling I experience, but going the other way – from my trusty Linux box (or any Linux box) to the Hell of Gates.

    As regards a media player, have you tried Amarok? It does the same as iTunes, but looks far prettier than that awful battleship grey. 🙂
    Anyway, I wish you all the best with Ubuntu.

  • I miss the picture of you and your new computer. How does it look like?

  • Laura says:

    Welcome to Ubuntu. Enjoy! 🙂

  • Ramon says:

    @woodsy: Maybe she has purchased DRM-encumbered songs in iTunes, which means that they are forever locked into that place, forcing her to use iTunes to listen to them? I wouldn’t know. On the other hand, if the loss of quality doesn’t matter, you can always burn things on CD from iTunes and re-rip the CD into some less restrictive format. Or maybe she has some of those Apple-proprietary speakers or network audio players (e.g. Airport Extreme) that only work with iTunes.

    I also recommend Amarok as media player if you want something iTunes-like 🙂 Amarok seems extremely fast and reliable, I have about 2500 tracks in my library spread over three network shares and two hard disks, in six different audio formats, and Amarok presents the whole collection to me as one big thing. With search and all. And it shows the artists’ Wikipedia pages in the middle or retrieves lyrics while some song is playing, if you like.

    Going to Applications -> Ubuntu Software Center -> Sound & Video and searching for Amarok should find and install it.

    And welcome to Ubuntu!

  • Fazer says:

    You should see KDE 4. Now that’s what I call a slick interface!

  • Dave Morley says:

    Congratulations on joining the light side. Let us know how you get on.

    It’s important to get a new users view on things we got right and wrong. 🙂

  • woodsy says:


    For anyone with media crippled by DRM, I’d recommend a visit to the Hymn Project. 🙂

    • Ramon says:

      Ah, nice! Didn’t know someone had finally cracked that madness. Well, that’s good news then!

      As the world is moving from physical distribution to digital, we think we’re gaining a lot because things become cheaper, but we also lose many things. We can never again sell albums or games we bought digitally. Or make copies for our close friends, which was fine and legal with physical audio media (at least in most jurisdictions). Plus, music is usually lossily compressed, that’s worse than CD quality too.

      When I see things like Apple’s golden cage, I worry about these things 🙁

      • woodsy says:

        When I see things like Apple’s golden cage, I worry about these things

        So do I. With the iPhone, iPod and other goods, Apple seems to be doing exactly the same as Microsoft have done with computing, controlling the consumer’s/user’s experience all down the line. That’s why free software is important. Free is not just about price. Its most important element is freedom.

        • Ramon says:

          Exactly! I always get really grim and think nobody cares about that. The people I talk to, even people in IT, just give me the “wow, this guy is totally mad, isn’t he?” look when I mention freedom in relation to how you use software. But ultimately I think it’s absolutely required that we think about this. If no one else thinks about it, then those of us in the FOSS scene need to think about it.

          The alternative is to continue allowing corporations absolute control over what you do with the media you buy, how you use the computer, what software you use. Look at Apple’s total control of the iPhone application store. If your application’s description includes a word that Steve Jobs doesn’t like (such as “Google Android”, which is the iPhone’s toughest competition), then Apple won’t offer your application in the iPhone store. This dominance and control cuts on so many levels: It hurts the customer and hurts application developers in order to maximize the power and profit of Apple. But to the average consumer, Apple just looks like a company that makes cool phones and computers.

          It would be really great if all the FOSS activity made people realize that they are completely powerless in that area, but that there is an alternative (if they care about their freedoms), and that is to use FOSS.

  • […] Idiot goes Open Source It seems that even the cat is using Ubuntu… the kids have seemingly seamlessly adapted to Open Source Software. My computer has also taken sides and is so slow it’s definitely trying to tell me something. […]

  • My twins both have ubuntu / edubutu on their machines, they are only 6 years old but installed it themselves. They don’t understand why their teachers machine keeps on breaking and why she gets annoyed with it. Many people don’t relise that “frustration” is their natural state when using a computer.

    I recently converted a Mac user to ubuntu, once there was a dock at the bottom they where very happy, I moved their iTunes addiction over to amarok. He often forgets he is on ubuntu, he just does his work.

  • hjlord says:

    Thanks for all the support – never realised so many people would see this. Have been using the new system for a while now but wrote my ramblings to record my experience (it’s taken a while to be persuaded to post them – always thought blogging was a bit like going to a nudist beach – bit embarrassing and you definitely don’t want to run into anyone you know). All the comments have made me feel it’s OK though, (the blog post thing – not the nudist beach).
    Back to the plot – I have an iPod and already have loads of playlists on iTunes which I didn’t want to lose, also I rip my stuff in a high quality lossless format (feeble excuses I’m sure…). Makes me feel a bit like a numpty consumer muppet when I read the stuff you wrote about Apple. Must admit I was wowed by the gadget designs, the cool shop in Southampton (although I felt like an old lady going in there) and the reputation. Just an average joe public I suppose. The virtual machine thing does work though and it was the deal I made with Al for switching so was my choice I suppose. It’s pretty time consuming to rip to though and now I’m getting used to the other stuff perhaps it’s time I spoke to him about an alternative piece of software. Just terrified of losing all the stuff I’ve got on it and worried about the time it will take to get used to it.

    BTW Your 6 yr olds sound like genuises – I love the way kids don’t have preconceived ideas about computers and will try anything.

  • Ramon says:

    Well, the virtual machine is a good solution 🙂

    And about the consumer muppet thing: It’s probably really hard to read what people like me write about these issues and not feel either personally attacked or preached to. It surely feels like having a die-hard vegetarian always try to get you to stop eating meat. On an intellectual level, we all know it makes sense (less energy used in producing food, less methane production, no animals need to die, etc.), but meat is just so tasty and juicy, so how can you possibly stop?

    I think people like me who pay such close attention to the software we use and the (digital) products we buy are the annoying vegetarians of the software world. So just eating meat or owning an iPod isn’t some sort of sin or act of stupidity, even if people like me might make it appear like that. So we’re perhaps not to be taken so seriously — just because we made a decision for ourselves it doesn’t mean that others would give up some convenience to gain some other convenience, just like you might not give up eating meat to gain a good conscience and a better CO2 balance.

    On the other hand, the market is equally to blame for iPods selling like they do. It’s no wonder that Apple has such a high market share with audio players when almost every other manufacturer only makes really crappy products. The iPod is the bait in the golden cage, but it’s tasty bait, whereas everyone else’s offering has a faint odor of mothballs or looks like haggis. There are a few good audio players out there, iRiver and Cowon used to make excellent ones. But is it the same experience as with iTunes? Not if you use the manufacturer’s software.

    If you use third-party software like Amarok, you can get pretty close to a seamless iTunes experience with any of the hundreds of supported players, because Amarok replaces whatever barely functional ad-ridden Widnows-only crapware that the player manufacturer forces down your throat, excuse the wording.

    Since software like Amarok has only been available on Linux for a long time in the past, the way most people might know these audio players is through the crappy Windows software that’s included. And this is no match for iTunes. iTunes may be slow, humongous and a resource hog, but it does give you seamless and perfect iPod integration. That’s what most people want from their audio players. They may or may not realize that with a normal audio player, you can just copy files over as if it’s an external hard drive. They might use the included crapware and think it’s part of the deal and it’s necessary. And they might compare this to iTunes and come to the conclusion that they don’t have time for such idiocy — then they go buy an iPod.

    I’m really out of touch with how average users might use their computer, so I might be wrong with all my guesses, but I understand anyone who might think that way. I even understand someone if they say “heck, Amarok is ugly” and never try it again just for that reason. It’s still my favorite player, really fast, extensible and powerful, and I’ll recommend it to anyone.

    And when a decent audio player comes out, I might be able to recommend that 🙂 I use a seven or eight year old 20 GB iRiver iHP-120. It even plays FLAC (using Rockbox, a FOSS firmware).

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