Much ado about scripting, Linux & Eclipse: card subject to change


xubuntu 8.04: easy enough for grandma

I'm in love with the newest ubuntu for xfce, xubuntu. So much so that I've decided to install it on my mother-in-law's desktop (which keeps getting virii and trojans). Yes, it's really that grandma-friendly. (Time will tell whether I'm on crack or if they agree.)

However, I have a few minor complaints -- the usual "close-but-no-cigar" usability tweaks.

1. If you log in two users in parallel (it lets you switch between them) for some reason there's a pc speaker (system bell / system beep) every couple seconds once the second user logs in. This is of course incredibly annoying, but there's an easy fix.

First, disable it:

modprobe -r pcspkr

Then, turn it off for good by blacklisting the pcspkr module in /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist:

blacklist pcspkr

2. I immediately installed OpenOffice 2.4 (because abiword and gnumeric suck) and upgraded the Firefox 3 beta to the full release.

3. I also combined the two default taskbars (top and bottom of screen) into a single one on the bottom, because that's less weird for Windows people.

4. I had to manually force mounting of their old C and D drives (in /etc/fstab), just in case they need them. Thunar is great for adding quick shortcuts into the file browser (see screenshot below).

/dev/sda1 /media/sda1 vfat rw,noexec,nosuid,nodev,quiet,uhelper=hal,utf8,shortname=winnt,uid=999,gid=100,umask=007 0 0 /dev/sda3 /media/sda3 vfat rw,noexec,nosuid,nodev,quiet,uhelper=hal,utf8,shortname=winnt,uid=999,gid=100,umask=007 0 0

5. I had to add the volume control applet to the taskbar. Sure, having to add it is nowhere as annoying as having to remove MEPIS/KDE's fish tank app, but c'mon -- shouldn't this be there by default?

6. Firefox doesn't come with the Flash player pre-installed, for obvious licensing reasons. However, the latest Firefox, combined with the latest xubuntu, lets me install the whole thing without having to revert to apt-get or tar -xzf. Finally, the Plugin Finder Service in Firefox actually works! It finds the plugin, prompts for password (to run the install as root), downloads it, and installs it. And on restart of Firefox -- YouTube works.

But other than these minor tweaks, it's pretty much xubuntu out of the box, and a viable replacement for Windows XP and its non-stop barrage of virii & trojans.

Because really, what does your grandma need on a computer? Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice, a file browser like Thunar, and of course, some card games (thanks, PySol!).