As Ubuntu popularity grows, more and more students are recognizing the added features and potential savings offered by an Ubuntu laptop. We’ve decided to recongnize an Ubuntu laptop we feel is a sure thing for students of any age or price range. Netbooks and laptops are the students solution to computing because of obvious portability reasons. One thing many students find frustrating is the higher cost of laptops and netbooks compared to desktops with similar specs. The biggest reason that Ubuntu laptops can save you money over Windows laptops is that companies like Dell are able to lower the price of Ubuntu-installed laptops because they don’t have to pay for the operating system. Ubuntu can be added to almost any computer by creating and booting to an installation disk however for compatibility reasons buying pre-installed Ubuntu laptop may be the best choice for newbies.
This laptop comes with Ubuntu 8.10 but any users have reported a successful upgrade to Ubuntu 9.04 using the upgrade option within the operating system or by using a Ubuntu 9.04 installation disc. The Inspiron 15n features an Intel Pentium Dual Core T4200 2.0 GHZ processor and 3 GB of RAM. Users can burn CDs and DVDs on an 8x dual layer DVD+/-R drive and this laptop features the popular 15.6″ glossy, wide-screen display. The Inspiron 15n also comes with 802.11g wireless and is available in several cool colors for around $40 extra. Selecting brightness upgrade when purchasing a Dell laptop may be a smart move. Many laptop users feel that $25 for a brighter, more vidid screen is worth the money. If you enjoy using compiz fusion and subtle gaming, the Intel X4500HD graphics card included in the Inspiron 15n is a great choice and the only option with this laptop. Users report seeing little or no system slow down on the Compiz medium setting but this video card may not be ideal for any sort of in-depth gaming. All in all this laptop received great reviews from the Ubuntu community without any major problems to report. One thing that helps is Dell does include licensed codecs for mpeg formats, including mp3, and avi formats. This means no installing Ubuntu restricted extras, everything should work out of the box. The Dell Inspiron 15n is available for $514 plus shipping.
Things you might add:
Intel Core 2 Duo T640(Faster): $50
WLED(Brighter Screen): $25
9-Cell Battery: $75
4 GB RAM: $25
320 GB Hard Drive(More Space): $50
1.3 Megapixel Webcam: $25
Colors: (pacific blue, ice blue, promise pink, cherry red, alpine white, jade green): $40
BeginLinux Ubuntu Training Videos: $20
If you’re on a lighter budget Dell is also still offering the Inspiron Mini 10v. This smaller laptop comes with Ubuntu 8.04 pre-installed and features a 10.1″ screen, an Intel Atom 1.6 processor, 1GB of RAM, and the 1.3 megapixel webcam all for $299 on Dell. The laptop keyboard is 92% the size of a traditional laptop keyboard according to Dell, which makes it feel less like a toy and more like a tool. This is, in my opinion one improvement over many smaller netbooks that require a learning curve to use because of the smaller keyboard size.
If you’re truly interested in using the Ubuntu operating system I highly recommend a pre-installed option over installing on an existing computer. Besides the obvious points of compatibility, quality, and cost, i have one more. Buying Ubuntu installed computers is the only way to create more Ubuntu installed laptop and netbook options in the mainstream marketplace.
Visit the Dell Ubuntu products page.
Everyone knows that the Ubuntu operating system is free to download; not everyone is aware, however, that the operating system has a host of applications and utilities that you can also get for free. Here is some of the most popular Ubuntu download software you can find online.
The GNOME Do is an application launcher that allows users to quickly search for items on their desktop or online and perform useful tasks on them. The latest version of the software, version 0.8.2, also includes an intuitive new desktop dock called Docky. It can be downloaded from the Do homepage, http://www.do.davebsd.com.
VirtualBox is a virtualization program which is loaded on an existing OS, then allows you to load and run additional operating systems, each within its own virtual environment. It can be downloaded from VirtualBox.org.
If you’re looking for an open source music manager, Songbird is a good Ubuntu download application. Songbird allows you to manage your IPod, download album art, play streaming audio on its browser and has a whole host of useful add-ons such as LyricMaster, which displays lyrics from your favorite tracks. You can get it from http://www.getsongbird.com.
HandBrake is an open source video transcoder that allows you to convert any mpeg video (including DVDs) into an mpeg-4 video file that can be played on virtually any device. The latest version, HandBrake 0.9.3 can be downloaded from http://www.handbrake.fr. The software is cross-platform and is also available for Windows and Mac OS.
If you’re unhappy with the way your Ubuntu desktop looks, then Ubuntu Tweak is an essential Ubuntu download application. Tweak allows users to change hidden system and desktop settings but can be used only with the Gnome desktop environment. It also makes the task of installing third-party upgrades such as the latest Firefox beta easier. Get it from http://www.ubuntu-tweak.com.
Conky is a software system monitor that allows the user to monitor the status of many system variables including the CPU, memory, swap space and network interfaces and displays the information on their desktop. It is available from http://www.conky.sourceforge.net.
Aside from applications, there are many essential Ubuntu download e-books in pdf format that you can get for free that will allow you to get the most out of your Ubuntu OS. These include The Official Ubuntu Book, the Linux Bible 2007 edition, Beginning Ubuntu Linux and Ubuntu Linux for Non-Geeks. These resources and others can be downloaded at the FreeBookLinks.com site.
If you are interested in Flash training movies or printed manuals for Ubuntu check this out.
And of course, what would an OS be without some games to kill time with? Some popular games include America’s Army 2.5 (multiplayer shooter game), Babylon Project (space combat simulator) and Flightgear (flight simulator). Try http://www.ubuntuforums.org for links to these games.
Of course, the ultimate Ubuntu download is the latest release of the Ubuntu OS, version 9.10 which is codenamed the Karmic Koala. Although the OS is not due to be formally released until the end of October, you can already download the Alpha 4 version of the software for testing and de-bugging by the online community. The OS features new versions of the Linux kernel and the Gnome desktop environment. The default instant messaging client has also been changed from Pidgin to Empathy and Firefox 3.5 is the new default web browser. Also added is the Palimpsest Desk Utility application, a testing and monitoring tool which shows you the uptime and temperature of the driver as well as being a partition management tool.
The Ubuntu 9.04 – An Alternative to Commercially-Available Operating Systems
The latest release of the Ubuntu OS is nicknamed Jaunty Jackalope, and the free software lives up to the playful qualities of its imaginary namesake. A Jackalope is a folkloric animal that is supposed to be a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope; it has been portrayed as a rabbit with antlers. Like a rabbit, Ubuntu 9.04 runs faster, offering boot speeds as short as 25 seconds and faster access on the majority of laptop, desktop and netbook computers. Other notable features of the new release include improved suspend-and-resume features so that you can immediately access your computer after putting it in sleep mode and broadening the switching between Wi-Fi and 3G, which supports more wireless devices and 3G cards.
The new release also comes bundled with OpenOffice 3.0, which provides users with word processing, spreadsheet and presentations applications that are compatible with Microsoft Office. Another notable application included with Ubuntu 9.04 is the Evolution 2.26.1 e-mail client, which integrates mail, address book and calendaring functions. The new version of Evolution now allows Windows users to directly import Microsoft Outlook files to Evolution, letting you transfer e-mail and contacts to the new application. The new Linux kernel 2.6.28-11.37 also speeds up the performance of your storage drives through better disk performance, improved solid-state drive support and enhanced virtual memory scalability.
The Ubuntu 9.04 desktop edition is noteworthy for its inclusion of technologies to make computing more accessible to handicapped users. For the blind, Ubuntu includes Orca technologies to help them use many of its applications. Orca uses a combination of Braille, magnification and speech software to enable sight-impaired users to use the Ubuntu interface and access the Firefox e-mail client, OpenOffice and other applications. The OS also offers slow-key support, which allows the keyboard to be used as a mouse, making this an essential tool for the physically-challenged. The Ubuntu OS can also support a touch-screen keyboard used with pointers.
Will the Ubuntu 9.04 OS entice users away from well-entrenched operating systems such as Microsoft Windows and the Mac OS X? The outlook is promising with the inclusion of the Eucalyptus technology in the Server Edition of the OS. Eucalyptus – which stands for Elastic Utility Computing Architecture for Linking Your Programs to Useful Systems – is open source, cloud computing technology which allows users to set up storage and create virtual machines online through Amazon’s Web Services. The Ubuntu OS can also run well with as little as 384 MB of allocated base memory. And, of course, the price – free – is unbeatable.
If you want to try it, the Ubuntu 9.04 OS is easy to find and install. You can download it online from the Ubuntu website or a host of torrent sites. If you’re already using Ubuntu 8.04 you can get an automatic upgrade to the newer edition through the Upgrade Manager tool. You can also get a host of applications for the OS free for download. In short, there is no reason for you not to install the Ubuntu OS on your computer and sample the many features it can offer.
The last few Ubuntu Linux released featured background and artwork that depicted the versions codename. For example when Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron was released we enjoyed the abstract bird-like background and then Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex brought us the Ibex background which wasn’t too bad. As Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope Alpha version rolled out users enjoyed new login screen, themes and the new boot splash theme. I was sure we’d be commenting about a new Jackalope background any day now. Now as I preview the release of Ubuntu 9.04 Beta codenamed Jaunty Jackalope, I see no Jackalope background. Instead it looks like Ubuntu has added a stylish background that favors the same theme colors as previous versions but gives off a professional vibe. I’m both excited for the new look but disappointed in the lack of a Jackalope background.
In case you prefer the lighter more “Ubuntu-like” look, Ubuntu 9.04 has also included this lighter version in the Ubuntu 9.04 beta release. The second abckground looks a little more like the traditional Ubuntu background.
Here are a few places that you can find interesting Ubuntu artwork. If you know of a few places feel free to comment and i’ll add them to this article.
Here’s a look at the two new backgrounds included in Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope.
Bluetooth technology allows you to replace the cables typically used to connect keyboards, mice and other peripherals. According to the official Bluetooth site, the goals of Bluetooth are “robustness, low power and low cost”. This sounds like a great option but many people have problems with Bluetooth if you look on the Internet forums. So … I bought a Kennison Bluetooth keyboard, mouse and detachable number pad….I figured this will be the worst to set up. I was actually dead wrong. The Kennison keyboard was a breeze, here is a tutorial on how I did it.
Open System/Administration/Synaptic Package Manager. Install these packages:
bluetooth, gnome-bluetooth, bluez, bluez-gnome
This will give you the basis for what you need to make sure you can use Bluetooth with the setup.Actually all I did is to make sure these applications were installed and then I restarted the system and everything was working including the keyboard, moue and detachable number pad. There are several function keys for media, gadgets, etc. that did not work immediately but I am working on those. The CDROM opener worked fine.
In my situation I was using a USB wireless keyboard, an old Logitech, that had been around as a replacement. What I found interesting is that I could use both keyboards at the same time, one Bluetooth and one RF wireless. Now, though I could type at the same time with two keyboards, that was not really very useful as I only have two hands, but it does illustrate the possibility if you needed that feature. The RF wireless usually will use 2.4 GHz and a USB connection while my Bluetooth used 2.4 GHz-2..47GHz as a standard frequency.
The Kennison Slimblade Media Notebook Set was perfect as a small compact keyboard with 30 feet of range for my Ubuntu 8.10 desktop. It has a detachable numberpad that I set aside until I need it and of course the small, but very useful mouse also comes with the set. This is a great set up if you need to conserver space, as I did as I have two keyboards and mice on my desk as I always run several desktops at the same time.
Overall, I am impressed with how easy it was to get Bluetooth working with this keyboard. Ubuntu 8.10 and Linux in general have come a long way. I will now surely purchase more Bluetooth products in the future to use with Linux. Oh, and by the way, I don’t purchase products that have the word”Microsoft” on them, wonder why they are hard to set up with Linux?