The words “open source” are a key part of a geek’s life. The idea that software can be freely created and distributed to the masses is one that strangely is not only altruistic, it also works. I use a variety of open source programs on my computer at home: I’m typing this post in Mozilla’s Firefox browser; I use Foxit Reader as a PDF viewer (because I can’t stand Adobe Acrobat); I watch videos on VLC Media Player; I use a keyboard-based program launcher called Launchy, and more.
At this point, you can probably imagine my excitement at the thought of an open source operation system. I’ve been on XP for a while now, and it’s Old Faithful for me. But I’m not going to be picking up a copy of Windows 7 anytime soon, and 8 years later, XP is feeling stale. So when I first heard about Ubuntu last year, I had to give it a shot.
At the time, I downloaded Ubuntu 9.04 and performed a Wubi install. (Laymans terms, I could install the OS from inside Windows using an open part of my hard drive rather than going the more confusing process of partitioning and hard drive formatting.) 9.04 was fun. It wasn’t the best looking thing ever until I did some research, added some themes and effects, and changed the background, but it was free. The only issue I had with it were occasional lockups. I could use it for a little while, but eventually if I left it sit long enough, the system would hard lock up: no mouse, no keyboard, just frozen screen.
Then 9.10 came out last October, and it looked to have some nice improvements. I never got to use them. After struggling with install problems from a fresh install. I reinstalled 9.04 and tried to run the upgrade to 9.10. I was able to complete the installation, but every time I booted the system, it was a hard lockup within seconds. There was a possibility that I could navigate half a menu. When I tried to wipe that entire thing and go back down to 9.04, I encountered the same problem. Lockups continued to hinder me. I hoped that 10.04 would save me
I also in the last year attempted to install a Release Candidate for Windows 7 as first a primary and later a second OS. Again I was thwarted. Every time I ran the install, partway through the install would freeze, and I would receive a dreaded BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death). My limited research suggested it might be a RAM issue.
Which brings me to this week: Ubuntu 10.04. It’s a Long Term Support version, which means if you don’t want to upgrade every 6 months, this is the version you’ll still get support in for a long time. This had to be it, right? It should be super stable, have the kinks worked out, etc. I decided to do a Wubi install and give it a shot. After a reboot, installation resumed, and eventually I found myself starting a screen with a frozen mouse and a progress bar stuck at 23%. Attempt 2 later in the day: same result.
I could blame it on Ubuntu I suppose, but at this point, I’m wondering if I have some hardware problems. I could swap out some RAM and see if that fixes it, but RAM, just like Windows 7, costs money. So, I guess I’ll keep hanging out with Old Faithful and hope the wind doesn’t blow the stink from the nearby hot springs my way anytime soon.