Sunday, 6 November 2016

My Ubuntu week - old hardware, a VPS and Ubuntu GNOME

Monday

I started the week with four fully functional and working laptops running Ubuntu 16.04, Ubuntu GNOME 17.04, Xubuntu 16.04 and Kubuntu 14.04. During the evening I successfully set up a VPS with DigitalOcean with the aim of staying logged on to IRC without leaving a local PC running continually. I also set up my holding pages for various domains that I use for email and dealt with various security requirements such as the firewall.

However, I was unprepared for what happened the following day.

Tuesday

Recently I've been using Ubuntu 16.04 on a Dell Inspirion N7110, an installation that has served me well but unfortunately during the evening I saw a number of indications that the hard disk was failing. After backing up all my personal data to my other laptops and a backup drive I started to investigate the problem by making various comparisons with another laptop. The SMART data for the disk was worrying and not unsurprisingly a few hours later the drive failed as I feared it would. Hooray for the backups!

Wednesday

So now down to three laptops I turned my attention to my Samsung R720 on which Kubuntu 14.04 was installed. As KDE 4 is now looking a little dated I decided to replace it with Ubuntu GNOME, a flavour that I had been testing on yet another laptop.

Thursday

Although Ubuntu GNOME was running reasonably well it was too slow for my liking but at least I was on-line and able to do what I wanted or needed to do each day.

Friday

Due to the less than perfect performance of Ubuntu GNOME on my R720 I decided to install Xubuntu and later tried a live session of Ubuntu MATE but clearly the hardware is too old to successfully run a second monitor with recent releases of these flavours with an "out-of-the-box" installation. A subsequent bad install of Ubuntu meant that I'm now down to just two working machines. I'm going to have to rethink what I do with the R720 but a full reformat and installation of a flavour yet to be decided is something that I'm leaving for a rainy day.

Saturday

Nearly two years ago I purchased a cheap Toshiba C-50B for testing development versions of various Ubuntu flavours. Although a little slow it runs Ubuntu, Xubuntu and Ubuntu GNOME very well. I've been testing Ubuntu GNOME on this laptop for some time and it appears to offer what I want from a modern operating system although it takes some getting used to after using Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Xubuntu for so long. I quickly reconfigured the machine to run a second monitor, plugged in a mouse and external keyboard, and then sat back and said to myself: "It works!"

Sunday

With Xubuntu 16.04 available on an old Samsung R620 I'm thinking that I'm not beaten yet. It seems that the purchase of a new machine whether a laptop or a desktop is now long overdue.

Old hardware seems to work fine with the right flavour of Ubuntu until you push it to its limits but it's nice to know that if one Ubuntu flavour doesn't work for you then you can always try another.

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