Ubuntu Live – My Experience

So I downloaded the Ubuntu live-cd, and am currently testing it out. (CD-RWs are great for things like this!) Everyone uses their computer for something different. I use mine for quite a large range of things, so certain features are important when I’m looking at a desktop/distro. Here’s the skinny on what I’ve been messing around with:

(Using Ubuntu Hoary-Preview-Live-i386)

Can I connect to my Zaurus?
The important thing here is whether or not the usbnet drivers are installed and working; and they were! I was able to ping my Zaurus over the USB cable. There was no Samba client installed, so I could not mount the Zaurus as a local directory for file transfer, but I was able to use Nautilus’ abilities to do the equivalent.


I didn’t bother testing VNC or SSH, as the only matter is if they’re installed or not.

Does the system detect and allow me to mount my compact flash card when I insert it in the PCMCIA slot on my laptop?
Yes! After inserting it, there’s an unmistakable pc-speaker beep, and I’m able to mount it as a local drive.

sudo mount /dev/hde ./my-local-cf

The performance was fine. I’ve had slow-down issues when transferring large amounts of data from my CF on Gentoo; I don’t think the same problem was evident in Ubuntu. I think it’s an option I missed in the .config or something.

Can I connect my digital camera (everybody’s got one, these days) over USB?
Yes! (This was the first time I’ve ever actually used the USB cable with my camera; I usually just put the CF in my PCMCIA slot via an adapter. Step one: find the cable and remove it from the bag…) As soon as I plugged in the camera, a little box appeared asking me if I would like to import the photos from the camera. Click “Yes,” and Gthumb’s Import Photo dialog appears. Wow. That was pretty impressive! I’ve never actually seen Gthumb’s Import Photo in action, before. Really nice! After seeing that, I had to try it out on Gentoo. πŸ™‚ It works, it just isn’t mapped to a hotplug script to auto-prompt the user. Always discovering new things. πŸ˜€

Can I use my USB Wacom tablet?
Yes!… well, kinda. After plugging it in, I could use the pen and all seemed swell… so the major test: pressure. I loaded up Gimp and tried adjusting pressure settings and scribbling – no luck. Damn. After opening up the Devices dialog, I realized it was just registered as a Core Pointer. Looking back at /var/log/messages, I saw the following error message:

usbhid: probe of 2-1:1.0 failed with error -5

That’s the same error message I’m currently getting in Gentoo. 😐 The Wacom mouse behaved similarly, with absolute positioning… which is bad.

Can I play an MP3 or stream music while I’m testing?
Unfortunately, no. I was excited to try out Rhythmbox, a music player that’s included in the Live CD. I was even happier to see that it had some radio stations already bookmarked. Great, I thought. After waiting for something to timeout, I got the message:

There is no element present to handle the stream's mime type audio/mpeg.

What the…? Immediately, I panic. No music? I almost plugged my speakers in to my Zaurus and played the music from it. As I’m unfamiliar with both Ubuntu and Rhythmbox, I figured I’d ask around in IRC. The #ubuntu folks are were very friendly and helpful… but I was not able to resolve the problem in a timely manner. One suggestion was to use gst-register, but that didn’t seem to do much. I seemed to already have the latest versions of various gstreamer plugins, according to apt-cache search gstreamer. I blame my lack of patience, at the time. But, in a perfect world, I don’t think playing MP3s, or even streaming them, should have to be set up. I didn’t have any OGG files to try out.

Can I read the font without my eyes bleeding?
Yes! The default settings are quite pleasant, so they aren’t all “fuzzy” – a common problem with fonts on Linux.

International Input?
Not immediately available. I don’t know if SCIM would cause much grief installing or not. It would be really nice to see a distribution, especially a live one, have this setup by default, however.

The sudo that you do
Another thing that I ran like a scared boy to IRC for, was the root password – I couldn’t mount my existing drives without it! Well, I was directed to this helpful link, explaining the way Ubuntu handles the root password/account. Makes decent sense to me! I’ve gotten so used to using a separate root account, that I’d probably continue doing it on Ubuntu, but it makes a lot more sense for the new user, I think.

So that was my Ubuntu experience. To get a copy of Ubuntu, visit their website:

I think Ubuntu is one of the most promising distributions available. I used the Live-CD offering, which is not really what Ubuntu was made for, so I’m not sure how similar it is to the regular desktop install version. I would probably switch to Ubuntu if I did not currently have so much invested in my current Gentoo installation.

If anyone has any questions, notices any errors, knows solutions to any of my problems, or simply wants to say something, please post a comment. πŸ™‚


  1. For what it’s worth, if you do a HDD install, mp3 support is one package from apt– gstreamer0.8-mad. The Ubuntu folks inherited RedHat’s patent paranoia, I guess.

  2. and you forgot to mention ubuntu’s wallpapers…or are they not in the LiveCD…?

    Why won’t your blog recognize my ip?

  3. I am impressed at your geekability. Really. I don’t consider myself a true geek; even though I am very interested in all the software / hardware development in the tech world and set up my own comp / network stuff, if I don’t know Linux, I am still incompetent. Being apt on Windoze means nothing.

    I really wish there will be this month or two when I don’t have school, and all I do is catch up on what I missed in the Linux world. It really IS fun, but just takes lots of time.

  4. ditto to what Alex said, but only to the first paragraph.
    (shyaa: I don’t think my comments are automatically accepted either, if thats what your ip talk is about)

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