Adventures with a Feisty Fawn

Are you sitting comfortably? This is a long story.

I’m going to break my usual five-hundred word limit today because this is a tale of technology and I know from looking at my stats page on a daily basis that about half my readers get here through random Google searches. Knowing this, it would be churlish of me to start rabbiting about computer problems without telling my fellow sufferers how I fixed them. Anyway, here’s why I took a break from blogging in April…

I hate Microsoft. This isn’t a reason not to blog in itself, but it’s the central fact that drove my actions at the end of March. After bad experiences with Windows ME, I bought a new computer a couple of years ago. The tale of how I ended up running Windows XP on it after a failed experiment with Red Hat Linux is in three parts across this blog. One, two, and three for those interested. The story ended with me running my computer on a dual boot, my 120 GB hard drive being split into two 60 GB partitions with Windows XP on one side and Red Hat Linux Fedora Core 5 on the other. Red Hat gave me problems. User-friendly though it is, it’s a bitch to install new programs on it if you’re a Linux novice. So I hardly used my Linux space, especially seeing as how it didn’t automatically recognise my printer. If you can’t print a document from your computer, then what’s the point?

Over a year later, I heard about Ubuntu from a blogging comrade in arms. Ubuntu is another user-friendly Linux mutation with one huge advantage over Red Hat: it’s easier to install additional software. So I downloaded Ubuntu Feisty Fawn onto a CD.

Early on, I hit a bit of a snag. I couldn’t install Ubuntu in such a way that would leave me certain that my Windows partition was still intact until it was too late. This meant me backing up all my files before I could do anything, so I left it. Windows was doing its job anyway. Then, one day, I picked myself up a Trojan Horse. I’ve had virus problems occasionally, and usually AVG sorts them with one quick scan. No such luck – five heal attempts later, I concluded I was stuck with this one. So I had a tantrum – I backed up all my files onto DVDs and wiped my hard drive vowing never to run a Windows system again. In went the Ubuntu disk. A couple of hours later, I had a Feisty Fawn on my hard drive.

This was not, however, the end of my computing problems. Like Red Hat, it instantly detected my cable LAN connection and got me online. The instructions pages on the Ubuntu website told me everything I needed to know about getting the software I needed to fulfil my basic computer needs. But it still wouldn’t play ball with my printer.

Back when I moved house last June, I bought a Samsung ML-2570 laser printer. I chose it because Samsung are pretty committed to Linux support, especially Red Hat and Ubuntu. The installation CD that came with the printer even claimed it had Linux drivers on it. However, there are things neither Samsung nor the Ubuntu website tell you in their basic instructions. It’s easy enough to get the printer program on Ubuntu to look on a CD to find printer drivers, but you have to tell it exactly where the Linux driver for your printer is on the CD. It took me an age to find it. For the record, you’re looking for the .ppd file for your particular model. It’s under Linux/noarch/at_opt/share/ppd. It lists drivers for a lot of models, but it should be there.

Trying to find this information on forums, I came across a useful site about printers for Linux that tells you if your printer will work on your system at all. Through this, I discovered a little caveat for ML-2570 users: there’s a bug in the driver. It’s not a big deal, but it buggers your use of programs. Given that is the standard office package for GNOME, it’s a nuisance in that you have to either fix the bug yourself (there’s instructions on the net somewhere, but they were a bit beyond my capabilities) or use alternative office programs. I use alternative programs, as they’re easy enough to download with Ubuntu. Incidentally, the bug makes documents printed using programs appear on the page as if it was trying to print in the middle of four peices of paper, so the bottom left corner of the document is printed in the top right corner of the page.

Anyway, to cut this ramble short, after a fortnight of fiddling I got my computer working as I wanted it again – without all the things I hated windows for. I can even play all my video and audio files.


~ by Scary Rob on 13 May, 2008.

2 Responses to “Adventures with a Feisty Fawn”

  1. Just letting you know that “feisty fawn” is severely outdated.

    Ubuntu 8.04 “hardy heron” has far better hardware support and more recent software packages.

    And it offers long term support.

  2. Linuxowns – Yes, I’m aware of that. However, it’s also about two or three weeks old. As I’m not open source hardcore, I use a lot of third-party software – so I’m not going to be upgrading for a couple of months so I can be sure the software I use regularly has caught up. Thanks for the heads-up, anyway.

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