Revision as of 16:05, 24 July 2009 by Linda Knutson (talk | contribs)

Out of curiosity and to stay true to my dislike of Microsoft, I installed Ubuntu 8.04 on my Dell Latitude D630. I chose to have a dual-boot Ubuntu/Windows XP system in case I ran into trouble somewhere down the road. The installation went smoothly with the Ubuntu installer managing everything for me and all my hardware working after the install...well almost all, the light that indicates wifi availability didn't quite come on. But I never recall it being on ever so I guess all is well.


I noted that the following worked right out of the box:

  • Keyboard
  • Trackpoint and trackpad (including scrolling and double-tap)
  • Wireless card and button
  • Audio buttons (volume up,down and mute)
  • Power Button
  • fn-button cobinatinons
  • suspend on lid closing

Depending on your system, you may need to do special configuration for the following items. For popular models, configuration how-to steps can be easily found online.

  • Wireless card
  • Sound
  • 3D graphics support
  • DVD reading support (proprietary codecs, so legally can't work out-of-the-box)

Configuring for the Middlebury network


Registration with Campus Manager supports Linux by offering a small .sh script for download instead of the RSA.exe file run on Windows. This script must be downloaded and run, requiring that basic compile-related packages be installed (particularly libgcc), so ensure that the necessary packages are installed or available on the default system before trying to register.


Knowing that midd_secure is a WPA2 Enterprise network from tinkering around Airport and Vista:

  • Click on the wireless icon on the Ubuntu panel (looks alot cell-phone reception bars)
  • Select Connect to Other Wireless Network...
  • For Network Name type midd_secure
  • Choose WPA2 Enterprise for Wireless Security
  • Choose PEAP for EAP Method
  • Leave Key Type and Phase2 Type to their default values
  • For Identity type your midd username and your password in the password field
  • Leave all the remaining fields blank and click connect

If this does not work:

  • Repeat the steps to make sure you have the correct username and password
  • Try leaving the password field blank and hitting connect so that you are prompted for the password after a connection is established.
  • Make sure that the you are in an area under the covered by the midd wireless network. (This can be checked by clicking on the wireless icon and seeing if midd_secure and midd_unplugged are listed as wireless networks. Also, you may not be able to connect to midd_secure stably if the signal strength meter is less than 50%.)
  • If you still have no luck try connecting to midd_unplugged. (If this works then your setting are incorrect. If not you may be in an area with no midd wireless network cover.)

Working With File Servers

This was a big concern for me since I rely heavily on servers during the school year when sharing files between computer and also as my chief form of back-up. Shocking to me, the Windows Share option did not work at first attempt so I had to use the Custom Location option. The Ubuntu bookmarks make remembering steps a non-issue. As with any other OS, you can only access the file servers if you are using ehternet or midd_secure.

Before proceeding, let me just list a few terms listed here that might be confusing:

  • Midd/midd - Middlebury
  • Username - This is your Midd username. It is the first part of your Midd email address (i.e. username@middlebury.edu
  • servername - Name of server you want to connect to. Popular servers include:
  • \home, \classes, \orgs...
Connecting to file servers

This has worked each time for me:

  1. On the panel click:
Places -> Connect to Server...
  1. For Service Type select Custom Location
  2. For Location (URL) type smb://<servername>
  3. Check Add Bookmark and give the bookmark a name that makes sense to you (preferable the same are the server name)
  4. Click connect and type in your username and Password.
  5. it is up to you to select how long the password is to remembered for. I suggest the until I log out option. It is convenient for work done in one sitting and it also covers against complications that arise when passwords are changed.

This has worked with an attempt to recconect:

  • On the panel click:
Places -> Connect to Server...
  • For Service Type select Windows Share
  • For Server type <servername>
  • For Folder type vol1
  • For User Name type your midd username
  • For Domain Name type midd
  • Check Add Bookmark and give the bookmark a name that makes sense to you (preferable the same are the server name)
  • Click connect and type in your Password.
it is up to you to select how long the password is to remembered for. I suggest the until I log out option. It is convenient for work done in one sitting and it also covers against complications that arise when passwords are changed.
  • An error will pop up about an inability to mount volume. Just click OK
  • Navigate to your bookmark under:
Places -> Bookmarks -> <bookmark name>
Disconnecting from file servers

The server shortcuts will appear on your Ubuntu desktop and on top left-hand section of the File Browser as vol1 on <servername>. To disconect, right-click on any of the shortcuts and select Unmount Volume


Web browsing

Mozilla Firefox 3 is the default web browser on Ubuntu.


Stable and full-featured. In many places, OpenOffice is used as a zero-cost alternative to Microsoft Office.

When setting up anyone with Ubuntu, strongly consider setting document file format defaults. By default, OpenOffice saves documents as .odt, .ods, OpenDocument format. It's a good format but MS Office doesn't support it. In OpenOffice under Tools -> Options, under the Save/Load category, you can set OOo to automatically save documents in the Microsoft format.

Email client

The default email client that comes with Ubuntu is Evolution. Thunderbird is a better-known alternative that you may want to consider. Both are good, sturdy email clients and both can connect via IMAP to Midd servers.

Evolution has support for connecting to MS Exchange servers versions 2000 and 2003 but not version 2007, unfortunately.

For older computers

For older computers, Linux has a host of light-weight programs available as alternatives to the more popular ones. Consider:

  • Epiphany Browser, instead of Firefox
  • AbiWord and Gnumeric, lightweight word processor and spreadsheet programs that can replace some of OpenOffice's functionality

If the system has 128MB RAM or less, consider the alternative distribution Xubuntu. Xubuntu is great for older/slower systems and comes with many such programs pre-installed.


If you're adventurous, you can get some Windows programs to work great under Linux using Wine Windows Emulator. More details pending...

Getting Help

Greatest thing about Ubuntu is that it has a huge support/fan base and chances are whatever you are stuck trying to figure out, someone has a solution out there. Google and conquer.

Unfortunately, Ubuntu is not an officially supported Operating System by the Helpdesk.The level of support that you will receive from the helpdesk will be limited. However, if you are stumped by an issue, you should not hesitate to place a call or preferably stop by the Walkin section of the Helpdesk for assistance. The knowledge pool of the consultants is pretty impressive and a solution or answer to your problem is likely to be found.

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