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Lifehacker Gets on the Bandwagon August 24, 2006

Posted by Carthik in applications, commentary, ubuntu.

Lifehacker has a post describing the top 10 apps for Ubuntu. I have issues with the first one on the list, but I tend to avoid controversy and will say no more than that sometimes, getting things done yourself is a lot more fun, and informative. So it is that I have never used Automatix or EasyUbuntu, but instead just maintain a list of packages I like to install and install them myselves. Some of the settings I modify regularly are also modified manually. Why?, because fewer things go wrong real bad when a person attends to making the changes, and you change or deviate from the “base” system (which works admirably well) no more than you need to, and every person needs different things. I have known people without DVD drives adding the ability to decrypt DVDs – how that would be useful beats my mind, but the reason?, “Well, I just used Automatix, and it was an option, so there!” This is not meant to disparage the tool in any way, but please do choose to get your hands dirty, learn, and live fully 🙂 There is nothing either of these tools does that is not easy to figure out on one’s own. In any case, it is easier to figure out than figuring out how to enable support to play some wierd (wicked?) codecs in Windows’ Media Player (from what I remember).

I also don’t have (or haven’t done) 8 of the 10 things that are on the LifeHacker list. I haven’t, for sure, had to install Firefox – it’s already installed, LifeHacker!! Also, I prefer mplayer over VLC, and so on… So while you have to take the “Top 10 Apps for Ubuntu” title, and the list of software/steps recommended with a grain of salt, it is always good to see Ubuntu catching on, and being mentioned in popular online media.


1. foncu - August 24, 2006

I completely agree with you, automatix (and also Easyubuntu) are good but don’t let you learn to do those things. I used them when I switched from Windows to Breezy, but when I installed Dapper, I just wanted to do things MY WAY, and learn how to do it. It’s not a big deal to type things like “apt-get install XXX-CODECS” and it improves my relationship with the terminal (which started being almost painful and now is lovely)
Anyway the truth is that for beginners or for those who don’t wish to improve their skills, they are good options (as far as they don’t deviate from the standard)
PS: I prefer Mplayer, too!

2. acetate3 - August 24, 2006

Ubuntu is popping up all over the place. An article appeared in the Washington Post on Sunday, Aug. 20th, 2006:


3. Ubuntu Blogger - August 24, 2006

Seeing how Lifehacker.com states that Firefox is already installed:

“It should go without saying at this point, but no operating system would be complete without Firefox. Ubuntu ships with Firefox out of the box, but it never hurts to emphasize something you love so much.”

Did you read it? Automatix wasn’t meant for those who want to “get their hands dirty”, those users made that choice a long time ago. I’d say its geared towards (lets just say) those who just switched from WinXP, and no nothing about Linux, but want to get things working right way. Getting ones hands dirty wont do this quickly.

What banwagon? Is everyone who like ubuntu on as well? I actually found the article @ Lifehackers quite good, although it seems you did not.

4. ubuntonista - August 24, 2006

Of course I read the article, but what got me to write that was the apt-get install firefox command to install Firefox. To me, that seemed close to saying nautilus, or evolution is an essential app, which both are, but which is a statement of the obvious. It also can project an image to the casual reader who skims the list of 10(11) apps that Firefox is probably not installed by default.

What makes you think I did not read it? If you have read this blog for a while, you’ll I know I put a little more into the articles I write here 🙂

I never suggested automatix was for those that want their hands dirty – in fact, I was mildly suggesting that in stead of using that, they should give installing things themselves a shot – not like it is impossible, or that it take days to do that. If you intend to use a system for a year or so, there is no harm in spending a day or two to get familiar with how things work. That will help when things don’t work later.

The term “bandwagon” means “a popular trend that is gaining growing support”. Is something with the way I used the term? Pardon me if that’s the case.

5. agm - August 24, 2006

Dude, cmon. I can sympathize with the usefulness — if your a geek — on knowing how to install things yourself. However, the vast majority of people using a computer don’t give a damn about knowing how, they just want to hit facebook or myspace or finish that paper that’s due or watch this youtube link someone sent them. And even of those that do want to know the guts of the system don’t always have the time to do it all manually (like me).

Expecting that people to spend their VERY precious time learning something they don’t care about just because you enjoy it is really obnoxious. I’d say the whole linux community needs to absorb this lesson, but that would be letting the Maclots off easy.

6. ubuntonista - August 24, 2006

agm, I’m all for ease of use – please don’t misunderstand me. I have no philosophical objections to helper apps – heck that is what making Linux easier to use is about, but I do like to encourage people to learn, and have fun learning.

I suppose another point I tried to make is that one should avoid overkill when it comes to solving small problems. Since I have already said all this in the post, I think I ought to stop repeating myself, but yes, I see, and agree with your point-of-view.

7. Reny - August 25, 2006

I agree with “install things which I want and I need”. However, I have seen ubuntu pre-install many packages/software which I don’t want to have, such as a lot of gnome card games. (Gosh! I hate card games) and Ekiga voIP. Another example is overlapping function of softwares, for instance, eye of gnome viewer and gThumb viewer.

I would like to uninstall them, but Synaptic said ubuntu-desktop needs them. In this way, I dare not to uninstall those unwanted software.

I think it is one of the issuse needed to be adressed in the next LTS. um…actually, the ubuntu installation provides very few freedom in choosing the package.

8. Martin - August 25, 2006

I also thought that article was a bit silly. But then so are 90% of the ‘top ten’ articles out there. The only thing that I found useful was no. 7, checkgmail, which it turns out isn’t in the Ubuntu repositories despite what the article implies.

As for Automatix, I ran it when I first installed Ubuntu but ran into lots of problems with the stuff it installed when I tried to upgrade to Dapper, so I don’t recommend it.

9. Chuck - August 25, 2006

The thing about automatix is that it takes care of things that aren’t all that standard – ie, what you’re learning you may only use once.

My best example is the plugins for firefox like java and flash. Those are not just apt-get things, but involve some searching etc.

I like automatix.

10. tin21 - August 25, 2006

So I am glad that you are so blessed of doing all the installations yourself. I have not installed ubuntu yet maybe soon. Then maybe I could have my opions about this too. Who knows.

11. Corvillus - September 6, 2006

I have to agree with you that Automatix is not always the way to go for those that truly want to learn how to use the OS, and I personally don’t use it either. However, when you get right down to it, Ubuntu’s main goal is to squash Launchpad bug #1 – Microsoft’s majority market share. Now, when you look at Microsoft Windows and its userbase, you have to think, how many people really know how to use Windows? Sure, they know how to print up text documents, surf the web, check their e-mail, watch their movies, listen to music, burn CDs/DVDs, sync to their iPods, etc. But only a relatively small percentage know how to actually use the Windows OS itself (file management beyond “Documents and Settings”, any kind of configuration, security settings, and god forbid registry editing). And for the most part, they don’t care to learn either, all they want to do is their basic computing tasks and have the OS stay out of the way. Ubuntu needs to make it easy to do same thing if it wants to gain market share. It needs to let people get things done without requiring them to learn anything about their underlying OS. And I think Automatix is a great step in doing this. It basically turns setting up a usable system that works into nothing other than 1. Boot LiveCD. 2. Answer questions. 3. Install Automatix. 4. Run Automatix and click checkboxes and apply. 5. Start using your computer. Besides, getting Ubuntu on an A-list tech how-to blog is good PR for it, if nothing else.

12. Ben - September 6, 2006

Come on guys, majority of just want to use a computer, like they use a TV, just click buttons around.

13. krz - September 24, 2006

I usually install everything myself and have already my prefered apps (Opera Vs Firefox, Mplayer Vs VLC, …).
But I think that articles like lifehacker’s one are interesting for newcomers, people who think about migrating to Ubuntu just to show them there are cool apps on linux.

And sometimes, those articles make me discover thing I totally missed like… Frozen Bubble!!!! I usually don’t install any game and remove directly any pre-installed game, but this time (thanks to lifehacker) I’ve given a try to Frozen Bubble and I love it!

14. sikiş izle - September 26, 2010

Seeing how Lifehacker.com states that Firefox is already installed:

15. antalya ilaçlama - September 27, 2010

Come on guys, majority of just want to use a computer, like they use a TV, just click buttons around.

16. porno sikiş - September 27, 2010

As for Automatix, I ran it when I first installed Ubuntu but ran into lots of problems with the stuff it installed when I tried to upgrade to Dapper, so I don’t recommend it.

17. sex sikiş - September 28, 2010

Anyway the truth is that for beginners or for those who don’t wish to improve their skills, they are good options

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