I bounced out of bed this morning and decided that I was bored. I drank my coffee, I checked my email, but I was still bored. I have lots of projects that need to be worked on, there are at least five books waiting to be read, but somehow my heart was not into it. I toyed with a couple of reviews, but my mind was a blank.

With it being a holiday, I did not want to bother my usual circle of friends, they do after all have lives outside of journalism. I was pretty sure I had out lived my welcome with TJ Hart’s wife after yesterdays escapades. TJ had taken his wife and children to Disney World, and I schedule a radio program, TJ sneaks away from the family to participate! His wife must hate me.

My mother was right, idle fingers are indeed the work of the devil. Having no interest in actually doing anything useful today I started to consider un-useful avenues. I have two desktop computers, in the grand scheme of things, both are junk. One is an aging XP box with a screaming fast 600 Mgz processor in it, and its prime function in life is to act as a tele-prompter for radio gigs.

My main computer is a bunch of bits that lived on top of a cardboard box, there is no case, the on/off switch is a steak knife that I use to short two pins with on the motherboard, occasionally the power supply falls off, and on more than one occasion I have inadvertently kicked it and the hard drive has fallen off resulting in it hanging by the IDE cable.

It was about two years ago that I had finally had enough of Microsoft Windows, it seemed to me that I was rebooting every day, and reloading stinking windows every week. It was time for a change. I read a press release for a commercial version of Linux, something called Linspire. I put on my reviewer hat, and they kindly sent me a copy for review. OK it took a little getting used to, but it worked great. 15 minutes to install, and it came with everything I needed, a word processor and a browser. Of course I did zero maintenance on the OS, it just ran like a champ. Linspire went out of business about a year ago, they were bought out by Xandros. A company that incidentally has never bothered to reply to any of the emails I have sent to them.

So, these ‘idle fingers’ got to do the devils work today. I rationalized that Linspire was two years old, my apps were two years old, it must be time to try something new!

A little poking around on Google revealed that the best ‘out of the box’ solution was Ubuntu. After a couple of false starts I found a download site that offered a bit rate that would succeed in downloading the ISO image in my lifetime.

CD burned, I put it in the drive and attacked the motherboard with my handy steak knife. Before you can say Linus Torvalds we had the latest and greatest Ubuntu installed. I was excited. New version of Firefox, a new version of Open Office, what could be better?

It has gone downhill from that point!

I am heading back to my two year old Linspire. Why? OK, let me explain. I opened up Firefox and all the fonts are screwed up. Blogger News articles are being displayed in a form of Times New Roman, that is NOT the font we use. Google Analytics does not work, you can not select a specific day, I get a stupid nag message that I need to install three plugins to do with Flash, I have installed all three, and I still get the same nag message. The icing on the cake though is Open Office, what happened to all of the fonts? The silly program defaults to some funky font that only its creator could love. Even worse, most of the fonts that I am familiar with in Open Office are missing!

Fonts may not seem like a big deal, you are wrong, fonts are a very big deal to a writer.

I am no fan of stinking Windows, but todays adventure into the black hole of Ubuntu has given me pause for thought. I spent more than three decades on the computer industry, where the hell did we go wrong?

I am sure that there are lots of Ubuntu fans, and I wish you well. As to it being the best ‘out of the box’ solution, I am not sure I can agree.

The next test is to transfer this article into WordPress, I can hardly wait for the grief that I will likely incur. Of course the Login button is hidden on my display, there is no way to get to it. Rather than offer a scroll bar, it just scrunches stuff up! I guess I am going to have to email this article to a computer that actually works.

OK, the answer is…. I am even less impressed than before. I finally figured out how to get to the log on button, but I have had to set the font size to ‘needs a magnifying glass’.

I am sure that lots of people love Ubuntu, but it is just not working for me!

Simon Barrett

(The guy reloading his computer as you read this)

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