U Tech Tips

After my post about moving to a new school and having a Mac for the first time in 10+ years, I received more suggestions of software that I needed then I ever thought I would. I’m still going through the list and of course installing and uninstalling software as I try things out and find what I really need.

I was asked if I would create a wiki to keep track of all the cool software that people were mentioning….so….I did.

The wiki is set up and asks for software recommendations for educators and education in Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Now all it needs is software. It is open to the public so you can go ahead and start adding software recommendations without signing up for an account.

If everyone took the time to add just one piece of software it wouldn’t take us long to have an amazingly useful site.

So head on over and add just one…..that’s it! Through one….comes many!



Our laptop has been running slower and slower lately and so over the weekend I decided it was time for a reformat. I have found that Window’s machines need one about every two years anyway, and so it was time.

Instead of reinstalling Windows XP, I decided I was going to load Linux Ubuntu and Windows XP to dual boot. I could use the Ubuntu side and my wife who is already familiar with WinXP could continue to use that operating system. So I set out last week looking up how to reformat my computer to dual boot both Ubuntu and WinXP.
Friday night I sat down, downloaded and burned the lasted release of Ubuntu and was finishing some last minute reading when Chris Craft happened to catch me on Skype. I remember reading Chris dual booting his machine a couple months ago and so I thought I would pick his brain to make sure I had everything I needed to make the install run smoothly.

We were chatting when Chris all of a sudden said,

“Why do you want to dual boot anyway?”

To which I responded, “Because I need it to run some programs I use.”

“What programs.”

Hmmmm…good question and one that made me stop and think about just how do I use WinXP? I thought about my wife who writes the occasional Word document but for the most part surfs the web and reads/writes e-mails. Then I started thinking how I use my home computer. Most everything I do anymore is web based, there are very few programs that I NEED to have, and others I know there are Linux replacements for already.
So after giving it some hard thought I decided what the heck, I’ll just run Linux…after all I can always reinstall WinXP if I want to at a later date.

So I spent this weekend playing with my ‘new’ computer. I like the speed of Ubuntu, quick, clean, and simple. I have found that my battery seems to last about 30 minutes longer on average, which is a plus and not sure if that is supposed to be a positive side effect of running Ubuntu. Chris did recommend that I search for my laptop online real quick to make sure no other updates would be needed. A quick Google search for “Linux on Dell 9300 Inspiron” gave results that said everything worked well on the 9300 and right they were. All the drivers worked perfectly. My wife picked up the laptop, which already had Firefox running on it, and I’m pretty sure she didn’t even notice that it’s running a complete different operating system.

I was getting really excited about keeping Ubuntu when I ran into my first hitch Sunday afternoon. I wanted to update podcasts to my iPod. Of course I would need iTunes and after spending 30 minutes searching, I can’t seem to find an iTunes for Linux option. Then I went to look up a password. I use Password Plus to store all my passwords as it syncs with both of our Palm T5s so we have all our passwords with us when we travel securely locked away. The Palms sync with Linux no problem, but I’m not sure if Password Plus has a Linux option. Not including the other six programs I use most frequently on my Palm also have a desktop install.
So I might have to set up that dual boot yet. Right now, the iTunes is more important than the palm sync as we both sync our Palms on our school computers as well. I’m just not sure how long I can go without my Podcasts. They are part of my routine, from the hour bus ride to and from school, to workout music, my iPod has become another technology I don’t leave home without.

So we’ll see if Ubuntu lasts on my computer. I’d really like to keep it, but need some programs that I can’t find ported to Linux. If anyone can help point me in a direction to solve the iTunes issue I’d appreciate it.

(Please no comments about “Just get a Mac!” 🙂 )

Update: Monday night 10:00 my wife just asked “What’s up with the computer?” and I had to explain what I’ve done. She of course said “Turn it back!” But has now realized that Firefox works just the same and is happily surfing away. It’s human nature not to like change I think…we’ll see how she does the rest of the week. 😉


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