Random Thoughts

Ubuntu, Craft, and iTunes

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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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I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. i just downloaded ubuntu last night after wanting to play with linux for a couple years. im taking baby steps right now as i dont have any of my recovery disks (or even an XP disk) with me right now. installing VMWare and creating a virtual machine lets me play around with it before i actually commit to it. excellent article!

  2. I like what you mentioned at the very end – I agree that human nature seems to be such that we dislike change. But once we get used to the new ____ (OS, word processor, email client, fill in the blank) we quite possibly like it better than the old model. And I think that we seem to be much closer to an Internet world where the web browser handles so much of our day-to-day tasks that Ubuntu (or whatever your favorite version of Linux) becomes more appealing.

  3. Anthony Chivetta Reply

    There are a number of programs for linux that can connect with your iPod. The best media player for linux in my opinion is amarok. It can download podcasts and sync with your iPod. The podcast -> iPod interface may be not as simple in the current version as it could be, but it should work. Also, take a look at freshmeat.net and sourceforge.org if you want to try other iPod/Linux software.


    You should be able to install amarok using the Ubuntu packing system (‘aptitude install amarok’ in the terminal perhaps…).

  4. Anthony Chivetta Reply

    Also, it does not sync with the palm, but I use KeePassX to manage my passwords. It uses the same database as the KeePass software (for win/osx).


    I am sure you can find something for linux that will let you sync with your palm, the first link above is just what I use.

  5. Just noticing the first of Anthony’s comments, and I wanted to prevent you the heartache.

    1. Ubuntu uses Synaptic Package Manager if you want to see what packages are installed and which can be installed easily. Simply go to Applications, Add/Remove.

    2. If you want to use the terminal, you will need to edit sources.list (?) to update and release some of the other repositories. Then you use the apt-get commands to install packages but you must know the names, etc. For example, you would first type in apt-get update. You might get an error indicating a permissions problem, so then you would type sudo apt-get update and it asks for the password. This is the same password as the first account you set up (presumably Jeff or something terribly original). Then you can type commands such as sudo apt-get install mahjong (assuming mahjong is a proper package name) and it will take care of business.

    Needless to say, the package manager is easier but I do love me some terminal.


  6. Welcome to Ubuntu.

    Here are some apps that you should definitely install:


    Lots of open source and proprietary codecs

    Video editing is still poorly supported in Ubuntu. It takes ages to reencode video files, although I have had some success converting a podcast into a DVD.

    It takes lots of tweaking and I have had trouble using GTKPOD and Ipodder to manage podcasts and my Ipod. I might migrate to Amarok, but don’t expect to play any Itunes DRM content in Ubuntu. Also, it goosed the DRM on my Ipod so I have 56 purchased songs that I can no longer play on my Ipod withot some burning and reencoding.

    The most irritating thing is that I can not share the soundcard drivers between my media player and Firefox at the same time, so I have to close down the media player completely before opening up the page with the straming sound.

    My printer doesn’t like Ubuntu very much, although the scanner on it works fine.

    I still like the freedom of using an OS without cripple ware.

    If you live in your browser then it’s a much safer way of using the Internet compared with XP.

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