Second look at Ubuntu

I was first introduced to the OS Ubuntu in high school in a Cisco networking class. We used a server running Ubuntu to re-image machines and as a mail server. I didn’t interact with it much, but from the times I did the only thing I can remember is “sudo” which lets you run something as someone else, an administrator for example. After installing it on my computer the other day I was greeted with the familiar sound of drums when starting up the computer. I noticed that startup and shutdown times are extremely fast compared to my Windows 7 start and shutdown times. This could be because I don’t have anything installed but even right out of the box Windows wasn’t this fast.

From working at a helpdesk for a few years I’ve come to like Linux as a tool but not as an operating system. At the helpdesk we have linux discs that wipe the memory drive, reset the password, or re-image a machine. I never understood why Linux was used as opposed to anything else, and I never tried to learn anything more about it, I just accepted it. Hopefully this class will answer that question and give me a more in-depth look at what Linux is used for. Hopefully this class won’t be too difficult for this newbie who doesn’t know the first (or second) thing about linux.

Ubuntu: First Impressions

First, I would like to state that Ubuntu is not the first Linux operating system (OS) I have used. I do have some experience with different versions of BackTrack (BT). Before installing Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, I considered learning BT more in-depth for a class I am taking at Virginia Tech (Intro to Unix for Engineers). However, after installing Ubuntu I decided to stick with it. This was mainly due to the fact that Ubuntu, for me, is a more well designed, well rounded OS. BT is geared more towards the computer security workforce, whereas Ubuntu is more of an Average Joe’s OS.


After booting into Ubuntu, you come to a beautiful login screen. After typing in my password and pressing enter, my desktop seamlessly pops right up. No wait text with a circle next to it, no black transition screen, and no lag to start up a program. The first thing I notice are all the essential programs are installed by default. Programs similar to Microsoft Word, Excel, Power Point, ect are already installed and on your dock.


Some things worth mentioning:

  1. Even if you don’t like to write command lines, Ubuntu is still an excellent Windows / iOS alternative.
  2. Any program you could possibly want is probably located in the Package Manager (similar to an app store but for programs and more). Which means less time searching for programs and you have one place to go to update all your software.
  3. Most viruses are designed to attack Windows machines. Avoid viruses be switching to Linux.

First Look at Unix (and blogging actually)

I’m taking Intro to Unix this semester and one of the optional assignments is to write a blog both about our experience with Unix as well as our experience with the class. I’ve been wanting to get into blogging so I jumped on this optional project. Being as I’m new to both Unix and blogging, please bear with me through this learning experience.

My exposure to Unix has been very limited. I first started learning about it this summer actually. During my internship, I had some down time between projects where I attempted to study several things that have interested me and I feel like would be beneficial to learn, such as Java, video editing, HTML, CSS, etc. My mentor suggested that I should also take a look at Unix and learn some of the commands. So I did. I checked out some online tutorials and he opened a shell for me to play around in. I was pretty impressed with Unix, but I honestly haven’t touched it since.

So now I’m in Intro to Unix. I guess it’s time to start learning again! A couple days ago I got Ubuntu on my machine. I’ve never used MAC’s or Linux before so there are definitely some differences that a Windows user like me has to get used to. First off, I would like to say that putting the “exit/close” button on the left side and not the right is just cruel and unusual punishment! I may never get used to that. In all seriousness though, I was pretty surprised at how “pretty” Ubuntu was aesthetically. For some reason I had an idea in my head that it would look like a more primitive version of windows with just a terminal and a few gooey applications. It looks pretty good though!

Now that I have Ubuntu installed and am ready to get started, I’m pretty excited to see what we are going to do with it! It’s also always great to add another tool to your toolbox!


Let’s get ready to program

So I’m taking three software classes and two hardware classes this semester. I’ll be learning Ubuntu in my Unix and Software Design classes, along with Python, C, and Qt in Unix, Micro, and Software Design respectively. I’m not worried about my hardware classes (Electronics and the lab that goes with it). I’m going to do my best to make sure I don’t get overwhelmed early in the semester and try to keep up with the assignments.

So far Ubuntu seems pretty easy to use. I grew up using DOS, so it’s not a huge jump from using dir and help to using ls and man. I’m actually looking forward to learning more about Unix and I’m considering eventually switching my desktop over. If I don’t get too bogged down by all the programing, this semester could be a lot of fun.

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Hello world!

Welcome to Blogs@VT Sites. This is your first post.

Well, there you have it everyone! This is my first post. Currently going to be up pretty late getting things set up and what not, not just for this class but others. Should be a busy but interesting and exciting semester. Music, learning, and coding all are fun and fun is how I will survive the semester and ultimately graduate in May; no ifs, ands, buts, maybes, or anything of the sorts because another semester is just not happening!

Currently, thinking back to having taken ECE3574 before having taken this class, I do feel that 3574 would have been easier had I taken this class first. Seeing that we will be learning things like make and building code in the Unix environment, knowing such a thing before having taken ECE3574 would have saved me a fair amount of confusion; yes, now that I know about these things from real world work experiences I had after ECE3574, such a thing seems rather simple and silly to be confused about but that goes for everything once you have a strong grasp of it. However, having something as basic as that be a point of confusion when deadlines were (and still are for many of my classes) tight and concepts are new, it really was an unnecessary and sometimes harmful roadblock to hit. Of course, since I am going to be graduating in May, I obviously managed to survive the class, but I think this class is certainly something that should be taken before ECE3574 if at the least at the same time because when I took the class, it was assumed one knew how to do something like ‘make’, build, and compile programs in the *nix environment. All in all, trying to master the stuff we are learning in our classes is hard enough as it is when we are on the same level as all our peers. Adding an extra roadblock, especially one that could have been, in a sense, avoided is something that should be avoided as much as possible for the sake of one’s grade, but more importantly, one’s sanity. :)

And to go off on just one more tangent before getting to some other class work, I had just recently moved most, if not all, my music collection off my computer’s hard drive during break to free up space. I have no idea how I manage to get so much music, videos, TV shows, apps, etc. on my computer, but I do so anyways, after doing that, that goal was accomplished and it came just in time because now I will be able to partition the hard drive to install some form of GNU/Linux on my MacBook Pro which I have not decided upon just yet. I’ve had Virtual Machines of Linux before for various reasons (VirtualBox, Parallels, VMWare Fusion), but I’ve found that it just doesn’t feel quite “real” enough for me to try and use it a bit more than my Mac OS. Granted, I have a lot of nice things I need on my Mac OS but if I want to try and use GNU/Linux more singularly as opposed to being able to just switch back an forth and lose the experience of using just GNU/Linux, then partitioning is the way to go for me which is why I am really glad things are working out the way they are right now. VMs may work just fine for other people to get the singular GNU/Linux experience, and it’s not like using the VMs wasn’t a great solution for me in the past, but this time, I’m trying to really commit to using just GNU/Linux to get stronger with it.

Well. until next time everyone, stay awesome.

Mattie, out.

Current Tune (Song by Artist): “The Worst of Them” by Issues
Current Preferred Language: C
Current Fun: Drinking ALL THE COFFEES with my Keurig! :D


What Makes Good Software Good?

The first day of class (ECE2524: Introduction to Unix for Engineers) I asked participents the  open ended question “What makes good software good?” and asked them to answer both “for the developer” and “for the consumer”.

I generated a list of words and phrases for each sub-response and then normalized it based on my own intuition (e.g. I changed “simplicity” to “simple”, “easy to use” to “intuitive”, etc.). I then dumped the list into Wordle to generate these images:

Good Software for the Consumer

Good Software for the Consumer

Good Software for the Developer

Good Software for the Developer

For a future in-class exercise I plan to ask participants to link the common themes that appear in these word clouds back to specific rules mentioned in the reading.

Blogging for UNIX!

I need a blog to replace my posterous (given their seemingly imminent demise), and in particular I’d like to write about Unix for a class I’m taking, in which blogging is an optional assignment. All posts on this new blog with the tag ‘ece2524’ will pertain to my experience with this class. The laptop I’ll be using is currently on its way to IBM for repairs, so in this post I’ll just outline my experience with Unix-like operating systems.

I first installed Linux in freshman year of high school (2006) at the urging of Clark Gaylord, father of my co-boyscout and friend Carter, when I took over the troop’s newly-created webmastership. I used SUSE9, because he happened to have a book and liveDVD to lend me. None of the laptop’s networking hardware, USB mass storage, windows partitions, or optical drives were recognized. Needless to say, I gave up pretty quickly and Clark showed me how to use PuTTY and WinSCP to connect to the server instead.

During this time I was an avid reader of the site LifeHacker, which was enamored of the up-and-coming Ubuntu Linux distribution. This distribution’s goal was to make desktop linux as easy as other operating systems. On booting the liveCD, everything seemed to work! I was soon spending most of my time playing in the linux side of my dual-boot setup.

By the summer I was very comfortable using Linux as a desktop operating system, and I got a job as a help desk technician and IT drudge at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, where Clark was the CTO. This job involved a lot of waiting for progress bars—time that I used (encouraged, of course, by my boss’s boss) to learn about linux culture and programming, and gain comfort with the command line. By the next summer I knew enough to be hired back at VTTI, this time as a junior system administrator.

Since those two summers I’ve used Unixen for nearly everything. I’ve used Ubuntu, CentOS, Fedora, Debian, and Arch Linuces; Free, Open, and NetBSDs; and, of course, OS X. I’m no longer comfortable on a system without a bash or zsh prompt.

In summary: Linux has been a major part of my adolescence, and will probably continue to be a major part of my adulthood.

Hello ECE2524!

This is just my first post to get the blogging assignment started for Intro to Unix. I had a Ubuntu 12.04 installation setup already before this class so I was able to mess around and customize the user interface prior to the start of the semester. I found the GNOME 3 environment to be a lot nicer and simpler than the Unity one so I had that setup. I also have used github for several other projects so I have familiarized myself with git and have that already setup on my computer.

Apart from this class, I am also enrolled in the Applied Software Engineering class which will also be using the Linux environment. I installed the Qt library and IDE for that class so hopefully I will get a good grasp of that library with both of these classes.

I will try to post on this blog approximately every week updating on my Unix progress and my thoughts on Unix.

Intro to Unix Blog #1 – 8/28/12

Just started Intro to Unix. I have been looking into the file system structure and trying to get use to it since I am used to Windows. I am going to be running Ubuntu on VMWare on my laptop. I enjoy programming in C++ and I am not to proficient in Unix Shells. I wish I have worked with Mac’s more because I know that the iOs is based off of the Unix kernel.

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Hello world!

Welcome to

This is your first post, produced automatically by You should edit or delete it, and then start blogging!

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