Installing Ubuntu on a HP Pavilion laptop

So I decided to install Ubuntu on my daughter’s new laptop, more specifically a HP Pavilion. The choice of this particular laptop was because it looked nice, and had good specs for the money. It was first after the purchase I read all the complaints people have about the weird UEFI implementation on HP laptops. So I started the install process with some worries.

Reading on various forums, people seemed to have been doing all sorts of strange things to be able to install Ubuntu on HP laptops, including modifying the UEFI setup, changing the BIOS, and so on. I recall that on my Lenovo laptop I had to work quite a bit to turn off all the fancy auto-Windows-stuff.

I am not sure if HP has changed something recently or not, but the final procedure was super-easy: I just hit the F9 button on startup and got a normal “old-school” boot selector. Here I chose the USB drive, and the Ubuntu installer fired up.

I have installed Linux (primarily various Ubuntu versions) on a number of laptops over the years, and it is very seldom that I get into problems with drivers. Also this time things went smoothly, everything worked perfectly right after the install. I think it is important to continue repeating this message, because I still hear people saying that it is tricky to get Ubuntu to play with different hardware. True, there used to be driver issues some years ago, but personally I haven’t experienced that in five years or so.

Which Linux version to choose for a 9-year old?

My 9-year old daughter is getting her first laptop. But which OS should she get started with?

I have been using various versions of Ubuntu as my main OS for around 5 years now, currently using Ubuntu Studio on my main laptop. This distro is based on XFCE, a very lightweight yet versatile OS. The reason for choosing Ubuntu Studio over the regular XUbuntu was to get a bunch of music apps by default. I haven’t been able to explore these as much as I wanted to, unfortunately, primarily due to everything happening at our new centre (RITMO) and master’s programme (MCT).

Even though I like Ubuntu Studio myself, it is not a distro I would install on my daughter’s machine. Buying a new computer with Windows 10 pre-installed, one could argue that it would be best to leave her with that. This may also help her to be more familiar with the computers they are using at school, which run Windows 7 at the moment. But the question in the store about whether I wanted to buy some antivirus-software with the new laptop, was enough to ensure me that a Linux distro would be a better choice.

I have heard that some people like distros such as Edubuntu for kids, but it does not seem to be maintained? After thinking about it for a little while, I have concluded that it is probably useful for a kid to learn to use a normal OS. If you compare how things were a decade or two ago, most modern-day OSes are comparably easy to use anyways.

Finally I decided to make it simple, and installed the regular Ubuntu distro based on GNOME. It looks “modern”, has large icons, and is fairly easy to navigate due to the streamlining of menus, and so on.

New Laptop Orchestra Piece: Click-It

Yesterday I was teaching a workshop on laptop orchestra performance for the students in Live electronics at the Norwegian Academy of Music. I usually start such workshops by playing the piece Clix by Ge Wang (see e.g. here for a performance of it). It is a fun piece to play, and it is nice to show the students something else than Max patches.

Unfortunately, while setting up for the workshop I had problems getting Chuck to work on my new laptop. I haven’t had time to figure out what the problem actually is, but I think it may be an issue with OSX Lion. Anyways, since I was short on time I decided that the quickest solution was just to make something similar to Clix in Max. The result is Click-It, and the GUI looks like this:

Click it GUI

The inside of the patch is not very advanced either. It is mainly a click~ object controlled by a metro, with some amplitude adjustments and a little bit of delay and feedback.

Click it Insides

This may not be so interesting in itself, but the beauty of this thing comes with 10 or so computers playing it at the same time. Unfortunately, I didn’t make a video of the students performing it yesterday, so that will have to wait until next time it is played.

The patch is available from our fourMs web page. I had almost forgot that we have a repository for the Oslo Laptop Orchestra over at Google Code. That repository is severely out of date, though, and needs some cleaning up and updating at some point. The main reason for the sloppy maintenance is that the laptop orchestra has been kind of dormant over the last few years, since most of our energy has been put into Oslo iPhone Ensemble instead. That said, although the iPhone ensemble is a lot fun, laptop orchestras have some other qualities that I would like to get back to exploring more again at some point.