So I’ve spent the last week in Dallas teaching a Linux system admin course. Part of my job while I’m here is to give an exam on the last day of the course. This requires me to print a few pages for the candidates regarding the exam. Well, I forgot to do it while I was at the office so I when I got back to the hotel I figured I’d do it there. That is where I was confronted again with the Windows XP machine…
I knew I’d most likely be printing this from a Windows machine so I had put the .pdf files on a small USB drive fomatted to msdos filesystem. I figure I could just plug it in to the XP machine, click print and go. Well… I guess I’m so used to Ubuntu that I’m giving Windows XP too much credit. Here’s how it really went down.
I connect the USB drive and it takes a full minute for it to recognize, load and let me access the drive. Connecting the same drive to an Ubuntu machine is under five seconds. Note that Ubuntu even quickly recognizes the drive despite it not being a native Linux filesystem type.
I navigate my way to the file browser and find the removable disk. I notice that it isn’t recognizing the .pdf file, but instead is suggesting I open it with Internet Exploder. Ok, let’s try “open with”… no, Adobe pdf viewer (or anything compatible) is not found. I guess I’ll try to go download Adobe Reader. A 22M self-expanding .exe download later (for a simple .pdf viewer? Are you kidding me!) I try to install it. Nope, can’t do that either because I’m not admin on the machine. Ok, this is going to get interesting.
So, I find one of the hotel employees and ask them if they could help me install Adobe. They look at me like I’m a moron and honestly told me to “just open it with Microsoft Word”. Uhh.. ok, nevermind. They also said that the printer “only works sometimes” and that I might want to “go to the library to print things instead”.
Finally I simply asked if I could just connect the printer to my laptop and print from there. They didn’t care. Yeah, these hotel employees are top-notch! 🙂
Let’s retry this the “right” way.
I connect the USB device to my laptop. Detected, mounted and opened for viewing in under five seconds. I double click the icon and its opened in Evince. Ok, that was much less work to get the document ready. Now let’s try the printer.
I connect the printer via USB and wait a minute. Perhaps thirty seconds later the printer is detected, installed and configured. The desktop tells me “Printer X is now configured and ready to use”. Cool. system-config-printer should be renamed to zero-config-printer because that is how much work it took to set it up!
I then click print in Evince and out comes the document. Done. You know, people still insist on telling me that they don’t want to run Linux because its harder, or that Windows XP just works for what they want to do. Are you kidding me? Just this evening it took me twice as much work to *try* and print something, which never worked. Ubuntu “just worked”… go figure.