My friend Rhodri called me up the other day mentioning he was having a few problems “with that Linux thing…” and that he knew I might be able to help. He's not a geek in any sense of the word and I thought he was quite happy with Windows XP. I knew he was serious when he showed me the Ubuntu Edgy CD he'd downloaded and said that he'd joined the Ubuntu forums. First problem. His wireless card didn't work. I explained the firmware thing, and I think he understood. We installed the PC with one of my Linux friendly dongles and I let him play. We got the wireless firmware installed but could not connect to his network as there was no NetworkManager. So I used my n800 to download all the NetworkManager and libnl type debs to the internal memory and then installed them with dpkg. After about 15 minutes of me swearing at NetworkManager he also mentioned the access point was MAC filtered. Ahh. One problem down, we entered the new dongle MAC into the web interface and we tried again. It might have been nice for NetworkManager to tell me about the connection problem. Next problem. The network was also set to WPA-PSK, as comes default with SKY broadband (and they don't let you change it). NetworkManager didn't say “WPA-PSK not supported yet” but kept asking him for the WEP password and then silently failing the authentication. So we hit Google on my n800 (which did connect) and were prompted with a tutorial for Edgy which involved wpa_supplicant and lots of command line action. About 5 pages of the stuff. Most of the stuff he didn't even start to understand. I had to leave him to it as it was getting late, but I just thought how embarrassing it was for desktop Linux to be so close and yet so far.
Richard has over 10 years of experience developing open source software. He is the maintainer of GNOME Software, PackageKit, GNOME Packagekit, GNOME Power Manager, GNOME Color Manager, colord, and UPower and also contributes to many other projects and opensource standards. Richard has three main areas of interest on the free desktop, color management, package management, and power management. Richard graduated a few years ago from the University of Surrey with a Masters in Electronics Engineering. He now works for Red Hat in the desktop group, and also manages a company selling open source calibration equipment. Richard's outside interests include taking photos and eating good food. View all posts by hughsie