Ubuntu: Miracles Are Happening

Today I was called out to help a young mother who got a Dell Mini 12 refurbished some months ago, which had come with Ubuntu on it. I was surprised again because there are contacts who are obviously geeky and who have participated in the community to some degree and then there are those out of the blue contacts who need help because they bought a computer directly from the OEM and now it needs someone to give it some attention.

This machine only had one problem, she couldn’t remember the password. The guides on-line that she had tried had told her to press [Esc] and load up the recovery mode. But Dell has stripped that option away, yay Dell. So I reinstalled the computer with 9.04 replacing the Dell crusted 8.04 install and making sure it had skype and all the other user facing goodies that people expect; obviously making sure to back up her 35MB of photos and documents. I backed up and installed from a single 4GB memory stick (800MiB for the installer, 3.3GiB for data) which I now carry around with me everywhere (Very useful device).

We made arrangements to meet at a coffee shop, not that it’s too much of a problem installing Ubuntu on battery power and I can certainly understand the need for public places when meeting some stranger. Fortunately the battery power at 45% on this machine lasted 2 hours, so the whole install and medibuntu + restricted extras completed on battery even with the coffee shop’s 60MiB/s wifi connection.

I do love helping people who have come to Ubuntu, although this refurbished machine was kinda odd since I didn’t think Dell shipped Mini12s with Ubuntu and it did have a ‘Designed for Windows XP’ sticker (but no license sticker). But everything seemed to work out ok, she’ll get in touch if there are problems. We finished up and she headed out.

As I was getting up, someone on the next table raised her voice and asked if I knew anything about Ubuntu. Now i think I’ve entered the twilight zone where everyone in the coffee shop appears to be using Macs but are actually Ubuntu users. Anyway, turns out her computer has a duel boot with Ubuntu 7.04 and windows xp, she wanted to know if I could remove Windows and upgrade Ubuntu. I gave her details of my private support and of the Ubuntu Massachusetts LoCo Tuesday Education and Support sessions that we run for free and hopefully she’ll be in touch to sort out her machine too.

As an aside to my utter surprise at coming across two Ubuntu users at random. I am starting to note a pattern, of the 5 chance encounters that have needed Ubuntu support in the last year: all have all been women. Now either it’s because women are more willing to try something new when offered by Dell, are less invested in Microsoft’s desktop familiarity, are more willing to go out and find help (and thus find me or the LoCo group) or some unforeseen force, but I’m very happy to see the 50% of people who have been typically excluded from technical areas coming to Ubuntu naturally.

Anyone else found Ubuntu users randomly because you were helping someone else with their Ubuntu machine in a coffee shop? Because I think there is progress in the air.