Sunday, August 2, 2009

Three Successes, Two Failures with Jaunty

After reading about the browser Arora and being of the mind that one can't have too many browsers, I decided to try it out on my Jaunty ThinkPad. I found it easily enough via Add/Remove Applications, but was disappointed that the version in the repository was 0.5 and the web site offered 0.8, which is presumably 60% better than the older version. After doing some research I downloaded the source code, but although it unpacked into a large number of files and folders that looked like they would turn into a browser, I wasn't able to figure out how to get it to run.

I was more successful (eventually) with Adobe Reader and Foxit Reader. I have a .pdf that looks perfectly fine in Preview and Adobe Reader in Mac OS X, but in the default .pdf reader, Evince Document Viewer, it's converted to a hideous sans serif font with striking kerning errors. I decided to check other options, and even though I'm not fond of the time it takes Adobe Reader to start on OS X I decided to download it. It's available as a .bin file and although my first attempts to turn it into an application failed, finally following the instructions here, including the use of chmod 700, I succeeded with the minor quirk that it took me a while to figure out what to do to get it to run (double-click on acroread in Adobe Reader->Adobe->Reader9->bin; who would have suspected?). As I'd hoped, it looked fine.

Lifehacker just had an article on the best .pdf readers and that reminded me that Foxit is available for Linux. I downloaded that and successfully installed it and it renders the file as well as Adobe Reader, which is particularly nice in light of the exploits for Adobe programs that seem to crop up on a regular basis.

Although I wouldn't want to look at ugly output on a screen, my plan to was to print two pages of this .pdf and since I hadn't tried printing from the ThinkPad before I didn't know what to expect. I connected it to an old Epson Stylus Color 740 inkjet printer, hit the Print command, and ... nothing. Not entirely unexpected, but a mild disappointment. After a brief false lead in System->Preferences->Default Printer, I found System->Administration->Printing: pretty straightforward. Adding that printer was also straightforward; it asked if I wanted it to look for a driver, and after I approved and it found and downloaded it I printed a test page and then my two pages without a hitch. My even more ancient laser printer (an Apple LaserWriter 12/640PS) was seen by the computer but I unfortunately wasn't able to get it to work despite several attempts both using Add Printer and localhost:631; I kept getting a "bad device-uri" error even though it appeared that there was a driver for it.

So, installing Adobe Reader and Foxit and printing with the Epson inkjet worked with little difficulty, but running Arora and printing to the LaserWriter didn't. Sixty percent success in this recent batch of experiments isn't bad, I suppose, but I do with it all Just Worked. I'm reading Keir Thomas' Ubuntu Pocket Guide and Reference and I have some hope that with its help I'll eventually be able to figure out more useful things than how to switch screensavers.