I was faced with a tricky problem. In a little over a week, I'm going to Brazil (mostly staying in a place a very long way from the nearest city or town) for three weeks. I think that it's extremely unlikely that I'll have any way of connecting my own computer to the internet for most of that time (though I may find the odd cybercafe somewhere), but I still wanted to have a computer with me. I need to take notes, analyse results, read papers and so on, all of which would be much easier with a laptop than without.
Then Mr. Bsag had a brainwave; why not set up my ancient and otherwise unused PC laptop (aka 'Ugly Laptop') and take that out? It's also insured, and I wouldn't be too heartbroken or inconvenienced if it got broken or stolen, nor would I spend my time fretting about it getting scratched. The boy's a genius.
So I've been spending some time getting it all set up. I had been playing with Slax on it, but I wanted to do a proper installation of Linux before travelling. I mentioned before that I'd tried Ubuntu but found video problems during the installation. When the latest version of Ubuntu came out, I tried that and got the same behaviour again. In a moment of inspiration, I tried hitting they keyboard combination to switch between the output for an external monitor and the LCD, and after a cycle, found that the image miraculously refreshed itself properly. So Ubuntu 'Hoary Hedgehog' seemed like a good choice for a permanent installation.
The real joy of running a Unix-based system (any Unix-based system) is that a lot of the tools are interchangeable, particularly if you use portable files like plain text, HTML or PDF. I plan to get everything back on to my Mac via my USB key or over the network when I get back.