As a geeky little Christmas project I thought I’d stick Ubuntu on an old laptop that was lying about. I really had no idea what to expect but actually I was very pleasantly surprised.
To put this into perspective I use Linux every day – our webservers and development servers run Fedora, but my usage is very limited – I can navigate the file system, move and archive files and create symbolic links. Most of the time I just access it through an application like Webmin.
The laptop was an old Advent 7002 1.8GHz with 512MB of RAM. I stuck the Ubuntu CD and booted up the machine as a live CD. Everything looked good and I ran through the setup, choosing the partitions and then installing Ubuntu. I went of for lunch and when I came back I had Ubuntu was set up.
Last Christmas I got a new hard drive for my other laptop – the one I use every day – by the time I had reinstalled XP pro, my applications and transferred my data over, days had quite literally gone past. The Ubuntu setup was fast, intuitive and utterly painless in comparison. What is interesting about my experience is that it is the exact opposite of what we are lead to believe will happen. My general feeling about Advent laptops is that you get a lot of performance for your money, the flip side is that you get the feeling that the components are basically any old crap that was lying around the factory, put it this way I don’t think people would buy Advent if they could afford not to. (I have had a couple of Advent laptops and had really good experiences). Ubuntu recognised everything straight off.
I’ve never used Ubuntu before but I found the menus easy to use and intuitive. the GUI is crisp and responsive and I felt at home immediately.
The only issue I have had so far was getting a USB wireless card to work, but I looked in the help and got that fixed smartish. So far it has been an amazingly positive experience. I’m not ready to dump XP pro (mostly because of the software I use), but somehow I doubt that when I upgrade I’ll buy Vista.