Playing with Ubuntu

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.

8 thoughts to “Playing with Ubuntu”

  1. I’m considering making some form of computer to run a district of Linux on. The only real experience I have with Linux is the Knoppix live CD.

    As much as I bitch about Windows, and Microsoft in general, you kind-of have to stick with it simply because of the vast majority and compatibility.

    However, there’s nothing wrong with trying something new somewhere else, so I think I’ll have a look into it.

  2. You know Rob has also been messing about with other OSs over Christmas – he has been using Xandros – that contains something called Cross Over (I think) which is a better version of WINE – anyway everyting runs within it so Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Office.

    Everything. It is very cool.

  3. That almost begins to take the point away from running Linux, though ;)

  4. I know what you are saying… there is a wierd logic there. There is some lovely windows software, the thing is you pay a lot for windows itself and its bottomless pit of security risks.

    I like XP a great deal – I use it every day and have a legit copy of XP Pro, but more and more on gets the feeling that customer (i.e. me) has become the enemy.

    There is also the nagging feeling that one day I will wake up and find that my digital self has suddenly been held to ransom while I wasn’t looking.

  5. Well, the only reason I feel most people use XP is because of huge it got compared to everyting else.

    Because, face it, if Linux had the marketing that Microsoft had then Linux probably wouldn’t be a free operating system, to begin with. Infact, parts of it cost money anyway.

    Also, because of the huge demand for Windows, there’s this huge demand for ‘technology-friendly’ software. You know, the software like Office (Access for example) which should work, because they’ve made it so fucking easy, but it doesn’t do the most logical, common things you want it to do.

    I think because of the general stupidity of the average PC user, and the demand for a PC in every home, Microsoft have developed into this generally odd software manufacture that seems to get a lot of things wrong, probably because of how simple people want things.

    I think XP is a pretty great operating system, as Windows OSs go. It has a few things wrong with it which really get to me, but on the whole it’s pretty good.

    If Linux were to take one of their districts of Linux and develop it to contain some of that user-friendly love that Microsoft code into their software, then it would, at the end of the day, just be Windows with a different name.

    I was thinking the other day, what is the world of Microsoft going to be like when Bill Gates comes to an end and he has to pass the company down to his son, or something? The world of cimputeristed technology could really change. To be honest, I’m looking forwards to it.

    I don’t have a legit copy of Windows, though. I built my PC, and at the time of doing so XP wasn’t cheap, and was easy to pirate. Now it’s the other way ’round, I’m building a new PC and probably going to be getting myself a copy of Vista.

  6. I think that there are a number of reasons why Linux isn’t that widely adopted:

    1. I don’t think that historically it has been that easy to use – i.e. a need to use the shell rather than a universal GUI
    2. There appears to be an aloofness in the Community where people can be quite off putting and even unhelpful. (That is a perception, something I hear often not a personal experience.)
    3. A lot of the desktop software just isn’t as good, or again, as user-friendly. (note server market share vs desktop share) Also take something like GIMP – seriously powerfull software, but I never used it because it was just to F***ing ugly – I you sit infront of a machine all day you need it to look good becuase beautiful things are easier to use.

    Look at osX – built on BSD – they have married a powerfull secure environment to something that looks gorgeous – hence Apple are doing really well. What is great about the new projects like Ubuntu is that they provide a good looking environment, a consistent experience and support.

    BTW I’ve put the wireless card back in my decent laptop and am trying to use another one and having a bitch of a time.

  7. Well

    1 – Yes. Linux has always been an overwhelming operating system. But in a way that’s good, because if you can bring yourself together to use it, then you’ll be working as part of a community of intelligent people. Less idiots is good.

    I haven’t found many people to be all that unhelpful. I mean, with however many billion people are in this world, you’re going to find your arsehole in every community. I think people just take the wrong approach because of stereotype, and get the response because of it.

    Beautiful software indeed. Although I’m, not a fan of OSX, you can’t deny that it’s good looking. Eye-catching software is definitely what you need. Especially if computing is something you do for career and leisure. This is why I spent stupid amounts of time fiddling with my desktop, just to get it to look nice. Even though less than 5% of my time is spent actually looking at the desktop.

    What’s with that?

    Don’t get me started on networking. I’ve had so much shit with it recently.

    Sofware firewall? Hardware firewall? Router access list? Router security code? Windows firewall? Microsoft wireless enabled in services? The list goes on.

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