Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Once more onto the penguin, dear fellows

I've been playing with Ubuntu Linux a little bit of late. I've grown tired of the slow bloat factor my Windows install has acquired of late, and decided that a few pennies for a blank CD-R beats the hell outta a few hundred for a new computer. Some observations:

  • The install was very nearly a breeze--the only hitch was it choked on trying to resize the NTFS partition on my drive. It wound up not being a problem as I just clobbered an old Linux partition instead. Other than that, though, it was not only the easier Linux install I've ever done, it was considerably easier than any Windows install ever. Just pick a timezone, language and keyboard, and all your hardware should be detected and set up automagically.

  • I did need to futz around a bit with xorg.conf to get my Wacom tablet working properly. Hopefully this'll work a little better in the next release.

  • EasyUbuntu was a godsend as far as installing and configuring software that, for legal reasons, couldn't be included with the basic live-CD. Flash, video players and codecs, that kind of thing. Still haven't got embedded video of the non-flash variety working in Firefox, but YouTube works, and that's 90% of what I care about these days, web video-wise.

  • General ease of use: Ubuntu ships with the Gnome desktop, which I've never really played with before, but it works pretty much like you'd think it should. About the only major adjustment I've had to deal with is having an application menu on top of the screen instead of a "Start" menu at the bottom. The live-CD contains one app for everything, rather than a lot of Linux distros that ship with 5 different web browsers, 8 mp3 players, 22 terminal emulators and 166 versions of Solitaire. This must add a whole lot of clarity to a Linux newbie's experience, and for power users any other apps you need are a few clicks away in the Synaptic package manager. Win/win.

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