Has anyone tried the new Ubuntu Linux Desktop? Yes, instead of the usual Vista from Microsoft, the open source Linux? I did this week. In fact, I downloaded it out of a whim to see how what was this hoopla about Ubuntu. I am an old Unix/Linux fan and have had on occasions had Unix/Linux based machines as my desktop. So it was not my first try at this. But I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw.
I partitioned my Toshiba laptop hard drive and assigned a small empty space to play with this new operating system. I had previously downloaded a copy of Ubuntu 8.04 Desktop Live CD and used it to install the OS onto my machine. The first thing it gave me was an option to load the OS off the CD and try it out on my laptop without actually installing it. Which I did immediately to see how my laptop would work. To my surprise, and a rarity for me, was that it picked up all the drivers easily. I have had issues with Wifi or display drivers or something in the past with various laptops, but not this time. Everything worked like a charm off the CD and I could even surf the web or do other things.
The next obvious choice was to click on the INSTALL icon and let the installation commence. Once again, it was a smooth install. It recognized an empty space on my harddisk and installed Ubuntu in there with little or no input from me.
In less than an hour, I was actually logged into the Linux system and using the usual softwares to do my daily chores. For office, it comes bundled with Open Office. In fact, once you get used to Open Office, you will not notice which software you are using (Microsoft or Open Office). I had Firefox as my browser and Rythmbox Media player. I even downloaded, Google Picasa (Photo Sharing), Google Earth and Skype from the respective websites and they all worked like a charm on the system.
Even my USB flash drive was plug and play. And best of all, Ubuntu automatically mounted my Windows partitioned so I was able to access my files to work from Linux. Yes, all word, excel and powerpoint documents could be easily opened up from Open office and my music in itunes was quickly imported into Rythmbox to play.
And for those outlook fans, Ubuntu comes bundled with Evolution email client. Which in my opinion is as good (if not better) than Outlook.
Best of all, Linux processor and memory management is far superior to Vista as I was able to get better performance out of it. In fact, the Ubuntu persistently used 50% less memory for equivalent tasks as compared to Vista.
And oh, if you are seeking any particular software for your personal needs, then Ubuntu has that option available through its package download management application. One can easily download, MS Money or Quicken’s equivalent in Linux, or DVD/CD Player, burner and ripper software. There are literally thousands of office, games, communications, programming, educational and accessories softwares to choose from. And the best thing is that all of them are free like the OS.
So my verdict? I have decided to keep Ubuntu Linux as my default desktop. I will be using it to do my daily chores. There is still Vista on my system, but I am not likely to log into it in the foreseeable future.
In my personal opinion of using various Unix (Sun Solaris, HP-UX, NeXTStep) and Linux (Red Hat, Fedora, Ubuntu etc) based Operation Systems, I have come to this conclusion that Linux has now matured enough to compete with Microsoft’s Windows and hold its own. Yes, it is now stable enough with large enough application support that one does not need to worry about any problems or issues. It is virtually as good as anything coming out of Seattle.
In developing countries, like Pakistan, where it is quite difficult to purchase extremely expensive Microsoft products, this is a great alternative. It is cheap (free) and comes with all the goodies that one expects from the traditional operating system.
You can download your own copy of Ubuntu Linux and experience the difference from their website at http://www.ubuntu.com