Thursday, July 20, 2006

Ubuntu - the OS I look forward to using


So it's an older story now, but I wanted to add my own 2c worth on Ubuntu Dapper, and using it on a day to day basis. See Slashdot | Nerds Switching from Apple to Ubuntu? for some context to this.

Anyway, I have been using Linux for about 7-8 years I had Redhat 5 point something as the first one I installed, and then quickly discovered Mandrake which became my favorite for a long time as being the linux distro that just worked better than the others.

All that changed with Breezy Badger (Ubuntu 5.10), I had messed with the Hedgehog (5.04) but it still wasn't up to Mandriva (as it had been renamed at that point) for just having stuff work - particularly installed on my slick AMD 64 box at home - 32 bit apps worked better on Mandriva than on Hedgehog.

With Breezy, the tables turned - Breezy was easier out of the box, and smaller and quicker to install too, plus I discovered that the community was a lot more active - the wiki and forums are a great place to get questions answered and find out how to make that little tweak that makes everything better.

So, now I am running Dapper Drake (6.06) on both my home AMD 64 machine and my laptop, and I couldn't be happier. I also am a Mac OS X fan (anything but windows really), and the Mac has a certain "feel" about it - it's pleasant and appealing to use, it makes you look forward to sitting down and getting some stuff done with it.

With dapper, I find the same feeling is present - I look forward to just getting stuff done. There are some rough edges comparatively, for example, sound still needs some work, and installing compiz was tricky (it is early days and not really part of the distro yet though, so that is expected to some extent).

I can see why geeks are giving ubuntu a go - it has that same "excitement" about using it that the Mac does. It isn't stressful and irritating, it is instead fun and pleasant. It got a lot better over the weekend when I installed Compiz and AIGLX - now Ubuntu has eye-candy that beats even the Mac - some of the most wonderful transitions and effects imaginable, and improves the user experience even further. Deskbar and beagle also give equivalent functionality to Spotlight on the mac as well - pushing the usability up several more notches.

I can't wait to see what the future holds for Ubuntu - development is happening at a breakneck pace. There are still some things I would like to see - the Mac experience is more than just the operating system - take a look at Omnigraffle and Keynote to see what I mean - what I would give to be able to buy (yes pay money) for those on Ubuntu. Sure, Kivio and OpenOffice.org impress will do the job, but they are just not in the same league from the user experience perspective.

Still - I am happy with Ubuntu as my day to day vehicle. I don't need anything that I don't have to hand, and it's fast and reliable and runs on my existing hardware so I don't have to go out and buy something new.

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