Finally I got some time away from my work and I decided to explore something new. I decided to install Ubuntu. I am familiar with Windows and the Mac but I haven’t really touched Ubuntu. So I shrink my Windows Vista partition by 60 GB and throw in Ubuntu to dual-boot.
Ubuntu is a Linux-based operating system, it is free and open-sourced. I downloaded the CD image, burned it and restarted my computer. I was greeted with an Ubuntu startup screen which is really good so far.
I should add that prior to the installation, I did not read much documents except for one that tells me that it’s possible to dual boot Windows Vista and Ubuntu. So this Ubuntu thingy is totally fresh for me.
It didn’t take long to go into the Ubuntu screen, I am plesantly surprised that you can immediately start to use Ubuntu without installing it into your harddisk, it’s something really cool although that really isn’t what I want. I continued through the installations, selecting the partitions and formating it. It requires a bit of experience, make sure you don’t format your Windows partition or you’ll go crying for several days.
The installation is straightforward. Upon restarting, the Ubuntu screen prompted me to eject the CD too, that’s quite thoughtful. Once I loaded the Ubuntu screen, I eagarly explored everything I can click. I installed all the updates, download more programs and installed more updates.
Ubuntu manages to install the right drivers for every device I have. I thought my Microsoft keyboard volume buttons wouldn’t work but it did! The only button that didn’t work is the Windows button.
What I like about Ubuntu:
- I love the automatic updates feature. It’s quick and easy to use and updates all your software at once. The downside to it is that Ubuntu don’t always have the latest program files in their repository unfortunately. But it’s much better than Windows Update that doesn’t update a whole lot of other non-Microsoft applications. That’s how auto-updates should be.
- Ubuntu felt faster and has a decent interface. It’s definately better than Solaris but not as good as the Windows and Mac interface in my opinion.
- Ubuntu did right which sorting the applications menu in Internet, Programming and Games and blah blah. Windows tend to use the software publisher’s name which is nonsense. I can’t remember who publish what sometimes. That is why in Windows Vista, there is this little search thing to help you. But seriously Windows should just throw away the idea of installing based on application publishers.
- I really like that Ubuntu buddle OpenOffice, Firefox and a bunch of other cool tools. You can go to Add/Remove Applications to should what you want. It can be sorted by priority and there is this rating that you can follow. I installed almost all the 5-star programs to try. I mean it’s 5 stars, it should be pretty good.
What I don’t like about Ubuntu:
- There ought to be a much easier way of installing themes, learn a thing or two from Mozilla Firefox. Installing themes is just too user-unfriendly in Ubuntu.
- It’s not easy to install programs that you download from somewhere other than the Ubuntu repository. I am all for the idea of setup wizards actually. It’s easy to use and quite customizable.
- Somehow… I could get my display driver to use 1440 x 900 pixel desktop. I have to use 1280 x 800 instead which kinda upsets me for the past hour.
- And the fonts aren’t as pretty as the ones found in Windows or Mac. There isn’t much to choose from too. I would prefer a more familiar-looking font to ease my transition towards Ubuntu.
- I really missed things like iTunes, Windows Live Messenger, Photoshop and Microsoft Office 2007. My friend is telling me that I can use Wine to get those back but it’s okay I guess. I intend to use Ubuntu for development and testing. [GIMP is not Photoshop, stop promoting it as a Photoshop alternative. It's so insulting for Photoshop.]
After my two-hour try out, I think Ubuntu is good. Not great, just good. There are a couple of times when you’ll really need command prompt to proceed, that’s not really the human way that Ubuntu keep advertising. Eventually I would love to see Ubuntu installers being made, easier installation of themes and my favorite 1440 x 900 screen resolution.
If you have Windows and you’re feeling adverturous, do give Ubuntu a try, you may just be pleasantly surprised. But don’t be all ready to throw away your Windows, Windows still win in many areas, in particularly embracing the human way of installing and uninstalling programs.
The fact that Ubuntu is free must not be used as an excuse why it can’t be better than Windows or Mac. If so, Ubuntu’s no-cost deal would backfire and discourage innovation and competition. Ubuntu must challenge the paid operating systems to become better. Perhaps another 10 years, Ubuntu would be the standard operating system. Perhaps… Many perhaps.