First Impressions: Ubuntu Linux

When I first heard about Ubuntu and was told about its features—safe from viruses, open-source, and easily accessible, community-provided support, among others—my interest in it was quickly piqued. I rushed to the neighborhood computer store and bought myself a CD-RW so I could begin burning the ISO onto the CD and then install Ubuntu’s latest release, 8.04.

Unfortunately, Ubuntu wouldn’t boot from the CD, so I decided to request a free CD from the Ubuntu website. I requested for one about a month ago and the CD arrived yesterday, about two weeks earlier than expected. Needless to say, I put Ubuntu through its paces immediately and here are my first impressions.

Quick installation

The first thing you notice is that Ubuntu installs painlessly and quickly. All I had to do is answer a few questions (i.e. Where was my location, what keyboard layout did I use, as well as username and password, etc.) and that was it—Ubuntu did the rest for me. After the installation completed, I was ready to go. (Except for a WiFi problem which I soon fixed.)

Open-source galore

We all know that Ubuntu is a community-maintained, commercially-funded, open-source OS. When you take a peek inside the Applications menu, you will find out that many of the included programs are open-source and all of them are free to download. You’ve got Mozilla Firefox, the Pidgin IM Client, OpenOffice.org office suite, and GIMP Image Editor. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is why Ubuntu is free.

Where are all the icons?

This is what the desktop looks like, after I’ve inserted a CD and plugged in my iPod:

Ubuntu desktop--spanking clean!

As opposed to the quintessential Windows desktop which is often littered with useless icons and crapware even on the first boot.

Two desktops!

You essentially have two desktops on Ubuntu (see the squares on the bottom right of the screenshot above?). I find this very useful. For example, if I’m finishing up some homework on OpenOffice’s Word Processor while chatting with a friend, I can simply put Pidgin (desktop IM client) in one desktop and OpenOffice in another desktop so the screen won’t look so cluttered. I can just switch between workspaces as the need arises.

Peeves

How can I install my drivers?

My laptop’s manufacturer, Acer, only provides drivers for Windows XP and Vista (IDK why). This means that my devices will probably behave erratically in Ubuntu, although at the moment they seem to work fine. I have contacted Acer for help, but I’m still waiting for a reply.

No iTunes for Ubuntu

And that’s bad news for me, since I’m in love with my iPod nano. There are viable alternatives—the Rhythmbox Music Player included with Ubuntu recognizes my iPod and displays my music—but for my podcast subscriptions and iTunes store, I have no other choice but to reboot into Windows and open iTunes from there.

How do I install programs?

Being used to Windows, I’m still getting used to the odd way Ubuntu lets you install programs. I really don’t know (yet) exactly how it works, so I’ll be hitting the forums (and Ubuntu IRC channel) for help when I need it.

What’s up with the different fonts?

Mozilla Firefox in Ubuntu displays text in webpages differently from Firefox in Windows. You’ll be shocked at first, but as time passes by, you’ll get used to it. However, if you want a homy Windows feeling in Firefox Ubuntu, you can check out this article from Paul Stamatiou.

Should I consider Ubuntu?

Definitely! Ubuntu

  • is not susceptible to virus attacks
  • has free support, offered by the community (as opposed to Windows where you actually have to buy support :-O)
  • intuitive
  • open-source
  • just fun to work with!

However, you have to have the patience for Ubuntu. It’s not as high-tech as Windows, and its UI is less fancy-shmancy and more functionality. Some programs you may consider vital to your computing life probably aren’t available in Linux (which is why I decided not to remove Vista and instead just dual-boot; Sims 2 won’t install in Linux either). But all in all, I didn’t regret installing Ubuntu. Chances are, you wouldn’t either. 🙂

Head down to http://www.ubuntu.com and get yourself a copy!

Do you use Ubuntu? Are you planning to use Ubuntu? Do you have any questions? Shoot in the comments section! 🙂

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