Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Unbuntu update, a year later

I'm finally coming back to this blog, and thought an update to the previous post would be worthwhile. Interestingly enough, not much has changed. Ubuntu remains a very stable environment and an awesome (in my opinion) alternative to more mainstream operating systems. Having said that, it's not for everyone (nor is Windows, or MacOS, or Solaris, or...) and it's not for every kind of computing task (again, no other OS is a one-size-fits-all deal either).

What works fine

  • Web browsing (although FireFox 3 crashes from time to time, but that's not ubuntu's fault).

  • Email (I prefer Thunderbird with the Lighting Calendar add-in, but Evolution or some other reader is probably just as good.

  • document creation and management (OpenOffice 3.0 should suite most people's needs just fine)

  • Web page design and creation (Bluefish is OK. I flip between that an Screem. I would still love a Linux-compliant version of HTML-Kit).

  • Graphics creation/editing - Gimp is as much photoshop as some people will ever need, and more than most will want.

  • CD/DVD burning - with the exception of copying movie DVD's (see below), K3b (or whatever other tool you want is Just Fine.

What works really well

Overall, things Just Work Faster in Linux. Memory is used better. Applications that shut down really shut down. There is less of a need for reboots.

For programming, the nice part about Linux is that you can run a local web, database, or whatever server and do your development. Yes, this can be done in Windows but it's not always so simple. More of "those" kinds of tools are native to Linux than they are for Windows. And since a lot of the development I do is for the web environment anyway, it more closely matches what I'm going to upload to the real server later.

What doesn't work so well

  1. Burning movie DVD's.

  2. some older equipment (like my Visioneer 7100)

  3. wireless (I don't run Ubuntu on a laptop, but I've heard that some wirless card chipsets are less-than-fun to set up)

How you get around it

In a nutshell, VirtualBox (http://www.virtualbox.org/). Free, easy to install, wonderfully stable use of memory, fast switching in and out. I can't say enough good things about it.


In the end, you certainly could run virtualbox on a windows machine and host your Linux environment, and do everything I'm talking about in reverse. And that would be Just Fine For You™. But in my experience, and for what I do on my computer, Linux (and Ubuntu) just gets better and better every day.

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