Being the software junkie that I am, I pulled down the lastest version of Ubuntu a couple weeks ago (ok… it was the the day it was released – see? I’m a junkie.)
I’ve always wanted to like Linux and OSes in general always fascinate me. I think the first Linux I ever tried was Red Hat 5 probably ten years ago. I was really excited because I could use a window manager very similar to the old NeXTSTEP operating system.
I got it installed and learned real fast that only a few programs really looked like NeXTSTEP. In fact, almost all of the useful ones looked nothing like it and in general it looked like a hodgepodge of poorly designed apps.
My how times have changed…
I installed Ubuntu 8.04 (64 bit!!) on my 3 yr old Compaq R3000 laptop replacing a Windows XP install that was constantly blue-screening. (In fact, I suspected it was a hardware problem). I was hopeful, but thought it probably wouldn’t work.
Ha – I was wrong!
Ubuntu installed perfectly and has been running like a champ for a couple weeks now. It detected almost everything. The only two things it didn’t detect (actually it did detect them, but didn’t activate them) were my video card and my wireless network card.
This was easily fixed by enabling the drivers in the “Restricted Driver Manager” and installing the non-open source drivers. Once this was done I was rockin’.
Ubuntu looks really nice and if you enable the “Extra Visual Effects” you get OS X like eye candy. And… I’m a sucker for eye candy. Overall, Ubuntu seems really polished, clean and consistent. It runs fairly fast, includes Firefox 3, OpenOffice, F-Spot (iPhoto-like tool), etc.
If my family didn’t need to play Windows-only games (I know… there’s CrossOver, but that looks like too much effort for a “maybe” solution.) I’d switch our home PC over. Furthermore, if I didn’t have a fantastic Mac and had to use a PC for development, I wouldn’t hesitate to use Ubuntu.
Even if you’re not a junkie like me, I’d seriously give Ubuntu a try. It can run from a “live CD” (just have your PC boot from CD instead of the hard drive). It’ll run slow, but you can get a feel for it. You can even install into a folder within a Windows partition saving you the hassle of repartitioning your hard drive.