My Switch to Ubuntu Linux


I  have always been curious about Linux.  I have heard many others and read numerous forums and web pages touting the virtues of using Linux.  I played with Mandrake Linux a few years back.  I found it to be interesting.  I was amazed that pretty much everything worked (sound, LAN, video, etc.) out of the box.  What put me off was the fact that when I tried to install applications it was a miserable nightmare.  I remember that Mandrake 10 came with an older version of The GIMP.  I was going to try to upgrade it to the newer version but I kept running into dependency issues and the whole install was extremely unintuitive.  Lets not even get into install the Java Runtime Environment.  I was also put off by forum members talking to me as if I was a idiot because I did not know.  I guess they were born with the information.  My opinion of Linux was that it was an elitist operating system best used by geeks.

I gave up on Mandrake and headed back to Windows.  I was fairly happy with Windows but got tired of its unreliability, having to re-install when something happened, etc.  A colleague at work was talking one day about Ubuntu Linux and how sweet it was.  I kind of glanced over it as to say, whatever.

Microsoft and Toshiba kind of pushed me to Linux a few months ago.  I was thinking of buying a laptop for home usage and such and did not want to spend and arm and a leg on one.  I found a really good deal on a laptop and bought it.  The laptop was a modest one (1.73GHz, 512MB, 80G HDD).  I turned it on and booted into the new shiny Vista OS.  I had heard a bunch of negatives about Vista, but just thought it was a bunch of anti-Microsoft people talking.  Well after about 7-8 minutes the PC finally came to the Vista desktop.  It took forever to launch applications and the system crawled with every mouse click.  I did some more reading and Vista requires at least 1G or RAM and a 2GHz processor.  In all actuality Vista wants 2G of RAM, a 3GHz processor or a dual core processor.  Ok well that takes this laptop out of the equation.  I had my old computer with XP Pro that I no longer use so I decided that I would just install XP on it.  Well some more digging around and it seems that Toshiba has deemed my laptop to be Vista only.  This means that they don't publish 2000/XP drivers on their site.  Ok, I am very sure that Microsoft and the other PC makers are pushing Vista down our throats as they all are doing this.  I normally build my own PCs as I have complete control over the hardware.  Building laptops is possible, but they are more expensive than the ones you can just buy.

I said screw Microsoft and decided to give Linux a try again.  I did some reading and decided that Ubuntu was the best choice.  All the reviews say that it is an excellent alternative to Windows and combines a lot of the features that you like all for free.  I downloaded the .iso image from Ubuntu's website and decided to give it a try.  Ubuntu told me that the CD was a LiveCD so I could test drive it before installing.  I loaded the LiveCD up and I was greeted by the Ubuntu brown (yuck) but I did notice that everything seemed to work except the built in wireless card.  I had a PCMCIA wireless card that plugged in and it worked.  I connected to my wireless router and was able to surf the internet.  I played with Openoffice, launched a few more applications.  I was really digging this and still could not believe it was all free.  So I decided to install the OS and get rid of Vista.

After installing Ubuntu (which was WAY faster than XP) my laptop was Linux.  I did some research on the internet and was able to get all the proprietary codecs, encrypted DVD playback, and mp3 ripping done.  A little more research and I was able to get the madwifi drivers for my built in wireless working.  Now mind you this was not 100% painless, but a new OS is never going to be perfectly 100% usable as soon as you get it.

I was just amazed at all the free stuff and it was quality software for the most part.  The add/remove would go and get all the cool software for you and install it.  It was so easy that almost anyone can do it.  I was so impressed that I converted my XP desktop over to a dual boot Ubuntu and XP.  I now use Ubuntu about 98% of the time.  The only time I ever go back into Windows is to either play a game or do some Powerpoint stuff.  For the most part Openoffice does everything I need but there are special occasions.

I have not missed Windows at all since the switch and now recommend it to everyone I know.  I have converted many folks over to Ubuntu that are sick of Microsoft and their expensive push to Vista.  I am also really impressed at how small the Linux footprint on your hard drive is.  The complete install was around 3GB.  About 1/2 the size of XP, so an 80G drive is actually huge when it comes to Ubuntu.  I also like the fact that viruses and spyware have no affect on Linux.  All in all I am very happy with Linux.  I don't see myself ever going back to Windows.

I have recently upgraded all of my PCs to the latest version of Ubuntu entitled Feisty Fawn and I must say I am impressed.  Drivers for your video card and wirelss are an absolute breeze.  All I had to do was enable the restricted drivers and viola.  I must say that I had heard a few negatives about Feisty but I can say that it has been fairly smooth sailing for me.


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