Windows XP vs. Ubuntu Install
is a knock
on Linux for
years that it is difficult to impossible to install. I am
here to challenge
that myth. I was a devoted Windows user for many years until
got sick of the high prices, viruses, spyware, OS slowdown, etc.
I tried out Mandrake Linux a couple of years back and found
somewhat difficult to use. It was OK for surfing the net and
but for not much else. It had a buggy OpenOffice 1.1 and no
Firefox. I found it a huge pain to install Firefox and
get Java2 SDK installed. Over time I
basically stopped using it. I used to think Linux was mostly
a hobbyist OS, but it has matured.
I then discovered Ubuntu. Gone were the horrific software
installs, gone were figuring out dependencies, gone was the headache of
getting Java up and running.
I am getting off on a tangent, so I will get back to the point of the
page, installing each OS.
I will start with Windows XP and then go on to Ubuntu. The
following installs were done on my desktop PC.
I always thought installing Windows XP (XP from now on) was easy until
I actually sat down and thought about it. When you actually
right down to it XP is a pain to install. Here is my take on
- I started by popping the XP CD into the drive.
was setup to boot from CD so I was greeted by the blue OS install
screen. Remember, you cannot test drive XP first.
was installing it on a clean drive I could use the rudimentary fdisk to
partition my hard drive. Mind you fdisk does not resize, just
create partitions so if there is any existing data it will be lost.
- After partitioning and formatting to NTFS I selected the
new partition and began to install the OS.
- The XP install asked me a few questions and then asked me
for my CD key.
- After about 25 minutes the computer was ready to reboot.
- Once booted back into Windows I was greeted by a XP splash
and it asked me a few questions about users. I added myself
then booted into Windows (FINALLY)!!!
- First thing I noticed was the lack of anything.
My PC was
hooked up to my router and cable modem so I thought I would
bring up IE and access the
internet. I could no as there was no ethernet card found.
- After investigating I saw that there were a lot of yellow
exclamation points in the Device Manager next to hardware indicating
that there were no
suitable drivers. I need to get drivers.
I had the motherboard CD. I popped in the CD and then had to
determine which ethernet card I have. After looking in the
case with a
flashlight I determined it was a Realtek 8169 gigabit ethernet card.
I then installed the corresponding driver.
- After a reboot my ethernet card was working.
- I then installed the motherboard chipset drivers from the
CD and rebooted.
- Since XP is a very insecure vulnerable OS, and the default
was to make
administrator I needed to get some anti-virus and anti-spyware
installed in a big hurry.
- I went to Grisoft and downloaded AVG
anti-virus and anti-spyware and installed them pronto.
- I then needed to install the video cards drivers.
I have an Nvidia GeForce 7600GT PCI-E so I went to Nvidia
the drivers and installed them. I needed to reboot after
driver installation (a recurring
- So I got my ethernet card, motherboard chipset and video
- I have no sound so I needed to go to Creative website and
download the Audigy 2 drivers. I installed them and rebooted
- I now have sound, proper video, ethernet, and proper
- A little yellow icon in the system tray told me I needed to
update. So I clicked on it and installed the few updates I
to. I was surprised I did not need to reboot.
- After the updates were installed I was greeted again my
yellow icon in my system tray. It was downloading more
After it was done it said I have updates to download.
have your updates in waves? After that XP installed about 75
updates and I got the reboot I was expecting. Why not just
give me all the updates at once?
- After XP rebooted I looked and there were no more
yellow exclamation points in the Device Manager.
- After exploring XP I came to the
conclusion that there is no
real software to
speak of besides Internet Explorer, Outlook Express (both insecure) and
a couple of rudimentary text editors.
- I needed to install some software to make this PC more
useful. Here are some of the programs that I use.
- I had a choice of buying Office 2003 or downloading
2.2. I had a copy of Office 2003 so I installed
- Since Internet Explorer is so insecure I needed to get a
is the browser of choice. I downloaded it and
installed. So I was able to now surf the web more securely.
- Email client: I decided to go with Thunderbird
since it is
supposedly the best email client for windows and Outlook
Express is pretty insecure. You can also download
Evolution for Windows as well.
- Next thing was to install the JRE and Java 2 SDK as I
sometimes write Java applications and many sites use Java plugins.
I went to
website, downloaded the SDK and installed it.
- The decompression (zip) program what XP comes with is
lousy so I can either purchase WinZip or download 7-zip.
Since WinZip has poor support for other compression formats
such as .tar, .tar.gz, .bz2, rar, etc., I decided to go with 7-Zip.
- I also program in C, C++ and Java from time to time and
text editor with syntax highlighting. Windows does not have
so I could either purchase Textpad or downloaded Notepad++ for free.
- I have a way to edit C and C++ files but XP has no
Visual studio is too expensive so I went and downloaded LCC
installed it. Finding a free C compiler is difficult for
Windows. I am able to program Java applications as I already
downloaded the SDK from SUN.
- I want to update my webpage from time to time and the
Office I have does not have FrontPage. I went and downloaded Nvu.
- I sometimes download TV shows I miss
XP has no built in bittorrent client so I went and downloaded
- I also needed to be able to read .pdf files, I downloaded
- I want to be able to create .pdf files from any
applications. To do this I needed to download PDF Creator for XP.
- Since I am behind a router I have not much of a need for
Windows firewall is pretty good, but for more control
Comodo or Zone Alarm.
- I want to be able to burn CDs and DVDs and the built in
kind of sucks. I can get either purchase Nero or download CDBurnerXP
- I needed to download an IM client so I went and
downloaded Gaim for
windows since it handles AIM, Yahoo, MSN and other popular IM
protocols. If I did not use Gaim, I could have also used Trillian
or downloaded each IM client software individually.
- I like to edit images from time to time so I could either
buy Photoshop or download The GIMP.
duty image viewing I downloaded IrfanView.
- After this is all done I need to make the OS more secure by
giving myself limited access. To do this you need to create
Administrator account and then go into that new account and make your
main account limited.
- Be warned, there is a lot of crappy XP software that HAS to
have administrator right to run properly. Why do games and
other apps need admin rights?
- Wow, for such and easy OS it sure needs a lot to get it up,
running and useful. I am surprised that for $150 XP pretty
much comes with very little useful software installed. I did
however get excellent Google experience.
- Total time to
get up and running ~3 hrs
I have read from various websites that Linux is very hard to install
Windows is far easier. Man was I scared as Windows took about
to get it fully going, so I guess I was in for an 8 hr job with Ubuntu.
- I popped my Ubuntu CD into the drive and booted the PC from
In about 3 mins the LiveCD was up and running a functioning
A bit slow since everything is run from the CD, but you do
chance to test the OS out before you install it.
- I noticed that my ethernet, sound card and chipset, all
worked. The video drivers needed to be installed. I
was able to surf the internet as well since the PC is hooked up to my
- I said OK, I want to install Ubuntu but I don't want to
kill my 3 hour installation of XP.
- Ubuntu's installation gave me the option of wiping the
entire disc, using largest free space or letting me manually edit the
- I chose to manually edit the partitions and Ubuntu fired up
Gnome Partition Editor. I saw that I had about a
100G NTFS partition that had nothing on it. I deleted that
particular partition, clicked Apply and Ubuntu made free space.
- Ok, everything seems OK. I hit the Back button
and then selected the largest continuous free space option.
This is actually pretty easy.
- The OS prepared the hard drive and began installing Ubuntu.
- I was asked the standard questions about username,
password, keyboard layout, etc.
- About 15 minutes later the installation was done and I was
asked to reboot.
- After about a minute I was greeted by a screen that asked
me to enter my usename and password.
- I was now logged into Ubuntu.
- A notification popped up telling me that I have to update
system. I clicked the notification and there were about 147
updates to install. It took about 10 minutes to install all
updates. No reboot required!!!!!!
- I followed the procedure laid out at Ubuntu
Guide to install nvidia drivers for my video card.
Reboot was required.
- I had to edit the /etc/fstab to mount my XP NTFS
partitions. XP has no support for EXT3 partitions.
- Now here is the big difference, Ubuntu is loaded with cool
software by default.
- Zip file handling, along with .tar, .gz., .tar.gz, .bz2.
.rar and other
compression formats handled by an application called File Roller.
- A .pdf reader called Evince.
- A really nice text editor with syntax highlighting called
- The GIMP image editor installed.
- Eye of Gnome to use for a slideshow.
- Gaim instant messenger installed.
- Totem and Rythmbox for playing music and video.
- A bunch of games like solitaire, black jack, etc.
- I downloaded the
following through the Add/Remove (one stop shopping)
- Nvu (html editor, Openoffice has an html editor, but Nvu
is better IMO)
- K3B (CD and DVD burning) with mp3 plugin
- VLC (great media player with MP3 and MPEG1,2,4 and DiVX
support buit in)
- Java 1.5 SDK and 1.5 browser plugin (you also can write
java applications as well after the install)
- Hex editor.
- gFTP (GUI ftp client)
- Ktorrent (Ubuntu has built in torrent capability, but
Ktorrent has better functionality)
- Adobe Acrobat (Evince while functional is no match for
- Cups-pdf for creation of PDF files through use of a
- All this took about another 15 minutes to install.
- Since Ubuntu is secure out of the box I did not have to
with super user rights, anti-virus/anti-spyware, and no firewall is
needed since Ubuntu has all
ports stealthed by default.
- Total time to
get up and running ~ 1.5 hrs
I thought Linux
was supposed to
be far more difficult to install than Windows. Well things
out a little differently.
I only had to go to one place to download all my applications
that were not installed by default. I also noticed that the
Ubuntu install was only 2.5GB while XP was around 6GB. I
wonder why XP is so much larger but yet has very little software
installed? Code bloat maybe. I thought maybe the
GUI for XP
far better but Ubuntu has a very nice GUI of its own.
As you can see that XP users will be downloading a lot of open source
free software. I shudder to think of what you would spend if
purchased all that productivity software. Is this not the
open source software that XP people say is bad but yet will still use?
Seems rather hypocritical. Windows users by far and
tout the immense abilities of all the software that XP has, but don't
want to spend the money on it. They end up getting pirated
or use the free stuff. Seriously, I do believe that Photoshop
more functionality than The Gimp. For $800 Photoshop better.
Microsoft Office is a little better than Openoffice.org.
$300 it too should be.
Now mind you this was to show that Ubuntu was easier to get up and
running that XP.
I will say that XP is still the king of gaming because of DirectX.
As far as mp3 ripping for XP you need media player 10 and Ubuntu needs
the medibuntu codecs. Encrypted DVD playing in XP is taken
care of by
player 10, Ubuntu again uses the medibuntu codecs for this task.
Ubuntu plays unencrypted DVDs out of the box.
I hope that you can see that Linux is in fact easier to install than XP
by a long shot. Ubuntu has far better hardware support than
well so more of your favorite hardware just works. I hope you
enjoyed this article.