For the record, I have been a long term Windows user. I owned a copy of Windows 1.0 (unfortunately I am that old). The Linux revolution during the early noughties failed to impress me. Sure it was free and did most things you expect from an OS, but you needed to be fairly committed to both install and operate it. Hardware issues and the command line had been consigned to history along with DOS as far as I was concerned – and until recently so had the thought of running a desktop Linux system.
Then I came across a copy of Ubuntu 10.10. Without a doubt this is the most polished version of Linux I have ever tried. It actually installed without issue on my laptop and connected effortlessly to most of my wireless systems. It presents a clean and sleek interface, with most of the apps an average user requires already installed, and quite nicely organized into categories on the Gnome menu.
The included Ubuntu Software centre app gives the user an extremely easy way to download a plethora of additional software that runs without issue on this version of Linux. And its all free.
The real beauty of Ubuntu 10.10 for me was the way it seamlessly reads my windows NTFS partitions, so all my data is easily accessible.
Before I start to sound like an employee of Ubuntu, not everything was smooth sailing with my high end desktop system. The installation difficulties (graphics card and wireless printers) I struck were reasonably easy to overcome after a search of the Ubuntu forums. But this is where things start to unravel a little bit. The problem with Linux is that there are as many different varieties as days in the year. While this does offer choice, I found it to be an unnecessary distraction.
It seems that when searching for the correct solution from google, I was presented with an awful lot of information which was either completely out of date or for a different type of Linux. A lot of the answers on the first search page were 10 years old. Even some of the newer responses referred to techniques that were clearly a long way out of date. This in itself is not a huge problem, rather a hiccup for new players.
To overcome this problem I found it extremely useful to limit the search (at least initially) to the Ubuntu forums, and then make sure your version is included in the search terms.
Why the sudden interest in Linux? Well, I recently upgraded the three computers I run at home to windows 7, office 2010 etc etc. This was not a cheap exercise. The removal of upgrade pricing has also caused me to examine other pastures. I like windows and am very competent in its use, but I’m starting to think that MS may have received enough of my money.
So at last Linux gets a look in, and at this point of time I’m persevering with it. I still have my windows systems on dual boot to go back to when I need to do some serious graphics work, or to manage my contacts and email in an environment I’m familiar with. But for everyday purposes I’m finding that Ubuntu seems to fit the bill nicely.
Next time: Re-learning to fly. Some traps for new Linux users.