[plug] [plug-ctte] Linux enthusiasm - too good to be true?

Paul Antoine pma-la at milleng.com.au
Tue Jun 17 10:03:15 WST 2008

Both Kev and Patrick make good points about Xandros and Ubuntu 
respectively however this does open the door for some further opining on 
my part :-P

I had been using Linux on my servers for a long time but had yet to find 
a Linux distribution (aka distro) that met my needs as a desktop/laptop 
OS.  Laptops are especially tricky to support well it seems.

Many people who have tried Ubuntu did so prior to the latest releases on 
the basis of a LOT of early hype about it.  I have a lot of Linux 
experience and found the early releases of Ubuntu terrible and a step 
backwards from older distros such as Mandrake/Mandriva.

I must say however that the latest Ubuntu release 8.04 is a gem - 
hardware support for old scanners and printers is great, other devices 
like wireless cards etc. are found and configured without issue, and the 
user interface is calm and useful. Open Office, Gimp etc. are all there 
when you install the desktop version.

Ubuntu is so good I find it nicer to use than either Windows XP or Vista 
(errk!) AND it's faster than either on the same hardware (even when 
running Windows apps.)  I have an 8 year old laptop that runs Ubuntu so 
well it's going to be hard to part with it when finally it dies.

Perhaps I'm biased but I feel Ubuntu is a very good beginner's intro to 
Linux.  This may be because I believe the Gnome user interface style 
used by Ubuntu is similar enough to Windows that beginners would have no 
trouble navigating it. And anyway I must say you don't seem to be a 
complete "newb" as you've done pretty well playing with multiple distros 
and anyway navigating Vista issues is no mean feat :-)

The only issue I have with Ubuntu is their insistence on defaulting to 
using Evolution as the email client.  I much prefer Thunderbird so it's 
nice that it's trivially easy to install it (and many other 
applications) using Add/Remove applications.

In any case, as Patrick says, getting the Ubuntu CD is free and you can 
boot it in "demo" mode without damaging anything you have already 
installed. Even when installing Ubuntu you have the choice of 
re-arranging the disk so that your Windows install is preserved.

I'd encourage you to try Ubuntu.


Kev wrote:
> Patrick Coleman wrote:
>> J & M Kampert wrote:
>>> About two months ago, I tried to run an LCD monitor on  my "Windows XP
>>> home" computer. It was a disaster: XP could not set the screen
>>> definition to match the LCD's needs. Possibly I could have fixed this
>>> then with a graphics card; BUT the old computer {My ninth or tenth?} is
>>> not a good candidate in my opinion for hardware experiments. So I
>>> recalled from my days as a computer systems manager/accountant [HP NCR
>>> mini computer systems in the bad old days of tape back-ups etc] that
>>> there is such a thing as LINUX nee UNIX which could get me out of the
>>> clutches of Microsoft without switching to [an even more expensive]
>>> MacIntosh system.
>>> I started to read up on LINUX, and developed the impression that either
>>> it's very very good, or it's too good to be true.
>>> I purchased two CD's from your Perth supply address: LINUX XP 2006SR2
>>> and then SimplyMepis 6.5.02.
>>> The first wouldn't even demo, the second demo'd under Windows XP but
>>> didn't seem to accept any scanners.
>>> SO, I decided to play it safe and bought a new PC with a faster CPU,
>>> more RAM a twenty inch LCD and Windows VISTA, the system that allows me
>>> to write this email. This also enabled me to download Open Office and
>>> GIMP under Windows VISTA, saving me a small fortune for software
>>> replacements. After two days of systems work, I got my old printers and
>>> cameras to work under Vista, but the download of a Canon driver for my
>>> old scanner failed, so I had to invest in a new one. Open Office and
>>> GIMP allowed me to continue to work  on my existing data from MS Office
>>> and Photoshop.  
>>> Then I took the chance to try and install a version of Linux on the old
>>> box, hoping it would allow me to learn Linux and so to eventually rid
>>> myself of VISTA.
>>> the results:
>>> Simply Mepis 6.5.02 did instal, and wiped out all the old Windows XP,
>>> all other software and data, BUT then demanded a registration number,
>>> which I haven't got, and the old box is not [yet] connected to the net.
>>> Furthermore Mepis did not seem to have loaded much of Open Office!
>>> I then tried LINUX XP 2006SR2, which wiped off Mepis but then could
>>> not/would not properly auto-reformat the disk and hence did not install
>>> itself. Now the old computer system is just an empty shell with only 
>>> a BIOS!
>>> Perhaps I should re-install Windows XP Home on it and use it for storing
>>> back-up data?
>>> If you can show a way into Linux without requiring a Uni or TAFE
>>> course,  then I look forward on installing LINUX without eating also a
>>> box of panadol!
>>> But for now, I tend to the belief that the Internet-hype about Linux is
>>> just that; it's great if you are a tinkerer/hobbyist; but no good if you
>>> expect your computer to work as a tool!
>>> Regards,
>>> John Kampert, retired accountant
>> Hi John,
>> I'd recommend you try Ubuntu - its hardware detection is very good and 
>> it's great as far
>> as "just works" goes. I use it on my various desktops and my laptop 
>> because I don't have
>> to stuff around with it (I spend my time breaking Linux servers at 
>> work instead). Ubuntu
>> has become an extremely popular distribution recently because of this.
>> If you would like a copy and don't want to download it (if you want to 
>> you can from
>> http://ftp.iinet.net.au/pub/ubuntu-releases/8.04/ubuntu-8.04-desktop-i386.iso) 
>> let me know
>> and I can give you a copy at our next seminar.
>> I've cc'd this to our mailing list, in case anyone there has any other 
>> suggestions. If
>> you're interested in learning more I'd recommend you subscribe (if you 
>> haven't already) -
>> you can do so at http://plug.org.au/resources/mailing-list.
>> Everyone: you may want to cc John on any replies.
>> Cheers,
>> Patrick Coleman
>> President, PLUG
>> linux.org.au
> G'day John,
> At the risk of starting a religious war in PLUG, you sound just like a 
> candidate for Xandros.  They /specifically/ aim their distro at Windoze 
> refugees.  Whilst Ubuntu, and quite a few others, are very good, they're 
> not for the /absolute/ beginner.  They're for tier 2 beginners.  That 
> goes double for someone near my own age bracket - you did say retired!  
> I now play regularly with new distros (been installing the latest 
> Klikit, Mandriva and Kubuntu tonight) but if Xandros hadn't appeared 
> (recommended by a PLUG committee member I might add) I would have given 
> up on Linux altogether.  Xandros is /the definitive/ beginners' Linux.  
> You can learn all you need there to be productive for evermore, or give 
> you enough background to go forward and become a real geek.  Either way, 
> it's the one standout best entry level distro, bar none!  If you want to 
> give it a try I have a DVD of the latest free version - just drop me a 
> line and I can send a copy to you (I'm in Albany).  If it means anything 
> to you, it's a Debian based distro using the KDE desktop and all 
> defaulted to make a Windoze user feel quite at home.  You have all the 
> power and stability of Linux in a very familiar looking environment.
> Cheers
> Kev

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