Sunday, July 22, 2007

Ubuntu: A Weekend of Use Summary

Ubuntu desktop2Well, getting a little more used to Ubuntu. It's actually not bad, but they've got some ways to go to make it good. The bug with the Firefox and Thunderbird fonts is a huge one, and one they need to fix. It's fixable, but I don't think the average user is going to want to search forums to make his web browser readable. Get this fixed people.

Then there's the whole codec issue. It doesn't appear that any codecs are built in. After install, you still can't play MP3 or MPG files, let alone assorted AVI files. You have to go download VLC or MPlayer to get what you need. Simple enough, but still a pain. XMMS is a good substitute for Winamp though. And there are a lot of errors thrown up as you try to do the simplest things because it's missing what it needs. For instance, I tried to take a simple screen shot of the desktop to post here, but it was too much hassle to accomplish, so I gave up. I'm sure there's a way, but I don't have time to search the net to find out right now. [Edit: Thanks to OriginalLRU's tip, we now have a screenshot.]

So, once you've downloaded and installed Firefox, Thunderbird, VLC, MPlayer, XMMS, aMSN, Comix, BitTorrent, and WINE, you've got a reasonably usable system. I need to try out K9 and DVDShrink for ripping DVDs yet too. I still am looking for a good video editor (Kino or LiVES don't cut it), a DVD movie creator (devede doesn't want to download), something to make my Hauppage TV Capture card work to record video, and possibly getting iTunes running under WINE. If I can get those types of programs working, then Ubuntu Linux becomes a perfect Windows replacement. Otherwise, it comes up short.

As a newbie user to Linux who has worked extensively on Windows XP and just recently did a first time MAC OS X install, I would rate Ubuntu far behind MAC but on par with Windows. Looking at it from a newbie user viewpoint who's looking for ease of use and intuitive 'make it work' functionality, I would rate MAC OS X number 1 by a landslide, Ubuntu Linux second, with Windows XP very close behind in 3rd, and Vista at the back of the pack as something I don't even want to touch (playing around with it on computers in stores is just Ugh, Ugh, Ugh). So, with XP on it's way out in a few years anyway, that leaves us with MAC OS X and Linux at the front of the pack.

If the Linux community makes it just a bit more user friendly (include some basic codecs at least), there's no reason they won't keep gaining ground. My experience so far with Linux is better than Windows - way more stable, less rebooting, easier program installation (once you actually track down what you need), and a free open source alternative to almost any program you will need. It's got it's good points, and I think it's worth learning with the way the Microsoft camp keeps going. MAC is still the class of them all, but they are too costly and as they get more popular I fear they will wind up going down the same road as Microsoft. Learning an open source OS alongside your current OS of choice is just good common sense so that you're ready to go when one of the big corporate guys inevitably ticks you off.

Comments on "Ubuntu: A Weekend of Use Summary"


Anonymous originallru said ... (July 23, 2007 12:53 AM) : 

I haven't used the latest Ubuntu, so I'm not sure what some of the problems look like. I noticed that you installed your own version of Firefox instead of using the one that comes with the system... could this be the cause of the font problems? Not sure.

As for codecs, part of this might be patent issues. Things that may not be noticable in Windows show up in Linux. Companies can't freely distribute certain things, like MP3 codecs, because of patents and licensing. Microsoft can pay for these licenses, and hide the implementation, but Linux is about freedom and openness, and sometimes that direction choice governs what you can do with your system.

These things are easy to work around though, but Linux distros sometimes leave that choice (and the work) to the user, instead of making legal decisions for you.

Btw, you can use Gimp to take screenshots. There is a menu option somewhere... "acquire screenshot" I think. Then just edit the image, and save it in whatever format you like.

I'm glad you got it working, and I'm glad Linux has moved up to second place in your rating system. :-) It's a different world though, and brings with it different issues.


Blogger Eaglewing said ... (July 23, 2007 2:45 AM) : 

Thanks for the tips. I did install my own Firefox, but that was because of the fonts. It didn't help. Around the forums, it looks like its an issue as well. If a newbie user opens his new Linux browser and sees that, he's going to chuck it faster than you can say "XP isn't so bad."

I understand the codecs issue, but its still a pain in the ass. At least VLC comes through like a champ.

It's a learning curve though. At least it's functional this time around, and to tell the truth, I haven't gotten back to building my XP partition yet as this has been working quite well.

And it's stable. Haven't had to reboot a crash yet. :)


Anonymous originallru said ... (July 23, 2007 4:55 AM) : 

My uptime says 33 days. Reboots are for kernel upgrades, hardware upgrades, or power failures. :-)


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