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Monday, April 09, 2007
  A few weeks with Ubuntu
I've now been using Ubuntu Linux part-time, on a secondary system for a few weeks, it's been a very educational experience, some positives, some criticisms, here are some comments...

Installing Software using Packages - This is one area where Ubuntu really kicks butt over Windows... It's like 'Add/Remove Programs', except instead of just allowing you to UNINSTALL existing apps, or add/remove Windows Components, it plugs you into a whole world of Open Source applications. If you see something you want, just click it, the system will automatically download & install the application for you... Brilliant! You can do this from the GUI, or from the Command-Line.

MP3's - Strangely Ubuntu doesn't ship w/ MP3 support, I guess it's a licensing issue, the MP3 format is copywrited or something, anyhow, it was a bit of a chore, but after installing a few packages, you're good to go... I'm using XMMS now, basically a Linux WinAMP clone.

PPTP VPN - I tried and tried but wasn't able to get the PPTP VPN connected, will have to spend some more time on this as clearly if I want to use Linux as a desktop replacement at home, I need to be able to VPN to the office. I think my original attempts failed because this unit was behind 2 home routers, it's now just behind one, and the PPTP utility seemed to get a little farther, will do some more tshooting on this later...

Internet Explorer - One of the web-applications I have to use does a browser check and won't allow you to login unless you're running IE... Guess what? Using Wine (a Linux implementation of the Windows APO), along w/ some canned installation scripts, you can actually install and run IE 6 inside Linux! Totally cool! So I'm able to run IE if I want and therefore use this Web-app... Very cool!

Performance / XUBUNTU - I'm running UBUNTU (v6.10) on a P3 w/ 256mb of RAM, and the performance hasn't been stellar, it works, but it takes quite a while to boot, opening Firefox takes about 20 seconds and it's generally pretty sluggish, was expecting it to be relatively snappy. Anyhow, there is a less intensive distribution of Ubuntu available called Xubuntu. I was thinking I'd have to start from scratch to try this out, but it turns out it's actually available as a Package, so I installed it tonight (required 85 dependent packages, but these all automatically get selected and installed - w/o a reboot!). Then I just had to logout and re-login again chosing this Desktop in the Session option, and whammo, I'm now running the Xubuntu desktop... It does seem to improve the responsiveness of the system...

I still have to explore some other elements of my functionality, like burning CD's, and things like that... But I'm certainly able to chill out, use this machine to surf the web, listen to music, download stuff (using BitTorrent), connect to my Windows PC, and more, so I'm pleasantly suprised and very bullish about next steps... I'm really eager to install the latest Ubuntu which comes out later this month (v7.4), on a new system (desktop, or perhaps Laptop), and see how it performs...

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