Thursday, 25 February 2010

Ubuntu: A Great Change For A Windows User

Recently I enjoyed the wonderful experience of the Ubuntu operating system. This happened accidentally as my home computer died, and I was given a loaner computer with no installed OS. Since I didn't want to spend any money, I decided with the free, user-frinedly, and open-source Ubuntu.

Installing Ubuntu was very easy, anyone that knows how to insert a CD and click a mouse can do it.

Getting used to ubuntu terminology and organization took some time and I'm still trying to get used to it. Anyways, below are the things that I really like about Ubuntu, and beneath that is a list of what still needs to be worked on:

What I really like:
  1. Low RAM Usage: I have used Windows for 10 years and had though that every machine needed 4 GB of RAM and that an idling OS would use at least 700 MB. Boy was I surprised when I checked the system monitor in Ubuntu. I had Chrome, Google Earth, and FireFox running, and I was only using 400 MB of RAM. Unbelievable!!
  2. Custom Desktop Experience: Icons can be easily added to the tray, they can also be enlarged/reduced, and with CompizConfig windows can be grouped, previewed, snapped to a grid and so on. By far the coolest effect is the 3D desktop.
  3. Sharp Graphics/Fonts: I love the default fonts and the graphics seem to have a sharper look than Windows.
  4. Menu Organization: Another great feature is the grouping of programs. For example, all Internet apps are placed together so there is no need to search through a large menu for a particular program.
  5. Its Open Source: This means constant evolution. The Ubuntu team has stated that it will release a new version of its OS every six months. As a Windows person I had thought that an OS could only be updated about every 2-3 years, now I am wondering what all of those high paid engineers are doing as Microsoft.
  6. No Viruses: Its so nice not having to worry about some trojan or nasty piece of code destroying my machine and files. Now I truly understand what the Mac people have been boasting about for years. 
What Needs To Be Worked On:
  1. Codecs: Ubuntu comes with some media players and there are a bunch of free ones to download. The problem with all of these is that they do not come with all of the codecs, and installing them wasn't as simple as downloading a file. I spent at least 3 hrs trying to get the codecs to play a illegally downloaded movie. 
  2. More User Friendly: It was very easy to get started with Ubuntu, but the installation of some programs was difficult. I love Google Earth but installing it on Ubuntu was a pain. I could not simply click on a link, download a file, and click on install. I had to search for a command and then enter it into the Ubuntu terminal, which never worked on the first three tries. 
  3. WINE: This program allows the running of Windows only programs in Ubuntu. I found this program really difficult to use and still only have it partially figured out. 
  4. iPod/iPhone management: There are millions of iPods and iPhones out there but I could not find an easy-to-use program to manage video and audio. I tried running iTunes in WINE but all I could get was errors. This is the main reason why I haven't switched completely to Ubuntu. 
Since the 1st draft of this post I have gotten my computer back and it is working fine. I was going to buy another hard drive and change my computer to a dual-boot machine but the computer is getting old and I don't want to spend any unnessary money on it. So, I am now running Ubuntu within VMWare Player and am easily enjoying the best of both worlds. Hopefully Ubuntu can fix some of the above-mentioned mentioned issues in their next release. Living a Windows-free life may be just around the corner!!