Very nice. Think I have a winner here.

OK, so Ubuntu is the 4th Linux distro that I tried to install this week. I think it was this week. Well, in the past 7 days at least.

Mandervia was first since it was the one I’m most familiar with. And as far as “out of the box” functionality, it wins hands down.
It does have one big flaw though, they do things the Mandriva way; meaning that they put things where other things can’t find them.
That makes it harder for DumbUsers(DU) to install other things that Mandriva doesn’t come with or has built. And since this is a desktop, the DU shouldn’t have to be a linux/programming guru to install something like the Beep audio player. It should just be either built or easily buildable.

I heard a lot about Debian, so I gave it a shot. Once you figure out the package manager portion, it’s not a real hard install. So it installed.
Now, I admit that I might have buggered up the single option I had to set for X, but after it was all said and done, X wouldn’t start. Again, as a DU, I don’t feel the need to use a different system to locate and try to troubleshoot why my Windows system doesn’t work. It should just work.
So it kinda lost big time, but I’m willing to give it another shot if I have to.

Slackware hasn’t changed their install since…forever. It’s still the same little straight-forward not at all pretty install. But it does look better than the Debian install.
X started without any problems, and it played MP3s and Divx stuff right away.
It just didn’t do it well.
I don’t know, maybe there’s some optimization that I can do to tweek this sort of thing, but as a DU I shouldn’t have to.
It didn’t last long.

Ubuntu is built from Debian(a fact that I only picked up by watching the installer) but it’s made for a DU. It doesn’t give you a lot of options during the install and just goes. Kinda like Windows. The only thing that they need to make this better is to have a prettier installer like Mandriva.
It rebooted, and started X, played a little sound, and let me log in.
So far, the most painless Linux install ever.
Oh, the sound bit is important. When I installed Mandriva and Slackware, the sounds card was recognized fine, and was apparently working, just no sound was happening.
Apparently there is a switch in the UI that will toggle between Analogue and Digital. But it’s a single toggle. And it’s not obvious what the “on” position means. And here’s the funny bit:
On in Mandriva meant Digital
On in Slackware meant Analogue
Both running the same app, both running KDE.
Irritating but funny.

I think Ubuntu just assumed that I was using Analogue and went with it. They were right.
The UI is Gnome out of the box, and that’s ok, I have the option of KDE if I really wanted it.

OK, some annoyances about Ubuntu now. Since I did them about the others, I felt it only fair.
Ubuntu was nice enough to list my other drives and partitions on the desktop. However, they mounted them in a way that no one but root could see the contents.
Oh, and they disabled the root account. But they set up sudo to do all that stuff, so it’s not to bad.
Out of the box, they don’t support MP3, DIVX and a lot of other popular things.
The drivers for ATI or Nvidia are not installed automatically.
I think there was something else…just can’t remember.
Here’s the thing that makes Ubuntu shine above everything else. Documentation.
I thought to myself, hmmm, I would like the root account back, but I’m too dumb to change it. Let’s load up the documentation for a laugh.
Well, in the starter guide they have a section on user management, and the first thing, the first thing they describe is how to re-enable the root account.
OK, how about the drive mappings. Let’s go to hardware(this is all from memory so I might not be 100% on where things were printed), oh look, how to remount the drives so that everyone can see them.
And when I say they tell you how to do things, they tell you the things to type(all assumed that you haven’t re-enabled the root user, so it’s all sudo) and even include backup steps in the instructions.
I wish everything was so well documented.
Drivers, no problem. MP3/Divx, no problem. All the little gripes, no problem. All in the documentation.

Also, the package manager that they have is to kill for. I assume that it’s a GUI version of the apt-get stuff, and if so, apt totally rocks!
I really can’t say enough about how awsome and nice Ubuntu is for a desktop.
It even plays the demo for Doom 3. And it plays it well!

Ok, one more gripe. It doesn’t support the official ATI drivers. This can be a little troublesome, but really, all the fancy stuff that those drivers would provide aren’t in the games being written for Linux. So I can get over that.

In summary, Ubuntu good, fire bad.

1 Comment

  1. flying_squirrel

    Like Debian, Ubuntu’s really big on the whole Free Software thing. They’ll ship binary-only drivers if they have to, but if they can get open source drivers, they’ll prefer those. Which makes sense.

    What would be *really* nice is if hardware companies would release the source for their drivers. (Sure, there are trade secret implications, but come one, these are hardware companies, not software companies. ATI software sucks anyway. I’d love to see them give people the opportunity to change things. 😛 )


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