The older I grow, the better I was.
This message at the back of a car seemed to be echoing my sentiments after a week of struggle to get Gentoo, a Linux flavor, up in place of the Windows XP operating system I use.
Try as I might, I found it difficult to cope up with compiling the Linux kernel from source. Not that I was new to this. About 6 years back, I had compiled Red Hat on an AIX system. Intervening years I had graduated from programming to working on documents, email and spreadsheets. It seemed like a long time ago.
The realization was slow to come, but devastatingly clear:I am no longer a nerd. Or at least, I was better once.
A google search revealed that Ubuntu was one of the better variants recommended by a number of techies, and they were right. It took me probably an hour or so to install Ubuntu last month, when the Edgy version was available. To say that it was a breeze would be an understatement.I took to it like fish is to water- and found it to be even better than the Windows XP I had been using. For one, I was no longer using Bill’s software (whose memories for me include the infamous ‘General Protection Fault’ of Win 3.1, among others). Not that it has worried me much, but I was also no longer at risk using pirated software. What is amazing about Ubuntu is that for an end user, it is very intuitive.
Almost all the software that I need is there: OpenOffice substitutes well for MS Office, Firefox takes care of the internet part, there are media and sound players galore, and a huge number of stable applications.It comes along with a pre- installed bit torrent software, something that was new for me.
With a broadband connection, it is supremely easy to install or uninstall any software.
Ubuntu boots much faster than XP, and incidentally, fewer re- boots are required !
Not that it is without glitches. My Lexmark Laserjet E238 prints garbage with the original driver from the Lexmark site. Instead, the printer works wonderfully with the HP Laserjet driver! Reality beat imagination here.
Similarly, RealPlayer refused to work with npr.org and musicindia.com, though it worked with bbc.co.uk, dishant.com and a few other sites that I listen to. The Ubuntu forums helped. RealPlayer magically remedied itself during the Feisty Fawn upgrade for npr.org, musicindia.com still does not work.
The Movie Player has a strange habit of showing a blank screen, unless I move the window, even if slightly.
AdobeReader installed flawlessly, though some tips helped. Ubunto comes with a utility to convert pdf documents to text (pdftotext).
Google Talk client is not available, though there is an online version with limited functionality. Haven’t got around to using it as yet, but should work without glitches. Google Earth, and I am sure, quite a few other software would not be available on Ubuntu for at least quite sometime.
A site also recommended using Microsoft fonts, but each time I installed it, my system would begin to crawl, and I had to re- install the OS to come back to a stable speed.
Another funny thing- the external hard drive on which I installed the Edgy (and later the Feisty Fawn version), would not boot on a different system other than the one one on which it was initially connected.
The media players are much better- and look for codecs when they do not find one installed. This takes care of a big potential headache, especially for someone new to Ubuntu. I haven’t faced any problems with the network speed. I am still using the HP Laserjet driver, so not sure if the Lexmark driver will work or not. Fonts also seem to be better. Certainly, I am not not going to install the Microsoft fonts for quite sometime.
Feisty Fawn also has a nice wobbly window effect when moving from one window to another, and a few experimental Desktop Effects that I haven’t tried as yet.
Overall, a 9 out of 10. And though there are glitches, I am sure they will have a solution. Meanwhile, I have certainly said good bye to XP.