Sunday, July 15, 2007

Brand New Ubuntu User: Part I - No More Windows

Confessions of a user:

Lately, I've been feeling increasingly the corporate crush of Microsoft. With the advent of Vista, I, as a common user, have finally been prodded to try something really different.

Mac, you say? Well, after the flexibility and malleability of Windows, the Mac struck me as a little too one-stop-shopping. It's expensive, too.

Enter Linux, or more specifically Linux's easy-to-use GUI (graphical user interface) avatar Ubuntu. As I am by no means a geek, the thought of Linux by itself threw me a little. Ubuntu, however, looks to solve the issue of user-friendliness for those of us who have never written code.

Oh, and did I mention it's free? Not free as in "Trial Period," but completely open-sourced here-ya-go forever free.

In fact, this current iteration of Linux may indeed be a viable alternative to Monsterlith XP or Visa. I intend to find this out.


Wow. That was easy. Anticlimactic, in fact. See, Ubuntu can be installed several ways, one of which is an ISO file that you can download and burn to a boot disk. But I couldn't get my HP laptop to see the ISO file upon booting, even after setting the CMOS/BIOS to boot from the CD first. Dang! Was there something even easier out there?

As it turns out, Ubuntu has a Windows-based down-loadable installer called WUBI

So, after cleaning up my Windows installation by eliminating junk files and defragmenting, I ran the installer. Ubuntu commenced installing itself on a 15G partition on the hard drive. Note to self: remember absolutely the username and password you set up in the installer - it's case sensitive. That cost me a re-install. Also remember to hit F8 every time Ubuntu restarts, so that you can go to the OS (Operating System) choices menu and select Ubuntu rather than Windows XP.

So here I sit looking at a clean and elegant desktop - reminiscent of a Windows desktop yet with differences. There was no start button in the lower left hand side, and there were three menu items in the upper left hand side: Applications, Places and System.

Ubuntu sees my laptop wireless hardware and connects immediately. Nice.

First task: change desktop image: open Firefox, go to Top Gear, and grab lovely picture of BMW M3. Right click and select. Done. Intuitive as can be.

About this time a small orange icon in the upper right hand side indicates that I have updates. Excellent! Turns out I have 89 updates - everything from music players to security protocols.

That's where I sit now - watching these update. I'll start soon on the next step, which is actually using the OS, and then furthermore using the OS with programs I'll actually need.

Stay tuned...