A Newbie Switches to Ubuntu: What Worked and What Didn't?

by Ostatic Staff - Jan. 12, 2009

I got a kick out of reading AshPringle's series about his New Year's resolution to switch from Windows and the Mac to Linux for a week. (You can find the daily entries at the bottom of this first entry.) Remember how, when you first took the SAT, people told you to "go with your first answer--it's probably correct?" This series is by no means written by a Linux expert, but several of the off-the-cuff impressions about using Ubuntu, add-ons and more are interesting precisely because they are off-the-cuff. Here were a few of the good takeaways that I spotted in the conclusion post of the series.

Here are AshPringle's dislikes after his forced week of Ubuntu use:

Too many confusing names--KDE, Compiz, Compiz Fusion, Wubi, tomato, potato.

OpenOffice's spellcheck--he couldn't get it to work.

The inflexible wallpaper--he couldn't customize wallpaper for different desktops.

Hardware issues--Wireless adapters, graphics accelerators and other peripherals didn't work properly.

Notably, though, Ash's list of likes after his week of Ubuntu use is longer than the list of dislikes. Among other things, he likes:

The speed--"every operating system should run this fast," he says.

The comprehensive antivirus software--this is a tongue-in-cheek reference to his conclusion that nobody running Linux needs to be bogged down by antivirus software.

The cost--it's free!

The pre-loaded software.

The Add/Remove Programs option--he likes how easy Ubuntu makes it to get compelling new applications.

Ash ends up concluding that he will use Ubuntu as a third operating system, but won't abandon Windows and the Mac, which happens to be how I work as well. I find all three platforms to have their advantages.

Among Ash's list of pros, I definitely concur that Linux distros of all stripes need to do a better job of hardware compatibility. Whenever people switch to Linux, they immediately start caterwauling about Wi-Fi compatibility and the like. The Linux Foundation has done some good work toward getting better industry-wide handling of drivers, and more buy-in from hardware makers, but there is still work to be done.

On Ash's list of likes, one item that really jumps out to me is his quip about anti-virus software (you don't need any on Linux). I don't recommend going without AV software on any platform, but it is true that both the Mac and Linux are becoming more attractive as security problems persist for Windows. If you use Windows, you constantly have to scan for malware, and often use multiple products to do so because of the sheer volume of nastiness aimed at the platform.

Ash serves up quite a few more interesting conclusions. Good reading.