Ubuntu experiences

by benl

I’ve been using Ubuntu as my main OS since Dapper Drake; having been my first venture into GNU/Linux. Since then Ubuntu has been through two other releases: Edgy Eft and now bringing us up-to-date Feisty Fawn or 7.04 (Ubuntu versioning being 7 signifying the release year and 04 the release month).

It’s needless to say i’m thoroughly impressed with Ubuntu… Admittedly i’m a little green as to the other distros’, having only dabbled with SUSE, DSL and PuppyLinux, but Ubuntu has fulfilled my needs so I haven’t really had to look elsewhere.

I upgraded to the early release of Feisty a while back now, and it has been rock-solid throughout. Not bad for pre-release software never mind an OS! Anyway the main improvements over the earlier version are a more stable and compatible network manager (wireless networking support primarily), a refocused control panelesque administration section, flashy 3d desktop effects via Compiz, and better binary/restricted or non-free driver support to name a few. The best feature in my eyes however, and the one which has made Ubuntu that bit easier to adopt, has to be the automatic codec installation support.

Due to the Ubuntu philosophy of only including free and non-proprietary packages, many codecs were not installed with the vanilla OS installation and required a bit of tweaking and cajoling to get configured… Now they’re installed automatically as and when you need them, making widescale adoption of the OS that bit easier.

The final version has been just as stable as the early builds for me, the only notable issue for me being that the 3d effects are a little buggy. I’ve turned those supplied by the OS off and installed Beryl (a fork of Compiz, more stable IME) and all my previous 3d desktop niceness is stable again.

Windows development (.NET, IIS, SQL), when necessary is facilitated by VMWare Player and a Windows VM with my stock VS environments. Mono, Rails, MySql and the little PHP i’ve been getting into recently has obviously been native via Linux, Apache and using several IDE’s including Eclipse and RadRails.

The usual day-to-day stuff such as browsing, email, media playing etc has been snag-free as usual with Firefox and Opera for browsing, Amarok for audio and iPod management and finally VLC, MPlayer and Xine for video.

I find myself only using Windows when necessity dictates now. I have briefly used Vista but not yet in anger so can’t really comment on that. The hardware requirement is a bit of a joke though and I don’t think i’ll be upgrading in the near future… But thats another post all together 🙂

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