Ubuntu 8.04: it symply works (better than Vista…)

Of course it works, it did before. One could say for ages. But never that seamless as now. My T61 laptop is not brand, but fairly new and once I had the resolution configured properly it just runs sooo nicely, it made me write a post about it.

Two examples showing how grown up Linux is today

As said, it worked before, but there was always something that made you google for drivers, patches or tutorials, for me for example it’s been wireless and usb support during my first steps with Debian and knoppix a couple of years ago. Wireless did not work until I had found the proper drivers for my card and rebuild my kernel, following some instruction that did work but took me hours to find. And for USB it was not that hard to enable, but still, it did not auto-mount when I plugged a USB drive in, so I had to update fstab etc. to make it work.

With these experiences I never really could agree that Linux is a competitor two Windows. It’s true, Windows had it’s security problems, but people knew the concept of the Interface and that is what matters more in consumer market. Linux was to complicated, a lot of things worked, but if they did not, a ‘normal’ user would be lost. My criteria was pretty simple: Could my dad (started with computers in his sixties) use it without my help? And so far the answer was no. So far. With only two days on my new Ubuntu 8.04 release I feel I could give it to my dad, customize it a bit to his needs (emails: evolution instead of Outlook, letters: OO2 instead of Word, skype and picasa) and be sure he would be happily runnning it without to much hassle.

But back to my own issues with USB and Wireless, here a series of screens that show how funky and easy it is nowadays.

Wireless and USB Music Player support

Well, the sequence is not right, but you get the idea.

  • Wireless is as easy as a left-click onto the networking icon in the tray top right hand side. That displays all the available networks (third image). Simply click the one you want to use and you will be presented with a dialog (fourth image) to input the security details. Not supported security options are not displayed.
  • My USB music player (not an ipod) plugged in will automatically be recognized and mounted (second image), the associated audio player opens up and suggests to install missing codecs. If you agree you will be taken to a codec installer (first image) to select the options and agree to installing restricted software.

Just another example a couple of minutes ago with the automated discovery of java plugin and installation. It’s as easy as one-two-three. My whole Ubuntu installation feels fast, from starting up to application performance. And still I use Vista?

Windows issues – stuck between rock (get slim) and hard (backward compatibility)

So why still bother with Vista? Well, first of all I have not a lot to complain about Vista, for me it works fairly good out of the box. And I like the Lenovo/IBM added tools such as the Fingerprint Reader and it’s integration into browser and applications. Since I have a new notebook, the speed is ok, though not better than my previous XP system. But many others  have struggled more with Vista. And even though, there are architectural issues. A  presentation from Gartner (given in Las Vegas a couple of days ago already) discussed in this article talks about the necessary changes for Windows to stay/become? competetive in the OS market. The ZDNET blog talks about some issues raised by two other Gartner guys. Basically they say, Windows with its one-kernel-does-all architecture simply has become to big with its approach to cover every scenario.

Part of the problem of course is its backward compatibility. I actually would have preferred Vista to break that and continue with a clean new kernel. As Apple did with MacOS. Problem for a new system in the first place will be the little software support. And from the gaming industry we know that this can break – e.g. the Amiga CD32 game console with great technology, but little original software – you or make you – like Windows with its huge market share at least in the consumer market. Unless the new product is superior in functionality and/or ease-of-use – like the Nintendo Wii – you will have to make sure users can run their well known applications without hassle. I even would say, this is more important than new features in the first place. If MS redoes its OS, there is no reason why users will not switch to Linux or MacOS. On the other hand, the longer they wait the more competition from the growing number of browser based applications they will get, along with another trend to be mentioned in virtualized applications – no demand for a big OS at all, only a Virtualization layer with a minimalistic kernel is required and will potentially allow higher performances due to missing/tiny OS layer. Easy, coz “Complexity is the enemy of speed”. But as you can read from this paragraph, there is no black or white for the future direction of Windows. It can’t go on as it is and get more and more complex (and eat hardware performance as it grows) nor can’t it simply break all backward compatibility.

The mentioned backwards compatibility and software support are the reasons why people still have Windows as my primary OS. I for example like the variety of software for Windows from commercial software, shareware and open source. Yeah, a Mac Evangelists tried to tell me that I can have everything on a Mac as well. I like MacOS, but sorry, that’s not the case. Most of it, yeah, but not all. And since I’m human, I’m lazy. And therefore still stick with Windows instead of switching completely to Linux or MacOS. I don’t want to find and learn alternatives for applications I don’t have there.

I agree with Larry Dignan from ZDNET: It will take longer, for Windows to collapse and people to move away from it, than we think. If at all.

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4 Responses

  1. […] Ubuntu 8.04: it symply works (better than Vista…) […]

  2. I have dumped the Windows platform for Ubuntu. Vista was the last straw. Big , bloated, convoluted UI, terrible performance, and it just dose not work right. Want to play a DVD nope can’t DRM error . Want to burn a DVD nope error won’t recognize blank media but will try to format my store bought DVD’s rather than play them. Want to listen to mp3’s..ok plug in usb hard drive ..opp must be formated before this disk can be used

  3. so vista mangled 200gb of MP3’s . My new Microsoft hardware peripherals don’t work right , solution reinstall Vista until they stop working again. 64-bit Vista won’t load driver’s that aren’t signed by microsoft .(opps no VMware Vista kills the drivers , found a workaround and MS “patched” it to remove the workaround and kill VMware again in an update. Thanks MS) solution from MS support use Microsoft virtual PC instead ) Yeah thats great. No printer driver, no scanner driver and these are not that old but not driver is expected to be made. Call me crazy but I also like my OS to be able to copy and delete files …error nope try again , ok now 25 minutes to move 400 MB on the same partition. Explorer musical folder views , you docs , and scripts are now sorted a pictures…opps now as mp3’s , 280 file sorting categories, included number of kids, MPH , shoe size , favorite color, and the category called “categories” and date created is not a default. Full text search Index grinding my disk 24/7 slowing everything down so that the few time a moth if that which I search for files will finish 30 seconds faster. Turn it off and get a nag screen in explorer when searching. I constantly found my self searching forums and spending hours trying to get it X Vista operation to work right or to disable something annoying all the while it’s interface like a bad power point presentation obscured my settings and wasted my time talking down to me. I was like hey I wanted to have my hardware not be supported and be unable run my software I could be on Linux and have 4 times the performance , and my computer would do what I wanted it. Either way I’m searching forums for solutions. Low and behold Ubuntu recognized all my hardware out of the box and the MS hardware worked 100% better under linux. Install , setup , 30 minutes complete backup of the system one command in terminal done in 10 minutes. Burn a dvd ?, drag click done. Linux has come along way. Vista might be “ok” not good , not decent , just “It’s ok and mostly works” for some people and is a night mare for others, hey it came on their PC and it’s all there is as far as they know though and they won’t see how fast that 4 to 8 gb RAM having dual/qaud core would run under an efficient OS. Maybe some will convert to Mac. Other’s will just suffer a gimped PC using the equivalent of last years CGI workstation to check e-mail and be policed with driver signing , tilt bits checking every millisecond/dumping the main subsystems on a hair trigger, constrained, and in inconvenienced by their shoddy $300 OS that locks away their computer, squanders their resources, eats their data, barks orders at them and then crashes. I’d not be surprised if the next service pack appended all the Vista popups and error messages with the phrase “Ya like that ?! Yeah, that’s right, take it user! – Love Microsoft” (anyone remember when the Windows error messages would “apologize for the inconvenience ? rather than say something like this application might have impacted the performance of Vista..this is my PC because I’m Vista and I’ll decide what goes on round these parts! ) Some will remember that the Operating System is there to…um ..operate their system not the other way around and like me will head for Linux. I’m not sure who’s going to support the Vista users as anyone who is a good tech is gonna need a few drinks before they can stomach Microsoft’s bloated abomination; Vista.

  4. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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