I’ve been trying linux for quite sometime (Redhat, Linspire, Suse, etc), but was never impressed nor into it due to various problems/reasons. From hardware issues (the first linux distro I tried couldn’t even detect my PS/2 mouse, I had to use a serial port mouse!), non-user friendly interface, lack of software without compiling it myself, etc etc. More recently I’ve been trying various versions of Ubuntu (5.1, 6.06, 6.1), and although I’ve been successful on the installation, anything from there left me unimpressed. I do see improvements in hardware support (I have a USB Wifi adapter which the manufacture was bought by somebody else and thus driver support for windows is gone, yet it works flawlessly with Ubuntu), software catalog/installation (no longer having to figure out .tar/compiling), and general aesthetics. Beryl (a 3D desktop manager) was awesome, but was unstable and not included by default. Here’s a short video demo. It puts Vista to shame.
But in the end, I returned to Windows due to lack of usable apps that I want, “slow” UI, confusing errors, needing command line to do something trivial, etc.
Hardy Heron was released no too long ago. I decided to give it a go one more time. First installation run already gave me issues, spitting I/O errors and simply stopped at a command line. I was like WTF? Did CD verification test and it’s fine. Remember, Ubuntu is trying to target new linux users/beginners, and simply quitting the OS installation into a command prompt is not attractive at all. I rebooted and re-ran the install. It went further, the live desktop got loaded, but then the installation was stopped due to some error. Again, WTF? At least it returned me to the live desktop. Re-ran the install the 3rd time, and it finally installed all the way through. The nice thing about the recent Ubuntu releases is that Compiz is turned on by default. The UI seemed more snappier than the past versions due to having some acceleration. First thing Ubuntu detected my ATI video card and requested a proprietary driver install. This is VERY useful. In the past, you pretty much had to hunt the drivers yourself in order to get some acceleration. Alas, I have a dual monitor setup, and there doesn’t seem any way to do this in Hardy Heron other than the default clone. Searching online, pretty much people are just spitting command lines. This is another problem with the linux community. A newbie asked a question on how to do x, next thing you know all the expert are spitting command lines. C’mon, what’s the point of GUI if people had to do command lines? I finally found out the ATI catalyst app, hidden in the “other” section in the Apps catalog. Well, trying to change any setting will screw up both displays. That’s it. Doing dual-monitor setup is a no brainer ever since win98. Why is it so hard in Ubuntu? I gave up. Leopard, here I come. 🙂
Of course, that doesn’t mean the latest Ubuntu is bad. For somebody on a single monitor setup, the installation of Hardy Heron is the most straight forward so far (discounting the I/O errors). Ability to automatically download proprietary drivers and having Compiz turned on by default are great. Out of the box, it is fine for internet browsing/email. Still, Ubuntu still has a long way to go compared to Mac OS and Windows. Thing is, I don’t think the geek community want Linux to be easy-to-use, shown by the fact that they toss command lines left and right to anybody that ask questions.
Oh well, next is the sweet and smooth Leopard.