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© May 2006 Anthony Lawrence
May 2006

I've seen Ubuntu at the top of DistroWatch for some time. I've avoided it for the usual reasons: I don't know how to pronounce it, I didn't have a machine conveniently available to test it on, and so on.

Well, apparently its pronounced "oo-BOON-too" and now that Parallels is available to run VM's on my Mac, I don't need a sacrificial machine to play with distributions.

Ubuntu is a single CD. There's also a "live CD" version available if you just want to play with it without installing; I didn't look at that. Installation was quick and simple. Apparently some folks don't like that the install is text based - sheesh, is it so hard to live without a mouse during the install? To me, it makes perfect sense: there's darn little that requires mousing. Probably the only real place was during the selection of allowed resolutions for the yet to be started .. if that screen confuses you so much that you can't get by it, I don't know how you get through your daily life anyway.

There's a sticky thread "Is Ubuntu for You?" that mentions other reasons that might dissuade you from trying Ubuntu; none seemed to apply to me so I pressed onward.

Much has been made in the press about Ubuntu being "easy". For example, this review entitled Dumber people can run Linux. Well, Ubuntu wasn't difficult, but it's the first Parallels install I've ever done where the network wasn't set active. No real problem: a quick click on System->Administration-> Networking let me activate eth0, and that was all that was required, but it still was a little surprising.

I was also surprised that selecting the Update Manager didn't cause a large download of fixes. How can that be? The version I downloaded was first released months ago - do they keep the cd's updated with bug fixes and security patches?

I liked the "sudo update-alternatives --all" script - it presents alternative programs and alows you to choose which you will use. For example, here it asks me about "editor":

There are 3 alternatives which provide `editor'.

Selection Alternative
* 1 /usr/bin/vim
2 /bin/ed
+ 3 /bin/nano

Press enter to keep the default[*], or type selection number:

Sshd wasn't installed by default, but I found it in the Synaptics Package Manager (OpenSSH server) and installed it in a flash. I was once again surprised to find that the installed sshd_config has PermitRootLogin set to "yes".

Ubuntu is the gift of Mark Shuttleworth to the world. Seriously. This is the guy who founded Thawte and sold it to Verisign for $575 million. You can hear Mark talk about Ubuntu and other things he's doing at this google video. It looks like Mark is doing the right things with his fortune - that's great to see; the guy deserves applause from all of us.

By the way, if you must have KDE, there's also Kubuntu.

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Thu May 18 16:32:02 2006: 2032   infinity

So Tony, you also like Ubuntu. Its suprising to me the kindda attention Ubuntu is gaining these days. I use Fedora Core 2 at Home and RHEL3(Due to IT policy) at work. Most of the times the distributions does not matter. Fedora Core has been 'useful' a lot and thats easy to install, easy to use,easy to update etc etc and So is any modern distro. So why does one distro gain points over the other? In my opinion, the main point for selection of a distro for regular usage should be the userbase, so that if you hit across a problem in installing some software ( Video on FC has been a failure so far), You will have forums/google to post and look for answers.
Another than that, for an Ordinary User of Linux.
- Installation should be easy. (Many Provide it. Its almost taken for granted on FC,Ubuntu,Mandriva,Memphis,Suse)
- Window Manager- Gnome, KDE. They are same no matter which distribution you choose. Ofcourse few customizations are there which make some intial difference.
- Your Regular apps. Terminal,Browser,Tools.

So, how is Ubuntu scoring points over others.

Thu May 18 16:38:52 2006: 2033   bruceg2004

For me, it was the only distro that got my WiFi right, out of the box, without me having to touch it. I have not tried Fedora Core-5 yet, but core 4 did not get my WiFi right, nor did any other distro. It is that ease of use, that can put linux on par with OS X and, although I dread saying it, Windows on the desktop. Most people do not like downloading drivers, firmware updates for their WiFi cards, etc. They just want them to work. Ubuntu, so far in my travels, is the only distro that gave me this experience.

- Bruce

Thu May 18 16:44:48 2006: 2035   TonyLawrence

In two ways, I think. First, the popularity factor you alluded to. The more people that use it, the easier to find a solution for any problem you have.

But secondly I really admire Mark's philanthropy and social ideals - he's put a lot of money where his mouth is.

Thu Sep 27 00:45:40 2007: 3164   anonymous

All I did was toss an extra SATA drive in my HP, set that to boot, Ubuntu 7.04 install was flawless. I think this is going to be big Tony, very big. I only tried Ubuntu Desktop.

They have done some great polish on this distro.

Bob of Oregon


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