My Ubuntu experiment

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by bousozoku, Aug 27, 2007.

  1. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #1
    The other day, I got the official Ubuntu book that includes version 7.04. I skimmed through the book and thought that I'd re-partition the Windows machine's drive and try something different. A lot of people have mentioned how Feisty Fawn (version 7.04) is a worthy desktop operating system. I wanted to see if it was as user friendly as Mac OS X and hoped to see that my UNIX background wasn't necessary at all.

    I restarted the system and booted from the DVD and tried it via the Live CD mode. It seemed good and I started installing it. When it suggested partitioning, I looked for help text to understand what 72 % meant. Was it 72 % for the Windows partition or 72 % for the Ubuntu partition? There was no help text and the book said exactly what the installer said--nothing. I switched it to 48 %, which at worst meant that Windows would get a lot less space.

    The rest of the installation went smoothly, as it recognised the hardware. When it re-booted and was Ubuntu was running, everything seemed fine but sparse. I suppose that's how Mac OS X was the first time. It was reassuring that the monitor's resolution was correct and that the keyboard, mouse, and speakers were working.

    Firefox and Evolution are presented on the menu bar for web browsing and e-mail but there are several other applications and games available. Things seem a cross between BeOS and Windows.

    It felt much different when I tried to start the firewall. System Administration asked me for the password when I started a function. It seemed a little premature compared to Mac OS X but it still kept people from randomly changing the system. Still, the firewall was a problem. It seems that there isn't one. I opened the book and found that I needed to contact the Universe to get a firewall. Uh huh. I tried the instructions they gave me but things must have changed after the book was printed. I still wonder why they didn't include any firewall. It wasn't in danger since the machine is behind the Macintosh's firewall but still, it's a major piece of system software.

    The Software Update utility found plenty of things to update, including Python and OpenOffice but didn't update GNOME to the latest bug fix release. When something went wrong and one of the servers refused a connection, it didn't give me a retry option, just Quit and Ignore. My first thought was that I'd end up with a non-functional operating system at some point but I had just installed so, it was worth a try. Things seemed fine and apparently, parts of OpenOffice weren't updated. Apparently, a lot of OpenOffice files are used to support the operating system, such as language support. A couple of days later, I finished the updates.

    It's probably been 2 or 3 of the 5 years that I first said (around 2004-2005) Linux would need to mature to have a decent desktop version for end users and it certainly feels as though they need a few more years for a user to be self-sufficient. Linux still seems that you have to build something and perhaps, build something else, to actually accomplish a lot but it's come a long way.
     
  2. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #2
    I've been keeping tabs on Ubuntu with interest for a while, and I'm running a dedicated Ubuntu machine at home, and several elsewhere. But an OS is just an OS - something that Apple Maniacs would do well to remember - and the biggest problem is perhaps that Ubuntu so far has no compelling platform-specific applications. The fact that it's free only partially overcomes that, especially when in communities where a piece of software free of financial obligations might be beneficial, there is rampant piracy in any case.

    After the disastrous experience with the Apple desktop/portable hardware which first of all now offends my engineer sensibilities, I've green lit looking into a port of our OS X based frontending app to Ubuntu since for developer reasons a Windows port wasn't feasible. The OS is certainly mature enough for me to use it for that purpose, but I can't honestly think of any other real reasons I'd do so at this time when Windows and OSX covers all the main applications and the niches better - and from what I can see, will continue to do so until there's a big shift in terms of what people consider an OS.

    I agree about the road to fully usable maturity, although it will probably be sooner than you predict. The real hitch I'd say are the apps though.

    As for System Administration, OS X essentially gives you the same prompts (as does Vista) as Ubuntu if you're running as a standard user - which you should be in any case.
     
  3. Queso macrumors G4

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    #3
    I tend to use Linux for server purposes rather than desktop, as that's where it really shines IMO. Unfortunately there's quite a lot of stuff that needs to be installed in order to make the default Ubuntu setup usable as a desktop machine, media codecs being just one example. But once you get through that it is a viable alternative to both OSX and Windows. I can see how others rave about it, even though personally I prefer OSX.
     
  4. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #4
    To be fair so does a default install Windows and OS X to a lesser extent, its just that the OEM's bundle a lot of this stuff.
     
  5. bousozoku thread starter Moderator emeritus

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    #5
    The ability to play media just seems so natural at this point and yet, because of their desire to avoid legal conflicts, you can't do much even though they install applications by default. Since QuickTime and Windows Media and Real Media aren't supported on Linux by their developers, it comes down to doing the best you can to get around that. That's perfectly understandable.

    I rather an import for the photo album/slideshow software earlier. I can't imagine anyone dealing with the software to be able to congratulate the developers. It had decided that there were 14,000+ image files. It found everything from the icon images to photos I've downloaded and my own photos. I had many that I had to skip because the PNG magic number wasn't correct or the header was invalid and there was even an array error. In the end, the 14,000+ image files became 6, none of which could be viewed. "Martha, there's something wrong with this !@#$ machine!" What was truly maddening was the fact that I had to handle each problem separately and all processing stopped until I handled it. It reminded me of the nightmare of Apple's copy before they added the checkbox to replace/don't replace all.

    I did eventually find the firewall software (Firestarter?), though it said that it was just a configuring application. Still, when I quit that software, it seemed as though the firewall stopped also.

    Ubuntu Linux reminds me so much of BeOS. It looks nice and you can do things like writing documents and playing games but when it comes to doing something that really counts, you need some other operating system.
     
  6. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #6
    So Linux is still tech-geeks only, its not a good thing.
     
  7. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #7
    No. Especially as the tech geeks who ultimately have no concept of usability bang on about how it's the OS for the rest of us. I have zero interest in deploying and using an OS on a daily basis that requires very manual setting up of some of the most fundamental functional parameters in this day and age especially when, as I've said before, it doesn't offer a compelling increase in function as an applications platform.

    But it seems like a lot more people to whom usability is not a completely alien concept seem have joined in the last couple of years so who knows. I'm certainly not dismissing it and will be keeping all my Ubuntu machines up to date, regardless of whether we port anything.
     
  8. bousozoku thread starter Moderator emeritus

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    #8
    Well, the 2-3 years ago, Linux users were telling me how wonderful it was and how it was as good as Mac OS X and I tried it and it was very steady but completely unusable from an end users standpoint.

    If the installation didn't get the graphics hardware right, you had to change the XWindows configuration through a text editor, if you could find the file and understood the contents. Now, things like that are integrated within the GUI, similar to Mac OS X. Imagine asking your 75 year old mother/grandmother to do that. It's part of the reason I've been complaining about the Mac OS X firewall controls. To do something important, but out of the limited GUI controls, you have to alter the configuration file. (It's better than when the control was on or off but just.)

    I tried to share a printer last night, and considering that both machines are using CUPS, I thought that it would work but no printer was detected (I have 2) and it defaults to a very professional interface where you enter a URI. (Just saying URI at this point will confuse people who know URL but not URI.)

    I want to write some commercial software for the platform, so I'll continue to explore.
     
  9. bousozoku thread starter Moderator emeritus

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    #9
    As an update, back in April, I got the semi-annual update to the Ubuntu distribution. In order to have it ready on the date, they had to slash stability, which is an odd thing to do to a long term release, as 8.04 is.

    A few tweaks and things were updated correctly, but I was shocked at the number of people acknowledging problems with the installations. Imagine grandma upgrading and finding that something didn't work and she had to locate some switch.

    Of course, Mark Shuttleworth didn't find it a problem at all and has been telling people that he expects the Ubuntu distribution to outdo Mac OS X, though he didn't mention overtaking the number of installations.

    I still see Linux' usability as its main problem. The desktop and file manager may be fine, but who really wants perpetual beta test (and some alpha test) software as their day-to-day applications?
     
  10. Much Ado macrumors 68000

    Much Ado

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    #10
    I've been playing around with Ubuntu recently. Until it passes the 'Grandma Test' I won't really see it as viable.

    Interesting thread btw

    EDIT: And old too. Forum Spy confuses me. :D
     
  11. XnavxeMiyyep macrumors 65816

    XnavxeMiyyep

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    #11
    Eventually, I'm going to try out FreeBSD. Maybe sometime this month. You can actually make X behave like Mac OS X with the Étoilé desktop environment. It puts the menubar at the top and divides by App instead of window. It's based on Window Maker, the desktop environment of GNUStep, which came from NEXTSTEP, which OS X also came from (I may have some details wrong, but it's something like that). It seems like it'll be a fun project.
     
  12. KingYaba macrumors 68040

    KingYaba

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    #12
    Instead of Ubuntu you should have downloaded Linux Mint. Easier to use.
     
  13. ZiggyPastorius macrumors 68040

    ZiggyPastorius

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    #13
    This was the problem I always had with Linux, personally. I always tell people that Linux is a fine Unix-based OS, but the problem with it is that it doesn't keep the end-user in mind. My friend Tyler loves it, and runs all his servers and the majority of his computers on it...whereas I, someone who knows close to jack about programming and the technical side of computing, can barely use the OS for anything beyond basic word processing and web-browsing. It's an operating system that, if it were to remain free, and became usable for the average computer user (something which I, unfortunately, don't see happening. Atleast not in the near future), would be amazing, and probably something to make me switch to as a primary OS, rather than OS X. I think what Sesshi is saying about applications is important, too. In OS X, there are a few apps that the makers will not make for OS X, and I just deal with that and use my Windows partition. For Linux, there's essentially nothing, and while the users of Linux trumpet the open-source alternatives to major apps in video editing, audio work, et cetera, I find that they severely lack in functionality and ease-of-use compared to more standard and professional applications. Not to demean them at all -- there is nothing I give more praise to than open-source developers. The problem for me is that I just don't find the same usability in, say, gimp, as I do in photoshop, or in Ubuntu Studio as in, say, Logic.
     
  14. bousozoku thread starter Moderator emeritus

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    #14
    It doesn't matter which distribution you download. They're all flawed.

    They're also all very interesting. I like the GNOME desktop a lot but even the GNOME users agree that things have progressed too slowly in 10 years.

    Linux and the BSDs need one GUI and real focus to make them a desktop force. They also need someone (1, not 2, not 3, and not a committee) to care to put applications that are finished into the mix. When I talk to the Linux fanatics, they say that Linux works just right on the desktop and there is no need to fix it. I think they're wrong.
     
  15. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #15
    I've been interested in Linux for a few years. IIRC, prime time debut has been predicted for some time, and always has that feel. Yet it still hasn't happened.

    It seems application developers are waiting for the OS to mature into something stable and easy to use, combined with an adequate user base. Consumers apparently want the applications developed before they take the leap, free/inexpensive or not.

    So I tend to look at this as the 'Chicken and the egg' OS. :p
     
  16. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #16
    They are.

    Linux is a pain in the ass to get working in a way that I'd consider acceptable, and even when it's working, its overall usability and GUI are as good as WinXP, and no better than that. Windows isn't as stable as Linux/SuSE, but then again, SuSE hasn't been as stable as OS X for me.

    Right now, OS X is really the best overall in terms of ease of use, and little things/features that allow me to work better. I'd say SuSE is far worse than WinXP in terms of simplicity, slightly worse in day-to-day use (even if all media codecs and such are installed, everything is set up, etc), so like Sesshi said, what's the point of going to Linux?

    I'm sticking with OS X.
     
  17. bousozoku thread starter Moderator emeritus

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    #17
    They're talking about the next release of the GIMP ToolKit supported resolution independence, which would be nice. It needs a lot of work so GNOME can exceed its low limits.

    There is also KDE that's used on SuSE but I think it's a bit busy and too much like Windows.

    I just wish the people in charge would take things more seriously. Then, free software would be both a threat and an asset. I'd really like to see Photoshop de-throned, as well as other software. I'm not saying that we developers shouldn't make money but charging huge amounts of money for software that isn't always as great as the price is ridiculous.
     
  18. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #18
    One of the reasons for the shift from a OSX-OSX > Linux-OSX > Linux-Linux transition solution to a OSX-OSX > Vista-OSX > Vista(&later)-Linux solution, a year down the line from my post. I decided we needed to make these machines less application-specific and it would ultimately have involved the same compromises as running the desktop under OS X had I stuck with Ubuntu.

    And from our testing, Windows - Vista at least - is as stable as Linux under normal use, if not more so depending on configuration.

    Still keeping tabs on Ubuntu though, still see no compelling reason to make it even a tertiary regular desktop environment.
     
  19. Queso macrumors G4

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    #19
    Ubuntu is far better if you stick the KDE interface on top of it. KDE 4.1 is now much more stable than 4.0 was, and a lot less busy than KDE3 was. Install it and give it a go.

    And I'm happy to say that the installation of media codecs etc. as mentioned in my long-ago post earlier in this thread, has now been seriously simplified. One installation from the repositories does the biz.
     
  20. Apple Ink macrumors 68000

    Apple Ink

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    #20
    I like GNome better..... it also feels far more stable! GNome's squiggy drag featuer is specially cool!
     
  21. SimonMW macrumors 6502

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    #21
    I've been messing around with Ubuntu recently. Using the Mac has made it a lot more clear to use than when I first tried it.

    But still Ubuntu relies too much on the Terminal and manually performing tasks. OS X is basically Linux with usability and software support.

    Linux needs to be user friendly to people with zero computer knowledge, otherwise it will never ever, ever be mainstream. This is something the geeks can't seem to get their heads around.

    It also needs a couple of killer apps. As others have mentioned GIMP is not a patch on Photoshop, and there are no useable video editing software packages on it either.

    Admittedly it is pretty cool on a high powered system with Compiz enabled. But it is the lack of software and usablity that is holding it back. And unfortunately Linuxistas don't seem to be able to face up to that.
     
  22. bousozoku thread starter Moderator emeritus

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    #22
    I really hope they learn something about making things usable for the average computer user who would buy a system at Wal-Mart, instead of gearing it for someone who can fix every problem on their own.

    In any case, this thread will go dormant again since I'm on hour 23 of my 24 hour stay. I wish you all success with Linux.
     
  23. PowerFullMac macrumors 601

    PowerFullMac

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    #23
    I have played with Ubuntu and other Linuxes quite a lot and I must say Ubuntu is the most developed, still needs quite a bit of work, though.

    Definatly ahead of the other disros though!
     

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