Sunday, 3 August 2008

My experience with Linux

I guess adding the work Linux to the title of any blog is going to give away early on that I have quite a passion for all things technological. Before I get to the point I really want to cover let me tell you a little bit of background. Back in 2001 my step dad introduced my to Linux – I was using windows 2000 at the time and to be honest I found that Linux could be a pain in the neck. Simple things like playing a DVD or connecting to the internet were really complicated in comparison to the offerings from Redmond. My dissertation was written using OpenOffice and Visio (I know it is a Microsoft product but the was nothing under Linux at the time that compared). After this I started working and really had little time for my old Linux box.

So five years went by and my computing life revolved around XP – but during this time I never actually owned a computer (except the Linux box that was in storage). Strange for someone working in online marketing to not actually own a machine but it was not necessary because I always had access to a computer. I really think this shows how they are in many ways becoming terminals to the Internet, a way of getting online rather than an end in themselves. But in late 2007 I decided enough was enough and bought a Dell laptop, I was amazed by how cheap it was. Only £520 for 2 cores, 2gb of ram, high contrast screen, big disc and a case. When I last bought a machine a similar “level” not spec would have been over a grand.

The machine came loaded with Windows Vista which I have to say is pretty good. Everything works with ease and looks pretty. However, that said it does have a major downside – it loves power. Even with the spec of my new machine it felt slow at times. Linux has always been in the back of my mind so I decided that maybe it was time to give the OS another go. After a little research Ubuntu looked like a good candidate. A quick 700mb download later and I was ready to give the new system a whirl.

You can install it from Windows in a sectioned off part of the NTFS partition – very clever feature that I have not seen before. It seemed much simpler than resizing partitions, creating new partitions etc. It does have a slight performance penalty but for a taster I went with it. One install later and I had a flickering, distorted screen. Good job. Install number two using safe mode drivers went better. Followed by installing the propriety ATI drivers and control panel. So at last I had a machine I could see but not use. It took me a further two hours to get the Wifi working and I am still not quite sure what got it going.

Running the system is fantastic, it is really really fast. Has all of the software I need and works perfectly. However, it must be said that before Linux can go mass market it needs to become simpler to install. I have worked on or around computers for nine years and this was still a tricky task. Put simply it should not be that hard, Windows can be installed by a 10 year old with a Coca Cola the same can't be said of Linux which is a real shame.

I love Linux but until it loses some of its “quirks” it will remain a closed book to most people. Although I am sure it will get there and it has come a long long way since I last experimented with it more work needs to be done.


Blogger kozmcrae said...

Why is it ok to compare installing Linux with an operating system that comes installed? It's not. Linux will not come to the masses via one giant install fest. No, it will come to them on the machines they buy. Linux, whoever that is, does not demand that people must install it on their computers. It's there for the taking, no questions asked. It's not there to hold your hand for $35 an hour. There are no aftermarket vendors making offers to you with their icons on your desktop. No DRM or secret updates.

Linux, like you say, may not be ready to be installed by the average computer user, but it is ready for them, just ask Dell or Asus.

03 August 2008 18:40  

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