So, the decision has been made, I’m moving the laptop from Windows 7 to Ubuntu.
The beginning of Windows’ end!
The first clear and distinct advantage that any version of Linux offers over any version of Windows is that once the decision is made, you can get started on the installation that very evening, and crucially the credit card does not need to leave the wallet. Linux is Open Source which means it is built by a worldwide community and is available for all to use free of charge.
So that is certainly Ubuntu 1 – Windows 0.
So about 20 minutes has now gone by, I have downloaded the latest release of Ubuntu and burned it onto a CD (not a DVD like Windows requires) and I have checked my laptop for valuable files and moved them onto my PC. I am now ready to get installing.
Interestingly it gives you the option to run the system on your computer without actually installing, so if you are unsure before you commit then you can try it out. I did take this option but soon realised it was pointless since I was trying to establish whether it would improve performance of the laptop, clearly running it from the CD would not be a good indicator of that.
So I moved quickly onto installing for real. I opted not to take the option of keeping Windows in a dual-boot arrangement, instead choosing to completely wipe Windows from existence in order to maximise my limited hard drive resources, although as an afterthought I should have given the dual-boot option more consideration as I now think that it would have been a good test should I decide to set one up later on the desktop PC. Anyway, on with the installation…
So the first thing I noticed about the installation was how quick and painless it was, just a couple of easy questions and off it went, hopefully this is a sign of things to come. I also notice that upon installation not only do all the basic functions of the laptop appear to be working fine, including the trackpad, but I also have a full compliment of free applications ready and waiting. A quick glance through the ‘Applications’ menu and it seems I am covered for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations by Open Office, I have Gimp for graphics and a couple of image viewers and music & video players, an email client and of course my trusty Firefox is ready and waiting to serve up the Internet.
This all looks very promising, although I recall Microsoft getting into trouble for doing this very thing with Internet Explorer so they should be careful!
My first impressions are that despite the Brown & Orange colour scheme which I’m pretty sure I can change, this looks good. Simple, de-cluttered, and everything I need seems to be there.
Problem Number One!
It was only a matter of time before something cropped up that was less straight forward. I dive head-first into Firefox and get nothing, just an error that it isn’t connected.
“Ah yes” I remember, “wireless not yet set up”.
When I installed Windows 7 on the laptop it wasn’t able to detect the wireless adapter and I had to hunt around online to find the drivers to install manually. I guess I shouldn’t expect Ubuntu to have been any better at this, but it would have been another plus point on it’s side if it had.
So it’s come to this!
So out comes the network cable and off we go. The internet is up and running now that I am hard-wired, and to my surprise so is the home network as I can now see my main PC and all it’s shared folders. This took ages to get going on the Windows PC!
What happened next with setting up the wireless adapter is a whole other story to which I shall devote a separate entry. For now here are my first impressions:
- It’s not as slick as Windows 7- they really did a good job getting 7 looking and feeling great, I don’t think Ubuntu is quite there yet.
- While not as sharp looking as Windows the look and feel certainly looks to be much more adaptable, so with enough time I could get it looking and feeling better.
- Copying files seems better than Windows. It bunches multiple copy activities together into a single window (see below) rather than filling the screen with little copy status windows, much more organised.
- The laptop is much less noisy with Ubuntu as it was with Windows. Recently the backup fan has been running at full speed constantly, whereas now on Ubuntu it is pretty much quiet. The leads me to think that it is not having to work so hard, another plus for Ubuntu.
- I don’t think this is as user friendly as Windows. Despite the helpful UI I still found myself having to look up reference documents online or draw upon my long unused DOS command knowledge.
So the basics of installation is now done, so far so good. Next step is to get it working fully, and that means getting the wireless working!
My thrilling story about getting the wireless working will be coming soon!