When my old PC met it's maker last week in a grinding hard-drive failure, I figured it was an opportunity to free myself from the $100 Microsoft surcharge I pay every time I get a new computer. Time to see what all the Ubuntu buzz is about...
I looked at building my own PC - never done that, but heard it's pretty easy. Then I realized Dell was selling Ubuntu, which I could order without a monitor for $350. I wanted to hook this up to my HDTV... so took a risk that it would work. I have to say, getting the nvidia drivers to play nice with the DVI out was a hassle (besides the fact that the drivers weren't properly installed when the PC arrived). I've basically resolved it by stretching some toolbars(panels) on the sides of my screen to offset the overscan. Seems to do the trick well enough.
So what are my impressions from this experience? I've been a Windows user all my life (except for a few comp. sci. classes in college). I am tickled by the fact that I'm using free, open-source everything. That makes me part of a community which supports the philosophy that computing should be accessible to everyone.
As for the Ubuntu operating system. There's some pros & cons:
- It's super fast! I can't emphasize this enough... Windows is a resource hog, especially Vista from what I've heard. I can run more applications at once now without feeling the drag.
- Available software o' plenty. I was immediately impressed with the amount of quality software available for Ubuntu (for free!). I researched it a bit before taking the dive... but I think the only software I'll have to do without is TurboTax.
- More command lines than many would like. I'd say Windows is pretty good at letting a user avoid this completely. A user could use Ubuntu out of the box & never need a command line... but in all likelihood, they'll need to go there once they start customizing or installing new software.
- Using the forums. This could be a pro AND a con... but the point is that you're going to have to rely on google to find solutions to your questions (this is also true with Windows, just not to the same degree). It's not entirely bad - in fact, I haven't had a single issue yet I couldn't resolve this way.
Later versions of Ubuntu will only get better as more people try it out & it gets more attention. Like I've said before - I think that will happen as the web becomes a central computing platform & people will realize the $100 Microsoft tax isn't necessary.