Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Life with Ubuntu

I finally did it. It's been a long time coming and one fine day, I decided to go ahead and de-windows myself. I bought my laptop 3 years ago and it came with a 64-bit AMD processor. I never made full use of that as I was using Windows XP (32-bit version) until last month. My laptop performance was slowly degrading and using XP was a pain at times. I looked around and decided to go the Unix way to see how different things would be. I have used Unix OS before but it was always due to necessity rather than choice. Also, I was put off by the amount of work I needed to do to get the kind of ease of use from using a Windows based system.

After googling around for a bit, I landed on Ubuntu site and noticed that they had a 64-bit OS and it was completely free and had a great community behind it. I first checked out their forum to make sure that if I did have any trouble, I could get some help. The OS itself was very easy to install. One cool option was to check the OS by directly running it from a CD to get a feel for it. Once I was convinced, I just wiped out the XP OS and started afresh.

Ubuntu OS comes fully equipped and there was very little I had to get the most of out of my system. The performance was noticeably faster when opening a huge RAR file and extracting the contents out it. Basically, I/O operations were much faster. Also, I didn't have to tweak any settings to get my USB components and card readers working which was great. Network configuration were automatic and this was a complete revelation to some of the other Unix OS I have used before.

Of course, there are some problems too. It mainly had to with browser support for 64-bit system. Though Firefox is available for 64 bit OS, there are no appropriate plugins for java and flash. This is a pain but you can around it by installing a 32 bit browser. I haven t noticed any performance issues here as yet. One aspect that does bother me a little is the slight loss of speed in network transfer. I used to get very high download rather while using XP and its gone down by 20% on Ubuntu. I have tried tweaking the settings as suggested on various forums but haven't noticed any improvement as yet.

One really interesting feature that I should mention is the Synaptic Package Manager which is a repository of almost every conceivable software that you can think of. All you need to do is search for a software from the list and install it without having to snoop around the internet. It also automatically downloads all the needed library files. This was such a blessing.

All in all, I would recommend other users to try out Ubuntu. Even if you don't feel entirely comfortable making a full switch, you could do a dual install and keep running your current OS while you get yourself familiar with Ubuntu.

Ubuntu - You ROCK!!!

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