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User friendly Linux requires no cash advance

I had heard and read a lot about Ubuntu linux. Ubuntu - an ancient african word meaning "Humanity to Others" promises to be the first real desktop option for Corporates / Home users

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"Humanity to Others" or "I am who I am becauase who we all are" or "Linux for human beings". All of these catch phrases, mottos sound as if these are for some NGO who are working for a social causes and upliftment of underdeveloped people / communities. Believe me, it is doing exactly that. These are the catch phrases for Ubuntu Linux which has had some good reviews over the past 1 year or so and is believed to have capabilities to make headway in the desktop market, both enterprise and home users. This probably should gain more speed and credibility given Vista's new hardware requirements and anti-piracy initiative. These concerns are particularly relevant to EPOS systems and other high performance application oriented operating systems.

After observing and closely following Ubuntu Linux for more than a year, I decided to test out the Ubuntu Linux at my home at the expense of Windows Vista that I have been running (RC1) for close to 2 months. The great thing about Linux is it's open source, meaning small business don't have to run and get a merchant cash advance to upgrade software, like some other programs. Ubuntu starts up nicely from the LiveCD has most of the application an office user would require. Office productivity, email, internet, etc. It provides a short cut on the desktop to install the OS if you decide to keep it.

The Installation process: I had written with great enthusiasm about the ease of installation process of Windows Vista some time back. Ubuntu's installation process is nothing if not very easy. It has only 6 steps during which it collects all information that it needs to install the OS. One of the things I noticed (but didn't pay great attention to) is that it also has a capability to re-partition the existing hard drive and use up free space to install Ubuntu and leave the other OS intact if it exists. I may be wrong on this as I didn't really pay attention and deleted all partitions as it is. I probably will take another look at that later. It collects information about:

  1. Language
  2. Partitioning
  3. User name
  4. System Name
  5. Time zone
  6. Network settings

Once it has all the information, it goes ahead with the installation without any further interaction and completes the installation in around 15 minutes. It even somehow recognised that I was using a laptop and suggested a decent enough name (mukul-laptop) for it. I admit I used a fast computer with memory to throw away (1.5 Gb), but still the installation was very fast.

After the installation: Ubuntu, depending on what network settings you gave, connects Desktopto the network automatically as long as you are connected through ethernet. It has a very clean desktop look and is clutter free. Ubuntu has also moved away the Recycle bin / Trash off the desktop and now it is on the lower task bar in the right most corner. It also has a conveniently located Power button off any menus on the upper task bar in the right most corner. If anything, the colour scheme could probably stand some improvement. The colours used are mostly dull colours which did not make me feel excited. Both Windows and Fedora Linux has a vibrant colour scheme and they are Applications Listvery I feel fresh using it, though Fedora is still somewhat on the darker side.

Ubuntu installs most of the applications required for office use and a normal home user would need and organizes them neatly into a logically grouped menu. It's nothing great, but just gives a good clean feeling. It contains the cool and very powerful Gimp graphics tool, and the entire OpenOffice.org office suite right out of the box. It comes with Firefox browser and evolution email and personal organiser tool (although I personally prefer Thunderbird).

Ubuntu has also organised its help and system management menu. System Management menuIt is neatly stacked and all administration tasks are logical grouped under Administration. There is nothing much to talk about here because as a user, there is not too much you can or have to do as much of the stuff comes pre-configured and has limited scope of modification.

One thing I found odd about the entire thing was that nowhere did Ubuntu ask me for root password while installing. When I tried to modify some things, it warned me that it requires administrative privileges and prompted me with a password window. I entered my own password and surprisingly it worked and I was able to modify settings as I wanted. Same story with command line. If I run any command with sudo, I am able to do it as it is without modifying the sudoers file.

I actually had planned to replace my current Fedora installation for my webserver with Ubuntu. But using Ubuntu Desktop, I felt quite powerless. There were no servers, httpd, dns, etc or any means to install it. One fact would probably be that Ubuntu is based on Debian Distribution and I have never worked on it. I have been working with Red hat all the time. So that may be one of the things that may be hindering me. Other thing I realised this morning, is that Ubuntu has separated different editions of the OS unlike Fedora. Fedora has everything bundled into one CD set, whether you want server, desktop, workstation or want to customize it. I guess I worked with the Desktop edition of the software and hence I was not able to tweak it. I will probably try with server edition and see if it works for me.

Issues: As with other Linux distributions, Ubuntu will also be hampered by lack of applications and drivers. I couldn't get on the internet over wireless. It is not Linux or Ubuntu problem really, but I guess the community can resolve it. I have Dell Latitude D400 laptop with Broadcom BCM5705 ethernet adapter and Broadcom BCM4306 wireless adapter. Unfortunately, at this time broadcom has not released the specifications for the card and they have not developed drivers for Linux, so it probably will take some time to be developed.

Having said that, would it be possible for the community to develop a base (generic) driver that probably would work with most of the adapters? It's a long shot, but worth trying. I am not into development, so I can't possibly do it, but I will be willing to lend support to whoever would be ready to do it. I have not really tried out Ubuntu and so it is really very early for me to say how it is going to turn out.

Fine review.

Posted by Anonymous User at Oct 23, 2006 09:09 PM

Hello,

As I say in the subject, the review is nice.

But, I don't understand what do you mean by powerless ? You can modify / change everything. If you don't like the color scheme, just change it. Presets are suggested defaults, not set-in-stone settings.

And, next time before writing a review, please do some research. In applications there is a CLEAR "Add / Remove programs" option, and you say there is no way to install the servers you need ? You can also use synaptic. I am sure you could have known all this just by reading the help documents in the "System" menu.

One more thing - if you want to use ubuntu as a server, there is a special CD just for people like you. The Ubuntu Server edition CD-ROM. You can red more about it here - http://www.ubuntu.com/server

Rgards, Rohan.

Re: Fine Review

Posted by Mukul Dharwadkar at Oct 23, 2006 09:39 PM
Thanks for your feedback Rohan. I really appreciate it.

I did note that the powerless feeling might be from my not being used to Debian and that there is a server edition for it. I have downloaded it now.

wireless

Posted by Anonymous User at Oct 23, 2006 11:49 PM

strange you have never heard of it, since you write linux reviews, but ubuntu allows you to install ndiswrapper, a tool that lets you use your windows drivers for nearly ALL wireless cards. I don't use ubuntu myself (I use simplymepis), but ndiswrapper is a generic linux solution.....

Re: wireless

Posted by Mukul Dharwadkar at Oct 24, 2006 12:21 AM
I definitely have heard of ndiswrapper. But the point being, it is not so easy to implement for a "end-user". When I was checking Ubuntu out, I was looking at it purely from user friendliness. In today's environment, for an average Joe User, if it does not configure itself during installation, then something is wrong with it.

Fedora Linux

Posted by Anonymous User at Oct 24, 2006 05:08 AM

I don't think, calling Fedora Linux in that way is meaningful since Fedora is one of the distributer as like Ubuntu and you name it.

Yes, Ubuntu disables SU since the day one and the reason, I think you will know.

I do not know where you get the CD image of Ubuntu, if you downloaded from the Ubuntu website, you will definitely know the different flavors that Ubuntu distributes.

One think whether you have noticed or not, Ubuntu never ask for any reboot right from the boot-up till you finish up your installation, where as Vista...you know that.

The generic solution for the Wireless cards are there for years and Ubuntu or any other distributors should not care about that, since that is not the philosophy of them mostly.

endless new un-finished distro's

Posted by Anonymous User at Oct 24, 2006 12:23 PM

How much longer does the public have to put up with this childish behaviour of Linux Distro makers??? Yet another batch of endless new UN-Finished distro's. Ubuntu then old Slackware, then another Fedora,..Yawnnnnnnnnnn Can you imagine Ford, Chrysler, Rolls Royce etc,..using Linux new-distro habits,..and the car makers bringing out a car with 3 wheels, half an engine, bumpers missing or half the seats finished? Where the client is expected to finished off their work. Whats wrong with finishing the last project off FULLY before you move onto the next abortion

Dude -- you are cluelesss

Posted by Anonymous User at Oct 24, 2006 10:10 PM

Hey, I don't normally comment on these posts but your post made me respond ...

"Yet another batch of endless new UN-Finished distro's." HUH??? Hey, do you know or realize that you are getting this stuff for FREE??? You'd better go back to Vista. Or just keep using Winders.

Rant off.

too much "free"rubbish,not enough quality

Posted by Anonymous User at Oct 25, 2006 03:42 AM

Horse manure is also free as fresh air and common-sense

To many nerds

Posted by Anonymous User at Sep 28, 2007 07:17 PM
If you really think about it Horse manure, fresh air and commom sence are not free. only nerds thinks so.

wall to wall iso's

Posted by Anonymous User at Oct 25, 2006 11:27 AM

Linux is always touted as so superior, and its users hold their noses up like toffs and snobs. Yet every distro that emerge's is infested with bugs, (discussion Forums prove that fact, and likewise a quick scan of Distrowatch.com ). And as such there are ever more release's to correct something. Most of the time nothing ever gets fixed satisfactory. Then the dweebs move onto the next unfinished epic

Installing on Debian/Ubuntu

Posted by Anonymous User at Oct 24, 2006 02:25 PM

I also had a brief moment of disorientation when moving from Fedora to Ubuntu.

This is how software is installed the Debian way. (And just hope to heck you have a fast internet connection...)

Webserver: sudo apt-get install apache2. Dns: sudo apt-get install bind MTA: sudo apt-get install postfix.

How easy is that?

Check out the Synaptic Package manager under Administration - make sure you enable the Universe and Multiverse repositories and then reload the package list. Then take a little browse through the available software - and tell us if you still feel powerless.

Cheers,

kernels like swiss cheese

Posted by Anonymous User at Oct 25, 2006 01:08 PM

Secure Linux and its abundance of problems to sort out on each distro:- just look http://www.vectorlinux.com/forum2/ index.php?PHPSESSID= b87f1742e68aab8b882abd1ec81ad4ce&board=6.0

Install webwin immediately after installation

Posted by Anonymous User at Nov 06, 2006 09:27 PM

You are advised to install webmin immediately after installation which will make you feel powerfull by disclosing what is going on behind the scene.

Nice

Posted by Anonymous User at Nov 24, 2006 02:12 AM

Good information about LINUX OS.

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