Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ubuntu Linux

This post is brought to you by the fact that I've been running a LiveCD version of the latest version of Ubuntu Linux on my home computer for the past week since my hard drive failed (which was running Windows XP). I did it because I wanted to be back up and running quickly, without having to replace the hard drive and reinstall Windows. A simple reboot with Ubuntu in the CD drive and I was back up and running. Most reading material is web based, and I use the built-in remote desktop application to access email on my work PC, so the only thing I've really lost is gaming, which I haven't had the time to do lately anyways. And besides, I have access to Desktop Tower Defense, so what gaming have I lost really?

And you know what? Ubuntu works. It works well. So much so that after putting a new hard drive in my home PC, I'm installing Ubuntu on it. I suppose I will set up a dual-boot system, or experiment with virtualization or a WINE Windows emulation system, but for the moment I am happy and established and most importantly, up and running, with a free OS that comes off of a CD.

My background with free OSes started a while ago, when I was a student employee at the Library. A fellow student employee who was overqualified for the job installed NetBSD on our then kick-ass Pentium 60 machine in the student/storeroom down in the subbasement of the Library. It offered two X window managers: gwm or twm; both were not ready for primetime. Things have come a long way since then (circa, uh, don't judge me on this, 1995).

I've been running Ubuntu as a server for testing purposes at work for over a year; the rough edges back then have been smoothed out (for instance, multi-CPU systems required a little extra to install, as well as setting screen resolution correctly); these things seem to have been correctly thought about in the latest version (7.10). At work I could access Windows file shares via Samba; I could offer up whatever I needed to via apache (http). But since I am a Windows System Administrator, the work portion of what I do was offered up via Windows 2003 Server and IIS 6. I have nothing really against Windows 2003--it's a fine OS, but IIS was up until 6.0 the crappiest web server around. It's a lot better now, but Apache works just as well, and I'm happy running both, although for me Apache is a test environment while work items run in IIS (because the vendor made it that way).

What really got me was the situation I was in: I had a bad hard drive, and I needed access to the web and my machine at work. The easiest solution was a CD with Ubuntu on it.

I think that Linux has arrived at the casual desktop, and it really works, and most hardware now works with it. I hope it's moved out of the enthusiast market and into the real world, where people don't necessary have the technical skills to replace the kernel or compile a program. I hope that people get fed up with infected and trojaned machines, and the monoculture of Windows gets diluted a bit with a more dynamic and robust computing environment. That's not to say I'm against Windows--after all, it gives me a paying job; but I like that I can recover from a hard drive failure with one CD and one reboot.


Anonymous said...

Nice article.
As a home pc user Ubuntu works well for me.

Anonymous said...

I have replaced Windows 2000 by UBUNTO. It was a good operation because I have retrieved almost all fonctions that i have used with Windows 2000. I think that UBUNTO is a very nice system for end users that use Internet, mailing and Openoffice etc... There are some problems with hardware devices as scanners. It was not possible to use my HP Scanjet 3670. There are not drive for this.