Journey into Ubuntu: Part 2 August 24, 2006Posted by rjdohnert in Reviews.
I have been putting Ubuntu through its paces lately to see if it could keep up with my busy, hectic lifestyle where I move from being stationary, at one place, and when I go mobile and access 7 different wireless networks. I also installed another Ubuntu test machine, a Compaq Deskpro, 1 ghz PC with 512 mb of RAM. I found out someone had put the SLED “Slab” packages out and had them available for this distro so I installed it on the Deskpro.
Its very reminicent of using SLED 10 especially when you use it all the time and while for a stationary desktop its nice to use, on a laptop its a different story. But you get the same functionality in some cases that you get with SLED 10, add the Clearlooks theme and you wouldnt know the difference.
The only problem is that the Ubuntu version, whether you have Beagle installed or not defaults to the standard GNOME search utility which kinda sucks. But as I have gotten Beagle to work on the Compaq and have only gotten Beagle to work half-assed on the IBM ThinkPad its not that bad.
So back to wireless and working with my busy life. First I needed to find a way to be able to mix and switch from network to network as I access at least 7 unique wireless networks in a day. I had to go and through synaptic get the network manager and GNOME version of Network-manager. Unlike Windows it doesnt come preinstalled. That utility made a hell of a difference. I was able to switch and move between a ll the networks but 1 and even worked with my StarBucks T-Mobile account, since Im doing some freelance consulting work during my transition period only one of my clients networks wouldnt work with the Utility no matter how hard I tried and I had to go in and manually set the network up. Only in cases where I found myself in a Windows only network did I have some hinderances and when I had to use VS 2005 I had to use Windows. If the Mono project manages to get 100% compatibility with the .NET Framework it would be nice if the MonoDevelop IDE could import VS 2005 projects but thats unlikely to happen anytime soon.
I have hauled this laptop everywhere and have used it basically as my only desktop for a week and while yes, i do miss Windows — Alot and I miss BSD — Alot it wasnt painful and yes there are a few weak spots in Ubuntu that keeps me from recommending it for people who are less that very computer savvy. Linux has come a long way since I first started using the system all those years ago and yes progress is good. I still recommend Windows and Mac for the less tech users and if you are a very competent person Ubuntu would be a good choice.
Another downside I found with Ubuntu is one I find with most other Linux distros. The lack of quality in some of the applications like Beagle and F-Spot, these were not Canonicals fault as they arent included by default. Beagle as I stated only works half-way some of the time, F-Spot crashes on a regular basis. I find the Nautilus search fast enough for what I need it but Novell needs to work at making it stable and work flawlessly like WDS and Copernic do on Windows and as Picassa and the new Windows photo manager in Vista. It seems like Novell was in such a hurry to throw em out there to counter Microsofts offerings that they really didnt care how well the tools worked. If you are going to use Ubuntu, stay away from Beagle and F-Spot unless you just feel like getting frustrated.
Overall, a very good distro and worth taking the look at for the extremely tech savvy user or if you just want to learn Linux. Plenty of help resources for Ubuntu are available. It also depends on your line of work as well. If you are in desktop publishing, photography or multimedia you are probably better off with the Mac or Windows. But if you are into administrative tasks and are in a development environment there is no harm in exploring Ubuntu or any other Linux distro for that type of environment.