OS Review: Ubuntu Linux 8.04 Hardy Heron
Will Nett

Ok, so anyone who knows me knows that I already head a secret society in Linux... well actually not, but I'm a big fan of it anyways, and use it in my everyday computers.  Having returned from a six week stay in Italy and England, I with baited breath downloaded the latest release of Ubuntu (Version 8.04) and after four failed attempts finally got an error free copy. Apparently, I wasn't the only one    hitting their servers for the download a few thousand others were hitting the servers pretty hard. I headed off in my venture for an install-fest...

My first computer I loaded this onto was an HP laptop. The installation was pretty painless, and it recognized all my hardware except my built-in wireless. Historically, this has been a problem for Linux, but I've always been ether netted in unless I was on the road... in which case I use my Orinoco PC Card, which works flawlessly. I also use a homebrew Cantenna with an Orinoco card that can hit an Access Point from over a mile away.

I followed the online instructions for installing my $199.00 Wi-Spy USB spectrum analyzer device... and it worked in seconds. "Wow," I thought, "This really is impressive!" Enabling my external DVD-Rom drive to watch DRM encoded media also took less than ten minutes and was equally painless. Bit torrent is enabled by default, so no issues there.... Hmmm. Office 2003! That'll break it! Wrong... it installed with WINE with no problems. Another WOW.

My wife and I brought a new geek into the world a few years ago, so we decided to give her the Linux experience. She has a Toshiba laptop that we bought last year on Black Friday for $250.00.

I installed it and gave her all the usual kids educational applications... they all took with no problems. After the install and reboot, get this, I got a popup window! The window told me that my child's laptop battery was recalled and directed me toward Toshiba'swebsite for information on how to get the battery replaced. Her default Vista OS never did this and neither did XP... weirded out about the laptop reporting my configuration anywhere aside, I was amazed that Ubuntu had gone as far as to check my system for this... another wow.

Was this nirvana? Had I drank too much that evening? Short answer, NO. Compiz makes Vista's "Aero" look like a Commodore 64. This system is efficient, powerful, reliable, and well... it just plain works.My wife queried me about this new sexy OS and addressed her concerns,    she doesn't want to have to get an external Wi-Fi card an she wants Yahoo video chat. Sadly, I had to tell her to enjoy her Mac.

So is Linux poised for the desktop this year? I can't say that for sure, but I'm edgy and on the fence. If production uptime is paramount, and you're willing to make a few sacrifices... and I mean very few sacrifices, then yes. Mounted with the decision of installing

Vista or Ubuntu, you'll probably have far better success in Ubuntu as it has far better legacy support for the 'teddy bear' applications than Windows, and less vulnerability. With the advent of Codeweavers new product, "CrossOver Games" for a paltry $39.95 you can buy the safety, security, and knowledge that even your Halo won't get interrupted by an offer delivered by your computer to buy Viagra from China.

--Will

 

A Career in Computers

The Information Technology Survival Guide -- Douglas Chick

 


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