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Linux Revisited - A Second Look

Updated on May 5, 2008

The First Try

About six or seven years back I had tried to install Linux and meant with a disaster. A lost hard drive, I could not´t recover from the format Linux did to it. It didn´t stop me from watching Linux, or still being interested in this Operating System (OS). Fact of the matter I really wanted to give it a spin.

I am not afraid to tinker with things, and opening and building computers for a hobby is a pastime of a Love - Hate relationship. But a well versed programmer I am not. Then Linux was still more in the domain of those in that trade. About a year ago I came across Ubuntu website (in another one of my casual watching Linux). This struck me, got hold of my interest enough that I spent the time to download three flavours of Ubuntu.

Ubuntu itself, plus Kubuntu, and Xubuntu. There they sat, collecting dust, but I still lacked the courage to dive in. But during this time I have become an avid fan of Open Source programs. Hey, how can anyone do anything with these computers if one needs gold and don´t have it. A lot of them are at or near the level of some their commercial versions.

The time has come

Having a good collection of older machines around, which I always felt would be a good testing source for Linux. The day arrived. So for my first run a machine with 11 gigabits storage, 256 MB ram, and 550 MHz Pent III was chosen with DVD player and CD Rewrite. (Assembled by yours truly -me). Burned off the Linux image file, and booted the ¨guinea pig¨.

At first the Live CD wouldn´t totally boot up, not enough memory (needs 320 MB ram - sorry I´ve got to see if that was true). So off and burned the Alternate text version. Tried again and viola we are in the install mode. Following the steps as they occurred the install was straight forward and easy (even without the mouse). It did take some time, especially since I am using an older and slower computer.

If you are going to use the internet for Linux - do have it connected at the time if it is broadband, it would be easier. But even the manual setup was relatively easy, but took some effort - not recommended very those very weak of computer heart.

That aside a refreshing crisp screen greeted me, with two toolbars, top and bottom (called ´panels´ here). There was no drive problems, the mouse works fine (just not during the install unless you use the live CD version). The video display on an older monitor is great. Audio works, plays movies, and my mp3 files (with an internet connection to get the codec files).

Opening Screen
Opening Screen

A new found toy.

Now I am putting it through the paces. Originally it occupied some 2 1/2 gigs of space, but it currently is now at 3.8 gigs with the options I have chosen and extra software added. The Ubuntu website specs say 256 MB ram and 4 GB storage needed.

Ubuntu´s principle is to follow along the line of free software, and Linux based of course. But everything I normally do with my Windows XP, I can do with Ubuntu. The limitations may be more hardware based, but that is because of the machine I have chosen. Did use the Live CD on my main computer without a problem.

As with Windows operations, there is automatic updates available, and settings how they occur are similar. No registration, and cost is of the operating is free. As to help when you encounter a problem it comes in several varieties - help with in the OS itself or from the documentation site, or Forums on the website, or Commercial support (hey they´ve got to eat like me too).

Ubuntu has been rising in popularity since it´s introduction 2004. The future

So far it has support for the long term, and the current version I have is suppose to be supported till 2009. Ubuntu has been growing and for those interested in other Linux versions a good starting point is http://distrowatch.com/. Of course Linux.com and Linux.org too. But wow what choices and where does one start. For the beginner installing and operation must be the choice, and my recommendation is Ubuntu. (It also comes in Edubuntu flavor for education).

Dell is starting to sell computers with Ubuntu installed in UK, France, and Germany. Also Lenovo stated it will start selling Laptops with Linux software.

So far from my point of view, Ubuntu is stable on my computer, and the price is too good. Free! Compare that to $300.00 a pop for Windows XP pro which I use on my main computers. Ubuntu CDs can be purchased for around $6.00.

One Laptop per Child program wants to use Linux based software. That will keep the costs down, and make computers accessible to the poorer nations.

Final review

So far I have been impressed with Ubuntu. And usually the best sales person is those who are the customers. Word of mouth is still the best way of getting the word out. There is nothing commercial about me, but just want to share.

As to security issues with Ubuntu, it required a sign on Id and password, (within settings there is an automatic feature but I haven´t tried it as I always have a logion Id and password). It departs from windows normal operation (unless the security feature is enabled), in that every time I want to modify, add, or remove programs a password is prompted for. So I know what is being installed.

Not just a simple click on something and it may install without my knowledge. This does provide a level of protection. There are also firewalls to had, which is good to defend against the outside. Anti-virus programs for Linux too, but this is more to protect your machine from infecting windows based computers. As Linux based viruses as far as I know are few if any (probably some warped mind somewhere has tried).

Apart from some new terminology and wording, anyone comfortable working with windows should have no problem adapting or learning this operating system. If your new to the computer world, then the learning is similar to windows. Now those set in their ways - can an old dog learn new tricks - if they want too.

So if you have an old laptop around, or desktop, take Ubuntu for a spin.

This page submitted from Ubuntu based system.

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