Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Time to put myself to the test

After my previous post speculating about the possibility that both Apple and Microsoft are lining up a significant change to the open nature of their respective operating systems, I've decided to pose one of the questions to myself... Will I go Linux?

The only way to see if it is a possibility is to test the theory. And by test I mean spend at least a week solely using Linux on my laptop. After a quick poll of my Twitter followers, they pointed me in the direction of Ubuntu and Fedora. I've decided to begin my first week of testing with Ubuntu 11.10. The install went very smoothly, repartitioning my drive and giving me a bootloader menu to select between Windows and Ubuntu. All this within 20 minutes which is much quicker than a Windows 7 install on my laptop, especially when you add in the endless Windows updates.

The first major problem I encountered was that my wireless card was missing the driver. After plugging into my router with an ethernet cable I was soon on the internet and had the driver downloaded thanks to the driver download prompt on the Ubuntu task bar. This seems to be a licensing issue with closed source drivers and including them on the distribution ISO image. At the same time I saw my graphics driver wasn't included either, however the display looked good enough without it and made little difference when installed.

Next I wanted to install a few apps and again thanks to the pretty slick Ubuntu Software Centre I was soon installing a few favourites. Chrom(ium) was a welcome sight along with FileZilla, Eclipse (software development IDE) and a few others. Having Chromium meant I had my bookmarks, extensions, home page set and everything else that comes with the excellent Chrome sync feature. My major gripe with Linux in the past has been installing software. Dependencies which were usually missing and hard to find or the variety of packaging formats that software would be available in was confusing to say the least. Thanks to the Ubuntu Software Centre this seems to be a thing of the past.

So my first few hours of being Linux only has gone quite well. In the coming days I'll be trying to do everyday things like burning a DVD, printing, writing some code, chatting online etc... All of which my Windows 7 install does without even batting an eyelid. And are things Linux too should do without any fuss if it could be seriously considered as the OS of choice of not only geeks but every day consumers. I'll keep you posted!