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for anyone who's looking into linux, here is my old review

I created this last year but because of compatibility, I'm using Windows XP right now.

Originally posted at Neowin
August 1, 2005
"My First Week With Linux: Ubuntu

Okay, let me start off by saying that I love Macintosh computers. If I had any money to spare at all, I would really strive to get an iMac G5. Until then, I'm waiting what the mactels will be able to do in due time.

Second, I love the Windows operating system. The main reason I wanted to try out Linux was that I was going to do my bi-yearly reformats, the cause of course, a machine whose glory gaming days ended with DX8 gaming. I thought to myself, why not. I was gonna try Linux on my box again. Not because I hate Gates or Microsoft but for a fresh start. To see what the leet side of Operating Systems had to offer.

My first true encounter with a Linux distro was years ago. This piece of fast aging hardware had an old version of KDE version sort pre-installed. Not entirely sure what distro it actually was as I wasn't learned in the terminology before. It was pretty good for my first time (my lil bros loved that Potato Guy game or something) but the network wasn't automatically set up. As I had school work to do, I couldn't be bothered with learning the OS and promptly installed Windows XP after formatting when installing Windows 98. It's an old habit which isn't really required as XP could do it on it's own but I liked getting the feel of an older Windows version first.

So back to the present. Yeah, I wanted to try something new so I backed up all of my important files, documents, pictures, digital editions, music... on compact discs while downloading a Linux distro. I heard pretty good reviews on Ubuntu and I decided to give that a try.

ISO was perfect and burned to a bootable cd. Popped it in and my days with Windows until Vista have begun. Ubuntu and various open-source software have supplied me with my schooling needs for now.

Formatting and installing Ubuntu was flawless: blazing quick, simple, everything that you wanted to just simply install the OS. Though it didn't look pretty, it got the job done. Couple of [Enter] presses and [< ^ >] movement and everything was set up. Networking was a breeze; internet was already there and it even upgraded some of the programs while installing the programs.

Ubuntu login screen was there and I was happy. But then that's where my first problem started. Upon logging in, it left me with a blank brown screen with a movable cursor. Luckily, the Ubuntu Forum is a great resource site and on my family's billion year old computer, I was able to fix the problem. acpi=off pnpbios=off in menu.lst

Why didn't I think of doing that? The thing about Linux that got me was that you had to learn a lot more. The feel is a whole lot different coming from Windows and you'll grow to love the command line in Terminal more.

So I got all that fixed and booted into the desktop. First impression was pretty good. The Gnome Desktop Environment is pretty easy to get used to and with the pre-installed programs in Ubuntu, it would be good enough for my family or my friends who don't delve into hardcore computing and just want to chat or surf the net or create documents and spreadsheets. From then on was an adventure.

I went through a lot of trial and error issues and at one point had no idea what to fix but that was due to my dunderheadedness. It just takes a lot of patience when you want to learn how to configure things. I tend to find out and mess with every single feature something has to offer when I come across it.

The ATI drivers are a pain in the ***. With my Radeon 9200, it took me hours to configure how to install the drivers. There were kernel problems and at some points, my faithful Sylvania F93 monitor wouldn't show up. But as always, the Ubuntu forums were always there. It seemed like every problem that popped up there was someone there who knew how to fix it. My quest from then on was to learn the core of linux to be able to fix the problems that would prop up.

But a tip for the new new people, I recommend starting with an Nvidia based graphics card if you want 3d acceleration as they are a lot easier.

But after all that drama and banging head, the ATI drivers were installed. But once you know how to fix it, it's pretty simple. There are a good selection of OpenGL games for Linux (free! so no more pirating tongue.gif) and software installing is almost as easy installing on a Mac OSX.

apt-get and Synaptic Package Manager are a godsend. I love those features, updating programs through the Universe community maintained repositories are really easy. From there and sudo commands alien, dpkg, it's all good.

So Debian Linux Ubuntu has been a great learning experience. Though you'll need to configure a lot [and not just point and click; tis a lot of typing and learning commands] to get it the way you want if you're an in-depth user, it's pretty rewarding at the end.

The Bad
Let's get this over with:
Installing the ATI drivers were hell and the card isn't pushed to it's fullest until ATI releases better drivers but even then it's pretty good. I love playing Gltron with my sis and it fulfills the needs of PSX emulating.

Hybrid printer/scanner from Lexmark is impossible to get working as I through some forums and I'll have to use the old comp for that printer.

Gaming isn't really a problem since my low-end card wouldn't be that nice with HL2 and CSS anyway. Linux has a pretty good collection though and you could always use Cedega.

Haven't setup my MIDI nor Voice Recording yet. I hoped they would have been automatic tongue.gif but they'll probably be as good as the rest of the OS.

The Good
Ubuntu came with great programs pre-installed. OpenOffice is great (importing docs is perfect and it comes with everything I need-just gotta look for a graphic calc program now), Firefox (I switched to DeerPark though, always like to be on the cutting), GAIM (can't live without my contacts tongue.gif), Evolution (I like the integration just like Outlook and as fast as Thunderbird).

In other words everything was there. Bittorrent, IRC, GIMP (which is a bit hard to get used to coming from Photoshop but it'll be good enough as a home graphic user).
Installing printer drivers was a breeze. Only drawback was I can't use my Lexmark X1150's scanning capabilities. At least my STYLUS C82 (expensive to keep up yet never failing) is always there.

I downloaded the unofficial Ubuntu add-on pack so configuring some other programs were pretty fast. DVD configuring takes a while but I thnk it'll be good (I haven't spent time in trying to rid the choppyness in DVD playback).

I also downloaded XFCE and KDE desktop environments so I pick a de based on my mood though I liked Gnome the best.

PSX emulation is pretty good. I played through my old PSX discs (finished FFVIII just today) as I lost my playstation... Cedega (WineX) works pretty good too. VisualBoyAdvance through Cedega is better than the Linux native.

Adobe PDF Reader is damn fast. A reason I loved OSX was that PDF reading is plain quick reading.

Overall Ubuntu is a great distro and Linux is pretty ROCKSOLID. It feels a lot safer when you get it started. Windows will be pretty safe too but after putting up nod32, couple of spyware programs, etc.

Personally I like GNOME but the Windows XP environment will be a lot easier for people new to computers. Installing is point and click and that's pretty easy for them but in the long run, updating with apt-get and SPM is way more convenient.

Whew too sleepy to write some more. Might add some more stuff with screenshots tomorrow maybe but for now: It's a great Operating System if you want to try something new. If XP is good enough for you right now, I would say stay unless you're up for some learning."
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