The last week or so I’ve installed and played around with Ubuntu Linux. I’ve been sort of getting more and more pissed off with Microsoft and the other software giants: the endless restrictions on what you can do with your software, the digital rights management, the heavy legal tactics against the little guy, etc.
My experience so far is that although Linux has got a hell of a lot better since last time I used it, it’s still a long way from being something your average user would be able to deal with. To start with, the built in disk partitioning tool didn’t work for me and I ended up having to use command line tools to manually resize my WinXP NTFS partition and create a Linux one, which included counting the number of cylinders (whatever they are) in my hard disk, etc. Then I had problems with the wireless internet – the standard Ubuntu installation doesn’t have a wireless network manager which is just unforgiveable. That was a relatively easy installation if you had some idea of what you were looking for. I had to change the video drivers because the built-in ones don’t use 3D acceleration, the sound driver because it sounded tinny. Fortunately, a bit of googling quickly finds you whatever information you need if you’re reasonably confident about tinkering about and typing things like “sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf” etc.
Now that I’ve mostly got it working, it’s pretty good but to be honest it’s a step down from WinXP. I think I shall mostly stick to using Windows but I want to be ready when MS and co. do something so annoying that I decide I can’t stand to use their software any more.
One thing that really stands out though is Xgl and Beryl – who would have thought it, wobbly semi-transparent windows and four desktops on a cube. Ingenius!