Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Monkey Ate My Vista

Yes, I know I've posted before that I kinda like Vista (see "Now Written on Windows Vista"), but after a long period of giving it a chance, I can see why people (and tech columnists) are complaining.

It's slow, incompatible with some of my devices (no video conferencing for me - it hates both my Creative and my generic cameras - and no driver update in sight), but mostly, it drinks memory like a Hummer drinks gas.

So, since I started this day by comparing Leopard (Apple's new OS for the Mac) to Vista (see "The Leopard Ate My Vista"), let's finish it by comparing Vista to another animal: the latest release of Ubuntu 7.10 - codename "Gutsy Gibbon" (hence the gibbon picture).

Ubuntu (African word meaning "humanity to others") currently runs on one of my VMs and I'm looking for an old (cheap) computer to install it on permanently (hardware requirements are quite low).

What can I say? Of all the Linux distros I've sampled over the last 13 years, this has been the easiest to install, most gratifying to use, and the most resembling an OS I may install for my parents. Oh, and did I mention it's FREE?? And open sourced?

Installing Ubuntu takes 5-10 minutes (depending of what add-ons you want installed). It's been the easiest OS installation I've ever experienced. No need to know anything about partitioning, formatting, devices etc. Gone are the days of recompiling the kernel to proceed. In fact, the only time I needed to open a console window was when I've installed VMWare tools on the OS (instructions can be found here), and that's due to VMWare's fault.

Installing and uninstalling applications is a piece of cake, with a unified Add/Remove control panel, that allows categorizing, sorting and searching through installed applications easily and even download new applications. The automatic download also works smoothly, something I hope to see on a Windows platform in the future (Ah, Windows Update... must be the clunkiest web interface designed in Redmond) and since it's free, no "Windows Genuine Advantage" will call you a thief :)

Ubuntu comes pre-installed with Firefox, Open Office,multimedia applications and a slew of accessories. You can, of course, remove and add applications later. Drivers exist for many common devices, but like Vista, don't expect every device to be supported. The good news: device makers started realizing Linux is not a dirty word, and usually ship drivers with, or close to the Windows version.

About the only thing this OS won't do for you is games. But for that I have my trusty Xbox 360 (see? this is not a Microsoft bashing column ;)).

Finally, if you want another opinion on Ubuntu, Vista and even Mac OS X, try Rupert Goodwins' column "Vista Vs. the Gutsy Gibbon".

You can find out more about Ubuntu, its development philosophy and download the latest release at

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