Friday, March 23, 2007

The Future is Ubuntu

Forgive the clichéd use of a familiar punchline modified for convenience. For a want of a better title, it was all I could come up with.

The past couple of days were spent in installing and tweaking (and more tweaking) a new operating system in my laptop. Ubuntu (meaning 'towards humanity' as its Wikipedia entry says) is rapidly becoming the most popular and stable Linux distro. It's been surprising, the number of people shifting to either Mac or Ubuntu ever since the launch of Vista. I really don't have figures to substantiate this claim, but following negative reviews of Vista (and the promises that it hasn't kept regarding security etc) people have become more ready to explore other options. Of course, I wouldn't be expecting a phenomenal shift and with rampant piracy, those in India and China are never going to actually buy an OS anyway. So Vista, like past Microsoft OSes would definitely be the market leader soon.

But the past two days has been an enlightening experience for me. I installed Ubuntu and am slowly getting drawn into its overwhelming power. I've had my share of heartaches and haemorrhages with Red Hat 7/8 and after one such Linux installation messed up my Master Boot Record, I vowed never to use Linux again. Well, things have changed a lot and installing Ubuntu this time round was a breeze. The best part was that after installation I didn't even have to install any drivers! Everything from sound, to detecting my wireless card was automatically done and - as the Americans say - good to go. Installing software packages was also fairly easy with their package manager where you can search for codecs and other softwares. Ubuntu (Edgy Eft, the version I installed) comes with OpenOfficeOrg2.0, Gaim, Bit torrent client, Firefox and an Outlook clone for email management by default.

The only thing that is not very impressive is probably the default user interface. But even that can be remedied by installing the Beryl interface which is a Linux version of Vista's Aero interface. The best part of this interface is its speed and the bare minimum resources it requires to run, unlike Vista. Even a 256 MB of RAM is enough as against the stipulated 1 Gig or so for Vista. So, for a 512 MB armed laptop like mine, things sail. I am in no way an advanced Linux user and so, I am terribly dependent on the forums and trust me, they are brilliant to say the least. And it provides for the best environment to learn some command line stuff.

Some minor qualms are about the lack of a good enough VOIP application that supports voice chats for either Gtalk or Yahoo, and the lack of being able to stream windows media player files on browsers remain although I am pretty sure it wouldn't be long before even those things get put into place.

Till then it's probably booting up to Windows to either sync my newly acquired Creative Zen (which I will flaunt in a future post) with WMP11, or to voice chat with folks back home.

If you are actually interested to try out Ubuntu Linux, here's an installation guide for people with absolutely no prior knowledge, especially if you want to have both Windows and Linux installed on your system.

For those wanting to have a look at the Beryl UI, here are a couple of demos on Youtube.




  1. You are right. The future is Ubuntu friendly. I have 6.10 installed on my laptop and it works great.

    I'm looking forward to 7.04

  2. BTW those who want to still retain Windows OS on their system and want to test drive Ubuntu, I would recommend booting their PC/laptops via a live CD or even a flash drive. Works perfectly. You get a free live CD mailed in from Denmark (or Finland?)

  3. [Paul]
    Same here, looking forward to 7.04. But I must say I have barely managed to skim the surface of 6.10.

    That is an option for those not confident of dual-booting their system. I partitioned my drive for Linux and have both OSes running. Plus getting the cd delivered takes long (I heard its anything between 3-6 weeks) and you get the old version too. Anyway, at the end of the day you would need to run an update. So better download! :)

  4. good to see u joining the bandwagon.. i have ubuntu on my laptop for some time now and .. well... it's kickass!
    btw.. you can use skype on Ubuntu and there's always wine which lets u use your windows apps.. mostly.. and Thunderbird is also way better than Outlook.
    The coolest things are only about to happen in ubuntu though.. like

  5. [Amit]
    Wow! That link sure looks good! Some kind of open source version of Adobe premiere/Fruity loops (or something more powerful I guess)
    Wine is still buggy for VOIP related apps, although I'll give Skype a shot.

  6. if u want specifics, a good sequencer: this will replace FLStudio, Cubase, etc. a good DAW: this will replace pro tools.. with these two, and some decent hardware, one can set up a decent home studio sort of thing....

  7. If only I could appreciate your enthu, as we back in R-ville call it. Does this thing have an answer to software compatibility?
    My only problem with Linux has been that I cant work CAD and 3D modelling softwares on it. That sux ass.
    By the way, I hooked onto coupling for kicks. Its pretty good, albeit a bit dry and repetitive;y themed.
    anyway, how come so many posts in such a short while?

  8. [PTV]
    As regards your questions on s/w compatibility, it's getting closer and closer. I found coupling boring. Too much of a sex comedy for my liking.
    And about writing so many posts, looks like someone hasn't been frequenting my blog as much as I would have liked. Grrrrr!
    You have given me a tough time with 5 comments from you. Had to read all of them, and as I do with most of my fans, I replied to them. See, I respond to fan mail. :)

  9. Hey guess what! I too have been a devoted Ubuntu fan for the past 8 months. Started off with Xubuntu 6.06, then upgraded to Ubuntu Edgy and now highly impressed with Ubuntu Feisty. Edgy had some issues with my Wifi card but 7.04 has been flawless in that respect. My only complaint is that Google hasn't released a linux version of Google Talk.

    I was planning a tribute post on Ubuntu. Looks like you beat me to it...