After hearing and reading so much about Ubuntu, currently the flavour of the month in the world of Linux, I've decided to take the plunge. We not exactly I, more like the whole family.
The opportunity has come about as I'm setting up a PC in the house for Darrelle and children to use. So after 15 minutes of downloading the latest version "Hardy Heron" from the Ubuntu website http://www.ubuntu.com/ and burning it to CD I am ready to go.
Simply putting the CD into the drive and booting up the PC allows me to run the whole operating system without actually installing a thing. Simple as that. Of course, this means that any customisation made will be lost the first time I reboot. It is time to install it properly.
The installation is very straight forward and without event. What is nice is that all the questions are asked right at the start so you don't have to sit by in case it needs prompting later on during the install.
With the installation complete, the moment of truth beckons. Will it actually work? The answer is, yes it does!! Well almost, the installer hasn't recognised my wireless network card. Now here is a problem. Installing the driver isn't as simple as chucking in a CD and following the prompts. I've had to do a fair amount of googling, phoned a friend and got friendly with a tool called ndiswrapper and the linux command prompt. 15 minutes later and I'm there.
With all that sorted using Ubuntu is a breeze. During installation I selected the Gnome desktop which is great to use. Unlike Windows you get a choice of desktop, so if you’re not happy with Gnome you could try out another such as KDE.
So what has come with Ubuntu? Firefox for browsing the internet, Pidgin for Instant Messaging, OpenOffice for all your document, spreadsheet, database and presentation needs, Evolution for email (Even works with Exchange 2003), Brasero for burning disks, Transmission for bitTrorrent, Gimp image editor and a mixture of media players and much more. All this for free.
Now it's time to test a few things out. Can I play music cds? Yes. Can I play DVD? Hmmm, not quite, the framerate is either very slow or the colours not right. No matter how I adjust the available settings nothing seems to fix this. I’m not too worried though as the primary use or the PC will be web browsing, email and playing music.
Impression so far? Great!!. Installation is easy, the desktop looks great, there is a great range of bundled applications and it is free. Best of all it is childs play to use, just ask the kids.