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Matt Roberts Rails and .NET

I've been a windows user since the days of windows 3.1... windows at college and Amiga Workbench at home :) Windows 95 was a big improvement, and XP another big step. But I always wondered how life was as a Linux user. I've also been plagued with XP annoyances recently - spyware, anti-virus software and all the security add-ons have been driving me mad! So, recently I "took the plunge", and discovered how much linux has progressed recently. This post is basically just me waffling about my Linux experience.


Ubuntu is a linux distribution. Its become a very popular one recently - and I like it too! Wikipeadi will tell you more: WikiPedia link
I googled for a while to find the distribution that sounded good to me, and this one stood out to me - loads of people were raving about it, it had a nice firendly website, and just looked pretty cool. So...on to the installation...


I was pretty scared about installing Ubuntu. I have an XP system and I wanted to keep hold of it, and I was worried that I would do something badly wrong and lose my xp partition! I prepared my hard disk by freeing up some space and creating an unformatted partition (40 gig) ready for a linux install. I used windows software to do this, but have since discovered a cool tool called GParted, which can be downloaded as a live CD and used to help you resize your partitions without losing data! All I did was to resize my windows partition to leave to "spare room" on the disk.... sorted.

Anyway, once I had that sorted, I downloaded an ISO of Ubuntu, booted into it, and clicked the icon to install it properly. Thats pretty much all I had to do! The scariest thing was when it asked me where to put the installation, its default suggestion if I remember correctly was to delete the entire hard disk. However I simply told it to use the free space, and off it went. It didn't ask me if I wanted to install a boot loader to allow me to boot windows or linux - this worried me, but it turns out that it did it anyway, I guess linux is always going to be more aware of windows because theres a high chance that windows will be on the system already !! OK, so installation done, I booted into Ubuntu to see what worked..... this is the best bit....

Everything worked!

Yep, I had sound (XP wont find my sound card without drivers), I had the right resolution, I had USB support (insert a memory stick and voila!), I had CD/DVD burning support, l ife was good :) Well apart from my printer, but apparently I can blame Canon for releasing very bad drivers (shame on you!).

The UI, and XGL/Compiz

Something I had heard loads about recently was XGL and compiz in linux. I've watched some video's showing off xgl/compiz effects, and thought that it looked incredibly cool and potentally useful, so I was looking to find out more. If you have no idea what I am talking about, check out this video and then you'll see what I mean. Google video link Anyway, I followed the "howto" guide on but theres a lot of guides floating around on this now (e.g. Link)... To cut a long story short, I struggled at first but soon got the problem sorted and now have very fun (I'm not yet decided how productive) 3d effects on my desktop that frankly make Vista look a bit lame :) The only problem is that my ATI card struggles a bit but thats because ATI have very poor drivers for linux. I'm hoping that will change soon since AMD bought ATI.

Using It

I like using Ubuntu - I can get lost quite quickly but its nice to experience a different operating system. I think if I wasn't computer savvy it would have been a hell of a struggle - you can get to a point where things can get difficult to set up and need to delve into forums for help - even installing some software can be a challenge, when all I want to do is download something and make it install! That said, any packages (software) that are in the "repositories" are very easy to install - you can use a UI front-end to browse all available software in the repositoriesand then choose what you want - and theres loads of cool stuff in there... For example I found a media player called amaroK, which IMHO is better than even the latest beta of media player in windows - it just works and does everyhting I want really nicely :) Its just less "popular" stuff that might not be in the repository that can get difficult. Luckilly theres a really popular and helpful forum called which will pretty much sort you out or head you in the right direction.

Programming in Ubuntu is an interesting experience. I installed Mono and MonoDevelop for developing in .NET in linux. To be fair to them its incredible what they have accomplished and what you can do, but I'm coming from a background of Visual Studio 2005 here, and to be honest once you get used to the tools and features of that IDE its hard to get excited about other ones. Anyway, I quickly got bored of that and am currently toying with the idea of playing with "Ruby On Rails" a little......who knows what will happen with that.

Anyway, I waffled on too long now. In summary I think I can safely say I'm quite impressed with Ubuntu. I'm using a fair bit at home and as I get more familiar I might even start to use it more than windows for non .NET tasks... .but I'm not about to jump ship on Windows... at least not yet :-)

Posted on Thursday, August 24, 2006 2:43 PM | Back to top

Comments on this post: Adventures in Ubuntu - Opinions of a Windows user

# re: Adventures in Ubuntu - Opinions of a Windows user
Requesting Gravatar...
Read how everyone thinks Ubuntu is just fantastic so installed it last week. What a bore. The only thing it seems to do is music and pictures. Nothing else useful works including my printer. Cant read any Word, Excel, Powerpoint or Email, can't read my beloved OS mapping software and most annoyingly it sets itself as as default on boot.
Microsoft has many faults but this has few merits.
Bootrec.exe /FixMbr is the best thing to do with it.
Left by PhilBee on Apr 06, 2010 8:36 PM

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