More on Ubuntu

July 20, 2006

Okay, I decided to try Ubuntu again as I felt my review in the last post gave it the short shrift.  I was writing from memory so I decided to try to write with the thing in front of me and give something akin to a more detailed review from a newbie of the live DVD.


I spent more time with Ubuntu and I’m sorry, but my view of it has not warmed much.  I am warming to the Gnome desktop, with the taskbar on the top with its menus.


I stuck a USB SD card reader in, to see if it would recognize it.  The good news is that it did.  The bad news is that while I could locate both my hard drives, I could not browse through them.  This live CD would not be very useful for data recovery or trouble shooting.


I counted the applications.  It wasn’t difficult, since there are only 18 of them that load on live DVD mode, with 4 of those being parts of the OOo suite.  However, there are 16 games that load.  Am I the only one that sees a problem with this?


The initial task was trying to see if I could watch and capture video using my capture card.  While Ubuntu could “see” the card, there were no applications for watching, much less capturing video. 


There’s an example file folder with various documents and examples of things made with the Open Office suite, some video and audio files.  But really nothing in the way of a tutorial that might be useful for a newbie.  XP had a tutorial.  I think Win98 had a tutorial.  If you can get Nelson Mandela to explain the concept of Ubuntu, would it be so hard to present a bit more in the way of guidance with this thing?


So my second assessment is pretty much the same as the first; Ubuntu is a cow.  I saw nothing on that live DVD that gave me any sort of urge to install the thing.  Am I asking too much?


With all of the noise people have been making about this release, I feel kind of dumb.  Am I the only one to see that this distro has no clothes?!?  Of the 4 distros I have tried and reviewed, Ubuntu seems to offer the least of all “out of the box.”  A DVD can hold over 4 GB of info, and THIS is what I get? 


Basically, Ubuntu is a bare bones OS, with a few extra things.  You’ll get more online, provided you’re not using dial up.  I’m not going to be playing much more with it or talking much more about it short of some big revelation that makes it worth booting.  I’ll see how it likes the network at school, but that will be about it.  I’ll read what others write about, mainly to see if I can understand what all the fuss is about.


I’m also feeling a bit misled by a Linux community that has become so rabid for this distro which lacks so much.





  1. “I’m also feeling a bit misled by a Linux community that has become so rabid for this distro which lacks so much.”

    I too am feeling this way about Ubuntu. I jumped in feet first, started singing its praises and always giving it the benefit of the doubt. But in truth, it lacks the polish and direction of a commercial distribution like SuSE, and so ‘ve stopped recommending it to people. Sure, it looks polished, but it lacks substance, like the Mac OS of the Linux world.

    I am seriously considering switching to something else, I have tried at least four other distros in the past few weeks, but I may still go back to SuSE.

  2. If you’re a teacher, you may want to try out Edubuntu, which is an Ubuntu that is customized for education. I’ve never tried it myself.

    I quite like Ubuntu but I’m an experienced Unix/Linux user with perhaps more patience. I can’t remember what the default apps that come with it are since I installed long ago and have since installed tons of stuff. There are definitely apps available to do almost everything. In the case of playing video, mplayer and xine come to mind. For music, there is RhythmBox, AmaroK, Banshee, etc.

    You may want to go to a bookstore and buy or at least browse some of the Ubuntu books that are available. Or read the various Ubuntu blogs and the Ubuntu forum, though that will be less focused and more time-consuming than a book I think.

    Once you install Ubuntu, you’ll probably want to check out Automatix or EasyUbuntu, which are easy ways to add a lot of functionality to Ubuntu that is missing from the default install. For example, MP3 codecs, which Ubuntu doesn’t include by default in the interest of being open-source and avoiding patent issues.

    MEPIS is also based on Ubuntu and supposedly adds a lot of stuff, though I’ve never tried it.

    Good luck!

  3. I think one major problem is that I actually chose the best one out of the gate, which was MEPIS. I looks and acts a lot more like Windows that any of the other distros I have tried. The older versions I have are Debian based, while the newest is Ubuntu based, which I hope is not a total mistake. It comes with ALL of the same applications Ubuntu comes with, in addition to several others including personal finance software, video editing and several versions of office, web browsers, email and productivity software so there are more choices.

    SuSE, to me, looks a lot like MEPIS only without quite as much. But I will be spending some more time with that distribution to give it a more thorough evaluation.


  4. No one ever corrected you here, so:

    Because Ubuntu is about something which is a stable unstable. Debian unstable changes far to rapidly, Ubuntu is like a bi-annual snapshot of Debian unstable worked on until it is stable.

    And the sheer quantity of software in the repositories. (Just enable main, restricted, universe, and multiverse).

    TV – use TVTime. Sure, it’s not in the default install, but do you get TV Tuner software by default with XP?
    DVD – use Xine (and use Christian Marillat’s sources to get CSS decoders)
    … etc.

    Point is, you get a polished, working system which balances function and size beautifully, with a massive amount of software available to build it into what you want.

    Anyways, rabidness tends to run in any community where people tend to look a gift horse in the mouth. Really, I’ve never seen a place more people feel the right to complain about free work than in GNU/Linux… or the government.

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