Ubuntu 7.10:Just About Worth the Hype

March 6, 2008

I’ve was critical of Ubuntu 6.06 Dapper Drake and the hype surrounding it and wasn’t terribly anxious to try the Gutsy Gibbon 7.10 release.  However, since I’ve been trying out various distros, not trying Ubuntu would be an embarrassing oversight.  So I downloaded and burned the live CD and booted it up.

If you’re a Windows user and get one of these CD’s, you can put it in the CD tray and install MS versions of Firefox, Abiword and Thunderbird, but these are not the unknown or fancy applications that they were back when Dapper Drake first came out.  6.06 also came with GAIM and the Gimp but I’m guessing the newer version didn’t have room for too many Windows toys.

Ubuntu succeeded where other distros failed to even get anywhere past the splash screen.  But that is not all.  Once loaded, I began playing around with Ubuntu.  Even without Compiz, this distro was clearly targeting a Vista-type of graphic experience.  And it was faster and superior to anything I’ve ever seen on a Vista machine that had more hardware than this one did.  Ubuntu has arrived and I’m willing to give it the respect it deserves.  And there’s more.

Unlike other distros I’ve tried, Ubuntu detected and connected to the ethernet connection right out of the box with absolutely no configuration necessary.  It also detected and was able to read my hard drive which I had not previously tasked other distros to do.  And with Open Office 2.3 it was able to open and read Office 2007 documents.  That was a big plus!  It was able to detect the Microsoft networking neighborhood, which others had not seemed to be able to handle.

This edition of Ubuntu has a lot going for it and a lot to like.  So is this a contender for my home desktop?

No.  Ubuntu is at the top of its game, especially with the ease of use in working with the various types of hardware.   But it is a very basic distro with very basic features that look very nice.  It does things no other distro I’ve tried can do.  But those things are not especially critical to my present needs and desires.  The synaptac repository seemed a bit on the shallow side, especially compared to what PCLinuxOS is offering.  But even compared to Mepis, it is looking like I might have to do extra work to get Picasa, Google Earth and Stepmania on and running.  I’d be willing to try it, if Ubuntu had anything else that sufficiently grabbed my attention and interest.  The appearance and speed is clearly an attention-getter, but it is the applications that are going to compel me to stay with an outfit for any length of time.  Ubuntu came very, very close this time around and perhaps a future release will win me over.  If my work machine didn’t have a NTFS hard drive, I would have been sorely tempted to partition it right there and then and give the dual boot a whirl.  But my home needs are a bit different and more eclectic than my work needs. 

For my money, PCLinuxOS still has earned its way to the top of Distrowatch, but Ubuntu has definitely earned its way into the top 10, especially compared to 6.06.  The features are there and they are unique but the targeted audience seems to be more business oriented than home desktop oriented.



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