Archive for October, 2009

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Ubuntu Wins!

October 15, 2009

I never thought I would say that in this blog. But there it is, for all the world to see.

Of course, “win” is a relative thing. “Winning” usually involves the direct comparison of more than one distro, and then one of them gets chosen over all the others. I’ve done direct comparisons in terms of functionality before.

On the list of machines that I have to interface with, this post is actually from Laptop Charlie, which is my wife’s machine. There are some people who were born to use a computer or any machine as they can intuitively get along on their own with little in the way of support and guidance. My wife is not one of those people. She requires a lot of attention and nursing to keep her supported with a computer. I have no idea what she did, but somehow the grub menu and master boot record got corrupted to where she could not access Windows or the Ubuntu 8.10 that I had installed.

While we were unable to boot any OS, my wife was anxious about her pictures that she had recently put on the XP partition. I thought we might be able to flash from a live CD and tried Ubuntu and Antix 8. However, neither of these were able to access her Windows partition. So, I tried Puppy Linux, which was able to access and copy those files to a flash drive. Honestly, Puppy continues to impress. If it had a more robust repository and package system, it would be unbeatable.

After a certain amount of fiddling, I was able to access the XP recovery partition by reinstalling Ubuntu. This recovery operation took about twice as long as a fresh install of Ubuntu, but we eventually got everything back to where we needed it. My wife was able to play with Mandriva, Puppy, Antix 8 and Ubuntu. She has never really liked Puppy because it just doesn’t look very nice compared to the others. She also hasn’t cared for Mandriva as a distro, but will use it if she has to. It came down to Antix and Ubuntu and she tried both.

After a couple of days of comparing Antix 8 and Ubuntu 9.04, Ubuntu won. And this was a big win, because she actually began installing it herself! I was busy cooking dinner while this was going on, so was only able to offer a minimum of pointers, which was enough to get her through the process almost entirely on her own. The only bit that she really needed help with was when it came to partitioning, and Ubuntu even makes that pretty easy and painless if you’re doing a basic dual boot. After only about 30 minutes, she was able to connect to the wireless router and was off setting up her bookmarks and preferences. she downloaded and installed Flash on her own as well as the security updates.

She has already commented how she enjoys the look, feel and speed of this new Ubuntu. And it does make a pretty awesome desktop system. She is making some noises about wanting to sample Windows 7, when it comes out, so it will be interesting how it might compare to a new Ubuntu. But this distro has officially matured into something that seems to be legitimately friendly for a new user who is used to XP.

Oh, but that is not the final word on my wife’s preferences. No, she has told that what she would really like for Christmas is a Macbook Pro. Um…yeah. Right. *I* would like a Macbook Pro! But buying a Mac for everyone in the family would be akin to buying a new car!

We’ll still have to see how it does as far as hooking up to her printer/scanner and I’l update that when it happens. But I really do like this latest incarnation of this distro.