NEWS

Shift to Ubuntu Linux

April 16, 2007
Abhishek

I'll take a break from my regular broadband bashing and instead focus on the new imminent release of Ubuntu Linux, code named Feisty Fawn. With cutting edge software, Ubuntu's version promises to be better than ever before by incorporating huge support for Wireless networking cards, on demand installation of codecs and Windows migration tools.

For long, the manufacturers did not release their drivers for Linuxand most of the wireless drivers had been "hacked" and made backward compatible to the network cards in laptops or desktops. This only translated into user frustration and hence a bad name for Linux when it wasn't really its fault. Much of the hardware is now supported out of the box with Linux and much credit goes to the community who have collaborated on the development of the drivers to support it.

Why should you shift to Linux? Windows XP is being retired early next year in order not to cannibalize the sales of Windows Vista. This means that you would have to pay the price for overpriced software and hardware in order to run the same. Windows has incorporated Digital Rights Management systems which in fact cripples the music or content that you wish to play on your systems. Which is totally unfair for a simple reason.

If you have paid for the content, then using it should be your prerogative and not otherwise. Even otherwise, the end user license agreement with Microsoft means that they are the owners of the operating system that you have paid your hard earned money for. You don't effectively own your own system!

Most of us don't realize the potential implications of privacy concerns while dealing with an evil corporation. Microsoft has allegedly activated encrypted back channels which communicate the specifications of your computer to the Redmond. This was subject to much debate in recent times and this assertion has not been proven yet. Still, it makes no sense to shift to the so called "Aero interface" which is a rip off from Mac OS desktop. Seriously, beyond the eye candy, Vista is of no use to an average computer user.

Arguably, there is not much of a demand for Linux systems because people are not aware of the same. Ubuntu promises to change that. You could go on their home page and order free CDs for yourself. You could tweak the source code in case you wish to add functionality.

Installing this operating system on any standard hardware is a breeze and the whole process takes about 40 minutes flat. For any Windows user, the difference would be stark. And free of the restrictions imposed on us otherwise. You don't have unnecessary drivers for your digital cameras, your USB sticks, Printers et al. Much of the hardware is supported out of the box. Just plug and play.

Ubuntu has everything going for it. The forums have become better and if you post the query in the right place, someone would surely respond to the same. Apart from this, Ubuntu has an active India chapter with a dedicated Wiki. You could catch someone from the team online on the IRC (Join the Ubuntu support and discussion IRC channel: #ubuntu-in on irc.freenode.net) and they'll go all out to answer and fix your queries if any. (Freenode's FAQ answers your queries in case you wish to join them.)

Or you could join their mailing lists. Help is never away and all you need is your working Internet connection. Here is another link from the Ubuntu India Wiki website which details as to how you could configure your Broadband in Ubuntu.

No other system provides the ease of use that Ubuntu Linux does. Arguably, Linux has its hitches (command line terminal may be intimidating for a newbie)- however, the best way to learn swimming is to get into water. Moreover, the graphical user interface takes care of most of the administrative work. You may not even need the command line (just like the DOS of yore but infinitely advanced and addictive!). Installing software is a matter of few clicks. You could check out the excellent Ubuntu Guide online which details everything step by step for a total newbie.

Ubuntu Feisty Fawn makes it's debut on April 19th when it will be released to the public via its servers. You could directly download the distro or use torrents. For those who do not have a stable Internet connection, you could order the CDs to be shipped from its home page. FREE.

I have finally made the switch to Gnome; I am waiting for the KDE 4 release. KDE 4 promises to revolutionize the desktop experience; but until then I wanted something different and fresh from the old and trusty desktop that I have been using for the past three years.

Arguably, Gnome has become better from it's previous avatars but it still suffers from unintuitive interface;it's a matter of getting used to it. It is lighter on system resources as compared to KDE but that is not the sole argument in its favor.

I still use KDE's applications like Amarok (there cannot be a better music player than this) and KTorrent for my torrent needs. Gnome still has to come up with something better than these apps. Using Gnome or KDE desktop managers is a personal preference and you can use both depending on your mood or preference.

Here's hoping that more users will want to know about Ubuntu and Linux in general. You could head over to the IRC channels or the Ubuntu Forums; there are thousands others like you who have discovered the joys of using free and open source software.

Note: There are many other distros; however, my current favorite is Ubuntu Linux. It is free; they send the CDs free to your place; installing programs is a snap; it is based on Debian which is the most stable version of Linux and it has an excellent support forum. Further, it has a predictable 6 monthly release cycle with commitment to support your installed version for at least 3 years (long term release) and 5 years for the server installs before you need upgrading to the newer versions. And it promises to remain free for ever.

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#1
Amrita
URL
April 16, 2007
12:19 AM

Thanks Abhishek, for a great (timely) post!

#2
Naveen
URL
April 16, 2007
01:28 AM

Great to know that more people are moving to Linux.....trying to get some of my friends to move too.....

#3
doctorgero
URL
April 16, 2007
02:49 AM

Ubuntu, Fedora, Gentoo, Debian or blah... Or maybe one can try BSDs for that matter. Free software is the only sane way to go. Debian project has come up with a BSD kernel based distribution called Debian GNU/kFreeBSD, so one can get started with that too, if (s)he is not a huge Torvalds fan.

#4
Norberto
April 16, 2007
04:39 AM

"Microsoft has activated encrypted back channels which communicate the specifications of your computer to the Redmond", are you confident enough on this statement? I'm not here to ruin your mood but where are the profs or discuttion about this?

#5
Abhishek
URL
April 16, 2007
09:31 AM

@Amrita Thanks for your words.

@doctorgero This was a general post and I prefer the red devil aka BSD to Linux! However, Ubuntu seriously kicks ass.

@Noberto I have added a disclaimer after the sentence that this is an assertion and not yet proved. I specifically wrote : This was subject to much debate in recent times and this assertion has not been proven yet.

#6
Tom Coffin
April 16, 2007
11:32 AM

Odd to read this article now - I switched over to ubuntu last week and I'm certainly not looking back at all. My only hesitation was running Filemaker Pro and Flash MX. Wine solved that problem. I've been using GIMP on windows already. This freaking rocks. the package manager is awesome! I am very, very glad I made the switch.

#7
Hardy
April 16, 2007
11:57 AM

Other things apart...can anybody comment on a decent and rich development environment available on Linux when compared to say Visual Studio. I know "Eclipse" is there and it is powerful, but has it the same smooth integration and rich experience as does say Visual Studio on Windows.

A powerful, rich, extensible Development environment is one big factor in the success and popularity of Windows Platform not only among developers but also among users who are far removed from software development but fancy using utilities developed by other developers.

#8
bharath
URL
April 16, 2007
12:04 PM


amen! Its time!

#9
anon
April 16, 2007
02:40 PM

Hardy - when it comes to having a nice development environment, nothing beats having the source code to everything. Also you're not restricted to one IDE with Linux - you have a choice...

#10
Vichus Smith
April 16, 2007
03:44 PM

A bit anti-Microsoft, which is to be expected, but I'm interested in using Ubuntu. I'd probably buy a barebones system to use it in addition to my Windows machine.

#11
BJ Kumar
April 16, 2007
11:02 PM


I am myself in the process of using Ubuntu Linux on an older machine.I like the spirit of free software - through cooperative development - for everybody!

#12
Don
URL
April 16, 2007
11:02 PM

Thanks for a nice article on Feisty Fawn. I'm running the Feisty beta on an AsusTek notebook with an Intel 2200 wireless card. Great support for wireless and encryption as well. I have plug and play support for my Kodak digital camera and I can't say enough positive about Ubuntu. It's really a viable alternative to Windows.

#13
Elektron
URL
April 16, 2007
11:25 PM

Abhishek,
Are you talking about using Kubuntu as Ubuntu only comes with GNOME and there is a separate package for KDE, KUBUNTU.

#14
Mario
URL
April 17, 2007
12:27 AM

I've been using Linux for the past 8 months and love it. In fact, I started with SUSE Linux to run a web server, then installed Fedore Core 6 on my 2nd desktop and now I have Ubuntu on my laptop. can't wait for the new distro to come out!

#15
Ron
April 17, 2007
12:52 AM

Would love to move to Linux, but until there is a decent accounting system for small business that supports manufacturing and inventory management in a multi-user environment (for example, a Linux version of QuickBooks), we just can't make the switch. The lack of a robust and feature complete accounting package is now the only thing holding us back -- and I suspect a lot of other small and medium sized businesses as well.

#16
Gentoor
April 17, 2007
01:44 AM

Hardy - Try KDevelop, it's the best IDE I've used!

#17
Ian
April 17, 2007
02:32 AM

I would love to make the switch but I am a gamer...Linux and gaming don't mix unfortuantely but I guess if enough serious gamers switch to Linux, the developers would also make the games for Linux. DirectX is crap. OpenGL does just as well but nobody uses it. I am sick to death of Microsoft's stranglehold on the market.

When Feisty Fawn emerges, I am definitely going to install it! I love using Beryl on Linux. Its makes the GUI so fun to use.

#18
Straps
April 17, 2007
03:10 AM

My opinion: KDevelop is the best IDE ever for C/C++, NetBeans for Java and Quanta for Web...any serious programmer should look and try these alternatives...I use all of these from SuSE Linux 8.2 times, but now, with Ubuntu, it's another story...the best Linux OS for me.

#19
Mr.Cytizen
URL
April 17, 2007
03:57 AM

I don't see why it always has to be one or the other. Dual booting is the most sensible solution for those that depend too heavily on Windows based applications. Others, who may have an extra PC or laptop to spare, can run one machine with Linux and the other with their favorite version of Windows. Either way should be the reasonable way to go.

Unless you have some kind of personal grudge against Bill Gates because he smashed your sand castle, "shifting" or "switching" to Linux entirely makes little sense. Yes, Ubuntu has done great things and has come a far way as an OS. I am running Ubuntu 7.04 Beta on my IBM Thinkpad and its wonderful. Fact is, however, that it still isn't entirely cross platform capable just yet. You will have issues. You will have to configure and fine-tune just like with any other OS. You will encounter incompatibility issues and not all of your software solutions will be provided efficiently by the open source community.

Don't have a one-track mind. Consider Linux as a wonderful alternative in -addition- to your current proprietary OS of choice. I know it sounds appealing to abandon Windows and move over to the wonderful world of non-restricted and free operating systems. This liberating feeling will fade with time when you notice that your Linux distro has to be maintained and taken care of just like any other OS.

Ubuntu isn't Harry Potter's magic wand. It's pretty damn close, but for now don't turn your back entirely on Windows. Do the sensible thing. Don't steal, love your neighbor, cherish your parents, have kids, eat healthy and dual boot.

#20
Ian
April 17, 2007
05:31 AM

Well spoken Mr.Cytizen. I am going to do a dual boot for the time being.

#21
john1940
April 17, 2007
06:28 AM

I have built home made computers (Windows) and agree Redmond is not the place that creates operating systems. I don't think Ubuntu or Linux is there yet, either. I tried Ubuntu and the disk provided only booted from the disk, there was no installation of the Linux on a hard drive. After partitioning for Linux, Swap file, and data (a geek only activity) and adding a boot loader, I then tried to install Linux. It blew up. I have now lost my original windows and don't have linux either. Linux is not ready for prime time.

#22
Julian
URL
April 17, 2007
08:14 AM

@john1940

Ubuntu "blew up" your computer? Hmm, that's one hell of a bug! Are you sure there wasn't something (errm) else wrong with your computer first?

Jests aside, I too am a fan of Ubuntu. A Debian user of many years I am finally seeing complete non-geeks fly with Linux and not switch back out of sheer terror. Don't forget also it runs well on Apple PowerPC machines: I know of several Apple OS X users that have reported great success running Ubuntu on such machines.

While it is certainly very easy to install on common hardware don't forget there is the option to buy a new machine with Ubuntu preinstalled. Companies like http://system76.com are worth a look to these ends.

#23
Telecide
URL
April 17, 2007
11:01 AM

It was about 9 months ago that I first tried out a Linux distro and it was Ubuntu. It was missing the sophistication of a powerful O/S that I needed (or so I thought) and so I moved on - Mandriva, Fedora Core (that was good until a kernel update killed it), OpenSuse and then last week I downloaded Ubuntu Ultimate Edition. Wow, I'm in love. It looks beautiful, installs and runs like a dream and closes the gap on Vista considerably. XP is now my gaming platform. Everything else comes through Ubuntu.

#24
Bill
April 17, 2007
11:51 AM

If you need Windoze apps, why not use VMWare's free Player to run a virutal machine with Windows. I do that at work (Actually, I made them purchase VMWare Workstation but that was before Player was available). I run my Windows specific apps on the VM, and live the rest of my life in Linux.

#25
Bakhtiar Ali
URL
April 17, 2007
01:21 PM

What about the application's most of the application developed these days are for Windows only. Is there any way that Ubuntu makes sure that the windows applications also run on its operating system

#26
Onkar
URL
April 17, 2007
03:06 PM

@Ron,

Could you mail to Ubuntu India mailing list (https://lists.ubuntu.com/mailman/listinfo/ubuntu-in)? May be someone would like to take up such project. If you don't find anyone and you don't mind a slow paced development then even myself will take it up. I am not very good at C so I will probably make it a JSP/Servlet based web-app.

@Ian

GNU/Linux also has games specifically made for it. Action - Nexuiz, Trtemulous. Strategy - Battle of Wesnoth. City planning -Lincity-NG. Total fun - Penguin racer and super tux (like super mario but with tux as central character).

@Mr.Cytizen
No one is forcing you to use only Ubuntu. You yourself will find that your Windows usage will degrade over time.
By the way, I dumped Windows 3 years ago and I don't miss it. The 'liberating feeling' has certainly not faded away. And of course Ubuntu keeps getting better every six months and you can run it on 4 year old hardware. Good luck with upgrade to Windows Vista. ;-)


@Bakhtiar

That is where WINE comes in picture. Just google for WINE (all capital)

#27
AnArch
April 17, 2007
03:13 PM

Linux will be an also-ran and a copy-cat until it overtakes Windows or takes off in an orthogonal direction that is still eminently user-friendly - until then, why bother, as an average user? Why suffer?

#28
Abhishek
URL
April 17, 2007
03:17 PM

@AnArch. It's a Windows world and going off on a lateral tangent from what people are comfortable using is difficult. Unless of course, you ban Windows for this is the first OS that most of the people come across. As for the "also ran" and "coy cat"0 can you provide a direct proof where it has copied Windows?

#29
Paul
URL
April 17, 2007
10:53 PM

I've been using the beta for a couple of weeks and I am so looking forward to the stable release.

bring it on, Ubuntu is going to rule.

#30
Telecide
URL
April 18, 2007
11:11 AM

@Bill - I use VMware but unfortunately it is not able to use 3D accelleration. For this reason I use XP as a gaming platform only and use Ubuntu Ultimate Edition for everythign else.

As Onkar mentioned, for running Windows apps under Linux, Wine can be used to run SOME but not ALL. I think VMware can't be beaten to fulfil this role, since you're then running a virtual computer which has Windows running on it, 'independant' of the Linux o/s.

#31
Phillip Winn
URL
April 19, 2007
09:00 AM

I'm sorry, but Linux seems to me to provide nothing really useful to me, especially since it sounds like many of you are having to use Windows anyway for certain things. I mean, Ubuntu being "good enough" or "almost as good as Windows" or even "just as good as Windows" doesn't do a thing for me. Until it's *better*, why bother? For that matter, until it's better than Mac OS X, why wouldn't I just use that?

Cheaper? "Free?" So? Like I said, many people are talking about buying a Windows license anyway for some things. Right? You *are* talking about *paying* for those Windows licenses, right?

#32
Aaman
URL
April 19, 2007
09:17 AM

It's techie-cool, perhaps, to be on Linux

#33
Phillip Winn
URL
April 19, 2007
10:39 AM

Sure, and I used to run Linux for my desktop -- for a few weeks. The retarded Mandrake sync process wasn't syncing my disk updates out of the box, so a panic lost hours of code changes.

I reinstalled Windows, and later switched to OS X. It's techie-cool to run OS X.

#34
Ravi
URL
April 23, 2007
05:17 AM

Yes you said many points, right. But there still is a major problem. THere is no major Linux applications which can replace FLash, Dreamweaver, Flex(UI Designer, not only coding), Avid, 3dsMAX etc. So, the these users will never come towards Linux, Some alternative like Blender is much good, but still it lacks manything which is needed in industry. Gimp is not industry cabaple, though it has much capacity. These things matter, and it needs a larger group of expert developers to build it. OOo has everything, except better response, speed.
Also, things are getting better with time. Gnome has much changed for last 3-4 years, but it would have dont better with improvements in UI and usability. OSX is known and loved for its easyness and LOOK, design. Windows is known for its performance, though its not much easy. Linux is easy in some terms, but wholly it comes out to be dificult when setting a system.

Anyway, with Vista release, I guess Linux will be in demand, but not instantly, after 3-4 years.

#35
Jamie
June 28, 2007
11:34 AM

We each have our own Vices and Virtues concerning our personal use of our particular OS. I use OSx, XP, and Feisty Fawn. The fact of the matter is simple... not one distro is right for everyone. If one distro was exactly the same as all others, the entire world would be using Ubuntu, since it is the free one. Or, really, the entire world would use Windows since there would be no reason to comprete. We can sit here all day and /bash one another in the head, /etc, but it doesn't change the fact that our computing needs are as different as the hardware, and software, which supports them. Windows has strength in number of applications. Apple's strength comes in it's easy to use interface, and Top-notch multimedia applications. Ubuntu shows it's strength in not having to configure hardware, plug it in... it works. There are specific weaknesses, too. I love playing the Sims 2, can't on Ubuntu, period. I hate dealing with viruses and Spyware. That's everyday stuff in Windows. Apple is having a lot of hardware issues right now... I know, I support 100 of them at my school. But, that doesn't make one far superior to the other. It's a personal choice. Windows for those who do many different things or play Graphics intensive games, Mac OSX for those who want to excel in video and audio productions, and Ubuntu for those who just want a simple, clean and powerful OS without all of the flash.

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