Today, I installed Ubuntu Linux just to try out what all the hoopla was about. It was a pleasant surprise that I faced.
First of all some really heartening facts:
- The installer is genuinely easy!
- Installer detects your hardware and good package of software comes pre-installed.
- The system works - especially with Firefox inbuilt, and good help it is really quite easy to use.
Believe me! This installation was a breeze! The last time I did a Linux install, it was when I was in college. At that point of time, it was a technical wizardry if you could install this beast of an operating system, make it work and also ensure that it did not erase and crash you existing Windows installation.
Ubuntu's unique Live CD installer is a welcome change. Instead of first installing the Operating System, you can first simply start your machine on Linux by the CD itself. So, you not only have an installer, but, you can boot in, see the system in operation and only when you are sure, you can go ahead and install it.
Next, the partitioning was a dream. The most painful area of using Linux was always the partitioning. Sure, Red Hat had some nifty tools, but, the sheer screen showing the partitions was enough to send shiver down the spine of any non-geeky user. In Ubuntu, all I had to do was this:
- Choose which drive I wanted for Ubuntu. For this, I chose my D:\
- Then, I just cleared off all the junk songs and made some space and defragmented the hard disk. This is to ensure that when the existing disk is partitioned off no valuable data is lost. This is one step that takes a really long time and HAS to be done of Windows. For me, it took about 8 hours to format about 28 GB of my hard disk.
Then, I restarted my machine with the Live CD and started the istallation. Just do the following during the partitioning:
- Choose manual formating option instead of the guided ones - unless you are planning to have only Ubuntu on your system
- Choose the drive you want for installation and delete that partition from the list
- Add a partition called swap - this should be 1.5 times the size of RAM
- Add a / partition which should be at least 2 GB - this is where all the files of Ubuntu will reside.
- Click on the next few steps and you are on your way to installing Ubuntu
The best part was that Ubuntu automatically detected the settings and even configured the dual-boot software (GRUB). I did not have to make some geeky things here to get it working. Though I did read through a lot, which was more of a habit :)
Good Software Package
The next pleasant thing was the very good set of software that it provided out of the box. There was the Open Office and Firefox, which I am sure will serve most needs of most people. After all, even in Windows, most of the time, most people use the browser and the MS-Office. Since a browser and an MS-Office like software is provided right from installer, the pain of searching, downloading and installing is directly reduced.
Then, the installer was automatically able to import the settings from Windows - so much so that it even imported my Internet connection details and the Wallpaper! This was really a big surprise to me. When I'd installed Red Hat in the bygone days, internet connection never ever worked with Linux. But this time, it was simply fabulous.
Apart from the basic software, the OpenOffice Writer (compatriat of Word) has the ability to directly export files as PDF which is very helpful for producing professional looking documents.
If you are a programmer, then this is again a real help. The system comes pre-installed with Perl. And with just this one command
sudo apt-get install apache
I managed to install apache. One step installation, something that you expect as a user if Windows is true on Ubuntu. And this is a the biggest relief! I did not have to sit and wade through pages and pages of help on the dependencies and what not. The above simple command detected everything needed and automatically installed everything.
Similarly, with one command I installed php and Java! If you are a developer, this is like a dream (unless you a .Net developer).
And coming to the final part of the best thing of Ubuntu, it works! It works the very first time I booted from the Live CD and it worked the very first time I installed. It even detected a wireless connection that never ever worked on Windows! The system also understood that I have NVidia graphics card and got the software for it.
The moment I installed the OS, it said that there were 71 things to be updated - it promptly got them and installed. I did not have to break my head on what to find and update. Just like one click Windows updater, the Ubuntu updater went on and brought my system in synch with the latest. This was almost like a dream come true for me!
All in all, the installation, migration and the use of this new Ubuntu Linux has been a very pleasant and happy experience for me. For all those of you out there, believe me, trying Ubuntu is not so risky as it used to be with other distributions of Linux. Just to make things easier for migration, I'd recommend you do the following:
- On Windows, install OpenOffice and get a feel of the software. This is just to wean you away from MS-Office.
- Install Firefox and try it. This will ensure that you know how to access internet without IE.
- Use Live CD and boot into the system a few times just to get a feel of the system. To get the Live CD, just register here and get a CD shipped to your home - in case you don't want to download it.