Monday 15 October 2007

3 Months after Ubuntu...

-Akshay Ranganath

Its been three months since I installed Ubuntu 7 (Fiesty Fawn) on my laptop. Looking back at the way I've used it and issues faced, here's my take on the system:

1. User Interface
The UI is definitely simple and easy to use. Quite nice, fast and robust. Maybe not as sleek as Windows but, it gets the job done. I did not have time to explore various other themes - so maybe, there are some better options out there.

1.a. Missing shortcuts
One thing that I definitely missed (or never managed to learn) was creating shortcuts. For example, in Windows, there is the option of "Send to desktop". I could not find any such options easily.

This meant that everytime I had to open specific directories, I had to go through the entire file structure to locate the folder that I wanted. A simple shortcut would have really helped a lot.

1.b. Locked up menu-bars
This was a real irritant. All of a sudden, menus would become locked. You cannot resize or close windows from the menu. The only way to close a menu is to right click on the tab in the screen and then choosing the close option. For someone used to closing windows by clicking on the standard X option, this is an irritant.

Another area that it really bugs is the difficulty in re-sizing windows. Of course, if window is locked, there is no way to do it. In case where the window is not locked, the option is to re-size using mouse but, somehow it is not intuitive or easy to use. Sometimes it re-sizes nicely, sometimes it does not. Maybe, this can be improved.

2. Application software
The default installed list of applications are quite helpful to get most of the work done. The OpenOffice suite is surprisingly easy and nifty to use. Yet, there were some areas where things felt a bit jarry.

2.a. Document Viewer
This is the standard PDF viewer that comes along with Ubuntu 7. It is quite light weight and does the job of displaying PDFs. The places where it caused problems were:
Selection of text - When text was selected and pasted, the formatting was lost or things like spaces were simply gobbled up. So, words would be joined and I would have to go through the copied contents and re-format the same to get the content in order.

The second area where I had a problem is that the document viewer does not allow you to choose areas as images. So, if I like a graph in a PDF that I want to copy, I'd end up rebooting in Windows, opening Acrobat and then working with the PDF. I was not really happy to do this, but it was the only way to get the job done.

2.b. OpenOffice Writer
I am not sure if I explored it but I could not find the Document Review tabs in OpenOffice. So, if I have to produce a collaborative document, I would still need to use the Windows word. Maybe, I need to search further but, this is a first impression.

Apart from this, I was quite surprised by the entire system. One area where I am really happy with is the fast boot time that it takes. On an average, Windows XP and Ubuntu take about same time to boot. But, once booted, Windows would suddenly start all sorts of Virus scans, updaters, etc which would simply hog the memory and make my system slow. So, I would have to start my system and wait for almost 5 minutes before it got to a stage where it was usable.

With Ubuntu, if I want to get something real fast, I am able to get hold of it almost the moment the system completes the booting. Way to go!

Well, that's about it for this edition of my review on the system. Please let me know your thoughts.

1 comment:

Al said...

I think your menu locking (if I get what you mean) is an isolated problem. Do you mean that the non client area (title bar, min/max/close buttons, resizing border) of a window suddenly stops responding? I never experienced that, and I doubt many people do. Still, I guess that your point is that you did experience it and therefore it was a bad point. I have a problem that I thought everyone had, but when I happened to describe it to someone who also uses Linux (and I think Ubuntu) he said that it's not supposed to do that so there you go. I just assumed it was a bit dodgy.

My problem was (and still is, through three versions of Ubuntu now) that my mouse isn't very responsive when it comes to dragging. When I'm normally moving the mouse or clicking or double clicking it's fine. But when I want to click and drag (i.e. for moving or sizing a window, which I do a lot) I'm used to just zooming through it but my version of Ubuntu doesn't quite registered that I've clicked for maybe 0.2 seconds (complete guess) which is a complete pain, as it means I have to click, wait and then drag for doing stuff like moving windows. Still, other than that, I'm very happy with Ubuntu, but I don't use it every day, just every now and again.