Ubuntu ushers me out of the Windows XP era

Well, it finally happened. Windows XP is no longer the primary OS on any of my day-to-day machines. The last holdout was my laptop, a gray-haired but solid HP nc8230 rocking a single-core 1.86GHz Pentium M, 2GB of RAM, and a Mobility Radeon X600 graphics chip. The low-brow specs ruled out my modern OS of choice, Windows 7 Professional. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of dropping $130 for another license. A few months back, I moved my home file and web development server from a 32-bit Windows XP environment to 64-bit Ubuntu 10.10. Still pumped about the success of that project, I decided to give Ubuntu 11.04 "Natty Narwhal" a chance to win my heart as the sole proprietor of the HP’s hard drive.

First things first: I need to clear the air. I would classify myself as an advanced Linux n00b. I’m fairly comfortable tossing around terminal commands and editing the odd config file (in gedit), but my neck beard has not yet matured to the point where terminal text editors like vi, vim, or Emacs seem like a good idea. My laptop is used for standard productivity tasks, Internet surfing, and some light scripting with PHP and Python. Simplicity, versatility, and usability are valued over geek-cred, compile-from-source, time-consuming complexity. This post contains some personal observations I’ve made after stepping outside my Windows comfort zone, but it shouldn’t be viewed as a full-on Linux distro review. Consider yourself warned.

I’ve been casually following the Ubuntu lineage since about the time that 5.10 "Breezy Badger" dropped in 2005. It wasn’t until the 10.x releases came along that I felt Ubuntu was finally refined and usable enough to replace Windows for one of my primary PCs. With previous releases, I’d lose hours fiddling with configuration files, fighting graphics drivers, and attempting to install software that wasn’t in a default repository. The OS would inevitably blow up and refuse to boot. Before long, Windows would wash back over the hard drive platters, and life would go on. In a ironic twist, Windows XP decided to irreparably blow up this time, giving me the perfect chance to see if Linux could hack the full-time gig.

Installing Natty Narwhal was a cakewalk. Ubuntu has put a lot of work into its installer, which is attractive and about as simple as they come. This has always been one of the easier distributions to set up and get running, and the extra spit-shine shows that the Ubuntu gang is making a concerted effort to woo a more mainstream audience.

After the installer finished doing its thing, there was little more to be done. Since my laptop’s hardware is old, bordering on retirement-home age, all the drivers were locked and loaded except for the proprietary fglrx AMD graphics driver. If I had to pick one Linux nemesis, it would be graphics drivers—without question. I’ve lost more battles trying to get proprietary drivers from Nvidia and AMD working properly than I care to admit. To this day, the thought of modifying an xorg.conf file makes me want to curl up in the fetal position under a desk. My record of failure remained unscathed as I installed the fglrx drivers through the Synaptic Package Manager and promptly lost all 3D acceleration and Compiz effects. Some cursory Googling of the issue seemed to indicate that Mobility Radeon X600 owners were a subhuman species, unworthy of functioning proprietary drivers, so I uninstalled them and went about my business using the default X.Org AMD drivers (which seem to work quite well with this hardware).

Once the drivers were sorted, customizing the rest of my Linux experience was a relatively pain-free affair. My first order of business was to ditch the new Unity theme that is now activated by default in Ubuntu. This theme would be great if I were on a netbook or some other device that views Internet communication as its sole purpose in life. However, for a system oriented toward general productivity (and with a display resolution greater than 1024×600), a dumbed-down interface laden with ginormous icons makes me see red. I promptly restored the standard Ubuntu-skinned Gnome desktop by logging out and selecting "Ubuntu Classic" from the drop-down options at the bottom of the screen. The process was simple enough, but Ubuntu should really ask the users for their preference during the installation process rather than dumping them into giant-icon land by default.

 

The standard Gnome interface is a beautiful thing when pimped out with Ubuntu’s custom skin and wallpaper. The UI has more of an OS X vibe than a Windows feel, but it smartly combines elements from both in such a way that users from either side of the aisle should feel comfortable. As a bonus, if something like the positioning of the window close/maximize/minimize button array bothers you, it can easily be changed in the Appearance control panel. If you find yourself longing for an OS X-style dock, any number of free options are available for download in the Software Center. My personal favorite dock app is aptly called Docky. Even for hardened Windows users, Docky provides an unobtrusive, stylish, and useful way to organize and launch one’s favorite locations and applications.

While we’re on the subject of software, one thing I’ve always enjoyed about Ubuntu (and other Linux distros) is the ability to use the Software Center and Synaptic Package Manager to search quickly for applications and to install them with the click of a button. These services behave much like Steam or the jillion of other cookie-cutter app stores coming out these days, except the software listed within is generally free. Popular open-source applications like FileZilla, Firefox, Chromium, Wireshark, and GIMP can be installed easily without having to touch the command line. Of course, "sudo apt-get install" still works if you want to fire up the terminal and impress your friends.

The major side-effect of giving up Windows is the unfortunate forfeiture of native access to most games and popular software like Microsoft Office (particularly OneNote) and Adobe’s Creative Suite. Most Windows apps can be run inside a virtual machine or a compatibility layer like Wine, but losing native support is detrimental to Linux adoption overall. As much as I respect the incredible effort put into the GIMP project, it’s simply not on the same level as Photoshop. The situation is much the same for office suites, as Microsoft’s Office 2010 maintains a sizable lead over the free alternatives in terms of both looks and functionality. Fortunately, online offerings like Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365 are beginning to bridge the platform divide. I’m still anxiously awaiting a decent open-source alternative to OneNote, though. An application called EverNote has gained popularity on Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android platforms, but there is no love for the Linux crowd yet. Google Notebook works in a pinch, but it requires an Internet connection and doesn’t even come close to OneNote’s level of functionality.

When it comes to basic personal communication, Ubuntu has done an admirable job of integrating chat and e-mail features into the OS. The chat client can be configured to work with common services like Google Talk, AIM, ICQ, MSN, and Facebook Chat. Contacts are unified into a single list, and only one notification icon appears at the top of the screen. This is essentially the same functionality that multi-protocol instant messaging clients like Pidgin provide, except that it comes bundled with the OS. The only chat service I use regularly that isn’t supported is Skype. A Linux version of the Skype app is available through the Ubuntu Software Center, but it looks like an afterthought compared to the Windows and Mac flavors.

Although I’m still in the early stages of living with Linux, barring a few minor teething issues, things have gone extremely well. Mainstream distributions like Ubuntu appear to be just about ready for prime time, provided the user isn’t dependent on proprietary applications or games that only run on other systems. Native Linux applications and web-based software can be somewhat lacking in looks and features, but it’s astonishing what $0 will get you these days. That said, I’m not ready to give up Windows totally just yet. I simply have too much invested in games and other software that won’t run on Linux without jumping through hoops, and truth be told, I really like Windows 7. Linux is not for everyone, but it’s hard to argue with the value and quality modern distros offer. In fact, I’ve decided to let Ubuntu take root and make a home for itself on my laptop. /end corny Linux puns.

Comments closed
    • ET3D
    • 8 years ago

    The decline of Ubuntu was recently in the news, so I guess you just like to stay behind the times. Still, good overdue move getting out of XP.

      • PeterD
      • 8 years ago

      Bah, adopting something just to stay with the times, isn’t a very reasonable thing either. It just keeps you running on, like the subjects of the Red Queen.

    • Firestarter
    • 8 years ago

    I installed Windows 7 on a Pentium M laptop for my sister, I haven’t heard complaints yet! With a 2ghz CPU, 1GB RAM and a x600 GPU, I’d say it was less suitable for Windows 7 than your laptop is.

      • just brew it!
      • 8 years ago

      Yeah, I think MS learned their lesson with Vista, and realized that they aren’t in complete control of the hardware platform. Need to work with what’s out there, not what you think you can get people to buy.

      The major Linux desktops (GNOME and KDE) aren’t exactly “lean and mean” any more either; the hardware specs for an optimal user experience are probably pretty similar to what Win7 requires. Yes, there are some stripped down lightweight Linux desktops out there (XFCE, LXDE…), but people who have become accustomed to a modern desktop may find them somewhat lacking in terms of features. At least Linux’s modular approach gives you a choice…

    • Pettytheft
    • 8 years ago

    I recently tried to make the adjustment again on my laptop. Installation went great, recognized all my hardware without a problem. After fiddling with the settings to get basic wireless automatic logon working for every user (Why this is such a pain is beyond me). I had major issues with getting the system to utilize battery saving features. The machine was constantly running at full capacity. Whenever I would close the lid it wouldn’t go into sleep mode. Never had this problem with XP. This is a 6 year old machine. It’s still not ready for regular use for anything other than a power user.

    My 5 year old son adjusted just fine but my wife is still complaining and has now migrated upstairs to my office to use my Win 7 machine. I dual boot on the desktop but other than using it as a hobby there is no point.

      • just brew it!
      • 8 years ago

      Yeah, it really depends a lot on what you use your PC for on a day to day basis. In terms of percentage of time spent in each OS, for me I’d say it’s 98% Linux at home, and 80% Linux at work (with the remainder being mostly Windows XP in a VirtualBox VM).

      If I was an avid gamer, did a lot of video editing, or needed to use commercial CAD tools, these percentages would likely be reversed (and I’d probably be using VirtualBox on Windows to run Linux in a VM).

    • yuhong
    • 8 years ago

    <quote>The low-brow specs ruled out my modern OS of choice, Windows 7 Professional</quote>
    Well, I think most hardware since 2000 or so can at least in theory run Windows Vista/7, the main barriers being enough RAM and disk space.

      • FuturePastNow
      • 8 years ago

      With those specs, his laptop would in fact run Windows 7 very well.

        • travbrad
        • 8 years ago

        Yeah I agree. I ran Windows 7 on a 2GB machine for awhile, and it actually felt snappier than WindowsXP on that same machine. This was during the BETA of Win7 too, so it might even be a little bit faster now. I guess old myths die hard.

        Not that there’s anything wrong with Ubuntu, it’s a very nice OS, and the best linux distro at the moment IMO.

        • designerfx
        • 8 years ago

        no, it’d run it fine – however, he’d have to pay for a new license. thus the decision was quite logical. respect that the man simply didn’t choose windows, please.

          • jstern
          • 8 years ago

          Hahah, sounds personal for you. Considering that his point had nothing to do with him picking Ubuntu over Windows 7, but rather that it can run just fine on his computer. Don’t see how correcting a fact is somehow disrespecting his choice.

          It’s like someone saying that they prefer to live in Wyoming because the state has only 600,000 people, over New York City, because it has 5 million people, and then someone comes and says that New York City has 8 millions people, and then you come and say, “Please respect that the man simply didn’t choose New York, please.”

          Sorry if I sound like I’m picking on you, I just found it funny.

            • Turd-Monkey
            • 8 years ago

            [quote<]Considering that his point had nothing to do with him picking Ubuntu over Windows 7[/quote<] From article: [quote<]To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of dropping $130 for another license.[/quote<] Sounds like license cost, hardware he deemed too slow (perhaps incorrectly) and success with migrating his file sever all played a part in his decision.

            • jstern
            • 8 years ago

            I was replying to designerfx, who was replying to FuturePastNow, who made a point about Windows 7 working just fine under the specs given. I was not talking about the article. I was talking about the point that FuturePastNow made.

          • FuturePastNow
          • 8 years ago

          Not wanting to pay is a fine reason. I was simply objecting to his other reason:

          [quote<] The low-brow specs ruled out my modern OS of choice, Windows 7 Professional.[/quote<] Which is just flat-out wrong. It would run great on those specs.

        • boing
        • 8 years ago

        Agreed. I run Windows 7 on my Dell laptop with identical specs except for an ATI x300 gfx-chip instead of x600. It runs better than XP ever did.

      • jstern
      • 8 years ago

      You had a thumbs down, so I gave you a thumbs up. Earlier I posted that I ran the Windows 7 beta on my 2003 Dell laptop, and it ran flawlessly with just 768Mb of ram. No Aero though. I guess someone gave you a thumbs down because they’re convinced what you said was impossible and felt you were 100 percent wrong.

      • barich
      • 8 years ago

      Yeah, I have Windows 7 on a nearly identical laptop – a Dell Latitude D610, with a 1.86 GHz Pentium M, 2 GB of RAM, and a Radeon X300. It runs great. Aero even works okay. Keep in mind that Microsoft targeted a decent experience on a 1.6 GHz Atom with 1 GB of RAM during development, and twice the RAM and a faster processor make it even better.

      That’s not to say that it doesn’t make sense to save $130 on a computer that won’t be doing much besides internet-related stuff.

      • joseph_wh
      • 8 years ago

      Well said. In theory it does, but not in practice. I have a laptop with 2 GB of Ram, 2 core Pentium 1.83 Ghz and it’s painfully slow sometimes. It came with Vista pre-installed, so Win7 is still better. Firefox is out of the question and Chrome is just acceptable 🙁

        • kc77
        • 8 years ago

        You’ll definitely get voted down for even thinking that saying that Vista/Win7 is anything but lightning fast with 2GB or less. I will too but I don’t care. I still haven’t seen this mythical super fast Win7 / Vista machine on 2GB or less. 512 is just not usable in my eyes, 1GB is usable but load up some apps and disk thrashing begins (after waiting to get to your desktop), 2GB is the sweet spot to where you can load a browser maybe Office as well and actually use it. Anything below it is going to feel slow. Now that’s what it’s like on a desktop, for laptop the it’s just going to feel slower. Bus speeds are usually not as aggressive, mem clocks / latency is usually up/ hard drives are usually slower and the onboard graphics is stealing some of the mem anyway. It’s not a stretch for Win7 to feel slower in this scenario.

          • jstern
          • 8 years ago

          Note how everyone else is talking about Windows 7, but you keep lumping in Vista.

          Also you seem to take the fact that many here have ran Windows 7 on low specs PC to mean that they’re saying that their computer suddenly became capable of running Crisis. As someone who installed Windows 7 on a 2003 Dell, and can speak from EXPERIENCE, it ran just as well as XP did on the same machine. Quite frankly, it did feel a little snappier, probably because of the prefetch feature or something. Remember, I’m talking about Windows 7, not Vista.

          Which reminds, one of the reasons why Win 7 uses more ram than XP is because it uses available ram to speed certain things up. But you seem to be of the logic that “If Windows 7 requires 1GB of ram, and XP 64mb, then Windows 7 is going to take away the difference from my programs,” which is good logic, shows you’re not retarded, capable of coming to what seems like a logical conclusion, but at the same time you’re wrong. Unlike XP, Windows 7 uses available ram to speed up things, that’s one of the reasons why it uses more ram, and probably why it felt snappier for me, despite the huge difference between ram requirements. (If I have 1gb or ram on XP, but only actually using 200mb, then it will perform the same as if I only had 256mb of ram. In the same scenario, the Windows 7 one at least is using the available ram to speed things up.)

            • kc77
            • 8 years ago

            [quote<]Note how everyone else is talking about Windows 7, but you keep lumping in Vista.[/quote<] It's performance is better than when Vista launched. However, Win 7 has some of the same performance characteristics that Vista does. [quote<]Also you seem to take the fact that many here have ran Windows 7 on low specs PC to mean that they're saying that their computer suddenly became capable of running Crisis.[/quote<] Nope didn't state that. Nor am I implying it. However, to state that performance is just great with those specs is just a lie for most laptops of that age. Plain and simple.Every time I've looked at it Win 7's performance doesn't really get acceptable in my eyes until 2GB. I've seen it on laptops and desktops. For desktops you can get away with it being slightly under that. Laptop? Not on your life. There's just too many compromises in the hardware where Win 7's I/O impact is easily noticed vs. Win XP. [quote<]As someone who installed Windows 7 on a 2003 Dell, and can speak from EXPERIENCE, it ran just as well as XP did on the same machine. Quite frankly, it did feel a little snappier, probably because of the prefetch feature or something. Remember, I'm talking about Windows 7, not Vista. [/quote<] Hmm well from my experience of servicing 200+ desktops, and 12 severs daily I would have to say that Win7's performance isn't that great until the 2GB mark. On a desktop begrudgingly OK. On a laptop I just don't see it performing better than XP with what laptops with just 2GB have in them especially from that time period. [quote<] Which reminds, one of the reasons why Win 7 uses more ram than XP is because it uses available ram to speed certain things up. But you seem to be of the logic that "If Windows 7 requires 1GB of ram, and XP 64mb, then Windows 7 is going to take away the difference from my programs," which is good logic, shows you're not retarded, capable of coming to what seems like a logical conclusion, but at the same time you're wrong. Unlike XP, Windows 7 uses available ram to speed up things, that's one of the reasons why it uses more ram, and probably why it felt snappier for me, despite the huge difference between ram requirement. (If I have 1gb or ram on XP, but only actually using 200mb, then it's the same as having 256mb of ram. In the same scenario, the Windows 7 one at least is using the available ram to speed things up.) [/quote<] Quite aware of the prefetch. Prefetch isn't some magic pill. In order for data to get into memory it's got to be read from disk. This is I/O intensive since the data can't get beamed there magically. The more aggressive the prefetch the more I/O intensive it is. For desktops this isn't a big deal especially with the hardware specs now. However, old hardware with it's slow hard drives Win 7 / Vista will still seem slower or sluggish compared to Win XP and definitely to Ubuntu.

            • PeterD
            • 8 years ago

            Hmm… that sounds like something I would like.
            But then again, why did they change so much by doing away with OE? Why do I have to adept to the Windows (Live) Mail GUI?
            You see? They’re always overdoing things. And very often changing the packaging, only for marketing reasons.

            • FakeAlGore
            • 8 years ago

            They did away with Outlook Express for a couple of reasons. First, they removed a built-in e-mail client to prevent yet another anti-trust suit (at least, that is the commonly held belief since Microsoft won’t say one way or the other). Second, there existed too much confusion between Outlook and Outlook Express among users. The rebranding to Windows Live Mail emphasized that it is a consumer product and not an office product.

            Windows Live Mail is built upon the Outlook Express code base, so it’s the same program at heart. They updated the UI to match, initially, the Windows Vista look-and-feel. Now it has the Windows 7-style ribbon. It’s just to keep a consistent feel between applications. Outlook Express 6.0 is still pre-installed with Windows XP. If you won’t want to learn a new user interface (including the new interfaces in Windows Vista and Windows 7), the old software will continue to work.

            Don’t expect user interface guidelines to remain static. The new interfaces are technically more efficient, especially for first-time users. No major application or operating system has remained static for very long (see Unity in Ubuntu Linux 11.04, the major shift with GNOME 3 and KDE 4, the new iDevice-like interface in OS X 10.7, etc.).

      • PeterD
      • 8 years ago

      That’s impossible. Otherwise all those problems wouldn’t have existed in 2007.
      It seems you’ve forgotten what a mess that was.

        • FakeAlGore
        • 8 years ago

        The problem had very little to do with what the hardware was capable of. Microsoft changed the driver model for both display devices and audio devices with Windows Vista. They did not engage with the IHVs in time for the drivers to become stable. Thus we got BSODs, strange audio corruption, high RPC latency, and more. Once the driver situation stabilized, Windows Vista exhibited fairly adequate performance.

        I’ll be the first to admit it was slower than Windows XP on the same system, but Pentium 4 systems had very little trouble with it.

    • A_Pickle
    • 8 years ago

    As long as it’s not a damn Mac. Congratulations, sir! You’re free, unlike most of us. 😀

    • Flatland_Spider
    • 8 years ago

    Linux Skype is an after thought, and it will probably go extinct now that MS owns Skype.

    Nevernote – A Linux Evernote client:
    [url<]http://nevernote.sourceforge.net/index.htm[/url<] Alternativeto.net alternatives to OneNote: [url<]http://alternativeto.net/software/microsoft-onenote/?platform=linux[/url<] Proprietary graphics drivers in Linux are a pain. They are less painful if there is a package in the repo, but they still break tons of stuff, like KMS. The FOSS drivers work well enough, and the recent Nouveau driver in Fedora borders on really good. vi/vim is a great idea! Once you get used to vi/vim stuff like Gedit seem clunky.

    • Madman
    • 8 years ago

    I also installed 11.04 amd64 on VirtualBox yesterday. Since the Virtualbox allows using multiple cores and also allows to pass 2D/3D accelerator to host GPU or something, I managed to get the Unity and everything working.

    And WOW, the 11.04 is actually gone so far as to say that it’s working right out of the box, is easy to use and I really like it. Actually a lot of things are even better than on Windows 7.

    So, yea, I need to get a spare HDD to install the Ubuntu as a regular OS, as it does everything I need it to in most cases without getting in a way. And it’s very simple to use with all that extra power available as well.

    There are few apps that I still use and that are Windows only. But after a little while with Ubuntu I have a silent wish to transform it as a primary OS. It really is that much greater than it used to be.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 8 years ago

    I use Ubuntu at work and on my 2 laptops. The windows issues can be overcome with VMWare and unity. Example at work we are 80% Linux, 10% windows and 10% Apple however we are moving over to Outlook/Exchange at some point (running trials now) and I started using Outlook as my email client. It works 100% perfect under unity. With a modern CPU that supports hardware virt there is little to no slowdown. Might want to give that a shot if you need to run native Windows apps on Ubuntu.

    • bcronce
    • 8 years ago

    I am very much a gaming person. I see DX11 games coming out, I want to make use of my $300 videocard.

    For now, Linux isn’t where I need it right now. I have just recently stumbled across the semi-recent AMD devel forum about where they want Fusion to go. It has me excited about finally having fairly cross-OS games.

    I was planning on getting an Ivy Bridge, but I may just have to go AMD to help support the vision.

    [url<]http://developer.amd.com/afds/Pages/rebroadcast2.aspx#/Dev_AFDS_Reb_1[/url<]

    • just brew it!
    • 8 years ago

    Welcome to the dark side! 😀

    I took the Linux plunge a few years ago, and haven’t looked back. Primary desktops and home and work have been Ubuntu since the 8.04 days. Youngest daughter also runs Linux (Ubuntu 10.04) now, and my home file server is also Linux-based.

    Games are still problematic on Linux, but I don’t game much any more.

    I do have Windows XP VMs set up, but only use them on a limited basis. The Windows VM at work is mainly used for access to the corporate Exchange server (Outlook); the one at home is used to run Microchip’s PIC microcontroller development environment. Pretty much everything else is done natively in Linux these days!

    • End User
    • 8 years ago

    It is nice to see someone from TR running Ubuntu. 🙂

    Try:
    Ubuntu Tweak (http://ubuntu-tweak.com/)
    Nautilus Elementary (http://goo.gl/3yLyt)

    I’m a fan of Unity. I find it scales very well (running it on a netbook and a dual 24″ equipped workstation).

    • burntham77
    • 8 years ago

    If I had some money to burn, I would have more than the two computers I have now (not counting my wife’s laptop). To be able to have access to all of the big OSes and see how they all interact, the nuances, the ups and downs; that would be pretty interesting to me.

    1. Windows 7 gaming machine
    2. Windows 7 HTPC
    3. Low-power Ubuntu laptop or desktop (good for browsing the web while gaming)
    4. Windows 7 gaming laptop (for on the go fun)
    5. iMac (for graphics and audio/video editing)

    I have the first two already. Time to go play the slot machines!

      • just brew it!
      • 8 years ago

      For anything that isn’t graphics intensive, you can use VMs for trying out other OSes. Oracle VirtualBox is a very capable virtualization environment that supports Windows and Linux (for both host and guest OS), and is free for personal use. (There’s also a slightly less featureful Open Source version that is available in most of the major Linux distros’ package repositories, which is free for *any* use, whether personal or not.)

        • Flatland_Spider
        • 8 years ago

        Oracle changed the Vbox structure. The OSE version is no more. Vbox is fully open source, and the closed stuff is in a extension package which can be downloaded from the Vbox site.

        I’m not sure if they changed the commercial licensing. They might have.

          • just brew it!
          • 8 years ago

          I was under the impression that the base packages available on their site did not include the VNC server functionality for remote consoles like the OSE version did. Has this changed as well?

            • Flatland_Spider
            • 8 years ago

            I’m not sure. I’ve never bothered with the OSE version because I would rather use RDP.

        • Flatland_Spider
        • 8 years ago

        Plus he can use RDP to access the VMs with VBox and the proprietary extensions.

      • Farting Bob
      • 8 years ago

      Why would you need to use OSX for video editing? There still seems to be a myth that Macs are better at multimedia editing/creation. Maybe 10 years ago but these days all the programs that semi pro and professionals use are available on windows (and some even on linux). Apple is still prevelent in that industry largely because design people are just more likely to like mac designs. The software works as well on both, and windows allows for you to build whatever system you want to get better value/performance.

        • A_Pickle
        • 8 years ago

        ….aaaaand you got a downvote. Despite the fact that what you say is 100% accurate.

        Dude, Macs are better at video and graphics because THEY’RE BRUSHED ALUMINUM. Photoshop and Premiere know this, they get 10% better performance on brushed aluminum PC’s than other colors.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 8 years ago

        Final Cut Studio and Logic Studio simply aren’t available for Windows, and they are EXTREMELY well-liked by video and audio professionals (even with all the changes to Final Cut X, people aren’t going to abandon the franchise). And Pro Tools 9 on Windows is a pretty fragile proposition – it’s not as stable with ASIO drivers as it is with Core Audio (I speak from experience on that last one).

        Still, I use Photoshop Elements, Premier Elements, and SONAR X1 (cross platform, cross-platform, and Windows-only, respectively). I got version 8 of those first two in a package for about $90. The SONAR upgrade was $100 on its own, but it’s been worth it.

      • Flatland_Spider
      • 8 years ago

      There is always the refurb route. Used/Refurbed ThinkPads are pretty cheap, and used/refurbed Dells are dirt cheap. Both work well provided you get models with Intel nics. Any graphics chip from ATI/AMD/Nvidia/Intel will a have basic Xorg driver for them, so I wouldn’t worry about which one, unless you want to use proprietary drivers which I don’t recommend.

    • Xenolith
    • 8 years ago

    Mint is now the most installed distro. The latest Ubuntu left most users upset with the buggy new desktop. I will be moving to Mint until Ubuntu cleans up its act.

      • Zenphic
      • 8 years ago

      I’ve been meaning to try Mint. I guess I’ll do that now.

      • bthylafh
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]Mint is now the most installed distro.[/quote<] {citation needed}

        • bcronce
        • 8 years ago

        I think it was meant to read “Mint is now the most newly installed distro.”

        But learn to read news. Other people shouldn’t have to google shit they read months ago just to find a link because you don’t keep up with what’s new.

        “{citation needed}”, in forums, typically means you’re lazy and uneducated. At least try to google it.

          • Skrying
          • 8 years ago

          You must be joking. If you make an assertion you’re the one charged with providing proof.

      • just brew it!
      • 8 years ago

      So install GNOME or KDE. Unity may be the default now, but other desktop environments are still supported.

      • Farting Bob
      • 8 years ago

      No, Ubuntu is the most installed. Mint might have more recent downloads/installs but Ubuntu still leads the way with total users. To most people if they know what linux is at all its Linux = Ubuntu.

      • matic
      • 8 years ago

      I switched to Mint one month ago after being Ubuntu user from 7.10. Trigger was some small problems at panel applets and curiosity. Not being myself an inquisitive mind so far the differences are slightly longer boot time, more complicated menues and green everywhere. I’ll keep Mint untill next Ubuntu release then will consider switching again.

      Me too I’ve never looked back to Windows for everyday tasks, I still have its own partition but the reasons to boot to Win XP this days range from shrinking to non-existant.

      • maxxcool
      • 8 years ago

      ubuntu is meant for both novice and experienced users, so the UI will default to the lowest commen denominator. so i would not fold my breath. unity is here to stay to compete with windows xp and mac os and android…

      • revparadigm
      • 8 years ago

      what Xenolith is saying Mint has a better page hit ranking according to Distrowatch.com over the last 30 days, which indicates more interest…or something. But since Mint is based off Ubuntu, to me Mint is very nice variant of Ubuntu…which I personally like more than Vanilla U.

    • dragosmp
    • 8 years ago

    As a side note, since version 10.04 Ubuntu is even easier to setup for basic computing needs than Windows since it can download by itself needed drivers. Manually installing drivers that rarely worked out of the box have been a major show-stopper for me before 10.04.
    The Gnome GUI is pleasant and makes any occasional PC or Mac user feel at home, the learning curve is very smooth as opposed to any tablet or the new Unity interface.

    • Pax-UX
    • 8 years ago

    Guess you don’t use any Apple iProducts or play much games… don’t get me wrong I love Linux. Be it Gentoo or Ubuntu I’ve used both, but only run Ubuntu these days because it’s simple to setup and everything I need. So long as you don’t want cutting edge hardware its great.

    The iPad can do 90% of what people require a computer for these. Typing being the big limiting factor.

      • sweatshopking
      • 8 years ago

      as much as I disagree with you about how useful the ipad is, nm, that’s pretty much it.

      • dragosmp
      • 8 years ago

      The iPad is a device where you can do 90% only if you live in North America, which most TR readers do. Outside North America there’s no Hulu, no Netflix and the list goes on. There is Spotify, but that will soon get to the US, too. While on a PC/Mac one can access any service by jumping thru some hoops, on an iPad it’s impossible.
      In EU the iPad doesn’t perform well as an entertainment consumption device. It’s only a glorified web-browser and casual gaming machine, so I’d reduce the 90% usefulness factor to some 40% for the average Joe. For me it would be less than 10%

        • Deanjo
        • 8 years ago

        [quote<]Outside North America there's no Hulu, no Netflix and the list goes on.[/quote<] That has really nothing to do with the iPad. That is a service issue and effects PC's as well. [quote<]While on a PC/Mac one can access any service by jumping thru some hoops, on an iPad it's impossible.[/quote<] Not at all the case. You can VPN with an iPod/iPhone/iPad etc. You can also setup a proxy on there or do what clever people do and setup your router to proxy the authentication urls.

      • gbcrush
      • 8 years ago

      It can’t run Baldur’s Gate 2.

      • WaltC
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]The iPad can do 90% of what people require a computer for these. Typing being the big limiting factor.[/quote<] It's always amusing to me to see how much one person here or there knows about the other "90%" of people who use computers...;) I guess it's true in a way, because the old Yugo automobile could also do about 90% of what people demanded an automobile to do, but this didn't save its fate from the fact that > 90% of automobile customers decided that whatever the Yugo could do it couldn't do it well enough to suit them. I mean, just look at the Apple Mac, for instance--it also does about 90% of what people expect a PC to do, but nevertheless ~95% of the people who buy PCs have decided that the Mac doesn't do those things well enough to suit them so they don't buy Macs. As you note, the situation is even more stark for people considering a Linux box, even though, they, too, can do the same estimated 90% of the postulated tasks a PC is expected to be able to do. So what's the object lesson here? Isn't it that people make purchase decisions based on far more important factors than whether a given device can do "90%" of what they expect it to do? I should say so. I guess the bottom line in all of these things is that it really just doesn't matter what percentage of reasonable tasks a given device does out of the total number of tasks such devices are expected to do. What matters in the end is whether or not a sizable number of people like how one device accomplishes those things--does it do them better than another? Can in many cases the 10% of what a given device cannot do be 100% more important to the consumer than the so-called 90% of the tasks they accomplish in common? I'd say that is likely, too. Besides the fact that there is an awful lot of stuff crammed into that "10%" estimate you make as to the number of things an iPad doesn't do well at all compared to a PC or a Mac, to treat "iPad typing" as the major foible of the iPad--to me, that's like saying, "Hey, look it, the iPad does most of the stuff you need to do every day--so, really, who cares if for driving you have to use a rudder instead of a steering wheel? It's a sacrifice you are prepared to make, isn't it?" I think that most people would say that, no, typing with "rudder" instead of a "steering wheel" is in fact not only important but an absolutely critical distinction.

    • yogibbear
    • 8 years ago

    OneNote?

    Is it really that useful?

    I often find my notebook is much more useful when I’m somewhere where there’s no power and anything with a battery in it is considered a safety hazard anyway (and hence is contraband). Hence my love for moleskine pocket notebooks (plus they fit in my pocket easily and don’t annoy me when climbing a ladder).

      • VaultDweller
      • 8 years ago

      OneNote may very well be my favorite piece of software in existence.

      • dashbarron
      • 8 years ago

      I love One Note. The only cavaet is the lack of usability on all devices and the licensing which prevents me from installing on multiple machines.

    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 8 years ago

    As a little experiment I switched my mom’s laptop to Ubuntu, around version 8.04. 90% of what she does with her computer takes place in a browser window, so I figured it wouldn’t be a huge change for her. Honestly, she wasn’t that good at using Windows in the first place. Well 3 years later and she’s still using it with only the occasional complaint. There was a version or 2 where the audio kept crackling, but she didn’t even tell me about that one, I found out using the laptop myself and was more annoyed than she was. I also can’t get the finger print reader working on her R61i, but that is an extremely minor problem.

    I’ve still got her on 10.4 I think, whatever the last LTS release was. Too many quirks for a computer I have to support remotely for the non-LTS releases.

    • jstern
    • 8 years ago

    I remember trying Linux a few years ago. I loved the idea that it was all open source, etc, but my brain is hardwired for Windows, it’s second nature. All the programs I use are for Windows, etc. I felt that perhaps if I was 12 and didn’t have some of the worries of life, then I would have enough mental stamina to waste my time tinkering. (Reminds me of all the Windows users who had trouble going from XP to Vista/7. Imagine how difficult it would for those particular users to go to Ubuntu.)

    I should mention that I installed the Windows 7 beta on my Dell laptop from 2003. Not the Pentium M, but the CPU version that was out before, running at 2.4 Ghz, and 768 MB of ram. It didn’t have Aero, but it worked perfectly. It felt as if I had a new computer.

      • tomjleeds
      • 8 years ago

      Things have got a lot better in the last few years. Maybe not good enough, but a LOT better.

    • Brad Grenz
    • 8 years ago

    A couple months ago I refurbished my father’s old laptop for my mother to use. I was planning to just do a fresh install of XP when I discovered the optical drive was dead. It was too much of a hassle to build an bootable USB install image for Windows, so I went ahead and installed Ubuntu for her. All she really needs is a browser for gmail, google reader, and general web stuff and so far it’s been going really well. She wasn’t familiar enough with Windows even for linux to seem strange for her and it’s great to not need to be as worried about viruses and malware on her computer. The laptop hardware was all detected and supported immediately, including the wifi adapter and right now my only real concern is how little RAM is installed. It’s a Pentium M, too, but with only 512MB of memory. I’d like to upgrade that in the future, but it’s been surprisingly usable for her so far with maybe 2 tabs in Chrome open at a time.

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    Same here. Back in 2009 a virus hit my XP laptop and I scrambled to get things right. Bad timing too, as I had lots of things to juggle back then and my crazy laptop added to my stress levels because it’s my work PC.

    That was also when I became open to alternative OSes. I’ve been using Ubuntu on that laptop ever since.

    First post for the first time! ^_^

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