Windows Users Trying Linux

This is a brief follow-up to my piece from a couple of weeks ago where I jokingly suggested that everyone should move away from Windows to Linux. I found this blog entry where a Windows user has been trying Ubuntu Linux for a couple of weeks.

His findings make interesting reading. He’s had a bit of trouble with hardware compatibility but in general he’s very happy with how it’s all gone.

In the end I’ve been very impressed with Ubuntu. After two weeks of banging under the hood and using it as often as I can, it has shown itself to be stable, fast and customizable. Hardware support is solid and application support is good. It is a tweakers paradise. I can work at work and and home. If I had to I could use it as my day-to-day system and not have many regrets. I’m still not as comfortable with it as I am in Windows, but I’m getting there. I may not be a convert yet, but I am a fan.

Update: Another article on the same subject. In this case CareGroup CIO John Halamka tried Ubuntu for a month on his laptop. He liked it enough to stay with it after the experiment finished.

“A balanced approach of Windows for the niche business application user, Macs for the graphic artists/researchers, SUSE for enterprise kiosks/thin clients, and Ubuntu for power users seems like the sweet spot for 2008,” says Halamka. “I’ll continue to watch the marketplace evolve and report on my progress. For now, the only devices I’ll be carrying are a Dell D420 with Ubuntu Feisty Fawn and a BlackBerry 8707H e-mail device.

Back Home On Fedora

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was giving Ubuntu a trial on my laptop. That trial is now over and I’ve gone back to Fedora. And in the process I’ve upgraded to Fedora 7.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with Ubuntu. I want to make that quite clear. I’m sure it would make a great choice for a new Linux user. Or for many old Linux users who fancied a change.

No, my problem with it is simply that it’s not Fedora. I’ve been using Red Hat based Linux distributions for many years. The first version of Red Hat Linux that I used was 4.2 which (I’m surprised to see) was released ten years ago. So I have ten years of experience of using Red Hat Linux and its successor, Fedora. That’s a lot of product knowledge. And it would be a shame to see that go to waste.

Oh, of course there are a lot of similarities between Linux distributions. They are, after all, all the same operating system underneath and they all install largely the same set of software. But there are subtle differences between them that can sometimes trip you up. In my case it was the package management system. Red Hat uses packages called RPMs which you manage with a command line program called yum[1]. Ubuntu uses deb packages which you manage using apt. I could probably become proficient in using apt very quickly if I put the effort in. But I’m already proficient in using yum, so I’m not sure if there’s any point.

So I’m far happier back on Fedora. And Fedora 7 is a really nice advance on Fedora Core 6. But I believe that Ubuntu is probably just as good a choice for people who aren’t as stuck in their habits as I am. Ubuntu is certainly the distribution that is getting most of the publicity these days.

I don’t really think there’s much to choose between in modern Linux distributions. Just choose one that you like.

But please choose one. Don’t stay on Windows. That would be madness.

[1] Yes, there are GUI programs available too, if you’re that way inclined.