Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Ubuntu Experience, Part 3

PC World recently did a feature article on Operating Systems, and named Ubuntu as their favorite Linux distribution. I decided to document my experience working with Ubuntu, and this final article, Part 3, will compare Ubuntu to Wndows XP Pro SP2. I'm using the latest version of Ubuntu, 6.10.

Categories

User Interface

Windows: 7/10
Ubuntu: 9/10

Ubuntu's interface is much more polished and clean, which makes it not only easier to use but much nicer to look at too.

Applications

Windows: 8/10
Ubuntu: 6/10

Obviously Ubuntu does not have the vast amount of applications that Windows has, but the applications themselves are worth it. I took off another point because of the lack of any real games.

Reliability

Windows: 7/10
Ubuntu: 5/10

Ouch! Here's why I'm still using Windows: it crashes a lot less often than Ubuntu, and when it does, it doesn't require a reboot. This needs fixing.

Security

Windows: 6/10
Ubuntu: 10/10

Ubuntu's security shines, and it beats the pants off any other OS. Security updates show up extremely quickly (with Windows Auto Updates, you could wait up to a month).

Customizability

Windows: 8/10
Ubuntu: 10/10

Again, Ubuntu wins. The amount of customizability in Ubuntu is amazing: I spent a few days just playing with different OS settings, not necessarily because I needed to, but because it was fun ;).

Bottom Line

Windows: 2
Ubuntu: 3

That's right my friends, Ubuntu wins this contest by a hair. Unfortunately, reliability is really important, and form what I have seen of Ubuntu, it doesn't measure up. I'm still using Windows until this changes.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

The Ubuntu Experience, Part 2

PC World recently did a feature article on Operating Systems, and named Ubuntu as their favorite Linux distribution. I decided to document my experience working with Ubuntu, and this second article, Part 2, will detail my experience installing and using applications. I'm using the latest version of Ubuntu, 6.1.

Installing More Applications

Ubuntu comes with tons of free and open-source applications, but I decided to go get some more before writing this article. I opened the Add/Remove Programs item on the Applications menu and was pleasantly surprised. After scanning my system for installed apps, it downloaded a huge list of free apps that I could install off the internet; in other words, Ubuntu offered to do the downloading and installing for me. Is that allowed?

I installed Adobe Reader, which was a large download, but it didn't take too long and was instantly installed when fully downloaded. It really was that easy.

Using Applications

Next I decided it was time to start trying out my apps. After playing games, reading email, IMing my friends, and more, I settled on a few apps to talk about.

The star of the show has to be Evolution Mail. This email application does more than Outlook Express. In fact, it does more than Thunderbird. It outright rivals Outlook itself, the grandpappy of email applications. And it does a pretty good job of it too: I couldn't find anything it couldn't do that Outlook could. It was surprisingly easy to set it up to get my Gmail and Yahoo! mail, and I could even have it store the incoming mail in separate folders, based on the account. Evolution Mail: 5/5

Next was Gaim. This IM application can handle Y!, MSN, AIM, Jabber, and a host of other chatting systems, and it does so with a fairly simple layout and clean interface. Unfortunately, it can't handle GTalk, even though this uses the iChat protocol (just like AIM). Gaim is also available for Windows.

Overall, none of Ubuntu's available applications were disappointing. They were well polished and tested, and this was obvious from the bug-freeness (a new word!)

Coming Up

In my final article in this series (Part 3), I'll be talking about how Ubuntu compares with other OSs, such as Windows XP. Until then, submit your comments below and let me know what you think.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

The Ubuntu Experience, Part 1

PC World recently did a feature article on Operating Systems, and named Ubuntu as their favorite Linux distribution. I decided to document my experience working with Ubuntu, and this first article, Part 1, will detail my experience installing and updating Ubuntu. I'm using the latest version of Ubuntu, 6.1.

Installing Ubuntu

Installation was rather straightforward, and finished quickly in comparison with other OSs, like Windows XP Pro. I only had to fill in a few small details at the beginning; it then did the rest of the work, allowing me to get in some study time in the process. The only thing worth writing home about was how amazingly easy it was. Like, really: is it legal to make an installation so smooth?

Updating Ubuntu and Applications

The next step was to install security updates (which Ubuntu nicely downloaded the info for without me having to do a thing). There were how many updates (to the OS and the applications that came pre-installed)? 139. That meant I had to wait for two hours (over a satellite connection) for 139 files (some as large as 30 MB, some as small as 180 kB) to download. About half way through, however, there was some kind of hardware failure, and I had to restart. Had it saved the downloads? Nope.


So I downloaded them all again. This time they all downloaded, and then another box came up, which proceeded to install each individual file. About half way through, disaster struck: another hardware failure, and I was forced to reboot.

This time, however, the GRUB boot loader tried to use the new kernel (.11), which failed. I rebooted. It failed again. I loaded the old kernel (.10). This worked. I then tried to repeat the update process, but it said my system was fully updated. I knew this was false, however, since it had crashed half way through.

So I opened the System menu, then Administration. I saw an item named "Synaptic Package Manager", and I clicked on it. An error message popped up (surprise surprise). It said something like this:

"The main package system is corrupted. You must manually run 'dpkg --configure -a' to correct this problem."

So I opened a terminal and (after doing a "su -" command and entering the root password) pasted that text into it and hit enter. Tada! It proceeded to fix all the problems. Now I can load the new kernel and use all my programs successfully.

So far, so good. I was able to figure out what to do (probably luck). This part could have been smoother, but I suppose you can't make everyone happy.

Coming Up

In my next article (Part 2), I'll be talking about normal use of the Ubuntu OS, and how it measures up. Until then, submit your comments below to let me know what you think.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Another Brilliant Sony Product

Yet another amazing bit of ingenuity on the part of Sony: a remote-controlled remote control (in case you lose the first one). But wait! What if you lose the other remote control? Not to worry: Sony will include a remote for the remote for the remote.


A great parody.



AJAX Site of the Week: Google Calendar

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Fortune Magazine: Google is the Best

According to this video, Fortune Magazine says that Google is the best company to work for; you'll soon see why (video uploaded to YouTube, of course).



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ATR3 Disappears; New Portal Fills Void

Less than a week ago the programming game Advanced T-Robots 3's official website went offline. Today, a new and promising unofficial portal for ATR3 gamers has come onto the scene that hopes to keep ATR3 alive.

Gamers may browse a catalog of robot files that they may put in their own tournaments, as well as submit their own to the site. A tournaments page (which currently doesn't have any active tournaments) will eventually hold tournaments for players and present the results from past tourneys.

Overall, the site design is superb and deserves a look. New gamers can download the installation file (which is otherwise unavailable) so they can make their own robots and hold their own contests. Planned features include more robot files and a robot programming tutorial.

Full Disclosure: ATR3 Portal is an affiliate of TechTrek.

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