Monday, November 3, 2008

Taking Ubuntu like a man

I wish I could say switching to Ubuntu was a breeze, but in fact it left me uneasy and in need of a hug. In the end my resolved faltered and now I'm writing this post from my restored Mac. Migration to Ubuntu is not impossible but its not an easy path either, my problem was that I just don't have the time right now to make a cold turkey switch. The major barriers I hit are -

  • No support for WebEx or Adobe Connect (I seem to be doing webinars regularly)

  • Open Office just doesn't cut it. I didn't get around to installing Wine and MS office due to other issues.

  • Ummm... iTunes, where is the Ubuntu version? I've been a long time user of iTunes, I have an iPhone and have an AppleTV unit at home. Without iTunes I can't do much with these things. Of course the real problem is I am locked into Apple, which is not a great place to be.

  • When things go wrong in Ubuntu, it takes a while to figure it out. My first hurdle was losing WIFI, but it didn't tell me I had lost it, it just disappeared. I quickly realised that the UI for the wireless wasn't going to help me diagnose the problem so I started sifting through the command-line options. I like command line for some things, WIFI isn't one of them. Eventually, somebody told me that the saved WIFI profiles do not work properly and I had to delete them. This is basic stuff, it should work

  • I couldn't get the VPN working properly. Again, trouble shooting this was unnecessarily painful in this day and age

  • The UI looks a little dated and something has to be done about the fonts (I installed MS fonts and didn't see much improvement)

  • I didn't get around to setting up my home HP printer, but the anticipated pain was bad enough

  • Finally, Ubuntu really seems to be the third wheel of operating systems. Most software vendors only provide their software for Windows and Mac. This is real shame, but I don't have hours to spend hunting for command-line utilities that may suit my needs

All that said, I actually liked Ubuntu for many reasons, I just don't have the time to invest in migrating myself over to the platform. The selling points for me were -

  • It is lightening fast. I was running on an old ThinkPad and responsivness was great

  • Its a great development machine. All the dev tools I use (when I have time) work on it and it doesn't do anything stupid with the JDK like Apple does

  • There's a great community around Ubuntu who are very helpful and know their stuff

I've decided to keep Ubuntu on the back burner. I'm not ready to make the leap yet, but I will keep playing with it. It has loads of potential, but is just not there yet in terms of usability.


Anonymous said...

A problem (IMO) that a Linux user usually faces is the hassle of doing research to get proprietary software/hardware to work correctly. Anyway, setting up printer/scanner could be done pretty fast on Ubuntu.

It's an OS that works for me for the past 2 years, but again.. OS is very particular to individual.