Gutsy as a Gibbon.

UbuntuYesterday I had had to take some time off of the game to finish off a previous assignment. A couple of months back I was working on a GUI application which involved writing some GUI code using wxPython. It was a rather trivial application, nothing too brain taxing. Originally written under Windows using wxPython, it so happens it was to be ported to Linux as planned. Anyways, the target system was the Gutsy Gibbon (Ubuntu 7.10), so I had no option but to install it on my PC. Now, I am a long term Red-Hat fan and more recently, of course, Fedora has been my top distro preference. The Gutsy was my first experience with Ubuntu/Debian.

I had heard a lot about Ubuntu but never actually tried it before (, except that once for the Live CD version to rescue a hard-drive). After having used it for about 2 days I can tell you outright, it lives up to it’s reputation. While it may be difficult for me to say whether it is the best, but I can certainly tell you for a fact it is good. I have heard people say it is better than most other distros, but surprisingly I found no evidence to either prove or disprove that with regards to Fedora  7.0. I am talking purely from a user’s point of view, and not a technical one.

The fist thing that I liked was installation. Hassle free, clean, neat. OK that probably true with Fedora also so no points there. The other thing I liked about this distro was the fact that it allows you to browse the live DVD/CD version before installation, something I wish Fedora could also adapt, but then again it’s kinda nice to have things, not really too important. The installation was remarkably fast for such a large OS and the OS has an amazingly quick booting time. Oh yes, and nice to see a distro that finally bundles a propriety NVIDIA driver which can be enabled with a single click. Setting up my PPPOE internet connection was surprisingly trivial. Not even on a Windows system was it that easy. I had to download and install a PPPOE driver for Windows, but with Ubuntu it was just click and GO! Setting it up on Fedora was a nightmare!

Ubuntu comes with the default GNOME manager which is pretty quick and responsive. The system does not by default run too many services and that could be one reason the system is fast. The default installation doesn’t install too many packages, neither are any development packages installed. No eclipse, no KDevelop, no debugger. You will have to do it pretty much via Synaptic. Not too much of a problem, but you do have to browse the Ubuntu forums to find out how to get things working, especially if you are a new user. I had to install a lot of packages to get a development environment going even though it was just python I intended to use.

On the whole, this distro is clearly made with the average user in mind and tries hard to make Linux “friendly” OS. It does a good job but still I found some things lacking overall. You still do have to fire up the good o’l terminal every now an then. Hmm…, not a problem for someone who is using Linux for about 10 years now, but then again my question is, Why the terminal?

Overall experience? Not very different from Fedora, believe me. If you had experience with one you can be just as home on the other, period. Maybe a few searches on Google is all that is required. I would put Ubuntu marginally above Fedora because it is friendlier(, and because of the internet setup thing, and the NVIDIA driver).

Oh yes, the distro never crashed on me even once, Fedora does sometimes crash. Anyways, my short stint with Linux is over, going back to Windows and the game now.

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