As all of my hundreds of thousands of readers know, I installed Ubuntu 9.04 on my girlfriend’s laptop. Aside from the confusingly random names they give Ubuntu releases, I have to say I’m extremely impressed. The basic idea is that if you want a server linux, go with Debian or Slackware…both are extremely stable, highly configurable, and FAST. Slackware is a bit more for advanced users than Debian (not a big deal if you know how to edit config files) and perhaps a tad faster, but both are well-oiled machines ready to handle anything you can throw at them.
If you want a desktop machine, check out Ubuntu. All the things I try expecting it not to work, it just works. For example, I was testing flash on it and the volume was too loud. Just for shits and giggles, I tried the volume buttons on the laptop. Holy shit, it works. Next, I’m installing printer drivers on the VirtualBox XP instance. Well guess what? I plugged in the printer thinking, well thank god I have windows installed because it will autodetect it. Instantly, I see a window popup in Ubuntu telling me that my printer has been installed and is ready for use. Now that’s service.
Now, all of this plug and chug computing surely comes at some sort of performance hit, but who the hell cares if it makes your life easier and you don’t have a production website running on that box that gets 1000 requests/s.
There is the issue of auto-updates. Sure you need to update buggy or hackable software…but ahem, why is it on there in the first place? The reason distros like slack and deb don’t need constant auto-updating is because they choose packages that have been known for a long time to be rock solid. I can’t say I agree with the “constant contact with the update server” methodology that windows instilled in all of us. That’s something you’d never use on a server. If something sucks or has security problems, you hand-update that package and test it a billion times with your software. Once again though, this is a desktop machine, not a server…and the auto update worked pretty damn well.
So while this review is short and sweet, so has my experience been with Ubuntu. Perhaps someday I’ll install it on one of my own laptops and take it for a whirl.
Ubuntu: two thumbs up for the new or casual desktop linux user. Not for server usage. I’m sure there are some servers that use it successfully, but none of mine ever will =).