Ubuntu: The Good and The Bad

My Windows machine crashed about a year ago, and I finally said I’d had enough with the reinstalls and decided to pick up Linux. I’d been reading about Ubuntu for a while, but at first I thought it was just really overhyped. I’ve really come to enjoy a lot about it since I installed it back in March. Let me tell you about a few of the things I like, followed with what I don’t like.

The Good:

  • Installing Ubuntu was a piece of cake. When I installed it the first time, I found it to be easier than installing Windows (something I’ve done dozens of times).
  • Upgrades are simple. This one sort of blew me away this morning. I had been waiting for the new release of Ubuntu “Dapper Drake” and I had been sort of putting it off because I figured I would have to download a CD and reinstall everything I had already done with the system. Boy, was I wrong! The upgrade was much easier than installing the OS in the first place; it was just like downloading a new program (albeit a very, very large program). I recommend following these Ubuntu upgrade instructions under “Upgrading with the Update Manager”. Here is the step-by-step upgrade with pictures.
  • The focus on the user. This one is the biggest key to successful software. The only other Linux distro I have much experience with is Gentoo, which took me about three days to install. I admit I’m a bit of a Linux newbie (although I’ve been using it for ten years, that’s mostly been at the command line and I hadn’t ever installed it until this year). The fault with Gentoo is not making things easy for the user. Ubuntu is getting easier, and they have identified the missing link. I’m not saying the other distrubutions don’t have their place, but I am saying that they just don’t make it as easy as Ubuntu.

The Bad:

  • It still needs to be easier. This is the reason I still have a desire to buy a Mac. I think that’s partly because I’ve been through the learning curve on a Mac but not really on Linux. I want to be able to look at a simple cheat sheet and see all the keyboard shortcuts, but I don’t want it to be like learning how to use vi.
  • Speed up the downloads. I know this is partly my fault: I’ve seen how to get faster upgrades in Ubuntu, but I’m missing the feature I saw in Gentoo that chose this for you automatically.
  • I don’t want to spend so much time under the hood. I admit that some of this is the fault of other related programs (like MythTV), but I don’t want to have to change my sources.list every time I want to install a program that isn’t in the Ubuntu repositories. I want a simple .exe installer like Windows has or a drag-and-drop feature like Mac OS X.

I may have another good/bad post in the future, but this is how I’m feeling now before I really get to using Dapper Drake. There has been a lot of hype about the increased usability in Dapper, and I’d like to see how well things have been updated since the previous release. So far, I’ve been extremely impressed with the upgrade process. None of the problems I listed apply to the upgrade process I took, so maybe Dapper really is that good. I’ll keep you updated.

3 thoughts on “Ubuntu: The Good and The Bad

  1. RedMage

    I was reading this while I tried to get my mirrors to go faster in Ubuntu, and I thought you might be interested to know that I figured out how to make Ubuntu pick a fast mirror (I’m using Feisty, don’t know if it works in the others).
    If you go to System -> Administration -> Software Sources
    On the first tab, there is a box that says “Download From”. Click on that, click on “Choose best server”, wait a couple minutes, then hit ok. 🙂

  2. Alex Post author

    Thanks, that’s a great tip. I haven’t been able to check it out yet, but it will definitely be useful when I upgrade all my packages to feisty in a few weeks.

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