Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Fiesty Fawn

I've decided to listen to my own advise. After I encouraged everyone to run out and install the latest version of Ubuntu Linux, version 7.10 (Gusty Gibbon), on their computers, it occurred to me that I should try Ubuntu out on my schmancy laptop. I didn't install 7.10, though. After trying out the live CD, I discovered the Gusty didn't seem to support all the hardware on my quite new machine. So, I chose to give the Ubuntu community some time to develop that support, and I installed version 7.04 (Fiesty Fawn) in a dual-boot setup with Windows XP.

Fiesty supports all my hardware. In fact, it automatically detected and installed another mouse I happened to plug into the machine, while XP complains. Fiesty also boots noticeably faster. Ubuntu's Synaptic Package Manager also makes it easy to find and install new software; it's a lot easier than doing the same thing in Windows, actually.

What about usability, you ask? For most of what I do with this machine---web surf and edit documents---Ubuntu works well, with one significant caveat. The caveat comes from the interweb end. As you know, a significant amount of the video content on the intertubes is in Windows Media or QuickTime formats, and those are not natively supported by Linux. There are allegedly workarounds out there, but I haven't put in the effort to make them work, and find the situation quite annoying. Other than that issue, Fiesty is quite satisfactory. The rest of the web appears as it should, and, the document editor seems to work pretty well. It claims to read and write Microsoft Office formats, like .DOC and .PPT, but, to be honest with you, I haven't tried opening the same files with both MS and OO.o yet. I'll have to do that later.

One feature of Linux that I wasn't expecting: I can read image and other files from my Windows partition. Neat.

Anyhoo, I encourage you to give Fiesty or Gusty a try. Just be sure to test it out with the live CD before installing onto the hard drive.

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