A return to Linux: a review of Ubuntu Linux

I have been a linux guy ever cince the pre 1.0 release days. I cut my teeth after the home PC on a real os with a login to a local BBS as an admin on a Unix machine, a Cromemco running Cromix. I moved to Xenix and discovered how a real OS was compared to the toy that dos was. So when linux came around I was all over it. Up until 5 years ago I always had a *nix machine. But about 5 years ago Linux became "unusable" for me at home. Video editing was my new hobby and you simply cant edit video on Linux. the apps out there at that time and even now are an utter joke and useless for anything but cutting together your home video. I needed composting ,real editing , real soundtrack software and graphics software. so I migrated to the Apple world and lost sight of Linux.

I've used linux though for the past 2 years with XBMC on a dedicated media center pc in the living room, that works fantastic, in fact it works better than the Windows XP Media Center edition running every one of the media center apps available. I spent a year trying to get a media center in the house that was family friendly... only XBMC was able to deliver... but that was then, this is now. I dig up an old PC from the basement and downloaded the latest ubuntu. I haven't tried Linux on the desktop for quite a while. My favorite was mandrake before they went all greedy, The one that was dearest to my heart has always been Slackware... but that has never been "easy to use" but more of a hot-rod dragster Linux. It's time for a linux test run just to test the hardware out. Boy was I surprised.

Ubuntu's install is now incredibly simple, in fact it's easier than windows from XP to Windows 7. I answered a couple of really easy questions and one hard one. The hard one was, "I want to erase all of your hard drive, can I do this?". that question can be incredibly difficult for newbie or non techie users. I simply clicked along on the next button, selected my timezone, and off it went... installing ubuntu. A bit later I was greeted with a Cd drive open and the screen asking for me to remove the disk and press enter. I complied, and the computer rebooted into a very VERY friendly user interface.

Everything was easy to use I did not need to install any drivers as it already did that for me. I was on the internet surfing the web, checking email, and writing on my blogs. Even Open Office dot org was pre-installed. I have a full office suite out of the box!

Everything was easy, installing new software was even easier, I like handbrake on the mac for ripping my DVD's to mpeg4 files on the media center, so I went looking, Ohh there's a linux version and there is a ubuntu installer! click to download, click to run, it installs everything it needs and it's all done. I even have an icon in the media menu! Adding other software is even easier as I discovered by paying attention to the start menu. There is a software center that will let me browse and install apps with a single click.

Linux, specifically Ubuntu linux is Grandma and Mom ready. for two simple reasons... It will NOT get full of viruses and spyware for you to clean out every visit, AND via VNC or even log-me-in you can easily help them remotely if you need to. Not having to fix and clean a PC every week because the user is not a computer expert is a holy grail for any tech person. It's easier to use than a Windows PC, Far FAR cheaper as there are no licensing costs, and most software someone would want at home is available free for it with a single click. But the big test is a real world non-techie. can they use it? My wife will be the test subject. Yes that will do nicely, use family as guinea pigs!

My wife will be using linux for 2 weeks and I'll update everyone on her progress as well as her opinions of what she thinks of it's ease of use and how it meets her needs....


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