I had an old Dell 8250 sitting around (after purchasing a new Dell E521) and I decided to install Linux to see how the distributions were doing these days.

I have played around with Red Hat and Suse in the past but was never really very satisfied with the whole installation/configuration process nor with the usage of the system. I always liked the idea of using Linux and the Open Source mentality, but could never really see Linux as a Desktop OS because of the perceived difficulty in setup, maintenance and use. I think I’ve changed my mind now that I have tried Ubuntu.

I installed Ubuntu about a month ago on the 8250. After some initial problems with upgrading the Ubuntu version that I started with (I installed Dapper and upgraded to Edgy) I began to feel like I could really get used to Linux as my daily machine. I did run into some minor problems and wasn’t completely happy with the Gnome desktop so I decided to start over.

I downloaded OpenSUSE and installed it…I liked it…but when I used the “Update” feature and restarted the machine, I couldn’t get past the boot process….so I started again…this time going back to Ubuntu.

After doing some research I found Xubuntu, which is Ubuntu with the Xfce Window Manager and installed the Beta version (Feisty Fawn…aka 7.04) on the Dell 8250. I was actually quite amazed that the installation was flawless and the ‘beta’ version of Xubuntu is rock solid with no issues so far.

Some of the biggest things I like about the Xubuntu flavor of Ubuntu are:

  • Xfce is a fast window manager that works much better than Gnome did on this machine.
  • The ability to do an “apt-get install program_name” to get just about any software I need (at least software available via Open Source licensing methods).
  • The ability to do a search on the web for any problem and more times than not finding an in-depth answer.

I have spent a lot of time reading about Linux and Ubuntu and playing around the system….much more time than I ever have on a Windows machine. Some people may see this as a negative but I enjoy it…I feel like I know what the operating system is doing and I definitely feel like I can solve whatever problem pops up with this machine.

Linux, or more accurately, the Ubuntu distribution of Linux, has won over another person. I feel as though Linux finally has the potential to grab a little bit of the desktop share over the next few years…especially if it keeps heading toward Ubuntu-like ease of install and use.

Contrast this with my recent experience with Windows Vista (see Buying a Computer – Revisited) and I can see myself (and others) moving over to Linux full-time.

[tags] Ubuntu, Linux, Xubuntu, operating sytems, moving to linux [/tags]