Friday, 20 June 2008

Ubuntu 8.04 Review

As my legion of fans will know I've been a Linux advocate for many years. Back in the old days I started out with Mandrake and Debian. Debian for servers, Mandrake for the desktop flavour of things. I stayed with Mandrake for several years and then switch to SuSE. When this upstart Ubuntu appeared on the scene with it's livecd goodness I gave it a crack - I think it was version 6?

Now with the latest and greatest version on my Dell desktop I've decided to review it's usefulness as a desktop operating system and share my thoughts. My first thought is, I like it. The interface for upgrade/installation is easy as pie to work with, I like the fact you can include encryption for filesystems and overall it's quite polished and nice to drive. The interaction with the windows network here at work is acceptable, I do a lot of terminal server based stuff and that all works a treat. I like the enormous array of software one can install and use and I've found nmap and nessus to be so handy as I probe our network for various weaknesses.

Possibly the only thing I'm not a fan of is the default theme. Brown is just not my colour, but this is a very minor annoyance. I've had no problems at all with the installation, it just works and for me, that's a very important factor. Like a plumber with a leaky tap at home, the last thing I want to do is to be trying to solve my own IT problems in the midst of trying to help others.

All the normal Linux goodness - multiple desktops, excellent shortcut key support, terminals, Firefox 3, Amarok and the like are present and work very well. I'm using it on a P4 2.0GHz Dell GX240 with 512MB of RAM and a baby hard disk (about 20GB) in it. I've pieced this machine together from parts because I like the small form desktop. I find Ubuntu to be much more user friendly than Vista and there is nothing I can do on Vista that can't be done here on Ubuntu. Printing, device detection etc all excellent. I recommend you give it a try. I'll be installing OpenSuSE 11 over the weekend (hopefully) onto a very similar PC I have at home and I'll review it once I'm done.

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