Seven Nice Things About Linux Ubuntu 7.04 "Feisty Fawn"

For some work I'm doing, I needed to try some stuff out on Linux. As a long term Windows user (more out of apathy than choice) that was kind of threatening. "Where do I start? Will I end up destroying all my data? Will my disk implode? Will odd and freaky things happen? Am I stepping into a lake of despair that will lead to a waterfall of misery?" Fortunately, none of these fears turned to reality and I am now happily blogging in Linux on a partitioned multi-boot system, so that I can switch back to Windows at start up, should I want to do so. Here's the proof, showing that I've installed Linux Ubuntu 7.04 "Feisty Fawn":

Above, I am running NetBeans IDE 6, Milestone 8, on JDK 5, and things look good. (Things look less good on JDK 6 and JDK 7, though.) Here, to summarize my experience, in no particular order, are 7 very nice things about Linux Ubuntu 7.04 compared to Windows XP:

  1. Installation could not be easier. Go to http://www.ubuntu.com/download, download as instructed on the very clear website, slap the result on a disk, restart your system, and... you can then immediately see what you'll see after installing. Browse around a bit, become familiar with the desktop and menus, then (if you've liked what you've seen) click the Install icon. You'll go through a wizard, which even handles the partitioning for you, and at the end (half an hour later, max) you can restart your computer and then you'll be able to choose whether you want to use Linux or Windows. Speaking as a mostly non-technical person, I have to give the Ubuntu people a big round of applause for the simplicity of their installation procedure. It could not possibly be simpler or better. Hurray!

  2. My desktop feels bigger. And cleaner. I don't know what it is, but the desktop really feels bigger. Sure, part of that is that a dozen icons haven't been dumped there by default, as is the case on Windows, but somehow there's something else going on. The menus are... nice. Just three, "Applications", "Places", and "System". So clean and simple. I like it a lot, especially because my laptop (and therefore my screen) is small. Another nice thing is that there seems to be a different default font, used for web pages and so on. It's much nicer than what is used under Windows.

  3. Setting up Java is easy. I followed Tom Marble's excellent instructions here and, literally, 10 minutes after finishing my Linux set up, I had also set up Java, plus NetBeans IDE 5.5. This was a main reason why I chose Ubuntu 7.04, instead of the previous one (6-something), because of the Java packaging that is available for 7.04. You go through something like the NetBeans Update Center wizard and within no time everything is downloaded and installed, so that, with my zero-level Linux knowledge (since I had just set that up 10 minutes before) I didn't have to set any environment variables and so on, because the packaging does that for you. As soon as I had completed the wizard, I was able to start NetBeans IDE 5.5. That was a cool experience.

  4. Farewell "c:/Documents and Settings". Is there anything more annoying than "c:/Documents and Settings"? If so, I'd like to know what it is. That space-infested folder, which permeates everything in Windows, is now a thing of the past. At last, sane folder names and structures. Hurray.

  5. Open source. Linux is open source, Windows isn't. Linux represents all that is good in the world.

  6. Ubuntu. The name "ubuntu", signifying "humanity to others" in Zulu, resonates with me, because I grew up in South Africa and even briefly studied Zulu at university. One common saying in Zulu is: "Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu", which means "a person is a person through other people", and the concept "ubuntu" itself is a very prevalent thought there. Also, imagine my surprise when under the Help menu I found a short quotation from Desmond Tutu, archbishop in South Africa, prominent resistance figure, and Nobel peace prize winner. Also, there's a cool little drum beat when you start Linux. Basically, the whole "African" feel about Linux Ubuntu is kind of cool.

  7. Change is good. However long or short my stay in Linux will be, change is good. Especially now that I can switch back to Windows so easily, which I'll have to since my files are still all there, getting to know Linux will be a useful exercise. And then I'll see if I can extend my multi-boot setup and include... Solaris.

The only uncomfortable thing thus far is that double-clicking seems to work differently here compared to Windows. Maybe I need to change a setting somewhere.

Comments:

Hey, I am in complete agreement with all the points that you have mentioned in your note. May be, the Ubuntu community should now provide the default plugin (flash plugin) with the Mozilla Firefox. That's still missing!

Posted by R Rajesh on April 28, 2007 at 06:35 PM PDT #

I agree with you that you can easy to switch back to WIndows.Im using Rh9 Linux which a old version for my platform.It's exciting things that you can dig some funny stuff in Linux world.

Posted by Shawn the Rock on April 28, 2007 at 07:59 PM PDT #

Can you elaborate what exactly is wrong with JDK 6 and 7 on ubuntu ? I am running NB (5.5 & 6.0m8) + JDK 6 (with delightful anti aliased fonts) on my Fedora 6 box for a long time now, with absolutely no problems. And as far as java is concerned, Fedora is not that much diff. from ubuntu.

Posted by bhaskar on April 29, 2007 at 01:20 AM PDT #

You won't see certain plugins/features installed by with Ubuntu or other Linux distros due to licensing issues. That's why you often have to get support for certain features, MP3 for example, after the fact. I've used installs from Debian, Fedora, Red hat, and openSuse prior to Ubuntu and found that Ubuntu is by far the easiest. It tends to install in a rather bare-bones fashion, though, so some stuff you may want is missing. The default Ubuntu install uses Gnome for it's window manager and desktop environment. You can also install the Kubuntu distribution which uses KDE. The nice thing is that Linux distros don't lock you into one or the other. Generally you can switch at login by changing the session type. I'm using JDK 6 and Netbeans 6.0 DEV with no problems. 6.0 Dev has a number if its own problems (expected) but in general I've been enjoying the experience. I really like having the ability to integrate Ruby and Ruby on Rails development into to the IDE.

Posted by Erv Thompson on April 29, 2007 at 01:23 AM PDT #

bhaskar has a point. The reason java is so easy to install now is because they went OSS and the license d as free software. Flash is non-free, the plugin can be installed easily but it will not be defualtly installed. Complain to macromedia.

Posted by Malfist on April 29, 2007 at 01:30 AM PDT #

sorry about that, Erv Thompson has a point, I didn't notice how the name's are organized. Generally names are on the top of the comment...

Posted by Malfist on April 29, 2007 at 01:32 AM PDT #

Cool, welcome to GNU/Linux, but don't get confused for all the possible software that you can install (like the other Distributions, other Visual Systems, etc.) enjoy Ubuntu, it's really easy to use and you have all what you may need. I recommend you to install Automatix, that it's a software that helps you to install the firefox plugins, and a lot of stuffs for your Ubuntu. Welcome.

Posted by xlarsx on April 29, 2007 at 02:33 AM PDT #

I recently switched from Fedora Core 6 to Ubuntu and have generally been pleased. Plus the upgrade to 7.04 from 6.10 was especially pleasant and simple - no need to run a new installer or anything like that, just needed to run the normal update tool. I run NetBeans dev builds on JDK 7 every day on Ubuntu with no problems.

Posted by Jesse Glick on April 29, 2007 at 03:35 AM PDT #

I use my system as both desktop and server. The Ubuntu installer I used didn't install servers for FTP, SFTP, HTTP, etc. The other distributions I installed did. My thinking is that for a Linux novice the Ubuntu installer leaves a lot to be done and I think that may not be all that friendly.

Posted by Erv Thompson on April 29, 2007 at 06:19 AM PDT #

As a ubuntu user myself, I have to agree to most of the point. Except point #4. I simply hate the way \*nix directory layout, /etc /var /opt is simply not as friendly as "Document and Settings", "Users" ,"Program Files"

Posted by Henrik Hansen on April 29, 2007 at 07:36 AM PDT #

Another thing you might like, if you need to use Windows sometimes: kvm. With kvm, you can run Windows (or other OS if you like) in a window. No need to reboot :) check this url about it: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/KVM

Posted by Serge Petit on April 29, 2007 at 01:29 PM PDT #

If you are just trying something other than Windows now, what have you been using as a firewall?

Posted by Eric MacAdie on April 29, 2007 at 02:28 PM PDT #

Nice to see that you have stepped out of your comfort zone and are trying something new :P P.S: Have fun in you new found freedom :D

Posted by Collin Doering on April 29, 2007 at 02:32 PM PDT #

Indeed I could not agree more with you about these points. I also recently went from Ubuntu 6.05 LTS to Feisty Fawn and I did it with the live cd install procedure. I was quite impressed how simple it was, and this is not the only Linux distro I tried to install on my machines. About the freedom it offers, I have no words, it's is just great to be able to choose whatever software you like best and it is comforting to know that you almost always have alternatives.

Posted by Mihai Campean on April 29, 2007 at 06:50 PM PDT #

Thanks all for the enthusiastic and helpful comments! I hope I've answered some/all of them in my blog entry from today.

Posted by Geertjan on April 29, 2007 at 10:12 PM PDT #

I think the nicest thing about Ubuntu, although this might sound odd, is how boring it is. By which I mean, you install it and it's an operating system, which is kind of the idea. There's no 'fun' (in my limited experience) with having to drop to the command line and monkey with config files, etc. I've played with a lot of distros and they all drained the excitement out of me, just getting them working. With Ubuntu, you load it, you get excited, you play around, it turns out to do everything you want, you get bored, you use it routinely every day. Like XP, but without the heinous costs. And with a vast arsenal of high quality free stuff to call on when you need it. All praise to the Ubuntu team.

Posted by Frank McLean on April 29, 2007 at 11:13 PM PDT #

Hear, hear, Frank. That's my feeling exactly. Can't compare my experience with Ubuntu with any other Linux distro, since Ubuntu is my first, but judging from responses above and elsewhere, it looks like I made the right decision.

Posted by Geertjan on April 29, 2007 at 11:26 PM PDT #

Try Archlinux. It's rock. Ubuntu is very nice too.

Posted by slava_askeri on April 30, 2007 at 12:32 AM PDT #

I recently moved to Ubuntu too, see http://www.javathinking.com/?p=25 I've had a few problems though: wireless, hibernate to disk, and although I can't put my finger on why, I agree that double clicking is harder. I don't think the hibernate and wireless problems are strictly Ubuntu problems though - there is definately some interaction with windows (dual boot) wrt wireless. I also recommend looking at Automatix http://www.getautomatix.com/ to make things even easier to install essential software.

Posted by Paul on May 01, 2007 at 02:11 PM PDT #

I like this

Posted by scape on May 01, 2007 at 03:45 PM PDT #

Well said m8. I haven't looked back since booting my first live cd. Ubuntu has some much more to offer than my old OS. That old dino doesn't get awoken from its coma for months on end now. Best thing about Ubuntu IMHO is customization potential. And I would be rude if I didn't mention security. What are those ??? Viruses Insecure Spywear Trojans Adware. And the software. How much?????? Oh, it's free is it? Well I never.

Posted by dkaddict on May 25, 2007 at 04:50 AM PDT #

Hey! Ubuntu is really fast than other Linux distros. Moreover, it allows you to install apps using apt which is no match on Windows. It also hints on how to install if something is not installed. For instance if unrar is not installed, try typing unrar on command line and it gives you the proper message. I have not seen such features in Windows. Beryl 3D desktop is another good thing which at times keep me busy.

Posted by Umar on June 04, 2007 at 01:15 AM PDT #

LINUX = FREE ; WINDOWS = TRASH.. :)

Posted by warlock_ on July 27, 2007 at 09:42 AM PDT #

Well many people miss Knoppix. Its more feature/package rich and full of applications. Knoppix v5.1.1 come pre-installed with jdk-5 and You can install JDK-6 from the package list. I have a bit slower system and it runs smoothly with KDE, on the other hand even Xubuntu ran slower with just XFCE. HD-installation is even simpler.

Posted by Ravi on October 11, 2007 at 04:45 AM PDT #

Ubuntu 11.10 is out now! See how far it has come - the software center and unity are in my opinion great steps forward. Its great to have such regular releases...

Posted by Paul on October 13, 2011 at 04:59 PM PDT #

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About

Geertjan Wielenga (@geertjanw) is a Principal Product Manager in the Oracle Developer Tools group living & working in Amsterdam. He is a Java technology enthusiast, evangelist, trainer, speaker, and writer. He blogs here daily.

The focus of this blog is mostly on NetBeans (a development tool primarily for Java programmers), with an occasional reference to NetBeans, and sometimes diverging to topics relating to NetBeans. And then there are days when NetBeans is mentioned, just for a change.

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