Seven Nice Things About Linux Ubuntu 7.04 "Feisty Fawn"
By Geertjan on Apr 28, 2007
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:
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Open source. Linux is open source, Windows isn't. Linux represents all that is good in the world.
- 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.
- 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.