Friday Jul 20, 2012

Is Windows 7 as good as Ubuntu 12?

Have you made the switch yet, or are thinking about making the switch?  If you are a long term Windows user of course this is a daunting proposition, akin to changing jobs and moving house; so much to think about and then what incentive do you have?  Then what about all those Windows applications you know and need?  More on that shortly.

An external event was the trigger for myself.  My Windows XP system crashed with the familiar "blue screen of death" that then unseen had corrupted the disk drive boot sector.  Now I had to re-install the whole OS.  The machine was already a "dual-boot" Windows/Ubuntu 10, but I'd only been sparingly using Ubuntu to that point.   So here was my point of decision, so I thought I would give Ubuntu a second try, with the latest release as I knew it at least is a much faster and easier install. 

Once I had recovered the data off the original hard drive Windows partition using an external USB disk mount device; then the next step was installing Ubuntu 12.04 stable release on a new disk drive.  Download the Ubuntu ISO CD ROM image from the internet, and burn to CD or USB stick, then boot and install (side note: for full 64 bit Ubuntu use the AMD 64 image - don't use the Intel labelled image - those are only 32bit). The install proceeded smoothly - but if you get stuck there are good help resources just a Google search away - simply follow the pattern "Ubuntu 12.04 {error message}".  More side notes - having 8Gig of DRAM in my Dell laptop, I setup a 16Gig swap partition, and used 20Gig for the base root partition size, then allocated the remainder of the new drive (750Gig) to the working home partition.  This gives plenty of space, so don't use smaller sizes as it will limit functionality later.

So here is Ubuntu 12 running happily on my Dell laptop, but what about all my desktop applications?  The key "go to" applications, Firefox and Chrome web browsers, Thunderbird Email client, Lightning calendaring and more all run natively in Ubuntu and are a simple install from the Software Center Apps library tool in Ubuntu.  Similarly for a whole range of other tools, multimedia, videos, graphics and social applications, including Skype.  Then you can choose from Open Office and the Libra Office suite, and of course the Cloud suites like Google Docs run seamlessly.

So this only leaves Microsoft Office. For that you will need to download and install the Virtual Box software and then load your Windows 7 boot disk into the virtual box along with then installing your Microsoft Office suite.  Side note for Oracle folks internally - download and install the Oracle virtual box tool from the My Desktop center, you can do this via a VPN connection, and then download and install the Oracle OBI image (connect your machine directly to your network router while doing this step).

Once the dust has settled on all this installing comes the moment of truth, how well does this all perform really compared to a native Windows 7 install?  In my opinion, the Windows 7 comes in a distant second, so here are some reasons why.

1) Boot speed and stability of the multi-tasking.  Ubuntu boots in less than 1 minute from cold, and in less than 15 seconds in warm hibernate, or just 3 seconds from sleep mode.   This makes Ubuntu way more flexible and accessible through your working day and travels.  

2) The Windows 7 virtual box loads faster - about 3 minutes - than Windows natively booting - which on my other laptop takes a full 10 minutes plus to load.  Setting the virtual box to full screen in its own desktop space, you have no idea you are not running Windows natively, except you can instantly toggle to Ubuntu and share files via a networking drive space between My Desktop on Windows and your /Home folder on Ubuntu.

3)  What about the drag and drop, cut and paste and all that Windows user interface experience? Yes Ubuntu desktop does all that too; remember the MacOS is from the same OS lineage so you have all the same tools.  Plus you have much better multi-tasking and multi-desktop support.

4) Its not just boot speed - its all the applications as well.  Ubuntu is significantly faster to load and run applications.  And web browsing and applications are similarly much faster.  For example my SmartFTP client on Windows takes at least a couple of minutes to load my web site file system from my hosting service provider.  In Ubuntu the FTP client is native built-in via the Folders tool and it is instantaneous.   Yes, instantaneous; connects, shows me my folders and allows me drag and drop navigation and file management.

5) Productivity - this all adds up to Ubuntu providing you with significantly more productivity on a daily basis.  Here's some tips and ideas to install and try.   

6) Disk imaging and backups.  The lesson learned here is that you need high quality disk images of your base configuration along with backups of your working documents on a daily basis.  Here again Ubuntu excels,  using the Redo Backup and Recovery tool you can rapidly disk image your basic system, then clone this to another drive.  Plus Ubuntu has built-in daily backup services tool that actually work without having to buy third party tools.

The caveat is that this is all not a simple one hour task.  Getting everything configured and installed does require a chunk of time, depending on how comfortable you are with installing and setting up your operating system and tools.  At the end of the day however, it is very much worth the investment particularly if you are a power computer user who expects more from your computer environment.

Now I'm looking for a high quality "I've made the switch" bumper sticker with a classy Ubuntu graphic logo.  I've order my "Powered by Ubuntu" stickers already for the laptop.

Footnote:  OSCON 2012 - OSS and the Economy


Not all XML is created equal. XML Orb looks at the challenges of creating information exchanges with XML and NIEM and how this can be made simpler, comprehensible, consistent and reliable.


« February 2017