A few days ago, I provided my thoughts on a recent positive experience I had with Windows 7 Home Premium, on someone else’s computer that I was setting up. Well today I installed the release candidate for Ubuntu 10.04 (insert fuzzy animal name here).

Having been an Ubuntu user for years and a Linux enthusiast for even longer, I might have an unfair advantage over many. But I generally counter this by avoiding the terminal window when doing these kind of evaluations to keep things realistic. I am also fully aware that not everyone out there is going to mirror my experience, either. Different skills, hardware, etc., all play a factor here.

Installation: As expected, 10.04 installed without any real issues on my older notebook that I use for testing new releases. My main notebook and desktop generally don’t see updates right away.

First impressions: I’m loving the default wallpaper, load bars, panels, and applets. A big improvement over previous defaults. It’s a bit of a moot issue, though, as this site provides all the themes one could possibly want to “kill the brown” theme off easily enough.

Internet (Broadcom): Now on this older notebook, unlike my Intel based model, the wireless built in is an ancient 802.11G card that is actually built into the notebook. No mini-PCI here, folks. And Ubuntu prompted me to click and activate proprietary drivers to run it. Well, this meant connecting to a wired connection for a moment, then applying the changes. With a reboot, wireless was working.

USB G Dongle: All of my available 802.11G dongles (not Best Buy specials) from Edimax, etc. all worked out of the box, no problems and no need for the proprietary drivers, either. In either case, it’s brain dead easy. But I prefer things to be native as it means a better likelihood of them working from release to release.

USB N Dongle: I also own one single Edimax 802.11N dongle. Now with Ubuntu 9.10, I needed to compile the driver. This meant editing one file, turning two nos into two yeses and then typing make and make install. Not difficult, rather, just not familiar to most folks. To be safe, I did the same thing with Ubuntu 10.04. Turned out, however, that I needed to edit the blacklist file with three words and hit save and reboot to get it working. Again, easy, but not info that Ubuntu provided to me. The speeds for the dongle were fantastic; I could not be happier.

All of the above wireless devices work like champs with WPA2, no issues.

Software: Despite not being as “pretty” as some might say, as what you’d find available in other platforms, Ubuntu Linux comes with most of the software I want out of the box. Office suite, Photoshop alternative, etc. Then there is the simple access to more software from Applications > Ubuntu Software Center. It really doesn’t get easier than that.

Other Peripherals: Tested out my USB headset, which works great. But haven’t tested out my Logitech webcam(s) just yet. Based on the fact that Linux has tremendous support for most new and older UVC (USB Video Class) webcams, it’s not going to be a problem.

My USB mouse works great, as does my iPhone. Oh yes, that was the other thing I was going to share with you. Previous to this, the iPhone would only mount and allow you to exchange pictures to and from the phone. Now Ubuntu supports an iTunes like experience with Rhythmbox and UbuntuOne Music store. The iPhone now mounts into the Rhythmbox software for easy music management. Bundle this with OpenShot video editor, WebcamStudio, Evolution (P.I.M.) , and F-Spot, I am a happy camper.

Is this a sales pitch? Not at all. Honestly, I kind of like being in my little niche as it makes me look like some kind of genius when I pull out my notebook with Ubuntu installed. Most people are flabbergasted that something like this exists and want to hear more about it. Provides for a fun afternoon. But again, I think that for most folks out there, if you’re good with your Windows experience, go for it. There’s nothing wrong with that.

For those running XP, not impressed with either buying a new OS for a couple of hundred or buying a new PC, Ubuntu is an option. But you will want to make sure you buy a book like Ubuntu for non-Geeks before taking the plunge. This will save you a lot of confusion as this is NOT Windows.

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