OS: Ubuntu Maverick Meerkat / Natty Narwhal

Yesterday, I spent about 10 hours fiddling with Ubuntu 10.10 aka Maverick Meerkat.
Although once updated it now registers as Ubuntu 11.04 the Natty Narwhal,
The package I was using earlier was Ubuntu Netbook Remix but it had issues with the display so I switched to the Desktop Edition and it worked fine (it probably was my notebook telling me that it didnt want to be considered a netbook.)

First Impressions

Having tried Jolicloud prior to this one I must say that this is a little bit unfriendlier to people who dont have the time and patience to complete their system configuration. Unlike Windows which rely on third party installation packages, Ubuntu utilizes ‘repositories’ within which most of the approved software are already included, all you need to do is to tailor fit the installation to your particular needs.
These Unix based systems use the ext4 file system, one which I was previously unfamiliar with, it is compatible with all types of file systems though so it wont be a problem for file management if ever you were to use multiples.
After the system has been installed, it is best to be connected to the internet so as to complete system customizations through either the Terminal or the Synaptic Package Manager

Interface

The desktop edition is much like a hybrid between a Windows and Mac experience, there are two taskbars one on top, showing all the connections, system navigation, date and time etc, and one at the bottom, which houses all the open windows and applications so its much more of an organizational bar.
Window control buttons (close, minimize, maximize) are placed at the upper left hand side so it takes a little getting used to for PC users.
It uses a very nice system font called Ubuntu which is very readable which makes navigating the explorer interface quite comfortable. All the items in the explorer shows up as thumbnails which makes it very easy to find whatever it is that you would be looking for.
As for eye candy, there is the very powerful Compiz but I havent gotten around to playing with it yet. I did try to install the proprietary drivers for my card but it got messed up and I ended up having to revert back to the xorg drivers.

Usability

Once the customizations are over it hardly ever has the need for further installation. It runs very smoothly especially since its using open source software in an open source environment.
For users who require a little more productivity from their devices, there is something called WINE which allows for several windows installations. True to form, I tried Blender from within Ubuntu but came across interface glitches within the software specifically when pulling out menus, must have been an incompatibility with my card.
However, if all youre going to do with the computer is to write documents, create presentations, browse the internet and watch movies, it is a very compelling alternative. I was surprised at the efficiency at which VLC ran on the device and was able to handle HD quality films unfazed even when going through the player menu while media is running. The colors were vibrant and you dont feel the processor being taxed at all. I did however come into some problems with other files but that is expected due to the number of encoding types and decoding filters, its a matter of configuration and player compatibility as with Windows, add to that the fact that this is running without an advanced decoding filter and thats a pretty powerful decoding engine at work right there

Conclusions

Although Ubuntu is dubbed ‘Linux for human beings’ it wouldnt really cater to the majority who would go for ease of use rather than control. If I had to put this in another system which isnt mine, Id probably be plagued with questions more often than not. As part of the minority however, I prefer this over Jolicloud which ‘hides’ from the user whatever is going on in the background.
Will I use this over Windows? Yes and No. The line of work that I am in lies heavily within the ‘industry standard’ so to speak, and as such using Ubuntu full time would be to my disadvantage; however, the enthusiast within me is just begging to have a dedicated rig for himself.
For regular users however Id recommend Jolicloud for now, maybe until ChromeOS becomes full fledged.

This entry and all its content were produced and published under the Ubuntu Operating System.

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