I’m a Linux geek now.

Written by David Banham

And I'm really loving it. I spend most of my non-work computer time using Linux, I read slashdot and I get the sudo jokes on xkcd. It's good to be part of yet another geek subculture.

Anyway, onto the nuts and bolts of it. I started using Vista on my laptop a while ago and, while I liked it for a little while, the performance and the nagging started giving me the shits. A few weeks before Uncle Kev had been telling me about Linux and showed me Ubuntu on his macbook. While it looked kinda cool I wrote it off at the time as "linuxnerdbullshit". When I got the shits with Vista, however, I decided to have a crack at Ubuntu rather than just reinstall XP, which seemed like a step backwards.

So I downloaded an image and loaded it up. One of the really cool things about Ubuntu is that the default image includes a LiveCD. This basically means that when you boot from the CD it loads the whole OS from it. It's obviously a bit slower than an installed operating system, but it's a great way to get a feel for the OS and see that everything in your system has appropriate drivers.

As it turned out for me, everything worked on my laptop (it's a Dell) and I was really impressed with the Gnome UI that comes standard with Ubuntu. I went ahead and installed it in a dual boot scenario. Protip for people migrating from Vista to Ubuntu, the default partition resizer will bone your Vista installation. From all reports it works fine with XP, however Vista does something different with NTFS… or something. Anyway it ended up with me needing to reinstall Vista. Not a big deal since Ubuntu can read NTFS partitions (natively with Feisty, with another thing installed on Edgy) so I could back up all my files.

Install process for Ubuntu went flawlessly. It automatically installs Grub, which is a bootloader which lets you choose between operating systems upon bootup. Everything Grub related is automatically configured, however when I reinstalled Vista it overwrote the master boot record and fubarred Grub. I used the Ultimate Boot Cd to get back into Ubuntu and it was then a fairly trivial matter to fix it up. I forget how exactly, but google is your friend here.

While I did initially set it up as a dual boot, I've been using Ubuntu almost exclusively since I installed it. When I tried to boot Vista a couple of weeks ago I realised it had actually been expired for some time. There's nothing I miss about XP and only two things I miss about Vista. I really like the start-menu-search feature of Vista and Office 2007 is great. However, I really hated the constant goddamned nagging of Vista. XP SP2 was bad enough but Vista takes it to a whole new level. I read a blog a while ago that lambasted (isn't that a great word?) Microsoft's nagware approach to security. The reasoning being that if you give someone a security notification every time they try and perform the most benign of tasks, they cease to become imporrant security warnings and start becoming "some crap I need to click in order to get my work done". They already annoyed competent users that understand security, and now they don't even serve to educate standard users who have no idea what's going on.

Ubuntu, I feel, has the balance right. It's secure-by-default so it still asks for a password when you modify system settings and things like that. However, there's none of this garbage about asking you twice whether it's okay to open a file you've just downloaded. Also, there's no need for virus scanners since with Linux vulnerabilities are patched as they become apparent.

Since my first install of Edgy I've done a bit of tweaking. I used the beta of Feisty for a while, then ended up upgrading once the final release became available. I've also toyed with a few applications and plugins, which I'll detail in another post.

To sum it up, I'd wholeheartedly recommend Ubuntu for anyone not entirely satisfied with windows. Even if it's just some tiny thing that bugs you, fire up a LiveCD. You've got nothing to lose and everything to gain. It's really easy to get a hold of (no more Linux of old, no manually mounting drives) and really easy to use. Get it done.