Last night, following inspiration from one of Phill’s blog posts, I downloaded the Ubuntu distribution of Linux. The CD image was almost 700MB, so it took a good long while to download, and I’m glad I don’t have a download limit with my ISP! The first thing that stood out for me was the ability to boot straight from the CD and run Linux without needing to install anything on the computer, just to try it out. Neat! Of course, I had to borrow a keyboard to do this, because my computer BIOS setup didn’t like my wireless keyboard and I couldn’t tell it to boot from the CD drive…
Ubuntu took a while to load up, but then it was booting from a CD so that’s not altogether surprising. What struck me most once it had started up (aside from the fact that it had just seemlessly booted up from a CD) was how brown it was. That seems to be the default theme shipped with the distribution, but I wondered why on earth they went for something so… earthy. Just seemed like an odd choice of colour scheme to me.
However there is plenty bundled with the OS by default, including the latest Firefox 2 browser, OpenOffice 2, GIMP, audio and video players, loads of games, useful accessories, and a good fistful of setup tools. It may not have been as bright as Windows XP, but it certainly came with more goodies. In fact, it also seemed to recognise all my hardware without any problem, and it looks like it wouldn’t have too much difficulty handling my wireless USB network dongle either. Plus it’s got the handy multiple-desktops gimmick that Windows has been lacking.
Unfortunately I didn’t manage to install it properly, because I don’t have a spare partition at the moment. At some point when I’ve got a free afternoon I might see if I can move things around and free up one of my hard disks, and see what happens. To be honest I’m not in any real hurry, I wouldn’t be using Linux on a regular basis, it would just be quite novel to have it sitting there in case I needed it for something! Not quite sure what, though, especially since Mac OS X is built on top of a Unix operating system so all the usual tools are there already (I’ve been using the Terminal prompt quite a lot recently, using those poweful command-line tools to .tar.gz big folders for uploading to the web). Still, as an operating system that boots from a CD, Ubuntu is pretty impressive!