First Impressions on Using Ubuntu Linux

by Charles Iliya Krempeaux, published on Mon Sep 19th, 2005

I just installed Ubuntu Linux for a friend of mine. (I actually have alot of my friends using Linux. And even the ones using Windows still are using Firefox and OpenOffice. Actually, the reason that some stick with Windows are PC games. And that's the only reason. But, I think that as PC gaming disappear more and more... as seems to be the trend... and more and more people only play games on the console systems (or on the Web) you'll see more and more people switching over to Linux if they're presented with the opportunity. They'll be nothing to hold them back. But anyways, back to Ubuntu.)

I've been actually planning on installing it on my new laptop... once I get it. (I've wanted to try it for a while. And I really like that, like most Debian-based Linux distributions, you don't have to reinstall it to do an upgrade.) But he got a new laptop before I did. So he got Ubuntu first. These are my first impressions on using Ubuntu. (Note, I have NOT thoroughly gone through Ubuntu yet. So some of these impressions may be way off. So please keep that in mind, and feel free to correct me if you see any erroneous statements.)

I found the instillation part of Ubuntu to be be very nice. Ubuntu is a Debian-based Linux distribution, however, the Ubuntu instillation is nothing like what I remember a Debian instillation being like. The last time I installed Debian (back in January 2002) it was very user un-friendly. It asked me all sorts of questions that the computer was certainly able to figure out for itself. (Mind you this was more than 3 years ago, so Debian may have changed since then.) I'm glad Ubuntu was nothing like that. It was very straight forward. The only complaint I have is that I think that the installer could have been made a bit more aesthetically pleasing and added more eye candy. But that's only a cosmetic issue.

Once everything was installed, most of the things my buddy wanted was there: Firefox for the web, OpenOffice for word processing, and (a GNOME-based) BitTorrent (client) is even built in and pre-configured. (He doesn't do instant messaging, but I did notice Gaim was there, which was very nice too.) However multimedia support in Ubuntu is somewhat lacking. Specifically:

  1. people want to watch movies, so support for MPEG, AVI, WMX, and Ogg Theora is needed;
  2. people want to listen music, so support for MP3 and Ogg Vorbis is needed;
  3. people want to play (encrypted) DVDs.

And these things need to be better or more easily supported. Now I know there are legal issues. Even though some countries consider these activities to be perfectly legal, including support for these activities in Ubuntu in some countries is illegal. Many of these laws are "bad laws". And there are good people trying to get these laws fixed. But it's going to take time to fix these laws and make these activities legal again. (And yes, these types of activities were once legal.) In the meantime though, there are many people who choose to go ahead with acts of civil disobedience and make their computers support these activities anyways. For these people, setting up their computer to do this needs to be made much much easier. You should be able to do it with a few clicks.

Overall though, except for the multimedia stuff, I was pleased with Ubuntu. And it will be going on my new laptop once I get it. But, like I said, better multimedia support would improve it much. Also, including a file sharing application, like Limewire, to be pre-installed would also be nice. (I'll have to install that on his computer the next time I'm at his place. I know he's going to be asking for it.)

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