I’ve used Linux on my laptop for a while, now.  About a year and a half ago I installed Ubuntu dual-boot style with XP.  Unfortunately, I found that it was just too much work for something that felt half-baked.

Allow me to explain:  I am a user – I don’t like using a terminal.  When I found that my wireless card didn’t work (I have a Broadcom b43XX chipset), I had to do a lot of work to get it operational.  I had to download headers, compile source code, extract firmware, etc.  Let me say, though – the Ubuntu community is very helpful, and it wasn’t hard to find the advice I needed.  It just took a lot of typing.

When I was using Ubuntu 7, I felt like things lacked polish.  The screen fonts looked awful, I had trouble mounting my ntfs volume, NVIDIA drivers were a nightmare, beryl crashed my system, etc.

After a year away from my laptop, I recently dusted it off to do some studying in the guest room.  I figured I’d give Ubuntu another chance, and I downloaded the latest version and installed it.

I must say that the everything is a bit more polished now.  The install was a breeze – it took about 20 minutes.  My ntfs partition was easily mounted as /windows.  I didn’t have to screw around with multiple packages to get the good stuff – like TT fonts and DVD playback.  I just installed the restricted packages – ONE THING!  For some reason, screen fonts and fonts in Open Office look much better.  The hardware drivers dialog got my wireless working with a few mouse clicks, and my NVIDIA driver installed in a snap!  The desktop effects add a little wow factor, and everything just seems much nicer.

The things I love about Linux:

  • My hardware just works.  No searching for a scanner driver and then finding that the installer dumped a bunch of crapware onto my computer.  I just plug my scanner in and start scanning!
  • Installing applications is a breeze.  The Add/Remove programs feature is amazing!  Never again will I have to search for some freeware version of what I need – It’s ALL freeware, and it’s just a click away!

My big reservation before was all the great software I had – like Photoshop, Premiere, etc.  After working with GIMP and Kino for a while, I’m starting to get used to them now.

I have to admit – I haven’t wiped XP from the laptop yet, but I almost always boot into Ubuntu now when I have a choice.

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