So after nearly a month with Ubuntu, I’m feeling pretty comfortable with my new OS. Now when I go to Windows, I sometimes look for the taskbar on the top of the screen, but it’s not there. I suppose that’s natural when using something different, but it may take a while to get used to. The verdict will probably always be out as to which OS to use, but for now, I think I’m going to stick with Ubuntu for a while. It works for me, and the programs that I use most often. For others (like hardcore computer gamers) it might not be the right decision.
One thing that I thought was strange was the spell checking on Firefox was a bit different. After a while typing I noticed that it was set up as what looked like British English, not American English. After right clicking in a text box like the one I’m using to write this, there is a “Languages” option that you can click on to change it. As it turns out, it was Australian, so I was glad to change it to my native tongue. It was actually quite easy if you know where to look. Another note, the Google Voice Plugin does work with Ubuntu, but you’ll need to install a program (as with Windows) to use it.
I also set up my Windows 7 HTPC (see my setup here) to share files with my notebook. This took a little finagling on the Windows side since I hadn’t ever set up something like this, Windows or otherwise. Once I had everything in a public directory, it detected it quite nicely.
As for other media, namely pictures, I’ve taken lots of photos for this site and for other purposes with a Canon DSLR, a Casio Exilim camera, and my Env2 dumbphone (check out my custom tripod mount for it). If you’ve using your Windows machine, you might wonder if everything will transfer correctly, especially when cameras generally beg/threaten you to install their software. The good news is that everything was plug-and play without any software to install.
With the Exilim and Env2, I plugged the SD or micro SD card into the adapter and everything was read correctly. With the Canon I plugged the cable in (although the SD adapter would most likely work too). As with Windows, a dialog box comes up asking you if you want to open with “F-stop”. I haven’t really played with this much, but just transfer it to a directory where I may or may not edit it with the free GIMP photo editing package.
Ubuntu has a kind of “preview window” that lets you look at the photos – one thing that’s nice about this is that you can delete stuff on this just by hitting the “delete” key. I don’t think Windows XP allows this functionality. One thing that Ubuntu doesn’t do by default is rename files with a slow left “double click.” You have to right click and then hit rename. Although I still don’t know if it’s possible to change the right click behavior, Ubuntu and Windows both map “F2” to rename a file. This may be a good substitute (Thanks Reddit!).
If you’re new to Ubuntu, there is a vast supply of help resources available, such as the Linux4Noobs Reddit, and people are generally quite helpful with questions, etcetera. I asked one question about how this OS got developed, and why and I got some really interesting answers. Not being a programmer, it seems strange that this OS is available for free, and that people just develop it for fun. That’s not exactly the truth as some corporations do support it, but much of the development is done independently.
One thing that’s a bit frustrating as I try to write an assessment of my transition is that some get a bit upset if you have any perceived criticism of the OS. A ton of work has obviously been done developing the system, so I can understand being a bit sensitive (as an engineer, I can be the same way with my stuff). I do think there are good and bad things about any OS, including Ubuntu.
My purpose in writing these articles is to hopefully show people what you’ll go through when changing over for better or for worse. My perspective is that of someone who really doesn’t know what he’s doing on Linux, but is a moderately competent Windows XP user. I certainly wondered what the transition would be like and what programs I could and could not use. Maybe these articles will help someone take the plunge or decide to stay out of it if that’s the best thing for them! Be sure to check out my other articles about my conversion to Linux!