Living With Linux – The First Week

So, the goal of switching from Windows 8 to Linux was to get myself a usable computer.  One where I can just log on and do whatever it is that I was going to do, without having to fight the OS just to do something simple.  One which is intuitive to use.  One where I don’t have to learn a totally new way of doing things.

Well, after a week, I would say Linux is stepping up to that challenge quite nicely.  Sure, there is a little bit of a learning curve, and some tweaks to personalise stuff to get it just the way I like it, but it’s going well.  A lot of the programs I used on Windows are available on Linux too, so it’s virtually seamless a lot of the time.  Chromium web browser is pretty much identical to Google Chrome – Well, Chrome is based on Chromium, so no surprises there.  VLC video player works just the same as it did under Windows, and the Arduino IDE only seems to have one difference – Instead of the Arduino being on Com 6, it’s now on  /dev/ttyUSB0!

Probably the hardest thing to get used to is knowing what program is the best alternative to what I used to use under Windows.  For example, there is no Winamp for Linux.  There is, however, hundreds of MP3 players, all with different strengths and weaknesses, or particular uses.  I have gone with Rythmbox Music Player for now, and that seems fine.  I might have a search for something better one day, but, for now, it does the job nicely.  There is a lot of software bundled with Ubuntu, although at this stage, I haven’t got around to seeing what it all does.  Some, like Image Viewer are quite obvious by their name, but others, like dconf Editor are less obvious.  LibreOffice looks like quite a capable replacement for Microsoft Office, although until I need to use it, I can’t say if it’s really up to the job or not.

As far as installing new software goes, it really is a doddle.  When I tried Linux many years ago, installing software meant downloading the source code tar ball, and compiling it, only to find it wouldn’t compile without some other piece of software it was dependant on wasn’t installed.  But, these days, you click on the Ubuntu Software Centre application, search for a keyword or two, click install, and that’s it.  A very similar process to how apps are downloaded to phones these days.  Almost everything is free, although some items do have a price next to them, but it’s unlikely I’ll be finding out how that works any time soon!

There’s been no problem with any of my hardware working with Ubuntu.  Even the sleep\hibernate function that I lost in the Windows 8 upgrade works!  It detected both of my monitors, and it only took me a moment or two to get them set up the way I like them.  My two Windows hard discs work fine, although I have decided to just copy my files across from them on to the new Ubuntu drive for now instead of putting them in to active service.  That way, if anything doesn’t work out well in Linuxland, then I can just boot back to Win8 and it should all work as before.  I’ll see how I feel in a month or two though, as hopefully I’ll be settled in and will be able to start using them properly.

I like the feel of Ubuntu, although there are some differences where I think they have just made it different to Windows just to prove a point.  The ‘Start’ button is in the top left hand corner (But at least it has one, Windows 8 take note!), and the task bar goes up the left hand side of the screen.  I can’t say if that’s any better or worse than what I’m used to, but it’s different.  Also, the close, minimise and window buttons are on the top left hand side of a window, not the top right.  Again, not any better or worse, but different.

So far, I’ve not set up my printer, or installed any backup software, so there’s still a couple of things to look forward to.  But, for now, I’m happy with the way this is working out.  I will keep you updated at ever increasing intervals, or if anything exciting or significant happens.