Part of my new job as a Linux Engineer is to evaluate different Operating Systems. I am most familiar with RedHat, having grown up with their OS since 5.2 back in the mid-90's. Wow, have things changed. So, I looked at a linux that a lot of people are talking about: Ubuntu, and was pleasently surprised at how easy it was to work with.

I worked with Ubuntu "Breezy Badger", the most current installation available. It installed onto my older Compaq E500 laptop without a problem, as it recognized the hardware and software (except the PCMCIA wireless card) right out of the box. Ubuntu installs with a text-based installer, a bit of a surprise, but not a shock to work with.

The distro came with OpenOffice 2.x, the latest GNOME 2.12, and a bunch of other common utilties. The install process connects you to the internet to download updated packages; by the third reboot, you are up and running with the latest Ubuntu software.

Ubuntu is based on the Debian architecture -- you use APT-GET to locate packages, resolve dependancies, and update the machine. You can also use the graphical Synaptic Package Manager to graphically make these choices.

But, as an advanced Linux user, I was surprised at some of the lack of expert options that other distros, such as RedHat feature. I had manually install (via apt-get, but couldn't do this at main installation time) packages to make, compile, and deploy. I couldn't find Acrobat Reader -- yes, they did have the compatable .pdf viewer, but not the real Reader. I wasn't able to successfully convert .rpm files into .deb for proper installation. And when compile time came around, I often had to go searching for various libraries, and build them from source, as no one had a .deb available.

Bottom Line.

Overall, I was very impressed with the Ubuntu distribution for general use. I would be very comfortable using the machine as a common desktop environment -- playing music & mp3's, writing in Open Office, moving files around the web ssh/ssl things and the sort. But for the advanced expectations of compiling, working with text based command lines, and advanced operations, Ubuntu fell short of my expectations, and I had to try another distro. Ubuntu was very easy to install, and easy to get up and functional, and very friendly. But the SysAdmin functions that I perform require more than it could provide.


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I quite agree with you. Ubuntu is the first ever Linux distribution that installed on my 7 year old Toshiba Satellite without major problems (only had to edit a few lines in the X config to get rid of some minor screen corruption).

Everything else (even current distributions of Debian on which it is based) has major problems, some (like Mandrake) even refusing to install because the installers won't work on it.

Hi, I'm one of those Win guys that turned to Linux. Ive tried RedHat 8 and Mandrake in the past... and I was not happy with them although I always liked to make the jump to Linux... when I tried Ubuntu I finally did... and I can tell that I'm using it a lot...
In fact I have it installed on my Compaq M700 laptop... I still have a desktop PC with Windows XP but I only use it for design (Photoshop mostly) since I can get better results from it.

I agree that if you want to start dealing with compiling you will have to do some research, specially if you are a newbie in Linux like me... but if you have some basic knowledge you just have to try.

The only thing I had problems was compiling the Lucent Modem drivers... everytime I do a Kernel Upgrade I must start searching for the drivers and compile again or grab a .deb somewhere. As you said compilers, headers and all the requested packages need to be installed by the user... are not by default there.

About the .deb I have found that using alien is easy to convert .rmp files to .deb ... of course the convertion does not always works. But for example, for installing LimeWire its easy to convert the RPM to .DEB.

Ubuntu is great!

Features like compilers and stuff were left out for the same reason root access is blocked: security and foolproofing the system.

The intended primary audience doesn't need those features and would only put themselves into trouble having them.

Those people use it in lue of (or next to) a Windows or Mac machine which doesn't come with compilers as standard either and will never miss them.

As I only really work in Java and sometimes Python I don't need them either (and install those languages directly from their own developers to make sure I have the most current versions available and set up as I want them).

I'm sure Ubuntu is nice, but I now stay away from distros where Gnome is the default desktop. I don't like how around 2.10/2.11 they basically said, "you're too dumb to have more advanced options, so take what we give you, and be happy."

I don't subscribe to a mindset. I subscribe to a feature set. Once Gnome forced spatial file management on me with no way to revert to the old behaviour, I was out like a light. :(

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