My Ubuntu Experiment

Hi all, I recently wrote a blog post about Ubuntu and thought it might be worth posting here. It wasnt aimed at a technical audience so may sound a bit partonising to the technical crowd here. Anyhow heres a copy and paste of that post:

Is Ubuntu finally viable as a first class OS for business?

Note: I am not much of a gamer so my experiences written in this post are of a generic non-gaming computer user.

As an avid open source fan I have always had a strong interest in Linux(the largest open source project in existence) and Ubuntu (the best known Linux distribution). My primary OS is Mac OS X which I use daily, I love it for its robustness combined with sleekness, polish and workflow.

Before I had a Mac I ran Ubuntu 7.10 on a PC which introduced me to the world of Unix-like operating systems, it was this that made me feel comfortable with the transition to a Mac which is Unix based.

To me running a Mac is like the computer equivalent of cruising around everywhere in a Rolls-Royce. Its not going to outdo Formula one spec'd PCs but everything about the experience is generally more pleasant and is a joy to use. The UI is consistent and everything is where you would expect it to be, its a pretty predictable experience. There is next to no maintanace or hoop jumping required like there is in Windows. For this reason I stopped using Ubuntu for any of my personal computers as I just didn't require it, everything in OS X worked sweet for me.

Ubuntu has come along way since 7.10, 12.04 is the current version which is also an LTS (Long term support) release. Gone are the days of glitchy gnome panel losing important UI elements or the X display server crashing periodicaly.

Even though I stopped using Ubuntu I still kept up to date with all the latest news about it and over the last year of following I got the feeling that Ubuntu was becoming more of a first class OS and less of just another distro. Ubuntu definitely feels greater than the sum of all its parts.

I work in IT as part of a team that looks after a large Windows network so I am always interested in the systems options available to businesses and enterprise. I have always known that linux has had a strong presence in the server room but not so much on the desktop and decided to give Ubuntu on the desktop a try for a week or two.

Most of the users on our network are not particularly power users, they just use a computer in its very basic form to get very basic tasks done such as word processing and email. I took this approach to Ubuntu with my experiment, I wanted to see how well it would work being used for these tasks in the most basic obvious way.

I am a week into my experiment and love Ubuntu, Unity (the default desktop shell) is actually quite a pleasure to use, its not the most customisable or technical shell out there but for my basic use it did a great job. The UI is very predictable much like on Mac OS X, the only thing I could fault was Libre-Office not supporting the native global menu bar as its written in Java although I understand there is work being done to fix this. Everything worked great out of the box, there were no issues with drivers and I am yet to come across any bugs although I wouldn't be surprised to find a few as this release only came out of beta a few weeks ago. Applications were very simple to install through the Ubuntu Software Centre and even flash player worked fine within Google Chrome.

I have come to the conclusion that Ubuntu may well be ready for business users. The only areas I think the general public may find it lacking are gaming and graphic design. I will inevitably move back to my Mac as I miss some of my specialist apps such as Logic Pro and Motion but I think I will keep Ubuntu running on the side.