Why (I think) Ubuntu is Better Than Windows

When comparing operating systems people tend to roll out the same old reasons every time. I think those of us who use Ubuntu are already aware that we have less viruses than Windows, less malware, it’s free of cost and so on. I’m sure we’ve pointed out plenty of times that you’re legally entitled to copy the CD and even create your own remix.

However I wanted to look at some of the things I’ve done recently on Ubuntu that under Windows would be costly, difficult or impossible. So without further ado here’s my:-

Top ten things you can do with Ubuntu, that you’d find hard, costly, impractical or impossible with Windows, which clearly makes Ubuntu better (in my humble opinion)

Snappy title huh? :)

Hardware support is better than you think

In the last year I have added the following hardware devices to my system and they were all fully supported out of the box with zero driver installations, no reboots, no 3rd party downloads. Truly plug and play.

  • HP Printer/Scanner/Copier/Fax – everything worked including the memory card slots and network auto discovery.
  • Logitech USB headset – microphone and headphones worked with pulseaudio, and even enabled me to switch music playback dynamically from speakers to headset with the ‘pavucontrol’ utility.
  • Bluetooth dongles – never had a single one fail, and I’ve bought some really dirt-cheap devices here, where ordinarily I’d be wary about hardware support.
  • Ortek infrared remote control – again, I just plugged in the USB infrared receiver and it was working before I’d put batteries in the remote control.
  • 3G dongle – this was surprising but again, plug in the USB dongle and network manager on Ubuntu spotted it and let me use it for internet access. The same happened with my Android based cellphone
  • USB Apple Ethernet adapter – amusingly on the bag it comes in it says “Only compatible with Macbook Air”. This runs the internal half of my firewall :)
  • Nintendo Wii USB Ethernet adapter – the list goes on

Of course it’s not perfect, there are still some hardware manufacturers who fail to support Ubuntu, but the point stands, it’s better than most people think. Your mileage may vary, I don’t doubt that, but this is my blog outlining my experience.

Access more than 4GiB RAM on a 32-bit install out of the box

Many 32-bit operating systems including Windows XP, Vista and 7 support a maximum of around 3GiB RAM. With Ubuntu 9.10 the 32-bit install detects how much RAM the machine has and if it’s more than 3GiB you should get a ‘PAE-enabled’ Linux kernel. With no additional work required on your part, you get access to all the RAM in your PC. So you don’t have to switch to 64-bit Ubuntu if you don’t want to, and still access all your RAM. If you’re already running Ubuntu and you upgrade your RAM you can just manually install the above named kernel to get access to all that lovely memory. Om nom nom.

Easily create a bootable, functional operating system on a USB stick

Ubuntu ships with “USB Live USB Creator” which takes an ISO image and creates a bootable USB stick from it. Simply download an Ubuntu ISO image from http://ubuntu.com/download and start the USB creator application on Ubuntu from System -> Administration -> USB Creator.

Tell USB creator where the ISO image is, and it can prepare and write the contents of the ISO image a USB stick of at least 1GB in size. If you have a CD already and not an ISO image then you can use mkisofs to make an ISO image, and then make a USB stick from that, which will save a 700MiB download.

Find out where each file comes from

The typical desktop PC has many thousands of files on the boot disk. Much of this will be your own data in your home directory, but there’s a lot that’s required by the system to boot up and function. Sometimes you might want to know where a file came from.

It may be that you’re a curious user, wanting to know how things got onto your machine, or perhaps you’re diagnosing a problem with an Ubuntu installation. Either way it’s trivially easy to find out where files came from – if you stick to installing packages either from repositories or manually downloaded .deb files.

For example I might be diagnosing a problem with my system – maybe a program is eating CPU – and I want to know where the culprit came from. Knowing which package the process lives in is a good way to find out why you have it (because the name and package documentation may describe it well enough). Also if I wanted to file a bug against that program, I’d need to know what package it’s in. Lets say in this example that my system is sluggish. I might use the System Monitor to identify the process eating up CPU time.


Note: In the above screenshot Skype happens to be idle, but this is how I might discover the process name if it was chewing up my CPU.

I can use the command line to discover where that file is located on the file system using the which command:-

$ which skype
/usr/bin/skype

I can then use the dpkg command to find out which package installed this program:-

$ dpkg -S /usr/bin/skype
skype: /usr/bin/skype

We can even combine the two commands:-

$ dpkg -S `which skype`
skype: /usr/bin/skype

Tip!: If you use zsh instead of bash as your shell you can apparently use ‘=’ instead of ‘which’. So that would look like this: $ dpkg -S =skype. Thanks to Scott James Remnant for that tip via IRC :)

So this tells us that the ‘skype’ package installed the ‘/usr/bin/skype’ program. Not surprising really, but you get the idea. Also worth knowing is dpkg -L which lists all files installed by a package.

Email me when system updates are available

I have an Ubuntu PC behind my TV which I use to watch streamed video via Boxee. More often than not the TV is switched off, and when it’s on it’s showing the Boxee user interface and not the Ubuntu desktop. So I don’t tend to see any update notifications – in fact I don’t want to see them – especially if I’m watching telly.

I’d like to know when there are updates pending on that system, so I have configured it to send me an email when there are updates available. Installing a package called apticron. Just edit /etc/apticron/apticron.conf and maintain the “EMAIL” setting, placing your own email address in the quotes, and remove the # from the start of the line:-

EMAIL="alan@example.com"

Then wait. Each day apticron will run and you’ll get an email telling you what packages need updating.

root@revo1 to me
show details 9 Mar (2 days ago)
apticron report [Tue, 09 Mar 2010 21:12:09 +0000]
========================================================================

apticron has detected that some packages need upgrading on:

revo1
[ 127.0.0.1 127.0.1.1 10.10.10.124 ]

The following packages are currently pending an upgrade:

gnome-screensaver 2.28.0-0ubuntu3.5
micromiser-beta 2.1.2-0karmic1

========================================================================

Package Details:

Reading changelogs...
--- Changes for gnome-screensaver ---
gnome-screensaver (2.28.0-0ubuntu3.5) karmic-security; urgency=low

* SECURITY UPDATE: information disclosure via monitor hot-plugging
- debian/patches/11_CVE-2010-0285.patch: make sure to show windows that
are added in src/gs-manager.c.
- CVE-2010-0285
* SECURITY UPDATE: locked screen bypass via monitor hot-plugging
- debian/patches/12_CVE-2010-0422.patch: improve window handling logic
in src/{gs-grab-x11.c,gs-manager.c,gs-window-x11.c}.
- CVE-2010-0422

-- Marc Deslauriers Tue, 02 Mar 2010 16:48:56 -0500

--- Changes for micromiser-beta ---
micromiser-beta (2.1.2-0karmic1) unstable; urgency=low

* Initial release

-- btbuilder Thu, 04 Mar 2010 19:18:06 -0500
========================================================================

You can perform the upgrade by issuing the command:

aptitude full-upgrade

as root on revo1

--
apticron

Note: You may need to some basic configuration of the mail system on the machine sending the mail. The default mail transfer agent is ‘postfix’ and it can be configured with:-

sudo dpkg-reconfigure postfix

Once that is done you can look forward to receiving mail whenever your system needs to be updated with details of the updates required.

Go from blank disk to fully installed in under an hour

On most moderate hardware these days a standard installation of Ubuntu takes around half an hour. Getting all the apps you need for daily use might take a little longer. However if you take note of what apps you use regularly the additional applications can be installed pretty quickly, and in one big hit.

Whenever I’m installing Ubuntu 9.10 whether for myself or friends, there’s a set of things I tend to do post-install that rarely changes from one machine to another. This usually consists of installing audio/video codecs, fonts, updated video driver, flash, java and a few other bits and pieces. Some of that comes from the standard Ubuntu repositories, and some from 3rd party repositories or PPAs. Once the installation of Ubuntu is complete and all updates have been installed there’s just a few lines to paste in and then I leave it to run for a while.


# Add repo for Lifesaver screensaver
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:cmsj/lifesaver
# Add repo for chromium daily build
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:chromium-daily/ppa
# Update local package lists
sudo apt-get update
# Install all the stuff!
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras \ # Installs flash, codecs, java, fonts
chromium-browser \ # Installs daily build of Chromium
lifesaver \ # Install lifesaver screensaver
gtk-recordmydesktop \ # Install app for recording screencasts
gnome-do \ # Install Gnome-Do
vlc \ # Install VLC media player
openssh-server \ # Install SSH server for remote access
smbfs \ # Install samba client for accessing Windows shares
gwibber # Install microblogging client

Building a list like this can significantly reduce the amount of time taken to get up and running with Ubuntu. What’s especially cool about this is there is no need to visit any third party websites or download external installers. Those applications listed above are the ones I use regularly, you will have your own set of “must have” packages. What are they?

Move a hard disk

Ubuntu has no direct equivalent to “Windows Genuine Advantage” fortunately. This is the tool that seeks to reinforce the Microsoft End User License Agreement for Windows users by causing havoc when system hardware changes. Windows also has quite a fit when you move a hard disk from one system to another as it detects and installs new drivers for all the newly found devices.

Ubuntu does most of its hardware detection automatically at each and every boot-up with no user interaction. As a result you can take a hard disk containing a standard install of Ubuntu from one system and put it in another and expect it to work without much effort. The only time I have had an issue is when I have made some manual configuration changes for the specific hardware in the computer.

For example if you have installed and enabled the nVidia binary driver and configured it in /etc/X11/xorg.conf and the target computer doesn’t have an nVidia graphics card then it might fail to start the graphical environment due to it being forced to load the ‘wrong’ driver. In this instance probably the easiest thing to do is backup and remove the /etc/X11/xorg.conf and restart the machine. At that point it will automatically detect the video hardware and should work much the same as a standard install.

Compiling and packaging applications for older OS releases

With the 6-month release cycle some people can feel left behind if they don’t upgrade to the next release promptly. Ubuntu has a Long Term Support (LTS) release every two years to cater for many users who wish to stay with one stable release. Ubuntu 6.06, 8.04 and the upcoming 10.04 are all LTS releases, with all other releases being non-LTS.

There will always be some users who are not on an LTS release, but have still chosen to stick with their currently working system rather than upgrade. There is nothing wrong with this approach, but it can lead to users wanting a newer version of a package to be ‘backported’ to their release of Ubuntu, whilst the rest of the development community have moved on. There are developers who backport applications from newer releases to older ones, but they don’t backport everything, and there is a finite resource of developers available to do this task. The good news is that with a little time and effort, you can do this yourself.

I recently had a friend who was using Ubuntu 9.04 with an nVidia graphics card using the driver supplied, but he wanted to try the newer driver from Ubuntu 9.10. It’s generally not recommended to take a package built for one version of Ubuntu and just install it on an older release. It may work, but there’s no guarantee, and it can break the system in unpredictable and catastrophic ways.

So I took the ‘source’ code from Ubuntu 9.10 and used the tools provided in Ubuntu to rebuild the driver for 9.04. This was a trivial thing to do. The really cool thing is that I’m running Ubuntu 9.10 64-bit and was able to build the driver for Ubuntu 9.04 64-bit on my local PC. Once I was confident that it worked I uploaded it to my launchpad Personal Package Archive (PPA) where it was built for Ubuntu 9.04 32-bit and 64-bit architectures.

So not only was I able to backport a driver to an older release, but I also built it for an architecture that I don’t even run myself. The observant among you may have noticed that the package I built is not open source – the nVidia driver is proprietary code. Yet I was still able to take the packagable parts and in only a matter of minutes have it rebuilt for another release.

All the commands I used (dch, debuild, pbuilder-dist, dput) are well documented tools for managing, building and uploading Debian packages (.debs) and their contents, and of course, they’re all freely available in the Ubuntu repositories. The Ubuntu Masters of The Universe (MOTU) are a helpful bunch and their pages can be found at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/MOTU and on irc in #ubuntu-motu.

Fixing a bug

Whilst it’s easy to dismiss this as an advantage only if you’re a coder, let me first say that I’m not a developer at all. I can just about read someone elses very simple code with some help and google, but I don’t really ever write anything myself. So if I can fix a bug, anyone can! :)

I recently discovered a very simple bug in the ifdata command which I filed in launchpad – the Ubuntu bug tracker . With a little help from some of the Ubuntu developers – who were keen to help me – I was able to create a patch, test it and submit it to Ubuntu and upstream to Debian. The critical step that really made me consider even trying to look at this bug was that the source was available and easily installable. I was able to identify the package containing the buggy command:-

$ dpkg -S `which ifdata`
moreutils: /usr/bin/ifdata

Once I knew the package name I could download and unpack the source code for that package very easily with one simple command:-

$ apt-get source moreutils
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
NOTICE: 'moreutils' packaging is maintained in the 'Git' version control system at:
git://git.kitenet.net/moreutils
Need to get 37.8kB of source archives.
Get: 1 http://gb.archive.ubuntu.com karmic/universe moreutils 0.35 (dsc) [822B]
Get: 2 http://gb.archive.ubuntu.com karmic/universe moreutils 0.35 (tar) [37.0kB]
Fetched 37.8kB in 0s (191kB/s)
gpgv: Signature made Tue 05 May 2009 20:19:33 BST using DSA key ID 788A3F4C
gpgv: Can't check signature: public key not found
dpkg-source: warning: failed to verify signature on ./moreutils_0.35.dsc
dpkg-source: info: extracting moreutils in moreutils-0.35
dpkg-source: info: unpacking moreutils_0.35.tar.gz

The tricky part for me is then actually finding the incorrect code in the program. With a lot of help from a good friend and after asking on-line I was able to create a patch. I tested my patch and submitted it to the developers for review. That process is all well documented and I was supported through the process by Ubuntu developers.

All in all it took me a few hours to get this done, spread over a week or so. Not a massive investment of time, and I’ll certainly be quicker next time, now I have learned how to handle bugs like this. Plus I now have a better understanding of the packaging system which helps me with other great things.

Re-install the OS and Applications without losing your data

A default installation of Ubuntu wil place all the operating system files and user data in one partition on the disk called the ‘root partition’ or /, and a second partition for swap. Many users like separating their OS/apps from their user data, so they create a separate partition for /home. This is useful for a number of reasons including allowing you to reinstall the OS on the root partition without touching your data in the /home partition. One little-known feature of the installer on the Live Ubuntu CD is that you can do this – reinstall the OS and not wipe your data – even if you dont have separate partitions for / and /home.

Ok, so you want to reinstall the OS but keep your data in /home. Perhaps you want to upgrade but prefer a clean install, or maybe you’ve played with the system a bit too much and it’s become damaged, and you’d like to quickly ‘reset’ everything with a reinstall. Simply boot from the Live CD and run the installer. When you get to the partitioning step, choose ‘manual partitioning’ which takes you to the more advanced partitioning tool. Select your root partition for installation but don’t tick the “format” checkbox. Continue with the installer as normal.

The installer will recursively delete all files (except those in /home) before copying the new install files onto the disk. Create the same first username during the installer and it will re-use the /home/username folder as your home directory, with all your files intact.

Note: Some user data files (such as mysql databases which are in /var) may be stored in other folders than /home, so you will probably want to back the system up before hand in case there are any files you need to recover.

So those are 10 things I do with Ubuntu that I’d have a hard time doing on Windows. It’s arguable whether you’d need to be able to do some of this stuff, and that I accept.

I realise that there are Windows-based tools that can replicate/emulate some of these tasks, or maybe Windows Vista or 7 can do some of the above tasks. I kinda stopped bothering with Windows after XP, so my knowledge may be lacking. Feel free to correct me in the comments, or suggest what you can’t live without.

1 Comment 12 Comments 3 Other Comments

76 thoughts on “Why (I think) Ubuntu is Better Than Windows”

  1. You forget something that is maybe obvious to you, but still, it’s great to have it: repositories to manage ALL your updates from a single application, and install reliable softwares in a few clicks. Can you do that on Windows? I don’t think so… You have tons of process checking updates for all softwares, or you are left behind with old versions. If you don’t call this a big advantage, I don’t know what else should be in the list! Yet, I don’t think it’s “marketed” the way it should it. It seems such a huge advantage to me, and plenty of times, you see people complaining about how they find it so difficult to install Linux software downloaded on the internet (eg. sources packages…). It’s really a pity in my opinion, Ubuntu & Linux in general have a very strong advantage here, and it’s NEVER advertised as one! Or is it? Please prove me wrong.

  2. After a fresh install I have a script I run to install my extra packages from a list in a file. The file format is one package per line, and I can have blank lines and comments starting with # – so I can comment out some packages some of the time without having to delete them. Useful when I’m installing a machine for a friend and they don’t need to have the command line utilities I install for myself. The core of the script is


    grep -v '#' filename.txt | xargs aptitude install -y

  3. I would just like to say about hardware that while printers and usb sticks and cameras seem to have little problems under ubuntu I did have problems with scanners. I got a cannon 200 LiDE and found there was no support under linux. Needless to say I exchanged it for an HP scanjet G310 which has some support. I was surprised at how bad canon is for linux support.

    My impressions is either things are really easy in linux (easier than windows XP) or difficult if next to impossible (no support). However more and more things are falling into the really easy and very few are in the difficult and impossble.

  4. @Hamish

    A better way to do that is dpkg –set-selections, so that you can uninstall and purge packages from the same configuration file, and which only requires aptitude to be run once no matter how many packages you list (xargs will run aptitude as many times as it needs to to process all of the arguments).

  5. You forgot the obvious one.

    ‘CAUSE IT IS! :) oh and sensible ones are……

    ‘Cause it can fix your windows install.

    ‘Cause you can migrate your windows stuff across or even just use it on the windows drive.

    The list goes on and on and on and on………..

  6. Agreed about the Canon scanners. I have a CanoScan 8600F that does slides and I have to go into my virtual box XP to scan in my families old slides. We have thousands of them, and 4 slides takes 20 minutes in VB-XP (i’m doing them high rez PNG files which look awesome on HD tv’s). Ugggghhh. Im sure it would kick butt if it worked in Ubuntu.

    Anyways, I would like to really thank you for this blog post! Ive used Ubuntu exclusively for 4 years now and never knew about making full use of my RAM by changing the kernel. Thanks a million!

    Also, I have about 350GB of data on my computer at work. I’m starting to back up all the data, so when 10.04 comes out I will definitely give your last tip of reinstalling without losing my data a try. Thanks!

  7. So I rebooted… I now have all 4 GB of memory available! Woohoo! Instead of 3.1 GBs.

    But, yikes… not sure what to do here. Would you have any tips? My nVidia card is not working now. Im getting this message before logging in…

    “nvidia failed to load the nvidia kernel module”

    “please check your nvidia system kernel log for additional error messages”

    “failed to load module ‘nvidia’. no drivers available.”

    I just ran update manager and there arent any new nvidia drivers to update. Hmmm. I’ll try to troubleshoot. If you have any tips I could surely use them! Thanks.

  8. 1. Central repositories — Francois said it very well.

    2. Give and get support. Having a powerful command line available might not seem that great to new people, until they need support from someone who knows the system. Whether it’s IRC, in the forums, or over the phone, support is so much easier to give when it’s quick and unambiguous.

    3. The power of a supportive community. This one’s a close call, since there is some excellent community on both sides. The ubuntu people know to go to forums.ubuntu.com and #ubuntu on freenode to get great advice without bad attitude. (There’s always exceptions, of course.) If you’re stuck supporting MS systems, don’t look to Microsoft for any real help. Seek out the msfn.org forums, and #windows on Freenode. I’ll give a slight advantage to Ubuntu on this for two reasons — more active moderators, and the people have all the info about the OS available. Sometimes, with Windows, there’s just no clear answer to a question, and no means available to find out.

  9. Check my nvidia settings in System>Admin and get this:

    “You do not appear to be using the NVIDIA X driver. Please edit your X configuration file (just run `nvidia-xconfig` as root), and restart the X server. ”

    I ran sudo nvidia-config and I get nothing.

    I then checked System>Admin>Hardware Drivers to reinstate the nvidia drivers, but it failed giving this response:

    “SystemError: installArchives() failed”

    Im going into Synaptic now to see if I can find anything interesting.

  10. OK, thanks for the help. DKMS was installed, but I noticed in my xconfig it was telling it to use the nvidia GLX drivers. So I went into Synaptic and typed in “nvidia” and the nvidia glx drivers were not installed. Other nvidia drivers were installed, but not that one. I installed, rebooted and ALL IS FINE now.

    I notice an increase in performance thanks to more ram available! Google Chrome boots up quicker, etc. Thanks so much!

        1. On 32-bit with there is a slight performance overhead of using PAE as I understand it. This is somewhat offset perhaps by having access to more RAM. There’s also that fuzzy feeling that you’re actually using what you paid for :)

          On 64-bit memory-consumption will be higher for applications, so there will be less RAM free for data and cache. Arguably 64-bit would be faster for computationally expensive things like video encoding and 3D rendering (blender, povray etc) but this is anecdotal, I’ve personally not seen benchmarks of this.

          The side issue with 64-bit is that some apps are tricky, but this is usually limited to proprietary stuff – the usual suspects like Flash and Skype come to mind. If you don’t use/need them then there’s no problem.

  11. The only thing that *buntu, let alone Linux, can’t do is related to my HP PSC1610. The printer is a network printer, however I can scan via the network with it. When I want to scan, I have to connect to it with USB. Has anyone successfully got a scanner to work over the network?

    1. I have a Brother Multi Function Center (MFC-885CW) and on the Brother website they have the files for Ubuntu. http://welcome.solutions.brother.com/bsc/public_s/id/linux/en/index.html They also explain how to install the drivers. My printer is connected via CAT 5 and I can print from any desktop and wireless laptops, same with scanning (using XSANE) and faxing. Brother has great support for Linux IMHO (In My Humble Opinion). The only draw backs to Ubuntu, are for things like, StudioTax Software (albeit I did not search for a CDN package for tax reporting. Blackberry support is also another major one. If they would have their blackberry desktop manager for Ubuntu, they would earn the landscape of smartphone IMHO!

    2. Yes, I can print, scan, and FAX wireless using an HP all in one (7200) connected to a Netgear wireless router. I installed HPLIP, after installation go to >System>Preferences>HPLIP and setup the printer. BTW I amusing Ubuntu 10.10.

  12. Here is why I like to use Ubuntu the most:

    Compiz usability, I can zoom in to read PDFs and WebPages, not the standar ctrl++ in the browser but zoom in the whole desktop and invert the colors for better reading, that’s something I can’t do on Windows.

  13. Great blog, thanks!

    One question. Why didn’t you add the medibuntu repository? Aren’t some of packages there newer?

    Thanks again.

    1. Me too, but with the Canon IP 1300…

      There is a driver for this model (the driver of the IP2200 model) but I need to have both printer cartridges… I still wait for a driver for this model (IP1300) or I will try to buy a compatible printer.

  14. Good post.

    I have a suggestion you might consider for that PC you have behind your TV. Instead of having it email you when updates are available, you could set the PC up to automatically install ALL updates (not just security updates) without any user intervention required. No prompt, no notification that they were even installed actually (unless it’s a kernel update which requires a restart, but then again you could make it auto-restart if it’s required if you wanted it to do that too…). I learned about this trick in the forums and wrote a little guide about how to do it here: http://davestechsupport.com/blog/2010/03/07/make-ubuntu-apply-all-updates-automatically/

  15. 2 years with Linux and our family loves it. We have now added both our parents to the list this winter and all the peripherals work.

    One thing though. Ive shown Ubuntu to family and friends and ALL hate it with a passion. Except the one person who has a mac in the family.
    On the other hand, everyone we have switched to Linux in the family has gone with Kubuntu (and Xubuntu for the older cpu).

    I get the mac envy with the Gnome crowd but spending your whole life using WIndows and you dont want a new jarring experience and even though it was available in XP, top taskbars throw people off their confort zone (training your whole life to look down at a screen, not up), so does the continuous text appearing on top and the GTK look and feel are strange to Windows users.

    A desktop is a choice like ice cream: we each like what we like.

    But I can not overlook the fact that the overwhelming reaction to choices in desktops has been answered pretty clearly in my unscientific little poll.
    But familiarity is important to people.
    Sure my mom and dad have learned to love Digikam, Kopete, Amarok, Gvenview, K3B and some other programs theyve just discovered but the trip over from the Windows side was made so much smoother since they were using already free software like FF3, OpenOffice, VLC, Thunderbird and proprietary
    ones like Skype, Opera and Google Earth.

    Do what I did for my surprise bday party (its hard to be surprised when there are kids in the house), I had Ubuntu and Kubuntu out side by side.

    People will tell you what they like.
    Some like vanilla, some like chocolate…. you cant make them like a flavour.
    Same for desktops.

  16. A wee bit biased – but the majority of your points are spot on…. Just you can do a proportion of of this on Windows with about as much effort as it takes on Linux.

    You can move your “Documents and Settings” _after_ the install with some free utilities from Microsoft – and am told it’s builtin and a “right click” away with Win7 – even moving things onto a Network Share. Although I’ve not done it myself….

    Also: Windows will connect to the Internet to look for new drivers for hardware that it doesn’t already “know” – allowing vendors to push drivers to Microsoft for hardware released _after_ the OS shipped – sure new kernel’s are apt-get’able, but it’s rare for new drivers to make it into the kernel post release….

    I’m not a windows fanboy, but I am trying to be honest about things. :)

    -Dx

  17. The problem with Ubuntu starts using a new scanner. I tried to use a Canon LIDE 200…..hell no. Only solution a humiliating retreat to vbox Win XP installation.

    1. Dear Zinovsky, I’m a fan of yours http://www.unixmen.com. I question now, why my Fedora Vbox machine is so lazy? I didn’t try yet to full install Fedora to one of my machines, but my experience with Vbox is disappointing. Personally I prefer Ubuntu, it is much faster.

  18. Thanks for the tip about being able to re-install the OS without losing the home folder. I’ve been looking for an easy way to do that. Great tip!

  19. Why I think windows is better? Hardware (but it’s not open-source’s fault)!

    Manufacturers and PC Game developers care more for Windows. It’s a hassle to find drivers for hardware you already have and it’s not supported “out of the box”. And if it’s not supported out of the box in Ubuntu and/or OpenSUSE, it’s probably not possible to use it.

    It would be great if Epson would care enough to provide open drivers for its hardware ( for example see bug https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/34647 ) – I just hate manufacturers that don’t care about cross-platform support. :)

    1. This is why ever since I started using Linux, I’ve only bought hardware that works perfectly with it. If it doesn’t work with Linux, it doesn’t get my money. You can even buy full systems designed for Linux with Linux pre-installed. That might solve a lot (if not all) of your hardware issues. But I can understand how it does cause difficulties when you are first switching from Windows, and you’re just using what ever hardware you’ve already got that works with Windows.

  20. Im curious about “Re-install the OS and Applications without losing your data”.

    What if, i have a separate partition of / , /boot , and /home ?
    And I wanted to upgrade from Ubuntu 9.10 then later to 10.04,
    do i still have to unheck the formatting of / and /boot?
    what if i will format / and /boot? what’s the difference?

    Also, if i have a /home directory created from Ubuntu, and wanted to remove Ubuntu then replace it with other distro, lets say, Fedora, can i still reuse all the contents of /home directory?

    Im just curious. As with what I do all the time, back up /home directory to another hard disc. then do reinstall, for fresh install, formatting all partitions. then restore the contents of /home directory to the newly installed Ubuntu.

    But your ways, if applicable to mine, will be alot faster. No need to wait for half an hour to back up all my files, then another half an hour to restore it.

    1. The process I described is more to make it easier for people with one big root partition and _no_ separate /home partition to reinstall without losing their data in /home.

      In your instance if you wanted to reinstall over the top you could just choose manual partitioning, and format / and /boot, but choose to _not_ format /home.

      Of course I’d always recommend backing up before doing anything like this anyway, so you wouldn’t save much time at all.

      1. Ok. Thanks alot for that info.

        About this “The installer will recursively delete all files (except those in /home)”, what if i have a file saved somewhere in / but not in /home, does the installer will also delete that file? or, it only deletes ubuntu specific files.

  21. If you’re puter literate then you might find Debian Testing better then the *buntu’s. Debian’s Testing branch updates faster then the *buntu’s, has a smaller system, is more stable, less bloated and more tweakable.
    The caveat with Debian Testing is that you have to be puter literate and not be afraid to ‘get under the hood and get your hands dirty’
    It’s rare I have any hardware that doesn’t work with Debian or it progeny like the *buntu’s. The only hardware in recent memory I’ve had issues with are Winmodems and an MSI TV tuner card. The Kernel saw the card but it caused so many hardware conflicts it made the system unstable and unusable, even with a reconpiled kernel.
    Come /home to Debian!!

  22. I have been a Linux user for 18 months and Ubuntu user for not quite a year.

    I never realized how much easier an Ubuntu install is than Windows install until I had to re-install XP and then do a new install of Win 7! They both took days of effort by the time I had found all the correct drivers, anti-virus, etc. etc.

    This on a new I7-920 machine, I shudder to think of the hassle on my old Rambus machine!

    I have to agree about lack of Canon support though, my Canon MP780 “all-in-one” is the only thing that does not run as well or better under Ubuntu! I use Win2K under VirtualBox to run most of the print/FAX/Scan functions.

  23. Thanks for the nice blog on Ubuntu. I too am a beginner and Ubuntu fan, currently running Ubuntu 9.10 desktop amd64. The AverMedia AverTV Super 007 M135A PCI card which is fitted on my motherboard has got best support in Windows for FM and Analog TV. But in Ubuntu it is just useless because of no driver support. This is the only problem I got, rest all hardware support is satisfactory in Ubuntu 9.10. I tried hard and googled a lot to make my AverMedia AverTV Super 007 M135A PCI card function in ubuntu, but all my efforts were in vain. I hope if Ubuntu 10.04 LTS can provide something better.

  24. Nice post, i learned a little about ubuntu from this. To me you just need both, windows and ubuntu. and windows 7 is not really that expensive (although i haven’t shelled out any cash for it yet). Ubuntu is really useful for building your own servers or for having machines that are virus-resistant. Ubuntu is a lot better than it used to be, and i’ve learned about it in the last five years, slowly slowly. since it requires command line to configure stuff, if something goes wrong you can be in a big mess in a hurry, without really knowing how to get yourself out of the problem–i have discovered this several times while trying to build squid/dansguardian servers and also more recently while trying to set up my own ftp server. a little frustrating but it’s an interesting journey anyway. but for day to day office work ubuntu is of course not a full replacement for windows. when you can run Microsoft Office or other professional mainstream applications (like Photoshop and Indesign) on linux (even if you have to pay for them), then it’s probably time to stop buying the Windows OS.

  25. Only reason I even read this is because my OS professor directed me to this website and I have to write a paper over two of the topics.

    But, if an OS can’t play good games that would require a decent graphics card then its useless to me.
    Not to mention the Graphical Editor : GIMP is well gimpy compared to Photoshop, which can be run with ease on Windows or MAC

    1. Quick way to fix the gaming issue, dual boot or get a console…. Unless you are a pro, gaming really isn’t a valid argument for the “better OS” discussion. Or if you are like many users here, use WINE or find an open alternative to those games you play. CS:Source runs flawlessly on my machine, and I make it a point to let everyone I kill that I am running the game in Linux. Want to talk about starting an argument on a server, that’s the best way to do it, mind you, this is on my “low-end” 2.8ghz AMD Athlon x2, 2GB ram, and a BFG 7800GT on a 19 inch crt, and me laughing when someone claiming to have a better system gets slain by me and my “shitty” kit.

      Personally, in my experience, GIMP is as usable as Photoshop, but hell, if you are going to pirate something, Photoshop is usually at the top of the list. GIMP also has the benefit of running on ALL major OS’s, Linux, Windows, Mac, and BSD. And rendering usually takes a hell of a lot longer on PS than GIMP.

  26. I believe you are wrong. Most of the examples you provide aren’t for “average Joe” and therefore are completely irrelevant seen from a average user perspective.

    Let me give you an example –
    I have now spent 1 hour trying to import pictures from my Sony digital camera on ubuntu to no avail. It sees the cam, mounts it, but I am getting a “unable to lock device” error. Yes, I know there are work arounds but this took me 30 seconds in Windows.

    I can share similar examples when it comes to setting up printers, webcams, Skype, automount of firewire drives and the list goes on and on….there are simpy TOO many basic things in Ubuntu that doesnt work well enough. Hell, on ubuntu my keyboard randomly switch between US and my native language. Thats a lot of fun…not.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love Ubuntu and the *nix’es in general and I would very much like to see 2010 become the Linux desktop year, but sorry – I am not holding my breath. So, you need to define “better” before making your conclusion. Better for whom ?

    I am a long time *nix user (Fedora/Ubuntu) and Windows user. My setup is a dual boot between Win7 and Ubuntu 9.10 at home, and a pure Win7 with Fedora in a Virtual machine at work.

    1. Not sure how “I think Ubuntu is better than windows” can be ‘wrong’. You might disagree, and might find other places where Windows is better, but this is my blog and I’m just giving my opinion on why I think Ubuntu is better. It’s largely irrelevant whether these things are ‘average joe’ tasks or not, these are the things that _I_ have done and find easier/better under Ubuntu.

  27. I agree with your statements. If you compare the hundreds of problems, the advantages and disadvantages of each OS, Ubuntu is the clear winner. More safe, more personal, less serious problems, more flexibility etc. But I agree with Kenneth as well that it’s not an OS for everybody. My wife and my son (13Y) they use it, without problem, but I did the installation. It is like installing any OS, needs some knowledge and a lot of free time. That’s we it is not so wide spreaded like Win that comes pre-installed.

  28. The only real advantage I can think of while using windows is if you like playing games a lot. but then again, what are gaming consoles for. Why I use linux instead of windows is simple, because I always know whats happening. There’s more software on windows, but unlike windows, linux people dont produce millions of variations of one type of software and just fail at every single one. Instead, we just make one software per category and we all focus on it together, which I think is much more effective. also, if you try to increase linux’ performance, for example, your video card is performing slower than it should, you will actually succeed, unlike windows. I love the community as well. Plus, unlike windows, us linux users can rely on each other, unlike relying on a company that has no idea which problems their customers are suffering from. Sure, most commonly used OS is windows, but us linux users, we are the ones that actually go past watching email and go on social net. sites. and thats why we are using linux right now.

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