I'm up late geeking out with with Ubuntu, the Linux distrib that's getting all the attention lately. And deservedly so, it's pretty amazing so far. Why do I say that? Well, because I'm sitting here on my old Toshiba laptop, browsing the web via WiFi on the latest version of FireFox and seeing all this with great anti-aliased fonts, and the amount of effort on my part to get all this working was zero. I slid in the Live CD and everything just works and looks great.
Ubuntu: Linux for Human Beings. Wow, count me in.
I've actually got a 10GB Debian partition on this machine from when I was going to do the switch last year. I had moved my work desktop to Linux, and thought "hey - I'll move to Linux at home as well!" But I could never get the WiFi working. I had no idea where to even begin looking into it, and most of the information I found online was esoteric at best. So I gave up and continued using Windows, until I finally moved to a Mac.
But you know what? The Mac bothers me for all the same reasons it bothers others out there. It's a closed system, running on proprietary hardware which always seems to be doomed to be both more expensive, and half the speed of the PC world. That and having to learn another OS and it's foibles bugs me a bit. I've been using Windows for over a decade, so figuring out problems is second nature. I've been using Linux on my servers since 1998, so again, I've got a lot of familiarity with that OS as well. Not perfect, I still have these odd conceptual and factual gaps on how it's all put together, but there's a lot less magic than not in my mind. But the Mac? Fuck if I have any idea what's going on under the hood - BSD Unix or no. Things happen, and I'm clueless on how to fix them. The iso problem for Ubuntu was one of those problems tonight. Then I had problems with the networking, connecting from my PowerBook to my Mini would hang the finder on my PowerBook. No idea why and worse, no idea what sort of resolutions there were to fix it. I ended up forcing the Finder to reload, and it didn't work well, and I ended up having to do a hard shut down by holding down the power button. It's going to take me a long while to figure out what's going on in the Mac, and where the crufty spots are and aren't.
Think about Windows again, many of us have that instinctual way of working with it already, no? And sitting behind a newbie as they're doing stuff makes us all a little nervous because they just tread all over our superstitions about what will and won't work and what will end up frying a hard drive and making you lose weeks of work, etc. Same thing for Linux in many ways. I know what can cause kernel panics and core dumps, and I don't do that stuff now. But the Mac? That's this whole other planet, and though I like being over there right now, I'm not sure if I want to live there.
Anyways, back to Ubuntu. I'm going to see how much effort it'll take to replace my Debian partition with Ubuntu so I can just boot up into Linux when I want to. It'll be great for when I want to test stuff before I do it on the server (like the pending Apache/PHP move). I agree with Matt when he says that Ubuntu could be the Server Platform we've been waiting for. I like Debian - in fact, I *love* Debian on the server. Since I left RPM Hell, I've never had an easier time maintaining my web server. But Ubuntu would just rule as the server OS instead - same ease of maintenence as Debian, but more modern packages and a predictable release cycle. That's progress in my book.
This distrib is amazing. I still can't believe I'm sitting here on a nicely honed Gnome desktop typing up a weblog post so painlessly. The last time I tried Knoppix, not only did it not recognized my Netgear 802.11g WiFi card, but it had tons and tons of crap in the menus. Ubuntu is very clean in comparision, with just the fundamental apps like FireFox and OpenOffice just like it should be. I can totally imagine putting my Mom down in front of this box and not worrying too much.
Very Cool. Thumbs up.