2 days and 3 nights with Ubuntu 7.10

When the previous version of Ubuntu came out, I was one of the very first to jump aboard and try it out. After the initial “wow, XP can’t do this” reactions (similar to the reaction I had when I first booted Vista), like Vista, I began to see that not all was good, and I had to go through a bootcamp of Linux.

It wasn’t easy getting used to installing programs from a console by typing a bunch of letters, but eventually I got the hang of it, and Ubuntu was good enough to convince me to use it for a while. Unfortunately, at the time the part of the system which managed the special effects would sometimes break X which would strip Ubuntu of any interface whatsoever.

So I had to configure X a lot of times through until I eventually gave up and just thought to myself “I’ll wait until the next version”. And as you know, that version came out not very long, so I jumped aboard once again, and this time my reaction is much better.

Program/Package Installer

One of the first improvements I immediately noticed and started taking advantage of, was the addition of two applications to install any supported program I wanted, or any library and “unsupported” or unlisted program without having to download tar or tar.gz files and having to compile and install them myself.

Although one may blame me for being lazy, if Ubuntu wanted to gain recognition, at least from me, as a respectable Open Source alternative to Windows, this was a necessary step. Hopefully soon we will be able to install programs just by double clicking those compressed files, or more people will start using Linux’s installers. But until then, this method is more than acceptable, and much easier to use.

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Special Effects

Since the thing that had bothered me the most in the last version of Ubuntu was the fragility of X.org, I decided to test it out once again before digging any deeper into the OS. All the effects worked perfectly, and I was surprised and how I could make even videos stretch and bend flawlessly.

Note: At the time of writing, the library that renders the special effects has a memory leak which has already been reported as a bug. This leak is only noticeable after a while, but still, it’s a bit bothersome, so for the time being I deactivated them.

Read and write from and to NTFS

Besides the application/library manager/installer, Ubuntu has managed to give you the possibility of reading and writing to NTFS formated partitions or disks. In other words, you no longer have to create a Fat32 in order to share files between Ubuntu and Windows XP or Vista. I immediately tried to copy and write files as much as I could and read large resolution video files from my NTFS partition, and everything worked flawlessly.

Drivers

There’s another aspect about Ubuntu that I almost forgot, but only because I didn’t notice it, because it was so effective: driver support. The only driver I had to install “manually” was the Nvidia driver, but as soon as Ubuntu booted the first time it already allowed me to do it through a Windows-esque balloon. On Windows, since I chose to install my own version of it instead of using Sony’s OEM CD, which is filled with things I don’t need, I have to spend about 20 minutes rebooting again and again.

On Windows, I can’t get an “official” driver for my laptop’s graphics card. On Ubuntu, not only is the driver official, but my card is supported with no restrictions whatsoever.

Search Applet

Ok, so I can make my windows transparent a-la Vista, and I can even bend them around, but the second best thing that Vista brought in terms of functionality was the addition of a Search application, similar to the one in the Vista Star Menu, or Mac OS X’s Spotlight. When you search for a given term, you’re given the ability to quickly search on the web, or select pages from your browser or files that you might have with a similar name.

Although I haven’t used the search Applet much, because I still haven’t defined a proper shortcut for it, so far it’s worked flawlessly. I’ll need to add some more files to Ubuntu before I can give it a proper judgment.

Conclusion

If you were waiting for a good opportunity to jump on Linux, this latest build is definitely your best bet to start off. What I found very surprising with this build is that the team managed to correct most of the things that I thought were missing from the previous version, so I’m quite eager to see what version 8, which is the next version, will look like.

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