Ubuntu for a Family Computer

Last week I officially converted my family's computer to Ubuntu (external link). Previously, it was running Windows XP and it was littered with spam, viruses, and other junk. Being an older PC, it ran disappointingly slow on Windows. Overall, the computer was due for a fresh install of something; Linux seemed suiting.

In the past, I have used various Linux distros and have never been truly satisfied. Hardware configuration always presents a problem, trying to recompile the kernel with various drivers and such. It just never seemed to work like Windows in terms of ease of setup. I had heard all of this talk about Ubuntu, so I figured I would give it a shot.

I spent an hour backing up emails, photos, documents, and other data from the family computer.

Installing Ubuntu was a snap. When you pop the CD into the computer it boots into a Live-CD version of Ubuntu. There is then an icon on the desktop to begin installing Ubuntu to the hard disk. It actually installed in less than forty-five minutes!

Ubuntu appears to run much faster than Windows did. There is virtually no delay when logging in and applications run perfectly. No spam pop-ups either, thank goodness.

While configuring Ubuntu, the only issues I ran into were screen resolution and screen positioning. I ended up finding an ideal resolution, but the positioning still seems to constantly reset itself when the computer wakes up from sleep mode. I am still attempting to fix this annoying problem.

Permissions, in Linux in general, are a real pain. I login as root, open up a CD containing backup data, and distribute files to each user's home folder. When I login as these users I cannot open or move the files because they are "owned" by the root user. It just becomes a hassle when you are trying to manage the system. I was using Nautilus (GNOME's file browser), so perhaps this exact permissions behaviour is Nautilus-specific. Nevertheless, it is a hassle to general users.

Mozilla Thunderbird (external link) turned out to be a big flop. After installing Thunderbird, I quickly realised that there was no import/export tool! I tried manually moving the mbox files into Thunderbird, but alas Thunderbird would not except them. I ended up using Evolution, Ubuntu's default email client, which worked perfectly.

Installing most applications is a cinch. You can find a ton of applications from Ubuntu's application manager, which can all be installed with a few clicks. The application directory contains every application that the average user will need, and much more.

Overall, I am extremely pleased with how far forward Linux has moved in such a short period of time. Ubuntu (external link) actually makes Linux enjoyable! It's free too, which is certainly a perk.