May 2012


  May 22, 2012: 26. On - and from - Ubuntu 12.04


        1.  Introduction
2.  Linux.Ubuntu.12.04.LTS
3.  First impressions
        4.  Conclusion

1. Introduction

Well... surprise: it's almost three years ago since the last BitsAndPieces was written and uploaded, and you may be excused for thinking that was the end of the series.

Indeed, I've tended to think so myself, for at least three different if related reasons: First, I have ME/CFS since January 1, 1979, when it started as Epstein-Barr aka kissing disease, that my ex-wife and I got that month, and that never went away for us sincel second, there had been developments around that disease in October 2009 that fueled rather a lot of interest in it, and that caused me to write much more about it than I had before; and third, I do not have all that much energy even on my best days, and I always write with pain.

Then again, I have now found something that does help at least some against the lack of energy that is one of the dominant features of ME/CFS (see Nederlog for 2012, under Methylation or mB12 protocol in case you're interested); the development that caused much interest in ME/CFS was very probably a mistake or a deception, and the article in Science that started it was withdrawn 2 years later, in December 2011; and having found something that gives me a little more energy first enabled me to buy and install a new computer in March 2012 (for which I had the money but lacked the energy since May 2010: ME/CFS is that invalidating, if one gets no help whatsoever, which is the case for me and for millions of others with the disease); and then to get Linux.Ubuntu.12.04.LTS in the beginning of Mat 2012, which I find enjoyable, inspiring, eminently usable, and a cause for taking up this series again.

I also intend to continue it, and write considerably more about Linux, Ubuntu and programming in and working with Linux, with the one proviso that my health must remain up to it.

2. Linux.Ubuntu.12.04.LTS

I have always been a fan of the idea of Linux - a free and open OS that emulates Unix - but until May 2012 I have had little luck with its distributions:

Until 2002, I had tried out most then existing Linux distributions, and found that I could not properly install, that is: with internet access and the sort of programs I like to use, any of them on both the vanilla PCs I tried this on, that did run Windows 98, that I much wanted to get rid off, because I never liked Microsoft and its software policies, while I'd found that both Windows 95 and Windows 98 crashed daily on me.

Then my health got worse; I got Windows XP that did not crash anymore, or at most once a year; and whatever little bit of energy I did have got otherwise occupiedthan on finding things out about Linux, with a few exceptions:

Between 2003 and 2011 I did succeed in installing several Linux distributions that can be run from within Windows, that also did get to the internet, and gave me experiences and ideas about what Linux was like, but that were not good enough to rely on as OS, and indeed did not run as OS but as Windows applications.

As I mentioned above, in March 2012 I got a new computer, a 64 bitter with Windows 7, and then in May got Ubuntu on it, in which this is written. The story is in Nederlog:

        Computernews: Linux on a stick!  
Varia:  DSM-5 + Linux.Ubuntu

That is more or less personal background about how I got it running on my computer, and here is some public background:

Linux                     (Wikipedia)
Ubuntu OS             
Ubuntu philosophy   
ubuntu.com             (website)
Mark Shuttleworth    (main man behind Ubuntu: Wikipedia)
Ubuntu presentation 
Linux distributions    (Wikipedia: a survey+comparison of many distros of which Ubuntu is 1)

This is just to provide some background information. There is a lot more on the internet, that is not all worthwhile, for various reasons (some is just out of date, some is not well presented, some is quite interesting about Linux but does not apply to Ubuntu etc.), but here is one you should not miss if you are at all interested in Ubuntu:

          Full Circle Magazine (website)

This is a free monthly for users of Ubuntu Linux; it is in pdf; and the issues I saw of it are really well done: Informative, clear, nicely put together, with lots of interesting articles about many subjects.

The latest issue is of this month and is about Ubuntu 12.04 LTS - and in case you wondered: 'LTS' = 'Long Time Support', meaning here until 2017, which is longer than is scheduled for Windows XP, that will not be maintained from April 2014:

          Ubuntu Development   (link to latest issue of Full Circle Magazine)

It is quite interesting, and if you want to download it you should note that you can choose from an English and an Italian version, the first being on top of the page. (Of other issues of the magazine I also saw French and Chinese versions: Nice!)

It also shows one of the many aspects in which Linux - not just Ubuntu - differs from Microsoft or Apple: This is computing by and for the people, and not by and for the corporations. That is, there are real people behind it who personally care, and not just because they are paid to do so, which means that often the documentation and the programs they make are better than what the corporations produce - to which I must add that on Ubuntu, and with  much of Linux, what is on offer is free and open source, as I think computing should be, at least in the case of everything that is important for education, science and personal development.

So in fact within a few days I have switched  effectively from Windows 7 to Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, because it works, because it works better for me, because I like both the idea and the implementation, because I think this is the way computing should be done, because it is a lot safer, because it is fun, and because Linux has a lot more software I like than is available on Windows, even for pay.

3. First impressions

I find that Ubuntu is quite intuitive to use, although I do not know much about Linux. The probable reasons, in order of importance, are that it has been thought out carefully and well, and that it is written by programmers, and I know how to program in several languages since several decades.

Put otherwise: My guess is that most people who have some years of experience with computers with some other operating system - Windows, Apple - will have few difficulties to do the same things they did on the other OS(s), but that they will have fewer problems the more they know about programming.

Anyway... here is a list of first impressions

  • The Ubuntu desktop (in 12.04 LTS) is intuitive and easy to use.
  • There are more programs on Linux that help doing the things I want to do with computers than on Windows
  • The help on Ubuntu is better than on Windows.
  • The interface is much more consistent.
  • Windows 7 on the 64 bits computer I use has the better screen, but that is probably due to the fact that I installed the Ubuntu 32 bits version, since that was recommended by Ubuntu.
  • Apart from that, the Ubuntu screen is at least as good as is the screen on my 32 bits computer that runs Windows XP.
  • Ubuntu is quite pleasant to work with, and much more so than Windows.
  • Ubuntu gives me more possibilities than Windows in any shape or form (7, Vista, XP, 98, 95).
  • I use a broaoaoaoaoad screen with the 64 bitter, and Ubuntu has a nice gimmick for that: One's desktop is presented as if it is made up of four desktops, which is helpful in organizing one's work.
  • There is a great amount of very good free open source software for Ubuntu, that is very easy to install.
  • Much of the software there is for Ubuntu is better than similar software for Windows, or is at least as good.
  • The - 32-bits - interface of Ubuntu is less glitzy than the - 64-bits - interface of Windows 7, but is better laid out and easier and more pleasant to work with.
  • Anyone who has some years of experience working with computers should not have major difficulties with working with Ubuntu, though it will take some time and some trouble to set up and get used to.
  • The reasons to take the time and trouble are, in the end, that Linux is the better OS, both technically and morally; it is much safer; it has a great amount of excellent, free open source software; which also means that people who are not rich can get excellent software.

Do I have anything negative to say about Ubuntu or Linux, you may ask? Well, yes: The public relations of Ubuntu could be rather a lot better, and it does have its share of strongly opinionated folks with little talent for or interest in rational argument (on internet, in Youtube videos).

4. Conclusion

On the whole, my summary judgment is that if you are not a moron and not very ill, you make your life more difficult and less pleasant than it could be by not switching to Linux, at least on a dual boot basis: It is at least as good as are Windows or Apple; it is much safer; it is better documented; and all its basic software is free and open source, which is how computing should be done.

Highly recommended, and there certainly will be more on Linux and Ubuntu on my site. (*)


(*) And I should note, in fairness, that while what I am recommending are both Linux and Ubuntu there are many Linux distributions most of which I never have seen. There may well be some other distribution of Linux that you or I might like better, in general or for specific purposes. That is a strength of Linux, due to its being free and open source. Then again, I like Ubuntu, and I can add that is has a high reputation as a Linux distribution, and that the only reasons I picked this rather than another distribution are that some programmers I know recommended it; that what was available as information on the internet made it seem OK; and that installing it worked as promised, which you find briefly explained here: Varia:  DSM-5 + Linux.Ubuntu.

Maarten Maartensz


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