For years now I have been using Ubuntu as a server OS for developing, testing, and debugging various bits of code I’ve worked on. Throughout those many months and years I have tried… really tried… to also use Linux as my main desktop OS. Ubuntu as been close, but “not quite there”, and Fedora has been really really close.
Well, it looks like Ubuntu 12.04 is finally there for me. Two things I have noticed: it is quick as hell on my system. Some people have complained about boot times being slower than 11.10, but for me they are much quicker. Still not quite as good as 10.04, the last LTS release, but considering all the new functionality; I’d say 20-30 seconds boot on a HDD ain’t too shabby.
It is also stable. I’ve only encountered tiny little issues here and there, but nothing critical at all. Compared to 11.10 it is like night and day. One of the biggest changes with 11.10 (and debian 6, really) was a modification to the networking stacks to supposedly “make them easier” to use. Quite frankly I hated the change and it made it really difficult to use. For me at least, 12.04 fixes those issues for the most part.
I’ll go out on a limb and also say I like Unity. Some hate it – some love it – but I don’t mind it in the least bit. It reminds me of OS X, and at least it isn’t a complete shift to a full touch friendly interface like Windows 8 Metro (yuck!). The one bit that annoys the hell out of me is you can’t click on an icon and have it hide all the windows for the application – sort of like the OS X dock or Windows 7 launchbar. From looking at various forums it looks like the devs aren’t interested in implementing that idea – but there’s also hundreds of people asking for it… so who knows what’ll happen there.
All in all I really like this release – and I’ve slowly been switching over to it as my main Desktop system. Just last night I setup a windows 7 VM in VirtualBox to run various Adobe apps, QuickBooks, and a few other programs that I need on a daily basis (Wine sucks, always has, always will…. I’m sorry! VM all the way!). Of course I will keep windows 7 installed as well, for my Oblivion & Skyrim addictions.
The interesting thing will be when I move Windows over to my slower HDDs and move Ubuntu onto my nice fast 750 gig drive. It runs really well on my crap old seagate ones… and I can’t wait to get it onto a drive that is almost twice as fast (100 mbyte/s vs 60 mbyte/s. Haven’t yet switched to SSDs… but maybe one of these days I will.
My scorecard for Ubuntu 12.04 looks like this:
- Stability – 9/10 – It’s Linux.
- Ease of use – 7/10 – Damn Linux driver issues are annoying, but everything else is great!
- Compatibility – 7/10 – Damn driver issues
- Apps – 6/10 – It doesn’t support many commercial apps (Adobe, QuickBooks, Office, etc) natively, but the free/cheap apps on the store are pretty good.
- Security – 10/10 – It’s Linux.
- Overall – 9/10 – It’s a free OS that works really well.
I’ve personally used Linux on and off for over 10 years now, and compared to 10 years ago it has really come a long way. I can’t wait to see where it is at in another 5-10 years… especially with Apple going completely insane (I’m a fan boy… but even I’ll admit they are annoying the eff out of me), and Microsoft making love to their new touch interface. Due to those risky consumer-orientated changes, I honestly believe there’s a huge subset of the population… the pro users… who will push to have more commercial grade apps brought to Linux in the next few years.
If you don’t believe me – just ask any pro user or IT guy what they think about Windows 8 Metro, or Mountain Lion (or Apple’s inability to update their mac lines). I bet you will find nearly unanimous disgust for them.