Haven’t messed with Linux in a few years and as an OS geek, I want to see where things are…
Super-easy to install, with easy-to-configure hardware drivers
One of those installer packages that offers easy download and installation of common apps like Gimp, OpenOffice, etc.
Dual-bootable with Vista. This is going to live on my test box.
This is mostly to play with, and to see what there is to recommend Linux other than the usual “it’s not Microsoft,” “it’s free,” and (the one part that appeals to me) “it has kickass command-line support.”
So… Is Ubuntu the best choice for both easy installation/driver support and a wealth of easy-to-install apps? And if so, any reason not to install the 64-bit version?
Both Debian and Ubuntu share the same hardware detection. No problems
getting a new system working with common hardware in the past year.
Debian’s IRC channel is downright hostile; I always recommend Ubuntu because
of a much friendlier community.
Ubuntu’s two major desktops, Gnome and KDE, have one default GUI for
software installation each. Adept is the one in KDE, and it’s easy to add more
repositories for non-free software, but all the basics most people want are there
right after installation finishes.
As for cool toys, there’s Quanta for webmonkeying, which is one of my most used tools.
KDevelop is a pretty decent IDE now.
Don’t install the 64-bit version if you want wine, proprietary video codecs such as real/wmv, or flash to work. Or you can, but you will have to install 32-bit libraries on top of everything else, using twice as much space.
Well, if you don’t need certain movie formats (the ones that require DLLs from
Win32), you can manage, since everything has been recompiled for 64-bit.
Xvid is open, so you’ll at least get that.
Am I correct in assuming that Gnome is the more “native” desktop for Ubuntu, and that Kubuntu is a better choice if you want to use KDE?
Like Andrew said, it’s just a choice. You can install just a bare-bones non-GUI
OS if you like, and then install either gnome-desktop or kubuntu-desktop or
xubuntu-desktop (for the lightweight XFCE).
In my opinion, Gnome sucks. The problem is that equivalents to KDE programs
often have less features, sometimes the feature is there but needs manual
fiddling to enable and so on. Interfacewise, KDE has been most pleasant to me.
One example just encountered was Gnome’s CD burning not allowing overburn,
or even having the option in the settings. K3B lets you do anything you want.
Another is the file manager, which defaults to ‘nasty’ in Gnome :)
I wouldn’t say pure 64-bit sucks, it’s just a matter of whether you can live without windows proprietary features or not (but if you have dual boot, is it really that big of a deal?). I was able to live with Ubuntu 64-bit (and had a dual boot windows although I never used it) on one computer for over a year, until finally it got turned into a mythbox and I needed a 32-bit chroot to get wmvs to play.
If you want to feel like your extra 32-bits wasn’t a waste of money, it doesn’t hurt to install a 64-bit OS :), Ubuntu 64-bit is much more friendly than WinXP x64.
The more I learn CS (I’m getting a B.S. right now), the less I see the usefulness of 64-bit CPUs. Ok, so you can address more memory and you get bigger number handling, but I’m not really sure how that translates into (mass) usefulness.
But it does cause a lot of headaches to legacy code which had hardcoded the size of pointers as 4 bytes instead of using sizeof(type *)… so it’s not like you could just recompile all the Windows apps on 64-bit without doing more work than flipping a compiler switch.
When it comes to ease of use, Ubuntu is by far the best distro. HOWEVER, I have stopped calling it super-easy, because I say that and then people who haven’t used Linux before go try it and then yell at me because it takes some work to get it customized (yes, I’m looking at you, Moggraider).
Both Debian and Ubuntu (which is based on Debian with some tweaks) use APT (Advanced Packaging Tool). This is easily the best software system out there. It has an almost TOO big wealth of software (assuming you set it to allow non-open-source and 3rd-party apps, which you should for full functionality), it automatically handles all dependencies for you, and has some very fast servers for download. There’s both a command line (apt-get/apt-cache) and GUI (Synaptic Package Manager) for it.
Use the Ubuntu Desktop Guide to get your basic customizations and hardware working. I can try to help if you need it, but be warned that I can be slow to respond sometimes.
If you get Ubuntu, I highly recommend that you [ul]
[li]explore a few different media programs - mplayer is the best for videos, but VLC (as on all platforms) is cool because it supports everything. For music, use XMMS. It looks and acts just like Winamp, but with more (and easier installed) plugins.[/li][li]Configure the repository (using synaptic package manager or edit the file if you want) to accept Universe and Multiverse. This makes all the software available to you.[/li][li]Get it working with your videocard - it makes the basic desktop run better when you’re watching videos and such, not to mention games if you want to use it for that, plus it will then allow you to[/li][li]Get Beryl!! Beryl is a window manager that uses OpenGL. It works with whatever Desktop (Gnome/KDE/Whatever) you’re using. It adds features such as desktop cube, full adjustable transparency, OS X-style “display all windows”, various window decorations/animations, and more I haven’t discovered yet. Configured right, this is easily prettier than Vista. And it works well with my shitty videocard. I have a link somewhere with a guide on how to do this - it took me 10 minutes to get working on my machine, once my vidcard was working.[/ul][/li]http://youtube.com/watch?v=ZD7QraljRfM does a good job of showing how sweet Beryl is. I don’t like the way he has his desktop set up, but the video shows a lot of the features.
Yum is such a great package manager isn’t it? Well, at least when it works. Which is like never. Oh and yeah … RPMs … such nice packages that never get you in dependency hell.
Anyway, the upcoming Ubuntu release seems to now have an update assistant so that when someone tries to play a MP3(or anything else) file it goes "OOPS, you want to play that file but you don’t have the codec installed. Press this to install it! BLING Mp3 plays …)
About which Desktop Enviroment to use … hmm… i say to try them all (Gnome, KDE & XFCE) and choose what you like from each.