Ubuntu hits new high in Linux boredom
Last weekend a friend was moaning about endless problems with Windows XP on his desktop PC. We installed Ubuntu 7.04 on it. The problems went away. That started me thinking about my own "daily driver" computer, a Dell Latitude that also runs Ubuntu 7.04, and it made me realize that I hadn't thought about my laptop or its operating system in many months. Linux -- especially Ubuntu -- has become so reliable and simple that for most end users it's simply not worth thinking about, any more than we think about tools like wrenches and screwdrivers. Does this mean desktop GNU/Linux has become so boring that it's not worth noticing?
Right now 8.04 is the latest Ubuntu version. I've stuck to 7.04 because I feel no great need to update a reliable system that does everything I ask of it. Yes, there was one major security flaw in 7.04, but Ubuntu's auto-update feature took care of that for me long ago, and took care of it immediately during the install process on my friend's machine.
And, as I type this, I'm (automatically) downloading and installing 24 Ubuntu software updates. Since I'm using a mature, "tried and true" version of Ubuntu, and haven't moved to the latest/greatest version of any software I use regularly -- I'm still running Firefox 2.xx, for example -- I run almost no risk of these updates breaking my system. I haven't thought about Ubuntu updates in several years; they've become that reliable, another "it just works" situation that doesn't impinge on my consciousness. Indeed, I only really thought about updating Ubuntu now because I'm writing this article. [...]
That's the way a computer operating system should be. I want to spend my time using the computer to get work done, not working on the computer to get it to work.
The article goes on to describe the authors friends and neighbors, who aren't very computer savy, and don't want to upgrade to Windows Vista with all it's problems. Distros like Ubuntu have become easy enough to use for non-geek, everyday users, and is increasingly becoming a viable option for them.
The latest version of Ubuntu (8.4.1) is the best I've tried to date, it has excellent compatibility with my hardware. Ubuntu does require installation of additional codecs to bring it's multi-media capabilities up to snuff with Windows, but it's fairly easy to do. When I was using it, it offered to download and install the needed codecs whenever I tried to run something that needed it.
My current favorite desktop Linux is Linux Mint, an Ubuntu variant from Ireland. It offers a more polished experience, as it has all the multi-media codecs already installed for you, and an elegantly configured Gnome Desktop (on Mint 5 Elyssa R1) that is similar to a windows desktop.
Both regular Ubuntu and Linux Mint can run off a live CD, so you can try them before installing them. The latest Ubuntu also offers an option where you can install it on your hard drive next to windows without having to repartition your hard drive. It just gets easier and easier.