As I noted previously, my old PC’s hard-drive failed, the drive that contained the operating system (Windows 2000). The computer is only used by my wife for basic tasks: email, browsing the net, and word processing. I figured this was a perfect excuse to test Linux’s usability. The main criteria was:
- Easy to use.
- Supports my PC’s hardware (500 MHz, printer, CD-writer, etc) .
- Supports software an average PC user would use, which includes: browser, mp3 player, video player, word processor.
- Works better than Windows.
I assumed that last point was a given.
What I had to do:
- Determine what variation of Linux to get. This was a pain in the ass. There are six million variation of Linux available (okay, 20 or so), a lot of them freely available. Imagine 20 versions of Windows being available (or do we have to imagine). Based on comments posted at my site and , I choose Ubunto Linux; it was supposed to be easy to install and it got rave reviews for user-friendliness.
- I downloaded Ubunto’s Live CD, burned the .iso on my XP machine, then booted the old machine using the CD. It took about 15 minutes to load, but it worked: a nice interface with a Window-ish look – something that wouldn’t confuse regular Window users too much.
- I then downloaded the Ubunto .iso, burned it on my XP machine, then spent 2 hours installing it, which was fairly seamless. The installation process asked me:
- How to partition the hard-drive. I had a 40 GB drive in it that was formatted in NTFS with nothing important on it, so the install reformatted it.
- Domain name to use for the computer The default was Ubunto, but I changed it to my wife’s name.
- User name and password of initial user. I didn’t want any security on the machine, so I choose nothing and just pressed Enter, but it didn’t like that. I had to enter a user name and password, which annoyed me.
That was it. It took about 2 hours to install on my old 500 MHz beast, but it detected my network connection and all the hardware except the printer; well, it detected a printer, but not the specific model I had, which of course has no Linux driver available for it.
The real test was getting my wife to use it. She opened her Word documents with no problem using OpenOffice, her Yahoo Mail worked great, and she figured out how to save documents. All appeared good EXCEPT… the system was too damn slow. We both noticed it. So I spent 1/2 hour playing with GUI and system settings, but I couldn’t make it significantly faster. The system was slower than Windows 2000.
So I said fuck this and installed Windows XP over it, and the system now works perfectly, to my surprise: it’s fast and reliable.
I’m not a Micorosft Windows advocate; I really wanted to give Linux a try. I’m a programmer by trade and have lots of experience with Unix; I wanted this to work. My 500 MHz just couldn’t handle the graphical interface (Gnome) used by this variant of Linux. Bummer.